Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword – PuzzleGirl’s write-up
Well, I’m not going to lie to you. I had a lot of trouble with this puzzle. I was talking to a couple people about something this past weekend at Lollapuzzoola that came into play here today. I sometimes have trouble reading long down answers. If I have some of the letters, but a couple are blank, there’s just something about the vertical placement that makes it impossible for me to figure out. If I’m solving on paper, what I’ll do is write the word out horizontally along the bottom of the page and oftentimes that’s all the help I need to “see” it correctly. Well, I was solving this particular puzzle on the computer and because all the theme answers were downs, this puzzle was a lot more difficult than it would have been had I solved on paper. That’s my story anyway.
The theme is SELF-REFLECTION (11D: Activity on Lent or Yom Kippur … or a quality of every letter in the answer to each starred clue). Basically, all the letters in the theme answers are symmetrical. If you flipped each of them left-to-right, they would still look the same.
- “TOMAYTO TOMAHTO” (3D: “Same difference”). I Googled the Gershwin song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and took a look at several lyric sites that came up on the first page of hits. None of them spelled “tomato” “tomayto.” Obviously, this doesn’t prove anything, but it seemed to confirm my suspicion that this spelling is a little off.
- “MAMMA MIA” (4D: Musical that includes the song “Take a Chance on Me”).
- “WHAT A HOOT!” (8D: “That sure was funny!”).
- “OUT WITH IT!” (31D: “Stop hemming and hawing!”).
- THATAWAY (38D: Where “they went,” in old westerns).
Kind of cool in theory, but it didn’t really add anything to my solving experience. I’ll be interested to hear if the theme led to any “aha moments” for you all. Also, I believe there are other entries in the grid that have that same characteristic but they’re not theme answers (MAY, TIM, OMAHA, AWAIT, MAHI MAHI, and MAW). Inelegant? I vote yes.
Did I like anything about this puzzle? Well sure I did!
- 18A: RPM (Turntable measure, in brief). One of those moments when being old is an asset.
- 31A: The Wizard of OMAHA (nickname of Warren Buffett). Actually read this is “Jimmy Buffett” and was pretty sure he wasn’t the wizard of anything.
- 41A: TOEHOLDS (Points of entry).
- 50A: STACHE (Something just under one’s nose, slangily). Has anyone had PORN STACHE in a puzzle yet? BEQ maybe?
- 50D: Rock’s All-STARR Band. I’m sure somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was the name of Ringo Starr’s band, but as I filled it in it felt like I was simply figuring it out on the fly.
- 20A: PANGOLIN (Scaly anteater). Wait, did I say I liked this? No, that’s a lie. I didn’t like this at all. Never heard of it. Is this well-known? As I keep looking at it, it kind of looks like a cool word though. Maybe I’ll warm up to it eventually.
Erik Agard’s AVCX crossword, “Soul Cycle” — Ben’s Review
It’s an Erik Agard puzzle in this week’s AV Club! I saw Erik over the weekend at Lollapuzzoola, and really enjoyed solving the puzzle he included in the Indie Puzzle Pack the AVCX and a number of other indie crosswords handed out at the tournament on the bus ride back to Boston.
That said, this week’s AV Club wasn’t my cup of tea when it came to the theme clues. I do a lot of different types of puzzles, but apparently my brain can solve clues OR anagram, but not at the same time, which made this week’s puzzle, “Soul Cycle”. It’s all about taking some soul classics and finding interesting remixes:
- 18A: 1973 soul classic by Marvin Gaye – LET’S GET IT ON
- 24A: 1975 soul classic by Chaka Khan and Rufus – SWEET THING
- 37A: 1967 soul classic by Aretha Franklin – RESPECT
- 39A: Remix of 37A (ft. Ben E. King, Queen Latifah, and Prince)? – SCEPTER
- 48A: Remix of 24A (ft. Gram Parson and Tha Dogg Pound)? – NET WEIGHTS
- 55A: Remix of 18A (ft. John Legend, John Coltrane, John Denver, John Fogerty and Dr. John)? – GENTS TOILET
Having solved the puzzle, it’s really clever (and there are some great finds here), but mid-solve I was getting frustrated with the remixes because I had some of the letters from crossings, but couldn’t get the “aha” on the commonality between artist names to get the full transposal of the original song titles. The rest of the fill felt pretty standard, but there was some nice cluing to spice these up:
- 30A: “Actor Vigoda who turned 94 this year despite being reported dead as early as 1992” – ABE. (I also thought Mr Vigoda had died. Thank goodness we have this page)
- 29D: “Halfway to crossfaded” – INEBRIATED (I learned a new slang term today. I’m not sure I get it, but I learned one.)
