Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword, “All-Pro”
Hello! This is a placeholder so y’all can talk about the NYT puzzle before I get back from a city walk/dinner outing.
My browser crashed on me, so I have my answer grid in this window and a fresh blank grid with clues in another window. My prediction: This will make blogging a hassle.
The theme: FOR (the “pro” in the title means “in favor of” or “for”) is added to the beginning of a word somewhere in each theme entry.
- 23a. FORGO COLD TURKEY is about skipping Thanksgiving leftovers. V. good.
- 30a. DO ONE’S FORBIDDING feels a little clunky, because who the “ONE” is changes. With “do one’s bidding,” the protagonist is generally the object of someone else’s bidding, but the theme entry makes the protagonist go around forbidding (forbidding what? there’s no object).
- 47a. FORGIVE US THIS DAY feels like a mash-up of “give us this day our daily bread” and “forgive us our debts/trespasses.”
- 63a. Certain grasses are FORAGE-APPROPRIATE for cattle. Are corn, soy, animal byproducts, and antibiotics forage-appropriate?
- 79a. PLAY HARD TO FORGET feels like Hulk-speak. “How did you like the show, Hulk?” “Hulk like! Play hard to forget. Hulk ponder play for a while.”
- 108a. I didn’t really read the clue [Is well-endowed?]. I hope some solvers tried to figure out a risqué FOR phrase that would fit here. The answer is CARRIES A FORTUNE. How does one carry a fortune?
I kept getting taken out of the puzzle by assorted weird answers:
- 37a. ELIO, [Chacon of the 1960s Mets]. This crosses 33d: BELAY, [Ignore, imperatively], which is a nautical term I don’t know but a rock-climbing term I do know (with a different meaning).
- 43a. ALL AT SEA, [Hopelessly lost]. I don’t think the phrase really means that outside of crosswords, and the “all” is throwing things off too.
- 103a. LAE, [New Guinea port]. Learned this from crosswords.
- 4d. HOGG, [Scottish poet James known as "The Ettrick Shepherd"].
- 72d. ESTO, ["__ dignus" (Latin motto)]. Motto where? For whom?
- 81d. ROSE, [Mateus __]. Wha…? Wikipedia tells us, “Mateus is a brand of medium-sweet frizzante rosé wine produced in Portugal.”
- 7a. BACK-STAB
- 21a. ARISTIDE
- 26a. LORGNETTE
- 1d. “MCFLY!”
- 12d. Ke$ha’s hit song “TIK TOK,” fresh fill. Technically, it should be “TiK ToK” with capital K’s. Here’s the video. Hey, I think the convertible scenes in Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video are an homage to Ke$ha. Ke$ha’s current hit song was in a BEQ puzzle recently: “We R Who We R.”
- 44d. A [Showy craft?] used to help stage shows is SET DESIGN.
- 57d. UTTER ROT is [Baloney and then some], especially if you’ve left it out of the fridge too long.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Playing with Anagrams”
This puzzle’s got a slew of anagram theme entries, all shorter than the standard Sunday theme answers. Each is clued with a word that signals “anagram these letters” in cryptic crossword clues, plus the word in quotes to be scrambled. Most of the time, the signal+fodder clues form “in the language” phrases. For example:
- 24a. [Fixed "annuities"?] = INSINUATE.
- 27a. [Mixed "blessing"?] = GLIBNESS.
- 30a. [Shuffled "the cards"?] = STARCHED.
- 45a. [Organized "resistance"?] = ANCESTRIES.
- 47a. [Wrong "impression"?] = PERMISSION.
- 55a. [Wild "beast"?] = BEATS. (That…is not much of an anagram.)
- 60a. [Foreign "relation"?] = ORIENTAL. (“Foreign relations” with an S is much better.)
- 66a. [Adjustable "rates"?] = TEARS.
- 68a. [Altered "states"?] = TASTES.
- 72a. [Changing of "the guard"?] = DAUGHTER. Nice one.
- 89a. [Odd "avocations"?] = NOVA SCOTIA. I like this one too.
- 111a. [New "Englander"?] = GREENLAND.
In the “Wait, that’s not a phrase, is it?” category, we have the following:
- 64a. [Recombined "forces"?] = FRESCO.
