John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword, “Wise Move”—Amy’s write-up
Tough puzzle, no? Took me quite a while to figure out how the theme answers made sense, and longer still to piece them all together. And then there were some hard clues and one “this looks completely wrong” answer I was sure couldn’t be right. That last one is 83a. [Nozzles into blast furnaces], TUYERES. That’s tuyère, from the French. Never seen it in my life, not having worked with blast furnaces or smelters. And you?
So, the theme: Take a phrase like “gravy train” where the first word ends with a Y, move it to before the S at the end of the (pluralized) second word, adjust the spelling as needed to make two actual words, and clue the resulting goofball phrase. Because you end up with plural Y’s, the “Wise Move.”
- 23a. [Interns at a cemetery?], GRAVE TRAINEES. Plural “gravy trains” seems weird as a base here.
- 38a. [Take to social media following a good round of golf?], TWEET BIRDIES. Tweety Bird!
- 61a. [Pacts between packs?], DOG TREATIES. Doggy treats (but doggie is also legit, so this isn’t solidly a Y move.)
- 73a. [Ones sharing quarters at the most macho fraternity?], STUD ROOMIES. Study rooms, I guess those are things in libraries you can pluralize.
- 98a. [Stylish underwear?], SMART PANTIES. Smartypants. We’d much prefer that men never, ever use the word panties, thank you.
- 114a. [Things swapped at a convention of supermarket owners?], GROCER STORIES. Grocery stores.
- 15d. [Social gatherings where fruit drinks are served?], JUICE PARTIES. Juicy parts, a juicy base phrase.
- 60d. [Take attendance in a magical forest?], COUNT FAIRIES. Cute! (County fairs.)
Mostly good theme, and sometimes it’s nice to have more crossword challenge than you’re expecting. But I need to make dinner! Was hoping for an easy one this time.
Least favorite fill, besides TUYERES: iffy SO MEAN, roll-your-own NEEDER, crosswordese beast STOAT.
Worst clue: 62d. [Routine problem, for short], OCD. Pardon me? A jokey clue for a mental disorder that causes an awful lot of people a great deal of distress? No. A “routine problem” is “heavy traffic on the way to work,” “printer jam,” “spilled my beverage.” Friend of mine has a kid with some definite OCD issues, and life is hard for him. So yeah, this clue pissed me off.
Top fill: NOSE JOB, POWER NAP, MAIN MAN (but that [Homie] clue has got to go), SOUR MASH, “EASY NOW,” AWAY GAME, MEDIA STORM, CHEEZ-IT (even with the nonstandard singular), “GET MOVING,” and SCORSESE.
There were some clues I liked and wanted to call out, but Sunday puzzles are too big to scour for such things when one needs to go make dinner.
Four stars from me. Bon appétit!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Movie Clips” – Erin’s writeup
This week we have a cute collection of clues summarizing films that result from cutting a letter off famous movie titles:
- 23a. [Film about Oct. 24, in whichever year?] ANY GIVEN UN DAY (Any Given Sunday). This was the trickiest one for me as UN (United Nations) DAY is pronounced quite differently than SUNDAY.
- 34a. [Film about Copenhagen residents living among pack animals?] DANES WITH WOLVES (Dances)
- 56a. [Film about taverns where people share tales of woe?] THE BAD NEWS BARS (Bears)
- 68a. [Film about in-flight Japanese drinks?] SAKES ON A PLANE (Snakes)
- 79a. [Film about a shrub grown by gorillas?] PLANT OF THE APES (Plant)
- 101a. [With “The,” film about a British conservative who goes on and on and on?] NEVERENDING TORY (Story). I cracked up at this one.
- 115a. [Clips found in the special features menu of a DVD … and a description of the letters clipped from this puzzle’s movies] DELETED SCENES.
- 8a. [Target rival] SEARS. They are both department stores, but it seems unfair to call them rivals, since Target carries groceries and toiletries and has pharmacies in their stores. Walmart seems more like a rival for Target. In Sears’ defense, though, they have automotive services and tons of appliances.
- 1d. [First lady after Edith] IDA McKinley, before Edith Roosevelt. I learned something today!
- 5d. [Villanous queen’s daughter in Disney’s “Descendants”] EVIE, whose mother is the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- 81d. [National defense goal?] OUT. As in a member of the Washington Nationals. Nice!
