Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “It’s One Thing After Another” – Erin’s writeup
Another tricky theme this week. One word in each phrase is replaced by the following word in a particular series:
- 23a. [Entrance music composed by Mendelssohn] WEDDING APRIL (WEDDING MARCH, as April is the month of the year following March)
- 34a. [Young one] SUMMER CHICKEN (season following SPRING)
- 52a. [Carrier with a SkyMiles rewards program] EPSILON AIRLINES (Greek letter following DELTA)
- 65a. [Work of art that was presented to Louis XVIII in 1821] EARTH DE MILO (planet in our solar system following VENUS)
- 70a. [Science fiction thriller of 1973] SOYLENT BLUE (color of the rainbow following GREEN)
- 86a. [Fictional character who planned a mutiny of the Hispaniola] LONG JOHN CADMIUM (periodic table element following SILVER)
- 100a. [Item associated with the Headless Horseman] QUEEN-O’-LANTERN (card rank following JACK)
- 114a. [Parliament setting] UNITED PHYLUM (taxonomic rank following KINGDOM)
I caught on that something was up when several crossings for SPRING CHICKEN did not work. I plugged in SUMMER, wondering if SUMMER CHICKEN was a phrase meaning someone not quite so young, but still not old. Once I figured that APRIL fit the first themer instead of MARCH, it all clicked. The theme is doubly tricky, in that each entry requires knowledge of a different series. Thank goodness for crossings…no amount of brain-searching would have given me CADMIUM. It’s an extra layer of goodness, though, that satisfies more than it frustrates.
Did anyone else think of Smurfs after they filled in SOYLENT BLUE? A Google search for “Soylent Blue Smurfs” brought up about 300,000 hits, including this tweet from 2013.
- 64d. [“Some words in this puzzle have been replaced,” e.g.] HINT. Nudge nudge, wink wink.
- 81a. [Pooch of ’90s TV] REN. I remember there was a lot of “The Ren & Stimpy Show” that I didn’t understand, but I knew there wasn’t anything like it out there. Please enjoy this commercial for everyone’s favorite toy, Log!
- 97a. [The second of four emperors in A.D. 69] OTHO. He was an answer to a past MGWCC, but I don’t think his name will ever stick with me. I kept trying to make OTTO fit.
- 125a. [Phobos’s father] ARES. Really really wanted to put Mars here, as Phobos and Deimos are Mars’ moons, but their names are Greek, so their daddy goes by the Greek name for the god of war in this case.
Until next week!
Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword, “Places, Everyone!”—Amy’s write-up
Ooh, a byline that promises a good time! Will Nediger’s weekly blog crosswords are my favorite new (he started about 6 months ago) indie puzzle venue. We’ve got 18 circled words in the grid, intersecting in pairs in sort of a Brady Bunch layout. Each theme clue suggests an answer that combines a positional word with the circled answer.
- 22a. [Dropped out], “left SCHOOL” because the word SCHOOL is on the left side of the grid (it’s also near the top, but it’s an Across answer and the Acrosses run from left to middle to right) / 23a. [U.S. heartland], middle AMERICA / 24a. [Dexterous one], right-HANDER (a tad awkward, maybe—HANDED would be smoother).
- 66a. [Abandoned], left BEHIND / 67a. [Person pretty far up the corporate ladder], middle MANAGER (well, not that far up the ladder, right?) / 69a. [Having correct opinions], right-MINDED.
- 113a. [Blind side protector, usually, in an offensive line], left TACKLE / 114a. [Chaucer’s tongue], Middle ENGLISH / 116a. Brings up a menu with a PC mouse], right CLICKS.
- Moving to the Downs, we have top, middle, and bottom phrases. 4d. [News highlights], top STORIES / 56d. [Neglected one, stereotypically], middle CHILD / 87d. [Where teams that have little-to-no chance of winning are found], bottom BRACKET (not familiar with “bottom bracket” myself).
- 10d. [Boneless cut], top SIRLOIN / 58d. [Bourgeoisie], middle CLASS / 89d. [Inhabitant of the ocean’s benthic zone], bottom DWELLER.
- 15d. [Grand pooh-bahs], top BANANAS ( a little odd in the plural) / 60d. [Mezzo-soprano, for female voices], middle RANGE / 91d. [Profiting from the misfortunes of others], bottom-FEEDING.
Good theme concept, smoothly executed.
… And now I was away for the last hour, and I don’t remember much about the interstitial material in the puzzle. Let’s see:
- 107a. [Poison victim’s remedy], IPECAC. Is it still advised, or no?
- 90a. [Searcher for “the lost village,” in film], SMURF. “In film,” ha. I’m Smurfless, having been just a little too old to take any interest when the kiddie cartoons hit in the U.S. Everything I know about the Smurfs, I know from crosswords or Sporcle.com quizzes.
- 77d. [Fox neighbor], SAUK. Tribes, not TV channels.
There’s not a ton of sparkle in the non-theme fill, but the theme layout doesn’t really leave space for much. The fill wasn’t annoying, though, which is often challenging to achieve in a 21×21 grid. 4.25 stars from me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Kicking the Habit” — pannonica’s write-up
This was a very quick solve. Saw it was a quote theme, but as of this moment I only know pieces of it. Didn’t know the title of the puzzle until I needed to type it for the write-up.
- 23a/41a/64a/85a/109a [… a five-part quip] I KNOW A GUY | SO ADDICTED TO | LINE DANCING THAT | HE HAD TO ENTER | A TWO-STEP PROGRAM.
Haw, haw. Good title, though. Does line dancing have kick steps? That would be good. I’m going on the assumption that it does.
Not part of the theme, one hopes: 76a [Misstep] SLIP. Though it is a minor duplication. Meta!
Favorite clues: 16d [Keep a sub going] RENEW.
Least favorite clues: 6d [Hamster home] CAGE.
31d [Mole kin] SHREW (same Order, different Families); 81d [Po land] ITALY. I like the implied moleskin and Poland.
67d [Quaint old way to pay] CASH. Oh jeez don’t say that.
12d [Unpoetic] PROSY; had PROSE first, like any reasonable person. 71a [Dyne/maxwell equivalent] OERSTED; uh, økay.
I’m still not right.
Bruce Haight’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “For Mom”—Amy’s write-up
Simple theme featuring phrases with M.O.M. initials. All but one has either OF or ONE’S in the middle, and I’m never a fan of those ONE’S phrases (“___ your ___” is more natural and has less of a dictionary-definition vibe). We’ve got MAN OF MEANS, MUSE OF MUSIC (that feels awkward), MILK OF MAGNESIA (“Happy Mother’s Day! How’s your indigestion?”), MAKE ONE’S MOVE, MEET ONE’S MATCH, MIND OVER MATTER, MADE OF MONEY, and MONTH OF MAY (which feels clunky without a preceding “the”).
Fave fill: KICKSTART, GYM BAG, TEAM SPORT, EYE SHADOWS. Not keen on “OH, IS THAT SO?” because the OH feels weird there (and it’s near 20a OH NO not clued as Apolo Anton Ohno), and it crosses the clunky I’M HIP, which needs to die a cruciverbal death and exit from constructors’ word lists.
The fill felt rather stodgy overall, with stuff like SNERD ANYA OGLER MERC INURE ESSO.
2.9 stars from me, I’m off to do a little work before taking a Mother’s Day nature walk with my guys—enjoy your day!