Jonathan Kaye’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme here pertains to the Denver boot, that godforsaken clamp that gets put on the wheel of a car with too many unpaid parking tickets. Here, the letter O in four small-truck names becomes a Q, a visual representation of what a booted wheel looks like. The Qs work normally in the Down crossings.
- 21a. [Incapacitated Chevy?], SILVERADQ.
- 25a. [Incapacitated Ford?], EXPLQRER.
- 46a. [Incapacitated Jeep?], CHERQKEE.
- 52a. [Incapacitated Lincoln?], NAVIGATQR.
- 59d. [Result of a parking violation … as illustrated four times in this puzzle?], BOOT.
Okay, that works. Simple.
A theme square count of 38 is rather light for an NYT puzzle, so I’m having trouble figuring out why there was so much fill that underwhelmed me. I mean, I hit 1a ASLANT crossing 4d ASWIRL and half-figured the theme had to do with those weird A-something words. Crosswordese type words and names like TSETSE ARETE EWER ELIA ANI ROCS ESAU NDAK (N-ugh) ARNE LOGE QEII ESTD, these did not bring me any joy. I liked TRIFECTA, ABERDEEN, “WILL DO,” TWEAK, PRIVATE EYES, and DROWSY, but my solving eye isn’t able to skim past the ARETEs when they pile up. I know many of you consider ELIA to be an old friend, but I could do without.
Three more things:
- 7d. [Indian flatbread], ROTI. Hey! It’s not NAAN for a change. Ah, but paratha, with the buttery layers … that is my favorite. Plus puri, deep-fried into a ridiculously fat pillow. Okay, fine. I’m biased in favor of buttery bread.
- 53d. [___ Saknussemm, discoverer of the center of the earth in “Journey to the Center of the Earth”], ARNE. Thomas Arne and Arne Duncan, make way for Mr. Saknussemm! Or don’t. Tough corner to fix, once you’ve stacked DRONE BEE beneath your NAVIGATQR and locked in that ND** spot. Why does anyone opt for a corner that locks in NDAK? Constructors, please don’t do this! Regular people do not abbreviate the state that way. It’s just weird.
- 16a. [Malarkey], BOSH. I … don’t get it. Because ABERDEEN and SHAQ are names, we get a common-noun clue for BOSH, which is a quaint old word that is not remotely in common parlance these days? I can’t help thinking that, especially in a Thursday puzzle that isn’t pitched too hard, this should have been NBA player Chris BOSH. Two championship rings, 13 years, 11 All-Star appearances? He counts as notable. (Also, Joe Biden’s chronic use of the word “malarkey” gives me life.)
3.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “BBQ” — Ben’s Review
Late summer is the perfect time for a BBQ, so this is nice timing for this week’s BEQ puzzle. It took me longer than I would’ve liked to figure out what was going on in this puzzle, theme-wise:
- 16A: Color similar to cyan — SEGGBLUE
- 25A: Ouside the sphere of physical existence — ULTRAMUN
- 49A: Brown device? — EMACHINE
- 60D: Miles Davis, famously — JAZZTRUM
Taken on their own, these don’t form much of anything (and I’m not buying an E-MACHINE as an actual thing). But once you solve 38A and the clues that rely on it, everything opens up.
- 38A: Summer party, often, and a two-word explanation of this puzzle’s theme — COOK OUT
- 23A: COOK OUT of 16A — ROBIN (ROBIN’S EGG BLUE)
- 33A: COOK OUT of 60A — PETER (JAZZ TRUMPETER)
- 54A: COOK OUT of 49A — TIM (TIME MACHINE)
- 56D: COOK OUT of 25A — DANE (ULTRAMUNDANE)
Re-adding the appropriate COOK (Actors Robin and Peter, Apple CEO Tim, and Comedian Dane) to the theme entries makes them the full, correct phrases.
(The Avalanches are perfect COOK OUT music, IMO. A hazy blend of old and new.)
After that long-winded explanation, I’ll keep my review on the brief side. It took me a few passes of the clues to figure out exactly what was going on (I was trying to convince myself that SEGA BLUE was an actual shade – after all, Sonic the Hedgehog was blue), but once I had foothold on the COOK OUT clues, everything made sense. This had nice theme distribution (names added to both front and back an equal amount of times) and nothing felt too obsure.
- 8A: Dessert bread covered in streusel — BABKA (I made a blackberry cheesecake galette this week that is somehow pie, cheesecake, and brunch all at once. It’s spectacular.)
- 22A: Her Twitter bio reads “IMAGINE PEACE: Think PEACE, Act PEACE, Spread PEACE” — ONO (this felt like a great variant on what’s otherwise a pretty common piece of fill)
- How long until we get an online R&D division of SERTA (41A) called SRTA (44A) to keep up with all the little startups like Casper that are selling mattresses online?
