Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
So, I hit the central answer before I saw any of the theme answers, filled in MUSICAL for 38a. [“Hamilton,” e.g.], and figured Finn had an all-Hamilton theme here. But no! MUSICAL was just fill. The theme answers are words that end with -GATE, clued as if they’re scandals:
- 18a. [Scandal surrounding copy editors’ proofreading marks?], DELEGATE.
- 19a. [Scandal involving Tesla C.E.O. Musk?], ELONGATE. Elon Musk.
- 28a. [Scandal affecting iPhone owners?], APPLEGATE. This is the only theme answer whose base is a proper noun (think Christina Applegate).
- 47a. [Scandal in the aftermath of a tsunami?], FLOODGATE.
- 57a. [Scandal that implicates a detective?], TAILGATE.
- 61a. [Scandal depicted in “Avatar”?], NAVIGATE. Ha! This one, based on the blue Navi race in the Cameron movie, and ELONGATE made me laugh.
Two words I know mostly from crosswords make up Finn’s last name, as I’m sure he knows: the vig and an eland. The bookie is an antelope and he wants his money.
Five more bits:
- 36a. [Do the breaststroke, say], SWIM. Dang, “breaststroke” has 5 consonants in a row.
- 45a. [Rink game], HOCKEY. The Blackhawks and the Blues are battling in a playoff game 7 right now.
- 64a. [“Amen to that!”], WORD UP. Okay, who says that? When was this current slang? Sometime between my generation and my son’s, apparently.
- 65a. [Popular strength-training program], CROSSFIT. Great answer, unless you don’t follow fitness trends or know people who do. The CrossFit aficionado I know? She’s a top-10 ACPT contender and she could lift any of this year’s finalists. (Also in my favorite fill category: STAGE MOM, FRENEMY, and CHAGRIN.)
- 39d. [Actor Bean, whose first name looks like it rhymes with his last, but doesn’t], SEAN. Love this clue!
4.4 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “The Luck / Is Yours” – Derek’s write-up
A gimmick this week! What are all of the slashes for in the clues? Unless I am missing something, the grid and clues are there to remind you of a slot machine, and everything is coming up lucky 7s! The grid is oddly chopped in half by black squares, but the three black squares directly in the middle should all contain a number 7 to make the across answers work. Here are the theme answers:
- 34A & 36A [Guy who’d / sell you / Gruyere] CHEESE VENDOR
- 41A & 42A [Tonight] THIS EVENING
- 45A & 46A [Hall / of Famer / who’s now / “The Body… / Politic”] JESSE VENTURA
A very unique concept! I still get the feeling I am missing the significance of the slashes, and why some clues have two parts, some three, some four or five, and some none at all, but it was still a fun puzzle to solve! Oh wait, I see it now: every clue is chopped up into 7-letter chunks! Brilliant!! A solid 4.5 star effort!
- 14A [Autobio / by Turow / based at / Harvard] ONE L – An evident must-read for first year law students!
- 19A [Harriet / Tubman’s / new bill] TWENTY – One of many women to soon be featured on paper currency in this country. May look similar to this:
- 7D [“Humming” / part of a / tagline / for soup] MMMMMM – I had MMGOOD in there at first. Admit it; so did you!
- 10D [Funk hit / for Bill / Withers] USE ME – One of my late grandmother’s favorite songs. Brings back memories…
- 28D [Upscale / sugared / hybrids / that are / usually / flakier] CRONUTS – Getting hungry again…
- 39D [“I’ll pass”] NO THANKS – Great long entry. Only ONE occurrence in NYT before!
I like that it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Makes the payoff better! Until next week’s Jonesin’!
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The puzzle grid shows a typo. It is just that, a typo! I finished the puzzle correctly, honest!! Our theme is explained at 59A, a convention that I am beginning to really enjoy:
- 20A [Keep in suspense] LEAVE HANGING
- 35A [Department store fixture] DISPLAY CASE
- 42A [Shingle securer] ROOFING NAIL – I have done roofing before. One of my least favorite jobs! If you know a roofer, have some sympathy for how hard this job is!
