Milo Beckman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, the Cubs game is over. Here I am. Did the puzzle without the timer while the game was on.
I added circles to the thematic “ghost-___” answers. The central HAUNTED is clued 35a. [Full of ghosts … like four answers in this puzzle?]. 22a. [Like many celebrity memoirs] clues ghost-WRITTEN. 24a. [Some gold rush remnants] are ghost TOWNS. 51a. [Campfire entertainment] is a ghost STORY. And 53a. [Monster film hit of 1984] is GhostBUSTERS. I haven’t seen this year’s remake yet but look forward to it.
What makes this especially Thursdayish is that the ghosted answers shouldn’t be seen when you’re working the Down crossings, because each entry is clued without that ghosted letter. COUR(T)IER, for example, is clued as 2d. [Package delivery person] and not as a courtier. MIN(T)ER is a little clunky, REGI(O)NAL without its O is certainly not a common word, and TH(O)R and R(E)NDS are bad abbreviations without their O and E. Oh, and IS WAR is a bad way to include I SW(E)AR. But overall, the gimmick is nicely carried out.
There’s some really blah fill in the mix—EOE ISH ARD ARRS SST AMU CDI. But the gimmick kept me more focused on the theme and things like TEEN BEAT.
Three more things:
- 38d. [Suriname colonizer], HOL(Y)LAND. Uh, you know that Netherlands ≠ Holland, right? Somebody find me a solid source that says the colonial entity was called Holland during the colonial period.
- 26a. [What’s done in Haiti?], FINI. Uh, you know that Haitian Creole ≠ French, right? Fini is Haitian Creole for “finished,” but certainly not for other uses of “done.” I hope each and every clue citing Haiti for a French word has been fact-checked as legitimately part of Haitian Creole. Only 42% of Haitians speak French.
- 29a. [#1 hit for Bill Withers (1972) and Club Nouveau (1987)], LEAN ON ME. I don’t know the 1987 song but love Bill Withers. Here he is, performing it for Midnight Special.
Four stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball crossword, “Getting Ahead” – Jenni’s write-up
What a difference a day makes! Today’s Fireball was challenging until I sorted the theme, and then it was just plain fun.
I was pretty sure we were dealing with a rebus as soon as I looked at 20a [In the chips]. I had the M for the first letter, which made me think it had something to do with money, which didn’t fit. I noodled around the grid and tossed in a few of the gimmes, and nothing jumped out at me. I went back to the NW corner and realized that 4d [Helmeted ___ (state bird of Victoria, Australia)] might accommodate a rebus square, since I had no idea what sort of bird was wearing what sort of helmet. Aha! MON(EYE)D fit all the crossings. I still didn’t know what the EYE was telling me about the Australian bird. Never mind. We go one. I couldn’t figure out what EYE rebuses had to do with the title, but it was early.
I looked at 38a [W-2 recipient] and tried to fit EYE as a rebus in there somewhere. Maybe PAYEE? No, that’s YEE, not EYE. Maybe it’s anagrams of EYE? Hmm.
I finally noticed that 66a [Acclaim producer] started with a P. That’s a car, right? Perhaps it’s a PLYMOUTH? Which fits if MOUTH is a rebus, right down in the middle of the bottom row. Aha again! We’re not “Getting Ahead.” We’re “Getting A Head,” with different parts of the head as rebus squares. I like this! So there must be another eye and a nose, right? Turns out there are also two ears, all appropriately positioned. So we have:
- MON(EYE)D crossing HON(EYE)EATER.
- K(EYE)D IN crossing M(EYE)RS.
- 38a [W-2 recipient] did indeed contain a rebus – it’s (EAR)NER, crossing SP(EAR)S.
- DIAG(NOSE) crossing (NO SE)RIOUSLY. The latter is clued [ “Honest to God!”]. Excellent.
- And the aforementioned PLY(MOUTH) crossing VER(MOUTH).
Very nice. And gee, look, it’s a puzzle with hidden body parts that is amusing and not disturbing.
