Kathy Wienberg’s New York Times crossword, “‘Tee’ Time”—Amy’s write-up
Nine theme entries in this “add a TY syllable” theme:
- 22a. [Nickname for an accident-prone L.A.P.D. sergeant?], CASUALTY FRIDAY. As in Sgt. Joe Friday of old TV.
- 27a. [Cry from an errant burger flipper?], PATTY DOWN. I could see fry cook SpongeBob shrieking this.
- 44a. [Victoria’s Secret job description?] PANTY HANDLER. Can I just say I’m glad this puzzle is by a woman?
- 66a. [Gulf Coast port that’s gone bonkers?], BATTY MOBILE. Batmobile is great fodder for wordplay.
- 89a. [Three houses flipped this week, e.g.?], REALTY NUMBER.
- 104a. [Hooters menu?], BUSTY FARE. I wonder if this was the constructor’s clue.
- 114a. [Biscuits with no sharp edges?], SAFETY CRACKERS. Now I’m thinking of those Saf-T-Pop lollipops.
- 40d. [Protective covering for a pier?], JETTY LINER.
- 44d. [Sign seen at a Heartbreakers concert?], PETTY ROCKS. Solvers of a certain age (uh, those younger than me) may not know of the ’70s Pet Rock fad.
It’s late, I’m wiped out. So: I like SMIDGEN and RIPTIDE, and let me tell you about the OVERRIPE bananas in my fridge. A few little blah things jumped out at me in the fill—botanical crosswordese ARIL, letter run RSTU. Some of the theme entries did amuse me, and that’s what I hope to find in a wordplay theme.
Gonna sign off with a 4-star rating. Good night!
Garry Morse’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Musical Variations”—Andy’s review
Here, the theme is in the clues. SHARP, NATURAL, and FLAT (three different kinds of accidentals in music) are the clues, and the entries are different meanings for those words:
- 23a, STYLISHLY DRESSED [SHARP].
- 31a, PUNGENT IN TASTE [SHARP].
- 41a, SHREWD GAMBLER [SHARP].
- 66a, CRAPS WINNER [NATURAL].
- 93a, BRIT’S DWELLING [FLAT].
- 102a, NO LONGER BUBBLY [FLAT].
- 115a, TROUBLE ON THE ROAD [FLAT].
The LAT Sunday seems to feature this kind of theme more than most venues — I’ve definitely seen/reviewed a couple LAT Sunday puzzles like this by C.C. Burnikel, and those were executed better. Seven themers is probably the bare minimum, especially for a theme like this where almost anything goes. The fact that there’s only one [NATURAL] as opposed to three [SHARP]s and three [FLAT]s makes me wonder if the long downs in the NE and SW were ever intended to be a part of the theme. The current answers don’t really fit, but the grid may have been designed with that idea in mind.
Some positives: BLUES SINGER, BLANK SLATES, BOB BARKER, ED KOCH, and BARBARO were all nice additions to the grid, though if you know what happened to Barbaro, then this puzzle does not pass the breakfast test. On the flip side, just a ton of negatives. ILLUS., AGNI, CUME, EMAGS crossing OMNIA, the archaic UNMAN, WHOP, IN B, and that’s just the worst stuff. Is OLOGIST used to mean [Academic expert, facetiously], as the clue claims? Never heard it used that way, and can’t find a reference to that usage with a quick Google search. Also, the clue for BABE is [Ruth around bases], which is true but also a weird phrase. It sounds like it’s trying to be punny or clever, but I don’t see it. This puzzle was just not my cup of tea.
Until next time!
Randolph Ross’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good morning from Toronto! I hope you’re doing well, and am glad I can add Canada’s largest city to the list of cities where I’ve blogged from.
Stepping up to the plate on this Sunday Challenge is Mr. Randolph Ross, and he brought a tough but fair grid for us. Helped that ASPCA fell for me immediately to start on that Northwest corner, as that was a pretty easy mislead to navigate (1A: [Watchdog org.?]). I’m not too much on watching celebrity news and gossip, but was proud of myself that I knew that PORTIA de Rossi was Ms. DeGeneres’ beau (3D: [Ellen’s mate]). Not only does ALPHA CENTAURI stand out in the sky, it stands out in the very middle of the grid (14D: [One of our brightest stars]). After hitting a lull in the middle of my solve, got back on track immediately filling in PAUL NEWMAN, as The Hustler is easily one of my favorite all-time movies (41A: [He won an Oscar for playing Eddie Felson]). Got to learn a new city in Brazil also, as I went through all of them that I knew (and I thought I knew a lot of them after watching the FIFA World Cup in 2014 in the country), but not one was MACAPÁ (31D: [Brazilian city on the Amazon Delta]). There’s an obvious candidate for the “sports…smarter” entry with BLINDSIDE, with the book-turned-movie about currently NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher and his journey through a tough childhood being steered positively by football and his adopted parents (16A: [Hit unexpectedly]). But, there’s another clue that I’ll end up highlighting….