- 47A: Put in the jury — EMPANEL (Didn’t immediately recognize this as a word, but it totally had wordish nature so I didn’t change it once I got it from the downs)
- 38D: Where cabs cost money — CASH BARS (Nice. WINE JOKES.)
- 46D: Eli ___ (pill peddler) — LILLY (They hire a lot of grads from my alma mater, since both are located in IN)
(Washed Out: also good COOK OUT music)
Alice Long’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bar Hopping” — Jim’s review
We’re hittin’ the town in today’s WSJ puzzle by editor Mike Shenk. Your drinks will be served on the other side of the bar.
- 17a [Reacts after not getting one’s way, perhaps] / 19a [Bar order] = THROWS A TANT / RUM
- 33a [Bar order] / 34a [Faisal’s portrayer in “Lawrence of Arabia”] = ALE / CGUINNESS. Uh, there’s a great big order of GUINNESS on the wrong side of the bar here.
- 42a [Crier’s cry] / 45a [Bar order] = HEAR YE HEA / R YE. Again, someone snuck in an extra RYE order on this side of the bar, too.
- 57a [Bar order] / 58a [He’s ultimately caught by a fox] = GIN / GERBREADMAN
Nice theme that took me a while to suss out. For whatever reason, the first one I got to was GINGERBREADMAN. Last night when I was half asleep and solving (or flailing, more accurately), I took the GERBREADMAN and thought some sort of rebus thing was happening. This morning I caught the [Bar order] clues on the other side, and it all fell into place. What a great use of a 14-letter entry to extend it and make it a grid-spanner!
I did note the extra RYE and the presence of GUINNESS on the wrong side of the bar, but I guess I can overlook those in favor of the fun theme. I know, GUINNESS is a brand as opposed to a category of alcohol, but it could easily satisfy the [Bar order] clue by itself.
And what about 49a [They’re used for tracking shots]? BAR TABS is not exactly part of the theme; it doesn’t cross-reference any other theme answer, yet it duplicates BAR from the title and four theme clues. I guess I take that as a defiant stance against those who complain about duplication between clues and entries.
Moving beyond the theme, I really struggled in the SW, even after I woke up this morning. Crossing proper names ROSSI [2016 Indy 500 champ Alexander] and CIARA [“1, 2 Step” singer] was un-fun, and I still don’t get the clue for SEATS [Exchange positions]. (Having lived a life in and around the military, the Exchange is basically the base department store.) And the clue for SPARE [Let go] could have meant a lot of things. Add to that the trivial clue [Subcontractor in the Eiffel Tower construction] for OTIS, and there were a lot of blank squares down there. I got it all eventually, but that was a tough section. (I did like the OTIS clue, though.)
Talking about trivia, [Brand once touted by Fred Flintstone] is WINSTON. Not only didn’t I know that, but I don’t even know what WINSTON is a brand of. (Turns out they’re cigarettes.) Oh, and another proper name: AHMED at 13d [Riz ___ of HBO’s “The Night of”].
But other than some of that trivia we get the lovely FRESH PRINCE [Will Smith moniker] and MARE NOSTRUM [Roman name for the Mediterranean] which translates to “Our Sea.” Don’t care much for REBREAK, but I like TODDLE, PIXIE, ACUMEN, and SORTA SATINY.
Favorite clues are for 52d COACH [Director of plays] and 44d [Demonstrate fallibility]. Honorable mention goes to 23a SAFARIS [Game shows?], although I don’t think “shows” is quite the right word.
That’s all from me this week. Very good puzzle overall, but a bit heavy on the trivia in some places.
When next you hear from me I will be in TACOMAS (actually just the one Tacoma in Washington), after an overnight train ride from San Jose, CA, with three kids. Wish me luck!
Jeffrey Harris’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Missing the Boat” —Ade’s write-up
Well hello there, my friends! Sorry for being MIA once again, but I hope you’ve all been doing well in the past few days. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeffrey Harris, features theme answers that are puns created when the letters ARK are removed from the phrase (69A: [Boat that 18-, 36-, and 59-Across are missing]).
- MET RESEARCH (18A: [The study of a New York opera venue?]) – Market research.
- PING METER (36A: [Device that measures Internet speed? ]) – Parking meter.
- OZ MOUNTAINS (59A: [Emerald City range?])
Caught onto the theme at “ping meter,” and, after that, was pretty much a layup. Only needed minimum number of crossings to get the other two entries. Loved seeing TINHORN and its clue, and, after seeing it, need to incorporate it more in my vocabulary when the time calls for it (2D: [Gambling poser]). There’s usually some pretty nice fill of medium length in puzzles from Jeffrey, and I also liked seeing RUST BELT in the grid (9D: [Region marked by declining industry]). Oh, and if I remember correctly, wasn’t NORIEGA captured with the help of music torture, with Van Halen’s “Panama” being blasted by U.S. troops around the area Noriega retreated to to avoid capture (44D: [Former Panamanian dictator])? Man, what a way to go out; surrendering after listening to ’80s monster ballads at around 100 decibels.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NO-NO (48D: [Something taboo]) – There has only been one NO-NO (no-hitter) in Major League Baseball this year, with Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs throwing one on Apr. 21 against the Cincinnati Reds. If that remains the only no-hitter in baseball in the regular season in 2016, it will mark the first time since 2006 that there were fewer than two no-nos thrown during the regular season.
