Ben Pall and David Kahn’s New York Times crossword, “Body Enhancements”
Yeah, I don’t know why this puzzle took me 50% longer than some other top solvers. Let’s lay the blame on a four-hour drive home from vacation taking nine hours with stops, shall we?
Theme: “Body Enhancements” are the IMPLANTS that appear, one letter at a time, in the circled squares inserted into familiar phrases. And! I just now noticed this part—each familliar phrase includes a body part.
- 22a. COUNT NOISES. I believe you can get cartilage implanted in your nose to restore a nose shape.
- 30a. LIMP SERVICE. Extra implant bonus value! Oh, dear god, there is actually such a thing as permanent lip implants. That sounds like a terrible idea.
- 40a. RABBIT PEARS. I don’t know about ear implants per se, but you can get a titanium screw or a magnet implanted, to which a silicone replacement ear can be affixed.
- 56a. CHICKEN FLINGERS. Um, I got nothin’ for finger implants.
- 75a. TAKES ON THE CHAIN. Clued a hair awkwardly. There certainly are chin implants. Carol Burnett got one back in the day.
- 90a. BROWN BEATEN took me a long time to figure out. Good one. No idea about brow implants. To give one the coveted Neanderthal look?
- 103a. FACET POWDER. Face implants? Nah. Face transplants, absolutely. Terrific use of military health research funds.
- 116a. PSALM READERS. Nope, no palm implants.
Not sure if the path traced by the IMPLANTS letters is supposed to be significant.
I like those NUTCRACKERS, the FREE AGENT, MAKES GOOD ON, and LOUSING UP. Not fond of TEARLESS and HONORERS, which are both rather stilted, and the ERI REA ITE STER DAH type of bits.
And anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows how I feel about 105d: [Ole Miss misses, e.g.], or COEDS. If only “Ole Miss” connoted “old, outdated college” rather than “current nickname of extant university.” I was going to demonstrate by linking to a website touting Ole Miss coeds, but there was way too much T&A. I’m telling you, the term COEDS is disrespectful to women. Clue it as [Some Yalies, after 1969] and drop it into the historical realm.
Julian Lim’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “4 x 4” – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Each theme answer has 4 4-letter words but are otherwise unrelated.
- 23A. ["We'll find out in due course"] – ONLY TIME WILL TELL
- 39A. [Hotel ad phrase] – HOME AWAY FROM HOME
- 53A. ["Stay alert!"] – KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN
- 72A. [Act rashly] – LEAD WITH ONE’S CHIN
- 88A. [Cry to players in hiding] – OLLY OLLY OXEN FREE
- 106A. [Often skeptical words of encouragement] – GOOD LUCK WITH THAT
This one left me with an “is that all there is?” feeling. I wanted the phrases to be connected in some way. Am I missing something?
5A. [Sean Combs, on stage] – P DIDDY
15A. [Ratatouille, e.g.] – STEW. Disney movie reference #1.
27A. [2002 hit for Cam'ron] – HEY MA, which reversed, is how I refer to our hostess – AMY EH.
28A. ["Junebug" Oscar nominee Adams] – AMY, eh?
29A. ["That __ fair!"] – ISN’T. Hey Ma!
33A. [Thumper's pal] – BAMBI. Disney movie reference #2.
36A. [One who harnesses the power of midi-chlorians] – JEDI. Episode VI was originally titled “Return of the Midi-Chlorian Powered” but it didn’t fit on the marquee.
46A. [Sunshine __: old detergent] – RINSO
116A. [Sunshine cookie] – HYDROX. The idea that Sunshine refers to both detergent and a cookie is disturbing.
47A. [Bug] – GERM. Disney movie reference #3.
60A. [Brilliant bunch] – MENSA
64A. [Dummkopf] – HALFWIT. I’d like to meet a MENSA HALFWIT.
79A. [Disturbing bank letters] – NSF. Not So Fast!
85A. ["Had A WIFE and couldn't ..."] finish this sentence without getting into trouble.
4D. [Swimming and diving, e.g.] – OLYMPIC SPORTS. The Vancouver Olympics had neither because the water was frozen.
6D. [1980s-'90s New York senator] – D’AMATO
7D. [Coming-back words] – I REMEMBER D’Amato. No I don’t.
16D. [Petrify] – TURN TO STONE. ELO.
17D. [“Love the Way You Lie” rapper] – EMINEM
25D. [Beans that are a good source of manganese] – LIMAS. Is this important? Are we lacking in manganese?
