Many folks have been stressing out about how they’re going to get to and from the ACPT in Stamford, a less convenient location for those who are flying in to New York. I suggested to Will that the tournament set up a ride-share board or shuttle buses or something, and so it is that ACPT webmaster Nancy Parsons set up a ride-share thing. If you’re looking to split your rental car costs with other puzzlers, or hoping to get a ride from another traveler, or coming from a nearby city and hoping to catch a ride with someone, here’s the place to make your needs/availability known.
Michael Blake’s New York Times crossword
Wow, that’s a disheartening clue for the revealer: 58a. [Billboard’s top rock group of 2000-09 … or where to find a 23-Across (before 1939) or 17-Across (today)], NICKELBACK. I can’t say I actually know a single Nickelback song, but they’re pretty infamous among my friends as a dreadful band that didn’t deserve its popularity. Top-selling rock group for the whole decade?
Anyway! The rest of the theme is about the back of a 5¢ coin:
- 17a. Tourist attraction in Charlottesville, Va.], MONTICELLO.
- 23a. Largest wild animal in the United States], AMERICAN BISON.
- 47a. “Out of many, one”], E PLURIBUS UNUM. Words on the back of a nickel, thematic but not mentioned in the revealer for whatever reason. Because the clue was long already?
Cute trivia/revealer combo.
Likes: There’s 3d. [Country in which English and Mandarin are official languages], SINGAPORE—geo/language trivia. And 34d. [Practice game, in sports], SCRIMMAGE, with each of these 9s intersecting two themers and an 8. I liked the CARIBOU (25d. [Image on the reverse of a Canadian quarter]), though the whole “back of a coin” thing was a little distracting here. What about the dime, the penny, the Euro 50¢ coin? The clue for OSAKAN: 45d. [Resident of the so-called “Chicago of Japan”]; didn’t know/remember the Osaka/Chicago linkage. Prefixes are seldom exciting, but I liked how 12d. [Prefix with -plasty] duped me into filling in RHINO- (even though there are certainly easier ways to clue RHINO in a Tuesday puzzle) when the answer was OSTEO-; there are multiple kinds of osteoplasty, though the term was not so familiar to this former medical editor (granted, I never worked on orthopedics books). So I liked being duped on a Tuesday, but thumbs-down for making Tuesday solvers grapple with the much less familiar OSTEOplasty.
Three more points:
- 10a. [What milk will do if you add lemon juice], CLOT? No, it curdles. When you make milk into clotted cream (because you’re English or an Anglophile), you’re not using lemon juice.
- 29d. [___ Prize, annual international award for mathematics], ABEL. I’m more familiar with that other math prize, and that other other math prize. You know the ones: regular commenter NDE won the Putnam Fellow Prize Fellowship three years running in his student days, as did erstwhile ACPT finalist Kiran Kedlaya. And (thank you, Google) the other is the Fields Medal. The Abel began in 2001.
- Fill I wasn’t keen on includes partials A TIME/AS A/AT ’EM, as well as ECRU, AGIN, ALAI, TUBB, and ERES.
3.75 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 189), “Low-Hanging Fruit”—Janie’s review
Here’s a perfect example of theme and theme-placement synergy. At the end of each of the five themers is the name of a fruit (some are metaphorical, some are homonyms [same spelling and pronunciation, different meanings]). And how do they appear in the grid? Why, vertically, thank you very much—hanging low. There are loads of articles about the origins of the title phrase, but this one covers a lot of territory and includes some edifying links of its own. It’s a phrase, um, ripe with meaning. And the theme phrases aren’t too shabby neither!
- 26D. “SAVE THE DATE!” [Postcard message from a bride and groom]. Not the edible kind of date…
- 5D. NOT WORTH A FIG [Having no value]. Here the fig is metaphor for “anything small, valueless or contemptible” (OED).
- 7D. WILLIAM OF ORANGE [Dutch-born husband of MARY II]. The grid-spanner of the House of Orange-Nassau. And, it was he who endowed the College of William and Mary in 1693 in what is now known as Williamsburg, VA. No fruit involved.
