New puzzle blog from a familiar name—check out Bewilderingly, which is an anagram of “by Will Nediger,” for a smart indie puzzle each Monday. The first one had a fun feminist theme! Will includes his manifesto on the site: “I promise never to post a crossword with the entry EMAG.”
Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme is THE JOY OF COOKING, 40a. [Classic kitchen volume … or a hint to 18-, 24-/53- and 62-Across], and those other theme answers are ORANGE ZEST, TURKISH / DELIGHT, and CORN RELISH. If you have a ZEST, DELIGHT, or RELISH for something, you take joy in it. And some of you may be wondering, What on earth is TURKISH DELIGHT? My mom can tell you (and my sister would say “You’ve been eating what?”—Mom mentioned on Thanksgiving that she’s been hitting the Turkish delight of late). I’m not sure many picnics actually offer up any CORN RELISH. And for that matter, while you might find recipes for the other theme answers in a cookbook, ORANGE ZEST is an ingredient, so the theme feels a little inconsistent.
As usual in the Tuesday NYT, there are plenty of answers and clues that are not at all pitched to beginning solvers. The muse CLIO, ASP, HAMAN, ECRU, ELIHU, CEE as a letter grade, SET AT … I mean, really. Ask anyone in your family or workplace who hasn’t been doing crosswords for years, “Give me a 5-letter answer that means [Attacked],” and I’m pretty sure that SETAT is not going to be among their first 20 answers. And [Snake for a charmer]—99% of people are probably going to suggest COBRA rather than ASP. As for [Diplomat Root], 5 letters, the vast majority of crossword newbies will just stare blankly.
Five more things:
- 9a. [Sorority sisters, e.g., in old lingo], COEDS. Good lord, no. Not as a noun. Whatever you do, don’t Google “coeds” unless you want to find a lot of porn sites. Would it have been terrible to add a pair of cheater/helper squares in the NE/SW corners, clue COED (with ETAT remaining from SET AT) as an adjective that applies to dormitories, and tweaking the opposite corner? Losing ALCOA is no sacrifice.
- 35a. [Purim villain], HAMAN. The story of Haman is, I think, not very familiar to us goyim, but our Jewish compatriots are hip to Haman and can probably tell us which hamantashen cookie filling is best.
- 44a. [Surgeon’s insertion], STENT. Could also be an interventional cardiologist’s insertion (and they’re internists, not surgeons). Which is not to say that other stents aren’t placed by surgeons.
- 48a. [Image of Homer, perhaps], CEL. I’m truly surprised to learn that you can buy “original production cels” for The Simpsons. I’d have thought everything was digital.
- 12d. [“Boogie Oogie Oogie” music genre], DISCO. That song doesn’t make Giorgio Moroder’s list of the 35 best disco songs. Click through for his playlist!
2.6 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 287), “Parting the Parting Words”—Janie’s take
Boy, there’s a lot to like in this puzzle. We get five themers, all “parting words,” distributed across two other container words, with each pairing being “parted” by a black square. I’ll get my one complaint about the theme execution out of the way right now, because it’s the only thing keeping this one from being a slam-dunk (imho…): some of those parting words break up into discrete word units; some don’t. In a perfect world, they all would, and as we all know: a perfect world this ain’t. But if the themers don’t always have an optimal split, most of them fall into some cool containers (each of which also counts as theme material in my book).
- “FAREWELL!” comes to us by way of 17- and 18A. [Flying fee] AIR FARE and [“Precisely!”] “WELL PUT!” Love the conciseness of “WELL PUT!”
- “CIAO!” by way of 25- and 29A. [“Brady Bunch” girl] MARCIA and [Algerian seaport] ORAN. The Brady Bunch. “MARCIA, MARCIA, MARCIA!” Florence Henderson, RIP.
- “GOODBYE!” from 37- and 39A. [Acted charitably] DID GOOD and [Idle time for an NFL team] BYE WEEK. Ooh. Never heard that term before, though (from tennis and from March Madness) know what a BYE is. Even if the meaning gets altered a bit, it makes perfect sense here. As for the first part of the pair, happy “Giving Tuesday,” all.
- “TA-TA!” is from 47- and 48A. [“LET A Smile Be Your Umbrella”] and [Fez attachment] TASSEL.
