Hey there! Amy and the gang, the whole gang, are off ACPTing, so for the next few days you’ll get me. Amy’s sent me the plan, and…did you know she blogs _a lot_ of puzzles? She blogs a lot of puzzles. I’m planning to cover all of them, though I neither solve nor write as efficiently as she does so we’ll see.
Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword
I’m…not so clever. Man alive! I had trouble with this puzzle. There was a bunch of stuff I’d never heard of, and the SW killed me. [Dress down] clued BASTE, and I strongly considered waste or paste. And I had some wrong stuff: RINSING, not tinting, is a [Hair salon activity], and I forgot that [Weapon for Wonder Woman] was her TIARA, not riata. Getting RERATES [Downgrades, e.g.] and BE ASSURED [Encouraging statement start] from that took some work.
Stuff I didn’t know:
- 15A. ["The Broken Tower" poet] is HART CRANE. Don’t know him, don’t know the poem.
- 37A.RU PAUL was the [Host of a self-titled 1990s talk show].
- 50D/51A. I’ve seen the shows, but I’m too young to have watched them regularly. So I didn’t know that [Lou Grant's ex on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"] was EDIE, or that the [Secretary on "Hogan's Heroes"] was HILDA.
- 54A. [When women may get in for less] clues LADIES’ DAY. I’ve heard of Ladies’ Night, I didn’t realize they got specials for the whole 24 hours. Soon, they might even get a holiday, but just a few of them.
- 59A. SPEEDSTER is a [Fleet type]. Is this a boat thing? I think it’s a boat thing.
My favorite clue, without a doubt, is [They have chocolate relatives] for BLACK LAB. Not overly tricky, but I like black Labs.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Log Splitting”—Janie’s review
Using yesterday’s “divide-a-word” wordplay, Bob varies the gimmick by doing so within the theme phrase itself, “splitting” the word “log” between the two words of the theme phrases. The guilty parties today are:
- 17A. ARLO GUTHRIE ["The City of New Orleans" singer]. Nice to see his name in its entirety.
- 26A. JELL-O GELATIN [Some jigglers, somewhat redundantly]. I have a little trouble with this clue, which (to my ear) promises a plural. I think I’d've been happier with [It jiggles, somewhat redundantly]. I s’pose you could say that “some jigglers” are made of Jell-o gelatin, but that’s a very indirect substitution…
- 43A. “HELLO, GOODBYE” [1967 Beatles chart-topper]. This song was released as a single and also appeared on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album. (Thought it might be on SGT. [Pepper, for one], but I thought wrong…) Bunch o’ “chart-toppers” (or high-rankers) in today’s puzzle, including [Dixie Cups chart-topper "] CHAPEL [of Love“], “CRY [Like a Baby” (1968 Box Tops hit)], and “ENDLESS [Love” (1994 hit for Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey]. Pump up the volume!
- 56A. POLO GROUNDS [Stadium the Yankees sublet from the Giants from 1923 until 1922]. So hard to think of Manhattan as a place where polo is/was played, but in 1876 it definitely was. Check out the Wiki article. It’s filled with lots of interesting info about the four different stadiums that went by that name. Polo was played at the first one only.
If there’s nothing GRANDIOSE [More elaborate than necessary] about the theme, there’s lots to admire in the non-theme elements–that word grandiose for one, and RED LETTER [Particularly significant], the chewy SCHNITZEL [Some deep-fried cutlets] and that alphabet-using society, PHOENICIA [Lebanon in ancient times]. I also like the lively SHEBANG for [Ball of wax], (and speaking of round things…) GLOBULAR for [Spherical] and COOL OFF for [Love a little less].
Favorite bit of tid today: LADOGA [Europe’s largest lake]. Had no idea, did you? It’s in NW Russia, btw, even with that name that sounds like it could be Italian.
Among my favorite clues are: [Bottom-of-the-barrel bit ], [Certain bottom feeder] and [Baby bottom balm] for DREG, COD and TALC; [Little white thing] for LIE; [Crusty one] for PIE; [Palindromic deck] for POOP; [What excellent drivers often break] for PAR (so we’re talkin’ golf here); and [Washington post] for SENATOR (and not NEWSPAPER or SOUSA MARCH…).
Two combos that might need an explanation: [Shift sequence] is PRNDL–or Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low; and [Hogback] is a specific kind of edgy, craggy tectonic land formation or RIDGE.
And only one near-repeat from yesterday. Yesterday’s ROAN [Speckled steed] is today’s ROANS [Two-toned trotters].
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17A. [Newly certified coroner's assignment?] is a FIRST MORGUE. I also have a home-ec loan, if you dump the witty.
- 24A. [Lord's ointment?] clues NOBLE SALVE. When I finished the puzzle I wasn’t sure if noble savage or noble salvage was the thing. It’s savage. (Not salvage.)