A few other things:
- 10d [Crash site] had me stumped for a while. It’s MARKET. Duh.
- 11d [Dryads] are WOOD NYMPHS, not to be confused with naiads, who are water nymphs. Really, I just wanted to write “naiads” because it’s a cool word.
- 33a [Voltaire, for one] is a DEIST, as were many of the Founding Fathers. Christian nation? Nope.
- I’ll take “Mid-Century Modern Pop Culture” for $200, Alex. That gives me Jack PAAR crossing PATTI Page.
- 29d [Dilapidated] = FLEA-BITTEN. That’s a word we should use more often.
- The Peter Gordon Longest Clue Award goes to 49d [Simon Garfield biography of William Perkin subtitled “How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World”]. Answer: MAUVE. Without chemistry, MAUVE would not exist. (Fun fact: my husband has actually attended meetings at the Chemical Heritage Society. Well, I think it’s fun.)
What I did not know before I did this crossword: in addition to the Australian bird and the Chemical Heritage information, I’d never heard the word taffrail before. Turns out it’s a rail and ornamentation around a ship’s STERN, so I’ve seen one (and leaned on one) but never knew what it was called. Thanks, Alex and Peter!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Friends to the End” — Jim’s review
An ALLY is appended to the ends of various words and phrases turning nouns into adverbs.
- 16a [Terminate, but not wrongfully?] BOOT LEGALLY. Bootleg.
- 26a [Top the toast while it’s still in the toaster (Zap!)?] BUTTER FATALLY. Butterfat. I’m not totally sure that would be fatal. But then I’m not planning on finding out, either.
- 40a [Issue an official command?] ORDER FORMALLY. Order form.
- 50a [Shadow the suspect after a lot of procrastination?] TAIL FINALLY. Tailfin.
Not a lot of humor in this set, but the BUTTER one comes closest for me. I wonder if a more interesting set could be made by using multiple synonyms for “friend” such as PAL, CHUM, BUD, etc., rather than just relying on the one suffix.
I’m well zonked from moving furniture all day, so I’ll keep this short.
FAMILY BIBLE and AT THE OUTSET are our longest Downs. The grid has a pretty high number of “cheater” squares which is unusual for a four-them-entry grid. But then, there isn’t very much dreck to speak of, so they fulfill their purpose.
TYBALT (14d, [He told Romeo, “Thou art a villain”]) is new to me. REWIN feels arbitrary. ONE FOR is partially saved by the presence of ALL, but it still feels like a partial. Couldn’t figure out what BOLO was in the clue [Kin of a BOLO] or how the answer was APB. (Turns out it’s “Be On the Look Out.”) Why is SANTA FE the oldest state capital when it’s so far west? And TORY wins for best clue [May in London, e.g.].
Okay, that’s about all I can muster up. This puzzle is perfectly fine if not so adventurous. I like the presence of ENEMIES (46a) amidst all the ALLYs, but there’s just not a lot of pizzazz in these theme entries.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Spooked” — Ben’s Review
It’s almost Halloween, so it’s time to get punny with today’s BEQ crossword:
- 17A: London mayor’s phantom? — THE WRAITH OF KHAN
- 26A: Pull a banshee? — STRETCH GHOUL
- 43A: Apparition will start wooing? — GHOST TO COURT
- 57A: Poltergeist’s gizmo that’s au courant? — IN SPECTER GADGET
This was pretty straightforward as to what was going on, but I loved the puns that were used (IN SPECTER GADGET and THE WRAITH OF KHAN are currently tied for my favorites of the bunch). Together this felt like a fun-size Halloween treat.
Other puzzle notes:
- 36A: Pakistan president after Chaudhry — ZIA (This clue was no use to me since I don’t really know my Pakistani presidents – totally needed the down clues here)
- 42A: Political satirist Will — DURST (I was surprised this answer used neither Limp Bizkit’s Fred nor The Jinx’s Robert in its clue)
- 2D: Joy on “The View” — BEHAR (Is she still on “The View”? This clue may have needed an update to “Joy OF ‘The View'” if not.)
