Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Men” — Jim P’s review
Common phrases have a MR. inserted before the final word turning the ending into a well-known figure.
- 23a [Humorously honored a snack food icon?] ROASTED MR. PEANUT
- 37a [Embarrassed Reggie Jackson?] RED MR. OCTOBER
- 58a [Literary schoolteacher feeling low?] BLUE MR. CHIPS
- 66a [Lustful character in “The Wind in the Willows”?] HORNY MR. TOAD
- 86a [Profound Batman villain?] DEEP MR. FREEZE
- 102a [“He’s not gonna make an ideal husband”?] THAT AIN’T MR. RIGHT
- 17d [Help a bald spokesman escape jail?] SPRING MR. CLEAN
- 53d [Mugging Rowan Atkinson’s hapless character?] JUMPING MR. BEAN
I have to say I enjoyed this theme. There’s definitely humor in here with HORNY MR. TOAD (not a children’s story anymore, I gather), DEEP MR. FREEZE (perhaps he replaced Jack Handey on SNL), and THAT AIN’T MR. RIGHT. And I like how the beginning of each phrase has its meaning altered as well (except for THAT AIN’T, that is).
But surely at least a few female entries could have been included. How about ELECTRIC MRS. FIELDS?
There’s some good fill here as well like EMMA PEEL (I loved the British Avengers when I was a kid), “PLEASE DO“, LOCKED IN, POPEYE, CAJUNS, PEEPS, and PET SHOP.
But there’s also an over-reliance on tiresome fill like
REAL LOT RE-ALLOT, TWO OF, UNEAGER, E-NOTES, AOLERS, ICE AX, CUERS, ETO, I GET, EASTS, and EDD. These detracted from the fun.
So, 3.8 stars for the theme, 3.2 for the fill, so we’ll call it 3.5 stars total.
If you’re competing today at the ACPT, go get ’em!
David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword — Jim P’s review
Jim P. here, filling in for Amy.
It’s ACPT Day! If you’re using this grid to warm you up for a day of puzzles, you definitely could do worse. David brings us a lively puzzle with an intriguing design.
What did you think of the shape of the grid? My first thought was that it looked like an old-fashioned alarm clock. That would be appropriate to get you up so you could make it downstairs to the tournament. But then I realized it looks more like a ninja bunny, which, yeah, definitely a ninja bunny.
With three distinct sections I was worried I’d get stuck in one of them. The NE fell first with CASH CAB and a fun clue for ALIENS [Ones supposedly eligible for, but never yet seen in, the Miss Universe pageant]. I then worked my way steadily through the main section with the help of TELEPORTING, DISTRESSED DENIM, and SOLID FOOD. Bu the NW (the right bunny ear) was tougher since I had OKIE instead of JOAD and WHITE instead of BLUSH. But making those corrections gave me LEFT JAB and the rest fell easily.
A lot of goodies in this grid: LEFT JAB, CASH CAB, VANUATU, SOLID FOOD, HORACE GREELEY, DISTRESSED DENIM, LEMONADE STAND, TELEPORTING, and ROAST PORK And that’s just the Acrosses! In the Down direction I’m loving FANBOY, TOY DOGS, CLAM UP, “HI ALL!” and “SO SWEET!”
With so much openness, there’s bound to be some clunkers like EMER, ONE A, and IS TO. But for me the goodies far outshone the negatives. And of course, how can you not love a ninja bunny! Four (throwing) stars.
Best of luck to all competitors!
Kyle Dolan’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is the puzzle for the Saturday of the ACPT! Yes, I am blogging this a little early, since I know sleep will be on short supply! I wish Kyle was attending this weekend, but since he is not, that is one less Midwest contender for me to deal with! (I will try to give an update in the comments this weekend on the hotly contested Midwest Regional battle!) Another great puzzle by Kyle, who is becoming more and more prolific as a constructor. 4.6 stars.
Some of my favorite parts:
- 15A [Georgian Bay is part of it] LAKE HURON – This is in the northeast region of Lake Huron, north of the Toronto area of Ontario, even though it sounds like it should be somewhere else in the world.
- 32A [Pot seen in a bar] BEER BELLY – I am getting a belly, but not from beer!
- 42A [Maker of Oikos Greek yogurt] DANNON – I don’t care for Greek yogurt much. It is like eating gypsum.
- 43A [Big Ten team since 2014, familiarly] TERPS – The Big 10 is killing it is the NCAA tournament so far as of this writing (Friday evening). Hopefully someone makes it to the Final Four, but there is a long way to go.
