Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a timely theme! Kenny Baker, the actor who portrayed (somehow? I have no idea how much of the character emerged from the actor vs. technicians and sound effects) R2-D2, passed away on Saturday. Phrases in which there are two R’s followed by two D’s make up the theme:
- 17a. [Guy shouting “Cowabunga!,” say], SURFER DUDE. Not sure any surfers actually say that—Eric Maddy, do you know? But I really like the entry.
- 26a. [Onetime CBS News anchor], ROGER MUDD.
- 41a. [Lacking broad application], NARROWLY DEFINED. (Slight yawn.)
- 52a. [Rammed from behind], REAR-ENDED.
- 65a. [“Star Wars” droid … or a phonetic hint to what’s found in 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across], ARTOO-DETOO.
The theme works, and it’s quite nice that it happens to be so timely.
The grid’s got stacked 9s in two corners, with CRUSADERS and “DO YOU MIND?!” being particularly good. Those stacks are crossed by the two most crosswordese-ish answers in the grid, though: S. DAK. (rarely used!) and ERSE (not remotely in most newer solvers’ vocabulary). I would have zero objection to seeing ARSE in a puzzle, and a great many college or grad students have encountered APA Style in their social science paper-writing. APE > APA as word > abbreviation, of course, and most newspaper puzzles shy away from ARSE.
Four more things:
- 21a. [___ greens], BEET. I started with BABY greens, which I much prefer!
- 56a. [Gets lucky with one’s car downtown, say], PARKS. I had phenomenal luck with my city street parking today! Right across the street from both my brunch and dinner restaurants. (One likes to go out to celebrate one’s birthday, you know.)
- 72a. [Olympic swords], EPEES. Normally I’m not a big fan of EPEE(S) in the grid, but hey! It’s a Summer Olympics sport that’s been going on over the past week. Sadly, Team USA’s medals are all in sabre and foil, not épée.
- 7d. [Popeye’s brawny rival for Olive Oyl], BLUTO. That cartoon’s view of “romance” leaves an awful lot to be desired. I’d like Olive Oyl to find a nice lady and settle down without either of those yahoos.
3.9 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 272), “Pet Summit”—Janie’s take
Today’s punny title tips us off to two elements of the puzzle’s theme: 1) it’s somehow about animals and 2) there’s somethin’ goin’ on with how we’re to make sense of “summit.” As it turns out (and as we learn in the [perhaps too revealing] reveal at 62-Down), we’re looking not only at some pet confab, but also where in the vertical answer this “pet” appears. And what does that reveal tell us? [With 13-Down, Hanna-Barbera feline … and a hint to the puzzle theme hidden in five vertical answers]. Which leads us to TOP CAT. So “summit” = TOP. And the “pet” in question = CAT. Cool. Especially with the five lively themers and the variety of felines ultimately represented (two recognized breeds, three “others.”
- 3D. [Eng, for one] SIAMESE TWIN. Siamese cat. This would be one of the breeds, of course. Chang and Eng were conjoined twins (born in Thailand; died in the U.S.), very famous in their time (the 19th century).
- 40D. [Cartoon caveman] ALLEY OOP. Alley cat. The stray. Love seeing ALLEY OOP here with his full name.
- 7D. [Hotel sleuths] HOUSE DETECTIVES. House cat. The domesticated. Before I noticed that this one was a grid-spanner, my first thought went to the more pulpy HOUSE DICKS. But of course there were five more squares that needed to be accounted for. Still, had to smile when DICK [Mr. Tracy] showed up. Adjacent to HOUSE DETECTIVES to boot.
- 9D. [Tiny folklore hero] TOM THUMB. Tom cat. A male cat. Our pal TOP CAT is both a TOM and an ALLEY CAT…
- 25D. [Fine floor coverings] PERSIAN RUGS. Persian cat. The other breed. And I really do like the way the two breeds bookend the “others.”
This puzzle has many other ASSETS as well of the longer- and mid-range fill variety. We get stacked nines—in the NW, by way of the cagily clued NAIL SALON [Place with a lot of polish?] and TRAVEL BUG [A wayfarer may be bitten by one]; and in the SE, with the vivid EVIL LAUGH (not to be confused with the more innocent “HA-HA”) and the Olympics-ready [Swimming pool shape] RECTANGLE pairing. TUREEN, EDIBLE, SCONES, SHREDS, SECEDE, EYELID, baseball’s Duke SNIDER—all good (though there are plenty of bakers who will tell you that while they share many of the same ingredients, SCONES are not biscuits…).