4/5 stars today – I had a few fill nitpicks but the theme won me over.
Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Things Are Looking Up” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning from Pittsburgh! Before treating myself to a Primanti Brothers sandwich stacked with meat and toppings, I definitely had to dive in to this juicy grid, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol. In it, the first word in each of the four theme entries is a noun that usually is associated with things you would find in the air.
- BALLOON PAYMENT (20A: [Large sum needed to end some mortgages])
- RAINBOW TROUT (25A: [Freshwater fish])
- CLOUD STORAGE (48A: [Data backup option])
- BIRD OF PARADISE (56A: [Tropical plant])
I might have heard the term KEGLER once when I saw a bowling competition once, but I guarantee you I couldn’t have heard of the term more times than that (4D: [One who enjoys some spare time?]). For the times I’ve done puzzles of Patti’s, there’s usually at least one reference to an author that I had not ever come across before, and LORRIE definitely fits into that category for me (41A: [“Who Will Run the Frog Hospital” novelist Moore]). Is there anyone out here who COOLS their pies on a sill (3D: [Rests on a sill, as a pie])? Maybe it was growing up in apartment life, but I’ve never seen that before – when my mom’s made pies at home or when I’ve walked past other families’ homes – and would love to see that once so I won’t conclude that cooling pies on sills only exists in movies and in cartoons. No, I’m not going to start walking around LEER at houses, looking for pies resting on sills (34A: [Creepy look]). That would be weird! What also is weird, but evidently true, is the need for me to YAWN anytime I see or hear the word (22D: [One may be suppressed in class]). I remember seeing a show a few years back about the contagiousness of yawning, and one experiment that was done that I saw was so interesting: during the show, the word “YAWN,” spelled in huge letters, was flashed on the screen for about a couple of seconds, subliminally putting that thought in the viewer’s mind and, later on, asking if the viewer had indeed yawned after seeing the word flash. I definitely yawned. There’s probably a chance that you’re yawning as we speak. YAWN!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BRAVO (27D: [Concert cry]) – As much as wrestling fans would want me to reference the late Dino Bravo, the self-proclaimed “Canada’s Strongest Man,” I’ll mention Claudio BRAVO in this space, one of the world’s best soccer goalkeepers who currently plays for Manchester City of the English Premier League. Before that, he played for FC Barcelona. In international play, Bravo has been influential in leading Chile to back-to-back Copa America titles, in 2015 and 2016. (Copa America is South America’s premier continental soccer tournament.)
TGIF tomorrow! Hope you all have a very good Thursday!
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle concept is a pleasant variation of the “words that precede” theme. The word is GAP, revealed in CLOSE/THEGAP. The gaps are GENDER, GENERATION, TRADE and INCOME, and they span parts of two adjacent entries. The downside of this theme is that the answers themselves are mostly short, and rarely pop.
With no long theme answers, there needs to be some interesting or playful things going on in the rest of the grid. This theme is quite dense, so it’s mostly containment.
A 4×3 area with no theme can be filled in basically limitless ways. There is no reason to use ABA/ABES and DAG and SNO in such a corner unless you truly have a “it fits, good enough” mentality.
Super NYT theme. 5 stars plus.
Too gimmicky for my taste. Though I admire the sophistication needed to pull this off.
I got HAUNTED in the middle fairly quickly and grasped that many of the down answers had an extra letter. So I filled in GHOSTED at 22A, which caused a lot of trouble… I liked the puzzle, though — a clever idea implemented pretty well.
The issue of HOLLAND vs The Netherlands is a vexed one, as I understand it. At the peak of the colonial period, the country was known as the Dutch Republic, and it was a fairly recent confederation of formerly independent states, including Holland, which was the dominant one. I don’t think the country became widely known as the Netherlands until fairly recently — certainly after the end of the colonial period. So neither Holland nor the Netherlands is strictly speaking a good answer to the clue.
The country was widely known as Holland when I was growing up and has gradually morphed into the Netherlands since then.
