Andy Kravis’s New York Times crossword, “Parlor Tricks”—Amy’s write-up
Andy’s theme is things you might order in an ice cream parlor, if that parlor was big on multiple meanings of things.
- 23a. [At the ice cream parlor, the grand marshal ordered a …] PARADE FLOAT. An ice cream float is edible, a parade float is not.
- 39a. [The confirmed bachelor ordered a …] SINGLE MALT. That’s whiskey rather than ice cream. I have never once had a real malted ice cream thing, other than the junky things from the ice cream truck.
- 42a. [The crossing guard ordered a …] TRAFFIC CONE. Tangerine sherbet, I assume.
- 67a. [The amateur singer ordered a …] KARAOKE BAR. Chocolate shell, please.
- 70a. [The dental hygienist ordered a …] SUCTION CUP. Hygienists have the suction tube thingy, and they polish your teeth with a prophylaxis cup, but I don’t think SUCTION CUP actually pertains to dental hygienists’ work one bit. Can you think of another 7-letter word that precedes CUP that would better lend itself to this theme? MEASURING CUP would work for a tailor, but that’s 2 letters too long for this slot, and the theme has no 12s.
- 92a. [The Apollo Theater usher ordered a …] HARLEM SHAKE. Viral dance crazes should all be accompanied by milkshakes.
- 97a. [The pastry chef ordered a …] BAKING SODA. Drink up!
- 115a. [And the homebody ordered an …] INSIDE SCOOP. Chocolate, please.
With the exception of 70a, I like this theme a lot. It must’ve been fun to put together a list of candidate phrases. I assume the research involved a few visits to ice cream parlors, too.
Alrighty, there were two answers in this puzzle that I had to piece together with crossings: 101a. [Ocular socket], EYEPIT, and 125a. [Vaporize], AERIFY. Now, in my medical editing past, I worked on an ophthalmology book … and EYEPIT is not a term I have ever seen. Also not sure if AERIFY gets much use in the world. Merriam-Webster tells me EYEPIT dates back to the 13th century, but who’s been using it since then? And AERIFY’s EWA crossing probably vexed a number of solvers.
Highlights: WHOLE HOG, HARD ROCK HOTEL, FAITH HILL, BOATLIFT (but I know the term as a big undertaking to ferry people across a body of water, as in the Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980, and not at all as a 4d. [Marina apparatus]), WAGE HIKE, EMOTICON, DEA AGENTS, TRAIN SET, LATIN AMERICAN, KISS OFF, and—last but absolutely not least—CIS-WOMEN. This blog is affirmatively supportive of our transgender friends, so don’t complain if you somehow didn’t know the term CIS-WOMEN, or [Females whose gender identities match their gender assignments at birth]. I normally frown at use of “females” to refer to humans, but it might be hard to clue this otherwise. “Female people” is just weird.
Four stars from me.
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Play Time” – Jim Q’s writeup
Here’s one puzzle that you certainly can’t call “tone deaf.” This week’s theme is all about musical instruments.
THEME: Common phrases/names clued wackily to be reimagined as instruments: (every theme clue answer begins with the phrase “Musical instrument played by…”)
- 22A [Musical instrument played by a buddy of Fred Flintstone?] BARNEY FIFE.
- 24A [… a Congressperson?] HOUSE ORGAN.
- 38A [… a camera operator?] TAPE RECORDER. The recorder. There’s an instrument I can do without.
- 47A [… a computer user?] QWERTY KEYBOARD.
- 68A [… a fan of “My Little Pony”?] UNICORN HORN.
- 88A [… a toaster?] CHAMPAGNE FLUTE. Anyone know the punchline to the joke “How do you get two flute players to play in tune together?”
- 96A [… a suitor?] LOVE TRIANGLE.
- 117A [… a scuba specialist?] DIVING BELL.
- 120A [… a member of the American Kennel Club?] DOG WHISTLE.
Before getting to any nitty-gritty about the puzzle, please take a minute to enjoy this:
I understand it’s a parody, but it does raise the question “Who truly enjoys the sound of a recorder?”
Anyway, this puzzle was another one that was right over the plate. I didn’t chuckle at any of the theme answers, but they weren’t scowl inducing either. Well… I think calling a WHISTLE a musical instrument is a tiny stretch. Was it referring to a slide whistle? I had one of those in a Fischer Price kit when I was a kid. I recall being very, very good at it.
Some inconsistency with whether or not the first word changes meaning (like HOUSE ORGAN vs. UNICORN HORN), but overall, a light and playful diversion.
- 53D [Like 2019] ODD. Here’s to hoping that ODD in this context is the opposite of EVEN.
- 57D [Talk Like a Pirate Day sound] ARR! Already looking forward to September 19 this year.
- 58D [“Amelie” actress Audrey] TAUTOU. Never saw it (somehow missed the Broadway adaptation too) and needed every crossing. Evan carefully avoided Naticks in this section with some clever cluing (Looking at you, DEEDEE!)
- 105A [Word in the opening of the Gettysburg Address] AGO. I had AND. That word came before AGO and I stopped the thought process there.
- 18D [Non-venomous snake] BOA. If someone brings a comfort pet aboard your next flight, and it’s a BOA, rest assured it’s not venomous.
- 66D [“Show me your cards”] crossing 86A [“You win this round”] I CALL / I LOSE. Sounds like me playing poker for sure.
- 90D [“Gotta Man” rapper] EVE. I assumed EVO because it looks more like a rap star name, and convinced myself PORIDOT was correct. Quickly changed to an E and Mr. Happy Pencil made an appearance.
3.25 Stars from me!
***Update: Just solved NYT… Same church, different pew!***
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword, “Beta Blockers” – Jenni’s write-up
Still in NYC, headed out for Day 2 of shopping with Emma, so this will be brief. It’s not actually that hard – it took me 15 minutes because my daughter only wants to talk to me when I’m doing something else.
The theme is “familiar phrases that start with B with the B removed.” Some of the answers are pretty funny. Here’s the grid.