Hey! The ACPT is mere days away. The charming and delightful SethG will hold down the fort whilst the rest of the Fiend blogging team carouses at the tournament and schmoozes over dinner. I’m glad that the tournament’s moved back into March to maximize that spring break binge vibe.
Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword
This is one of those themes most of you are enchanted by, but that leaves me sort of cold on account of not fully understanding all this business of notes and keys and whatnot. I can recognize, though, the incredibleness of that string of circled letters representing the notes of ODE TO JOY, placed at different heights to match their placement on a music staff (and requiring three-way checking of 15 Down entries and nine Acrosses). I had my husband hum it for me and sure enough, it sounds just like the theme to Everybody Loves Raymond. This might well be my favorite musical crossword theme ever.
“Theme” is a musical term too, and it couldn’t be more apt today:
- 16a. BEETHOVEN composed…
- 20a. ODE TO JOY, which starts out with the notes EEFGGFEDCCDEEDD.
- 57a. It’s played IN C MAJOR…
- 62a. …on your PIANO KEYS.
There’s a lot of oddball short fill, exemplified by 46d: DUZ, ["Eazy-__-It" (double-platinum album by Eazy-E)], and the weird plural 66a: ORZOS, [Rice-sized pastas].
Better fill (and cool clues) includes the following:
- 4a. [Some muscles or sorority women, informally] are DELTS. Nice two-way clue. Deltoids or Deltas, take your pick. I’ll work on my deltoids.
- 47a. Instead of cluing ADD as the simple verb, they went with [Tendency for one's mind to wander, for short]—attention deficit disorder. Certainly a familiar abbrev these days.
- 70a. You gotta bring your A GAME to the ACPT. That’s your [Best competitive effort, informally]. Unless you haven’t been solving as many puzzles over the past year, in which case I encourage you to bring your B game, as I’m doing.
- 1d. I love “MY BAD.”
- 3d. Don’t recall ever seeing the full phrase TSETSE FLY in a crossword before. It looks cool in the grid.
- 25d. -ENNE is a [-trix alternative] in the category of “old-fashioned ‘wimmin is different’ suffixes.” If you know what’s good for you, you won’t describe me with a word ending with one of these suffixes. The word editor, for example—it’s not male by definition, so don’t label Tina Brown the “editrix-in-chief” of Newsweek.
- 38d. I can’t help reading [Order to Rex] and thinking of crossword blogger Rex Parker. Next time there’s a woebegone Times crossword, I will be tempted to say “SIC ‘EM, BOY!” (Not that he’s cornered the market on criticizing flawed puzzles…)
- 41d. Three cheers for the YWCA. But it’s more feminist than feminine, if you ask me. I just read a radical feminist’s essay on the performance of femininity, an insulting Dove chocolate commercial, and “the cut-throat world of pantyhosiery.” Thought provoking, for sure.
- 49d. D’OH! I couldn’t make sense out of [Small, medium or large: Abbr.]. SIZE doesn’t have three letters, nor does it have a 3-letter abbreviation. Aha! ADJ. is short for adjective. I love this sort of clue, where you need to look beyond what the word means to what the word is.
- 53d. Do you know the etymology of SCUZZ? One dictionary says it’s probably a derivation of disgusting. Huh. Who knew?
Gary Steinmehl’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Gary takes the REPS from a PR firm to the gym in today’s puzzle. It’s not REPresentatives, but REPetions of exercises at the ends of the longest entries in the puzzle:
- 20a. Coming around the bend, they’ve hit the [Last leg of a race], it’s the HOME STRETCH! Shouldn’t this be the last theme entry? I think that would be just a little bit cooler.
- 27a. The [Chocolate bar with crisped rice] is a NESTLÉ CRUNCH bar – one of my favorites at Halloween.
- 49a. [Overseas news-gatherers] are the FOREIGN PRESS. REUTERS, which I wanted, wasn’t nearly long enough.
- 59a. [Very little, in slang], is the fun DIDDLY SQUAT. Maybe Gary was saving this jewel for last. I see what you did there, Gary.
In opposite corners we see the sort of rhyming GIVEN NAME and BOARD GAME. Those are pretty good, but I prefer ZEPHYRS, clued as [Gentle winds]. ZAGAT is a fun name, too. Z is just a fun letter, I guess.