37D. [Songwriter Sands] – EVIE
40D. [Seamus Heaney's homeland] – EIRE. Dont know who he is but Nova Scotia didn’t fit.
48D. [Semicircular moldings] – TORI. No wonder Ms. Spelling is estranged from her parents. They named her after semicircular moldings.
55D. [Like Deep Throat] – EX-FBI. This clue seems wrong. Wasn’t Deep Throat active FBI at the time?
57D. [Like hobnobbers] – WELL-CONNECTED. I’ve met Sam Donaldson.
60D. [Pitifully small] – MEASLY/61D. [Take home] – EARN. You need a raise.
63D. [It was once described as an "odious column of bolted metal"] – EIFFEL TOWER. Well, who hasn’t been referred to that way?
72D. [Evangeline __, who played Kate on "Lost"] – LILLY. Canadian content.
74D. ["The Tao of Pooh" author] – HOFF. Disney movie reference #4.
77D. [Income sources for some srs.] – IRA’S. Measly for some.
99D. [U2′s lead vocalist] – BONO
I know this is the end but please don’t 108D. [Break down] – CRY. I’ll be back.
Doug Peterson’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler No. 66″ – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: None. We don’t need no stinkin’ theme.
I’m back. It seems like we can’t go more than a day before another Doug Peterson puzzle shows up in Crosswordland. And that’s a good thing. 68 words, two less than his LA Times puzzle yesterday. What’s the matter, Doug? Can’t think of any more words? Getting lazy?
- 10D. [Park feature, at times] – THEME.
And lots more stuff:
1A. [Layered entree] – MOUSSAKA. Cool opening word. It signals: fun stuff ahead.
15A. [Like some goals] – EMPTY NET. Yay, hockey reference.
16A. [Alternative to cords] – CHINOS. Billy Joel.
17A. [1930s crime figure gunned down by the FBI] – MA BARKER. They also shot her dog, which explains why her son Bob is such an animal activist.
31A. [Locale with a famed grotto] – PLAYBOY MANSION. Cute naked bunny video.
36A. [Bit of fan fare] – PEANUT. Cute clue.
37A. [Elegant spread] – PATE DE FOIE GRAS. Looks like random letters in the grid.
44A. [Hit back?] – B-SIDE
55A. [Laundry list, so to speak] – LITANY. Hope you are enjoying this LITANY of answers.
57A. [Butts] – RAMS INTO. See cute naked bunny video above.
59A. [Made speculations] – OPINED. “I believe I can sit here”
60A. ["Find another seat"] – IT’S TAKEN
61A. [Canon fodder?] – TENETS. Allan Sherman
62A. [Pro's opposite] – NEOPHYTE. Con didn’t fit.
2D. [Only Triple Crown winner who wasn't Horse of the Year] – OMAHA. Discovery won in 1935.
3D. [Stern stroke] – UPBOW. Who doesn’t love violin humour?
6D. ["I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" singer] – ANKA. Before Bieber, there was ANKA.
11D. [Sarah impersonator] – TINA. Tina Turner was brilliant doing her Sarah Michelle Gellar act.
12D. [Annamite Mountains setting] – INDOCHINA. Some place in some other place.
14D. [Climber] – ASPIRANT. Isn’t that what you take for a headache?
21D. ["A ___ is never finished, only abandoned": Paul Valéry] – POEM. Naw, it is finished.
24D. [Sylvan deity] – DRY AD. Something to do with a boring commercial for a learning centre.
29D. [One at the top of the order] – ABBESS. Also on top alphabetically.
30D. [House of Fabergé patron] – TSAR. It is just TSAR. Don’t try to pretty it up, Peter Gordon.
31D. [Item on Oklahoma's state flag] – PEACE PIPE. Crossed by an olive branch.
32D. [Diocletian's tongue] – LATE LATIN. I prefer EARLY EATIN.
35D. ["The Song That Goes Like This" musical] – SPAMALOT. “and then we change the key…”
39D. [Use dominos.com, say] – ORDER IN. I have to use dominos.ca
40D. [Go through again] – ITERATE. I have to use dominos.ca
44D. ["By the Waters of Babylon" writer] – BENET. No idea.
47D. [Hard to clean, maybe] – GUNKY. GUNKY is a GUNKY word.
48D. [Stable electron group, often] – OCTET. Huh? joon?
53D. [Defensive comeback] – AMSO. Junior AMSO, NFL comeback defensive player of 2005.
You had me at MOUSSAKA. 4.65 stars. I’ll be back?
