Exciting news in Fiendtown! Please join me in welcoming Derek Allen to Team Fiend. Derek wrote an NYT crossword that ran back in 1997 (with a fun homophone theme: DO THE RIGHT THING, DA DOO RON RON, MOUNTAIN DEW, and POSTAGE DUE STAMP—when do you ever get Spike Lee and Shaun Cassidy in the same thought?), he’s a member of the National Puzzlers’ League, and he is an aficionado of fine frozen desserts. He’ll be blogging some puzzles here. Welcome, Derek! Thanks for joining the team.
Paul Hunsberger’s New York Times crossword
In American English, an elastic band is for your hair and rubber bands are office supplies, no? This theme clues ELASTIC BAND as 56a. [Office item suggested visually by this puzzle], and the theme answers have B, A, N, D closed up (in circled squares) within URBAN DESIGN, stretched out in HARE-BRAINED IDEA, stretched still further in BROAD-MINDED, and then there’s a SNAP back to the original size in WHIPPERSNAPPERS. Cute idea, but I wish 56a had been RUBBER BANDS instead.
11d: SWINDLED is fine fill indeed, but there were also some roll-your-own words (AIRER, REEARN) and bits of crosswordese that could challenge a newer Tuesday solver (ASTI crossing ASSAI, ECLAT, PISAN, RAH, ELD plus OLDE).
Foreign vocab of the day:
- 4a. [House smaller than a villa], CASITA. Small casa, I assume. Haven’t seen the diminutive before. (Technically, it’s in the English dictionary, but the word’s mainly used in the Southwest.)
- 64a. [City NW of München], KÖLN. That’s Cologne.
- 52d. [“Bonne ___!” (cry on le premier janvier)], ANNÉE.
Gender essentialism of the day: 54a. [Dress-up item for a little girl], TIARA. Give a little boy access to a trunk of dress-up clothes that includes a tiara, and there’s a good chance he’ll try it on. Sparkly! Regal!
3.25 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 206), “Bottom Rounds”—Janie’s review
So this was one of those puzzles that I solved without knowing the title beforehand. I was, of course, struck by the fact that each of the five themers runs vertically, and that each phrase ends with a word that represents something round. My guess at the title (even though this isn’t really an “in the language” phrase) was “Down and Around.” Nupe. As we see from the title of this post, it’s “Bottom Rounds”—which isn’t really an “in the language” phrase either. At least not according to these folks. But let’s allow our constructor a bit of poetic license, shall we? For the record, “bottom round” is a cut of beef (that can be, but isn’t typically used in the plural); “bottom rounds” is a cruciverbal theme set that includes these guys:
- 3D. BLU-RAY DISC [You might watch “Game of Thrones” on it]. If you haven’t watched it on HBO or on your TV. Hands up if you had trouble seeing past BLUR and wondered how in the world this answer was going to play out. (I take this kind of confusion as a plus, by the way).
- 5D. ENGAGEMENT RING [ Pre-wedding gift]. What’s the protocol with same-sex couples? One engagement ring or two? Or is this a couple-to-couple choice depending on who popped the question (if that’s even how the decision to marry was arrived at…)?
- 7D. ANTARCTIC CIRCLE [Imaginary map line that’s parallel to the Equator]. Grid-spanner!
- 15D. BASKETBALL HOOP [Shooter’s target]. One that requires AIM, which is also an [Archer’s skill].
- 29D. WINTER TIRE [Seasonal spare]. Better known as (but gaining ground on) the “snow tire.”
Solid theme set whose vertical presentation adds another layer to the solid construction as a whole. Four nine-letter entries (presented in paired stacks) bolster this one, too—and each is strong in its own right. There’s almost a drug mini-theme going on (prescription, illegal and non-prescription) with the ostensibly clinical, dryish [ACE] INHIBITOR [drug that treats hypertension], NARCS [They deal with drug problems] and OTC [Like many cough medicines].
Livelier all on their own are STOP-AND-GO, ALIEN RACE and BOND GIRLS. Anyone else scratchin’ their head in response to [Long-distance callers?] as the clue for alien race? I’m guessing this is an ET reference (as in “E.T., phone home…”), but it feels like a long
distance way to go for this particular answer. I was faaaar happier with Ian Fleming’s fabulously named [Honey Ryder and Kissy Suzuki] cluing Bond girls. S’pose he took a lesson from the Charles Dickens playbook of character-naming?
Oh—and on the subject of clues, three cheers for the saucy [House keeper?] for MADAM, the “classic history” [One-horse town?] for TROY (one wooden-horse town, i.e.), and the homophonic [Feet of Klee?] for ART. Smartly done, all the way around.
Other likes (in no particular order): proximate references to both The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, by way of ENT and ASLAN (am glad the former appeared at the opposite end of the grid from TREE but am also kind of wishing they’d been joined by cross-referenced cluing…); the double-play playfulness of STUNT and [Cheap trick] with ANTIC and [Escapade]; and FRESH clued by way of the echo-y [Start starter]. I’d originally wanted to enter STOP-START where STOP-AND-GO lives, so I was pleased to finally encounter “start” in the puzz.
