Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s a double theme:
- 5a. [With 9-Across, an auto ad slogan] / 9a. [With 5-Across, quickly], ZOOM ZOOM.
- 24a. [With 26-Across, 1982 Al Pacino film] / 26a. [With 24-Across, 1962 P. G. Wodehouse book], AUTHOR, AUTHOR.
- 40a. [With 42-Across, Frank Sinatra signature song] / 42a. [With 40-Across, where Broadway is], NEW YORK, NEW YORK.
- 52a. [With 55-Across, town crier’s cry] / 55a. [With 52-Across, Aaron Copland ballet], HEAR YE, HEAR YE.
- 71a. [With 72-Across, noted maximum security prison] / 72a. [With 71- and 72-Across, classic Louis Prima tune], SING SING (and then another SING, inconsistently).
Never heard of the Wodehouse book, Copland ballet, or Prima song. I’ve heard of the Pacino movie, but then, I’m old. (Or almost old.)
As for “New York, New York,” I heard a charming interview with Paul Simon (that’s a podcast link; here’s the streaming radio link) on public radio yesterday in which he talked about the writing of “Darling Lorraine.” The song character Frank is clearly a bullshitter because he says he’s from “New York, New York,” which no New Yorker would say.
Top fill: CHINATOWN, YOU BETCHA, ZILCH, BYE NOW. Did you know that KAISER and TSAR are cognates? Some prefer not to see two forms of the same root word in one grid.
Surprised to see INRI, TEDY, OTERO, MEAGRE, PASHAS, and APING in a Tuesday puzzle. And while I appreciate the attempt to salvage the Hungarian name ERNO with a fresh clue angle, 38d. [“Um … sorry!”], “ER, NO” is terrible. Particularly when partial IT NO is in the same grid. See also: partials ON EARTH and ERR ON.
3.25 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 27i), “Just Dessert”—Janie’s take
And how sweet it is, too! What we have today is a Liz Gorski specialty: a “follow-the-dots (alphabetically)” puzzle that makes literal the idea behind a more traditionally themed puzzle. With the exception of the final one (which includes the f-t-d instruction), the three peppy themers are clued the same way at 17-, 37- and 59-Across: [“Easy!”]—yielding:
“NOTHING TO IT!”
“NO SWEAT!” and
“PIECE OF CAKE!”
Connect the dots et voilà: in the progression of themers, there’s yer illustration of the final answer. In “3-D” yet! ;-) Liz is the first published constructor to deliver this kind of cruciverbal/graphic combo and (fer my money…) nobody does it better.
The enjoyment factor of today’s puzzle is upped as well by the quality and quantity of the mid-range and longer fill. It ain’t all perfect (though I understand the necessity for, I could really live without that NINE TO [51 past the hour] combo), but it’s hard to argue with the likes of: HIP-HOP and HELIOS, ENERGY and DETAIL (nicely clued with the non-writing-implement-related [Fine point]), OBOISTS and SISTINE Chapel (originally the Cappella Magna, then renamed to honor Pope Sixtus IV, who had it restored between 1477 and 1480), MAGYAR (love this name of the [Hungarian language]!), poet HEINRICH Heine, SPORADIC, DREAMIER, CLOSED UP, OVER-HEAT, and the (perhaps inadvertently) dessert-related bonus PARFAITS, those [“Perfect” layered treats] (since parfait is the French word for “perfect” and not “ice cream [or some kinda ice-cream-substitute] confection“…).
That is one lovely ARRAY of fill, one that leaves me with not MUCH else to say. Complex grids like this remind me of what an art crossword puzzle construction can be. Happy-making, complex puzzles like this have a way of standing on their own. Hear Jane say “AAH…” as she makes a [Contented sound]. And with that, I leave you until next week. Hope it’ll be a good one, and keep solving!
C. J. Ciehanski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pub Crawl” — Jim’s review
I don’t recognize today’s byline, so it may be a genuine debut. But two things lead me to believe otherwise: 1) An anagram of the byline suspiciously contains the name Shenk, and 2) The puzzle is really really nice, especially in its theme entry choices, making me think a lot of experience is behind it.
On to the puzzle! Today we get the British equivalent to last Thursday’s “Bar Hopping” puzzle, i.e. the “Pub Crawl.” Now there’s an Olympic sport I can participate in!