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SARGE (15A: [“Beetle Bailey” character]) – Former Major League Baseball player and broadcaster Gary Matthews was better known around the big leagues as “SARGE.” The 1973 National League Rookie of the Year had a fairly distinguished career, as he hit 231 homers and almost drove in 1,000 runs (978) in his 16-year pro career, but he was also a person who came up big in the postseason. Sarge was the 1983 NLCS MVP, as he hit .429 (6-for-14) with three home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies in the team’s series’ win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 19 career playoff games, Sarge hit seven home runs. His son, Gary Matthews Jr., a.k.a. “Sarge Jr.,” also played in the Major Leagues, and, in 2006, made one of the greatest catches in recent memory. Take a look…
See you tomorrow back in The States!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Comin’ and Goin'” – Jenni’s write-up
This one took longer than usual and I didn’t suss the theme until I was about halfway through. I didn’t speed up much once I figured out the theme. I like that in a puzzle. I’m not much for shortcuts.
“Comin’ and Goin'” means we add the sounds “come” or “go” to a recognizable phrase, and the resulting nonsense is clued accordingly.
- “Battle between the Cullens in ‘Twilight’?” = VAMPIRE COMBAT (vampire bat)
- ” ‘Garfield and Friends,’ for one?” = PET SITCOM (pet sit)
- “Juicy fruit for women?” = LADIES MANGO (ladies man)
- “Sleazeball on a public planning board?” = COMMISSIONER CREEP (mission creep)
- “Happy after being stabbed by bull, say?” = GORED DWARF (red dwarf – as in Happy from Snow White. That one took me a while to parse.)
- “Slam a game of chance?” = TRASH BINGO (trash bin)
- “Piece by Frederic Chopin, eg?” = POLE COMPOSITION (pole position)
- “Gift for a grown-up kid?” = GOAT PRESENT (at present)
- “Sham dance in the ballroom?” = FAKE TANGO (fake tan)
- “Toilet-flavored dessert?” = PIE A LA COMMODE (pie a la mode)
It’s hard to pick a favorite, although I think it’s GORED DWARF. My least favorite is PIE A LA COMMODE. Ick. I’m also not crazy about “pet sit” as a root phrase; I’ve heard and used “pet sitting” and “pet sitter” but never “pet sit.” It doesn’t feel in-the-language to me. That’s a quibble, though; overall it’s a strong theme, well executed.
A few other things:
- Nice self-referential clue at 1A: “Unlike this answer.” 1 across is, of course, not DOWN.
- Evan had no way of knowing that 1 D, DOVE, would be so relevant to Prince’s recent demise.
- We have a trio of medieval weapons with AXE, MACE and PIKE.
- I messed up the NE corner by putting HYPER at 15 D (“Excessively energetic”) and that took me way to long to fix. I also had AROMA at 17 D for “Hot pot emanation” instead of STEAM. Not surprisingly, nothing really made any sense for a while.
- “The Bard’s flower” at 38A is not a bloom, it’s a river – AVON.
- We have a pair of “dangerous stingers” – a WASP and a SCORPION. Can I use of the medieval weapons to kill them?
- Props to Evan for cluing PAT Summit without any reference to her sex. She is “college basketball coaching great” and needs no qualifier.
- I liked seeing OPAL at 2 D (“Birthstone that begins with the same letter as its associated month.”) I love opals. My engagement ring is an opal and I’m wearing an opal pendant right now. I have been told that it’s bad luck to wear them since my birthday is not in October. I think it’s fine; we’ve been married 31 years.
- “Physician’s concern” at 62 D is ETHICS. I would certainly hope so.
What I didn’t know before I did this crossword puzzle: That Napoleon Dynamite’s grandmother broke her COCCYX falling off her dune buggy.
