Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Net Gains” – Erin’s writeup
Thanks to Jim Q for covering for me last week! Today we have a fun add-a-domain-extension theme:
- 23a. [Filmdom’s Freeman, when he’s made of metal?] IRON MAN, Iron Man + org
- 25a. [Sports official who’s prepared for a bodybuilding competition?] OILED UP UMP, oil pump + edu
- 41a. [Novice sky streaker?] GREENHORN COMET, Green Hornet + com
- 51a. [Freaky con game?] BIZARRE STING, arresting + biz
- 69a. [Antagonize singer Cyrus online?] TROLL MILEY, trolley + mil
- 73a. [Bro of herding dogs?] COLLIE DUDE, collide + edu
- 91a. [Romantic outings at the fertilizer heap?] COMPOST DATES, postdates + com
- 100a. [ Part of a genome that determines a person’s love of wild parties?] ORGY CHROMOSOME – Y chromosome + org
- 116a. [Catches the criminal “Carmen” composer?] NAILS BIZET – nail set + biz
- 121a. [Comic Berle, when he’s 50 feet tall?] MEGAMILTON – megaton + biz
- 131a. [It precedes the domain name extensions added to this puzzle’s theme entries] DOT
Today I learned that except for .biz, the above domain extensions have been around since 1985! 2001 gave us .biz. This site graphically displays when the other extensions debuted. (I feel that .lifeinsurance might be a bit much.)
- 47d. [Part of a sound system] PREAMP. Not sure if I’ve heard this before. In case anyone is like me and does not know, a preamp boosts a weaker signal from a microphone or instrument before it reaches the amplifier, thus improving sound quality by reducing noise.
- 26d, [Bygone Jim Davis comic strip that took place on a farm] U.S. ACRES. I remember this from the Garfield and Friends cartoon. Back then, I did not understand the humor of naming a sheep “Lanolin.”
- 68a. [Director Ferrara] ABEL. An alternative to the usual biblical shepherd.
- 33d. [Wisconsin BBQ choice] BRAT. Extra cheese curds with mine, please.
- 54a. [It works hard for the honey] BEE. Now that the Donna Summer song is in your head, here’s her performance from her 1983 Hard for the Money tour video.
Until next week!
Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword, “S-Q’s Me!”—Amy’s write-up
The title’s a little weird because it’s “X-Q’s Me” that would sound like “excuse me.” At any rate, the theme answers convert phrases that start with W words into ones starting with SQU words, with spelling adjusted as needed to make real words:
- 23a. [Prodigality?], SQUANDERLUST. Wanderlust. There’s no W sound in the original German (W sounds like a V in English).
- 33a. [Hog seller?], SQUEALER DEALER. Wheeler-dealer. Not that squealer = hog in general parlance.
- 57a. [Mr. Magoo biopic?], SQUINTER’S TALE. Winter’s Tale. The Shakespeare play, of course, begins with The.
- 80a. [Cuckoo or dodo?], SQUIRRELY BIRD. Whirlybird. I definitely pronounce that E syllable in SQUIRRELY, and the double-L spelling is more common, I think.
- 102a. [Prepares cube steak?], SQUARES THE BEEF. “Where’s the beef?” Cube steak’s not square, so…
- 114a. [All-day gripe sessions?], SQUAWKATHONS. Walkathons. The only themer that’s a single word.
- 32d. [Ways out of embarrassing situations?], SQUIRM HOLES. Wormholes.
- 49d. [Enumerations of things to be sat on?], SQUISH LISTS. Wish lists.
Passable as sound-change themes go, though that’s not the most inspired sort of wordplay theme.
The fill, on the other hand, evoked scowls throughout. We started with the INQ/FEU/MASSE opener, continued through crosswordese like EDILE (can’t remember the last time I saw that one), the APSES/APSOS/TSOS chunk, unfamiliar ADAIR (and numerous other names of no great distinction), the dupe of UNTOLD/SQUINTER’S TALE, partial THE SKY … it wasn’t fun for me.
Seven more things:
- 62a. [Actress Thurman], UMA. She got some ink this past week for her remarks on not remarking on the current dude scandals. She says she has been waiting to feel less angry before she shares her thoughts. Can’t help thinking that time is years away, because there are so many reasons for anger on this topic.
- 43a. [Trouble maker], HASBRO. Cute clue! Hasbro is the company that sells the game Trouble, with the Pop-o-Matic dice.
- 74a. [Like rebate coupons, typically], MAILED IN. “Mailed in” makes for a weird adjective.
- 93a. [Resembling down], FLOSSY. Had the beginning and end in place, so of course I filled in FLUFFY. You know you did, too. You might have even had an O or S in place, and erased the Down crossing because FLUFFY was so right.
- 111d. [Kind of vaccine], SALK. As if SALK is an adjective? Uh, we just call the thing he worked on the polio vaccine. Odd clue.
- 72d. [Document certifiers, for short], INITS. The initials aren’t doing the certifying. The person writing their initials is.
