Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Odd Jobs” – Erin’s writeup
Two-word phrases and proper names clued zanily as unconventional occupations:
- 23a. [*JOB DESCRIPTION: Successful candidate will clean a bedroom in 60 seconds] MINUTE MAID
- 25a. [*… will treat “Wheel of Fortune” contestants for their injuries] SPIN DOCTOR
- 39a. [*… will evaluate actor Myers, coach Ditka, boxer Tyson and others with the same name] MIKE JUDGE
- 52a. [*… will chauffeur a famous mouse about town] MINNIE DRIVER
- 70a. [*… will build robots that can only move backward] REVERSE ENGINEER
- 87a. [*… will give blackjack players twice as many cards as they requested] DOUBLE DEALER
- 100a. [*… will fly jet-propelled tropical trees] PALM PILOT
- 120a. [*… will create brick walls in the shape of “Friends” actor Matthew] PERRY MASON
- 122a. [*… will pose for the camera with a deli gadget] SCALE MODEL
Not much to say here. We were spoiled the last few weeks with trickier themes, so a perfectly fine theme seems pale in comparison.
- 109a. [“Joust” platform] ATARI. “Joust” was an arcade game that made two-player cooperation popular. It also gave us some great posters.
- 77a. [RPM International’s fluorescent paint brand] DAY-GLO. Anyone who owned a blacklight poster in college should thank the Switzer brothers. Day-Glo paint was used before then for military applications and in safety/visibility equipment, too.
- 30a. [Modern term for the competitive video gaming industry] ESPORTS. I had no clue this was a term for a thing. ESPN has a page for it, so it’s most definitely a thing, but it sounds like one of those random words that someone slaps a E onto to make it sound new and cool.
- 4d. [“Frankenstein” has an extended one] DRUM SOLO. Reference to the 1973 instrumental by The Edgar Winter Group. Maybe Edgar Winter should leave some instruments for the other guys.
Until next week!
Randolph Ross’s New York Times crossword, “Misquoting Scripture”—Amy’s write-up
The title’s a play on the phrase “quoting scripture,” and the theme answers are puns on bible phrases, mostly involving homophones.
- 22a. [The Bible on political horse trading?], AN AYE FOR AN AYE. Eye, eye.
- 29a. [The Bible on camera problems?], THE FLASH IS WEAK. Flesh.
- 42a. [The Bible on an alien invasion?], ASSAULT OF THE EARTH. Salt. This one doesn’t quite work for me, as you’d have an alien assault on or against Earth, not of it.
- 58a. [The Bible on where Prince Harry learned horticulture?], GARDEN OF ETON. Eden. A quasi-crosswordese name like Eton isn’t the best thing to build a pun on.
- 82a. [The Bible on directions to hell?], THE ROUTE OF ALL EVIL. Root.
- 95a. [The Bible on a climactic part of a baseball game?], IN THE BIG INNING. Beginning. This one’s my favorite themer.
- 107a. [The Bible on ruined sugar crops?], MARK UPON CANE. Cain. I’m guessing that sugar cane gets marked up plenty when chopped down with machetes, so the crops would hardly be ruined by a “mark.”
- 16d. [The Bible on diet food?], LET THERE BE LITE. Light. Uh, LITE is not a noun.
- 48d. [The Bible on a taboo musical instrument?], FORBIDDEN FLUTE. Fruit. Terrible pun, as the consonant sounds aren’t even the same.
Mixed bag here.
Six more things:
- 82d. [Online mischief-makers], TROLLS. Good lord, “mischief-makers”? Trolls might think that’s all they are, but they really trash the quality of online life for so many people, and there are too many trolls who cross the line right into name-calling, slurs, harassment, and threats.
- 3d. [Setting for spring in Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”], KEY OF E. One of the more mystifying multi-word answers I’ve had to parse.
- 46a. [Went on an African hunting expedition], SAFARIED. Not sure I’ve seen this as a verb before.
- 64a. [Nursery rhyme boy], GEORGIE. Of “___ Porgie, pudding and pie” fame. Mmm, pudding and pie. GEORGIE was a predator in the making, as he was always kissing the girls and making them cry.
- 4d. [Vowel sound in “hard” and “start”], SOFT A. Linguists, can we get a ruling here? Is there such a thing as a “soft” vowel?
- 57d. [Mrs. Michael Jordan], YVETTE. Yvette Prieto married MJ in 2013. Really? This is how you’re going to clue a woman’s name? What an insult to Yvette Nicole Brown, who is hilarious and can be clued by way of her years of TV work. There’s also retired actress Yvette Mimieux, whose career was mostly before my time (but who’s noted for her work, not for being married to someone super-famous).
The fill’s a mixed bag, just like the theme. 3.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Themeless Challenger” — pannonica’s write-up
Whoever’s already rated this puzzle with 5 stars is spot-on. This is a stunning 21×21 themeless, which is something you don’t often see.
If you don’t normally solve the CRooked, you’re missing out with this one. It’s subscription-only, and I have no idea if there’s a mechanism to buy puzzles à la carte, but if there is I strongly encourage you to do so. Short of that, you could hunt up a six-week old newspaper that carries the syndicated version of this Boston Globe offering. Libraries have photocopiers!
This thing is chock full of goodness. Look at those mega triple-stacks in all four corners. Solid stacks on the flanks. Big overlap for the stairstep in the center. Four very long entries that are really good, intersecting with each other pinwheel style.
