Pamela Klawitter’s New York Times crossword
Quick post, as I worked hard all evening and it’s past 11 pm and I want to go to sleep!
The theme is fake headlines announcing people’s deaths in weird ways that are anagrams of their surnames, with a weird revealer:
- 20a. [Brief 1831 headline?], MONROE NO MORE.
- 27a. [Brief 1727 headline?], NEWTON WENT ON. I’ve never heard “went on” as meaning “died.” “Passed on,” yes.
- 44a. [Brief 1931 headline?], EDISON IS DONE. “Done for” could plausibly represent “died” but “is done” also seems off base.
- 52a. [Secretive classroom activity … or what 20-, 27- and 44-Across are anagrammatic examples of?], PASSING NOTES. I don’t understand why the anagrams are here. Or, provided that the anagrams are here, why PASSING NOTES is supposed to serve as a suitable revealer. PASSING NOTES for obituary headlines, sure, but not with an anagram layer.
So the theme didn’t resonate with me. That leaves the fill … which has a lovely “CLOSE TO YOU” and a still-timely LEAN IN to recommend it, and plenty of ordinary fill, but also the variant spelling ENURE, SST, OCTO-, AER, A-TEST, APSE, MDLI, and ERLE that left me wishing those entries weren’t here.
Did not know: 35d. [“The L Word” role for Katherine Moennig], SHANE. Never watched the show, but appreciate a lesbian-chic clue instead of the 61-year-old Western I’ve also never watched.
2.9 stars. Good night, all!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “Cardinal Rule”—Janie’s review
By definition, a “cardinal rule” (per Wiki) is “a fundamental rule, upon which other matters hinge.” A cardinal rule of crossword construction? Make it elegant, entertaining and accessible, and you’ve got yerself a winning combination. Today’s puzzle is a model example. Right out of the gate, we see there’s something a little different from the Crossword Nation puzzles we’re accustomed to solving. Instead of conforming to the 15 x 15 format, today’s grid is 15 x 16—which allows Liz to give us three 16-letter themers in addition to two at 13-letters. That is a lot of theme fill! More critically, what a terrific theme set it is, too. The cluing is fairly straight-forward (though not entirely…), allowing the smart fill to really shine.
And what do we have by way of theme fill? Playing on the title, phrases that begin with some nuanced synonym for the word “cardinal” — now in its adjectival sense of “leading” or “principal.” Or, as is spelled out in the witty reveal at 60A. “FIRST THINGS FIRST” [Organized person’s motto (it’s the puzzle theme!)]. The “first things” in question:
- 18A. OPENING MONOLOGUE [“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” segment that sounds funny]. It makes ya laugh. Or that’s the goal, at any rate…
- 24A. INAUGURAL BALL [Presidential party]. Whether said president represents Democrats, Republicans or any other comers.
- 39A. PRIMARY CAREGIVER [Father or mother, usually]. I love this combo! Great fill and, given June 15th’s approach, a most thoughtful clue.
- 49A. MAIDEN VOYAGES [Ships are often christened before them]. Like the set it’s a part of: fresh, fresh, fresh.
With more of the same, thanks to PIZZA PIES—those literally [Cheesy takeout orders]; and PENDULUMS—those non-digital (!) [Moving clock parts]. I also admire the way the place name TOPEKA in the NW is mirrored by the place name IBERIA in the SE. Then, on the topic of felicitous grid-placement (and in this case, perfect cluing to complement), check out that SW corner, where a shout-out to that catchphrase of Southern hospitality [“Y’all COME back, now!”] sits atop the reinforcing “STAY!” [“Please don’t leave!”]. (Then, too, there’s biker hospitality, with the invitation to “HOP ON!”)
- The inclusion of both the graphically clued TMI [“Dude, spare me the details of your full body wax…”] and the place that generates its own brand of tmi, TMZ [Celebrity gossip website]. Unless the details of Melanie Griffith’s latest divorce get ya goin’, of course… (No judgement!!)
- The [Gave Lizzie Borden the pink slip?] AXED combo. Dark humor pun. Thank you.
- I.T. GUY, not to be confused with the “‘it’ guy” (the male version of “the ‘it’ girl“). No, this is an acknowledgement of the [PC troubleshooter around the office]. Cross him at your own risk!
- [“Hair” do] for AFRO. Because an afro is a hairdo and a “do” that was worn by some members of the cast of Hair.
- AZTEK. Because before solving, I’m not sure I ever knew that this Pontiac SUV had been […made in Mexico]. “Aha.”
- [Brazilian soccer legend] PÉLÉ. Because the World Cup begins in two days.
- IRMA Rombauer is that [First name in cookbook writing] and her classic is Joy of Cooking. Alas, no cherry TART recipe in there (or not in my January 1967 edition anyway…), but “yes” for cherry pie, or an apple or berry tart. Not to worry. Lotso cherry tart recipe options here.
- TROLL and NINNY and MOSEY. Because they may not be long words, but they’re evocative words. They’ve each got their own characteristic tone. This is a good thing in crossword fill.
- The “spirited” fill offered by way of STOLI [Component of a Russian screwdriver, briefly], and SODA [Scotch partner]. Enjoy the latter in Manhattan Transfer’s great rendition.
And on that high, I leave you. Elegant, entertaining and accessible. I rest my case.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Late to the Movies— dang, missed the first two parts”
The theme is movie titles that are missing their first two letters, changing what the first word means:
- 17a. [Movie about a road trip spent filling up the car?], GAS VACATION. Vegas Vacation, the fourth and worst of the National Lampoon/Chevy Chase Vacation franchise.
- 29a. [Movie that clears up why Brits pronounce a letter differently?], ZED AND CONFUSED. Dazed and Confused. This one doesn’t parse well, and the title seems to be the opposite of the clue. Where’s the clearing up?
