Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Triple Play” – Jim Q’s writeup
Three times the fun in today’s WaPo! Simple, classic theme with a bit of hilarious imagery. Repetitive two-word phrases meet up with their long-lost doppelgängers to create something wacky.
23a. [Wild lobster relative?] CRAY-CRAY CRAYFISH. We call them crawfish where I’m from! Picturing one going a bonkers is pretty funny. I bet CRAY-CRAY CRAYOLA wound up on the cutting room floor because it’s one letter shy of being grid-friendly.
33a. [Gorge where one does a kicking dance?] CAN-CAN CANYON. If the Rockettes ever leave Radio City Music Hall, there’s a new venue for them to consider…
48a. [Cheerleading toy dog?] POM-POM POMERANIAN. I pictured one on the sidelines of the Westminster Dog Show.
66a. [Where extinct birds were trained in karate?] DO-DO DOJOS. Guess they didn’t do so well in that self-defense class.
68a. [Errand runner who’s full of energy?] GO-GO GOFER. Happy Belated Intern’s Day! (7/26)
86a. [Horseplay with a percussion instrument?] TOM-TOM TOM FOOLERY.
104a. [Season that’s good for both parties involved?] WIN-WIN WINTER. This entry seems the weakest of an overall strong set.
116a. [Belittle bigwigs?] POOH-POOH POOHBAHS. Hopefully, the GO-GO GOFER is the one doing the POOH-POOHing.
Once I grokked the theme, filling in the long entries was a snap! So I was surprised to see that my solve time was pretty much on par with the rest of Evan’s puzzles. The puzzle in general strikes me as an ideal one to hook new solvers: Consistent, fun theme. Clean fill. Plenty of areas to gain traction.
I never felt like a DUM-DUM DUMMY [Inept solver who enjoys classic lollipops?]. (Sorry. I had to shoehorn that in somewhere. Couldn’t help myself.)
74a. [Deck with Strength] TAROT. Completely unfamiliar with tarot cards, but it’s a fun clue and the capital S is all you need!
125a. [Box ___ (dance)] STEP. The only move any choreographer in any musical I’ve been in is confident that I can handle.
54d. [Sacha Baron Cohen character … or an Arizona river flowing north?] ALI G. ALIG looks a bit ugly in a grid, but the extra clue (it spells GILA if you read it up… or north) turned a bit of crossword glue into something fresh.
98d. [Maryland’s state bird] ORIOLE. I didn’t know this, but it makes so much sense!
5d. [“Skyrim” humanoids] ORCS. I’ve solved enough of Evan’s puzzles to know that “Skyrim” is a game he seems to enjoy. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! A fresh ORC clue is always welcome!
127a. [Transferred, as a title] DEEDED. I’ve never deeded before, but I look forward to the experience. Indeed.
ANSON Williams, ALISON Brie, and CRONY Capitalism were all new to me- but crossed fairly and inferable.
Had a good time with this one! 3.9 Stars from me.
Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword, “Three in One” —Derek’s write-up
This is Derek filling in on a Sunday puzzle! It has been a while, so this should be fun! The Sunday NYT has a rather simple theme, yet I thought it was clever and fun to solve. I enjoy Will Nediger’s puzzles, even though I don’t always have time to solve all the offerings from his site. (You can find his work here.) This is the type of puzzle that, once you figure out what is going on, is rather fun to figure out what the other answers are. I count eight theme entries, which are indicated by italics. That may be a tad low for a Sunday grid, but these MUST be hard to find! The theme entries are all words that can be broken down into three separate words that actually make sense when clued!
- 24A [Former supporter of seabirds] EXTERNALLY (ex tern ally)
- 38A [Spray the monarch to keep him cool] MISTAKING (mist a king)
- 40A [Prosecutor who’s sympathetic to the defendants in a witch trial] PROPAGANDA (pro pagan DA)
- 58A [Bridle strap utilized only on sidewalk surfaces] REINFORCEMENT (rein for cement)
- 84A [What a dog groomer might charge] PERPETRATE (per pet rate)
- 86A [Result of wearing a fedora at the beach] MANHATTAN (man hat tan)
- 100A [Result of accidentally throwing a Frisbee into a campground] DISCONTENT (disc on tent)
- 40D [Apple devoured by an elderly relative] POMEGRANATE (pome gran ate)
Extra credit for the entry at 40D crossing three other themers! Still, this played like a wide-open themeless to me. Some work better than others, but I found this fun, maybe even a tad on the easy side for a Sunday, although the NW corner was a little thorny. Here’s to looking forward to Will’s next offering! 4.2 stars today.
