Herre Schouwerwou’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Quick take tonight. Theme revealer is 60a. [Surprised reaction … or a hint to what can precede both halves of the answers to the starred clues], DOUBLE TAKE. Each of the five theme answers consists of a two-word phrase or a compound word in which each component can follow the word TAKE. HEART SHAPE, COVER CHARGE, DOWN HOME, BACK AWAY, and AFTEREFFECT (the one-word outlier) feed into take heart, take shape, etc.
- 14a. [___ Bunt, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” henchwoman], IRMA. Who?? On a Tuesday, you drop an IRMA who’s almost never in crosswords?
- 1d. [Crusade against “infidels”], JIHAD. Something about those quotation marks doesn’t sit right with me.
- 43a. [Partial rainbow near the horizon], SUNDOG. This is also an effect seen over Lake Michigan on a bitterly cold morning last week. Meteorologist Tom Skilling gathered folks’ photos of the local sundogs.
- 38d. [Suffering from senility, say], HALF GONE. What a terrible, thoughtless clue.
- 34d. [Humorist who wrote “Candy / Is dandy / But liquor / Is quicker”], OGDEN NASH. I always enjoy Ogden Nash but just realized that maybe this particular rhyme espouses rape culture.
Three stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 291), “Farewell, 2016″—Janie’s take
Only four days more and then (in the words of Weird Al Y.), “Another one rides the bus.” To which Ms. Gorski says at 67A. [“Toodle-oo!” … and a hint to the theme hidden in five horizontal answers], or: “TA-TA!” With no circles to guide us (something I’m glad of), notice how the first two letters of each word in the two-word-themers are “T-A.” A fitting year-end send-off. I only wish the themers packed more punch than they do. They’re serviceable all right, but—as a theme set—not particularly sparkly (in a festive, end-of-year way…).
- 17A. TATE TAYLOR [Director of “The Help” and “The Girl on the Train”]. Where the latter is concerned, this one. Not this one, which Amazon Prime is offering, but doesn’t look to be worth the time—free or not. That said, the one with Emily Blunt is perhaps only marginally better…
- 25A. TALL TALE [Unlikely story].
- 38A. TAKEOVER TARGETS [Companies eyed by Microsoft or Apple]. Grid-spanner.
- 50A. TAX TABLE [Columned chart in an IRS publication].
- 62A. TAILOR TACK [Dressmaker’s pattern marker]. When I was a kid, my mom made a lot of my clothes, so I’m very familiar with the term. In case you’re not, these pix show a variety of methods, including the use of multiple threads, and chalk…
Oh, for some TABLE TALK. Oh, for some TART TATIN! But (because of TARTS [Small fruit pies], for one) ’twasn’t to be. Ça va.
We do get some fine, longer fill, though, with WENT TO SEA and PAINTINGS. The latter is particularly evocative since it’s been clued as [“The Milkmaid” and “The Scream,” e.g.], and what a study in contrasts this pair makes! Nice, too, that the punny [Top drawer?] clues ARTIST, which shares top-row-down billing with those PAINTINGS. (In that same row, also like TO A MAN.)
WHATNOT [This, that and the other] is a fun pairing, and not to be confused with ETC. [Shorthand for “blah, blah, blah”], another good clue. I also like ENCORES, those [Recital extras] and the way they can also be heard during a night at the OPERA, so to speak. And if OPERA aint’ your thing, you can spend some time with pop music’s BABS Streisand, or jazzy Mabel MERCER, or rock’s THE WHO. Something for everyone.
In a puzzle with “TA-TA” as a theme, TAE BO, with its initial TA (ditto TARTS…) is not entirely welcome. No way to legitimately [“Make IT A double!”]. Different syllable, I know, but along those “double” lines, NO-NO seemed right at home.
