Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword
You know how some in the texting population will type “l8r” or “gr8″ instead of “later” and “great”? Patrick riffs on that by swapping in the numeral 8 for the “ate” sound. Here are the nine long 8 answers and their shorter crossings:
- 25a. Conway Twitty becomes CONW*WITTY. 14d is abate/AB8.
- 37a. Wait Until Dark turns into W8 UNTIL DARK. TAILG8 is the 7d crossing.
- 60a. Clever clue for this one. [Repeatedly raised the bar?] clues LIFTED W*S (weights).
- 76a. P8ON PLACE is Peyton Place.
- 99a. Bait and switch becomes B* AND SWITCH, crossing 89d: ST8S.
- 116a. SK*BOARDER evokes Avril Lavigne’s song “Sk8er Boi.” 109d: [Largest employer in Newton, Iowa, until 2006] is Maytag, or the mystifying-looking M8AG.
- 3d. After three trips to NYC this year, I knew [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, in New York City] referred to subway lines, but I’ll be damned if I could figure out how to fit that in. Eventually the HARKS and ANANIAS crossings showed me the way: SUBW8RAIN. The 8 crossing is CR8 (crate).
- 40d. The Late, Late Show gives us the only double-8 answer: THE L8 L8 SHOW.
- 84d. A movie’s RELEASE D8 (date) is a [Movie producer's time of stress]. The 127a crossing is G8ER (gaiter), clued as the sort of [Spat] that covers your ankle and goes above your shoe.
This is a little trickier than your standard rebus theme because you’re replacing a vowel/consonant sound combo with a symbol rather than just squeezing some letters into a box. Did you relish it? I did. (Speaking of relish…GHERKIN is in here at 97d.)
Mystery Answers of the Day:
- 88d: RUBATO is only faintly familiar to me. [With freedom of tempo]? Sure, if you say so. Sounds more like a cigar name to me.
- And this 96a: [Moon of Saturn] called DIONE—with the vowels in place, I plunked in NIOBE but had to change it. DIONE? Did I know that was a moon name?
- I had to laugh when putting 5d in the grid. [Massachusetts industrial city on the Millers River] is ATHOL. We had that in another puzzle not too long ago. Starrett tools are manufactured there, you know, so the town’s nickname is “Tool Town.” And the population is about 11,000 (that ain’t a city!). Yep, I just looked up the same Wikipedia entry I looked at the last time we had ATHOL, MA, in the crossword. Dang, it is time to return to writer Athol Fugard. Also? Do not tell someone, “You’re thuch an Athol.”
- 2d. IGNORANCE is clued as [Bliss, it is said].
Today’s “Hang on, which is it?” Answer:
- 28a: [A whole lot], starts with O…is it OCEANS or OODLES? I always have to wait for the crossings to know. And in the converse, when the clue is synonymous with those and the answer has 4 letters, you never know if it’s going to be A LOT or A TON. Just go A*O* and check the crossings.
- LAWN CHAIR, MR. WIZARD, EPHEMERA, MARY ASTOR, and, of course, WAPITIS.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Tomfoolery”
- 22a. [Tom's favorite song?] is the nonsensical THUMB-WHERE MY LOVE. I don’t know the song, “Somewhere, My Love.”
- 25a. [Encouraging words from Tom?] sound like they should be encouragement for Tom: EWELL GO FAR. I…don’t know who Tom Ewell is. Actor of yore? This one plays on “You will go far.”
- 35a. SEAVER YOURSELF sounds like an obscene command. It’s clued as [Words to a doubting Thomas?] and builds on “see for yourself.”
- 43a. [Like Ida, to Tom?] evokes “Ida, Ida, sweet as apple cider” with SWEET AS APPLE SNYDER. I know who Tom Snyder is, but “apple Snyder” doesn’t read well.
- 65a. Aspirin’s chemical name is acetylsalicylic acid. Everyone knows that, right? Right? [Tom's aspirin?] clues ACETYLSALI-SELLECK ACID. I like this for its go-for-broke lunacy and its easiness for those who know their drug names.
- 80a. [Classified comment from Tom?] clues SAWYER (saw your) AD IN THE PAPER.
