Oh! Did you look at T Campbell’s post last Saturday? I hadn’t, not until Matt Jones shared T’s webcomic on Facebook. The entire comic’s laid out like a crossword grid, and the answers in the small crossword that’s included are to be found in the corresponding spot of the comic grid. And! There’s a character named Amy who looks an awful lot like me, plus other crossword folks including Will Shortz, Brendan Quigley, Pat Merrell, Mike Shenk, Matt Gaffney, Tyler Hinman, Dan Feyer, Trip Payne, and Merl Reagle. Fun!
Brendan Quigley & Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword
Cute! Mind your P’S AND Q’S, which are to be found to the right and left of the black squares along the diagonal in the middle. The fill is remarkably smooth considering the constraint of having 17 answers ending with P (not counting the extraneous final P’s located elsewhere in the grid) and another 17 beginning with Q. It’s still just a 74-word grid, with space for 32 answers that are 6 to 9 letters long.
- That BAD RAP, musical RECITALS (my cousin Heather is having a harp recital Saturday in my part of the city but I can’t go), SADISTS clued gently as [Crossword editors, some say], old-school PAPIST (can’t remember which book I picked up that word from—probably Leon Uris’s Trinity), PANACHE, slangy ‘TUDE, ACAI berries, PARQUET floor, typographical DROP CAP, and CROQUET.
There’s quite a bit of SPORTS stuff here, but nothing beyond my ken—TAPE UP, SPAR, the TROP, the ESPYS, not so bad.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “At the Cannibal’s Luncheon”
Have you ever noticed how many phrases combine body parts with food terms? Apparently Peter has: His theme serves up COLD FEET, TONGUE IN CHEEK (that one’s two variety meats and body parts in one—I have even been at a schmancy restaurant that served a Tongue in Cheek appetizer with beef cheek), KNUCKLE SANDWICH, BUTTER FINGERS, and EYE CANDY. Don’t they make eye candy? Of course they do. Squishy Gummy Eyeballs.
Nothing much leaps out and wows me in this grid. Stacked 8s are nice, but when one of the 8s is DNIESTER…
Could’ve kicked myself for blanking on 8d, the [2011 John C. Reilly film]. I was trying to think of the movie he was in last year, rather than the one I just read a synopsis of earlier this evening. TERRI is about a high school teacher or guidance counselor (Reilly) who takes misfit kids under his wing, including a boy named Terri (yes, with an I).
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Prepare for a close encounter of the three letter kind – [You can find] a UFO [in the four longest puzzle answers, even if you don’t believe].
- 19a. [Continental alliance’s intl. strategy] is E.U. FOREIGN POLICY – half of me says, “Well that looks arbitrary,” while the other half says, “Look at the cool initialism at the front!” All of me agrees that the beginning of this entry looks like EUROPEAN – I was off to a slow start.
- 25a. [Treat thicker than the original] is a DOUBLE STUF OREO, but I prefer the originals. The entry is nice and creamy, though
- 43a. [Toyota RAV4 competitor] is a SUBARU FORESTER – this product placement at least gives equal time to another brand.
- 57a. [Complaint after a reluctant act] – “YOU FORCED MY HAND”, which is a nicely in-the-language phrase to end the set.
This hidden word theme is made better by the inclusion of an F, but the best part is the use of current phrases. I like a themed puzzle like this where the long entries could stand in a themeless puzzle.
As I mentioned, slow start in the NW corner. The longer, fun entries had clues that gave me the most trouble, like “SO TRUE”, “NO, REALLY” and GO EASY ON. The BARFLY/BLOTTO combo is a nice touch.
Some odd points:
- 27a. [Swahili for “freedom”] – “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take UHURU!” (Star Trek/Braveheart crossover)
- 6a. [Tarboosh : Arabic :: ___ : Turkish] – FEZ, not AGA
- 38a. [Covered in goo] – GUNKY, not GUNGY
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Food Fight” – Sam Donaldson’s review
I was so pleased with my paper solving time on yesterday’s puzzle that I decided to go the paper route again for today’s puzzle (well, it also has to do with the fact that I’m solving this at a coffee shop 2,200 miles from home, but that’s another story). BIG mistake, as I crashed and burned with a solving time that resembles a hard Thursday instead of the steady Monday-Tuesday fare we see in the themed CrosSynergy puzzles constructed by anyone not named Klahn.
The theme is straightforward enough, though I’ve never heard of one of the expressions. The three 15-letter theme entries are expressions in the form of verbed ONE’S food item:
- 17-Across: One who has [Subdued somebody] has apparently SETTLED ONE’S HASH. This is the one that’s entirely new to me and to the person I just asked right now as I was typing this paragraph. Is it common outside of the Pacfic Northwest and the South?
- 36-Across: One who has [Ruined somebody] has COOKED ONE’S GOOSE. This one I have heard, and as theme entries go it’s terrific.
- 55-Across: One who has [ Insulted somebody] has BUSTED ONE’S CHOPS. This is the only theme entry that seems to me to have the “food fight” connotation. The busting of chops sounds like a conflict, but the cooking of goose and the settling of hash seem to lack any inherent conflict, at least to my ear.
