Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Doubleheaders”
You can usually count on Patrick Berry to deliver an elegant and intricately wrought Sunday theme, and he doesn’t disappoint today. Patrick somehow compiled a list of phrases whose halves could each follow the same word and form two more legitimate phrases or compound words and then be a clueable mishmash when all three entities are combined into one:
- 23a combines bedrock, a bedroll, and rock and roll into BEDROCK AND BEDROLL, which are [Factors to consider while trying to sleep on a campout?].
- 30a. The fire marshal doesn’t care for the moonshiner’s FIREWATER FIRE HAZARD; a water hazard is found on a golf course.
- 48a. There’s a BUCK NAKED BUCKEYE at Ohio State whom you can see with your naked eye.
- 63a. This one threw me for a bit because I’ve seen too many clues for bosses/magazine editors with “big wheel.” But here it’s the plastic Big Wheel tricycle that’s spinning in the BIG WHEEL OF BIG CHEESE. Have you ever bought a bona fide wheel of cheese? Does Brie count as a wheel when it’s round?
- 81a. DEADWOOD DEAD DUCK kills off a wood duck.
- 97a. Ah, this one’s great. Joan Rivers’ “Can we talk?” splits into two parts and combines with trash for TRASH CAN WE TRASH TALK.
- 108a. BLUE CRAB BLUEGRASS music evokes crabgrass, which you don’t want in your yard unless you live in hot Florida and that’s all that grows well. Yards are also in mind with the clues for ACRE, GARDEN, and SOD.
Highlights outside the cool theme:
- 61a. MUD is the [Name for a persona non grata].
- 88a. A SKYSCAPE is a [Picture that shows you what’s up?] in the sky. My favorite skyscapes are by photographer David Mayhew, who has plied his trade with storm chasers.
- 117a. First and last name: LEONA LEWIS is the [Singer of the 2008 #1 hit “Bleeding Love”].
- 43a. A BAR OF SOAP is a [Fragrant cake]. Mmm, cake.
- 95d. MAYBES are [Invitees who didn’t RSVP, say]. Yes, MAYBE is a noun, too.
Answers that kept me guessing:
- 5d. [Followed the game] sounds like it means “watched the sporting event” but that’s not what’s going on this time. SPOORED means “followed the track or scent of wild game animals” here.
- 14d. Also needed all the crossings for WELCH, the [Army-McCarthy hearings figure]. (The other day, there was a Watergate-era name in the grid that was also entirely unfamiliar to me. Make it stop!) Never heard of Joseph Welch before, but I like anyone who publicly stood up to Joseph McCarthy. So I forgive Messrs. Berry and Shortz for making me learn about this guy instead of giving us business leader Jack Welch or the grape juice namesake.
- 35d. I hope some of the people who (like me) have never watched Glee are now thinking the show takes place in Peru. This puzzle tells us the TV show is set in LIMA.
- 64d. [pV = nRT, to physicists] is the IDEAL GAS LAW. I took physics in college but this isn’t ringing a bell. Joon, what does this mean?
Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “My, How You’ve Groaned!”—Sam Donaldson’s review
Quotation Theme Month continues this week with Edgar Allan Poe’s relatively famous quip about puns: “THE GOODNESS OF THE TRUE / PUN IS IN / THE DIRECT / RATIO OF / ITS INTOLERABILITY”—POE. Ah, the pun. For every fan there is a foe. I think Doug Larson said it best: “A pun is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself.” But if you’re looking for a scathing critique of puns, you probably cannot do better than the following observation attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.: “People who make puns are like wanton boys that put coppers on the railroad tracks. They amuse themselves and other children, but their little trick may upset a freight train of conversation for the sake of a battered witticism.” Oh, snap!
With only 63 theme squares in a 21×21 grid (by my informal count, a Sunday-sized grid normally sports 80-100 theme squares), Hook is free to fill the grid with lots of long, interesting entries like BARNSTORM, SWEAR WORDS, MIND-BENDER, SCRATCH PAD, and RAZOR SHARP. To me, however, the most noticeable feature of the fill is its sharp contrast between hip and square. On the hip (read, “modern”) side, there’s MILEY CYRUS, HOTTIE, Queen AMIDALA, the [MTV-created boy band], O-TOWN, LEVI Johnston (clued most modernly as [Bristol’s baby-daddy]), KEIRA Knightly, the Angelina Jolie vehicle SALT, and RITALIN. On the square side, there’s GERITOL, Julius LAROSA, Charles OSGOOD, director Nicolas ROEG, the [1880s D.C. monogram] of CAA for Chester A. Arthur, and EMILIE Dionne of quintuplet fame. What a great mix of the fresh and seasoned!