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Here’s a very satisfying 70/28 from one of the most talented freestyle constructors out there, Doug Peterson. Tick off the elements of a great freestyle puzzle and you’ll see them here. You want stacks of long entries? This one has some really clean triple-stacked 10′s in each corner. My favorite is the northwest, with SNOOZE-FEST resting below MELBA MOORE and the ARCHBISHOP.
You want juicy multiple-word entries? There’s DRY AS A BONE, the SPORTS PAGE, THREAD COUNT, BURNT SIENNA, and the [1999 film that received seven Oscar nominations], THE INSIDER. I can’t believe that film is 12 years old already.
You want some clues that put up a fight? There’s [Game with a squareball] for PONG, [After all?] for the one who finishes LAST (i.e., after all others), and [Pangolin’s diet] for INSECTS. I’m sure that last one was intended to make solvers think, “What in tarnation is a pangolin?” It’s a variety of anteater, the one made famous by the Bruce Hornsby hit, “Pangolin Rain:” Oh, listen to the pangolin rain, listen to the music on the lake, listen to my heart break, every time she runs away.
You want the rare words that tend to be unwelcomed in the easier themed puzzles? Then how about SHOATS and SEPALS, the former being [Young swine] and the latter being [Floral components]? Both are gettable through crossings, so I think they’re fair.
So all the elements of a good freestyle puzzle are there, and sure enough it all comes together for a satisfying solve. My only write-over was on DEPARTMENT, the [Secretary’s charge] (I had DICTATION, which would have been seen as substantially less sexist had I been solving in the early 1960′s setting of Mad Men). I briefly considered adding two S’s to the end of A- for [O’Neill’s “The Hairy ___”], but I resisted and eventually tumbled to APE.
Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “ONE OR THE OTHER” — pannonica’s review
I confess that I didn’t grasp the theme until a while after I’d completed the puzzle, and my solving was prolonged by this failure. For some reason, I wanted the theme to be more complicated than it was, and what I thought were gaps in my knowledge confirmed that assumption. Actually, it formed a sort of feedback loop: my failure to “get it” caused me to think I had informational lacunae, which reinforced my thematic misconception, which in turn…
- 21a. [NOW or NEVER] TYPE OF SAVINGS ACCOUNT.
- 26a. [SOONER or LATER] NATIVE OF OKLAHOMA.
- 56a. [SINK or SWIM] PLUMBING FIXTURE.
- 64a. [TRICK or TREAT] ACTOR WILLIAMS.
- 73a. [HEADS or TAILS] FULL DRESS ATTIRE.
- 101a. [RAIN or SHINE] GEOFFREY RUSH FILM.
- 108a. [TRUTH or DARE] COLONIAL BABY VIRGINIA.
It’s quite obvious that each of the clues is a familiar phrase of paired alternatives. As I made inroads on the lower half of the puzzle, I thought that either component satisfied the answer: that Geoffrey Rush made a film called Rain as well as Shine (which I knew), that there was a less well-known early American baby called ‘Virginia Truth,’ that Trick Williams was an obscure actor. As for 73a, after filling in the correct answer I promptly internalized the clue as [DRESS or TAILS]. As for [SINK or SWIM], I knew that a float is part of a toilet tank (not exactly a fixture, I know) so it seemed plausible that there could be something called a swim. Later and never in the first two flummoxed me completely. I kept thinking that constructor Hook had been extremely devious, digging up all sorts of trivial obscuriana.
Of course I eventually realized that, as per the title, that each of these clues offered a choice and only one of the two things was genuine. For the record, that’s
- NOW: A Negotiable Order of Withdrawal account is a deposit account that pays interest, on which checks may be written. The terminology is because “Negotiable Order of Withdrawal” is a legal name for a check, or rather a statutorily distinct (but in practice identical) negotiable instrument. Wikipedia
- SOONER: 1: a person settling on land in the early West before its official opening to settlement in order to gain the prior claim allowed by law to the first settler after official opening. 2 capitalized: a native or resident of Oklahoma —used as a nickname. m-w
- SINK: Kitchen, bathroom, utility, et al.
- TREAT: Richard Treat Williams, born 1 December 1951. Has eyebrows.
- TAILS: 4a: tailcoat b: full evening dress for men. m-w
- SHINE: 1996 film based on the life of David Helfgott, a troubled Australian prodigy who excelled at math, chess, and piano. Not to be confused with Rush (1991), Powder (1995), or Rain (1932, 2000, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008).
