Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The visual theme is BEAN DIP, 62a. [Nacho accompaniment … or a feature of 17-, 35- and 52-Across?]. Three long answers have a type of beans in the middle, and that part of the phrase “dips” below a black square and comes back up on the other side.
- 17a. [Dish topped with bacon, cheese and sour cream], LOADED BAKED POTATO. The BAKED beans wrap around the black square, and the dislodged AKE portion appears in the answer below.
- 35a. [Classic novel about an orphan girl mistakenly sent to Prince Edward Island], ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. GREEN beans.
- 52a. [Edutainment cartoon featuring a teacher named Ms. Frizzle], THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS. MAGIC beans. I don’t have a good recipe for these.
The grid is symmetrical, but the theme answers are not in symmetrical spots.
- 14a. [Airport monitor datum], ARRIVAL. Hey! Have you seen the movie Arrival yet? Amy Adams stars as a linguist. That’s right, a movie with a linguist for the hero! And she rarely gets mansplained at. I enjoyed the movie.
- 47a. [Gillette razors], ATRAS. Not sure this is really a brand name we want to see pluralized. For that matter, the S’s crossing is plural OHOS, also subpar. See also: that singular SCAD.
- 58a. [Of the open sea], PELAGIC. The term also applies to the non-bottom, non-shore part of a lake.
- 64a. [Trapshooting targets, informally], SKEETS. Sure, if by “informally” you mean “in a way that is out of touch with the actual terminology in the sport.” The targets are clay … targets.
- 1d. [Neighbor of Burkina Faso], MALI. Raise your hand if you filled in TOGO first. I know I’m not the only one!
- 3d. [Suffix with klepto-], CRAT. You’ll be seeing the terms kleptocracy and kakistocracy more than you used to.
- 13d. [White out], SNOWY. As in “white outside.” Somewhat tricky clue.
Favorite fill: BASS LINE, LAMAZE, WET KISS. Least favorite: L-BAR, HIREE, AT PAR, RIDEABLE.
3.75 stars from me.
Martin Leechman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Moving In” — Jim’s review
Even though the gimmick was telegraphed by the title, I still enjoyed the wordplay in this one. We’re given well-known phrases in which the bigram IN is moved from one place to another. Though this could’ve been a really wide-open theme, it’s kept in check by keeping the IN within its starting word.
- 17a [Words indicating the starting line?] BEGIN THERE. Being There. As in, the next best thing to. Or as in the 1979 Peter Sellers film. I don’t know why that title has stuck with me; I’ve never seen it.
- 25a [Storage for Bolshevik brooms?] LENIN CLOSET. Linen closet. I like this one; it’s just silly but it works. You’ve heard of Lenin’s Tomb? Well, apparently he had a closet as well.
- 35a [Wine sold “as is”?] PINOT OF NO RETURN. Point of no return. Another good one. I just bought a bunch of wine on sale this morning, so this one rang true to me.
- 50a [Message from Mao?] CHINA LETTER. Chain letter. Not as humorous, but it works.
- 58a [Ones going after wedding rings dropped down the drain?] SINK DIVERS. Skin divers. We get an unfortunate plural for symmetry’s sake, but this one works, too. I can imagine someone who’s a professional ring retriever being called a sink diver.
Overall, a fun theme handled well and with more humor than usual. Very nice.
What wasn’t nice was that NE corner. Three uncommon proper names stacked atop each other with opaque and tricky clues in the Down direction. It took me some time to get MACHO [Swaggering] and then some time later to get MOBY [Musician whose real middle name is Melville].
Our long Downs are AU GRATIN (nice), UNDEREAT (meh), ONE-ACTER (huh?), and OBELISKS (nice). Oh, and IRON OUT (g00d).
We also get DANDLE at 5d (off the back of the ugly BAAED at 1a). This one’s new to me, but it apparently means to [Bounce playfully], as with a young child on one’s knee.
We have a number of clues of note today:
- 4d. [Lamb pseudonym]. I’m getting accustomed to filling in ELIA whenever I see Lamb in the clue of a WSJ puzzle. That doesn’t mean I like it though. (That’s British writer Charles Lamb, by the way.)
- 37d. [Cleopatra’s Needles, e.g.]. Three OBELISKS in London, Paris, and New York City share the name Cleopatra’s Needle and were transported from Egypt and erected in the 19th century. Per Wikipedia, they all pre-date Cleopatra by a thousand years, though.
- 44d. [Hill’s hubby]. That’s Faith Hill and her husband is Tim MCGRAW.
- 64a. [His “Around the Fish” is in MoMA]. Paul KLEE, that is. It certainly is an, um, interesting painting.
- 67a. [Strong competitor]. Like most of you, I was looking for a product name, but I couldn’t think of one named “Strong.” Turns out we were deceived and “strong” is just an adjective, used here to describe a top SEED perhaps.
In the end, this was an enjoyable puzzle (minus one corner). A fun theme and tricky cluing made for a fun few minutes.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Good Boy!” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Welcome to the final month of 2016. Well, with it being almost 60 degrees in New York right now, it definitely doesn’t feel like December. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen, includes four theme entries in which the letters ARF appear consecutively and span the two words in each theme entry. The fifth them entry, SPEAK, acts as the reveal to the theme (53D: [Command to a canine that’s obeyed in 17-, 24-, 53-, and 63-Across]).
