This week’s AV Club puzzle from Francis Heaney is a meta contest – a writeup will be posted next Monday once answer submissions have closed.
Alex Boisvert and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Erin’s write-up
Continuing the apparently new NYT Pairs Division today are Alex Boisvert and Jeff Chen with their puzzle in TRIPLE TIME, in which the theme answers contain three words that all precede the word TIME in common phrases (NEXT TIME, DAYTIME, AIR TIME, etc.). They do a great job finding 12 strong words combining into four solid phrases.
The one bit of fill that made me cringe was PAWLS [Parts of ratchets]. Never heard of them, and the word (in singular form) has only been used three other times in the NYT since 1991. Other than that, I was surprised to see LOVE HOTEL, but this type of establishment has a pretty fascinating history dating back to the early Edo (EDO!) period in Japan. Here is an article about one Kobe Gakuin University instructor’s research on love hotels, and an article with lots of pictures of some of the more interesting hotels and rooms (all SFW). I enjoyed the inclusion of NARITA International Airport, as one might fly into there if they wanted to check out a love hotel. One could also fly into Narita to visit Aoshima, aka ‘Cat Island’.
3.6 stars, and a raised eyebrow from me.
Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “More Where That Came From” — Jim’s review
Wow! How strange is it to see a non-meta Gaffney? I’m sure he has loads under his belt, but I don’t recall seeing one in the past few years at least.
So this one is pretty straightforward. Matt’s found five AND phrases where the first word is CONTAINed within the last word. To be more precise, the first word can be found at the end of the third word. He managed to stuff them all into a pinwheel pattern including the center where the fifth phrase crosses itself. Nice feat of construction!
- 17a [Unable to drink much alcohol] ONE AND DONE. Fun clue and answer!
- 11d [Battle of the Sexes combatants] MEN AND WOMEN. Really, the answer should be Bobby RIGGS AND Billie Jean KING.
- 59a [How barbecue is best cooked, it’s said] LOW AND SLOW. Seems like I know this phrase from elsewhere, but I can’t place it just now. Ah, LOW AND SLOW reminds me of that outstanding WSJ puzzle from yesterday with the theme LOW RIDERS. When you’re cruisin’ down Hollywood Blvd, LOW AND SLOW is the way to go!
- 25d [On the town] OUT AND ABOUT
- And in the center: 39a [With 32-Down, occasionally] HERE AND / THERE
I made steady progress during the solve all around the pinwheel, but kept getting stymied in the center. I wanted WASCALLY for 31d [Like Bugs Bunny, per Elmer Fudd], PRODIGY for 35d [Wunderkind], and I could not see EXEMPLAR or ESTATE or CARATS or, least of all, CHRON (36a [Either of two O.T. books]). I finally pieced together the theme answer in that section and then everything else fell into place.
- I like the inclusion and cross-reference of 50a ANATOMY and 9d SKELETON. Lovely!
- One of these times I want the clue [Office hookup] (42a) to be WORKPLACE ROMANCE or something.
- 23d‘s clue [Ought’ve] seems awkward. Ought’ve is short for “Ought to have”. SHOULDA is short for “Should have”. Too many haves, not enough have-nots.
- 31d, the Elmer Fudd clue, is just plain wrong. The answer to the clue as given should be SCWEWY, not SCREWY.
- I like the clue for 27d [You save it for your wedding]. It makes you think one thing then switches it around on you by giving you THE DATE. Cheeky!
- 44a SO MAD should be clued as a partial, as in [“Sometimes you make me ___”]. Instead, the clue is [More than just irritated] which begs the answer IRATE.
- Didn’t know 66a [“The Cloister and the Hearth” author] READE or its crosser 63d [“How to Get Away With Murder” character] WES, but thankfully the most likely choice at the crossing was correct. By the way, that’s English author Charles READE and character WES Gibbins (played by Alfred Enoch), from the TV show.
- 56d MACS clued as [Sights in many art departments] made me think they were all wearing mackintosh raincoats (as opposed to smocks). Now I think the clue is referring to Apple MACS, which are better suited to artistic endeavors than Windows computers.
Overall, a satisfying solve which provided just enough of a challenge with some crunchy clues. Thanks, Matt!
