Daniel Finan’s New York Times crossword, “In-Nuendo”
The title sounds like it’s heading towards “in you end-o” innuendo, but luckily it isn’t. It’s just hinting at the “something IN something” aspect of the clever theme:
- 22a. The movie Men in Black is what’s clued by [1997 Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones flick], but the answer is itself a puzzle whose answer is Men in Black, with MEN in circled squares within AFRICAN-AMERICAN to be MEN in a synonym for “black.”
- 36a. IT’S TOLD USING A WATCH suggests time, and the circled letters spell STITCH. A stitch in time is a [Preventive measure, proverbially].
- 51a. [Headstone phrase] “rest in peace,” REST inside a TREATY RESULT.
- 69a. [Lurid 1979 film about John Dillinger's girlfriend, with "The"] (or the Chris DeBurgh song) is The Lady in Red, so LADY is inside COLOR FOR VALENTINE’S DAY, red.
- 88a. “Just in case,” JUST inside a JUDGE’S MATTER, ["To be on the safe side..."].
- 101a. Hole in one, HOLE in THE LONELIEST NUMBER, [Golf ace]. I like the “one is the loneliest number” reference.
- 121a. Wolf in sheep’s clothing, WOLF in WOOL, FACETIOUSLY, [One who looks friendly but isn't]. Something about WOOL, FACETIOUSLY amuses me.
Isn’t that a cool theme? Inventive and executed perfectly, with excellent fill and fun clues throughout. The best stuff outside of the theme includes GO DUTCH (kicking things off at 1-Across the right way), the contemporariness of (Car)MELO Anthony’s nickname, PARCHEESI, VAMOOSE and its fellow Spanish (or Spanish origin) DE NADA bracketing the top midsection, successive [Where skaters skate] clues for ON ICE and RINKS, “GET A CLUE!,” UMLAUTS clued as [Deutsch marks?], and the rest of the smooth 7- to 9-letter fill. Now, I realize that 99a: [Japanese native]/AINU can be classified among the most grievous of old crosswordese, but I have a fondness for the OLD-school crosswordese that I learned in my youth. Plus, they’re an indigenous people nearly wiped out by interaction and assimilation with ethnically Japanese people. I gather those old crossword clues about the Ainu having blue eyes were maybe not so fact-based.
4.75 stars. A most enjoyable solve with a multilayered challenge to the theme.
P.S. 97a: [Stone-pushing Winter Olympian] is used to clue CURLER, rather than something like [Cylindrical device hair is wrapped around to make ringlets]. Curling? Really? Curling is evidently not so much a sport as it is a pastime that was created for the clinically insane. No one in the United States could possibly take this seriously. It makes no sense.
P.P.S. 109a: [Rogers's partner] must refer to Adele ASTAIRE, who left her brother Fred behind when she continued her dance career in England. I guess she danced with some chap named Rogers. Probably Nigel or Clive Rogers. She’s the second-most famous Adele after Adele H, you know.
Patrick Berry’s Washington Post crossword, “Post Puzzler 105″—Jeffrey’s review
Happy Sunday/Easter/Passover. Jeffrey here with another Patrick Berry post puzzler to discuss. One of the joys about being a member of Team Fiend (besides the awesome salary and spacious office) is the ability to type a phrase that has never before been uttered in the history of the universe:
CHICKEN MARENGO is found right above CANKER SORE.
Thank you. Good night, everybody!
What, you want more? Okay, let’s delve.
- Evil message at the 1′s: LUV LSD. 1D. [Chat room endearment] – LUV; 1A. [Experimental alcoholism treatment of the past] – LSD.
- 15A. [National Junior Tennis League co-founder] – ARTHUR ASHE. Full-name treatment always welcome.
- 17A. [Man-eater] – VAMP
- 18A. [Ship with a single gun deck] – SLOOP-OF-WAR. I guess that’s a thing.
- 19A. ["That's the pot calling the kettle black"] – YOU’RE ONE TO TALK. Isn’t the proper crossword form: ONE IS ONE TO TALK?
- 23A. ["Thank U" singer's first name] – ALANIS. Hope you caught Ben Tausig singing ALANIS over at Brendan Quigley’s site. We need Ben appearing at the 2013 ACPT talent show. Make that being the entire talent show. I want him to sing Nirvana using Paul Anka’s arrangement.
- 30A. [Peregrination] – TREK. Do you prefer Star Wars or Star Peregrination?
