John Bennett’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme in this puzzle with left/right symmetry is mostly the types of booze in the circled squares—SHERRY, GIN, SCOTCH, COGNAC, STOUT, PORTER. There’s also a BAR/TAB and the revealer, 35a. [Offer at a pub … as suggested by this puzzle’s circled squares], THE ROUND’S ON ME. May I just say that those six drinks make a terrible assortment of boozes? A third of the drinks here are essentially fortified wine. Yuck. Also, the revealer doesn’t sound remotely natural. “This round’s on me,” sure. “The next round is on me,” okay. Never just THE ROUND’S ON ME.
The triple checking where the circled letters are leads to some tough-for-a-Tuesday fill. 12d. [Tile adhesive], MASTIC? I don’t lay tile myself, and am not super-familiar with MASTIC. 48a. [Device that keeps a ship’s compass level], GIMBAL? I don’t think that was in Moby Dick; I’ve seen the term in relation to filming. SAAR, OATEN, SERGE, NOES, ERST, GIRO. EAGEREST, which is inferrable but is really not at all a common form of the root word.
38d. [Tuliplike flower whose name means “butterfly” in Spanish], MARIPOSA. I had no idea there was a flower by that name, but the Spanish part of the clue gave me the answer. I’m pretty sure you want to explore a list of “butterfly” in a bunch of other languages (Schmetterling!), so here’s a link for that. (And here’s the flower.)
I’m also dinging this puzzle for cluing 16a SCRAP as [Dustup] when 1a is DUSTY.
2.75 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 281), “Count Down!”—Janie’s take
Halloween is next Monday, so let the countdown begin. And what better way to do so than with a vertical shout-out to the Count at 25-Down, [Puzzle honoree] DRACULA. Four punny themers circle the guest-of-honor pinwheel-style. Punny and pretty funny, too.
- 3D. [25-Down’s favorite fast food joint?] BITE CASTLE. As opposed to White Castle. Both of which operate 24/7 no doubt.
- 22A. [“Welcoming” critter at 25-Down’s home?] DOOR BAT. And not the more conventional doormat.
- 29D. [25-Down’s favorite cartoon hunter?] ELMER BLOOD. Wonder if he has the same issues bagging his prey as Elmer Fudd. Not as a rule I should think…
- 54A. [25-Down’s favorite Oscar-winning director?] FANG LEE. Transylvanian cousin, perhaps, of Ang Lee? Funny coincidence: actor Christopher Lee (no relation) played Dracula multiple times in his long and illustrious film career.
This is a terrific theme set—groan-worthy for all of the right reasons. And as you can tell, I love that “door bat“! But even more, I love how tidily Liz has sealed the good Count in his coffin. Connect the circles situated alphabetically and symmetrically throughout the grid (within the fill), and the suggestion of that coffin takes shape in a more finished way. Nice touch!
In fact, this puzzle abounds in nice touches, as the Halloweeny vibe continues in the SW with [Bubbling like a witch’s cauldron] for ABOIL and [Witchy woman] for CRONE. Close-but-no-cigar is CREEPO [Sleazy villain]. I kept wanting it to be CREEPY. Yes, that would have given us LYME and LIME in the same grid, but I think I’d have preferred that to seeing LOMÉ [Capital of Togo] there. Never heard of it before solving (okay—geography ain’t my strong suit…) and only hope I manage to retain the information. (It’s not typically used in “early week” puzzles, btw.)
The grid design allows for a healthy quotient of longer and mid-range fill, too, not all of it “dazzling” per se but thanks to some strong cluing, certainly most of it works well. “SO SUE ME!” I’m happy with a puzzle that delivers the lively likes of MIMOSAS and MATISSES, EMERGING (as in [Coming into view]) and OVERTIME [Tie-breaking period], TRANSFER (by way of [Switch from Harvard to Yale]) and [LOUISA May Alcott], EXCESS and AFFAIR [Intense romance] and ICIEST [Least friendly] (perhaps in the wake of an affair that’s cooled off).
