Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Ah Yes!”
Insert an AH to turn a familiar phrase into something goofy and clue accordingly:
- 19a. [Stores owned by the guy who played Frasier’s dad?], MAHONEY MARKETS. Old Chicago actor, John Mahoney, crossed with money markets.
- 32a. [Irish-Caribbean island chain?], THE O’BAHAMAS. You all saw this video from 2008, “There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama,” right?
- 39a. [Showy birds at the dance?], BALL PEAHENS.
- 50a. [Make a circular trip starting between California and Nevada?], GO TAHOE TO TAHOE. Final one makes a double play.
Fair enough. THE O’BAHAMAS was my favorite of the four. The grid’s weird, with the center section so cut off from the top and bottom. Not much flow in the grid.
Seven more things:
- 14a. [Quasi-eco-themed Pauly Shore movie], BIODOME. I might have seen that, but it was a long time ago.
- 42a. [John Denver Band bassist Dick (anagram of SINKS)], KNISS. Ouch. Obscure.
- 63a. [“Capote” costar Catherine], KEENER. I misread that as “Capone.”
- 1d. [Cologne brand named after a Musketeer], ARAMIS. Okay, so what was Drakkar Noir named after?
- 3d. [Tex-Mex ingredient?], HYPHEN. This one tricked me.
- 10d. [Rye topper], PASTRAMI. Never had it, never will.
- 36d. [Actor Hector of “Chicago Hope” and “Monk”], ELIZONDO. This was a gimme for me, but I suppose he’s not quite a household name for everyone.
Not wild about EBAN, OWIE, SDS, PPS, MMD, GOT A, and ADZES.
3.5 stars from me.
Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword
We’ve got another “both parts of the theme answers can follow X” theme, with NIGHT (71a. [Word that can precede either part of 17-, 25-, 38-, 54- and 63-Across]) playing the starring role behind the scenes.
- 17a. [Debate team or Model United Nations], SCHOOL CLUB. Night school and nightclub, sure, but “school club” feels a hair awkward to me. I suppose it’s fine.
- 25a. [Aid on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”], LIFELINE. “I Love the Nightlife” (I like to boogie) more than Nightline.
- 38a. [Commuter’s reference guide], TIMETABLE. I call it a nightstand rather than a night table.
- 54a. [Atrium feature], SKYLIGHT.
- 63a. [It’s not an automatic feature], STICK SHIFT.
Solid, if a tad stolid (as that sort of theme tends to strike me).
Six more things:
- 22a. [Card game with a bank], FARO. Like SKAT and ECARTE, I know this only from crosswords.
- 32a. [Drenched with a sudden flow], SLUICED. Wanted FLOODED, of course.
- 41a. [6, in the set [3,5,5,6,6,6,7]], MODE. Math quiz! There are more 6s than any other individual number, so 6 is the mode.
- 7d. [Kosher : Jews :: ___ : Muslims], HALAL. No bacon in either one.
- 22d. [Pot-au-___ (French stew)], FEU. It means “pot on the fire.” Mmm, tasty fire.
- 34d. [Leave surreptitiously], STEAL AWAY. Annoying Robbie Dupree song from the late ’70s. “Why don’t we steal away, into the NIGHT.” It’s thematic!
Not wild about plural PIS, ADDL, FARO, IAL, CDR, and FEU.
3.5 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 199), “Tea Party”—Janie’s review
What we have here is a pretty nifty puzzle that utilizes the “add-a-letter” gimmick to change five familiar two-word phrases to new and “improved” ones. The letter in question? Why, “T,” of course—playing on the “tea” in the title. Each new phrase is clued with a double definition, and at its best, the added letter (always at the end of the first word) leads to a genuinely smile-making transition. Some of the “tea party” entries, however, feel a bit too—well—strained at times… This is, in part, a cluing issue. The clues for the three best themers lead directly to the new phrase; the two that are iffy rely on the base phrase for meaning. Getting to the sense of them takes a few passes and I think this works against them. Still, between the strong theme entries and some very shrewd cluing elsewhere, there’s a lot to like here. So let’s take a look.
