Stan Newman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Three theme answers, each with two Q’s:
- 17a. [Person between 50 and 59], QUINQUAGENARIAN.
- 40a. [O’Neal’s memoir of his N.B.A. rookie year], SHAQ ATTAQ. Who doesn’t love the TV show Shaqtin’ the Fool?
- 65a. [N.H.L. team that became the Colorado Avalanche], QUEBEC NORDIQUES. Ah, so that’s where the Avalanche came from.
The modestly sized theme accommodates the corners with stacked 7s. I’m partial to Sidney POITIER, MACAQUE (maybe not an entirely Tuesdayish word, that), TORPEDO as a non-weapon verb, and Miss MANNERS. I do like the word OROTUND (43d. [Deep and sonorous, as a voice]), but it’s rather high-end vocabulary this early in the week. Other nice fill: CUE CARDS, COP TO, O-TOWN.
Of all the COUPLETs that could walk into this gin joint, it had to be 2d. [“Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses,” e.g.]? News flash: Women aren’t just sitting around hoping strangers will make passes at them.
The overall vibe in this puzzle skews older. VCR, the great Cary Grant in the MORTIMER clue, Anthony EDEN, the O.J. trial from 22 years ago, Lilies of the Field in POITIER’s clue, the RICARDOs of ’50s TV, LESTAT dating back to a 1976 novel, Peter YARROW of ’60s folk … why, this puzzle’s almost making me feel like a tricenarian again!
3.75 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 276), “Block Letters”—Janie’s take
We go from last week’s “NEW Kids on the Block” to this week’s “Block Letters”—and truly the way things were this past Friday and Saturday (on the east coast at least), the theme today remains a timely one. The days may be visibly shorter, so autumn must be nigh. But with the weather still managing to say “summer,” don’t put your industrial-strength SPF creams away just yet. Yes, this is a “tribute puzzle” to those (sun)block letters, the 71A. [Lotion acronym that’s spelled out in three long answers]. Three terrific long answers, I’m inclined to add. To wit:
- 17A. A RAISIN IN THE SUN [2014 Tony winner for Best Revival of a Play]. In its three appearances in NYC it has never failed to be a highlight of the season, winning nominations and awards aplenty. And deservedly so.
- 39A. EQUAL PROTECTION [14th Amendment phrase]. A post-Civil War addition to the Constitution and the amendment most-cited in courts of law. Among other rights this one was written to ensure, the 14th guarantees to all citizens born here or naturalized of “EQUAL PROTECTION of the laws.”
- 63A. WINDCHILL FACTOR [Wintry weather statistic]. Oh, gosh—this almost sounds appealing. Almost… ;-)
What is appealing is the feel of the remainder of the fill. Not tons of long entries, but a lot of the shorter fill resonated with me, which tends to up a puzzle’s entertainment FACTOR. Kudos first, then, to AT RANDOM and its peppy clue [Willy-nilly], OCEANAUT (think “Jacques Cousteau“), the lively GOSSIP GIRL [TV drama starring Blake Lively] pair, and the amusing AMUSEMENTS (a/k/a [Fun and games]).
And then, “the little things that mean so much”:
- I got kind of an EERIE feeling encountering both MARNI [Movie soundtrack singer Nixon] and [O.K. Corral fighter] EARP in the same puzz. Both Ms. Nixon and Hugh O’Brian passed away recently (she, at the end of July; he, earlier this month). If you don’t know her, she was the once-uncredited singing voice of such stars as Deborah Kerr in The King and I, of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, of Natalie Wood in West Side Story. If you don’t know him, he portrayed the “brave, courageous and bold” Wyatt EARP in the ’50s, when westerns ruled network TV. (Oh, gosh—just learned that Hugh himself sang the show’s rousing, uber-masculine theme song. Holy moly.)
- I’m reading Helen Macdonald’s beautifully reflective memoir H is for Hawk right now, so I smiled to encounter the [Hawk’s gripper] TALON pair. A falconer since childhood, Ms. Macdonald recounts mourning her father’s death through the lens of acquiring and training her own goshawk. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and lovin’ it.
- No doubt I am easily amused, but the pronoun crossing of [That lady] SHE and “HIM!” [“That’s the guy!”] put a smile on my face. “HEH…” (This evoked a [Furtive chuckle] from me.)
- I love that the adjacent CORE and SNORE rhyme, and that [Boston-born poet] contains the name POE (though thankfully, he rhymed neither word with “nevermore”—no matter how “weak and weary” he was…). While POE was born in Boston, he’s buried in Baltimore where, when I was in high school, we used to collect “Pennies for Poe” to help the Poe Society maintain his grave site. As our English teachers never failed to remind us, “Baltimore had a lethal effect on Poe.” (Can you say “understatement”?)
- On a cheerier note, a tip o’ the hat to tipplers, with the crossing of COSMO [Vodka cocktail] and OLIVE [Martini garnish]. “Salud!” Or, if tippling’s not your thing, perhaps you have an array of TEAS [Twinings products] for some liquid refreshment.