- 111d. [“Colors” rapper] ICE-T. The official video contains scenes from the film of the same name.
Until next week!
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Medical Report” — pannonica’s write-up
- 23a/38a/58a/69a/91a/110a. [Medical report …] DOCTORS SAY WE HAVE | ROUGHLY SIXTY-FIVE | OR SEVENTY MILLION | OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE | OF COURSE THESE ARE | JUST ROUND FIGURES.
Quote was not a phrasing that seemed to flow, so I relied heavily on crossings.
Last square to fill was 10a/d intersection: [Board, in a way] MEALS, [In a fitting manner] MEETLY.
With 94d [Breast beaters] HEARTS already filled in and the theme quote only beginning to take shape—I had some of the numbers—I thought it might be related to interesting research on “beats per life” such as this project.
I’ve got nothing else in me today.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Eats Up”—Amy’s write-up
The “Eats Up” title points to the theme—various “eats,” or food items, are spelled upwards within the circled letters in the long Downs. CARROT in blah MOTOR RACING, HAM in PANAMA HAT, CORN in MOLTEN ROCK, PASTA in THAT’S A PITY, BEEF in COFFEE BREAK, PEAR in the great NORA EPHRON, CLAM in iffy ANIMAL CARE, FETA in STATE FAIR, and EGG in RUNNING GEAR. Each of the backwards foods spans two or more words. I can’t help feeling that the theme would be cooler if all the foods were produce, say … but I haven’t attempted to assemble a full set of themers that replaces the six non-produce ones here, so I don’t know how doable that is.
34d TOYS “R” US is trying to crawl out of financial woes. I guess the stores will continue for the time being, so we don’t need to convert the clues into past tense.
I haven’t got much else to comment on here, so I’ll bundle up and get out of the house for a walk since yesterday’s rain has cleared. It’s only 53° out! Brr. As they say on Game of Thrones, winter is coming. (And I say that beginning the moment we pass the summer solstice, because that is indeed when the days start getting shorter!).
3.5 stars from me.
I am French and have worked in steel for over 30 years but did not type in ´tuyeres’, but coopers: not exactly fitting the definition and widely used in blast furnaces, so seemed to make sense. Slowed me down a lot, as well as a number of weird answers and less than palatable fill.
Overal, despite some good parts, not a very enjoyable experience for me.
WaPo – The letters removed from each movie title are (in order) S-C-E-N-E-S.
WaPo: That first theme answer was pretty hard to parse [I had to Google it to see why it was right, even after Mr. Happy Pencil made his appearance], but there was probably no other choice since you needed the S. Very fun puzzle. I’m not a big fan of movie title puzzles, but these were all very well known.
NYT: enjoyable theme, well executed if not LOL funny. Guess I appreciated the pun in the OCD clue more than Amy. As for MAIN MAN & homie, something tells me that this is no longer black slang as much as bro talk that’s superficially emulating black slang (which sometimes is LOL funny).
Doggie treats are treats for dogs. Doggy treats are treats that smell like a dog spit them out. Been there ;)
I mostly liked the NYT theme entries and especially liked being reminded of Tweety Bird. A Tweety Bird Pez dispenser lives in our kitchen and often turns up in unexpected spots.
And thank you for bringing up the OCD clue issue.
The WaPo included OCD as well, but clued as [Emma Pillsbury’s affliction on “Glee”]. It’s possible to write a fresh clue for a sensitive topic without being jokey and minimizing the experience of people with that illness.
re: past tense of Toys’r’us being parent of FAO Schwartz… TRU sold FAO brand in 2016, so its parenting is past tense. The FAO in NYC closed in 2015, are there other locations? That was the one everyone thinks of/thought of.
They said they might reopen at some time, and there is an fao.com that has “Return to Wonder” and a neat graphic and 2017, but nothing else informative.
I agree tough puzzle, with things that at times led me astray. While I wouldn’t say it was unenjoyable, it definitely took me longer that a normal Sunday. Discovered the trick when about 1/2 done, with the guaranteed “ies” endings helping complete it.
Amy: I didn’t know “panties” was an offensive word. What should be used instead?
Underwear. “Panties” is more creepy than offensive.