Final fave? The unlikely crossword regular CREE, that [Canadian Indian tribe]. Why? It just closed this past weekend, but the Met Museum presented an extraordinarily moving and beautifully curated exhibit of artifacts from the Plains Indians. Fortunately, I got there on Friday. This link will give you more than an inkling of the exhibit’s power and scope. Gave me a whole new respect for this particular example of so-called “common fill”…
Am hoping the solving experience led to fresh re-considerations of your world, too!
Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17A – [Scary R. L. Stive series for kids] – GOOSEBUMPS
- 26A – [Panamas, e. g.] – STRAW HATS
- 50A – [Witchcraft and such] – BLACK ARTS
- 58A – [Symbols of Democratic victories] – BLUE STATES
That last one seemed a bit off to me; I suppose he’s referring to individual state victories, but my first thought was an entire map of the US in only one color in some presidential romp.
A few notes;
- 19A – [Barely makes, with “out”] – EKES – I’m tired of this word, but it is at least useful with the K.
- 29A – [Crossword constructor’s chore] – CLUING – I am fairly sure this word is unfamiliar in general, but I suppose a crossword SOLVER would be somewhat familiar with a crossword CONSTRUCTOR’s tasks. Then again, probably not. I remember a lot of people ask constructors, “Which do you make first: the grid or the clues?!”
- 44A -[Toon Snorkasaurus] – DINO – Imagining deep research on this one…!
- 55A – [Fictional reporter Lane] –LOIS – Another passion from my childhood: comic books! Prompted a grin…
- 4D – [Adamant affirmation] – YES IT IS – Alliterative cluing is always good, and this I thought was a clever entry.
- 11D – [Seller’s suggestion] – MAKE AN OFFER – Another nice entry, especially for a long entry.
- 18D – [“… the ___ blackness of the floors.”: Poe] – EBON – Another word I’m weary of, but at least clued in a different way.
- 25D – [Experimental margin of error] – FUDGE FACTOR – This was a new one on me. Had to look it up! But it does make for a nice, clever entry.
3.75 stars? Sure. Nicely done.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “…And Red All Over”
This week’s Jonesin’ puzzle has the title, “…And Red All Over.” After a short venture in, the theme was clear: each of the theme entries start with a word that can complete the phrase RED _____.
- 17A – [V-shaped fabric pattern] HERRINGBONE
- 32A – [Muscular jocks, stereotypically] MEATHEADS
- 39A – [Adult contemporary radio fare] LIGHT ROCK
- 54A – [Lines seen outside the club?] VELVET ROPES
Nice fill all around. While it is always frowned upon to use known crosswordese entries, it is always nice when an entry, while not necessarily difficult or obscure, makes you smile. Examples:
- 21A – [“Disco Duck” singer Rick] DEES – I’m showing my age, but this sparked a tune in my head! (That I heard when I was a kid and rode the school bus!)
- 42A – [Band with a Ben & Jerry’s flavor named for it] PHISH – For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know all about my affinity (addiction??) to ice cream, so any reference to one of my favorite foods is OK with me. Refers to Phish Food, a flavor of chocolate ice cream with marshmallow swirls, caramel swirls, and fudge fish. I will buy some tomorrow for, er, research…
- 6D – [Mascot of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks] DIG ‘EM – What about kid cereal commercials from your youth WON’T make you grin?
- 24D – [It’s surrounded by the fuzz] PEACH PIT – This struck me as clever
- 35D – [“Survey ___ …” (“Family Feud” phrase)] SAYS – Honestly, was the tag even necessary? Although the tag did help provoke a smile.
Solid 3.5 stars for me. Nicely done.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Going Bowling—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everybody! Hope everyone is doing great! Sorry I can’t really blog about today’s puzzle with my schedule here today, but thanks to Mr. Bruce Venzke for providing today’s puzzle. In it, each of the four theme answers, two of them across and two of them down, are multiple word entries in which the first work in each could also precede the word “bowl.”
- DUST JACKET (17A: [Record or book protector])
- FINGER FOOD (60A: [Hors d’oeuvres, typically])
- SUGAR DADDY (10D: [Gold digger’s target])
- PUNCH BUGGY (29D: [Traveling game involving VW-spotting]) – License!! (I hope someone who went to elementary school in the late 80s/90s knows what I’m getting at!
Well, I got to know who Tom Mix is now with the clue to OATER (43D: [Typical Tom Mix flick]). Apparently, was a huge Western flick star, mostly in silents. Always like knowing something I didn’t know going into a crossword, and this was it. And that’s adding to the fact that I’ve heard of CAYUSE before, as I heard that in passing a couple of times in my few ventures to Oregon a few years back (46D: [Indian pony]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HOARD (30A: [Compulsively accumulate]) – Have a little time to talk about former University of Michigan running back Leroy HOARD, who won the 1989 Rose Bowl Game MVP, then went on to an NFL career as a fullback, mostly with the Cleveland Browns. Hoard scored 51 touchdowns in his 10-year NFL career.
See you all tomorrow on the top of the hump on Wednesday!