Chicagoans! I’ve got a hot entertainment/arts tip for you. Ameba Acrobatic & Aerial Dance gets modern dance off the stage and into the air, with a trapeze, Lyra hoop, lycra sling, bungees, silks, and gymnastic moves. Some of the dances mesmerize; some amuse; most all of them will amaze you. I saw their latest show, “Time Flies,” with my 10-year-old son and my mom tonight, and we all loved it. You can catch it at 7 pm this Friday, 2 pm and 7 pm Saturday, or Thursday 7/22 through Saturday 7/24 (7 pm daily, 2 pm Saturday matinee). My cousin-in-law Chloe Jensen is Ameba’s artistic director and my gosh, is she ever creative, flexible, and strong. And so is the rest of the troupe.
The Tribune’s Sid Smith reviewed the show favorably, so you don’t have to take a relative’s word for it. Two hours of air-conditioned entertainment, plus you’re supporting the arts? What are you waiting for? Go. You’ll thank me.
Mel Rosen’s New York Times crossword
It’s late and I’m both tired and a mite peckish, so I’ll be quick here. Yes, I know, you come here for the crossword talk and not the dance talk, so make with the crossword talk, lady. Yeah, yeah. Let’s break it down:
- 20a. EARTH SCIENCE is clued as [Meteorology, e.g.]. Geology is also an earth science. I’m a fan of meteorology, people. I have two weather apps on my Droid phone. (The other science in the grid, ENTOM., is ABBREVIATED and thus not so cool.)
- 23a. “STOP HIM!” is a [Cry from a stuck-up person?], meaning a person who was robbed in a stick-up.
- 54a. I can’t believe I spelled WOOKIEEPEDIA right on the first try. It’s an [Online reference for all things "Star Wars"].
- 56a. I would like RUMOR MILLS better in the singular. They’re [Buzz sources]. Bet a lot of people tried to come up with 10-letter synonyms for “beehives.”
- 63a. If you’re willing to overlook the replacement of an ampersand with an AND, we’ve got D AND D, a [Game with half-elves, informally]. Between this and the Star Wars one, boy, the geek factor is sky high.
- 24d. How did I get HONEY BADGER with only the first two or three letters? I dunno. It’s [Guinness's "most fearless animal"]. If this was in the Guinness Book of World Records around 1978, then I must have read it—over and over again.
Hoariest fill (i.e., things I have known from crosswords for decades):
- 39a. SEGO = [Bearer of trumpet-shaped flowers].
- 7d. ATLI = [Husband of Gudrun]. This is Norse legend, and somehow Atli = Attila the Hun, though I don’t know how much the Huns and Vikings tussled.
- 48d. AYESHA = [H. Rider Haggard heroine].
- 45a. EGERIA is a [Female adviser]. Whoa. You’ll note that this one is not in the “hoariest fill” section. Not sure I’ve ever seen this word before.
- 8d. Hmm, there was an Alannah MYLES in the ’80s New Wave band Thompson Twins who is not Alannah Currie but also sings, and I went to high school with a MYLES Whitebloom. Not a lot of famous MYLES people, are there? Because the clue is [Lee ___ (transmission repair chain)], and I have never, ever heard of it.
- 42a. RELET = [Find another tenant for]. Hop down to the entry below it in the grid for…
- 47a. REGRAB = [Seize again]. Re-NO.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “H-to-O”—Janie’s review
No, that’s no typo in the title. We’re not looking at a water-based theme here today, rather an alphabet-based one in which each of the theme words or phrases starts with the letter “H” and ends with the letter “O.” Doesn’t sound very promising, does it? Ah, but the fill Tyler’s given us is as peppy as can be; like Emeril, he’s managed to “kick it up a notch” all along the way with two 10s, two 9s and two 8s. Say HellO to:
- 17A. HULLABALOO [Stir]. This took me right back to hoopla in Sarah Keller’s puzzle yesterday. This was a good thing.
- 24A. HOT POTATO [Kids' game with quick passes]. Oow! Hot! And while it’s recess… let’s take note of the fill directly below: “IS NOT” ["You're wrong," on the playground]. Play nice, kids.
- 29A. HABANERO [Hot sauce ingredient]. And apparently the source of stupid-human food-challenges…
- 44A. HOKKAIDO [Sapporo's island]. And isn’t that double-K a cool thing to see in the grid.
