John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Intentional rule-breaking with duplications in the fill—lots of hot three-way MAN action here. MAN on MAN with a hidden man in between them—
- 17a. [With 58-Across, buy or sell direct … or what to do in this puzzle three times?] clues CUT OUT THE / MIDDLE MAN. And in three other places, MAN appears both above and below a 3-space black bar that replaces MAN in the answer clued to its left.
- 20a. [Best Picture between “The Last Emperor” and “Driving Miss Daisy”], RAIN(MAN), between the MEN of ROMAN and PEKING MAN.
- 34a. [With 37-Across, drama set in New York’s Last Chance Saloon], THE ICE(MAN) / COMETH, between HITMAN and MANANA.
- 53a. [Central American capital], (MAN)AGUA, between MAN FRIDAY and MANDY.
RAIN and AGUA both work as stand-alone MAN-less entries, though THE ICE / COMETH is weird. Note that the invisible men are partnering with H2O. Not sure how intentional that was—John? There’s a mix of MAN as a lexical unit referring to a person and MAN as just a chunk of 3 letters in a longer word.
- 14a. [It might contain a sandwich and an apple], SACK LUNCH. Favorite fill.
- 23a. [Archaeological discovery of the 1920s whose fossils have been missing since 1941], PEKING MAN. Did you hear about the ancient human jawbone found deep in the waters off Taiwan? It’s possibly a heretofore-unknown species of human.
- 28a. [Suffix with official], -ESE. Who uses that? I don’t think it’s a very common term.
- 33a. [Onetime Road Runner rivals], GTOS. No idea what this Road Runner is. A sporty ’60s car?
- 24d. [Chapter seven?], ETA. Okay, eta is the seventh letter in the Greek alphabet. Chapter … meaning fraternity chapters? Are Greek letters doled out to chapters in alphabetical order or something?
- 33d. [TV debut of 1975, briefly], GMA. You wanted SNL, didn’t you, rather than Good Morning America?
- 34d. [Us competitor], THEM. Dang it! I was looking for a magazine rival of Us Weekly, rather than “it’s us against them.”
4.33 stars. Roman numeral MDII is about the worst the grid has to offer.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Weightlifters” — Ben’s Review
Happy Thursday, everyone! I’ve been going stir-crazy after the winter storm left Boston snowed in, so this week’s theme BEQ puzzle, “Weightlifters”, was a nice, breezy distraction from the weather outside (especially since the Buffalaxed version of Dschingis Khan’s “Moskau” has been stuck in my head since Mystery Hunt).
The trick this week (which, as usual, I figured out about 2/3rds of the way through the puzzle) is that all the theme entries are phrases/people that also sound like specifically focused weightlifters at the gym:
- 17A‘s leg-focused JACK SQUAT
- 21A‘s bicep-focused RIP CURL
- 35A‘s press master JOHNNY BENCH
- 52A‘s barbell lifting MR CLEAN
- 56A‘s numbers-obsessed EZRA POUND
The rest of the fill on this week’s edition felt pretty straightforward, with most of the interesting bits coming from the down clues. TECUMSEH was a nice trivia-ish bit (11D, “Shawnee chief in the War of 1812”), and there were some equally nice pop culture shout outs to The Mindy Project’s IKE Barinholtz (22D) and JR PAC MAN (35D), an arcade variant I didn’t know existed until solving this puzzle. The tech-y side of me also liked the shout-outs to TESLAS (13D) and USENET (41D).
I enjoyed my solve on this puzzle (especially since my solve time was quicker than usual – maybe I have a chance on this year’s Puzzle 5 at the ACPT), but a lot of the fill felt a bit too straightforward. That’s definitely the type of crossword complaint you want to have, even if it does feel a bit picky.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I bet we all were looking at the grid and wondering where the theme was! There are no long answers other than the central revealer. No-one in South Africa asks CANYOUBREAKATEN? A loaf of bread is around 8 rand, so that’s probably why – CANYOUBREAKAHUNDRED/TWOHUNDRED, maybe. This is actually a clever variation on the “words in middles of phrases” theme trope, as all the hidden tens are parts of two word phrases: DEBIT/ENTRY, BETE/NOIRE, TIGHT/ENDS, WHITE/NOISE. This could have been presented as a standard 10/9/15/9/10 puzzle, but I appreciate Ms. DuGuay-Carpenter giving us some variety.
