Are you a newbie heading to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament next month? If so, I encourage you to sign up for the annual Cru Dinner that Friday evening at the Stamford Marriott. (Do you enjoy crossword puzzles? Then you are officially a member of the Cru.) It’s a great way to meet some people right off the bat so that you’ll be running into familiar faces all weekend. For details, check out this PDF. If you’re interested, you’ll want to jump on it quickly, as the dinner sells out in advance every year.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 113″—Jenni’s write-up
It’s our second FB themeless in three weeks, to be followed by another contest puzzle next week. This is a fairly wide-open grid with some snappy entries. I made a couple of missteps that cost me some time, but overall it was a smooth, fun solve.
The NW corner is fun.
- 1a was a gimme – [Bit of calisthenics] had to be JUMPING JACK, and 1d confirmed it. [Pitches inside to] is JAMS. The Yankees pitchers and catchers had their first workout today in Tampa. Yay!
- I also liked 15a [In correspondence with]. This has nothing to do with letters and everything to do with the LSAT – the answer is ANALOGOUS TO. ANALOGOUS is one of those words I always have trouble spelling; I want to put a third A in there somewhere.
- And finally we have 17a [“Summer of Sam” costar], MIRA SORVINO. The film was released in 1999. The murders took place in 1977, when I was 17 and living in Westchester County, so I remember them clearly. That kind of gun violence seems almost quaint compared to the news today.
I like the way the long stacks kind of rotate around the grid – the NW and SE are across answers and the NE and SW are downs.
A few other things:
- 25d [Pack in a bicycle race] was one of my missteps. I had the P at the beginning and dropped in PANNIER, although I know perfectly well that bicycle racers don’t have panniers. It turns out that “pack” refers to the racers themselves, and the answer is PELOTON.
- 29d [Allies’ opponents] confused me at first. The apostrophe is the clue that we’re talking about a specific group called the Allies, so it’s WWII and the answer is AXIS POWERS.
- 30d [Greenskeeper’s purchase] is RIDER MOWER. I usually hear “ride-on” or “riding,” but Google gives more hits for RIDER than either of the other two. OK, then.
- And we end as we started with Scrabbly goodness. 66a [Southern stew of rice and black-eyed peas traditionally served on New Year’s Day for good luck] is HOPPING JOHN.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ROGER MOORE wrote an autobiography called “My Word Is My Bond.” Roger Moore was my first James Bond, and remains my favorite. Yes, I watch Bond movies. Yes, I know they are violent and sexist.
Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
A double dose of Peter Gordon today! (If you’re a Fireball subscriber, that is.)
A nice trivia theme today: Peter Gordon has found (and squeezed into the grid!) five Oscar-nominated roles whose last names are birds:
- 3d, SCOUT FINCH [Mary Badham’s Oscar-nominated role in “To Kill a Mockingbird”].
- 11d, LUKE MARTIN [Jon Voight’s Oscar-winning role in “Coming Home”]. This, to me, was by far the most obscure of the five character names. Still, inferable from crossings.
- 30d, MARION CRANE [Janet Leigh’s Oscar-nominated role in “Psycho”].
- 31d, JACK SPARROW [Johnny Depp’s Oscar-nominated role in “Pirates of the Caribbean”].
- 53a, CLARICE STARLING [Jodie Foster’s Oscar-winning role in “The Silence of the Lambs”].
This theme doesn’t strike me as nearly tricky enough for Thursday. I guess because (a) it’s pure trivia, (b) the theme is so dense, and (c) the rest of the grid is somewhat challenging, it found a home on Thursday. Neat that the central black squares kind of resemble a bird, too! Grid art is always a lovely excuse to have mirror symmetry, but here it’s also helpful in squeezing in two 10s, two 11s, and a 15 because the 11s and 15s intersect.
There was no revealer as far as I can tell, which is fine since the theme is evident from the clues. I found it a little distracting to have TOM KITE, a [Golfer…] whose last name is also a bird, in the SE corner where a revealer might be. But there was a lot of good, unusual fill throughout, in spite of the unbelievable theme density: TRIAMINIC, MASERATIS, BOND PAPER, WARLOCKS, LABRADOR, MINAJ, ARM CURL, ABIDJAN (though I suspect there might be a couple of tough crossings there for non-geographically-inclined solvers). RIDIC is kind of… well, ridic, for lack of a better word. The bird theme requires ERN to be clued as [East ender?], which is a cute clue for a tired entry. Some other short stuff that’s a little ugly, but certainly nothing unforgivable, especially (again) when you consider that there are five huge theme answers, three of which intersect.
Easy for Thursday, so here’s hoping Friday and Saturday are toughies! Until next week!
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Headers” — Jim’s review
If your name is Barbara and you’re from Cincinnati, you might be a fan of Off Off Broadway, tse tse flies, tartar sauce, and assassinations. And this puzzle. Hip hip hooray!