Portions of the grid fell rapidly enough, and I really liked KNEECAPS and Snoopy’s SOPWITH Camel. But the whole southeast corner was my undoing. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of [Friend’s address], wondering more than once whether it was a reference to the television show that was missing quotation marks. Eventually, I figured it had to refer to something else, but darned if I could figure out what that was. My problems were compunded with the crossing [Charles Coles’ nickname]. When you don’t know Charles Coles, the nickname is even harder to suss out. Apparently his nickname was HONI (though RONI looked just as good to me), making the [Friend’s address] THEE instead of a TREE. That section just slayed me. So between this corner and having no earthly clue about the first theme entry, I was doomed. Oh well. Better luck tomorrow, I hope.
Oh, and one final note: Happy Birthday to my mother, who would have turned 86 today (and who would have come charging at me for revealing that). She died a little over three years ago, just before my first ever ACPT. Her death was not sudden or unexpected, so we had our chance to be together in her last days. On the last day I saw her, I was solving the Sunday NYT at her bedside in preparation for the tournament. She wasn’t especially coherent or talkative that day, but she knew what I was doing and she was wishing me good luck. A son knows these things. Anyway, I think she would be happy to know of the great community of friends I have found in the past three years through crosswording.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “The Little Things” — pannonica’s review
–ling (noun suffix): 2: young, small or inferior one <duckling> (m-w.com)
Three long theme entries of fourteen and thirteen letters, each modifying an original two-word phrase by adding the suffix –ling to the first word and cluing the result.
- 20a. [Show on which small birds vied in singing contests?] STARLING SEARCH. For those solvers too young or too old to have seen it in its heyday, the Ed McMahon Star Search was a 1980s precursor to American Idol. The clue gets it right by using the past tense ‘vied.’
- 35a. [Delivery vehicle for Chinese restaurants?] DUMPLING TRUCK. This one was cute, but I think it would have been better for the clue to describe it as part of the gourmet food truck trend of the past few years.
- 53a. [Cash in Moses’s basket?] FOUNDLING MONEY.
All three of the themers were gratifying bits of wordplay, the images not overly outlandish. It doesn’t bother me at all that the –ling word created didn’t always have a different root than the original.
Can’t quite put my finger on it—dissective analysis of letter distribution, word lengths, CAP™ Quotient (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials), etc. doesn’t help—but there’s a wide-ranging synergistic satisfaction to the fill in this puzzle. One thing I noticed was that a number of kind-of-familiar answers were clued in novel contexts: SHHH as an [Admonition on a fishing trip] rather than a library or dinner table; ELECTRIC as [Like some cattle fences]. HOTELS cross-referencing USA TODAY as places where that [Famously light paper] is “often the only option” was brilliant, especially since it could have been tritely referenced to 51d [Places to get yourself clean, hang out with all the boys, etc.], YMCA. Speaking of which, have you seen this recent weather graphic from that newspaper?
- Seeing SHHH and HEHE (a lowlight entry clued as [Sardonic giggle] which I’d have thought could only be “heh-heh”) in succession in the northeast corner.
- GET ANTSY as [Develop an itch, as it were]; doesn’t feel like enough of a lexical chunk.
- Sequential clues for 19d & 21d: [Have chips, e.g.] EAT and [Inedible chip maker] INTEL.
- 58a [Dress down a bit] is a terse, elegant clue for CHIDE, with the bonus that it isn’t too far away in the grid from 38d [Last article stripped, maybe], THONG.
- MADE A DENT abutting EGOS. Bruises, anyone?
Solid puzzle, 90th percentile.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Urge Overkill”—Matt Gaffney’s review
First, let’s take a quick look at BEQ’s contest crossword from last Thursday: theme answers were BREAKING NEWS, SCRATCHING POST, GRAFFITI BRIDGE and RHYMING SLANG. The first words of the four theme entries comprise the four elements of HIP-HOP, making that musical genre the contest answer. I entered but did not win. See here for results from the man himself:
On to today’s puzzle: OK, I’ll be the first to admit that while I’ve heard of Urge Overkill, I couldn’t have told you anything about them. So that may rate a few extra ticks on the dork-o-meter for me, but it didn’t stop Brendan from putting them (literally) three times in this grid. The word KILL appears three times concealed in theme answers, with the word URGE directly over it. BEQ’s done this sort of literal placement a couple of times before, though I can’t recall the exact puzzle(s) at the moment. The execution is nice: UNSKILLED WORKER, I THINK I’LL PASS and HARMON KILLEBREW are all solid or better, and RESURGED, SCOURGES and BURGER hide the keyword without stepping on each other’s etymology.
Fill standout: SOS PAD, ARKANSAS, the SE corner as a whole, US MAIL, SCIPIO and JAWS. Cluing was also above average: [Famed Senator of the ’50s] for the last theme entry fooled me (missed the capitalized S), and [White room?] for IGLOO took me ten seconds even though I had -GL–. Took me 7:04 to finish the whole thing, which means it took Amy about 4:40. (Note from Amy: Uh, 5:49, actually.)
Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have a killer Thursday, everyone!