- 15d. [Deranged, in slang], MENTAL. Oh, for f*ck’s sake. There are so many other ways to clue MENTAL without name-calling people with mental illness. This is not cool. Knock it off, will ya?
2.4 stars from me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Trade Show” — pannonica’s write-up
This would fit snugly in the WSJ slot. Business-related puns.
- 23a. [Doings of a peanut company?] BUYING AND SHELLING (… selling).
- 37a. [Pet shop with a lot of kittens?] FRISKY BUSINESS (Risky …). This one relies too heavily on a brand name [Friskies]; kittens are far from the first things evoked by ‘frisky’, or am I mistaken?
- 46a. [Where waders are sold?] STORK EXCHANGE (stock …). Nifty how the clue misdirects to boots instead of birds. Especially coming on the heels of 45a [Water tester] TOE.
- 65a. [Trading in tea?] WHEELING AND DARJEELING (… dealing). Base phrase? Seems likely.
- 89a. [Big bell company?] GONG CONCERN (going …).
- 97a. [Little circus operation?] FLEA ENTERPRISE (free …). Make it so?
- 115a. [Backer of a new bridge maker?] DENTURE CAPITALIST (venture …).
Works well enough. Standard pun-toleration caveat applies.
Despite the WSJ vibe, there’s enough Boston-related material to remind you where you are. 84a [Ex-Pat Cappelletti] GINO, 85a [Hub skyscraper] PRU, 122a [Craig Kimbrel stat] ERA, 13d [Mookie Betts stat] RBI, 56d [Williams of Sox fame] TED. Yes, that’s 80% sports and 60% baseball.
- 31a [Sign of a summer?] PLUS. Weird clue, doesn’t work too well for me. Anyway, PLUS as in: PLUS, there are even more baseball clues/answers in this puzzle that happen not to be Boston-specific. 33a [Homer-hitting ability] POWER and 59a [World Series mo.] OCT.
- 5a [Haggard in music] MERLE, 10a [Freestyler Ian] THORPE (swimming), 32a [ __ Stanley Gardner] ERLE, 93a [Scat vocalist Cleo] LAINE Factette: 73a [Gore and Green] ALS – the singer Al Green dropped the terminal, silent e from his surname. Also, is the writer Hilton ALS not famous enough? nb: these are all the type of silent e that doesn’t alter the pronunciation of the preceding vowel.
- Favorite clue: 87d [Daughters who became stars] PLEIADES. Refreshing for it not to be about celebrities. Factette: The name of the constellation in Japanese is Subaru and that’s what the company’s logo represents.
- Least favorite: 12d [Two White Album nonsense syllables] OB LA (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da). I suppose fitness trainers and some members of the 117d [Doc’s group] AMA recognize those letters as the acronym for “onset of blood lactate accumulation”.
Thomas Takaro’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Your Eyes Become You”—Amy’s write-up
When your I-to-U theme gets a title with “eyes” in it, it behooves you to avoid having EYE (39a) in the grid. The theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases in which an I is changed to a U, and the new goofy phrase is clued accordingly:
- 23a. [Traffic jam?], MUDDLE OF THE ROAD.
- 33a. [Serve leftover rolls?], RECYCLE BUNS.
- 42a. [Dispute over young flowers?], BUDDING WAR. Bidding‘s second I remains unchanged.
- 59a. [Last pat?], THE BUTTER END.
- 68a. [Coin-making tool?], PENNY PUNCHER. Machines do indeed punch out round blanks from sheets of metal to make coins. (I checked.)
- 84a. [Mediocre deli item?], DULL PICKLE. Another unchanged I.
- 93a. [Mallard’s beard?], DUCK VAN DYKE. Not convinced that Van Dyke can stand alone, as opposed to being part of Van Dyke beard.
- 107a. [Pair of vehicles in a plot?], TWO-CAR COLLUSION. Another unchanged I.
- 15d. [Viking descendant on a rampage?], NORMAN MAULER. The best of the themers.
- 59d. [“Don’t forget the rubber disk”?], TAKE YOUR PUCK.
Theme mostly works okay, but none of it amused me.
Perhaps with just 8 themers instead of 10, the fill would have had a little more breathing room. The puzzle suffered from awkward partials A SET, NO PUN, I EAT (A LOOP and IF YOU bothered me less). Fragments ALTI-, -IAL, -ENCY. Foreign PES, BALLO, SECO, LAC, ALLE (ADIEU less troublesome). Spelled-out numeral in A-TEN. Name pile-up in the southwest, where plural ARPS and SACCO cross PATSY and ARRAU. Awkward plurals and plural abbrevs LSTS, TKOS, ECGS, AVERYS (!). Unfamiliar KAWAI. Crosswordese like DAHS. 77a. [Bell sounds] cluing DONGS.
21d. [SSA-issued info] is a weird clue for ID NUMBER. No, they issue a Social Security number. It’s not a generic ID number. Look at your student or employee ID, your insurance card, things like that—those have ID NUMBERs.
2.4 stars from me.