Lots of liveliness among the clues and answers. I’m loath to discuss anything in detail for fear of spoiling your potential solve. (Also, I’ve still got other preoccupations.)
Despite the billing, it’s only a moderate “challenge”, roughly Wednesday/Thursday level.
I can definitely see this in the running for the Orcas™.
Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Holy Moly!”—Amy’s write-up
The theme is a fairly pedestrian type—change an initial H to an M in familiar phrases, clue the resulting goofball phrase accordingly. The theme answers are FEEL THE MEAT, MORSE PLAY, MAIL TO THE CHIEF, SANTA MAT, MUSH PUPPY, TAX MAVEN, MOUSE DETECTIVE, DONUT MOLE, and MONEY BADGER. None of them really resonated with me or made me grin. And MOUSE DETECTIVE, building on the not-so-familiar-these-days “house detective,” suffers from the existence of the 1986 Disney animated feature, The Great Mouse Detective. You might also quibble about the presence of unchanged H’s in two THEs and MUSH. The “Holy Moly!” title doesn’t really give a rationale for the theme. “Holy” and “moly” start with an H and and M, but why are we changing letters here? (Disclaimer: The Sunday NYT Tony Orbach and I constructed years ago had an “MNOP” rationale, the letter string doubling as “M? No, P” where things like STUDMUFFIN were transformed into STUD PUFFIN.)
I wasn’t really digging the fill, either. Nothing dire (MAINST, TMS, SCH…), but not much to delight in. MR. NICE GUY and TRAVOLTA were my favorite fill.
Five more things:
- Themer 81a. [Ace accountant], TAX MAVEN crosses 82d. [Nailed the test], ACED IT. That repetition is not aces, in my book. Might not have noticed it if the two had been far apart in the grid, but they do intersect.
- 55d. [“Off” is often printed on one], COUPON. Good clue. I was thinking of insect repellent cans, light switches …
- 53a. [Universe of Energy locale], EPCOT. I misread the clue as “University of Energy locale,” which amuses me.
- 33a. [Like most cheeseburgers], CALORIC. I don’t like this clue at all. A cheeseburger is highly caloric. The only cheeseburgers that are not caloric are plastic ones, photos of burgers, etc. I mean, a leaf of iceberg lettuce is caloric. All real food has calories.
- 5d. [Hearty comfort food], BEEF STEW. Eww. Even when I was a kid and ate red meat, beef stew was not remotely appealing to me. Discomfort food!
Three stars from me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks!
My least favorite NYT Sunday in a while. STK crossing KEYOFE? Pass.
NYT: uneven theme, suspect fill. CD CASE belongs in the 90’s with those GEOS. And VALES is a hybrid Latin-English roll-your-own plural.
Many dictionaries list “vale” as an English word with Latin etymology.
So, what next? Could AVES be clued similarly? Perhaps a question I’ll regret asking.
Yep. Once it’s accepted as a loanword and not a foreign word, English rules apply. Retinas, femurs, ulnas, amebas …
Except that pluralizing interjections is bullshit and crosswords need to knock it off. Your OYS, OHOS, HEYS, and the like. These are junk and constructors need to try harder if they’re using them in their grids.
VALES should have been clued with the valleys sense rather than as a plural exclamation.
Vale is a noun in a number of the dictionaries cited above. W3 calls it a noun, “often used interjectionally.”
And his plural.
The NYT didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did others, no doubt because the ones that really bother me are slogs through Harry Potter, golfers, TV shows I’ll never watch, and the like. It even managed to fit a lot of theme entries.
Still, it obliged a lot of three-letter fill, I did find the jokes mostly flat, and I agree with the mentions of suspect entries. (I’m not convinced that VALE as English saves it, since one doesn’t generally hear an English plural for it and, more important, it’s clued as being said in ancient Rome.) Another that felt a little weird to me was ADD A. While the clue is clear enough, and recipe steps may indeed begin that way, still an entry usually obliges more of a stand-alone phrase.
I enjoyed the puzzle more than most of you.
There are some trolls who have had great success precisely because they are trolls. One of my favorite literary characters is Skyresh Bolgolam from Gulliver’s Travels. He was a Lilliputian admiral who took it upon himself to be Gulliver’s mortal enemy. In the sports world, Skip Bayless makes a fortune hating LeBron and otherwise making predictions and statements that are stupid beyond belief. When LeBron plays at his transcendent best as he has this post-season, the sports world turns to Skip to see what kind of idiot thing he will say to try to undercut him. It was funny last year when Cleveland won to listen to the ESPN broadcasters wish Skip a not so fond farewell when he switched to FOX. I will say that trolling in the sports world is a lot less harmful than trolling in our polarized political world.
“I have no idea if there’s a mechanism to buy puzzles à la carte.” Thanks for the suggestion, as I don’t always read the parts of the entries here about puzzles other than the ones I have solved. Sounds intriguing. But from the look of the Web site, I don’t see a way.
Enjoyed the NYT for the most part, although it took me a while, but least favorite clue 45D “Runners behind O lines”? FBs? Is this like a football thing, maybe full-backs? 52A was a close second — LIMAS? Am I missing something re the hill reference, or is this justt a weird way to get the plural?
NYT: So was I the only one who was initially confused that GOP didn’t fit at 18D? The cross referenced entry was the right length!