Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword, “Make a Dash for It”—Amy’s write-up
The theme is a quasi-rebus, with a hyphen or dash that fits in the Down answer being inserted into the Across theme answer to change its meaning:
- 24a. [Actor Joaquin’s complete bio?], PHOENIX A-Z. Crossing UH-OH. And I entered an en dash in the rebus squares but the official solution wanted, I dunno, a D for dash or something. It wouldn’t take a hyphen so I upsized to the en dash.
- 32a. [Troupe of lesser-known actors?]. B-LISTER PACK. Crossing PUSH-UP BRA.
- 44a. [Schmaltz in kids’ films?], G-RATED CHEESE. Hah! I like this one. Crossing THE PO-PO. Any fans of House recall “You high, po-po?”
- 65a. [An airline now serves a Minute Maid beverage?], AMERICAN GOT HI-C. Crossing FREE WI-FI. Splitting gothic into GOT HI-C is nuts.
- 87a. [Some apartments for scaredy-cats?], CHICKEN CO-OPS. Hah! Another good one. Crossing B-BOY.
- 100a. [Record half that stirs emotions?], MOVING A-SIDE. Crossing TO-DOS.
- 109a. [Sandwich for a dieter?], LO-CAL HERO. Cute, but “low-cal” has got to be more common than “lo-cal” (see also: crosswordese junk LO-FAT.) Crossing HA-HA.
I like the theme. The results aren’t always HA-HA, but there are a couple good ones, and the hyphenated Down crossings are a nice batch.
Nine more things:
- 26a. [Start of a legalese paragraph], WHEREAS. Boy, it would’ve been nice to ESCHEW “legalese” since –ESE is directly above 26a.
- 96a. [Game of tag, basically], CHASING. You make it seem so … cheap.
- 72a. [End of many a toast], TO YOU. Okay, now I’m thinking of Manfred Mann Band’s cover of “I Came For You.”
- 1d. [Channel that aired “Felicity” and “Smallville”], THE WB. Which shut down 10 years ago today! (Today being Saturday the 17th.)
- 70d is ERIC Trump, but 71d is [“I’m ___ Her,” 2016 political slogan], WITH. Fair and balanced! (Insert pleas from Jill Stein and Gary Johnson’s partisans here.)
- 4d. [Certain Balkanite], CROAT. Anyone having Thursday anagram flashbacks here?
- 10d. [Home run territory, in lingo], THE FENCES. Maybe incomplete without a prefatory “swing for,” but baseball is a happy place with my Cubbies having clinched their division already. Have you seen politico David Axelrod’s New Yorker piece on the Cubs, Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon, and how this whole heady run was created?
- 74d. [Work of extraterrestrials? – not!], CROP CIRCLE. Wait. Who says?
- 75d. [Pops some pills, say], TAKES DRUGS. Every 12 hours, for me! Most transplant recipients are on that schedule.
4.2 stars from me.
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post Crossword, “Pardon the Interruption” – Jenni’s writeup
A very satisfying and enjoyable solve today! Evan has taken a little off the top – or, really, off the end.
- 23a [Capture a U2 member?] = TAKE THE EDGE off.
- 25a [What an angry Sen. Sanders might say when he’s pretending to be the Hulk?] = BERNIE MADoff.
- 37a [Theatrical work about a one-eyed jack?] = WILD CARD PLAYoff.
- 50a [Shoddy engine sound?] = CHEAP KNOCKoff.
- 68a [Time to celebrate a famous film truant?] = FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY off.
- 84a [Sage response to “Isn’t that wager risky?”?] = ALL BETS ARE off.
- 98a [Monterrey music holder?] = MEXICAN STANDoff.
- 114a [“Mr. Becker, meet Mr. Malone”?] = BORIS, KARLoff.
- 116a [Method of busting down a door?] = OPENING KICKoff.
And the revealer: 99d [Interrupted … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] = CUT OFF.
I didn’t notice any other “offs” in the grid or in the clues, which increases the elegance of the puzzle. All the theme answers are solidly in the language and 114a made me laugh. I liked this one a lot.
A few other things:
- 1d [Page on a stage] got me off (!) to a bad start. I dropped in ELLEN. The correct answer is PATTI.
- I liked the cross-reference of 31a [Pugilistic promoter] and 89a [Whom 31 Across called “a promoter’s dream”.] That would be DON KING and ALI, respectively. And respectfully.
- 45a [Swedish jam ingredients?] stumped me for a while. I completely missed the question mark and was looking for some kind of Scandinavian fruit. Nope. It’s SAABS.
- 53d [Image of the Beast?] was complete from crossings before I looked at the clue. I couldn’t figure out how CEL made any sense until I remembered “Beauty and the Beast.” Ah.
- Anatomy misdirection at 28a [Hammers’ homes] – not tool belts, but EARS.
