Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword “Themeless 121” —Jenni’s write-up
This one is not blazingly hard. It’s not hard at all. I think I was on Peter’s wavelength – even the misdirection clues seemed pretty obvious to me.
- 7d [Pass out faceup, perhaps] is MISDEAL. PSA: Please talk with your kids about alcohol poisoning. My daughter tended to a passed-out roommate last week; not only did she not call 911, but the RA didn’t, either. Alcohol kills. Passing out is not normal, it’s not a benign rite of passage, and it should be treated as the medical emergency that it is.
- 11d [Buffett, for one] is NEBRASKAN. Warren, not Jimmy.
- 17a [Candy with the slogan “Unexplainably juicy”] is STARBURST. Mmm. Red Starburst. Sigh.
- 20a [Style that includes Zigzag Moderne] is ART DECO. According to one source, this style was influenced by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.
- Obscure Old Music Division: 46a [“We Wish You the ___” (Christmas song)] is MERRIEST. Well, I think it’s obscure, but then I’m no expert on Christmas music. Check it out.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AU BON PAIN is affiliated with Panera Bread.
Neville Fogarty’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
The last two Thursday NYT puzzles have been constructed by two of my Indie 500 co-directors (Erik, and now Neville), and I’ve found them both diabolical! (Full disclosure: I had to ask Neville to explain the theme to me, which he graciously did.)
Let’s start by looking at the clue for 18a, LOST LIQUID: [See 17-Across]. So you go to 17a and see that it’s PAGE [Footnote info]. See PAGE… SeePAGE… [Seepage] = LOST LIQUID. Similarly, three more long entries are clued as [See XX-Across] and are meant to be clued as “see” + that entry. Like so!
- 26a, DO A SLOW BURN [See 29-Across].
- 29a is THE, so the clue for 26a is [Seethe].
- 46a, GO UP AND DOWN [See 45-Across].
- 45a is SAW, so the clue for 46a is [Seesaw].
- 59a, IN SEARCH OF [See 61-Across].
- 61a is KING, so the clue for 59a is [Seeking].
I think this theme is exceptionally clever! I love that it plays with the crossword trope of cross-referenced clues and answers. I suspect (hope… so that I’m not alone?) that plenty of other solvers will have some trouble figuring out this subtle theme.
Speaking of having trouble, there were some wicked clues in this one!
- 65a, TYPO [Tears for Fears, say]. I am a fan of Tears for Fears. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is my karaoke stand-by. I know they are a duo. But I got to this entry and had T??O, and my brain said… But what if they were a TRIO?. That “I” looked terrible in the bottom row of grid, but it took me a while to see the right answer. Great clue.
- 14a, ACNE [Rough spots?] is very… well, rough.
- I had never seen 38d, SCUT clued as [Rabbit’s tail] before. Will have to file that away under “four-letter words with crossword-friendly letters that will probably come up again.”
- 37d, [Boots] for POWERS UP was just vague enough to give me fits.
- 43d, [Gobbled (up)] could have been either SNARFED or SCARFED, and since I hadn’t figured out the theme yet I had to leave it blank until I had most of the rest of the crossings of GO UP AND DOWN.
- I confidently and foolishly plunked in MATEO for [San ___, Calif.], foregoing the more obvious DIEGO.
- [What may blossom from buds?] is a very cute BROMANCE clue.
Thankfully I knew SHAW wrote “Saint Joan” and AKON sang “Smack That” to finish out strong.
This was a really brain-busting Thursday, but I enjoyed the challenge! Until next time!
Harold Jones’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Can Do” — Jim’s review
Words ending in -ABLE are redefined according to the base part of the word. Warning: groan-inducing puns (and some pronunciation changes) ahead.
- 16a [Fit for fumigating, as a belfry?] DE“BAT“ABLE.
- 20a [Fit for praising, as a sermon?] “AMEN“ABLE This was the first one I uncovered, and I like it quite a bit.
- 25a [Fit for wagering, as a poker chip?] “POT“ABLE
- 48a [Fit for limiting, as salaries?] “CAP“ABLE
- 52a [Fit for occupying, as a den in the woods?] “BEAR“ABLE
- 61a [Not fit for rating highly, as Nadia Comaneci?] UN“TEN“ABLE. Oof. This is the groaniest pun of all and did not work for me. The clue feels awkward and seems to be saying that Comaneci was not worthy of her perfect 10 score which she clearly was.
Hit or miss for me, with that last one being the biggest miss. Most of the rest are fine, and I like the corny humor. I’m on record as saying that I enjoy when constructors present well-known words and phrases in new and unexpected ways. Being open to new interpretations can not only lead to humor, but it’s an enriching philosophy to live by whether we’re talking about crosswords, art, politics, social norms, or whatever.
The long fill is very nice with SKYWRITE, ACAPULCO, SUMATRAN, NEAR-TERM, EXACTA, SCARABS, and ENZYMES. And how about that clue on SKYWRITE: [Get high for a spell?]. Sure, it stretches the meaning of “spell,” but in a puzzle full of puns, I felt it fit right in.
If puns aren’t your thing, this one probably wasn’t fun, but for the most part, I felt it worked and the fill is very nice. 3.7 stars.
One final clue of note:
- 29d [Fat Man, for one]. A-BOMB. That’s the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. I’m going to take this moment, not to talk about the bomb, or its catastrophic result, but to mention the tiny island of Tinian, 130 miles NE of Guam, where the bombs were assembled and from which they were launched. Yesterday, Tinian and its neighbor Saipan were directly hit by Super Typhoon Yutu with maximum winds of a whopping 180 mph. It’s the second major typhoon to hit the U.S. territories in as many months (Mangkhut hit in early September on its way to the Philippines and Hong Kong), and it’s notable for its sudden increase in intensity going from Cat 1 to Cat 5 in one day. It’s still too early to determine the aftermath, but see this Washington Post article for a few more details. In the video below, Tinian is the shape that the eye is directly approaching, Guam is in the lower left.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Gross Receipts” — Ben’s Review
This is going to be a shorter writeup for this week’s BEQ – I’m recovering from a multi-day business trip and I’m running low on brain/trying to get over a little bit of airport/travel crud. This Thursday’s BEQ is titled “Gross Receipts”, emphasis on the gross:
- 18A: Hog’s office supplies? — PIG STICKIES
- 24A: The world’s shortest relationship? — QUICKEST LOVE
- 41A: Rent-a-mob practitioners? — PICKETER SELLERS
- 51A: Writer Charles’s nickname after he picked up a nasty morphine habit? — OPIUM DICKENS
- 63A: Cricket bowler’s night time vision? — WICKET DREAM
PIG STIES, QUESTLOVE, PETER SELLERS, OPIUM DENS, WET DREAM – each of these phrases/names adds ICK to become a sillier phrase.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s Summary
Today features another very constricted construction, but this one felt less irksome for some reason I can’t pinpoint. I added circles to the theme to highlight it, but they were lacking in my version of the puzzle. MARCH is the revealer, and hidden letters spell out HUP / TWO / THREE / FOUR. A tad humdrum, but at least we get PLAYINGCATCHUP and DAYSOFOURLIVES, which are sparkly nuggets.
Other favourite answers were BANDEAU, AGAKHAN (evoking Peter Sarstedt, for me) and LOVEME (as an answer if not a tune). LOLCAT, on the other hand, already sounds quaint.