My favorite clues were [Where to stand and deliver?] for PODIUM, [They may run as you walk] for NYLONS (I hate when that happens!), and [They’ll lower the boom] for SILENCERS. The [“M*A*S*H” cast member] is trickier than it seems. I probably wasn’t the only one to think of Alan ALDA, but I saw quickly that wouldn’t work. Loretta SWIT came to mind next, and it looked viable next to ANAT, the [Med. sch. subject], so I entered it into the grid. But nope, this one wanted Jamie FARR. Three viable answers for one clue? That’s deliciously diabolical. At the other end of the spectrum, [Thoughtlessness?] struck me as a rather cold, off-putting clue for COMA.
Again this week we could make a great dinner party with people I didn’t know. ERIK Satie could play piano in the background while the queen’s former dress designer, Sir Edwin Hardy AMIES, regales the young “radical” French mathematician Evariste GALOIS and [Disney Channel actress Brenda] SONG with tales of measuring the queeen for a gown. Hmm. Two of the guests are dead, and they’re discussing regal wardrobes? I might pass on that soiree.
I solved this puzzle on paper at an elevation of 36,000 feet, so I don’t know my exact solving time. It felt like a relatively slow 25-ish minutes. I can’t use the high altitude as an excuse, as the airplane cabin was perfectly pressurized with germ-infested recycled air. Instead, there was more in the fill that eluded me besides the names. For instance, I learned that a “WIDOW’S cruse” is not a vacation option for newly single women; turns out it means an “inexhaustible supply.” I had never heard of THE HITCHER, but the clue, [2007 movie with the ad line “Never pick up strangers”], made it gettable even with only a few crossings. One I still can’t figure out, however, is how CID is a [Scotland Yard div.]. Can someone help with that?
Before signing off, we need to discuss the hidden contest in last week’s BG post. The recent contest in the NYT inspired me to include a contest in the blog post, and since last week’s puzzle came from Cox and Rathvon, the First Couple of Acrostic Puzzles, I thought it appropriate to hide it in acrostic form. According to my dictionary, an acrostic is “a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc.” Sure enough, the first words from each paragraph of last week’s BG post spelled out this message: “The first to post only the word ACROSTIC in the comments will win a crossword book.” I tipped off Amy in advance so that we could both monitor the comments looking for the first winner.
I was reasonably sure someone would notice the rather tortured phrasing at the start of many paragraphs, and that this would lead to discovery of the contest. But apparently readers have come to expect tortured phrasing in my posts. When nothing came in the comments after several hours, Amy suggested I drop a hint. I thought something along the lines of, “There’s a hidden contest in my post” would be tad obvious, so I went with the more indirect, “Etiquette question: if no one enters a hidden contest, does the contest organizer get to keep the prize?”
Still nothing. So Amy went one step further in her Wednesday post with an above-the-fold announcement that there was a hidden contest in the Sunday post. Even then, with some of the best puzzle minds out there, no one was finding it. (I do like that more than one person thought it had something to do with the drawing of scissors.) So in the comments to Wednesday’s post I suggested that “Initial Impressions” could be a suitable title for the contest. One hour and 16 minutes later, Mary O posted the winning comment (both on the Sunday and Wednesday posts). At long last, a winner! Congratulations to Mary O (you still haven’t emailed me to claim your prize!), and thanks to all who scoured the post looking for the contest.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “That’s ‘Enter’-tainment”
- 20a. FOOLS RUSH IN is a [1940 Glenn Miller hit or 1997 Matthew Perry film]. I saw that movie. I don’t recommend it.
- 22a. [1960s rock quartet] is THE DOORS, of course.
- 29a. [1952 Monroe-Widmark drama] is DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK.
- 40a. A SCREEN TEST is a [Hollywood tryout], and there are screen doors.
- 50a. [Notorious flop of 1980] is HEAVEN’S GATE. You wanted ISHTAR here, didn’t you?
- 62a. [Aptly named TV show about ENTER-tainment] is the infotainment show ACCESS HOLLYWOOD.
- 78a. [1942 Ladd-Lake drama] is THE GLASS KEY.
- 85a. [Popeye’s command to his spinach can in a 1937 Ali Baba cartoon] is “OPEN, SAYS ME.”
- 92a. [One way to please a studio] is to COME IN UNDER BUDGET.
- 104a. [Durable 1960s game show] clues PASSWORD. I can’t say I’ve ever needed a password to get through a door.
- 107a. SONDRA LOCKE is Clint Eastwood’s [“Bronco Billy” co-star (wait, what is SHE doing in this puzzle?)]. That’s a 1980 movie.
