This week’s AV Club has a meta with a chance to win “a special prize”. Check back Monday to get the details on the full solution.
Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword—Erin’s write-up
Today’s NYT theme involves phrases ending in three-letter words which are replaced by three-letter acronyms, causing hilarity to ensue.
- 17a. [Stat shared by many pitchers?] COMMON E.R.A.
- 26a. [“Leave that lady’s tomb alone!”] LET ’ER R.I.P.
- 40a. [Exam that’s losing popularity in high schools?] DISAPPEARING A.C.T.
- 52a. [Example of bad parenting?] MAMMA M.I.A.
- 66a. [Cry from an eager applicant for a delivery job?] PICK ME U.P.S.
It took me a while to figure out where the theme material is, mostly due to the two [Order for a “D, E, A, N, S” list?] clues for SEDAN and ANDES in the northeast. That was absolutely not looking like a strong Tuesday theme, so I was glad to discover LET ’ER R.I.P., followed by COMMON E.R.A. and the rest. It’s a clever theme, and well executed. None of the phrases seem contrived, and the results are amusing.
Fill in general is lively and clean. I enjoy the longer entries MODERN DAY and ASYMMETRY, as well as SWEETIE PIE and MEANIE. The partial MET AT is a little cringeworthy, but everything else is fine. UMAMI made me smile, as a ramen place opened near me recently, and my first experience there a couple days ago was amazing. Mmm, ramen.
That’s all I have for now. Until next time!
Chuck Deodene’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Star Vehicles” — Jim’s review
Welcome back, Chuck! Chuck Deodene hasn’t had a puzzle published in any of the major dailies since 2012, but prior to that, he’s had 42 puzzles published, mainly in the NYT.
I really like this theme: vehicular puns based on celebrities’ first names.
- 17a. [Transport for director Preminger?] OTTO MOBILE. Automobile. At first I thought this was a fine pun, but then it struck me that unlike the other entries, a MOBILE is not a vehicle in and of itself. Thus an OTTO MOBILE is probably what hung above OTTO‘s crib, or with a pronunciation change, his British cell phone. But then I thought of the Batmobile and figured it was fine again.
- 29a. [Transport for film’s Driver?] MINNIE BIKE. Minibike.
- 45a. [Transport for TV’s Duke?] PATTY WAGON. Paddy wagon. Depending on who you ask, the base phrase here is offensive. The origin of the phrase is unclear (according to the Internet) and has two interpretations. In the 1930s, police forces in America’s major cities had large numbers of Irish-Americans in them, so the phrase may have come from that. But the prevailing theory is that in the 1840s and 50s, during the Potato Famine and times of great poverty among Irish-Americans, more Irish were arrested in New York than any other group, mostly for drunkenness or fighting. You can read a very good history of the term here. Or you can go on a tour of the Emerald Isle with Paddywagon Tours.
- 61a. [Transport for director Welles?] ORSON BUGGY. Horse and buggy. Even after filling this one in, I wasn’t getting it. It took a couple of minutes of sounding it out before the penny dropped. Then I loved it. Say it with a cockney accent, and it will be spot on.
So yes, I thought this was a fun theme, ethnic slurs notwithstanding. And the title is a perfect play on words.
In other news, our longest downs are the fun LET ME TRY and less fun RED ALGAE. We also get a nice center section with I SWEAR, UNHINGE, and SNAP TO. I also like REELS IN and NOW NOW. Not a lot of gunk I can see. We get ELAN stacked atop ELIS, and there are the usual suspects like OPER, UTE, and WIP. These may be tired entries, but they’re not egregious.
- 35a. Favorite clue is [Sea air?] for SHANTY. Runner-up at 46d is [Chilling, militarily] for AT EASE.
- 5d. [Baron De La Warr or William Penn]. Each of these men is an EPONYM for a U.S. state.
- 9d. [Attracts, as customers] for REELS IN. I like that this refers to customers, not fish.
- 43d. [Like saddle shoes] is TWO-TONE. I didn’t know the names for these shoes.
- 69a. [John Durbeyfield’s daughter] is TESS from Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
- 34d. [Bush Sr.’s veep] is of course QUAYLE. What ever happened to that guy? #potatoegate
Puzzlewise, this is a good one, but it would have been better if one of the entries wasn’t based on an ethnic slur.
Patrick Blindauer’s July website puzzle, “7-4” — Matt’s review
Patrick was born on July 4th, and has what appears to be a patriotic meta (his name is 5/7ths of “patriot”). Instructions read:
Comparing this puzzle’s theme answers will lead to something you might see on July 4th.
From the title and 11-letter theme entries, I wondered if they’d all be (7,4) in length. And they are:
17-A [Kitchen covering] = PLASTIC WRAP
11-D [Gulf of Mexico feature] = DIURNAL TIDE. I know that this word is from the Latin for “during the day” and I think it means the same thing in English, but I’ll have to look it up. But I also recall from Latin class that it has a much more well-known derivative in English: journal. Yes, that’s what it means.
