Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “The Name of the Game”—Erin’s write-up
Hi, everyone! Since Jenni’s been covering my Wednesday NYT, the least I can do is help her out with a WaPo review. This week’s crossword is a meta, with the following instructions: “METAPUZZLE: Which game with eight letters in its name is hinted at by this puzzle’s theme, and which game with 14 letters in its name completes it?”
There are no clear theme entries, so let’s see what the longest across answers give us:
- 22a. [Device with insecticide] AEROSOL BOMB
- 24a. [Person involved in nuclear espionage during the Cold War] ATOMIC SPY
- 31a. [1991 Bruce WillisDamon Wayans thriller] THE LAST BOY SCOUT
- 53a. [Worker involved in mountaintop removal] COAL MINER
- 55a. [Private instructor?] DRILL SERGEANT
- 65a. [Certain junior commissioned officer] FIRST LIEUTENANT
- 79a. [Jolly Roger “Roger”] AYE AYE CAPTAIN
- 84a. [Student dealing with multiple problems?] MATH MAJOR
- 102a. [Honorary title bestowed on Harland Sanders in 1935] KENTUCKY COLONEL
- 113a. [As a rule] IN GENERAL
- 115a. [Person trying to prevent things from going up in smoke] FIRE MARSHAL
The last word of each entry seems to be the important one. The military ranks jumped out immediately, but then there are non-military persons like the SPY, BOY SCOUT, MINER, and MARSHAL. Then there’s the BOMB, which is not a person at all. This list screamed some sort of strategy game to me, but I’m not very familiar with them, so it was time to turn to Good Old Trusty Google for some help. I learned that these are 11 of the 12 pieces found in STRATEGO, which is an eight-letter game and our first meta answer. To get the second part of the meta, we need to look at the piece not found in the grid, which is the FLAG. The 14-letter game which completes the theme set turns out to be the goal of Stratego itself: CAPTURE THE FLAG.
I’d grade the meta difficulty between an MGWCC Week 1 and 2. The first step is maybe a touch harder than a Week 1, but the second part brings it towards Week 2 territory. It’s a solid construct that crossword solvers without other meta exposure could unfurl and appreciate. (Like a FLAG, yuk, yuk.)
- 40d. [G, in a C chord] SOL. As in “do, re, mi, fa, sol…”
- OGLES, SEX, TRYST, ARSE, along with the not anatomically-clued ASS, TATA, and JUNK.
- Initially had CAGE MATCH instead of CAGE FIGHT, DURA instead of DARK matter because I read “matter” as “mater,” and I wanted TENNIS [Borg specialty] to be something about assimilation. You can’t win ’em all.
- 93d. [Turtle-like enemy of Super Mario games] KOOPA. My first cat was named Koopa, because my husband and I are huge Super Mario fans. He looked nothing like a Koopa. He was about 20 pounds and fluffy as everything. We used to sing the Super Mario Bros. Underground theme to him. Anyway, this is a Koopa, if you are not aware of their cartoony turtly cuteness. please enjoy. Also, 21 minutes of the Underground Themes over 27 years of Super Mario games.
Thanks for letting me play this week!
Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword, “Clothes That Fit”—Amy’s write-up
Cute theme. Take two or three items of apparel and assign them to an apt person based on the meanings of their homonyms:
- 21a. [The aerobics instructor wore …] PANTS AND A SWEATER. Panting and sweating from exertion.
- 29a. [The lawyer wore a …] SUIT AND BRIEFS. Lawsuit, legal briefs.
- 46a. [The gardener wore …] BLOOMERS AND HOSE. Blooming flowers, garden hose.
- 62a. [The reptile expert wore a …] TURTLENECK, BOA, AND CROCS. Turtle, snake, crocodiles. Not sure anyone anywhere has worn a feather boa with foam Crocs, though! Not a winning drag queen/showgirl look.
- 74a. [The plumber wore a …] TUBE TOP AND CLOGS. Tubes as in pipes, clogged drain.
- 93a. [The boxer wore …] SOCKS AND A BELT. Sock and belt, the verbs meaning “wallop.”
- 103a. [The happily unemployed person wore …] SLACKS AND LOAFERS. Slacker, loafing around.
The theme’s quite well done, embodying plenty of surprises when you figure out all the homonym action. The only weak spot was that TUBE TOP tied to plumbing, but I liked everything else in the theme. Which is not common in a Sunday puzzle!
Five more things:
- 15d. [Famed claim from Louis XIV], L’ETAT C’EST MOI. Longer than the usual French crossword entry.
- 55d. [Dread Zeppelin and the Wholigans], TRIBUTE BANDS. I’m guessing Brendan Emmett Quigley has built a theme around tribute band names by now.
- 113a. [Sex ed topic], CONSENT. Great clue. When I was in high school, the issue of consent wasn’t brought up at all. I’m glad it is now.
