Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword
Hey, everybody, looks who’s here! It’s me, PuzzleGirl! So nice to be here with you today for this Monday puzzle. I have no idea what the NYT puzzles have been like lately because I’m so far behind. I’m actually still back on April 18 and it’s really bumming me out. I did a bunch yesterday to try to catch up, but the problem is that they just keep coming. Every day. On average, I solve about six puzzles per day, so yeah. It’s hard to get caught up once I’m behind. If only I didn’t have my stupid JOB. That’s what’s really keeping me from my hobbies. But enough about my woes. Let’s talk about the puzzle, which is quite nice.
Zhouqin (a/k/a C.C.) does a little visual trick for us in this one. The theme is STEPMOM [39a. Wicked relative of Cinderella … or what each set of circled letters represents?] and she’s arranged the word MAMA in a step pattern four places in the grid. Neat! (Just as I was typing that clue, though, it occurred to me that I don’t really understand why it ends in a question mark. Anyone?)
The long phrases containing the first MA are nice, especially DREAM ACT [29a. Obama-supported proposal for children of undocumented immigrants]. I bet Shortz is going to get some mail about that one though. “Damn liberal rag NYT!” I AM A CAMERA [64a. Hit 1951 play that inspired “Cabaret”] is obviously a little old-timey, but no complaints. As long as the puzzle’s not full of that stuff, it’s okay with me. The short answer MAs range from cool (LLAMA) to okay (DRAMA) to boring (OMAR, ROMA). But, again, no complaints. None of those cross my personal line between okay fill and crappy fill. The only entry I really, truly don’t like much is RADAR BLIP [34d. Plane’s appearance on an air traffic controller’s screen]. Is that really a thing? I mean I know that there are BLIPs on RADAR screens, but are they called “RADAR BLIPs”? It just doesn’t sound very “in the language” to me. Of course it very well could be. I’m no expert.
There’s some nice fill in this grid too. Here are my favorites:
- 1a. [Qatar’s capital], DOHA. I helped my daughter study for her Middle East quiz just last week. Geography isn’t my strong suit, so even though I’ve seen many of the city/country names in crosswords, I’d never really looked at them on a map. Now I feel like I know them better.
- 24a. [Quick, as a comeback], SNAPPY.
- 11d. [Whip-wielding circus performer], LION TAMER.
- 12d. [“Big deal”], AS IF I CARE.
- 25d. [Shakespeare character whose name sounds like a car], PORTIA. I saw a Lamborghini parked on the street in Arlington today. Some people just have too much money, don’t they?
- 41d. [“The Brady Bunch” girl], MARCIA. Who doesn’t love a “Brady Bunch” reference?
Kevin Christian and Andrea Carla Michaels’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Hey, everybody, it’s me again! PuzzleGirl! Very nice to see you here on this beautiful day with this lovely Monday puzzle. No trouble spots for me — I pretty much glided right through it. Quite a bit of crosswordese, but it’s holding together a fun theme and some nice medium and long answers. Also, it’s Monday. I think crosswordese is okay on Monday to help newer solvers gain a foothold. Speaking of the theme, here it is:
- 17a. [1957 Michael Landon horror film role], TEENAGE WEREWOLF
- 27a. [“You’re going to like the way you look” clothing chain], MEN’S WEARHOUSE
- 46a. [Place to copy keys], HARDWARE STORE
- 62a. [“Not in my backyard!”], “ANYWHERE BUT HERE!”
That’s four phrases, each with a homophone (WERE/WEAR/WARE/WHERE) hidden in the middle. Neat!
- 1a. [Reject, as a sweetheart], JILT. Is the word JILT ever used in any other context?
- 15a. [Comedie musicale part], ACTE. French!
- 21a. [Nightclub in a Manilow song], COPA. Thanks for the earworm.
- 34a. [“I give up!”], “UNCLE!” Anyone know where this originated?
- 6d. [Banana split ingredient], ICE CREAM. Mmm, ice cream.
- 37d. [“Rhapsody in Blue” composer”], GERSHWIN. With any luck, this will get “Copacabana” out of your head.
- 53d. [Polite way to address a lady], MA’AM. When I was 30 years old I was in a store in a shopping mall buying something and there were two younger guys working behind the counter. One of them called me “Ma’am,” and I politely asked him not to call me that. The other one asked what they should call me. I thought for a minute and answered, “Babe.” They laughed pretty hard and then asked: “Would you like your receipt in the bag, babe?” Much better. (Not recommended as a default, however.)
