Happy Thanksgiving! May those of you who ate too much be able to hit the sack without too much indigestion. Thank you to all the readers, and huge thanks to all the members of Team Fiend who keep this site running, share their puzzle knowledge with us all, and sometimes entertain us far more than a non-puzzler would think possible. (“You … write about a crossword puzzle??”)
Warm wishes to those of you who had a sucky day–because you were alone on the holiday, you’ve been ill, you’ve lost someone close to you, you ended a relationship, your family is toxic, or you were missing someone who couldn’t be in the same place as you today. I know there are many of you, and we didn’t forget you. –Amy
Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Well! This is a fine week. This is the second of Peter’s puzzles I’ve blogged in three days (also enjoyed his themed BuzzFeed crossword on Wednesday).
I had plenty of sweet potatoes and pie and turkey and whatnot, and I’m yawning. Short post!
Things I enjoyed: Finding STIFF DRINK and those CABS (Cabernets) in the top row, with FRESHENS aptly intersecting that STIFF DRINK. Thinking of napa cabbage in the 1-Across clue and then discovering BOK CHOY a few rows down. “NO SIREE, BOB.” AD AGENCIES, so much nicer than “ad men.” Podiatry lingo in the BIG TOES clue (a single big toe is your hallux valgus, if memory serves). “YO MAMA” JOKE! (not to be confused with that other humor genre, the Yo-Yo Ma joke). AUDIOPHILE and BREAK RANKS. The stack with VOODOO DOLL, Scotty’s ENGINE ROOM, and “READY, SET, GO.”
Did not care for AVERAGE MEN (that doesn’t feel idiomatic to me), plural NOES and KBS (usually a metric unit doesn’t take an S for the plural).
4.25 stars from me.
Doug Peterson’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s write-up
A good Black Friday to you! Hope you have recovered from yesterday’s and/or this morning’s activities.
Today’s BuzzFeed puzzle is by themeless master Doug Peterson. Let’s see what he has in store.
This is an expertly-crafted, clean grid with only a few familiar nits here and there. The worst that it gets is the contraction SKYS 31D [“The ___ the limit!”] and a couple of abbreviations (ESL at 43A [Course for refugees, briefly] (assuming they’re going to an English-speaking country, that is) and CST at 58D [Minn. clock setting]).
But my first reaction when completing this puzzle was to say, “Is that it?” Nothing really popped out at me. This is a grid that could have appeared in any publication (T-SWIZZLE notwithstanding). It’s just not that BuzzFeedy. Last week, BEQ gave us PORNSTACHE, ARE YOU COOL, I GOT NOTHIN, KEEP IT REAL. This week, you might be hard pressed to remember the longest entries an hour after finishing the puzzle; aside from WEDDING REGISTRY and DON’T STARE, we get IDEALISTS, AD SLOGANS, and REASSURES. Not exactly heart-pounding stuff.
But on closer inspection, there’s so much good shorter stuff in every section of the grid, that I can’t help but be impressed. And it’s all beautifully meshed together, from your short stuff (KIM, RUM, BUN, BRO, GAG, MRAZ, TWEE) to your mid-range stuff (ARABIC, RUBIO, HEAD ON, DOGMA, BRATZ, DUBAI, BARLEY, BANGOR, ISUZU, TRANCE, DUG UP, TEA BAG, GET IT?) to the longer stuff (DESK JOBS, GEOMETRY, DON’T STARE crossing EYEBALLS, MARINARA, PHONE TAG, T-SWIZZLE, JOE PESCI, IPAD MINI, SORORITY) and the headlining WEDDING REGISTRY. I mean wow! That’s a lot of good stuff!
Stuff I didn’t know: T-SWIZZLE another nickname for Tay Tay. For future reference, here are other nicknames that I found here: Swiftly, Aly, Tails, T, Tayter Tot, TayTay, T-Swift, or just Tay. Also didn’t know Scottish band Belle and Sebastian (32D TWEE [Like Belle and Sebastian’s music]). Being a father of girls, I had assumed the clue was referring to:
The puzzle gets more BuzzFeedy in the clues of course. From 1A‘s [Positions that are hard on the ass?] for DESK JOBS to 29A‘s [BDSM prop] for GAG to 9D‘s [“Stop chewing on that goddamn apple”] for SHH. 34D‘s [“Is it in you?” and “Finger lickin’ good,” e.g.] sound characteristically raunchy though they’re just AD SLOGANS for Gatorade and KFC respectively. Likewise 10D‘s [Sack filled with leaves] for TEA BAG makes you think it’s going one direction, then pulls a change-up and finishes in G-rated territory. I think my favorite clue might be 50D‘s [Dolls to buy for your daughter if Barbie just isn’t quite sexualized enough] for BRATZ.
Bottom line: This is a quiet, stealthy grid that doesn’t jump out at you, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find a treasure trove of great entries. Let’s close out this fine puzzle with some Dawn of Midi TRANCE music. Close your eyes…
Annemarie Brethauer’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Curiouser and Curiouser” — pannonica’s write-up
A sesquicentennial offering, as per 34-across, in the grid’s center. [Author whose first book containing the characters at 17, 23, 46, and 51 Across appeared 150 years ago this week] CARROLL. Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Dodgson. The book in question is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, followed some six years later by Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Pretty sure the Venn diagram of crossword aficionados and Alice fans reveals a significant overlap.
