Michael Doran’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Tuesday is Election Day! And the puzzle is not like the famous CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle from 1996, nope. It’s just a “both halves of each theme answer can precede house” theme. 61a. [Realtor’s big day … or what each word in the answers to the starred clues can do] clues OPEN HOUSE, and those other answers are STATE BIRD, TOLL ROAD, SMOKE OUT, WHITE TEA, TREE ANIMAL, GREEN LIGHT, and ART STORE. The only part of the theme that strikes me wrong is TREE ANIMAL, which isn’t a term I use. I thought we called ’em arboreal animals. I also prefer “art supply store,” but when I asked my honey where he’d buy charcoal for drawing, he did say “art store” first.
As with most Tuesday NYT puzzles, there are some entries that seem out of place in a puzzle pitched at newer solvers. SETTE (21d. [Number of hills in Roma]) crossing CONTE (34a. [Tale of adventure]), really? ‘OME (37a. [Kipling’s “Follow Me ___”]) crossing IAMBI (26d. [“Whose woods these are I think I know” has four])? ROILY? Cluing GAEL by way of crosswordese Erse? (Golden Globe winner Gael Garcia Bernal or tennis player Gael Monfils, anyone?) NSEC (64a. [Minuscule div. of a minute]) crossing TECS (59d. [Private eyes, in slang])? If you are a solver who didn’t know some or all of these answers, take heart—hardly any of these are things you’d be expected to pick up in the course of a college education. (The Latinate plural IAMBI is the most familiar of these, I reckon.) Oh, and OLIO crossing RIAL. HIREE crossing SESS. With five or six theme answers instead of eight, the grid would have more easily accommodated smoother fill.
Three more things:
- 5a. [Marathoner’s concern], PACE. Yes, indeed! The New York City marathon took place on Sunday. My husband’s next marathon (after last month’s Chicago race) is in April.
- 48d. [Many a Punjabi], SIKH. There are over 20 million Sikhs in Punjab, sure, but closer to home, there are 500,000 to 700,000 here in the U.S. My son’s got a Sikh friend who started ninth grade with an impressive beard.
- 23a. [Queen of the Jungle, in comics], SHEENA. Raise your hand if you know singer Sheena Easton and the (unrelated) song “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” much more than you do the comics character of yore.
3.25 stars from me. I don’t give bonus points for theme density unless the surrounding fill is stronger.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 284), “Make Mine a Double!”—Janie’s take
After the last vote is counted, we may all be making this request, but the truth is, today’s title does not indicate a tribute-to-tipplers puzzle, and instead tips us off to the kind of wordplay we find within. This made for a solve that I found to be both solid and playful, a combo that always gets my vote!
Each of the six themers (two nines, four eights; four “across,” two “down”) is a compound word or two-word phrase, each of whose component parts can be preceded by a word in the clue to create new compounds/phrases. In essence we get a total of three answers for the price of one clue, although not one of the clues hints at the word/phrase that’s been entered into the grid. Each is written in the form [Double x?]. Each answer = yz; plus (double) bonuses xy and xz. Dig? So in this puzzle, it becomes critical to get the crosses (the words that cross the theme fill)—as well as grokking the gimmick. Here’s how it’s done.
- 17A. [Double time?] CARD TABLE. Also time card and timetable.
- 11D. [Double back?] BONEYARD. Plus backbone and backyard.
- 23A. [Double mint?] GREEN TEA. In addition, mint-green and mint tea. (Mint green tea, too…)
- 37D. [Double check?] BOOKMARK. And check book and check mark.
- 50A. [Double down?] WINDFALL. Not to mention downwind and downfall. I love all of the themers, but I think this one is my fave.
- 58A. [Double life?] STORY LINE. As well as life story and lifeline.
But wait—that’s not all, because the clues are all doing punny double duty, too. Look carefully and you’ll see for yourself. Elegant, no? Elegant, yes!!
The abundance of longer theme fill doesn’t allow for loads additional longer entries, but we do get some respectable sevens by way of STENCIL, CENTRUM, FEASTED (looking to the aftermath of events later this month with its [Celebrated Thanksgiving] clue) and the decidedly lively “WE DID IT!” [“Hooray for us!”] pair.
We get some nice sixes, too, with TEATRO [Pisa playhouse], TAHITI, TINIER, TOTEMS, TASTED, AFLOAT and MID-DAY. I also liked DAMASK [Napkin fabric] and the way that clue did, uh, double duty for LINEN. FLORA, MADEA, CARVE, IMBUE and BLITZ make for some more fine fives, btw.
Fave clue today? That would go to [North of Texas?] Not OKLAHOMA or any geographic answer. Rather, this one points us to OLLIE North. Our old pal from the Iran Contra Scandal. You know, the “good old days”… What? Memory HAZY, or did I strike a NERVE?