If you didn’t catch it, the letters BAR are crawling across your puzzle from left to right.
- 17a [Really cheap] BARGAIN BASEMENT
- 23a [San Francisco site that’s pretty darn crooked] LOMBARD STREET. Very touristy, but you can’t not love this place with all its flowers.
- 40a [1946 portrayer of Mr. Potter] LIONEL BARRYMORE. That’s the miser in It’s a Wonderful Life.
- 50a [Restaurant chain headquartered in Lebanon, Tennessee] CRACKER BARREL. The epitome of comfort food.
- 62a [Participate in a pub crawl, say] BELLY UP TO THE BAR. At first, given the clue, I thought this was a revealer and I was really trying to make sense of it. It wasn’t working, so it was giving me a sour feeling. But then I realized it’s not a revealer, it’s just another theme answer and all is right with the world. I think this would have gone over better with a clue that didn’t echo the title.
A fun theme and a fabulous set of theme entries, especially those grid-spanners, but the other two are superb as well. I can’t say enough about them as a set, each one is lively and well-known.
With such a large amount of theme material, some clunkers are bound to creep in like the French ANGE [Diable’s foe] and ARNE [“Rule Britannia” composer] crossing MCA. Also ELEM and BFA. But those are countered by GOES TO POT, DOMICILES, GARLIC, DIM SUM, and LADY DI.
The I-had-no-idea fact of the day: 18d [Poker commentator Kaplan] is GABE. This is the very same GABE Kaplan who played ooh-ooh-Mr. Kotter on Welcome Back, Kotter in the 70s.
Not a lot else to say, but this is a solid puzzle highlighted by some fabulous theme entries that do the job of moving the BAR from left to right. The rest of the puzzle is fine, but it’s the theme that shines here.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Running on Empty” – Derek’s write-up
A clever theme this week! The subtitle says “F at the top to E at the bottom,” which is how one might describe a fuel gauge in a car. In this puzzle, a common phrase that would normally start with an F is altered so the F is removed while an E is added at the end. And the theme entries all run vertically, which is how the gas gauge in my car appears! Here are the theme entries:
- 3D [Honeymoon quarters that lets the sun in?] LIGHT SUITE (flight suit)
- 9D [Permit tractor pioneer John?] ALLOW DEERE (fallow deer)
- 29D [Kay, if you do the math?] ELL BACK ONE (fell back on) – My favorite of the bunch!
- 33D [Ethereal author of “Honor Thy Father”?] AIRY TALESE (fairy tales)
I think this is quite original and clever. It took me a minute to figure out how it all worked. Puzzle a bit on the challenging side with some obscure names, as I will point out below, but high points for a fresh idea. 4.4 stars!
A few notes:
- 15A [Patton of the “Comedians of Comedy” tour] OSWALT – I am not familiar with this tour, but he was on one of my favorite shows of all time, The King of Queens, which is hilarious if you work for UPS! Also I believe the voice of Remy in Ratatouille!
- 28A [Adjusted letter spacing, in printing] KERNED – New word to me. I had to look it up!
- 32A [Bubble tea thickener] SAGO – Another one I am not so familiar with, but I should be. Seem to encounter SEGO more often.
- 44A [“___ Witch” (2016 horror sequel)] BLAIR – This movie is not out yet. Surprisingly, the original, entitled The Blair Witch Project, is nearly 20 years old. It debuted in 1999!
- 63A [Orman who played Gordon on “Sesame Street” for over 40 years] ROSCOE – Sesame Street holds a special place in my life in that it debuted the same year I was born! They got rid of a few longtime cast members a few weeks ago. And this show is now on HBO!
- 5D [Bossa nova legend ___ Gilberto] JOAO – If you say so. This seems like a Brazilian name … and after Googling that is confirmed!
- 13D [Psychobilly rocker ___ Nixon] MOJO – Who? Seems like more of a country rocker on his wiki page. I need go be out more …
- 25D [Hyatt alternative] WESTIN – I had HILTON!
- 35D [Mary-Kate or Ashley] OLSEN – LAT puzzle today has an OLSON. Tough to remember sometimes who spells their surname in which way!
- 51D [“Fanfare for the Common Man” composer Copland] AARON – One of my favorite pieces of classical music.
- 64D [157.5 degrees from N] SSE – I don’t care for this type of clue. And I like math! I can never remember which direction is 0 degrees!
