Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is 62a. [“Don’t wait for me to proceed” … or what either part of the answer to each starred clue can do?], GO ON AHEAD, and each half of the theme answers can precede the word “head.” RED-LETTER day, redhead and letterhead. HOT SHOWER, hothead and shower head. AIR BUBBLE, HORSEMEAT (a stand-alone horse head …?), and BONE WHITE round out the set in pimpletacular fashion.
- 4d. [Big name in retirement community development], DEL WEBB. There’s a Del Webb development in Huntley, a Chicago exurb. Are these places pretty much everywhere in the country, or did a lot of you draw a complete blank?
- 6d. [Company that invented newsreels], PATHÉ. It is possible that I know this name mostly from crosswords, not sure.
- 23a. [Beings, in Bretagne], ETRES. Weird French plural seldom seen in American crosswords. Would have been easy to pop in a pair of cheater squares and have ETRE crossing OREO, opposite PEED and TORE. (What? I have no objection to seeing PEED in a crossword.)
- ST. PETER, TRASHY, and SODAPOP are my favorite entries here.
- In a Tuesday NYT, I wouldn’t much expect (especially if I were a newer solver) to encounter ETRES, ULT, ORNE, SNERD, SRTAS, ESTE, and YSER.
3.25 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Freemium” – Derek’s write-up
A freestyle puzzle this week with tons of good fill contained within. I’ve said it many times; Matt is a master! I count 70 words, and it is very difficult to make a 70-worder with excellent fill, much less crammed with 14 11-letter words!! Did I mention Matt is one of the best? A solid 4.6 stars for this one!
Some of my favorites:
- 15A [Interactive Twitter game on Comedy Central’s “@midnight”] HASHTAG WARS – I am familiar with this slightly from some of the Tweets I get, but I have never played. Past my bedtime!
- 27A [Bob Ross ‘dos] PERMS – I has AFROS in there! That’s not a perm!!
- 39A [“Thirteen at Dinner” detective] POIROT – My favorite Christie detective; tons of episodes on Netflix!
- 54A [2014 bio subtitled “Paul McCartney in the 1970s”] MAN ON THE RUN – Deductible by the clue, but I have never heard of this book. Maybe a read when I retire!
- 3D [Sch. for Cowboys, Buckeyes, or Beavers] OSU – As in Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Oregon State University. Nice clue!
- 8D [Frank Zappa’s oldest son] DWEEZIL – Ashamed that I knew this immediately!
- 9D [1975 Leonard Nimoy autobiography (with an “opposite” 1995 follow-up)] I AM NOT SPOCK – The “opposite” version was titled I Am Spock! That’s what I call owning it!
- 24D [Theater consultants of sorts] DRAMATURGES – New word to me! That and my lack of knowledge of German numbers led to the incorrect square!
- 25D [Folk rocker with the 2014 album “Allergic to Water”] ANI DIFRANCO – Yes, I put ARLO GUTHRIE in there once I had the initial A. Hey, it fit!
- 57D [“Teach ___ Fly” (2009 single for Wiz Khalifa)] U TO – Remind me of how Prince used the letter U in a lot of his song titles.
Awesome puzzle! Until next week’s Jonesin’!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 259), “Wing Tips”—Janie’s review
No paean to a classic shoe style this. Or to a tuxedo collar, bow-tie, or style in EYEglass frames. Rather we get a culinary homage to a particular part of some of our fine feathered friends—which is accomplished by adding the word “wing” to the “tips” (ends) of the three grid-spanning themers. Let’s look at ’em first, and then I’ll give you more of my thoughts.
- 16A. NO SPRING CHICKEN [An old-timer]. Great phrase. Am not entirely in sync with the clue, but I can let that pass. Chicken wings.
- 37A. AMERICAN BUFFALO [Award-winning David Mamet play]. That it is. It was produced early in his career and really put him on the map professionally. Not to mention the boost it gave to the careers of several of live theatre’s best actors… Buffalo wings.
- 59A. CAPITAL OF TURKEY [Ankara]. WYSIWYG. Turkey wings.
And that’s it. Like last week’s puzz, three themers only. But this week I gotta cry
“Fowl” “Foul.” Not only is this is one pretty slender theme, but those Buffalo wings are simply spiced up chicken wings, no? In my book this is redundancy and reduces the themers two… Perhaps I’ve missed something. If so, please enlighten me. If not, (to my mind) this theme set doesn’t, uh, really fly. As always, your mileage may vary.
But… I genuinely liked those vertical 11s, both of which cross two themers: there’s the impressive IMPRESARIOS and the urban employee’s favorite convenience, those ubiquitous COFFEE CARTS which are usually out in full force during morning rush hours (but you’ll have to get your tea from an URN…). Two sevens also cross two themers: TIRED OF and the more lively INSECTS. I especially liked the clue for the latter, [They can create quite a buzz], and imagined a scenario tying that clue into the punny and peppy [Gossip girl?] YENTA / [Tabloid fodder] RUMOR pairings.
