NYT 3:05 (Amy)
AV Club 4:43 (Amy)
LAT 8:39 (Gareth, paper)
CS 10:08 (Ade)
Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword
Easy Wednesday puzzle with a straightforward but not dull theme and lots of sparkling fill. It’s bees!
- 19a. [1984 #1 Billy Ocean hit], “CARIBBEAN QUEEN.”
- 36a. [Maids, butlers and au pairs], DOMESTIC WORKERS.
- 51a. [Aircraft in modern airstrikes], PREDATOR DRONES.
- 60a. [Where to find the ends of 19-, 36- and 51-Across], BEEHIVE.
My friend Doug Brown in British Columbia has four beehives and documents his beekeeping efforts on YouTube. If you’re curious about marking your queen and whatnot, check out Doug’s channel.
Toughest word in the puzzle: 42a. [Greater Antilles native, once], ARAWAK. Know your indigenous Caribbeans! (See also: Taino, Carib … I’m out.)
Liveliest fill includes “SPILL IT,” AMSCRAY, EVANDER Holyfield, “IT’S A STEAL,” EASY CHAIR (but I don’t care for the clue, [Sit back and enjoy it]), SPONGEBOB, and LOUIS CK.
- 17a. [The “3” in “6/3”], DIVISOR. Six divided by three, not June 3.
- 16d. [Comic who said “The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself”], LOUIS CK. On one episode of his self-titled sitcom, he and a friend did a “bang bang,” wherein they went to a restaurant, ordered and ate a full meal, and then went straight to a second restaurant for a second meal.
- 34d. [Connect-the-dots bear?], URSA. Connect the dots in the constellations Ursa Major and Minor to draw half-assed bears.
- 44d. [Something to put on before a shower], PONCHO. Cheap plastic when you’re on vacation or at a stadium, generally, and the rain comes. Does anyone wear rain ponchos when leaving from home?
- 45d. [Output from a showerhead], SPRAY. Be sure to wear your poncho!
There was enough colorful stuff to divert me while solving, but perusing the grid afterwards, I noticed a bit in the INE ESS MHO vein. Overall vibe, four stars.
Ben Tausig’s American Values Club crossword, “Spring Fever Meets Spring Training”
Baseball verbs in sexy phrases are the name of the game:
- 18a. [*Gamely peck when no one is looking], STEAL A KISS.
- 25a. [*Start to sense that one’s hookup is more than a game], CATCH FEELINGS. I have never encountered this phrase.
- 42a. [*Spit game, classically], PITCH WOO.
- 56a. [*Be game to love whomever], SWING BOTH WAYS. Love this one! Switch-hitting is for both baseball and lovin’. Note that this answer crosses the LESBIAN who probably just plays for the one team.
- 68a. [*Have a strong sex game], HIT IT RIGHT. Also not familiar with this phrase.
Delicious fill: VOTER ID LAW, ATKINS DIET, that HUNCH/SHUSH/HUH/WHEW chunk.
Toughest crossing: 60a. [Title of the Stonecutters’ song, on “The Simpsons”], WE DO / 56d. [Rush of water], SWASH. Don’t know the song, and the verb isn’t very common.
Did not know: 29a. [Skateboarding legend Tony], ALVA. Wanted HAWK. Never heard of this Alva.
Clues of note:
- 71a. [Former “Thomas & Friends” narrator Ringo who was also once a professional musician], STARR. Little-known fact.
- 35d. [Unit of thyme], SPRIG. No time.
- 58d. [Perineum, slangily], TAINT. Because ’tain’t the stuff in front and ’tain’t what’s in the rear.
Four stars from me. Not deducting points for the entirely unfamiliar theme answers because it’s not Ben’s fault I’m older than he is. Kids/professors these days!
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Circus Debuts”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, all! Hope all is well. Today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, has four multiple-word theme answers in which the first part of the answer is a word (or words) that could immediately precede the word “circus.” I’m pretty certain that the last time that I saw the circus in person was on a field trip with my second-grade class. I’m pretty sure the days of attending the circus started and ended that day as well, unless I have children who demand to see elephants stand on their back legs and circus clowns running around.