Today’s “TSKS” go to the letter-heavy short fill and abbreviations: SSS, SSN, DSL, PSS, ATT, LTS and to [“All systems ARE GO!”]. Why this last one? My ear simply responds better to the more natural “All systems GO!” And Google Ngram tells me I’m not alone. But it is kinda fun how ARE GO and CONGO and EGGO all converge down in the SW. Ditto the rhymed crossing of TROOP and ALLEY OOP down there as well.
Even better, of course, are the evocative ANGST and KOALA and ELVIS. And fave clue (especially because it’s a fresh way to get at not-so-fresh fill): [Famous stick figure?] for ice-hockey legend (#4) Bobby ORR.
And that’ll do it for today, folks. Great seeing so many friends, Fiend-folk/friends and familiar faces at LP 9 this past weekend. Love our puzzle community!! Keep solving and do stop by next week.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “School of Thought” — Jim’s review
Ya just gotta believe!
57a is CORE BELIEF which is a [Guiding principle, or what the answers to the starred clues all have].
So what are we looking for? ISMs. Each of the five other themers are two-word answers where the first word ends in IS and the second word starts with M.
- 17a [*”Now!”] THIS MINUTE
- 33a [*Sirius setting] CANIS MAJOR
- 40a [*It has a Bastille stop] PARIS METRO
- 10d [*Coldplay’s lead singer] CHRIS MARTIN
- 24d [*It starts with love] TENNIS MATCH
Solid theme with very nice theme entry choices. Had to ask my son who Coldplay’s lead singer was, but he didn’t know, and I remembered before too long. Oh yeah, he’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex.
What’s really impressive here is the amount of good theme material with two pairs crossing in the NE and SW, and further, two long non-theme Downs abutting two themers and crossing two others.
COUNTY JAIL is great, but I’m not so sure about CARROT TOPS. It certainly is, um, colorful, but the clue [Redheads] makes it feel off-color. My wife grew up with red hair but not red enough to merit the title CARROT TOP. She doesn’t think it’s offensive, but I don’t know that I’d want to be compared with that guy to the left.
- 12d. Never heard the word CADGE, so didn’t know it meant [Mooch].
- 63a. A LINER, or a line drive, in baseball is a “frozen rope.” New to me.
- 4d. EPS with the clue [Image file format], stands for Encapsulated PostScript. I knew this from back in my desktop publishing days, but I doubt many others would. I’d much rather see this clued as the plural EPs.
Good puzzle. Simple theme, but well executed and a lot of it.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Revenge of Inerts” – Derek’s write-up
Puzzle untimed by me this week because my Across Lite timer didn’t start! I think the space bar is the toggle; I have to make sure I don’t bump it! The tagline here says “with an element of surprise, I hope. Matt is such a genius I thought there might be something I missed. The four theme entries with the circled squares each hide a noble gas. Let me show you:
- 17A [Beyond saving] TOO FAR GONE (argon)
- 33A [He was joint FIFA player of the Century along with Pele] DIEGO MARADONA (radon)
- 39A [Info] THE FOUR ONE ONE (neon)
- 59A [Cellular tissue that makes up all glands] EPITHELIUM (helium)
I thought there might be something else by the wording of the flavortext, since there are 6 noble gases. But I don’t see krypton or xenon hidden anywhere; I don’t even see a K or an X. I doubt Matt has hidden ununoctium in the puzzle! Even so, I like the theme and the clever title. My only question: are the circles needed? I suppose so … but it would lend to a different solving a-ha moment if they weren’t present. Just an opinion. 3.9 stars today!
A few notes:
- 6A [Band of Butt-head’s T-shirt] AC/DC – Still not sure which is which!
- 16A [___ Cynwyd, PA] BALA – Evidently a Philly suburb. I have NEVER seen this in a crossword! Also clued as a lake in Wales. Only one Shortzian occurrence in NYT. Surprised I have not seen this more!
- 22A [It’s often done with soil or fish tanks] PH TEST – Great entry. I thought I had something wrong with all of those consonants in a row!
- 29A [Hip or Nap follower] STER – Ah, I remember the early Napster days. It was liberating thinking you could download free music. An early precursor to the music services we have today, like Spotify or Apple Music, where you literally for a small fee have access to millions of songs!
- 38A [Bygone auto] YUGO – I may have mentioned this before, but my older brother had one of these! Under $5,000 brand new, and it was truly awful!
- 52A [Herb-flavored 28-Across (TEA)] TISANE – I am surprised I got a little stuck on this; I watch Poirot on Netflix quite a lot, and he is always drinking one of these!
- 65A [Recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Brett] FAVRE – Super-recent, as in last week! Great current events clue!
- 27D [The Rock’s real first name] DWAYNE – As in Dwayne Johnson. And spelled normally, as opposed to the new Chicago Bull DWYANE Wade! His name, no offense intended, looks like his parents couldn’t spell. Points for uniqueness, though!