- “ADIOS!” from 59- and 61A. [Popular talk show medium] AM RADIO and [Figaro’s home] SEVILLE. As in The Barber of…
In addition to all of the longer “container” themers, there’s more first-rate fill to be found in all four (open) corners as well, and how I ADMIRE its presence in the grid. Lookin’ at you: CRANIUM (wittily clued with the anatomical and not pejorative [Head case?]), EXUDING, SNIFTER, FELL OUT (which recalls the wistful ending of Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling in Love with Love” and the singer’s admission that after doing so, “…love FELL OUT with me”), and the Renaissance’s TITIAN.
Also really like those two vertical tenners: the excellent LIP READERS, clued with the punny
[They see what you’re saying], and (wow wow wow) that RED ADMIRAL [Brightly colored butterfly]. This, too, was entirely new to me, but inferrable (I’ve heard of the “blue monarch”…) and eminently gettable from the crosses. “EUREKA” and TALENT, LIED TO and VULCAN also pull their weight in making this grid an exemplar of lively and literate fill. And the side-by-side/juxtaposed LIEGE and YOKEL add a little leavening to the mix.
So all-in-all, this is one lovely puzzle and (shockeroo) I’ve nothing more to say except: farewell, ciao, goodbye, ta-ta and adios. Til we meet again next week, keep solving!
Michael Dewey’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sleep Talking” — Jim’s review
Cute theme today where phrases that essentially mean “going to sleep” are clued as if one of the keywords is taken literally.
- 17a [Sleeping like a sycophant?] NODDING OFF. Because a sycophant nods (yes) a lot. (See 68a [Sycophant’s answers].)
- 27a [Sleeping like a thief?] TAKING A SNOOZE. Because a thief takes things.
- 44a [Sleeping like a frustrated farmer?] HITTING THE HAY. Because frustrated farmers take it out on hay bales (I presume).
- 59a [Sleeping like a linebacker?] SACKING OUT. Because linebackers sack QBs.
I’m still not sure how “Talking” fits into the theme, but for the most part, the theme works. I always appreciate looking at a word or phrase in a different way, and this theme does that well.
The rest of the fill and clues felt fresh, too. We get SIDE STREET, PIG PEN, OIL TYCOONS, GENIUSES, JUNEAU, WAIKIKI, and WHITNEY.
Favorite clues were for the aforementioned SIDE STREET [Possible cure for congestion?], TOMATO [Heckler’s projectile], and HACKER [Electronic invader].
There are plenty of examples of crosswordese in ELOI, OBI, EKE, NORI, ETD, and RESEW (crossing RENEW). But there’s good short stuff too like MOSH, ZOOT, GLOMS, and BLOT.
Overall, the negatives aren’t too bad and the pluses win hands down. A good, solid Tuesday puzzle.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Believe It” – Derek’s write-up
I was, and I guess still am, a fan of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series of comics and books. I remember reading them a lot when I was younger; I don’t read many comics period anymore since I don’t read newspapers like I used to. But I digress! The theme of this puzzle is, literally, unbelievable! If this puzzle seemed weird, it’s because it is! The revealer at 34-Across reveals what is going on:
- 34A [Process scrupulously utilized by all news outlets (which I obviously didn’t do with a single clue in this puzzle)] FACT CHECK
I am willing to bet this puzzle’s theme came about from reading all the stories about people believing fake news on websites like Facebook, and never bothering to fact check anything! But before I slam people in this country for falling for things like this, I must admit: some of these clues seemed correct! But make no mistake: there is a lie in EVERY CLUE! I am not going to go into detail on every clue, since you can Google the correct information if there is something that doesn’t seem off. But I will list a few, including a clip of one of the movie quotes cited. Fun, ambitious puzzle, Matt! 4.7 stars.
Just a few examples of his lies!
- 1A [Sushi fish also called yellowtail] AHI – AHI is yellowFIN tuna!
- 4A [Amount a cab driver gives to you] FARE – This should be the other way around; you give money TO the cab driver!
- 8A [“__” O’Riley” (“CSI: Miami” theme song)] BABA – This song is the theme for CSI: New York! Won’t Get Fooled Again is the Who song that is the theme for CSI: Miami.