Really liked the NYT. All the moving parts meshed well. Teensy dupe between 16a [“Kinds sorta”] -ISH and 45d [Of ___ (so to speak)] A SORT.
Also, it seemed that the ‘hip’ references were less stilted and creaky than they’ve been in the past. 19a [“The World’s Most Dangerous Group”] NWA, 37a [“Now I ain’t sayin’ __ a gold digger” (Kanye West lyric)] SHE, 57a [“That was over the line”] NOT COOL, 33d [Suffix with hater] -ADE.
The hip references gave me pause but I was able to suss them out, except for 33D. Would you mind explaining that one to me?
Thanks. No way I could have guessed that.
The 38D:HOL(Y)LAND clue includes another interesting example, SUR(I)NAME. It’s probably just a coincidence, though; this theme must be already hard enough to execute without attempting to incorporate the clues in a coherent fashion.
12D:IS_WAR is mitigated by the shifted word boundary in I_SW(E)AR.
It’s definition-diving in service of clue surface. Check out the definition of top (transitive verb, sense 2e) here at m-w.com: “to bring to an end or climax —usually used with off“.
Also, I think it has a very similar sense (without “off”) in some criminal slang, i.e., “Did you top him?” (“Did you ice him?” “Did you off him?). I could be wrong about that.
My comment wasn’t about “topping” the toast (which the entry defines as buttering). But I see I wasn’t clear enough; I meant that I wasn’t sure sticking a knife in a live toaster would be fatal.
But now I see irony here. In one’s attempt to “finish off” the toast, one gets “finished off.” Nice.
Oh, reading it again (and all the way through) I see that that’s the correct interpretation. I’m the one who was stretching and contorting.
The NYT is a fun puzzle with a cool gimmick but, as Amy points out, the abbreviations at the bottom distracted from its eloquence.
I don’t understand STRETCH GHOUL in the BEQ. What is that phrase a pun upon?
STRETCH GOAL, a higher-than-original funding target on Kickstarter.
Thanks. This is why I frequently struggle with BEQ puzzles. Too many references to things I’ve never heard of.
You are not alone, David.
Not just Kickstarter. I’ve encountered it for years in business. People are given goals that feed their compensation. The stretch goals are higher and result in more compensation.
BEQ: 24D Posits means ASKS? I don’t think so…
Are you asking us to take your word on this as absolute?
I thought you knew me better. I don’t usually post without first doing a bit of research. Given Brendan’s predilection to stretch clues, I guess you might see it as a way of asking (assume/put forward). Personally, I wouldn’t use it that way, but, then again, I don’t construct puzzles.
assume as a fact; put forward as a basis of argument:
philosophy:a statement that is made on the assumption that it will prove to be true.
I feel as though I’ve seen “posits” as “asks” at least five times in the last week or so. Actually, I may be getting it mixed up with “poses” but it still falls in the category of close enough IMO.
Please someone enlighten me! I don’t understand “MON” for the answer to 35a in the Fireball (“Guy who probably knows how to jerk the chicken”).
“mon” is (stereotypically) what Jamaicans say. Jerk chicken is (stereotypically) what they cook.
I am PISSED. Seriously, JUST after the mysoginists at the Times do their thing with legs, we go straight to women’s BUTTCHEEKS in the Fireball????? A publication that touts themselves to be a cut above???
Seriously, guys, this is NOT okay [insert Hitler reference]. What is soooo damn hard to understand that a women’s body isn’t “up for grabs” (yes, pun intended [insert Trump diatribe here]) for crossword fodder? Here’s Victoria’s Secret, guys: OBJECTIFYING WOMEN.
I can only guess it’s because Peter Gordon comes from the long line of NYT mysoginists. My. God.
I dare you to disagree! I mean, so help you God if you disagree!!
I don’t even want to mention the raunchy “jerk chicken” clue.
Oh, wait, it’s fine today.
*insert strenuous eyeroll*
I know. Irritating isn’t it? I had the same reaction to Wednesday’s NYT review.