- 94a. [Blazed a trail à la Tom?] clues BROKAW (broke all) THE RULES. I have never Brokawed anything. If bogart can be a verb, why not brokaw? Definitions, please.
- 106a. [With 111 Across, Tom's favorite song lyric?] is BOSLEY (parsley), SAGE, ROSEMARY, AND THYME. I like this because (a) Tom Bosley played Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days and later went on to play a priest-detective, and don’t you wish you’d been in the room when the studio green-lit that concept? and (b) I forgot what (b) was. Maybe just the Bosley/parsley swap.
And now, a handful of other clues and comments:
- 89d. FRIVOLS is a [Back-formed word meaning "wastes time"], a back-formation from “frivolous.” This word dates back to the 1800s.
- 29a. [Asexual life form] clues ZOOID. “Come on, don’t be such a ZOOID. Let’s go out and meet some cute guys.”
- 3d. The FREE ZONE is a [Port area where goods are not subject to taxes]. Makes sense, but isn’t familiar to me. I don’t hang out in ports much.
- 71a. [Tyre center] looks like a clue seeking a word that means “the center of a car tire, in British English,” but no, that’s completely the wrong track. It’s LEBANON, but it’s weird to clue it this way. Would you clue USA as [Washington center]? You should read a bit about Tyre and its history. Did you know it was founded nearly 5,000 years ago? That is old.
Paula Gamache’s second Sunday New York Times puzzle, “Diagramless”
The theme in this diagramless crossword is hidden SPAS. Now, why would anyone need to hide a SPA? And wouldn’t it be insane if the hidden SPAs in this puzzle had been squeezed into rebus squares? Maybe Brendan Quigley can make a rebus diagramless for his blog.
Anyway, the SPAs are found in CAT’S PAJAMAS, HITS PAY DIRT, JACK SPARROW, SPORTS PAGES, ESTES PARK, and ASPARAGUS.
One obscure word struck me: STRAKE, the [Continuous course of planks on a ship]. And this EBEN, ["30 Days of Night" sheriff ___ Oleson]? Complete unknown to me.
There were a number of decent clues. My favorites:
- [Places to find scores] are the SPORTS PAGES. Scores are things like “Wisconsin 31, OSU 18.”
- [Part of a pyramid scheme?] is a TOMB. Did you know that King Tut’s tomb, KV62, was found beneath the remains of workers’ huts. The Pyramids of Giza were built to house pharaohs’ remains, but Tutankhamen was elsewhere.
[Kerosene] clues LAMP OIL and the word “oil” lurks also in the SESAME clue, [Oil-rich seed]. Anyone else thinking about kerosene-flavored hummus?
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review
- GLOSSY MAGAZINES is probably my least favorite of the four. Aren’t most magazines “glossy,” particular those found in a “Checkout counter lineup”? Most of my time on this puzzle was spent after getting the initial G and not guessing the rest before MAGAZINES…are they GLITZY, GUILTY, GREASY or GROOVY? The tough crossing Y in the unusual (to me, anyway) KAYOED didn’t help. (I’d bet KOED shows up more frequently, but both seem odd–if you’re just back from a Halloween prank, can you be said to have just TPED a house, or is that TEEPEED?)
- “Like new” fits IN MINT CONDITION like a glove. Great entry.
- Other than its alliterative appeal, “Flying Fortress feature” seems an odd clue for INSTRUMENT PANEL. Why choose the B-17 Bomber and not what Sulu sat in front of on the USS Enterprise, or any other vessel for that matter?
- The scrabbly BYZANTINE EMPIRE (do you think they played Scrabble there?), led by Roman Emperor and Saint (who else can lay claim to both of those titles?) Constantine the Great in the early fourth century completes the quartet. I see here that he is venerated as “equal to the apostles” (isapostolos) by the Catholic Churches of the Eastern rite.