Other likes? The juicy JOCOSE, the Guggenheim-related SPIRAL and the visual suggested by those pirate flag SKULLS. GO FREE is nice; ROSINY, not so much (even though I know it’s legit). Also liked the [Cowboys’ home, familiarly] / BIG D pair, since these are the Dallas Cowboys specifically and not a random group of rodeo or cattle-herding types. [Ruffles] for IRKS also amused me with its potential for being tricky, as this is the verb form of the word and not the noun.
Am hoping you had more fun with this puzzle than I did. The preponderance of three- and four-letter fill bogs it down, I fear–especially in combination with the thin and iffy theme. That said: I’ll keep solvin’ and hope/trust you’ll do the same!
Jason Mueller’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You Can’t Wear That!” — Jim’s review
Our theme today is homonyms for clothing items.
- 17a [Track portion] RAILROAD TIE
- 28a [Limit for many a pro team] SALARY CAP
- 45a [Area where conservatives generally do well] BIBLE BELT
- 59a [Armored vehicle that debuted in the 1940s] SHERMAN TANK
I found two other puzzles in the cruciverb database that use the same theme (there might be more but I gave up after finding two Sunday-sized ones), but they both take it a step further—as if each phrase referred to an item of clothing for a specific person (e.g. an engineer would wear a RAILROAD TIE and a preacher would wear a BIBLE BELT). The first one is from Michael S. Maurer (NYT, 1997) and the second from Fred Piscop (Creators Syndicate, 2002). I found those approaches to be funnier. Three of today’s themers appeared in the Maurer puzzle.
The one that didn’t is SHERMAN TANK, which doesn’t work for me. I’ve always heard the sleeveless shirt called a “tank top” except maybe in advertisements. I googled just the word TANK, and it took until the bottom of the second page to find a clothing match, and then it was referred to as a “tank top”. See those two other puzzles for better choices. Also, a DEALER’S SHOE could work.
And I wasn’t sure until the very end whether the central entry was theme-related or not. 38a is clued as [Spots] and is simply NOTICES. But another themer could’ve easily fit in there (e.g. GOLF TEE). That would have put more constraint in the center, but I’m sure some adjustments could be made.
So I didn’t find the theme especially interesting or original and the last one irked me, but the rest of the puzzle is pretty good. Highlights are LOIS LANE, Amy SEDARIS, and EPIPHANY. (Although we also get EPISTLE which is etymologically related.) Also good are PILATES, EMBRACED, and NEBRASKA.
There is a high number of women in the grid starting with the aforementioned LOIS LANE and Amy SEDARIS. We also get XENA, JEN, TOMEI, and ALICE. Compared to men ALVA, SHANI, JEB, AMIS, and fictional OLIVER.
Fill-wise, this was a fine puzzle, with open corners and interesting non-theme material, but thematically, it was disappointing. Not only were three of the themers used for the same theme in 1997, but the fourth one just doesn’t work as well.
Enough said. Let’s end on a high note.
Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another new constructor to me, and he seems like he might be OK! Today’s theme answers are all phrases with two six-letter words that both start with P:
- 20A [Outgoing sort] PEOPLE PERSON
- 33A [Extra-earnest entreaty] PRETTY PLEASE
- 41A [KP duty need] POTATO PEELER
- 56A [Clerical worker, facetiously] PENCIL PUSHER
Can you think of any more? I thought of PANAMA PAPERS, which would be nice and timely, but it is technically a plural, whereas none of the other theme answers are plural. Very nicely done! How about 3.8 stars?
The rest of the puzzle is marked by its, well, unremarkableness! I don’t like EGESTS, but TENSE UP, T-TOPS, and A TO B I like a lot. Alternate clue for 43A [Outdoor]: [Alfresco]! (I think that literally means “OPEN AIR“, or something close!)
A short writeup this Tuesday! See you this weekend!
Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Labor Party” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, features a theme in which five entries are multiple-word answers with the first word starting with letter “O” and the second word starting with the letter “B.” The sixth theme entry, OBS, acts as the reveal (65D: [Docs who deliver, or what this puzzle’s longest entries have in common]).
