David Kahn’s New York Times crossword, “Love Story”
All right, there’s a typo somewhere in my puzzle. Grid’s too big for me to want to spend my time looking for an errant square or two. Ah, well. I’m sure one of you will spot it quickly.
The theme’s a story told in dialogue:
- 23a. Actually, the first part isn’t dialogue. An old woman is SIPPING ON A GLASS OF WINE and says,
- 38a. “I’M STILL CRAZY ABOUT YOU…”
- 51a. “…I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU.”
- 78a. Husband says, “DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT, or…”
- 95a. “…IS THAT THE WINE TALKING?”
- 109a. She replies, “IT’S ME TALKING TO THE WINE.”
Alcohol addiction! Always good for a joke, eh? The theme didn’t do much for me.
The fill’s got some longer answers in it, but aside from MR. BEAN and MO’NIQUE (who should absolutely co-star in a movie) they weren’t particularly resonant for me. Lots of sports content–like the bowling ball’s THUMB HOLE, boxing’s FAST COUNT, a BASE HIT. Hard to get too excited about a THUMB HOLE.
Illin’ update! ILL is in this puzzle at 7a, clued as [Sublime, in hip-hop slang]. Is it time for another foofaraw about whether Will Shortz uses the term in the prevailing way or not? Would it have been so hard to just go with [Under the weather] and skirt the subject entirely?
Oh! Just spotted the typo. I love ED WOOD but typed it as EW WOOD crossing WUTY. WUTY is not a word. 38:05 on the applet; 9 minutes to solve the puzzle and 29 minutes to blog the puzzle until I found the typo.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Sounds Familiar”
I didn’t read the notepad until after I finished the puzzle. Merl writes, “NOTE: This is a slightly modified version of Puzzle No. 3 from last year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which is held annually in Brooklyn, N.Y. The next one is Mar. 16-18. If you’re coming, bring your wits and a nice fat coat.” Huh. I was at last year’s ACPT and I finished all the puzzles, and yet this theme didn’t ring a bell at all. I’m sure others remember it better than I do.
The theme is (near-) homophone puns:
- 20a. [Good place to get a tummy tuck?] = NAVEL HOSPITAL. (Naval.)
- 28a. [Comment at an Oscar Mayer Halloween party?] = THE WURST IS BEHIND US. (Worst.)
- 43a. [Daily tally (seemingly) from inquisitive kids?] = FIFTY THOUSAND WHATS. (Watts.) Except the incessant question kids pepper people with is “Why?” and not “What?” Also, I’m definitely a “wutt” pronouncer when it comes to what so it doesn’t sound like watt (wah-t) to me.
- 54a. [VW Rabbit?] = MEIN HARE. (Herr.)
- 57a. [Just some guy I know who smells a little?] = PETE MOSS. (Peat.) But moss isn’t smelly. Peat might be, but that word has vanished in the theme answer.
- 67a. [What our constantly yelling buddy sounded like by the time the game was over?] = THE HOARSE WHISPERER. (Horse.) This one is terrific, because anyone with laryngitis is, in fact, whispering hoarsely.
- 83a. [What Mattel's new Junior Mint does?] = IT MAKES LITTLE CENTS. (Sense.) Took me forever to grasp this. This “Junior Mint” is a toy mint that mints coins and has nothing to do with Junior Mints candy.
- 95a. [Book with many pregnant pauses?] = THE COMMA SUTRA. (Kama.) Cute.
Now, the puns are solid, but they’re a total mixed bag, aren’t they? I don’t see anything that unites them aside from the exact homophone aspect (with one exception).
Seven more clues:
- 75a. [Welsh woofer] is CORGI, the dog.
- 77a. [How some eras end?] is with the suffix -ZOIC, as in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras.
- 91a. ["My response was," commonly] clues I GO. As in “He goes, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ So I go, ‘I don’t know. What are you doing?’”
- 1d. [Related on the father's side] clues that old crosswordese word, AGNATE. Your maternal relatives are your enate kin. Haven’t run into either term in genealogy.
- 5d. [Sound of a passing roller coaster] might be WHOOSH. Usually there’s more of a clatter, rattle, screech, and roar, isn’t there?
- 18d. [Where David slew Goliath] is ELAH. In the valley thereof?
- 63d. SWAZI is [One of South Africa's official languages].
