Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hex/Quigley 7:34 (Amy) 


LAT 8:45 (Amy) 


NYT 11:02 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Erin) 


Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “The Missing Link” – Erin’s writeup

WaPo solution, 4/1/18

Ooh, there’s a long message from our fearless constructor this week. “META CONTEST: The answer to 94 Across is missing. Some things are missing from the answers to the starred clues, too, but they can help you find the answer to 94 Across. When you have found the missing link, go there and enter your name and email address for a chance to win a special prize.”

Sounds complicated, and very intriguing. Who doesn’t love a special prize? Let’s start with the starred entries:

  • 24a. [*Cold War leader] HARRY TRUMAN
  • 64a. [*“Rebecca” producer] DAVID SELZNICK
  • 100a. [*Independent Spirit Award-winning star of “Pulp Fiction”] SAMUEL JACKSON
  • 119a. [*Notable socialist presidential candidate] EUGENE DEBS
  • 122a. [*Geneva-born automotive pioneer] RANSOM OLDS

There are also link-related entries:

  • 5a. [Red Halloween outfit, typically (Link, Part 1)] DEVIL
  • 10a. [Intersect (Link, Part 2)] CROSS
  • 63a. [Kid sister of Yakko and Wakko on “Animaniacs” (Link, Part 3)] DOT
  • 69a. [Org alternative (Link, Part 4)] COM
  • 90a. [Lower, price-wise (Link, Part 5)] SLASH
  • 94a. [Last part of the link that’s missing from this puzzle] ?????
  • Note that the down entries crossing 94a. are complete without filling in the missing entry.

Note from

The answers to these entries form a URL: DEVIL CROSS DOT COM SLASH (answer to 94a.) or to 94a.).  Devil Cross is Evan’s indie crossword blog from before he took over the WaPo puzzle. There’s some good stuff there. There’s also a hint to the meta answer, as seen in this screenshot. So what’s the missing link to this link? We’ll have to wait to find out. Mr. Birnholz has locked the full PUZ file solution for now, and will not post the meta solution until the contest period is over…at some point.

Other things:

  • 15a. [Opportunity to slay, say] SOLO. Love this clue!
  • 91a. [Well-intentioned sort?] OIL TYCOON. Another great clue.
  • 7d. [Burns things?] VERSES. Poet Robert Burns.
  • 115a. [Garofalo of “Mystery Men”] JANEANE. I have this spelling memorized by now. Are there any other well-known Janeanes?

Until next time…whenever that is!

Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword, “1 + 1 = 5″—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 1 18, “1 + 1 = 5”

The math checks out. In this puzzle with two-pronged rebus squares, each of those squares contains 5 letters going across, in the X AND Y format, and the Down crossing uses just the X and Y, 2 letters.

  • 23a. [Excited sort], KID IN A {CandY} STORE. Crosses MA{CY}’S.
  • 25a. [Chinese restaurant chain], {PandA} EXPRESS crossing PA{PA}CY.
  • 44a. [Heroic figure in “Star Wars” films], {LandO} CALRISSIAN, who’s played by Atlanta‘s Donald Glover in the upcoming Han Solo movie. Crossing is BORDEL{LO}.
  • 49a. [“I need everyone’s help!”], ALL {HandS} ON DECK crossing FUC{HS}IA.
  • 68a. [Patriotic song lyric before “Mind the music and the step”], YANKEE DOODLE {DandY} crossing GO STEA{DY}.
  • 85a. [Natural disaster of 2012], HURRICANE {SandY} crossing iffy NOT AS EA{SY}.
  • 88a. [Magician known for debunking paranormal claims], THE AMAZING {RandI} crossing iffy {RI}GHT FIT.
  • 113a. [Stretchable wrappers], ELASTIC {BandS} crossing blah DA{B S} AT.
  • 115a. [1988 crime comedy rated 93% positive on Rotten Tomatoes], A FISH CALLED {WandA} crossing RE{WA}RD.

Note that each of the Across themers includes a 5-letter word with that AND in the middle. They’re not just letter strings that are 5 letters long. ELASTIC B&S is a little dull, but the other eight themers really sparkle. A puzzle where 89% of the theme entries are great? The math definitely checks out. Also, I’m really sorry to tell you this, Sam, but I think KID IN A CANDY STORE is autobiographical.

Four more things:

  • 108a. [Something used in a pinch?], TOBACCO? Blech.
  • 51d. [“I wanna look!”], “LEMME SEE.” I like it.
  • 59a. [Big name in nail polish], ESSIE. Indeed—just go to any nail salon, or Target, or Ulta. It’s a big brand. And don’t complain if you’ve never bought nail polish and think this entry is unfair. You think I’ve ever bought STP or AFTA?
  • 42a. [Crush], CREAM. I think this is the second time in the last week or two that an NYT puzzle has clued CREAM in a violent/sportsy way. People! It’s a dairy product. A color. A soothing skin care product. It’s in idioms like cream of the crop. Can we stop with the beating and crushing? Unless it’s butter you’re creaming.

Overall rating, 4.25 stars. Solid fill with lots of 7s and 8s, and a fun theme set.

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Now That’s a Workout!”—Amy’s recap

LA Times crossword solution, 4 1 18, “Now That’s a Workout!”

Theme is phrases that start with gerunds redefined as sort of quasi-occupational things. Each gerund can also be related to physical exercise:

  • 27a. [Mediators burn calories by __] RUNNING INTERFERENCE.
  • 45a. [Employees burn calories by __] PUNCHING THE CLOCK.
  • 64a. [Researchers burn calories by __] SURFING THE WEB. Not sure what sort of researcher is blithely “surfing the web” and thinking it’s science.
  • 72a. [Forensic investigators burn calories by __] LIFTING PRINTS.
  • 93a. [Campaigners burn calories by __] PRESSING THE FLESH.
  • 108a. [Toadies burn calories by __] JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS.

