Bill Thompson’s New York Times crossword
It’s me, Andy, on the Tuesday puzzle once again. Quick review this week. The theme of this one was revealed at 59a, MIDDLE EAST [World hot spot … or a hint to the answers to the starred clues]. Each of the five theme answers has the word EAST directly in its center:
- 17a, GONE ASTRAY [*Left the flock].
- 23a, STAGE A STRIKE [*Walk out].
- 37a, YEASTY [Like baking dough].
- 39a, FEASTS [Sumptuous spreads]. A friend of mine was trying to think of words that rhymed with “presumptuous” the other day, and “sumptuous” was the only thing I could think of (even though they share pretty much the whole word, so I’m not sure whether you can really call it a rhyme). We came up with some near rhymes like “voluptuous,” but nothing else truly satisfying.
- 48a, ADELE ASTAIRE [Half of a brother/sister dance duo]. Clearly the seed entry. Or at least clearly the best entry, whether or not it was the seed.
Fine theme for a Tuesday. I think I like the addition of YEASTY and FEASTS as bonus theme material. I didn’t love ESTE being in the grid (36a, [Villa d’___]) since it’s Spanish for east, but the way it’s clued I’m not sure if it has any etymological relation to “east.” FREI is an unfortunate consequence of the puzzle’s theme density, and there’s probably no situation in which I’d be okay with ALETA crossing SAYEST in one of my grids, but otherwise there wasn’t too much fill I didn’t like. I would’ve preferred PASTIME to HAS TIME, which could work if you change HEARD to PEARS.
I had no idea 3d, WANG, was a computer company, much less the [First computer company to run an ad during the Super Bowl]. So I learned something today! I liked the clue for 21a, SHE [“___ Bangs” (Ricky Martin hit)]. Also liked the clue for 44a, PAT [Word that, spelled backward, can be a clue for itself]. It took me back to Y2K in the best possible way. Anyone else remember William Hung’s version of that song on American Idol? Hard to believe that was half my lifetime ago.
I’m a big golf fan and a big literature fan, but I can see how the crossing of DORAL and URIS in the SW corner could trip some Tuesday solvers up. Lots of Scrabbly letters in this one, but had the constructor not insisted on having a Z in that corner, it could easily have been refilled to a Tuesday difficulty (I was able to replace ALUMS/DORAL/ELIZA with ADLIB/DEUCE/ELVES in about 2 minutes. As long as you’re fine with the brand names LUVS and ICEE in your grid, it’s equally good fill, and there are fewer tricky crossings).
That’s all I’ve got. Until next time!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free Kee” – Derek’s write-up
Themeless for this week’s Jonesin’ Crossword. Wide open as well, as I count 66 words. And stellar entries to boot. Not surprising from a talented constructor. Some notable entries:
- 17A [Comedian who once stated “I’m the luckiest unlucky person”] TIG NOTARO – I am not familiar with this comic, but she has one of her stand-up routines on Netflix, which evidently deals with her cancer diagnosis. Looks pretty funny, and I’m sure that is what the clue is alluding to.
- 22A [Pre-calculator calculator] SLIDE RULE – I have never used one of these. Not THAT old…
- 47A [Jodie Foster thriller with locked doors] PANIC ROOM -I think I have seen this, but I don’t remember. Gettable with the locked door reference.
- 57A [Cartoonish cry while standing on a chair] EEK! A MOUSE! – My favorite entry in the puzzle. Awesome!
- 9D [Lingual bone that’s not attached to any other bone] HYOID – Seems as if this bone is mentioned a lot in murder mysteries; if it’s broken, it may indicate strangulation, I believe.
- 11D [Tentative offer] IF YOU WANNA – Obviously not grammatically correct, but this is spoken by most everybody at some time. I like it.
- 21D [Simpsons character that all member of metal band Okilly Dokilly look like] NED – Check this out and you’ll see they do!
- 45D [Maternally related] ENATE – Only annoying crosswordese-ish entry. But at least it’s not obscure; just a word I know purely from crosswords.
- 55D [End of the holidays?] MAS – As in X-MAS. A clever way to clue this. Well done.
