Natan Last’s New York Times crossword, “Hook-ups”—Amy’s write-up
Neat theme from Natan. Seven familiar phrases or compounds that happen to contain a letter string that’s also a type of fish have those fish “hooked” and pulled “up” to the top of the entry. From left to right, we have:
- 1d. [Gym rat’s development]. TROUTWORKOUINE. WorkouT ROUTine.
- 56d. [Gave extra juice], PERCHSUARGED. SuPERCHarged.
- 4d. [Act overprotectively toward], CODMOLLYDLE. MollyCODdle. This is where I sussed out the theme.
- 26d. [The “Aladdin” song “A Whole New World” takes place on one], CARPMAGICETRIDE. Magic CARPet ride.
- 63d. [What might get you a “ladle” drunk?], PIKESDPUNCH. sPIKEd punch.
- 12d. [Role for a biology grad student, perhaps]. BASSLAISTANT. LaB ASSistant.
- 48d. [Surprised], TUNACAUGHWARES. CaughT UNAwares.
Well executed concept.
Fave fill: COOLED DOWN, STORM SURGE, PAUL SIMON, COLD FISSION (and the COOLED/COLD connection doesn’t bother me here), LARGE TYPE, STEAMPUNK, A VOTRE SANTE, FOUR-ALARM chili, CANNERY ROW, GENDERED ([Like “mailman” and “waitress”]), MANTA RAY, YEESH, MOTLEY. Unfave: I’M SORE.
Did not know: 43a. [Fate, in Greek myth], MOIRA.
Also did not know, despite being a teenager the year the song came out (it didn’t quite make the top 20): 3d. [1984 Steve Perry hit], “SHE’S MINE.”
Clue pair I liked: 13d. [Works with numbers], OPUSES (feel like we just saw this clue in the past week) / 21d. [Worker with numbers, for short], CPA.
Clue I like and want to steal (though we used a similar one for the plural in 2015 at my job): 66a. [Shoe with lots of holes], CROC.
4.3 stars from me.
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “This and That” – Jim Q’s writeup
Happy Sunday! I’m going to try to describe this theme without being too wordy. Wish me luck.
THEME: Half of the themers contain two hidden words, both of which are aptly described by the other half of the themers that follow “A AND B” formula. Anyone want to take a crack at describing that more clearly and succinctly?
- 23A [Kindergarten exercise, or a description of the circled words in 31
Across] SHOW AND TELL, which can be found in HAIR RESTORATION. Show = AIR (as on TV), Tell = RAT (as a tattletale would).
- 71A [Like one vacillating between two extremes, or a description of the circled words in 53 Across] HOT AND COLD, which can be found in HOUSING POLICY. Hot = IN, Cold = ICY.
- 74A [Dicey, or a description of the circled words in 90 Across] TOUCH AND GO, which can be found in STAPLE REMOVER. Touch = TAP, Go = MOVE.
- 118A [Activity with many events, or a description of the circled words in 107 Across] TRACK AND FIELD, which can be found in HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA. Track = HUNT, Field = LEA.
This is one of those themes that I appreciate in retrospect since understanding it wasn’t necessary in order to solve the puzzle. Essentially, I solved this like a themeless. While I did notice the _____ AND _____ pattern to half of the themers, I never bothered to stop and search for the cross-referenced clue since they were clued independently from the theme. Also, I really hate stopping to search for a cross-referenced clue unless it’s necessary, so I didn’t.
When the puzzle was over and I grokked the theme, I said “Ah, I get it. Nice.” And that was it. Evan seems to cycle through puzzle types (Basic, Clever, Insanely Clever, Themeless, Meta, and Un-Crossword Puzzles [“Something Different” or a Variety Puzzle]). I’m sure this isn’t a strict rule of his, but I feel like that’s a fair assessment of WaPo after reviewing them for this long. I’m bringing this up only because I think this is a very strong cycle and a great way to reach all different levels of puzzlers. Veteran solvers may shrug at today’s theme, but someone out there just got hooked because they were able to solve the puzzle and had a great Aha Moment.
- 20A [Work with Ajax] ILIAD. I didn’t hesitate to type in ILIAD (again, if you’ve solved enough Birnholz puzzles, you start to see through that clever cluing quickly). It’s a great clue, though.
- 9D [Youngster’s address] KIDDO. I’ve never heard anyone use this word without sounding condescending, regardless of the height/age of the person being addressed.
- 63A [Sonata quartet member?] TIRE. Car models make for great cluing fun.
- 40D [Actor Grint or media executive Murdoch] RUPERT. Just saw “Ink” on
Broadway. I recommend. RUPERT Murdoch just made an appearance in the audience himself. Read about that meta moment here.
- 66D [Gratuity rule at some restaurants] NO TIPS. I was just thinking about the top ten places I wouldn’t want to work… this type of restaurant makes the list.
- 109D [Man found in the vicinity?] VIC. Get it? VICinity. VIC is literally in the “vicinity.” Can we get a ruling on this, Judge Vic? If I were on the jury, my verdict would be “great clue.”
- 93D [Spherical Halloween decorations] EYEBALLS. Weird. I don’t see a lot of independent EYEBALL decorations on Halloween. I think this clue could’ve used a “perhaps” at the end.
- 84A [Three-part abbr. for a big U.S. financial corp.] BOFA. Erm… Bank of America? Sure. That’s what Google says.
