Michael Dewey’s New York Times crossword—Adesina’s write-up
Hello there, everybody! This is Adesina (a.k.a. Ade, a.k.a. AOK) pinch-hitting for Jenni today and blogging the Times puzzle today. There’s a chock-full of theme answers in this grid, brought to us by Mr. Michael Dewey. The first seven theme entries all are two-word entries in which the first word starts with the letter “A” and the second starts with the letter “W.” The eighth theme entry, A AND W, acts as the reveal (65A: [Classic root beer brand…or a hint to the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues]). A little nit to pick with this theme, since the reveal entry actually separates the A and W with “AND,” while the other theme entries take on an “A.W.” pattern. No real big deal for me. All’s well.
- AD WAR (1A: [*Mac-vs.-PC in the early 200s, e.g.]) – Mac won that war for me!
- ACID WASH (6A: [*Give a worn appearance to, as jeans]) – I can proudly say that I’ve never worn acid wash jeans in my life, even while living through the era in the ’80s when it was still en vogue.
- APPIAN WAY (22A: [*Road to ancient Rome])
- ARIZONA WILDCATS (36A: [*Tucson collegians]) – “Bear Down, Arizona!” Does anyone outside of Tucson and/or a U of A alum know where that comes from?
- ALTAR WINE (49A: [*Holy communion drink])
- AIRWAVES (64A: [*Radio medium]) – Hold on. This is one word. The rest of the themes are two word entries (outside of A & W). Oh, well.
- ABIGAIL WILLIAMS (6D: [*Salem witch trials accuser])
Loved the intersecting 15-letter theme entries that held the grid together, and after getting the one going across (Arizona Wildcats) was when I knew that those starred clues were all going to be “A.W.” entries. Only real spot of bother for me was caused at the end of my solving, when ATIVAN (11D: [Anxiety-treating medication]) wasn’t coming to my mind quickly and it took a little while to remember that those hair clips are called BARRETTEs (16A: [Securer of locks]). I don’t think I ever heard any lady call it that during all my times I was around someone when they were putting on hair clips. Is that weird? Oh, and I also put in “mangy” instead of DINGY initially, but I was able to untangle that pretty quickly (43A: [Dirty-looking]). Two references to “Get Smart” will definitely give this grid an extra half star from me, with both KAOS (26A: [Villainous “Get Smart” group]) and FOE alluding to the show (27A: [26-Across, to Maxwell Smart]). In closing, we have a subtle shout out to those who speak/understand Spanish, with one of the lines going across featuring both EL NIÑO (34A: [Pacific Ocean phenomenon]) and TODOS (31A: [Brouhahas]). Of course, you’d have to pronounce the latter in a slightly different way. Thank you to everybody (todos = “everybody” in Spanish) for reading! Oops! One last little nugget before I go…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IMMOBILE (18A: [Going nowhere]) – Did you know that there’s a well-known professional athlete who relies on his legs whose last name is, indeed, IMMOBILE? That would be Italian international soccer star Ciro Immobile (pronounced ee-MO-buh-lay), who currently plays for Italian Serie A club side Lazio and for the Italian national soccer team. In the 2013-14 season, Immobile led the Italian top flight league (Serie A) with 22 goals while playing for Torino F.C.
Thank you for your time, everyone, and I’ll see you later on with the CrosSynergy/Washington Post review! Have a good rest of your hump day!
Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Water Music” — Jim’s review
Another list puzzle (the second this week). This one is songs that end in a body of water.
- 17a [1960 Nat King Cole song] TIME AND THE RIVER. Never heard, nor heard of, this one. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.
- 25a [2015 DNCE song] CAKE BY THE OCEAN. I didn’t recognize this title or group, but I’ve certainly heard this current catchy pop tune. I expect this was the impetus for the puzzle. (Pro tip: It’s not really about cake.)
- 42a [1987 Willie Nelson song] ISLAND IN THE SEA. Again, another lesser-known song. I’m more familiar with Weezer’s “Island in the Sun” or Parton/Rogers’ “Islands in the Stream.”
- 56a [1967 Otis Redding song] THE DOCK OF THE BAY. A classic. I would bet that, along with the DNCE song, this drove the theme. The other two barely-known songs are mainly here because of symmetry.
It’s Wednesday so I hoped to have some good wordplay, but instead we get just another list. I feel like I’m being overly grumpy this week, and if it’s me, I’m sorry. But this is a Monday theme on a Wednesday.
Further proof: clue-wise, this was a way easier puzzle than yesterday. I’m sure the more obscure songs pushed this one until Wednesday.
The fill is good though. We get FREE MEAL, STEPSONS, HANDICAP, and SEEDLESS in the Down direction and the antithetical HOPELESS and SOLUTION in the Across direction. At center we have AT HAND, HANOI, and EUGENE crossing HAUNT, HANGS, and CANOE. Nice.
Clues of note:
- 24a [1950s pitcher Maglie] is SAL. Grumble. Aren’t there any other non-Mineo SAL‘s? Hey, how about entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager SAL Khan?
- 46a [Vance Air Force Base location] is ENID, Oklahoma.
- 58a [First monarch to rule over Great Britain] is Queen ANNE. She reigned from 1702-1707. Fact of the day per Wikipedia, “Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without any surviving children and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart.”