Henry Hook’s Sunday crossword, “Doctor’s Orders” — pannonica’s review
DOSAGE: qip (×2)
- 23a. [Be expert?] NO ALL THE ANSWERS. (know…)
- 52a. [Soldier Field squad?] ZHIVAGO BEARS. (Chicago…)
- 74a. [Infielder?] FAUST BASEMAN. (first…)
- 102a. [Seeks compensation in court?] SEUSS FOR DAMAGES. (sues…)
- 5d. [Puppy owner's chore?] PEPPER TRAINING. (paper…)
- 15d. [Cocktail-hour order?] DRE MARTINI. (dry…)
- 51d. [Bed cover?] QUINN-SIZE SHEET. (queen…)
- 66d. [Engine parts?] SPOCK PLUGS. (spark…)
Eight phrases, altered to punnily begin with a well-known, titled doctor. We have a mix of real (3, but 2 are pseudonyms) and fictional (5: one from music, one from television, 3 from literature). Men outnumber women seven to one. The clues don’t have wacky alterations in an attempt to define the new phrase; it’s apparently enough that the doctor’s name is inserted. The only nod to the hijinks is the inclusion of a question mark at the end of each.
By far my favorite is ZHIVAGO BEARS, for sheer outrageousness. The others succeed in varying degrees, but none tickle me as much. Beyond that,
- I felt that “puppy” in the clue for 5d telegraphed the answer too much.
- I had partially filled in QUILT for 51d before I understood the theme (or even looked at the title).
- I wonder if the spark plugs are part of an engine. They ignite the engine, but are they part of the engine itself?
The tight construction and relatively robust ballast fill made for a mostly enjoyable solve. The two main things I noticed while solving were the inclusion of some unusual words and names, and some sloppiness with repetition.
- Unusual words: EUPNEA [Normal breathing], LATEEN [Triangular sail], and to a lesser extent ARRAIGN, BALLADES, and ACHERON.
- Unusual names: Tony ARMAS crossing IDRIS Elba (that S was my final fill), Guy FIERI, KEM, MAZ Jobrani (know him from NPR’s Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me).
- 36d [Soap box?] TEEVEE; 107a [Plug-and-play entertainment] TV GAMES; plus, not-so-indirectly, the ungainly-clued and unsightly partial 63d [Product-ad phrase with "as"] SEEN ON.
- 8d [They stop traffic] BRAKES crossing 27a [Late-braking development] SKID. Two very nice clues and answers somewhat RUINATEd (80d) by their appearance together.
- Less overtly, but nevertheless undeserving of a pass is BUT NO ["You'd think so, wouldn't you?' follower] repeating the pun element of 23-across.
- Not sure what the consensus would be on 78a [In the midst of] cluing AMONGST, because clues involving the past or present tense often share an -ed or -s with the answer. Seems funny to me, though,
Some things I liked:
- 2d [Fred's wife]: plunked in ETHEL, but it was WILMA. Similarly, 58a [Hirsute Addams] completely tricked me, practically forcing me to think of Grizzly Adams, not good old Cousin ITT.
- The cluing for the consecutive 89a and 91a: [Patriots' Day time] and [New England Revolution's org.] for the ho-hum APRIL and MLS.
- No repetition between 89a (above) and 9d [It precedes "juin"] MAI. That leads us to 18a ["Dix" cubed] MILLE, and thence from French to Italian at 105d ["Mezza dozzina"] SEI.
- 25a LMNOPQ. If you’re going to have an alphabet sequence, nice to have one stretch beyond three or four letters. Bonus for this run being the one that people tend to push together while reciting the thing (okay, perhaps not the Q, but still…).
- Hands-down favorite clue: 49d [Bob's partner] WEAVE. With all the names flying about, this one sucker-punched me.
A little more on the down side, the partials and odd phrases (A LAMP, TRA LAS, MORE THAN, ONE I, BUT NO, RETURN OF, LAST UP, SEEN ON, WITH US) were distracting. Others (including MISS ME and A LOT) were not so worrisome. Did I mention 99d [Multiple of CI] CMIX? Damn, I was trying not to.
Overall, still a good puzzle, but might have been edited a bit more scrupulously.
