Erik Wennstrom’s New York Times crossword
I’m generally a big fan of themes like this that play with color combinations—I think I’ve seen a similar twist a couple other times—although the grand unifying entry here means nothing to me. REDSHIFTED?? [Like light from stars moving away from us … or like the answers to this puzzle’s starred clues?] just takes me to “Wha…?” territory. The dictionary entry for redshift tells me there’s also a blueshift, but my astrophysics education failed to tell me such things existed.
But the red-tinged gimmick is kinda cute:
- 29a. [Like a baby girl’s laundry?] clues PINK-WASHED. Adding red to white-washed will get you pink.
- 11d. Take a blueprint and add red and you’ve got PURPLE PRINT, or [Newspapers read by royalty?]. Okay, that doesn’t quite make sense. Nobody says they’re reading “print” when they mean the newspaper, and just because the royals read something doesn’t turn it regal or purple.
- 25d. I like this one best. Yellow fever becomes ORANGE FEVER, an [Illness caused by eating Cheetos]. My son had that Sunday night! True story. He puked from eating too many Cheetos whilst his mother was occupied with a mini puzzle extravaganza at a party.
It’s an odd grid layout. Going across, you don’t hit a single theme clue until you’re part way into the sixth row.
- 56a. PICASSO? [He had a Blue Period]. I wouldn’t have used a color clue for PICASSO in this puzzle, though. His Blue Period wants to be a Purple Period. (Picasso’s grape-fueled artistic frenzy?)
- 10d. My husband loves the ANGEL HAIR [Pasta variety]. Lovely crossword entry.
- 35d. DEODORIZE! [Freshen] up, wouldja?
- 49d. A DUST-UP is a [Quarrel].
Matt Gaffney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Have you been to Vegas? I haven’t. Do you pay attention to the names of the various casinos? I don’t. So this theme was heavy on the work-the-crossings for me. The theme entries are various phrases clued as if they have something to do with casinos:
- 20a. There’s a gamblin’ house called the Riviera, so MEXICAN RIVIERA is [Vegas casino all decked out for Cinco de Mayo?].
- 24a. The VENETIAN BLINDS clue makes you think about both poker and casinos. Great! Two of my least favorite topics combined!
- 41a. Is TEA IN THE SAHARA anything but a B-side song from the early ’80s Police album Synchronicity? Does it have another meaning that predates Sting’s stylings?
- 46a. PARIS IS BURNING…that’s familiar. Fashion documentary? Close. Drag Ball documentary. Inspiration for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Lots of terrific stuff elsewhere in this puzzle, though. HANDS DOWN, the fill got me past any BAD VIBES from the theme. You might VACILLATE on filling in 35a and 57a (wait, which one is ILER and which is IGER?) but should be quite firm in your stance against having a TV DINNER. And there’s a SHARPIE permanent marker.
- 15a. AMMA is clued as a [Palindromic “hugging saint”]. Who? She’s a Hindu spiritual leader.
- 58a. [2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model ___ Shayk] clues IRINA. Whatever.
- 25d. [“___ of the State” (Blink-182 album)] is not completed by the word ENEMY, nope. It’s ENEMA.
- 53d. [Some people are dying to hide it] clues GRAY hair.
- 27d. A [Jackass] is an A-HOLE. The Onion doesn’t have to clue this answer as [Digging ___].
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ennui, Anyone?”—Janie’s review
(Should you need it, here’s the Island of Lost Puzzles link, so that you can get a copy of today’s CS.)
It’s always nice when the theme fill of a puzzle whose title boasts of “ennui” is anything but something that’s “boredom”-inducing (ditto the non-theme fill…). We get a 3-part quip today (two 15s and a central seven) with the pithy, punny observation that:
- 20A. A YAWN IS AN HONEST
- 38A. OPINION,
- 54A. OPENLY EXPRESSED.
For anyone needing a diagram, this should help. Of course, sometimes the yawn comes about not from ennui, but from sheer exhaustion, a prelude to sleep, just before one NODS OFF [Slips into dreamland]. Did you remember to say your prayers? You know—the one that begins [“Now] I LAY [me down to sleep“]. I always appreciate the appearance in the grid of what looks to be bonus fill.
I also appreciate non-theme fill that ties in to itself. And Bruce has three such examples. First, for lovers of all things Egypt, we get the scrabbly SPHINX and GIZA, clued as [Nile sight] and [Great Pyramid locale]; and then we also get two levels of anger: one may be merely VEXED [Put out] or in an all-out state of IRE [High dudgeon]. Not only do I like that third “X,” but I like the way ire shares vexed‘s second “E.” And because three’s a charm, let’s not forget the two levels of lunacy. Apparently one can be NUTSO [Plumb crazy] or have attained status as the [Epitome of craziness], being crazy as a LOON.
