Charles Deber’s New York Times crossword, “It Was 50 Years Ago Today”
During the Grammy Awards, I learned that CBS would be televising a Grammys tribute to the Beatles on the 50th anniversary of the band’s original performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, back on February 9, 1964. So the theme was clear from the start and I zipped through the puzzle. Here are the official theme answers and a few short bonus answers:
- 42a. [“Let ___”], IT BE.
- 70a. [Much of the audience for 6-Down’s show on 2/9/64], TEENAGERS.
- 74a. [“When ___ younger, so much younger …” (“Help!” lyric)], I WAS.
- 89a. [“Why ___ so shy when …?” (“It’s Only Love” lyric)], AM I. I don’t think I know that song.
- 3d. [Craze caused by this puzzle’s subjects], BEATLEMANIA.
- 6d. [Host for this puzzle’s subjects on 2/9/64], ED SULLIVAN.
- 9d. [With 11-Down, subjects of this puzzle], tracing a path through the circled squares, PAUL MCCARTNEY, JOHN LENNON.
- 11d. [See 9-Down], RINGO STARR, GEORGE HARRISON.
- 14d. [Nickname for this puzzle’s subjects], THE FAB FOUR.
- 17d. [Song sung by this puzzle’s subjects on 6-Down’s show on 2/9/64], SHE LOVES YOU.
- 81d. [Where this puzzle’s subjects got their start], LIVERPOOL.
- 86d. [Song sung by this puzzle’s subjects on 6-Down’s show on 9/12/65], YESTERDAY.
- 105d. [Instrument depicted by the circled squares in this grid], GUITAR. Um, no. That is not a guitar. It’s more like a cigar-box guitar or banjo, only utterly square instead of rectangular. Not a rock-‘n’-roll outline at all. Our second grid-art NYT puzzle this week, and still Liz Gorski’s title as the master of visual crossword themes goes unchallenged.
- 110d. [1965 and 1966 concert site for this puzzle’s subjects], SHEA.
I like the familiar-trivia theme and I like the way the Beatles’ names hook together in a symmetrical shape—I just wish that shape had made a more plausible guitar. Without 105d, I wouldn’t have been certain that a guitar was the intent there.
Didn’t love the fill overall. It felt like there was more OONA, -OSIS, TSE, and OBEYER type stuff than, say, NUISANCE and HOOPLA.
Interesting word I didn’t know: 32a. [Move in an ungainly way], LOLLOP. Picture a bear lumbering through the woods—that’s lolloping. I might well have lolloped down an unshoveled commercial street this evening. (Astonished that so little of Clybourn Avenue had been cleared today.)
3.5 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Interesting grid design that features 2 triple stacks at the top and bottom:
- [Words of caution] was HASTE MAKES WASTE – I mistakenly thought this was first penned by Ben Franklin. I wonder if many ACPT competitors agree with this advice?
- [One for the money] clued AUTOMATED TELLER – any relation to yesterday’s Edward? Seems a bit odd not to have MACHINE tacked onto the end of this one.
- [767 part] was a STARBOARD ENGINE – is there just one on a 767? Something that big deserves at least two.
- [Limit of a sort] was a SATURATION POINT – a chemistry experiment from my childhood comes to mind where we added either salt or sugar to water to see how much could be incorporated before it began to precipitate. It’s taken on a more idiomatic meaning when you’ve had all you can take of something.
- [“Just a moment…”] clued “ONE SECOND PLEASE” – a nice antidote to the shorter ONE SEC (or even shorter A SEC) we often see in fill.
- One of the classics of bottom stack phrases, [Info for delivery people] was STREET ADDRESSES – that’s a whole lot of RSTLNE letters in there.
Decent stacks, but I am a bit troubled by that big black line through the center that sort of divided the puzzle into separate east and west hemispheres. As a native Bostonian, I take some issue with the phrase BEAN-EATER as well; yes, Boston is known affectionately as “Bean Town,” but I’ve never heard us referred to as bean-eaters, at least to my face. ONEONTA reminds me of my college days, as I believe there is a SUNY college there. Also enjoyed the zed action of EMBLAZONED crossing CZAR.
