shiny new WaPo themeless 7:58—in Java w/link to printable version or download for Across Lite (downloads as csserve.cgi; Across Lite can open it or you can rename it with a .puz extension)
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Tee Time”
The theme’s got nothing at all to do with this weekend’s Masters tournament, and that’s A-OK with me. Each theme answer has the “tee” sound appended to a familiar phrase, and that addition changes the final word into an entirely different word. Different spelling, different meaning. Here’s how it plays out:
- 19A. Pool cue becomes POOL CUTIE, or [Bathing beauty at a swimming facility?]. Some cuties (male and female alike) like to shoot pool, too.
- 23A. Wow, stacked right under the previous theme entry. Christmas tree sheds its needles and becomes a CHRISTMAS TREATY, or [Armistice signed on December 25?].
- 38A. Loch Ness + “tee” = LOCH NESTEA, a [Scottish body of water with beverage concentrate added?].
- 43A. Hanna Barbera yields HANNA BARBARITY, or [Awful illustration from cartoonist William?].
- 56A. Oh, I am all over this one. KEEPING PASTY is what I do more than keeping pace. [Opting not to sunbathe?] sounds about right.
- 70A. [Exactness in giving orders to toymaking elves?] is SANTA CLARITY. Santa Clara University is where constructors Byron Walden and Jeremy Horwitz teach, you know. My son and I spent Friday afternoon with Jeremy. We were unable to properly inspect “the Bean” (a.k.a. Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate,” the shiny cornerstone of Chicago’s Millennium Park) because Jake Gyllenhaal was being filmed near it for a movie, Source Code.
- 88A. Rabbit warren turns into RABBIT WARRANTY, or [What a bunny buyer at a pet shop might want?]. This afternoon, my son picked out a new fancy goldfish at a pet store that also has rabbits…and chinchillas, tarantulas, eels, turtles, hamsters, birds, and puppies. I don’t think they sell cats—the store’s cats just wander around the store and chillax, eyeballing the tantalizing fish and birds and rodents but never attacking them. Weird cats, right?
- 90A. [Choice of songs at a piano bar?] clues HIT OR MISTY, playing on “hit or miss.”
- 108A. [Hybrid sheepdog that moves ver-r-ry slowly?] is a TORTOISE SHELTIE (Shetland sheepdog…and no, I don’t know why the T and L get transposed in the nickname). The base phrase is tortoise shell.
- 115A. Faint echo of golf here: “Up to par” + tee = UP TO PARTY, or [Drinking and dancing instead of sleeping?]. This is the least successful of the theme entries. “Up to party” kinda falls flat for me. We often expect that the theme’s highlight will be saved for the end, but not this time.
Ten theme entries is a good, solid number to have.
- 5A. [Children’s illustrator Harrison ___] CADY? I don’t know him.
- 28A. I don’t get allergies, so I really had to work through a lot of crossings before recognizing ACTIFED here. It’s an [Allergy medication brand].
- 50A. Excellent clue: a PAYMENT is [Something not to be missed?].
- 87A. OLINDA is a [Brazilian beach resort].
- 95A. The only place I’ve heard of EDESSA is in crosswords where ODESSA wouldn’t work with the crossings. It was a [12th-century Crusader state].
- 113A. Sure, I know of Britain’s BAFTAs and France’s Cesars, but I’m not so familiar with the film award called the ARIEL. [Oscar : United States :: ___ : Mexico] is the analogy clue. I don’t know about you, but I love analogy clues like this.
- 14D. [Like some boots] clues FLAT-HEEL. That’s an adjective? I had HIGH-HEEL first.
- 17D. “I SEE” is a [Neutral reaction to a revelation].
- 33D. [Where some hooks connect] is CHEEKS. Does this mean fish hooks snaring fish in their cheeks? Aw, poor fishies.
- 39D. I watched C.P.O. Sharkey when I was a kid, but I sure didn’t know OTTO was the name of [Sharkey of TV’s “C.P.O. Sharkey”].
- 44D. [Yellow-flowered perennial] clues ARNICA.
- 62D. KRAMER is [John ___, villain in the “Saw” films]. I won’t watch ’em. But the Saw spoof in one of the Scary Movie entrants was hilarious. Dr. Phil and Shaq were trapped, and Shaq was gonna have to sink some free throws. One of them ended up cutting off his shackled foot…except that he sawed off the free foot by mistake. Bummer.
- 74D. [“That’s just silly!”] clues “POOH!” Really should have been clued with reference to Winnie the ___ because how many people know OLINDA? I could see people opting for SLINDA and the “Pish!”-like “POSH!”
- 84D. [Some Scott Joplin compositions] are RAGS, but that’s much too short. The answer here is TWO-STEPS. Dean Olsher, author of the crosswordy book From Square One, has a ragtime band.
- 99D. NERO is the [Historical subject of a Boito opera]. I confess I have never, ever heard of Boito.
- 111D. I wanted [Turtledove] to be HEN rather than HON, but HON fits UP TO PARTY. I’ll bet some people end up with UPTEPARTY in their grids.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Sounds Like Someone I Know”
Goofball theme here, a lightweight bit of fun. Each theme entry is a word or phrase in which the first one or two syllables also spell a first name, and the answer is clued as if each word/phrase is actually a first and last name for a person whose identity matches up with the original word/phrase:
- 22A. PHIL O’DENDRON is [Your florist], aptly. That would be especially apt as philodendron is made of the Greek roots for “love” and “tree.” Maybe PHIL O. should work at the nursery instead of the florist’s shop?
- 31A. [Your lawn guy?] is DAN DE LION.
- 56A. PAM PLONA is [Your Spanish tour guide?].
- 59A. [Your old car dealer?] is STU DE BAKER.
- 69A. AL BUMEN is [Your eggman?]. He’s lower in cholesterol than his buddy Yolk.
- 83A. I have never remembered the difference between SIMON IZING ([Your car-finisher?]) and Martinizing. Can your dry cleaning or laundry be Martinized? Is Simonizing something like waxing?
- 85A. [Your Italian waiter?] is CAL AMARI. He’s very handsy.
- 106A. [Your music teacher?] is SOL FEGGIO. Whenever there’s a theme involving do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and do, someone will always comment that in solfège/solfeggio, it’s sol, not so. And then someone else will have to explain that both sol and so are in the dictionary. If I had a nickel for every time this happened, I could probably trade my nickels for a quarter.
- 120A. This one uses the only multi-word base phrase; the other theme entries are all made from single words. NORA LENDERBE is [Your neighbor who won’t let you borrow anything?]. This one’s even more oddball because “nor a lender be” isn’t complete. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is the quote.
- 17D. [Your uncle, the recluse?] is STAN D’ALONE.
- 74D. [Your food inspector?] is SAL MONELLA. Salmonella always reminds me of my late grandma’s friends, Sam and Della.
118A is not a theme entry, though it could be. The [Conventional type?] who’s a DELEGATE could be [Your representative at the party convention?], DEL EGATE. The opposite entry, ON A TRAIN, isn’t a [Your ___?] theme answer, though, so it’s just DELEGATE.
Now, SCOLDS (5D) is a perfectly good verb. Why clue it as a noun ([Viragos]) when the noun is straight-up sexist? From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, scold is “a woman who disturbs the public peace by noisy and quarrelsome or abusive behavior.” Virago is “a loud overbearing woman.” Sure, virago also has another meaning, “a woman of great stature, strength, and courage,” but SCOLDS sure as hell doesn’t have a positive connotation. You know what you call a loud overbearing man? Man, without all the negative judgment. Sheesh, can we have the verb next time? (And anyone who calls me a scold or virago for taking Merl to task for this gets their comment ruthlessly deleted or edited.)
