Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Lots of fill you don’t often encounter in crosswords here: Among my favorites:
- 1a. [Refuse on the surface], FLOTSAM. A favorite word of mine. Much better than jetsam.
- 8a. [The Great Pyramid was his tomb], CHEOPS.
- 29a. [Resin-yielding tree whose name comes from the Bible], BALM OF GILEAD. Had no idea that was a tree.
- 31a. [1978 arcade classic from Japan], SPACE INVADERS.
- 33a. [Inaugural addresses?], STARTER HOMES. What a great clue.
- 45a. [Famous Manhattan deli], ZABAR’S. The place whose beloved lobster salad turned out to contain no lobster at all (but plenty of crawfish). First heard of it on a ’90s business trip to New York.
- 7d. [2012 film adaptation of “Snow White”], MIRROR, MIRROR.
- 31d. [Thread in a series], STORY ARC.
What’s this PANIC BAR (32d. [Emergency exit feature])? I was picturing airplace emergency exits, but maybe this is about buses.
I like the central four-pointed star of open space anchoring this pinwheel grid. The assorted 5s crossing the 12/13/12 stacks aren’t anything special, but the clunkiest fill in that zone is RAHAL and GELEE, and I don’t have a problem with either.
Raise your hand if you filled in SUITS first instead of card GAMES for 30d. [Hearts and spades, e.g.]. *hand raised*
4.25 stars from me.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of”—Ade’s write-up
Hello again, and a happy Friday to you all! Just like yesterday, we have more rearranging of letters as part of our theme, as Mr. Randall J. Hartman’s grid contains theme answers in which the first five letters are D-R-E-A-M, but are rearranged in each of the entries. I’m definitely dreaming for some warmth, as I’m about to head out into the bitter cold right now to begin the day.
- ED MARINARO (17A: [“Hill Street Blues” star]) – Also, the runner-up in the 1971 Heisman Trophy voting for college football player of the year while a running back at Cornell.
- RED MAPLE (26A: [State tree of Rhode Island])
- DEMARCATION LINE (40A: [Temporary geopolitical border])
- MADE ROOM (52A: [Moved over, say])
- ARMED GUARD (66A: [Brink’s employee, perhaps]) – No lie, I saw a guy a couple of days ago try to cross the street when he didn’t have the light and almost got wiped out by a Brink’s armored van. Honestly, he made it by about two feet! Why am I telling you this story? Umm, I don’t know.
Another 11-Down takes the cake for best fill in a grid for me today, with the entry for this puzzle being SHEEPSKIN (11D: [Diploma]). I’m torn whether my favorite Stallone role is either Rocky or RAMBO (44A: [Role played by Stallone in four movies]). Probably leaning towards Rocky, but the first Rambo movie, First Blood, is probably my favorite Stallone movie. It definitely isn’t Judge Dredd, that’s for sure! I don’t think I’ve ever heard any piece of MUZAK that’s made me want to “get down,” like the (funny) clue suggests (52D: [What might make you get down while you go down?]). Bobbed my head a couple of times to muzak? Sure. So is GIGLI going to surpass Ishtar for Hollywood bomb that appears most in crossword grids (21A: [2003 Ben Affleck film])? That’s twice in about a three-day span that Gigli has appeared. Don’t think I’ve ever seen A-OKAY spelled like that before, so that had me scratching my head a little (37A: [Jim-dandy]). I’m hoping you got the gist with ARENA, with “Kings” referring to the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and “Heat” referring to the Miami Heat, also of the NBA (53D: [Where Kings can beat the Heat?]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ERIC (25D: [Running back Dickerson who holds the NFL’s single-season rushing record]) – In the 1984 NFL season, Los Angeles Rams running back ERIC Dickerson set the record for most rushing yards in the season when he ran for 2,105 yards, shattering the old record of O.J. Simpson in 1973, who at that time was the first running back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season (2,003). Dickerson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Have a great day and weekend, everyone! Talk to you on Saturday!
Timothy Polin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Showing a Profit” — pannonica’s write-up
Letter insertion theme, explained by 70-across, [Good bottom line … or what 18, 23, 41, 52, and 63 Across have realized] NET GAIN. Appropriately, that trigram alters extant phrases in customary crossword-wacky style.
Not only do each of those five entries gain some letters, but the grid itself gains a column, making it 16×15. Call it the plus column?
- 18a. [Poetry that fuels a government overthrow?] SON(NET)S OF ANARCHY (“Sons of Anarchy”). [Blank verse?] would have been a wonderful clue here, but arguably too oblique. I bet it was under consideration.
- 23a. [Event at the Oenophile Olympiad?] CABER(NET) TOSS (caber toss). Random synapse firings: Highland Games, highland malt whisky, wine tasting, spit bucket, tosspot. Oh, I also thought of CABERMETRICS before appreciating the nature of the theme. What was the question again?
- 41a. [Ingredient that makes a quiche Lorraine especially attractive?] MAG(NET)IC MUSHROOM (magic mushroom, aka those containing psylocybin and psylocin). Unclear why quiche Lorraine was specified here, as champignons of any sort aren’t a standard ingredient in it—so what makes it different than any other dish that could hypothetically be improved thusly?
- 52a. [Tabloid headline about a horrible dye job?] ET TU, BRU(NET)TE? (“Et tu, brute”).
Not a fancy theme, but the varied answers are consistently appealing and entertaining. Three of them span the full length of the wider grid.
- Some chewy long downs: 3d [Pescetarian choice at a barbecue] TUNA BURGER (had … STEAKS first); 5d [Professional who anticipates shoots?] BOTANIST (odd clue, I don’t feel it works so well); 31s [Some flat markers] FOOTSTONES; 43d [Indefatigable] SEDULOUS (I always appreciate a straight-up clue with precise definitions).
