Eric Berlin’s New York Times crossword, “Full Circle”
The theme hopscotches from one thing to another thing it has something in common with, and from there to a third thing the second thing can be grouped with, and from third to fourth, and so on—coming full circle. Here are the theme entries:
- 22A. ROAST TURKEY is clued as [With 24-Across, two things that are stuffed].
- 24A. A SCARECROW is stuffed, and fits [With 36-Across, two things on a farm].
- 36A. Farm thing #2 is a HAYSTACK. [With 38-Across, two things associated with needles].
- 38A. A RECORD PLAYER has a needle or stylus, and also spins. [With 55-Across, two things that spin] takes us to…
- 55A. FERRIS WHEEL. [With 82-Across], down a ways in the grid, [two things at an amusement park] segues to…
- 82A. COTTON CANDY. [With 95-Across, two things that are sticky] goes to—
- 95A. RUBBER CEMENT. [With 99-Across, two things with brushes].
- 99A. MURALIST. [With 115-Across, two things with ladders].
- 115A. FIRE TRUCK. [With 117-Across, two things that are red].
- 117A. CRANBERRIES, coming full circle to the ROAST TURKEY: [With 22-Across, two things associated with Thanksgiving].
I don’t know how difficult it is to pull together a list like this that and have the 10 items fit into symmetrical spots in the grid. Hard or not so hard, Eric?
My iffiest spot in the grid was 76A: CLEON. Creon sounded more familiar than CLEON, but really, [Opponent of Pericles] is not the sort of clue that’s in my wheelhouse. The crossings were all solid, though, so I wasn’t too surprised when the applet accepted my solution.
Fourteen clues that were, for the most part, not gimmes for me:
- 10A. [Cumberland Gap explorer] is BOONE, Daniel Boone.
- 20A. I’m not sure how an ARROW is an [Instructional tool]. If you’re talking about an arrow on a flat picture, I don’t know if I’d call that a “tool.” An actual three-dimensional arrow doesn’t seem instructional outside of archery class.
- 59A. “AIR” is the [“Hair” song with the lyric “Hello, carbon monoxide”]. Sheer guess for me.
- 79A. I’ve never seen ETAT [__ de malaise] before. I do believe I’ve experienced that, though.
- 1D. AEOLIA was a [Region in ancient Asia Minor]. I bet it was windy there.
- 6D. KARAOKE is the [Draw of some bars]. Not a draw for me, personally.
- 23D. I like the definite article here. THE ARTS are [Juilliard’s focus].
- 53D. TIN GODS are [Small-time tyrants]. I’ll bet those of you in the corporate or academic world know at least one tin god.
- 64D. TOCCATA is an [Improvisatory piece of classical music]. With the ending in place, I guessed CANTATA. I don’t know these things.
- 70D. Good clue for USO TOUR: [Shows near the front?].
- 75D. [They’re nuts] clues ACORNS. Crazy acorns!
- 80D, 81D. I wanted one of the [Rash soother]s to be a BALM, but they’re TALC and ALOE.
- 85D. Yum, RIBOSE, [Biochemical sugar]!
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Stop That!”
What a zippy bunch of vocabulary in this theme! And what a large number of theme entries—15! With lots of stacking of theme entries! Plus, the Qs that have such a limited list of possibilities for their crossings. Each theme entry contains the word QUIT in its midst:
- 16a. [Loan type] is HOME EQUITY.
- 20a. [Capital city directly S of Panama] is QUITO, ECUADOR. Not sure why “south” is abbreviated in the clue.
- 22a. [Wickedness] is INIQUITY.
- 25a. ANTIQUITY is [The really old days].
- 40a. A CHIQUITA is a [Little girl] in Spanish, plus a brand of bananas.
- 45a. A NON SEQUITUR is an [Illogical reply].
- 64a. ACQUITS means [Finds innocent] or, at the very least, not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- 71a. Merl squeezes a pun into the longest theme answer. [“Man, I’ve had ___ for one day!”] is completed by ANOPHELES MOSQUITOES, which sounds sorta like “enough of these mosquitoes.” Those mosquitoes live in warmer climes and transmit malaria.
- 79a. [“Pygmalion” director Anthony] ASQUITH is only faintly familiar to me.
- 99a. [Nearness] clues a lovely word, PROPINQUITY. Isn’t that fun to say? Pro, pink, witty.
- 102a. MESQUITE is a [Griller’s wood]. I once won a spelling bee on that word.
- 121a. Eleanor of AQUITAINE was from a [Region of SW France].
