For blog posts and media coverage of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, scroll down on the ACPT 2010 page for a plethora of links. There’s also a list of the 60 participants who finished all seven puzzles with no errors. The usual suspects are on that list, but so are a bunch of people I don’t know. Keep your eye on those folks to be climbing the ranks next year.
Kenneth J. Berniker’s New York Times crossword
All right, this will be short because I am barely awake here. Cute theme! Four long answers (12 to 14 letters) are three-word homophone TRIPLES: there’s the showstopper KNICKS NIX NICKS ([Hoopsters turn down singer Stevie?]), along with LOSE LOU’S LOOS ([Misplace comic Costello's privies?]), METE MEET MEAT ([Apportion hamburgers to track runners?]), and WRITE RIGHT RITE ([Compose the appropriate ceremony?]).
- 38A. [Things on a table] are the chemical ELEMENTS on the periodic table.
- 7D, 24A. [Filled fare] pulls double duty for RAVIOLI and TACO.
When I was in high school, BURNOUTS were the kids who went out for smokes during cookie break (yes, we had cookie break) and got stoned after school. Here, they’re clued as [Rat race casualties], but I personally wouldn’t say that someone who’s feeling burned out is a BURNOUT. I also would’ve avoided the word “rat” in the clue, since RATS (52A: [Candidates for witness protection programs]) appears in the grid.
I like the words VIVID and VIM in this puzzle, but feel like VIGOR is sitting home pouting about being left out.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Present-Day Needs”—Janie’s review
The hyphen between “present” and “day” is the tip-off. The “needs” in question don’t have to do with a better health-care system or a sound jobs-bill, but with requirements for gift-wrapping what might come to you on a birthday or anniversary or some other special occasion. And what’ll ya need? As the first words in the theme phrases tell us:
- 20A. SCISSORS KICK [Swim meet maneuver]. Hmm. Seems to me I learned to do a scissors kick when I learned to do the side stroke. And doesn’t the trudgen crawl use one as well? Am just not certain why this has been clued with specific reference to a “swim meet”…
- 35A. RIBBON CANDY [Wavy sweets]. Sweet.
- 42A. BOW AND ARROW [Cupid’s accessories].
- 59A. TAPE RECORDER [Device used in some interviews]. Somethin’ very last century about that one. I thought digital recorders were all the rage today…
No wrapping paper apparently, but sometimes less is more, and a beautiful bow trailing with ribbon is all it takes. (Or there’s furoshiki, which is the Japanese art gift-wrapping with cloth. This method is very environment-friendly.) Am glad to see that Patrick did manage, however, to sneak in a BOXER [Golden Gloves contestant]…
The four vertical sevens are especially good and manage to all tie together. A NEW AGER is not only a [Yanni fan, most likely], but someone who may describe him-/herself as PSYCHIC [Sensitive to the supernatural]. Today’s psychics are related to yesterday’s ORACLES who [...speak for the deities]. And how does MENOTTI ["Amahl and the Night Visitors" composer] fit into the mix? Let’s not forget that he also composed a little piece called “The Medium.” While this is a short opera, it’s not a piece about clothing size…
The [Element in many pub signs] is not the word OPEN, but the chemical element NEON. Something you may order at the pub? Well–there’s PABST [Coor's competitor]. Or maybe that’s something you’d rather order at a BAR [Frequent karaoke setting].
There’s a nice pairing, too, in DINKY [Small, slangily] and the consonant TONKA [Big name in small trucks]. And as we near the end of the games in Vancouver, you know by now that a MEDAL is (just about) every [Olympian's goal].
Since we just saw oiled two days ago clued as [Tended to a squeak], I appreciated the playful cluing for today’s OILING, [Seeking to squelch a squeak].
Scott Atkinson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
(Excerpted from my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.)
THEME: “Hardware Party”—Four answers begin with FASTENers used in non-hardware contexts
- 17A: [*Stable storage enclosure] (TACK ROOM). It wasn’t until the crossings gave me this answer that I realized “stable” was the noun (a horse barn) and not an adjective.
- 61A: [*Benjamin Button portrayer] (BRAD PITT). That’s an attractive human being there.
