Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword
Did this puzzle take you a little longer than expected? That’s because the grid’s one column wider than usual, 16×15. And because the theme is not very useful in figuring out tough answers unless you take the time to count up every occurrence of a given letter in the grid—the QUADRUPLE PANGRAM theme means that each letter of the alphabet appears at least four times in the grid. (Vowels and common consonants show up extra times.) It’s a significant constraint on the constructor, which is why there’s no discrete theme entry apart from 43a. I’m guessing this feat has never been done before, at least not with passable fill and an explanatory entry.
As far as stunt puzzles go, this one was not my favorite—but also not packed with irksome fill, so it gets a modest thumbs-up for enjoyment.
I inadvertently plunked in USMA (US Military Academy) instead of USMC (US Marine Corps) at 73a, and let the [WW II group] fly as WAAS until the applet hollered at me and I fixed the WACS.
I also hit the skids with 61a: [Some child-care center sites, for short]. Y*CAS really has just two possibilities but I blanked on the YWCAS option despite a friend having worked there until recently. Another friend’s kid is in day care at the YMCA, which gave me a brain block. 62d: [Abraded] makes me think of bloody scrapes rather than general wear and tear, so WORE wasn’t coming to mind.
Peter tipped his hand in the 1-Across corner, where AJAX, LUXE, and XBOX provided four Xs right off the bat. I figured there would be a connect-the-Xs picture or something, but the four Xs soon enough tied themselves to the QUADRUPLE PANGRAM. I wonder how many solvers will be flipping to the O section of the dictionary to find out what “orthographically” means. [What this puzzle is, orthographically] hinges not on the “conventional spelling system” aspect of orthography but rather, “the study of spelling and how letters combine to represent sounds and form words.” Wait, no, that’s not at all what the pangram involves. Would “letter-wise” better reflect the meaning?
- “WHOA! WHOA!” as a unit, ZEKE as Isiah Thomas’s nickname (how did I not know this, when my own nickname in college was Zeke?), the [Hypothetical fundamental particle] called an AXION (never heard of it, I don’t think), SUGARING as a verb.
Things that would have stumped me, had I not learnt them from crosswords:
- ADZ, YAZ, TUP, AALTO, INEZ, AKIM, AQABA.
- AGGRO ([Annoyance, in British slang]), FRIZZ, KOOKY, DAZZLING, SQUAWK, “HEY, KID,” and the non-Onion A.V. CLUB.
John Doppler Schiff’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
- 17A. [Marx as a Druid?] – CELTIC HARP-O
- 55A. [Well-dressed Swedish actress?] – FORMAL GARB-O
- 11D. [Godfather portrayer turned shop owner?] – STORE BRAND-O
- 25D. [Beatle in a bout?] – BOXING RING-O
- 47D. [Its southern border is about seven times longer than its northern one] – IDAH-O
This one was a struggle for me. Stopped and started all over the place. The NW was the biggest problem, as I put NEW COST for 4 down and couldn’t see CELTIC for the longest time.
- 15A. [Lunch hr. end, often] – ONE PM. I like to take an early lunch, at 11 or 11:30 so NOON would be my answer here.
- 21A. [Chants of a lifetime?] – MANTRAS. One in a Million Clue?
- 23A. [Works] – LABORS. I want my “U” in labours.
- 29A. [Built up charges] – RAN A TAB. Pay up already!
- 31A. [Parts of personal music libraries] – MIX TAPES. I don’t think of this as a thing.
- 37A. [First rabies vaccine creator] – PASTEUR. Louis was a busy guy, what with creating milk and all.
- 40A. [Classic breath freshener] – SENSEN. Fresh number puzzle – SENSEN KEN KEN.
- 42A. [Certain counter’s woe] – INSOMNIA. Counting sheep. Does that really work? I count Sudoku rows. At least up to nine.
- 51A. [Question of advisability] – DO I DARE? Yoda’s response – Dare I do.
- 53A. [There are pins at the end of one] – LANE. Bowling. Does anyone still bowl?
- 61A. [Bullwinkle nemesis] – BORIS. Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! 62A. [Stravinsky and a lab assistant] – IGORS. I’m always scared when I see Stravinsky’s monster.
- 4D. [Discounted price] – NET COST. I wish I knew about financial stuff.
- 5D. [Antonius Block’s chess opponent in Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”] – GRIM REAPER. My favourite GRIM REAPER (and yes, I have one) is Death in “The Sandman” comics.
- 9D. [Paraphernalia] – APPARATUS. I wanted APPARELLL. That’s just wrong on so many levels.
- 10D. [“That’s my cue!”] – I MON. I sing Reggae.
- 30D. [Not charging for] – THROWING IN. I got an IPad thrown in with my new car. Yes, I picked a car for the accompanying puzzle solving device. It hasn’t come yet (The IPad; got the car).
- 32D. [Safe place with a counterintuitive name] – PANIC ROOM. If I don’t have enough room, I panic.
- 43D. [Distance on a tank] – MILEAGE. We do not call it kilometerage in Canada.
- 52D. [HQs for B-2s] – AFBS. Ths answr is mssng stf. [spellcheckers have no sense of humour]
- 58D. [Grille cover] – BRA. On a car. What were you thinking? Sheesh!
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Quiet Start”—Jeffrey’s review
- 17A. [Article with mall tips?] – SHOP-ED PIECE
- 27A. [“The broth is finished!”?] – SHOUT OF STOCK
- 48A. [Using the wrong aperture?] – SHUTTER FOLLY
- 64A. [Marketing sector dedicated to women?] – SHE COMMERCE
Nothing laugh-out-loud funny to me.
- 1A. [Updates a blog] – POSTS. I knew this right away! Amazing!