- [Noble ___], GASES. I hate these FITB hidden plural clues. It’s a cheap trick, and a tired one.
- [Sound after a satisfying swig], AAH. Is there a way to differentiate AAH and AHH?
- [Scotch cocktails], ROBROYS. What’s in that again? [Whisky, vermouth and bitters]… Uh, no thanks.
- [“I won’t hurt you”], NICEDOG. Have clients tell their dog that “he isn’t going to hurt you.” On the one hand, they’re lying to their dog. On the other hand, dogs don’t understand the English language.
- [Malady in the 2000 film “Memento”], AMNESIA. If you believe the entertainment industry, amnesia is a pandemic…
- [Fife-and-drum drum], TABOR. I assume I wasn’t the only one who immediately had a “Soldier, Soldier Won’t You Marry Me” earworm. In my case in came with painful memories from primary school music appreciation where the teacher made the boys sing the soldier parts and the girls the maid parts. Enough to make me want to crawl into a hole and die.
- [Pension law signed by Ford, briefly], ERISA. All crossers baby!
- [Cleave], ADHERE. Tricky alternative meaning!
- [Chinese evergreen], LYCHEE. The dictionaries suggests no standard spelling exists, but here I see LITCHI almost exclusively. It’s a common juice and yoghurt flavour in these parts. Was gobsmacked when large swathes of people hadn’t heard of it last time…
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Long Division”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, folks! Hope all is well and hope that you end the first month of the new year in style! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us from the Great White North and Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, splits the word “long,” as the letters LO are at the beginning of each of the four theme answers, with the letters NG at the end of each. Though not long division, I met two high schoolers while working – and meeting Bill Murray in the process – yesterday, and one of them told me his favorite subject is math, and specifically, integrated algebra. It brought me back to the days when I was a high school math wiz. But if you ask me about slopes, binomials and trinomials, I’ll just laugh in your face, put a dunce cap on my head and walk away.
- LORETTA YOUNG (20A: [She won a Best Actress Oscar for 1947’s “The Farmer’s Daughter”])
- LORDS A LEAPING (29A: [There are ten of them in a Christmas carol]) – I’m all about the maids a milking, myself!
- LONDON CALLING (44A: [1979 hit for The Clash]) – “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust!”
- LOANSHARKING (54A: [Usury])
I don’t think I should mention CABLE without having a Rob Lowe alter ego next to me, a la the DirecTV commercials (1D: [Broadband choice]). “I’m crossword-solving Rob Lowe, and I have cable!” Many people have grown tired of those commercials, but count me in the very small minority that hasn’t just yet..though I’m getting there slowly but surely. I like seeing BOZOS and how it’s clued, given it can refer to the actual names of clowns, with the makeup and oversized red noses, or the definition involving imbecilic morons (36A: [They’re real clowns]). I’m also thinking about wearing a BOLO the next time I dress formally while I’m in Texas, which will be this summer (36D: [Corded necktie]). Guess I would have to wear the cowboy hat and boots as well, which I’m much more hesitant about doing. I didn’t hesitate about putting in WHIRR, as I’ve always envisioned its spelling in that fashion instead of the one R (whir) version (40D: [Blender noise]). You spell your onomatopoeias one way, and I’ll spell them my own way! Deal?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHI (43D: [“The Sweetheart of Sigma ___]) – The New England Patriots well be making their eighth Super Bowl appearance on Sunday, but their first was one to forget. The final score that was emblazoned on the Louisiana Superdome scoreboard: CHI 46, NE 10. At the time, the Chicago Bears’ blowout of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX on January 26, 1986 was the biggest margin of victory by any team in the Super Bowl era.
TGIF is tomorrow! Have a good day, everyone!