- Also [California’s PISMO Beach] and PIQUE—the former because (beautiful as the place looks to be) the name PISMO sounds comical to me and the latter, just because I think it’s a terrific word.
My one cavil? That the question-marked clues feel forced—[Overall material?] for DENIM; and draw attention to themselves for the wrong reasons—[Stage coach?] for ACTOR. Sometimes an ACTOR becomes a coach; more often it’s a DIRECTOR who does, or even an ACTOR/director… Regardless, as always, your mileage may vary.
Hey–swing by next week. With or without that VINE [Tarzan’s transport], you’ll be welcome. Have a good week and keep solving!
Kristian House’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “First Steps” — Jim’s review
Kristian House is here with a musically-themed puzzle. The somewhat unwieldy revealer at 23a is [With 52-Across, impetus to get down, and…] / […a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues] DANCE / MUSIC. Ergo, we’re looking for DANCE MUSIC genres at the starts of our themers. (Aside: This theme got me thinking…what does one call a playlist created by our constructor — Kristian Music or House Music?)
- 17a [*Condiment made with tomatillos] SALSA VERDE
- 61a [*Willow bark tea for a headache, e.g.] FOLK REMEDY
- 11d [*What a family might use to play Monopoly] HOUSE RULES. (Hmm. A not-very-subtle boast, methinks.)
- 29d [*Target of many fall ads] SWING VOTER
Good selection of theme entries providing a wide variety of dance styles. My one misstep was putting in HOME REMEDY for 61a. FOLK REMEDY is not a phrase I’ve heard very often, though it checks out. Still, I might have preferred FOLK HEROES in its place, even having to resort to the plural.
Oh, but notice the rather elegant grid pattern. My first thought was a whirlpool, but given the theme, I’m inclined to picture a square dance in motion. Nice touch.
And there’s one more hidden dance step at 20a, though it’s clued [Get a move on]. Of course, you know you’ve got to do the HUSTLE.
We get some interesting non-theme fill in PAST DUE, JACKMAN, and especially the three-fer in the center: CYBORG, EARWORM (in keeping with the musical theme), and MILIEU. There are some discordant notes however, most especially OCA and TAR OIL with RUHR and ADEN not far behind.
Both MINE and CAVERN share the clue [Site in the first stanza of “Oh My Darling Clementine”]. That’s digging pretty deep. How many people know anything other than the chorus (H/T Huckleberry Hound)? Here’s that first stanza in its entirety.
In a cavern, in a canyon
Excavating for a mine
Dwelt a miner forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine.
Finally, I found quite a bit of alliteration in the puzzle, so I put some of it together thusly:
STEEPS and STREEP. STERN and STAND.
TEN TERNS TONE TYNE.
UZI OOZE EASES IN.
O’BRIEN. O’CONNOR. Oh My Darling Clementine.
Obviously, there’s a lot of music in this puzzle, but I’m going to leave you with the genius that is Tom Lehrer and his take on Clementine.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “I’ll Do It Myself, Thanks” – Derek’s write-up
Took me a minute to figure out what was missing from these theme entries, but then it became abundantly clear. From the title, I was expecting the theme entries to be missing WE or US, or even ME, but they are all missing the letters CO! As in “We won’t co-solve this puzzle; I’ll do it myself, thanks!” In usual Matt fashion, some of these are actually pretty funny. And SIX theme entries!
- 18A [“The Grapes of Wrath” extra who’s extra-sweet?] SUGAR OKIE (sugar cookie)
- 20A [Where may seaside tourist pictures are taken?] PHOTO PIERS (photo copiers)
- 33A [Home delivery of frozen drugs?] THE ICEMAN METH (The Iceman Cometh)
- 40A [Highway center strip that’s always been loyal and trustworthy?] STAND-UP MEDIAN (stand-up comedian)
- 54A [Devices that capture audio of fight scenes?] ACTION MICS – (Action Comics)
- 58A [What people throw their four-color 1980s electronic games down?] SIMON WELL – (Simon Cowell)
All very clever! A solid 4 stars today. A few mentions:
- 27A [Kaplan of “Welcome Back, Kotter”] GABE – I thought I heard in the news that he passed away, but he is still kicking in his mid 70s!
- 65A [Princess in the Comedy Central series “Drawn Together”] CLARA – Totally unfamiliar to me. I am showing my age!
- 1D [___, Inc. (“Funkytown” band) LIPPS – For your enjoyment!
- 8D [NHL All-Star Jaromir] JAGR – This guy is still going strong at age 44!
- 11D [What 7-Down and yellow do] MAKE GREEN – I liked this one! 7D is BLUE, so it works well since, if you’re breezing through the puzzle in some sort of order, that answer should be fresh in your mind!
- 56D [“Sorry, but I’m skipping your novella of an article,” in Internet shorthand] TLDR – I had to look this up; it means Too Long, Didn’t Read! I could actually use this a lot … !!
