David Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The Tony nominations come out on Tuesday, so David’s puzzle plays around with six past winners of Best Musical by including them at the beginning of longer phrases:
- 17a. Markswoman dubbed “Little Sure Shot” , ANNIE OAKLEY. Note that Annie Get Your Gun (which is about Annie Oakley but has nothing to do with Annie) didn’t win big in its original run, but won Best Revival of a Musical in 1999. Also, why isn’t there a comma in that musical’s title?
- 25a. Variety of pool , NINE-BALL.
- 39a. Capital city with only about 1,000 residents , HAMILTON, BERMUDA. You may not have heard of it yet, but there’s a musical called Hamilton that’s met with modest success.
- 52a. Landlord’s register , RENT ROLL. Not a super-familiar phrase.
- 11d. 400 meters, for an Olympic track , ONCE AROUND. Answer phrase seems awkward to me. Don’t we call that a lap?
- 29d. Superloyal employee , COMPANY MAN.
And the revealer is 66a. Award won by the starts of 17-, 25-, 39- and 52-Across and 11- and 29-Down, BEST MUSICAL. Decent assortment of musicals spanning the last 45 or so years.
Now, if the puzzle’s pegged to a Tuesday because that’s when the noms are announced, it might’ve been nice to weed out fill like NALDI and SMEW, which are so obscure to anyone who hasn’t been solving crosswords for years. (See also: ENID, DEO, O-LAN.) Maybe five themers instead of seven would have allowed wiggle room for juicier fill.
Four more things:
- 26d. 1996 Foo Fighters hit, BIG ME. Never heard of it. Apparently it made the Rock, Alt, and Airplay charts, but not the BillBoard Hot 100. I feel like “hit” is a bit of an overstatement.
- 33a. Mushroom or balloon, GROW. The verbs, not the nouns. Neat clue.
- 40d. Blankets for open-air travelers, LAP ROBES. Not sure I’ve ever seen a literal lap robe.
- 13d. Clay character in old “S.N.L.” sketches, MR. BILL. Probably not too familiar to people who aren’t old enough to have been watching TV 35 years ago, but I fondly remember Mr. Bill.
2.9 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 309), “V-E Day”—Janie’s take
Today’s “V-E Day” of title will have far less impact on the world than the one first celebrated in 1945. That celebration, of course, was for the Victory in Europe against Nazi Germany on May 8th. The 72nd anniversary of the event is a mere six days away. And it’s “commemorated” cruciverbally with four two-word phrases, each with a first word beginning with “V” and the second with “E.” If not Very Exciting, it does give us a shout-out to an event whose historic import we may be inclined to take for granted these days… But to the V-E phrases in question:
- 17A. VIRGIL EARP [Sam Elliott’s “Tombstone” role]. Oops. Love Sam Elliott, but never watched. Happily, the crosses made uncovering the character name pretty painless.
- 28A. VALIANT EFFORT [Heroic endeavor]. Not unlike that of the Allied troops in both theaters of operation during World WAR II…
- 49A. VERY EXPENSIVE [Super-pricey]. Okay. But rather prefer the clue to the fill for liveliness. Am guessing (the same length) VERNAL EQUINOX presented too many challenges… Also, this one has a kinda roll-your own feel to it. VERY ENJOYABLE, VERY ELABORATE, VERY ENDEARING… You get the idea.
- 65A. VIOLET EYES [Elizabeth Taylor’s captivating features]. The most evocative of the themers.
And basically, that’s it. Not a lot of oomph here, even if all four themers acceptably fulfill the “V-E” requirement.
The remainder of the fill is also quite acceptable if, again, not particularly exciting or colorful. Too many proper names, perhaps? For my taste, yes. The best of the long fill lot? Why, the well-clued TRAMPOLINE [Bouncer’s locale] (so not OUTSIDE THE HOTTEST CLUB …) and YOGA MAT [It’s rolled out during exercise class]. VAPOR TRAIL and EVEREST are fine, but again, not as lively as, say, SIN TAX.
The old stand-by SPF gets a nifty clue: [Block letters?]. So, not these, but this. And I like what Liz has done in cluing STAG as a [Party animal?], and RIP as [Roaring start?].
Keeping it brief today—because there’s not a lot to expound on. Nope. Didn’t watch [“MELROSE Place” (’90s TV drama)] either. So, on to next week. Keep solving—and I’ll do the same!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Freedonia” – Derek’s write-up
A themeless from Matt this week. A low 66 words in this one. And only a “J” away from pangrammatic! There are maybe 5 or 6 entries that are fairly obscure/rare/highly specialized that prevent this from being a tour de force. But there are also several awesome entries in this I am sure have not appeared too often in NYT puzzles. Overall, 4.1 stars for this one. Matt is still a pro!
