Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Car Towing” – Erin’s writeup
Clever concept in which the word CAR is relocated from the “tow-away zones” (left-sided theme entries) to the “impound lots” of the right-sided ones:
- 23a. [Climb atop director Brooks? (TOW-AWAY ZONE)] MOUNT MEL. Mount Carmel.
- 25a. [Kindhearted model Electra? (IMPOUND LOT)] GENTLE CARMEN. Gentlemen.
- 44a. Tirade about a board game with stones?] PENTE RANT. Carpenter ant.
- 46a. [Engage in some proofreading one-upmanship?] DRUMPF CARETS. Trumpets.
- 66a. [Steed stopper state?] REIN NATION. Reincarnation.
- 68a. [What a revered beetle needs to become clean?] SCARAB BATH. Sabbath.
- 85a. [Impatient cry to the first female Supreme Court justice when it’s her turn in Monopoly?] ROLL O’CONNOR. Carroll O’Connor.
- 89a. [Way for a surfer to say “Cool!” to a mythical boy with wings?] RAD ICARUS. Radius.
- 108a. [Flight that Harry Potter could take with his own personal hippogriff?] MAGIC PET RIDE. Magic carpet ride.
- 112a. [Alarming show of approval?] SCARY NOD. Synod.
There are also an IMPALA and a PASSAT in the NE and SW corners.
- 8d. [Residents carry them] PAGERS. I still have nightmares about pager beeps and hospital monitor alarms ringing. Many physicians use their phones, but pagers are useful for situations in which several people need to be contacted at once.
- 42d. [Actor-singer Crothers] SCATMAN. Music, film, TV, he did it all. I didn’t realize he was the voice of Hong Kong Phooey and of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon.
- 117a. [Tea total?] TWO. “Tea for two and two for tea.” Cute!
- 7d. [45 player?] BALDWIN. A reference to Alec BALDWIN’s recent recurring role on Saturday Night Live. I’m wondering how this was clued in the original Devil Cross version of this puzzle.
Until next week!
Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword, “Advice to Writers”—Jim Q’s write-up
When the byline says Tom McCoy, you’re almost guaranteed a fun solve. I don’t think there’s a puzzle he’s made that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed (excuse the use of contractions if you will, Tom).
Fans of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style will appreciate today’s puzzle. Or maybe they’ll hate it (Ugh- I just wrote a fragment). Every writing tip that’s offered in the theme is broken within the answer itself.
23-Across: NEVER GENERALIZE. Never, you say? Never?
33-Across: POOFREAD CARFULY. I’m guessing this was entry easy for Tom to tailor to proper symmetrical length.
49-Across: NO SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. Except for that one, of course. And although I teach this rule to my middle schoolers, it’s a writing tip I refuse to follow. Know the rules. Then break them.
68-Across: PASSIVES MUST BE SHUNNED. By whom? What’s the actual subject of this sentence? Nonetheless, you must shun passives. And maybe use a word less dramatic than shun when giving writing advice. It’s a bit pretentious.
85-Across: DON’T USE CONTRACTIONS. Okay. I won’t.
104-Across: AVOID REDUNDANCY. Finally! Some good advice that the constructor himself seems to take seriously! That is, until you get to…
118-Across: AVOID REDUNDANCY. This has to be the worst dupe I’ve ever seen in a crossword. How did Shortz miss this?
Tom is one of those constructor’s who clearly cares about the rest of the solver experience outside of the theme. The fill is remarkably clean for a 21×21 grid, and the cluing kept it lively.
86-Down: [Homework lover, maybe] NERD. This might also be clued as One who is completing this crossword puzzle in a bar on a Saturday night (See pic- I’m livin’ large).
119-Across: [Like William Carlos William’s wheelbarrow] RED. I just started teaching my imagery unit to seventh grade yesterday using this poem.
46-Down: [Templeton from “Charlotte’s Web,” e.g.] RAT. Unintentional I’m sure, but I couldn’t help but think this was a nod to E.B. White as one of the contributors to Elements of Style. Anyone else overthink crossword entries from time to time?
I WAS CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY:
97-Across: [Character that goes “waka, waka, waka…”] PAC MAN. Say, huh? I could’ve sworn it was a Sesame Street character. Also, no one plays PAC MAN. It’s MS. PAC MAN that everyone plays. Give the girl her due! *update at bottom of post
58-Down: [___ Day (June event, informally)] DADS. No. No one calls this DAD’S DAY and no one refers to it as an event either. Would’ve preferred a Modern Family clue or something else that hinted at the existence/acceptance of same-sex parents.