- 39a [Sweetums] TOOTS. How does the Fiend commentariat feel about this, in light of yesterday’s discussion inspired by BIMBO? Do not see also 38d SUGAR [Tea-trolley bowlful].
- Tea? Red Rose … 17a [Fairy-tale character who befriends an enchanted bear] ROSE-RED, sister of Snow-White (Rosenrot, Schneeweißchen).
- 8a [Dzongkha speaker] BHUTANI; 46a [Mountain that straddles the Pakistan-China border] K-TWO – we don’t care for such unnatural, hybrid renderings, you know.
- Favorite clue: 54d [A as in Angers] UNE. Runner-up: 9d [Unvarnished] HONEST.
Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s All About Me” — pannonica’s write-up
Couldn’t figure out what the theme was while (lamely, as it turned out) trying to speed solve. Thought I couldn’t spare the time, but as it turned out the overall fill was tricky enough—even aside from my unhelpful typos—that working out the theme would have helped me loosen up those sticky areas more quickly.
So what we have is a phonetic insertion theme, with \ˈmē\ the operative. Spelling changes abound.
- 23a. [Rose named in honor of a First Lady?] MAMIE FLOWER. (Mayflower). That’s Mamie Eisenhower being referenced. The shared -ower ending could (and did) lead (this) one astray.
- 25a. [Having been assigned a 1-A (eligible to serve)?] ARMY RATED (R-Rated).
- 42a. [Device used by the Spanish Armada for locating their enemy?] LIMEY DETECTOR (lie detector).
- 60a. [“Have a Blustery Birthday!” mailing?] STORMY CARD (store card). I think this is like a store credit card, or a ‘loyalty’ card.
- 69a. [Source of some muddy footprints?] SLIMY BOOTS (sly boots).
- 86a. [Sordid sort of snakes?] SEAMY SERPENTS (sea serpents).
- 108a. [Sidearm that’s a real sourpuss?] GLOOMY GUN (glue gun). Again, without grasping the theme one might think it’s riffing on Gloomy Gus.
- 110a. [Place with space for countless cadavers?] ROOMY MORGUE (Rue Morgue).
- 35d. [Group enrolled in Lowell’s Poetry 101?] AMY STUDENTS (A-students).
- 39a. [Electrical safeguard in a particle physicist’s lab?] FERMI GROUND (firm ground, aka terra firma). Enrico Fermi. (edit: The base phrase is fair ground. See comments below by Brucenm and Claudia.)
The parts-of-speech breakdown: mostly adjectives, a fair showing of proper nouns, and a couple of regular nouns. The greatest spelling variation is among the proper nouns, the least (zero, actually) is among the adjectives.
Unfortunately, I’m pressed for time so I’ll have to give this puzzle undeserved short shrift to avoid it being published too late in the day. I’m not nearly the speed-poster (or -solver) that Amy is.
- Favorite clue: 78a [Gala leftover] APPLE CORE. Sneaky, using the variety name there. Runners-up: 51a [Pen output, with or without its first letter] OINK (ding for duplication in 63a [Free, as stock] UNPEN); 84a [Participant in a pantry raid] ANT; 8d [They’re beyond belief] SKEPTICS. 99d [Lineup ID] HIM. And there are plenty more high-quality, clever clues in the crossword.
- 104a [Passing notice] OBITUARY. Refreshing to see it unabbreviated in a crossword.
- Good trivia: 40d [Alnitak, Alninam and Mintaka form his belt] ORION; 81a [First film released on laserdisc] JAWS.
- 61d [Giant killed by Odin and his brothers] YMIR. Long ago forgotten by me.
- 79d [Sci-fi stalkers] CREATURES. What a strange choice of clue.
- 92d [Out of the cooler] SPRUNG crossing 96a [Inmate’s dream] PARDON.
Good puzzle, and now pardon me while I fly from here.
Frank Virzi’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
You’ve possibly gathered I’ve bought a printer and am doing a bit of paper solving. I’m still experiencing teething problems with said printer, so apologies for the missing horizontal lines in the solved grid.
The puzzle? A basic add a sound theme: IL today. For consistency’s sake, all answers have that sound tagged to the ends of their final word. Spelling changes as necessary. The preceding sounds also change a bit in some cases, which is less than ideal. In general though, the new phrases are strong. We have:
- DONTMINDIFIDUEL, [“Pardon my sword fight”?]. DOO sound changes to DYOOIL – a Y gets inserted. Still the resulting pun is solid.
- TENPERCENTAWFUL, [“The good news: mostly A-O. The bad news: ___?”]. The vowel in OFF is more clipped. The clue sounds like a crossword blog template…
- LAUNCHINGPADDLE, [Tool for putting a Ping-Pong ball in orbit?]. I tend to call the base phrase a LAUNCHPAD?
- ALIENLIFEFORMAL, [Big affair for E.T.?]. A bit on the edge of too wacky, but works as a crescendo!
- [Averts a knock-out], GETSUP. My last letter, and my write-over: Had lETSUP until STAG corrected it.
- [All-purpose rides], UTES. All???
- [Singer Carly ___ Jepson], RAE. She’s persistent! Alternative singing RAE: Lesley Rae Dowling.
- [Author Yutang], LIN. Our basketballer, however, is getting a break.
- [Boer village], STAD. The clue is literally wrong, but functionally correct. STAD means CITY. DORP is closer to town/village. BUT, like many US places with “City” in the name, most towns ending in STAD are pretty humble.
- [“___ No Sunshine”: Bill Withers hit], AINT. Great song! (Don’t worry not taking you to the rap reworking…)