Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Capital Gains” – Erin’s writeup
This week’s theme plays with hidden capital letters in the answers, substituting pairs of initials for two-letter words:
- 23a. [Command to consumer advocate Nader to destroy the computer systems department?] WRECK I.T. RALPH (Information Technology)
- 25a. [“Both surgery sites work for me”?] EITHER O.R. (Operating Room)
- 39a. [Authority from a driver’s license, say?] I.D. SAY SO (Identification or Identity Document)
- 41a. [Proceeds after the birth of Jesus?] A.D. REVENUES (Anno Domini)
- 58a. [Holistically trained physician that one cares for?] D.O. YOU MIND (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)
- 68a. [Send cybernotes to some user on ChristianMingle?] I.M. A BELIEVER (Instant Message)
- 84a. [Simple website button to for communicating with everybody in America?] CONTACT U.S. (United States)
- 96a. [Detective’s phone number?] DIGITS OF P.I. (Private Investigator)
- 99a. [Prosecutorial pandas, e.g.?] D.A. BEARS [District Attorney]
- 116a. [Carnival worker with a graduate degree?] M.A. BARKER (Master of Arts)
- 119a. [Tiny complaint about somebody’s naturally unpleasant smell?] LITTLE B.O. PEEP (Body Odor)
This puzzle is lovely. The first key entry tricked me into thinking there was a movie theme, but I soon caught on with EITHER OR, and legit LOLed at DA BEARS and LITTLE BO PEEP.
Solving was a smooth experience except for the center left. The crossing of quarterback LEN Dawson and composer Jule STYNE almost got me. I also was stumped by BUFFALO [Addle, so to say]. Apparently it is a synonym for “pistol-whip.” Elsewhere, I love [Lady Gaga cover?] for WIG and [Features of crime?] for FILM NOIR.
If you have not seen MANOS: [The Hands of Fate (B-movie famously ridiculed by “Mystery Science Theater 3000”)], you’re missing out. The movie itself is about a couple who gets lost and finds themselves at the house of the Master, who worships a deity called Manos. The Master lives there with his wives, and his servant Torgo tends to the house. Things start to make even less sense from there. The riffing ends with a sketch about Torgo’s Pizza. Then this sketch led to an online friend sending my daughter a Torgo’s Pizza shirt shortly after her birth. Anyway, both the movie and the riffing are hilarious.
Have a great week!
Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, “Mishmash”—Amy’s write-up
Well, people, I did not enjoy this puzzle. Not the theme, not the fill, not the clues. The wordplay theme concept seems like it has potential, but the results here disappointed me. Take a familiar word or phrase that ends with a word that can take a vowel change to form a term like the titular “mishmash,” and add that “mash”-type word. Clue the resulting nonsense in some faintly plausible way:
- 23a. [Witty British judge?], POWDERED WIG WAG. British magistrates wear powdered wigs, and a witty person is a wag, but I had to look up wigwag in the dictionary. Apparently it’s a lot like zigzag, only markedly less familiar.
- 38a. [Three-legged race, e.g.?], JOINED-AT-THE-HIP HOP. This is decent.
- 55a. [Nail?], FINGERTIP TOP. Rather dull.
- 66a. [“America”?], “OF THEE I SING” SONG. That works.
- 81a. [Grant a girl permission to dis Drake?], LET HER RIP RAP. Really thought this one was going to end in HIPHOP, having not filled in 38a at this point—and having little or no familiarity with the word riprap, which means “loose stone used to form a foundation for a breakwater or other structure.” Sure, who doesn’t use that term?
- 98a. [Ability to score at Madison Square Garden, e.g.?], NEW YORK KNICK KNACK. This is solid.
- 117a. [Diving disaster?], TRIPLE FLIP FLOP. I gather triple flip is a thing?
So three of the seven were okay, three were built on unfamiliar terms, and one was stolid? We do expect a better yield than that for a wordplay theme.
Elsewhere in the puzzle:
- 19a. Baseball-like game], CRICKET. No, that wasn’t working with the crossings. So I put in ancient crosswordese ONEOCAT (known for its more common appearance via the partial entry ONEO). Also nope. Turned out to be ONEACAT. Are you kidding me?? Right below 1-Across? That sets the tone for the rest of the solve, tells the solver “This is going to be ugly.”
- 79a. [What Cubs fans get carried away by?], EL TRAIN. Ha ha ha ha … no. If you lived in Chicago, you’d know the proper 7-letter answer for that is RED LINE. “El train” sounds like somebody who can’t speak Spanish trying to communicate in Spanish.
- 29a. [Perform a full-body scan?], OGLE. Gross.
- 52d. [One lifting spirits?], TOASTER. Why?? Why, when this is a perfectly good noun for a kitchen appliance, would you clue it as “person who gives a toast” with a supposedly clever question-marked clue? Do we call those people TOASTERs much? I’m thinking no.