41-Across: [Got up there] AGED. Just today, someone asked me how old I was. I told him I was 36. His response: “I’m 50… so we’re not that far apart.” Sigh. Truth hurts.
67-Across: [Home to Ithaca, Athens, and Olympia]. I foolishly wrote in ULM– which makes zero sense- but the lack of abbreviation in the clue kept me from immediately writing U.S.A. Interested to hear if others think the clue should’ve suggested an abbreviation, or if U.S.A. is common enough that it’s unnecessary.
Every themer in this was clever and fun to uncover, and with solid fill, it’s hard for me to rate this as anything below 4.5 stars.
Great work, Tom!
*I was wrong on many accounts in my criticism of the waka, waka, waka… clue.
1) It’s a “Muppets” character, not “Sesame Street.”
2) He only says “Waka” twice.
3) Google autofills Pac-Man when you type in “waka” thrice… and Google always wins.
Please excuse my ignorance.
Jim Holland’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Product Expansion”—Jim Q’s write-up
Jim Holland’s puzzle today reimagines several company products if they were to “expand” (add on) to what they were already known for.
22-Across: HONDA ACCORDIONS [Automaker’s expansion into music?]. I wonder if they would change the sound of the car horn too while they were at it. It’d be hard to take a vehicle blaring polka seriously.
45-Across: HERSHEY BARBELLS [Candy company’s expansion into exercise equipment].
72-Across: DIXIE CUPCAKES [Drink container company’s expansion into bakery products?]. When I think Dixie Cups, I think of mediocre ice cream served with an awful miniature tongue depressor. Haven’t had one of those since I was perhaps eight years old, but the memory is distinct.
95-Across: TIFFANY LAMPREYS [Jewelry company’s expansion into fishing for delicacies?] Is lamprey a delicacy? This seems like a niche market for expansion! According to Wikipedia: On 4 March 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation pie was made by the Royal Air Force using lampreys. That sounds like the worst pie ever. I’ll take apple.
122-Across: CLOROX BLEACHERS [Cleaning products company’s expansion into arena seating?]. Hope the spectators are wearing white pants.
14-Down: BIC PENDANTS [Writing implement company’s expansion into jewelry]. They’re probably taking advantage of the market since Tiffany foolishly decided to go into the lamprey business.
71-Down: SOS PADLOCKS [Kitchen supplies company’s expansion into security?] Is S.O.S. a company? According to its own webpage, it’s from the makers of Clorox. So this one seems like an outlier- perhaps even a semi-dupe.
The theme was fun enough- nothing too fresh, nothing too stale. Fine Sunday fare.
Nothing too noteworthy in the fill or its clues either. AGORA, IPANA, OCTO, ITAL, DORO, GTE, INOR, ELIA, SRA, ILE, and NEO all came to the party as they often do.
The only thing that I got hung up on for a bit was 35-Down PALMYRA [Ancient Syrian trade center]. My geography and knowledge of Social Studies is embarrassingly awful. I was hoping crosswords would fix this for me, but it hasn’t happened yet. Throughout grade school, my older sister had the same teachers as I… and she would file away all of her homework and tests before storing them in the attic. Then two years later, I would open those files, memorize the test answers, and ace it. This only worked for Social Studies, because they’re the only teachers who never changed their curriculum or their test questions.
So in other words, I blame them.
Anyway when I saw _ EA _ ENDS, my gut reaction was to fill in DEAD ENDS without reading the clue. That didn’t help my PALMYRA situation.
Puzzle did the job.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “You Can’t Do That in a Crossword!” — panNOnica’s write-up
A collection of clichéd admonishments.
- 23a. [“You can’t …”] HANDLE THE TRUTH.
- 38a. [“You can’t …”] KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN.
- 54a. [“You can’t …”] FIX STUPID.
- 56a/73a. [“You can’t …”] JUDGE A BOOK | BY ITS COVER.
- 76a. [“You can’t …”] HURRY LOVE. See also 42d [“The Things We ___ Love”] DO FOR.
- 87a. [“You can’t …”] GET BLOOD FROM A STONE.
- 107a. [“You can’t …”] HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.
Must keep this brief.
- New word to me, or possibly one long since forgotten: 11d [Extracted with a solvent] ELUTED.
- Didn’t understand 24d [Kayak purchase] TRIP until just now, recalling that it’s a travel website, and realizing the clue contains a masked capital. Still don’t understand 50d [Country “home,” maybe] IPOD.
I can’t … linger.