- 23D. GILBERT GRAPE [1993 film role for Johnny Depp]. In “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” also featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Worth watching! “Grape” is a family name here, so again: no fruit (real or metaphorical) involved…
- 11D. ROTTEN APPLE [Bad influence]. More metaphorical fruit here, nicely complemented with its metaphorical cousin, the BAD EGG [Scoundrel]—and conflated musically by the Osmonds in their 1971-72 megahit “One Bad Apple.”
While I wish all of the fruits had been of the same grammatic variety, I found this to be a very entertaining solve indeed, stirring up vivid memories of the fruits’ color and taste, scent and mouth-feel. So this one definitely left me with a SMILE [Happy expression] on my face—and a hankering for fruit cup…
Beside the themers, you won’t find any fill longer than six letters—and most of it hovers in the five- and four-letter territory. Which doesn’t preclude it from being solid, lively fill, too. NIBBLE, “MEET ME!,” “I GOT IT!,” ICED IN, NINE A.M., (celery) STALKS, the aforementioned BAD EGG; PIANO, EERIE, DEMON, EXACT. All good!
Better? The twinned, symmetrically placed wools: MERINO and ANGORA. And brava for the way the latter is clued [Catwoman’s favorite sweater type?]. This gets a little complicated, but… Rabbit fur is used to make angora wool; mohair is the wool of the angora goat; and yes—there is also a Turkish Angora cat (think “Ankara”).
Best? STARRY [Illuminated, like a Van Gogh sky]. The picture says it all.
And let’s not overlook some more of the twisty or evocative or playful clue/fill pairs:
- [It comes with strings attached?] for APRON.
- [Make some waves] for SWIM (’cause IMPRESS is three letters too long…).
- [“Something there is that doesn’t love A WALL“: Robert Frost]. Classic Frost. At his yankee best.
- [Pastoral letters?] for “BAA.” Nuthin’ clergical here—and pairs well with MERINO, too.
- [You might purchase one for a song?] for ALBUM.
- And [Affectionate couple?] for the uber-literal EFS.
Any wonder why I find this one to be such an appealing puzzle? [“PAX vobiscum”…], y’all!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Getting Carried Away”
There’s a meta in this puzzle—a meta without any instructions given. See if you can find the (successful) wedding proposal from a guy named 32a: DAN. I’ll give the answer in the comments on Tuesday if nobody guesses it. The full story of how the proposal played out will be published next week, in the couple’s hometown alt-weekly, the Eugene Weekly.
Here’s the non-secret theme:
- 17a. [Response to King Kong after being carried away?], I’M HEAD OVER HEELS. In love (for the newly affianced couple), or upside-down for the woman the ape abducts.
- 39a. [King Kong’s act of barroom generosity?], PICKING UP THE TAB. He was always picking up things.
- 59a. [King Kong’s hoped-for response?], PUT ME DOWN AS A YES. The groom-to-be’s hoped-for answer, expanding on Ann Darrow’s “Put me down!”
There are constraints on the fill from the proposal aspect, and proposal crosswords are so unbearably sweet that it buys a lot of good will. For example, AVI/ISM/ROH crossing VSOP is not ideal, but it’s not as if Matt has invented abbreviations or anything, so it all works.
Three more things:
- 26d. [East Texas city or college], KILGORE. Say what? There’s an Illinois town called Kildeer so I tried that first. Is the Texas KILGORE more or less familiar to you than the Kurt Vonnegut character Kilgore Trout?
- 41d. [File cabinet label for the latter half of the alphabet], N TO Z. Okay, this is pretty terrible fill here. Solid crossings, at least.
- 28d. [___ liquor], MALT. I … don’t think I have ever tasted malt liquor. Nor have I purchased a forty.
Five stars for a stealthy secret proposal, 3.75 stars for the theme and fill.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “LOL”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, all! If you wanted to start your day off with a laugh, then today’s crossword puzzle, served up for us by Mr. Raymond Hamel, does that…in a way. In the grid, each of the theme answers are three-word entries in which the first letters of each of the words combine to spell “LOL.” I think some of the kids these days, when denoting their amusement at something over the Internet, sometimes type “LOLz” now. Why the “z”? Maybe they’re just cooler than us?? Nah!!!
