Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword, “Don’t Sue Us!”—Amy’s write-up
I’m almost embarrassed by how long it took me to figure out the theme here. Why do the long Across answers have a circled R that is not part of the phrase, but is needed to spell the Down crossing? Quite simply, the ® is the registered trademark symbol, and in the grid, it follows trade names that have fallen into broad generic use:
- 23a. [Wooden arts-and-crafts piece], POPSICLE® STICK.
- 32a. [Quaint social occasion], TUPPERWARE® PARTY. The suburbs seem to be all about the Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef sales parties these days.
- 49a. [Shoelace alternative], VELCRO® STRAP.
- 66a. [Tool for reproduction], XEROX® MACHINE.
- 85a. [Hybrid outdoor game], FRISBEE® GOLF. Most aficionados call it disc golf now, no?
- 99a. [Reagan, with “the”], TEFLON® PRESIDENT.
- 111a. [Fixture in many a basement], PING-PONG® TABLE.
Cannot believe I was still trying to work out the theme minutes after solving. It was a good “aha” moment when it hit, and I like the theme a lot.
Tom’s fill is superb, too. You could grouse about a clunky little three-letter abbreviation occupying 1-Across, but allow me to remind those of you in the U.S. to turn your clocks ahead an hour tonight! It’s time for DST to return. Good stuff that’s longer than three letters includes THE REDS, HIJINKS, STARTER clued as [Appetizer], DR. PHIL, “TO BE FAIR,” “LOOK WHAT I FOUND,” ROMAN EMPERORS (nice clue: 34d. [Source of the names of two months]), and SUN-DRIED TOMATO.
Seven more things:
- 59d. [Brown-and-white treat], HO-HO, offsets the usual dull 9a. [Black-and-white treat], OREO. My kid was baking at a friend’s house this evening. Some godforsaken abomination involving a batch of cookie dough, a batch of brownie batter, milk chocolate chips, a package of Double Stuf Oreos, and hot fudge sauce. (Yes, of course, he’s bringing some home for his parents.)
- 60a. [“Borrowed”], STOLE. Timely!
- 71a. [“Heaven and earth in miniature,” per a Chinese proverb], MAN. I wanted the answer to be MAP. (Not dinging that clue for 30d that includes “man” in it. Too ordinary and unflavorful a word.)
- Neat cognition two-fer: 117a. [One that’s out of one’s head?], IDEA and 39d. [Think piece?], CORTEX. I leave it to Huda to tell us if these clues pass neuroscientist muster.
- 46d. [Leader elected in 1946], PERON. Read the clue, had the first four letters in place … and filled in PEROT. Oops.
- 55d. [Substation?], DELI. Cute clue.
- This entry is a loathsome toad of a “word”: 61a. [Titter], HEHE. I hate it when people type that to represent a laugh. He is a personal pronoun and not a laugh syllable, and when people go with an extended “hehehehehe,” I just see a creepy heh intruding. Is it that hard to type “heehee” or “haha” or “lol”? I even prefer 118a IT IS I to HEHE, that’s how bad I think HEHE is. /soapbox
Yeah, Tom’s grid has an OSA and an YMA in it along with that HEHE, but overall, the fill’s super-smooth. 4.5 stars from me. An enjoyable solve, even (or especially) with feeling stumped by the theme at first.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Plugged Nickel”—Andy’s review
Sorry for the late review this week–it’ll be a quick one. We’ve got phrases with “NI” (the chemical symbol for nickel) added for hilarity’s sake:
- 23a, DIVINING BIRD [Flier with a magical rod?]. Diving bird.
- 25a, MANI BELL [Signal that nails are dry?]. Ma Bell.
- 35a, SUGAR CANINE [Sweet tooth?]. Sugar cane. This is my absolute favorite kind of theme clue. I love it when a plan comes together.
- 41a, DINING BAT [Nocturnal critter enjoying a meal?]. Dingbat.
- 56a, PACKAGE DENIAL [Rejection of a parcel?]. Package deal.
- 80a, FINISHING HOOK [Part of the ad that sells the product?]. Fishing hook.
- 94a, GENIE WHIZ [Ace garage door mechanic?]. Gee whiz. For those without garages, it may be helpful to know that Genie is a fairly well known maker of garage door openers.
- 97a, MARCONI POLO [Ralph Lauren’s “Celebrate Radio” clothing line?]. Marco Polo. This is a cute clue.
- 114a, PANIC MAN [Superhero who doesn’t do well in a crisis?]. Pac Man. I really like this clue/answer combo as well.
- 116a, NEWS CANISTER [Carrier pigeon’s daily delivery?]. Newscaster.
