News from the West Coast! At Crosswords LA, Eric Maddy emerged victorious from a tough finals puzzle by David Quarfoot. Jordan Chodorow placed second and John Beck third. Congrats, gentlemen, and congrats to tournament organizer Elissa Grossman!
David Phillips’ New York Times crossword, “Why Not?”
Words that contain a Y are replaced with homophones that don’t contain Y, and their phrases are reclued accordingly:
- 24a. [Elvis’s heroes?], IDOLS OF THE KING. Idylls of the King, Alfred Tennyson.
- 37a. [Embarrassed person’s comment after getting off an electronic scale?], CLEAR THE WEIGH. Way. Do people say “the weigh” to refer to a weight reading?
- 49a. [#1 item at Dairy Queen?], SUNDAE BEST. Sunday. With caramel sauce, please.
- 68a. [Gujarat or Punjab, dresswise?], SARI STATE. Sorry. Hey! You know how SAREE always seems like an old-fashioned crosswordese variant spelling? A Bangladeshi friend was talking about “sarees” on Facebook and everyone spelled it that way. (She wore a couple gorgeous ones to recent weekend wedding festivities.)
- 85a. [Wicked poker bet?], DEVIL RAISE. Rays.
- 94a. [Two concerns of a secretive voodoo practicer?], GUISE AND DOLLS. Guys. New phrase seems awkward.
- 112a. [Lack of logic and a frosty coating?], NO RIME OR REASON. Rhyme.
- 3d. [Subordinate of a board chair?], TRUSTEE SIDEKICK. Trusty. This one clanged, as the syllables have different stresses.
- 46d. [“I’ve had enough of this patio furniture!,” e.g.?], CHAISE REBELLION. Shays’ Rebellion.
Fair enough, not the most exciting or entertaining Sunday theme out there.
Seven more things:
- 13a. [Arab nobles], SHARIFS. You wanted SHEIKHS, didn’t you? Or CALIPHS? I sure did. For my generation, the word SHARIF will always evoke The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” (which includes “the sheikh, he drove his Cadillac” along with “sharif don’t like it”).
- 26a. [Settles through an angry confrontation], HAS OUT. Feels woefully incomplete without an “it” in the middle.
- 65a. [Author who wrote “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards”], TOLKIEN. Not ROWLING.
- 83a. [Pull a classic Internet prank on], RICKROLL. With this Rick Astley video.
- 15d. [Bass drum?], ALE KEG. Meh. I would just call that a keg of Bass Ale, not an ALE KEG.
- 31d. [Soprano Licia, singer at the Met for 26 years], ALBANESE. An Italian surname that means “Albanian”! Go figure.
- 51d. [Unfair condemnation], BAD RAP. Legit, but I always want BUM RAP.
3.33 stars from me.
Merl Reagle’s Sunday crossword, “Cliché Couples, Revisited”
I liked Merl’s 2012 edition of this theme—adjective/adverb + noun collocations, or “auspicious pairs“—better than the other raters. I liked this puzzle a lot, too. The theme phrases are word combos that have become cemented together over time, despite the idiomatic weirdness if you really think about them.
- 22a. [Not just pure g—, but ___ ___], UNMITIGATED GALL.
- 27a. [Not just an utter b—, but a ___ ___], CRASHING BORE. Why “crashing”? That just sounds strange if you give it some thought.
- 32a. [Not just full d——-, but ___ ___], BROAD DAYLIGHT. Can’t have broad darkness, though.
- 52a. [Not just m—— lacking, but ___ ___], MORALLY BANKRUPT. I filed for moral Chapter 7.
- 62a. [Not just unfounded r—–, but ___ ___], IDLE RUMORS. I dunno; “idle gossip” feels more familiar to me.
- 66a. [Not just fully a—–, but ___ ___], FAST ASLEEP. Can’t be fast awake no matter how hard you try.
- 73a. [Not just a complete s——-, but a ___ ___], PERFECT STRANGER. To know someone is to learn their imperfections.
- 92a. [Not just d—– easily, but ___ ___], DEFEAT HANDILY. I’ve lost handily before.
- 100a. [Not just a weak e—–, but a ___ ___], FLIMSY EXCUSE.
- 108a. [Not just plainly o——, but ___ ___ (and kind of redundant, too)], PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. No, wait, it’s PATENTLY OBVIOUS. I prefer “painfully” though it doesn’t fit the redundancy mentioned in the clue.
The English language is bonkers, people. I love it.
Five more things:
- Name the animal you get by inserting two E’s into David Duchovny’s most famous character. That’s right: The MULE DEER, 40d. [Whitetail’s kin]. You can’t get an animal by adding E’s to “Jake Winters.”
- 77d. [Architectural pier], ANTA. Crosswordese architecture! See also: OGEE, ORIEL.
- 20a. [Truffles and such], FUNGI. I would have preferred if the answer were CHOCOLATES.
