Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword, “Pitch Imperfect”—Amy’s write-up
We’ve got a playful ad slogan anagram theme. A key word in each slogan is anagrammed and the resulting goofy phrase is clued accordingly:
- 23a. [Warren Buffett’s rule about hugging?], DON’T SQUEEZE THE RICH MAN. Charmin.
- 39a. [Encouraging words from slug enthusiasts?], WE LOVE TO SEE YOU SLIME. Smile. I can’t remember whose slogan this is, but I’m enjoying the concept of “slug enthusiasts.”
- 64a. [Shout to one about to be knighted?], THIS DUB’S FOR YOU. Bud(weiser). I like the idea of shouting at an event where perhaps Queen Elizabeth is bestowing honors.
73a. [Take a clothing slogan too seriously?], OBEY YOUR T-SHIRT. Thirst, Sprite. Not sure I ever noticed that T-SHIRT and THIRST were anagrams.
- 100a. [Tulle, to brides?], THE FABRIC OF OUR VEILS. Lives, cotton.
- 118a. [“After all that hard work, I’ll order some cake”?], YOU DESERVE A BAKER TODAY. Break, and that’s McDonald’s, isn’t it? This one is full of yes. Bakery cakes are wonderful.
I like the theme, and I like how Patrick saved space for some colorful long fill—“NICE SHOT,” SPIKE HEELS, ESCAPISM, “NAILED IT,” CANNELLONI, EXACTITUDE, Gheorghe MURESAN (eternally in my heart for his “Gheorghe Muresan cologne” Snickers commercial), ROOMBA, and UNFRIENDED. These are not all as colorful as the long fill in yesterday’s NYT, but of course the Saturday puzzle didn’t have pairs of 14-, 19-, and 21-letter theme answers.
Five more things:
- 47a. [Grp. that gets the lead out?], NRA. What? The EPA works on getting the lead out. The NRA is, well, more about getting the lead in.
- 82a. [Clobbers], WAXES. Is this sports slang? Or old-timey slang? Or what? Not familiar to me.
- 6d. [Peg solitaire puzzle brand], HI-Q. Don’t know the brand, but I was a sucker for peg solitaire games as a kid.
- 15d. [Hit the ground running?], TRIP. Ouch. This is a funny clue, unless you’re the one tripping.
- 37d. [Like most trivia, in the real world], USELESS. What?? This is patently offensive. And patently true, 99% of the time.
4 stars from me.
Mark MacLachlan’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “C Battery”—Andy’s review
This appears to be the second week in a row that the Sunday LAT is a constructor’s debut–congrats to Mr. MacLachlan!
This is a solid theme, and the execution elevates it a notch. Phrases get an initial C added to (at least) one of their words, changing the spelling in each case, and causing hilarity to ensue:
- 23a, CRANE OF TERROR [Film monster at a construction site?]. Reign of terror.
- 39a, NURSERY CRIME [Peat moss heist?]. Nursery rhyme.
- 44a, UNSECURED CLONE [Double without a seatbelt?].
- 69a, WIKI CLIQUES [Exclusive editing websites?]. WikiLeaks. The only iffy entry, as I know a lot of people say “klik” rather than “klēk.”
- 92a, CRAZED EYEBROWS [Marx feature?]. Raised eyebrows.
- 96a, CASE OF SPADES [Garden center bulk purchase?]. Ace of spades. This probably went hand in hand with the NURSERY CRIME.
- 114a, CRY ON THE CROCS [Be tearfully grateful about comfy shoes?]. Rye on the rocks. Not as strong a base phrase as the others in my opinion, but it’s bolstered by the fact that there are two Cs inserted, both of which change the spelling of the original word.
Seven theme entries, most of which are very solid. Some really interesting fill elsewhere in this one: we’ve got AIR CHINA, NOT A SOUL, ARCTIC CHAR, OLD TOWN, HOBNOBBERS (bit of a forced -ers, but I’ve definitely seen worse). Not sure how to feel about THE CHAOS [Gerard Trenité poem about eccentricities of English pronunciation]. I’ve definitely heard some of the poem before, but the title didn’t stick with me. I didn’t like the duplicative ESIGNED and EBOOKS (though, of the E- words, those are two of the more legitimate ones). RIO D’ORO, a regional juice brand, probably isn’t a super reasonable crossword answer, but the clue’s reference to “river of gold” makes it fair.