- 36a. [Movie about booting the laptop again?], RESTARTER. Firestarter. My favorite of the five.
- 46a. [Movie focusing on flies in the ointment?], GELS AND INSECTS. Angels and Insects. I’m thinking of amber now.
- 58a. [Movie that follows an unwelcome school outbreak?], LICE ACADEMY. Police Academy.
Now, if you didn’t limit it to the first word but you did limit it to bugs, we could also have had “Jack the Ant Slayer.” (Yes, I realize that the word INSECTS wasn’t formed by lopping off two letters.) At any rate, very good theme with some amusing results.
I like the commercial “Can’t you people spell?” corner of ACHIEVA and STEEMER. There are a lot of 7s in the grid—13 of them, in fact—but for every NO CAN DO and SWERVES, there’s an underwhelming ENTRAIN and ECOTONE. The short fill also has a lot of blah 3s: WAH ESE USD ESA NEE LOA TAI CCC EUR and E AS? A total of 10 or 11 abbreviations? We have certainly seen juicier fill from Matt many other weeks.
3.5 stars, on the strength of the theme.
Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Various words (not all of them so common) that start with CON are clued as if they were two-word phrases:
- 18a. [Fool check writers?], CON SIGNERS. “Consigners” isn’t super-common.
- 23a. [Hoodwink companies?], CON FIRMS. Smooth.
- 36a. [Swindle court appointees?], CON JURORS. Solid.
- 52a. [Mislead groups of vacationers?], CON TOURS. I suspect this one actually happens fairly often—hoodwinking of tour groups.
- 57a. [Pull a fast one on proctors?], CON TESTERS. “Contesters” is not a commonly used word. Apparently it’s a ham radio term, but I only know of one ham radio operator among the hundreds and hundreds of people I know.
The puzzle got off on the wrong foot by having the first two Acrosses be LLCS (1a. [Corp.-partnership hybrids]) and AGA (5a. [Turkish title]).
Five more things:
- 36d. [Religious place of seclusion], CLOISTER. Do I think this is a pretty word because it’s got the same start as cloisonné?
- 43d. [Lizardlike], SAURIAN. Who is the most SAURIAN person you know of?
- 39d. [Store founder Penney and golfer Snead], JCS. Plural initials? No, thank you.
- 48d. [Unevenly notched, as leaves], EROSE. Crosswordese, if you ask me. Why, you can even extract the letters in EROSE from the last 6 letters of crosswordese.
- 11d. [Metric measures: Abbr.], KMS. The general rule is that symbols for units do not take an S in the plural. So 100 km, 2 kg, 12 in, 16 oz, 2,000 lb, and not kms, kgs, ins, ozs, or lbs. Unless you’re Wiz Khalifa rapping about drugs, in which case “Ozs & Lbs” passes muster. Are you Wiz Khalifa? No? I didn’t think so. So no KMS in your puzzles, people. Please. (This corner could have been filled with PIPE on EVER crossing I’VE, PER, and ERS, which are all easy.)
3.25 stars from me. I would have liked a more zip to the theme and smoother fill overall.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Cheer Up”—Ade’s write-up
A happy Tuesday to everyone out there!
Time to pull out the tricks in this offering, authored by Ms. Donna S. Levin! In this grid, each of the three theme answers are proper nouns/names that begin with a word that typically denotes being cheerful, whoopee (though spelled differently in each case), but those answers are in reverse, with the “cheer” – and the entry as a whole – literally going “up.”
- GREBDLOG IPOOHW: (4D: [Dreadlocked actress who has won an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Emmy])– Whoopi Goldberg. Grid would have been a little more troubling if this clue wasn’t such a gimme.
- SEIP EIPOOHW: (17D: [Cake-and-frosting sandwiches]) Whoopie Pies. If this wasn’t in reverse, would have marveled at the consecutive P-I-E letters in this answer. As it stands, have to “marvel” at the consecutive E-I-P string. Better than nothing, right?
- NOIHSUC EEPOOHW: (15D: [It’s a hoot when this produces a faux toot]) Whoopee cushion. True story: probably my most embarrassing while in elementary school was in, I think, seventh grade, when one of my classmates unknowingly placed a whoopee cushion on my seat as I was about to sit down in the school’s auditorium before a school assembly meeting. My classmate proceed to do this to other people in the next few days afterward, but I happened to be his first target! Will never forget it. (As I think about it now, despite my embarrassment I felt that day, it was real funny.)
Liked the theme a lot, and the execution was pretty good on the long down themes. As I said, a more difficult cluing of Whoopi Goldberg would have caused a little more trouble in parsing out what was going on in the grid. I thought it was real cute that another gag, the cluing to LAPEL, was adjacent to Whoopee Cushion (31D: [Place to pin a squirting flower]). Loved SAD TO SAY in the grid (17A: [Unfortunately]), and sad to say, for Minnesotans, Minnesota is indeed SNOWIER than Miami 66A: [Like Minneapolis, vis-à-vis, Miami]). In the ultimate celebrity/wife/whatever type of swap, we should take a group of healthy Miami natives and put them in Minneapolis for the winter, and take a group of healthy Minneapolis natives and put them in Miami for the winter. A reality television show has been created before your eyes. Boom!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OLÉ OLÉ (54A: [Repeated Spanish phrase in “Hot Hot Hot”])– The only thing that would have made this any better is actually having Buster Poindexter’s name in the clue! Or at least some shout out to David Johansen in his alter ego. As it stands, get ready to hear “Olé, Olé, Olé” a whole lot of times in the next month, as the very popular soccer cheer will be sung at full voice during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which begins on Thursday.
Thanks so much for your time, and see you all on Wednesday!