- 17A [Exact quote from Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street”] GREED IS GOOD – The theme answers in this puzzle are all movie quotes except for 58A, which is a Shakespeare reference, but they all involve quotes that are often misquoted! Gekko doesn’t exactly say “Greed is good!” but that is the gist. I found a video on YouTube that shows this.
You get the idea! All in all a fun puzzle, especially when you figure out what is going on and try to figure out which part of the clue is untrue! Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have a vertical theme in this one, and because of what the theme is, it is necessary! (At least for aesthetic reasons!) Here are the theme, or starred, entries along with the revealer:
- 3D [Screenwriter’s work for the first episode] PILOT SCRIPT
- 19D [Orangy Crayola color] NEON CARROT
- 21D [Simple-to-use] IDIOT PROOF
- 25D [Symbol of bureaucracy] RED TAPE
- 27D [Dizzy … and a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues] LIGHT HEADED
Get it? pilot light, neon light, idiot light, and red light. FYI, an “idiot light” is a dash warning light. Interesting info here about how there used to be gauges that tell you something might be going wrong, instead of a light that tells you it’s wrong after it may be too late! A nice theme, and a nice easy solve for this one. 3.8 stars.
Just a few notes:
- 20A [“Get off the stage!”] BOO HISS – Loved this one!
- 43A [Techie’s hangout] PC LAB – Nice entry. Consonant heavy!
- 49A [Georgia, but not Florida] NATION – A tad tricky for a Tuesday!
- 5D [Analyzed, as a sentence] PARSED – I actually heard someone use this in a sentence, but I can’t remember what I was watching!
- 44D [Tubular Italian pastries] CANNOLI – Getting hungry again …
… and on that note I’m going to to have a piece of pie! Have a great week!
Brad Wilber’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Rarae Aves” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! If you’re in the New York City area or at another place where it’s pouring, here’s hoping you are staying dry. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Brad Wilber, certainly isn’t for the birds, though there are four bird puns that entertain you as the theme entries in the grid!
- EIDER LUPINO (20A: [Feathered “High Sierra” star?]) – Ida Lupino.
- HERON SORKIN (36A: [Feathered creator of “The West Wing”?]) – Aaron Sorkin.
- SWAN CONNERY (42A: [Feathered James Bond portrayer?]) – Sean Connery.
- BOOBY VINTON (57A: [Feathered “Blue on Blue” singer?]) – Bobby Vinton. Despite the mention of this song, I have his “Blue Velvet” rendition in mind right now! I like it.
Knowing that Mr. Wilber constructed this puzzle, I knew I was going to struggle with certain clues since it wouldn’t be down my wheelhouse. I knew that the clue to ANTONIO referenced Shakespeare, but I’m not that strong in his works outside of the well-known works, so I needed almost all of the crossings to get that (9D: [Owner of the “pound of flesh” sought by Shylock]). Oh, and then there was ANJA, another entry requiring its intersecting crosses to bail me out (39D: [Soprano Harteros]). I’m sure that experience is similar to other crossword solvers, at least when it comes to pop culture and/or sports clues, but, unlike those who might bemoan it, I actually embrace it and want to know and learn about subjects (topics) and subjects (people) that I’m not familiar with. At least I was familiar with ANGELA, and getting that entry was the key to helping me to figure out what was going on with the theme today (4D: [Cartwright who costarred in “The Sound of Music”]). Also, it helped that I (correctly) guessed GERM instead of “odor” when coming across its clue (25D: [Lysol target]). That also allowed me to fill in my favorite entry of the day, TIN GODS (24A: [Swollen-headed authority figures]). Tough, yet lovely grid, at least from my perspective, even with the presence of BRNO in it (58D: [Seat of the Czech Republic’s Supreme Court]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PONDER (50D: [Mull over]) – It’s a sports love story. Current National Football League player Christian PONDER serves as the No. 3 quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Ponder, who played his collegiate football at Florida State, was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Christian is married to current ESPN college football sideline reporter Samantha Ponder (née Steele), who is probably the network’s highest-profile sideline reporter after Erin Andrews left for Fox Sports. Reportedly, the two decided to get married in 2012 after just two months of seeing each other, and that their wedding meal was at Arby’s. Hey, you just can’t make this stuff up.
Thank you so much for time, and I’ll see you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!