Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Flipping the Script” – Erin’s writeup
We’re flipping movie scripts this week; the theme answers are all two-word movie titles in which the words are reversed.
- 23a. [Film about a sleeve covering depicting the second U.S. president?] ADAMS PATCH (Patch Adams)
- 25a. [Film about Clara, the famous nurse and stool pigeon?] FINK BARTON (Barton Fink)
- 37a. [Film about an occultist working at Chuck E. Cheese’s?] PIZZA MYSTIC (Did you know Chuck E. Cheese’s full name is Charles Entertainment Cheese? Thanks to AVCX editor Ben Tausig for that nugget of knowledge!)
- 52a. [Film about a Congress critter?] HOUSE ANIMAL
- 70a. [Film about an artificial lake filled with canines?] DOGS RESERVOIR
- 89a. [Film about a place where one can work among the stars? SPACE OFFICE
- 102a. [Film about the pizzazz of chef Ramsay?] GORDON FLASH
- 119a. [Film about an equestrian cetacean?] RIDER WHALE (I don’t remember hearing of Whale Rider before.)
- 122a. [Film about mooning people through a sheet of glass?] WINDOW REAR (I did laugh out loud at this one.)
- 82d. [Americano mixer] SELTZER. Kept thinking Caffè Americano here and wondering why anyone would add that to espresso. Today I learned it’s a cocktail of Campari and vermouth topped with seltzer.
- 18d. [Stretching muscle] TENSOR. I don’t love this clue. Tensor muscles do technically stretch things; for example, the tensor tympani tenses the eardrum by stretching it taut. I got it after a couple crossings, but I’m not sure if this is common enough knowledge for a Sunday crossword.
- 55d. [___ disease (tickborne affliction)] LYME. I’ll stop with the medical stuff after this, but it’s tick season already. Check yourself daily if you’ve been outdoors in a Lyme-endemic area, and see your doctor for any bull’s-eye rashes.
- 24a. [Arcade game consumer] PAC-MAN. Nice clue! Google Maps let users play Ms. Pac-Man with their local maps on April Fools’ Day this year.
Until next week!
Olivia Mitra Framke’s New York Times crossword, “A Century of Song”—Amy’s write-up
I knew it was Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday because months ago Liz Gorski proposed an Ella theme for Daily Celebrity Crossword (my day job), and we ran her puzzle this past Wednesday. The Fitzgerald centennial is Tuesday the 25th. Liz included the singer’s name along with Olivia’s 21a and 15d. Makes sense both constructors would have those entries!
The NYT puzzle’s theme is as follows:
- 21a. [1938 #1 hit for 68-/70-Across, which was inspired by a nursery rhyme], “A-TISKET, A-TASKET.”
- 68a. [With 70-Across, nickname for a celebrated performer born on April 25, 1917], LADY / ELLA.
- 119a. [Notable quote by 68-/70-Across], “I SING LIKE I FEEL.” Ooh, I didn’t know this quote. She was obviously feeling a lot.
- 15d. [Repeated collaborator with 68-/70-Across], LOUIS ARMSTRONG. You can talk smack about compilation albums all you want, but this Ella & Friends CD, whose first five tracks are Ella/Louis duets, is a personal fave. (And my favorite Christmas CD is Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.)
- 47d. [Signature tune of 68-/70-Across], “HOW HIGH THE MOON.” Ooh, I do not know this song. Here’s the YouTube, full of scatting:
And then the theme is crowned, literally, with a crown. Connect the circled letters in QUEEN OF JAZZ order and connect that last Z back to the Q, and you’ve drawn a crown. So this is Gorskiesque in another way, the visual connect-the-dots angle. (Fitzgerald’s also called the First Lady of Jazz. She deserves any and all honorifics.)
Neat theme, though it might have been nice to include ELLA FITZGERALD as one of the 14s and maybe find some other song title to plunk in the middle of the grid.
Only 64 standard theme squares, but those QUEEN OF JAZZ circles must put a lot of constraints on the grid because the fill was not doing it for me. Right up top, the MAMMAS MOTETS ARIOSI MIS-SEND corner accommodates that Q in ET SEQ, which is nobody’s favorite Q entry. SHEREE J. Wilson (who??) crossing RESNAP in the next section over. There were some odd plurals, such as ENNUIS (How many do you have? I have three!), SLEETS (don’t know why it’s not clued more naturally as a verb), SALLYS, and a few plural abbrevs. Crosswordese (your TUN, ALEE, AGHA, EL-HI, and so on) also peppered the grid.
Four more things:
- 91a. [Set piece?], TV CAMERA. Dang, I was working the crossings to put this one together. Just was not seeing it.
- 51a. [Elder Lannister son on “Game of Thrones”], JAIME. I … am not operating at full speed, because I read this clue and was thinking of Greyjoys and random other families rather than the core Lannisters. Shoulda been a gimme. (Tangent: Did you ever see The Secret of Roan Inish? In that delightful Irish film, complete with mythical selkies, I think there’s a line where a young girl says, “Jamie, I’m your sister,” in a delightful Irish brogue. So when we watch GoT and there’s as JAIME/Cersei scene, my husband and I like to repeat that line. They’re brother and sister, so it stands to reason they have three children together.)
