Steve Blais’s New York Times crossword
I got distracted by “hey, a football PRO BOWLER who plays in the Pro Bowl looks a lot like a PROfessional BOWLER” and couldn’t figure out the theme till after I finished the puzzle. It’s hats, man, with hats whose names have other non-headwear meanings:
- 17a. [Merlin Olsen, 14 times], PRO BOWLER.
- 23a. [1991 John Singleton film], BOYS N THE HOOD.
- 37a. [Global warming concern], SHRINKING ICE CAP.
- 48a. [Annual 29-Down since 1934], SOAP BOX DERBY.
- 60a. [“I’ll catch up!” … or what the ends of 17-, 23-, 37- and 48-Across do?], GO ON AHEAD, or looked at another way, GO ON A HEAD.
Oh! I think I’ve done it! I think I’ve found an error, an actual, factual error, in the puzzle! 7d. [Nancy Drew creator Carolyn] clues KEENE, and while Carolyn Keene is the author name on the cover of all those old Nancy Drew books, that’s a pen name. A publisher and writer named George Stratemeyer created the characters Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins, and hired writers to pen the stories under the pseudonyms Carolyn Keene, Franklin W. Dixon, and Laura Lee Hope. I only learned this a couple weeks ago. I might’ve bought a [Nancy Drew author Carolyn] clue, but “creator” has a specific meaning and I don’t think today’s clue flies. What do you think? Does the clue stand or fall? (I know I already said it didn’t fly. Clues are so active, aren’t they?)
Five more things:
- 22d. [Georg of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra], SOLTI. It wasn’t his only post, but he served longer at the CSO than at any other joint.
- 59a. [Like Cheerios], OATEN. I don’t think I’ve ever once used OATEN outside of crosswords. It should be a verb. “Why don’t you oaten up that chocolate chip cookie recipe? It’ll be delicious.”
- 67a. [Submissions to an ed.], MSS. Abbrev for manuscripts. Jeffrey K. tweeted about a 1971 NYT crossword clue: [Ms. men] clued EDS, and he and I bought thought of Ms. magazine and were surprised Will Weng would have assumed there were male editors at Ms. But Jeffrey (“Jangler”) Harris corrected us; it was merely a sexist clue assuming that editors of a manuscript would be men.
- 47d. [Pullers in pairs], OXEN. Do you use the word “pullers” yourself?
- 57a. [Pindar offering], ODE. You know what? All these years of reading clues about Pindar and his ODE habit, and I’ve never read a Pindaric ode. But I just now got a small sampling of his style via Wikipedia.
Solid theme. The fill is okay but nothing really knocks me out. 3.25 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Line Interference”
Matt takes famous movie lines, scrambles a word in the movie’s title in the clue, and scrambles one word in the famous line:
- 17a. [Line from 1989’s “Dead Pesto Society” about grabbing ten cents?], CARPE DIME. (Poets, diem.) Not that pesto and dimes have anything to do with each other.
- 26a, 32a. [With 32-across, line from 1983’s “Carsface” about an early GPS system?], SAY HELLO TO / MY LITTLE FINDER. (Scarface, friend.) Cars and GPS do go together, but this is the only theme answer where the scrambled title relates at all to the scrambled quote. It gave me expectations.
- 42a. [Line from 1999’s “The Sixth Essen” about visiting Miami?], I SEE DADE PEOPLE. (Sense, dead.)
- 48a, 59a. [With 59-across, line from 1950’s “Unsets Blvd.” about a new marriage counselor?], I’M READY FOR / MY COUPLES. (Sunset, close-up.)
I can hear the Scarface and Sixth Sense altered lines in Pacino and Osment’s voices. “Say hello to my little crossword blog.”
Mystery item: 36d. [Place to save game progress, on some cartridges], EMPTY SLOT. Have I ever mentioned that I’m really not a gamer?
Five more things:
- 68a. [California town that used to have a palindromic bakery], YREKA. Yreka … Bakery.
- 3d. [Pre-butterfly creature], CHRYSALIS. Such a pretty-looking word.
- 10d. [Two that are trouble], DEADLY DUO. Is this a thing? Google suggests yes.
- 33d. [Arctic drama], ICE RESCUE. Doesn’t have to be arctic. Chicago saw a couple ice rescues of dogs on Lake Michigan this winter.
