David Levinson Wilk’s New York Times crossword, “Cracking Wise”—Amy’s write-up
The theme “cracks wise” by cracking wyes, aka Y’s. The Y’s I’ve circled need to be “cracked” in the Down answers to become a VI, rebus style. So THAT’S HYSTERICAL crosses YNE, or [Poison ivy, e.g.]. Now, I don’t know if the crossword’s editorial team has ever been in the woods, but most of the poison ivy I’ve seen does not take the form of a VINE (it can, I just typically see it more low to the ground—the plant is not an actual ivy). And each of the Across themers relates to comedy, another “cracking wise” angle.
The other themers are FUNNY OR DIE crossing AYAS/Avias, DRY SENSE OF HUMOR crossing ELYS/Elvis, EVERYBODY’S A COMEDIAN crossing AYS/Avis and OYD/Ovid, THE LAUGH FACTORY crossing EYTE/Evite, YO MAMA JOKE crossing YCTOR/victor, and I WAS ONLY KIDDING crossing DEYSE/devise. Cute.
I liked the fill overall but didn’t love it.
- 9d. [Suffix with speed], -STER. How many among you actually use the terms speedster or (from another recent -STER clue) jokester? Raise your hand. Anyone? Bueller?
- 31d. [“Terrif!”], FABU. I feel this is not commonly used but deserves to break out into the mainstream.
- 78d. [___ Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning poet], DEREK. I don’t know his work. Let’s have a look-see. Wow! Do you know “Love After Love”? Go read it. “Give back your heart to itself.” This is lovely. If you have a favorite Walcott poem, please share it in the comments.
- OISE, UTA, NERO’S, meh. I wasn’t feeling besieged by crusty old fill, though.
- 2d. [“Hilarious!”], HA HA. Not part of the theme!
Four stars from me.
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “The Replacements” – Erin’s writeup
This week’s puzzle starts off with a note: “The Replacements” is a 2000 film with characters who serve as replacement football players. In this puzzle, I replaced 10 characters to spell out an apt phrase. The original characters spell out an event where that phrase might occur.
The ten starred clues reveal entries in which the first letter has been changed:
- 23a. [*Producing rattling noises] CLATTERING –> FLATTERING
- 30a. [*Space satellites, e.g.] ORBITERS –> ARBITERS
- 46a, [*Becomes more restrictive] TIGHTENS UP –> LIGHTENS UP
- 50a. [*Treat served during a 4 p.m. British social] TEA BISCUIT –> SEABISCUIT
- 69a. [*They’re not included] OMISSIONS –> EMISSIONS
- 71a. [*Longtime program featuring Ted Koppel] NIGHTLINE –> SIGHTLINE
- 93a. [*Destroyed, as by fire] BURNED DOWN –> TURNED DOWN
- 97a. [*Liberal arts college on the West Coast] OCCIDENTAL –> ACCIDENTAL
- 111a. [*Injuring] WOUNDING –> ROUNDING
- 122a. [*Weather phenomenon caused by cold air passing over the warm moisture of a certain body of water] LAKE EFFECT –> TAKE EFFECT
The replacement characters spell a very fitting FALSE START, while the original letters spell COTTON BOWL. This is a nice timely tribute to Super Bowl LII.
- 129a. [Philadelphia Museum of Art architectural feature shown in a classic “Rocky” scene] STEPS. The steps were also shown in this video of a dune buggy riding up them after the NFC Championship Game.
- 115a. [Nation whose name means “Land of the Thunder Dragon” in its native language] BHUTAN. Their national flag features this Thunder Dragon, the Druk.
- 1d. [Foreman’s deliveries, at times] LEFTS. Boxer George Foreman, not jury foreman or construction foreman, which I got stuck on for a while.
- 45d. [Tuxedo shirt item] STUD. My brain read this as [Tuxedo T-shirt item] and couldn’t get past “It’s a T-shirt. There are no other items involved.”
- 16d [Mini bar?] AXLE. Mini as in the car make.
- 79d. [Seasonal strain?] NOEL. Thank you for not being FLU.
- 8d. [Emulate Mercury or Mars] SING. Freddie Mercury and Bruno Mars. Nice clue.