Several lively, punny clues today, and I’ve already mentioned [Top drawer?]. But let me also call out [Like hot stuff?] for STOLEN (and not for someone who enjoys sriracha,) and [Fed the kitty?] for ANTED (and not for someone who presented Fancy Feast to his/her pet). Oh—and I also like the rhymed [Stick with a kick] for TNT. Full disclosure: it took me longer than I care to admit to parse that one…
And where Crossword Nation is concerned, dear readers, that is a wrap for 2016. Going into 2017, wish I could say I feel as placid as Vermeer’s subject looks, but fear Munch’s guy more accurately captures my inner state these days. Breathe, Jane… And maybe keep solvin’. Yeah. That’s the ticket. Wishing you all good health and only the best in the coming year!
Martin Leechman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Wicked Game” — Jim’s review
Clever title in this puzzle that makes you think of the Chris Isask hit. But there’s a pronunciation switcheroo in it. It’s not the two-syllable synonym for evil we’re looking at, but instead the one-syllable word meaning “something with a wick” — that is, CANDLES, as we’re told at 62a [What the answers to the starred clues all have].
- 13a [*Hanukah display] MENORAH
- 22a [*They might serve the party] BIRTHDAY CAKES
- 36a [*Some Valentine’s plans] ROMANTIC DINNERS
- 48a [*Halloween decorations] JACK-O-LANTERNS
This type of theme works fine in the early week and the tricky title elevates it, so I thought this one worked really well.
Interesting, and kinda nice, how each one is a celebration or holiday that isn’t Christmas.
We get a clean grid and a lot of fun fill today. FOLK SONG, TAKE HEAT, RADICALS, I GET THAT, and the oldie but goodie YO MAMA are the best of the lot. MADE CLEAR in the center is fine but tripped me up; I wanted MADE AWARE in answer to the clue [Elucidated].
We also get plenty of 7s in the corners that are as long as two of the theme answers (hence the need for the asterisks). My favorite of these are 18a LA JOLLA and 61a WINSOME. This last one contrasts nicely with its crossing at 50d LAMER, which isn’t really LAMER at all, but LA MER [Debussy opus].
One low point is the 7-letter partial IN SMOKE (17a, [Bad way for things to go up]). Further, its grid counterpart at 57a feels like another partial (THE NILE, as in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile though it’s clued as [Place for Cleopatra’s barge]), but at least it feels like it can stand on its own more stably, so it gets a pass.
Clues of note:
- 7a [Reminder of an old flame?] is ASH. Clever, clever clue, this.
- 22d [Exquisite trinket] is BIJOU. I think I may have heard of this definition for the word, but I needed most of the crossings before I could dredge it up.
- 15a [Circular cousin] had me thinking wood shop, hence I plopped in BAND SAW immediately. But that’s not right, is it? Here we’re talking about advertisements, and the correct answer LEAFLET.
- 33d [Second chance for a couch potato] is RERUN. Do people watch reruns anymore? With so many streaming options and on-demand viewing, do TV networks still actually show reruns?
Overall, a good puzzle and a good start to this netherweek. See you tomorrow.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Moon Shots” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! I hope you’re all doing very well today as we continue our countdown of the final days of 2016. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson, takes us to the moon and back, as the final word in each of the theme entries is also a moon phase (or shape).
- WHAT ELSE IS NEW (20A: [“Tell me something I don’t know”])
- FERTILE CRESCENT (25A: [Cradle of early civilization])
- CANADIAN QUARTER (43A: [Coin that ordinarily features a caribou on its tails side])
- PAYMENT IN FULL (49A: [It may be required to close an account])
I had been getting a little better with my knowledge of Pokémon, especially this past summer when hanging out with the constructor of this puzzle in August, but, sadly, I needed the crossings to figure out ABRA today (4D: [Pokémon that can eventually evolve into an Alakazam]). Liked the long fill in the grid, especially given the fact that I need a drink right now after a long few days of work. Probably will go with a couple of MAI TAIS (5D: [Tropical rum cocktails]) more than I would a HALF CAF, especially since I’m no fan of coffee, no matter the time of day it is (42D: [Somewhat stimulating coffee order]). Absolutely loved the clue/entry combination that featured with SPOILERS (9D: [Unwelcome giveaways, often]). SPOILER ALERT: the “sports…smarter” clue will come after this sentence!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NORSE (31D: [Like Thor and Loki]) – What if I told you that you can find a lot of the entry featured right now in Highland Heights, Kentucky? The athletics teams at Northern Kentucky University are nicknamed the NORSE, and the school was known for having one the best men’s basketball programs in Division II not too long ago. The Norse men’s basketball team finished as national runner-up in both 1996 and 1997. NKU moved up to Division I in 2012.
