Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword — Ade’s write-up
Good morning, puzzle solvers! It’s Ade here taking over the helm today, and, given the theme, I am sure to have a rip-roaring good time talking about it. In today’s puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Andrea Carla Michaels, each of the first three theme answers are 15-letter entries in which the first three letters are all “HAR,” (update: with the first word being “hardy,” not just “har,”…thank you ACME) and, when combined, creates the effect of a laugh. The final theme answer, LAUGHING OUT LOUD, acts as the reveal (65A: [Bit of textspeak, unshortened…or a hint to the starts of 17-, 27-, and 49-Across]).
- HARDY BOYS SERIES (17A: [Mysteries starting with “The Tower Treasure” and “The Hosue on the Cliff”])
- HARPER VALLEY PTA (27A: [1968 song that spawned a 1978 movie and a 1981 TV show])
- HARVARD GRADUATE (49A: [Crimson alumnus]) – School pride alert! School pride alert! (Well, not my school.)
This is a pretty welcome way to start a crossword week, and definitely nothing too HARSH (27D: [Siberian winters]). Initially put in “food” instead of FEED, which was my only real slowdown/hang-up (26D: [Oats, for a horse]). Was a little confused with TIP-TOP, especially given its clue, as I thought (much) more of the adjective form of the word instead of the noun (61D: [Acme]). I don’t hear “tip-top” used as a noun at all, though, as I say this, watch me encounter hearing it used as a noun somewhere or another 3-5 times this week. (What’s that phenomenon called? Frequency Illusion?) Probably my favorite entry for me was SHERRI, as in, “I still know a host of The View off the top of my head, given all the turnover there?” (44A: [“The View” co-host ______ Shepherd]). And now I notice that above that entry is a former host, ROSIE (38A: [Comedian/TV host once called the “Queen of Nice”]). Very slick! But, honestly, given the theme, there’s no reference to Ralph Kramden and/or Jackie Gleason in this puzzle?!?! Here’s what he has to say about that…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IRV (39D: [___ Cross, first African-American full-time sports analyst on national TV]) – Before embarking on his groundbreaking path in television, IRV Cross played cornerback in the National Football League from 1961 to 1969, playing for both the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams. Cross then joined CBS in 1971, where he soon became part of the revolutionary pregame show, The NFL Today, along with Brent Musburger, former Miss America and reporter Phyllis George and sports bookie Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, starting in 1975. Cross received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award awarded by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you later on in this blog…once I get some sleep and recover from just getting back to New York City from Montréal.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Ade’s review
Hello once again, everyone! It’s Ade once more, pinch-hitting to blog today’s LA Times puzzle, co-authored by Mr. Bruce Venzke and Ms. Gail Grabowski, a woman whom my spell check desperately wants to spell her last name as “Grabovski.” In today’s puzzle, we get to admire a 15-letter entry vowel word latter, as each of the five entries start with the same first letter (B) and third letter (D), but the second letter changes in each, using the vowel sequence: A, E, I, O and U.
- BADMINTON RACKET(17A: [Shuttlecock swatter]) – One of my friends in broadcasting is CBS Sports play-by-play man Andrew Catalon, and I recently had to tease him on his insistence to refer to the ball/cork as the “shuttle” when he did the badminton play-by-play for NBC Universal for the Summer Olympics. It’s called a shuttlecock…don’t be afraid or ashamed of saying it!
- BEDROOM SLIPPERS (23A: [Footwear with pajamas])
- BIDDING CONTESTS (40A: [Competitive struggles at Sotheby’s])
- BODY OF KNOWLEDGE (50A: [Collective expertise in a field])
- BUDGET ESTIMATES (62A: [Spending plan approximations])
I definitely marveled at the execution of having five 15-letter entries and having that follow the word ladder pattern. I’m sure that’s been done many times, even though I can’t recall one off the top of my head. But still a nice little thing to marvel at when seeing it. Only real nit to pick was the fill of NORW (42D: [Neighbor of Swed.]). Not the greatest of fill, but made up for by having OSLO intersect it, even with Oslo’s residence in the neighborhood of crosswordese (44A: [Capital of 42-Down]). Although very straightforward, the clue to KABOB is one of the more tricky and devious straightforward clues that we have out there (1D: [Shish _____]). It’s especially tricky for those who spell it kebab.