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Tuneful Triplets” (from ~6 weeks ago)
Each theme entry is a made-up music-related phrase that consists of one word ending in double letters and the second word beginning with that same letter, so that the same letter appears three times in a row. E.g., there are last names in JUDD DUETS, FLATT THIRDS, TULL LOVER (though the band Jethro Tull is named after the inventor of the seed drill), BRAGG GUITAR, ORFF FLUTE, and STARR RHYTHM. (That last one has 11 letters and only one of ’em is an AEIOU vowel.) The others contain musical terms without names: JAZZ ZEALOTS, a BRASS SESTET, THREE ÉTUDES, and KAZOO OPUS, which I keep seeing as…KAZOOO PUS.
Frank Longo’s Washington Post Puzzler No. 1
Ahh, a new themeless in the non-easy category. Santa Claus read my wish list and decided I had been good and should get my new puzzles starting in April. The Post Puzzler crosswords will appear on Sundays, and the rotating team of constructors includes, in addition to Frank, Karen Tracey, Patrick Berry, Trip Payne, and Mike Shenk. These five are among my favorite 10 or 15 themeless makers (all of whom are pretty much tied for first or second). So I’m looking forward to fill of the highest quality and fresh clues in editor Peter Gordon’s style.
Frank kicks things off with a 68-worder. Highlights in the fill and clues, plus tough clues I sure didn’t know:
- 9A. [Player catching crabs, maybe] is a playful OTTER.
- 16A. Cancer is usually shied away from in crosswords. Here, [Big C fighter] clues CHEMO. Given editor Peter’s affinity for sports, I first thought Big C must be a team nickname.
- 17A. Why do I like the word FESTOONED? There aren’t a lot of English words that look like it. The clue is [Like some party rooms].
- 19A. Aw, look at the shout-out: The WASHINGTON POST itself is in the grid, but clued as [1889 Sousa march, with “The”].
- 22A. [Patently famous monogram?] is TAE, for Thomas Alva Edison. He patented a whole lotta things.
- 29A. [One who gets the goods, legally] is a BAILEE. I suspected an -EE ending but needed the crossings here.
- 30A. [1988 Syd Barrett album] clues OPEL, the European car.
- 34A. I don’t recall seeing IN SO DOING in a grid before. [By that action] is a straightforward clue for it.
- 40A. [Figure in many a round-up?] is NINE because you round up a lot of numbers that end with 9. Is it precisely $199 or is it about 200 bucks?
- 51A, 13D. Gametes! [Small swimmers reach them] clues OVA, and those small swimmers are spermatozoa, not minnows. And ROE is a [Preschool group?] of fish eggs.
- 53A. I always like seeing my kid’s name in the crossword, even if it’s clued as a rat. Michael Jackson’s song “BEN” is about a rat; [He was “always runing here and there,” accordign to a No. 1 hit song].
- 54A. CRANBERRY SAUCE, yum. This [Sweet side] is so easy to make, you needn’t buy the canned stuff. Stir a bag of cranberries in boiling water until the berries burst and the pot’s contents thicken into a sauce. Add sugar or orange juice as desired. Boom, done.
- 57A. I wanted QUESO or whatever the Spanish word for “dog” is. PERRO? [Chihuahua in Mexico, e.g.] is a STATE (estado).
- 58A. Sometimes “shower” = “one that shows.” [Thorough borough shower?] clues a CITY ATLAS. Hey, Peter, Washington, D.C., doesn’t have boroughs, does it? Come out of your Gotham shell!
- 63A. Latin vocab! [“Sum” derives from it] clues ESSE, which means “to be” in Latin. “Sum” is “I am,” as in “Cogito ergo sum,” or “I think, therefore I am.”
- 5D. [Turns palm-down, as the hand] clues PRONATES. Serious runners all know if their feet pronate or supinate when they run. My husband is off on his first run of the season right now to see if he wants to run the Chicago Marathon for charity this fall. And no, I don’t know if he’s a pronator or supinator.
- 9D. “O, CAPTAIN” is [“Leaves of Grass” poem starter].
- 10D. THROWING ON clothes is [Getting into hastily]. ON also shows up on HINGE UPON and LED ON.
- 24D. [Thing to shoot on] isn’t SIGHT but a movie SET.