We will call it 3.9 stars. Themeless, but not overly challenging, but a fun solve all the same. Can’t wait for next week’s Jonesin’!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another puzzle by one of my new favorite constructors, C.C. Burnikel. Not too complicated of a theme, fun to solve, a thematic payoff near the end, and quality fill throughout. What more could you ask for? The them is explained by 47D [Unpaid debts … or, read differently, what both parts of the answers to starred clues have?] ARREARS, or AR REARS. Each starred clue is a two word phrase with both words ending in AR. Nice payoff because you have no idea what the theme is until you get to this point, and assuming you solved in a basically north to south fashion, you wouldn’t get to this clue until well into the puzzle. The rest of the starred entries:
- 17A [Arctic carnivore] POLAR BEAR
- 31A [1969 #1 hit used in a cereal promotion] SUGAR SUGAR
- 48A [Pureéd fruit drink] PEAR NECTAR
- 66A [Period between consecutive spring equinoxes] SOLAR YEAR
- 11D [Gelation made from algae] AGAR AGAR
- 40D [“Well said!”] HEAR HEAR
Again, very well done. As mentioned, fill is pristine. A few comments:
- 21A [Shout from a knocker] IT’S ME – Is this correct grammar? I remember from elementary days that when answering the phone, it is correct to say, “This is HE” not “This is HIM.” Would correct grammar dictate “It is I?” Does it really matter?? Because we all say what the entry uses!!
- 55A [Spicy lentil stew] DAL – Evidently this is Indian. Never heard of it. Until now. Time to visit an Indian restaurant!
- 60A [“Well, shucks!”] OH, GEE! – Nicely done.
- 8D [“I got it!”] EUREKA – Seemingly a twin clue to 60-Across as they are both exclamations. Similar with 3D [“As if!”] I’LL BET. Much more fun than clueing the city in California.
- 9D [Bases loaded opportunity] GRAND SLAM – With Serena Williams going for the calendar Grand Slam in tennis, and Jordan Spieth nearly winning it in tennis, there may be a sports related way to clue this soon. I remember back in the late 80s that Steffi GRAF was often clued as [1988 Grand Slam winner].
- 36D [Brief broadcast clip] SOUND BITE – Or put another way, brief way to end one’s career if it’s a bad one!
- 52D [Trinidad and ___] TOBAGO – This seems like it isn’t in crosswords that often, given its vowel-consonant alternation. Someplace I’d like to visit!
Another stellar Tuesday puzzle. 3.6 stars this time.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 220), “The Ayes Have It”—Janie’s review
Oh, boy. I hope all of you enjoyed this solve as much as I did. It’s a superb “change of sound” puzzle, in which well-known base-phrases with (short “i”) “-ĭp” words become sometimes-high-concept, funny, not-entirely-impossible phrases with (long “i” [sounds like “aye”]) “-īp” words. Puzzles that make me laugh out loud will never be BANAL. Five themers (including one grid-spanner), all with question-marked clues designed to point you SPOT ON in the right (mis)direction.
- 16A. [Letter holders in a printing shop?] TYPE JARS. Tip jars. Groan. And quaint, right? The way it wuz. (Take a look at the etymology of “linotype”—sweet.)
- 23A. [The official paper towel of the United States Senate?] MAJORITY WIPE. Majority Whip. High-concept and funny and I like it. A lot.
- 38A. [Substitute for a glitzy ad campaign?] HYPE REPLACEMENT. Hip replacement. I suspect most of us would prefer to say “aye” to the altered phrase over the base-phrase any day!
- 50A. [Square dance number about a video chat invitation for singer Rawls?] “SKYPE TO MY LOU.” “Skip-to-My-Lou.” Perfection. It’s right up-to-date, it’s punny-funny, it’s right up my alley.
- 62A. [Film stagehand’s beef?] KEY GRIPE. Key grip. Wait. “Where’s the beef?”…
All of this lively theme fill (and cluing) is well-met with the remaining fill, and especially with the unexpected, sometimes quite-challenging cluing. We get two strong 10s, that (fabulous) FRAGILE EGO and the more sobering reminder of troop DEPLOYMENT. (This latter word is one we might hear in a report from [“World New Tonight” anchor David] MUIR, another right-up-to-date combo.) That’s it for long fill, but it’s hardly the end of what keeps this puzzle so very interesting.
As I said: there are a lot of challenging clues today. Here are some that made my list:
- [Longtime Dakota resident] for ONO. Yoko. So, no, this clue had nothing to do with the territory west of Minnesota and everything to do with the historic building on the NW corner of Central Park West and 72nd Street.
- [Puccini’s “MADAMA Butterfly”]. Well, yes. But that final “A” came only with the crossing “A” of JANE. There is precedent for my confusion.
- [Flying Clouds in a garage] for REO. Very valuable automobiles, last manufactured in the 1930s (in case you were wondering why the model name wasn’t exactly ringin’ a bell…).