If anything, the spelling in today’s grid is probably the least used, if there’s some way to quantify the word’s use. That’s just my guess. For some reason, I thought my grid completed as it was, with the “E” instead of the “A,” which would have been weird, given that it is ARNE that’s the crossing, not “erne” (14A: [“Rule Brittania” composer Thomas]). Very odd, because I immediately copied and pasted the completed grid, happy pencil and all. My apologies about that. A very Scrabbly crossword grid, with two Xs and two Zs in it, to go along with the Ks and Ys in the grid as well. A very TASTY Monday puzzle to start the week (16A: [Scrumptious]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MIRA (60A: [Actress Sorvino]) – Former National Football League quarterback George MIRA (pronounced MY-ruh, as opposed to MEER-uh, like the actress referenced) played most of his American professional career with the San Francisco 49ers, as he was with the Bay Area squad from 1964-1968. He was the first pick of the second round of the 1964 NFL Draft by the Niners out of Miami (FL), and, while with San Francisco, played a key part in one of the strangest plays in NFL history. Known as the “wrong way run,” Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jim Marshall recovered a fumble by San Francisco 49er Billy Kilmer, only to run in the wrong direction and score two points for the 49ers in the process. Who was the quarterback on the play for the 49ers? George Mira. (He’s the person throwing the ball, wearing No. 10 in red.)
LA Times lovers: I thank you much for your time once again and I hope I was able to fill the ginormous shoes of pannonica for today. And yes, pannonica has big feet…kidding!! Have a great rest of your Monday!
THEMELESS MONDAY #328 by Brendan Emmett Quigley – Gareth’s write-up
I think I can envisage how this puzzle was constructed. It looks like the central cross of DOUBLEDOGDARE and MARLENEDIETRICH was the starting point – both are top-notch answers! From there BEQ would have been left with four smallish stacks plus the central part.
I think I can also see which answer BEQ started with in each corner: PARTYJAMS in the top-left is definitely a punchy 1-across. Aside, I just bought Sipho Mabuse’s best of, so here’s a classic PARTYJAM that makes even mlungu want to shaya! Back? This is the creakiest stack for me. ELAINEMAY is a full name, always nice to have, but with AMOLES, ZELL and YNE(Z/S) there is ample opportunity to be snookered by a tough intersection. Note that CURSEWORD is not tied to SWEARJAR.
That SWEARJAR is the likely seed in the top-right. I wasn’t familiar with the term, but it’s a colourful entry for sure. In my searches, I came across this, and its >BLEEP< funny (5p). BEQ is a huge BOWIE fan, so no surprises to see him turn up!
I didn’t know DOPESLAP in the bottom-left, but it’s clearly the starting point for that stack. Actually, I do know the action it seems, just not that it has a name. Not much more to add, TABASCO and OPENCASE are both nice choices, and there’s nothing forced here either!
THEWEEKND is an au courant singer, so it’s the obvious first choice in the bottom-right. He’s like the opposite of Danny Wilson for me – I thought he was a band until a few weeks ago! HITPARADE on the other hand is very retro, but also fresh as an answer. Can someone explain the clue / answer [Waterworld?], OCEANARIA. The clue is single, but the answer is plural… Am I missing something?
Getting one top-quality seed in each corner, plus the original crossing pair is very nice gridding! 3.5 Stars, with a minor demerit for a few dodgy crosses. Gareth
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Camera Crew”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Yes, I’m back at you for a third time…for better or worse! I won’t take too long, as the great puzzle produced by Mr. Tony Orbach should do all the talking. It’s all about camera-related puns in this grid, with the first word of each of the themes all related to those Kodak moments, yet the answers are all terms that are usually used in non camera-related contexts. Each of the clues for the entries all start with “Image _____.”
- SHOT BLOCKER (17A: [Image censor?]) – My favorite basketball shot blocker? Has to be Dikembe Mutombo, right?! I’ll post the Geico commercial he starred in later in this blog, and, afterward, he’ll be your favorite shot blocker as well!
- SNAP FASTENER (27A: [Image fixer?])
- PICTURE TAKER (46A: [Image thief?])
- PHOTO BOMBER (62A: [Image destroyer?])
This was a really testing grid, specifically because of some of the non-themed fill. The entry that really stood out in the grid was the one I filled out last, JOJOBA (65A: [Oil of a southwestern shrub used in cosmetics]). I had never heard of it and I wasn’t sure of its spelling, but just looking at it makes the grid really stand out. Oh, and it makes me think that Mr. Orbach is on top of his cosmetics game, as well as the ingredients in those beauty products!! NUBIA also stood out in a good way, though that was more down my alley and not too tough to parse (51D: [Nile Valley region]). For about the second time in about a week, I’m come across A RAP, and with the same clue for it as well (33D: [Not give ____]). How come I had never heard of this expression before this past week when seeing it in grids? Oh, well. But, again, love the fill outside of the theme answers. Speaking of the actual theme answers, here’s the Dikembe Mutombo Geico commercial I talked to you about. Enjoy…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TIKI (8D: [Polynesian carving]) – So how will you remember TIKI Barber, former running back for the New York Giants? Will you remember him as the three-time Pro Bowler who ended up as the all-time leading rusher (10,449 yards) and pass catcher (586 receptions) for Big Blue at the time of his retirement? Or will you remember him for his not-so-glorious post-football career (at least in the public eye), which included a ill-fated stop as a reporter on The Today Show and a high-profile divorce in which he left his wife – who was seven months pregnant at the time, – for an intern at The Today Show?
See you all tomorrow, and thank you so much for your time and patience with me throughout all the blogs today!