The REYS/SCOTTO crossing was pretty nasty/Naticky, IMHO.
And I got FLOSSY, mostly from crosses, and refused to believe it was correct.
There are times when a SQUIRMHOLE would come in handy
SCOTTO wasn’t a problem for me, much less a Natick, although I don’t care for opera. But REYS and FLOSSY was. Meanwhile those creatures as “squirrely birds” didn’t make much sense to me (even more so with the the funny spelling). On the other hand, I like learning words, but not pop trivia, so I found “flossy” kinda interesting. The whole puzzle was like that for me — much better than for others here, but still forced. Ditto on SALK. (I tried “oral” first.)
NYT seems rather dated, with references to Mr Magoo & “Where’s the Beef?” that would probably challenge younger solvers. Also the SALK vaccine, which calls out a debate from 60 years ago about using killed vs live virus, is stodgy. I liked the theme better than Amy seemed to but it was still a slog.
I don’t understand the clue for SQUIRRELYBIRD (which I would also pronounce with the E syllable clearly enunciated). The only meaning of whirlybird that I know is a jokey name for a helicopter.
It took me a long time to see STEADIES, and since I don’t know SPIT as a game and have no idea what an EDILE is, that middle section almost did me in.
MAILED IN could be clued along the lines of [Did the bare minimum], no?
That would need to be MAILED IT IN… which is more commonly PHONED IT IN. Needs the IT.
NYT: I agree this is sort of a “squirrely” theme / puzzle. Even though I pronounce squirrel without the extra “e” syllable. Also, I am comfortable with the Salk Vaccine because I am old enough to have gotten that vaccine before the Sabin vaccine came out, so we did then differentiate between them using the specific term Salk vaccine.
But, sorry, down is not flossy. No, not by any stretch of the imagination!
Other “squirrely” entries: INITS for document certifiers. TAUTENED?!!! really? Who ever uses this?
It was nice to see a Donna Summer song. I always thought she was the true queen of the disco era. I remember feeling sad that she was not inducted into the rock hall of fame until after she died.
Enjoyed the NYT puzzle, although I frankly thought the theme was strange.
This was a very nice morning, since WaPo and NYT were both fun. SQUIRREL definitely rhymes with WHIRL for me, and we’re dealing with a English puzzle, not a German one, so the nit about [V]ANDERLUST seemed rather silly. I enjoyed the NYT a bit more, since Evan’s creations were really weird [except maybe TROLL MILEY] while SQUAWKATHON and SQUIRM HOLES have a definite future in the English language — or, at least, in my future emails. :)
The question is whether WHIRLY and SQUIRRELY rhyme. For many of us, they do not.
Understood, although I have to admit that I have a hard understanding how the extra syllable comes into play. Than again, I was born in North Carolina, grew up in Boston & California, and lived in Sweden, so none of those internet quizzes ever places my “accent” properly.
I’m in the one-syllable SQUIRREL camp, although I had to say “whirl” and “squirrel” a few times, to be sure. I was born in Arizona but have lived in Virginia for 50 years, so maybe that’s why.
Norm, I am trying to imagine your “accent” :-)
I made my wife [southern Ohio-Appalachia/Kentucky/England] repeat girl, whirl, and squirrel until she told me to go away. They all sounded and looked the same, but there could be a slight “el” in the last one. Heck, I’m not a linguist or a philologist.
WaPo:: Have yet to see a strong explanation of why cuckoos and dodos are “squirrely”. m-w.com sense 2b is “odd, eccentric (Chiefly US, informal)”. So the best I can figure is that it’s layers of tenuousness. Think of ‘cuckoo’ and ‘dodo’ not as the birds themselves but of the namesake descriptors of people, like ‘odd duck’. Further, in the answer I believe BIRDS is meant to be taken metaphorically to mean person, again as in ‘odd duck’ or ‘strange bird’. Bridges too far.
p.s. I’m in the two-syllable vs three-syllable camp. EDIT/clarification: I’m in the three-syllable camp.
Cuckoo birds are wacky, as are people who are “cuckoo” [probably an inappropriate adjective these days] and dodos were noted for lack of common sense, so “strange or unpredictable” [other dictionaries] is not further off than other crossword clues we all have dealt with over the years. Yeah, it was not perfect — but it made ME chuckle.
Interesting pronunciations at M-W:
“adjective squir·rel·ly \ ˈskwər(-ə)-lē , ˈskwə-rə- \ ”
We have not heard from the third camp ….
I think you’ll find that dodos being “noted for a lack of common sense” is a perpetuated misunderstanding and misrepresentation. And in what ways would you say cuckoo birds are “wacky”?
My point—while acknowledging the very real avian origins of the terms as idiomatic descriptors of people—was that they have little actual relation to the namesake birds.
In the Crooked crossword, the word I’d never ever seen was RAGGLE. Egads! I doubt it has any connection with the Scottish song “”The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy”…..
As usual Amy hits the nail on the head in her review
“Squarely?”, I ask warily.
“Squirrely,” says the other Norm [wearily].