Ian Livengood’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Upwardly Mobile”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! In a couple of days, I’ll be figuring out whether I’ll be on a flight for a possible assignment or not, and today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Ian Livengood, happens to be perfect timing on that front. Each of the four theme entries are phrases that have been altered into puns by its cluing, with the first word of the answer also representing the name of an airline company.
- DELTA BLUES (17A: [St. Louis skaters on an airline?])
- AMERICAN HERO (24A: [Submarine sandwich on an airline?])
- SPIRIT ANIMAL (47A: [Brutish sort on an airline?]) – Some may not be aware of this phrase that’s very popular amongst millennials. Oh, and by the way, Spirit Airlines, in my mind, is terrible! At least that’s been my experience the couple of times I flew with them!
- VIRGIN SNOW (56A: [TV reception problem on an airline?])
Was this puzzle a secret way to advertise the INDIE 500 crossword puzzle tournament coming up in just over two months (14A: [Like many a low-budget film])? Probably not, but another reminder of that great tournament definitely isn’t a bad thing. Probably of all the super powers that people could choose to have, I might want to have X-RAY VISION the least (29D: [Superpower of Superman]). At least I can be really productive with having the ability to fly or having super strength or speed. But no real advantage comes from having that vision, at least in my book. It’s awesome to see Don AMECHE in the grid, as he and (Ralph) Bellamy were just part of what made Trading Places such a good movie (10D: [He played a Duke brother in “Trading Places”]). This might inspire me to make a $1 bet on something later on in the day.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PIT (4D: [Where a maestro waves a baton]) –One of the most breathtaking and intimidating places to play a college basketball game, the University of New Mexico basketball teams play at an arena now called WisePies Arena, though everyone knows it as The PIT. It’s called that (The Pit) because the court is located 37 feet below street level, but part of what makes it so intimidating is that the arena is over a mile above sea level (5,312 feet), causing opponents not used to playing above sea level to tire much faster and feel like their lungs are about to jump out of their chest after a few minutes of running full speed on the court. Remember when North Carolina State won the national championship in 1983 on that famous dunk at the end of the title game against Houston? It happened at The Pit in Albuquerque.
Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you tomorrow
Matt Scoczen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is KPDUTY; it features KP answers, which is a fairly open-ended concept, except that both K and P are less common letters. Still, we’re inclined to expect water-tight theme answers and several that pop… KINGPENGUIN is fun, even with the awkwardly-worded clue designed to avoid using “penguin”; they could have used Sphenisciform, of course. KUNGPAO is also good; I’ve recently tried the KUNGPAO and GENERALTSOS chicken at the local Asian fusion (for want of a better description) restaurant… KUNGPAO is hot!! KEGPARTY and KIAPRIDE both are apt to the theme. The weak entry is KETCHUPPACK. Try typing that into Google. Google corrects you. Surely you mean KETCHUPPACKET? Googling in quotes yields less than 10,000 entries and the top ones only appear because they occur as part of shortened URL names, leastways that’s what I can see.
Top-left stack was very good: TOMBOY / ONAUTO / space cake pioneer TOKLAS; I don’t know what a BUCKSAW is, but I’m not DIY inclined. Overall though, there was a “good enough”, rough-around-the-edges feel to the grid. SERE/ARCA/REKNIT in one section is probably a sign it should be redone. ILE could be excised from the top-right in 100s of ways.
Interesting aside: [How some Bibles present Jesus’ words], INRED. A notable example is the NIV. Despite being about the most popular Bible translation, and being three letters, it has never been used in a crossword, at least that I’m aware of.
I thought PAWLS was a first-pass gimme; maybe it’s the proverbial “guy thing”?! It’s a common component of any ratcheting system; to a bicyclist, having stuck or slipping pawls in the freewheel or freehub could have rather disastrous consequences.
I knew PAWLS too, though not a guy… not sure why! Maybe old xwords?
Didn’t have too much an issue with PAWLS, but cluing Cal Ripken as a THIRD baseman caused me to grumble a bit since he’s mostly known at short, where he basically redefined the position.
p.s. Amusing coincidence: regional airline Virgin America is said to be for sale!
LAT: KETCHUP PACK? Never heard this called anything but a packet.
Yes. What would you have put there? KEYPOSITION is functional, if sere. KNIFEPLEATS has an odd plural out, problem…
LAT: My goof today was writing “figleaf” instead of “figtree.”