- 26D. BLIND DATES are [Some fix-ups].
- 28D. [Knee-concealing wear] confused me. Eventually the crossings brought out MIDIS, mid-length skirts. I don’t know that the fashion industry ever talks about MIDIS. I can’t say I ever saw the word in Glamour or Marie Claire or Cosmo.
- 36D. “I ENVY YOU” is a [Comment from the covetous].
- 39D. AIR RAGE is [Flying off the handle while flying].
The Washington Post already runs another themeless on Sundays, the CrosSynergy “Sunday Challenge.” This puzzle is quite a bit more challenging than the “Challenge,” which just might blow the mind of Post readers not accustomed to the rigors of an NY Sun “Weekend Warrior” type of puzzle. But hey, if they complain to the paper’s editors that it is too hard, the editors can say “Then just keep doing the ‘Sunday Challenge’ and skip this one.” …Unless, of course, it’s Bob Klahn’s turn to make the “Sunday Challenge.” Then the only refuge for those who don’t want tough themelesses is to put the newspaper down.
Bob Klahn’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy themeless crossword, “Sunday Challenge”
I fell right into the trap at 1A. [1980 John Belushi role], 10 letters? Why, that must be JAKE ELWOOD. Does the J pan out? 1D is [“__ My Imagination” (Temptations chart-topper)], and JUST works. But somehow…only one other letter in JAKE ELWOOD was willing to cooperate with the crossings. That’s because the correct answer is JOLIET JAKE.
Let’s meander through the puzzle and see what else is here:
- 11A. [Water cooler?] is the BRIG, as a brig is a prison (or “cooler”) on a ship.
- 17A. SUCKER LIST is a [Shady telemarketer’s purchase].
- 19A. [Vowelless reproof] is awesome. Usually a 3-letter “reproof” is either TUT or TSK. Only one is vowelless, so the choice is clear.
- 30A. [Doctor’s order, literally] clues AMA. I’m not keen on this clue. It’s a professional association, not an “order” along the lines of a fraternal organization.
- 37A. [When two have them, it’s not pleasant] clues WORDS, as in “We had words. It wasn’t pleasant.”
- 39A. [Ugly comparison] is SIN. You’ve heard things described as “ugly as sin,” right?
- 46A. A [Group moving together] in the water is a FLOTILLA.
- 50A. [Frost line?] has nothing to do with poet Robert Frost. If you’re outside on a frosty evening, your line might be “I’M COLD.”
- 57A. ONE FINE DAY was just in another puzzle recently with a 1963 Chiffons clue. This song was a [Hit for the Chiffons in 1963 and Carole King in 1980], and it’s also the title of a twee romantic comedy starring George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer as single parents.
- 60A. ENOS is the [Genesis 905-year-old whose name means “mortal”]. So, did he die at age 905, or did they just tire of writing his story?
- 63A. [Redundant consequences] clues the redundant term END RESULTS. You can’t have “beginning results.”
- 5D. [Kind of triangle] clues ETERNAL. Not SCALENE. What on earth is an eternal triangle? Google says it’s a love triangle, one of those three-person entanglements.
- 7D. [“Battery bottle” beverage] clues JOLT Cola. Never heard of “battery bottle.”
- 13D. IRON MAIDEN! Thankfully clued as the heavy metal band—[“A Matter of Life and Death” band] rather than the gruesome medieval torture implement.
- 25D. [Oh on the screen] os SANDRA Oh of Grey’s Anatomy. I loved her in Sideways and her debut Canadian film, Double Happiness.
- 26D. GRASS FIRES [play an important role in the regeneration of savannahs].
- 27D. AERIAL MINE is a [Naval weapon dropped by parachute]. I am not up on my naval weaponry.
- 28D. SPIN DOCTOR is a great entry. Being a [Propaganda pro] seems to be a growth industry.
- 29D. [Move earth but not heaven] clues SHOVEL. Good one.
- 38D. [Thigh cuts] are HAMS in the meat world.
- 41D. How have I not heard this name before? BIKINIS are the [Suits introduced by engineer Louis Reard].
