If you enjoyed Trip Payne’s Fireball “Cuckoo Crossword” (aka a “Something Different” puzzle) on April Fools’ Day, have we got a treat for you! ACPT champ Dan Feyer has taken the time to make .puz files of a bunch of these wacky puzzles that were published in Stan Newman’s crossword newsletter from 1985 to 1994. You can read about the puzzle collection and download the files here. Big thanks to Dan, and to Stan for granting permission.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 462), “Fizzy HydroTherapy”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone. Here is hoping you are doing as well as can be to start the month.
Today’s crossword puzzle ends up taking on a little water, as proper and common nouns are altered by adding a letter to the very beginning of each. The five additional letters added, going from top to bottom and circles, spell out the word WATER, and the final down clue, SIP, clues us in on the gimmick (57D: [Drink daintily, as the beverage revealed in the grid’s “bubbles”]).
- WAGE OF AQUARIUS (16A: [Weekly pay for a constellation?]) – Age of Aquarius.
- ALAS VEGAS (24A: [Sigh of regret for bygone Chevys?]) – Las Vegas.
- TRUST BELT (33A: [Reliable middle manager?]) – Rust Belt.
- EGO FUNDME (47A: [Online platform for narcissists to raise money?]) – GoFundMe.
- RICE SCULPTURES (53A: [Rodin pieces that have a grainy look?]) – Ice sculptures.
Seeing LEFT ARM in the grid made me sigh, for the fact that I was born left-handed and could write very well before my parents intervened, for religious purposes/overall stubbornness, and make sure I wrote and did other activities with my right hand (25D: [Southpaw’s pride]). I still do a lot of things with my left hand, including open plastic bottles and bat/shoot left-handed when playing baseball or using a hockey stick. It’s almost certain that my parents’ intervention caused the funky way that I hold my pens and pencils, with the tip of my thumb tucked inside, in between the pencil and my index finger. Weird, but I guess I would have never won the ACPT Best Handwriting Award a couple of years back without that change, huh?!
Just in case there was not enough LIQ. (7D: [Vodka or gin, for short]) in the puzzle for you, we also have BACARDI mixed in, as I’m sure enough people are ordering as much spirits as possible to stock up for this extended period at home (51A: [Brand of rum]). Haven’t heard IT’S MY TURN in a while, so much find it on YouTube now and give it a play after finishing this blog entry (32D: [Hit song for Diana Ross]). Here is hoping that I do not become ASOCIAL after this period of social distancing is over (38D: [Like a loner]). There are enough introverts who are just fine with that, but I definitely am a 100 percent extrovert just faking it for the time being that I can also fit in to the introverted lifestyle!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ONS (43A: [Carry-___ (some luggage)]) – The past year and a half saw a breakthrough in women’s tennis by ONS Jabeur, the 25-year-old Tunisian who, this past January, made her deepest run in a Grand Slam when she made the quarterfinals of the 2020 Australian Open. Jabeur, who is Muslim, was able to crack into the top 50 of the world rankings as a result of her run into the last eight in Melbourne, making her the first Arab woman to ever crack the top 50 in the world in singles.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful — and safe — rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Carl Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
17A: BADONKADONK [Big booty] – Bank
24A: SLOW CLAP [Audience’s show of impatience] – Slap
33A: CHEESE DIP [Salsa alternative] – Chip
47A: DRUM LOOP [Repeating electronic rhythm sample] – Drop
54A: OUTSIDE SHOT [Low probability of success, and a hint to the circled letters]
Each of the theme entries’ outside circles spell a type of athletic shot: bank shot, slap shot, chip shot, and drop shot. This is a great theme (for as much as I understand about sports!) and feels like a tight, well-crafted theme set. I also appreciated how fresh this puzzle felt. Aside from the theme entries, we have AIR RAGE, TRUE DAT, BALL HOG, and LEVEL UP. Also, some fun with the cluing, including [She has her OWN network] for OPRAH, [Shell variety?] for DIESEL, and [Eve in “Killing Eve,” for one] for SPY. There was a bit of crud in the grid (LATHS, LOOIE, REPOTS), but it didn’t detract from the fun solving experience for me. I didn’t recognize the constructor’s name, but I’ll surely be on the lookout for their future puzzles!
Trent Evans’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Simple and cute theme, proceeding from top to bottom:
- 20a. [Dreaming state], HEAD IN THE CLOUDS.
- 36a. [Practical state], FEET ON THE GROUND. And keep reaching for the stars.
- 49a. [Crass state], MIND IN THE GUTTER.
The fill and cluing tends more to the male end of the spectrum, with Fred’s ASCOT, Dalai LAMA, Mr. Moneybags, the brothers ALOU, the Joker and Batman, LANDO Calrissian, and Robin Williams, offset only by LAILA Ali and Shari LEWIS.
Fave fill: NERDFEST, WATCHDOG, MAD LIB (even if the singular is technically a bit bogus). Could do without TREO, forevermore.