- 78a. [Unstable "rents"?] = STERN.
- 85a. [Revised "the ratings"?] = SHATTERING.
- 101a. [Maneuvered "the plane"?] = ELEPHANT.
- 106a. [Scattered "the grain"?] = INGATHER.
Would have been fun to omit the quotation marks from the theme clues! People accustomed to cryptics (particularly Hex’s brand of cryptics) would be all over it, but standard-crossword-only solvers might be vexed.
For an especially intricate twist on the (spoiler alert!) anagram theme, don’t miss the April 8, 2007, NYT crossword (a Sunday; link is the .puz file) by Byron Walden.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, ”Sweet Talk”—Jeffrey’s review
Note with the puzzle: Here’s a tuneful stroll down Memory Lane — not the whole story, just the juicy parts.
- 23A. [Sweet hit of 1956] – BLUEBERRY HILL
- 28A. [Sweet group that sang "Cruel Summer"] – BANANARAMA
- 30A. [Sweet group that sang "Green Tambourine"] – THE LEMON PIPERS
- 53A. [Sweet group that did the score for "Risky Business"] – TANGERINE DREAM
- 58A/70A.[Sweet hit of 1968] – I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
- 86A. [Sweet hit by Floyd Cramer] - LAST DATE
- 88A. [Sweet hit by Prince] – RASPBERRY BERET
- 110A. [Sweet soul duo of the 1960s] – PEACHES AND HERB
- 115A/122A.[Sweet hit of 1967] – STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
- 43A. [One-name singer of the 1960s] – LULU
- 65A. ["Judy's smile was ___" (from "Judy's Turn To Cry")] – SO MEAN
- 68A. [Johnny Rivers hit, "Seventh ___"] – SON
- 77A. [Music's Gibb and White] – BARRYS
- 78A. [" ... ___ yellow submarine"] – IN A
- 102A. [McCartney, as a Beatle] – BASSIST
- 120A. ["Is That All There Is" singer] – LEE
- 2D. [Like Tom Jones, by birth] – WELSH
- 6D. [Two-time Argentine president] – PERON
- 73D. [Ms. Zadora] – PIA
- 87D. [Luke's nemesis] – DARTH
- 116D. [Singer Tennille] – TONI
- 118D. ["Born Free" lion] – ELSA
51A. [The end of ___] – AN ERA
This will be my last regular post. I’d like to thank Amy and the whole Crossword Fiend family for the opportunity…is she gone? OK, I don’t have much time. I need to reveal the truth about working in Fiendland. You know how Amy has always claimed “Fiend” refers to a person who is highly skilled or gifted in something or a person who is excessively interested in some activity? …Wrong! Fiend refers to a diabolically cruel or wicked person.
We’ve been locked in the Fiend basement for years, slaving away at these posts, day after day after day. It never stops. Whenever Amy enters with our bread and water, we have to greet her with a Wordplay-esque curtsy. Over in the corner, poor PuzzleGirl is toiling at the spinoff site. Janie and Evad tried to resist and now they have vanished!!
Joon has no talent in solving contests; it takes him all week to solve each one of Matt Gaffney’s offerings…and you don’t want to be around on a Tuesday morning as the deadline looms, with Matt himself preparing the whip. It’s not pretty.
T Campbell hasn’t been seen in a while; I last spotted him babbling over and over, “But I write comic books. I don’t want to create Captain Cruciverb!”
New recruits keep getting indoctrinated. Sam is fully under the spell, and Neville and pannonica are the latest victims. Seth is locked in a small closet for most of the year, only being released over ACPT weekend. The effort leaves him stunned and speechless for months.
Well, I’ve had it. The incessant cries of “more video clips!” ringing in my ears. Being forced to slow down my solving so I don’t beat the boss. The overbearing editing. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” 5:56, baby!
Wait, who’s there? Amy? What are you doing? Where are you sending me? No, I can’t go back there! I’ll do anything!
Mike Shenk’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 53″
I don’t know, folks. This one felt like a Newsday “Saturday Stumper” from a couple years ago, just kinda unpleasantly tough rather than deliciously challenging. Nothing really captured my heart here.