- 51A. HOME VIDEO [Nostalgia source]. Well, now—depends on the footage, doesn’t it? (See habanero above…)
- 62A. “HOW DO YOU DO?” [Polite greeting]. Such an odd little phrase when you give it too much thought. That final do seems to be crying out for an object of some sort. “How do you do macramé?” “How do you do addition?” “How are you doing?” works. But plain “How do you do?”—well, best to go with the idiomatic use (as I always have…) and not parse this one too closely.
This strong theme fill is complemented by a grid packed with strong fill. You may remember from your class in government that BICAMERAL [Like the United States legislature] tells us that this body is made up of (“Class?”) “two houses.” I had to laugh when the correct fill for [Decline to drive, say] became CALL A TAXI and not the more eco-friendly, health-beneficial TAKE A WALK…
There are four vertical 7s in the grid, one ending with “A,” three starting with that letter: MELINDA, ADAPTOR, ALTERTLY and ANALOGY. Re: that last one—I’d forgotten that the folks at the ETS had removed the analogy portion of the SAT (whence [SAT question, formerly]). I’m sure there were “good reasons,” but I do remember liking (well, not being cowed by…) that portion of the exam. Is this what today’s high-school GRAD [June celebrant] is so happy about?…
Two tricky clues—one in [Top of the hour?]. If your watch face has Roman numerals on it (or just check out a handy sundial…), you’ll see the number XII right there at the top. The other has an aural gimmick, which is how SHORT “I” unifies political opposites with [Clinton and Nixon both have one].
Finally, loved the literary shout outs to bad boy Ken KESEY [Nurse Ratched's creator], ex-pat T.S. ELIOT ["The Waste Land" poet], and the prolific (often polarizing) novel and [Screenwriter Gore] VIDAL. It’s this same Gore Vidal who is at the core of one of musical theatre’s most charming moments. In this year’s off-Broadway (gay adoption) musical The Kid (based on Dan Savage’s book of the same name), Dan and his lover Terry bond over a shared affinity for the author. Sure wish there were a YouTube clip I could share, but you’ll have to take my word on this!
Joon Pahk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Amaze a racing legend?] turns Dale Earnhardt into the phrase DAZZLE EARNHARDT.
- 26a. [Simple but exciting abode?] is PIZZAZZ HUT, which adds two sets of ZZ to Pia Hut. No, it doesn’t. It adds one extra ZZ to Pizza Hut.
- 48a. Late fees become LATE FEZZES, or [Headgear delayed in shipment?].
- 61a. [Furniture design flop?] clues FIZZLING CABINET (filing cabinet).
I like the first half of the theme better than the second, which loses steam with less exciting objects.
- 1a. [Place to get clean?] clues REHAB. I was honestly thinking of baths despite the question mark.
- 23a. Muhammad ALI is clued with a quote: ["I ain't got no quarrel with the Viet Cong" speaker].
- 38a. WHIZ KID is great fill, and it doesn’t even cross a theme answer at its Z. The clue is [Brainchild?].
- 43a. [America's most wanted?] clues the A-LIST.
- 5d. The BALALAIKA is a [Russian instrument with a triangular body].
- 7d. I like the word WRAITHS, meaning [Ghostly figures].
- 31d. [Minute piece?] clues a WALTZ.
- 14a. [Roasted, on Mexican menus] is ASADA, as in carne asada.
- 16a. ["Hiya, José"] clues “¡HOLA!”
Hoary intersecting fill corner:
- 44d. [Simply designed British firearm] is a STEN GUN, which is solid crosswordese in the short form of STEN.
- 56a. The first N in STEN GUN crosses NITA, or [Silents star Naldi].
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Eagle Has Landed” (under the nom de mots croisés Colin Gale)
It took me a while to grasp the theme here. I was seeing embedded TWOs in some long answers, but others were lacking a TWO. Turns out the theme answers appear in stacked pairs, with a TWO under PAR in each pair. In golf, you get an “eagle” if you sink the ball in two strokes under par. The theme revealer is:
- 120a. TWO UNDER PAR. That’s the [Eagle found in seven spots in this puzzle], and I’ve circled those seven in my grid.
- 1a. [Sapphire side] clues a gem’s FACET. I like the clue.
- 33a. [Middle course] clues the MEAN. Is it bad that I went with MEAT here first?
- 42a. [Cardinal base] is a redbird’s NEST, not anything to do with Catholic clergy or cardinal numbers.
- 52a. MINNIE [Driver in the movies] is an actress.
- 56a. A PARTY can be a time to receive gifts, or a [Present time], in a manner of speaking.
- 66a. A FINN is an [Espoo resident], as Espoo is Finland’s second largest city. I just like to say “Espoo.” “Hey, Speedy Gonzales, what is that godawful stink?” “Espoo.”