- 59A [It may be affixed to an email … and, literally, what the last word of 20-, 35-, and 42-Across can have] ATTACHED FILE
So you can have a HANGING FILE, a CASE FILE (as in a detective show!), and if when you trim your nails you use a NAIL FILE. One great thing about this theme: these are all different types of files! Sure the first two are similar, but a case file refers more to what is INSIDE the file folder, whereas a hanging file is just someplace you would store perhaps that very case file! Very neatly done, as is usually the case with these collaborations. I assume one came up with the theme and the other the great grid fill! In any case, well done! 4.2 stars from me!
A few observations:
- 24A [Gorilla who learns sign language] KOKO – Yes, I had KONG in there at first! Maybe he did learn a sign or two…
- 28A [Half a Mork-to-Orson farewell] NANU – I am dating myself seriously in that I remember when this show first came out! Robin Williams first major TV role, I believe.
- 65A [First name in bike stunts] EVEL – I am also dating myself in that I remember watching some of this guys jumps! I don’t remember all of them, but he was exciting to watch. I looked up how long ago he passed away, and I a surprised it was only 9 years ago, and not to an accident, but to lung disease!
- 1D [Old way to place a collect call] DIAL 0 – Yes, it is technically a letter O in the grid, and you young ones probably don’t even know what a collect call is!
- 4D [Sculptured, as an image] GRAVEN – Why does the term “graven” always seem to be used with sculptured idols, whereas an actual statue, like the Pieta, is never described as “graven?”
Great job, you two! See you this weekend for the LAT Saturday challenge!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 256), “Tool Boxes”—Janie’s review
Here’s the kind of puzzle we don’t see a lot of these days: one with “a mere” three themers: two fourteens and a central grid-spanner. In the age of more and more theme density, this felt like an honest-to-goodness breath of fresh air—especially because (while I’m not wild for the theme) the grid has room to breathe and becomes rich in long fill. And I’ll say it right now: there are still far too many names in the shorter fill for my likes, but on balance there’s a lot to like here.
Today’s theme is unified by the title: the last word in each themer identifies carpentry tools, each of which appears in the grid boxes. Of course, they appear in their non-tool sense, which makes the play-on-words work so well (even if the theme itself does particularly excite… [apologies right now to diy-ers and woodworkers alike!]). In this way, we get:
- 20A. PRIVATE PLANES [Perks for executives].
- 37A. LOW ENERGY LEVELS [Indications of fatigue]. Which sets the tone for the TIRE [Lose steam] pairing.
- 51A. BERNIE SANDERS [Presidential candidate who said, “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war.”]. Amen. For the resonant clue especially, this is the best of the bunch.
And look at the long lovelies this minimalist theme allows for: the vertically-running LIMA BEAN and SALAD OIL in the north; and (time-wise…) the long EXTENDED and longest ETERNITY to the south. (It’s also well worth mentioning that this last one is clued deliciously/punnily as [Perpetual notion?].) Running horizontally in the mid-section we meet up with SHOW-DOWN and ESTHETES, both strong entries in the “colorful vocab” department. Best of all? Why, the downward-facing LOVEY-DOVEY and THE THREE B’S, aka classical music’s [Bach, Beethoven and Brahms]. (“Questions and Answers,” aka “THE THREE B’S,” is also the title of a song by lyricist Lorenz Hart with music by Richard Rodgers from their vintage musical On Your Toes, but darned if I can find the lyrics anywhere on line… [and more famously, OYT also gave us Rodgers’s “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” ballet music].)
And them’s the high points, folks, as the remainder of the puzz is comprised of three-, four- and five-letter fill, most of which is functional (partials, abbreviations, names…), if not so much fun (for seasoned solvers—noobs may wanna take note of constructor-friendly fill like ODEA, ODES, OLDE, CREE, KO’D and the like). In this looooong run-up to the summer conventions and November’s general elections, however, I am partial to seeing [MEDIA blitz]; and I also enjoyed being reminded that a CAMEL is not only a dromedary, but a [Figure skater’s spin].
Will be back here next week and hope you will be, too. In the meantime: keep solving!
John Lieb’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bed Checks” — Jim’s review
Fancy a lie down? Doing this puzzle last night made me long for bed, so that’s where I went immediately after solving it. After a refreshing night’s sleep I’m ready to take on the blog!
