Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Awesome!”—Amy’s write-up
This is a pronunciation-based theme, and for you weirdos (I mean that in the best way) who exhibit the cot-caught merger, this theme may seem more like a spelling-change theme. Phrases with an “ah” sound pick up an “aw” sound, with spelling changing accordingly and the clue reflecting the goofball phrase Patrick has created.
- 23a. [Burlesque theater?], BAWDY BUILDING. Original: body building.
- 31a. [Moviegoers who can’t afford concession stand snacks?], POPCORN PAUPERS. Poppers. I’ll ding this one for having one unchanged “pop” in the theme answer.
- 42a. [Bad kid’s Christmas tree?], NAUGHTY PINE. Knotty.
- 61a. [Sealant used by NASA?], SHUTTLE CAULK. Shuttlecock.
- 67a. [B-roll from “Splendor in the Grass”?], STALK FOOTAGE. (As in stalks/blades of grass.) Stock.
- 87a. [Owners of large enthusiastic dogs?], PAWED PEOPLE. Pod.
- 92a. [Writing implement from Planters?], CHALK FULL O’ NUTS. Chock. Hard to envision chalk filled with peanuts, though.
- 106a. [Supporting actors in a Bea Arthur sitcom?], THE MAUDE SQUAD. Mod. Not the Maude Squawed, one “ah” unchanged.
Lots of great base phrases being built on here, and mildly amusing results. I feel like it’s maybe evoking a Bernie Sanders sort of accent. How would an old Brooklynite pronounce “pod people”? Certainly not the same way a Chicagoan does! (We’re weird here in the “North Midlands” accent zone but we’re naaaht changing for you.)
Top fill: SPY CAMS, STEPMOM, CURVEBALLS, LADY GAGA, WALLOP, SLUMMED, TO WIT, DEW DROP, and a dreamy CLOUDSCAPE.
Worst fill: Maybe SHOD? Really, this puzzle is filled beautifully.
- 88d. [Gave off], EFFUSED. Effusive is a much more common form of the base word. I don’t encounter the verb often at all.
- 99a. [Feature of the Tokyo Imperial Palace], MOAT. I started with DOME. Are there predators in the moat? That’s what I want to know.
- 55d. [Finishes all at once, in a way], CHUGS. I am “Awesome!” at chugging water.
- 16d. [Like iceberg lettuce], CRISP. Wilted iceberg is the saddest of all salad greens, no?
- 78a. [Certain H&R Block worker], CPA. They might be the trainers or in management, but most of those tax preparers do not have actual accountant education or certification. If you have a complex return, you might want to look for a CPA. And soon—because their appointments before April 15 are filling up. (Though I’ve had my CPA file an extension for me when my appointment’s been in May. No rush!)
4.3 stars from me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Starting Over” — pannonica’s write-up
Famous people’s names ‘starting over’ in two ways: (1) the first letter is changed to make a new word which is appropriate to (2) an imagined career change.
- 23a. [Singer-turned-submariner?] PING CROSBY (Bing).
- 25a. [Comedian-turned-banker?] LOAN RIVERS (Joan).
- 37a. [Boxer-turned-baby-sitter?] NANNY PACQUIAO (Manny). In the news very recently because of insensitive, hateful outspokenness and subsequently being dropped by major sponsors. Wonderful Pistachios is a major sponsor.
- 53a. [Actress-turned-trucker?] SEMI MOORE (Demi).
- 55a. [Singer-turned-wrestler?] MAT KING COLE (Nat).
- 76a. [Writer-turned-pizza-chef?] SLICE WALKER (Alice).
- 78a. [Director-turned-hairstylist?] GEL BROOKS (Mel).
- 89a. [Actress-turned-mariner?] MATE BLANCHETT (Cate). Revisiting elements of two preceding themers.
- 107a. [Trumpeter-turned-clerk?] FILES DAVIS (Miles).
- 109a. [Princess-turned-wiretapper?] TRACE KELLY (Grace).
Ta-da. Mostly entertainers, evenly split genderwise (assuming the binary).
- 31a [Pedestaled one] IDOL, 51a [Canaanite deity] BAAL. 19a [Web mag] E-ZINE, 86d [Deals brokered on-line] E-TRADES.
- 36d [Front on frost] PERMA-, followed by 38d [Back on buck] -AROO.
- 47d [Quarter of four] ONE. Simple arithmetic, nothing chronological.
- 76d [Hub snack spot] SPA. Huh?
- 93a [Deuce, often] LOW CARD, 90d [Brought low] ABASED.
- 42a [Brand of leggings] HUE, which I somehow half-assumed came from Vietnam, but that turns out not to be the case; 45a [Vietnamese soup] PHỞ.
All right, got to run. Apologies for the minimal write-up. Apart from some clunkers like 72a RELOSE, a clean crossword and a good solve.
Nora Pearlstone’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Wait, What?”—Andy’s review
I absolutely love the title of this puzzle. The theme is: “ay” sounds in common phrases become “uh” sounds (as in “wait” –> “what”), hilarity ensues. Themers:
- 23a, SMILEY FUSS [Good-natured complaint?]. Smiley face.
- 29a, GUT RECEIPTS [Everything you eat?]. Gate receipts. Had to double-check that “gate receipts” were what I thought they were.
