Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword, “Emotion”—Amy’s write-up
The theme involves moving an E in one word in a familiar phrase, and cluing the oddball phrase accordingly:
- 23a. [Goodyear’s carefully guarded secrets?], TRICKS OF THE TREAD. Trade.
- 33a. [Revision that satisfies both author and publisher?], BALANCED EDIT. Diet.
- 48a. [What a pianist uses for triple-time pieces?], MINUET HAND. Minute.
- 63a. [Result of a Morton’s factory explosion?], GREAT SALT LEAK. Lake.
- 70a. [Skater boys?], MALES ON WHEELS. Meals.
- 84a. [Dating site?], MATE MARKET. Meat. Mind you, meat market is probably used more to refer to places where folks can mingle and hook up than for talking about a butcher’s workplace.
- 99a. [Privileged time period?], THE CHOSEN EON. One.
- 112a. [Color used by teams from both San Jose and Jacksonville?], A TEAL OF TWO CITIES. Tale.
This theme felt so dry to me. The dryness would be less bothersome if there were another layer unifying the theme—say, the E always moved a specific way, or all the theme answers started out as song titles. Barring any added commonality, some humor would have sold me on the theme, but none of the made-up phrases struck my funny bone.
I was mired in the 1-Across corner for a surprisingly long time. The 1a. [Full of sound and fury] clue for ALL TALK seemed a little off base, the question-marked clue [Mine craft?] promised something way more fun than a COAL CAR, and [Gone flat?] is a weird clue for LAIN.
Ten more things:
- 17d. [12 9 11 5 20 8 9 19 3 12 21 5], IN CODE. INCODE? I.N. CODE? No idea what’s going on here.
- 28a. [Novelist Pierre], LOTI. I reckon I’ve seen the name in crosswords before, but it’s probably one of those “once every 3-4 years” words.
- 34d. [Ridge with a gentle slope on one side and a steep slope on the other], CUESTA. Mighty long and specific clue for a word I’ve never seen before. The S crosses 50a. [“Principia Discordia” figure], ERIS, but I’ll bet a lot of solvers opt for CUENTA/ERIN.
- Is it Christmas time? SANTA’S LAP (which feels not quite there as an entry), KRIS Kringle, and 65d. ERE, [“… ___ he drove out of sight”]—a tad jarring in one of those OCTS. (59a. ]Fall times: Abbr.], plural abbreviation for a month? No thanks.) (Speaking of plural abbrevs—there’s also 87d RDAS, which adds badness by also being obsolete. The USDA uses dietary reference intakes now, not recommended daily allowance. Constructors! Please pull RDA(S) out of your word lists.
- 60a. [Scalawag], RASCAL. Did you know the original meaning of scalawag? I just learned it from a Sporcle quiz, where the clue was “What name was given to a Southern white person who supported Reconstruction and the Republican Party after the Civil War?” It was a derogatory term for white people who were, uh, doing what I’d want them to be doing. Interesting that the word retains a negative connotation despite being people the KKK hated. Let’s take back scalawag and move the word into the hero column!
- 77a. [Director’s circle?], BOARD. I guess this refers to a corporate board of directors.
- You see 13-Down, ATE IN? Let your eye drop down in that row to ATE CROW. An unappetizing duplication. See also: IT’S BAD, IT’S A JOB.
- 61d. [Try to win], SUE FOR. What a blah verb phrase. Really needs the legal context in the clue, maybe an “, as custody” or something.
- 89d. [Model for an artist, maybe], DIORAMA. What does this mean? The artist is sketching or painting from a diorama? The diorama is a model made by an artist?
- 101d. [Turn inside out], EVERT. Would’ve been nice to go with one of the best tennis players of all time, Chris Evert.
Three stars from me. Usually Tom McCoy’s puzzles are markedly more polished than this, which makes me wonder if this was one of his early efforts, only now seeing the light of day.
Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Get With It”—Andy’s review
The nine longest answers have one-word clues. Turns out, you need to add the word “get” in front of those clues for the answers to make sense. Hence, the title: “Get With It.” Themers:
- 23a, EVADE THE POLICE [Away]. Get away.
- 42a, MAKE ENDS MEET [By]. Get by.
- 50a, TIE THE KNOT [Hitched]. Get hitched.
- 68a, ACT ARROGANTLY [Wise]. Get wise. Didn’t like this one. I think the phrase “get wise” changes meaning depending on the preposition that follows. When I think of the phrase “get wise,” I think of “getting wise to something,” which means to learn about something or to figure something out. “Getting wise with someone” might mean this, but I’ve never heard it used that way, nor can I find that usage in any online dictionary.
