Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword
I figured out what the theme was before I finally worked my way to the revealer at the end. 48a. [Org. whose only members with nonplural names appear at the ends of 17-, 25-, 41- and 56-Across] is the NBA, and the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, and Miami Heat make the cut:
- 17a. [Related add-ons, informally], ALL THAT JAZZ.
- 25a. [Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman racing film], DAYS OF THUNDER. Ah, yes, back when Nicole Kidman had curly hair and her original face. Don’t recall the media giving her crap for radically changing her face, in contrast to the foofaraw over Renee Zellweger last week.
- 41a. [“That” something in an Arlen/Mercer standard], OLD BLACK MAGIC. This one feels like a 13-letter partial with its “That” stranded in the clue—and then there’s the duplicative THAT in ALL THAT JAZZ.
- 56a. [Keep cool in summer], BEAT THE HEAT. Is this a message against the Miami basketball team?
Highlights in the fill include ANSEL ADAMS (whose fame will soon be eclipsed by 20-year-old actor Ansel Elgort), GLITTERATI, MOJO, and ZOWIE.
In other dupe news, the first-person pronoun appears in I WAS, I’M A, and AND I.
Fill I’m a tad surprised to find in a Tuesday puzzle: ILIAC, TATARS, -OSE, UTA, AROAR, random Roman numeral DVI, and EERO. Might those be the result of a constructor striving to include all 26 letters of the alphabet in the grid?
3.25 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 178), “Opposite Effects”—Janie’s review
If you’ve never seen the movie whose title is at the core of today’s theme, treat yourself. No, it’s not “perfect,” but it garnered a lot of performance awards and nominations—especially for the always spot-on Joan Cusack. And with good reason. She’s superb in it as a fiancée who is in denial about her intended’s sexual orientation. But then again, so is he. Of course, I’m talking about 38A., the [1997 Kevin Kline film, and a hint to the puzzle theme hidden in four answers] IN AND OUT. Now the film title actually uses an ampersand, but I’m not gonna let that spoil the fun of seeing the words in and out nestled within (or up against) each of the four longer themers (two 11s, two 13s). Particularly since each phrase is so strong all on its own.
- 17A. “THINK ABOUT IT…” [“Ponder that for a second…”]
- 24A. ONLINE BOUTIQUE [Shopping site such as NastyGirl.com or ModCloth.com]. Both sites’re new to me. Uh, at this stage of the game, neither one exactly has my name on it, but from the looks of the home page (and no big surprise here…), I’d say ModCloth speaks to me a bit more than NastyGirl.
- 50A. MORNING ROUTINE [Showering, making coffee, solving the crossword, etc.]. Hmm. This one takes us in and out and in again… Btw, when do you solve? Not that I never solve in the a.m., but I tend to be more of an evening solver.
- 61A. RAINBOW TROUT [Colorful, torpedo-shaped swimmer]. My fave today. Did you know that a group of rainbow trout is called a “hover”? That and more here!
Love those SW and NE corners, too, with the triple columns of nines. Here’s where we meet GOLD MEDAL, OSTEOLOGY and WAR CRIMES on the one hand; and “AND I QUOTE…,” “HEREUNDER…” and ACTRESSES on the other. A word about the clues (well, several of ’em if truth be told…). Gold medal, we’re reminded, is the [Top Olympic prize]; notice the welcome complement this pairing receives by way of USOC and [Org. for American athletes]. Osteology (the scientific study of bones…) gets the pun routine with [Medical students might bone up on this course?]. And the potentially grim war crimes, fortunately, are described via the high road as [Violations examined by military tribunes].
The formal “And I quote…” is well-matched with [“The President’s exact words were…”]. Ditto the legalese-y “Hereunder…” and [“In accordance with this document…”]. [Glamorous Oscar Night parties?] is tricky! Why actresses? Because here the word “parties” is being used in the sense of “participants.” They’re people and not events…
Other “good, longer stuff” would have to include PANGRAM and its artisan-specific clue [Calligrapher’s A-to-Z “warm-up”]. Calligraphers practice by writing out text that includes every letter of the alphabet. And Liz would know. She’s a pretty skilled calligrapher herself! Then, on the subject of practice, there’s the complementary DRY RUNS [Practice sessions] pair.
And let me not fail to call out the doubly clever “HA-HA” [Double up with laughter?] pair, the aurally-oriented HARD “G” in response to [Lead character in “Grease”?] (i.e., first letter in…), and the tough “I MEAN” for [Business leaders?]. Not CEOs. Think of your parents—or of parenting—and the ominous “I mean business” approach.
“But wait!” you say. “Halloween is on Friday. Shouldn’t this’ve been a Halloween puzzle?” Never fear. Getting into the, um, spirit of things, Liz has fittingly obliged us with:
- [Irritate, like a skin-tight Spider-Man costume] CHAFE. My Spidey sense sez, “Baby powder—before donning the costume…”
- [Pumpkin patch locale] FARM. Hey, what’s Halloween without a jack o’ lantern? Or a good
- “EEK!!” in response to [“Is that a vampire bat?”]. And finally,
- DECAPOD. Yes, decapod. Because don’t you wanna see your four-legged dressed up like this [10-legged sea creature]?
Happy trick-or-treatin’, y’all!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Reversible Me”
People whose last names are palindromes are the name of the game:
- 17a. [Two-time U.S. Open champ], MONICA SELES.
- 55a. [“War of the Worlds” actress], MIRANDA OTTO. I knew one of the Fanning sisters was in that movie, so I tried the inconsistent (palindromic first name) ELLE FANNING, but it’s Dakota who was in the film.