Alex takes words whose first three letters can be duplicated and re-clued as if they were short for something else. For example, MAC can be short for MACARONI, but it can also be short for Macintosh, the apple for which a computer is named.
- 17a [Apple-shaped pasta?] MAC MACARONI. I don’t really care for this clue though. “Apple” can’t refer to the fruit because MAC wouldn’t make sense then, so it must be referring to the company. But how do you shape a pasta like a company? Perhaps it’s just the Apple logo, you argue. Maybe, but Apple makes more than just Macs. [Computer-shaped pasta?] would work better for me.
- 26a [Gathering of prisoners?] CON CONVENTION. Are you going to cosplay at the next CON-CON?
- 43a [Place that researches the best retrieval methods?] LAB LABORATORY
- 57a [Prescription?] DOC DOCUMENT
A pretty good set, I think. The repetitive nature of the theme definitely helped me in places where I was getting bogged down.
I’ll be honest though. This being a Thursday, and with a title like “Double Headers,” I was expecting some sort of rebus component to the theme. Therefore, the straightforwardness of simply having the first three letters duplicated came as a surprise.
Fill is mostly nice with some odd quirks. I liked PRAISE BE, NOISE LAW (though I think I hear “noise ordinance” more often), LIT A FIRE, CALIBRATED, and “TOO CUTE!” In the quirky category is SPOT TV, which is a new term to me. Apparently it means the approach of buying 30 or 60-second ad spots on television. In other words, it checks out, but how many solvers know this term? Another odd entry: SOMETIMES Y, which was hard to parse when you have SOMETIME_Y. It feels like a very long partial, but the clue [Sixth member of a familiar quintet], makes you stop and think and then eventually gives you that aha moment.
Clues of note:
- 1d [Repeated passage at the start of a song]. VAMP. Another term I’ve never heard. Definitions I’ve seen online don’t seem to limit this to the beginning of a song, though. Listen the Miles Davis example below.
- 61a [Sylvester’s series co-star]. TALIA. TWEETY didn’t fit.
- 37d [Acid also called aqua fortis]. NITRIC. The clue is asking for a noun. The answer is an adjective.
- 54d [Hand or foot]. UNIT. Got me with this one. I wanted LIMB…which I’m only realizing just now doesn’t make sense.
- 18d [Independence Day sign]. CANCER. More good misdirection. My fave clue of the bunch.
Nice puzzle. Not as tricky as I was expecting, but still satisfying.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Senioritis” — Ben’s Review
Cracking the theme on this week’s BEQ took a little more brain lift than usual, but a little thinking made it clear:
- 18A: Urge to move the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight? — DEFCON JONES
- 20A: Cadaver’s importance? — BODY HEFT
- 34A: Show off fancy footwork in a food fight? — DODGE FRIES
- 43A: Demonstrate cold weather? — FLEX WINTER
- 60A: All the crap a small amphibian owns? — EFT SHIT
- 64A: Choice to have Norwegian flatbread with or without lutefisk? — LEFSE OPTION
This week’s puzzle is titled “Senioritis”. When you’re a senior in your last term of high school, sometimes your As become Fs. That’s what’s happened in these themers – DEACON becomes DEFCON, HEAT becomes HEFT, etc. etc. I was dubious on DODGE ARIES but that is because I was unaware it was one of the first K-cars until approximately 5 minutes ago.
Other things I liked this week: MOORE’s law, WHO KNEW, USH (as in what an usher does), ONE-EYED jacks, SKEET, OSSO-bucco, and the thought of PIE.
Elliot M. Abrams’s LA Times crossword – Gareth
WHOLEFOODS (HOLE FOODS – the four entries have hollow centres) would have been a better revealer, but it’s not the right number of letters to partner the pretzels. FROOTLOOPS is though off the top of my head – though it’s a brand name unlike the others. Also, the phrase is HOLISTICDIET is pseudoscientific New Age bullshit designed as woo-woo for fools and their money. I think the best part of this puzzle is that all the HOLISTIC foods listed here are, basically, considered “junk” food (whatever that actually means).
I am ashamed how many letters I needed to get SNIPE, despite seeing two only last week. They aren’t very common in these parts, and it was probably the “best” bird of our club’s monthly outing to Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary. The only native snipe species is the African (or Ethiopian) snipe, though we also have an unrelated painted-snipe species. Also, like most of us of a zoological bent, the EEL clue irked me (and yet it is a common enough angle). Electric eels aren’t in the Anguilliformes (true eels)! You wouldn’t clue BEAR with anecdotes about a KOALA(BEAR). Same applies for eels…
The hardest entry for me was DASHI. Japanese cuisine is en vogue though, and many DOACF regulars are fans! Sure that hit a few people’s wheelhouse!