Frank Longo’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 201″—Janie’s review
The long and the short of it is that this is one lovely Longo, with a LOTTA long-length fill and little not to like. Okay. Enough with the alliteration… Today we have a 68/27 freestyle with 98 open squares (ones that don’t touch any of the black squares), so there’s kind of an airy look to the grid—in the corners especially. Additionally, Frank has given us two wall-to-wall double-stacks (one north, one south).
Looking at those first, up north, we get the slightly dry (if technically correct) PIXEL RESOLUTION with its clue [1920×1080, e.g.] atop the far juicier EXTRA EXTRA-LARGE with its slightly dry (if technically correct) clue [Big-and-tall designation]. The former is beefed up by that scrabbly “X” (the latter has two of ’em) and links to images like this one; the latter is beefed up enough! Hats off, too, to the crossing NEXT IN LINE (wisely clued conditionally with [Shortly to be served, maybe]) and INEXACTLY. Never hearda the Japanese company [Square] ENIX [(big producer of role-playing video games)]. No surprise there (though I guess I have heard of some of their titles)…
Down south, we get the gently colloquial phrase “ON A SEPARATE NOTE…” [Subject-change segue] atop ZERO DIMENSIONAL [Like points]. Once again, slightly technical fill gets amped up a bit, flying its “Z” flag. Speaking of which, I love that PRIZE MONEY entry and clue [Sweeps bait]. Anyone else see Nebraska (one of my faves this year)? I also love the way that “Z” allows for the almost onomatopoeic “ZOT” [Ant-scarfing sound, in comics]. Delicious! That comics-world entry gets a complement in the fill directly below it, “VEWY”—or, for those who need a translation, “very,” [Quite, to Elmer Fudd]. This one has me just shaking my head. (Take that for a compliment, Frank and Peter.)
And on the subject of translation… [“Please” and “thank you” are “bonvolu” and “dankon” in it] gives us ESPERANTO. Nice one. Ditto MINORED IN and HAULS AWAY, ONE-ON-ONE and SORE EYES with its figure-of-speech-referencing clue [They could use a welcome sight]. PENCIL IN gets my full endorsement since that’s how I approach the puzzles I do on paper (ordinarily Thursday through Sunday; Monday through Wednesday usually get solved online)—and when I’m really uncertain I’ll PENCIL IN ever so lightly, making that [Designate tentatively] clue ring too true for me. (On a separate note… didja ever notice how if you add another well-placed “I” and “L” to PENCIL IN you get PENICILLIN?…)
- The penitentiary duo of (the British) [Gaol yard?]/METRE and (more American-noirish) [Con confines]/STIR.
- LORE—because of its clue [Rosicrucian’s study] and the way it reminded me that I first encountered the word Rosicrucian listening to Judy Collins singing Leonard Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag.”
- The tough-to-parse clues [Does a semi-removal of?] for HAULS AWAY (hires a semi that hauls away/removes your goods), and [Green pieces of cake?] for TAP-INS (since tap-ins are “pieces of cake”/easy ways to get your ball into the cup on the golf green…).
- The difficulty I had seeing that [Batted ball, perhaps] as CAT TOY and not as CATTOY. Wasn’t helped any, either, seeing the consonant cluster of C-CLASS in such close proximity.
- The clue [Bulldoze] for COERCE. It’s a colorful use of language and a bit of a misdirect. But LEVEL has too few letters and FLATTEN too many.
While I like the image evoked by the activity of “spooning” and the affectionate associations I attach to word “nestle,” the NESTLER/[Spooning person, e.g.] combo feels a tad strained in its noun form. Even if nestler is in the dictionary. And it is. Also not a fan of the ARSONS/[These may be first-degree] pairing. Again, it may be legit, but that doesn’t make it feel natural. Do we ordinarily use the word arsons when talking about multiple cases of arson? YMMV…
I KNOW. I’m probably sounding a bit TESTY right about now. I assure you, I’m not. On balance it’s pretty clear the strong stuff in this puzzle far outweighs the weak. So let me conclude by completing the [Congratulatory cry starter] by issuing an all-out “ATTA boy, Frank—way to go!”
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “It’s the Thought …” — pannonica’s write-up
This would have appeared in print around Christmasgiftgivingtime, and what we’re presented with is a collection of … let’s call them impractical gifts.
