Oliver Hill and Eliza Bagg’s New York Times crossword
The theme clue correctly includes the word “reputedly” rather than attributing the theme concept to George Bernard Shaw without reservation. Lexicographer Ben Zimmer (who now writes the “On Language” column for the NYT) is a master at “antedating”—the art of ferreting out the earliest recorded use of a word or phrase. A couple years ago, he tackled this GHOTI/Shaw business and concluded that an 1855 letter documenting the GHOTI play on spelling preceded GBS (who was born in 1856). Be sure to click through to that blog post—Ben also provides similar respellings from 1845.
With that out of the way—I was captivated by this GHOTI the first time I saw it as a kid. I found it as entertaining as giving people misleading spelling cues: “Z as in zeitgeist, E as in long-I either, K as in knight….” You could conceivably pronounce 30d: GHOTI as ["Fish"] if you used THE GH FROM ENOUGH, THE O FROM WOMEN, and THE TI FROM NATION.
Highlights in the fill, mainly in the clues:
- 4a. The HOMER clue is lovely: [Originator of the phrase "rosy-fingered dawn"]. Anyone know the original Greek form of that phrase?
- 29a. This clue stymied me until, finally, it didn’t: [They're usually white or brown] refers to EGGS. I know someone whose backyard chickens occasionally lay blue eggs.
- 52a. [Lion's home] isn’t DEN-something, it’s DETROIT, home of the Detroit Lions football team. I was duped by the clue.
- 1d. [Panama and Suez], 6 letters? Oh, that’s a snap: CANALS. Except when the answer turns out to be ISTHMI. I like a good plausible-wrong-answer trap.
- 11d. BOUTIQUE! Great entry. Anyone else now contemplating a country portmanteau theme with DJIBOUTIQUE?
- 13d. Great clue for ASH: [Memento from an old flame?].
- 35d. AMHERST College, good fill.
- 43d. I like “FERRET out” as a verb. We need more small-mammal verbs! Doggin’ it, tomcatting around, badgering…why don’t we vole, mink, or stoat?
- Well, I’m not wild about weird plurals (IDAS), a surfeit of abbreviations (QED, ETD, REG, KOS, TERR, MGR), partials (SEE NO), prefixes (OSTEO, NEO), crosswordese (FIEF, AGAR), a Roman numeral (MDI), the awkwardly inflected TEHEED and ZONER, and the tic-tac-toe OOO.
Good to see another debut from a female constructor! Oliver’s a student so I’ll bet Eliza is too. I like fresh blood coming into crosswords. The more teens and 20-somethings who get into crosswords—both solving them and making them—the brighter the future of crosswords is.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Seasonal Puns
- 20A. [Seasonal cheeses?] – SUMMER BRIES. Two groans.
- 59A. [Seasonal seasoning?] – WINTER THYME. Two groans.
- 11D. [Seasonal smoked salmon?] – SPRING LOX. Two groans.
- 35D. [Seasonal costume?] – FALL GUISE. Three groans.
One-line review for those in a hurry: Lampkin is everywhere lately, this time with a whole year of puns.
- 1A. [Ptolemaic constellation that is now divided into Carina (the keel), Puppis (the poop deck) and Vela (the sails)] – ARGO. I’m pooped just reading this clue.
- 10A. [Exxon forerunner] – ESSO. Not here. Canada is an Exxon-free country.
- 15A. [Grade leader?] – CENTI. We call it Celsius.
- 23A. [Place purveying potent pints] – INN. Too bad the answer doesn’t start with “P.”
- 25A. [Miller's salesman] – LOMAN. Willy. I think he died.
- 30A. [Fried chicken piece] – NUGGET. Ah, the unknown part of a chicken.
- 40A. [Fuming] – IN A HUFF. Never ask someone if they are IN A HUFF. Don’t ask how I know.
- 42A. [Sitcom planet] – ORK. Nanu, nanu!
- 43A. [Pooped] – ALL IN. Turning into a poop puzzle.
- 45A. [Con __: briskly, on scores] – MOTO. No idea, missed the T, looks obvious in retrospect.
- 64A. ["__ under pressure": guts, to Hemingway] – GRACE
- 67A. [Retirement plans, informally] – ROTHS
- 68A. [New kids' block since 1958] – LEGO
- 70A. ["Cats" poet] – ELIOT
- 3D. [Kind of ray emitted by a supernova] – GAMMA. It will give you superpowers.
- 5D. [Venomous arachnid] – SCORPION. You never see “friendly arachnid.” Except maybe Charlotte.
- 29D. [Seasonal rooftop noises?] – HO HO’S. It looks like a theme answer, but it’s not! Psych!
- 34D. [One-time pal of Baker and Charlie?] – ABLE. Ousted by Alpha?
- 37D. [Pianist Laredo] – RUTH. No idea, missed the T, looks obvious in retrospect. A better clue would have been [My mother’s name].
- 44D. ["At Seventeen" singer Janis] – IAN
- 54D. [Tippecanoe's partner, in an 1840 campaign] – TYLER. Harrison. Were they the ones who wanted to take over Canada? If so, boo!
- 57D. [Saint with a fire] – ELMO
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Eh? Eh?” – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Ben comes to Canada.
One-line review for those in a hurry: How’s it going, eh? Like, this is what happens when a hoser like Ben Tausig talks Canadian-like, eh? Where’s my Molson’s? Whadda you mean this is more than one line? You think I can’t count to one? One! See? You hoser! Let’s play our Christmas song, eh? Beer!
- 17A. [Sites for fly-fishing sausage parties?] – MALE BROOKS (Mel Brooks). 15-Oy!-10!
