Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Size Matters”—Amy’s write-up
Took me a looong time to see what the theme was here, but I was filling in theme answers with the help of the crossings since it was all pretty smooth. “Size Matters” can be parsed as “si‘s matters,” as a sigh sound-alike is added to a familiar phrase to form each theme answer.
- 22a. [Spin class activity?], STATIC CYCLING. Static cling + that cy- sound, and an apt description of spinning.
- 32a. [Number of appearances in a grain holder?], SILO FREQUENCY. Low frequency.
- 50a. [Storms that don’t offend?], P.C. CYCLONES. PC clones. Terrible coincidental timing, as Hurricane Irma is right on Hurricane Harvey’s heels as being terrifically offensive.]
- 86a. [Makes a quick map of an Egyptian peninsula?], DRAWS SINAI. I had trouble figuring out the base phrase since I’ve (mis)pronounced it as “sigh-nay” my whole life. (Those words you read more than you hear …) “Draws nigh.”
- 100a. [Opening performers that are all mimes?], SILENT SUPPORT. Lent support. Not keen on the clue, because opening acts don’t really strike me as “support.”
- 116a. [Rod-and-reel event in old Vietnam?], SAIGON FISHING. Gone fishing. This is where the theme finally made sense to me! I’d hopscotched down the grid and didn’t really grasp the theme till I found my way down here.
- 3d. [Order to a pool hustler to suck up some broth?], SHARK, SIPHON SOUP. Shark fin soup. Cruelty soup, and and the theme answer is really stretching things.
- 48d. [Government group on offspring?], SCION COMMISSION. On commission, as in “The artist made the portrait on commission.”
Most bonkers answer pair: AAR YLEM at 44a and 45a. Guessing the crossing between YLEM ([Primordial universe matter]) and 33d IDYLIST ([Pastoral poet]) will be troublesome for a lot of solvers. Not sure I’ve ever seen IDYLIST, actually. And I’ve never seen 76a MOANA, but I’ve been meaning to! I’ve heard only good things about the movie.
Five more things:
- 41a. [Wallops], SLUGS. Elsewhere in slug news, somebody on Facebook posted a picture of a slug … trapped inside the water compartment of a steam iron. On many parts of the internet, “Don’t read the comments” is a good rule to adhere to. In this instance, the comments are delightful. Go read them here!
- 31d. [Nonstandard verb from Popeye], YAM. We would also have accepted an ube clue. Pictured here is the ube milkshake my son picked up at a Filipino food emporium in Chicago today. (Ube ice cream and cake are delicious.)
- 70d. [Rebel in “Henry IV, Part 1”], HOTSPUR. Betcha a dollar that Brendan’s original clue here referenced the Tottenham football club.
- 46d. [Workplaces with a need for speed], METH LABS. I regret to inform you that I had filled in MATH LABS first. #nerd
- 47a. [What people sing when they don’t know the words], LA LAS. Hmm, that plural feels bogus. I wonder if Brendan had soccer commentator (and former star) Alexi Lalas in his original clue.
Four stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Unreal Estate” — pannonica’s write-up
Locales from fiction.
- 23a. [Setting for the musical “Peter Pan”] NEVER-NEVER LAND. Someone one Wikipedia wrote this:
“It was first introduced as ‘the Never Never Land’ in the theatre play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up by Scottish writer J. M. Barrie, first staged in 1904.In his 1911 novelisation Peter and Wendy, Barrie referred to ‘the Neverland’, and its many variations ‘the Neverlands’. In the earliest drafts of Barrie’s play, the island was called ‘Peter’s Never Never Never Land’, a name possibly influenced by ‘the Never Never’, a contemporary term for outback Australia. In the 1928 published version of the script, it was shortened to ‘the Never Land’. Neverland has been featured prominently in subsequent works, either adapting Barrie’s works or expanding upon them. These Neverlands sometimes vary in nature from the original.”
- 37a. [Setting for almost all Faulkner novels] YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY. Supposedly in Mississippi, which I’m fairly certain exists.
- 54a. [“Game of Thrones” setting] WESTEROS. This always sounds to me like the name of a cheap motel chain featuring all-day breakfasts. George RR Martin.
- 64a. [“Lord of the Rings” setting] MIDDLE EARTH. Fittingly in the center of the grid. JRR Tolkien.
- 76a. [Setting for the Harry Potter series] HOGWARTS. JK Rowling.
- 86a. [“Gulliver’s Travels” setting] LILLIPUT AND BLEFUSCU. Jonathan Swift.