Enjoy your week everyone!
Neville Fogarty’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Haven’t seen a puzzle by my friend Neville in a while, so this was a pleasant surprise. I have always enjoyed his puzzles. I think he even made a multi puzzle bundle with a meta solution a few years ago. Quite a talent!
As far as this puzzle goes, the talent is also apparent. Only one snarky entry, but the crosses for that one are super easy and the theme, as is often the case, is revealed towards the end of the puzzle; in this one, it is at the VERY end! I honestly had very little idea of what the theme was until I got to the end, and I was actually giving it a little thought as I went along! The theme entries are:
- 18A [How some sloganeer T-shirts should be washed] INSIDE OUT – I should have done this with a shirt I just bought, which now is slightly bled!
- 27A [1998 Bullock/Kidman film involving witchcraft] PRACTICAL MAGIC
- 44A [Going to the grocery store, the bank, etc.] RUNNING ERRANDS
- 59A [Unsportsmanlike behavior] DIRTY POOL – … or anything regarding current political campaigns!
- 67A [Some speeches open with them … as do this puzzle’s four longest entries] JOKES
Get it? (Pun intended!) We have inside joke, practical joke, running joke, and dirty joke as phrases that should be familiar to all. Very nicely done; a smooth Tuesday puzzle. 4.2 stars.
A few notes:
- 16A [Tennis court surface] CLAY – I actually played on a clay court once. Green clay, not the red you see at the French Open. Some ambitious homeowners actually will install one in their back yard in lieu of a swimming pool or something similar!
- 34A [Chicken chow ___] MEIN – Getting hungry, even though it’s early!
- 66A [“And away ___!”] WE GO – Did an xwordinfo.com search on this one; it’s not as rare as I thought, but it’s still pretty rare. Only 4 Shortz era entries, but tons before that in NYT.
- 19D [Ken or Daria of financial journalism] DOLAN – I remember the show Smart Money with the Dolans from years ago. Are they still around??
- 31D [Preserve, as ashes] INURN – Here is that one snarky entry. Definitely a word rarely in use in everyday language, even if you work at a crematorium! “Can you inurn Mrs. Johnson before you go to lunch?” I think not. But as mentioned, the crossings are a breeze, so we will let it slide!
- 40D [Surrealist painter from Barcelona] JOAN MIRO – I am not a big art lover, and this may be a slightly tough reference in a Tuesday, but I know who this is, to it may be fair enough!
- 51D [“Big Hero 6” hero] HIRO – Lots of occurrences of the same sound! A little disconcerting, even solving in silence!
That’s it for this one! Enjoy your week!
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Crazy Talk” —Ade’s write-up
Good day to everybody! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson – not be confused with current Philadelphia Eagles head football coach Doug Pederson – is full of loose lips, though these do not sink ships. They make for a fun crossword. In it, the first four letters of the five long theme entries that are starred are anagrammed, with the sixth them entry, LIPS ARE MOVIN, acting as the reveal (53A: [2014 top 10 hit for Meghan Trainor, and what’s happening at the beginning of the answer to each starred clue]).
- PILSNER GLASS (20A: [*Tall, slender drinking vessel])
- PS I LOVE YOU (28A: [*Hit song from the Beatles’ 1963 album “Please Please Me”])
- SLIP COLLAR (47A: [*Restraint used by dog trainers])
- SPILLING OUT (3D: [*Overflowing])
- SPLIT LEVELS (25D: [*Homes with staggered stories])
First time I’ve seen the nautical reference to ST. ELMO in a crossword puzzle, and I really liked seeing it (8D: [Sailor’s patron, briefly]). Can’t remember where I learned that exactly, but glad that I was able to recall that pretty quickly when seeing the clue today. We have a little geography intersection with SAMOAN (29D: [Polynesian language with a 14-letter alphabet]) and ONTARIO, the latter I hope to be in later this month to cover some Toronto Blue Jays pennant baseball (50A: [Ottawa’s home]). Oh, and before we get to the next graph, I have to share with you an amazing moment in radio broadcasting, and it occurred last night during the Los Angeles Rams-San Francisco 49ers game which turned out to be a snoozer. At the end of the snooze fest, a fan ran out onto the field. Usually, when this happens TV broadcasters don’t pay attention to the attention-hogging fan, but Kevin Harlan, who was doing the game on radio, delivered one of the best descriptions of a fan who trespasses onto the field of play. I absolutely LOST IT hearing his call, and you will, too (48D: [Came unglued])!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MARKS (59A: [Visible impressions]) – The first New Zealand-born player ever to play in the NBA, Sean MARKS is currently the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets franchise. Marks attended the University of California before being drafted by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. He never played a big role on any of the teams he played for but managed to stay in the league as a player for 13 years as a reserve big man. (As the saying goes, “You can’t teach size.”) Marks was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs from 2013-2016 before assuming the job he currently has with the Nets this past February.
See you all at the top of the hump on Wednesday!