- 25A. [Stack of cash in a bondsman's office?] – BAIL TOWER (Belltower)
- 38A/49A. [Shout from a millennialist Benjamin Moore?] – REPAINT FOR THE END IS NEAR (repent for the end is near)
- 58A. [Lingerie shop motto?] – LACE IS MORE (less is more)
- 1A. [Home of the metal band Acrassicauda] – IRAQ. I messed up the NW real bad.
- 5A. [Things on a cat's penis] – BARBS. Really?
- 10A. [Tiara-wearing man who's not entirely comfortable with homosexuality] – POPE.
- 14A. [Defender of NAMBLA] – ACLU. The what? Ew! Google it yourself.
- 15A. [Mims' "This is Why ___"] – I’M HOT
- 16A. [Sex column topic] – ANAL.
- 22A. [Former Homeland Security honcho Tom] – RIDGE. I put DELAY. Is he someone? How are we way up north supposed to know? Eh?
- 31A. [Personals ad abbr.] – NSA. I am the wrong person to blog this puzzle. Quick, a Disney clip to cleanse us!
- 48A. [The ___ War (1932 Australian military/wildlife control effort)] – EMU. Did the EMUs win?
- 51A. [Like Elvis, later on] – OBESE
- 65A. [Buxom Betty] – BOOP
- 1D. [Final words of a Cartesian statement] – I AM
- 7D. ["The Mary Tyler Moore Show" spinoff] – RHODA. Also Lou Grant, Phyllis and Garfield the Cat. (Quick quiz – explain the connection in that last one. Free 2011 subscription to Crossword Fiend for the first correct answer in the comments.)
- 10D. [He played Kesuke Miyagi] – PAT MORITA. Arnold! Ayyyyyy!! Ehhhhhhhh!!!
- 11D. [Words before a round of rock, paper, scissors] – ONE, TWO, THREE. Strangely cool entry.
- 24D. [Small-time restaurant crime] – DINE AND DASH. That doesn’t sound very nice.
- 26D. ["Time ___ the essence"] – IS OF. I am blogging as fast as I can.
- 32D. [City for a great bowl of pho] – SAIGON
- 40D. [What Kraftwerk appeared as, in concert] – ROBOTS
- 62D. [Post-tryst brand] – EPT. European Poker Tour. Make up your own joke, eh?
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Addition”—Janie’s review
This is one title that couldn’t be more literal if it tried. What are we asked to do today? Add “ITION” to the ends of three familiar phrases. This gives us three new phrases of the whimsical sort—that are clued in a fittingly whimsical way as well.
20A. [Gathering of Elvis impersonators?] KING COALITION. King Coal is the title of an Upton Sinclair novel, and it’s said that King Coal : the mining industry :: The Jungle (also Sinclair) : the meat-packing industry. King coalitions happen all the time it seems. Hollywood included one in Honeymoon in Las Vegas—tagline: “A comedy about one bride, two grooms, and 34 flying Elvises.”
38A. [Request to watch a Hugh Laurie show?] HOUSE PETITION. Now in its seventh season, on network and cable. While I don’t consider myself a fan of the show, I’ve managed to get hooked by it more than once (the cable re-runs). Not a lot of variation in the dynamic from episode to episode. Ah, well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, eh?
57A. [Ms. magazine competitor?] MISTER EDITION. The utter silliness of this one makes me laugh. Could be there’s a feature story on Wilbur….
There isn’t lots of long fill today, but the symmetrically placed BRONX ZOO [Tell-all baseball book about the Yankees, with "The"] and “OH, COME ON!” ["Give me a break!"] are mighty fine specimens. And structurally speaking, I do like those triple 6-columns NW and SE.
Names. We get a lotta names: Al PACINO [Don Corleone portrayer] (a/k/a Don Michael Corleone), [Author John] DOS [Passos], [Satirist Mort] SAHL, HANK [Country singer Williams], IDA [Actress Lupino], TOMEI [Marisa of "What Women Want"] (and more recently of the kinda-kinky Cyrus…), ETHAN [Allen of the Green Mountain Boys], and ELIA ["On the Waterfront" director Kazan].
Once again we have kind of a pile up of repeat fill. A three-peat, in fact, all from yesterday by way of “I DIG,” ALEE and ET AL. Fortunately they all come with new clues.
Had more fun with some of the other clues, and count among my faves the tricky (literal) “letter” pair—[Start to snow?] and [Capital of Zimbabwe?] for ESS and ZEE. Then, because you can take the girl outta Baw’mer, but you can’t take the Baw’mer outta the girl, I of course had great fondness for [Pimlico advice] and [Camden Yards player] for TIP and ORIOLE. Pimlico, by way of reminder, is the Baltimore racetrack where the Preakness Stakes (the second “jewel” in the Triple Crown) is run.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Merry Christmas”
For TOY SPANIEL, TOY is topped by an OAK. MAPLE sits mostly atop the SWEATER in SWEATER GIRL. OFF THE BOOKS places those new BOOKS under a PINE. The book ENDER’S GAME has an ELDER atop the GAME. Themes like this usually take a while to notice. I think they’re wickedly tough to pull off, which is why we don’t see a ton of stacked themes.
SQUEEGEE is a great answer, isn’t it? I’m less enamored of the overall fill, with the thematic constraints pushing for plenty of ugly 3s and 4s: RGS, INT, AHH, EINE, ETUI, ELLO, ASA, AVIA, ECOL, ETS, EVAC, SDI, HRE, DER, and the bonus ugly 5, RUERS.
With the initial E in place for 36a: [Holder of combs, perfumes, etc.], do you know what my first thought was? U.S. Attorney General ERIC Holder. In my head, the capital-H Holder has quickly moved from “thing that holds something” to Eric. And no, I don’t know how my head was justifying the combs and perfumes part.