Couple of small missteps–I had PBA (Pro Bowler’s Assn.) for AMF (“Big letters in alleys”); I’m guessing the latter is the company that makes the lane equipment and balls? Also, went through ZIP and POP before landing on PEP for “Gusto”; same thing happened with SSR before DDE for “Cold War monogram.” (In retrospect, only people have monograms, not satellite republics, right?) Finally, have to finish with one of our favorite hostesses of prime-time TV, HEIDI KLUM, whose “likeness was used for a 2009 Barbie doll.” Here’s a picture of Heidi before and after the Mattel artists were done with her:
Henry Hook’s Boston Globe Crossword, “Puckish” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Holy Zamboni, Batman! Our theme this week features nine phrases beginning with National Hockey League team names, though each of them uses the singular form of the team name instead of the traditional plural form. Interestingly, the entries are clued without any reference to hockey, so some solvers might be flummoxed in grasping the theme. I’m guessing HH wanted that extra layer of elusiveness, as it would have been fairly easy to clue the entries with some overt references to hockey.
Before we march through the theme entries, however, let’s pause for a moment to admire the unusual grid. The arrangement of black squares in the middle of the grid resembles the meteorological symbol for a hurricane. Could this be a subtle reference to the Carolina Hurricanes? Or perhaps a tribute to the old Screen Gems television studio? Even if it’s entirely a coincidental byproduct of the construction, it’s an attractive look.
Okay, the scenic detour’s over—back to our usual format. Here are the theme entries:
- [Easygoing] clues DEVIL MAY CARE, featuring the New Jersey Devils. This could have been clued along the lines of [Easygoing New Jersey player?] to make the theme a little more overt. Do you like the subtle approach better?
- One who is [Extremely exasperated] may be BLUE IN THE FACE. The NHL reference here is to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have never won a conference championship, much less the Stanley Cup, so perhaps this is an apt description of their fan base.
- STAR-CROSSED means [Ill-fated], and the Dallas Stars are America’s Team. Oops, wrong Dallas organization. Good thing for this puzzle that the owners of the Minnesota North Stars dropped the directional indicator from the team’s name shortly before it relocated to Texas. It stands to reason that an ice hockey team would move from Minnesota to Texas, right? Texas and ice hockey are practically synonymous.
- The [2001 Ridley Scott movie] is the critically acclaimed BLACK HAWK DOWN. Based only on “Like” votes from Facebook, the Chicago Blackhawks are the real America’s Team. Nitpickers might point out that the hockey team spells “Blackhawk” as a single word while the movie uses two words, but that’s a microscopic nit in my book.
- The [Anti-nuke advice] sought here is not “Don’t build them in the first place,” but DUCK AND COVER, based on the Anaheim Ducks. They used to be Mighty Ducks, but now they’re a little softer. In their case, the change to a cleaner image helped—they won the Stanley Cup in the first year of the new name. It hasn’t been quite the same in Major League Baseball. The exorcism that morphed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays into the more saintly Tampa Bay Rays has caused their attendance to suffer despite being among the best AL’ers playing today.
- The [Saloon-based 2000 film] is COYOTE UGLY, the Piper Perabo vehicle. If you don’t know Piper Perabo, I suppose that proves the success of this particular vehicle. I, for one (and indeed I may be the only one), enjoyed the film. The NHL team, by the way, is the Phoenix Coyotes.
- The [Biggies in the publishing biz?] would be CAPITAL LETTERS, an homage to the Washington Capitals. Didn’t they used to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters all the time? (I look forward to your comments.)
- [Like asbestos, e.g.] clues FLAME RETARDANT, a reference to the Calgary Flames. Alas, FLAME RESISTANT fit nicely here for the longest time.
- Finally, the [Dangerous venues] are SHARK TANKS, a play on the San Jose Sharks. The law school building where I teach features a brick-and-glass exterior. From most angles, the glass far exceeds the brick, so the nickname of the building on campus is The Shark Tank. It may demean my profession, but I think it’s a cool and oddly affectionate nickname.
That’s nine teams from five of the league’s six divisions. It might have been nice to have all of the divisions represented, though the Ottawa Senators might be the only team in the Northeast Division that would lend themselves to a suitable theme entry, and even then it would probably be a bit strained.
As icing on the cake (ha!), Hook even offers a couple more hockey terms in the grid: we have the Houston AEROS and DEKED, clued as [Faked-out, in hockey]. There’s also some really terrific fill here, with TEDDY BEAR, MALEFIC, and GUESSWORK among the many highlights.
