NYT 4:47 (Amy)
LAT 9:08 (Gareth, paper)
CS 7:00 (Ade)
BEQ 6:15 (Ben)
Fireball 6:17 (Amy)
Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword
The theme of this puzzle is aging, the sort of aging that Madonna, bless her heart, scarcely seems to be experiencing: the sagging of the bottom. FALLING BEHIND (38a. [Lagging … or a hint to 17-, 19-, 56- and 61-Across]) anchors the theme, and those four long answers have their ends sagging. Each end doubles as a synonym for “derriere” and is clued as a stand-alone nongluteal word:
- 17a. [Who said about himself “Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money”], DONALD TRUMP. DONALD TRUMP’s drooping RUMP is clued as 18d. [___ session (meeting after a legislative dissolution)].
- 19a. [Record of infantile behavior?], BABY ALBUM. The BUM is 20d. [No-good].
- 56a. [Part of a story you might not want to know], GORY DETAIL. That phrase seems odd in the singular. I always want gory details in the plural. To TAIL is to 60d. [Follow].
- 61a. [Hating baseball and apple pie?], UNAMERICAN. To 63d. [Fire] someone is to CAN them.
Cute theme! And the Across portions of the theme answers do occupy symmetrical spots. Look at this puzzle’s restraint: Nary an ASS to be found in the grid.
Likes in the fill: The dated but eternally amusing TIMECOP, GALACTIC GODPARENTS, and DIORAMA.
Favorite clue: 28d. [Device placed next to a drum], HEARING AID. Bet you were thinking musical instruments here. I sure was.
Another tricky clue: 3d. [“Hurray” or “alas”] for IAMB. Were you thinking of the part of speech? I tried OATH. I pondered whether VERB could be at all possible when the B emerged.
We’re still getting REO (mainly 1930s) and EDSEL (late ’50s) in plenty of crosswords, so I despair of ever getting rid of the Oldsmobile ALERO (1998-2004). About 700,000 Aleros were made and they’re still available on the used car market but it’s not my favorite crossword fill by a long shot. Better than ALERS, I guess …
Four stars from me for this one.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Swathed Team”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, friends! Well, it looks like another snowstorm has me cooped up yet again in my place, at least to begin the day. But that gives me a little more time to talk about today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan. In it, three of the theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the first word also happens to be an occupation in which a person would usually be seen wearing a robe. The fourth theme answer, THEY WEAR ROBES, is the reveal (53A: [Trait of the people named by the first words of 20-, 27-, and 44-Across]).
- JUDGE REINHOLD (20A: [“Beverly Hills Cop” costar]) – For a short period of time when I was much younger, I confused Judge Reinhold with Reinhold Weege, the creator of Night Court.
- CARDINAL SIN (27A: [Grave offense]) – Alternate clue: Action when a St. Louis baseball player gets caught stealing?
- BOXER SHORTS (44A: [Some drawers find in drawers]) – Initially put in ‘boxer shorts.’ Yes, a boxer doesn’t actually do his boxing in a match with his robe on, but it’s standard to see a boxer in a robe as he/she walks into the ring.
I had never heard of IVORY SOAP in reference to a cake before (34D: [Cake known for its nearly perfect purity]). Honestly, I had the taste of soap bubbles in my mouth once I “digested” that clue/answer for a couple of seconds. The pastime that I now have when going into a BODEGA these days is, among getting a couple things for the fridge at my place, counting how many cats there are roaming around in the store (6D: [Barrio food market]). I think my personal record for number of cats seen at a single bodega was three. If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, just type ‘bodega cats’ in a Google search, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of hits! There were a few sports-related clues today, including the nice fill of AIR JORDAN, a.k.a. Michael Jordan (3D: [Famed nickname among Chicago hoopsters]). There was also a reference to my favorite baseball team, ASTROS, and that made me think about the start of the baseball season, which is underway with spring training (47A: [Baseball team that began as the Colt .45s]). It also made me think of the awesome uniforms the Houston Astros wore while they were the Colt .45s, from 1962-1964. Want to judge for yourself? Well, here you go…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KRAFT (1A: [Cheez Whiz company]) – First of all, I had my first Philly cheese steak with Cheez Whiz this past November. Wasn’t impressed. But, I digress. Billionaire Robert KRAFT is the owner of the New England Patriots, and also the man who could probably be described as the man who saved football in the New England area. In 1994 – well before the success the franchise enjoys now – then-Patriots owner James Orthwein offered Kraft, who at that time owned the LEASE (29D: [Car dealership option]) to the stadium the Patriots played in, $75 million to buy out the remaining years on the lease and move the team to St. Louis. Kraft not only declined the offer, but then went about buying the team outright for $175 million. To think, the team that won the Super Bowl a month ago could have been the St. Louis Patriots!!