And if he isn’t the most HEROIC character in One Thousand and One Nights, SINBAD remains one of the most colorfully iconic ones. Did he sin? Was he bad? No. That would be more the domain of today’s LOOTER [Riot thief] or RUSTLER [Cattle thief]. They can join that creepo on the “Doesn’t play well with others” list.
And them’s my main thoughts about the puzz. If I didn’t touch on your favorite fill, you NEED NOT get into A PET. Simply join the conversation. C’mon in—the water’s fine! Have a great week, all, happy Halloween—and between handfuls of candy corn, keep solving!
Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fantasy Football” — Jim’s review
Today we get football terms at the start of various phrases.
- 17a [Some Timberland offerings] HIKING BOOTS
- 28a [Fad] PASSING FANCY
- 44a [White-water rafter’s place] RUSHING RIVER
- 59a [Taking it easy] KICKING BACK
An adequate Tuesday-ish theme. I’m not sure what’s “Fantasy”-ish about it though. I guess it’s just that the keywords have different meanings in their respective phrases than they do in football.
I do have to question HIKING though. Is hiking really a verb in football or is it just a verbal command? I contend that the center/QB exchange is far more commonly called a snap rather than a hike. Here is an interesting article on why the QB says things like “Hut” and “Hike.” Prior to the use of that command, QBs would signal to the center to snap the ball by scratching the center’s leg. Who knew football was so touchy feely?
Things I liked: GOLDENROD, CHESTNUTS, NEW-AGER, STEWPOTS, ON TARGET, SONATINA, GANGSTA, MATADOR and of course, theme-adjacent PIGSKIN. I like MYSTIFY as well, but I took its clue [Puzzle] to be a noun and plunked in MYSTERY. The resulting errors mystified me for much too long.
Dislikes: Pretty much just SET AT.
Clues of note:
- 22a [It’s literally “killer” in Spanish]: MATADOR. Did not know this. If you are opposed to bullfighting, you might like to know that millenials are preferring to spend their entertainment euros elsewhere, and the practice may one day give in, not to protestors, but to stark economic realities. Read more about it in this Time article (warning: one graphic photo of protestors covered in fake blood).
- 56a [Scala of “The Guns of Navarone”]: GIA. The Guns of Navarone is one of my favorite war movies and I usually end up sitting and watching it if I find that it’s on.
- 48a [Costume for Cato]. The correct answer is TOGA because of the ancient Roman senator and historian Cato the Elder who was the first to write a history in Latin. But when I see a clue for Cato, my thoughts go first to these guys:
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Small Furry Critters” – Derek’s write-up
I believe I neglected to mention it last week, but to get the Jonesin’ puzzle, either click on the puzzle link from this site, or head over to Will Johnston’s site to find the puzzles. I have used his site many times, and after all of these years he still keeps it up!
Kind of a creepy title this week, but the theme entries will have you laughing as usual! Each one is a pun on a well-known phrase with a “critter” inserted, and then clued as only Matt can!
- 18A & 20A [Rocky Road ripple full of a nutty animal?] MARSHMALLOW SQUIRREL (marshmallow swirl)
- 34A [Existentialist aquatic animal?] WHY, I OTTER! (“Why, I oughtta …)
- 42A [Poker hand that beats three field mice of a kind?] VOLE HOUSE (full house)
- 55A & 60A [Anesthesia administered by a small monkey?] MARMOSET KNOCK YOU OUT (Mama Said Knock You Out) – Best one of the bunch! That’s an L.L. Cool J tune, in case you didn’t know!
Very well done. And even a tad easier this week. Tons of lively entries, a few of which I will mention below. A solid 4.5 stars for this one!
- 7A [Cold-weather phenomenon also known as pogonip] ICE FOG – I had no idea!
- 28A [European sports car marque] BUGATTI – These cars are pretty. If only they didn’t cost $2.5 million!!!!
- 48A [It runs between “This American Life” segments] NPR NEWS – Great entry! Only one vowel, so whatever you have in there looks wrong at first!