There’s more scrabbly action by way of the shared “Z” of PEZ and ADZES ([Dispenser candy] and [Wood shaping tools]). Better still is the shared “Z” of FONZ and KOONTZ ([“Happy Days” cool cat, with “the”] and [Best-selling novelist Dean]). Hmm. I wonder if CAVETT [Dick of talk show fame] has ever interviewed Dean Koontz, who is one prolific writer. Then, Koontz shares that initial “K” with KAREEM [Lew of hoops, later]. What with the NCAAs about to wind down, let’s not forget he was a 3-time champ in that tourney. Back in the day…
Other fill I liked today would have to include “SAY ‘WHEN’” [Pourer’s comment], X-ED OUT [Marked for deletion] and the lively-arts-oriented MOTIF [Literary recurrence], OPERA [“La Bohème,” e.g.] and SCRIPT [Screenwriter’s output].
No ennui for me today, thank you very much!
And as Evad first mentioned on Sunday, I, too, will be stepping down from this regular blogging gig at the end of the week. But no adieux ’til Saturday!
James Sajdak’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This puzzle adheres to an L.A. LAW, the terms of which state that each theme entry has two words that begin with LA:
- 17a. [Whip-cracking cowboy of old films] is LASH LARUE. I believe his name is being kept alive solely by crossword constructors who prefer to clue LARUE the way it’s been clued for decades rather than with more contemporary TV actress Eva La Rue. If you weren’t watching cowboy movies in the ’40s and ’50s, you’d never know Lash LaRue.
- 21a. [Ethel, to Lucy] is the LANDLADY.
- 35a. [Sky blue] for LAPIS LAZULI? But that stone is a much deeper blue than the sky.
- 51a. A LAVA LAMP is a [Wax-filled illumination].
- 56a. A [Victor’s chuckle] is the LAST LAUGH.
- 29d. L.A. LAW is a [’80s-’90s legal drama, and this puzzle’s title]. Wouldn’t LA LA LAND be a better name for the puzzle?
- PARASAIL beside ABU DHABI. (Sorry, but the 70%-off deal for parasailing in Abu Dhabi has expired.)
Could do without:
- AVI, NABES, OGEE, SAMPAN, AAAS, KENO, ARN, ALAR, ESSE, EMAG, TSE. Felt like a few too many words drawn from the crosswordese bank.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Diamond Capers”
The “Diamond Capers” at issue here aren’t jewel heists, they’re baseball players’ episodes of malfeasance:
- 39a. LINEUPS ties everything together as [Things both baseball players and criminals might show up in].
- 17a. [Ballplayer arrested for battery, abuse, and possession of drugs and firearms] is JOSE CANSECO. Everything I know about Canseco comes from this great sportswriting testament to his nuttiness.
- 27a. [Ballplayer indicted for perjury] is ROGER CLEMENS. He was just on ESPN this morning wearing an orange shirt with a camouflage trim. Apparently the orange/CAMO (18d: [Steel Reserve malt liquor rival]) people are paying him to wear their stuff on TV. Probably don’t have an ironclad ethics clause in their contract with him, huh?
- 47a. [Ballplayer arrested for possession of cocaine, driving under the influence, and battery] is DWIGHT GOODEN.
- 63a. [Ballplayer convicted of racketeering] is DENNY MCLAIN. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of him.
It’s opening day at Wrigley on Friday! The forecast is a high of 45 with rain. April baseball in the north stinks.
All righty, what else is in this puzzle? Good stuff:
- Carbonated MR PIBB. “NO GIFTS,” please, but if you disregard this request I hope you get me something really awesome. WWJD, [Oft-satirized Evangelical bracelet letters]. LAH-DI-DAH, I can BE COOL, I’m one of the BLOGGERS. WHEW! We have OZZY and JIMI but no TESH.
- 11a. [Members of James Brown’s band] are the JB’S. Hmm, you don’t say. Sometimes a backing band is not so well-known. E Street Band, Wailers, the Heartbreakers—these ones we know. The JB’S did not make this new Sporcle quiz of “Someone and the Somethings” band names. I got all the answers! That’s because the next two bands were not involved—
- 41d. POD is clued as a [Christian nü-metal band] I’ve never heard of.
- 65d. LFO is an [English electronic act since 1990].
I lost a minute of time finding my NUTRA (not so Sweet) error, but RED SHAFTED made just about as much sense to this political science major as RED SHIFTED. Sorry, Joon. :-)
I made the novice mistake of staring at the TST in “TSTRAP,” wondering which of the across clues I’d goofed on. Pretty nice grid. And this Wennstrom fellow has an excellent name.
brent, no need to apologize. as a recovering astrophysicist, i’m very familiar with REDSHIFTED, but … that’s not what it means, not at all. redshift is when light (or any other radiation) undergoes a shift to longer wavelength and therefore lower frequency (and lower energy), like so: R <- O <- Y <- G <- B <- I <- V. this theme here? this is just mixing in red, and not only that, you're mixing pigments, not light. so while i was grateful for the ten free squares when i got to 47a, i'm not a big fan of it as the reveal for this particular theme. but big props for the DVORAK keyboard layout! that gave me a happy.