- 60a [Piscivorous mammal] is SEAL. From “piscis,” Latin for “fish.”
- 54d [Scott of “Hawaii Five-0”] is CAAN. Yup, he’s James CAAN‘s son.
For me, this is another puzzle that just didn’t quite connect. Two of the songs are pretty obscure, and I only recognize one by its title. If this had been on a Monday, I think I would have been more forgiving. I hope to see some trickeration by Wednesday, but there was none to be found here.
Patrick Blindauer’s AVCX crossword, “Operators are Standing By” — Erin’s Review
Hi everyone! My baby isn’t sleeping enough for me to consistently blog the Wednesday NYT again, but I’m happy to fill in for Ben today while he fights a nasty airplane pathogen. Patrick’s easy puzzle brings us back to the days of rotary phones and landline. The theme entries are ads for surgeons in which the phone numbers spell out punny goodness when dialed on a telephone keypad (2 is ABC, 3 is DEF, etc):
- 20a. [Need eye surgery? Call (688) 637-4448 and get a doctor who’s ___!] OUT OF SIGHT
- 55a. [Need plastic surgery? I called (742) 569-6673 and they let me ___!] PICK MY NOSE
- 10d. [Need hand surgery? Call (715) 678-6329 and ask about our ___ discount!] PALM SUNDAY
- 29d. [Need heart surgery? Call (226) 823-2318 for service that ___!] CAN’T BE BEAT
The theme is cute and simple; not mind-blowing, but fun and pleasant to solve. The theme answers are all gettable through crossings, but if someone gets stuck, they can always head to their landline and figure it out that way. I especially enjoyed the lively fill:
- 24a. [Jackman and Kidman, e.g.] AUSSIES (I just like the sound of the word.)
- 39a. [Cosmetics company that does not, in fact, sell products in tiny bottles] ELF (Apparently it’s e.l.f., which stands for Eyes Lips Face. I did not know the company, but it’s a fun new way to clue it.)
- 8d. [China, once] CATHAY (I didn’t know this cold, but Cathay Pacific Airways is definitely A Thing. It’s the Anglicized form of Catai, which stems from the Khitan or Qìdan people. The More You Know…)
- 43d. [31-Down pegs] ENDPINS (31-Down is CELLO, and the ENDPIN is the spiky part at the bottom that supports the instrument’s weight.)
- 49d. [Colt carriers] MARES (Short, to the point, clever wordplay. Love it.)
It’s been a blast blogging again, but a hungry baby demands my attention. Ben, if you want to add a music video or something later, feel free. Have a lovely Wednesday!
Julian Lim’s LA Times Crossword Puzzle – Gareth’s review
Today’s puzzle has an apt revealer, though it’s a wellworn theme idea. JOINFORCES is interpreted such that the tailing TASK, POLICE, and WORK all can have FORCE added to them and make phrases. FASHIONPOLICE is the standout answer (though the show-specific clue, I am a little ambivalent about), with UPHILLTASK and REFERENCEWORK rounding out the trio of theme answers.
There definitely feels like effort was made in filling this grid interestingly. Mostly, the effort pays off, except perhaps in the middle left section, where the 2 Z’s and an X yields only SEXIST and AZIZ at the expense of ELIZ, partial FIXIT, ESSO and ORT.
Even small sections have at least one seed – recent Peace Prize winner MALALA; SUPERG; CONAIR and GUYANA; new-to-me WEFIE (pretty sure those are usually called selfies regardless though? Wonder if we will ever see BRELFIE outside of an alt puzzle?)
Footnote (Andy): The original post omitted that CON AIR and SUPER G were also theme entries. The Fiend regrets the error!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Somebodies” —Ade’s write-up
Good day once more! I’m back in my normal haunts on this blog. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, includes phrases that take on a different meaning because of its clues, which all have a pair of famous people who happen to share the same last name.
- A FEW POINTERS (19A: [Singers Bonnie and Anita?]) – The Pointer Sisters are one of my favorite music groups of all time. Not ashamed to admit that!
- A BRACE OF BIRDS (26A: [Basketball players Larry and Sue?])
- A COUPLE OF GUYS (41A: [Moviedom’s Ritchie and Pearce?])
- A PAIR OF JEANS (50A: [Actors Harlow and Arthur?])
This was much tougher of a nut to crack than I initially thought it would be when solving. The Northeast corner was most difficult for me, since it took a long while to put in an abbreviation, ACCT NO, since I didn’t see one in its clue (7D: [Banking info]). Yes, “info” is abbreviated, but I just use that word so frequently that I didn’t make the connection that that was an abbreviation, and the entry would have to follow suit. Actually wanted to put in “account” or “number” as an entry at one point. That section of the grid also has my favorite answer, CD TOWER, as I definitely own one for all of the CDs that I’ve bought over the years (18A: [Music storage purchase]). I’m not much of a cards player, so wouldn’t be able to help you out if you wanted me to join in a game of CANASTA (17A: [Card game with melds]). The only “canasta” I know is Nasty Canasta: Rustler, Bandit, Square Dance Caller.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARA (29D: [Constellation near Scorpius]) – It’s rare to see this fill without the clue referencing former Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian. He also coached Miami University (Ohio) and Northwestern, racking up 170 career wins. He led the Irish to national championships in 1966 and 1973, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
Thank you for your time once again! Talk to you all soon!