- 23a. [Bad gift for gamers?] ROUND DICE. I see where the puzzle’s going, but this was perhaps not the best place to start. Specially weighted spherical dice have been
aroundavailable for quite some time, and I bet many would find the novelty a welcome addition to their collections.
- 25a. [Bad gift for celebs?] CLEAR SHADES. I promise I’m not going to play the contrarian for every theme answer, but I bed to differ on this one too. At least for certain types of egotistical celebrities, like oh say Bono, glasses that highlight their eyes seem to be preferred. A counterargument could be that “shades” explicitly means “dark sunglasses.”
- 35a. [Bad gift for skydivers?] MESH PARACHUTE.
- 55a. [Bad gift for students?] BLACK HIGHLIGHTER. This clue and answer are both incredibly [REDACTED] and I would venture that [REDACTED]. Further, [REDACTED] is a [REDACTED]nik.
- 72a. [Bad gift for romantics?] UNSCENTED PERFUME. Am put in mind of the story author Charles Duhigg related about the initial failure of the cleaning product Febreze.
- 92a. [Bad gift for cave-dwellers?] SOLAR UMBRELLA. Not appreciating how this one is meant to be interpreted. A cave dweller would presumably be averse to sunlight, and a parasol would block sunlight. Or is it a hypothetical solar-powered umbrella? That would be useful too. Therefore I’m left to speculate that what’s supposed to be envisioned is an umbrella that generates solar quality light, which to my eye isn’t suggested by the phrase.
- 108a. [Bad gift for kids?] NON-SLIP SLED.
- 110a. [Bad gift for diners?] SOUP KNIFE. My favorite of the bunch, for its succinct absurdity.
Hey, at least we weren’t treated to a PRESOLVED CROSSWORD!
- 8d [Jump in a rink] AXEL, 21a [Skateboarding jump] OLLIE, 39a [Balletic leap] JETÉ.
- 102a [Track shoe name] ADIDAS, 44d [Bad shoes for running] HEELS.
- Grab-bag of names: Jacques IBERT, Prince ALBERT of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Matt LAUER, Tom SNEVA, Jerry REMY, Betty GRABLE, Carlos MOYA, Eric BANA, shock jock DON IMUS (not to be confused with “Dixit Dominus”), JASON Wu, BUSTA Rhymes, odist PINDAR, JILL Biden, Don DRAPER, Aimee MANN, Bret HARTE, zitherist ANTON Karas, Anna STEN, and more. Two places not in New England: KENOSHA and OVIEDO.
- Flimsy fill: 95d [Have business hours] BE OPEN; 92d [Pathetic bunch] SAD LOT, 6d [More in need of xeriscaping] ARIDER.
- Artiodactyls with Xs: 58d [Wild goats] IBEXES (caprids), 20a [Antelope of the desert] ORYX (bovid). And for good measure, a perissodactyl with Scrabbly letters, the JAVAN rhinoceros (you guessed it: rhinocerotid).
- 5d [Wineshop] BODEGA. In my experience a BODEGA is a small Hispanic grocery store. The other, probably original, meaning may be more prevalent in Europe and South America.
Kind of goofy puzzle, but an entertaining, non-sloggish solve.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Beatles, on the Flip Side”
Merl marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show by switching words in Beatles song titles to their opposites:
- 23a. [Beatles flip side about a breakup?], P.S. I HATE YOU. Hate subbing for love.
- 25a. [Beatles flip side about an interior decorator?], GO TOGETHER. Go for come.
- 32a. [Beatles flip side about how Whistler got the idea to paint his mother?], I SAW HER SITTING THERE. Sitting for standing. I like this one best.
- 51a. [Beatles flip side about Wagner’s first rule of opera-composing?], IT WON’T BE SHORT. Short for long; I don’t know the original song.
- 68a, 71a. [With 71 Across, Beatles flip side about how Newt Gingrich used to see himself?], THE GENIUS / ON THE HILL. Genius for fool.
- 87a. [Beatles flip side about, like, where Big Brother is?], EVERYWHERE, MAN. Everywhere for nowhere. Reworked title adds a comma.
- 104a. [Beatles flip side about a shoe salesman?], I WANT TO HOLD YOUR FOOT. Foot for hand. Not exactly opposites, but a standard counterpart. Can’t say I trust anyone who has a particular interest in touching feet (except for podiatrists).
