Patrick Berry’s Sunday New York Times crossword, “Surround Sound”
Assorted two-syllable words are paired with longer words that end with the first word’s sound (but not spelling):
- 23a. [Office missive sent out arbitrarily?], RANDOM MEMORANDUM.
- 30a. [Stone fruit?], GRANITE POMEGRANATE.
- 48a. [Aeronaut who’s headed for the moon?], LUNAR BALLOONER. If you want to hear about the Montgolfier brothers’ pioneering hot-air balloon ventures, scroll to the bottom of this page for that segment of public radio’s “Worldview.”
- 66a. [Photographers who stalk future lieutenants?], ROTC PAPARAZZI. Nice find! This only works if you say “rot-see” and not “R.O.T.C.” (Both pronunciations are kosher.)
- 84a. [Desktop machine made of malleable metal?], PEWTER COMPUTER.
- 101a. [Provides some idea of an object’s size?], MENTIONS DIMENSIONS. The only verb phrase in the theme; the others are all nouns.
- 113a. [Lassie’s affliction after failing to rescue Timmy?] COLLIE MELANCHOLY. Inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness?
There’s only a limited number of “meh” entries in the grid. ERNO Rubik and RARA avis each connect two theme answers, but there are about 30 answers that intersect multiple themers and the rest are pretty solid.
My last square was the W in 98d. [No longer standing tall?], MOWN / 108a. [Feed supplier], TWITTER.
Five more things:
- 15d. [Chinese company whose 2014 I.P.O. was the world’s largest in history], ALIBABA. The Alibaba Group is like Amazon + eBay + business-to-business sales + probably some more. If you need to buy something for a business, Alibaba will have it.
- 62d. [Nyasaland, today], MALAWI. It’s across Lake Nyasa from Mozambique, where a crossword friend of mine did his Peace Corps stint.
- 27a. [It borders five U.S. states], ONTARIO. Busy province there. All of Mexico borders only four states (granted, some of them are huge).
- 41a. [Dark horse], BAY. Dang it, I was thinking of the idiomatic “dark horse” and not a horse with a dark coat.
- 60d. [Drift off], NOD. And that is what I am likely to do while solving and blogging the Merl puzzle next. So tired!
Surprisingly quick solve for a 21×21 NYT. Four stars from me.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Twice-Told Tails”
Each theme answer has a 3- to 8-letter chunk repeated at the tail end of a phrase or word:
- 20a. [Cry from Scarlett *], FIDDLE-DEE-DEE. The DEE is doubled.
- 22a. [Bunk (my favorite cryptogram of this word, by the way, is BEBOPBOP) *], NONSENSE. The unpronounceable NSE bit is repeated.
- 24a. [Island conqueror *], KING KAMEHAMEHA.
- 44a. [1963 Crystals hit *], DA DOO RON RON. Or! The 1977 Shaun Cassidy version, the one I know.
- 49a. [Bruiser is one in “Legally Blonde” *], CHIHUAHUA. Veterinarian Gareth Bain learned of a garage sale ad from a vets’ group offering “pure bread chiwawas.”
- 62a. [Song title translation *], WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE. Que sera sera.
- 73a. [No. 1 single of 1971 *], WHEN YOU’RE HOT, YOU’RE HOT. By Jerry Reed? Never heard of him or the song.
- 94a. [1920s film star *], RIN TIN TIN. The dog.
- 97a. [Allowing oneself to enjoy, as chocolate *], INDULGING IN. GIN is repeated, but split weirdly across words.
- 114a. [Alliterative body part in a fairy tale *], CHINNY CHIN CHIN. Featured, sort of, in Merl’s Three Little Pigs theme earlier this year.
- 122a. [Aa’s lava counterpart *], PAHOEHOE.
- 125a. [1963 Jan and Dean hit *], HONOLULU LULU. Never heard of the song. This is the third Hawaiian themer, but Merl’s puzzle notes say, “I was in a Hawaiian mood when I made this, but that’s not what the asterisked clues have in common.”
Twelve theme answers is a lot, and the rest of the fill tends to be underwhelming when a puzzle is packed with theme.
Seven more things:
- 82a. [66, for one: abbr.], RTENO. Good lord, this is awful. “Route number” abbreviated as RTE NO, dangling awkwardly without a following numeral?
- 84a. [Coal diggers’ org.], UMW. I had AMW first, as 78d. [Put up, as stockings] could be present-tense HANG or past HUNG.
- 63d. [It might include a clasp and cuff links], TIE SET. Is that a thing? I had no idea this was a thing, a tie + clasp + cuff links somehow forming a “TIE SET.” Zero hits in the Cruciverb database suggests it’s not a common phrase. Google finds the phrase just fine, but one of the top links is the Chinese-based e-commerce site AliExpress, which sells a product billed as “neck tie set necktie hanky cufflinks men’s ties sets gift box Handkerchiefs Pocket square tower cravat” in search of key-word hits from search engines.
- 22d. [Actor J. Carrol ___], NAISH. Seen this a few times in previous crosswords; didn’t like it there, either.
- 53d. [Psychologist May], ROLLO. Is that May Rollo or Rollo May? The latter.
- 109d. [Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh ___], NHU. Only four prior appearances in the last 15+ years in the Cruciverb database. This … is uncommon fill.
- 104a. [Packaged cheese slices: abbr.], SGLS. Who needs an abbreviation for cheese-slice “singles”? Gah. Terrible. Neither SGLS nor RTENO appears in the Cruciverb database.
Given the rough spots in the grid, I’d have preferred 8 to 10 theme answers and better interstitial fill. 3.25 stars from me.
Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “‘Tis the Season”
An odd theme heading into Thanksgiving week. There’s a holiday two-part theme mashed up with a revealer that accompanies five other theme answers.
- 23a. [Event that kicks off shopping for 119-Across], BLACK FRIDAY.
- 119a. [Festive time], THE HOLIDAYS.
And then a Down revealer, 101d. [Important theme for 119-Across, and a word that can be used with the starts of the answers to the starred clues], GIVING, stands apart from its symmetrical partner, LAKOTA. The five themers begin with “giving ___” fillers:
- 39a. [*Space mission team], GROUND CONTROL.
- 51a. [*2003 romantic comedy with multiple story lines], LOVE ACTUALLY. Haven’t seen it. People seem to either love it or loathe it.
- 67a. [*Amy Dickinson, for one], ADVICE COLUMNIST. I know a couple people who’ve met her at parties and found her egotistical, but all Amys are worthy of ego.
- 86a. [*Botticelli on display in the Uffizi], BIRTH OF VENUS.
- 96a. [*Friends for life], BLOOD BROTHERS.
What’s missing from the theme is THANKS, which has been severed from GIVING but feels like it should somehow be included.
Six more things:
- 20a. [“Flashdance… What a Feeling” lyricist], CARA. Hey! I knew Irene Cara sang that #1 song but didn’t know she cowrote it.
- 125a. [Stylish eatery word], CHEZ. Still? Chicago has a handful of restaurants with Chez in the name, but certainly the plethora of stylish, acclaimed restaurants in the city go without that word. Clue feels dated.
- Tough crossing for non-obsessives: 86d. [“Borstal Boy” author Brendan] BEHAN meets [111a. “__-Tiki”], KON at the N. I bet BEHAR and KOR will show up in a number of grids.
- 28a. [Polish writing], EDIT. Read it as “Polish writing” at first, having heard a public radio story the other day about a Polish-British couple who’ve directed an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer, Conrad himself being a noted writer in English who came from Poland.
- 15d. [“Punch buggy” in a car trip game], VW BEETLE. Don’t know the “punch buggy” term but I’m familiar with this driving game, of punching someone when you see a Volkswagen Bug.
- 49a. [Sicily, to Sicilians], ISOLA. That’s Italian for “island,” not for Sicily. And actually, in the Sicilian language, it’s ìsula. Not that Sicilian is an official language there.
Overall, the fill is pretty solid. 3.5 stars from me.
The Post Puzzler No. 242 by Karen M. Tracey – Gareth’s review
What a weird experience. The clues today are almost all Monday-easy. There were several unknown-to-me entries, which was all that stopped this from being crazy easy. Two of the four fifteens are lovely: SUITSMEJUSTFINE & SOMEBODYLOVESME. The double ME doesn’t concern me one whit. Crossing the four theme answers is a TV “behaviourist” I’ve never heard of. I’m on the fence about him. He does have a crazy name, JACKSONGALAXY, which is something. Other fun answers included TSETSEFLY and PHONETAG (with the closest thing to a tricky clue in the puzzle – [“Game” played by busy people]).
Apart from Mr. Galaxy, I also didn’t know/recall Stoudemire AMARE or possibly AMARE Stoudemire; the ink SUMI; AISHA Tyler; KYRIE Irving or maybe Irving KYRIE and Kyle SECOR. Not a whole lot for a themeless, but all difficult to anticipate spelling-wise.
Randolph Ross’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello there! Hope you’re having a good Sunday so far.
Mr. Randolph Ross had the honors of presenting us with today’s Sunday Challenge, and it definitely a fair challenge at that. The two 15-letter down entries immediately caught my attention, and, luckily, I thought of JOHN QUINCY ADAMS immediately for the first one, only because I knew that was 15-letters and decided to put that in and see how it worked (4D: [Only president to serve in the house after his term]). In a somewhat related note, having that answer cross ADAM’S ALE was a little synergic, don’t you think (55A: [Water, quaintly])? Back to John Q. Adams, and I knew that (JQA) was the answer once I saw the James Bond clue, O’TOOLE, crossing it, because I pretty much have remembered every Bond Girl from the Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Dalton eras (15A: [Bond girl Plenty]). Plenty wasn’t really the primary Bond girl focus of Diamonds Are Forever, but that casino scene with her is still so memorable. Speaking of movie roles, I loved the portrayal of AL CAPONE in The Untouchables (7A: [Robert DeNiro role]). I think the only time I was in a toy store and demanded to my parents “I WANT IT” were those Starting Lineup sports figurines that were popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s (35A: [Toy store demand]). A few years ago, when doing some spring cleaning at my old apartment, I found a bunch of those figures and I had vowed to keep them and put them up all around my then new apartment. Sadly, I forgot to do that, and now they’ve been lost in my old apartment once again. Oh, well. I can definitely deal with an earworm forming (as it has now) if it deals with a song from The MONKEES (38D: [“Pleasant Valley Sunday” singers, with “The]). To boot, if you had a week to spare for a vacation south of the border, would you rather go to CANCÚN (37A: [Mexican vacation destination]) or BOGOTÁ (40A: [Home of the Museo del Oro])? Might have to go with Bogotá on this one.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ATARI (2D: [Pong maker])– Former NFL defensive player ATARI Bigby (yes, his first name is Atari) played seven seasons in the National Football League, starting in 2005. Born in Jamaica and attending college at the University of Central Florida, Bigby was known for his time as a member of the Green Bay Packers, where he spent six seasons as a Packer from 2005-2010. In 2007, he had a career-high five interceptions.
Thank you so much for your time and I’ll see you on Monday!