- 27a. [Aptly named therapist?], OPHELIA PAINE. I feel your pain.
- 39a. [Aptly named dietitian?], EATON WRIGHT. Eatin’ right.
- 93a. [Aptly named easy chair salesman?], RICK KLEINER. Recliner.
- 108a. [Aptly named gardener?], ALONSO GREENE. A lawn so green.
- 13d. [Aptly named editor?], ADELINE MOORE. Add a line more.
- 24d. [Aptly named sommelier?], MERLO DALEY. Merlot daily. Wait. MERLO is not remotely a common first name. I call foul.
- 59d. [Aptly named barber?], LES OFFENBACH. Less off in back.
- 62d. [Aptly named policewoman?], LAURA BIDEN. Law-abiding.
- 91d. [To be, in Bavaria], SEIN. We see the Latin and French infinitives far more than this German one, despite its letters being so suitable for crossword glue. I wonder if there’s always been an aversion to SEIN dating back to Margaret Farrar’s tenure as the NYT crossword editor—she began in 1942, when the U.S. had plenty of anti-German sentiment. (EIN and DER and DAS have gotten more play than SEIN, though.)
- 47a. [Pull a fast one on], HOODWINK. This word derives from hood + an obsolete sense of “wink” meaning to close the eyes, basically blindfolding. I never knew that till checking a dictionary for it.
- 80d. [Winter malady], FLU. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late! Flu season will continue for a couple more months. They say that people who still come down with the flu despite getting the vaccine are less likely to end up dead and may have a slightly less miserable course of the virus. Two or three of my FB friends have been hospitalized in recent weeks thanks to flu and its complications. This isn’t a hypothetical risk! (Any comments explaining why you choose not to get the flu shot will be deleted.)
- 23a. [Letters of CIVIL and MIMIC], ROMAN NUMERALS. C, I, V, L, and M are all Roman numerals.
- 34a. [Letters of DEAF and BADGE], MUSICAL NOTES. Anything with A B C D E F G.
- 52a. [Like letters in CHIMPS and BIJOUX], ALPHABETICAL. See also: Amy.
- 67a. [Like letters in MOM and RADAR], PALINDROMIC. I’d argue that those letters are not palindromic, the words are.
- 73a. [Like letters in SOS and COUSCOUS], CURVILINEAR. None of the straight lines of A, B, D, etc.
- 90a. [Like letters in LUMBERJACKING], NONREPEATING. Isogram is the word for a word in which none of the letters appears more than once. See also: Reynaldo.
- 107a. [Letter pairs in ALPACA and MARINE], UNITED STATES. AL, PA, CA and MA, RI, NE are two-letter postal abbrevs for states.
- 124a. [Six letters in FACETIOUSLY], VOWELS IN ORDER. And each appearing just once—the word used for that is supervocalic.
Lee Taylor’s Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle, “Right for the Job”—Amy’s write-up
Is this constructor’s name a pen name? It anagrams to “really … toe.” But he or she or they have had a CHE byline, so not a pseudonym!
The theme is make-believe names that are puns you can link to various professions:
I appreciate a good pun, but this theme doesn’t work for me. There are real people out there with aptronyms (apt names), but I think this set of names are just made up to fit the theme. (And the spellings are a little arbitrary—PAINE could be Payne; GREENE, Green; DALEY, Daly; MOORE, Mohr.) My favorite aptronym is the late, great Claude Organ, renowned surgeon. If he’d gone into a non-surgical field, or if he’d been an orthopedic surgeon or a plastic surgeon, his name would not have been so perfect. Most of the aptronyms listed here hinge on the last name rather than the full name, which Dr. Organ nailed.
Overall, the fill was pretty solid. Lots of 8s to liven things up a bit. Notes on a few words:
3.5 stars from me. Did not care for the theme, but the rest of the puzzle wasn’t the typical slog through crusty Sunday fill.
Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “We Get Letters”—Amy’s recap
Kind of a fun set of obsessive-word-nerd observations.
Didn’t solve the puzzle, just auto-completed the solution, so no notes on the non-theme fill and clues.