See you all on Friday, folks!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Candy Crush” — Ben’s Review
Happy Thursday, everyone! This week’s Thursday BEQ comes to you from sunny San Francisco, where I’m escaping the ever-present Boston snow for some work-related stuff. This week’s puzzle is almost as good as not seeing snowdrifts as tall as you are when you look out the window.
The theme this week is pretty simple, once you figure out 52D, “Classic candy … and a hint to today’s theme”, is M AND MS. They melt in your mouth, not in your hands, and when added to 5 common phrases in the puzzle, they change things up a little bit:
- 18A, “Latin Jazz, Country Solo Performance, Urban Contemporary Album, etc.?” – GRAMMY AREAS
- 29A, “Speedreader whose skill is constantly worsening?” – DOWNHILL SKIMMER
- 34A (my favorite), “Unpleasantly damp game birds?” – CLAMMY PIGEONS
- 42A, “Peak for just the dads?” – PATERNITY SUMMIT
- 56A, “Unpretentious woman from Paris?” – MODEST FEMME
I already said it in that list, but CLAMMY PIGEONS may be my favorite phrase from a puzzle like this so far this year. Elsewhere in the puzzle, there was a lot to like, from learning that people are still naming their children URIAH (15A, “Actor Shelton of TV’s ‘The Glades'”) to the spit take-worthy clue for EX-LAX, 63A‘s “Waste Management brand?”.
Amongst the downs, I found a lot of the longer answers stumping me when it felt like they shouldn’t have been. I picked up that the “Manga and anime series that’s the basis for a popular trading card game series” was YU-GI-OH (4D), but figuring out that a “defensive arrangement with fewer players, in football) was a WEAK SIDE (9D) eluded me for far more time than it should have. Likewise, MORRISON (37D) fell on my first pass through, but LET IT DIE (35D, “‘Can you stop talking about that?'”) didn’t pop out until closer to the end. Maybe it’s just a full brain from work conferences, but they ruined what had otherwise been a really smooth solve. Still, if that’s the worst thing I can think of with this one, it was a pretty good puzzle. Thanks, Brendan!
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Nice theme, with an offbeat presentation, but which largely escaped notice until near the end of the solve for me. I also didn’t note the extra row during the solve. From top-left to bottom-right KMART/TARGET/TOYSRUS/SAKS/SEARS/SAMSCLUB form a chain of stores. In the opposite diagonal, we get CHAIN/STORE. USAUSA: all the stores are found there; only TOYSRUS exists in South Africa, though I’ve been in a TARGET in Australia when I was 12.
The fill in the rest of the puzzle was mostly above average. This is important when the theme itself consists of short answers. There is ugly partial HOTTO and quaint circa-WWII Briticism DEMOB, but take a look at the rest! I don’t care that the IN is duplicated, both INSTYLE and INPOWER are good answers. SHESALADY crossed with IHOPESO (hah) and a BUSHEL make for an excellent corner.
The top-left has KISSCAMS (with the clue-of-the-month nominee [They catch busses at stadiums]) & a MOONSHOT. LENDANEAR, RANGTRUE, ARTTATUM, RIOBRAVO and NORELECO round off the best long answers. I wanted NORELCO off the O, but wasn’t sure there were flavours of NORELCO! I am less convinced that ATELATE is a real thing though.