Another awesome puzzle by Matt. Have a great week!
Nancy Salomon’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My kind of puzzle! All about relaxation! Just got back from a trip to the National Scrabble Championships in Fort Wayne, IN. About an hour and a half from my house, so they will never be any closer. Met some people actually from the Elkhart area there, so it was not a wasted trip by any means! Had a blast, and perhaps I will someday play in a Scrabble tournament!
But I digress. This puzzle is also very appropriate for me, since I am officially hanging up my brown uniform on 8/31! So I will be doing at least a little of what is described in the three thematic entries in this puzzle:
- 20A [“Rest those weary feet”] TAKE A LOAD OFF – Amen!
- 36A [“Why not try the recliner?”] SIT BACK AND RELAX – I will be going to La-Z-Boy soon to get one!
- 53A [“Don’t just stand there”] PULL UP A CHAIR – If you say so!
I sound lazy, but I am getting old! I am rushing towards 50 at a breakneck pace! I will have to start carefully watching what I eat now, or else I will gain tons of weight! If this puzzle doesn’t put you in a calm mood, I don’t know what could! 4.2 stars!
A few more things:
- 25A [Spanish beaches] PLAYAS – I wonder if this could be clued as PLAY AS instead?
- 57A [Johnny with the catchphrase “Come on down!”] OLSON – Jonesin’ puzzle had OLSEN as an entry, with a clue referencing the Olsen twins. Hard to remember who spells their name in which way!
- 63A [Prefix with meter] PERI – Also [Actress Gilpin] from Frasier!
- 65A [Word-guessing game] JOTTO – How do I not know this game?? It seems to have been around a long time!
- 2D [Common soccer score] ONE ALL – I had ONE NIL. Could be either!
- 3D [They’re fussy about food] PICKY EATERS – Or [Three-year olds]!
- 12D [Org. with Jaguars and Panthers] NFL – Football is almost here!!
- 13D [Kenan’s Nickelodeon pal] KEL – This reference seems dated. Does this show still come on? Kenan Thompson now quite famous for his stint on SNL for the past several years.
- 26D [Book for finding local businesses] YELLOW PAGES – Perhaps “former” book? Who uses this anymore? I Google anything I need to find out!
- 37D [Lendl of tennis] IVAN – Now the coach of Andy Murray again. Murray seems to do quite well when this former legend is in his camp.
Off to watch a little Olympics this week! Enjoy your week!
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Losing the Lead” —Ade’s write-up
Hello once again! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is an interesting word ladder, as the first theme entry starts with the word CHEAT, then each progressive theme entry ends up dropping the first letter of that word to start its entry.
- CHEAT SHEET (17A: [Bad thing to get caught with on the day of an exam])
- HEAT ADVISORY (24A: [Weather alert in August, maybe])
- EAT YOUR HEART OUT (39A: [Remark from a gloater, perhaps])
- AT A LATER TIME (51A: [In the future])
- T-FORMATION (63A: [Offensive football lineup])
Actually liked the execution of the theme pretty much, and none of the theme entries were forced at all. Not too thrilled with the partials in terms of titles, with SHE’S A (7D: [“____ Lady (1971 Tom Jones hit)]) and ON HER in the grid, even though thinking of George Lazenby’s Bond portrayal makes me happy (43A: [“_____ Majesty’s Secret Service” (Bond film)]). Though this isn’t in the next graph, did you know that George Lazenby was once married to former Grand Slam winner and International Tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver? Not sure if the constructor is from New York or not, but MARIO CUOMO definitely would ring a bell mostly with New Yorkers like myself (11D: [George Pataki’s predecessor as governor]). Lastly, a word about Miss CLEO, the TV psychic who passed away a few days ago (28D: [Big role for Liz]). I would have never thought in a million years that a much-lampooned psychic would be woven into my pop culture fabric while growing up, but she ended up being one of the most memorable characters and people for many people, regardless of the legitimacy of her business. RIP Miss Cleo.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PRIOR (12D: [Earlier conviction, in copspeak]) – There was a time in the first part of this century that former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark PRIOR was going to be the next great pitcher in baseball. In 2003, Prior, the former college baseball player of the year in 2001 while playing for USC, finished third in the NL in Cy Young voting after an 18-6 campaign. Unfortunately, a series of arm/shoulder injuries ended his career before his burgeoning career could really blossom.
See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!