Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword, “Climbing The Corporate Ladder”
The theme answers are longish phrases that zigzag upwards in the grid, with the upward climbing portion doubling as a legitimate Down answer that’s a company name (clued by its product, in brackets).
- 31a. [What may be forever?, POSTAGE STAMP, with SEGA at 14d. [Video games].
- 34a. [Exams that students get F’s on?, TRUE/FALSE TESTS, with TESLA at 5d. [Automobiles].
- 62a. [Annual celebration on January 6, THREE KINGS’ DAY, with NIKE at 47d. [Sportswear]. Nobody much refers to January 6 as Three Kings’ Day—it’s my grandma’s birthday, and I’ve never seen a calendar label the day as anything other than (the Feast of the) Epiphany.
- 75a. [When viewed one way, IN THAT RESPECT, with SERTA at 55d. [Mattresses].
- 82a. [Response deflecting blame, “HOW WAS I TO KNOW?” with OTIS at 68d. [Elevators].
- 116a. [Initiates, SETS IN MOTION, with OMNI at 101d. [Hotels].
- 118a. [Part of an unsound argument, LOGICAL FALLACY, with AFLAC at 99d. [Insurance].
Nice visualization of the “Climbing The Corporate Ladder” title. I think the theme entries all occupy symmetrical spots in the grid, too. I hadn’t realized that all those short company names that show up in crosswords all the time lent themselves to backwards embedding in other phrases. FORD could have been in a HYDROFOIL, but that’s a bit shorter than the theme phrases here.
Lots of nice fill in the longish category. I liked HOLY WATER (crossing SEXOLOGY!), THE ARTIST, and IDLE HANDS in the middle; RICE CAKES crossing SEAT BELTS; MEETING UP; SUGARLOAF.
Six more things:
- 16d. [Garbage collector], ASHBIN. Didn’t know if this one was going to be ASHMAN or ASHCAN, and then it turned out to be neither. ASHBIN is not a word often seen in the U.S.
- 75d. [Sneaky], INSIDIOUS. Wonder if the constructor clued this as the horror movie franchise. The third installment just came out, starring 71-year-old actress Lin Shaye. Not a ton of movies that aren’t targeting older audiences give lead roles to women in that age group. I approve. I also won’t see the movie—saw the first one and screamed way too much.
- 82d. [General defeated by Scipio, ending the Second Punic War], HANNIBAL. And I wonder if this was clued as the Mads Mikkelsen title character on the NBC show (or his filmic predecessor).
- 83a. [More to come shortly?], ETC. This clue is terrible. The question mark is replacing way too much missing punctuation here: “More to come,” in short—that’s what the clue seems to be getting at.
- 62d. [Paradoxically, when it’s round it’s not circular], TRIP. Not really a paradox, is it? And you could absolutely map out a round trip that follows a circular path.
- 91d. [“Hey ___” (1977 Shaun Cassidy hit)], DEANIE. I only vaguely remember this song, and wanted to spell it DEENIE like the Judy Blume book. Sandwiched between ESTOPS and MEREST, I’m wondering how difficult this corner was to fill. PISAN and EDMUND I aren’t exciting, either.
Four stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Honoring Our Veterans”—Andy’s review
Familiar theme. I think C.C. did something similar within the past year with a different set of initials (it might actually have been “C.C.”, now that I think about it), but I couldn’t find that puzzle, if it exists, easily. Drop a link in the comments if you remember which puzzle it was.
To honor our veterans, C.C. has given us a puzzle full of things with the initials G.I.:
- 101a, G.I. BILL [Legislation signed 6/22/1944 by FDR … and, initially, what the nine longest answers in this puzzle comprise]. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the signing of the G.I. Bill, which I assume is why this is running on Father’s Day. Not sure I would call a list of nine things a “bill,” but I’m happy to give constructorial license here.
- 23a, GOLD INGOT [High-end bar?]. Nice to get a fun clue for these straightforward theme entries.
- 25a, GROSS INCOME [IRS Schedule C, line 7].
- 39a, GOOGLE INSTANT [Search feature that shows results as you type]. I could’ve sworn this wasn’t a debut, but Cruciverb doesn’t have it in the database. Did one of the indies use this?
- 50a, GEL INSOLES [“Massaging” Dr. Scholl’s product]. I’m gellin’ like Janet Yellen.
- 67a, GENERAL INTEREST [Broad appeal].
- 87a, GREEK ISLES [Popular Aegean vacation spots].
- 97a, GOOD INFLUENCE [Teacher of the Year awardee, say].
- 116a, GRAVEN IMAGE [Exodus prohibition]. My favorite of the theme entries.
- 119a, GREAT IDEA [“That could work!”]
Very bare-bones theme. G.I. BILL was a nice revealer, and all of the theme entries were good (GOOGLE INSTANT and GRAVEN IMAGE being my favorites, though it’s tough to say whether the former will be obsolete in the near future). That said, it’s not a particularly challenging theme to execute. There were some theme potential theme entries, like GRADE INFLATION, GARY INDIANA, or GABRIEL IGLESIAS that could have spiced things up a little.
