Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “It’s a Mystery” – Erin’s writeup
Evan has gifted us with a mutifaceted thing of beauty this week. The most obvious theme layer is visual, as horizontal symmetry provides three central vertices containing the words FRATERNAL, CONJOINED, and IDENTICAL. Four long Down entries flank the center:
- 3d. [Type of show that 119 Across is] CRIME DRAMA
- 17d. [Where 119 Across takes place] WASHINGTON
- 83d. [Intrepid special agent in 119 Across] DALE COOPER
- The intriguing 77d. [Artistic co-creator of 119 Across and, in honor of season 3, the speaker of the quote spelled out in the third letters of the Down clues] DAVID LYNCH
Finally, everything is tied together with 119a. [Mystery series revived in 2017, and a hint to the circled squares] TWIN PEAKS. Each visual representation of an apex, acme, (insert any other crossword-friendly word for the top of something here) contains a type of twin. I’ve never watched any form of the show, but I can definitely appreciate the handiwork here. But wait, there’s more! Order now and you get to find the bonus content from the 77d. clue for free! Follow the instructions to reveal “Happy accidents are real gifts, and they can open the door to a future that didn’t even exist.”
…but that’s not all! Maybe some of you were like me, distracted by a million other things, and forgot 77d. said to look at the Down clues. You may have absent-mindedly started looking at the Across clues, and you may have found that the third letters of those clues spell “To hear a special message, enter with all caps this address: tiny url dot com slash logtp.” Let’s see what happens! TINYURL.COM/LOGTP brings us to a Youtube video:
It’s a message from the Twin Peaks Log Lady about written language, and a very fitting Easter egg to add yet another layer to this entertaining solving experience.
- Several Greek entries:
- 43a. [Sight from Olympus] AEGEAN
- 46a. [Thermopylae battlers] PERSIANS
- 62a. [Ithaca’s capital?] IOTA
- 14d. [Instant noodles variety] UDON. I didn’t know this existed, but for some reason this bothers me more than instant ramen. Maybe because udon is thicker and I don’t know how they can get the texture right? Now I’m hungry.
- 103a. [Cousin of a raccoon] COATI. How cute are they? Ridiculously cute.
Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword, “Silent Treatment”—Amy’s write-up
The theme is silent letters, and when you remove silent letters from assorted familiar phrases, you end up with goofball phrases that are clued accordingly. The silent letters, from top to bottom, spell out KNIGHT, which has an awful lot of silent letters itself. (See also: “Silent Night.”)
- 23a. [Reversals of reversals in sentences?], DOUBLE (K)NOTS.
- 41a. [Donates shelter to some beavers?], GIVES A DAM(N).
- 57a. [Soup, black bread and, for the wealthy, meat?], RENAISSANCE FA(I)RE.
- 81a. [Kings and queens bringing their steeds to a halt?], REI(G)NING MONARCHS. Is this base phrase thoroughly “in the language”?
- 98a. [“Excuse me, but my partner’s and my kids go first!”], AFTER (H)OURS. How rude! But I like the gay-friendly use of “partner” here.
- 119a. [Feast consisting entirely of Hawaiian foodstuffs?], TARO(T) SPREAD. I’ve never once encountered the term tarot spread, even though I know a crossworder who also does tarot readings.
The theme’s all right, but the fill left a big to be desired. It lost me right off the bat with the weird AQUACAR crossing the who-says-that ORANGS (it’s orangutans outside of crosswords, 99% of the time) and the uncommon LOQUAT. That was just the tip of the Scowl-o-Meter iceberg. “DON’T BE CRUEL” and the sometimes cruel “GET OVER IT” are great fill, but they needed more company and less stuff like GOT A C beside E-CASH.
Favorite clue: 53a. [One following the dotted lines?], PAC-MAN. Love it!
Three stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “All Gone” — pannonica’s write-up
Simple concept: the trigram ALL removed from names, phrases, et cetera, with wacky results.
- 23a. [Cheap wetlands?] PENNY MARSH (Penny Marshall).
- 33a. [One who boogies while sweeping?] BROOM DANCER (ballroom dancer). No. No STOMP, no Breakin’. Sorry.
- 52a. [Unseen spam maker?] SECRET BOT (secret ballot).
- 71a. [Junior’s stack?] SCION PANCAKES (scallion pancakes).
- 88a. [Display burial plot?] SHOW GRAVE (shallow grave). Demo model, so the customer can, y’know, try it out. Give it a quick lie-in.
- 109a. [Wager mules?] BET SLIPPERS (ballet slippers).
- 122a. [Lucky break that improves one’s oratory?] HOT AIR BOON (hot air balloon).
- 3d.[Swamp saint?] FEN ANGEL (fallen angel).
- 15d. [“Seinfeld” dad hurt?] MORTY WOUNDED (mortally wounded).
- 64d. [Con maneuvers?] STING TACTICS (stalling tactics).
- 92d. [Soggy snap?] WET PHOTO (waller photo).
Cute enough, good enough.
- 5a [Rum cake] BABA, 93a [Sweet cake] TORTE, 59d [Cafe bun] BRIOCHE, 51d [They get filled up on Thanksgiving] PIE CRUSTS. Isn’t this puzzle rich?
- 17d [Gaucho’s ropes] LASSOS, 43d [Gaucho] CATTLEMAN (but I had CABALLERO at first), 54d [Gaucho weapon] BOLA.
- 50a [French half mask] LOUP. Didn’t know that was the name for those. Nifty.
- 58a [NYC area] TRIBECA, 65a [Neighborhood] AREA. Oh, come one. These are even stacked, overlapping two letters.
- 69a [Golden bull, e.g.] IDOL. Is that supposed to be golden calf? I genuinely don’t know. Not my AREA.
- 100a [Fossil rocks] SHALES. Don’t like this clue. I suppose the intent is to indicate a kind of rock wherein fossils are sometimes found.
- 125a [“__ Ramsey”] HEC. Am unacquainted with this early 1970s TV western.
- 126a [Buck’s point] ANTLER. Isn’t a point a component of the antlers? Or does it have a synecdochal sense?
- 61a [“We’re __ Cincinnati”] ON TO. This is apparently a Thing.
- 80a [Made changes to] AMENDED.
(Musical accompaniment for this write-up brought to you by the bodacious years 1979–1980.)
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Pop Culture”—Amy’s write-up
It’s time for dinner, so in brief: Theme is eight phrases with a hidden DAD. CANADA DRY, contrived SODA DRINKER, CHILD ADVOCACY, FLOOD ADVISORY, dated IPOD ADAPTER (yes, some people still have iPods, but I’m not sure what this adapter is), never-heard-of-it NEVADA DAY, CLASSIFIED AD, and dull WOOD ADHESIVE. Would you believe that the theme largely escaped me before I reached the revealer, 111d. [Today’s honoree, found in this puzzle’s eight longest answers], DAD?
3.25 stars from me.