Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “No Money Down” – Erin’s writeup
Today we have words or phrases hiding a type of currency (the first four are contained in a single word, and the last two span two words). The money word is omitted in the down entries crossing it, but the words created when the form of currency is left in are crossword-valid entries as well.
- 22a. [Expert on hemispheres] NEUROSCIENTIST, containing EURO. When removing these letters, the down entries form ALE, POUR, APES, and LENA.
- 40a. [Anomalous] OUT OF THE ORDINARY, hiding DINAR. Crosses are BOARS, PTA, ONCE, ATTIC, PLAN A.
- 65a. [Kind of fight where one may take a dive?] AERIAL COMBAT, RIAL. Crosses are OVER, SIR, CRETE, FARE.
- 80a. [Cupcake, doughnut or snickerdoodle, e.g.] COMPOUND WORD, encompassing POUND. Downs are SAT, MEGA, RAG, ALOE, DOGES.
- 103a. [Work featuring a trip to California] THE GRAPES OF WRATH, with PESO. Crosses are EPS, AGE, LOT, GOD.
- 129a. [Certain savings option] TRADITIONAL IRA, containing LIRA. Downs are ELIE, ANT, TEE, ERS (as in the plural of ER).
It took a long time for me to get a foothold in this puzzle. Once I saw some of the down entries had an extra square, I knew to leave the squares crossing the longest entry blank. TRADITIONAL IRA was the first to fall for me after several minutes of fitting answers around the blanks. NEUROSCIENTIST was my last theme entry, because I couldn’t grok PENS as [Low-tech screenplay producers?] and because my brain wanted some sort of geologist for [Expert on hemispheres] and not some sort of brain person. Thanks, brain.
- 34a. [“Sculpture to Be Lost in the Forest” sculptor] ARP. He sanded away at some plaster until he liked what he saw, then cast it in bronze a couple decades later. (My toddler climbed on the sofa while I was writing this, looked at the picture, and said “Poop!” I’ll never know if he’s a budding art critic or if he was only telling me about his dirty diaper.)
- 6a. [Tool box?] AMP. Refers to the band Tool, not a screwdriver or jigsaw. Nice.
- 104d. [Legendary thief] HERMES. According to mythology, the newborn Hermes decided he wanted meat, so he made sandals for himself and shoes for cows, and lured fifty of Apollo’s cattle away to a grotto, where he then invented the process of starting a fire with kindling and sacrificed two of them. He then killed a tortoise, made a lyre from it, and gave Apollo the lyre as a “my bad” when Apollo found out what happened.
- 26a. [Event with haupia] LUAU. Haupia is a Hawaiian dessert made with coconut milk, arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), sugar, and water. The consistency can be softer like pudding or firmer like gelatin. Yum!
Until next time!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword, “Let’s Play Two!”—Amy’s write-up
I love this theme, and it’ll be right up the alley of board(ish) game fans. Each themer is made of two games, with the combo phrase clued as if it’s got nothing to do with games.
- 23a. [Underwater mine?], BATTLESHIP RISK.
- 30a. [Get a copy of a 1965 #1 Beatles hit?], ACQUIRE TICKET TO RIDE.
- 50a. [Rather poor ambassador’s skill?], SORRY DIPLOMACY. This one is kinda funny, or possibly sad.
- 67a. [Reason a computer program wouldn’t open?], MEMORY TROUBLE. It’s kind to clue this without reference to dementia or forgetfulness.
- 85a. [Incredibly hard puzzle?], CRANIUM TWISTER. Nice one!
- 101a. [Link a quartet of supermarket employees?], CONNECT FOUR CHECKERS.
- 117a. [Something you’re not allowed to do in math?], TABOO OPERATION.
If you like board games but some of these ones aren’t familiar to you, you should Google them and see if they’re up your alley.
Top fill: The late, great BERNIE MAC. RYAN GOSLING. EXTRA CHEESE, though I have switched over to easy cheese on my deep-dish pizza.
Odd: 115a. [Angry Shakespearean cry], “FIE! FIE!” Wasn’t expecting it to be doubled.
Cute clue: 71d. [Rolls out of bed in the morning?], BAGELS. If you’re lucky, someone will toast you a bagel, add cream cheese, and bring it to you in bed.