- 17A. [Misplaced cottonwoods?] LOST ALAMOS (Los Alamos). Misplaced = lost, and cottonwoods = alamos. See? Nice and clean entry this one. Spells out the rules of the game. Also stirs up musical memories created by a 23-year-old Debbie Reynolds…
- 28A. [Timetable posted in Rodin’s sculpture studio?] BUST SCHEDULE (bus schedule). Another piece of perfection. And oh, if you’re ever in Paris, a visit to the Rodin Museum is well worth your time. Imho…
- 36A. [Making a heap of sense?] COMPOST MENTIS (compos mentis). I feel we’re a little on thin ice with this one. Is the clue perhaps over-written? Would [A heap of sense?] better serve the result? The idea of “sane compost” is really quite funny. But having to carefully parse/rationalize the clue takes some of the joy out of the “aha.”
- 45A. [“Bad Chemistry” author Gary, dressed as Santa Claus?] KRIST KRINGLE (Kris Kringle). Sorry to say, I think this is the least successful of the lot. Now Gary is a superb, prolific, award-winning author, and he’s someone who comments on this very site from time to time. But, relative to his output as a whole, I question how widely-known he is for his fiction writing—especially among newbie solvers. Bad Chemistry dates back to 1998, but I’d never encountered the title until meeting it in this themer. Am I alone? The harrowing The White Cascade? Now that’s another story altogether. Regardless, enlisting Gary’s surname to realize the awkward phrase Krist Kringle (where we need to supply the “as” between the names to make real sense of the clue-related result) doesn’t pay off very well for the theme set. Again: imho. Your mileage may vary…
- 60A. [Fearful of “Klondike Annie” star Mae?] WEST-CRAVEN (Wes Craven). Ah, back on solid ground again! And…didja notice the clue at 10-Down? [It might make you feel buoyant?]? Seeing the question mark in the clue, my first thought for a response was MAE WEST. But no. With eight squares to fill, the correct answer is the synonymous LIFE VEST. Still—I love my crossword glue and this is a great example of how related clues and fill can add to a puzzle’s overall soundness. We get a little more with the two references to women and hoops: that [Tall WNBA player] is the CTR, and U CONN is the [NCAA women’s basketball powerhouse]. (Oh, gosh—dare I say it? … “Go Terps!!!”)
Additional highlights? Here ya go, list style:
- The lengthy, evocative OBSESSION, that [Calvin Klein perfume] whose arty, eminently spoofable ad campaign SNL spoofed so deliciously; and the lengthy, lovely KID GLOVES, which ensure [The utmost care].
- The literal [Ones seen side by side?] ELEVENS pairing.
- Unexpected, fresh clues for familiar and or functional fill. Thank you for [Star quality] for ÉLAN and [Embroidered word on a robe] for HIS. Ditto [Ending for refer or defer] and -ENCE. Why? Because I love the way the addition of the suffix changes the pronunciation of the root word.
- Unexpected, appropriately arcane clues for unexpected fill. Hello, [Dickensian shelters] and ASYLA. [“Women’s Murder Club” actor Rob] ESTES was a complete unknown to me. The guy has a seriously healthy résumé for episodic TV, but somehow I’ve managed to miss just about every series he’s been a part of. Quel fromage [sic!!], eh?
And with that, I leave you for today. If you’re attending the ACPT this weekend, I do hope to meet up with you there. I’ll be assisting behind the scenes, but do not plan on being a total recluse. Don’t be a stranger: do say hey. No matter how skillful or speedy you are as a solver, participating is a great experience and I’m wishing you all the best!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Whatever Floats Your Boat”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! I hope all is well with you, and hope you had a lot of fun with today’s puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin. In it, each of the theme answers start with words that also are parts of a boat. As far as famous boats that I want to be on, whether fictional or real, give me the Love Boat, followed by the S.S. Minnow!
