Two Sunday-friendly announcements I’m reposting from Saturday of last weekend:
Merl Reagle’s wife, Marie Haley, is hosting a memorial for Merl on Sunday, September 27, 5-8 pm. The gathering will be at the University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center, 9th floor, and all are invited. If you’re not able to make it to Tampa, Will Shortz and Wordplay filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley will be arranging a lovely tribute to Merl at the 2016 ACPT.
Hayley Gold, creator of the Across and Down NYT crossword webcomic, is changing her posting schedule. It’s still once a week, but on Sundays regardless of which day’s puzzle is featured. The new schedule launched last Sunday at 6 pm Eastern. Hayley welcomes feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) and encourages you to subscribe (it’s free) to get exclusive teasers and whatnot. You can also “like” the Across and Down Facebook page.
Jason Mueller and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Put A Lid On It!”—Amy’s write-up
The theme is hats and the famous people who wore them, but instead of flatly putting the hat in each person’s clue, Jason and Jeff have placed the hats in the grid atop their respective people. FEDORA is on INDIANA JONES; CALAMITY JANE wears a STETSON; CHE GUEVARA has his iconic BERET; CHARLES DEGAULLE wore his French military KEPI (and that hat’s name is something I learned from crosswords and rarely ever see elsewhere); Oliver Hardy’s buddy STAN LAUREL wore a BOWLER (but so did Ollie); BUSTER KEATON, who did silent films like Lauren and Hardy did, had a PORKPIE; and CHEF BOYARDEE (real surname Boiardi) wore his kitchen TOQUE.
The fill’s mostly pretty good, though I looked askance at old-school crosswordese ANILS, REATA, LETT, and OSIER and wanted to cover them both with a hat (along with BEDIM). Top fill: RED CROSS, EMOJI, “WHAT A GUY!,” DEEP ROOTS, AFRIKANER, and BON MOT.
Five more things:
- 93d. [Angström or Celsius], ANDERS. This is also the first name of one of the stars and characters of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, a couple seasons of which passed the time for me and my husband during our surgical recovery. Highly recommended—if you find stoner idiots amusing.
- 1d. [Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project], FRISCH. The name was a little familiar, but I needed four letters in place before I could put it together.
- 66d. [Wes of PBS’s “History Detectives”], COWAN. Never heard of him, nor the program. I have, however, heard of PBS. *brushes dirt off shoulders*
- 51a. [Shoplift, in slang], BOOST. Liked the clue.
- 91d. [Actor John of “Full House”], STAMOS. He plays a grandpa on a new sitcom this fall.
3.9 stars from me. How’d you like it?
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Amen”—Andy’s review
This is a nice, simple theme: Famous men whose names contain only consonants and As (thus, “A men”). Themers:
- 22a, FRANZ KAFKA [Novelist whose works were banned in his native land from 1968-’69].
- 24a, ANWAR SADAT [Time’s 1977 Man of the Year]. Sadat was the President of Egypt until he was assassinated in 1981.
- 40a, PAT SAJAK [TV host who was an Army DJ in Vietnam]. Now you know!
- 59a, JACK BLACK [Voice of the title character in “Kung Fu Panda”].
- 79a, CARL SAGAN [Neil deGrasse Tyson mentor]. For your daily dose of Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, watch this video.
- 101a, ALAN ALDA [“The Aviator” Oscar nominee]. What kind of “A men” puzzle would it be without Alan Alda?
- 118a, GRAHAM NASH [Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee]. Once as a member of The Hollies, and once as the N in CSNY.
- 121a, FRANK CAPRA [Three-time Oscar-winning director]. Capra won three Best Director Oscars for It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and You Can’t Take It With You. Only Capra, John Ford (with 4), and William Wyler (with 3) have won more than two Best Director Oscars so far. A handful of living directors–Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Miloš Forman, and Ang Lee–have two.
- 39d, BART STARR [The Packers retired his #15 in 1973]. Starr was the MVP of Super Bowls I and II.
- 54d, MAX PLANCK [Quantum theory pioneer].
A little bonus answer, probably unintentional (but who knows?), at 77a: (RAFA) NADAL [Rival of Djokovic]. Plenty of theme content (10 theme answers). I thought of a few other names that work for the theme constraint, but certainly nothing I would rather have seen in this puzzle. C.C. did a really nice job of choosing very famous people from a variety of professions. Plus, the cluing was refreshingly current and/or interesting. Like most of C.C.’s puzzles, this felt very accessible.
One thing I’d never seen in a puzzle before: 102d, ALTRIA [Philip Morris parent company]. In all the puzzle databases I have access to, I could only find one previous occurrence of ALTRIA, in this Inkwell puzzle from 2012 where (at least here on Crossword Fiend) it went completely unremarked upon. You’d think with its crossword-friendly letters and it being kind of a huge deal, it would show up in crosswords more often. Even now, I can hear the clickety-clack of constructors typing it into their word lists.
