NYT 6:25 (Amy)
AV Club 5:10 (Amy)
LAT 4:59 (Gareth)
BEQ 5:09 (Matt)
CS 13:26 (Ade)
The Fireball crossword is a contest puzzle. Someone remind me to blog it next Monday night for the Tuesday post, will you?
Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword
The theme moves words around to replace the missing word “after.”
- 24a. [Plan B, e.g.], PILL MORNING. It’s one brand of the morning-after pill.
- 31a. [A seemingly endless series], ANOTHER ONE THING. It’s one thing after another.
- 41a. [Rule contradicted by science?], C I BEFORE E EXCEPT. “I before E except after C.” Wait! You can’t have an AFTER rebus theme (meaning the rebus sort of puzzle and a crossword that includes multiple letters in a single square) and include the word BEFORE like it’s just a regular word.
- 50a. [Note to a spy, perhaps], READING BURN. Burn after reading.
Yes, I would have liked this theme much more if all the prepositions were replaced by word positioning.
I SAW ISAO ESSO in one corner? What, no ESAU? Blecch. See also: NIB NEER -OTE I-TEN ELY OBI QEII.
- 17a. [Caesarean section?], I SAW. As in “one little section of that ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ Caesar line.” The clue is trying way too hard to be cute.
- 55a. [One with a bag lunch?], HORSE. Horsey people, tell me: How often are horses fed via a feedbag rather than, say, a trough, or grazing in a field? I see no bags here.
- 68a. [Start to do well?], NE’ER. Meh. See also: 63d. [Long intro?], ERE.
CON GAME, ACE HIGH, and DOWN PAT are nice, but overall they weren’t the most salient part of the solve for me. Three stars.
Ben Tausig’s American Values Club crossword, “Gaining Followers”
Take a familiar phrase, add an -IST suffix to create an adherent, and change the spelling as needed:
- 18a. [Flea or Geddy Lee, when jamming gravity-free?], MOON BASSIST. Moon base.
- 28a. [One feeling sad, perhaps because rejecting all truth isn’t going so well?], BLUE NIHILIST. The Blue Nile. Something about BLUE NIHILIST pleases me.
- 38a. [Gold-winning sumo wrestler, e.g.?], HEAVY MEDALIST. Heavy metal.
- 47a. [Person who believes that studying socks and shorts long enough will reveal god?], LAUNDRY DEIST. Laundry day. Apparently DEIST can be pronounced “dee-ist” or “day-ist.”
- 63a. [Supporter of class struggle who also happens to run a Fortune 500 company?], POOR MARXIST. Poor marks, feels slightly arbitrary as phrases go. This Marxist is, I gather, not strapped financially but lousy at being a Marxist—that kind of “poor.”
Five more things:
- 44a. [Prepare to hit the bowl?], AIM. Mostly a dude thing, when peeing. I don’t get the whole hover-pee thing some women do. If they’d just sit down on the public toilet seat, it wouldn’t be a nightmarish mess—but when they whiz all over the seat, now it’s a nightmare for all who come after.
- 59a. [Game played at many a 35-Across party], BEER PONG. (35a is KEG.) I don’t think beer pong (which is a terrific entry!) had been invented yet when I was in college.
- 4d. [Period piece?], TAMPON. Hey! I wasn’t expecting that word here. I do not at all mind it. And then I wanted 32d. [Cycle starter?] to be menstrual, but no. Just the TRI- prefix. TRI is joined by French UNE, Italian/card game UNO, and German EIN. Are those last three all cognates?
- 19d. [Washington Wizards star Bradley], BEAL. Who?? This guy. Good lord, he was born in 1993.
- 58d. [___ about (waste time, in the U.K.)], ARSE. ARSE is always golden, if you ask me.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bear Hugs”—Ade’s write-up
Hello once again, everyone!