Some really nice long fill, including TELLS TALES, IRON MAIDEN, GIVE OR TAKE, CALL IT A DAY, IN AGONY, and I ROBOT. I didn’t love STEP A, EBEN, and ANGE.
Uncomplicated theme executed solidly. 3.3 stars. Until next time!
Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “Hot Topic”–Sam Donaldson’s review
Your version of the puzzle will contain either ten sequences of shaded squares or ten sequences of circles. The last one, at 111-Across, explains that the “hot topic” of CLIMATE CHANGE is [What the gray squares in the grid literally illustrate]. Specifically, the seven letters of CLIMATE can be found in each of the other nine theme entries, though in a different order each time. See for yourself:
- One acting [Amicably] is acting WITHOUT MALICE. Yes, it’s green on purpose.
- [Something requiring tact] is a DELICATE MATTER.
- [Watch adjustment after landing, perhaps] is LOCAL TIME. I struggled with this one for a while because clue feels like it’s asking for the adjustment made to the watch (e.g., LOSE AN HOUR) rather than the objective of the adjustment. I think [Watch setting after landing, perhaps] would be better.
- [A way to be sealed] is HERMETICALLY. I know this word from the old Carnac sketches on The Tonight Show; as I recall, the envelopes containing the questions to which Carnac had to divine the answers were always “hermetically sealed” in a mayonnaise jar or something similar.
- MEAL TICKETS is a fun term for [Primary income sources]. This is my favorite of the theme entries.
- It is arguable that [Arguable] is the perfect clue for PROBLEMATIC, but I suppose it works fine enough.
- [Using iodine to detect starch, e.g.] is
an ALTERNATIVE TO READING THE LABELa CHEMICAL TEST.
- I had No Clue on this next one: the [2006 Apple release] was the INTEL I-MAC. Not sure where I was when this happened. Oh yeah–I was in Seattle, working in a building named for the father of one of the founders of Microsoft. Apple products weren’t exactly on my radar at that time. Anyway, this may not be the prettiest answer, but something had to be placed opposite LOCAL TIME, and finding a nine-letter answer with the CLIMATE letters in sequence can’t be easy.
- Maybe the best thing going for FROM HELL IT CAME is the clue, [1957 horror film of which Leonard Maltin wrote, “As walking-tree movies go, this is at the top of the list”]. I think if I saw a movie about walking trees, I’d leaf the theater.
If I made this puzzle, I would have used a computer to determine all of the various letter combinations for CLIMATE that could then be parts of legitimate words and phrases. As I am a liberal arts major who excels in human error, this would take me a while. But Merl has such a gift for anagramming that I’d bet three (unkind) donuts that the theme entries just came to him without much struggle. That’s a helpful gift for a puzzle constructor.
I’m attributing my slow solving time to the several missteps I took throughout, like AXLE instead of AXIS for the [Turning point], LAZES and LOAFS rather than LOLLS for [Lounges around], SPIN for [Pivot around] rather than SLUE, SINKS IN over KICKS IN for [Begins to take effect], and ROMP instead of ROUT for the [Runaway win]. Those really add up.
My eye confused me when the clue for 29-Down, BOA, told me to [See 74-Across]. But the clue for 74-Across, ASP, didn’t start with “With 29-Down,” as per conventional cluing custom. It just said [Deadly coiler]. Obviously, I was simply supposed to use the same clue for both answers, but I’m used to seeing the same clue used multiple times in a puzzle. Heck, that even happened in this very puzzle, when [Winds do it] was the clue for both BLOW and WHISTLE. Why repeat clues for the wind answers but tell solvers to “see” another clue for the snakes? This really perplexed me.
And then! Then I saw the clue for 74-Down: [With 107-Down, dropping bombs, e.g.]. Aha! There was the “With…” starter I was seeking! So, without bothering to note that the clue said “107-Down” instead of “29-Down,” I just assumed this was the starter I was supposed to use. But then the answer to 74-Down was ACT OF, and all I had at 29-Down was B??. Act of B?, I wondered. What the… Eventually, of course, it all became clear–it was ACT OF WAR with a pair of deadly coilers. But that took way too long to figure out.
My version of the puzzle had the clue for TSA as [Org. with a Prev list], which of course makes no sense at all. Now that I know the answer, I suspect “Prev” probably appears as “Pre-√” in the printed version. This also slowed me down, but happily this one wasn’t my fault.
Onto this week’s countdown of the hardest entries in the grid:
- 5. I thought I had seen my fair share of SMUT, but I sure didn’t know it was also a [Grain fungus].
- 4. SPOOR is an [Animal track].
- 3. The [WWI fighter plane] is a SPAD.
- 2. Here’s an abbreviation you don’t often see in puzzles: the C.D.A. is a [Tooth driller’s aide: Abbr.]. Three-letter entries are so common in crosswords that it’s hard to find a rare one like this.
- 1. The [Actor-singer whose real name is Leek], of course, is Howard KEEL of Dallas fame.