There were some blah bits in the fill (like ILO crossing EL-HI) but overall the solve proceeded smoothly and I enjoyed piecing together the theme answers. Four stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked Crossword, “Narcissist’s Puzzle”—Laura’s review
It’s all about ME! Or rather, it’s all about BEQ today, for a two-fer with this one and the NYT.
- [22a: Tolerate “Cocoon” actor Don?]: STOMACH AMECHE
- [33a: Urge to light Hanukkah candles?]: MENORAH JONES (my fave of this set)
- [51a: Citrus-fruit tee?]: POMELO SHIRT. If you’ve never had a POMELO, it’s kind of a cross between a grapefruit and a lime, and its name is related, etymologically, to pamplemousse, which is French for grapefruit and one of the most fantastic words of all time.
- [60a: Worst ref decision?]: LAMEST CALL
- [78a: Engage in war with a credit card
co.?]: BATTLE AMEX
- [86a: Quiet dromedary?]: SILENT CAMEL. From Silent Cal, a nickname for Calvin Coolidge, the only president from Vermont.
- [102a: Plain-looking pop?]: HOMELY FATHER
- [119a: Lustrously white egg cells?]: PEARLY GAMETES
There’s also MELON [16d: Fruit salad fruit], which could’ve been MELON CHANEY, but I can’t think of a good clue for that. Sometimes the simplest theme gimmicks are the best, I feel, and BEQ can be counted on to nail the execution. Handfuls of prepositional phrases in my fill, like ON PARADE, BRUSH UP, NESTS IN, and RAT ON, do not ENAMOR me. And we’ve got a few etymologically related names like O’HARE, O’TOOLE, and O’PRAH. ESPO/ERIN could be a name-Natick for some, and hadn’t heard of THE TECH but it makes sense. Do we consider [82d: Bisque fish]: CLAM a fish? or a bivalve? and is CLAM in bisque, or chowdah? Whatever fills your [73d: Soup slopper]: LADLE.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Where Have You Gone?”—Amy’s write-up
The theme entries are made by removing a U from an OU word in a familiar phrase, and cluing the resulting phrase accordingly.
- 27a. [Soil expert’s observations?], CLOD FORMATIONS.
- 44a. [Contest where anglers compete while jogging on the shore?], TROT FISHING. Yes, I like the idea of making competitions more challenging. Let’s do a crossword tournament where only half the clues are provided, or where you have to ride a roller coaster while solving.
- 68a. [Where all the Aberdeen lads get together?], BOY SCOT JAMBOREE.
- 93a. [Knee-socks, essentially], HALFWAY HOSE.
- 113a. [Adventurous Centennial State motto?], BOLDER COLORADO.
- 14d. [Like the studio forced to quit making 007 movies?], OUT OF BONDS. A little inelegant to include OUT with its U in a theme answer.
- 73d. [How some insects get their news?], WORD OF MOTH.
I liked the theme all right, didn’t love it (but wasn’t bored by it, either).
Seven more things:
- 25a. [Common sights on Roman roads], FIATS. Raise your hand if you were thinking of ancient Rome rather than modern-day Italy.
- 44d. [Barrett of S Club 7], TINA. Who?? Apparently this British pop group had a grand total of one hit song in the U.S., a 2000 song that made the Top 10. They were more successful in the U.K. and Europe.
- 91a. [“Mansplain” was added to it in Jan. 2018], OED. Yes!
- 59d. [To make sure], SO THAT. I get that the substitution works here—”He mopped the spill to make sure nobody would slip / He mopped the spill SO THAT nobody would slip.” But it feels awfully clunky to me. I’d actually prefer this to be clued as a 6-letter partial, as in a 2008 Don Gagliardo LAT puzzle: [“The only reason for time is ___ everything doesn’t happen at once”: Einstein].
- 47d. [Basic finish?], HARD C. Not a matte or gloss finish!
- 54a. [Sumatran swingers], ORANGS. I wish constructors would delete ORANG(S) from their word lists. They’re orangutans! “Orang” is not really in the typical educated American’s vocabulary.
- AIT, ERNE, SERT, U-BOLT, I-BAR, AEON, T-MEN, zzzzzzzz.
3.25 stars from me. The theme was decent but the fill left a bit to be desired (SHEILA E was good to see, though!).