Theme works passably well.

Less keen on the fill, which put me on notice with 1a TOTER and 4d ETON. ALIT ALOU, UTAHN UTA, ASLEW TOONE SINGA, names like EGGAR RAISA OLINS … meh. Too much such stuff throughout the grid.

Three stars from me.

Brendan Quigley’s CRooked Crossword, “Themeless Challenger”—Amy’s recap

CRooked crossword solution, 4 1 18, “Themeless Challenger”

There was some grousing on Twitter and elsewhere about the ripoff of having a themed Saturday NYT, and here we’ve got the solution: the occasional 21×21 themeless puzzle. BEQ anchors the grid with some mostly woman-centered projects: A WRINKLE IN TIME, the POINTER SISTERS, and streaming show everyone raves about, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAIZEL. There’s also ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, which featured Michelle Williams.

The grid’s got a whole bunch of wide-open chunks intersecting those long answers. Highlights include CONFETTI, SIXTH SENSE, FILES A CLAIM, AS IT HAPPENS, “FOR SHAME!,” and names like TORVALDS and POITIER.

Did not know:

  • 24a. [Whitish minerals in some paints], BARITES. Dull.
  • 60d. [Skateboarding tricks where the board is ridden backwards], FAKIES. Fun.

Not all of the fill is juicy, but I appreciate a 21x where the focus is filling the grid with a goodly amount of sparkle, rather than wedging in whatever fill fits around theme answers. Four stars from me.

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30 Responses to Sunday, April 1, 2018

  1. David says:

    I can’t get the NYT app to accept the answer. Do you use 2 letters, 5 letters, or 1&1?

  2. PJ Ward says:

    What a fun day of solving! First the Saturday NYT. I loved it. Then Evan and the WaPo took me on a most enjoyable journey.

  3. Beach bum says:

    NY Times Sunday, 100 Down [Touches, as with a tissue] DAB AT

    “Touches” syncs up with “dab at?”

    Never on Sunday! (Or any other day ending in “y.”)

  4. jeff says:

    WaPo puzzle is about nine years too late, no? Good puzzle and all, but weirdly dated – not old enough to be nostalgic, per se, and not recent enough to be fresh. Pretty sure BEQ did something similar…back when that was a popular thing.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: Good fun!
    Surprisingly (for me) _ _ CALRISSIAN was how I tumbled to the trick going horizontally.

    One little thing that bothered was that the clue for SERUM was plural, which would have implied SERA not SERUM. I know, it’s a nit.

    I was glad to see the ANASAZI in the puzzle- Such a fascinating culture. A few years ago, I visited the Palatki site near Sedona. Really worth the trip.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      One of my all-time favorite shows was the X-Files and one of the best episodes (I forget if it was two or three parts) was called Anasazi. I think it ended one year and began the next. I saw it again recently as the show is being rebroadcast:

      Fun puzzle for me today.


  6. David Steere says:

    WaPo: Once again Evan’s puzzle provides real charm on a Sunday–usually the only crossword charm on that day…even though the music involved in this puzzle’s answer is a real let-down. You are forgiven ;-) To quote Nick Lowe…”GHASTLY!”

  7. Lise says:

    NYT: LandO CALRISSIAN was where I, too, figured out the theme, but had a little trouble spelling CALRISSIAN at first. The NE was the most difficult for me, mostly because I hadn’t realized that 25A was a theme entry until I solved 113A (knew 100D had to be DABS AT but brain wasn’t fully engaged at the time).

    I loved the puzzle. It was masterfully plotted. Crossword constructors: I am in awe of the skill and effort you bring to crossword design in general. Playful, entertaining, illuminating, clever! Thanks for the fun.

  8. Ethan says:

    I was not a fan of LIVE WITH right under ALIVE. Didn’t seem kosher to me.

  9. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: “Device many use in bed” seemed oddly specific for EREADER. Let’s just say I didn’t know where that was going at first.

    Nice theme. Won’t get into my main complaint aside from noting I was ready to say “au revoir” when I was done.

  10. JohnH says:

    I got thrown for a while because my first three theme answers (SandY, RandI, DandY) all had the trick at the end (as well as with the same last sound), so I wasn’t looking for it in the middle of words elsewhere. That and my not being into the Star Wars corpus and my living in New York, without chain restaurants. (Well, I do pass an Olive Garden a lot without going in.) Good puzzle all the same.

  11. CC says:

    Out of curiosity, I turned the WaPo puzzle upside down. It most definitely looks like a grinning person. Could that be *the* person related to the meta twist in that puzzle? Or just related to the overall fun of it? In any case, a fun and maybe a little creepy addition.

    • Lise says:

      Before solving, I thought that the empty grid, right-side-up, looked like a rabbit’s face. The solution was a different kind of Easter egg ;-)

  12. Art Shapiro says:

    NYT: can someone explain “PRESALT” for 40D?


  13. DH says:

    Re: Cream
    One of the most beautiful aspects of the English language (and I presume other languages as well) is the new, creative and abstract ways in which words are used, which add much color to expression. Metaphors are beautiful things.

  14. doug says:

    I know I’m a couple days late, but I loved Evan’s Sunday puzzle. It wasn’t too hard to figure I’d been involved in RICKROLLING, but it took me a little bit to find it was all an APRILFOOLS joke. Very well done. Five stars.

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