Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Sports Page Headlines” — Amy’s write-up
Cute theme! Baseball team + verb or verb phrase + another baseball team, forming plausible sports page headlines. The twist is that they’re clued as non-sports news headlines:
- 23a. [Conflict at sea], MARINERS BATTLE PIRATES.
- 47a. [Parenting problem at a zoo], TIGERS CAN’T HANDLE CUBS. I wanted BEARS and their CUBS, being a Chicagoan, but the Bears aren’t baseball.
- 69a. [Cold War synopsis], YANKEES DEFEAT REDS.
- 94a. [Show of respect at the Vatican], PADRES BOW TO CARDINALS.
- 120a. [Overthrow of a monarchy], NATIONALS TOPPLE ROYALS.
Nice fill for a Sunday puzzle, with the five long theme entries spaced apart just enough to let the grid breathe. Entries I liked: “OH, BOO HOO,” POP ART, HOVERCAR, BAD DATES, OLD MASTER, LAWYERS UP, HOT PANTS, and TALISMANS.
Three more things:
- 61a. [Particulars, in slang], DEETS. That’s short for details, and I have a friend who uses this slang but I almost never see it in writing. My eye doesn’t spy a CRY or DIET in the puzzle, so this could have been easier (and markedly duller) as DIETS crossing CRIED. But I like the CREED clue a lot (51d. [Seventh film in the “Rocky” series]), so I’m glad the puzzle is bringing DEETS to the people.
- 58d. [Leftover], ODDMENT. An odd word, that. Dictionary says it’s usually seen in the plural, which sounds more familiar.
- 49d. [The Pink Panther, in “The Pink Panther”], GEM. Really? I had no idea. Quizzed my husband—”Do you know what the Pink Panther is in “The Pink Panther”? He answered, “A diamond.”
Nothing grievous in the fill to detract from the puzzle. 4.25 stars from me.
Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Vice Versa”—Andy’s review
It took me a while to suss out what was going on with this theme. The title, “Vice Versa,” is an oblique hint: The theme answers are all phrases with a long “I” sound replaced with an “ER” sound:
- 27a, THE BEST OF TERMS [Optimal payment arrangements?]. “The best of times,” from A Tale of Two Cities.
- 42a, ARABIAN NERTS [Mideast cry of despair?]. Arabian Nights. This one made me giggle.
- 67a, STOCK PEARLS [Gems kept in inventory?]. Stockpiles.
- 96a, NERF-WIELDING [Like one brandishing a Super Soaker?]. Knife-wielding.
- 114a, SILVER LEARNING [White stallion at school?]. Silver lining. Silver, by the way, is The Lone Ranger’s horse.
- 15d, NOTHING TO HERD [Reason for cowboy unemployment?]. Nothing to hide. I liked this one.
- 55d, FLIRT TRAINING [Coquette education?]. Flight training. I wanna go to FLIRT TRAINING!
Cute theme, well executed. A couple of legitimately funny theme answers (so says me, anyway), and “Vice Versa” is a nice find for the title of this puzzle. Makes me wonder whether the title or one of the themers came first.
There were some entries in this one I really liked: RADIOHEAD, THE BLOB, COLTRANE, LIP READS, ED HARRIS, TAFT ERA [Trustbusting period], I AM I SAID. A few gripes as well: USIA, HEXA/OOX, a few partials and obscurities. The biggest trouble I had was the crossing of BEENE [Eight-time Coty award winner] and BREA [City near Anaheim]. Hometown LAT solvers probably had no trouble with BREA, but I was definitely guessing there; I hadn’t heard of the Coty Award either, but figured (correctly) that it might be a fashion award, in which case Geoffrey BEENE fit the bill.
That’s all from me. Until next week!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Time Trial” – Jenni’s writeup
Last week I was in New Haven. This week I am in Ocean City, NJ, for a family beach vacation – part of our daughter’s 16th birthday present. Emma and her friends got up this morning to see the sunrise, ate breakfast and then went running on the boardwalk. Meanwhile, Mom is sipping orange juice on the balcony in the cool peace of a Sunday morning and solving crossword puzzles. We each take our vacation as we’d like.