Clues? Answers? Right here:
- 10a. [Author of much of il Nuovo Testamento] is PAOLO, “Paul” in Italian.
- 15a. [Blue-in-the-face brand?] is AQUA VELVA. Does that still exist?
- 17a. Face or brow [Lifts, e.g.] are SURGERIES.
- 18a. [British carmaker Henry] ROYCE worked with Mr. Rolls, right?
- 20a. [Tetrazzini and the like] are SOPRANI. Turkey tetrazzini was named after Luisa Tetrazzini, an Italian opera singer (and a soprano).
- 25a. [Campanian capital] clues NAPLES. Crikey, three Italian answers in the top third of the puzzle is too much!
- 31a. [Storm shower] is weather RADAR. We’re expecting some orange and red radar in Chicago on Sunday.
- 35a. CAPE MAY is [America's oldest seaside resort]. It’s in New Jersey, which I’ve never been to.
- 40a. [Call for change?] is TAILS, as in calling heads or tails in a coin toss. “Call for change” seems iffy to me.
- 42a. [Take the wrong way?] clues GLOM. I am far more familiar with the “glom onto” (meaning “get attached or stuck to”) sense than the GLOM = “steal” sense.
- 49a. [Hangtown fry, e.g.] seems like a mighty arcane clue for an OMELET. It’s from the California Gold Rush and contains bacon and oysters. Nope, never heard of it.
- 56a. [Megaregion including the Inland Empire, briefly] clues SOCAL. So today’s hidden theme is Italy, California, and (coming in the Down answers) the Trojan War. Eight answers in those three areas. Meh.
- 61a. [Office Depot's headquarters] are in BOCA RATON. Who cares? Why would we need to know this?
- 63a. [Drill direction] is a barked “EYES FRONT!” Cool answer.
- 6d. The AERON is an [Office chair in the MoMA permanent collection]. Herman Miller, right?
- 7d. If you SLIP AWAY quietly, you can [Avoid goodbyes].
- 8d. [Like many round figures] clues OVER PAR. Here, “round figures” means “figures in a round of golf,” not “rounded figures.”
- 10d, 12d. [Trojan War figure], PARIS, ODYSSEUS.
- 13d. [Acquire, militarily] clues LOCK ONTO. I think this has to do with locking onto a target. Clue feels needlessly misleading.
- 14d. [Decimation victims] clues ONE IN TEN. Many of us are waiting for sticklers to quit insisting that “decimate” can only mean “to kill one tenth of,” rather than “to kill many of.” That original meaning not only has been breached for centuries, but it’s useless. When on earth would you ever need to talk about the demise of one tenth of any cohort? It’s silly.
- 32d. [Grammy-winning Roger Miller song] is “DANG ME.” I confess: I am not up on the Roger Miller song catalog.
- 37d. The PIXIE CUT is a [Twiggy trademark]. V. nice.
- 38d. [Look of determination] clues your GAME FACE. V. nice.
- 40d. ["The Kreutzer Sonata" writer] sounds Germanic, doesn’t it? Surprise! You want TOLSTOY.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Sam Donaldson’s review
Normally, a 70-word, 36 black-square freestyle puzzle is not very unique, but Ashwood-Smith delivers a most intriguing grid with its left-right symmetry and seven 15-letter entries. The centerpiece (literally) is the quadruple-stack of 15s spanning the grid’s mid-section, but to me the highlight was the triple-stack at the bottom, where each entry gets progressively better as you head down. You start with the okay if not especially sparkly REMEDIAL READING, the [Special ed course], then the interesting SPARED NO EXPENSE (clued as [Splurged]), and finally the lively ITSY-BITSY SPIDER, the [Waterspout habitué]. I really like how that entry appears at the bottom—usually the bottom entry of a triple- or quad-stack is crammed with S’s and E’s. Here there’s as many I’s as S’s and as many P’s as E’s. A bottom entry like that really shines.
