Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
I’m ridiculously sleepy so it’s list time:
- 1A. THE WHO were the [Releaser of "1921" in 1969]. Huh?
- 13A. Drag racing’s PEEL OUT (also doable when the stoplight turns green) is clued [Participate in drag?].
- 15A. SANSKRIT is the [Source of the word "avatar"].
- 21A. Ah! CHESHIRE, as in the Cheshire Cat, is [Lewis Carroll's birthplace].
- 31A. MEXICAN STANDOFF is a colorful phrase meaning [Stalemate].
- 35A. BOY MEETS GIRL is the [Start of a traditional love story]. I like the “traditional” in the clue because “boy meets boy” and “girl meets girl” might be considered nontraditional.
- 36A. The CRIBS meant in [They rock, sometimes] is probably not the MTV variety of CRIBS. Not sure I’ve ever seen a rocking crib; cradles and bassinets, sure, but not cribs.
- 40A. How the hell did I remember the name LAU for ["The Art of Hitting .300" writer Charley]? Answer: From doing crosswords.
- 41A, 43A. In the grid, these look like two kinds of fits: HISSY FIT ([A diva may throw one] and HOO FIT. But the latter is HOOF IT, or [Not splurge on a 48-Across, say], 48A being a CAB RIDE. In New York for the ACPT, I had three CAB RIDEs (two with an airport terminus), about 3 miles of hoofing it, and six subway rides, only one of which reeked.
- 47A. Tough: SIL, short for Silvio, was [Tony's consigliere in "The Sopranos"].
- 1D. TENOR SAX is clued as a [Band member with a bent neck].
- 3D. [Tennis's Clijsters and others] clues ELKES. I know Kim Clijsters but not Elke.
- 6D. Mel OTT trivia! [Target of Durocher's "Nice guys finish last" sentiment]. Did not know that.
- 15D. Actors waiting for their [Big break] don’t want a SCHISM.
- 22D. [What Greece has that Germany doesn't] is…bankruptcy? No, a HARD G sound.
- 24D. Not astronomy: FAN MAIL is a [Means of reaching the stars].
- 29D. Really? MAY is a [Period named for an earth goddess]? I had no idea. Maia is the daughter of Atlas and mother of Hermes.
- 33D. I love ‘FRAID SO, or ["Yep, unfortunately"]. Puts me in mind of my dad’s favorite “no, I’m a frayed knot” joke.
- 38D. “IS IT ME?” isn’t Biblical like “Is it I?” It’s just a [Question of introspection]. If you’re wondering if that oniony smell is you, it probably is.
- 44D. Interestingly playful clue for OBESE: [Very upscale?]. We don’t use “upscale” to mean “getting a high reading on a scale,” but it’ll float.
- 50D. [Utah Stars' org.] is the ABA. I choose to believe that the Utah Stars are a group of lawyers belonging to the American Bar Association.
Insanely smooth fill for a 66-worder (and from a not-so-established name in the construction biz), and lots of zingy fill and clever clues. This one’s a winner.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Gym Dandy”—Janie’s review
In the “too-soon-old-too-late-smart” department: appreciation for “P.E.”–or Physical Education (or Phys Ed)–as part of a well-rounded curriculum. Happily, Patrick gives us a good workout today, placing five theme phrases in the grid. Not only do the words in the phrases begin with the letters “P” and “E,” there’s also a six-letter overlap shared by the first two phrases and the last two (as one phrase sits atop the other in the grid). Here’s how he does it:
- 17A. PRIVATE EYE [Spade, e.g.]. So that’s Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. As a [Highly skilled], most ADEPT tec, he wisely knew when and how to [Pay attention] LEND AN EAR.
- 21A. PONY EXPRESS [Old West conveyance]. This was back before FedEx. Waaaay back.
- 36A. PRIMARY ELECTION [Occasion for some initial casting]. Of ballots. Not of fishing lines or of roles in a movie or play…
- 54A. PUBLIC ENEMY ["Fight the Power" hip-hop group]. Time flies when yer havin’ fun. As part of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, this was released in 1989. You can do the math…
- 58A. PHOTO ESSAY [Very visual narrative form]. Because sometimes one picture is worth a thousand words.
Had a little trouble getting started with this one as I first entered EJECT then EVICT at 1-Down, where EXPEL [Boot out] lives. But ONION SKIN [Translucent type of paper] came easily. Back when “air mail” was (relatively) very costly and used judiciously for only the most important domestic mail and for overseas mail, using onion skin stationery was de rigeur.