Wow. I’m surprised, Amy. Doppler and gravitational redshifts and blueshifts are pretty common knowledgey stuff, I thought. Kinda like, even though you may have never learned to cook from scratch, everyone knows that the recipe for Coca Cola contains cinnamon.
And cocaine, right? I mean, have you ever met anyone who’s addicted to Pepsi?
Is there a newer version than 1.0 of the Crossword Solver app? You mentioned being able to jump over filled-in squares, but mine doesn’t do that. Also, is there a way to go backwards through the clues? Shift-Enter and Shift-Tab are acting the same as Enter and Tab for me.
Jon, download what’s here: http://www.crosswordsolver.info/. It’s version 1.1. I have never once sought to go backwards through the clues! Alex Boisvert started a discussion topic at the Crossword Compiler forum—you might swing by there, too.
But have you tried Redshift-Enter or Redshift-Tab? Just move away from the keyboard really quickly as you type!
I hear the Blueshift-Tab doesn’t have as many calories.
I’m crediting Carl SAGAN and Cosmos with my knowledge of red/blue shifting.
Is there a website where the CS.jpz’s can be downloaded? I still feel at sea with the new solver.
there’s now a link to the cs puzzle at the end of my post above, but one mo’ time:
heeeere’s today’s cs!
and there’s a link to crossword solver there as well —
1.1! Much better, thanks. (Although it’s weird that, while filled-in squares do get skipped, they also become blocks. Given a word that had its last two letters filled on the Across pass, when I traversed the Downs and discovered the last one was wrong, I had to arrow-key to get to it. That will take a little getting used to.)
“Doobage” might be my new favorite clue. Some things just look funny and are.
@TS,Matt: I had no idea there was cinnamon in Coke :(. The .0000000001 ounce of cocaine or whatever as a coca byproduct, yes. Still way less addicting than my morning cup of fresh-brewed mud, though.
P.S. – Don’t get too caught up on the physical red shift definition as it relates to the puzzle; the ‘shift’ is only being conveniently used as a double meaning for the shift in theme colors, with no relation to the original term. Theme reveals like this don’t actually have to relate to the actual term itself, though this is a bonus when it happens :).
This is Erik Wennstrom, creator of today’s NYTimes crossword puzzle. It’s my first published puzzle, so I haven’t yet learned not to get involved in internet discussions of my work.
Howard B is dead on about not taking the definition of “red-shift” too literally, but joon is also correct about the technical definition of “red-shift”. I probably would have hinted it differently if it had occurred to me. If it helps settle your mind, the original title of the puzzle was “Bleeding Colors”. This is one of those cases where knowing a little bit of physics is helpful, but knowing too much gets in the way.
Was everyone else save yours truly famiiar with “GROK” and with the “Vista” acronym in the 54A clue? Shouldn’t the letters be caps? I got the answers by crossings, but then had to google the words to find out what my answers meant!
With the red-shifted theme I had no problems. I wonder if the HUAC would have looked into this puzzle if it were published in the fifties.
@DM: Yes to GROK. Comes from Heinlein but has extended far past his writings. No to VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America. I Googled it after doing the puzzle. (NYT style is to use title case for acronyms that are 5+ letters. Thus, 4-letter AIDS is all caps, but Vista, Nafta, and Nasdaq are title case.)
@Amy–Thanks for apprising me of the 5+ rule. Odd, that in all these years of doing the NYT puzzles I’ve never twigged it. As for GROK, it has now extended so far past Heinlein as to reach even me!:-)
Orange, Mr. McClain is probably worth remembering. He’s the last major league pitcher to win 30 games in a season, more than 40 years ago. That’s beyond a significant achievement in that particular profession.
I don’t think the poor, hapless Tigers have been the same since.
Congratulations on your debut, Erik! I quite enjoyed the theme – and I’ve forgotten just enough physics for the RED SHIFT phrase to fit just right :)
Just curious – is there a reason why you opted to have theme answers cross instead of using the typical windmill style or four long across entries? It looks cool – just not what I expected.
“Just curious – is there a reason why you opted to have theme answers cross instead of using the typical windmill style or four long across entries? It looks cool – just not what I expected.”
You said it right there: it looks cool. I get a kick out of it when theme answers cross each other. It’s a bit tricky to pull off. It probably made the grid a bit harder to fill, but I think the end result wasn’t too bad.