“Curiouser and curiouser” is Alice’s exclamation upon sampling the cake labelled EAT ME, whereupon she grows taller, “opening out like the largest telescope that ever was!” John Tenniel’s distorted illustration of this upset me greatly when I was young, so much so that I scribbled over it in my copy of the book (something I’ve been loathe to do, even from a young age—but this was an exception).
- 17a. [Character who vanishes and reappears] CHESHIRE CAT.
- 23a. [Character who sang for the Queen of Hearts] MAD HATTER.
- 46a. [Character who reproaches Alice with “It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited”] MARCH HARE.
- 51a. [Character who smokes a hookah] CATERPILLAR.
Kind of a modest theme, just five answers including the short one in the center. Nothing at all wrong with this, as overzealous theme execution usually leads to compromises and inferior fill. Perhaps in compensation, there are a few bonus items to be found elsewhere: 6d [Like the “DRINK ME” bottle down the rabbit hole] WEE, 32d [“Why is a raven like a writing-desk?,” e.g.] POSER, 42d [“__ Wonderland”] WINTER.
- Least familiar answers:3d [Lampooned] PARODIED. Many of the songs in Carroll’s book PARODIED popular contemporary songs.
- 34d [Earmarked tax, in India] CESS. Apparently the term was first used in Ireland when it was part of the British Empire, and served as precedent for colonial India. Though it functions as a standalone term, it also appears, like the ubiquitous -wallah, as a suffix.
- 43a [Phantom] EIDOLON. From Greek, and related to “idol”.
- 23d [Shark that is partially warm-blooded] MAKO. Just a few degrees warmer than the surrounding waters, but enough for a dynamic advantage. This is true of all the species in that family (Lamnidae), which includes great whites and porbeagles.
- Favorite clues: 27a [Crooked handles?] ALIASES, 46d [Vacationer’s accumulation, perhaps] MAIL.
- 47d [Workers’ gp. founded by Samuel Gompers] AFL. ‘Gompers’ sounds to me like it would be right at home with the portmanteau words in Jabberwocky.
Solid little puzzle. Nothing fancy, nothing ugly. Easily digestible on this Thanksgivingtide.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Animated Film Festival”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Here’s hoping you’re here reading about the great crosswords on offer today instead of having to avoid being trampled at a store on Black Friday. Today’s grid, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, involves multiple-word theme answers in which the first word also happens to be the title of an animated film.
- FROZEN FOOD (17A: [Contents of the chilliest supermarket aisle, usually])
- BRAVE NEW WORLD (24A: [Dystopian Huxley novel with a title from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”])
- UP TO THE MINUTE (46A: [Au courant])
- TANGLED WEB (56A: [Byproduct of deception, according to Sir Walter Raleigh])
Hope you don’t mind the colors highlighting the theme! The intersection of A LOT (28D: [Plenty]) and ALLOT was fun to see, and I always wonder if that’s intentional or just a fact of crossword-construction happenstance that occurs when putting together a grid (28A: [Parcel out]). Absolutely love the clue for RABBI, in part because I knew it immediately and mostly because it’s just a sweet clue and one I haven’t seen used for that entry in a crossword before (1A: [Newbie cop’s mentor, in police slang]). Also liked the very hazardous stacking on right side of the grid, and, when heading there, you can find yourself in a DAZE (39A: [Befuddlement]), or, even worse, be in great PERIL (42A: [Danger]) as you try to avoid being stuck on a clue and stepping into a crossword ABYSS (45A: [Seemingly bottomless pit]). Far from a PATHETIC grid today (37D: [Pitiful]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOZ (4D: [Musician Scaggs]) – One of the great and controversial players to ever play the game of college football, Brian Bosworth, or “The Boz,” was a two-time All-America linebacker (1985, 1986) during his time at the University of Oklahoma. His great play on the field was mostly overshadowed by his mohawk hairdos, comments bashing the NCAA and becoming a larger-than-life figure before becoming a professional. Bosworth played professionally for two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before a shoulder injury forced him into early retirement in 1989.
Have a good weekend, everybody! See you tomorrow!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
This frequently happens to me when faced with a pronunciation-change theme. The pronunciation changei n question is inconsistent if I use my own speech patterns. However, I think this works and is rather fun when using standard American pronunciation. For me GRASS and PASS have the same vowel sound as STAR and PARK, versus ASS and LASS, which are short a sounds. This distinction does not exist in standard American English, I think.
Anyway, in four long across answers, ACE becomes ASS, and in doing so, long a sounds become short a. Results are pretty entertaining. AMAZINGGRACE becomes AMAZINGRASS, with a lawn-care angle not a marijuana one. Aside, how do we feel about the modern Amazing Grace reworking? ACEOFDIAMONDS becomes ASSOFDIAMONDS, with a donkey/baseball angle. CHANTILLYLACE becomes a CHANTILLYLASS. PACETHEFLOOR is transformed into PASSTHEFLOOR.
PANAMACANAL and INONESPOWER both cross three themers. PANAMACANAL is an excellent answer, with an interesting trivia clue! Another long down, MANAPART feels a bit awkward without its ‘A’ in the grid.
The top-right could’ve done with the fifteen seconds needed to get rid of only-to-be-used-in-direst-emergency SYS plus ODAY and EDYS. Totally gratuitous, the only reason I can see is to connect ENOLA to GAY, but the tradeoffs more than sink any joy at that litle connection.
Didn’t know the “Zebras” painting in the OPART clue. Here it is!