Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay. This puzzle worked me over. My eyeball itched so I was distracted by rubbing it, and I had a plausible wrong square that impeded my progress in that one last crossing. Played like a Newsday “Saturday Stumper” in terms of solving time and frustration quotient. I filled in START for 21a. [“Don’t ___!” (parental admonition)] instead of STARE. As in “don’t start with me, mister,” or “don’t start, won’t be none” (which I think I picked up from Steve Harvey’s 1995 sitcom). My kid never stared rudely at people. That meant I had HO*TOWNER for 14d, [One with a lot to think about]. 18a. [Deal with a huge catch] seemed mystifying. That’s a SCAM? Huh. I actually gave up and revealed that M, which then made 14d and 21a obvious. And a HOMEOWNER, though I am a homeowner with a condo and I don’t own a lot. So that was all annoying.
Peter Collins is pretty much constitutionally unable to make a themeless puzzle without an angle, and it’s a mini-theme here. Two hit Broadway musicals of different eras made into 2006 and 2014 movies, DREAMGIRLS and JERSEY BOYS. Whoa, there was a Jersey Boys movie?? It grossed $47 million domestically and it won none of the acclaim and awards of Dreamgirls. Added angle: The show/movie titles end with GIRLS and BOYS.
Top fill: DOGGIE DOOR, BREAKDANCE, PILOT ERROR, AGINCOURT, “I DID MY BEST,” POCAHONTAS, OSCAR WILDE. Least wonderful fill: plural noun ANOINTINGS, SHORT O, Brit-spelling PHONEY, WSW (with the trademark “Collins” in the clue), ODER, USE ME (who really offers help by saying that??), singular DREG, dated RONA Barrett, and NO MSG (in crosswords way too much).
Three more things:
- 45a. [Cheesemaking need], RENNET. Not necessarily. You can make cheese with vegetarian replacements for this animal enzyme, and you can make soft cheeses like paneer without rennet of any origin.
- 5d. [Boris or Natasha, to Fearless Leader], MINION. Can you believe no Despicable Me reference?
- 30a. [Bounty work?], ABSORPTION. Brand name of paper towels. I halfway wanted something about mutiny, but then again, I just put out a fresh roll of Bounty select-a-size this evening.
Four stars from me.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “End Notes” — pannonica’s write-up
Perfect title for this theme. Revealer’s in the center: 34a [Proofs of laundering, or what this puzzle’s groups of circled letters could be called] MONEY TRAILS. Not thrilled with that particular clue, but it resonates with 55a [Consigned to the hamper, say] SOILED. Filthy lucre!
- 17a. [You’ll find carbon molecules in it] ORGANIC COMPOUND. Tried the too-long ORGANIC CHEMISTRY first, but this answer is much closer to the definition. Currency of the UK and various other nations.
- 24a. [Yamaha product] BABY GRAND. Republic of South Africa.
- 48a. [2000 family film starring Kevin Bacon] MY DOG SKIP. Was unaware of this, but I do know My Dog Tulip (2009) and My Life as a Dog (1985). Laos; see 10d [Spender of the note represented by the circled letters in 48 Across] LAO. I remain unhappy about theme and non-theme fill ‘touching’ but concede that it might be enlightening in this case, as I’d wager the KIP isn’t too familiar to most people.
- 56a. [Backdrop for the “I Have a Dream” speech] LINCOLN MEMORIAL. Iran, Oman, Yemen.
Two of these containing phrases have coincidental associations with denominations: GRAND for one-thousand, and Abraham LINCOLN for 5¢ and $5.
For the theme itself, there’s the obvious consistency in the units appearing at the ends of the entries—they wouldn’t be TRAILS otherwise—but also in that they are only parts of a larger word, and unrelated etymologically to their hosts.
- New OREO factette? 29a [Cookie that reportedly is produced in 59 minutes]
- 3d [What may carry feed from an aerie?] EAGLE CAM. How much of a thing is that? Definitely needs that question mark.
- 12d [When many shops open] AT NINE. Feh. Related Briticism ON LEASE and MADE DO are both significantly more palatable.
- Favorite clue: 64a [Cultivate or levitate] RAISE. The opening one-two salvo of [Shake off] SHED and [Brush aside] SPURN is nifty too.
- 37d [Vegetable in miso soup] SCALLION. True, though the more artful ‘spring onion’ is typically invoked.
- Seemed like more than a fair share of abbrevs., but I’m not counting.
Modest theme, average puzzle, great title.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The King’s Speech”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! How’s your weekend looking? Hope all is well, and hope you got to enjoy the tribute puzzle today, which was brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld. The star of the puzzle? ELVIS Presley, who would have turned 81 years old on this day if he was still with us (67A: [The “King” who was born 81 years ago today]). Each of the other theme entries in the grid are titles of some of Elvis’s songs, with the clues written as if a British royal was standing on his/her throne about his music.