This puzzle has ten theme entries! They all work the way they’re supposed to, and most of them are even funny! This is, in my opinion, the apotheosis of the Sunday LA Times crossword. An add-a-letter/letter-combo theme, executed to perfection, cleverly titled (nickel (NI) “plugged” into each themer), with really nice fill throughout (the low points are probably the partials SAD TO or SWEE’, or the airport code ERI, but there’s also TACO BAR, SHAZAM, SLOVAK, PIZARRO, “I’M SORRY,” and “IT’S TIME”).
A truly lovely easy Sunday puzzle. Until next time!
Brad Wilber’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everybody! It’s been a while since I’ve been on this early! Hope you’re all doing very well!
One of the good things about my two-hour train ride into Long Island yesterday was that I got a chance to get an early jump on this Sunday Challenge, brought to us by Mr. Brad Wilber, and the experience definitely made the ride on the train a whole lot more fun. Was afraid I’d be stuck in a couple of corners for a while, which is usually the case when Brad steps up to the plate. Not this time around, although it took a longer while than expected to get the 15-letter entries. My mom has used okra in so many of her dishes that she’s cooked over the years, so that’s what raced through my mind after finally parsing THICKENING AGENT (14A: [Okra, often]). Favorite dish was when she would liquify the okra and serve it with mashed potatoes! Man, that was soooo good back then!
What? No Mrs. Wiggins to accompany MR TUDBALL in the grid (33A: [exasperated boss played by Tim Conway in “The Carol Burnett Show” sketches])??? Great fill nonetheless. Recalling the last couple of Sunday grids I had to go from Brad on here, and this seemed to be a little less menacing than the ones in the recent past done by him. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! I knew that the comic strip Blondie had a PET DOG in the main cast, but was thrown off by the squares (six) needed to fill it in (36D: [Daisy in “Blondie,” e.g.]). Eventually, only just had to concern myself to getting the “pet” part of the conversation. Wasn’t thrown off by the interesting arrangement of letter pattern for V-HUTS (21D: [Frontier shelters that are all roof an no walls]). The V-H start to it can give you the impression at first that you messed up.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAAN (51A: [Bates’s “Misery” costar]) – Hollywood actor James CAAN is known for his roles in sports movies than almost with any other movie that he made. In 1971, Caan played the dying Chicago Bears running back, Brian Piccolo, in Brian’s Song, then later on, in 1993, played the role of football head coach Sam Winters in The Program, chronicling the ESU Timberwolves’ (fictional team) football season on and off the field!
Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Connection Problem”—Jenni’s write-up
I could tell that something was going on from the beginning – there are several clues in the NE that just don’t make sense. “Wise guys” at 24D should be SAGES. “Party VIP” at 7D should be “Host”. Both were one letter too long. I bounced around the puzzle at random and finally, down in the SW, figured out what was going on.
Each of the theme answers contains the letter string URL
- ZIP YOUR LIP
- BURLESQUE HOUSE
- FOUR LEAF CLOVER
- CURLY FRIES
- HOURLY RATE
The revealer at 66A says “Theoretical connection…and a hint to interpreting several Down answer in this puzzle”. The answer is MISSING LINK. In this case, Evan isn’t referring to a step on the evolutionary ladder* but to an HTML link – a URL. So if you “miss” the “link” in each of the themers, the crossing down answers suddenly make sense.
- USAGES —> SAGES
- ON RICE —> ON ICE
- HOLST —> HOST
- INUIT —> IN IT
- DERN —> DEN
- SPLITS UP —> SPITS UP
- INURE —> IN RE
- TART —> TAT
- TOIL —> TOI
- TNUT —> TNT
- STEELER —> STEELE
- RUED —> RED
- PEAL —> PEA
- GRAD —> GAD
- HOLLY —> HOLY
- GAUZE —>GAZE
- BARRED —> BARED
- MORSEL —>MORSE
I love this theme. It wasn’t obvious, the revealer was perfect, and when I figured out what I was doing it fell nicely. All the theme answers are in the language and all the downs are solid with and without the URL letters. Despite the constraints of the theme and the revealer, there’s not much crosswordese in the rest of the fill. What a great start to my Sunday.
A few other things that caught my eye:
- Timely topicality: BURLINGTON clued as “City that elected Bernie Sanders as mayor.”
- “Like a saint” for HOL(L)Y and “Like a saint, maybe” for MARTYRED. I enjoy that kind of duplication.
- And we had a another one: “Cause of sleep disturbance” for APNEA and ALARM.
- “Where some telecommuters work” is CAFE. Am I the only one who filled in SOFA once I had the F in place?
Things I learned from this crossword: That a ragdoll is a kind of cat and Skinbark is an ENT. I have never read Tolkien; everything I know about ENTs I learned from crosswords. Is Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” an ent?
*I am well aware the evolution doesn’t proceed in an orderly fashion and we are not climbing a ladder. No one needs to school me on the subject. I’m taking literary license here.