Milo Beckman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, the Cubs game is over. Here I am. Did the puzzle without the timer while the game was on.
I added circles to the thematic “ghost-___” answers. The central HAUNTED is clued 35a. [Full of ghosts … like four answers in this puzzle?]. 22a. [Like many celebrity memoirs] clues ghost-WRITTEN. 24a. [Some gold rush remnants] are ghost TOWNS. 51a. [Campfire entertainment] is a ghost STORY. And 53a. [Monster film hit of 1984] is GhostBUSTERS. I haven’t seen this year’s remake yet but look forward to it.
What makes this especially Thursdayish is that the ghosted answers shouldn’t be seen when you’re working the Down crossings, because each entry is clued without that ghosted letter. COUR(T)IER, for example, is clued as 2d. [Package delivery person] and not as a courtier. MIN(T)ER is a little clunky, REGI(O)NAL without its O is certainly not a common word, and TH(O)R and R(E)NDS are bad abbreviations without their O and E. Oh, and IS WAR is a bad way to include I SW(E)AR. But overall, the gimmick is nicely carried out.
There’s some really blah fill in the mix—EOE ISH ARD ARRS SST AMU CDI. But the gimmick kept me more focused on the theme and things like TEEN BEAT.
Three more things:
- 38d. [Suriname colonizer], HOL(Y)LAND. Uh, you know that Netherlands ≠ Holland, right? Somebody find me a solid source that says the colonial entity was called Holland during the colonial period.
- 26a. [What’s done in Haiti?], FINI. Uh, you know that Haitian Creole ≠ French, right? Fini is Haitian Creole for “finished,” but certainly not for other uses of “done.” I hope each and every clue citing Haiti for a French word has been fact-checked as legitimately part of Haitian Creole. Only 42% of Haitians speak French.
- 29a. [#1 hit for Bill Withers (1972) and Club Nouveau (1987)], LEAN ON ME. I don’t know the 1987 song but love Bill Withers. Here he is, performing it for Midnight Special.
Four stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball crossword, “Getting Ahead” – Jenni’s write-up
What a difference a day makes! Today’s Fireball was challenging until I sorted the theme, and then it was just plain fun.
I was pretty sure we were dealing with a rebus as soon as I looked at 20a [In the chips]. I had the M for the first letter, which made me think it had something to do with money, which didn’t fit. I noodled around the grid and tossed in a few of the gimmes, and nothing jumped out at me. I went back to the NW corner and realized that 4d [Helmeted ___ (state bird of Victoria, Australia)] might accommodate a rebus square, since I had no idea what sort of bird was wearing what sort of helmet. Aha! MON(EYE)D fit all the crossings. I still didn’t know what the EYE was telling me about the Australian bird. Never mind. We go one. I couldn’t figure out what EYE rebuses had to do with the title, but it was early.
I looked at 38a [W-2 recipient] and tried to fit EYE as a rebus in there somewhere. Maybe PAYEE? No, that’s YEE, not EYE. Maybe it’s anagrams of EYE? Hmm.
I finally noticed that 66a [Acclaim producer] started with a P. That’s a car, right? Perhaps it’s a PLYMOUTH? Which fits if MOUTH is a rebus, right down in the middle of the bottom row. Aha again! We’re not “Getting Ahead.” We’re “Getting A Head,” with different parts of the head as rebus squares. I like this! So there must be another eye and a nose, right? Turns out there are also two ears, all appropriately positioned. So we have:
- MON(EYE)D crossing HON(EYE)EATER.
- K(EYE)D IN crossing M(EYE)RS.
- 38a [W-2 recipient] did indeed contain a rebus – it’s (EAR)NER, crossing SP(EAR)S.
- DIAG(NOSE) crossing (NO SE)RIOUSLY. The latter is clued [ “Honest to God!”]. Excellent.
- And the aforementioned PLY(MOUTH) crossing VER(MOUTH).
Very nice. And gee, look, it’s a puzzle with hidden body parts that is amusing and not disturbing.
A few other things:
- 10d [Crash site] had me stumped for a while. It’s MARKET. Duh.
- 11d [Dryads] are WOOD NYMPHS, not to be confused with naiads, who are water nymphs. Really, I just wanted to write “naiads” because it’s a cool word.
- 33a [Voltaire, for one] is a DEIST, as were many of the Founding Fathers. Christian nation? Nope.
- I’ll take “Mid-Century Modern Pop Culture” for $200, Alex. That gives me Jack PAAR crossing PATTI Page.
- 29d [Dilapidated] = FLEA-BITTEN. That’s a word we should use more often.
- The Peter Gordon Longest Clue Award goes to 49d [Simon Garfield biography of William Perkin subtitled “How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World”]. Answer: MAUVE. Without chemistry, MAUVE would not exist. (Fun fact: my husband has actually attended meetings at the Chemical Heritage Society. Well, I think it’s fun.)
What I did not know before I did this crossword: in addition to the Australian bird and the Chemical Heritage information, I’d never heard the word taffrail before. Turns out it’s a rail and ornamentation around a ship’s STERN, so I’ve seen one (and leaned on one) but never knew what it was called. Thanks, Alex and Peter!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Friends to the End” — Jim’s review
An ALLY is appended to the ends of various words and phrases turning nouns into adverbs.
- 16a [Terminate, but not wrongfully?] BOOT LEGALLY. Bootleg.
- 26a [Top the toast while it’s still in the toaster (Zap!)?] BUTTER FATALLY. Butterfat. I’m not totally sure that would be fatal. But then I’m not planning on finding out, either.