Favorite entry = SCHLEMIEL, the [Habitual bungler] from the Laverne and Shirley theme song. Favorite clue = [First stop for Oprah guests] for O’HARE Airport. One probably lands there en route to the Harpo studios in Chicago.
Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “Alien Encounter” — pannonica’s write-up
For which the encounters take the form of the letters ET suffixed to words in phrases, creating wackified versions. A further constraint is that the affected words are all four letters long and end in double-Ls. I have no idea what the rationale behind this is, but it does make for consistency.
- 20a. [Carriage at Kirov?] BALLET BEARING (ball bearing).
- 2d. [What fowl marionettes have?] PULLET STRINGS (pullstrings).
- 40a. [Hammer used on Black Friday?] SHOPPING MALLET (shopping mall). People sometimes die in those ‘doorbuster’ stampedes.
- 60a. [Money?[ WALLET PAPER (wallpaper).
- 75a. [Gunplay?] BULLET FIGHTING (bullfighting).
- 100a. [“No more tenderloin, thanks”] I’VE HAD MY FILLET (“… my fill“).
- 52d. [Housing in upstate New York?] BUFFALO BILLET (Buffalo Bill).
Unusually, no overlapping themers, something frequently seen in Hook’s constructions. I continue to be flummoxed and slightly discomfited by the unexplained ??LL aspect, and will mention it once more, at the end of this write-up. As a group, there’s acceptable (read: not unbalanced) variation among these theme answers: single words, two words, a phrase, the altered part being at the beginning or end.
- 70a [Wonka creator Dahl] ROALD, 87d [Francis or Dahl] ARLENE, 45a [Cosmetician Adrien] ARPEL, 106a [“As You Like It” forest] ARDEN (also, cosmetician Elizabeth or actress Eve), 24a [Passion] ARDOR. Toss in 23a [Locale for Van Gogh] ARLES.
- After that, zip over to 104a [French cathedral city] AMIENS (one letter off from ALIENS), a foreign place intersecting the lesser-known [1847 Poe poem] ULALUME (76d).
- Hey, how about 105a [River to Lake Ontario] GENESEE, 67a [“You betcha!”] YESIREE, 69a [Really, to Romans] IN ESSE? 18a [Layered ice cream treat] SPUMONI? 6a [Playground fixture] SEE-SAW?
- 79d [Quitter’s words] I RESIGN. Phil Austin, founding member of the Firesign Theater, died this week. He’s survived by his wife, OONA. Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death, indeed.
- 35d [Body building?] MORGUE. Clever but mildly ghoulish clue.
- 43d [Pop song of 1937] SO RARE. Not to be confused with 1958’s VO LARE (“Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu”).
- 57d [California volcano] LASSEN. Also the German infinitive meaning to leave.
The usual 83a ARRAYS (in this case, not necessarily “splendid”) of mid-length stacks, crosswordese, relative obscurities, abbrevs., partials, interesting and/or entertaining clues. And why, tell me again, are all the affected words four letters long, ending with a pair of Ls? Never mind—I refuse to mullet over any further.
Lynn Lempel’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and a very Happy Father’s Day to all of those who are fathers biologically as well as influentially, man or woman.
So we’ve been hearing about the Sunday Challenge crosswords getting tougher, and, if Ms. Lynn Lempel’s edition is any indicator, then we’re in for some tough treats going forward! What a lively puzzle, and it was definitely tough for me to get a foothold anywhere in the first six to seven minutes. Finally started to make some progress in the middle of the grid and towards the bottom, as MEDICARE finally broke things open (40A: [President Johnson initiative of 1965]). That led to EMERALD, which led to two things: the total domination of the Southeast part of the grid and reminiscing about the funny and inane commercials that were put out by Emerald Nuts a few years back (41D: [Gem of a nut brand name]). More on that later on.
I was on to the two car-related clues that abutted each other; AUTO SHOWS (34D: [Where folks might find Edsels]) and CAR PAYMENTS, the bane of a car owner’s existence (11D: [Civie expenses]). Love the trivia aspect to GAS LAMP (8D: [Groundbreaking 19th-century light fixture]). Also in that area, I just put in DALI because, in my mind now, anytime I see a four-letter entry which alludes to a painter or painting, I’m putting in DALI immediately (20A: [Painter of “The Hallucinogenic Toreador”]). Saying that, watch me get burned really soon when a painting of Goya is mentioned in a puzzle. Even before I got a couple of letters from its crossing, my first thought of the #1 song in question in the grid was AMERICAN PIE (24D: [Longest song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100]). Sadly, I wasn’t able to put that in confidently, as I initially had ‘roasts’ instead of BROILS at the bottom part of the Southwest, and was pretty confident with that (61A: [Overdoes the sunbathing]).
So here’s a compilation of the Emerald Nuts alliterative advertisements, in which different people, usually described words starting with “E” and “N,” are said to love Emerald Nuts. My favorite is “Eavesdropping Nebraskans,” which starts at the 1:57 mark.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOONS (51A: [Wackos])– The Great Lakes LOONS are a Class-A minor league team located in Midland, Michigan, and they are an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Once again, Happy Father’s Day! See you all tomorrow, and have yourself a great Sunday!