Don’t know why it took me a while to get into a groove, but this grid by Mr. Jeff Chen, while very lively and engaging, was a fairly tough nut to crack for me. The theme is pretty simple: it’s a progression of sorts, with the opposite ends of each of the three theme answers forming the word “bear.” Each theme answer varies in terms of the number of letters used on each of the ends to form that word.
- BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: (20A: (“Toy Story” animated animated man])
- BELLY UP TO THE BAR: (38A: [Emulate Norm on “Cheers”])
- BEATRIX POTTER: (51A: [Mr. McGregor’s creator]) – Anything that can make me flash back to first grade (I think), when we read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is a winner!
There were so many places where I got tied up and just ground to a halt, and it almost all occurred in the middle of the grid. By reading the clue, I swore that TUT-TUT would end in an “s” (35D: [Critical sounds]), so that slowed me down there. Also had an “s” and made YEA SAYER a “yes sayer” (39D: [Sycophant]). That, and I could not get the “tv” part of TV ROOM for the life of me (46D: [Man cave, often]). To boot, in the middle of the grid, I had “at” instead of “to,” making it “belly up at the bar,” which sounded good to me for a long while. Thank goodness I found the reset button in my mind in time before frustration really set in.
With all of that said, this was a real fun puzzle with some great fill! SACRED IBIS was an eye-popper (11D: [Egyptian subject of veneration]), and QUIZ BOWLS was not too shabby (4D: [Trivial activities]). Originally wanted “quiz nights,” but wouldn’t fit. Maybe the best cluing came with RELAY TEAM (37D: [Anchor’s place]), as an anchor is the name given to the person running/swimming the last leg of a (usually) four-person relay in track or swimming. Hey, that sounds like our “sports” moment of the day…but it’s not!
But before getting to that, you have to indulge me a little as I talk about what went through my mind when seeing the clue for another amazing entry, CALL DIBS ON (30D: [Say “Shotgun,” say]). While in college, my group of friends would end up going out on drives to places off campus, and a couple of my roommates owned cars and brought them to campus. Before the first time we rode as a group, one of our friends yelled “shotgun,” and I knew immediately what that meant. Immediately afterward, two other people in the group belted out, “NO (ALTERNATE TERM FOR A FEMALE DOG)!!” I had NO IDEA what that meant. Not at all! When we got towards the car, I assumed that, because of my height (6’4”), I would be sitting on the very edge of the back seat, either right behind the driver or passenger seat. But as I was waiting for one of my friends to get into the car (and sit in the middle of the back seat), he tells me, “I said ‘no (alternate term for a female dog).’” After a puzzled look for a couple of seconds, the light finally turned on. So I learned the hard way what riding in the middle seat in the back of the car is referred to, at least by 18 to 21-year-old college kids. Definitely was a unique way to call dibs on a seat, that’s for sure.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HART (5A: [Male deer])– Although SHAQ (1A: [The NBA’s “Big Aristotle”]) would have been an obvious selection, here’s hoping you have noticed (if you usually read this far in my blog posts) that I don’t always take the obvious sports reference to expound on in this space. In this case, I chose HART to mention former St. Louis Cardinals football player Jim Hart. Don’t be confused: along with the baseball team of the same name, the St. Louis Cardinals were also a professional football team in the Gateway to the West (though they moved to Phoenix in 1988 and are now the Arizona Cardinals). In the 1970s, Hart was one of the elite quarterbacks in pro football, earning four consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1974-1977. Hart played 17 of his 18 seasons with St. Louis and is still the franchise’s leader in passing yards (34,639) and touchdown passes (209).
Wow, that was a long post! I promise to make it shorter for tomorrow, so you can get to your weekend activities and festivities faster! See you all on Friday.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website puzzle, “Sure as Shooting” — Matt’s review
Four parts of a gun are found in Brendan’s theme entries today:
21-A [Big blast] = BARREL OF MONKEYS. Great phrase.
26-A [Classical music group] = CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
45-A [You might be glad to see this] = SIGHT FOR SORE EYES. Another great phrase.