I look forward to seeing what’s next in the cycle! Something tells me the heat will be a touch higher next week.
Mark Feldman’s Universal Crossword, “Musings of an Angry Patient”—Judge Vic’s write-up
I like this kind of theme. And I like this specific puzzle. It was fun. Mark gives us punny quotations from a series of angry patients, the pun in each instance being, shall we say, directly proportionate to the specialty of the doc involved. First, the themers:
- 23a [I don’t like my dermatologist because she …] GETS UNDER MY SKIN
- 38a [My ophthalmologist …] GIVES ME THE EVIL EYE
- 51a [My cardiologist …] DOESN’T HAVE A HEART
- 78a [My psychiatrist …] MESSES WITH MY HEAD
- 95 [My orthopedist …] COSTS AN ARM AND A LEG
- 112 [My otolaryngologist …] NEVER LENDS AN EAR
So, with a theme like this, it’s important that the theme answers be horizontal. With a theme count of 15-17-16-16-17-15 (96 letters), we’d not expect too much else in the Across domain. But there is actually some pretty decent and fun stuff to behold there:
- 33a [Fills up an Uber?] PILES IN
- 44a [Online greetings] E-CARDS
- 48a [Makes lively] PEPS UP
- 85a [Available] ON CALL–A nice little bonus to the themers, this one is!
- 106 [Cat carrier opening] AIR HOLE
And in the Down arena we find:
- 1d [Prodded] EGGED ON
- 7d [Soccer stadium cheers] OLE OLE
- 10d [Blocked] STYMIED
- 16d [One minding her own business?] MANAGER–Looks like an ILSA (man and ager), but isn’t. Plus, each of those medical offices has a manager, I am sure!
- 33d [Racer’s quick break] PIT STOP
- 38d [Deny] GAINSAY–Yup, it’s an old word, but it’s an ILSA.
- 52d [Confess] OWN UP
- 86d [Offensive to the senses] NOISOME–Interesting word. Good word. Not an ILSA, because it’s a root and a suffix, but it looks like an ILSA.
- 87d [Creator of 96-Down] C.S. LEWIS
- 90d Italian seaport SALERNO–Another non-ILSA that looks like one.
- 97d [Stick like a stamp] ADHERE–Another ILSA-lookalike.
Good job, Mark! 4.1 stars from me.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal Crossword, “Sit on It”—Jim Q’s write-up
All rise… no, wait… sit back down, for a breezy puzzle by Ms. Burnikel on this lovely Sunday.
THEME: Things one can sit on make up the second word of two-word phrases.
- 16A [Reds catcher with 10 Gold Gloves] JOHNNY BENCH.
- 10D [Los Angeles, for Los Angeles] COUNTY SEAT.
- 59A [Lead attorney’s assistant] SECOND CHAIR.
- 28D [James Taylor, for one] FOLK ROCKER.
Initially entered FOLK SINGER for James Taylor, but one would have difficulty sitting on a brand of sewing machine without risking strange injuries.
Basic theme type here that is consistently presented, though SECOND CHAIR still refers to an actual CHAIR more-or-less. At least it’s more closely related than the others, particularly BENCH and ROCKER, which do not conjure images of the actual thing one sits on at all in those contexts.
TTFN is new fill for me… I assume “Tata for now!” Do Brits use that shorthand in place of TTYL? Other fill is mostly standard, though I liked FACE I.D.
3 stars from me.
Ross Trudeau’s LA Times crossword, “Elimination” – Jenni’s write-up
I love Ross Trudeau’s puzzles, and this is a good one. Each theme answer has “el” removed. Wackiness results.
- 22a [Cracked river barriers?] are DAMS IN DISTRESS (damsels). I got the theme immediately, which sometimes makes the rest of the theme answers anticlimactic. Not this time.
- 40a [What a generous mechanic might do after a wreck?] is THROW IN THE TOW (towel).
- 50a [David or Saul?] is JEW IN THE CROWN (jewel). Not just my favorite answer in this puzzle but one of my favorites of all time. I’m still laughing.
- 68a [Request to the local marriage oath writer?] is CAN I BUY A VOW? (vowel).
- 89a [Variety headline for director Lee’s U.S. debut?] is ANG’S IN AMERICA (angels).
- 97a [Magician’s tote?] is an EVERYTHING BAG (bagel).
- 118a [Talks about woks?] are PAN DISCUSSIONS (panel).
They all work brilliantly, and each base phrase is solidly in the language. I really enjoyed solving this.
A few other things:
- I didn’t notice the exclamation point in 28a [“Yesterday!”] at first, and I dropped in SONG since I had the S. Nope. It’s STAT.
- Interesting vocabulary: ELDRITCH, clued as [Spooky], and SAPID, [delicious]. We could also say it was obscure vocabulary.
- 61d [Creations with colorful blocks] are LEGO ART. This is a thing, and a very cool thing. I’ve seen this exhibit written up, and when I was looking for it on Google I found two other Lego artists doing sculpture as well as “paintings” and architectural models.
- 62a [Chipotle alternative] is not another kind of pepper. It’s QDOBA.
- One objection: 63d [Crunchy snack] is BAGEL CHIP, which crosses EVERYTHING BAG, which is pretty close to BAGEL crossing BAGEL.
- 91d [“Oh, that’s adorable!”] is AW, SO CUTE. I hear this in my daughter’s voice.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that COLADA means “strained.”