Patrick Blindauer’s website puzzle, “Talkin’ Tolkien”–Matt’s review
Tolkien’s ENTs and ORCs are common crossword entries, and Patrick uses them as the basis for this month’s theme. Four of each of those, plus four ELFs (not originally JRRT creations, but presumably in there somewhere) hide word find-style in the grid. Half of them are hidden in symmetrically placed entries:
17-A [Shoulder stabilizer] = ROTAT(OR C)UFF
64-A [Frontal lobe part] = MOT(OR C)ORTEX
11-D [Hollywood tryout] = SCRE(EN T)EST
28-D [Picked out of a lineup, say] = ID(ENT)IFIED
39-A [Run-down joint] = (FLE)ABAG. Backward elf there.
41-A [“Argo” director] = AF(FLE)CK. Backward elf #2.
And the other six hide as outlined in the diagram above.
There’s usually another level in a Blindauer, but as far as my not-very-Tolkien-savvy self can see the circled words in the grid don’t spell anything. It could be Elvish or some runic (?) language used in the books, though, so if you figure it out then tell me in comments.
Theme seems a bit arbitrary, but as usual I’ll revise that if it turns out I’m missing the point.
***Great clue for a familiar entry: [Room to grow?] = ACRE.
***Another excellent clue: [Great plays may be seen in it] = SLO-MO.
***Top fill: FACE IT, NO FEAR, LANDIS, NUCLEAR, HOFFA and NEAR BEER.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
- Never heard of 46a. [“Blockbuster Night Part 1” rappers], RUN THE JEWELS. Does their name mean something, slangwise?
- 59a. [Small songbird], SKYLARK. I always assumed they must be biggish birds, what with an old car being named after it. Who would drive a Sparrow, Finch, Junco, Wren, or Warbler?
- 37a. [Device that may not work with tattoos], APPLE WATCH. Husband is waiting for his to arrive, I think later this month. I don’t really understand the purpose, but his dad wants him to have cool things.
- 1d. [Hot tub features], JETS. Also one of just two NHL teams with 4-letter names. Can you name the other?
- 4d. [Choreographer Léonide], MASSINE. Massine Léonide or Léonide Massine? I quite honestly could not tell you which it is. The latter. We don’t get a lot of old choreographers in the puzzles and I am just fine with that.
- 29d. [“Hey now!”], “I HEARD THAT!” I like it.
- 24d. [“Turn Down For What” rapper], LIL JON. At brunch yesterday, pointed out a guy in a TURN DOWN FOR BRUNCH t-shirt to my son. He was not impressed.
This 72-worder found space for ALAR, ITO, SMEW, EMEND, UNH, SDAK, and NEE. Meh on those being present in a count higher than two.
3.75 stars from me.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Animal Sanctuary”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to another week of crosswords, everybody! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, is a WHALE of a crossword, with each of the four theme answers containing words which could also come before the word ‘whale,’ which is also featured in the grid and acting as the reveal to the theme (40A: [Word that can follow the first words of this puzzle’s four longest answers]).
- BLUE BLOOD (20A: [Aristocracy member])
- KILLER APP (57A: [Very popular download]) – I don’t think I’ve heard this term used before. Maybe because I’m old and am not hip. Probably so.
- PILOT LIGHT (10A: [Stove flame])
- RIGHT FIELD (29A: [Hank Aaron’s position]) – My dream position if I could play baseball professionally. In my little league days, I was a catcher and corner infielder, with catcher being my best position.
To be honest, I had never heard of a pilot whale (and probably heard of a right whale once or twice in my life), but thank goodness that fill wasn’t hard to get today. Initially put in ‘Lalo’ instead of LILO (7D: [Pal of Disney’s Stitch]). Maybe it was a force of habit that made me do that, or maybe I had Lalo Schifrin in the brain. (I did watch one of the Dirty Harry movies last night, so maybe that was the case.) My brother watched ALIAS a lot when it was on ABC a while back and thought it was a pretty good show, so I might have to see what that show was all about one of these days (55D: [Jennifer Garner series]). I’ll definitely give anything involving spies and espionage a try. Remember back in the early part of the 20th century when much was made of Babe Ruth having a higher SALARY than the president (49D: [$400,000 a year, for Obama])? Well, just know that Real Madrid soccer player Gareth Bale, the most expensive player in the world of soccer, is currently being payed by his club an average of around $450,000 per week. Yowza!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SWANS (33D: [“The 12 Days of Christmas” gift]) – British football club Swansea City A.F.C., nicknamed the SWANS, currently play in the top flight in English football (soccer), the Barclays Premier League. The Swans earned their promotion to the top level of English soccer in 2011, becoming the first team from Wales to play in the English Premier League since its formation in 1992.
Have a good day everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!