What’s the theme? 70a asks us to look for the [Bed found in the five longest Across answers]. The answer is COT. Each of our theme entries has a hidden COT spanning two words.
- 16a [Home of Baylor University] WACO, TEXAS. WACO alone would suffice and satisfy the clue, but not the theme.
- 24a [It can make for pricey packs] TOBACCO TAX. I think I hear “cigarette tax” more than TOBACCO TAX. Are they different?
- 36a [Klondike frozen treat] CHOCO TACO. Best theme answer by far! Yum!
- 52a [Low-impact traveler] ECO–TOURIST. Another good entry, but not as delicious.
- 62a [Sonny Crockett’s partner on “Miami Vice”] RICO TUBBS. Never watched the show. I do remember the names Crockett and Tubbs though.
Pretty standard hidden-word theme. I’m sure there aren’t a lot of choices for theme answers given these particular letters, so these are pretty good.
But for me, there ought to be a reason why—a raison d’etre. What’s the point of a COT hidden in various phrases? Why a COT? Why not a BED? Why not any random letters like USY or PAG?
Or why not JAN (1a, [“The Brady Bunch” daughter]) who was actually a MIDDLE CHILD? (There’s a new theme for you. Note also LISA [Bart Simpson’s sister] at 20a.)
Yesterday’s NYT had a solid revealer. “MR IN-BETWEEN” gave us the hint that the letters M and R would be found spanning two words in the theme entries. But when there’s no meaningful revealer, to me it feels like a joke without a punchline, a fable without a moral, a story without a point.
But I’m sure a significant number of people aren’t bothered by this, and for them this puzzle is perfectly fine as is. In fact, it’s very well-built. The four corners with their stacked 7s are very nice. ARAPAHO and NICE JOB make a good pairing in the NW. I also like IRELAND, TIE RACK, UTOPIAN, PT BOAT, and especially BUGABOO, as well as some good shorter stuff like RIGEL and MAJA. But there’s also less-nice stuff like MOL, SET A, USH, plural OTTOS, and the undying SST.
So, while it’s a fine puzzle overall and the theme will satisfy many, to me it just feels like something’s been left out.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Rare Finds” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody. I hope you are all doing well. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, has five theme entries, and all of them ending up “splitting” the word RARE, with the letters from that appearing at the extremes of each entry.
- RAGING FIRE (17A: [Volatile conflagration])
- RED SQUARE (24A: [Moscow military parade site])
- RATTAN FURNITURE (40A: [Woven pieces on a porch])
- ROAD FLARE (50A: [Piece of highway safety equipment])
- RADIAL TIRE (64A: [Michelin offering])
I have a good number of friends who swear that ELF, starring Will Ferrell, is a really funny movie, but I’ve never seen it…and I don’t want to be disappointed (6D: [2003 holiday film]). I liked the clue to OUTBURSTS, though now I have all the different types of outbursts in a court room in my head right now (10D: [They may be heard when a verdict is returned]). For some reason, I did not think sports when I saw the clue to NBA, and only realized it after I solved the grid and looked at that clue again (42D: [Jazz gp.]). It’s late April, so the IVIED walls at The Friendly Confines aren’t in full bloom just yet, which, when it is, is probably the most beautiful sight inside of any baseball field in America (57D: [Like Wrigley’s walls]). Here’s hoping that I have a chance to head to Wrigley this year, though it might be even tougher than usual since it looks like the Cubbies are the best team in the National League right now.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DITKA (56D: [Coach to Payton and Dent in Super Bowl XX]) – Interesting little tidbits about the two men featured in the clue that references the 1985 Chicago Bears, coached by Mike DITKA, winning Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome. Richard Dent was the game’s MVP, recording 1.5 sacks and forcing two fumbles. Walter Payton, arguably the greatest player ever to wear a Bears’ uniform, ended up harboring serious resentment for Ditka and the team after that game, because he didn’t score a touchdown in the game which would have been the cherry on top of a Hall of Fame career. Instead, quarterback Jim McMahon (two rushing TDs), fullback Matt Suhey and defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry all scored rushing touchdowns in the 46-10 blowout.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on the top of the hump on Wednesday!