- THREE-RING BINDER (20A: [Back-to-school item]) – Do kids still buy these? I’m guessing elementary school kids still have to use looseleaf and such, right?!
- MEDIA MOGUL (25A: [Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch]) – Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and media circus all rolled up into one? Seems just about right!
- FLEA COLLAR (48A: [PetSmart purchase, perhaps])
- FLYING DOWN TO RIO (53A: [1933 film that first paired Astaire and Rogers])
First thing I noticed about the grid was the abutment of DOOMS (27D: [Fixes the fate of]) and I DO, something a few ex-spouses would say go hand in hand (28D: [Bachelorette’s final statement]). Of course, there are so many happily married couples, but couldn’t help but get that cynical thought out there! Also, there’s the appearance of Olympic field events, with both POLE VAULT (5D: [Field event that involves clearing a bar]) and LONG JUMP (8D: [Field event with a sandpit]). This grid definitely was trying to go for the gold medal with those answers in there. I’m getting back into a normal walking routine now that the snow has melted, which means there’s a good chance I can get rid of some of my FLAB before the weather gets even warmer (53D: [Liposuction target]). This was another solving experience in which I didn’t have any real hang-ups but yet still couldn’t get into a real flow in terms of solving pretty quickly, Maybe I’m just in A FOG this morning (44D: [In ___ (befuddled)]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JAMAL (31D: [Former Ravens running back Lewis]) – In his rookie season in 2000, running back JAMAL Lewis helped to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl when he rushed for 1,364 yards and was the focal point of a Ravens offense that relied on running the ball. Three years later, Lewis rushed for the second-most yards in NFL history, racking up a staggering 2,066 rushing yards. Lewis also won a national championship while in college, as he was a member of the 1998 University of Tennessee Volunteers team that won the inaugural BCS National Championship.
By this time tomorrow, I’ll be in Jacksonville, Florida, covering the NCAA Tournament games taking place there! Enjoy the rest of your hump day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Ryan McCarty’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
This theme is all over the place! Four answers start ?U?U. Two are part of longer words, two are not. Then MUUMUUS is in the middle and breaks the pattern; MUMUS is a variant spelling FWIW. And then LUAU is connected to PUPUPLATTER, but despite almost fitting the theme, I don’t think it’s intended as a theme answer, as it doesn’t have a redoubled consonant. Repeated consonants plus U’s is a rather restricted set. DESMONDTUTU ends in the pattern, but would be an outlier. Maybe expanding it to include sound-alikes such as BOOBOOBEAR /GOOGOODOLLS? I dunno, as presented, it feels messy. Anyway:
- [Inspiration for a chewy candy], JUJUBEFRUIT
- [Horns banned at the 2014 World Cup], VUVUZELAS
- [Colorful island dresses], MUUMUUS. Maybe.
- [Yoga-inspired athletic apparel brand], LULULEMON. Don’t know it. Looks like a fresh, hip answer though!
- [Dish at a 37-Down], PUPUPLATTER
- [Doglike scavengers], HYENAS… only Carnivores are divided into caniform and feliform lineages and hyenas are on the cat side…
- [“Yo, how’s things?”], SUP. I hope this becomes the standard angle for SUP.
- [Crashed, so to speak], SLEPT. Got home from work today. Passed out at 6. Woke up again 10:30. This doesn’t bode well for tomorrow. I can’t guarantee this sleep pattern irregularity hasn’t affected the blog post.
- [Steam], WATERVAPOR. Except they aren’t quite synonymous…
- [Contemporary electronic music genre], NUJAZZ. Apparently, if you stick “nu” or “post” in front of something you make it a different genre…
- [Howard’s best friend on “The Big Bang Theory”], RAJ. “Big Bang Theory” aka marginalising intelligent people in an idiocracy.
- [Where Bhutan is], ASIA. Link via joon…
- [Element in a rechargeable battery], CADMIUM. Not an element that gets a lot of press!
- [Do-it-yourselfer’s nightmare], MONEYPIT. Nice answer!
3 Stars Gareth
Love the theme! Bees and Ants are fascinating!
Did you know that there is an aristocratic microbiome? The queens have a different microbiome from the workers!