I leave you with a song of my youth, referenced at 122 A.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Breakfast Request” – Jenni’s write-up
Wow, that took a long time. Should’ve had coffee first. It’s a quip puzzle (never my favorites) with an extra helping of names I didn’t know (which, of course, I therefore deem to be obscure.) I bounced around the grid for a looong time before I got a real foothold.
The quip is divided into eight theme entries:
A FEW DECADES AGO WE
HAD JOHNNY CASH BOB
AND STEVE JOBS NOW
NO CASH NO HOPE AND
NO JOBS PLEASE DON’T
LET KEVIN BACON DIE.
The “breakfast request” of the title is that last phrase: we’ll always have bacon.
In addition to the eight quip entries, we have 104 A: “With 69 Across, comic to whom the quip is attributed (likely didn’t say it, though)”. That’s BILL MURRAY. Okay. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t; I have no idea. I’ve never heard the quip before.
As I said, I’m not a big fan of quip puzzles and my response to the great discovery of the quip was decidely “meh.” Do you like quip puzzles? Do you like this one?
There are six names I didn’t know, and eleven that I did know. That’s a lot of names, and it doesn’t include the names in the quip or the purported quipster. I’m sure ‘”D&D co-creator Gary” GYGAX was a gimme to some of you, just as “Sociologist Fromm” (ERICH) was a gimme for me…that’s still a lot of names. A few other things that made me cranky:
- “High-ranking Muslim government officers (var.)” is VIZIRS, which I’ve never seen before
- “Microbrewery feature” is an ALE TAP. Which is certainly accurate, but I’ve never heard anyone call it that (and we’re homebrewers, so taps and microbreweries do come up in conversation.)
- “Clean the counter again” is REWIPE, which is a roll-your-own that I could do without. When Emma’s kitchen cleanup is inadequate, we do not ask her to REWIPE the counter.
- “Human being” is ADAMITE. Shouldn’t that be tagged in some way to indicate that it’s archaic?
And, to be fair, a few things I really enjoyed:
- ” ‘Animal House’ chant” with the full TOGA TOGA. If you don’t hear that in John Belushi’s voice, you need to watch the movie again.
- “Boris’s sidekick” is NATASHA which is, yes, one of the names, and was totally worth it for the “Bullwinkle” reference.
- “Chocolate treats” are BONBONS. I just like that word.
- I like “Fawning figure” as a clue for DOE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that some ski lifts are JBARS.
In closing, I give you a collection of Boris, Natasha and ridiculous names.
Wow – The NYT really tickled me… Hard to pick a favorite wacko phrase!
Wow, terrific 62-worder from Randolph Ross’s WaPo today. Really smoothly filled. Great grid!
I think there may be some confusion about what puzzle “WaPo” refers to. Ever since Evan Birnholz took over the Washington Post’s Sunday magazine puzzle, “WaPo” here has referred to Evan’s puzzles in the Sunday magazine. But Alan’s comment today mentions “Randolph Ross’s WaPo today.” It might be good to give this other Sunday puzzle (which is in the Arts&Style section) a different designation than WaPo.
I’m glad you mentioned that because I’ve been having the same confusion — uncertainty as to whether I’m rating the cs or the WaPo. Sometimes it appears to me that the two puzzles are identical — the same puzzle.
I used to do the CS in the Washington Post, but I no longer do. I remember being surprised to learn that the CS puzzle was in many papers, not just the Post. Perhaps that puzzle (which Ade reviewed today as CS) should always be referred to as CS, not as WaPo. At least here on the Fiend site, WaPo refers to the puzzle in the Washington Post’s Sunday magazine and, as far as I know, has nothing to do with CS.
I certainly always think of it as the CrosSynergy puzzle. The CrosSynergy team owns their puzzles, not the Post, whereas the Post hired Evan to make a Sunday-size puzzle. CrosSynergy has always been in a number of papers, but getting added to the Post was a nice “get.”
Compare and contrast. The NYT was very okay … but I was bored by time I was through. Add “ty” to first word. Okay. Been there; done that. Nine times. Yawn. The theme answers were not amusing enough to make that exercise entertaining. Now, Evan’s WaPo puzzle mixed things up. A similar theme, but two different letter strings popping up in different places — front, end, and somewhere in the middle. Far more interesting/challenging/entertaining.
So you’re saying the NYT puzzle didn’t put you ON CLOUD NINETY.