Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword
I was lost in youthful nostalgia and chocolism for a while and didn’t notice the vowel progression theme until the fourth theme entry landed. The five theme answers begin with MALT, MELT, MILT, MOLT, and MULT:
- 18a. MALTED MILK. I’ve never had malted anything (well, aside from beer) without a chocolate component. Is there chocolate-free malted milk? That sounds gross.
- 23a. MELT IN ONE’S MOUTH? Hey! That’s not [What M&M’s do]! They melt in your mouth. “Melt in one’s mouth” is maybe what butter and ice do, or regular chocolate. Not M&M’s!
- 37a. MILTON BRADLEY is not just a classic board game company from my childhood (though something without chocolate relevance)—it’s also the name of a baseball player. You might ask what his parents were thinking. Wikipedia tells us: “Bradley is named after his father, Milton Bradley, Sr., who filled out the birth certificate form without his wife’s permission.”
- 50a. I call foul on delicious MOLTEN CHOCOLATE. That isn’t a lexical chunk. It’s no longer a chocolate chunk, either. But I’d like to dip strawberries in it all the same.
- 56a. The last theme entry is neither delicious or full of nostalgic fun. MULTIPLIER is the “drink your Ovaltine?!?” of the theme.
Did you know that BEHIMD is not an accepted variant spelling for BEHIND? True story. Applet wouldn’t accept my BEHIMD.
- 37d. MELO, [Prefix with drama]. The melo- part is from the Greek melos, or “music.” Who knew? Not I.
- 60d. [“Which came first?” choice], for EGG. Yes, but where did the egg come from, huh?
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Just Stuff”—Evad’s review
It’s funny, yesterday I mentioned how you have to respect a constructor who puts THING in at 1-Across. Well, today’s CrosSynergy constructor, Tyler Hinman takes that one step (well, really two steps) further with three 15-letter theme entries which end with a synonym of “stuff”:
- [Giveaway for the first 20,000 fans, say] is a PROMOTIONAL ITEM. I get the sense Tyler goes to a lot of ball games or concerts in San Francisco.
- MONEY IS NO OBJECT is something I always like to hear, here it’s clued as [“I’ll buy whatever you want!”].
- [1989 Spike Lee film] is DO THE RIGHT THING, starring John Turturro, Rosie Perez and Samuel L. Jackson. Doesn’t seem like it came out more than 20 years ago, does it?
I really enjoyed the conjunction of COLOR TV, SETTLES IN and SNIVEL. Nothing to [Be petulant] about there!
The pleasure in this one for me was found in the non-theme entries—lots of “stuff” I found very lively:
- [Documentarian Michael] MOORE is now in Wisconsin supporting the government workers who are fighting to retain their union rights. Can a movie be far behind?
- [Player representatives?] aren’t agents, but the much more creative X’S AND O’S, as if in a football coach’s notebook.
- Like Amy, I enjoy it when my puzzles talk to me; here we have [“I need a ride home from school”] or COME GET ME.
- The clue [Buzz-killing] made me think of the buzz you get from drugs or alcohol. I suppose if you were MOROSE, that’d kill that kind of buzz, huh?
- Have you read The Joy of LEX? Seems like it would be an interesting book.
- Interesting clue for SOL: [Beethoven’s fifth]. It’s also pretty much the same for any other composer in the 19th century. Anton Webern, on the other hand….
- Did you know that ERTE stood for the way French say the initials R.T. (for the artist Romain de Tirtoff)?
- Not only is our skin an ORGAN, it’s the largest one of the human body.
- Would’ve preferred to see [Odium’s opposite, in Oaxaca] (AMOR) clued as [Odio’s opposite], but that would’ve made it a tougher clue.
Billie Truitt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This theme left me cold, and I’m not even sure how to describe it. “Blanking blank” phrases in which the second word ends with a G? That’s not a particularly interesting list, nor is it exhaustive. No BROKEN LEG, SHOPPING BAG, PORKY PIG? There’s no meaningful order to the entries (e.g., a vowel progression), no links between the entries, not even a consistent consonant-vowel-G format for the second words (EGG diverges from that). And several of the theme answers are lifeless little objects. It’s just weird.
- 17a. [Lather-holding cup] is a SHAVING MUG. My dad never had one.
- 25a. [Sock mender’s tool] is a DARNING EGG. My mom had one, but may never have used it.
- 36a. [Violin knob for pitch adjustments] is a TUNING PEG. No violinists in the family, zero familiarity with tuning pegs.
- 48a. [Retriever or pointer] is a HUNTING DOG. I grew up with an English springer spaniel, but she never hunted.
- 57a. [Joke that gets funnier with repetition] clues the lively RUNNING GAG. Maybe this theme is some sort of running gag, but a failed one that does not, in fact, get any funnier with repetition?
I do like the 6s and 7s that blanket the grid—the WISE MEN, BEARISH, STINKS, BIG NEWS, a MOUNTIE, “animal, MINERAL, or vegetable,” and “Afternoon DELIGHT.”
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
This puzzle did not take my mind off my star-crossed new toilet. DROVE MAD? Yes. HYDROGEN? Yes, hydrogen sulfide is part of that sewer gas. ACCESSES blocked. GO TO HELL, toilet. Do I HAS WORDS with that toilet? Yes, I has choice words. Plumber, please talk to your most experienced colleagues and call back. I need this toilet fixed before I go to the ACPT. Preferably today.