This week’s offering from Evan gives us phrases that end in the worm “time” and takes them literally. It’s not much of a trial. This is not a criticism; it’s a lovely, smooth, and satisfying puzzle. Evan tells me there’s a “small meta-like Easter egg” hidden in one of the clues. Perhaps it’s vacation brain, but I don’t see it. Anyone? Bueller?
On to the theme:
- 22a [Travel time?] = BASKETBALL GAME
- 35a [Running time?] = TRACK MEET
- 37a [Present time?] = BIRTHDAY PARTY
- 57a [Prime time?] = MATH CLASS
- 58a [Play time?] = JAM SESSION
- 70a [Turnaround time?] = HOKEY POKEY. My favorite of the theme answers.
- 77a [High time?] = PLANE RIDE
- 97a [Buy time?] = SHOPPING SPREE
- 99a[ Take time?] = FILM SHOOT
- 116a [Drive time?] = GOLF TOURNAMENT
I figured out the theme fairly early (TRACK MEET) but the answers weren’t entirely obvious, and it was satisfying to figure them out. A nice start to a vacation Sunday.
A few other things:
- The music of my youth at 1d [“The Winner Takes It All” band] is ABBA, for those of you too young to remember the 7os. This will be today’s earworm.
- I didn’t actually know that BAT MASTERSON was a real person.
- Amusing clue at 54a [Dangerous activity with a safe goal?] for BANK JOB
- [Airline carrier?] at 60d is SKYCAP. Do they even exist any more?
- I haven’t read the book Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, that’s referenced at 95d. It apparently features an APE named Ishmael, so I presume it’s somehow alluding to Moby Dick. We also have AHAB at 39d, clued as [To whom Starbuck says, “I came here to hunt whales, not my commander’s vengeance.”] Nice little literary connection.
Time to make my breakfast and search out bike rentals for the girls. I hope your summer Sunday is as lovely as ours.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the Chicago Bulls’ MASCOT was named Benny.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Cornball” — pannonica’s write-up
You say puns are corny? Here’s proof, of a sort.
- 27a. [Good time for corn?] THE MERRY MONTH OF MAIZE (… May). Crossed by 15d [Shower time] APRIL.
- 50a. [Sign that corn is high?] TASSELS IN THE AIR (castles …).
- 64a. [Hard worker in the corn business?] ALL-DAY SHUCKER (… sucker).
- 82a. [Pennsylvania-grown corn?] THE KEYSTONE COBS (… Kops).
- 98a. [Corn’s fate?] EAR TODAY, PONE TOMORROW (here … gone …).
- 35d. [Military corn?] ARMY KERNELS (… colonels).
- 41d. [Where corn is traded?] STALK MARKET [stock…).
> standard your-mileage-mileage-may-vary disclaimer about pun-themed crosswords <
Yes, I see your hands up and your legs quivering. Absolutely, I agree: the two-fer in 98-across was ill-advised, as no-one I know can with a straight face rhyme “pone” with “gone”—it’s purely an orthographic pun. Yes, that’s right: pone pun panned.
Bonus! 85a [Cornball material] HOKUM. You’d think also that we could get a teaching moment and include the crossword-friendly genus name for maize in the grid: ZEA. In fact, the scientific binomial is Zea mays, yes ZEA MAYS. Or even Zea mays mays, ZEAMAYSMAYS.
- This week’s what-the-hell-is-this-oh-it-must-be-a-Boston-clue: 42d [Durgin Park employee] WAITER. More regionalia: 43d [Bosox boo-boos] ERRORS. Not too many.
- 52d [Where Elvis was born] TUPELO. Tupelo, Mississippi. Crossed by 72a [Montana hub] HELENA, but nearby HELENA, Arkansas is also a very important town in the development of blues and rock-and-roll.
What the hey, I’ve been revisiting Little Axe lately, so why not include it as well? (But answer me this: why would someone change their name from Bernard Alexander to … Skip McDonald?)
- Your vocabulary words of the day: 96a [Varnish-making resin] SANDARAC, 55a [Capital of Dominica] ROSEAU. The latter is the French word for reed, so there isn’t a duplication with 5d [Fruits rich in vitamin C] ROSE HIPS.
- More longish fill: BLAMELESS, AEROBICS, HOME DEPOT, CHANNELS, HOT COCOA, HOUSEBOY. (8d, 9d, 78d, 84d, 85d, 31a)
- 53a [Ending on ant or top] -ONYM. Ow. Not as bad, but still ow: 117a [Ending on young] -STER.