- 6A. [Does jack] – LOAFS
- 11A. [Pronto] – PDQ
- 14A. [___’s Razor (philosophical law of simplicity)] – OCCAM. Look for the easiest solution.
- 16A. [Nation that finished fourth in the 2010 World Cup: Abbr.] – URUguay
- 19A. [Miss Piggy, to Miss Piggy] – MOI
- 21A. [“You break it by saying its name,” e.g.] – RIDDLE. Hint to the answer – SH
- 23A. [Richards with a short-lived reality series] – DENISE. Cliff? Michael? Can’t be Mary. Her show about working in a TV news office lasted a long time. (Quiet pain – SHOW)
- 25A. [Place for a spacer] – LOBE. An ear thing, I’m guessing.
- 36A. [Soul singers often rocked it] – FRO. Huh? [Added 10 minutes later – oh! ‘Fro. As in Afro. Never mind.]
- 37A. [One of the writers of “Boom Boom Pow“] – FERGIE
- 38A. [Remini and Rabin] – LEAHS
- 40A. [Like many blues songs] – IN E. Again, where is the list of these?
- 42A. [Biker’s head cover] – DO RAG. A helmet would be safer.
- 43A. [“To life!,” to Jews] – L’CHAIM!
- 45A. [“I, like, can’t believe it”] – OMG. She’s a Valley Girl!
- 51A. [Knight associated with some 2Pac rumors] – SUGE. Ted Knight? I am too old for this puzzle.
- 69A. [“Only You” band, in the U.S.] – YAZ
- 5D. [Soviet agcy. in 007 movies] – SMERSH. Together, let’s all say SMERSH!
- 7D. [“The Art of Love” poet] – OVID. This must be after my time.
- 8D. [He played Sal Frangione in “Do the Right Thing”] – AIELLO. Danny, buy a consonant!
- 9D. [Opening routine, when the game is on ice] – FACE-OFF. Hockey to the rescue.
- 12D. [Cardiac surgeon who is a best-selling author] – DR OZ. A wizard of a guy.
- 13D. [Facebook time-waster] – QUIZ. Sporcle is the way to go.
- 24D. [“Says who?”] – IS THAT SO? My response to half of these answers.
- 26D. [Blew hot air] – BS’ED
- 50D. [Lumberjacks, casually] – LOG MEN. By casually we mean only in puzzles.
- 54D. [Start of a magic phrase] – HOCUS. The entire phrase is HOCUS CADABRA.
- 61D. [Loughlin who played Jesse’s wife on “Full House”] – LORI. I liked her, but not the show.
Updated Thursday morning:
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “You’ve Got to Admit It”—Janie’s review
- 17A. sting like a bee → SITTING LIKE A BEE [Hanging around and enjoying some nectar, perhaps?]. Funny image in that clue. I thought it might have something to do with the Greek gods, but no. Gives us instead a whole new slant on b-bars…
- 27A. Cy Young → CITY YOUNG [Metropolitan kids?]. Nice how the theme phrase and and base phrase have nothing to do with one another. But what a phenomenon—the magazine specifically geared towards urban kids. Lotto cities have ’em, so apparently they’re a boon to kids and their parents, too.
- 44A. rat trap → RAITT TRAP [Snare for singer Bonnie?]. Hmmm. Guess that’s more “love sneakin’ up on [her]”…
- 58A. Santa Ana winds → SANTA ANITA WINDS [Conditions at a California horse track?]. One does want to take them into account. Especially if they include Santa Ana winds…
There’s something likable and lively, too, in the non-theme fill and clues: ZIP DRIVE adds some zip; GET SMART is smart, especially with [Sitcom with 86 and 99] as its clue. COGNAC [Fine brandy] does tend to conjure up Courvoisier, SNL’s Tim Meadows and “The Ladies Man.” [Devil, in Durango] may have us seeing red as it gives us DIABLO; and I was amused to see that the [Reptile house denizen] was neither a swift moving (possibly threatening looking) LIZARD nor IGUANA but a more plodding (and usually more “benign”) TURTLE. Why didn’t I think twice before entering TIARAS as those [Pieces for dress-up princesses]? This combo, too, feels very strong visually—and SCEPTERS just wasn’t gonna make it.
We get some gradations of timeliness with both ASAP [Right away] and SOON [Anon].
SNORKEL shows up today not as a verb but in its noun form, [Underwater breathing apparatus]. If you plan to use one, just make sure it’s on your own time or, at the very least, be careful if you decided to take a SICK DAY [Brief time off from work] to play hooky!
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “TSA Screening”
- 17a. PAT SOUNDS doesn’t really get a laugh. Plays on the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.
- 19a. No idea what DOUBLE TOUCH is playing on. Double Dutch?
- 35a. SOUR GROPES builds on “sour grapes,” but I don’t know that groping can be sour.
- 52a. An Oriental rug becomes ORIENTAL RUB, but I’m not a fan of applying “Oriental” to Asian people these days.
- 57a. Veal Oscar -> FEEL OSCAR.
The grid’s a skinny 14×15 so that even-number-of-letters SOUR GROPES can occupy the middle. Brendan was kind enough to donate that 15th column to Peter Wentz for his NYT puzzle. This is one of the fundamental laws of crossword physics, the preservation of rows.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 33”
CHACHI / ARCOLA for a ’70s pop-culture one-two; CLUB PENGUIN, which, thankfully, my kid is a little old for but his cousins love it; the brave CORAZON AQUINO; the classic CALVIN AND HOBBES; less brave PARIS HILTON, still a good full-name entry. Also like the non-S plural CHERUBIM.
Never knew there was an ASHKENAZ in the Bible. Never, ever heard of watchmaker ICETEK; wow, they’ve got some garish designs.