- [“Lazarus Laughed” author] for Eugene O’NEILL. Omg. And I was a theatre major (with a minor in American Studies). Why hadn’t I heard of it? Maybe because: “It is a long theo-philosophical meditation with more than a hundred actors making up a masked chorus. In theatrical format, Lazarus Laughed appears to be a Greek tragedy. But the underlying message is similar to the mystery plays from the Middle Ages.” (Wiki) Sounds like fun, no? No… And, with a cast that size, not exactly the most economical play to produce either…
- [Long Island village once known as Hempstead Harbor] for ROSLYN. How did that play for those of you who don’t call the middle-Atlantic states your home?
- [Taunt] for GIBE AT. Seems like it’s making a tiny comeback, but this is a phrase whose usage looks to have peaked in the mid-1920s. Not at all sayin’ it isn’t fair game, just sayin’ it’s not the first (or second) response that springs to mind. That initial “G” was slow in comin’, too, because NIGEL [Pelican in “Finding Nemo”] wasn’t really a happening thing…
- [Frozen pizza brand] for AMY’S. I’m familiar with Amy’s oh-so-healthy and oh-so-delicious line of frozen foods—but didn’t realize it included pizza (and does it ever!). Now if the clue had read [Whose blog site is this anyway?]…
Then, there are three other happy-making clue pairings that deserve a shout out. Of the question-marked variety, I particularly liked [Leave in mid-sentence?] for ESCAPE and [Stick in one’s mouth?] for GUM. In the first instance, we’re not talking about tuning out or walking away mid-speech, but more like what occurred in upstate New York back in June of this year; in the second, “stick” is a noun and not a verb. Of the “color-coded” variety (and I use the term loosely), we get [Gloria Allred‘s org.] for ABA and [Blue material] for PORNO (so we’re not talkin’ fabric here…). And finally, of the “opposites attract” variety, hello [Put in the microwave] for WARM and [Put in the fridge] for COOL. Cool.
And that, folks is a wrap for me today. To my great delight (and with my very real thanks), I’m pleased to say that Puzzle Girl will be covering for me next week, when I’ll be off in the land of no cell phone service and not-to-be-banked-on wifi, north of ESTES Park, near/nearish Rustic, CO, enjoying the Rockies. Play nice, y’all—and see you in two weeks! ;-)
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “G-men”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, crossword lovers! Hope all is great with you. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, is not about the James Cagney movie nor the New York Giants football team. (Interesting nugget; The New York Giants football team was founded in 1925, 10 years before the movie G Men was released!) But, it does involve G-men, as in fictional and real-fife figures (two aside) whose first and last names start with the seventh letter of the alphabet.
- GORDON GEKKO (17A: [“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” role])
- GEORGE GERVIN (28A: [Basketball star nicknamed “The Iceman”])
- GILBERT GRAPE (44A: [Johnny Depp title role])
- GUNTER GRASS (59A: [Literature Nobelist of 1999])
The grid was not only a lot of fun, it also contained a number of references to Africa, specifically the intersecting West African locations as entries, SENEGAL (42D: [It nearly surrounds the Gambia]) and LAGOS, the city my parents were born in (66A: [Nigerian metropolis]). Although many James Bond fans are split on Roger Moore and his performances, I always loved the line that he delivered in Moonraker, when he has another encounter with his longtime enemy: “His name’s JAWS, he kills people.” (13D: [Bond bad guy]). Although, if I remember correctly, at the end of the movie, Jaws actually helps James Bond out after the villain in the movie (Hugo Drax) is thwarted in his attempt to create a super race. Yes, I’m that much of a 007 fan. There’s some great, long non-themed fill, including REAL MCCOY (34D: [It’s not ersatz]) and HIT A SNAG, something I did when I entered in “Gunter Gross” instead of Gunter Grass before fixing it later (39D: [Run into trouble]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HAGLER (6D: [Boxing’s “Marvelous Marvin”]) – Back when boxing was in his recent heyday in the 1980s, Marvelous Marvin HAGLER might have been the best of the best, regardless of weight division. The middleweight was the undisputed world champion for almost seven consecutive years, from 1980 to 1987, and that span is the second-longest span of being undisputed champion at middleweight in the last century. Actually, Marvelous Marvin Hagler is his real name. He legally had his name changed, adding “Marvelous” to the beginning of his name, because he was irked that boxing commentators didn’t call him by his nickname when commentating on fights. If you’re a sports/boxing fan, and you’ve never seen the first round of the 1985 mega-fight between Hagler and Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, you need to go see it. Now!
See you all tomorrow at the top of the hump for Hump Day!