Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 99″—Jenni’s write-up
Either I’m getting better, or this was on the easy side for a FB themeless. It was a smooth and enjoyable solve, nonetheless. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
- 1d [Antiscorbutic drink] = LIMEADE. I have never heard the word “antiscorbutic” before, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Peter made it up*. “Scurvy” jumped out at me, and where there was scurvy, we should have limes, so that was a gimme.
- 14a [TV show with the theme song “Leave It All to Me”] = ICARLY. If my daughter ever watched this show, I don’t know about it and I never saw it. Got it from crossings.
- 7a [Olympic basketball powerhouse] confused me for a minute. It has to be USA, right? Didn’t fit. Aha! It’s TEAM USA.
- 15a [Future sergeant, maybe] revealed my internalized misogyny. It took me way longer than it should have to get AIRWOMAN.
- 35a [Common bird] is not often called by its full name, which is EASTERN PHOEBE.
- 36d gets us one of Peter’s patented very long clues [1985 veterans committee selection for the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Arky] = ENOS. A nice new clue for old fill. Arky is Arky Vaughn, not as well-known to us as ENOS Slaughter, who owes his enduring fame to his felicitous letter combination.
- The SW corner is nicely Scrabbly, with MAALOX crossing XEROXES. The other X crosses TRIX, clued as [Brand that partners with Yoplait yogurt.] I guess TRIX is trying to position itself as health food. In my day, all it took to sell violently colored cereal was a rabbit with oddly autonomous ears.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: That [What follows the decimal point in a logarithm] is the MANTISSA.
*Peter didn’t make it up.
Note from Amy: There’s a mini-theme apparent to those who know the names of Peter’s two kids. Nice!
Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Glad I worked this puzzle from down the right side, because that meant I hit the theme revealer sooner rather than later. 42d. [Neither large nor small … or a phonetic hint to 17-, 30-, 45- and 57-Across] clues MID-SIZE, and that sounds like “mid-sighs,” and what sounds like the word “sigh” is inserted into the midst of familiar words/phrases to create oddball phrases that are clued accordingly (and spelled in a variety of ways):
- 17a. [Give an “Odyssey” character a trim?], CLIP CYCLOPS. Clip-clops, the sound of equine steps.
- 30a. [Favorite whack job?], PET PSYCHO. Petco, the store. Not too keen on “whack job” and “psycho,” as both can be used to disparage people with mental illness.
- 45a. [Invoice a whole Mideast peninsula?], BILL SINAI. Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Nye’s got a new show coming to Netflix next spring. Not keen on this theme answer, as the surface sense of BILL SINAI is strained. You cannot send a bill to a peninsula. Might work better with a hospital clue, but not every city has a Mount Sinai hospital, and the “Mount” would be missing.
- 57a. [Motto of a huge “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” fan?], SEMPER SCI-FI. Semper fi.
Difficulty level seems well pitched to the Thursday mode.
Five more things:
- 23d. [“Sweet” plant of the mustard family], ALYSSUM. Favorite fill here! I loved these teeny blossoms when I was a kid, but now find the fragrance to be too-too.
- 38d. [Barbecuer’s supply], RIB MEAT. Is that a thing? That a BBQ joint would buy/prepare rib meat without the bones?
- 25a. [Ecosystem components], FAUNAS. Yes! Fauna can be pluralized with an S. Not sure I realized that.
- 12d. [“Much Ado About Nothing” villain], DON JOHN. Not among the characters I remember from it, but I’ve neither read nor seen the play since the ’80s.
- 22a. [Japanese writing system], KANJI. If you don’t know this and you don’t know your flowers, that A might’ve been a tough crossing. But you ought to know your major world alphabets and writing systems. Plus, this is just a neat-looking word in English.
I didn’t care for the “let’s not clue this as the 6-letter partial it is” approach of 31d. [Willie Mays descriptor], SAY HEY.
3.75 stars from me.
Damien Peterson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ladders” — Jim’s review
We get some solid, albeit simple, wordplay to end the regular puzzling week. We’re presented with five two-word phrases in which Ls are doubled in one of the words. It took me a long time to suss out the meaning of the title. Did you realize that you needed to add an L to the base theme entries? If so, you became a LADDER, i.e. an L-adder. No, not a right-angled snake, but one who adds an L to phrases. On to the theme entries!
- 17a [What gardeners splash on evergreen shrubs?] HOLLY WATER. Holy water. Fine.
- 37a [Job for new presidents?] FILLING CABINETS. Filing cabinets. Fine.
- 58a [Like an uninspired musical score?] DULLY NOTED. Duly noted. This one actually made me chuckle.
- 11d [Place from which to holler “Ahoy!”?] BELLOW DECK. Below deck. This one feels a bit forced.
- 27d [Chart showing parrot’s cracker consumption?] POLLY GRAPH. Polygraph. Perfect. Entry and clue are both perfect. The clue is silly yet believable, and of course, what else would such a chart be called?
It’s been a rocky week, but we’re back to normal enjoying some good old-fashioned wacky wordplay. Still, it’s pretty tame for a Thursday at the place that bills itself as the home for America’s most “adventurous” crosswords. But I’ll take what I can get, even if it’s just an add-a-letter theme.
With two of the theme entries taking space in the Down direction, there’s not a lot of good long fill. ERITREAN is fine and LAYING ON is less so, but nothing to complain about.
We do get some unusual entries. Before I realized 11d was a theme answer, I was trying to solve 21a [Minuscule amounts]. I had this letter pattern: TITT_ES. I was quite relieved to realize 11d needed the extra L, but I scratched my head because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the word TITTLES. Other less-common fill: GOGOL, GILEAD, and CROCKED. Speaking of which, I would never have known it meant [Blotto].