- SOLAR FLARE (17A: [Source of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum])
- NASCAR FAN (24A: [One enjoying when people go around in circles?]) – Can’t say that I watch that much NASCAR to become a fan of it.
- STAR FRUIT (53A: [Sweet treat from Southeast Asia])
- GUITAR FRET (63A: [Ridge on an axman’s instrument])
If you didn’t get your fill of astronomy with “solar flare,” you definitely then got it with SUPERNOVA (9D: [Brilliant astronomical event]). Also liked the adjacent (and somewhat related) pairing of TOGA PARTY (35D: [“Animal House” celebration]) and TIED ONE ON, with the latter being a term I don’t think I’ve ever used before in relation to describing a situation referenced in the clue (36D: [Had more than a few drinks]). And to top off that little mini-theme of debauchery, there’s SAYTR (43A: [Mythological reveler]). Though I’ve filled in NYE many times in a crossword, I never had the theme song to the television show that he had stuck in my head before (50A: [“Science Guy” Bill]). Until now. Since it’s in my head now, it might as well be in yours, too!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NOKIA (11D: [Pioneer in mobile phones]) – Between 1996 and 2006, NOKIA was the title sponsor for the Sugar Bowl, the postseason college football game held in New Orleans that usually is played on New Year’s Day. In 2007, Allstate took over the title sponsorship of the game.
TGIF tomorrow! See you then!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Long Live Rock”—Jenni’s write-up
Sorry this is so late. Just imagine the first scene in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
Peter serves up a 15×16 today and it’s dense with theme material. 26a tells us what we’re looking for [With 46-Across, a lyric from 7-Down that was written by 57-Across and sung by 6-Down].
26a is I HOPE I DIE BEFORE and 46a is I GET OLD.
- The song (7d) is MY GENERATION.
- The singer (6d) is ROGER DALTREY, and the clue for 6d informs us that he turned 70 in 2014, so he did not die before he got old.
- The composer (57a), who turned 70 in 2015, is PETE TOWNSHEND.
- And for good measure we have 45a [With 48-Across, 7-Down band] THE WHO. Of course.
This is good old fashioned rock’n’roll trivia with a helping of irony. I’m not usually a fan of cross-references, but they work here.
A few other things:
- Amusing juxtaposition: the M in MY GENERATION crosses the teenypop hit MMMBOP.
- A couple of sour notes with OVERBIG and REHEM.
- 30a [Stands up for dustpans?] is not someone who takes action on behalf of oppressed domestic workers. It’s ANAGRAMS.
- Trademark Peter Gordon very long clue: 61a [Name that becomes another name when an H is added to the front and an M to the end]. If you follow the directions, you go from IRA to Hiram.
- 54a [Irregular arrangement of patches of color] is MOTTLE, which strikes me as the wrong part of speech. I call the irregular arrangement of patches of color (a physical finding suggestive of poor circulation) MOTTLING.
- 38d [Hydrox lookalikes] are NEWMANOS, not Oreos.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that NANAIMO was a city in Vancouver, let alone that they host the world championship of bathtub racing.
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword — Gareth’s review
I’m late with my review, but I need to give this puzzle a decent acknowledgement. It is one of the most polished LA Times I’ve solved in a while. The theme is at its core basic; things you juggle (not me, I can’t) – balls, clubs, pins and rings – found in four long answers: MASKEDBALLS, BOXINGRINGS, CHESSCLUB, and SAFETYPINS. In addition JUGGLING, as a visual revealer, imitates, if not spectacularly, the shape of items being juggled without straining the grid.
The latter part is relevant, along with the two horizontal / two vertical arrangement, it makes a grid with a lot of space to do other things in. IDLERICH / CHEWGUM / WENTSOLO / PIGIRON (on the Rock Island Line) / KISSUP – it’s far more than HOHUM.
Clues were fun too – DRIFTED gets a classic Mae West reference; SOP refers to standard operating protocol, an initialism, but a nice change from what it usually gets clued as. [Bay sound], NEIGH tricked me – bay horse is what the clue is getting at.
[Like many a stray dog], MANGY. I work at a shelter, and I can’t deny the clue, at least for the broader meaning of stray, i.e. a feral dog. But mange is cureable and sometimes they have happy endings…
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Hearing Aides” — Ben’s Review
Better late than never on today’s BEQ puzzle – this Thursday’s entry is called “Hearing Aides” and the puzzle does exactly what you’d expect it to with that sort of title:
- 20A:Intelligent Amazon voice assistant? —
- 34A:Microsoft voice assistant that cannot be broken? — THE STEEL CORTANA
- 54A:One who falls for Apple’s voice assistant? — SIRI SUCKER
It’s straightforward, but I liked the little plays on the names of the various digital assistant apps there are out there now. The THE in THE STEEL CORTANA took me forever to get (and HOPE SOLO is just enough out of my sports trivia awareness that I got stuck on that particular corner for a while) and is really my only quibble with the theme.
Other fill I liked: ALICE Cooper (whose real first name is Vincent), AARP, CARA Delevigne, Mr. Robot‘s ECORP, JETLAG, CLARITIN. Things I didn’t like so much: TO TOE, EX-MET, the cluing on TROPICAL (which felt underclued for that particular answer)