More good stuff:
- 45A [Singer Morissette]ALANIS – She is 44 years old now! I feel old …
- 47A [Not fixed] MUTABLE – This is not too common of a word, but this IS a crossword puzzle!
- 50A [Agenda starter] ITEM ONE – I figure this had to have the word “one” in it somewhere. The first part was iffy, though. PART one? STEP one? All would work.
- 55A [First character in Genesis] SOFT G – I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to write ADAM with five letters!
- 68A [Rating that’s on the cusp of NC-17] HARD R – After 55A, I saw the first four letters of this and had a little déjà vu!
- 73A [Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, with “the”] PRAIRIES – Just like the plains down here in the States!
- 3D [Running start?] READY, SET, GO! – My 6-year-old knows this phrase well! He likes to shout in when watching sprint events!
- 16D [“This isn’t very pleasant, but …”] ON A SAD NOTE … – I say all the time I love conversational phrases, and this is really good. A debut NYT entry! (According to the xwordinfo.com page for this puzzle, there are nine more debuts in this grid!)
- 56D [Thoro cleansing] DETOX – Does this need the different spelling of “thorough”? I didn’t notice it while solving, but I get the they-are-both-slang angle they seem to be going for here.
- 64D [Meal with a set menu] TABLE D’HÔTE – This is a new term to me, but I am uncultured! Here is the Wikipedia page that explains the term.
- 81D [Like people who take lifts] BRITISH – I am ready to move to England. I have been to London once and I loved it. That’s probably the only way I will be able to solve the Listener puzzles!
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!
Victor Barocas’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Make Circles”—Jenni’s review
As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of circles in puzzles. I don’t mind them here because they are a crucial part of the theme, and the title made me smile.
Each theme answer is a type of car. The “make” is in the circles (as promised by the title) and the clue ignores the car and defines only the second word.
- 21a [Coleoptera insect] is the VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE.
- 31a [Much of western Queensland] is the SUBARU OUTBACK.
- 43a [Gazelle cousin] is the CHEVROLET IMPALA. Too bad there’s no car called the “eland.”
- 65a [Type of center] is a HONDA CIVIC.
- 68a [Spring sign] is the FORD TAURUS, a Zodiac sign that appears in the spring.
- 84a [Long-distance exploration program] is the PLYMOUTH VOYAGER, referring to the space probes launched by NASA in 1977 to explore the outer solar system.
- 101a [Musical work] would be the HYUNDAI SONATA.
- 112a [Scotland native] is the TOYOTA HIGHLANDER. We would also have accepted “Original name of the New York Yankees.”
Not a particularly difficult theme. I’m having a lazy Sunday morning and it suited my slightly groggy mood just fine.
A few other things:
- Lots of ways to say “evening:” 8d [Gloaming, in verse] is EEN (which should have at least one apostrophe) and 75a [“Jabberwocky” word meaning “evening”], BRILLIG.
- 11d [Battle on a log] is a ROLEO, a version of which was made famous in that Technicolor paean to rape, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” (3:20 in that clip). For contemporary log-rolling, there’s the US Open, complete with commentary. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. David: We used to watch this on “Wide World of Sports.” OK, maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know.
- More Jabberwocky-ish language at 37a with [Human-beast portmanteau] for MANIMAL.
- 78d: An [Unregistered user] wouldn’t need a GUEST room.
- I read 97d too quickly. The clue is “But there is __ in Mudville … ” and I tried to put JOY IN, when the answer is NO JOY.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: aside from the existence of professional log-rollers, I didn’t know that Byzantine domes contained OCULI.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s CRooked Crossword, “No Rhyme or Reason”—Laura’s review
Posting late (ex post facto?) and very very briefly (you’re just getting a theme and a grid) since I was busy at Boswords all day yesterday. For this weekend’s CRooked, we’ve got a set of visual rhymes (i.e. spelled the same but not phonologically similar in English):
- [23a: Lady from Italy’s capital?]: ROMAN WOMAN
- [25a: Thing that’s hard to knead?]: ROUGH DOUGH. A little bit of an outlier since the final consonant sounds don’t rhyme.
- [47a: Vitriol from an outsider?]: STRANGER ANGER
- [61a: Redheaded chanteuse?]: GINGER SINGER
- [76a: Thing a swearer has?]: UNCOUTH MOUTH
- [90a: Impressive proboscis?]: GRANDIOSE NOSE. Perhaps there are some regional/personal accents for which this would be a rhyme.
- [115a: Adult Bozo?]: GROWN CLOWN
- [118a: Has to have slacks?]: WANTS PANTS. My fave of the set. PANTS are inherently funny.