- 109a. [“The Wizard of Oz” setting] THE EMERALD CITY. L Frank Baum. Beginning of this entry looks like ‘THEME’.
Authors of the relevant works are an initial-heavy lot. Anyway, pretty good group.
- 27a. [Maroon’s home] ISLE. Took me quite a while to realize “maroon” is a person, a maroonee, if you will.
- 69d [Resting place of some dinosaurs] TAR PIT, 42a [Mystery gunk] GOO, 36a [Mobil material] OIL.
- 60a [Seat with a horn] SADDLE. The horn is the part in front that JUTs (47a) upward.
- Favorite fill: 52d [Hardly any] ONE OR TWO.
- 63d [Rushmore’s loc.] S DAKOTA. Hmm.
- 63d [Pasta __ (jokey spelling of an Italian bean dish)]. FAZOOL. Based on bastardized Sicilian-American dialect, probably. The real name is pasta e fagioli.
- Maybe the crossing of … BLEFUSCU and 92d [Some bike locks] U-BOLTS will be tricky for some solvers? Relatively unfamiliar name and single-letter affix? But what else could the bike lock (shape) be?
- 42d [Still with Scooby?] CEL. “Zoinks! I wish I knew how to quit you.”
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Named Names” – Erin’s writeup
Evan turns the first names of famous people/characters into adjectives by adding “ED” to the end:
- 23a. [Actor with a buff physique?] JACKED NICHOLSON
- 35a. [Film director whose money was stolen?] ROBBED REINER
- 53a. [Famed martial artist, after he gets thrown out?] CHUCKED NORRIS
- 64a. [Stage character with a pale face?] BLANCHED DUBOIS
- 75a. [Former NBC newsman, when he gets high?] STONED PHILLIPS
- 87a. [Former variety show host, when he gets tossed in the air?] FLIPPED WILSON
- 101a. [Gemini 12 astronaut, after he’s had a few beers?] BUZZED ALDRIN
- 116a. [Literary character who also has a buff physique?] RIPPED VAN WINKLE
This felt a bit repetitive to me, with two terms for “buff physique” and two terms meaning “under the influence,” but it may just be me.
- 21a. [Action film?] PORNO. Not used to seeing entries like this in Evan’s grids.
- 50d. [Contract for a Bronco or Ram, say] AUTO LEASE. Nice misdirect from football.
- 58a. [Ends an engagement] MARRIES. I was expecting something with a negative connotation, so this answer gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Until next week.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Top Choice”—Amy’s write-up
Each theme answer includes a hairstyling option, or “top choice,” clued whimsically based on the phrase that contains it:
- 22a. [Hairdo for experts?], WHIZ-BANGS. I gave up my bangs.
- 24a. [Hairdo for gadget lovers?], THINGAMABOB. I also gave up my bob.
- 36a. [Hairdo for sportscasters?], FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHTS. I do have highlights.
- 59a. [Hairdo for certain Germans?], FRANKFURTER BUN. I don’t know anyone who calls hot dogs frankfurters, but it’s legit, and I’m just glad to see a bun that’s not a man-bun.
- 81a. [Hairdo for daring gymnasts?], DOUBLE BACKFLIP. The “flip” portion is a hairstyle.
- 103a. [Hairdo for economists?], INFLATIONARY SPIKES. Would rather not have Deflategate in the crossing clue for 96d, since there’s that -flate overlap.
- 122a. [Hairdo for wickerworkers?], BASKETWEAVE.
- 125a. [Hairdo for burglars?], CRIME WAVE.
Solid. And the theme reminded me of David Ellis Dickerson’s recent bar napkin cartoon. Do check out his cartoons on social media—and if you prefer books, he’s got two new books of these bar napkin cartoons.
Overall, the fill didn’t do much for me.
Five more things:
- 84d. [“Joy of Cooking” writer Rombauer], IRMA. Sorry, Ms. Rombauer, I’mma let you finish, but Hurricane Irma is about to be the most famous IRMA of all time—of all time.
- 37d. [“Alas!”], “OH, ME.” I dare you to use this in conversation (or a work meeting!) this week and see what kind of looks you get.
- 92d. [“Brat Farrar” novelist], TEY. I dare you to suggest to your book group that the next novel you read is Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar. (I know nothing about it—which is my point. TEY is in a higher percentage of crosswords than people’s bookshelves, or class syllabi.)
- 109d. [Watch again, as a movie], RESEE. I dare you to drop this word into your conversations too. I predict some quizzical looks.
- 77a. [More work], UTOPIA. No, this clue isn’t aimed at workaholics. It’s about Thomas More’s Utopia.
Three stars from me.