- 128a. [Maine resort town] clues OGUNQUIT, and yes, I needed every crossing outside of the QUIT part.
- 129a. [Answer to “You’re done with this puzzle now, right?”] is “WELL, NOT QUITE.”
- 133a. [Like love, sometimes] clues UNREQUITED.
I don’t recall anything from the rest of the fill that really jumped out, nothing crazy-obscure. And I have spent enough time documenting all those theme answers! Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. While a theme of “these letters appear in each theme entry” can be painfully dull, Merl rescued this one from that fate by choosing a difficult batch of letters to hide—QUIT—and packing so much thematic material into the grid. Having 15 Qs in a puzzle also means there’s plenty of vocabulary we don’t see too much in crosswords.
Mike Shenk’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 8”
Whoof! Most of the puzzle took me 6 minutes, and then the last 14 words—in the upper left corner—took me two more minutes. Finally I thought harder about 1A: [Celebratory act], and what kind of BUMP or PUMP it might be. CHEST BUMP! Fabulous entry. That helped with the intersecting Downs, most of which I was drawing a blank on.
Toughest clues, favorite bits, etc.:
- 15A. [One unlikely to be alarmed?] is a LATE RISER skipping the alarm clock. Nice “aha” when it finally clicked.
- 17A. ASHTABULA is a [City between Cleveland and Erie]. Once I had the ULA at the end, it jogged something loose in my head.
- 19A. Oh, dear. ISA is an [Iguana on “Dora the Explorer”]. My keenest familiarity with Dora is from the SNL Short with a foul-mouthed Dora. I remember no iguana name.
- 23A. MONO is a [78’s sound]. A 33-rpm record provides stereo sound.
- 25A. The ocean current EL NINO is a [Topic of current studies]. I just heard that the El Niño has gone away early this year, portending an especially active Atlantic hurricane season. Will the oil of the Gulf of Mexico get whooshed up into storms?
- 41A. [Minorca’s highest point] is EL TORO. No relation to EL NINO.
- 61A. [“You’re nothing but a pack of cards!” crier] is ALICE, of Wonderland fame.
- 2D. [Place to raise dogs?] is the HASSOCK you put your feet (“dogs”) on. I grew up in a hassock family, but now I’m in an ottoman household.
- 3D. Brilliant but tough clue: ETHANOL is a [Fifth element] in that you find hooch in the bottle size called a fifth.
- 6D. The BIBLE is [Job holder] in that it holds the book of Job.
- 9D. [Going on], as in “running off at the mouth,” is PRATING.
- 10D. Delroy LINDO is clued [He played Satchel Paige in the TV movie “Soul of the Game”].
- 12D. BAVARIA is [Home to Adidas and Puma]. So, more broadly, is GERMANY, which also has 7 letters.
- 32D. ZYDECO is [Clifton Chenier’s music]. I was just thinking about Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band this morning when wondering why IDA was clued as an abbreviation for Idaho in the Newsday puzzle.
- 38D. Fun, weird trivia: RAVIOLI means [Literally, “little turnips”].
- 48D. [Fender sounds] are the TWANGS of a Fender guitar.
Henry Hook’s six-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “Flip the Bird”
“Flip the bird” means “give someone the finger,” but Henry is so delicate, he removes the obscenity and spins it as “flip the letters that spell out a bird’s name.” The theme entries’ clues have no indication that the bird portions need to be flipped—that’s the puzzle title’s job. We’ve got 10 theme answers, with the top- and bottom-most pairs stacked. They include ANKARA, YEKRUT; KCUD AND COVER; SHERYL WORC; THE YAJ LENO SHOW; NITRAM LUTHER KING; WOLLAWS YOUR PRIDE; LANIDRAC NUMBER; PETER HCNIF; ICHABOD ENARC; and the constructor’s motivation, JUST FOR A KRAL.
Most unusual entries:
- 44a. [Far-out orbital points] are APHELIA.
- 65d. [Hybrid red-wine grape] is NOIRET.
- 15d. [Stoop clues] clues OVERBEND.
- 62d. TRINA is a [Miami-born one-name rapper] whose name I didn’t know.
- 77d. [Court divider, in Pig Latin] is ETNAY. Dude! No. Let us not open the floodgates to Pig Latin as acceptable fill.
- 4a. [Group of wds.] is a phrase, abbreviated PHR.
- 102d. [Texter’s closest pal] is “my best friend forever,” or MY BFF. The “MY” part feels arbitrary here.
