Andrew Ries’s Sunday New York Times crossword, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”
The theme takes famous people and suggests jobs they’d be ill-suited to, based on their surnames:
- 23a. [Oscar winner who would make a lousy anesthesiologist?], WILLIAM HURT. There’s actually a well-known pain management specialist named Richard Payne, M.D. (And there was Claude Organ, M.D., a surgeon. Scalpels generally cut more cleanly than claws.)
- 33a. [Punk rocker who would make a lousy grocer?], JOHNNY ROTTEN. And Sid Vicious, a bad nurse/nanny/therapist/manager/anything.
- 39a. [Horror author who would make a lousy firefighter?], BRAM STOKER. My building’s boiler is maintained by Williams Stoker & Heating, an old company. Pretty sure my neighbors think it’s named after a guy called William Stoker.
- 57a. [Action star who would make a lousy free-range farmer?], NICOLAS CAGE.
- 76a. [Bygone comic who would make a lousy baker?], GEORGE BURNS. Great crematorium worker, though.
- 90a. [Cabaret pianist who would make a lousy electrician?], BOBBY SHORT.
- 97a. [Lawyer who would make a lousy anti-Communist leader?], GLORIA ALLRED.
- 112a. [Singer who would make a lousy mohel?], STEVIE NICKS. B-b-but the mohel is supposed to cut the flesh. Clue should have a barber, because barbers are not supposed to cut the skin. Maybe we don’t need penis-nicking jokes in the puzzle?
The theme feels a little uneven to me, and I can’t say that any of the jokes triggered a smile here.
The fill is more than uneven, and I was expecting much smoother and zippier fill from Andrew, knowing his work in the Rows Garden variety puzzles. (Also! My mother relished his book of bird crosswords.) BUG ZAPPER and HAPPY MEAL are great, but so many other longish and short answers were a letdown. Had SPIN A TALE before this SPIN A YARN. EX-HIPPIES, ART I, GRAD PHOTO, IN A CAST, and FAT AS A PIG feel a tad contrived, and I was surprised to find entries like SNEES, ERNO, TESSA, EL-HI, and OCTAD in the grid.
Six more things:
- 14d. [Residents, eventually: Abbr.], DRS? No. Wrong. Residents have graduated from medical school and are called “Doctor.” You don’t even need to complete a long residency to practice medicine—finish that first year of residency (the internship), and you can hang out your shingle in general practice.
- 4d. [New England town official], SELECTMAN. I know about this from Facebook, from a puzzle friend who’s posted things in support of various selectman candidates in Massachusetts.
- 86a. [Blades that sound like an allergic reaction], SNEES. God only knows why I started to fill this in as EPEES (with the **EES in place).
- 99d. [The planets, now], OCTAD. Technically, yes. But I don’t know anyone who talks about an octad of planets.
- 46d. [Yearbook feature], GRAD PHOTO. I tried GRADUATES, thinking of a section of the yearbook devoted to graduating seniors.
- 85a. [Tom ___, big role in “The Purple Rose of Cairo”], BAXTER. My go-to Baxter is Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I saw the movie back around 1985 but sure didn’t remember Jeff Daniels’ character’s name.
Three stars from me.
Byron Walden’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 241″—Sam Donaldson’s review
The first thing I saw when I opened this week’s Post Puzzler was that intimidating grid—wide open corners where triple 10s cross triple 8s, just six three-letter answers, and more openness with those 10-8-4 stacks near the midsection. Then I saw Byron Walden’s byline—equally intimidating. But, up for a challenge, in I dove.
First to fall was 4-Down, ENDORA, the [Sister to Uncle Arthur on “Bewitched”]. A game show devotee from an early age, I liked any show that featured Mr. Center Square, Paul Lynde, as a recurring character. (Check out some of these Paul Lynde lines from Hollywood Squares.) I took a shot with AROD as [Baseball’s all-time leader in grand slams, familiarly], though at the time I questioned the answer because it seems he’s been too often injured or suspended to be the all-time leader in any statistical category not involving annual salary. But that was about as far as I could get into the northwest corner on the first pass.