- 33d. [It contains no water vapor], DRY AIR. Is that a real lexical chunk, science people?
- 30d. [Ogden Nash’s birthplace, on a letter], RYE, N.Y. I don’t want Ogden Nash’s birthplace in the puzzle, I want his wordplay. Nutty-looking entry.
Four stars from me. I appreciated the language nerdery of the theme.
Todd McClary’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 237”–Sam Donaldson’s review
Took me forever to find the error in my answers to this week’s Post Puzzler, a 68/27 freestyle from Todd McClary. I’m not familiar with [“Talk Dirty” pop singer Jason] DERULO, and at the first verb crossing I chose HAH as the [Schemer’s laugh sound] instead of HEH. I was thinking my error was in ENCEINTE, the answer to [With child] at 30-Across, or perhaps in my spelling of HESPERUS, the [Ship done in by the reef of Norman’s Woe] that also crossed Mr. DERULO’s surname. But since I couldn’t find my error after what felt like two minutes of scanning the grid, I shut off the timer and asked Crossword Solver to tell me where it was. Hence the “rotated bowling spare” notation in the upper right corner of that square.
Despite the frustration of not finding my mistake, I enjoyed this puzzle and its many interesting entries. There’s JARHEAD, the [2003 memoir by former Marine Anthony Swofford], SEXILE, clued as [Congress-initiated expulsion?] (“congress” as in “sexual congress,” don’tcha know), and ZERO TO HERO, clued as [Like a successful turnaround]. We also havce CALL ME, the [Blondie hit] I remember from middle school, Albert PUJOLS, clued as [He joined the 500 home run club in 2014], and NOSE UP, with the subtly misleading clue, [Like a touchdown position] (touchdown meaning “landing” and not “football score”). There are other Zs, Xs, and even a Q elsewhere in the grid.
- [Name brand?] is a great clue for STIGMA.
- GARAGES likewise has a snazzy clue, [Places where workers lie down on the job].
- I had no clue about URIAH [Pedrad (character in the “Divergent” book series)]. It’s not like there’s a heap of clues for URIAH, either.
- [Fail to keep clean?] is a nice clue for USE, with clean meaning “sober” instead of “tidy.”
- I’ve seen OBOE in many a grid, of course, but I can’t remember seeing a clue like [Crumhorn descendant]. I fell for the trap and thought I was looking for a proper noun.
- [Rock bottom?] is a fun clue for BASS, with the bass usually covering the low notes in a rock ‘n’ roll song.
- So apparently there’s an [Eco-friendly Saab concept car] called the EPOWER. E-man, we’ve just about reached the limits of these E-faux words haven’t we?
- All you need to know to answer [On the ___ (Colorado baseball blog)] is that the Colorado Major League team is the Rockies. From there you get “rocks,” as in “on the rocks,” which is then shortened to ROX to fit in the three squares provided.
Favorite entry = BISQUICK, the [“A whole new world of baking … in a box!” sloganeer, once]. Freestyle seed entries have a tendency to appear at 1-Across; if this was indeed the seed entry, it’s a beaut. Favorite clue = [Job for the summer?], the clue for ADDING.
Frank Virzi’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Double Play”
Well-timed, with the baseball postseason still in play. A baseball phrase at the end overlaps with a non-baseball phrase at the beginning (like a Wheel of Fortune “Before and After” answer), with the resulting goofy hodgepodge clued accordingly:
- 23a. [Concertina heist?], SQUEEZE BOX SCORE.
- 38a. [Formal dance for tiny, winged debutantes?], FRUIT FLY BALL.
- 50a. [Big push to collect singles bar come-ons?], PICKUP LINE DRIVE.
- 66a. [Gofer at a moon landing site?], TRANQUILITY BASE RUNNER.
- 84a. [China piece commemorating a Ricky Ricardo catchphrase?],”LUCY, I’M HOME” PLATE.
- 93a. [Writing implement for Vatican edicts?], PAPAL BULL PEN.
- 114a. [Dance for bears?], SELLING SHORT HOP.
The theme is structured consistently, but I can’t say that I found any of the formed phrases to be amusing.
Overall, the fill had an ’80s crossword vibe to it, with TARED and AGOUTI fitting right in with the puzzle’s vocabulary.
Surprised to see SAMOA clued as 69d. [Pago Pago’s land]. The independent nation of Samoa has Apia as its capital; Pago Pago is the capital of the American territory of American Samoa. Both are in the Samoan Islands, but “land” connotes “nation or territory” and the clue seems factually wrong.
3.25 stars from me.
Jeff Chen’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello there! How’s your Sunday?
Before anything else, we have to all send our congratulations to today’s constructor, Mr. Jeff Chen. He and his wife, Jill, just welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Tess, into the world last Sunday! Congratulations to Jeff and Jill, and we in the crossword community are so happy for you…and we’ll be on the lookout for subtle (or not-so-subtle) homages to your bundle of joy in future grids!