- 125a. [State representatives?], STARS. Oh! I just figured out how this clue works. Each of the STARS on the U.S. flag represents one of the fifty states.
- 6d. [Skewered Asian dish], SATAY. I feel like this is clued as an Indonesian thing more than a Thai thing, but I usually see it as a Thai thing. That could be because I have lots of Thai restaurants to choose from but no Indonesian ones. Or do I? Hey! Yelp shows me three Indonesian restaurants in town, two of them in Lincoln Park. I want to try out Rickshaw Republic. So glad the puzzle spurred me to look that up!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “In Pairs” — pannininonica’s write-up
“In” has been inserted in words and phrases, twice in succession. “In in” goes in. It’s gerund-heavy.
- 24a. [Modest whack to the skull?] HUMBLE BRAINING (humblebrag).
- 37a. [Starts puttig washes on wood?] GOES STAINING (goes stag).
- 40a. [Storm of falling Barbies?] RAINING DOLLS (rag dolls).
- 66a. [Messing up an “Our Father,” say?] PRAYER RUINING (prayer rug).
- 84a. [Becoming less chaotic?] GAINING ORDER (gag order).
- 97a. [Exhausting marathon?] DRAINING RACE (drag race).
- 114a. [Holding the top position?] RETAINING FIRST (retag first). Original phrase references baseball, but how much of a standalone is it?
This is a rather unwieldy gimmick, but BEQ manages to make it work well enough.
The grid shows strains with entries such as ELD, EDDA, TRA, IROC, BAILEE, and more, plus E/S-heavy fill like ESSENES, ASSENTS, ESE, EASE IN, EASEL, essetera.
Lesser-known composers! 8d [“Les biches” composer Francis] POULENC, 57d [Avant-garde composer Gyorgy] LIGETI, and—indirectly—21a [“Captain ___’s Mandolin”] CORELLI. And isn’t that awkward, a fill-in-the-blank with an apostrophe-s just dangling in space?
22a [Wed in haste] ELOPED, 47a [Altar words] I DO. 20a [Real Madrid cheer] OLÉ OLÉ, 50d [Audience’s cheer] ROAR. 23a [Harum-__ ] SCARUM, 58d [“Ye gods!”] JEEPERS.
7a [Eco-friendly govt. test sites] EPA LABS. Ya, not so much currently.
14a [Cactus drug] PEYOTE, which always, always, makes me think of Peter Coyote.
75a [Dot in an ocean] ISLE, 109a [A, in Morse] DOT-DASH.
38d [“Grudge Match” director Peter] SEGAL. Not the host of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me. That’s Peter SAGAL. I’m guessing, judging by the film’s title that this Peter is a relative—brother? son?—of erstwhile action star Steven. Sure sounds like the title of one of his movies, and no I’m not going to look it up even though it would take less time to do so than to explain that I’m not going to.
39d [Cook’s platform] IOS. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
80d [Intrinsic state] INHERENCE; uncommon form of this lexeme.
52d [German countertenor Klaus] NOMI. A semitragic ’70s-early ’80s figure. Here he is in early footage performing the ARIA (113d) “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila. (Excerpt from a biographical documentary; probably NSFW.)
Craig Stowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Labor Disputes” — Amy’s write-up
The theme entries are familiar verb phrases clued as if they’ve got something to do with a specific sort of labor dispute:
- 23a. During contract talks, a marching band __ STEPPED OUT OF LINE.
- 33a. During contract talks, a cruise ship’s crew __ MISSED THE BOAT.
- 47a. During contract talks, a postal union __ PUSHED THE ENVELOPE. Usually pushing the envelope is a good thing, whereas most of these skew negative.
- 64a. During contract talks, a veterinarians’ association __ FOUGHT LIKE CATS AND DOGS.
- 78a. During contract talks, a divers’ group __ WENT OFF THE DEEP END.
- 94a. During contract talks, an opera company __ FACED THE MUSIC. Not the orchestra union?
- 107a. During contract talks, a fighters’ club __ TOOK THE GLOVES OFF.
Works pretty well, and doesn’t ring a bell in terms of “I’ve seen versions of these theme a few times before.”
Five more things:
- Favorite clue: 92d. [1983-’84 #1 hit “Say Say Say,” say], DUET. Say!
- 41a. [Fragrant shrub], LILAC. Yes! I took a long walk this afternoon and was pleased to see a couple lilac bushes with some florets that had opened. And plenty of fragrant viburnum bushes and crabapple trees, the occasional sweet magnolia tree, redbud trees, whatever all those trees with snowballs of white flowers are, pinkish-purple rhododendrons, and tulips, daffodils, and violets. Perfect spring day.
- 60d. [Private nonprofits: Abbr.], NGOS. I feel like this abbrev is seldom seen in crosswords, and yet it’s entirely familiar to me from outside of crosswords.
- 53d. [Blood relative?], FLESH. As in “your flesh and blood.”
- 63a. [Unlucky gambler’s wishful words], “I’M DUE”? That doesn’t resonate with me at all.
There were some stodgy bits of fill (EDO ECU et al.) but overall, workable fill. 3.6 stars from me.