Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword
I’m a little confused by today’s theme.
- 4d. [Single scoop], COOKIES AND CREAM. That’s one ice cream flavor.
- 7d. [Double scoop], VANILLA/MINT CHIP. That’s two ice cream flavors.
- 10d. [Triple scoop], LIME/LEMON/ORANGE. That’s … one scoop of rainbow sherbet with an odd assortment of flavors? Usually you get orange and either lime or lemon plus a red raspberry. Not too many ice cream parlors offer these three individual, non-rainbow flavors of sherbet or sorbet. Baskin-Robbins, for example, has orange sherbet and a bunch of different swirly combos to provide your RDA of artificial colors.
So I’m not sure the theme works well conceptually. It’s hard to get three different standard flavors with short enough names that all three fit into a 15-letter space. I also was thrown for a loop by COCO CHANEL crossing the chocolate COOKIES and making me think the theme would be delicious cocoa and chocolate words.
I do admire the three full names—besides Chanel, we also have singers KATE SMITH (32a. [Singer who said "Thanks for listenin'"]) and JOHN DENVER (56a. ["Annie's Song" singer]).
Not your usual clue for GENE: 28d. [Pulitzer-winning journalist Weingarten]. Gene won his Pulitzer for a Washington Post article in which violinist Joshua Bell busked in a Metro station. If you missed that in 2007, you must read it now. Gene is also on Twitter, where his avatar is a pile of poo.
Most perplexing clue: 22d. [They may be measured by the pound], for DOGS. Dogs on a scale at the dog pound, not hot dogs being assessed to see how many pounds they weigh. