(Reagle, original write-up from 8 Nov 2009)
Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword, “Three-Peat”—Amy’s write-up
The title suggested that something would be repeated three times, but the theme turned out to be phrases in which a 3-letter chunk is repeated. Here, the repeated letters appear just once:
- 23a. [1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film], CONAN THE BARbarIAN.
- 33a. [Bringer of peace between nations], ENTentE CORDIALE. A phrase I learned from crosswords.
- 39a. [State bordering Texas], CHIHUAhua, MEXICO. Well, the state is just Chihuahua, unless this puzzle was published in New York, United States of America.
- 57a. [Rose buds?], CINcinNATI REDS. Pete Rose.
- 66a. [Jason Bourne and others], TRAINED ASSassINS.
- 76a. [Salad bar bowlful], ALFalfA SPROUTS. Really could have used a different clue since HAM SALAD is in the grid. And furthermore, HAM SALAD is something I have never encountered in real life. I just asked my husband to tell me about ham salad, and he broke into laughter.
- 91a. [Some auto auctions’ inventory], REPOSSEsseD CARS.
- 100a. [Land in the Caucasus], CHEcheN REPUBLIC.
- 114a. [Chocolaty Southern dessert], MISSissIPPI MUD PIE. Without the second ISS, it’s roughly the way some people pronounce the state.
I found the theme challenging to unravel—CONAN THE BARBARIAN wouldn’t fit and I wasn’t sure how the three-peat action would present itself.
Top fill: RAN RAGGED, SMARTPHONE, full OBI-WAN, GASBAG (I bet you know at least one), and TOUCH AND GO.
Did not know: 96d. [Romance novelist Banks], LEANNE. I looked her up, and her book titles are as funny as HAM SALAD. Also didn’t recognize/remember 101d. [Dutch town known for tulip tourism], LISSE. Oh! And the never-seen-before-in-my-life 7d. [___ knot, rug feature], SEHNA. That is a dreadful word to drop into the opening corner of a crossword. It sets the tone, and that tone is “here come the obscure words.”
I do wonder if this is one of Tracy’s earlier constructions, because there’s an awful lot of stodgy crosswordese that we don’t see much anymore (and some we unfortunately see frequently). AGNATE, KNAR, OTOE, STENO, ELENI, OTARU (!), ODA, ATILT, and ADITS? Some of these had me shouting; the rest made me scowl. My husband enjoyed OTARU nearly as much as HAM SALAD.
USED POT doesn’t sound right. “Smoked pot,” yes. “Used marijuana,” okay. USED POT sounds like kitchenware you buy at the secondhand shop.
3.5 stars for the theme, 3 for the overall fill, and –10 for AGNATE OTARU ODA ELENI ADITS.
Jim Holland’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Short Changes”—Andy’s review
The vowel sound [ɛ] (as in “bed”) gets changed to the vowel sound [æ] (as in “bad”). Or sometimes [ä] (as in “cot”). Or [ə] (as in “Tina“), except that one was a schwa sound to begin with.
Or maybe the theme is that an “e” gets changed to an “a,” which affects the spelling and vowel sound in various ways? That’s probably a more inclusive theme definition, but it’s not particularly satisfying. Comment if I missed something. Themers:
- 23a, THE THREE TANNERS [Trio in a leather factory?]. The Three Tenors.
- 37a, RABBLE WITHOUT A CAUSE [Riffraff lacking direction?]. Rebel Without a Cause.
- 50a, MONKEY RANCH [Place to raise simians?]. Monkey wrench.
- 70a, DON’T SWAT THE SMALL STUFF [“Leave tiny bugs alone!”?]. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Cute theme answer. Interesting that SWEAT crosses it at the W.
- 92a, TACK SUPPORT [Encouragement for a sailing maneuver?]. Tech support.
- 103a, PUT A FATHER IN YOUR CAP [Swap headgear with the priest?]. Put a feather in your cap.
- 125a, LIMITED ADDITION [Moderate building expansion?] Limited edition. “Addition” and “edition” are pronounced the same in my dialect. Yours?
Finished in six minutes, had an error that took me two minutes to find (TOO SAD/SSA for TOO BAD/SBA). I don’t have much else to say about this puzzle. The theme was opaque. The fill was not superb. I found one noteworthy clue: [Introduction to a madam?] for I’M ADAM. Seems like the misdirection here is brothel-themed, which I don’t love, but it’s a valiant effort to save an odd partial. [One may be over your shoulder] for STRAP was a solid clue.
FROM ME TO YOU, until next time!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Curve Cuts” — pannonica’s write-up
A standard letter substitution theme, in this instance phrases containing a word beginning with P and replacing it with an F. I like how the title represents this visually, with the bowl of the P sliced to form the F (albeit one with a short bar and arm). For no particular reason it occurs to me that a non-visual (and less elegant) title for the reverse process could be F-Stops (Fs to Ps), but that’s neither here nor there.
- 23a. [Steal at a bazaar?] FLEA BARGAIN (plea bargain). The notion of a ‘flea market’ is implied, I guess.
- 25a. [“Get your hot dogs here!”?] FRANK CALL (prank call).
- 46a. [Pass out near the anesthesia?] FAINT BY NUMBERS (paint-by-numbers). The by here had me thinking 61d [Pays a visit] would be either STOPS in or STOPS at, rather than STOPS BY.
- 49a. [Kermit’s music genre?] FROG ROCK (prog rock, from ‘progressive’).
- 69a. [Become really good at making sponge cake?] MASTER FLAN (master plan).
- 71a. [What a hypochondriac does on the web?] GOOGLE FLUS (Google Plus). Not to be confused with the concept of searching skill and/or luck, “Google-fu”.
- 88a. [Dictation craze?] STENO FAD (steno pad).