Over in the northeast, I got REDS as the [Film that won the Best Director Oscar over Best Picture “Chariots of Fire”]. If you’re wondering why the clue used that reference instead of just [198X Film that won its director an Oscar], I suppose it’s because of how rare it used to be when the Best Director’s film did not win Best Picture. I also got Dr. DOLITTLE as the [Title role for Harrison and Murphy], that being Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy. I’m sometimes tempted to spell Dolittle with two Os until I remember to think of the surname as “do little.” I thought that the [Part of ANC: Abbr.] sought here was AFR, but I was hesitant to key it in without greater certainty as to some of the crossings. And since nothing else in that corner came to me readily, on I moved.
I got lucky with trying STUTTER as the answer to [Porky Pig has one], though my first thought was BOW TIE. Realizing that 1-Down was a plural that likely ended in S, that gave me S??RT????? for [Cub reporter’s bailiwick?]. I tried SPORTS PAGE, which helped with the northwest corner but not so much with the recently abandoned northeast. That might be because the answer was actually SPORTS BEAT, but I was happy to have guessed one part of the answer correctly.
I tried to use that as an entry into the southwest, but nothing budged. So I started scanning various clues just to see if something popped out. Indeed it did, as I saw [Kiss-blowing TV host of the ’60s and ’70s], which could only be The Dating Game‘s own JIM LANGE. The J was helpful in uncovering JONESED as the answer to [Craved, with “for”], and before I knew it most of the south and southeast were in place. I had only the last letter of VIOLA in place when I read the clue, [Instrument associated with the alto clef]. But all I needed to see was “instrument” and “clef” to have confidence in the viola, as I couldn’t think of other 5-letter instruments ending in A. (Luckily, TIBIA did not come to mind.)
That nice stack in the southwest helped me conquer the rest of the puzzle’s left coast, leaving me just with that empty, snow-covered northeastern quadrant. I figured JILL was too easy of an answer for [Jack and ___], but COKE kept eluding this puritan solver. And I’ve never heard of [“Old Possum’s Book of Practical] CATS.” Should I check it out? Anyway, I didn’t make much progress until I finally tried OREGANOS as [Some members of the mint family], and for whatever reason that seemed to open up everything. As with much in life, ’tis better to be lucky than good.
Some more highlights:
- Where I grew up, HOOHAS meant something entirely different from [Commotions]. I think the less I elaborate the better.
- Even after I had the right answer to [El ___] PASOAN, I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was. Only as I started writing this bullet point did it occur to me: one from El Paso, Texas, would be an El Pasoan. Hmm. Should I be adding DIEGAN, LOUISAN, ANTONIAN, and JOSEAN to my database?
- Took me a while to catch on to [Flag] as a clue for TIRE, but once I read those words as verbs instead of nouns it all made sense. Nice!
- Anyone else read [Scope user] and think mouthwash? Okay, maybe it was just me. But that sure made it harder to get AIMER. (One who is aiming with a rifle, for example, would use a scope.)
- [Make a lot?] is a devilish little clue for PAVE, no? Nice was to start the puzzle at 1-Across.
- I have a nickel that says the clue for VANS, [Makeup of some pools], was intended to trick solvers into writing in GENE, based off the N from the crossing LOONIE, the [Canadian one-buck coin].
- Didn’t know there was such a thing as a FORAGE CROP, or that [Alfalfa, for one] could work as a clue for it. I was 98% sure that the clue had to do with “The Little Rascals” character instead of the crop.
Favorite entry = GLAD I ASKED, clued as [“Good to find that out”]. Favorite clue = [Caesarean section?] for VICI.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
A happy and healthy good morning to you all!