- 62a [French 68 Across] MME. And the referenced entry? [Postnuptial title] MRS; might’ve been fun to add a “perhaps” or “optional”. But what’s more annoying is the duplication in 98d [Madame Bovary] EMMA.
- 83d [Rye fungus] ERGOT. Good old ERGOT. Alas, no place for HUITLACOCHE in the grid. Not even a bit of SMUT.
I wish the theme and clues had been more fun. Still, a worthwhile solve.
Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Interestingly enough, I just finished watching a story on SportsCenter about Will Shortz and his role as guardian to a Chinese ping pong prodigy. Very cool feature story, and I hope you get a chance to see it sometime. As for today’s crossword, Mr. Tony Orbach definitely delivered the goods with his grid, particularly with my favorite fill of the day, PSYCHO BABBLE, something I catch my self uttering, which is a little sad (18A: [Some self-help spoutings, say]). Wasn’t too troubled by the grid, except for the fact of not knowing MUMBLECORE, which slowed me down at the finish (10D: [Naturalistic genre with hard-to-hear dialogue]). Had the “mumble” part filled in, but initially put in “code” instead of “core” for the second part. Doing that, however, made me realize that ARTSY had to be one of the entries intersecting it, and that allowed me to finish (39A: [Too-too boho]). Well, that was after it took me a long while to understand what the clue meant, with boho being short for Bohemian. Can’t remember the last time I’ve come across ORMOLU – the word or the actual material (17A: [Faux gold]). At least it’s a good thing I didn’t come across it while it was made, since the smell of mercury would put me out of commission almost immediately. Right now, I can’t get the image of TIN CANS on a string out of my head, as I literally thought about that a few days ago and whether children today even know that was something kids back in the day used to set up (35D: [“Walkie-talkies” connected by string]). All in all, a lot of fun today with the solving.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TOMBA (22D: [Italian skiing legend Alberto]) – One of the greats to ever hit the slopes, Alberto TOMBA first exploded onto the international scene at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, as he won the gold medal in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom events. He repeated his Giant Slalom success at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, while winning the silver in the Slalom. (He also won silver in the slalom in 1994.) Tomba ended his career in 1998, and did so in style by winning his 50th World Cup event. That win allowed him to be the only male skier to win at least one World Cup race per year for 11 straight seasons.
Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!
NYT was great fun, particularly the care involved in making them plausible sports headlines. One quibble with ARAL, which gets used a lot: more accurate as “Former Asian sea”? My understanding is that it doesn’t really exist anymore.
For the most part, it is gone, but a dam project helped to restore some of the lake.
Thanks, Jenni. Enjoy the rest of your vacay.
BEQ gets credit for coming up with the HOKEY POKEY theme answer. I kept looking at “turnaround time” as another basketball-related clue until he suggested that.
For that “small meta-like Easter egg,” it’s nothing related to the theme. It’s just a little wink in one of the clues to anyone who spots it.
Oh, small thing: the answer grid has a typo. It should be VIDEOS/SOB at 74D/103A. This is not the Easter egg.
oops. Sorry. Sometimes while I’m writing the post, I change a letter in my grid as I go back and forth, and I need to remember to do the screen shot *first.*
WaPo – I found the Easter egg with some blind luck and a boost up from the constructor. I tweeted Evan that I hadn’t found the mini-meta and that the numbers in 114a looked more haphazard than random. He said I was on the right clue. I pretty quickly thought squares in the grid. Going to those six squares I found R-A-N-D-O-M. So yeah, like 114, 95, 109, 76, 102, 3 is RANDOM.
A nice cherry for the top of my ice cream cone.
Yup. The joke there was that the sequence is both random and not random at all. Good detective work.
Neat! Thanks, Evan (and thanks, too, to PJ Ward).
Doors trivia: “Mr Mojo Risin” is an anagram of Jim Morrison.
WaPo quibble: I thought 22A was a little bit off, since traveling is against the rules of the game, while all the others were clean matches [prime time was my fave], but then I thought maybe it was a cynical observation on the modern game since traveling is hardly ever called any more. Evan?
You could think of it that way, but it was just a phrase that fit the bill: a basketball game is an event where you can travel or see someone travel. I could’ve done [Drive time?] for that too, but I didn’t want to use the same clue twice.