- And then there’s 17d [Hammers’ homes] – not ears, but PIANOS.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Natalie Cole attended UMASS and that HANOI means “inside the river.”
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Rebusy Signals” — pannonica’s write-up
Literal wordplay, of the old Wacky Wordies variety. I have yet to tire of these, so yes I enjoyed this theme.
Not thrilled by the title, though. It involves a portmanteau of rebus and busy, but the pronunciation discrepancy sinks it for me. Another possible factor: I prefer spelling some verb and adjective forms with doubled consonants (e.g., focussed, travelling), so if I were to make an adjective for rebus it’d be rebussy.
- 25a. [“Mo/ment”] SPLIT SECOND.
- 27a. [“spuds” made 115 Across] SMALL POTATOES. 115a is [Reduced, as in font size] TINY. Inelegant, having to reference a non-theme entry. Just checked the print/pdf version to see if actual small type was used there—nope. Choosing not to capitalize the first s in “spuds” subtly primes the solver to think about size, which is good.
- 44a. [“Anecdot”] SHORT STORY. That’s a curtailed anecdote. Hoping it was EVIDENT (87d [Like the nose on your face]).
- 47a. [“Gaspgasp”] PAIR OF PANTS.
- 61a. [“LAWBREAKING”] CAPITAL CRIME.
- 66a. [“Minaret,” when 21 Across] LEANING TOWER. 21a [Italicized] ASLANT. I still feel it’s inelegant. See also 57d River of Pisa] ARNO.
- 82a. [“Tiaratiaratiara”] TRIPLE CROWN.
- 86a. [“Aimed” or “a dime”] MIXED MEDIA.
- 104a. [“Boss > cads”] HEAD OVER HEELS. Good one. Guess this could have been composed with a virgule—aka solidus—the way numerators and denominators are in some representations separated in fractions, but that would be confusing considering 25-across (which I feel should have been effected with either a space or a dash, but that’s another story). For the record, in addition to the standard forward slash, many typefaces contain other, similar characters: / ⁄ ∕ ／ (in sequence: virgule, fraction slash, division slash, fullwidth solidus).
- 109a. [“tnempiuqE”] REVERSE GEAR.
“Rebusy” is Polish and transliterated Russian (ребусы) for “rebuses”, so there’s that. Probably also in various other eastern European languages. Including CZECH (84d), where the e is endowed with an accent.
- You know you’ve been solving crosswords for too long when you see a clue like 5a [Vanishing 51 Across] and you don’t even need to check the referred clue or answer to fill in ARAL. ([Voyager’s expanse] SEA.)
- 64a [Bridge expert Charles] GORNE. Oh, sorry, that’s GOREN. I just bet he knows John SCARNE, who consistently flummoxes us at DOACF.
- 9a [Rum cocktail] MAI TAI, 62d [Cuba __ (cocktail)] LIBRE. Apparently Havana Club (and presumably other Cuban-made products) are finally available in the USA again. Thanks, Obama!
- 69d [Barth’s “__ Goat-Boy”] GILES. Big Barth fan here.
- Word forms we don’t typically see: 39a [Surround or encompass] BEGIRD, 99d [Abounding in fronds] FERNY, the aforementioned ASLANT.
- 58a [Canines that bite] EYETEETH, so named because they tend to be located directly under one’s eyes. 96a [Catlike] FELINE.
- 4d [Plover with a shrill cry] KILLDEER. The common name is supposedly onomatopoeic. Scientific binomial is Charadrius vociferus.
The genus name Charadrius is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. It derives from Ancient Greek kharadrios a bird found in ravines and river valleys (kharadra, “ravine”). The specific vociferus is Latin and comes from vox, “cry” and ferre, “to bear”. (Wikipedia, q.v. for original sources)
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Doctor Hoodoo”—Andy’s review
The title this week, “Doctor Hoodoo,” hints at the theme in two ways. It’s a play on “Doctor Who,” but (a) there’s a rhyming syllable added to the end of the phrase, and (b) the addition of that syllable changes the spelling of the word to which it is added. Themers:
- 23a, EDITORIAL WIENIE [Wimpish newspaper writer?]. Editorial “we.” I’ve never heard “wimpish” before (as opposed to “wimpy”), but I certainly don’t mind it.
- 36a, SONNY AND SHAREWARE [Corleone family member providing free downloads?]. Sonny and Cher.
- 59a, REAP WHAT YOU SOLO [Succeed after leaving the band?]. Reap what you sow.
- 87a, RAKING IN THE DOJO [Gardening during karate training?]. Raking in the dough.
- 103a, ROCKY MOUNTAIN HI-FI [Old Aspen music maker?]. Rocky Mountain High.
- 126a, NOT MY CUP OF TEHEE [“The comedian just wasn’t funny”?]. Not my cup of tea. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t like “tehee.” “Tee-hee” is fine, but “tehee” feels like a variant spelling to me, included only to make the symmetry of this puzzle work.