Traveling par avion… and heading east around the globe, we first encounter the NILE BASIN [Drainage area of the world's longest river]. Then as we continue east, we’re going to meet up with an ARAB population (though probably not [Aladdin, e.g.]…) and an OMANI (the punnily clued) [Muscateer?] or two. (Yesterday we learned that Oman is [...the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula...]. Still farther east is India, where NEHRU was the [...first prime minister] and where they don’t pretend not to have a CASTE system of [Societal division].
In Patrick’s last CS puzzle, [Tiff] clued spat. Looks like he’s droppin’ the gloves again today as [Arguments] now clues SPATS, which are times when folks may SNAP AT [Speak sharply to] one another.
Lotto playful cluing today, so here’s a tip o’ the hat to [Growing room?] for ACRE (seens two days ago, but defined by its square footage); [Canon powder] for the non-ballistic TONER (unless of course you’re hurling your printer at someone or something…); [Heads overseas?] for the five-letter TÊTES (and not the shorter LOOS or WCS…); and [They do book reviews] for CPAS.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
(Have a listen if you like: David Bowie \”Changes\”)
- 20A. [Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta?] clues SHOOTING STARCH. Mmm-mmm, carbohydrates.
- 30A. [Trapdoor in an Old West saloon?] is a COWBOY HATCH.
- 40A. The HOT DOG BUNCH is a [Group of show-offs?].
- 54A. [Spiel from a maestro?] could be an ORCHESTRA PITCH.
- 38D. PUBLICAN is a [Tavern keeper], especially in England.
- 4D. KEMOSABE is a [Friend in old Westerns?].
- 11D. HERCULEAN means [Requiring superhuman effort]. Still haven’t seen the Disney animated Hercules movie, and now my kid’s a little old for that.
- 10D. Who doesn’t like a little “cuchi-cuchi” with their crossword? CHARO is the ["Cuchi-cuchi" entertainer] and, they tell me, a solid guitarist.
- 30D. [Crunch's rank] is CAP’N. I have a box of his cereal atop my fridge right now. It’s almost gone. And I hardly ever let my kid have any of my sweet cereal. “These are Mom’s Corn Pops, honey. Back off!”
54D slowed me down. Wow, really? A Friday L.A. Times clue that forces me to use the crossings? Usually the challenge level is lighter. [Wheeling's river] is the OHIO. Wheeling, West Virginia? Not the best-known place. I was halfway expecting an obscure English river.
Scott Atkinson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Middle Names”
Cool theme concept and execution: Find famous people’s last names that can be split into two familiar English words (the first part being a verb) and make three-word verb phrases by sandwiching the surname between its two components. Can you think of other names that lend themselves to this treatment? Scott Atkinson (who had another byline this week) came up with this quartet:
- 3D. FILL FILLMORE MORE is [Give additional food to the 13th president?].
- 5D. PUSH PUSHKIN KIN is [Shove a Russian author's family around?].
- 18D. DUN DUNAWAY AWAY is [Press actress Faye for payment until she flees?].
- 10D. ROCK ROCKWELL WELL is [Successfully put future illustrator Norman to sleep?]. “Future” because rocking a grown man to sleep is creepy; see also the otherwise brilliant and funny Robert Munsch’s kids’ book, Love You Forever.
The grid looks weird because it’s a 15×16 with four black squares in the middle and a couple Utah-shaped chunks of black squares.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Mass Exodus”
This might be the easiest BEQ blog puzzle yet. But it’s labeled as “medium difficulty”? Nancy Schuster is Brendan’s difficulty calibrator and she and I must have wildly different wheelhouses, because a lot of Brendan’s “easy” puzzle strike me as definitely in “medium” range.
The theme is Old Testament plagues from above: flies, hail, blood, darkness, and boils appear at the start of the theme entries. What?!? No familiar phrase beginning with FROGS? The plague of frogs remains my all-time favorite of the plagues. I can’t say BLOOD AND THUNDER resonates with me as a familiar phrase, though; [Exaggerated melodrama] is the clue.
With the first and last letters of 53A: [Moon covering] in place, I decided it had to be a TUTU, which does pretty well cover one’s butt. Alas, the answer is TROU, as in the trou(sers) that are dropped when one moons the world.
Nice KAFKA clue at 47D: [Author who said "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us"].
NAOMI JUDD is a great full-name answer, and cell-phone NO SERVICE is, one might say, one of the modern-day plagues.
Not wild about the fill overall. REDRY crossing EASER, PFCS, ILEX, STS, ERN, OUSE and the only-in-bridge-and-crosswords-because-nobody-else-knows-it ONE NO. (The clue for the latter is [Stayman convention opening], which didn’t even tell me it had anything to do with bridge. Meh!)