Most surprising factoid that SHESALADY was Mr. Jones’ last (US) Top 10. What happened to Kiss and Sex Bomb, for instance? It seems he has had 9 UK top 10 singles since “lady”, most recently in 2009, but has been shunned Stateside. How strange. Vaguest answer for a very specific clue: [Captain Philips setting] for SEA.
High quality puzzle throughout.
Peter Collins’ Fireball crossword, “Moving Vans”
The VANs are removed from two phrases and inserted into two others, and the resulting nonsense phrases are clued accordingly:
- 20a. [Certain in-home mural?], DOMESTIC SERT. Servant turns into an artist I think many of us know primarily from crosswords, muralist SERT.
- 34a. [Title for a real estate mogul’s ex now in charge of equipment on a ship?], BOS’N IVANA. Bosnia.
- 39a. [College entrance exams for the not-too-swift?], IDIOT SATS. Savants. “Idiot savant” is an outmoded term, no?
- 48a. [“Such narcissism from those taking tough H.S. courses!”?], WHAT A.P. VANITY. “What a pity.”
74-word grid, four theme answers of modest size … if 3d and 25d had been split into two answers, making this a 76-worder, we’d have lost the Down 11s but I might have liked the fill better overall. OBIE ARAL CREE ENID ARNE IPANA, those sorts of things feel a little fustier than typical Fireball fill.
Three more things:
- 4d. [Stand ‘n Stuff taco shell brand], OLD EL PASO. Zippy!
- 37d. [1999 merger parter of Zeneca], ASTRA. Pharmaceuticals instead of Latin mottoes? I approve. Now, if you don’t know AstraZeneca and you don’t know old hoops great ARTIS Gilmore, you’re fairly screwed here. Fireball solvers are expected to know a lot of trivia and whatnot.
- 29d. [Toto toter?], ROADIE. I thought of two other Totos first: The dog that went to Oz and the high-end brand of toilets. If you’ve never seen the video of Toto’s “Africa” as done by workers on an oil ship off the coast of Africa, click over.
3.6 stars from me.
Cute theme. I didn’t cotton on to the fact that the falling parts of the theme words were actually synonyms for “behind” until after I finished solving. A great little “aha!” moment. Nicely done!
As for ALERO, admittedly it’s a nice crutch-word for constructors (including me), however, it’s still a real thing that was made in significant numbers by a huge company… not to mention the fact that the ALERO has the distinction of being the last Oldsmobile. Whether we like it or not, it’s pretty much here to stay in the world of crosswords. (That’s not to say ALERO should necessarily be regarded good fill, when better alternatives are available)
Loved the behinds falling! I got it quickly at DONALDTrump. The A– word lurks there.
Great theme, but that Trump quote was such a turn-off I was left with a sour aftertaste.
Good! Everything about Trump should leave us all with a bad taste.
BEQ: 62a [Herbivore with no front teeth] RHINO
Small point of fact: There are five extant species in four genera. The two African genera (Diceros, Ceratotherium) are monospecific, and neither of those have (non-vestigial) incisors; the Asian varieties (Rhinoceros (two species), Dicerorhinus) possess functional lower incisors. So, depending on how you look at it, half of rhinoceros genera or three-fifths of rhinoceros species have front teeth. I’m not going to look up the populations.
Despite Donald Trump’s poor taste (in everything), I liked today’s NYT. The theme was amusing and clever. It has some tricky clues but none of them were too far-fetched.
CS: 41a [Scottish word sung on December 31] SYNE.
Shouldn’t that be January 1? Don’t people traditionally begin singing the song at the stroke of midnight? And that’s the final word of the song.
Yeah, yeah — but in our one-half-Scottish family, it was only after a lot of hugging and kissing. (The other half is the Daviso Italian side.)
Papa Iain Daviso: What do the hugging and kissing have to do with syne‘s chronology vis-à-vis the date?
You wrote “at the stroke of midnight”. I’m saying that in our family we kissed at the stroke of midnight and then sang Auld Lang Syne. I’m in agreement on it actually being the 1st, not the 31st.
On the CS, did anyone else confidently answer the clue “Grave offense” with NECROPHILIA?
That’s very groan-worthy!