- 34D [Beethoven’s Third, familiarly] EROICA – I have to listen to this one of these days … I am sure it is on the aforementioned Spotify!
- 39D [Board game where players guess what three things have in common] TRIBOND – Haven’t played this game in forever!
- 43D [Hard to pin down] EVASIVE – I had ELUSIVE. I would have clued this as [Dodgy].
Another awesome puzzle, Matt! I hope I covered all the bases. Have a great week everybody!
Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
What do you say when you want someone to listen to you? Likely one of the hidden words or sounds hidden in todays theme entries!
- 17A [Annual Time honoree] PERSON OF THE YEAR
- 27A [Nickname of a Nobel-winning novelist] PAPA HEMINGWAY – I guess I didn’t realize he won a Nobel Prize! It was in Literature, obviously, in 1954.
- 47A [Doesn’t get confused, as facts] KEEPS STRAIGHT
- 60A [Verbal nudge found in each set of puzzle circles] ATTENTION GETTER
Nice idea. In the Jonesin’ puzzle for today, I was wondering if the circles were needed. Are they a convention now whenever there are hidden words? Here, I think they ARE needed; Tuesday puzzles shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what is going on. My perception is Matt’s Jonesin’ audience solves a slightly harder puzzle. Always good to keep it simpler on Monday and Tuesday puzzles that appear in daily venues. 3.9 stars for this one.
A few observations:
- 14A & 5D [“Spanglish” actor] ADAM SANDLER – I have never seen this movie. Guess what? It is on Netflix! I just added it to my list!
- 38A [NFLer again in 2016] L. A. RAM – This never stopped being a crossword entry, even though they were in St. Louis for 21 years! It will be interesting to see how they transition back to SoCal and the reception from the fans there.
- 54A [Letterman’s successor] COLBERT – I don’t believe I have watched one nano-second of his show since he took over. See what happens when you have cable?!
- 3D [Oft-molded almond confection] MARZIPAN – I am not a big fan of nuts, other than cashews, and I really am not a fan of almonds. This just tastes weird to me. Maybe it’s an acquired taste … that I have yet to acquire!
- 12D [Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant] SPAGO – I would love to start going to these fancy restaurants just to see how good the food is. Most people would love to go to Las Vegas to play; I want to go on a Foodie trip there! Lots of famous chefs have restaurants there: Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey, Daniel Boulod, etc. Bucket list!
- 30D [Like the ’69 N.Y. Mets] AMAZIN’ – These “Amazin’ Mets” came back from 8 or 10 games behind in September to overtake my beloved Chicago Cubs and go to the playoffs and eventually win the World Series. I was only just born, and it is still painful. This is the year for the Cubbies!!!
- 48D [Cornball routine] SHTICK – I just like this word!
Enjoy your week everyone!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Spoken Pro Tem” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! For those who were at Lollapuzzoola 9 on Saturday, I hope you all had a great time! For those doing and for those who have already done the puzzles at home, I definitely hope you had fun with them. I certainly did. I also had fun doing this puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol (it was great to see her in person once again on Saturday), one in which the final word of each theme entry could also act as a verb which could describe the action of a spy or some other type of sneak.
- TOTEM ORDER (17A: [Request for the carving of a tribal symbol?]) – To order.
- TEMP’S I LOVE YOU (23A: [Employer’s note of appreciation to fill-in workers?]) – P.S. I Love You.
- LICENSE TEMPLATE (38A: [Fake ID maker’s blank background?])
- THE RIVER TEMPO (50A: [Natural rhythm followed by spawning salmon?]) – The River Po.
- ITEM FOR ONE (62A: [Single serving dish, e.g.?]) – I for one.
When you do a puzzle of Tony’s, you better be up on your music and instruments, and I definitely would have struggles with KOTO (16A: [Zither’s Japanese cousin]) if it wasn’t for the crossing with SKELETAL (9D: [Like a crew with just enough people]). There’s also ALTO (67A: [Sax played by Charlie Parker]) and OBOE for those who are musically inclined (13A: [Wind that might be made of grenadilla]). Oh, and then there’s TWYLA as well, for those who like dance with their music (50D: [Choreographer Tharp]). Grid definitely was fun and definitely did not leave me BENT out of shape (1A: [Crooked]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FSU (63D: [Tallahassee sch.]) – “You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.” That now-famous quote was made by then University of Florida football head coach (and all-time great provocateur) Steve Spurrier, and it was in reference to several members of the 1993 Florida State University football team being allowed to purchase in upwards of $6,000 worth of shoes and other apparel at a local Foot Locker – yet not pay for it. The bill was covered by boosters and an agent. Florida State was sanctioned, but not before the end of the 1993 season, a season in which FSU ended up as the national champions.
See you at the top of the hump on Wednesday!