See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Keep Dividing” – Derek’s write-up
Only three thematic entries in this one, but Matt rewards us with great fill otherwise. Clever theme, too: let’s add a fraction to some common phrases and clue the ensuing silliness!
- 17A [50% of an ice cream dessert?] HALF-BAKED ALASKA
- 41A [25% of property to play in?] QUARTERBACK YARD
- 66A [12.5% of a push-up undergarment?] EIGHTH WONDER-BRA
I told you it was clever! They’re even in order; they get progressively smaller by 1/2 each time! Nice and tidy, surely pleasing the theme gods! 4.3 stars.
A few comments:
- 1A [“Better Call Saul” star Odenkirk] BOB – Still gotta finish watching Breaking Bad before I tackle this one.
- 40A [Mythical monster that’s part woman, part serpent] LAMIA – This is a toughie, unless you’re a big fan of sci fi!
- 74A [“__ Like the Wind” (Patrick Swayze song)] SHE’S – To get stuck in your head:
- 4D [Titular TV attorney of the ’90s – ’00s] MCBEAL – Ah, I remember Ally McBeal well. Even though I really didn’t watch it much. Here’s something else to get stuck in your head:
- 34D [Cremona violinmaking family name] AMATI – I need to research this family and Stradivarius so I have them straight as to who’s who!
- 51D [“The Jerk” actress Bernadette] PETERS – I am old, so I remember her. According to imdb.com, she was on an episode or two of Ally McBeal!
Matt is still a master! Hopefully we will see him again at the ACPT, which is rapidly approaching!
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Fun little puzzle. Sometimes you don’t realize how many common phrases share initials! And a clever reveal at 62A:
- 16A [Shellfish dish in a cream sauce] LOBSTER NEWBERG
- 24A [Drivers’ ID figures] LICENSE NUMBERS
- 41A [Chemical used for quick freezing] LIQUID NITROGEN
- 54A [The Times in Los Angeles, e.g.] LOCAL NEWSPAPER
- 62A [Popular afternoon talk show, familiarly, and a homophonic hint to this puzzle’s four longest answers] ELLEN
As in “LN” for the homophonic hint! I guess it is technically called Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show according to imdb.com. Who knew? Usually you hear on the promos “On the next Ellen!” and that’s it. Oh, and I almost forgot: we have a 14×16 grid, which is almost mandatory with four 14-letters answers. Nice off-beat puzzle! 4.2 stars.
A few notes:
- 28A [Convention clip-on] ID TAG – I had BADGE in here instead. Slowed me down, but just for a sec!
- 47A [Stores, as ashes] INURNS – Yuk! Nobody says this, unless you’re an undertaker. And even then … I bet not!
- 9D [Apple computer discontinued in 2006] POWER MAC – Wasn’t there also a Power PC that did both PC and Mac? I’ve slept since 2006!
- 27D [Minn. neighbor] N. DAK. – This is also nowadays likely a crossword only entry. Most would simply write ND as an abbreviation. I could be wrong, though: I have never been to North Dakota!
- 37D [Exacta relative] QUINELLA – This means you pick the first two winners of a horse race, in either order. I had to look this up, since I don’t gamble and I ESPECIALLY would never bet on animals!
- 52D [Viral internet phenomenon] MEME – This word seems to be fairly new. Maybe from the last five years or so? And is it meem or mehm?
It’s still cold here in Indiana! Come on spring!