TGIF tomorrow! Hope you have a great rest of your Thursday!
Mike Peluso’s Los Angeles Times Crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello again, everyone! Ade here in the place of Gareth today for the LAT puzzle today, which was made by Mr. Mike Peluso, a constructor I should immediately like because he shares the same first and last name as one of my favorite hockey players ever, former New Jersey Devils winger Mike Peluso. Anyways, let’s talk grid. No theme entries in the grid..oops, there are two, the broken-up phrase of CUTTING CORNERS (33A: [With 43-Across, acting like an unscrupulous contractor…and a hint to this puzzles circles]). Speaking of those circles, those diagonal circles in each corner form words, all of them verbs which deal with the act of “cutting”: SEVERS, SHAVES, SLICES and SHEARS.
Took a while to sink my teeth in to the grid and figure out what the circles were forming, but the “cutting corners” entry was actually pretty easy…once I got to answering that in the middle of the grid. Actually had my toughest time differing out DEE, as, for some reason, I didn’t immediately think about the three Ds in the word (22A: [One of a divided trio?]). That clue usually is easy to suss, and it usually is for me as well, but I wasn’t alert to that one. That, and I didn’t like the clue/answer pairing all that much, anyway. Oh, and I was so upset when I put in VSP instead of VSO, as I’ve made sure not to be tripped up by that anymore despite the fact that I’m far from an alcohol connoisseur (18A: [Brandy letters]). I saw the clue and immediately was ready to put in VSOP, only to see three letters. What?! OK, so now I know; if brandy is referenced and there’s three letters in the fill, it’s VSO, and if there’s four, it’s VSOP. Got it. This grid also confirmed for me that the plural to salvo, SALVOES, can have an “-es” ending as well (67A: [Lots of shots]). Probably my proudest moment in solving the grid? Nailing ANDREA without any crosses (30A: [Tony winner Martin in the 2013 “Pippin” Broadway revival]). My knowledge in theater is slowly growing with each passing day! But, we’re not going to talk theater in the next graph, sadly. But, believe me, you’ll love the story that’s to follow, whether you’re a sports fan or whether sports is an anathema for you.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEO (49A: [One of the fire signs]) – The great manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, LEO Durocher, played a massive role in the origin of the now-famous phrase, “Nice guys finish last.” How? Well, as the story goes, Durocher was talking with members of the press before a game between the Dodgers and the then last-place New York Giants, who were managed by baseball great (and crossword royalty) Mel Ott. When one of the reporters asked Durocher, notoriously gruff to members of the media, why he couldn’t be nicer, Durocher then pointed across the field to Ott and said that you couldn’t find a nicer guy than Ott, but nice guys are in last place. Immediately afterward, Leo’s words were interpreted by the media as him saying that “Nice guys finish last.” How about that?!
Moreover, I recently did an interview with the 80-year-old daughter of Mel Ott, Barbara Schneidau. If you’re interested, she and I talked about the story above, as well as talked about Mel Ott and what type of man he was. The stories she had for me about Mel and living in New York (Mel and his family are from Louisiana) are absolutely priceless. If you’re interested in listening to this interview, which also has references to Toots Shor, Sir Alexander Fleming and the King and Queen of England (the parents of Queen Elizabeth II), click here and take a listen. I promise you, you’ll enjoy the interview and enjoy her regaling all of us with those stories from back in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s!
Have a great rest of your Thursday!
Mike Peluso’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s strangely lost write-up
The puzzle’s theme is CUTTING/CORNERS. There are four plural present verbs that “cut” diagonally across the four corners of the grid. I’m not sure why those answers are in plural form, other than for convenience. The verbs are SEVERS, SHAVES, SHEARS and SLICES.
Diagonal answers are deceptively disruptive in terms of filling grids around them. Along with that, we have “big” corners to accommodate the cutting gimmick her, and areas of considerable strain occur, with fill quality suffering as a result. Without splashy theme answers to distract, the stodgy fill feels all the stodgierer! The most egregious area was the MSU/STN/UHF pile-up of TLAs.
- [P.O. boxful], ENVS – gratuitous abbr. pluralising. See also TNS.
- [Prom dress material], TAFFETA. Entry of the day, I guess.
- [Magical opening], ABRA. After twenty years, may be reaching critical mass for Pokemon names to be acceptable crossword clues!