- 47D. [Glass elevator?] is a TOAST, as in “Please raise your glasses to the Post for giving us two themeless puzzles on Sundays.”
- 53D. [Fox hunt winner?] is the IDOL chosen on American Idol on the Fox network.
Tom Heilman’s syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword, “The Last Shall Be First”
I thought the puzzle’s title suggested that the last letter would be moved to the beginning of a theme entry. As it happens, it’s the second part of a compound word that moves to the beginning, sort of a flip-flop theme. Once I understood what I was doing, the puzzle became much more fun.
- 23A. [Hayride musical group?] clues a WAGON BAND.
- 25A. [Results of a burglar’s bumps and bruises?] are TAKING PAINS. This one feels a little stilted. I’ll bet a lot of people didn’t know that the base word is pains + taking rather than pain + staking.
- 38A. [Bleating art?] is GOATSCAPE. Yeah, that sounds like an artistic genre whose time has come.
- 42A. A [Brief film on kneading and baking?] might be a BREAD SHORT. Here’s an educational short film on kneading from Epicurious.
- 61A. [Contest related to the knife toss?] could be a FORK PITCH. Don’t try this at home, kids.
- 78A. [Violinist who loves the spotlight?] is a STRING HAM.
- 96A. [Handy lint-removing tool?] is a POCKET PICK. Really, the average afro pick would qualify as a POCKET PICK. What’s a lint pick?
- 98A. [Primitive projectile that’s like new?] is a MINT SPEAR.
- 118A. [Disaster at a Ritz factory?] is a CRACKER FIRE. Mmm, toasty goodness.
- 120A. [Astronaut’s alien squeeze?] is a MOON HONEY. This is the untold story about Neil Armstrong’s time on the moon. Massive cover-up!
Here’s a handful of other clues:
- 21A. [Donovan who played Amber in “Clueless”] clues ELISA. Who? Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, the late Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, that character actor who played the dad…who is this actress? Nope, don’t remember her.
- 28A. ROSSINI is [“The Thieving Magpie” composer]. I don’t know this piece at all.
- 33A. NUBILE is a gendered word. I’m not gay, so one who is [Sexually attractive] to me is hardly NUBILE.
- 47A. [“Full Metal Jacket” gp.] clues the Marines, or USMC.
- 52A. [“Alrighty then”] clues “OKEY-DOKE,” which is a terrific entry.
- 57A. [Director Vittorio De __] is SICA. See? Director. Not supporting actor. The world is balanced yet again.
- 60A. [Parroted a Persian] means MEOWED. Do Persian cats lick their chops when they see a parrot?
- 108A. Tom [Cruise, for one] is an ACTOR.
- 115A. To OBTRUDE is to [Impose].
- German lesson time! 122A: [German thanks] is DANKE, while 124A: [German earth] is ERDE.
- 17D. The ORNE is a [D-day invasion river]. Who doesn’t love 4-lettr European rivers?
- 18D. [Composer Lukas] is FOSS. The only 4-letter Lukas I know is actor Haas. FOSS is not such a famous name.
- 41D. [Left one’s mark on] clues EXED. Most of us can do more than X things to leave our mark.
- 44D. [Ecuadoran province named for its gold production] is, aptly enough, EL ORO, or “the gold.”
- 55D. [Biker’s headgear, perhaps] is a DO-RAG or bandanna worn under or in lieu of a helmet. Helps keep the bugs and tangles at bay, I imagine.
- 77D. [Informal his] involves the plural of “hi,” not the male possessive pronoun. These his are YOS.
- 84D. [Corny gadget?] isn’t that doodad that slices the corn off the cob, nor is it a corncob holder. It’s a popcorn POPPER.
- 92D. [Milton or Virgil] was an EPIC POET.
- 101D. [Joe __, confrontational ’50s-’60s talk show host] is surnamed PYNE. I wanted PYLE, but there are more accessible PYLEs out there.
- 113D. [River through Magnitogorsk] is the URAL. Who doesn’t love 4-letter Eurasian rivers?