Leonard Williams’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Subtext” – Doug’s review
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. This puzzle brought to mind Neville Fogarty’s texting-inspired puzzle from last year. If you don’t remember it, check out the write-up on LA Crossword Confidential. It was a cool puzzle, and I stuck a BATPOLE video into the blog. Awesome. I also mentioned Ghost Rider in that post, which is odd, because I saw Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance last week with a buddy of mine. There were four of us in the theater, which is two more than I expected. I saw none of the 2011 Best Picture nominees, but I paid money to watch Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance on the big screen. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m still 12 years old.
As for today’s texty puzzle, I liked it. It usually bugs me when theme answers are cross-referenced to other theme answers and make me jump all over the grid, but once I caught on, it wasn’t bad.
- 23a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 61-Across] - LAUGHING OUT LOUD.
- 36a. [1993 literature Nobelist] – TONI MORRISON.
- 61a. [Flight school hurdle] - SOLO LANDING.
- 73a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 36-Across] - IN MY OPINION.
- 97a. [Like opposers of the Roe v. Wade decision] - ANTI-ABORTION.
- 116a. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 97-Across] – THANKS IN ADVANCE.
- 17d. [They're less than grand] – PETTY LARCENIES.
- 46d. [Its abbreviation is hidden in 17-Down] - TALK TO YOU LATER.
Got any good ones for OMG? FALL FROM GRACE would work. Or TOM GLAVINE for you baseball fans. How about ZOMG? I’m stumped.
- 32a. [Khloé Kardashian ___] - ODOM. Poor Lamar Odom. This clue reminds us that he’s better known for marrying a Kardashian than for his rapidly declining basketball career.
- 104a. [Rose of Rock] - AXL. Everyone knows what “Axl Rose” is an anagram for, right? That can’t be an accident.
- 6d. [College founded by Norwegian immigrants] - SAINT OLAF. I appreciate the shout-out to St. Olaf, where my best friend from high school and his wife went to college.
- 19d. [Hall of Fame fullback Larry] - CSONKA. Larry Csonka is one of the great football names of all time. “Csonka” is almost onomatopoeic. Maybe the sound of a wicked stiff-arm to the face. I like that this entry crosses CANTON at 28-Across, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- 108a/108d. [H.S. VIP] - PRIN / [One of yoga's five vital forces] - PRANA. Ouch! I stared at this crossing for way too long. I didn’t know the yoga term, and I was drawing a huge blank on the ugly abbreviation. I went through the alphabet a couple of times before it hit me. Not a good feeling, especially with the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament right around the corner. And the 101-Down entry (["The Citadel" author A.J.] - CRONIN) was another killer in that corner. I love ARENA ROCK, so I can sort of forgive the tough stuff.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
A light and breezy Sunday Challenge workout, this 66/28 freestyle crossword features a triple stack of 7s in the middle sandwiched by some triple-stacked 15s. (I know, triple-stacked 15s in a Martin Ashwood-Smith crossword. Who’d-a thunk it?)
I was surprised not to get the “Congratulations! You solved the puzzle” message when I keyed in my last square, so I spent almost a minute hunting around for the error. Turns out the answer to ["The ___ Game" (Doris Day movie of 1957)] was PAJAMA and not PANAMA, as I had guessed. Hey, the crossing Down gave me NOEL, of which I was so confident I didn’t bother to read the crossing clue. (Hoo boy, that’s a habit I need to break before the upcoming ACPT!) Had I seen [Book after Hosea], I still would have been confused for a while (Sam : the Bible :: Sgt. Schultz : shenanigans in Stalag 13), but at least I would have known that NOEL couldn’t be the right answer (it was JOEL, of course).
Otherwise, it was smooth sailing. I admire how the 15s feed into triple-9s along the sides. That’s a lot of blank real estate! My favorite entries:
- NO CAN DO, clued as ["Impossible!"], though I might have preferred a reference to this song.
- OLD SOUL, with the merry clue of [King Cole, for one].
- NEAT VODKA, clued as [Shot at the bar, maybe] and not as a two-word phrase meaning “Cool, we have the alcohol necessary to make a greyhound!”].
- Squeezing the triple 7s at the equator with Fred SANFORD and NOODLES.
Basically that whole middle section was cool. ACQUIRING would have made the list but for the fact that the crossing Q entry was Q AS, a partial to complete [___ in queen]. That’s not very pretty. The 15s were standard fare–all perfectly fine entries but none that really excited me. My favorite clue, by the way, was [Secret targets?] for ODORS.