I didn’t appreciate all the layers of this theme while I was solving; at first, I thought the syllable was chosen more or less at random. The fact that it has to rhyme and change the spelling of the original word makes this a fairly restrictive theme. With that in mind, it’s pretty well executed, and the fact that there are only six theme answers is more understandable.
That said, with only six theme answers, I would expect the surrounding fill to be at least very good, if not immaculate. The decision to stack RIGAMAROLE and BRATISLAVA on the NW and SE theme answers is visually interesting. I’ve always understood RIGAMAROLE to be a variant spelling of “rigmarole,” and I was surprised it wasn’t marked as such in the clue. EXURB and URBAN feels like a minor dupe, even though the latter is clued as the papal name.
Because the NE and SW corners are so wide open and unrestricted by surrounding fill, I suspect there’s some way to fill the NE corner that’s cleaner than using SWEARER and EDINA. This is the first thing I came up after a bit of noodling around up there:
There are many more similarly clean fills for the NE corner, but the original crossings were all fine, and there are probably plenty of people who don’t care, or who prefer SWEARER and EDINA.
Besides, these are minor peccadilloes compared to the section where, if you scroll to the top of this review, you can see I finished my solve. SANTEE [South Carolina river] on top of SALMI [Game ragout], crossing TRANSGENIC [Like some organisms modified in labs] and SEPTA [Anatomical walls]. Also, ALERS [Jays and Rays]. I’d imagine that section was fairly tough to fill, starting with the TRANSGENIC slot whose A and C are locked in by theme entries. Even so, with this result, as an editor I’d probably send this back to the constructor to refill the lower-left portion of the puzzle.
I’ve like almost everything I’ve solved that was constructed by Paul, but this one was NOT MY CUP OF TEHEE. Until next time!
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone!
A quick check-in to give a nice shout out to Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith for today’s Sunday Challenge. More lively long fill, and that made it much easier for me to solve. Only real hang-up was when I put in “ALES” for ADES (66A: [Some pitcherfuls]). Doing that caused me to believe that “hotel mail” was right, which I guess isn’t that much of a stretch. Alas, that entry was HOTEL MAID, and once I untangled that mess, I was pretty much done with the grid (33D: [Maker of many beds]). Interesting to see GENERAL DE GAULLE as fill, as I’ve seen “Charles De Gaulle” as fill in a crossword before, and both are 15-letter entries (49A: [Fifth Republic founder]). Probably my favorite fill for the day was BALACLAVA, something I’ve never owned despite living in cold weather places for most of my life (1D: [Skier’s headgear]). OK, time to head out now.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NATS (60A: [DC squad]) – Barring a meltdown in the last two week, the Washington Nationals, or NATS for short, are going to win the National League East Division title for the third time in five years. The big question then becomes whether or not the Nats can win their first-ever playoff series in Expos/Nationals history. The franchise is 0-3 in playoff series, losing the 1981 NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers (while they were in Montréal) and losing in the Division Series in both the 2012 and 2014 postseasons.
Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!
NYT: Cute trick. Went fast. PUSH UPBRA gave it to me. I think maybe the title revealed too much. But very nicely done!
Yeah, that little political corner was clever… I was saddened when Gary Johnson asked in response to an interview question: “What is Aleppo?” I mean I don’t expect everyone to know every city in the world, but we’ve been talking about poor ole Aleppo for 5 years now. I have many relatives still living there… and some who have died, and others who have left and are struggling elsewhere. I would like peace to come to Aleppo and see it fall back into legitimate oblivion.
[political comment redacted] I worry for Syria, since so little progress towards peace has been made.
Anderson is a clueless isolationist and Clinton would be a disaster. I also feel for the people in the region. No easy solutions there given the misguided policy of the last two administrations.
Who the heck is Anderson?
Johnson, obviously. What’s wrong with you, Amy?
NYT: For me they are hyphens, not dashes, but I loved the puzzle. Five stars.
I didn’t know The WB or THE PO-PO. (Sounds like a little child asking to use the bathroom.) The segment I could have lived without, though, was S x SE, with B-BOY, PSY, ANSON, X GAMES, a Tolkein reference, and of course a choice of many countries. But theme was OK.
Does anyone know how to get a hyphen or other special character in Puzzazz?
As a lifelong Doctor Who fan, the title Doctor Hoodoo was my seed entry for today’s LAT. But when no other 12s made the cut, I was glad Rich liked it as a title. It’s also good Rich made me trim the themers down to 6, which gave it room to breathe. Some others I liked that followed the rule of a changed spelling in the base phrase’s last word were ROLLINTHEHEYDAY, HASABONETOPICNIC, and GENTLEMANSSEABEES.
I’m with JohnH on THEWB and THE PO–PO, not to mention B–BOY. Crosswords can be tough on those of us without TVs.