Mostly hope this whole puzzle struck a happy chord with you. As I said earlier, it’s both solid and playful. I may have a bias towards puzzles that play with and re-imagine word usage. But I don’t make that a crime. And… I suspect there are one or three of you out there who feel the same way. In the event this wasn’t your “dish of tea,” next week will be here before ya know it. In the meantime, keep solving. And please make the time to vote! ;-)
Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Out of the Running” — Jim’s review
Nothing fancy today, Election Day. Simply put, we get a list of losers from elections past.
- 17a [2008 also-ran] JOHN MCCAIN. Pivotal failing moment: When Sarah Palin started to talk.
- 26a [1988 also-ran] MICHAEL DUKAKIS. Pivotal failing moment: Driving a tank.
- 42a [1972 also-ran] GEORGE MCGOVERN. Pivotal failing moment: Before my time, but what I gather is that he was just too far left when the country wanted out of Vietnam and a return to law and order.
- 55a [2012 also-ran] MITT ROMNEY. Pivotal failing moment: Being taped talking about the “47 percent” of Americans who he thought of as takers.
Why these also-rans when there are so many to choose from? Probably just because they’re the most recent that would fit symmetrically. Missing: John Kerry, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, etc., etc., etc. So, lacking any other constriction on the theme, I’m giving this one a solid meh.
If you want to take a facetious look at some other failed campaigns, have a gander at these.
I like GUNMAKER, VOTE OUT, CAR DEALERS, EXACTITUDE, and ANGRY MOB, though I hope that last one is not in our near future. Unusual entries are 25a DAVIT [Shipboard crane] and 49a MALTBY [“Miss Saigon” lyricist Richard]. I felt the latter entry was a bit unfair…until I learned he was a constructor of cryptic crossword puzzles for Harper’s Magazine and New York Magazine!
One dislike: [Business salutation] for SIRS. Would anybody really use the generic SIRS in this day and age?
Make sure you don’t OPT OUT of this election. If you haven’t voted yet, you still have time. Make a decision and exert your right. Good luck!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Oh, Be Serious” – Derek’s write-up
Maybe the theme gave it away, but I actually got this gimmick almost immediately. Maybe it was the funny entry at 17A! At any rate, Matt is having fun adding OB to some names or phrases. I wonder if “Oh, be-have!” from Austin Powers fame was considered?
- 17A [Comedian Mandel, shaped like an oval?] HOWIE OBLONG (Howie Long)
- 65A [Look inward?] SELF OBSERVE (self-serve)
- 11D [Side of he coin that comes at no cost?] FREE OBVERSE (free verse)
- 25D [Philadelphia NFLer followed his coach’s orders?] EAGLE OBEYED (eagle eyed)
And a revealer in the middle:
- 42A [Indecent, or a description of this puzzle’s theme] OBSCENE
We certainly do have an OB scene happening here. Nice and clever! How about 4.2 stars today? A few notes:
- 36A [“Who’s the Boss?” role] ANGELA – I am dating myself knowing this!
- 45A [Linguistic suffix with morph or phon] EME – Not the best, but the clue works. Maybe just a pet peeve of mine!
- 47A [“All in the Family” daughter] GLORIA – I am REALLY dating myself knowing this! How old am I??
- 59A [Winter product also known as rock salt] ICE MELT – Hopefully I live somewhere in the future where I don’t need this garbage anymore!
- 6D [As a group, in French] EN BLOC – I tried EN MASSE, but it didn’t fit!
- 10D [Bob of “Fuller House”] SAGET – Still haven’t seen this retread of Full House on Netflix. Actually haven’t watched much TV recently; it’s football season! How about those Wolverines!!
- 27D [Steve who played Mr. Pink] BUSCEMI – One of my favorite actors. But this is a role from Reservoir Dogs, which I have never seen. It IS on Netflix! Just added to my list!
- 43D [“Taste the Rainbow” candy] SKITTLES – My four year old Chase loves these! Actually, all my kids like these things. I’m willing to bet EVERY kid under, oh, I don’t know, TWENTY likes these!
That’s all for today. I would type more, but I am still sore from my marathon! (And no, I didn’t run on my hands!) Have a great week!
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My job has me hopping! I was going to post this sometime during the day, but it is turning out to be a case of I have to actually do some work! Still loving my new job, though, as the stress level is virtually non-existent. Having said that, sorry for the late post! We have a collaboration puzzle, and I assume one of Gail or Bruce came up with this theme idea, which includes a revealer at 60 Across:
- 20A [Old West transport] STAGECOACH
- 40A [Trailways, for one] BUS LINE
- 11D [Handsome guy or gorgeous gal] DREAM BOAT
- 34D [Temporary group for a specific job] TASK FORCE
- 60A [Having financial freedom … and, literally, what the last words of the answers to starred clues compromise] SET FOR LIFE
So a “set for life” in the fact that each second word can follow the word life: life coach, life line, life boat, and life force. Nicely done. And a smooth easy solve to boot. 3.9 stars.
- 18A [Road in old Rome] ITER – If you must use it, I suppose you have to. If you have to keep the CHE in QUICHE, there may be better options, but I couldn’t come up with any. We will stomach it, since it’s the only icky entry!
- 19A [Martial arts-based fitness routine] TAE BO – This fitness craze will never die!