3.8 stars from me. Stay home and save lives, friends!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “No Time, 2 DY” – Derek’s write-up
I am not sure what the inspiration for this week’s Jonesin’ title and theme is, but it is either self-quarantine based or a nod to the new James Bond movie No Time to Die, which may or may not come out in 2020. Or, as a third option, the true meaning is something I am not familiar with, which is likely the case! What we DO have are phrases with two 5-letter words that both end in -DY:
- 17A [Friend who helps with homework] STUDY BUDDY
- 61A [Buffalo Bob Smith’s puppet] HOWDY DOODY
- 11D [TV kid in the lower left corner] CINDY BRADY
- 30D [Hand-cranked instrument] HURDY-GURDY
Needless to say, I think this is one of the rare, if not first, occurrences of CINDY BRADY in a crossword! Definitely no NYT hits. But a great clue and makes me think of watching the TV show years ago! Is this on TV somewhere still? I’ll bet it is; if only I had the time to look it up! ;-) But alas, it is time for more coronavirus news briefings! 4.4 stars today.
A few more things:
- 14A [Japanese dish meaning “pulled noodles”] RAMEN – I have always said these taste different when you HAVE to eat them, but still a cheap meal when eating at home!
- 19A [Computer operating system developed by Bell Labs] UNIX – This is the basis for Mac computers. I am on a Mac now, but all of my computers for work are solidly Windows. It may be different for people on the coasts, but around here, it is Microsoft all the way. Having said that, Windows does seem to be getting a little better in recent years.
- 44A [“In-A-___-Da-Vida”] GADDA – I didn’t know how to spell this! I tried GODDA at first.
- 66A [Jim Henson character] ERNIE – This could be a lot of Muppets, but ERNIE has always been one of my favorites. Elmo, not so much …
- 6D [Like some plane tickets] ROUND TRIP – I wonder when my next round trip flight will be? The ACPT is in September, but something tells me that I still won’t be flying by then.
- 31D [Excavator] HOLER – Technically, this is correct, but nobody says this!
- 35D [Sings outside a window (hey, that’s distancing!)] SERENADES – Funny, and timely, clue!
- 45D [Extra A’s take it from “That feels good” to “What the f*$#”] AAH – Exactly how many A’s would change this? Asking for a friend!
- 57D [Work on Wikipedia, e.g.] EDIT – I have never changed a Wikipedia page, but evidently it is easy. Another quarantine project to work on!
That is all for now!
Gary Larson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I tried to hurry on this one, and my time was well under three minutes. I am ready for the next online puzzle tournament! I think this may be the Indie 500, and according to their site, there is no date yet, but I am sure this blog will spread that news immediately after it is known. But for now, we have a puzzle with the standard LAT revealer at the end at 61A:
- 17A [*New Jersey city on Raritan Bay] PERTH AMBOY
- 25A [*Leader of the pack] ALPHA MALE
- 38A [*It prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures] FOURTH AMENDMENT
- 49A [*Light-bulb-over-the-head instance] A-HA MOMENT
- 61A [Spam relatives … and a hint to the answers to starred clues] CANNED HAMS
Is this them making you crave some Spam? Yeah, me neither, but it is making me slightly hungry! But most things do, so that is not anything spectacular for me. I hope you are enjoying solving crosswords during this stay-at-home time, and this one was a nice easy one to relax with. 4.3 stars from me.
Some more notes:
- 5A [Loosen up, to a pitcher] THROW – Oh, to be able to watch live sports again!
- 23A [Comic Smirnoff] YAKOV – Fun fact: he is turning 70 next year! Man, I am getting old …
- 43A [Mr. Rogers] ROY – It’s not FRED??
- 66A [Frozen drink brand] ICEE – Gonna be a while before I use these types of machines in gas stations. This also holds true for coffee, slurpees, those shake machines, etc. And by a while, I mean until there is a vaccine!
- 10D [Message on a dusty car] WASH ME – I have had people write this on my UPS truck before. For my cars, we pay for unlimited washes. This is also something we CAN do during this self-isolation!
- 34D [__ Ray, one of folk rock’s Indigo Girls] AMY – I should know this name, since she was in the Wordplay documentary!
- 51D [San Fran gridder] NINER – Again, no live sports STILL! And it may be a while.
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
thank you to stan & dan for the “something different” puzzles. a lot of fun
+1 I love these puzzles. Thanks, Stan and Dan et al. (Didn’t you ever wonder who this incredibly prolific Al guy is?)
Got “Shot” early on with just Bank and Slap. Got hung up in the lower left quadrant because – Eve isn’t a Spy in “Killing Eve” and never heard of “Yet” being a synonym for Still. Otherwise – quite fun.
Still to come/yet to come?
BADONKADONK and TRUE DAT–Guess I need to bone up on the urban dictionary, or just be unhappy with the perversion of the English language.
On the Universal, the first theme answer made zero sense and completely killed what was otherwise a fine puzzle. It has COMEBACKTO for [eventually enter the mind of]. Even when I knew it had to be that from crosses it didn’t look right all the way up until I completed the puzzle.
I recognize that actor, but I can’t think of her name. No worries – it will COME BACK TO ME.
Since this wasn’t reviewed, the theme was phrases that combine with ancient elements to make other phrases:
COMEBACKTOEARTH – Eventually enter the mind of + an ancient element = get real
WALKINGONAIR – Taking advantage of + an ancient element = elated
PLAYWITHFIRE – Handle idly + an ancient element = do something risky
HOTANDCOLDWATER – Inconsistent way to blow + an ancient element = standard sink connections