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.
Way above my Thursday average for the NYT, but it was fun to figure out and satisfying in the end. Yeah wow that Tears for Fears clue took me a loooong time to see :) DIEGO is fiendishly easy, so therefore hard.
Thanks to the “Bill & TED’S” clue, I filled in San DIMAS, California. Oops!
Yeah, I had Dimas for a while, but I didn’t make the Bill & Ted connection (consciously, at least). Nice!
I went with the crossword-friendly letters in San RAMON even though my sister lives near San DIEGO.
Also, without any crossings, I really wanted the one-named “Smack That” singer to be ENYA. Alas, ‘twas not to be.
Would be astounding hearing Enya sing that…
My bugaboo was POWERSUP + TYPOZ
NYT: Sooo proud of myself for figuring out the theme. I finished with no idea what was going on. Then I went back and stared at it. SAW and GO UP AND DOWN resonated with each other but not perfectly… Then Seesaw flashed in my mind and suddenly the penny dropped. I really love that Aha moment.
It’s so interesting that we find sudden understanding so reinforcing. Part of the reward may be the quick drop in the frustration that arises from being confused. But I think there is something actively, positively, thrilling about going from not being sure what’s going on to being sure, enough that we can discern a pattern and readily predict the answer to a parallel enigma. I guess predicting the future accurately is really adaptive, so it’s wired to be very rewarding.
So, do animals have “aha” moments? And do they love them? I imagine they must.
Huda, I think my dog had an “aha” moment once. It was when I was teaching her to sit and wait while I put her food bowl on the floor, instead of crowding me with her nose in the bowl along with parts of my hand.
She reluctantly waited for me, and when she bent down to eat, she stopped and looked up at me for a second. That may have been an “aha” moment – “I’ll get my food if I wait for the signal”. Or she was scolding me…
I’ve only had one true aha moment
mmmph that was mean Penguins
Hand up for the MATEO and TRIO errors. Also, I thought that the German word “alt” meant “high” and I don’t know the German word for “low” so that slowed me down too, not least because I had a lot of errors in that area (twin for KING at first, among others).
But the theme: that was all kinds of clever. I was a little slow to the aha moment, but as Huda said, it was so rewarding. Wow!
Low in German is niedrig (high is hoch).
Interesting! So then I guess Der Alte means “The Old One”? I had thought it meant “The High One”.
Thanks, danke, I mean, for clearing that up.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so mind-melded with a review on here as I was with Andy’s NYT review (except, of course, that I was so much slower). I loved the theme that I didn’t get until shown to me, I thought Tears for Fears and Blossom from Buds are fantastic clues. Thoroughly enjoyed this Thursday puzzle in a way that I haven’t in ages. Thanks, Neville!
Loved the theme and, like Huda, was VERY proud of myself for figuring it out. I also had TRIO for Tears for Fears and it took me an embarrassingly long time to see DIEGO, considering that my kid is in college there. Great puzzle.
WSJ — I think the clue for un”ten”able was intended to contrast a performance that was unlike hers, not that her’s was not worthy.
I’m sure that’s the intent of the clue, but to me that feels like a more subtle interpretation. A clearer clue might be [Not fit for a perfect score, as in gymnastics].
If *I* were to single out one clue that gave me pause, it would be 16 A, DE”BAT”ABLE, because it reminded me of the unfortunate human tendency to exterminate creatures we find inconvenient.
In spite of that minor quibble, I loved, loved, loved this puzzle. It gave me a smile to start the day. AMENABLE and UNTENABLE were the highlights.
Sadly, I do not think there will ever be another 10 in gymnastics. Since Beijing, the best score for a female gymnast will be something close to 16 depending on the event. There is a composite score based on degree of difficulty and execution. Simon Biles is perhaps the greatest most dominant athlete in any sport man or woman because she can do by far the most difficult routines and do them as artistically and perfectly as humanly possible. She will be impossible to beat in the next Olympics because of the degree of difficulty of her routines.
NYT was very clever in the end, but I did not find it very fun to solve. The “aha” was very “meh.”
I eventually figured out that the NYT theme involved adding the letters SEE to the adjacent word, but somehow failed to get that the SEE was literally provided in the cross references. Talk about failing to see the forest for the trees.
I wish I could figure out the theme before I finished the puzzle. Actually I spent a solid 10 minutes afterwards trying to figure out what was going on but couldn’t, so I came here. Alas, it would have been a great “aha moment”. Instead I got a “oh, hmm” moment, which is 10% as satisfactory as the former.
Solved the puzzle AROUND the theme. Had to have it explained to me here, but very elegant once revealed. Also really appreciated LASERTAG as an entry…
Thursday’s an okay day for puzzles. BEQ is always pretty entertaining but NYT is kind of lacking these days (though today’s was a gem).
I am glad that I was not the only one (not to figure out the NYT puzzle theme until about 10 minutes after solving). And yes it was the “Go Up and Down” and “Saw” that gave me the (still satisfying) aha moment for this puzzle. I can’t remember the last time I finished a puzzle without having a clue about the theme.
I didn’t think a Thursday puzzle would ever defeat me, but this NYT did in the area in and around the SE: PEPA, MORITA, SNARF, SCUT, and more. Just not my vocabulary at all, I’m afraid. By the time I closed in, I didn’t have it left in me to think through the theme. Oh, well.
NYT: I did not figure out the theme but saw the “sen” clued the line above and thought to myself, “it would have been clever/cute if “sen” was actually “see” since see saws go up and down and see/sen was above that seesaw clue. But now that the theme was explained, it makes sense. I loved this puzzle. I liked the cute ones too such as bromance, powers up and nudged. I too was surprised by scut. It was a new word to my own vocabulary. And any puzzle that teaches me a new word, is ok by me! Loved it!
Just did BEQ from Thursday- this will probably go unnoticed (it’s Sunday), but I’m surprised no one commented on the reference to bodily fluids relative to the “ICK” theme.