Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
Frequent Thursday contributor Timothy Polin is back with a truly Thursday-worthy gimmick this week. The revealer comes at 61a, WORD SQUARE [Classic letter puzzle — or, when parsed differently, a hint to three Down answers in this puzzle]. Three long across answers have a WORD rebus–that is, they have “word” in a single square. But it’s the down entries that cross those rebus squares where things get interesting…
- 18a, FIGHTING (WORD)S [“Bring it on!” or “Let’s rumble!”]. Straightforward as far as rebuses go. The crossing down entry, however…
- 12d, PA(WORD)S [Things at the ends of dogs’ legs]. Well, “pawords” is letter salad. However, we’re not supposed to parse the rebus square here as “word”–we’re supposed to parse it as W or D. So in the down entry, the third letter could be a W or a D, resulting in either PAWS or PADS being the things at the ends of dogs’ legs.
- 27a, (WORD) PROCESSOR [Writing/editing aid]. And the Down entry?
- 27d, (W or D)RYLY [How some jokes are delivered]. WRYLY or DRYLY.
- 47a, PUT IN A (WORD) FOR [Recommend, as an applicant]. I don’t love this base phrase; I’ve always heard this as “put in a good word for.” But I’m nitpicking. The down entry:
- 49d, (W or D)INING [Entertaining, in a way]. WINING or DINING.
The aha moment on this one was satisfying. Reminded me a bit of the NYT’s 2014 April Fools puzzle, in that you might not necessarily know it’s a Schrödinger until the revealer. This one has an added layer: I can’t remember another puzzle where a rebus also acted as a Schrödinger square (though I wouldn’t be totally surprised if one existed).
TORCH RELAY and CUP OF COCOA were nice long non-theme entries, and I also liked seeing DO-OR-DIE (It looks so weird without spaces!). [Castle with famous steps] is a very cute clue for IRENE.
That’s all for this week. See you next Thursday!
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball crossword “Taking the Fifth” —Jenni’s write-up
This was one of those puzzles where my time surprised me. I thought it took a lot longer. I had the puzzle about two-thirds filled in before I understood the theme, and the rest went much more quickly.
Each theme has a two-word base phrase with the fifth letter removed (or “taken”) from each word to make the answer that appears in the grid. Wackiness ensues.
- 17a [Scavenger specializing in stomachs?] is a TRIPE CROW (Triple Crown). That does not pass the breakfast test, so I’m glad I solved it before bed. Eeuw.
- 20a [Two-door cars that have been keyed?] are MARRED COUPES (married couples).
- 38a [Refusing to slay Moses?] would be SPARING PARTER (sparring partner). Of course, that’s only if you think Moses parted the Red Sea. Was it Moses? Was it Gd? Was it Nashon? According to midrash, the Israelites stopped at the sea and were arguing about whether they should go further. Nashon walked into the water, and Gd parted the sea to save his life and honor his courage and faith.
- 57a [Send a congratulatory note after a wedding, maybe?] is CONTACT BRIDE (contract bridge). This is where the scales fell from my eyes.
- 62a [Flower garden’s start?] is IRIS SPRIG (Irish Spring). It’s magically delicious. No, that’s not right.
I liked this theme a lot. It’s consistent without being predictable, and it’s funny. Nice!
A few other things:
- 3d [One of quarterback Archie’s quarterback sons] is ELI. Peter does not like to repeat clues, so here’s a fresh way to clue one of the Manning boys.
- 8d [Like many Cards Against Humanity cards] is BAWDY. “Cards Against Humanity cards” sounds redundant but I don’t think it is. Or is it? Could you say “Like many Cards Against Humanity?” I don’t know.
- 18d [Blue man group member?] is a CRIP. They wear blue. The Bloods wear red (logically enough).
- 29d [Brown greens?] are QUADS. “Brown” in the clue refers to the university, not the color.
- 34a [#1 on the 2012 Forbes Fictional 15 list of richest characters] is SMAUG. By 2013, Smaug had dropped to #2 behind Scrooge McDuck.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that “Stickybeak” is another word for YENTA. Wiktionary agrees with me that this comes from the idea that nosy people are sticking their beaks into things. I don’t say that’s definitive, so to speak, but it makes sense to me.
