Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Divide and Conquer” – Erin’s writeup
This week we have a cross-reference-heavy puzzle which is easier to explain through example than summarization:
- 23a. [Go different ways, and what you must do to understand 19 Down] PART COMPANY
- 19d. [*Stage crew] COAST. What? A coast is not a stage crew. But a CAST is. Another synonym for CAST is COMPANY. So to create the entry COAST, you must PART the word CAST (the synonym for COMPANY) with the letter O.
- 25a. [Have a balance between income and expenditures, and what you must do to understand 11 Down] BREAK EVEN
- 11d. [*All square] TIRED. TIED, a synonym for EVEN, is “broken” with an R to make TIRED.
- 109a. [Exhibit sarcasm, and what you must do to understand 97 Down] CRACK WISE
- 97d. [*Learned] SARGE. SAGE is cracked up by an R.
- 111a. [Ballot featuring a vote for more than one party, and what you must do to understand 95 Down] SPLIT TICKET
- 95d. [*Free admission need] PASTS. A T splits up PASS.
- 33d. [Factional offshoot, and what you must do to understand 67 Across and 81 Across] SPLINTER GROUP
- 67a. [*Family] CLEAN. The letter E splinters CLAN.
- 81a. [*Wedding expense, for some] BRAND. An R splinters BAND.
- 37d. [Delivery with side spin, and what you must do to understand 55 Across] SLICE SERVE
- 55a. [*Assist] ACID. AID is sliced by C.
- 47d. [Things ripped out of a magazine, and what you must do to understand 64 Across] TEAR SHEETS
- 64a. [*Periodical elements] PAGERS. G tears up the word PAGES.
This is by no means my favorite Washington Post puzzle. Needing to cross-reference 7.5 pairs of entries was a bit of a slog for me. The theme is clever enough, but the effort to bounce around the grid looking for five-letter theme entries was more than I wanted to exert. Also, having two entries tied to 33 Down breaks symmetry. Maybe BRAND should not have been a theme entry? Overall, it’s just not my cup of tea.
- 28a. [Bread morsel, maybe] RAISIN. Blech.
- 58a. [French painter Derain] ANDRE. I was not familiar with him until now, but he is one of the founders of Fauvism, and here is one of his better-known works, The Dance.
- 100d. [Surveyed rudely] OGLED. Thank you, Evan, for cluing this word in a disapproving fashion instead of a cutesy permissive one.
- 76a. [Stock Halloween outfit] GHOUL. Had GHOST here for quite a while.
- 56d. [“Diablo” villains] DEMONS. Some people I knew in college played a lot of “Diablo II.” So much fun! “Diablo III” was great too, but then I had to abandon it for games such as “Why won’t you sleep?!” and “What is in your mouth now, small crawling child?!” and “How did so much come out of someone so little?!”
Until next week!
Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword, “Cropped”—Amy’s write-up
Well, VEGETABLE SHORTENING ([Canful in a cupboard … or a hint to parts of six answers in this puzzle]) is pretty gross (of course, I grew up baking with Crisco) but it makes for a nice theme concept: You shorten the names of vegetables via squeezing them into boxes 2 letters at a time.
- 27a. [Tree-damaging pest accidentally introduced to the U.S. in 1996], ASIAN LONG-HORNED BEETLE, with a BE/ET rebus. Chicago has moved on to battling the emerald ash borer. A zillion ash trees are part dead and won’t survive.
- 44a. [Southwest tourist destination], FOUR CORNERS, with CO/RN.
- 48a. [Having a variegated, changing pattern], KALEIDOSCOPIC, with KA/LE.
- 68a. [Constitution holder], NATIONAL ARCHIVES, with CH/IV/ES. I group chives with the herbs, not vegetables. Their cousins the onions qualify as vegetables since you can top a burger with them, make onion rings, and so on. I think garlic also falls out of the vegetable category and into herbs.
- 90a. [MCAT subject], SYMPTOMATOLOGY, with TO/MA/TO. Whoa! I never noticed the tomato in symptomatology. “Allergies to the edible fruit in the nightshade family really put the tomato in symptomatology.”
- 93a. [“Seinfeld” character], COSMO KRAMER, with OK/RA. This is the only one where the veggie crosses a word break. (Just pointing that out—it didn’t bother me.)
Aside from the CHIVES issue, I liked the theme pretty well.
Five more things:
4d. [Lion in “The Lion King”], NALA. I appreciate NALA being clued as a lion rather than a lioness. I bet most of us, without crossings already in place, started filling in SCAR first, just because crosswords and the English language have trained us to default to male too often.
- 26a. [Crept furtively], SLUNK. I had SNUCK first (and yes it is too a word—just an informal one).
- 58d. [Bricklaying or pipefitting], TRADE. I feel like this sense of the word doesn’t get used much in crosswords, but I like it. My mom’s dad, and the generations before him, were bricklayers. Pictured here is the house he built for his family when my mom was a kid.