- 38A. [Playwright who won an Oscar for the "Tom Jones" screenplay] – OSBORNE. I didn’t know Ozzy OSBORNE wrote for Tom Jones. I do know Paul Anka wrote “She’s a Lady”, which has the opening word “Well”.
- 42A. [Dish named after an 1800 battle site] – CHICKEN MARENGO. The famous Battle of the Roosters. (And if you didn’t see that coming, you have not read enough of my posts.)
- 44A. [Aphthous ulcer, familiarly] – CANKER SORE. I have never seen that in crosswords before. I never want to see it again.
- 51A. [Opening word of "Rocket Man"] – SHE. “She packed my bags last night pre-flight. Zero hour nine a.m. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then.” Again with the LSD LUV. William Shatner’s version.
- 3D. [Mailings from people without labels?] – DEMO TAPES. Good clue.
- 7D. [Oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby] – SHOEMAKER. 54 years old in 1986. Oldest horse to win was 3. Youngest horse to win was 3.
- 14D. [It was launched the same day that "Leave It to Beaver" premiered] – SPUTNIK. SPUTNIK is long gone. Leave It to Beaver is still in reruns. Go figure.
- 16D. [Sufficient] – UP TO PAR. Boy, [insert today's Masters winner here] was sure UP TO PAR today, wasn’t he!
- 21D. ["Godmother of punk" Smith] – PATTI doing Paul Anka doing Nirvana.
- 27D. ["Laissez les bons temps rouler" time] – MARDI GRAS. Let the good times roll.
- 32D. [Highest rank in the Swiss Guard] – COLONEL. Best selling chicken in the US was started by COLONEL Sanders. Best selling chicken in Canada is Swiss Chalet. Coincidence? I think not. Neither sells CHICKEN MARENGO. Neither is a place to go today since it is Passover. Chickens come from eggs. Today is Easter. The circle of life.
- 41D. [One of Donald's exes] – MARLA. Did you enter IVANA?
**** stars, the highest possible rating for a puzzle that has CANKER SORES.
The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain doing Patti Smith doing Paul Anka doing Nirvana.
Steven J. St. John’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Failing French” – Doug’s review
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. French puns. Sacre bleu! In my high school, you either took Spanish or you took French. There were rumors of German and Latin classes, but most students went with one of the big two. I chose Spanish, because I could already count to twenty in español, thanks to Sesame Street. And French pronunciation seemed way too difficult and goofy-sounding. So most of my French has been picked up from Klondike Kat cartoons (“Savoir Faire is everywhere!”) and crosswords puzzles (ETE, ETRE, AMI, etc.) Fortunately all of today’s puns are based on well-known French phrases.
- 23a. [Sense of unity among apples?] - ESPRIT DE CORE.
- 28a. [Deceptively realistic painting of the Donald?] - TRUMP L’OEIL.
- 45a. [Terrible night's sleep?] - LAY MISERABLES. If this one were in a Ben Tausig puzzle, the clue would be a little spicier.
- 60a. [Having a weed-free lawn?] - COUP DE GRASS.
- 65a. [Passenger who doesn't bug the cabbie?] - LAISSEZ-FARE.
- 73a. [Justification for a dried grape?] - RAISIN D’ETRE.
- 89a. [Garden figure taking up arms?] – GNOME DE GUERRE. My favorite one. I’d like to see a commercial where the gnome de guerre kills the annoying Travelocity gnome.
- 104a. [Ocean trip with a skeleton crew?] - BONE VOYAGE.
- 114a. [Perfume at Garfield's house?] - ODIE TOILETTE.
Some of the theme entries I just typed in are probably missing accents on the French parts. But since we’re literally “Failing French,” I’m not going to worry about it.
- 20a. [Issue in May-December romances] - AGE GAP. Sometimes there’s a height gap as well.
- 101a. [New York town named for its salt-mining industry] - SALINA. Excellent clue that saves a borderline entry. I imagine few people outside of New York have heard of the place, but the clever clue gives all solvers a chance to figure it out.
- 117a. [Louis Sachar kids' book heroine] - ANGELINE. Looks like she was in one book, Someday Angeline. Tough answer. I’m more familiar with Angelyne, a quasi-model who’s become semi-famous by advertising herself on billboards around the L.A. area. In fact, she’s listed on Wikipedia as a “billboard model.” Her article also notes that Angelyne’s “billboards have gained more fame than she has, and have appeared in several television shows and movies.” I would post one of her ads here, but frankly, they’re kinda gross. I guess billboards were the way to go before MySpace was invented.