- 44A [“Family Matters” nerd] URKEL – I remember this well! I am old!!
- 67A [“Metamorphoses” poet] OVID – I literally only know this dude from puzzles!
- 1D [“In what way?”] HOW SO? – Nicely done! A smooth, natural phrase.
- 4D [Annoys persistently] BADGERS – Or [College mascot from Wisconsin], who Michigan thumped in football earlier this year!!
- 32D [Personal trainer’s target] FLAB – I must need a personal trainer …
- 52D [Swab again] REMOP – Nobody says this, but it is easily gettable, so that helps!
- 56D [Note equivalent to E] F FLAT – Can this actually be TOO easy??
That’s all for today. Have a great week!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “It’s All in the Accent” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Here’s hoping all of you rocked the vote today! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is double the pleasure, as the entries are two-word answers in which one of the words is a homograph of the other.
- REFUSE REFUSE (20A: [Turn away trash at a landfill?])
- PRODUCE PRODUCE (33A: [Farm?])
- PRESENT PRESENT (41A: [Give a gift?])
- RECORD RECORD (54A: [Make an LP?])
A little bit of an inconsistent theme since, in my opinion, the last two theme entries really need an article separating the words to make them sound a little more logical. Nothing that I was so upset about, especially since that led to a pretty fast solving time. Two things that really stood out to me in the grid. The first, and probably the fill that I liked the most, was BLUE FLU (5D: [Absenteeism by the cops]). The second was the shout out to the great sport/activity of roller derby in the grid with SKATE (9A: [Play for the San Francisco Bay Bombers]). The team mentioned in the clue is inarguably the most recognizable team in the history of American roller derby. I remember first catching roller derby on television in the 1980s – I think the show was called Roller Games – and thought it was the best I had ever seen. That, and I always wanted to own a T-birds shirt! I’m predicting that, within the next 5-10 years, there will be another roller derby revival and these shirts will be worn by many people on the street. Honestly, how cool is this?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAM (58D: [Carolina Panthers quarterback Newton]) – The Most Valuable Player in the National Football League last year was CAM Newton, who helped lead the Panthers to a 15-1 record and the NFC Championship. He’s not having the best of years this year, but he’s always No. 1 in terms of being the person whose wardrobe is most talked about. Here’s a sample of Cam’s sartorial choices after football games:
Thank you so much for your time tonight, and really appreciate your patience! Back to the bat cave for some never-ending web design work!
OLIO/RIAL -> OLEO/REAL?
I’m getting an error message when I try to download the .puz version of today’s WSJ puzzle.
My server was down when the puzzle would have been uploaded, because of an extended power outage. I’ve contacted the uploader about trying again now that we’re on the air again.
It’s there now.
25A is very close to being another theme answer.
It is where I’m from :)
President Obama was in the Big House yesterday.
It was aroar, but not ROILY…
That’s my CONTE and I’m sticking with it.
NYT: Agreed. TREE ANIMAL is beyond pathetic.
From XWordInfo’s constructor notes:
“This puzzle was accepted back in January 2013. I was pleasantly surprised last week when I got an email saying the puzzle would run today, as I’d completely forgotten about it being in the queue.
It’s hard to give too much insight into the construction since I made this puzzle about four years ago.”
It would be a good clue for ENT.
Well, honestly, I thought this was pretty dreadful. The proportion of only-in-crosswords words was alarmingly high. IAMBI, EELER, IKEAS, CONTE, plus all the three-letter abbreviations. But ROILY takes the biscuit. It’s impressive in a way, I suppose.
LAT solving time was posted hours ago, but the actual blog post has never appeared.
NYT: I thought this one was pleasant, even with some strange words. Also, I finished without looking anything up; good for me. ROILY was weird, yet I haven’t found any cautions about the word in the online dictionaries, except for one saying that the word is North American. Same for CONTE as an English word; it seems to be legitimate. These words were gettable, by themselves together with the words crossing them. And SHEENA, Queen of the Jungle, was one of the best for me. There was a 1950s show about this character on TV, and I used to make believe I was Sheena. I’ve barely heard of Sheena Easton and I’ve never heard of the song Amy mentions. Let us old folks have our days. We have to suffer through the other days. There is a problem with proper nouns crossing each other, though. Possibly some of the younger folks, not very young, were helped with SHEENA by HANSON crossing it, but HANSON was tough for me.
CS — What the heck was 45-Across about? ASS is the answer to Pleasure Island encounter.
I searched Pleasure Island. Most of the images were “fuzzed,” which usually indicates
NSFW or NSF the family at Tuesday breakfast. Please explain.
Ha! It’s from Disney’s “Pinocchio,” the island where the donkeys are. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_of_Toys
This may seem quibbly, but ATT is not the best choice for lawyer abbreviation (NYT 29A).
ATTY is preferred in my book. And I’m an ATTY myself.
Hey, good to see Cam. As a Panthers fan, I want to believe he’s gonna bounce back this year. Although it’s the Panthers defense that I feel is really keeping them from their full potential.