- Many of the long Down answers crossing the rebus squares are crisp, aren’t they? TRENCHCOAT, TOOK IT EASY, NO PROBLEMO. I like non-rebused VILLANOVA and TREKKIE, too.
- 80d. [Do House work], LEGISLATE. Man, don’t get me started on House legislation. Or Senate.
Four stars from me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Business Report” — pannonica’s write-up
Bit of a cheesy quote theme here.
• 33a/52a/74a/80a. [Business report …] XEROX AND WURLITZER | ARE GOING TO MERGE | AND MANUFACTURE A | REPRODUCTIVE ORGAN.
But what I really did enjoy in this crossword was the unusual mid-length vocabulary. Talking about 39a [Garden belvederes] GAZEBOS, 77d [Off-and-on] SPORADIC, 68a [Collecting] GARNERING, 9d [Mammal built like a tank] ARMADILLO, 10d [Noisy commotion] RUCKUS, 75d [Fed] NOURISHED. Heck, even 36a BHUTAN doesn’t get as much crossword play as those other [High Asian land]s NEPAL and TIBET.
- 105a [Hero’s opposite] GOAT, 56a [“It’s a Wonderful Life” director] CAPRA.
- Not thrilled with super-strong cognates 73a [“Les femmes”] ELLES and 64d [“Estas muchachas”] ELLAS crossing each other; the parallel French and Spanish clues tell me that this was recognized and quite intentional. Weird.
- Other long answers: 3d [Half of Neil Simon’s odd couple] is full-name FELIX UNGER, 16d RADAR BLIPS, 65d [ATV’s AT] ALL-TERRAIN, 70d [Smoothing over] IRONING OUT. Good stuff.
- 30d [Like a wise bird] OWLY. Not sure about this one. I suppose it has a different shade of meaning than the more familiar owlish. Also, I’m tired of the owl=wise trope, which isn’t particularly accurate. I say this as a strigophile of sorts.
- 56a [Mark like a wedge] CARET. 109a [Mark’s replacement] EURO. Poor Mark.
- 37d [Chest beater] HEART. Didn’t initially notice the lack of hyphenation so I was fooled into filling this in as HE-MAN (which also happens to be hyphenated).
- 44d [“Animal Farm” bosses] PIGS. People are reading both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four in record numbers lately.
- 51d [Capital of Lesotho] MASERU, which seems fairly obscure. Rather crossword-friendly, though.
Definitely appreciated the quality ballast fill more than the SILLY (49d) theme.
C.C./Zhouqin Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Scuse Me”—Amy’s write-up
After filling in the first theme answer, SECOND QUARTER ([It begins in April]), I looked at the puzzle title, “Scuse Me.” The initials of that themer are S.Q.—”S Q’s me”, so I moved to the next long Across clue. [Yahoo! Finance offering] could well be STOCK QUOTE. Then I filled in 49a. [Jamie Lee Curtis or Fay Wray], SCREAM QUEEN, and 100a. [California prison town], SAN QUENTIN, with no crossings. 86a. [Test for trivia fans] had to be S****** QUIZ, wasn’t sure what went in there without some crossings. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be SPORCLE QUIZ! Man oh man, am I hooked on Sporcle’s online quizzes. (If you sign up for a Sporcle account, tell ’em Amy_Rey sent you—I can earn a badge if I get enough referrals. You’ll love it. If you hate pop culture, there are thousands of history and literature quizzes to entertain you. If you love sports, you can test your knowledge endlessly.) 117a. [Pielike veggie dish], SPINACH QUICHE was also a little slow to fall. And then I realized while solving the puzzle that there are also two Down themers, 15d, [What screen icons exude], STAR QUALITY (nicely crossing the 33a themer at the Q) and 67d. [Granite excavation site], STONE QUARRY. (Are there non-stone quarries?)
The theme isn’t particularly exciting, as these initial themes don’t allow for whimsy, but SCREAM QUEEN and SPORCLE QUIZ were fresh and lively. The rest of the grid fell pretty quickly, what with most of the theme answers already in place for ample toeholds. A breezy Sunday puzzle, always welcome (because who wants to spend all of a summer day working on a giant grid?).
Four more things:
- 5d. [Taylor of fashion], ANN. The clue sort of suggests that there is such a person as Ann Taylor in fashion. There is not. Would you clue FOREVER as [21 of fashion], or OLD as [Navy of fashion]? No, you would not.
- 22a. [Tin mints], ALTOIDS. I’m pretty sure one of my grandmas (78-Down) would have pronounced the Girl Scout cookies Thin Mints as “tin mints.”
- 101d. [“Far from Heaven” actor], Dennis QUAID. Playing Julianne Moore’s closeted husband in Todd Haynes’ retro-style melodrama. If you haven’t seen it already, do check it out.
- 98a. [Golf phenom Jordan], SPIETH. Zhouqin, you’re a golf aficionado, aren’t you?
3.75 stars from me.