Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Auto Wreck” – Erin’s writeup
This week’s puzzle is a meta, with the instructions “The front ends of this puzzle’s vehicles, after they’ve been fixed, will produce an apt two-word phrase.” Where are these vehicles? Maybe the circled squares will help us out (shown here shaded and underlined, since I don’t know if it’s possible to encircle letters in a writeup).
- 23a. [Company man, perhaps? (Toyota)] ARMY CAPTAIN
- 25a. [Some stage performances (Hyundai)] DANCE ACTS
- 40a. [Eyewear brand with ads featuring Brooke Shields (Ford)] FOSTER GRANT
- 51a. [Beverages produced by Schweppes and Boylan Bottling Co. (Buick)] GINGER ALES
- 70a. [Standard of measurement that more often bears the name Celsius (Cadillac)] CENTIGRADE SCALE
- 91a. [Utter curse words, say? (Volkswagen)] CAST A SPELL
- 100a. [Blackjack ace, maybe (Honda)] CARD COUNTER
- 120a. [One Direction member who signed with Capitol Records UK in July 2016 (Chevrolet)] LIAM PAYNE
- 122a. [Extremist sect (Nissan)] FRINGE GROUP
The circled letters of each theme entry need to be “fixed,” or unscrambled, to form a car model produced by the makes in parentheses. In order, we have CAMRY, ACCENT, RANGER, REGAL, ESCALADE, PASSAT, ACCORD, IMPALA, and ROGUE. The first letters (“front ends”) of these models form the phrase CAR REPAIR, which is our meta answer.
Fun multi-step meta, about a Week 1.5 on the MGWCC scale, so should be accessible to many Sunday crossword solvers who don’t regularly tackle meta puzzles. Fill is solid, without anything jumping out at me as extra clever or extra cringeworthy. I appreciate the inclusion of ADORBS [Super-cute, in slang], as it lets me close with a video of baby red pandas. Please enjoy the baby red pandas.
Jim Hyres and David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword, “Hit the Deck”—Amy’s write-up
The “deck” in the puzzle’s title is a deck of cards, and we’re playing TWENTY-ONE, which is better known as blackjack. The 1a PLAYER and 14a DEALER are opponents, and the player may say 123a I WIN if the dealer goes 126a BUST. The circled squares show the player and dealer’s hands. TWO, THREE, SIX, and JACK for the player, that’s 21. Dealer has ACE, FIVE, KING … and EIGHT, busted with 24. Dealer was showing 16, which at many casinos means the dealer has to hit (take another card).
The phrases that contain the playing cards are solid, with some quite lively (JACK LONDON, ELITE EIGHT, “CASH IS KING”). “GIVE ME FIVE” is stilted, though. Please attempt to rejoice by telling someone to “give me five” (vs. “gimme five”) and see if they just give you a weird look.
Overall, the fill’s pretty smooth. TOOLBAR, VAMOOSE, MONEY TREE, COOL BEANS, FACETIME, ANN TAYLOR, CRAYON BOX, OMAR EPPS, and “I DON’T MIND” lent sparkle. SARDI, ESSEN, ACTE, SUM TO (what??), and ERST were on the “meh” side, but didn’t wreck my solve.
Been following current events this evening since solving the puzzle, and I no longer remember what clues I might’ve wanted to comment on. (Oh, hey, the federal district court that issued tonight’s ruling is just down the street from the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott that hosted the ACPT for several years. The crowds in front of the court building are on MSNBC now.)
99d. [Maniacs], FIENDS—Did someone say “Maniac”? Flashdance flashback time!
Four stars from me.
Robyn Weintraub’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Nowhere”—Andy’s review
The euryvocalic Robyn Weintraub treats us today to a puzzle that removes Ws from common phrases (thus, no W here!), with hilarity ensuing:
- 23a, LITTLE OMEN [Black kitten crossing your path?]. Little Women.
- 34a, THE AGES OF SIN [Transgressions timeline?]. The wages of sin.
- 49a, IDENTICAL TINS [Matching food containers?]. Identical twins.
- 64a, SALEM ITCH TRIALS [New England proceedings concerning allergic reactions?]. Salem Witch Trials.
- 86a, HEEL OF FORTUNE [Cheating millionaire?]. Wheel of Fortune.
- 99a, DON COMFORTER [Tony Soprano’s quilt?]. Down comforter.
