Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Acquired Tastes” – Erin’s writeup
In which one of the five common tastes is inserted into the middle of a word to create a silly phrase:
- 23a. [Hilarious joke or, with an acquired taste, “What’s Mr. Pacino up to these days, Mr. Perry?”] HOW’S AL, TYLER? HOWLER bisected by SALTY.
- 25a. [Portion or, with an acquired taste, a puzzle clue for BAKERY?] PIE SOURCE. PIECE + SOUR.
- 36a. [Vestige or, with an acquired taste, pests that treat people with emotional distress?] TRAUMA MICE. TRACE + UMAMI.
- 48a. [Sedan’s capacity or, with an acquired taste, astronomer Sagan’s teeny amphibious pet?] CARL’S WEE TOAD. CARLOAD + SWEET.
- 62a. [Pieta figure or, with an acquired taste, cellist Yo-Yo sunk his teeth into director Gilliam?] MA BIT TERRY. MARY + BITTER.
- 66a. [Boxing strike or, with an acquired taste, groaners that you and I carve in stone?] PUNS WE ETCH. PUNCH + SWEET.
- 79a. [1980s prime minister or, with an acquired taste, “There’s the ‘Believe’ singer whom we both know and love”?] THAT’S OUR CHER. THATCHER + SOUR.
- 92a. [Skip or, with an acquired taste, compadre posting on a message board?] FORUM AMIGO. FORGO + UMAMI.
- 103a. [Scruff or, with an acquired taste, twangy-sounding sort of personality?] NASAL TYPE. NAPE + SALTY.
- 105a. [Bit of sand or, with an acquired taste, “Seize Gomez’s hairy cousin, Ms. Brockovich!”?] GRAB ITT, ERIN. GRAIN + BITTER.
- 81d. [Pantheon material] CONCRETE. Fun things about the Pantheon: first, the dome has a central opening, so if it rains, the people inside may get wet. There are drains built into the floor. Second, it contains Raphael’s tomb, along with other resting places.
- 59d. [Action puzzle game featuring a Nintendo character as a physician] DR. MARIO. This was Tetris meets Mario for a germ-bustin’ good time.
- 80d. [Rubylike gem] SPINEL. Got stuck for a while around here because I plunked in GARNET and went on my way. Spinels are formed from magnesium aluminate, rubies come from aluminum oxide (corundum) with chromium, and garnets are silicates.
- 35d. [Some city tour vehicles] SEGWAYS. Philadelphia has a cheesesteak Segway tour, where you can see the sights and sample the local Whiz-dripping goodness. (Jim’s is the best in Philly.)
- 88d. [Like Bangkok’s Grand Palace] ORNATE. Maybe a little bit…
David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword, “Proving Them Wrong” – Erik’s writeup
Hey y’all, Erik here – apparently everyone else was busy today, some kind of auto racing event from what I heard?
Today’s theme is Major League Baseball, which is the The Beatles of sports, in that there’s a crossword about it every 5.7 days and yet my brain steadfastly refuses to retain any helpful information about it. I know Pete Best is the guy who can’t make it to the Hall of Famers because he did steroids, but that’s about as deep as my knowledge runs.
Thankfully, this particular theme was very accessible! At five places in the puzzle, the name of a baseball team is crossed with the city in which the team plays, but neither is clued in a baseball sense. For example, [Where techno music originated] is DETROIT; this crosses TIGERS, clued as [Aggressive types]. BALTIMORE / ORIOLES, WASHINGTON / NATIONALS, ST LOUIS / CARDINALS, and MINNESOTA / TWINS are the other pairings. They each meet at the letter I, which refutes the sports axiom THERE’S NO I IN TEAM ten times over.
I think this puzzle must have been deceptively hard to construct – lots of theme answer lengths that don’t quite match up, but the grid still has to be symmetrical. DJK (the constructor) did a good job keeping the answers accessible as well – ERIE PA, SSR, HOD, and ENATE are the only ones that strike me as arbitrary or arcane. Then on the plus side: TOOK TURNS, UNCOOL, NO CONTEST, FANTA, WINE TASTER, WEIMARANER, THE SEA WOLF, and probably the finest working actor in VIOLA DAVIS.
- The puzzle started off tricksy with [Overawe] cluing COW. I answered WOW, which gave me WUTSIT at 1-Down… sounded like a thing at the time.
- [Things falling out of Vogue?] = INSERTS. This is a great example of a clue that’s absolutely brilliant without being ludicrously hard.
