Victor Barocas’s Fireball crossword, “Live It Up!”
Yet another nifty theme from Victor, and from the Fireball venue. 61a. [Advice taken literally by 18-, 24-, 39-, and 51-Across?] is SEIZE THE DAY, and “day” in four languages is “seized” by phrases to transmogrify them into goofiness:
- 18a. [Sexy Arabian flying expert?], HOT SAUDI ACE. Hot sauce + Spanish dia.
- 24a. [Number of times a parrot acted in a foreboding way?], POLLY OMEN COUNT. Pollen count + Hebrew yom.
- 39a. [Those in charge of exhorting the bluegrass band to play?], HEAD BANJO URGERS. Headbangers + French jour. That accidental ANJOU in the middle had me trying to finagle some sort of BURGER but that would entail double use of the U.
- 51a. [One reason that schools are filthy?], PTA GRIME FACTOR. Prime factor + German Tag.
We seldom see puzzles that incorporate multiple foreign languages into a theme. I approve. (Of the theme, not the seldomness.)
Five more things:
- 9d. [Brand that uses freeze distillation to raise its alcohol content], BUD ICE. Is that a thing? I have escaped awareness of it.
- 1d. [Seat in the famous photo “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper”], I-BAR. Oh, yes. The skyscraper ironworkers lined up on the beam, feet dangling 850 feet above the ground.
- 37d. [Large set for the General Sherman], TREE RINGS. I gather the General Sherman is a tree, or a tree stump? Yes, a giant living sequoia.
- 70a. [Cartoonist Barry who wrote “What It Is” and “Cruddy”], LYNDA. Lynda Barry is great. I believe Ira Glass was a cad to her when they broke up eons ago.
- 54d. [One who makes the first cut?], MOHEL. A better mohel joke than in last Sunday’s NYT puzzle.
4.25 stars from me. Keep ’em coming, Dr. Barocas.
Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword
The Z’s in this grid can be traced with one’s sword to make a big letter Z, the mark of 44d. ZORRO, [Subject of this puzzle]. Apparently 4d. [With 29-Down, first story to feature 44-Down (1919)] was THE CURSE OF / CAPISTRANO, which doesn’t ring a bell (there’s a SoCal mission bearing that name). And Zorro’s “real” name is DON DIEGO DE LA VEGA (5d. [With 37-Down, real name of 44-Down]), insofar as any fictional character can have a real name.
There are a few answers in this puzzle that I’m not sure I’ve seen in crosswords before:
- 20a. [What Set committed when he slew Osiris], DEICIDE. Mythologically speaking, that is.
- 24d. [Petroleum ether], BENZINE. Not the same thing as benzene. Much less popular, too.
- 55d. [“The Waltons” grandpa], ZEB.
And then there are the answers I’ve seen in too many crosswords: NEZ, ERNE, AVEO, AZOV, ERG, OTOE, INKA, ALEE. They’re not illegitimate, they just have zero ability to please or surprise me.
Five clues of note:
- 1a. [Century, for one], FONT. Tough clue for 1-Across!
- 40a. [Like Baha’i houses of worship], NINE-SIDED. The Bahá’í Temple you can see from Evanston Hospital is stunning.
- 22d. [Lift others’ spirits?], BARTEND. Lift them and hand them over in exchange for money.
- 43d. [Little green ones come from Mars], M AND M’S. Gorgeous clue. Alas, the candy uses an ampersand, M&M’s, and not the word AND.
- 49d. [Goat sounds], MAAS. Serpico writer Peter Maas would be a better bet here, given that none of the crossings are names. I just never see “maa” given as the goat’s sound anywhere but crosswords.
3.25 stars. The theme’s cute but the fill probably left a lot of solvers floundering around looking for footholds. (P.S. NAZI? There will be those who find that a most unwelcome word in their puzzle.)
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Slightly curious synonymizing going on today. All the hidden words are TROUBLEMAKERS, or more specifically terms sort of used to describe naughty kids… BRAT in JOBRATINGS; DEVIL in SEASIDEVILLA; IMP in IMPRETTYSURE; and SCAMP in CIRCUSCAMP. Not sure what a CIRCUSCAMP is exactly, but I’m sure all you ‘Muricans do, so I’m not going to go Google.