Now, 31d is a [Rectangular computer key], and the answer was ENTER. Did anyone else start with SHIFT like I did? It used to be that the enter (or return) key was an irregular hexagon. Now I’ll grant you that the enter on the number pad is rectangular, but this threw me off. Not as much 45d: [Card player's goof] did, though. Not MISPLAY. Not MISLEAD. MISDEAL. Lots of multiple possible answers for a Tuesday puzzle – I appreciate the challenge.
Favorite clue: [Bean town?] for LIMA. Lima beans! Cute!
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “In Concert”—Evad’s review
Is constructor Bob Klahn performing at a venue near you? No, here “in concert” is taken three other ways:
- ON THE SAME / WAVELENGTH
These are tough puzzles to work out since all three theme answers have the exact same clue. Top that with some characteristically challenging clues from Mr. Klahn and I had quite the workout:
- Hadn’t run across the word CHARY before methinks. It’s clued here as [Rather cautious], but it reminds me of one of PeeWee’s pals from his Playhouse.
- I liked the juxtaposition of the clues [Secret Squirrel, for one] (AGENT) and [Squirrel's sanctuary] (NEST)
- [Players with multiple heads] sounds vaguely salacious to my ear; here it’s the innocuous VCRS.
- Had to look at the clue [Prompted nasal protraction] for a while; it’s referring to how Pinocchio’s nose extended when he LIED.
- Interesting repetition in a couple of clues: [Dingbat or ding-a-ling] (YOYO, had me thinking of Edith Bunker), [Grim Grimm guy] was an OGRE, and [Sticker sticker] was GLUE.
If nothing, Bob is all about alliteration: [Stretchy seaside sweet] (TAFFY), [Far from frumpy] (CHIC), [Much-married Mickey of moviedom] (ROONEY, which also has a nice connection to Father FLANAGAN of the movie Boys Town), [Hissing honkers] (GEESE), [Cocksure comment) (I CAN), [Stunned and speechless] (AGHAST), [Sapporo soup] (MISO), [Golf green gripper] (CLEAT), [Short sci-fi sage] (YODA), [Meadow mouse] (VOLE, I had MOLE first) and finally, [Migratory minnow muncher] was our good friend the TERN.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “High High, Captain!”
If you aspirate an H sound at the beginning of the syllables “aye, aye” (which sounds like “I, I”), you’ll have to change the spelling to something like “high high” to have real words, as seen in the puzzle’s title. The four theme entries build on the H + “I, I” model:
- 20a. The S.S. Minnow becomes the HESS/HESS MINNOW, a small [Fish co-owned by pianist Myra and ex-Jets owner Leon?]. Never heard of Leon H.
- 30a. [Doubly-demonic rapper/actor?] clues HELL HELL COOL J.
- 39a. [Gathering where everyone's all, "What up, everybody?"] clues a “HEY, HEY!” MEETING, which plays on A.A. meeting.
- 51a. [Poet who elicits a lot of giggles?] is, of course, HEE HEE CUMMINGS.
The changed letter pairs spell out SS LL AA EE, which doesn’t mean anything. (And that’s fine.)
I was just about to e-mail Jonesin’ editor Matt Gaffney about the clue for 43a: HCG, [Homeopathic diet drops in 2011 health news]. What I’ve seen in the news is stories of doctors prescribing a costly hormone used in fertility treatment, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), along with a 500-calories-a-day diet. Then I Googled and lo and behold, the homeopathy scammers are selling something called “HCG drops” too, which presumably are a lot cheaper than the $1000 hormones, but considerably more costly than the active ingredient, which is, uh, water.
Seven clues and answers:
- 44a. NICK [___ Jr. (Sprout competitor)] refers to cable channels aimed at young children.
- 55a. ["ER" actress Julianna] MARGULIES is now the star of The Good Wife, which gets rave reviews. Haven’t seen it yet.
- 56a. [King of the gods, in Hindu mythology] is INDRA.
- 5d. [Herbal remedy whose name suggests it does a lot] is ALL HEAL. Unusual to have both herbal and homeopathic products in one puzzle. We see a lot more pharmaceuticals in the grid, don’t we?
- 10d. BOING BOING is a [Humorous news website whose logo is a girl with a jackhammer]. Great entry.
- 25d. METHANE GAS is a [Biofuel from cows]. It’s harvesting it that’s the hard part.
- 36d. ["Whatever" grunt] clues “MEH.”