I wonder if there are socioeconomic differences in human microbiomes? I bet it’s the case… you heard the hypothesis here first, folks! And remember, microbiomes affect moods.
Sorry, drifted far from the puzzle. It was fun, and did what a revealer should do— bring a little ping of the unexpected.
Interesting hypothesis. Huda, it is the case, is it not, that human microbiomes — the microorganisms — with whom we share our bodily space, vary from person to person, and can affect health and illness as well as mood? So it would be an interesting question as to whether there are systematic differences among regional, racial, class, lifestyle, groups of humans. I’m surprised that, as you seem to suggest, the question has not been more thoroughly investigated.
I also liked the puzzle, and bees, notwithstanding having been stung. Don’t like ants one bit, though I agree they’re fascinating. :-)
Bruce, I actually looked and did not see any papers with this specific study— of microbiomes as a function of socioeconomic status. There are studies emerging about say obesity of the mother affecting the kids future microbiomes, and inasmuch as these factors cluster, it’s likely that such a correlation will emerge.
The bees raise the (ahem) chicken and egg question– is the microbiome the cause or the result of being regal?
Sorry, Amy, I imagine this was not a topic you anticipated seeing on your blog. Although I’d welcome seeing microbiome in a puzzle!
No apology needed—this stuff is interesting!
Actually it seems a very reasonable hypothesis. And what is the blog for if not tangential discussions springboarding from the crosswords? The puzzles and write-ups are substrate for organic discourse—and strained metaphors—to bloom and flourish upon.
Much of literature, the arts in general, is the study of socioeconomic microbiomes. What else is Upstairs/Downstairs and its ilk?
This is literal, biological biomes.
It happens that there is a pertinent article on the website
http://www.biospace.com today showing the benefits of extended breast feeding on IQ, adult achievement, etc.
“Longer duration of breastfeeding is linked with increased intelligence in adulthood, longer schooling, and higher adult earnings, a study following a group of almost 3500 newborns for 30 years published in The Lancet Global Health journal has found.”
If it’s the Brazilian study I heard reported on, the findings were true independent of socioeconomic status.
Front page of this morning’s local paper: Ringo Starr coming to perform in Victoria for the first time. It takes time for those former professional musicians to get here.
I saw LOUIS CK a few years ago live. It was by far the best stand-up comedy show I have ever seen. That guy is amazingly hilarious.
Now I didn’t like the Times puzzle theme. Nor do I quite understand its appeal to all of you here, except insofar as it concerns bees, and you all have warm feelings about, or a lively interest in, bees. Bees are fine with me too. But four words having to do with a particular subject, however charming or fascinating, don’t in my mind make a good crossword theme. There’s no wordplay. The phrases that include bee-related words (denoting a song, a weapon, and an ill-paid profession) aren’t related or intrinsically interesting or surprising or clever in any way. It’s too easy. It’s dull.
It’s Wednesday. Aren’t dull themes more or less par for the course from Monday to Wednesday and occasionally Sunday?
No! Look at the Wednesday puzzles you’ve reviewed lately. Last Wednesday: red things crossed with red things, a clever and original idea. Wednesday, 3/4: wordplay on movie roles (BOND TRADERS was particularly good). Wednesday 2/25: well, this one was dull (Midwestern state capitals). Wednesday 2/18: BOOKS the COOK instead of COOK the BOOKS, etc. Wednesday 2/11: corrected music names (THE BEETLES, LUDICROUS, etc.). I could go on, but you’ve been reviewing such puzzles for years–perceptively remarking such cleverness and wordplay as they display. An easy solve doesn’t necessarily make for a dull theme, as surely you know.
I thought the choice of theme answers was excellent and what made the puzzle worth making/solving.
But why? I’m not just being contrary–I really don’t understand. What exactly is it about CARIBBEAN QUEEN, PREDATOR DRONES, and DOMESTIC WORKERS that I’m missing, that makes them “excellent” and makes the puzzle “worth making/solving”?
Had 1 error in the AV Club puzzle today. Pitch poo instead of pitch woo. Never heard of this pitch woo thing, and phew seemed perfectly acceptable for the cross. Picked poo since it involved spitting and it’s a p sound, plus alliteration.