I had great fun with the [Treacherous type], when I wondered for just a half-second whether it could be that other word that rhymes with the correct answer, DASTARD. Oh how I wish the [Belafonte song opener] had been BAY-O. I know I’m in the minority on this, but the eight-letter partial, BUREAU OF, didn’t bother me in the slightest.
As we have come to expect, there are some wonderfully, well, malefic clues here too. [Dead center?] is a fun reference to TOMBS, and I fell into the trap set by [Kong preceder], confidently plunking KING down in a grid that ultimately wanted HONG. Other clues, while not very tricky, were really clever, like [Parting gift?] for COMB, [Late-braking development] for SKID (I overlooked the spelling the first time I read the clue), and [Long lunch?] for HERO. Small shout out to [Multitasks, maybe] as a fresh and lively clue for JUGGLES.
Time for this week’s installment of Brushes with Lame, an enumeration of several of the items that were new to me.
- As a former Arizonan, I like my clues for ARI to refer to The Grand Canyon State. Clues based on Aristotle Onassis or Ari Fleischer are an okay substitute, and I have begrudgingly come to accept references to the character on “Entourage,” though I have never seen an episode of the show. But this one? [Actress Nicole ___ Parker]? Well, I’ve never heard of her, but is this obscure? Let’s do a Google search together to find out. I type “Nicole” and before I hit return I get suggestions of Scherzinger, Miller, Kidman, and Anderson. Only the latter is unfamiliar to me, apparently because I actively avoid most things remotely associated with the Jonas Brothers. I add a space and the letter “A” and Google is practically convinced I’m after Nicole Anderson. Um, Google, don’t you store enough information about me based on prior searches to know that I’m really not after Nicole Anderson? Anyway, I type the “R” and now it wants me to check out someone named Nicole Aragi. Only after I get all of “Nicole Ari” into the search field do I get a mention of Nicole Ari Parker. She starred on the Showtime series “Soul Food” and hasn’t been seen much since. I’m sure she’s a fine actress, and the fact that she’s not more famous is hardly her fault. I’m not picking on her, at least that’s not my intent. My point is only that this seems to be a bit far-reaching as a fresh clue for a common term.
- The [Late-1970s Broadway show] is EUBIE! I’m not excited—the exclamation point is part of the muscial’s title. It appears to be a tribute to ragtime composer Eubie Blake. Reviewing a listing of his works, it looks like my favorite tune of his is “I’m Just Wild About Harry.”
- A DAY is hardly complicated fill, but when it’s given a “WTF?” clue like [Diurnally] it becomes pretty hard to suss out. “A Malus domestica diurnally alleviates the necessity of making appointments with a treating physician.”
- I’m seriously kicking myself over this one. [Prohias’ adversaries] are SPIES. After figuring it had to be SPIES thanks to the crossings, the following conversation with myself ensued:
Me: Who are the Prohiases, anyway, and what did they do to attract spies?
Myself: Well, does “Prohias” mean anything to you?
Me: Not really. The name kinda looks the same as the Mad Magazine guy who drew “Spy v. Spy.”
Myself: Think about it, Sam.
Me: Oh. I’m an idiot.
Myself: No argument here.
- ROTL is a [Mediterranean weight unit]? I’m, like, so ROTFL now.
- To [Whine] is to PULE. I knew this from prior crosswords, but I added it here because I did not know how to pronounce it. Turns out it rhymes with “mule,” not with “pool,” “pulley,” or actor “Dule” Hill.
- I like that there was a [2000 Ivins books about the President] and his (then) short political career called SHRUB instead of Bush.
Hey, I just realized that our next HH offering will appear on Halloween. Given the six-week lag between the date the puzzles originally run and when we get access to them, it most surely will not have a Halloween theme. But we can still expect it to have both tricks and treats galore.