- STERN DISCIPLINE (17A: [Something an overindulged child rarely experiences]) – Alternate clue: “For 30 years, what NBA players who ran afoul of the law would receive?” (David J. Stern was the commissioner of the NBA from 1984-2014.)
- DECK OF CARDS (26A: [52 Pickup requirement]) – What’s your favorite card game?
- GALLEY PROOF (44A: [Printer’s preliminary version])
- BRIDGE TO NOWHERE (59A: [Derisive nickname given to the span between Alaska’s Gravina Island and Ketchikan]) – Man, that’s a mouthful of a clue…but definitely worth it!
From the “silly answer that I thought of before putting in the correct one” department, I had “–IS-” for the Miss America clue, and initially wanted it to be ‘waist’ instead of POISE (19D: [Asset for a Miss America wannabe]). I actually have been in the dressing room used for wannabe Miss America winners many times when I covered an annual basketball tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., home to many Miss America pageants. Loved the clue and fill of NO REASON, as I’ve pretty much used that to justify a good number of my decisions to do certain things lately (32A: [“Just for the heck of it, that’s why”]). Didn’t have a real trouble spot in the grid, but definitely needed the last couple of crosses to get TANGELO (24D: [Very juicy citrus hybrid]).
Going back to poise, and its clue, I want to give a special mention to a friend who actually competed in a Miss America Pageant, Mary Morin Carlin, who represented the state of New Hampshire just over a decade ago. She’s recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I know she will definitely be fighting the good fight and will beat it! We first met at Syracuse University and were both broadcast journalism majors (I was an undergrad and she was a grad student) and, honestly, I did not meet a nicer, more hospitable person in my four years at Syracuse than Mary. I wish you, your husband and beautiful baby girl Charlotte all the best, and I know you will kick cancer’s butt!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROE (29D: [Little orange spheres on an inside-out sushi roll]) – Elwin “Preacher” ROE pitched in the Major Leagues in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1945, as a member of the Pirates, Roe led the National League in strikeouts (148). Roe was a five-time MLB All-Star.
See you all at the top of the hump on Hump Day! Have a good day!
John O’Brien’s Los Angeles Times crossword
People who wear masks are the name of the game:
- 64a. [Lone Ranger epithet, or what each answer to a starred clue often is], MASKED MAN.
- 17a. [*One harvesting honey], BEEKEEPER. Two thirds of the beekeepers I know would be masked women and not men. Also, when skipping the screen mask, it’s possible to get bee stings on the eyelid. It ain’t pretty.
- 25a. [*One planning a job], BANK ROBBER. Usually men, yes.
- 40a. [*One calling strikes], HOME PLATE UMPIRE. Wonder if softball has gender equity or mostly women as umps.
- 50a. [*One working at a low level], SCUBA DIVER.
I’m never going to be really delighted by a theme that embodies male hegemony, even if the “often” in 64a’s is trying valiantly to soften it.
Five more things:
- 70a. [River to the Rhone], ISERE. With the IAMBI and KER crossings, I might’ve liked to see a rework of this section of the grid.
- 14a. [Oktoberfest gripe], ACH. The gripe is the complaint itself, what’s got you irked, and not the word you say to introduce your gripe, no?
- 19a. [Freezing cold], GELID. Just once, I’d like to see a supermarket label the freezer section GELID FOODS. Never going to happen, because nobody uses the word much.
- 4a. [Spanish hero played by Heston], EL CID. Just one of about 15 proper names in this grid, which suggests that the “I don’t like a trivia quiz” folks will not like this puzzle.
- 7d. [Strand during a blizzard, say], ICE IN. Chicago’s blizzards rarely have an ice component. Blizzards get you snowed in. You need an ice storm or a lot of freezing rain to get iced in.
Overall, the fill felt a tad clunky—N IS, ETH, INST, OMANI, GELID, ISERE, TOR, ACH, RIEN, IAMBI, KER, and so on. 3.4 stars from me.