Pretty solid puzzle otherwise, given the high theme density. AFEW/ALOT/ATON may be one too many for some. MERESPECKS and SEASIDEVILLA are more collocations than discrete terms, but solid nonetheless. ALTEAM is not in my bailiwick, but I’m sure we’ll hear from sports people that it isn’t a real phrase… My other big unknown (other than CIRCUSCAMP) answer was [Actor Dullea] KEIR. Not sure which is the first and which the last name either…
Clue-wise, [Presley’s “(Marie’s the Name) of ___ Latest Flame”] goes to incredible lengths for a simple pronoun! SAS is the [Sweden-based carrier] again – it’s never the crack British troops for some curious reason…
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website puzzle — “Broken Records”
Classic BEQ theme today: four famous album titles are broken among two words in a nonsense phrase:
17-A [Hotel offerings for those who drag their feet? (Nirvana)] = LAST-MINUTE ROOMS. In Utero. Nice find.
25-A [Proms in old Japan? (Radiohead)] = KABUKI DANCES.
54-A [Target eschewers? (Lady Gaga)] = K-MART POPULATION. Art Pop.
Good theme. Solve was tough because I kept making mistakes, the most amusing of which is: when I looked at 13-D I had ?Y?T and assumed it was NYET. But the clue read [Android, e.g.] and so the answer was SYST. Then, at 36-A I again had ?Y?T and said to myself, “Surely, this time it must be NYET.” But the clue read [Uber competitor] so I realized the answer was LYFT. According to Crossword Compiler, there are seven possibilities for this pattern: CYST, GYNT, MYST, NYET, RYOT (??), SYST and XYST (??). I guess this old version I use doesn’t have LYFT yet.
Best clue: [Sprint relay?] for TEXT. Best fill: RUM CAKE, ZUMBA and ZULUS crossing you-know-where; and PBJ and J-BAR crossing also at you-know where.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Play Time”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, crossworders! I hope you all are doing well and have done all your Thanksgiving shopping by now. Well, the main course, at least in today’s crossword, brought to us today by Mr. Raymond Hamel, is a huge dish of types of plays. Each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the first word is also a word that can precede the word “play.”
- SHADOW CABINET: (20A: [Opposition party appointment in the UK])
- PASSION FRUIT: (28A: [Popular juice flavorer])
- POWER FAILURE: (45A: [It may be caused by a curious squirrel]) – Thanks for the mental image Raymond!!
- SQUEEZE BOTTLE: (56A: [Bicyclist’s “canteen”])
First off, what a lulu CINZANO was for me (43D: [Italian vermouth brand])!! Couldn’t get that for the life of me and just guessed at the end. It might make me look into getting a bottle and seeing how it tastes. If it’s to my approval, then I’ll want to see this entry more often in grids. Does anyone want to look up WASPS on Urban Dictionary and see what it stands for, especially if you don’t know already (32D: [Stinging insects])? I’m not saying you should, but get ready to experience some shock if you haven’t come across its slang meaning before. Loved CROWDS OUT (34D: [Pushes aside]) and TO AND FRO as really lively entries (9D: [Swaying motion]). Latest earworm alert comes from ARRIVAL, and one of the more famous verses in a hip-hop song, from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five hit, Message II (Survival): “In jail they got a game and they call it survival, they run it down to you on your first ARRIVAL, they tell you what you can and what you cannot do, so if you ever go to jail watch your…mmm-mmm!” (37A: [Airport debarker]). Just in case you’re not familiar with the song, here it is. It should sound familiar to you…well, at least for those who like old-school hip-hop and/or actually were alive in the early 1980s.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SOL (40D: [Scale note]) – I hope there are some WNBA fans out here, because that’s where I’m going today in this space. The Miami SOL was a franchise that existed for only two seasons in the WNBA, from 2000-2002. Miami’s only playoff appearance came in the 2001 season, when they lost in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Liberty. Of course, the team name plays off the Spanish/Portuguese word for sun, sol, paying a tribute to the large Hispanic community in the Miami area. My apologies that I did not use this space to talk about former NHL player and Stanley Cup champion Mike RICCI (36A: [“Penelope” star Christina]), who had one of the more distinct noses in NHL history, because it was often broken. Also, he had a million-dollar smile to boot!
See you all tomorrow!