Merl openly acknowledges that the folks who do his puzzle in the paper are generally not so young. Did you notice the timeframe in these clues? 1937, 1940, 1942, 1952, 1960s, 1960s, 1980, 1980, 1997, present. I think I sprouted a couple new gray hairs while doing this puzzle.
The Across Lite notepad reads:
Bonus message, once you’ve completed the puzzle: 57-85-21 / 75-108-84-27-41-35 / 117-77-16-86 / 29-106-27-74 / 65-98-78-110 / 22-50-80 / 17-47-71 / 38-88 / 54-53-73-5-114-81-46-15-68-2-39) … And can you name the show? Answer in two weeks.
It spells out “You unlock the door with the key of imagination.” I’m guessing this is from The Twilight Zone.
A few more clues:
- 15a. [Vietnamese VIP until 1975] is THIEU.
- 53a. [Old five-iron] is a MASHIE. Golf club terminology of yore.
- 73a. [Architects’ org.] is AIA.
- 8d. [Newsreel inventor] is PATHÉ.
- 10d. [Liz Taylor film, “X, Y, and ___”] ZEE? Never heard of it.
- 20d. [Plowers-to-be: abbr.] are the FFA, or Future Farmers of America.
- 47d. [Ova-threw?] clues EGGED. Hah!
- 50d. [Serfdom] is HELOTRY, in ancient Sparta. Helots were on the spectrum between slaves and citizens.
- 64d. A SHAKO is a [Marching-band hat], the tall, showy kind.
Jeff Chen’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Physical Therapy Session”
- 23a. [It begins with H] kicks off the theme with a tricky clue. The PERIODIC TABLE begins with hydrogen.
- 29a. [Place to take a date?] is from a date PALM TREE.
- 35a. A PIANO TUNER is a [Worker with a fork], a tuning fork. Given the dangers of tines, I hear a lot of the profession is moving towards the tuning spoon.
- 46a. A POWER TOOL is a [Wood shop item].
- 57a. [One may be used in child support cases] clues a PATERNITY TEST.
- 69a. [You can’t put it down] clues a real PAGE-TURNER.
- 75a. A PAPER TIGER is an [All-bark, no-bite type]. See also 89d: [Place to put a tiger, in old ads], your gas TANK.
- 83a. [Windshield downer] is the PARKING TICKET placed on your windshield.
- 97a. [History feature] is that it’s written in the PAST TENSE, unless the TV news people are talking about it, in which case they’ll try like hell to make it sound like it’s happening! now!
- 106a. [Intimate exchange] is PILLOW TALK.
- 115a. [Number that may be shocking] is a PRICE TAG.
- 126a. [Endurance level of a sort] is your PAIN THRESHOLD. (See also: physical therapy, postoperative.)
Hey! You find room for 12 theme entries, four of them 13 letters long, and Pete Townshend doesn’t make the cut? Aww.
Ten more clues:
- 13a. A BIG FISH is a [Standout in a small pond?].
- 21a. [Cactus bump] is an AREOLE with spines or hairs on it.
- 39a. [Some are narrow] ESCAPES. Nobody ever talks about a wide escape.
- 64a. [Took to the airport, say] clues SAW OFF. If you take a shotgun to the airport, it’s a SEEN-OFF shotgun.
- 91a. Alaskan/Aleutian island ATTU is an [Island at the edge of the Bering Sea].
- 103a. OMAN is [The toe of an Asian “boot”]. I never thought of the Arabian Peninsula as looking like a boot.
- 125a. ANTHRAX was a [1881 Pasteur vaccine target].
- 18d. [“Card Players Quarreling” artist] is Jan STEEN. You can buy your own copy.
- 60d. [It flew its last flight in 2001] refers to TWA.
- 109d. [“Black bird” pursuer of fiction] is Sam SPADE. Ever hear of the decades-later sequel to The Maltese Falcon called The Black Bird?
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review
The first was “Ice-T album, or its genre” leading the solver to GANGSTA RAP. Here’s a link to the cover of the album, not so sure it’s SFW, and we run a family blog here! As a genre, here’s how it’s defined: Gangsta rap revolves around aggressive lyrics and trunk-heavy beats. Despite its huge acceptance in the early 90s, gangsta rap has been condemned for its violent themes. Rappers often defend themselves by saying that they’re only depicting actual inner-city struggles, not promoting it. Meh, who needs it?
T’other was “Kool Thing” band, SONIC YOUTH. Let’s see if I recognize the song at all (the band’s name is vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t tell you any songs they were famous for).
