I do love crosswords and I do love blogging, but boy, is it refreshing to take a few days off from the daily, uh, love/grind. Many thanks from sunny (but not quite warm enough) Florida to the entire Crossword Fiend blogging team for filling in!
Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
I didn’t see the theme at all until I meandered over to 46-Down and discovered that there were BIRDS hidden in each of the six starred theme entries: ROLLED OVER, MISTER NICE GUY, LOW-RENT, TOW LINE, BRAVE NEW WORLD, and ANOTHER ONE. You’ll note that in each instance, the bird has been dismembered across two words. TOW LINE is dull and “ANOTHER ONE” feels a tad far-fetched to me, but the other four are terrific entries. I would quibble with the neutrality of the LOW-RENT clue, [Affordable, as an apartment]. I think of LOW-RENT as having seedy, run-down connotations, not just affordability.
I’m not sure what that ANCON is doing in the puzzle before Thursday. 31D’s clue is [Cornice support], and I don’t think I’ve encountered the word before. Dictionary tells me the plural is ancones, in case you were wondering. Probably doesn’t rhyme with cojones.
Only some 2D: [Nigerian natives] are IBOS or Igbos. There’s at least one Ibo family on my block; how about you? I know one little boy named Ivo, but nobody named IVOR, aside from [Songwriter Novello]. Our other I-answers today are IOWAN and IDIOT (no aspersions intended by including them in the same sentence).
Didja miss me?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Best of the Decade, Part 4”
Matt moves along to the years 2006 and 2007 for this week’s “Best of the Decade” selections. We’ve got writer JUNOT DIAZ (I’ve read one or two of his short stories in the New Yorker), musical group GNARLS (rhymes with Sir Charles) BARKLEY (I know their song “Crazy,” and nothing else), the Jay-Z song “ROC BOYS” (never even heard of it), the movie PAN’S LABYRINTH (which looked too creepy for words, with that eyeball business—couldn’t bring myself to watch it), and rocker PETE WENTZ (he had a beard? I don’t recall a beard in all those pictures of him and Ashlee Simpson, the missus).
In the non-theme fill, we’ve got lots of names and pop culture (why not clue BEET with a Schrute Farms/The Office reference?) The only name that threw me is 14A: RIMER, the [Boston-based New York Times correspondent Sara]. Favorite clue: [“What EEZ IT, man?” yeller], REN from Ren & Stimpy. I love that mangy cur.
Stella Daily & Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Boola Boola”—Janie’s review
“Bull Dog, Bull Dog, Bow-wow-wow, Eli Yale!” and we’re off enjoying a puzzle that celebrates the venerable Ivy. The puzzle’s title refers to one of the institution’s celebratory songs, whose origins are discussed in this piece (with sound clips) from Yale’s alumni magazine. (Contrary to myth, it was not written by Cole Porter…) Embedded in the four theme phrases is the name of founding-father ELI, which is also the name for a [New Haven collegian hidden in this puzzles longest entries], and here’s how it emerges:
- 17A. CRUEL INTENTIONS [1999 film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar]. Ooh. A modern day adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I hadn’t realized. Not that I want to run right out and see it. Tisn’t a pretty story at all. Lotta mean people. But adaptation is an art, and while this didn’t get brilliant reviews, it sounds kind of interesting and I’m curious to see just how the screenwriter went about doing it.
- 28A. LOUNGE LIZARD [Certain cocktail lover]. A great, creepy term. Makes me think of Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge.
- 43A. FUEL-INJECTED [Like most car engines]. Fills the need of the theme, but not my fave phrase. Feels more clinical than colorful.
- 55A. MARRIAGE LICENSE [Nuptial necessity]. See? That’s just more fun.
Bonus fill (inadvertent, I’m going to guess) comes to us by way of HULAS [Luau dances], as (in another theory) “Boola Boola” was said to have been derived from a Hawaiian tune, “La Hoola Boola” (or “La Hula Boola”). Only thing is (as the Yale article points out), the Hawaiian language doesn’t use the letter “b,” not to mention that “La Hoola Boola” appears to have been composed by a team of African-American writers…
I also liked SUNNILY [With a bright manner] and FAIRER clued as [Snow White, vis-à-vis the Wicked Queen]. I especially like the context the clue gives us. TIN FOIL [It was superseded by aluminum wrap] got me thinking about the way the ice box was superseded by the refrigerator. Can you think of other examples of one (quaint) household item/appliance that was superseded by another that’s more state-of-the-art?
Some clue/fill pairs that got my attention: right from the get-go there was the performance pair of ACTS [Plays a part] and SANG [Did Donizetti]; then there was the possibly cautionary cross of MADD [Gp. that fights underage alcohol consumption] (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and DROVE [Took the wheel]; and the extolling pair, with ODES [Poems of praise] which LAUD [Give glory to] their subjects.
I’m not sure that DANDY is a [“Yankee Doodle” adjective]. Seems to me Yankee Doodle modifies dandy–and not the other way around. It reads like a noun to me, but I’m open to an explanation.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I’ve seen bowling themes before, but this one kept me wondering until I reached the TURKEY SHOOT. What’s a DOUBLE in bowling? This site explains that it’s when you bowl a strike in the 8th and 9th frames but can’t score those frames until bowling the 10th frame. News to me. The theme:
- 20A. SPARE CHANGE is a [Panhandler’s request].
- 27A. To STRIKE IT RICH is to [Hit the mother lode]. I like the shared gold-mining vibe in clue and answer.
- 48A. [Certain tour bus] is a DOUBLE-DECKER.
- 58A. [Easy job, in slang] is a TURKEY SHOOT. Kind of a gross phrase for a non-hunter.
I rather like the way the theme doesn’t bludgeon us over the head with its purpose. No extraneous LANES in the bottom with a clue that ties everything together thematically, no trumped-up clues to make the connection obvious. Just phrases that begin with bowling coups, juiced up with the addition of the DOUBLE to the three more familiar ones.
Highlights in the fill: WISH LIST, TYLENOL, an old-school NEWSMAN (let’s picture Walter Cronkite), and the villainous PENGUIN. The entry RAW EGGS is clued [They may be tossed in an Easter contest]. Who’s having raw egg–tossing contests? Danger, danger! I might’ve clued it as [Caesar dressing ingredient].