SNAX crossing LOX seemed like a bit of what others have indelicately called Scrabblef***ing. I thought SNAX might have been in service of a pangram, but there’s no V in this puzzle. Words like SNAP or SNAG are, to my mind, preferable since I don’t think SNAX is in wide usage. SNAX has been in a few puzzles before though, so mea culpa if people say/write this commonly.
Also completely new to me was R BOAT [WWII German minesweeper], but this seems just as much worth knowing as the crossword standard U BOAT.
Overall, this was a fun, breezy solve, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else Mr. MacLachlan constructs. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be at the ACPT in Stamford, Connecticut! I hope to see many of you there!
Until next time!
Patrick Jordan’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Hope you’ve all been enjoying the first few days of spring!
Pretty straightforward Sunday Challenge today, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan. Actually didn’t know about the anagram goodness with VLADIMIR NABOKOV (16A: [“Lolita” novelist]) and VIVIAN DARKBLOOM until solving the grid today, so that was fun to learn as I was solving (48A: [“Lolita” character whose name is an anagram of the answer at 16-Across]). I’m sure it would ave been better to not have the second part of the clue included and find that out in the comments afterward (or be left in the dark unless someone told me outside of here). Other than that, no real trouble spots. Well, there was one, but I’ll save that for the end of this blog. My mom loves watching old game show reruns and, lately, she’s been watching Tattletales a lot and I’ve been able to see CONVY a good number of times when I’ve watched the shows with her (43A: [Classic game show host Bert]). Probably the entry I liked the least was INKIER, which had to be right given its crossings, but still is not a word I’m too enthralled with (11D: [More murky]). So the place where I had the most trouble occurred in the Northwest, and that was caused by having “oral exam” instead of ORAL TEST for the longest time (3D: [Vocalized evaluation]). I’ve probably heard people say “oral test” about two times in my life. Finally got to untangle that mess before finishing the grid, and that area of the puzzle also housed another tricky entry for me…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CULLIGAN (2D: [RainSoft rival]) – I had absolutely no idea what RainSoft was, so this made answering this even more tricky. The only time I’ve heard of CULLIGAN, the water treatment company, was during college football bowl season more than a decade ago. From 1998 to 2001, Culligan was the title sponsor of the Holiday Bowl football game that takes place every December in San Diego. After it no longer was the title sponsor, I never heard of Culligan again until…this morning.
Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “No Room”—Jenni’s write-up
I love the themeless puzzles Brendan posts every Monday on his website and that’s what I get set for when I see his byline. This one was much easier and more conventional – entirely appropriately, I hasten to add.
All the theme entries start with words that evoke a tight space where one would need to MAKE ROOM.
- Prevented someone from acting normally – CRAMPED ONE’S STYLE
- Greeted people – PRESSED FLESH
- Like many indie films – LIMITED RELEASE
- Closefitting – TIGHT AS A DRUM
- Had a powerful effect – PACKED A PUNCH
- Was frugal – PINCHED PENNIES
- “Don’t Dream It’s Over” band – CROWDED HOUSE
- Civic-minded person? – COMPACT CAR DEALER
Almost all the theme answers are firmly in the language. The exception is PRESSED FLESH. The idiom is “pressed THE flesh” and without THE, it strikes me as creepy. If Google results mean anything, “pressed flesh” gets about 17,000 hits, many of which are legal definitions; this apparently a term of art that has nothing to do with greeting people. “Pressed the flesh” gets upwards of 160,000 hits, and the first two pages are all the intended meaning, usually referring to politics. I’m also not crazy about “Closefitting” for TIGHT AS A DRUM. To me, “close-fitting” refers to clothing and “tight as a drum” is used for alibis, or something like that. It also reminds me that my djembe head needs to be tightened…
I like CRAMPED ONE’S STYLE and COMPACT CAR DEALER best among the other theme answers. Why? Couldn’t tell you. I just liked them. I also like puzzles where there are theme answers going in both directions. Completely personal taste, I know.