- 4D [Actor central to the movie “Four Rooms”] TIM ROTH – A rather well known actor, even if this work is not well known, at least to me!
- 21D [Nearly twenty-year-old Apple] IMAC – Hard to believe! Using an iMac as we speak!
- 31D [“Sounds like a good plan to me”] “I WOULD” – Great snippet of actual American English!
- 45D [Teen’s rental from a menswear store] PROM TUX – Another great entry with too few vowels!
- 54D [B’way box office purchase] TKT – Did you have TIX in there at first too?
This one was a lot of fun! Have a great week!
John Lieb’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Not familiar with John Lieb’s puzzles, but this one has a nice theme, which is tied up in a neat bow at 56D!
- 18A [“We’re done here. Please leave”] “YOU MAY GO NOW”
- 30A [Lone source of local entertainment] ONLY GAME IN TOWN
- 45A [Eschew modern conveniences] LIVE OFF THE GRID
- 57A [Like the child of your first cousin, to you] ONCE REMOVED
- 56D [Modern-day carpe diem spelled out at the starts of 18-, 30-, 45- and 57-Across] YOLO
As in “you only live once,” as the young kids say today. Usually as justification to do something reckless! I like the variation of the theme entries, and although it usually takes me a while to figure out the theme in puzzles of this sort, this one REALLY took me awhile, especially since the revealer is clear at the end! 4.3 stars for this one.
- 16A [Accustom to] INURE – Ick. Nobody uses this word! Ever!!
- 41A [Yoga position] ASANA – I tried LOTUS at first; it didn’t work.
- 49A [Worrisome grades] DEES – No clue referencing Rick DEES of Disco Duck fame??
- 63A [Baseball legend Satchel] PAIGE – Would have had a daughter named Paige … if I had a daughter!
- 3D [Deliver a tirade] RANT AND RAVE – Interesting long down answers, and kudos since they each cross THREE theme answers!
- 9D [Texas city of 1.3 million, familiarly] BIG D – Never been to Texas, so I had to think a sec before this made quick sense!
- 27D [Ill-tempered Looney Tunes character] YOSEMITE SAM – The other long down crosser. I told you they were good!
- 30D [“My bad!”] OOPSIE! – I don’t say this, and I will admit I thought it might be “OOPS ME!”
- 61D [__ Scully, Dodger announcer for 67 seasons] VIN – A tip of the cap to one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time. To put it in perspective, he was the announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers!!
Nice puzzle! Have a great week!
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Prehistoric Pun” —Ade’s write-up
Hello there! Hope you’re doing well today! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, is the type of grid I don’t really enjoy: having to fill in a riddle and/or a quip. But, here it is, and I hope it made you chuckle.
- WHAT DINOSAUR AWOKE EVERY DAY AT SUN UP (20A, 32A, 42A: [Start of a riddle], [Middle of the riddle], [End of the riddle])
- THE CRACKODON (52A: [Riddle’s answer])
Hadn’t seen XENA in a crossword in a while, so it’s good to see her back (17A: [Leather-skirted warrior princess]). I really liked Lucy Lawless, the actress who played Xena, in her role as Three in the reboot to Battlestar Galactica when I was curious about how the show would look compared to the original. Man, how would I decorate my room if I had 37 Emmys in my collection, like the innovator of Monday Night Football, ROONE, won in his illustrious television career (18A: [Arledge with 37 Emmys])? Did you know that, at one point, my office cubicle at ESPN Magazine was right next to Ben Arledge, Roone’s grandson, who had interned with us one summer? That absolutely happened. He was a nice young man. I wonder where he is right now. Well, time to wonder some other time, as I have to head out.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CEY (51A: [Dodger Ron who was nicknamed “The Penguin”]) – The man who gave longtime Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Ron CEY that nickname, “Penguin,” was a man nicknamed “Bobo,” college baseball coaching great Chuck “Bobo” Brayton. Cey was a six-time All-Star (1974-1979) who also was co-MVP of the 1981 World Series when the Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees in six games.
Thank you for the time and I’ll see you tomorrow.