Today’s crossword grid, brought to us by the triple-stack wizard himself, Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is an extra special quad stack grid! Recently, my initial “strategy” in doing MAS puzzles, if they happen to be triple stacks, is look at each of the clues for the 15-letter entries and see if I can answer a couple of them right off the bat. Fortunately, there was one right off the bat for me, AIR AMERICA RADIO (16A: [Where “The Rachel Maddow Show” began]). Also wanted to initially put in RUSSIAN ROULETTE, but wasn’t as confident in it and also wanted to start first by building off the Air America Radio answer (62A: [High-risk game]). Though my mother is great at sewing, and taught me a few things about it, I don’t think she made me aware of a GROS point when I was younger (7D: [____ point (embroidery stitch)]). Initially wanted “eludes” for EVADES, and was switching back and forth as to which it was going to be (31A: [Slips by]). In the end, “evades” was the way to go when I had a feeling that the alternate spelling of TABU was going to be one of its crossings, despite not really remembering that brand of fragrance (25D: [Perfume brand by Dana]). Liked the clue to ERR especially since I’ve started to use the term “fluff one’s lines” when people make mistakes when broadcasting sports (30A: [Fluff]). There wasn’t really a time when solving this grid in which things CAME TO AN IMPASSE (53A: [Got gridlocked]), and thoroughly enjoyed this challenge today!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NASL (44A: [Pelé’s org., once])– The first incarnation of the NASL, short for the North American Soccer League, was the first American soccer league that gained some level of success and notoriety stateside, mostly because of the presence of some of the greatest soccer players to ever play the game for teams within the league. Founded in 1968, the NASL’s most popular team during its first run was the New York Cosmos, specifically because of the acquisitions of players like Pelé and German great Franz Beckenbauer. The league folded after the 1984 season. Despite that, a few teams in the current premier American professional soccer league, Major League Soccer (MLS), adopted their team names from their NASL predecessors, including the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. A lower-level American soccer league, also called the NASL, was founded in 2011.
Have a great rest of your weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Emily Cox and Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “Language Gap” — pannonica’s write-up
This puzzle has what I suppose is the opposite of a revealer: a punchline. 112-across is clued as [Term with no English equivalent] and it turns out to be not a categorical descriptor but the 16-letter mini-behemoth SCHLIMMBESSERUNG. The other theme answers explain what it is.
- 23a, 37a, 54a, 77a, 92a. [Start of 112-Across’s definition …] A WORD IN GERMAN FOR | SOMETHING MEANT AS | AN IMPROVEMENT | THAT IN REALITY | MAKES THINGS WORSE.
As I’m sure many of you are aware, German is capable of concocting much lengthier words. For this one, the breakdown is quite simple for those with a rudimentary knowledge of the language: schlimm means ‘bad, unpleasant, painful’ (etc.), besser(n) is cognate with ‘(to) better’, and -ung is a standard noun-forming suffix that functions like the English -ing or -tion. That plays out as “bad-bettering”. Natürlich!
Say, is there a single English word for a foreign word that has no equivalent? Not an adjective describing such a noun, and not a group of words explaining the foreign term.
Other items on my plate today, so I’ll make this brief.
- 92d [German Chancellor Angela] MERKEL. Clue repeats German from themer 23-across. Irks some more than others. See also 117a [Stringt frank topper] KRAUT? Perhaps we’d better not.
- 33a BRONZY, 56d MOUTHY, 67a LOUDISH.
- 116a [App installer’s contract (abbr.}] EULA, which stands for End-User License Agreement.
- More German! 94d [Haunter of mines] KOBOLD. From folklore, and from which the name of the metal cobalt is derived. 90a [Noodle casserole] KUGEL, which comes from Yiddish, and in turn from old German.
- Favorite clue: 62d [Vanishing point?] THIN AIR.
- 8d [Talon locale] TOE, 42d [Toronto hoops pros] RAPTORS. (Incidentally, dupe with 87a [Kind of golf tourney] PRO-AM. And speaking of –AM, there’s also a dupe—less annoying to me—in the clue/answer of 57a [American Olympians] TEAM USA. Nifty, though that that answer is bisected by 59d [Do well at the Olympics] MEDAL.
- 35d [“You said it!”] AMEN, 76d [“You got that right!”] YEAH.
- Seems as if we should have had a more contemporary clue for 84d TMI than [Nuke in 1979 news] (Three Mile Island), or is the initialism for “too much information” now trite and overdone?
- For all you JAI ALAI lovers: 87d [Balls caught in CESTAS] PELOTAS. Is there any other sport that has given so much to crosswords relative to its size and popularity? Anyone who says otherwise, I challenge you to meet me at the FRONTON.
I usually enjoy crosswords with educational themes. That, the smoothness of the grid, and the engaging cluing made for a pleasant solve. Good puzzle, perhaps slightly above average.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword solution, “Ode to Homer Simpson”
Merl commemorates his immortalization on The Simpsons in the Lisa-goes-to-a-crossword-tournament episode six years ago with this Homer Simpson tribute. Sixteen answers contain FAT and BALD, and Homer’s husky and nearly hairless. I’ve circled the FATs and BALDs in my grid. No wordplay to contend with, factual clues for the theme answers—not a lot of fun for me.