- 40a [Issue an official command?] ORDER FORMALLY. Order form.
- 50a [Shadow the suspect after a lot of procrastination?] TAIL FINALLY. Tailfin.
Not a lot of humor in this set, but the BUTTER one comes closest for me. I wonder if a more interesting set could be made by using multiple synonyms for “friend” such as PAL, CHUM, BUD, etc., rather than just relying on the one suffix.
I’m well zonked from moving furniture all day, so I’ll keep this short.
FAMILY BIBLE and AT THE OUTSET are our longest Downs. The grid has a pretty high number of “cheater” squares which is unusual for a four-them-entry grid. But then, there isn’t very much dreck to speak of, so they fulfill their purpose.
TYBALT (14d, [He told Romeo, “Thou art a villain”]) is new to me. REWIN feels arbitrary. ONE FOR is partially saved by the presence of ALL, but it still feels like a partial. Couldn’t figure out what BOLO was in the clue [Kin of a BOLO] or how the answer was APB. (Turns out it’s “Be On the Look Out.”) Why is SANTA FE the oldest state capital when it’s so far west? And TORY wins for best clue [May in London, e.g.].
Okay, that’s about all I can muster up. This puzzle is perfectly fine if not so adventurous. I like the presence of ENEMIES (46a) amidst all the ALLYs, but there’s just not a lot of pizzazz in these theme entries.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Spooked” — Ben’s Review
It’s almost Halloween, so it’s time to get punny with today’s BEQ crossword:
- 17A: London mayor’s phantom? — THE WRAITH OF KHAN
- 26A: Pull a banshee? — STRETCH GHOUL
- 43A: Apparition will start wooing? — GHOST TO COURT
- 57A: Poltergeist’s gizmo that’s au courant? — IN SPECTER GADGET
This was pretty straightforward as to what was going on, but I loved the puns that were used (IN SPECTER GADGET and THE WRAITH OF KHAN are currently tied for my favorites of the bunch). Together this felt like a fun-size Halloween treat.
Other puzzle notes:
- 36A: Pakistan president after Chaudhry — ZIA (This clue was no use to me since I don’t really know my Pakistani presidents – totally needed the down clues here)
- 42A: Political satirist Will — DURST (I was surprised this answer used neither Limp Bizkit’s Fred nor The Jinx’s Robert in its clue)
- 2D: Joy on “The View” — BEHAR (Is she still on “The View”? This clue may have needed an update to “Joy OF ‘The View'” if not.)
4/5 stars today – I had a few fill nitpicks but the theme won me over.
Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Things Are Looking Up” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning from Pittsburgh! Before treating myself to a Primanti Brothers sandwich stacked with meat and toppings, I definitely had to dive in to this juicy grid, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol. In it, the first word in each of the four theme entries is a noun that usually is associated with things you would find in the air.
- BALLOON PAYMENT (20A: [Large sum needed to end some mortgages])
- RAINBOW TROUT (25A: [Freshwater fish])
- CLOUD STORAGE (48A: [Data backup option])
- BIRD OF PARADISE (56A: [Tropical plant])
I might have heard the term KEGLER once when I saw a bowling competition once, but I guarantee you I couldn’t have heard of the term more times than that (4D: [One who enjoys some spare time?]). For the times I’ve done puzzles of Patti’s, there’s usually at least one reference to an author that I had not ever come across before, and LORRIE definitely fits into that category for me (41A: [“Who Will Run the Frog Hospital” novelist Moore]). Is there anyone out here who COOLS their pies on a sill (3D: [Rests on a sill, as a pie])? Maybe it was growing up in apartment life, but I’ve never seen that before – when my mom’s made pies at home or when I’ve walked past other families’ homes – and would love to see that once so I won’t conclude that cooling pies on sills only exists in movies and in cartoons. No, I’m not going to start walking around LEER at houses, looking for pies resting on sills (34A: [Creepy look]). That would be weird! What also is weird, but evidently true, is the need for me to YAWN anytime I see or hear the word (22D: [One may be suppressed in class]). I remember seeing a show a few years back about the contagiousness of yawning, and one experiment that was done that I saw was so interesting: during the show, the word “YAWN,” spelled in huge letters, was flashed on the screen for about a couple of seconds, subliminally putting that thought in the viewer’s mind and, later on, asking if the viewer had indeed yawned after seeing the word flash. I definitely yawned. There’s probably a chance that you’re yawning as we speak. YAWN!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BRAVO (27D: [Concert cry]) – As much as wrestling fans would want me to reference the late Dino Bravo, the self-proclaimed “Canada’s Strongest Man,” I’ll mention Claudio BRAVO in this space, one of the world’s best soccer goalkeepers who currently plays for Manchester City of the English Premier League. Before that, he played for FC Barcelona. In international play, Bravo has been influential in leading Chile to back-to-back Copa America titles, in 2015 and 2016. (Copa America is South America’s premier continental soccer tournament.)
TGIF tomorrow! Hope you all have a very good Thursday!
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle concept is a pleasant variation of the “words that precede” theme. The word is GAP, revealed in CLOSE/THEGAP. The gaps are GENDER, GENERATION, TRADE and INCOME, and they span parts of two adjacent entries. The downside of this theme is that the answers themselves are mostly short, and rarely pop.
With no long theme answers, there needs to be some interesting or playful things going on in the rest of the grid. This theme is quite dense, so it’s mostly containment.
A 4×3 area with no theme can be filled in basically limitless ways. There is no reason to use ABA/ABES and DAG and SNO in such a corner unless you truly have a “it fits, good enough” mentality.