- IN THE GHETTO (17A: [“I’m speaking today from an area of great poverty…”])
- ALL SHOOK UP (26A: [“Our world can be emotionally unsettling…”])
- IT’S NOW OR NEVER (35A: [“The time is right for us to act decisively…”])
- STUCK ON YOU (48A: [“We must move beyond thinking only of ourselves…”])
- DON’T BE CRUEL (55A: [“Show compassion for your neighbors…”])
Though the partial N-PEPA might not be the best fill ever seen, the group referenced definitely has enough hits to make a crossword puzzle theme out of (15A: [Salt-_____ (hip-hop group]). “Push It,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “Shoop,” “Tramp,” “Whatta Man.” That, and you can also put in “DJ Spinderella” as fill also! Sadly, “Let’s Talk about Sex” is 16 letters…boo! Also, there’s the appearance of ABBA to continue the shoutouts to musicians and music groups (52A: [Palindromic pop group]). So close to having the perfect entry right in the middle of the grid. No real hang-ups while solving, though I didn’t get AIR SPACE as quickly as I should have (25D: [Pilot’s zone that may be restricted]). Actually hung out and had a conversation with a college friend of mine last night who was raised in IDAHO, and she was impressed, yet also dumbfounded, that I knew the state nickname, The Gem State, off the top of my head (1A: [The Snake River snakes through it]). Seeing Snake River immediately reminds me of a man who’s very popular in the crossword world, Evel Knievel, and the failed Snake River Canyon jump. You remember that, don’t you?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NEALE (64A: [Author Zora _____ Hurston]) – In the early part of the 20th century, Alfred “Greasy” NEALE starred on both the diamond and the gridiron, playing eight seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1916-1924, while also coaching college football at various schools during that time. Later on in his career, he coached the Philadelphia Eagles, and led them to back-to-back NFL Championships, in 1948 and 1949. Neale is enshrined in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Have a great weekend, everybody, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Not feeling well.
Theme is sound change: AWSS to URSS. Answers are THREE CURSE (COURSE) MEAL, ONE HEARSE (HORSE) TOWN and OLD NURSE (NORSE) POETRY.
>USE ME (who really offers help by saying that??)
not sayin’ ya hear this every day of the week, but that phrase took me right to a chorus line. in cassie’s song, “the music and the mirror,” she pleads her case:
Give me somebody to dance for,
Give me somebody to show.
Let me wake up in the morning to find
I have somewhere exciting to go.
To have something that I can believe in.
To have someone to be.
USE ME… Choose me.
God, I’m a dancer.
A dancer dances!
plaints don’t come much more plain-spoken than that.
Also, the title of a Bill Withers hit song. Have definitely seen it clued that way before.
That is the only acceptable way to clue it, IMNSHO (in my not-so-humble opinion).
Thanks, Janie — Loved that show!
ditto — and you are more than welcome!
Over the holidays, my kids kept telling me I needed to stop trying to do all the cooking and running around for the whole family. My daughter said: “Relax, mom. I’m here. Use me. ” (And then she got her husband to help, since he’s an excellent cook)…
So it made me smile when it showed up in the puzzle.
I liked the puzzle and got through it surprisingly quickly — it’s amazing how much it helps me to find the occasional puzzle where I don’t have to deal with rock groups and rappers. Of course I did get tripped up by the old ‘Short o’ trick, but I still would love an explanation of ‘pasto.’
I think ‘pasto’ is Italian for ‘meal.’ Certainly ‘antipasto’ is something you eat before the meal.
Yes, maybe it’s that simple. I didn’t think the word pasto was used much, but I think I have heard “Buono pasto” — something like Bon Apétit.
Mindful that it was a Friday, my first try was the Italian plural PASTE.
I thought the CHE got off to a fine start when I noticed LAO intersecting one of the themers, and then KIP later on. The “End Notes” and MONEYTRAILS aspect was cute, but it would have been upgraded to an outstanding puzzle if there’d been BRIT to match POUND and IRANI to match RIAL. BOER certainly wouldn’t work as an inclusive short term for all South Africans, but if there is one to match RAND, we’d have a great set. Perhaps Gareth could weigh in.
Felt the same about the NYT puzzle as Bruce. And liked both the CHE and the NYT. Got hung up on the kind of CAM in the CHE because I complicated it for a while, but all was resolved.
I had pockets of difficulty and overall found it to be somewhat harder than an average Friday for me. I wanted PILOT ERROR to have something to do with TERROR, so I was on the wrong wavelength. I had TAKE A SHOT instead of STAB. Numerous bad guesses made this hard for me.
I am not mechanical, so it may be more common than I think, but HEAT ENGINE seemed like a roll your own to me. It was intuitive once it became apparent. I checked on Google and there were 450,000 hits, so it must be more common than I thought.
Why is it absorB, and absorPtion? Anybody?
If “pasto” means meal, then antipasto should mean dieting.
To add to pannonica’s analysis, b is voiced and sh is not (voiced means you use your vocal chords). That’s an inelegant sequence so the unvoiced p is usually substituted.
Here’s what I remember from Latin class, supporting the clashing sounds theory …
In Latin scriptio = (the) writing, with t pronounced as in manuscript, has its roots in scribere = to write. Same for absorptio/absorbere.
Bibere = to drink keeps a “buffer” between the b and the non-fricative t, so bibitio = (the) drinking. No clash of sounds here and no change to p.
The only difference I’m aware of is that scribere comes with a heavier “ee” sound in its first syllable than bibere (no idea why, though), so maybe “scrEEbitio” simply could afford to lose its buffer i in spoken language.
I’m new to this site, so forgive my ignorance, but why is there no wsj puzzle for Friday Jan 8, but one for every other day? I solved it, but I can’t figure out what the contest answer is (flipping around African cities and the like). Any ideas out there? I won’t enter the contest, just curious. Thanks, joe
We post write-ups of contest puzzles after the contest deadline has passed, rather than giving away the answers while people are still working on it.
I wasn’t quite sure if you didn’t like the clue for SCAM, or didn’t parse the clue the way I did. A SCAM is a deal (you’ve won a free iPad!) with a huge catch (it’s a 3-year old model, and you have to pay $200 S&H). I thought it was kind of cute.