- SAM THE EAGLE, pretty ETHEREAL, HASHISH, OFFICE DEPOT, GO TO HELL, DJ HERO (though I’d never heard of the game), full-name TYNE DALY, and DON’T LIE.
Oh! And SCARFACE is another highlight. Why, just two days ago, after someone told me her “friend” had arrived that morning, I decided that henceforth the only way to announce that your period has begun is to say, a la Pacino in Scarface, “Say hello to my little friend.” I think the movie’s bloodiness makes it work. Yes?
No idea what sobre means, and I daresay it’s not a word anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish might be expected to know. (Gato, casa, leche, uno, dos, tres, si. Sobre, no.) SRA is an [Abbr. on a sobre], though.
Pretty smooth fill overall.
Things I loved: Jamie Foxx, 30 Rock, CANALS/ITALIA, EARTHA Kitt, XANAX.
MELTINyourMOUTH was an issue for me, too.
It’s not much of a riddle. A chicken can only come from a chicken egg, so the egg came first. The first chicken egg was laid by some other bird, with the all-important mutation that made her the mother of the first chicken.
Sorry, but I don’t have a clear-cut answer that works for creationists.
Martin – Who said the mother was the one with the mutation?
…and tag-teaming with Martin, although on a decidedly more trivial matter, I feel it’s my role here (it’s in my
bailiview wheelwick purhousearea) to point out this sort of thing:
NYT 21d [“Spotted cat”] clues CIVET, which is not a cat but belongs to a closely related family, Viverridae. Crudely speaking, the mammalian order Carnivora can be divided into dog-like beasties and cat-like critters; viverrids are catty analogues of the doggy mustelids (weasels, otters, skunks, badgers, et al.). True, civets are sometimes called civet cats, but that’s only slightly less egregious than saying “koala bear.” At the very least, the clue should have put cat in quotes.
bonus factino: Hyenas, though they resemble dogs, are on the cat side.
Apart from the fact the M&Ms melt in your mouth – and definitely not mine – this was a really nice Monday puzzle. I rarely have anything to say about a Monday puzzle, but if we have to have them, let’s let ACM do them all.
That explains MELOdy. I had it mixed up with the Latin “melli-” “honey.”.
“Have it one’s way.” Burger King
“It’s everywhere one wants to be” Visa
“This is one’s brain. This is one’s brain on drugs.”
AKIRA Kurosawa’s “Mt Fuji in Red” is a short, 8 minute, segment from his 1990 film “Dreams.” It depicts the meltdown of several nuclear power plants. a rather dark vision…
Well, I solved my own puzzle just now and also put in MELTINYOURMOUTH…
I must have tried that originally and couldn’t make it work, so I fudged it a bit
(mmm, fudge…chocolate fudge…chocolate multiple fudge, chocolate multiplier fudge!)
Didn’t notice all the sweet refs till others pointed them out…well, we know what’s on my mind!
@Jamie, well! THANK YOU! OK! Let’s see what Will has to say about that! ;)
Frown at MELTINONESMOUTH. Also at clue for CIVET, which is not a cat but a viverrid (wrote this before read Pannonica’s comment, consider it seconded!) But otherwise standard Monday fun, with a few of ACME’s nice touches.
Funny thing is, I actually couldn’t figure out the Times theme until after solving! I was trying to figure out the connection between Milton Bradley and molten chocolate… some kind of candy-board game combo. Thinking something like Monopoly, with Tootsie Roll hotels, etc. I call dibs on the Pez token!
Fun one, Andrea. Thanks.
Well, for creationists, birds were created by fiat on day +5, no specific mention of eggs in that part of Genesis, as far as I can tell.
Phil, actually it’s the egg’s genotype that carries the mutuation. Neither parent is a chicken. Meiosis happens.
As much as sloppy taxonomy pains me too, we must recognize that civet cat is in the dictionary. That common usage justifies the clue and, I think, would make quotes around cat controversial in their own right.
I object to cluing CALLA as “Funnel-shaped lily” or such, but suffer quietly.
This theme was done a while back (1997). All new themed entries this time, though.
According to BEQ, you can buy Hashish in an Amsterdam coffeeshop!!!
A sobre is an envelope if someone hasn’t already pointed that out.
It sounds like you haven’t been to Amsterdam in a while. If you want coffee you look for a café. The word “coffeeshop” is reserved for marijuana bars.
Martin: Point taken, but for me it’s even more distressing to see that, according to that definition, civet cat can refer to animals from three distinct families, one feliform and two caniforms: viverrids (civets and allies), procyonids (raccoons and such), and mustelids (specifically, a skunk).
pannonica (and Martin): For goodness sakes, this is a crossword puzzle, not a class in vertebrate anatomy! This quibble will never gain traction with solvers (even though I groan with you, Martin, over calla).
Meem: There’s been no talk about anatomy, but that’s beside the point.
I’ve reconsidered and decided that the confusion lies in the structure of the names. For both civet cat and calla lily (and koala bear, plus who knows how many others, for that matter) the two-word constructs—while not ostensibly accurate—are acceptable, familiar and understandable to the general public. However, it’s a mistake to call a civet cat a cat, a calla lily a lily, or a koala bear a bear (though in each case the first word can stand on its own as a valid description of the organism).