The mid-section quad-stack is solid, with SUPERNATURALISM, the [Belief in ghosts], AIR AMERICA RADIO, [Ron Reagan’s employer, once], SEEK A SENATE SEAT, [Vie for office, maybe], and ESSENTIAL ORGANS, clued slyly as [Some donated items]. The danger with any quad-stack is the risk of awkward crossing entries. But here the crossings are notably smooth, with only SIAN, [Actress Phillips of “I, Claudius”], feeling suboptimal. Ashwood-Smith manages the elegant feat of getting the [Texas symbol], LONE STAR, and the [Wandering ones], WAYFARERS, to intersect the quad-stack.
The arrangement of black squares reminded me of Mike from Monsters, Inc. (pictured to the right). The L-shaped blocks on top resemble antennae, and the T-shaped blocks on bottom look like alien feet. This really stuck out to me, and I’m not one to look for patterns in black squares when I solve. (I’m certainly not one into taking Rorschach tests either—I’ve found it’s fun to describe every ink blot as “spilled ink” just to frustrate proctors.)
Other highlights in the grid include BIZ, the [Surf alternative] on the detergent aisle, the shout-out to the [“Barbie Girl” band], AQUA, and my sister’s birthday, [June 14], which the rest of us celebrate as FLAG DAY.
Sue Miskimins’ syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Heavy Duty”
This is one of the driest themes I’ve seen in quite some time! Various compound words and two-word phrases consist of words that can follow TAX, but the theme entries and the resulting “tax __” terms tend to be without whimsy:
- 1d. [With 115-Down, make a required contribution] = PAY.
- 115d. [See 1-Down, and word that can precede both parts of the answers to the starred clues] = TAX.
- 22a. [*Memorabilia at a reunion] = YEARBOOKS. Tax year, tax books—I don’t know what “tax books” are.
- 33a. [*Venus's undoing, perhaps] = SERVICE BREAK. Tax service (what’s that?), tax break.
- 41a. [*Reason to agree to a pact] = TREATY BENEFIT. What’s a TREATY BENEFIT? What’s a tax treaty? Tax benefit, is that like a tax break or deduction? This one feels like a three-way failure.
- 68a. [*Political platform buzzword] = PRO-LIFE. Tax pro, tax life. “Tax life”??
- 89a. [*One profiting from bad debts] = BILL COLLECTOR. Tax bill, tax collector. Hey! All three parts make sense to me. Mind you, they’re all unpleasant.
- 98a. [*Frequent health care event] = RATE INCREASE. That’s not a “health care event,” it’s a “health insurance event.” A health care event would offer free screenings or immunizations. Tax rate, tax increase.
- 113a. [*Contract seeker] = FREE AGENT. Tax-free, tax agent.
- 25d. [*Sales promotion component] = REBATE FORM. Tax rebate, tax form
- 60d. [*Many a bank record] = CREDIT FILE. “Credit file”? Tax credit, tax file. “Tax file”?
On the plus side, I sent in my tax returns weeks ago. No April 15th (or 18th this year, mystifyingly) last-minute rush.
- 49a. SKEETERS, or mosquitoes, are [Boonies pests].
- 83a. TEQUILAS clues [Sunrise liquors]. Would rather have the singular, but tequila bars do indeed stock a range of tequilas. Probably there aren’t a lot of people ordering tequila sunrises there, though. (Margarita time! Or shots.)
- 9d. SEMPER FI, the U.S. Marines motto. The clue is [Gyrene's motto], which is unnecessarily difficult.
- 84d. Cute clue for UNLEADED: [Decaf, facetiously].
I would have liked to see more longer fill overall. It felt like there was a surfeit of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter answers, fairly low on the Zing-o-meter.
Five more clues:
- 11d. The middle initial cues the abbreviated answer: [John P. Sousa], which I’ve never heard him referred to as, was a U.S.M.C. VET, one of those gyrenes.
- 76d. ["Come on down!" announcer] clues OLSON. Wait, I’m drawing a blank here. Googling…Johnny Olson, died in 1985. I was thinking of Rod Roddy, who comeondowned from the mid-’80s until his death in 2003.
- Fashion! 93a: ADOLFO is a [Nancy Reagan designer], while 48a: ARMANI is clued as [Italian fashion giant].
- 68d. [Ryan and Benjamin: Abbr.] are cinematic PVTS in the Army.