- DARE: Virginia Dare, born 18 August 1587, the first child born in the Americas to English parents, in the short-lived Roanoke Colony in what is now North Carolina.
In the first four the second choice is the decoy, in the last three it’s the first choice.
Impressive 15-letter overlaps of the 20- and 16-letter themers at the top and bottom of the grid. Maybe some cheater squares, but it’s still a well-constructed puzzle. Highlights include HEATHROW, DEADWOOD, GRUMBLE, EUROPOP, DRYWALL, JANE|MARPLE, Ray LIOTTA alongside the Treat WILLIAMS themer (they’re kind of similar). Not sure how I feel about SÍ SÍ/UH-UH and ARGO/AGRO. Less-than-savory old school crosswordese: SMEW, ADA, ARN, RUR (redeemed somewhat by a nice clue). Crosswordy weirdness: IF’N, LOGILY, EENSIE. French! SAMEDI, SIL, RIEN, (MILIEU), ICI, (INN clued as [Auberge]). I could enumerate the abbrevs., slightly overzealous Spanish, and so on, but instead I’ll end on an up note with a few favorite clues:
- [Dalmatian count] IOI (101). Note uncapitalized ‘count.’
- [Said, in today's lingo] GOES. Fresh clue for pedestrian word. Ditto for YARD [Part of NIMBY].
- [Pizza topping] OLIVES (not onion).
- [Permanent location?] SALON.
Is it just me or does the upper left ⅔ look like the head of a grumpy panda?
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Ra-puns-el” — pannonica’s review
Sooo, Merl really lets down his hair this week. Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the roots of this puzzle.
I’ve long maintained that far too many retail establishments these days have puns for names. At this point it’s reached epidemic proportions, practically a plethoric preponderance; the practice should probably be proscribed. Among the worst offenders are coffee bars, sandwich shops, and—as Reagle demonstrates—hairdressers. I’m not certain if any of these businesses exist, but some of them seem likely to. All 12 of the theme entries are clued the same, [Name for a salon].
- 23a. DYE HAPPY. Die happy, as in “I’ve defeated Will Shortz in table tennis and now I can die happy.”
- 24a. HAIR SHE BLOWS. Thar she blows! Stereotypical cry from a whaler.
- 29a. CALIFORNIA CURLS. Referencing either The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” or Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” or both.
- 44a. TOTALLY CLIPS. Total eclipse. This was my favorite because of the phoneme shift from one word to another.
- 48a. COMB ON OVER. “Come on over!” The least encouraging name of the bunch.
- 60a. SHEAR ELEGANCE. Sheer elegance.
- 68a. THE COIFETERIA. The cafeteria. Biggest groan.
- 84a. MANE STREET. Main Street. Every town has one, even if it isn’t called that specifically.
- 86a. SOPHISTICUTS. Sophisticates. Not to be confused with Aristocrats or Debonairs.
- 98a. SCARLETT O’HAIRAS. Scarlett O’Hara(‘s), she of Tara and GWTW fame.
- 106a & 111a. HANNAH AND HER | SCISSORS. Hannah and Her Sisters, acclaimed 1986 Woody Allen film. The most elegant and best-name-for-a-real-place themer. Quite likely the seed entry.
In solving, I had a leg up by being able to quickly fill in the zoological 2d [Goose genus] ANSER and 36d [Wolflike] LUPINE, as well as the technical 35d [Early computer] UNIVAC (5 letters = ENIAC, 4 letters = CRAY), 49d [Obtained from oil] OLEIC, and—surprisingly—4d [Translation of an idea into action] PRAXIS. In a temporary delusional state my mind insisted that the summertime garb was Bahama, not BERMUDA shorts (11d).
If 56a [Actress Helgenberger, or a weight unit backward] MARG and 83a [Something to work on: abbr.] PROJ. had been exactly symmetrical I would be able to excuse them more easily. 79a ["His eye __ every precious thing" (Job 28:10)] SEETH made me seethe a little, while 61d RERAMS [Butts again] prompted a wee regurgitation.
Not too much remarkable about the ballast fill, but in my plus column are ARAPAHO, EXIT RAMP, SIESTA [Rest of the day?]. “Off” clues:
- 14d [Sights on Broadway] CABS. Seems kind of random to me.
- 69d [Insisted (on)] HARPED. “Insisted” just didn’t shake out the right answer for me; “dwelt” would be a much better trigger.
Last, 54a [Photoengraving of a simple drawing] LINE CUT constitutes a near-bonus entry, as an A-line cut is a popular hairstyle.