- 89a, JUMP ABOARD [On]. Get on.
- 96a, AVENGE A WRONG [Even]. Get even.
- 118a, ACHIEVE SUCCESS [Ahead]. Get ahead.
- 17d, BECOME CLEAR [Through]. Get through (to). As in, “it finally got through to him” / “it finally became clear to him.”
- 67d, RECOVER FROM [Over]. Get over.
Nine themers is a lot, even for a Sunday. Cool to have SCINTILLA and ONE FOR ALL flanking the central theme answer. Lots of little dupes in this one: NO-BRAINER crossing NO SIR, GO PRO right next to GO EASY, IN CASH / IN SUM (/ SLEPT IN), RED RUM / REDCAP. Plus, some unsavory fill: DIV, VER, A LAW, CIR, OBJ, NOT A, L RON. I’m okay with ORAN, less so with OREL (why not OREO crossing SOY?). CHEAP MEAL is evocative, which sort of makes up for the fact that it isn’t particularly phrase-y.
Until next time!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Mind the Gap, Part II” — Jenni’s write-up
Good morning! We had a late night at the ballet last night (New York City Ballet production of “Dances at a Gathering” and “Firebird” – marvelous) and now I have to take Emma out to shop for Halloween decor, so this will be brief. I liked this puzzle: straightforward and consistent theme.
“Mind the Gap” because there are gaps in the theme answers, all of which are themselves some kind of gap. There are circles to help.
5d [Bend, as light] = REFRACT just above 57d [Compound in automotive paint] = URETHANE to give us FRAC/TURE.
- 7d [Cocktail with rum, Coke and lime juice] = CUBA LIBRE and 68d [“Troilus and Cressida” figure] = ACHILLES for BRE/ACH.
- 28d [Sports romp]= MASSACRE and 87d [The other way around] = VICE VERSA leads to CRE/VICE.
- 17d [Crumbly, fruity dessert] = APPLE CRISP plus 80d [Like contortionists] = LITHE adds up to SP/LIT.
- 43d [Don Quixote’s home] = LA MANCHA and 99d [Ring bearer of note] = SMEAGOL leads us to CHA/SM.
- 38d [Painter of many triptychs] = BOSCH and 74d [“Seems suspicious”] = I SMELL A RAT and we have SCH/ISM. Bonus points for spanning three words, even if one of them is “I.”
- And the revealer at 47d: [Divide into parts … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] = BREAKDOWN, since all the theme answers go down.
There’s no real wordplay in this theme; I prefer wordplay, but that’s just a matter of taste. I can’t fault someone for succeeding in what he set out to do, and this puzzle is entirely successful.
A few other things:
- Lots of desert in this puzzle: CACTUS, FIRE ANT and RATTLER, the last two both clued as [Desert menace]. Rattlers are pretty much ubiquitous in the US, but the only one I ever saw was in the desert. That was scary.
- 4d [2012 Hart Trophy winner Malkin] meant nothing to me, and I put ACTS for 1d [Poses], so the NW corner was the last to fall. That always makes a puzzle feel harder.
- I made APPLE CRISP for dessert on Friday. This has nothing to do with the puzzle but it was really good. Yum.
- 18d [First name among Giants] for once was not Mel Ott. It was ELI Manning. Football Giants, not baseball, and a currently active player. Good.
- 34d [Curling pieces] refers to the very popular and interesting sport using STONES. Never let it be said that I can’t learn from Deb Amlen’s mistakes.
- 116a [Musketeer’s tool] did not refer to swords, sabers or epees. It’s a RAMROD, which is used to shove the ball into the musket. This makes me wonder if the Three Musketeers actually used muskets. I always think of them as swordsmen. So to speak.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SMEAGOL is a ring-bearer. I presume this is Lord of the Rings, which remains a cultural blank spot for me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Aha Moment” — pannonica’s write-up
Oh, look. A quote theme. A baseball quote theme.
- [… a fan’s anecdote] AT FIRST I WAS | WONDERING WHY THE | BASEBALL KEPT GETTING | BIGGER AND BIGGER | THEN IT HIT ME. (24a, 42a, 62a, 84a, 106a)
I’ve heard variations of this jokey quip before, so it didn’t do much for me. Nor am I—as I trust is well known hereabout—much of a baseball fan, so that didn’t help. I guess it’s … a matter of perspective.
76d [Like a major realization?] IMPACTFUL. Theme commentary, it seems.
