Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!” – Erin’s writeup
Today’s offering comes with a note: “This puzzle’s chief weapon is surprise.” Intriguing…
- 23a. [Female horse handle? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about movie stars?)] MARQUEE NAME
- 25a. [Start of a conversation with Fox News analyst Hume? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about monikers?)] SOBRIQUET
- 39a. [Wedding VIPs’ fight? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about flowers?)] BRIDAL BOUQUET
- 55a. [Minimum number of roles an actor can get? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about hardwood?)] PARQUET FLOOR
- 80a. [Field for analyzing an old medical show? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about LGBT issues?)] QUEER STUDIES
- 93a. [Against a Vegas worker? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about selling heirlooms?)] ANTIQUE DEALER
- 111a. [Valentine’s alias, briefly? (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about a famous drummer?)] QUESTLOVE
- 114a. [“Are there breaks in this song?” (Surprise! Did you expect a clue about asking what someone wants from the market?)] ANY REQUESTS
All the theme entries contain QU, which is unexpected, but not the complete surprise. The theme is explained at 115d. [Word of Spanish inquisition that maybe you didn’t expect to see in this puzzle’s theme entries]. The answer is QUÉ, the Spanish word for “what,” as in “Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition ¿QUÉ?…to show up in their crossword entries!” Removing these letters allows the clues to make sense. A “female horse handle” is not a MARQUEE NAME but a MARE NAME, chatting with Hume is SO, BRIT, and so on.
Also included in 117a. and 21a. [With 21 Across, member of the comedy troupe that made this puzzle’s title famous] is ERIC IDLE of Monty Python. I hadn’t watched any of their ‘Spanish Inquisition’ bits until now, so please enjoy if you wish.
- Nice fill crossing the Qs of the theme entries, including QATARI, I QUIT, ESQUIRE, and
- 41d. [Strawberry ___ (old Nestlé drink)] QUIK. The product line was called Nesquik in most countries and became Nesquik worldwide in 1999. I remember drinking powdered chocolate Nestlé QUIK as a child, but I remember using the strawberry syrup instead of the powder, and it looks like they were completely Nesquik by then. Not a fan of the strawberry.
- 8d. [West once on TV] ADAM. Rest in peace, Batman.
- 69d. [Self important person?] Tried to fit EGOIST here when I had only the E and I in place (even though the I is in the wrong spot for EGOIST). Eventually got EDITOR, partly thanks to the neighboring TIE ROD mentioning it’s an anagram of 69d. Finally realized the clue contains a hidden capital S, and we’re looking for an important person for the magazine Self.
- 47d. [Golden Corral offering] BUFFET. My father likes to eat at Golden Corral, so we wind up there when we visit my parents. I started solving crosswords thanks to him. He would finish what he could, and I started getting the crossword dictionary and the regular dictionary and the encyclopedia to try to figure out the remaining spots. Eventually I would try to grab the paper before he woke up on the weekends. (He wasn’t a fan of that.) Anyway, I owe him a ton of gratitude for starting me on this almost-lifelong hobby. Thank you, Dad.
Until next week.
Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword, “First for Knowledge”—Amy’s write-up
The theme takes familiar phrases (like the title’s base phrase “thirst for knowledge”) and changes a TH sound into an F sound. The results are decent:
- 24a. [Make lots of people stop in their tracks?], FREEZE A CROWD. Three’s a crowd.
- 42a. [Unnecessary extras that don’t cost much?], CHEAP FRILLS. Thrills. Good themer, as “cheap frills” almost sounds like an actual thing.
- 63a. [Brother who’s a criminal?], FELONIOUS MONK. Thelonious. I’m sure this was the theme’s germ, as we’ve all made that Thelonious/felonious wordplay.
- 86a. [Annoy actors Keaton and Crabbe?], MIFF BUSTERS. Mythbusters.
- 105a. [Safety worry?], SECURITY FRET. Threat. “Fret” is mostly a verb, but I just now learned that it’s also a British noun meaning “a state of anxiety or worry.” Will is Canadian, so perhaps that usage is more familiar to him than to this American.
- 3d. [With 44-Down, half-dozen real estate agents?], SIX CHARACTERS IN / SEARCH OF AN OFFER. Six Characters in Search of an Author, absurdist play.
Solid sound-substitution theme. I wish the title were different, though, since 86d ME FIRST repeats a title word.