Julian Lim’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “I Have a Weird Feeling…”
Alas, the clue for MIXED EMOTIONS references circled letters that, for whatever technical reason, didn’t make it into the online/Across Lite versions of the puzzle. Each of the theme answers contains a chunk of letters that are a “mixed emotion”—a scrambled-up bunch of letters that can be anagrammed into a feeling. Without the circles pointing us to the right batch of letters, though, the after-puzzle challenge of figuring out the feelings was a bit of a slog. I didn’t find them all myself—I got two more from PuzzleGirl’s L.A. Crossword Confidential post and comments, and learning that there was a feeling in POLE VAULT sent me to find JOY in BILLY JOEL, which I had not done since the 1980s. I added the circles to my answer grid.
The theme entries are as follows (I think):
- 22a. ["The Age of Turbulence" memoirist] is ALAN GREENSPAN, suffused with muddled ANGER. The book title doesn’t ring a bell at all.
- 29a. A [Still in Hollywood] is a FREEZE FRAME full of FEAR.
- 32a. [Event with a "six metres club"] is the POLE VAULT of LOVE.
- 45a. [Treaty of Paris conflict, 1763] is THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR with ENVY.
- 59a. The INSANITY PLEA is a [Defense strategy that's not an option in some states]. ‘Tis a PITY.
- 71a. The TABLOID PRESS are [Scandalmongers, often], with the sin of PRIDE.
- 83a. [Nintendo game that involves rescuing a princess] is THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, and I can’t tell you how long I spent scanning chunks of this answer trying to find a scrambled emotion. GLEE, apparently.
- 92a. ["It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" performer] is BILLY JOEL, with JOY.
- 94a. [Common cell] is a MOBILE PHONE, full of HOPE.
- 109a. [Conflict, and a hint to unraveling the puzzle's circled letters] clues MIXED EMOTIONS.
I’m not sure how much more satisfying this theme would have been if I’d had the circled letters from the start. I do prefer anagrams that make other words, whereas emotions mixed up into random jumbles of letters are fairly arbitrary. Nothing else links the theme answers together, but at least they’re a fairly lively batch of entries.
Mike Shenk’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 28″
Clues and answers that caught my eye:
- 1a. [Number of primes that are 4-Down] clues ALMOST ALL, 4d being ODD. The number 2 is the only even prime number.
- 17a. [Self promoter] is CONDE NAST, which promotes Self and the other magazines it publishes. Allow me to promote Elle instead—the current issue has Gabourey Sidibe on the cover. Fashion magazines don’t give much cover space to the plushy women. Hell, fashion magazines don’t go much beyond size 4 women.
- 20a. PEPTIDE just caught my eye in the grid. An [Endorphin, e.g.] is a peptide. What caught my eye is that I mentally split the word into two parts, and I wasn’t sure if a PEP TIDE was closer to a PEP TALK or an EBB TIDE.
- 23a. [Pass out facedown] is a great clue! When you DEAL cards, you pass them out face down; being in the gutter or under the table is totally optional. I don’t think “facedown” is one word, though.
- 34a. [Art of acting] isn’t the actor’s craft, it’s actor Art CARNEY. Great clue.
- 40a. ROBOTS wasn’t working with the crossings, but [Droids, e.g.] are also cell PHONES. I should know—I have a Droid!
- 49a. [Ganzfeld experiment subj.] is ESP. Anyone else here never hear of Ganzfeld before?
- 62a. [It includes Nouvelle-Angleterre] clues les ETATS-UNIS. “New England” and “United States” in French.
- 64a. Your keyboard’s DELETE KEY? [It could lead to a reduced sentence].
- 1d. [Centipede setting] references the old-school video game at the ARCADE.
- 21d. [War losers, usually] are DEUCES, as in the two of clubs and two of hearts being low cards in the game of War.
- 33d. The DESOTO is an old [Car with a conquistador hood ornament]. Cool trivia.
- 36d. For [Start of a line attributed to Louis XV], I was trying to figure out how to fit L’ETAT, C’EST MOI in there. It’s “APRES MOI, le deluge,” though.
- 37d. I needed a zillion crossings to figure out that [Inspector Teal's adversary] is THE SAINT. Never saw/read any of that.
- 48d. [It may make a church cross] clues HERESY. I’m a big fan of heresy, personally.
- 58d. [Burns's pub patron] is TAM. No idea what this one’s about. A Robert Burns poem about a Scottish guy named after a Scottish hat going to the pub?