- ORANGE BOWL (18A: [Annual Florida football game])
- OPERA BUFF (24A: [One with a subscription to the Met, probably])
- ORPHAN BLACK (37A: [Drama in which Tatiana Maslany plays multiple roles])
- OLD BAILEY (53A: [Criminal court that was built over part of London’s former city wall])
- OMAHA BEACH (60A: [Normandy landing spot])
I was worried about the breakfast test when I posted that link above, but since it’s dinner Definitely was caught up by a couple of entries/proper nouns that I had not heard before (or hadn’t heard in a long while), specifically GAIMAN (46D: [“American Gods” novelist Neil]). Initially put in “doter” instead of DR. MOM, which was a cute entry (33D: [Sick kid’s TLC giver]). Love the earworm that was given to me with the CROSBY entry (5D: [“Going My Way” Oscar winner]). A few years ago, I was home on a Saturday night watching PBS (I know, I’m a party animal) and came across As Time Goes By for the first time – with JUDI playing the role Jean – and wondered how I missed this BBC show, especially growing up with my dad watching reruns of BBC sitcoms all the time (10A: [(Dench of “As Time Goes By”]). I doubt I’ll spend too many more Saturday nights finding that on television, but definitely will have to catch up on the episodes I haven’t seen sometime in the near future.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DAWSON (12D: [First host of “Family Feud”]) – Nicknamed “The Hawk,” former Major League Baseball outfielder Andre DAWSON was probably the first true superstar to play for the Montreal Expos franchise, and was inducted into the Baseball of Fame in 2010. The first three of his eight All-Star Game appearances came as a member of the Expos (1981-83), and, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, won the National League MVP in 1987. Significant in that 1987 season was that Dawson, who hit 49 home runs that season was the first ever player to win a league MVP on a last-place team.
See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!
Not too long ago, Pathe released a large number of historic newsreels which are posted on YouTube. Be warned: they are addictive.
LAT: also, a home decor favorite: Prayer Plants whose leaves fold up at night.
DEL WEBB is NIMBY; never heard of it.
Tough for a Tuesday, I thought — some old-school fill and what seemed like more than the usual number of proper names, including the unheard-of DELWEBB. And some of the clues had an un-Tuesday-like indirectness to them — ‘it may be thrown at a corkboard’ for DART, e.g.
I am old enough to have gone to the cinema when there was a Pathe newsreel before the movie, so that wasn’t a problem.
Is it a flaw to have SARA Teasdale as an almost dupe of the clue Sarah ORNE Jewett? I didn’t notice until after I’d finished, so maybe not.
Del Webb was the first big developer of retirement communities, building Sun City in Arizona. Today, coincidentally (?), is his birthday; he was born May 17, 1899.
I will never understand puzzle ratings. Here we have (NYT) an interesting, distinctive, wide ranging puzzle with a minimum of crossword cliches. No oreos, orcas, oslos, ernes etc. No reliance on rock groups and computer jargon, which always takes my rating up. Excellent, creative puzzle which I enjoyed a lot. I wouldn’t single out any particular entry as my favorite — it was the variety and diversity of entries and clues which I appreciated.
True, “être” is better known as the verb to be, but it is also widely used as a noun in French, and the inference to the noun is not that difficult — as in “un etre humain.” Del Webb is pretty obscure, but driving around the country, as I used to, I’ve come across several Del Webb retirement communities.
I wonder why, for the first time in recorded history, my computer correctly contributed the circumflex accent, in the first line of the the previous paragraph, but only once. I understand the weird behavior of computers less than I understand almost anything else. I didn’t even know my computer had a circumflex accent.
I always loved the Pathe newsreels when I went to the movies as a kid.
“No oreos, orcas, oslos, ernes etc.”
You might want to double-check that statement :)
WSJ: I agree with you on tank–not as good as the others. I thought this was a tough puzzle for a Tuesday. I have never heard of Sedaris, Shani, Mya, or Satie, so I really struggled with the center and southwest sections. LIE IDLE was also a little weird, which made the center section all the harder. I had heard the word epiphany, but never knew it was a holiday, so I learned something new there.
Sun City in the NW section of Phoenix is a Del Webb retirement community and just in case you did not know that the builder was Del Webb, you can travel down Del Webb Boulevard to get there.
No need for PEED when NEED works as well (changing PEONS to NEONS). But DEL_WEBB, PATHÉ, and ÊTRES on a Tuesday? Even ESTRUS was a surprise, but at least that’s a nice word.
Horsemeat? I just had to comment on this. Gag. Esp. since I was doing this on the subway. Beef alternative in MANY countries? Really?
Sorry, this one just got to me.
Pathe I knew from seeing old newsreels from time to time in documentaries.
Sorry, I can’t do accents.
Sure you can. Just copy and paste the ones that are already accented in previous post.
Crossword Nation puzzle was shockingly subpar. Usually that puzzle is pretty decent, but as the review states it’s barely a theme, plus CAPITAL OF TURKEY is a non-starter for a theme entry. Bummer.
WSJ NW corner very hard. Took forever to get PILATES/CHOPS cross. Brutal
Obviously Jeff had to use the rest room when he created today’s LAT. Why? The theme answers were all “pee-pee.” LOL! Enjoyed it!
FYI, there’s no Chronicle of Higher Education this week. They’ve gone to their summer schedule so it’s every other week here on out. That’s per the paper copy.
In response to Derek’s comment on PANAMA PAPERS (LAT)–I don’t think the plural hurts this entry, because it’s not arbitrary. The answer wouldn’t make sense if it were PANAMA PAPER.