- 57d. [Shake one’s defender], GET OPEN. As in team sports. Is this phrase truly in the language? My household sports fans say yes. Unfamiliar to me.
- 22d. [Religious branch sometimes spelled with an apostrophe], SHI’ISM. Not as commonly seen, I don’t think, as Shi’a and Shi’ite. It threw me. I kinda wanted BAHA’I, but we’d need the apostrophe to take its own square, similar to yesterday’s puzzle.
Only a couple fusty answers popped out at me, which is great for a 21×21 grid. 4.25 stars from me.
Alan Arbesfeld’s L.A. Times crossword, “Jam Session”—Angela’s writeup
- 22A: [Traffic jam?] TOYOTA JEEP AUDI KIA FORD
- 35A: [Raspberry jam?] YOU STINK BOO HISS GO HOME
- 52A: [Log jam?] ELM FIR OAK PINE ASH CEDAR
- 76A: [Pearl jam?] BAILEY HARBOR BUCK ONION
- 93A: [Space jam?] VENUS NEPTUNE PLUTO MARS
- 111A: [Paper jam?] GLOBE POST TIMES SUN NEWS
Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here sitting in for Andy today. Pretty simple concept here. Take familiar phrases that end with the word “jam” and jam a bunch of examples of the first word together. The only one that doesn’t really work for me is “raspberry.” The things on the list are things you might say to accompany a raspberry, but they’re not raspberries themselves. I also thought that one was going to be a list of specific varieties of actual raspberries, which worried me a little. (Me: “There are different kinds of raspberries? Well, yeah, I guess there would be.”) Had the same thought with the pearls and that one actually panned out. Can’t say that I knew any of those types of pearls, so I guess I learned something today.
Notes on the fill:
- 1A: [Best Supporting Actor nominee for “Forrest Gump”] SINISE. Whoa. There was someone in that movie besides Tom Hanks and Forest Whitaker? It was so long ago ….
- 29A: [Like many Richard Matheson stories] EERIE. Never heard of this author, but with the first E and the R in place, I assumed his stories must be EERIE.
- 33A: [Remains at the butcher] OFFAL. Ew.
- 50A: [Fed lines] CUED. I know I’ve seen this clue before, but it still threw me. In fact, I first entered CUES because I was reading the clue as “lines that are fed” instead of “fed lines to someone.”
- 69A: [Braves, but not Indians, briefly] NL’ERS. Ugh on many levels.
- 85A: [Modern research aid] GOOGLE. I kind of laugh these days when I see something that’s been around as long as Google being described as “modern.” I mean, I get it. It’s just kind of amusing.
- 1D: [Explorer Hernando de SOTO]. I actually entered GAMA first. Dumb mistake.
- 15D: [Big name in menswear] ADOLFO. Whatever you say.
- 50D: [Scissors need] PAIR. I guess I don’t understand this.
- 75D: [’50-’60s country singer McDonald] SKEETS. Would love to know if anyone got this without crosses.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Matching Bookends” — pannonica’s write-up
- 27a. [Pita filler (var.)] FELAFEL.
- 29a. [Celtic rival] TORONTO RAPTOR.
- 43a. [Subterranean] UNDERGROUND.
- 45a. [Brainiac] EINSTEIN.
- 59a. [Carrot-topped] RED-HAIRED.
- 62a. [Beta-carotene, e.g.] ANTIOXIDANT.
- 56a. [Surrogate for Santa] ELF ON A SHELF.
- 73a. [Teed off too hard] OVERDROVE.
- 89a. [Best at yelling] OUTSHOUT.
- 92a. [Serving as a small example] MICROCOSMIC.
- 103a. [Hollywood’s business] ENTERTAINMENT.
- 108a. [Whiz-bang ace] HOTSHOT.
The title would be more appropriate if the ends of the words and phrases reversed the trigrams.
Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good evening, everybody! How are you? Hope you’re well and enjoying the weekend!
Apologies that this post will be (super) short, since I’m in Boston and am about to head to Foxboro, MA to cover a football game. But definitely know that I had a whole lot of fun with Mr. Tony Orbach’s puzzle, especially since one of the entries, BOSS FIGHT, brought me back to my video game playing days and always wanting to defeat the final boss (villain) in any action video game (18A: [Critical battle for a gamer]). I hope to provide more detail of my thoughts in this same space once I settle down in Foxboro. Same goes for the “sports…smarter” moment as well.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BUCKS (39A: [Simoleons]) – If you like basketball, just know that one of the most exciting players in the NBA today, Giannis Antetokounmpo (nicknamed “The Greek Freak”) plays for the Milwaukee BUCKS. He’s 6’11”, plays point guard at that size, has athleticism out of the gym and, most importantly, he’s of Nigerian descent! (Born and raised in Greece to Nigerian immigrants.)
Have a great rest of your Sunday, everyone!