Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Captain Obvious Goes to a Major League Game” – Erin’s writeup
After last week’s Rickrolling adventure, we’re back this week with a trusty Captain Obvious installment. This time we have literal takes on baseball terms and idioms:
- 23a. [“___, and you’ll be at home”] STEP UP TO THE PLATE
- 39a. [“___ include players, umpires and fans”] BALLPARK FIGURES
- 59a. [“___? Then the batter isn’t safe after that deep drive not to center or right”] OUT IN LEFT FIELD
- 69a. [“___, and there will be new batters”] SWITCH HITTERS
- 80a. [“___, and first, second and third will be protected by a tarp”] COVER YOUR BASES
- 95a. [“___, and first and third will be colorful”] PAINT THE CORNERS. This refers to a pitcher who can throw to the edges of the strike zone, for anyone like me who would need to look this up.
- 118a. [“___, and you won’t see another game for maybe 12 months”] WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR. Did not know this was a Cubs thing, so this fell flat for me.
These are all fine theme entries, but baseball isn’t my forte, so I didn’t love the theme. My local team is the Phillies, so we’ll watch sometimes out of morbid curiosity, but they don’t really inspire me to get into the sport. It’s just as valid to geek out over baseball or sports in general as it is to geek out over crosswords, though, so I’d appreciate hearing what baseball fans thought of the theme.
- Things are a little morbid this week, with NOOSES and wrestler The Undertaker’s HEARSE.
- 111a. [Green Day drummer] TRÉ COOL. Real name Frank Edwin Wright III.
- 106a. [Elderly neighbor of Jon, in “Garfield” comics] REBA. Who?
- 30d. [Saltimbocca seasoning] SAGE. Yum! I had SA__ and was worried for a moment that “salt” had been duplicated. The “salt” in saltimbocca is not related to NaCl; it comes from saltare, “to jump,” and the full name translates to “jump in the mouth.” Much more pleasant sounding than “get in my belly!”
- 79a [Phi ___ Jama (dunking nickname of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s college hoops team)] SLAMA. Has this been in a grid before? I love it. The AURICLE crossing might be tricky, but just try saying “Phi Slama Jama” without smiling.
Let’s have TRÉ COOL and his bandmates play us out with Green Day’s instrumental song “Last Ride In.”
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Hi all–this is Andy, swapping in for Amy this week on the Sunday LA Times puzzle.
The title is “Low Flow,” and that illustrates the theme: We’re taking normal phrases and adding an F to the beginning of one of the words, to humorous effect. Like so:
- 22a, COMBINATION FLOCK [Interfaith service attendees?]. Combination lock.
- 28a, FLAME EXCUSE [Arsonist’s alibi?]. Lame excuse. An alibi and an excuse aren’t really the same thing, but constructor’s license and all.
- 56a, CORPORATE FLAW [Cause of business failure?]. Corporate law.
- 62a, GREAT FLAKES [Distinguished screwballs?]. Great Lakes.
- 72a, VICTORY FLAP [Uproar over a controversial win?]. Victory lap.
- 80a, FLIGHT READING [Niche market for airport bookstores?]. Light reading.
- 106a, PACK OF FLIES [Dumpster hoverers?]. Pack of lies.
- 117a, SUBSTANTIAL FLOSS [Hygiene product for very big teeth?]. Substantial loss.
Eight solid theme answers. Some really nice non-theme fill in here, like BAD CROWD, “WATCH ME!”, ANN TAYLOR, and DABBLED IN. Jeffrey also snuck in one of his signature wacky partials: this time, it’s 124a, OR LEAVE IT [End of an ultimatum], as in “Love it ___.” I think we saw just LEAVE IT in an ACPT puzzle (sorry for the spoiler for those who haven’t solved those yet), but OR LEAVE IT is a bridge farther.
That’s all for this week. See you next Thursday!
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Triple Spoonerisms”—Amy’s write-up
I confess that I didn’t take the time to figure out all the spoonerisms in the theme while I was solving the puzzle, and even if I had, I don’t think it would have sped things up any to actually understand the theme answers as I pieced them together. Lots of working the crossings and making sure the words made sense with the theme clues, not so much grasping the spoonerisms. They are:
- 24a. [What caused the nosebleed on the playground?], BEAK OF LAD STRUCK. Streak of bad luck.
- 30a. [Tagline in an ad for Elmer’s Glue-Ale?], THE STUCK HOPS BEER. The buck stops here.
- 60a. [Description of a yeti?], PALE HAIRY MASS. Hail Mary pass.
- 67a. Novice parasailer’s fear?], TERROR OF BAD GLIDINGS. Bearer of glad tidings. This one takes the triple spoonerism to a whole new level. (Nole hue Neville? Constructor Fogarty as tan as a Florida State student?)
- 76a. [Containers for electric guitars?], ROCK STAR CASES. Stock car races.
- 106a. [Best place to buy a platter of fruit-flavored sodas?], THE FANTA TRAY SALE. The Santa Fe Trail. Fancy spoonerizing!
- 114a. [Mend fences after Caesar’s civil war?], HEAL FIGHT AT ROME. Feel right at home.
So many of the clues sparked an internal “Ah!” at their cleverness and creativity. And the fill is pretty darned smooth throughout.
- 12a. [Very good, as a job], BANG-UP. Yes, Patrick’s done a bang-up job here. As usual.
- 37a. [Chill in the cooler], DO TIME. The cooler being slang for prison, and not just a container filled with a bag of ice. Another twisty clue in the prison category: 83d. [Rules for forming sentences], PENAL CODE.
- 64d. [Resonator guitar], DOBRO. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’m sure my husband does. He’s got guitars, but no dobros. Here’s a page of dobros if you’re curious.
4.25 stars from me.