Another one out of my wheelhouse: PREWAR, as in [Like some coveted apartments]. This seems to be strictly a New York thing. Apparently it describes apartments that have “high ceilings, thick walls, plaster ornamentation and generous layouts.”
Clues of note:
- 6d. [Bunker’s creator] is Norman LEAR.
- 13d. [New England soda fountains] is SPAS. New to me. Anyone know why this is so?
- 40a. [Wherein the world] is ATLAS. My brain added a space between the “where” and the “in” thereby making this clue inscrutable. It’s all good now.
- 62a. [Visited the craps table] is GAMED. Who says this?
Not a groundbreaking puzzle, but solid and mostly entertaining.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “You See?” — Ben’s Review
I’m back! After a trip abroad last week that sent me to both my company’s headquarters in Amsterdam and our first-ever all-company summit in Sardinia (of all places), I’m finally recovered from jet lag and whatever crap I caught on the flights home to Boston. I’m not even going to pretend this is a relatable sitaution so let’s just look at this week’s BEQ puzzle, cheekily titled “You See?”:
- 17A: Comedic dinners for the Mounties? — RCMP ROASTS
- 23A: Red lingerie? — CCCP CUP BRASSIERES
- 33A: Group behind text-scanning tech.? — OCR GANG
- 35A: Where you might sleep off your angel dust trip? — PCP TENT
- 46A: Skull down payments? — CRANIUM DEPOSIT
- 53A: Reverse course…or what you must do one time in each of the theme answers — MAKE A U-TURN
I had figured out from the title that you needed to switch a C out to a U in one place in each of the theme answers, but the MAKE A U-TURN reveal was a clever take on explaining just what was going on. Of the themers, I think I liked PCP TENT and CRANIUM DEPOSIT best.
A few other notes on this one:
- 15A: “Luther” star — ELBA (Idris is popping up in crosswords everywhere these days, which is good news for otherwise stale “Able I was ere…” clues)
- 50A: “Try this!” — HAVE ONE (my company does a daily “sandwich bar” in the office for those that don’t want to bring lunch or order out which I took a chance on. I got to try various Dutch meat spreads and cheeses, and also their traditional “sprinkle sandwich” snack. I can’t say I get it, but I never turn down the opportunity to be an adventurous eater)
- 23D: In vogue — CHIC (My prediction for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations: CHIC is nominated again. They do not make it in. Again. Despite Nile Rodgers and company contributing majorly to the history of American dance music, simply because “disco” is looked at as a joke)
- 48D: Shepherd’s pie veggie — PEA (someone please submit “Optional guacamole add-in” as a clue for PEA to the NYT. Do it for me. I can pay you no money but you have my eternal respect if it makes print)
4/5 stars. I liked this one a lot, and I hope you did too!
Ed Sessa’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Well, it’s a clue reversal theme, but at least it’s not repetitive, and there is an excellent revealing entry – Cookie Monster’s MEEATCOOKIE.
The entries start at [OREO] and reduce back to just [O], via [ORE] and [OR]. The ne plus ultra for me in these themes, is when the entries are valid in a regular crossword, like SURGERY for [OR]. MINEDDEPOSIT for [ORE] and ANTHEMSSTART for [O] are functional. The initial CHILDSSNACK, [OREO] seems a bit weak and arbitrarily specific for me.
- [Little pill], TWERP. I do not know what the clue means. Google only gives me the Troye Sivan and Alanis Morisette songs. The former reminds me that I missed him at the WQC this year – could only come up with his first name…
- [Show that shows too much?], NUDIE. Not understanding how this clue and its question mark are operating, though it was transparent enough to get the answer.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Metamorphosis” —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everybody! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, has clever, pun-filled takes on either common phrases or proper nouns, with all of them featuring words that also happen to be types of animals.
- BEAR WITNESS (17A: [Yogi giving court testimony?]) – If it was said slangily or with an accent, that might have been “Berra witness.”
- CARDINAL POINT (26A: [Gist of a talk about colorful birds?])
- SEAL WITH A KISS (43A: [Affectionate circus performer?]) – SWAK! And it’s not abbreviated!
- CRICKET BALL (56A: [Gala dance for Pinocchio’s companion?]) – After about almost 25 years of trying, I think I fully understand the rules of cricket now. Maybe.
For those who love their grids with some math and/or math references in it, you’re in luck with both REMAINDERS (11D: [They may be left in math class]) and ACUTE ANGLE featuring prominently today (27D: [It’s never right in math]). Actually had never come across KNOTTY in that context until solving the grid (45D: [Hard to understand]). As always, a reference to Africa is always going to make me smile, and this grid started off with such a reference in NIGER (1A: [West African country named for its river]). I’ve always pronounced the river and the country the same way, with the emphasis on the first syllable and saying it with a long “i.” When I would hear people pronounce the country as “knee-ZHAIR,” I thought they were idiots…until I looked it up and that indeed was the case. Regardless, I still (stubbornly) pronounce both as NIGH-jer.”
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BOONE (63A: [Iconic American frontiersman]) – If you happened to catch the Wild Card playoff game last night between the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, you would have noticed that one of the broadcasters for ESPN was former Major League Baseball player Aaron BOONE. Boone is best known for hitting the walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series for the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox. Before this past Tuesday, Boone was the last player to hit a walk-off home run in a winner-take-all playoff game. (Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays hit a three-run walk-off home run in the 2016 AL Wild Card playoff game on Tuesday to become the latest person to pull off the feat. Joe Carter in 1993 and Bill Mazeroski in 1960 are the other instances of series-clinching walk-off homers, with both of those occurring in the World Series.)
TGIF tomorrow! See you then!