Now if your girl is able to do a JEDI MIND TRICK, I’ll actually be scared (22A: [Knight’s deceptive move?]). That answer was one of the last I was able to fill, as I had a devil of a time starting the grid while in the Northwest. Started in the Southwest, and, after a couple of entries, I got my first breakthrough with FLUX CAPACITOR (47A: [Device activated at 88 mph]). Once again, “EIGHTY-EIGHT MILES PER HOUR!” (Here’s hoping we have some Back to the Future fans in here.) After that, another long answer, TAP DANCES, went down smoothly (34D: [Performs a soft-shoe]). No real issues in the bottom part of the grid, but then had to make me way back to the top, where the I was still having a lot of trouble, though I shouldn’t have had as much if I had gotten I DIG much sooner than I did (1D: [Hipster’s line]). What really got me stuck, then broke things open to finish the grid, was finally getting MINAJ, as I was in a fog thinking about all of the former American Idol judges (2D: [Former “American Idol” judge]). What made it more difficult was that I was thinking Paula Abdul for a long while, and either word could have fit. Same with Nikki Minaj. Same with (Mariah) Carey. Even with the right judge in place, getting DIAPHANOUS (14: [Nearly pellucid]) and INSTAMATIC were still problematic, though Instamatic was much easier for me to get, given its clue (17A: [Shooter of old]). I did not think of a Wild West marksman/markswoman at all and though about old cameras, something my father had in abundance in his room when I would go in there as a kid. Speaking of problematic, the clue to IN A PICKLE (7D: [Between Scylla and Charybdis])???? Holy, #$#^@!!! Overall, a very nice challenge on Sunday, and, once again, congratulations Jeff and Jill!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MOCS (24D: [Soft shoe pair?])– MOCS is the nickname of the athletics teams at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Probably the school’s finest hour in athletics – at least as a member of Division I – came in 1997, when the men’s basketball team, as a No. 14 seed in the Southeast Region, made a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16, defeating No. 3 seed Georgia and No. 6 seed Illinois in Charlotte in the first two rounds.
See you all on Monday, and have a good rest of your Sunday!!
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossworrd, “Labor Unions” — pannonica’s write-up
Pretty much as advertised. Collectives, only slightly reimagined. Sometimes one part, sometimes both.
- 23a. [Dentists’ union?] DRILL CORPS.
- 25a. [Housecleaners’ union?] VACUUM PACK.
- 35a. [Drug dealers’ union?] TRAFFIC CIRCLE.
- 52a. [Knights’ union?] MAIL ORDER.
- 54a. [Pot growers’ union?] HIGH SOCIETY. See also 5d [Jamaican’s joint] SPLIFF.
- 68a. [Contortionists’ union?] ELASTIC BAND. Just trying breaking that one up.
- 71a. [Franchisees’ union?] CHAIN GANG.
- 84a. [Fashion workers’ union?] MODEL CONGRESS.
- 99a. [Photographers’ union?] FOCUS GROUP.
- 101a. [Beekeepers’ union?] HONEY BUNCH.
Was kind of expecting [Origamists’ union?] PAPER FOLD, but what are you gonna do? Theme was fun, but very easy to get hip to, which provided a hefty leg up during the solve. Not necessarily a negative quality, you understand.
- Not part of the theme: 46a [Gp. for G.P.’s) [sic] AMA; 106a [Team for a teamster] OXEN.
- 27a [Doodlebug] ANT-LION. “In sandy regions, some species dig a shallow cone-shaped pit and wait at the bottom for an ant or other insect to slip on the loose sand and fall in, only to be immediately devoured (Arnett 1985, 260). These pit-digging antlions are called ‘doodlebugs’ in the United States because of the designs they make in the sand. As a doodlebug seeks an ideal location to dig its pit, it leaves meandering trails that resemble the random ‘doodles’ of a preoccupied artist. When it finally finds the right place to dig, the doodlebug ‘draws’ a series of concentric spirals, each deeper than the last, until the pit is excavated.” – The Antlion Pit.
Interestingly, there isn’t a comprehensive English word for the adult form of the various species (ant-lion references the larvae).
- 85d [Strict limit for consumers] ONE PER. Can’t decide whether I like this.
- 51a [Art duel challenge?] DRAW. Remember the Looney Tunes cartoon where Yosemite Sam demands during a showdown that Bugs Bunny draw his gun, to which he promptly produces a pad and rapidly sketches out a six-shooter?
- Boston! 15a [ ] CELT; 66a [Belle of Tara] O’HARA, strongly recalling the Belle of Amherst (Massachusetts), Emily Dickinson (the play is being staged right now, Off-Broadway); 83a [Boston’s Liberty Hotel, once] JAIL; 92a [Sam Adams offering] ALE; 33d [Charles or Don] RIVER; 47a [Salem, MA, founder Roger] CONANT.
- 63d [“Presto __!”] CHANGO. Google Ngram.
- Weird clue: 42d [“Help!” songwriter] JOHN.