50-A [Modern-day alerts that The New Republic suggested The Onion carry] = TRIGGER WARNINGS. I must admit that I’ve never heard of these; let me look them up. Looks like movie-rating style warnings that what you’re about to read could be disturbing.
***Nice 6×4 blocks up top and down below, with fill like PEAPOD, WNBA, LIFTED UP, and AVATAR.
***Actually the whole grid is so nicely filled, as usual. Look at that nice SW corner: YOGI, ROOK, POOR, TYPO.
***Note the 16×15 grid, too. Nothing gets by me. An odd number of words (77, here) means you’re not looking at a 15×15 grid.
***Two possible etymological dupes in clues: I bet “see” and SIGHT are related in 45-Across, and I bet the Noi in [Noi Bai International Airport city] is related to its answer HANOI, since the city is spelled Ha Noi in Vietnamese.
OK so the first one I’m right about, though by now the etymological relation is down to that first letter. The second one maybe a Vietnamese speaker can tell us about in comments.
***RUBLE is a [Currency whose symbol is a P with a horizontal stroke] since that P is really an R in Russian, which stands for…ruble.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Sorry, Marti, it’s been a long day, and I have a headache so this will unfortunately be shorter than I’d like.
Top-notch theme, very elegant and inobvious till you get to the end. Per CLOSINGARGUMENT, all the theme answers end in synonyms for an ARGUMENT: richarddreyFUSS, bullmasTIFF and silverarROW.
Awkward short stuff was a bit more awkward than I’d have liked… but a really fun theme. 3.5 Stars
Really liked it. Thought 41 A was terrific and helped me break the rest.Aoki and Ahab have been used a lot lately in puzzledom.
NYT: I’m of two minds– I liked the theme and its execution. The central theme answer was so crazy looking for a while. I stared at: CIBE—EEE-CE– Especially with that clue (which was wonderful in retrospect).
But there were areas of the puzzle (short answers intersecting) that I found less fun to solve on the one hand or almost too straightforward on the other.
Favorite: The clue for AXON.
GRR. I tried to rate Marty’s LAT *4* and there was a lag, and it registered *3*. Is it possible to make this change, especially early on like this?
Bruce, I have made a mistake rating before and have never found a way to edit the rating; perhaps Amy knows the secret.
Today’s Jeff Chen was really fun and seems to exemplify Amy’s position that less theme and better fill makes for a great grid.
brucenm: I would have rated it a 3 so I’ll give it a 4 and it’ll balance out.
Can we just go ahead and give Ade the “Breath of Fresh Air” award for best new crossword blogger of 2014 right now?!
I’m a YEA SAYER to that.
Today is my first Jeff Chen puzzle. Wow, Ouch and Wow
NYT: I liked it in spite of the fill. Like Huda said, parsing 41 Across was tough! Plus, I totally fell for the misdirect, trying to think of some science-y rule that had the word AFTER in it.
I did have a question about the write-up:
Wait! You can’t have an AFTER rebus theme (meaning the rebus sort of puzzle and a crossword that includes multiple letters in a single square) and include the word BEFORE like it’s just a regular word.
I would not have liked seeing AFTER in the grid or clues (was it there? did I miss it?). But why is using “before” in the grid a no-no? I’m sure there’s a good reason and I’m just too dense to see it.
LAT: I liked this one, too. (oops, I deleted my comment since the write-up has not yet been posted)
I haven’t done the CS puzzle yet so I won’t be reading Ade’s write-up until later.
I’m duped every time I run across “dupe” as a shortened form of duplication. I’m usually unaffected by linquistic changes, but I balk at this one.
Don’t forget to blog the Fireball Monday night for a Tuesday post, OK?
John Entwistle could also be considered a “Moon bassist”, even if he’s not in zero G
For those who like really difficult, modern themeless puzzles, today’s crossword at Todd McClary’s “Life as a puzzle” site is definitely worth a go.
AVC: The pedant in me was seriously annoyed by the clue for MOON BASSIST. The moon isn’t “gravity-free.”