- 12d. [Movie goodies] - JUJUBES. Lovely entry. Horrible candy. Jujubes are great for ripping out fillings.
- 90d. [Pomaded '50s subculturist] - GREASER. Crazy clue. I like it.
More good stuff: I GOTCHA, JAIL CELL, SUMMERTIME. Iffiest entry: TARED. Most “eww!” entry: RHINITIS.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Another fun freestyle from our fellow Fiendster, Doug Peterson. This 72/29 grid has lots of fun entries. My favorites:
- The [Small songbirds] at 1-Across are TITMICE. Inner Beavis thought that was a terrific start. Heh heh heh, heh heh heh.
- It’s probably proof of how old I am that I wanted NIGEL BRUCE as the [Dr. John Watson portrayer]. This time, however, it was JUDE LAW.
- I liked [Homeric lament?] as pretentious-sounding clue for the more wonderfully banal D’OH!
- MAIS OUI is better than my first guess for ["But of course, monsieur!"], OUI OUI. Inner Beavis was a little disappointed that my first guess didn’t pan out.
- I love that who stack in the southwest: NO CAN DO atop GODSEND atop ARCHWAY–that’s sweet.
- I had forgotten that the [Emancipation Proclamation signing site, today] is the LINCOLN BEDROOM in the White House. When I got the LINCOLN part, I seriously considered cramming NEBRASKA into the seven remaining squares; I’m glad a little reflection helped me realize that it would have been a little odd for Lincoln to sign the proclamation in what today is Lincoln, Nebraska.
- As good as all of the foregoing is, however, all the in-the-language expressions like AS A RULE, ADIOS AMIGO, the aforementioned NO CAN DO, AS GOOD AS NEW, and IT’S NOT FAIR steal the show. This is the mark of a great freestyle puzzle.
Others will probably appreciate entries like THUMBELINA and DA DOO RON RON more than I did; those are juuuust far enough outside of my wheelhouse that I could get them with a few letters in place, but I didn’t get a big “aha” or “eureka” feeling when they finally fell because they never had much importance in my life. But that’s not this puzzle’s fault.
I thought MEMOIRS was a good answer to ["Luncheon of the Boating Party" and others], but it turned out to be RENOIRS. That made me feel a little embarrassed, especially as I realized an entire memoir about a single luncheon would get pretty boring pretty quickly.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “Ad Placement” — pannonica’s review
This certainly seems like a theme that’s been done before. A simple insertion, here of the letters A-D. The clues mostly point to both the original and derived versions.
- 26a. [Sci-fi sport– or song?] ROLLER BALL(AD).
- 37a. [Wheel– or rant?] SPARE TIR(AD)E.
- 48a. [Bee's knees– or a frisky spot?] CAT’S ME(AD)OW.
- 65a. [Shoes– or food advice?] W(AD)ING TIPS.
- 67a. [Start– or start urging?] GET GO(AD)ING.
- 80a. [Night program– or moon effect] LATE SH(AD)OW.
- 90a. [Fibs- or brides?] WHITE L(AD)IES.
- 106a. [John Wayne flick– or AM-FM bluster?] R(AD)IO BRAV(AD)O.
Something isn’t clicking for me on the first two and the fourth; I can’t see how the full answers apply to the second, question-mark-enhanced parts of the clues. How is a [song] a “roller ballad” and not just a ballad? How is a [rant] a “spare tirade” and not just a tirade? How is [food advice] a “wading tip” and not just a tip?
So, three out of eight themers don’t make complete sense, in light of the way the other 60 percent do, expectedly do. I see this as a major flaw, a disconnect between conception and execution. It seems so odd for highly accomplished constructor/editors that I question my ability to decode the theme. Nevertheless, I’m calling it as I see it, and not for a lack of trying to see it properly.
Nice how one-across sets the tone with [Ad phrase] SLOGAN. In case you’re interested, here are the subliminal, non-thematic ADs lurking in the grid: ADELINE, ADULTS, PADS, ADENOIDS, A DIME. (Am overlooking reversed incidences such as FRIDA and ONE DAY.)
Some fill I liked:
- TAMARI, HARARE, FOWLER (how many people nowadays—even crossword solvers—know this [Authority on usage]?, EYEWASH.
Some clues I liked:
- [Golf-watching group] GALLERY, the consecutive pair of [Hatcher or Garr]/[Kingsley or Martin] for TERI and AMIS, [Not-so-swell swelling] MUMPS—because I put in TUMOR with just the UM in place—and also because it’s paired symmetrically with WARTS, [Smear in ink] LIBEL.