- 10D: [*Wacko] (SCREWBALL). Remember those ice-cream truck Screwballs, the paper cone of sherbet with a gumball in the bottom? Oh, how I loved those as a kid. As a mom? Turns out Screwballs taste nasty.
- 34D: [*Game that goes down to the wire] (NAIL-BITER). Now, that’s a terrific entry clued that way. It’s less appealing if clued as [Cuticle gnawer], no?
- 60A: [Attach, perhaps with hardware that begins the answers to starred clues] (FASTEN).
This one is roughly par for the Wednesday-level difficulty course, or maybe a notch easier.
What all is in this puzzle? This:
- 29A. [Letter-shaped hardware] (U-BOLT). What the hell? You’re hardware. You can probably help FASTEN things. What are you doing loafing in this puzzle? Get to work and find a way to support the theme. (Vague theme idea: a group of famous people whose names are bracketed by hardware. USAIN BOLT! I might try to come up with more, but I’m really not a fan of that sort of theme so why perpetrate another one on the world?
- 33A. [Chinese currency] (YUAN). When I see people talking about prices of things in China, they use RMB, not yuan. Apparently the Chinese yuan and renminbi, or RMB, are basically the same thing.
- In case you always wondered how to spell a 43A. [Laugh from a Stooge], it’s NYUK.
- 56A. [Mötley Crüe's two] (UMLAUTS). No, those words are not German. Did you try to squeeze NIKKI SIXX AND VINCE NEIL into seven squares?
- 6D. [Cobbler's concern] (SHOE). Do you have trouble with your peach cobbler? Does the crust take on the consistency of shoe leather?
- 39D. [Sudden-braking result] (SKID MARK). Heh. Anyone else snickering here?
- 59D. [Train sched. list] (STNS). STA. is a much more common abbreviation for “station” than STN., and then we’re getting it pluralized here? Meh.
Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
This isn’t a theme you’d see in the daily newspaper, but it’s a beautiful piece of crossword work. Three phrases have STDS infecting them, creating new phrases that are clued to reflect the new meaning. The theme includes three 15s, two of which are completed by a 4 or 6, and the symmetrical partners of that 4 and 6 are also thematic. I’m not sure if the pre-sex I LOVE YOU and LET’S DO IT are explicitly part of the theme; if so, the theme square count bumps from 65 to a formidable 81. Here’s how it lays:
- 1A. TESTED means [Challenged, or what the theme entries in this puzzle should be]. The phrases are clearly infected and in need of STD testing.
- 20A/27A. BATHER PESTERING / RAMS is [one in a swimsuit hassling St. Louis footballers?]. How did Francis think of inserting herpes into a battering ram?
- 36A. Add some crabs to “revolution” and go crazy with word breaks and you get RE: VCR ABSOLUTION, or [Subject line of a papal memo about forgiving devices that record porn?].
- 43A. STDS are ["Infections" inside this puzzle's theme entries].
- 53A/65A. [Place of worship for wimps who don't appreciate art?] is the SISSY PHILISTINE / CHAPEL. That’s the best theme entry I’ve seen in ages! Brilliant wordplay here, provided the inclusion of an STD doesn’t squick you out too much to appreciate it.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “I’m So Happy”
The theme is words and phrases that complete the “I’m as happy as a/the ___” line. I haven’t heard of all of them. As a LARK? Yes. As the DAY IS LONG? No. As a DOG WITH TWO TAILS? No. As a PIG IN SHIT? Absolutely yes. As a CLAM? Oh, yes.
Beyond the theme, we have another appearance of YEAN ([Give birth to sheep], literally and not metaphorically), which has been in at least one of the BEQ blog puzzles even though it’s quite uncommon in the newspaper puzzles. Didn’t care for ACIDY, clued as [Sharp]; it’s a valid word, but not too common, and I wanted ACUTE (but was glad that at least it wasn’t ACERB). Can something be MOOTER than another? Not sure I’ve seen this comparative before.
I did like COTOPAXI even if I needed plenty of crossings to extricate the word from my head. That’s the [Active Ecuadorean volcano whose name means "smooth neck of the moon"]. Uh, hello, Ecuadoreans: The moon does not have a neck.