- 37d. [Had free reign of], RULED. Not sure if I like the play of “free reign” when so many people unknowingly use that instead of “free rein.” This clue won’t do much to educate the folks who blithely use “free reign.”
Three stars. The theme is fun, but there’s no connection between the altered titles and altered quotes.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Several quaint synonyms for “really funny person” are featured here:
- 20a. [Patient’s therapeutic shriek], PRIMAL SCREAM.
- 32a. [Tiny data storage device], MEMORY CARD.
- 43a. [Uprising at Leavenworth, e.g.], PRISON RIOT.
- 55a. [Comical sort, like the last word of 20-, 32- or 43-Across], LAUGH-A-MINUTE.
I use “riot” but not the other three. And usually it’s a “that” that’s a riot and not a “who.”
Speaking of quaint, this puzzle’s got a retro flair to it: GOMER Pyle and Maynard KREBS? Plus Dale EVANS, MODEL T’S, IRMA la Douce, the USIA, and a few decades less old, John TESH and TAE-BO.
Favorite entry: 33d. [U-turn], ONE-EIGHTY.
Not much more to discuss here, is there? Three stars.
NYT: I warmed up to the revealer the more I thought about it. I do appreciate the value of a hooker (in puzzles that is) but if there’s going to be a revealer, then it should cause you to go…oh, ah, I see:) and this one did it for me.
I had that ING ICECAP and could think what is was doing: Melting? Thinning? Disappearing? Something bad, no matter what you call it…
The Keene clue jumped right out at me too. I think that a second-rate explanation will get them by as acceptably correct. It’s a second-rate clue, though.
Agree – a cut above with the revealer.
Congrats on Steve Blais’s NYT debut!
According to my info, we have two Canadian constructors featured this week: Steve Blais, and some other guy on Saturday.
Hah! I wouldn’t have realised if you and ACME hadn’t said… He’s had a good few LATs already!
And don’t forget that last Saturday was by Michael Wiesenberg from Calgary.
Good lord, the Canadians are mobilizing!
(walking down to my backyard bunker)
Syrup and peameal bacon for everyone! (It’s how we Canadians attack.) Glad you all enjoyed the puzzle. Hope to be back soon!
If you are heading to the circus, might you warn someone that there’s a GOON AHEAD? ;)
NYT: Oh, I assumed Merlin Olsen was a “kegler”. A bowler here is either a cricket player or someone who plays lawn bowls… But Amy, isn’t “The Old Oaten Bucket” a famous cereal jingle? ;). Loved the Very apt revealer! I finished with MELTINGING CAP, but quickly corrected that!
LAT: Watertight theme. Don’t know what show that Krebs was from, but the Krebs cycle is incredibly important in biochemistry!
… and the stuff of high school biology students’ nightmares.
Amy – don’t forget The Dana Girls mysteries! “Carolyn Keene” wrote those, too, and I gobbled them up as fast as I did Nancy Drews. Brilliant writing.
if you haven’t read it, then you might also take to this book by melanie rehak:
(but, yes, it was edward stratemeyer who created the character of nancy drew.)
Thanks, Janie! I just ordered it.
oh, cool — i hope you enjoy the read! it really gets into the *business* of publishing — and how two smart women were way ahead of their time!
Somewhat tangentially, there’s Mabel Maney’s Nancy Clue and Hardly Boys books. I haven’t read them, but the first was published while I was working part-time at Shakespeare & Co. The cover and design struck me as clever pastiche and homage, and so stuck with me. No idea if that’s a pseudonym.
Two other maybe relevant points about the Ms. men clue:
– The puzzle title was “Calling All Men” with theme answers like PHILHARMONIC and TOE THE MARK
– The puzzle’s constructor was Betty Leary.
Actually, I think you’ll find Betty Leary was a pseudonym used by Edward Stratemeyer…
There’s a hole in the old oaten bucket, Dear ‘Liza….and I can’t haul any milk in it.
For those not familiar with Maynard G. Krebs: He was wildly unconventional. You could tell by the outrageously long hair (it almost reached his eyebrows), his beard (a neat goatee), and his hip vocabulary (Daddy-O!). He later went on a three-hour tour that crashed on a desert island.