Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This post would have gone up sooner, but I was busy Googling Accra taco to see what Tex-Mex options there are in Ghana. (Answer: Not much.)
Cute theme: Take a letter whose plural sounds like an English word, link it to something quasi-synonymous (with a [See circled letters] clue), and circle two instances of that letter in that synonym. To seize (C’s) is CONFISCATE, in which two C’s are circled. The LIFE OF RILEY is a life of ease (E’s). “Geez” or “jeez,” GOOD GOLLY and its G’s. FLIRT WITH gets T’s and tease, but I’m giving the side-eye to that equivalency. (Got dictionary support for that? Keep it to yourself.) SCRUTINIZES, eyes, I’s. RUN THROUGH, use, U’s. Put them all together and they spell CEGTIU! (Okay, so the theme doesn’t hit those Berryesque heights of “how the hell did he do that?” elegance. It’s still pretty good.)
Top fill: CANDY CORN (which I go back and forth on—currently, I like the “Indian corn” with cocoa in it but abhor all other varieties), PHENOM, Nineteen Eighty-Four’s O’BRIEN.
Sort of new to me: 47d. [“Mission: Impossible” genre], SPY-FI. Hardly anybody is using that term, right?
Six more things:
- 67a. [Trunks, of a sort], NOSES. Took me a while to unravel this one, despite Drowzee’s best efforts.
- 30a. [Weight lifter], PULLEY. Physics! Not the workout room.
- 1d. [A shooting star has one], ARC. Astrophysics! Literally a star, not a film star or a basketball star or what-have-you.
- 24d. [Mythical eponym of element #41], NIOBE. Chemistry! I like the clue approach.
- 37d. [Jerk], SCHMO. Raise your hand if you went with SPASM first.
- 7d. [No-holds-barred online Q&A], AMA. This is, as far as I know, specifically a thing at reddit.com and not a generic term. Stands for “ask me anything.” If you didn’t have a clue how AMA related to this clue, I’m not casting aspersions on you.
Four stars from me.
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Doubling Down” — Jim’s review
A very unusual grid today for the WSJ. At first it seems like a rebus, but to my knowledge, Mike Shenk has never run one.
Our four theme entries seem like they have squares that need multiple letters squeezed inside. The letters in question are actually homophones of numbers, and not just any numbers, but numbers that are doubled as we progress down the grid, i.e. WON, TO, FOR, and ATE.
Since I was solving using the crappy Java solver on the website (which has no means of putting in rebus entries), I left those squares blank. But I wanted to take a screenshot for this post, so rather than having empty squares, I put in the actual missing numbers, et voilà! I got the applause.
- 20a [1927 Gershwin show tune] ‘S 1DERFUL. Didn’t know this one. Composed by George with lyrics by Ira and introduced in the musical Funny Face.
- 31a [1968 Steppenwolf song] BORN 2 BE WILD
- 41a [1951 Nat King Cole hit] UN4GETTABLE
- 53a [1971 Carole King chart topper] IT’S TOO L8
I enjoyed my little AHA moment and the puzzle as a whole. Tougher clues than yesterday, but nothing too tough.
What I’m not getting though is the connection between the doubling theme and songs. I don’t see any reason why the theme answers have to be songs. Any old phrase will do as long as it contains the needed letters. If you see a connection, please let me know. Also, I guess I have to give a minor demerit for the homophone TOO in the final themer.
APART from the theme we get nice entries PIT CREWS and AGE LIMIT. I love PHOOEY in the SE, but it causes a crosswordese pile-up with OR SO, LEAS, OREO, and ESAU. Plus, unknowable [Royals manager Ned] YOST. Yikes.
Favorite clue is 49d‘s [Make clear] for ERASE. Very tricksy, that one!
Overall, a fun puzzle and something different, which is always (well, often) a good thing.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Red Heads” — Ben’s Review
It’s the day before the day before Lollapuzzoola! I’m getting pumped up to solve some puzzles with everyone – hope to see you there!
Today’s BEQ puzzle was a nice little warm-up for this weekend’s fun – the theme was just tricky enough that I didn’t catch it until 2/3rds of the way through. “Red Heads” should have given me more of a nudge of how to parse the theme answers, but this could have been called “Red Cross” just as easily:
- 21A: Everything, with “the” — WHOLE NINE YARDS
- 8D: Developed, as a habit — FALLEN INTO
- 41A: Refrain from retaliation — TURN THE OTHER CHEEK
- 38D: New York city whose name means “beyond the pines” — SCHENECTADY
- 57A: Classic MMORPG that takes place in Britannia — ULTIMA ONLINE
- 58D: New Zealand natives — MAORIS
I didn’t catch the rebus squares for a while, although I kept trying to figure out what the other tribe of New Zealand natives with only a four-letter name was through multiple passes of the down clues.
Other fill notes:
- Last square filled was at the intersection of 63D and 70A — apparently NFL Hall of Fame players (SEAU) and Greek benches (EXEDRA) are a Natick point for me.
- 31A: Beer maker’s need — OAST (man, oh, man did my brain want to somehow make this YEAST despite YE not being a Communist leader)
- 37A: Booty holders — CHESTS (somehow wanted this to be a jeans/shorts sort of thing. This is better.)
- 47A: She plays Talisa on “Game of Thrones” — OONA (As someone who doesn’t watch GoT, is OONA Chaplin’s character still active on the show? Is it valid to use “plays” instead of “played” if not?)
- 66D: Some people do it for kicks — KARATE (One of my go-tos for teambuilding “two truths and a lie” games was to mention that I have a black belt in karate. Everyone always went for that one instead of the actual lie. I’m an extremely rusty black belt in karate, but I do in fact have one which I received in 2003 and haven’t used much since then.)
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme today is fairly straightforward, although it’s Thursday. We have five synonyms for “goofy” – daffy, nutty, silly, wacky and buggy. I’ve never encountered buggy in that sense ever. MW doesn’t seem to acknowledge it either? Anyone? OK, it’s in RHUD ” 2. Slang. crazy; insane; peculiar.”. Where do people use this slang?
The theme entries don’t stray to far from their original meanings. DAFFYDUCK and NUTTYPROFESSOR are as advertised. I’ve never heard of the Dr. Seuss book, but in South Africa WACKYWEDNESDAY is a very long-running two-for-one deal at burger take-away Steers… I don’t think BUGGYWHIPs are in any way zany, so that’s the only deviation. To be fair, I don’t think much deviation was possible here.
A central 9 always forces you down one of two grid design pathways. Here we have the four “big corners”. It does allow for some choice downs, like timely TEAMUSA, PAYHERE and Zelda-evoking OCARINA. It also strains the short fill, and there is some cruft today, though it is not out of control by any means.
- [Shore bird], TERN. They’re out of season, but I did find two species in a recent trip to the local sewage farm…
- [Tropicana option], NOPULP. I presume this is a US marketing term. It is not familiar to me.
- [British cruciverbalists], SETTERS. Gordon Setters are the best breed of dog at cryptic crossword constructing…