- [Mover, but not a shaker (one hopes)] = VAN. Such a sassy parenthetical! More of this, please.
- [___ Minella (Muppet monkey)] = SAL. Never seen the clue before – enjoyed learning this.
- AJA here is [Double-platinum album for Steely Dan], but it shouldn’t be too long before we see [___ Wilson, 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year]. There’s also ___ Naomi King, who co-stars with 16-Down in “HTGAWM”.
- [Kind of chips you shouldn’t eat] = PAINT. So hard to keep up with all the latest dietary trends.
Thanks to Mr. Kahn and the NYT team for the fun solve. Hope you all have a wonderful rest of your weekend and Pride Month!
Matt McKinley’s LA Times crossword, “Emergency Room Staff” – Gareth’s writeup
This felt like like a typical LA Times Sunday, for better or worse. I got the theme at the first entry I encountered, BIGBANG(ER)THEORY; that’s also my favourite theme answer. The problem is that, after that, there’s not too much surprise left. I also found the title inelegant, though effective. I’m not sure what role “Staff” is playing here. The rest of the set are: HOCKEYPUCK(ER), CORN(ER)FLAKES, LITTLEROCK(ER), SLEEPYHEAD(ER), PORT(ER)AUTHORITY, CAPITALGAIN(ER) and ALLSTARCAST(ER). I did not know what a gainer was (dictionary defines it thusly), which made that a little trickier. This theme has a heck of a lot of possible entries, but the ones used are all at least serviceable.
- [Spanish hillsides], CUESTAS. Tough foreign vocab; this is used in a technical sense in English in geology for a specific type of hillside formed in sedimentary rock. I’m guessing it was tougher to clue that sense succinctly.
- [U.K. governing body], PARL. I cannot think of too many circumstances where you’d need to use that abbreviation.
- [“The first thing you must know … “], RULEONE. That would be never screw your partner over, I believe.
- [“You __ on My Mind”: 1965 hit], WERE. I thought I had a pretty broad knowledge of 60’s pop, but this isn’t ringing any bells… Very generic title, lessee… #3 US for a group called WEFIVE, who didn’t have any further hits, and covered by a number of other artists, noteably Crispian St. Peters.
- [Summer time?], DISCOERA. Great clue. Summer / Moroder is electronic heaven..
- [Slate, for one], EMAG. If I never see this answer again, it will be too soon.
- [Like eyes “you can’t hide,” in an Eagles hit], LYIN. See cartoon by the great, if inconsistent, Scott Metzger…
- [Orange Free State settler], BOER. Note the connection between one historical term, Orange Free State, in the clue indicating a second, BOER, in the answer. Boer simply means farmer, but refers to the denizens of several Afrikaans republics that broke away from the Cape Colony in the second half of the 19th century as a response to abolition among other issues.
- [New York City suburb on the Hudson], NYACK. Home of the Stooges.
- [Pennsylvania’s __ Mountains], POCONO. Another east coast US geography lesson for me.
- [Mother of Joseph], RACHEL. OT not NT.
- [“The Fantasticks” narrator whose name translates to “The Rooster”], ELGALLO. Unknown theatre answer for me, but the clue made it inferrable, and I’m sure Broadway fans appreciated its appearance.
- [Kilmer’s famous last words?], ATREE. The poet, not the actor.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crooked Crossword, “DORY SPELLING” – Gareth’s writeup
Hi, I’m back again. Everyone else is partying at the Indy 500, I believe. Anyway, the puzzle’s title sure didn’t make a lick of sense initially. It turns out to be an example of the theme, where a T sound is changed to a D and the spelling in the affected word changes accordingly. I think of these as something of a BEQ staple; he’s certainly ran a number of them on his website. The title’s base phrase is TORISPELLING, in case you were bemused, as I was. Theme answer recap time: RAINBOWDROUGHT (TROUT); METRICDONNE (TON) – I always pronounced his name with a short ‘O’; IMPROVDROOP (TROUPE); PAIROFDROWSERS (TROWSERS); DUCHYSUBJECT (TOUCHY); LASERDONOR (TONER); DORKWRENCH (TORQUE?); DUFFCUSTOMER (TOUGH).
Most dated-sounding answer: [Like disks that can store data], WRITABLE.
Proper noun pile-up: In the same area – MIZE, GATES, DANA, EMANUEL, ELAYNE.
Iffiest crossing: VIVA/ESA. Those Latinate A/Os are often dicey for me.
Most astonishing dupe: SORER and SOREST in one puzzle. Wha!? I’m guessing there aren’t too many pairs of eyes on these things…