- 114a, GUM RAPPERS [Wrigley’s in-house hip-hop group?]. Gum wrappers.
These theme answers were all pretty cute. I also thought the surrounding fill was very good; for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t really find a weak link in the fill, and there were lots of zippy entries like SCREENSHOT, DROP ZONE, ZIP IT, EAT ME, LOVEFEST, OPEN SESAME, RUST BELT, NO PROB, NINTENDO, DON PARDO, AFL-CIO, SHATNER, HETERO, and ERAGON.
Was the theme original? Not particularly. But it was well executed and excellently filled, so I’m prepared to go as high as 4 stars for this one.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Nightmare Setting” — pannonica’s write-up
- 68aR [Classic nightmare hidden four times in this puzzle] THE MONSTER UNDER THE BED.
- 24a. [“Golly!”] WELL I’LL BE DAMNED.
30a. [Uncredited author] GHOST.
- 45a. [2009 Spike Lee NBA documentary] KOBE DOIN’ WORK.
50a. [Comments section annoyance] TROLL.
- 94a. [Completely enthralled by] ABSORBED WITH.
101a. [Season highly] DEVIL.
- 113a. [Where an old dog can learn new tricks] OBEDIENCE SCHOOL.
121a. [Really big] GIANT.
I trust the specifics of the theme are self-evident here. It’s quite well done.
It seems 6a [Give a jolt to] SCARE is theme-aligned. Its symmetrical partner 127a [Bury deeply] EMBED doesn’t, though it does distractingly introduce another BED to the grid—is there an invisible monster lurking in the 22nd row?
Incidentally, Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword of 10 October of last year had a line-up of four baddies, including two that appear here (devil, giant). So those inclined to push back, say, on “giant” as a monster can visit that post and subsequent comments.
- 23a [Columbus’s home] GENOA, 111a [Ohio port city] TOLEDO, 7d [2016 World Series runners-up (abbr.)] CLE.
- 27a [Lobby activity] URGING, not PAGING.
- 38a [Pai __ poker] GOW. Not something I knew.
- 43a [“Act tough!”] BE A MAN. We don’t need clue/answer combos like this.
- 89a [“___ a Pill in Ibiza”] I TOOK. This is a recent popular song that out-of-touch-me had never heard of.
- 98a [Yellow Easter treat] PEEP. “Treat”? Bleah.
- 2d [Place for camels] ICE RINK, 64a [Skater Paulsen] AXEL.
- 15d [Bus. drivers?] MGMT crossing 14a [“Party Rock Anthem” group] LMFAO. Wonder if the original idea was to clue 15d as another initialized/abbreviated musical group?
- Biggish vertical stacks on each flank: GOOGLE BOT/ODOMETERS/WOMAN’S DAY, IN THERAPY/MAHARANEE/SLED RIDES.
- 44d [Scatting word] TRA. Trying to imagine this.
- 116d [“Gotterdammerung”] END. The original German meaning of Götterdämmerung is ‘twilight of the gods’. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder”. Yay.
Alan Arbesfeld’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Here’s hoping your final Sunday in January has gone real well.
Can’t stay too long at all to review today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, but I would like to notice that each of the 15-letter entries are all things that many people have on their minds right now. I’m sure many people now are A BUNDLE OF NERVES (17A: [Extremely anxious]) with what’s going on with this Muslim ban and, in turn, thinking about what our FOUNDING FATHERS would think of our country now if they were alive to see this utter flouting of some of the principles America was founded on (26A: [Delegates to a famous Philadelphia convention]). There’s also INTERNAL AFFAIRS in the grid, and I can’t help to think about the recent findings by the Department of Justice as it pertains to the actions of some members of police in Baltimore and, most recently, Chicago (55A: [Police department watchdog unit]). Oh, and ALTERNATE ENDING made me think of alternate/alternative facts, so there’s that (43A: [Movie DVD special feature, perhaps]). OK, I’ve been political for the past two blogs, which is very rare. I’ll leave off with sports, as per usual.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ACE VENTURA (6D: [Jim Carrey persona]) – Remember that the movie ACE VENTURA: Pet Detective is about an animal detective (Carrey) who is on the search of the Miami Dolphins’ mascot, Snowflake, that was abducted. It also centered around Ace Ventura finding the kidnapped Dan Marino, the now Hall-of-Fame NFL quarterback.
Have a great rest of your Sunday!