- 26a. [Rental sign], TO LET. Still waiting to ever see a sign that says “to let.” Hasn’t happened in 48 years yet. Never happy to see this entry in all the crosswords it appears in.
- 42a. [Actor who played LBJ in “The Right Stuff”], DONALD MOFFAT. This movie was on TV yesterday and we watched a few minutes of it. Moffat is … not a big star.
- 52a. [Organic regimen], HERBAL DIET. That’s a thing?
- 62a. [Singer Freddy Fender’s real name, ___ Huerta], BALDEMAR. Not familiar trivia, not a common name in the US.
- 64a. [Filmdom’s Lund et al.], ILSAS. Fictional plural name! Feh.
- 68a. [Oft-filmed play about a novelist at a lonely inn], SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE. I’ve got my 71-year-old mom on the phone. This is pop culture she’s too young for. There have been seven film versions of the 1913 play. The last time a movie adaptation was made without using a different title was 1947. Mom was 4 that year.
- 105a. [Selma Lagerlof boy], NILS. The author died in 1940 and even though my mom has worked in a library, she didn’t know this one, either.
- 121a. [Sexy assassin in “Never Say Never Again”], FATIMA BLUSH. No idea.
- 20d. [Italy’s longest river], THE PO. Meh.
- 123d. [Site of Tell’s feat], URI. Been a long time since I’ve seen this one in a puzzle. A good bit of crosswordese-type stuff in this puzzle, a lot of second-tier names. CETYL, AGORA, REMET, ELUL, HOI and POI, ERLE, RIATAS, TRISH … these entries don’t enhance my solve.
2.75 stars from me.
Drew Banneman’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “PC Lab”
Phrases or words that start with a P take a hard C instead, with the first word’s spelling changing every time to form a new C word:
- 24a. [Challenge for one with an array of walking sticks?], CANE MANAGEMENT. Pain management.
- 26a. [Perspective on a heist?], CAPER VIEW. Pay-per-view.
- 52a. [Farmer?], CROPPER NOUN. Proper noun.
- 71a. [Sweatshirt part with wrinkles?], CREASED HOOD. Priesthood, the most significant spelling change in the theme.
- 95a. [Anthracite storage site?], COAL VAULT. Pole vault.
- 100a. [Judge?], COURT AUTHORITY. Port Authority.
- 37d. [Place for a collection of pub mementos?], COASTER BOARD. Poster board.
- 33d. [’40s-’50s first lady with her dog?], CORGI AND BESS. Porgy and Bess. Cute!
No real groaners in the theme, and I like the consistent approach of spelling changes each time. Solid theme.
The fill is pretty solid as well. Not packed with crisp, zippy stuff, but not loaded with obscurities either. I could do without things like NITRE (55d. [Brit’s saltpeter]) and EPODE (65d. [Lyrical work]), yes, and I wish that 17d: ODE and EPODE weren’t both in the puzzle (EPODE’s roots are epi- and ode). But overall, I moved through the grid without intrusive scowling (just a bit, with things like RIN and LAI and –INI).
Five more things:
- 7d. [Like Delaware’s northern border], ARCED. Apparently I don’t know what little Delaware’s border looks like. Here it is. Almost looks like someone drew an arc with a compass a set distance from Wilmington. Poking around at maps, I see that Virginia’s portion of the Delmarva Peninsula is entirely separated from the rest of the state by the Chesapeake Bay. Never knew that. The launch facility where that rocket blew up recently was in that part of VA.
- 86a. [One in a firing line?], AXMAN. Meaning … one in a line of people who are terminating others’ employment? That seems like a stretch.
- 108a. [City known for wool], ANKARA. It is?? I just this moment learned that Angora is an old name for Ankara, and that Angora goats, rabbits, and cats are from there.
- 1d. [Teacher’s Apple], IMAC. I don’t like this clue, as there’s nothing at all teacher-specific about the iMac. There are education discounts for iMacs, MacBooks, and iPads, but the majority of users aren’t teachers. There used to be eMacs for the school market.
- 35d. [Jump with all four feet off the ground, gazelle-style], PRONK. Here’s a video of an adorable springbox bouncing around.
3.33 stars from me.