Not at all. Is this their most successful hit? Looks like 100% did better. After having SONIC in place all I could think of was the hedgehog!
Certainly the best entry of the lot was found in the money spot, 1-Across, clued as “Mythical hybrid.” Nope, it’s not the 2011 Toyota Prius, but instead, the fabled JACKALOPE. I read here that this “a-feared critter” may be based on sightings of jackrabbits infected by the Shope papilloma virus, which causes them to grow keratinous carcinomas, notably about the head. These can appear as antlers, particularly if you’ve been drinking when out a-huntin’ dem critters!
I had some trouble with the crossing between two people I’ve never heard of, namely, Celebrity Apprentice runner-up Holly Robinson PEETE and the host of the History Channel’s Mail Call (what kind of questions do people send in, I wonder?), R. LEE ERMEY. There’s the seed of a theme for you–what other people have three Es in a row in their name? COGNOMEN is a fun word; it refers to the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome, serving much like a nickname or family name today. Caesar’s full Roman name was Gaius Julius Caesar, where ‘Caesar’ denoted him as a member of the ‘Caesarian’ family branch of the ‘Julian’ clan (nomen), and ‘Gaius’ was his personal name (praenomen).
Trip Payne’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 32”
Great-looking grid with those stair-stepping long answers stacked at the top and bottom. With 66 entries, this is a fairly low-word-count puzzle. With the exception of the lackluster RENAILS and Roman numeral MLI (Does [The CLXXVIIth prime number] look like a Peter Gordon clue to you?), the fill is terrific. Here are the longest answers:
- 1a. [Original source of the phrase “all hell broke loose”] is Milton’s PARADISE LOST.
- 13a. Green Day’s AMERICAN IDIOT is a [2010 Broadway musical based on a 2004 rock album].
- 15a. NINE MEN’S MORRIS is an [Ancient abstract strategy game] I know nothing about.
- 31a. ECLIPSES? [They occur during syzygies]. I prefer syzygy in the three-Y singular.
- 36a. [Dark clouds, e.g.] are BAD OMENS. I had ILL OMENS first.
- 56a. [The Duke of Mantua sings it in “Rigoletto”] clues LA DONNA E MOBILE. I believe that translates to “The Lady Is on the Move.” “She Gets Around.” “She’s Hell on Wheels.”
- 59a. [Where some trips begin and end] is LANDING FIELDS. Raise your hand if you went with LANDING STRIPS.
- 60a. RYAN SEACREST is a [Three-time loser to Jeff Probst for the Outstanding Reality Program Host Emmy].
- 9d. A LIMERICK is [Writing that’s often obscene].
- 34d. [“Seduction of the Minotaur” author] is ANAIS NIN. Hmm, haven’t heard of that work. Here’s an excerpt from the novel.
I got all turned around in the upper right corner. Having no idea who the [Comerica Park team] was but knowing it started with TI, I tried the Tennessee TITANS. Now, I should have remembered that “Park” is a baseball word and not a football one, and remembered the existence of the Detroit TIGERS. But I drew a blank on TIGERS. Plus, [Big finish?] became the Big TEN, which meshed with TITANS, but it’s supposed to be the letter GEE that “finishes” the word big. The [Head set] clue left my head empty; turned out to be EYES.
- 22a. SITARS are [Relatives of tamburas]. No cross-reference here to sitarist RAVI Shankar, [Father of Norah] Jones.
- 35a. A drug [Bust measurement] is a KILO.
- 45a. [Group that publishes the two most widely circulated magazines in the U.S.] is AARP. AARP The Magazine (formerly Moderna Maturity) and the AARP Bulletin are sent out to all AARP members. I wonder how many copies go directly into the recycle bin. Do they stll publish Merl Reagle’s crosswords?
- 49a. I know of LIMEYS only as Brits. [Epsom salts]?? That’s magnesium sulfate. Lime is calcium. I don’t get it.
- 1d. [Jipijapas] is a beautiful word, isn’t it? PANAMAS are Panama hats.
- 24d. I confused myself with the [Dow Jones Industrial Average company] clue. I was reading it as “company that publishes the DJIA” rather than “company included in the DJIA.” DUPONT chemicals fit the latter.
- 32d. I bet a lot of folks tried SASSY instead of LIPPY for [Impudent].
- 37d. [“Modern Family” actress Winter] is named ARIEL. Must be one of Phil and Claire’s daughters. Yep, she plays the brainy middle child.
- 46d. I thought [Ruff without a void, e.g.] was looking for some sort of Elizabethan collar without a hole in it, but the answer turns out to be RENEGE. Bridge, I presume?