- 43d. [Atheist’s lack], PIETY. The Oxford dictionary folks define PIETY as “a belief or point of view that is accepted with unthinking conventional reverence,” so I guess that actually doesn’t irk me after all.
- 60a. [Girl with a ball], DEB. Well! That clue got me making testicle jokes with Deb Amlen.
Not sure why the fill felt so rough-edged to me, given the fairly reasonable size of the theme and no inclusion of really sparkly long fill. I’d expect it to be smoother than it was. 2.25 stars from me, just not fun.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Twice Told” — pannonica’s remitment
Plurals + rather strained homophones.
- 27a. [Aerial attack has a yule theme?] MISSILE TOWS MISTLETOES. (54d [Eagle’s nest] AERIE.)
- 44a. [What lovers of silence think?] A NOISE ANNOYS.
- 64a. [What servers bring?] ENTRÉES ON TRAYS.
- 72a. [Baking disasters in glass dishes?] PYREX PIE WRECKS.
- 75a. [Pairs of outfits for a pas de deux?] TWO TWOS TUTUS. …?
- 111a. [Researchers find effervescence helpful?] FIZZ ASSISTS PHYSICISTS.
Matt McKinley’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Dropping In”—Andy’s review
Today’s puzzle takes phrases that start with “in,” and drops the in; hilarity ensues. Themers:
- 23a, STILL CONFIDENCE [Knowing one makes the best moonshine?]. Instill confidence.
- 30a, CREASE QUALITY [Pressing concern?]. Increase quality.
- 42a, BOARD MOTOR BOAT [Vessel for the corporate lake outing?]. Inboard motor boat.
- 64a, FORMATION CENTER [Where geese learn the ABCs of Vs?]. Information center.
- 88a, DECENT EXPOSURE [Passable publicity?]. Indecent exposure.
- 95a, TENSE SCRUTINY [Close examination of past and present English?]. Intense scrutiny.
- 110a, VESTMENT ADVISER [Priest’s fashion consultant?]. Investment adviser.
This one didn’t tickle me. The second theme answer in particular wasn’t quite as phrase-y as the rest, and the resulting theme entries weren’t particularly punny. I thought the theme clues were well written, though.
Not a lot of long surrounding fill in this one, but I liked the stuff that was there: KILLER APP, CLASS RING, TEEN BEAT, and WHEEDLED. I had a really hard time filling in 21d, BECALM [Immobilize at sea, in a way], which slowed me down in the top half of the puzzle. St. Louis Bridge architect James EADS has a very useful name for crosswords, though he hasn’t shown up in a mainstream puzzle in about five years, so I didn’t remember his name. George EADS of “CSI” is the Eads I’m more familiar with, but I’m not sure how puzzleworthy either name is.
That’s all I’ve got today. Until next week!
Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! I hope you’re all doing great to end another week of crossword solving!
Before opening up the grid, I wanted to record a time of under 15 minutes – not sure why the thought initially popped into my head – and after seeing the constructor’s name, the lovely Mr. Doug Peterson, I thought I could do just that. Unfortunately, the answers in the Northwest, particularly DELIVER, weren’t coming quickly, so that cost me some time and forced me to bounce around (1A: [Liberate]). Though I didn’t live in the 1970s, I’m disappointed I didn’t come across, at any point, the AVOCADO green craze that invaded kitchen decor back then (14A: [Popular kitchen color of the ’70s]). Outside of that corner, I didn’t have too much trouble with the rest of the grid, and got a foothold when getting TEXAS PANHANDLE without the luxury of any crossings being filled in yet (41A: [Amarillo’s area]). The paralleling entry to that also allowed me to make quick work of the middle part of the grid, but I’ll save mentioning that answer for the next graph. So, for the second time this week, we have VAMPIRE BATS featured in a grid, and now I’m going to have the harrowing image of the bat that made its way into the off-campus house I lived in my junior year of college flying around in the living room (5D: [Mammals with liquid diets]). Yes, that actually happened. One of the perks of going to some of the basketball games that I go to is that, long after the game is over and I’m done with my work, I can go out onto the court and, if a basketball is lying around, can shoot a free throws. I did just that last week, and was surprised when I shot an AIRBALL at the free throw line when I was attempting to make 10 straight before I left the arena (60A: [Jumper that misses everything]). Man, am I losing my shooting touch as the years go by. That has to change, and now! Anyone care to come shoot some hoops with me soon in New York City?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CONNECTICUT SUN (34D: [WNBA team that plays its home games inside a casino]) – The CONNECTICUT SUN, who play their home games at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., did not originate in the Nutmeg State. In 1999, the franchise was founded in Orlando as the Orlando Miracle, the sister team to the NBA’s Orlando Magic. In 2002, when the NBA sold off all of the WNBA franchises to the operators of the teams, Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos – the father-in-law of current Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos – did not want to keep the keep the team, and no other ownership group emerged as well to keep it in Orlando. The team moved to Connecticut in January 2003.
Have fun for the rest of today, everyone!