Ships passing in the night:
- 61d [Uplifting name?] OTIS, and 89d [Move toward the top] ELEVATE.
- 34a [Skedaddled] FLED, and 95a [Fugitive flights] LAMS.
Fill I wish never to see again:
- REUNED. Reune, too.
- HE-GOAT. Words like she-goat, she-bear, and she-wolf were coined because the unmodified version was understood to be male, so a back-formation of this type—while perhaps striking a blow for gender equality in the grammar wars—seems silly and unnecessary.
Bruce Venzke’s Celebrity crossword, “Sunday Funday”
So, this topic was freshly announced this week: ASHTON KUTCHER (34a. ["Two and a Half Men" star]) has been cast to portray STEVE JOBS (15a. [Co-founder of Apple]) in an upcoming biopic (a movie BIOGRAPHY, 52a. [Type of upcoming movie that will feature 34-Across as 15-Across]) called Jobs. Steve Wozniak is fine with the casting, and bearded Ashton does look a bit like the young Jobs, and the movie is about the early years, so…
Note also the currency of the clue for 14a: IBM, [Masters golf tournament sponsor whose female CEO may or may not become a member of Augusta National]. This puzzle was edited on Friday and published on Saturday evening, and now it’s Sunday, the last day of the Masters, and there’s nothing in the news indicating that Augusta National has budged on its official “He-Man Woman Haters Club” stance. (Or its “Get Rid of Slimy girlS” policy.)
Fun to have the SYFY channel in the grid, with its ridiculous spelling, and “dashboard” pulling double duty in clues for 6d: EMO, [Dashboard Confessional's music genre], and 61a: GAUGE, [Dashboard gas supply indicator].
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Room for One More”
Today is a special day, you know. That’s right—it’s The Day of Technical Snafus When I Tried to Do Merl’s Puzzle. (We celebrate this holiday by eating candy. Dove dark chocolate bunny, your ears and neck are delicious.) I couldn’t manage to download the puzzle on my Mac, not from Puzzle Pointers and not from this website’s Today’s Puzzles page. Then I downloaded it successfully on my Windows machine and opened it on the Mac using Black Ink. I don’t know where all those other puzzle files came from that opened behind Merl’s puzzle, but I thought I closed them all. Solved the puzzle, looked at the timer, spotted an errant timer right behind this one. Clicked to close that errant timer and boom, app crashes. Oy! So I wasn’t about to refill an entire Sunday-sized grid when I just did the dang puzzle—hence, you get an ugly auto-filled solution grid. A brown eye looking at you from every square.
Anyway! I liked this puzzle. It’s an add-a-letter theme. I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to which letters were added, or anything to unify the theme entries’ topics. But hey, they kinda entertained me, and often the tradeoff for having a more consistent theme approach is that constructed phrases fit the structure but fail to be funny. Merl wants to make fun crosswords so there you have it:
- 21a. ERNEST AND JULIO GALLON, [Big names in bulk wine?]. Pretty sure Gallo wines do come in gallons. Couldn’t find a picture of a gallon jug or box on the Gallo website, but I did learn that Gallo owns Bartles & James and Boone’s Farm.
- 37a. WINNIE THE POOCH, [Lovable dog of kiddie lit?].
- 47a. THE ROCKET FELLERS, [Working title of "The Right Stuff"?].
- 63a. A MORE PERFECT BUNION, [What my podiatrist said he'd never seen before?]. Such inspiring prose. “To form a more perfect bunion, wear high heels a size too small.”
- 82a, 91a. WE ALWAYS REMEMBER OUR FIRST LOAVES, [Baker's wistful comment?].
- 109a. THIS GLAND IS YOUR GLAND…, [Start of an explanation from a singing doctor?].
I suspect this is a “Merl cleaning out some add-a-letter entries from his theme notebook” puzzle, because there really is nothing tying these particular theme entries together other than the very loose concept of “add a letter, various letters, in various places, sometimes twice.” The added letters spell out … NCTBAGG. But! The surrounding fill was fine; light stuff with some sparkle like SMOOTHIES. I did not quite know but somehow half-remembered 20a: SMILODON, [Saber-toothed cat genus]; the -ODON part smacks of teeth. I may be in a weird mood because my favorite non-theme clue was 79a: [Aix aye] for OUI.
Four stars because the puzzle kept my interest and the theme offered some amusement.