- 36a, JUMPING-OFF PLUS [Skilled diver’s advantage?]. Jumping-off place. I have always heard this as “jumping-off point,” but I’m willing to chalk this up to regional differences. Say something in the comments if you say “place” rather than “point.”
- 65a, STRUT SHOOTER [Fashion show photographer?]. Straight shooter. I think this is my favorite base phrase/theme answer combo.
- 71a, MUCK-UP ARTIST [Inept painter?]. Makeup artist.
- 99a, GULL FORCE WINDS [Shore breezes caused by flapping wings?]. Gale force winds.
- 106a, KING OF SPUDS [Potato expert?]. King of spades.
- 119a, SKULL MODEL [Prop for the gravedigger scene in “Hamlet”?]. Scale model. Another of my favorite theme entries.
Eight theme entries, all pretty good. Some other highlights in the grid, like COAT HANGER, THE PIANIST, SASSAFRAS, GITMO, and SIROCCOS. A big problem for me was 86d, NEAR GALE [7 on the Beaufort scale], since the themer GULL FORCE WINDS trades on this meaning of “gale.” Also not a fan of E-SALE or -IANA. Otherwise, nothing particularly out of place for a Sunday LAT puzzle.
Until next time!
Randolph Ross’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! It looks like the worst of winter is behind us as we’re in the mid-50s here in New York City. Hope you all are having equally as good of weather and have plans on enjoying the day.
Also hope you spent part of your day doing today’s challenge, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross. Oh, and I hope you remembered my “sports…smarter” note last week, as it would have played a huge role in getting GIPP today, in case you didn’t get that clue from the off (10D: [Reagan role]). If you did remember last week’s note when filling in that entry today, then you’re my hero! Love the fill up in the Northwest corner, and especially liked the fact that I was able to get VOX POPULI (15A: [Interest of pollsters]) just off of the “I” that came from filling in the gimme, MICHAEL J. FOX (9D: [Portrayer of Alex P. Keaton]). Actually have not really heard the term EVIL OMEN too many times, if at all (1D: [Sign of trouble]). Bad omen? Sure. Evil omen? Not so much. Even so, that didn’t leave me too DISGRUNTLED looking at that (24D: [Unhappy]). That happened when seeing the clue for ELEVEN (42D: [One after another?]). I get it, but the execution of that mislead was so…blah. OK, ladies and gents, be honest: How many of you own UNITARDS (35D: [One-piece suits])? Don’t be shy, you can tell us!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MEEK (30D: [Docile]) – Duke University won back-to-back national championships in men’s basketball in 1991 and 1992, and one of the players on the 1992 squad was Eric MEEK, a 6-11 center who eventually was the No. 44 overall pick of the Houston Rockets in the 1995 NBA Draft. Meek was a captain on the 1995 team that incurred the most losses of any Duke team (18) in school history, a season in which head coach Mike Krzyzewski left the team after 12 games to treat a bad back.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Show Me The Punny” – Derek’s write-up
Filling in today; I don’t normally blog Sunday-size puzzles! But it’s a quiet Sunday afternoon, watching the end of the Daytona 500, getting ready to scope the video on the new Samsung Galaxy S7 (which I’m told makes omelets!), so why not spend a little of the afternoon solving a puzzle?
I finished this in just over 10 minutes. For some reason, even though daily size puzzles that are challenging can routinely take 10-15 minutes for me to solve, I usually always can finish the Sunday puzzles in well under 20 minutes. Even the NYT, which is supposed to be just about as hard as a Friday puzzle, is usually cracked in 18-20 minutes. And at Stamford, I always finish puzzle 7 in about 15! Maybe that is because I have had a good night’s sleep after the grueling 6 puzzle grind of Saturday!
Enough about my solving times; we have a funny entry from Evan here. By changing a vowel sound we have punny definitions of popular musicals. Here is the list:
- 22A [Hit musical about some Mid-Atlantic colonists?] JERSEY BEES (Jersey Boys)
- 24A [… about slow-witted New York athletes?] DIM YANKEES (Damn Yankees)
- 31A [… about a Canadian cop from top to bottom?] THE FULL MOUNTIE (The Full Monty)
- 51A [… about Arachne’s big beer purchase?] CASE OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
- 68A [… about a Messianic mega-mart?] JESUS CHRIST SUPER-STORE (Jesus Christ Superstar)
- 85A [… about a scary lamb?] LITTLE SHEEP OF HORRORS (Little Shop of Horrors)
- 102A [… about idiots who go to a magical place with living playthings?] BOOBS IN TOYLAND (Babes in Toyland)
- 116A [… about a legendary lawn tool?] RAKE OF AGES (Rock of Ages)
- 119A [… about a flame who enjoys flames?] MY FIRE LADY (My Fair Lady)
Yes, that is a solid 9 theme entries, all of them decent groaners, and so a fairly fun puzzle to solve! I liked GOD FORBID, PENCILS IN, and OH, YOU! I thought Kevin DURANT may be a little obscure if you’re not a big NBA fan, even though he is one of the top 5 players in the league, and likely the third best behind LeBron James and Stephen Curry. I am not familiar with 59A [Girl addressed in the Turtles’ lyric “Your looks intoxicate me / Even though your folks hate me”] ELENORE at all, but all of the crossings were nice and gracious, so that helped a lot.
In summary, a solid 4 star puzzle today. I am a fan of Evan’s puzzles anyway, so I expected a nice tight construction, and I wasn’t disappointed. Glad I was able to fill in!