56-A [Words before physician] = PRIMARY CARE
24-D [Sideshow staple] = BEARDED LADY
So clearly there’s a wide range of excellent (7,4) entries available to Patrick here, but he went with a just OK list instead so obviously that’s meta pressure. DIURNAL TIDE is a bit obscure, PRIMARY CARE is dull, and BEARDED LADY is a little cringey. So let’s see if we can figure it out.
Hmmm, I’m not seeing it. The initials of the four theme entries don’t indicate anything that I can identify, and I don’t see any words hidden backwards or forwards or anything else. Time is short here so if anyone has figured out the meta, please let us know in comments!
But I’ll end my review with five of Patrick’s typically amusing clues:
36-A [Model for an art class, say] = BARE ALL. “Model” as a verb, tricky.
38-A [Superconductor?] = MAESTRO.
60-A [Job tester] = GOD. Long O on “Job” there, plus a masked capital letter. Ole.
45-D [Part of a fault line?] = MEA, as in “mea culpa.” Textbook example of rescuing a subpar entry with an excellent clue.
53-D [Fiddler on the reef] for CRAB.
Again, someone please enlighten me in comments on the meta.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is fairly minimal today – three entries plus the revealer SAYCHEESE. The cheeses are BRIE(fcase), FETA(lmonitor) and EDAM(amesalad).
The puzzle goes for some splashy longer answers, though there is always a payoff. MAMACASS and SLACKJAW are offset by ACAR and DMAJ. KIBITZES and BEATNIKS are in the opposite corner and lead to EMAG.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “No Way!” —Ade’s write-up
Just placing the puzzle on here for today. The grid, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is a slick puzzle in common phrases become puns when removing the letters “WAY” from the phrase.
- SUB SERIES (17A: [One hero after another?]) – Subway Series
- BROAD SHOW (25A: [Revue for a wide audience?]) – Broadway show
- HIGH ROBBERY (37A: [Break-in on the top floor?]) – Highway robbery
- RUN MODELS (53A: [Figures in a marathon ad?]) – Runway models
- HALF HOUSE (63A: [Two out of four stories, perhaps?]) – Halfway house
See you tomorrow, everyone!
WSJ – 35A SHANTY should have had something to indicate corruption of the normal “chantey”, which comes directly from the French “chanter” = to sing! I think of a shanty as a shack as in shanty town, or ice shanty which is a hut on a frozen lake…
To some of us, ‘shanty’ is normal and ‘chantey’ is odd.
Consolidated version, for clarity.
Despite this evidence, I’m in the same boat as David L. Note that the tide of usage is swelling.
You’re right, Cornelia. I balked at trying to fit in CHANTEY.
Thanks, Papa John.
Now, about BARBQ…
What’s wrong with BARBQ, under than missing hyphens? Montreal is filled with BAR-B-Q’s, with Chalet Bar-B-Q being the best.
I thought the NYT was terrific midweek fare. Good job, Tom!
NYT: 52d [1998 movie with the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”] MULAN, 3d [Deprive of courage] UNMAN. Hmm.
PB has a terse solution on his website (though it admittedly still took me a few moments to figure out).
I may be missing some layer to this — that’s common for me in Patrick’s metas — but is it just that the P-A-R-A-D-E letters are the only ones that appear twice in their specific positions when comparing the theme entries? I can see how that (plus having them in the correct order) would limit Patrick’s options for (7,4) phrases, but I’m also not sure what cues someone in to look for the only letters that appear twice at positions 1, 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11.
That’s all there is to it. I tried to get the letters to fall in a nice XxXxXxXxXxX pattern but couldn’t get it to work out without accidentally duplicating a letter somewhere else.
I enjoyed the puzzle and what I am about to say is not a nit so much as it is a question about the appropriate use of periods.
Here is one person’s analysis:
I know that the puzzle is not based on whether there are periods or not, but on the fact that we pronounce each initial. The ACT for example never uses periods but is pronounced A C T.
While the clue was based on the idiom DISAPPEARING ACT, the clue itself was far from the truth in that the ACT has become more popular than the SAT, prompting the College Board to fundamentally change the SAT so that it is now closer to the ACT.
According to the link I posted, missing in action can be either with or without periods; RIP can be with or without; ERA and UPS do not use periods.
The veracity of the ACT clue is irrelevant; it’s a hypothetical, just as the other themers are.
As for including the periods, I believe that was Erin’s choice to represent the theme mechanics as explicitly as possible. More generally, different style guides will have their own recommendations for when or if it is appropriate to use them.
I found the ACT clue to be humorous because it was so far from the reality. I recognized that it doesn’t matter for purposes of the theme.
I appreciate this information, because I accepted it as a fact!
Nice puzzle. The use or non-use of periods is often a nightmare for proofreaders and copy editors. Consistency of usage is sometimes impossible.
I was just really tickled by “pick me, UPS.”
I’m a former copy editor, but I was not bothered by the inconsistencies in the use of periods. They were all nice puns.
I’ve often joked that when a pitcher retires, it’s The End of an ERA.
Really enjoyed the NYT and AV Club puzzle this week. If you haven’t tackled the AV Club yet, best way is to print out PDF otherwise you have to download two .PUZ files.