- 11d. [CIA Director, 1997-2004], GEORGE TENET.
- 25d. [Actress in “Splash”], DARYL HANNAH.
I like it that 75% of the theme is women.
- 26a. [Alabama Slammer ingredient], SLOE GIN. Hey! The booze gets its whole name in the grid for once! We would also welcome SLOE GIN FIZZ.
- 45a. [Word that turns sarcastic when said blandly], HOORAY. Hooray.
- 51a. [Snack that leaves a residue], CHEETOS. The Japanese are onto something with their chips tongs. Eat the whole bag of Cheetos with nary an orange speck on your fingertips.
- 4d. [Wood known for a ring], ELIJAH. He played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.
- 41d. [Surface for some stretching], YOGA MAT. Great entry.
Not keen on the plurals in 64a. [Diplomatic skills], TACTS, and 26d. Urban pollutions], SMOGS. I might have changed TACTS into TACHS crossing NASH … though people who never watched Reno 911! might well quibble at having to guess the first letter in NIECY and NASH. And then 9d. [Toy that won’t fall down, per its ads], WEEBLE, that’s some fiercely RETRO pop culture that looks weird to me in the singular, but Wikipedia is all about the singular Weeble. (And apparently Weebles were relaunched in 2004 but I don’t recall seeing them in stores.) I’m also unkeen on the spelled-out numeral in 21a. [Niacin’s vitamin number], B-THREE.
Overall, I enjoyed this 74-worder. 3.75 stars from me.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Directors’ Cuts”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everybody! How goes it?
After a little while, Mr. Doug Peterson comes back into the fold to whet our crossword appetite on here, and he comes back with a real fun theme. In it, each of the four theme answers are popular two-word phrases or nouns, but it so happens that the second word in each answer is also a type of movie/photography segment. Lights. Camera. Action!
- MONEY CLIP: (17A: [Bit from a documentary about the Federal Reserve?])
- DOUBLE TAKE: (29A: [Bit from a documentary about cloning?])
- CRIME SCENE: (43A: [Bit from a documentary about the Mob?])
- JELLO SHOT: (58A: [Bit from a documentary about desserts?]) – Although I rarely have had Jell-O shots, I don’t think I’ve ever tried a Jell-O shot that hasn’t had traces of alcohol in it. If fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t.
First off all, this puzzle is an absolute winner because of the appearance of MCDUCK alone (12D: [Scrooge ______ (Donald’s wealthy uncle)]). Just talked about in this past Sunday’s grid about how obsessed so many people were with the Disney Afternoon during the early-to-mid 1990s, and probably the biggest obsession was wishing we swam in a money bin like Scrooge McDuck did in the cartoon Duck Tales. Speaking of cartoons, there’s the appearance of the crossword-friendly ODIE in the puzzle (14A: [Garfield’s housemate]). Seeing CRUSTS makes me want to ask you all whether you’re a fan of eating pizza crusts or do you leave them in the pizza box after you’ve had the cheesy part (43D: [Pizza perimeters]). I’m all about the crust myself, although I don’t usually race through the pizza just to get to the crust. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of the stuffed crust pizzas that are in offer. That’s just a little excessive for my taste, although my body shape also could be described as “excessive,” with part of that resulting from eating things that I shouldn’t! I leave you with Scrooge McDuck not just swimming in his Money Bin, but skiing on his riches with Louie (I think Louie was the nephew that wore green).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CALICO (6D: [Multicolored cat]) – Not an easy puzzle to pull a “sports…smarter” moment from, but seeing CALICO reminded me of Tyrone Calico, the former NFL wide receiver who was second-round selection of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL Draft back in 2003. For my business/web site, I’m getting ready to launch a page called “Swamps of Jersey,” a section entirely dedicated to sports fans wearing jerseys of players who had nondescript professional careers, and what would have made this entry even better is if I had the picture I snapped of a fan wearing a Tyrone Calico jersey when I attended a game in Miami a couple of years back. Sadly, when my phone got lost in July, I lost that photo (and many others) because I hadn’t backed it up using one of those “cloud” programs. Oh, well!
Have fun for the rest of your Tuesday! By this time tomorrow, I’ll be blogging from Charlotte, as I’ll be covering the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball media day. Media days usually signal the official kickoff of a college sports season, especially in college basketball and football.
Take care, everyone!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Quickly, because I’m practically out the door—
Theme revealer is 59a. “Remember what I said!” … and a hint to what can follow each part of the answers to starred clues], MARK MY WORDS. The other theme answers contain two words that can precede “mark,” as in black mark and beauty mark:
- 16a. [*Tailor’s fabric marker], CHALK PENCIL. Didn’t know it was called that. Thought it was just chalk.
- 23a. [*Like a job that doesn’t cause ulcers], LOW MARK. What’s a stress mark?
- 34a. [*Anna Sewell novel narrated by a horse], BLACK BEAUTY.
- 49a. [*Icon in bill-paying software], CHECKBOOK. I have one bill-paying service whose “pay now” icon is a checkmark so that threw me here.
Good fill: FLASH MOB, YAMMERED, and GNEISS (I like a touch of geology—this one’s pronounced “nice”).
Blah fill: MOA, ENA, ROLEO, EDY (EDY’S would be so much better, as an actual brand name, though not a nationwide one), OAKIE, ODENSE. And I don’t know who plays BEANO—I suspect it is far more familiar to people as the anti-gas brand name.
Update: 9d. [High-speed www connection], DSL is so much slower than cable or optical fiber internet service, no? DSL was high-speed compared to dial-up, but in most areas of the US, there are higher-speed options available now.