- 114a. [Beatles flip side about having the flu?], I FEEL LOUSY. Lousy for fine.
- 117a. [Beatles flip side about plain Jane’s best friend?], HOMELY RITA. Homely for lovely.
A non-Merl version of this theme might have two fewer theme entries and smoother, more standard fill. I enjoyed seeing RAISINETS and ETIOLOGY here, but not much else in the fill impressed me. Unusual entries include:
- 11d. [Common Spanish surname], ACOSTA. If you don’t have a famous person to clue it by, a random surname is a tough answer. There are 64 more common surnames among Hispanic folks in the US, according to census data. It’s not top 10, but ACOSTA is no Govea or Sigala.
- 53d. [Swedish actress Hasso], SIGNE.
- 77a. [Cheese with tiny holes], TILSIT. Are you wondering if it’s Swedish like 53d? It originated among Prussian/Swiss settlers in what is now Russia (in the Kaliningrad exclave).
- 71d. [Bay window], ORIEL. Crosswordese window terminology at its finest.
- 98a. [With O, a refrain], EIEI. Oy!
- 8d. [Go ___ (date, country-style)], A-COURTIN‘. Oof!
Fun theme this week. 3.5 stars from me.
Pawel Fludzinski’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Universal Truth”
I love this trivia theme! Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe (I’ve never read it) are wont to answer “42” when someone asks what the answer to something is. Pawel gathers up a bunch of things for which the number 42 is relevant:
- 95a. [Douglas Adams’ facetious answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything], FORTY-TWO. Sort of an ill-placed revealer, but I know enough Adams fans that having JAC— in place for the first theme answer and a clue referring to 95a gave away the game right away.
- 23a. [His number 95-Across is now permanently retired], JACKIE ROBINSON. The 2013 movie about Robinson was called 42.
- 36a. [It’s roughly 95-Across kilometers], MARATHON.
- 55a. [President number 95-Across], BILL CLINTON. Right between the Bushes 41 and 43.
- 80a. [It contains 95-Across crude gallons], BARREL OF OIL. Did not know that.
- 112a. [Its first printing had 95-Across lines on most pages], GUTENBERG BIBLE. Did not know this fact.
- 9d. [It has 95-Across spots], PAIR OF DICE. (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6) × 2 = 42, yes.
- 16d. [King who died at 95-Across], ELVIS PRESLEY. “The King,” not “a king.”
- 59d. [95-Across appears on street signs near this Big Apple landmark], GRAND CENTRAL. It’s on 42nd Street, and I’ve stayed at a hotel right on that block.
- 74d. [Its atomic number is 95-Across], MOLYBDENUM. The root of that word is the Greek molubdos, meaning lead. Good thing the element lead didn’t get that name. “Unmolybdenumized gas.” “Pencil molybdenum.” “Molybdenumfoot.”
The grid’s got lots of expanses of 6- to 8-letter fill. Despite the long answers, I solved the puzzle quickly—didn’t get slowed down by unfamiliar clues for uncommon answers. It’s ever so slightly distracting that there are two 8-letter Across theme answers, outnumbered by six nonthematic Across 8s.
Seven more things:
- Did not know: 20a. [Astronaut Fisher, the first mother in space], ANNA LEE. She went up in space in 1984.
- Spanish speakers will scowl at 13d. [Spanish titles], SENORS. The Spanish plural is señores.
- 72d. [High schooler], TEENER. Does anyone use that word?
- 101a. [Like some landings: Abbr.], INSTR. As in a pilot using an “instrument landing.” Do pilots bandy about that abbreviation in this context?
- 94a. [Tarzan creator’s monogram], ERB. Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- 15d. [Distant traveler], SPACEMAN. This word always evokes the bizarre 30 Rock character, Dr. Spaceman (pronounced “spuh-CHAY-men”).
- 80d. [Impressionist John], BYNER. Not a familiar name to me. Let’s look at his art. Googling … Oh! “Comedian who does impressions,” not “Impressionist painter.” Yeah, I remember that guy, but I never use the little-i impressionist (though it’s in the dictionary), just the big-I Impressionist that has nothing to do with mimicry.
3.75 stars. Some rough patches in the fill, but overall the cluing was easy enough to usher me past those patches. And I thoroughly enjoyed the 42 trivia theme.