Mind blown: 15a. [Noted brand once owned by a utopian colony in Iowa], AMANA. All these years of crossword clues referencing the Amana Colonies and Amana appliances, and not once do I recall learning that they’re the same Amana people.
Fresh CHE clue! 67a. [Subject of the photo “Guerrillero Heroico”], CHE Guevara. The iconic T-shirt/poster design is drawn from this photo, which the photographer cropped to remove another guy and a palm tree. I learned about the photo’s circumstances from a Learned League trivia question this spring: “A memorial service for victims of the 1960 explosion of the French freighter La Coubre in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, has been recorded (and duplicated) for posterity thanks to a photograph taken there of what man?”
Favorite clue: 42d. [About which you might ask “One lump or two?”], CAMEL. I wanted SUGAR. It’s true that we speak of camels’ humps rather than lumps, but I still liked being tricked.
Fill’s mostly solid. Four stars from me. Also! Check out Will’s blog, Bewilderingly, for a new crossword each Monday.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Up On the Roof” — pannonica’s write-up
- 23a. [Top hit for roofers?] NUMBER ONE SHINGLE (… single).
- 37a. [Apt little mascot for roofers?] CHIMNEY CRICKET (Jiminy …).
- 53a. [Roofer with a specialty?] THE GABLE GUY (… Cable …).
- 66a. [How-to film for roofers?] ALL ABOUT EAVES (… Eve).
- 79a. [Confusion up on the roof?] GUTTER CHAOS (utter …).
- 94a. [Diabolical spot on the roof?] PEAK OF THE DEVIL (speak …).
- 112a. [“Fiddler on the Roof” tune for roofers?] IF I WERE A RIDGE MAN (… Rich …). Oh, a roof pun about something that also references a roof. Meta.
Not part of the theme: 121a [Roofless homes] TEPEES.
- 26a [Hockey shot] SLAP. No, I don’t think you can get away with that.
- 74a [Glacial pinnacle] SERAC. “French sérac, literally, a kind of white cheese, from Medieval Latin seracium whey, from Latin serum whey — more at serum.” (m-w) 91d [A.k.a. Chomolungma] EVEREST. 62d [Warriors coach Steve] KERR. 17d [Biblical twin] ESAU.
- People I don’t know of: 89a [TV’s Kaley] CUOCO, 117a [Tennis great Fred] STOLLE.
- 4d [First name in flight] AMELIA. In the speculative news lately, yet again. See also here.
- 92d [Do thumbthing?] is not, thankfully, LISP but TWIDDLE, à la faddish fidget spinners.
I feel my attention drifting, so I’ll make my exit. Wasn’t particularly thrilled with this one, but it passed some time.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Cereal Boxes”—Amy’s write-up
The beginning and end of each long answer have circled letters that spell out a type of grain. The revealer is 110a. [Deep-rooted … and what the uncircled letters of the answers to starred clues are?], INGRAINED—those letters are found within the grains.
OPERA HATS, WHISKEY NEAT, RITUAL DANCE (that’s a thing?), ROVING EYE, BARNUM AND BAILEY, COFFEE URN, MILLED ABOUT, and the lovely MAIN SQUEEZE are enclosed by oats, wheat, rice, rye, barley, corn, millet (my favorite whole seed in bread!), and maize. Corn and maize are the same thing in this country, so I’m docking a point for that.
42a. [*Lothario’s organ], ROVING EYE. Tell me what you call a woman with a roving eye. Is it more derogatory than Lothario?
- 97d. [Gecko, for one], LIZARD. John likes to include a bird, butterfly, or other creature he’s photographed on his travels. This week, he goes reptile.
- 43d. [Alternate version, in scores], OSSIA. Not sure I’ve ever seen this entry before.
- 9d. [Pots, cups, etc.], TEAWARE. That’s a word? I tried TEA SETS first.
- 95a. [Crease-resistant fabric], ORLON. I’m not sure Orlon is still made. Also, I think it was a synthetic yarn used in socks, sweaters, and carpets, and not so much a woven fabric.
SPEED DEMON, LOVE POTION, and PYROMANIAC (cute clue: [One who remembers old flames with fondness?]) are great fill. I’m less keen on MONEYER, OEO, BPOE, and assorted other blah entries.
3.3 stars from me.