Some other good stuff: fun cluing at 5d, DEADPANS [Delivers à la Steven Wright], and a solid misdirection at 90d, RED WINES [Cabs, e.g.], KON-TIKI, KAYAKS, JANGLE, CRAWDAD, PICASA, STUBHUB, SBARRO, FACTOID, CAJOLED, HANDS-ON, “GOT IT,” “SO SUE ME.” There’s a bit of crosswordese hanging around, stuff like HOD, EEKS plural, BRAC, ENATE. On the whole, though, more good stuff than not, especially given the theme density. A fun, breezy solve.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Capitalism” — pannonica’s write-up
Tidy if typical crossword theme: puns involving world capitals.
- 27a. [Year-round home in Jordan?] AMMAN FOR ALL SEASONS (“A Man …”).
- 45a. [Meat-eating giant of Albania?] TIRANASAURUS (Tyranno-…).
- 54a. [Philippine fakery?] MANILA FUDGE (vanilla …).
- 74a. [Fear of being in Ghana?] ACCRAPHOBIA (acro-…).
- 82a. [Egyptian specialist?] CAIROPROCTOR (chiro-…).
- 96a. [Some Sudanese?] KHARTOUM CHARACTERS (cartoon …).
- 34d. [Cheer in Zimbabwe?] HIP HIP HARARE (… hooray or hurrah).
- 39d. [Turk?] ANKARA PERSON (anchor …).
A likable bunch, these. Limited to Africa and Asia, and with one exception, western Asia. Another thematic exception is the single entry that puts the punned element at the end rather than the beginning.
- 47d [Genus of bad skeeters] AEDES. I wonder if ‘mosquito’ was avoided because Quito is another world capital (Ecuador).
- 65d. [Sticky-toed lizard] GECKO. I don’t entirely agree with the use of “sticky” here, but I understand why it was used.
- 70d [Lemur-like primate] POTTO; fair enough. 95a [Cuisine with curry] THAI.
“Pottos use chemical cues extensively to communicate. They leave urine trails and secretions from glands under the tail on branches to mark territory and communicate information on their reproductive state. They use a toxic or noxious glandular secretion to deter predators. Pottos have a distinct odor that some observers have called ‘curry-like.’ They have several vocalizations, the most common being a female contact call to young that sounds like ‘psic.'”
PSIC – now there’s some serious potential crosswordese. (sourceacron)
- Mis-fill: 88a [Fresh arrivals] NEW NAMES prior to NEONATES.
- 110a [Actress Davis] VIOLA, not BETTE nor GEENA; all three are now crossword mainstays.
- 30d [Roman Hades] ORCUS. Disputable. ORCUS and Pluto (who is the direct correlate of Hades) are not always the same being. Refer to Wikipedia, Theoi, and Myth Index to get started. Hades may also be rendered Aides, which is distinct but tantalizingly close to the Greek-derived Aedes (47d).
- 78d [Nickname of 41-Down] FATHA; aha! that explains why the other clue didn’t include that helpful epithet, [Jazzman Hines] EARL.
Solid theme, relatively clean fill, mostly matter-of-fact cluing (a notable departure is 77a [Joan of art] for MIRÓ).
Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! I hope you’re doing great and enjoying another splendid Sunday weather-wise!
So today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, was actually a tale of two puzzle-solving experiences; the lightning-quick speed I did the bottom of the grid, and the almost eternal slog doing the top of the grid. I guess we can start at the top, where getting SCPA to start didn’t really help in building any sort of momentum up there (1D: [Shelter org.]). A couple of minutes later, LIRA was in the grid, but the across answers weren’t clicking still (2D: [Currency that featured portraits of Bellini and Caravaggio]). So it was off to the bottom of the grid, and that’s where I finally got a foothold, especially getting (and remembering) SEELEY off of one episode of Bones that I had seen in the past (59A: [______ Booth (David Boreanaz’s character on “Bones”]). I think I only watched it because of the ads that showed the love interest between the two main characters. PAPA JOHN (55A: [Big cheese in the pizza biz]) was also a gimme as well as MME CURIE, as the abbreviation didn’t give me any trouble (58A: [Two-time Nobelist, formally]). Honestly, it really was the Northeast grid that killed me, and only when I correctly guessed CRITERIA where everything finally fell into place (17A: [Gauges]). I’m glad that a PIXIE CUT isn’t as much of a risky haircut these days, given that it’s much more in style than it has ever been (15A: [Daring do]). At least that’s in my opinion. Oh, and to boot: NEBUCHADNEZZARS (35A: [Copious amounts of bubbly])!!! Enough said.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOBO (47A: [Western wolf])– Who’s the best New Mexico LOBO athlete ever? Could it be Danny Granger, current Detroit Piston and one-time NBA All-Star with the Indiana Pacers? Could it be former fullback and 1961NFL Rookie of the Year Don Perkins? It’s probably Brian Urlacher, the long-time Chicago Bears linebacker who’s probably going to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the next 5-10 years. For those who might be partial to five-time NBA champion and five-time All-NBA first-team defender Michael Cooper, I’m sorry.
See you tomorrow, and have yourself a great rest of your Sunday!