- 50A [“The Murder Room” author] P.D. JAMES – I have never read one of her mysteries, but I bet I would like them. This is part of the Adam Dalgliesh series, according to Amazon. Should I start with #1?
- 57A [In agreement with the party] ON MESSAGE – This phrase certainly rings true in partisan politics and certainly seems timely.
- 10D [Artist with the 2016 album “Lemonade,” to fans] QUEEN BEY – Beyonce is so famous that she has nicknames as WELL as only one name!
- 12D [20km Summer Olympian] RACEWALKER – This is the funny looking racing you see at the Olympics that is popular everywhere except in America for some reason. These athletes certainly appear to be in great shape; maybe I will try it!
- 23D [Three-horse carriages] TROIKAS – Seems like a recipe for disaster, and it also seems like it would be too wide for modern roads!
- 33D [First NHL player with a 100-point season, familiarly] ESPO – Phil Esposito accomplished this in 1968-69 for the Boston Bruins. I would have thought is was on of the many records
- 36D [State-of-the-art 1970s bike] TEN SPEED – Road bikes nowadays are basically, if they are top-of-the-line, 24-speeds!
- 43D [One of Corleone’s capos] TESSIO – Played by Abe Vigoda in The Godfather, which may still be on Netflix!
I hope all of you who are at the ACPT with me have a great time and please say hi!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Under twenty minutes!! I will take it. As mentioned above, this is the ACPT weekend, and I am sure many will be solving a printed version of this puzzle in their leisure time. I found this to be quite difficult, but then again, it IS a Stumper! I also hope to meet Matthew Sewell someday; I hope he is in attendance! He has become a regular Stumper contributor, and I hope they keep on coming. 4.6 stars for another head-knocker that I hope you all are enjoying as much as I did! (Yes, there are several error marks in my grid image!)
Some notable parts:
- 22A [Coiner of “Louisiana”] LA SALLE – Somehow this name crept out of memories from my middle school Social Studies classes!
- 33A [Clooney’s first recruit in “Ocean’s Eleven”] PITT – Clooney “recruited” for this movie that I have never seen?
- 36A [Hugo winner] LES MISERABLES – I think this is the best clue in the grid. Victor Hugo was the original author of this novel that was made into the epic musical. Are there diacritical marks in this title?
- 43A [Most common South Korean surname] KIM – I thought for sure it was LEE!
- 55A [“__ the Great” (bread cookbook)] PITA – Great name for a book! Still available used on Amazon!
- 2D [Jordan’s only port] AQABA – This is on the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, which is on the eastern side of the Sinai peninsula. I am not as knowledgeable as I would like to be about that area of the world. Are there diacritical marks in this city’s name?
- 7D [Sari expert] DRAPER – You would have to be, as a sari is simply a rectangular piece of cloth that is tied up in myriads of different ways to be worn.
- 13D [Seven Sisters of the sky] PLEIADES – This is the kind of entry that, if you know it, will help break large sections of a Stumper grid. I actually knew this!
- 23D [“The fog has lifted”] AH, I SEE – Great casual phrase.
- 36D [“Heavenly” epithet for Maria Callas] LA DIVINA – This is the kind of entry that, if you know it, will help break large sections of a Stumper grid. I should have known this, but it only came after several crossings. She was before my time!
- 45D [“La vie __” (high cost of living)] CHERE – Are there diacritical marks in this, too??
- 57D [Word from the Hindi for “bedstead”] COT – I think a lot of words come from Hindi. But for some reason, this calls to mine the episode of The Amazing Race where they flew to Delhi, India, and there were people sleeping all over the airport. They could have used some “cots!”
Again, best wishes to everyone competing this weekend!
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Colorful Menagerie” – Jim Q’s writeup
Feeling blue that I have to forego the ACPT once again. But here’s a colorful puzzle to cheer me up!
THEME: Color + Animal
- 17A [Anti-union contract type] YELLOW DOG. New term for me!
- 23A [Misleading clue] RED HERRING.
- 31A [Late Carroll character] WHITE RABBIT.
- 42A [Inspector Clouseau film, with “The”] PINK PANTHER.
- 48A [Family disgrace] BLACK SHEEP.
- 61A [Grape juice + ice cream + milk] PURPLE COW.
Super simple puzzle with virtually every themer a gimme. Perfect confidence booster for those warming up for a competition!
YELLOW DOG was the only one I needed any crosses for- and with my time at 3:09, it played a minute easier than average.
Has anyone ever had a PURPLE COW out there? It sounds… really gross.
Classic theme- colors and animals as an idea feels familiar- but with six theme answers and a cleanly filled grid, what more can you ask for? It was a good time!