Harvey Estes’ syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Divided Countries”
The theme here involves country names that appear as is in the grid but also appear “divided” (split across more than one word) in longer phrases. Here are the countries and their phrases (with the countries circled in the grid for the hell of it):
- 27A: [Weather unit] is a DEGREE CELSIUS. 100A is GREECE.
- 45A: [“I’m outa here”] clues “TIME TO GO HOME.” 22A is TOGO.
- 58A: [Like always] clues AS PER USUAL, and PERU is 79D.
- 77A: [Makes a special effort] is what TAKES PAINS means. SPAIN‘s at 68D.
- 89A: [FleetCenter predecessor] is BOSTON GARDEN. 3D is TONGA.
- 111A: FAIR AND SQUARE means [Without breaking the rules]. IRAN is 122A.
- 16D: [Donne words before “entire of itself”] clues “NO MAN IS AN ISLAND.” Island is Icelandic for Iceland, but the country here is OMAN (48D).
- 44D: [Words sung before placing hand to hip] are “I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT.” 56A is MALI.
I like this game. If you like it too, you might also enjoy this Sporcle quiz in which you fill in the blanks with letters that spell out a country in order to complete a longer word.
Highlights in the grid are not so many, what with the theme occupying 16 entries:
- 42A: [Punxsutawney prophet] is the groundhog named PHIL.
- 68A: [Bashes] are SHINDIGS. Fun word, isnt it?
- 1D: [Publisher of Zoom-Zoom magazine] is MAZDA.
- 6D: [“The Pink Panther Theme” composer] is Henry MANCINI. That was among my favorite compositions as a kid.
- 15D: [Big Red] clues STALIN. Spicy! Chewy! Totalitarian!
- 51D: [Weapons of the unarmed] are FISTS.
- 96D: [Sci-fi series about people with special powers] is HEROES. Aww, it got cancelled. My husband and I watched it.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review
Well, so much for my string of “Sunday Challenges” not being so challenging. This one knocked me around but good. I’m always a bit nervous when I see Bob’s name on the top of the puzzle, and with good reason. This one truly gave me FITS (13-Down): not only is the cluing devious, but its entries skewed towards full or partial names more than most. Anyone else want to join PC (Personality-Challenged) Anonymous? I’m hoping there’s a 12-step program for us.
Here is the cast of characters who decided to drop by and rain on my Sunday morning:
- Walter Matthau’s costar and director in “A New Leaf” is ELAINE MAY. I could only come up with Jack Lemon.
- “Dirty Dancing” director EMILE Ardolino
- Mrs. O’LEARY, who “really had a cow.” Did she ever, and it was clumsy.
- MR. SLATE, one of the few gimmes for me in this personality parade.
- ALAN ARKIN of “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” – he played Sigmund Freud in this adaptation of a Nicholas Meyer story, written as a pastiche of a Sherlock Holmes adventure.
- FIDEL Castro who overthrew Fulgencio Batista.
- “The Longest Journey” author E.M. FORSTER
- Anna FARIS of “The House Bunny.” Is this a Hugh Hefner biopic?
- ANNE MEARA, the “Love of Ben’s and Jerry’s” – Here it’s Ben and Jerry Stiller (son and husband). I hear she loves crossword puzzles as well.
- “One From the Heart” actress Teri GARR
- I guess I should be grateful GIBSON was clued as a “Cocktail with a pearl onion,” even still I had GIMLET first.
I was very tempted to google E.M. FORSTER, but finally broke into the SE remembering Heineken is from Holland not Germany. (I’ll be damned if I ever remember that there are European beers that are not German. And this is from someone who normally drinks Stella Artois (Belgian) if it’s available on tap.)
Other clues of interest:
- Starting at 1-Across, a great entry JACKKNIFE but clued deviously as “V as in vehicular vacillation, visually.” All I could think of was the alliteration of all those Vs and not what happens to a car on slick roads.
- So who’s heard of an EYE RHYME (“Stone or bone, for one”)? (I tried BAD RHYME first.) It makes sense now that I “see” it.
- So a “fairy ring” is a naturally occurring ring of MUSHROOMs. Who knew?
- A GLISSANDO is from the Italian to “glide.” It’s used in music to refer to gliding from one pitch to another in a continuous “sweep.”
- “She gets what’s coming” for HEIRESS balances nicely with (and crosses) “Femme Fatale” for MANEATER. I feel a song coming on:
- Ooh lah lah–the French term: ON DIT (literally “one said”) refers to gossip. The “soupçon” in the clue (meaning “trace”) helped indicate the French answer.
I leave with you on this Memorial Day weekend with “Mugger’s mouthing” HI MOM! Sorry your son ain’t more smarter! ;)