A few notes (including the aforementioned good/bad entries):
- 14A [Having divisions] PARTITE – Obscure
- 17A [Quechua dish served in corn husks] HUMITAS – Not tamalés? Then it became tough.
- 18A [Adult Swim programming block] TOONAMI – Awesome! I remember this from when I used to watch Boomerang a lot.
- 30A [In a shadowy way] DUSKILY – If you say so! It is gettable, so that helps.
- 56A [Compilation album series with cleaned-up lyrics] KIDZ BOP – Awesome entry. No NYT hits for this one!
- 3D [Melodic passages] ARIOSI – Familiar enough to the crossword crowd. Neither good nor bad. More meh.
- 4D [“Objection!”] IT’S NOT OKAY! – Tremendous!
- 8D [2017 Irish-Canadian film with Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke] MAUDIE – This is both good AND bad! Good for timeliness; bad because I have never heard of it!
- 27D [Busted] ON THE FRITZ – Also tremendous! Surprisingly half a dozen NYT hits at xwordinfo.com
- 30D [Ripe for the insulting] DISSABLE – I like this a lot. Arguably my favorite entry!
- 39D [Baked in an oven, like bricks] KILNED – Is “kiln” a verb?? Evidently it is, but who says this?
- 47D [Plum variety also called bubblegum plum] TOKA – I believe you!
Hope you all enjoyed this themeless. Next week I am sure will bring a humorous, punny theme from Matt! Have a great week!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another awesome C.C. Burnikel puzzle. I wish my mind thought like this! A simple yet clever theme, and even more clever with the revealer (and no doubt inspiration) at 37A! (As usual, pretend the first four clues are starred!)
- 16A [Bath towel material] ABSORBENT COTTON
- 22A [Bart and Lisa’s grandpa] ABE SIMPSON
- 49A [“Falcon Crest” actress] ABBY DALTON – I remember this show, but it may be before a lot of people’s time. I don’t particularly remember this actress.
- 59A [Book that’s been shortened] ABRIDGED VERSION – I tried EDITION instead. It also fit!
- 37A [Leave high and dry … or, when divided into three parts, what the answers to starred clues are encompassed by] ABANDON
Read as AB and ON. All the theme answers start with an AB and end with ON. I told you it was simple but clever! Again, I do not have this skill. 4.3 stars today!
A few mentions:
- 12A [Andes animal] LLAMA – Or [Learned League moniker]!
- 46A [Online live-stream lecture] TED TALK – Did you write in WEBINAR also?
- 52A [“Haven’t the foggiest] & 65A [“Yes and no”] GOT ME & SORTA – Other example of C.C.’s outstanding use of slang English.
- 7D [“The Voice” network] NBC – I haven’t watched this show in a while. It should not have took me as long as it did to answer this!
- 18D [Former NBA forward Lamar] ODOM – Famous from the high profile relationship with Khloe Kardashian. Maybe that is what put him over the deep end!
- 24D [Museum with a Goya Gate] PRADO – A reasonable assumption given the clue.
- 45D [Rock’s __ Speedwagon] REO – Talk about crossword fame! They haven’t had a hit in 30 years. Still strong on the county fair circuit, though!
It is not warming up out here! Have a nice week everyone.
Susan Gelfand’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Garden Variety” — Jim’s review
The puzzle was very late in posting on the WSJ website, so this will be a shorter-than-usual review.
Very cute revealer at 54a [Mistaken, or what the starred answers literally are]: FULL OF BEANS. My father-in-law is partial to “full of soup,” especially when playing around with his grandkids, but I love this phrase as well. With a little bit of searching, you can find the beans in each theme answer.
- 20a [*Don’t be a stranger”] KEEP IN TOUCH. Very nice. Easily the best answer of the lot.
- 39a [*Up-and-down line through an airplane] YAW AXIS. One, I didn’t know this phrase, though it’s not too hard to get from crossings, and two, I didn’t know “wax” was a kind of bean. I thought it was just a descriptor.
- 11d [*Application for oily skin] ASTRINGENT. One, I never would have thought to apply this word to a skin treatment but the dictionary says it causes the “contraction of body tissues, typically of the skin,” and two, the fact that our hidden word is not spanning two words is less elegant. But this bothers me less than other people.
- 29a [*Disappointing finish] ANTICLIMAX. I love this word, but again, the hidden word is self-contained, and theoretically, you don’t even need the prefix ANTI-.