- 90a. [Person who eats a lot of McDonald’s?] HAMBURGER FATTY (hamburger patty). A little abusive. It’s said overweight people are one of the last groups that it’s still ‘socially acceptable’ to publicly disparage. Incidentally, the NIH says that over one-third of the US population is obese. See also, 60a [UK awards] OBES?
- 113a. [Crass ass?] DIRTY FOOL (dirty pool).
- 115a. [One who swats canaries?] FINCH HITTER (pinch hitter).
As said before, a typical theme.
- 31a [SPCA member?] CRUELTY, 79d [Crossing guard’s concern] SAFETY. 53a [Spanish royalty] REINAS, 92d [Russian empress] TSARINA. 35d/37d [Red ink amount] DEBT, LOSS.
- SUERS, BESTUD, EMBARRED – these formulations I could do without.
- 111a [Pick six, e.g.: Abbr.] INT. Don’t know what this is. 64d [Beds on wheels] COTS; not all, or even most, but perhaps the clue is idiomatic, emphasizing the portable nature of COTS.
- 120a [Loosen the 72-Downs] UNTIE, 72d [See 120-Across] LACE; strange pluralization-in-transit.
- 91d [“Principia Ethica” philosopher] GE MOORE. Whoo, that’s a bit tough.
- 125a [Baby flyer] STORK. Needs a question mark, at the very least.
- 42d [Peacock’s tail feature] EYE SPOT. Technically called ocellus (plural ocelli).
- 51d [Dried fruit candy] COMFIT. Not to be confused with the savory CONFIT, which shares a close etymology.
- Some solid long-fill stacking among the downs: NIAGARA/TBILISI, STATE PEN, SOLYNDRA, RARE BIRD/EMBARRED (even though I didn’t care for that last one, as already mentioned; paging Maya Angelou?), TSARINA/TAP INTO.
Further, I noticed some fill and cluing choices that were very much on the BEQ wavelength, more than what is typically seen in established national outlets. I’d go hunt them out, but this write-up is already desperately late.
Randolph Ross’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good evening, everyone!
Today’s Sunday Challenge was a fun and easy one, and we thank Mr. Randolph Ross for the opportunity for do his grid. Apologies I can’t break down the grid the way, but can tell you that I had never heard of PAINLESS DENTIST before, and just had to take a shot at the second part of that entry (3D: [Popular driller]). That was the only long down (or across) entry that I had any trouble with. Honestly, is there really such a thing/person as a painless dentist?! Here’s hoping my next trip to the dentist is just that…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAIN (6D: [It may be raised at a party])– Some of you may know Lorenzo CAIN as the centerfielder for the Kansas City Royals who just won the World Series earlier this month. Others will know him as the man responsible for many people across the country being able to buy a free breakfast wrap from Taco Bell, when his stolen base in Game 1 of the World Series enacted the “steal a base, steal a breakfast” promotion put on by Taco Bell. Sadly, I didn’t take advantage of it.
See you Monday!
NYT: Don’t forget ESAI Morales, who has become the poster child for puzzles with disgracefully poor fills like this one. SCAMS with a clue that clearly tended towards “spams” was particularly cringe-worthy. I still have no idea what DEE has to do with 65 but perhaps it’s something fairly obvious I need enlightenment on.
I’m assuming DEE is a grade. And I don’t know what’s so funny about ham salad, it’s great in sandwiches. Liked seeing Maureen DOWD and L. Frank BAUM, and thought the NYT puzzle quite good, especially with no rappers!
Yes I’ll just go ahead & give myself a D for that comment, although “or so” could mean lower, which gets us into EFF territory. Just too much loose cluing here for me.
I too totally missed the 65=DEE connection… For a second, I thought: OLD? But maybe that’s not PC…
I thought the theme was an interesting departure for a Saturday, and was misled by the title, but it was fair. But some of the fill got to me.
I bet somewhere there’s a version of ham salad in ASPIC
I mean for a Sunday… I just solved it on Saturday…
I grew up with ham salad sandwiches, too, as well as tuna and chicken salad. Today, I make mine with crumbled feta cheese and black olive slices.
of course, i understand the meaning of the word “inspired” in the clue, but i’m sorry not to see gregory maguire, author of the book wicked (on which the musical wicked is based) get some love here. he’s the one who imagined and wrote about the pre-dorothy world of oz and how the “wicked” witch came to be. [edited to say i also understand that the grid allowed only for 4-letter fill….]
CD’s are not I.R.A.s. They might be in an IRA but so might other things.
CS: Epcot center was renamed Epcot in 1994. But then, this entire puzzle seems that old.
Re LAT, I also pronounce edition and addition pretty much the same, but that didn’t really bother me. Somehow the inclusion of both SMEE and SNEE did, though. For no good reason.
LAT: Smee, snee, and épée!
Could not understand how the NCAA was overseer of the Securities and
Exchange Commission. Googled SEC and it also stands for Southeast Conference. Not a sports fan obviously!
LAT theme a real stretch and inconsistent – otherwise an enjoyable challenge.
Yes, you can beat “Bedded by the Billionaire.” I think “His Majesty, M.D.” comes very close. Thank you, Amy, for telling us about Leanne Banks. I hope you read the blurbs for her books–much, much funnier than ham salad. An example:
“A Princess Under the Mistletoe” Princess Sasha of Sergenia was born to rule, not change dirty diapers. But after threats force her family into exile, Sasha becomes “Sara,” a nurturing nanny in Chantaine.
‘Pick six’ is a term in gridiron football for an interception (or pick) is run for a touchdown (or six points). Hence, INT=interception.
Ham salad is a good use for leftover ham: cut in small pieces and use blender or food processor to shred. Stir in some hotdog relish and maybe some mayo, spread on almost anything.