- 34A. A MORAL CUR is a [Mutt with a conscience?].
- 38A. [Sitting Bull telling raunchy jokes?] would be a RAW SIOUX.
- 50A. A [Taxi with no empty seats?] would be a STUFFED CAB. I rode this one with 8 other adults and a baby.
- 58A. VIENNA SAUCE would be a [Topping for schnitzel?].
I’m not sure why I had so much trouble coming up with these, the cluing on the wacky stuff was straightforward enough. Finally, I don’t much like rodents, though on the scale of things [Rabbitlike rodents] would not be the worst, but I do like the word AGOUTIS. I think all puzzles should have animals with strange names.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Physical Violence”
Ah, this was much better for me. I actually know some physics, or at least some physicists, and all the base phrases are solidly in-the-language. And I liked the transposition from the normal grid shape I’m used to, with all of the theme entries running down.
- 3D. [Attack a physicist as a group?] is to GANG (up on Max) PLANCK. He has a constant.
- 9D. [Violently robbing a physicist?] is ROLLING (Robert) BOYLE. He has a law.
- 14D. [Accosting a physicist with one's hands?] is GRAPPLING (Robert) HOOKE. Another law, with springs.
- 23D. [Forcing a physicist's car off the road?] is CRASHING (Niels) BOHR. He has an atom model, a physicist son, and is in a play.
- 32D. [Bop a physicist on the head?] is CROWN (James Prescott) JOULE. A crosswordese derived unit.
Fun stuff includes [Ottoman neighbor?] for a RECLINER, symmetric SNL/NBC, and [U.S. threat level at airports] for AMY.
Did you know it’s really hard to repeatedly type ‘physicist’ without repeatedly typing ‘physicist’ incorrectly?
Janet Bender’s Wall Street Journal puzzle, “I’m a Mac”
- WHO is a [Funny first baseman].
- What was I thinking? With xxLIN, my first thought for [Condoleezza's predecessor] was Palin, not COLIN. For [Home of the Utah Flash], my first thought was Utah before changing it to WNBA. It’s OREM.
- I don’t know the [1973 George C. Scott film] OKLAHOMA CRUDE. I don’t think I even remember 1973.
- Why yes, I did spend a long time in the industry. [Save 50c, say] is REDEEM A COUPON.
- Because or Sporcle, that’s why I knew that TIRANA is [Albania's capital].
- Tomorrow, the tournament starts. Think ADORE, HOPE, not BLAH, DODO, LOSERS.
- Today, I wonder why SANIT, the [City dept. that really cleans up]. doesn’t bother me more as a yucky abb.
- I Don’t Give a Darn what [Texas's state tree] is. PECAN? Whatever. (Hi, Wade and treedweller!)
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Allow Me to Introduce Myself”
I neither went to the tournament nor solved at home, but it’s certainly possible I somehow remembered something about this from someone’s write-up because I solved this way (relatively) faster than I’d think I would given other times I’ve seen. That’s a heckuva sentence.
Plagiarising from Amy, if that’s possible on her own blog, the 17×17 puzzle’s title and blurb are “Allow Me To Introduce Myself: And if you didn’t hear me the first time…” Each of the theme answers incorporates two extra I’s (“myself”) to reorient a phrase:
- 22A. [Making Taiwan's capital livable in the winter?] clues INSULATING TAIPEI, building off “insulating tape.” That last E had a tough crossing: [One of the Nereids], or IONE. Amy originally had that as IONA but erased and fixed it, and another top solver made the same error but didn’t get around to fixing it. I knew TAIPEI better than the Nereids and avoided the trap.
- 28A. [Monk's wine?] is GREGORIAN CHIANTI.
- 58A. CHOCK FULL O’ INUITS is [What the Arctic Circle is, population-wise?]. Chock Full o’ Nuts is a coffee brand. This one was extra sneaky because we had to juggle multiple possibilities. Is it CHOCKFUL with one L or CHOCK FULL with two L’s? OF or O’? If you didn’t notice that the other theme entries all added two I’s, you could be excused for thinking that CHOCK FULL OF NUITS worked…though the French and the Arctic Circle don’t really mesh…and that F would muck up the 60D crossing. Again, my background in consumer goods means I knew the coffee.
- 67A. [Put some complete morons in touch with each other?] is CONNECT THE IDIOTS (“connect the dots”).
[We both] loved seeing the AXOLOTL, a [Salamander known as the Mexican walking fish], smack-dab in the middle of the grid at 31D. It’s no ESNE or ERNE, and yet it’s a word [we both] learned from crosswords. On Facebook, [we are both] officially fan[s] of the axolotl, and if you scroll down here, you can read a poem about it.
Here’s what Amy and BEQ said last year about this. Methinks if all the puzzles are this good I should solve by mail this year before I read any stories. And next year, maybe I’ll be there with them and we’ll have to find yet someone else to guest.