Pretty good fill in the puzzle, but nothing too sparkly. I did like the crossing of TECHNO and BITCOIN. Both BAWDS [Bordello bosses] and PRATE [Chatter] look odd to me, but they both check out. Nor did I know that a peeper is a FROG. Nice enough puzzle.
WSJ puzzle seems to be completely MIA this morning. Not on the WSJ web site either.
I liked the NYT better than most, despite not having heard of a couple of the musicals. I can never remember that Eurasian duck, though :-) Great shout-out to MR BILL! So doomed.
I also cannot retrieve the WSJ.
WSJ: No puzzle has been posted on their website as of now (8:30 am ET). I will keep an eye on it and let you know if it ever shows up.
The Tuesday WSJ puzzle is actually on the WSJ iPad app. But I don’t see it on their website either, logged in or not.
Hmm. Is this the paywall move we were warned about a few weeks back? But yet there’s no indication whatsoever on the site.
It’s up! Yay!
I assume we’ll get some warning on the paywall.
Puzzle is up now. Across Lite version is in usual place.
WSJ: The puzzle showed up on their website with a posting time of 9:00 am ET. If we ask nicely, maybe Martin will be able to put up a .puz file.
Ah! I see he beat me to it. Thanks, Martin!
There are musicals called “Once” and “Company?” ??????? Does some group called Foo Fighters actually exist anywhere other than crosswords? I’m sure someone will tell me how wonderful and celebrated they are, but it’s just obscurity to me.
Once is a bit more recent, musical-wise (premiering in 2011), but Company premiered in 1970 and has been revived twice. AFAIK (which isn’t much when it comes to theater, admittedly), it’s one of Sondheim’s better-known works. There was a filmed version of the 2006 revival on Netflix a few years ago that was pretty good, and a filmed concert version from 2011 with Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert, amongst others.
The Grammy Awards tend to trot out the Foo Fighters every few years as a band who still cares about rock music, for whatever that means. I have literally never heard of their song “BIG ME” (“Everlong” tends to be their best-known hit, for the record), so I’m happy to see its dubious “hit” status mentioned here.
BIG ME is maybe best known for its video which was a parody of those inane Mentos ads from the ’90s.
Bruce, Foo Fighters are to Nirvana as New Order is to Joy Division. I hope that helps.
LAT: 5D [Scorpion’s poison] VENOM – regardless of how dictionaries handle it, poison and venom are not the same things, as I learned on this blog a while back.
Not all poisons are venoms but all venoms are poisons. I don’t see the problem.
Cluing arsenic as a venom would be very wrong. Cluing arsenic as a toxin is somewhat wrong in that toxins are biological (venoms are toxins, but not all toxins are venoms — think poisonous mushrooms). But “toxic” is also a synonym for “poisonous” so “toxin” has become muddled. It’s “correct” to say arsenic is toxic but not a toxin. Since that’s not tenable, purists are losing the toxin battle.
But venoms and toxins are poisons.
“Not all poisons are venoms but all venoms are poisons.”
That is not my understanding of the scientific definitions. That is the point of my comment, and the problem that I see.
What is your understanding? That some venoms are not poisons? I’m not sure I can imagine a scientific definition that would back that up. The whole point of a venom is to incapacitate or kill prey or threat. In other words, to poison.
Are you willing to take a lie detector test to back up your claim that you’ve NEVER watched Melrose Place? https://youtu.be/h_Sw6by7pig
dang tootin’! (and no, didn’t click your link…)
not unaware of it pop-culturally, just never watched.
Also never watched the show. I’m sure you never watched some of mine! Janie, you should open the link. It’s a cute one-minute clip from Seinfeld. I wouldn’t understand that it was about Melrose Place if it weren’t for CFXK!
oh — but this is very funny! *thx* for the laff, cfxk. and thx, lois, for setting me straight! (uh… didn’t watch seinfeld first time around either, but caught a lotta episodes [not this one, though] in syndication…)
WSJ: To me, FULL OF BEANS means bursting with energy, in high spirits. So I don’t get the theme revealer as it relates to the clue, but I *am* hungry now.
I know that’s what phrases.com says it means, but it always meant full of nonsense, to me.
I think I have heard that definition, but it’s not what I think of when I hear the phrase. But the clue [Mistaken] doesn’t capture the full sense either. To me, it means “talking nonsense” or “full of baloney.”
I always think of it as a euphemism for full of sh*t.
Can someone explain tooami?
Can someone explain toonami?
It’s like a tsunami of toons.