Overt baseball material from the rest of the crossword:
- 15a. [New team in 1962] METS. 98a [Orlando in the Hall] CEPEDA. 1d [Dizzy or Daffy] DEAN. 15d [Giant great Willie] MCCOVEY, 77d [David Ortiz] PAPI. 102d [“The Man” Musial] STAN. 103d [1957 MVP Aaron] HANK. Lotsa names.
Many more clues and entries could be baseballized with varying degrees of elasticity and imagination, and chutzpah. I’m not going to play that game today.
- 90a [“River horse”] HIPPO. Yet that abbreviated form is just the ‘horse’ part of the (Latinized) Greek compound. Hippo + potamos (“potamos” = river, stream). Bonus! There’s a town, based on an ancient settlement, called Potamos on 10a [Ionian Sea island] CORFU. (Gratuitous duplication in that clue with 92a [Poseidon and Proteus] SEA GODS, which happens to follow 90a HIPPO.
- 66d [Church dignitary] ELDER, 35a [Senior] OLDEST.
- 94a [Andre the Fauvist] DERAIN. 116a [“Impression, Sunrise” painter] MONET. Surprised there wasn’t a parallel clue format here. Yet, 69a [Howe the Inventor] ELIAS.
- 4d [Litter members] KITTIES. Marginally thrown by the answer not being KITTENS.
- 34d [Miniature boat or chimp] PYGMY. Bonobos (Pan paniscus), despite their erstwhile common name and despite that they are smaller than chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are not ‘miniature chimpanzees’. As to the question of ‘pygmy goats’ and ‘pygmy’ in general, I’m not going to venture there.
- 47d [Bathysphere scientist] BEEBE. Not the first thing I think of in relation to William BEEBE.
- 80d [Rotated, as a foot] PRONATED. cf supinated.
- 91d [Tool time?] IRON AGE. As distinct from the ‘Bronze Age’, the ‘Stone Age’, et al.? Weird clue.
Brad Wilber’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Whoa! What’s this? An appearance on Fiend on Sunday during NFL season? Yes it is! I hope you’re doing great, everybody, and my apologies that Sundays have been rough in getting on here the past few weeks due to covering professional football games in person. But, that’s (hopefully) a thing of the past now!
Today’s Challenge was one in which I thought I’d really have a battle on my hands to finish because of its constructor, Mr. Brad Wilber. As it turned out, I didn’t need to use EXCALIBUR in my attempt to fight through the tougher parts of the grid (33A: [Las Vegas hotel named for a legendary weapon]). I was glad that this puzzle was much more down my wheelhouse, even if CLEMATIS wasn’t and I had to use its crossings to figure that out (58A: [Popular arbor vine with large blooms]). I’m sure most of you are much more familiar with that plant than I am. But I’m very familiar with not only the term GRAWLIX, but also using it when I put up posts when I’m excited (or shocked) and I blur out my typed profanities (40D: [Cluster of symbols substituting for profanity, in cartoonist lingo]). It also helped that some of the other entries in that Southeast corner didn’t give me that much trouble at all, including GAVOTTE, even though I wasn’t too sure how to actually spell it despite hearing that word in the song referenced in the clue a number of times (39D: [Verb rhymed with “yacht” and “apricot” in Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”]). Speaking of songs, I also remembered, after a few seconds of looking at its clue, about The Andrews Sisters and “boogie woogie bugle boy from COMPANY B” (8D: [Jumpers at reveille, in songdom]). That was the type of clue from Brad that I thought was going to give me a lot of trouble, but, thankfully enough, I had heard about that a couple of times before and wasn’t thrown off when I had the “N” and the “B” already put in and thought “what in the world could that answer be?” A lot of fun solving, and surprisingly, I didn’t hit any real trouble spots. I think I need to stay away from the football field when solving these Sunday Challenges more often. What do you think?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TITANS (14D: [Giants]) – Here’s a trivia question: which current NFL franchise adopted “TITANS” as its first official nickname? Yes, the Tennessee Titans currently possess that nickname, but they started out as the Houston Oilers in the American Football League. Another AFL original, the New York Jets, began play in 1960 as the “Titans of New York.” Why were they nicknamed so? The team’s first owner, one-time sports broadcaster Harry Wismer, fired a shot at the other football team in the city, saying at the time that “Titans are bigger and stronger than Giants.” Coincidentally enough, the clue and entry in the grid contains both “Titans” and “Giants,” which just makes this entry even more poignant and symmetric.
Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!