Doug Peterson’s Washington Post “Puzzler #100″ – Jeffrey’s Review
Hello. Isn’t it nice to see Doug Peterson finally get another puzzle published? Welcome back, Doug! Well, come along for another day of my explaining parts of a puzzle, mostly inaccurately.
THEME – H + RIR = 44A. [Battle of Salamis craft] – TRIREME
Words of note:
- 1A. ["Missing link" sought by physicists] – GOD PARTICLE. More properly called the Higgs boson. For more information, please contact joon.
- 15A. [Ted Turner successfully defended it in 1977] – AMERICA’S CUP. Yachting and such.
- 17A. [Much eBay merchandise] – MEMORABILIA. I just got Pentel Twist-erase Click 0.9mm Automatic Pencils through eBay as they are not available in Canada. I expect my ACPT ranking to dramatically improve as a result.
- 20A. [Gp. twice headed by Ronald Reagan] – SAG. Screen Actors’ Guild.
- 31A. [Literally, "a blowing out"] – NIRVANA. Famously led by Paul Anka.
- 35A. [Plays for fast backs] – END RUNS. Football. Or as it is called in Europe: “huh”
- 40A. ["Little House in the Big Woods" family name] – INGALLS. From the “Big Woods on the Prairie” series.
- 55A. [What a long and winding road may provide] – SCENIC DRIVE
- 60A. [Arm of the Atlantic] – LABRADOR SEA. Between Canada and Greenland. Although, what isn’t between Canada and Greenland?
- 62A. [Villain in "Captain Hareblower"] – YOSEMITE SAM
- 8D. [Figure in "The Golden Ass"] – ISIS
- 31D. [Desert flower?] – NILE RIVER. It flows from the desert into the LABRADOR SEA.
- 39D. ["East of Eden" girl] – ABRA. At the end of the story she turned into a man and became a Flash villain.
- 48D. [Brand endorsed by Rihanna] – NIVEA
- 55D. [Stone with a band] – SLY
- 57D. [First prime after CCCXCVII] – CDI. I wanted CDIX but it didn’t fit. I always forget about CDI.
Mike Nothnagel’s New York Times Second Sunday puzzle, “Diagramless”
A few years ago, after Tyler Hinman expressed his dismay that I was using the starting square hints for diagramless puzzles, I started making do without the hints. Some people recommend using graph paper and just starting to fill in stuff that you know, leaving enough room on either side to accommodate wherever the grid’s borders turn out to be. Me, I just grab some scratch paper and start jotting down letters until I’ve reached a row that’s 17 squares wide (the standard NYT diagramless width), and then I transfer over what I’ve got and work in the 17×17 grid. There’s duplicated effort, yes, but it hardly takes any time to copy over a few rows.
Mike’s theme is embodied by 73a: STARTING POINT. The long answers with asterisked clues all begin and end with words that can precede “point”: FLASH FREEZING, EXTRA BALL, HIGH-GRADE, DATA ENTRY, PENCIL SET, and MATCH GAME. At first, I didn’t realize both words played the POINT game–it helps to read the theme revealer, people. (And by people, I mean me.) Nice find, Mike.
Liz Gorski’s Celebrity crossword, “Sunday Funday”
The subject of this puzzle outed herself as a New York Times crossword fan a few years ago when her 9-letter last name was in a Sunday puzzle and she got in touch with the Rex Parker blog. As any famous person who likes crosswords knows, the people with long names don’t get nearly as much play as the short-name folks. UMA Thurman, Jessica ALBA–the short, vowel-rich names rule.
Here’s the theme:
- 15a. CHRISTINA, [With 50-Across, actress who's a crossword fan]
- 21a. KELLY BUNDY, [Ditzy character played by 15-Across on "Married... with Children": 2 wds.]
- 40a. UP ALL NIGHT, [2011 sitcom starring 15-Across as a new mom: 3 wds.]
- 48a. Bonus answer: WHO, ["Samantha ___?" (TV series featuring 15-Across as an amnesiac)]
- 50a. APPLEGATE, [See 15-Across]
There are a couple juicy spots in this crossword. PUGSLEY and a POLAROID! Love ‘em. There are also lots of names–Sammy CAHN, Howard Stern’s wife BETH (unknown to me until this crossword), Kathryn ERBE (whose two E’s make her crossword gold), HELGA from the comics page, David HYDE Pierce, Laila ALI (Muhammad Ali’s daughter), Elisabeth SHUE, and TAYE Diggs.