A few other things:
- Crosswordese right off the bat at 1A with EWER. I filled it in and then took it out because I didn’t think he’d give us that as the first answer…looked at the crossings and put it back in.
- ECARTE, crossing EWER, gives this a Maleskan feel.
- More crossing crosswordese with ESSE and SERE.
- Contemporary reference with “Emojis, e.g.” cluing CRAZE. Indeed.
- I liked “Hefty rival” cluing GLAD.
- Also enjoyed “Calculus degree?” for DDS. That one took me a minute to figure out.
- We get two Boolean words: NOR and THEN.
Something I did not know before I did this puzzle: that VIRGOs are a “picky and critical sort, supposedly.”
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Overhead Items”—Jenni’s write-up
I didn’t pay attention to the grid at first. I knew there was something off at 4D, “McCoy’s foe”. I was thinking about Bones McCoy, from Star Trek, but that made no sense. I moved on and found myself at 6D, “Idiomatically buried object”. Huh? Four letters? Should be “hatchet”, right? Hmm. I circled back to the NW corner, filled in a few more crossers, and realized that “McCoy’s foe” was FIELD – for HATFIELD. Ohhh! Then the buried item is hatCHET. Got it. So the “overhead items” referenced in the title are HATS above the grid. Cute!
But wait, there’s more! For one thing, there’s a hat in the grid. It’s a specific kind of hat. What kind of hat? The clues with asterisks will tell us more.
- With 106 Across, original name of Mr. Monopoly – RICH UNCLE PENNYBAGS
- The WB’s amphibious mascot with a stately name – MICHIGAN J FROG
- Miser who sometimes swims in money – SCROOGE MCDUCK
- Planters mascot – MR PEANUT
- Comics magician created by Lee Falk – MANDRAKE
- Fizzy Lifting Drink inventor – WILLY WONKA
- Umbrella-toting villain – THE PENGUIN
And, in the center, in case you didn’t figure it out, is the revealer:
“Items sported by the answers to the starred clues…and something depicted in this puzzle in more ways than one”. Ta-da! TOP HATS.
The other “top hats” in the northern region of the puzzle:
- Gestures of acknowledgment – hatTIPS
- Carli Lloyd’s feat at the 2015 World Cup final – hatTRICK
Bonus points for using a woman to clue HAT TRICK and not modifying “World Cup” with “women’s World Cup.”
I love this puzzle. It has lots of layers which makes for lots of fun discoveries without mind-bending difficulty. Here’s a hat, and there’s a hat, and there’s ANOTHER hat!
Other random comments:
- It’s the first time I’ve seen DELI clued with a reference to panini.
- I am always taken in by clues like 13a – “Feature of this paritcular clue”. Answer: TYPO. Since I read right over the TYPO at first, I was mystified. And I’ve now read this piece over three times to try and catch my own typos, because there’s nothing like mentioning a typo to ensure that I’ll have one.
- “Musical Hayes or Stern” – Isaac. That would be an intriguing duet.
- I’m not at all sure that HE’D is a “common contraction”. This puzzle is so full of themey goodness that I don’t really care.
- I did not know that BABKA was an Easter treat. I always associate it with Yom Kippur, because my aunt always served it at break-fast.
- I fill in MENU for “Restaurant freebie” at 56A, which seemed odd. It was odd, because it was wrong. The correct answer is MINT, which makes much more sense.
- I wonder if Evan chose “Crucifixion” as the clue for Phil OCHS because it’s Easter. I am passingly familiar with Ochs and hadn’t heard that song before.
Something I didn’t know before I did this crossword (in addition to the Easter/babka connection): anything about naam japna. According to Sikhiwiki, this can also be rendered as naam japo and is the “remembrance of God by repeating and focussing the mind on His name or identity.” I also did not know there was such a thing as Sikhiwiki.
Here’s Phil Ochs singing “Crucifixion”.