Frank Virzi’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Risky Business” — Jim’s review
The theme is not evident until you hit the revealer at 49a: OUT ON A LIMB which is clued [In a risky situation, and something found four times in this puzzle]. Then the puzzle turns into a word search as you look for OUTs residing atop limbs. These combos are as follows:
- 18a ROUTS / 20a FALSE ALARM.
- 32a BAD MOUTH / 38a LEGO
- 35a BOUT / 39a ELEGANCE
- 49a OUT ON A LIMB /56a WARMS
So that’s two arms and two legs, which, by my count, seems about right. Plus a bonus TIBIA at 57a.
Cute theme that needed just a little aha moment to grok. But it meant that, with no obvious theme answers, the puzzle felt themeless for much of the solve. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Plenty of lovely long fill, some of which is admittedly partially thematic: FALSE ALARM, BLUE COLLAR, HASTA LUEGO, BADMOUTH, KATMANDU, GIBLETS (the word, not necessarily the stuff), INCHOATE, SLEEPER, GROSSO, ELEGANCE. That’s a lot of good stuff.
Unfortunately, until I started writing this up, the things that stuck in my mind were the really iffy entries GET SOFT and LET GO BY. “Go soft” sure, but GET SOFT? Nuh-uh. Its clue [Begin to melt] doesn’t save it. LET GO BY is only slightly better. Its clue [Pass up] helps, but it still looks and sounds awkward in the grid.
- INCHOATE. I’ve heard the word, but didn’t know it meant [Rudimentary].
- ATMAN is new to me with its clue [Hindu soul]. When I was in high school, some buddies and I had to do a report on Hinduism which included visiting a Hindu temple. Like any self-absorbed teenager, I confess to not paying close enough attention. What I remember most were the three tenets of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction, as well as wearing paper towels on our head when we went in the temple.
- [One might result in the question “Where’s the fire?”] is a super-fun clue for FALSE ALARM.
- I had LISP for [Shpeak like thish] instead of SLUR, but I now realize why that was wrong.
- [Johnny Cash album “Happiness ___”] started to look like BAYOU but it turned out to be the partial IS YOU. I like my answer better.
I’m going to go OUT ON A LIMB here and post the video you all would expect to accompany a puzzle titled “Risky Business.” Note also that it features Bob Seger who appears in the clue at 9d for his song KATMANDU.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “The Nose Knows” — Ben’s Review
Happy March, everyone! Boston is nearing the “lion” portion of the month with a Nor’Easter scheduled to hit this weekend, but today’s BEQ was more of a lamb, going with a quip over a standard theme:
- 17A: Start of a one-liner by 23A — I THINK IT’S
- 35A: Part 2 — INTERESTING THAT
- 47A: Part 3 — COLOGNE RHYMES
- 57A: End of the one-liner — WITH ALONE
- 23A: Comic with the TV show “Important Things” — DEMETRI MARTIN
As far as quip puzzle quotes go, this is about par for the course, and that’s not really saying much. This is the sort of joke that definitely loses something in translation to pure text – some nuance from speech (plus, it feels like a reduced version of what could be a larger bit – I know Mr. Martin primarily works in one-liners, but this joke needs more than one line).
Other things: a “Snapdragon” is a type of CPU, “Oh fuuuuu…” was JEEZ (and not my general spelling of GEEZ), and Jared LETO is apparently starring in Netflix’s “The Outsider”.
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I like the concept of CHANGEDMAN being men with MAN scrambled inside of them, even if it is very… sausage-festy. The execution was only so-so. The overall fame of this set isn’t that high, but is fairly diverse, at least in time period. In vocation, there are two authors, and three actors. I would expect most people to be partly or wholly unfamiliar with at least one or two of these guys, although which ones depends on your age / frame of reference.
In the it’s-not-what-you-think category: [Lyft alternative] is a generic TAXI, not equivalent UBER. [Record, in a way] is TIVO, not TAPE.
Your old-days-of-the-British-Empire answer is [Eastern nurse], AMAH. Not seen much of late, and can also be AYAH. When crosswords were young, this would I guess have been more au courant, when there were still Colonials lording it overseas etc.