- 41D: “Marching bands?” – FITBITS
Overall, trying to remix the letters of some soul classics ended up frustrating me, even though I liked the final product. I’m giving this 3/5.
C.C. Burnikel & Gary Schlapfer’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
A simple hidden word theme with a germophobic subtext. LYSOL fights GERMs hidden in four theme answers. The two across answers don’t make a symmetrical pair; Ms. Burnikel and Mr. Schlapfer use a design with left-right symmetry to get around that snag. I don’t care for the revealer – too far removed from the theme, meaning the revealing clue has to really stretch to tie things together. And yes, I don’t care for the germophobic subtext, though I’m not “subtracting points” for it. Most environmental “germs” are harmless except in extraordinary circumstances. Their ubiquity in the environment is unavoidable. This Mitchell and Webb clip better summarises the paranoia some people have…
The theme answers are:
- [*Temper-tempering strategy], ANGERMANAGEMENT.
- [*Toon rodent superhero with a hamster assistant named Penfold], DANGERMOUSE. We all sang the theme tune while writing this in, yes?
- [*Insect with patterned wings], TIGERMOTH
- [*CBS weekend anchor during the Cronkite era], ROGERMUDD. Have never heard of him. This does not make it a bad answer. You can’t go around expecting not to have answers you don’t know in a crossword. That would be madness.
I’m looking around, and finding it hard to find something else to comment about, good or bad. The other longer answers are all good choices: GOESAWOL, TEAROSE, HOMESICK, MOTOWN. There are few if any weak / contrived answers here, which is big, if subtle, plus point. Clue-wise, I’d question whether Britcom is really a GENRE, rather than any simply any comedy show made in Britain. There’s little common ground other than Britishness between say Ever Decreasing Circles, Red Dwarf and Absolutely Fabulous say.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Therein Lies the Rub”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Actually, I should say “Bonjour!” It’s Day No. 2 for me here in Montréal and, at the moment, I’m watching 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal play tennis right in front of me. Guess I can’t complain too much, right?
Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, takes common phrases and turns them into puns by consecutively adding the letters “RUB” someplace inside of the entries.
- MAD RUBE IN HEAVEN (17A: [Alfred E. Neuman on cloud nine?]) – From “made in heaven.”
- ROB RUBBER BARON 28A: [Rip off Charles Goodyear?]) – From “robber baron.”
- BRUBAKERSFIELD (49A: [Penology, in a 1980 Redford film?]) – From “Bakersfield.”
- GRAY LADY RUBDOWN (64A: [Massage for grandma?]) – From “Gray Lady Down.” Has anyone seen that movie before? It was a nautical movie, correct?
How did I not know the fact associated with ACLU before today (1A: [Organization that frequently defends PETA])? It’s far from surprising, obviously, but didn’t know that was the case. Speaking of something I hadn’t heard before (but actually had heard before), I couldn’t have told you before today that a skullcap was a type of HERB (19A: [Skullcap or trillium]). Honestly thought to myself for a second, “I’ve never heard of a trillium hat before.” Are we sure now that the current reaction associated with people seeing Justin Bieber nowadays is a SWOON (20A: [Bieber fever reaction, often])? Probably the better five-letter entry for that would be “groan.” Well, I am currently in the country that produced “Biebs,” so maybe I’ll ask some locals what they think of him now! Oh, and the entry of NEPAL just made me think of The Golden Child, the not-so-awesome, yet widely well-known movie that starred Eddie Murphy back in the day (33D: [Starting point for a Mount Everest climb]). Why did I think of that movie? Well, here you go. Viva Nepal!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PENS (13D: [Ranch enclosures]) – Short and simple today. When sports fans say the PENS, they’re usually referring to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the National Hockey League team that has won three Stanley Cups in its franchise history: 1991, 1992 and 2009.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!