Erik Agard & Andy Kravis’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oh! I had to take a minute after finishing the puzzle to reread the revealer clue and see what the circled letters had to do with anything. The clever Erik/Andy duo found four foods you’d eat with a spoon, spoonerized their names, and clued the resulting phrases accordingly.
- 18a. [Horse races?], WHINNY MEETS. Mini Wheats, frosted or non.
- 25a. [Seinfeld’s stringed instrument?], JERRY CELLO. Cherry Jell-O.
- 37a. [Particularly pale Ph.D. ceremony?], PASTY HOODING. Hasty pudding. Wait, that’s food? Not just a thing at Harvard? (This central entry has an even number of letters, so the grid is 16 squares wide rather than 15.)
- 52a. [Pony up for a certain online deal?], PAY GROUPON. Grey Poupon mustard.
- 61a. [What 18-, 25-, 37- and 52-Across all are (whose circled letters name something used with the base phrases)], SPOONERISMS. Okay, so you might scoop out the mustard with a spoon as opposed to eating it with a spoon. I don’t do mustard, don’t ask me.
Five Nine more things:
- 20a. [“Happy Days” actress Moran], ERIN. I can’t help thinking the constructors thought of Team Fiend’s Erin when they gridded this. Hi, Erin!
- 31a. [Literary character with a powerful face], HELEN. Listen, Helen’s face was Helen’s face. She can’t be held responsible for the way a bunch of dudes responded to it. They had the choice not to launch those ships.
- 50a. [Doctor or engineer], RIG. Oh, this clue is brilliant. Two disparate professions, both also verbs that can be synonymous.
- 58a. [Sch. with a Concord campus], UNH. We would also have accepted [Sound made by solvers who aren’t from the Northeast].
- 1d. [___ City, center of the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush], DAWSON. Never heard of it. Actress Rosario Dawson is way more famous.
- 47d. [Naval agreement], AYE, SIR. We would also have accepted AYE, MA’AM.
- 38d. [One who knows what’s coming], SEER. You don’t really believe that, do you?
- 10d. [“Are you kidding me?,” in texts], SRSLY. I love this entry. “Srsly?” Yes, really.
- 11d. [R&B singer who had a 2015 #1 hit with “Can’t Feel My Face”], THE WEEKND. No, there is not an error in the puzzle. That’s how Abel Tesfaye spells his stage name. This Canadian gentleman has had eight top-10 hits in the US so far. Not too shabby! He teamed up with Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar on “Pray for Me,” in the Black Panther soundtrack. (Don’t watch this video if you are sensitive to flashing effects.)
4.3 stars from me. That “aha” moment when I realized the spoonerized phrases were all spoonable was golden!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword “Cobaltic Group” —Jenni’s write-up
I had no idea what Peter was getting at until I filled in the revealers, and even then didn’t understand how it connected to the title. That part just dawned on me now, hours after I solved it.
The theme entries all have something in common:
- 18a [Emmy winner for playing Temple Grandin in a 2010 biopic] is CLAIRE DANES
- 12d [“Superior Donuts” playwright] is TRACY LETTS
- 29d [Tribe carvings] is TOTEM POLES
- 65a [Knockout drinks] are MICKEY FINNS
Two people, two things, one drink…huh? Peter helps us out at 30a [With 50-Across, theme of this puzzle]. The two together are EUROPEAN DEMONYMS. (A demonym is the word for people who live in a specific place.) So we have DANES, LETTS (from Latvia), POLES and FINNS. That’s pretty good all on its own – and the title tells us that all the countries in question border the Baltic Sea, which takes it from “pretty good” to “brilliant.”
A few other things:
- LARAM always looks weird to me, until I remember that it’s L A RAM, or [NFC West player].
- 1d [Pink-slip] is SACK and 69a [Pink-slipped] is AXED.
- 39d [Smart in intelligence] is MAX, good ol’ Agent 86.
- 27d [Puke] is RALPH, perhaps my least favorite synonym for one of my least favorite words. Ick.
- MINIME also looked odd until I went back and looked at 51d [Film character in scenes with Frau Farbissina]. It’s really MINI ME of Austin Powers fame.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AMELIE‘s last name is Poulain.
I leave you with Vicki Carr, which may remind some of you of your youth and others of Moonstruck.
Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stealth Mode” — Jim’s review
Nice to see Jeff’s byline here every once in a while. Today he’s found phrases that feature the trigram OPS but clues them as if the trigrams weren’t there. 60a tells us these trigrams are COVERT OPS [Clandestine activity, and a hint to answering the starred clues]. Get it? Sure you do.
- 17a [*iPad, e.g.] TABLE T
- 24a [*Mouthful of tobacco] CH
OP SAW. Chaw. Never heard of a chop saw. Sounds oxymoronic.
- 27a [*”The nerve!” elicitor] GALL
- 38a [*Eats] C
OP SHOW. Chow.
- 49a [*Brilliant stratagem] CO
- 52a [*Pioneering video game] P
OP SONG. Pong.
Fun wordplay. I wonder if Jeff considered using BLACK OPS and placing the OPS “inside” specific black squares. That would be a much trickier puzzle (to make and to solve). Has that been done? It feels familiar.
Jeff always knows how to bring the fun fill. AD BLOCKER gets a clever clue [Spot remover, of a sort]. I tend to forget what TAUTOLOGY means, but the clue helps us out [“Short summary” or “free gift,” e.g.]. Ah yes, it’s saying the same thing twice with various different words. (“Various different” is one of my neighbor’s particular pet peeves.)
Also good: HASHTAG. Why [#StarringJohnCho, e.g.], I wonder. Ah! It’s a movement to encourage diversity in American cinema. It imagines what a Hollywood film would look like with an Asian-American actor (specifically John Cho). Nice!
Also also good: A. A. MILNE, BAPTIZE, BATBOY, and DOG RUN. Not sure how I feel about CALIPHS in the grid; on the one hand it brings ISIS to mind, on the other, it’s a historical title.
Additional clues of note:
- 5a [Pocket full of food]. PITA. Did you imagine your jeans pockets stuffed with various different foodstuffs?
- 19a [Get biblical on]. SMITE. Ha!
- 67a [Trapped like Katniss in “The Hunger Games”]. TREED. This one is much too specific. If you don’t know anything about the book or film, you needed most of the crossings.
- 68a [Mole’s place]. SKIN. Nice misdirection. The theme had us thinking about spies.
- 69a [Arby’s offering]. GYRO. Ack! I find this utterly disturbing.
- 18d [Phileas Fogg’s heading]. EAST. This is a nicely fresh clue for a very standard word. Bravo!
- 41d [Breather]. LUNG. Ha! My fave clue in the grid.
- 43d [Make an awe-inspiring dunk?]. BAPTIZE. I’d love to see baptisms performed a la the NBA.
Fun grid with plenty of shiny fill and fresh clues. 3.8 stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Bugging Out” — Ben’s Review
This week’s BEQ theme is a little interesting – 34A points out that The WALLS HAVE EARS, and indeed, the two walls at the top and bottom of the puzzle need to have EARS placed in them for their fill to make sense. Take a look at the screenshot for the full list of affected entries, but here’s a few examples:
- 1A: Manhattan Transfer classic — JAVA JIV (E)
- 8A: Strong cup — (E) SPRESSO
Etc, Etc, at both the top and bottom of the grid. If I’m honest, this was just okay as a theme.
I have had this Diet Coke jingle stuck in my head for ~2 years. *shakes fist at the Manhattan Transfer*
A few other notes:
- Brendan, I love your indie musical taste, and crosswordese is tricky, but Ski Mask The Slump God releasing “Beware the Book of ELI” is no reason to replace a clue about Yale in the puzzle.
- I know it’s MR. ED (of course of course), but my brain processes that bit of fill as a Teen Girl Squad-esque MRE’D! It’s what happens when you choke on an MRE.
- 26D: excellent timing for use of the ROYAL WE. Speaking of The Royal We, if you’re still all into the royal wedding I highly recommend this book of the same title if you need a summer beach read.
David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I really enjoyed today’s tight little theme. We get four two-part watercraft. The craft in question all have homonyms, and the clues are written to wackily reinterpret the phrases as pertaining to said non-nautical homonyms. I can’t imagine a PADDLESTEAMER has an easy job; I’m pretty sure the rubber will melt and make a big mess.
We also get some slicker than average clues. My favourites were [They’re stuck in pubs] for DARTBOARDS and [Gave religiously] for TITHED.
Gluey entries were present, if only in DRIBS. I wouldn’t cry to not see SER again, but when its one answer in a stack, it grates less.