- LIVING OUT LOUD (20A: [1998 Holly Hunter movie])
- LAST ONE LEFT (38A: [Lone survivor])
- LAND OF LINCOLN (58A: [Illinois slogan])
To start off, I couldn’t help but noticing the amorous Southwest portion of the grid, with I DO (41A: [Wedding words]) and FLIRT (61A: [Playfully tease]) both intersecting LOVE LIFE, which I’m sure was unintentional but still awesome regardless (38D: [Tabloid subject]). Another interesting little cluster was at the top, where I thought to myself how many people who play golf have hit a SHANK (4D: [Poor golf shot]) while using a WEDGE on the golf course (5D: [Golf club selection]). Unless I get invited out for a round, I don’t think I’ll be playing another round of golf for the foreseeable future. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t IVANHOE the story which spawned/created the character that we now know to be as Robin Hood (55A: [Sir Walter Scott romance])? I know I heard that before, and I’m sure my humanities teacher said that to our class in high school a couple of times. Speaking of high school teachers, my biology/chemistry teacher in high school who first got me interested in crosswords may not be too pleased with me that I didn’t get ANODE off the bat and needed a couple of crossings to get that one down (57D: [Cell terminal]). I’ll definitely make it up to you the next time a science trivia nugget pops up, I promise! Oh, and how many of you typed in “Jeff” instead of BEAU to start (7D: [Bridges of Hollywood])? I was guilty of it, that’s for sure. Regardless, this was a lovely puzzle, even with the more than usual three-letter entries.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOYOLA (22A: [Dr. Bob Hartley’s alma mater]) – In 1966, the Texas Western (now the University of Texas-El Paso) basketball team, became the first championship team to start an all black/African-American starting five. But four years earlier, in 1962, the LOYOLA University of Chicago basketball team was the first school to play an all black lineup, doing so in a game vs. the University of Wyoming on Dec. 28, 1962. Later on that season, Loyola went on to win the 1963 national championship, defeating the University of Cincinnati in the championship game. Loyola (Chicago) was at the forefront in bringing about integration in college basketball in America, even more so than the Texas Western team that gets more national recognition and fame.
See you all on Hump Day!
Tom Uttormark and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Unless I’ve missed something terribly amazing or significant, the Theme Answers are simply Men Whose Initials Are T and A.
- 17a. [*Miracle Mets center fielder] TOMMIE AGEE.
- 26a. [*Creator of Daffy and Bugs] TEX AVERY.
- 37a. [*”Songs About Me” country singer] TRACE ADKINS.
- 49a. [*He voiced Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story”] TIM ALLEN.
- 58a. [*Three-time Super Bowl-winning Cowboys quarterback] TROY AIKMAN.
Not even a further consistency with syllables, or profession. Well, I guess they’re all Unitedstatesians, but that’s hardly remarkable.
Significant stacking in the center, flanking 37-across, but mostly with ultra-common letters: OLIVE OIL, LOOSE ENDS, backstopped by PAR and crossword habitué OSA.
With the likes of SRTA, OTOH, OR SO, ENS, OST, and MML [CCV x X] peppering the grid, not to mention the solid dose of bland cluing (e.g., [Skating surface] ICE, [Bay __: Oakland’s locale] AREA, [“You __ My Sunshine”] ARE, [Make a choice] OPT, [“If all __ fails …”] ELSE), there simply wasn’t much joy to be found in this crossword. Even little touches like crossing MILE and KMS (see also MPH), or the occasionally mildly clever cluing ([Bad thing to make in public] SCENE, followed by [Bad thing to get at work] THE AX) aren’t enough to elevate this one from the merely forgettable. (63a, 60d, 39a, 8d, 9d)
addendum: I completely missed the revealer—never even saw the clue—at 47d [Husk-wrapped Mexican dish, and when divided in three parts, a hint to the answers to starred clues] TAMALE. T, A, MALE, get it? Helps make the experience more palatable, but not enough. Thanks to Gareth for pointing out its potential to me, without even seeing the clue. (I was attracted to the TA/TA crossing in the upper right, when l was looking for a spot to highlight in the grid.)