- 71a. [Did a caddie's job] clues TOTED. A little more golf content to go with the theme.
- 80a. [Event for Li Xiaopeng] is the PARALLEL BARS. Is it bad that I was thinking Li Xiaopeng was a Chinese leader or a panda rather than an Olympic gymnast?
- 84a. [Heard] clues GOT WORD, which makes perfect sense once it’s complete but looked implausible when I was missing a few letters.
- 90a. The mouse [Jerry's nemesis] is the cat TOM. NEWMAN wouldn’t fit.
- 122a. ["Spring Turning" painter] is GRANT WOOD. Hey! Did you know he painted anything besides “American Gothic”? Can’t say I knew of any of his other works.
- 128a. [Radio character voiced by John Todd] is TONTO. Dramatic radio shows are really before my time.
- 2d. [It began as Standard Oil of Indiana] was a gimme for me. It’s AMOCO, since subsumed into BP. Chicago natives my age or older still think of the Aon Tower, formerly the Amoco Building, as the Standard Oil Building.
- 5d. [Typical Hollister Co. customer] is a TEEN. Shows how much I know, with a 10-year-old boy. I thought the answer would related to agriculture.
- 8d. [President overthrown in 1955] is EISENHOWER. No, make that Juan PERON.
- 17d. [One's first home] is mom’s UTERUS. Ah, nostalgia!
- 28d. SAM I AM is the [Profferer of a storybook meal], green eggs and ham.
- 35d, 49d. I didn’t know if [Juicy gossip] would turn out to be DISH or DIRT. Turns out, one of each.
- 44d. [Liza's dad] is VINCENTE Minnelli.
- 58d. [Rooster's tale?] is TRUE GRIT, the movie in which John Wayne stars as Rooster Cogburn.
- 62d. ["Super Fly" star Ron] O’NEAL? I know Ryan and Tatum, I know Shaquille, but I don’t know Ron.
- 80d. When your theme involves creating Down answers with a PT in them, a word like PTOSIS comes in handy. It means [Drooping eyelid, medically].
- 95d. [Kingdom whose flag bears a thunder dragon] is BHUTAN. I don’t know what a thunder dragon is, but surely it makes for a badass flag. Is this the only country with a yellow and orange flag?
- 109d. [Site of many organs] is your TORSO.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “What, Me Worry?”
- 71a. [If you have one, you may be irrationally afraid of the first words of 17-, 26-, 32-, 42-, 51-, or 60-Across] clues a PHOBIA. The other theme entries are SPIDER PLANT, SNAKE EYES, STORMTROOPER, FLYING CIRCUS, DIRT CHEAP, and CROWD SOURCE, all clued in fear-free ways.
That’s a lot of theme material, and it’s all interesting and colorful language. This one’s a winner.
- 21a. [They used a calendar called Xiuhpohualli] clues the AZTECS. Not to be confused with the Mayan calendar.
- 6d. [Cause of some 2002-2003 travel warnings] is SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome.
- 9d. You want NANAK for [Guru ___ (founder of Sikhism)].
- 10d. [Animal that says "miau"] is die KATZE, or “cat” in German.
- 61d. [Brazilian greeting] is “OLA!” Better clue than the usual [Pay ending?], isn’t it?
Jeffrey Harris’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Puns and Moons”
You like astronomy and puns? You’re in luck! This puzzle’s theme is puns involving the names of moons in our solar system. A stethyscope yields TETHYS-SCOPE, an [Optical instrument pointed at a moon of Saturn?], for example. The other puns are ARIEL (aerial) VIEWS, CHARON (Karen) CARPENTER (I never knew Charon had a K sound), IO (Eye of) THE TIGER, and DEIMOS (time is) MONEY. That last one was the hardest one for me to figure out the base phrase for—I would have guessed Deimos was pronouned “day-mos” or “dee-mos,” not “die-mos.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard these moons’ names pronounced, and I never studied Greek, so how would I know?
So the theme slowed me down. Or maybe the rest of the puzzle did. Certainly 43a did: [Lamp hider in a Biblical parable] clues BUSHEL, but I took a stab at BETHEL and RACHEL first. And then 47d is familiar-to-crosswords URIS, but the clue got in my way: ["A God in Ruins" novelist] didn’t ring a bell. Plus there’s ALTAMIRA, the 3d: [Cave famously visited by Picasso]; 29a: [Glastonbury ___ (site of St. Michael's Tower)] for TOR; and 30d: [Paul McCartney's first solo single], “ANOTHER DAY,” which I don’t know at all.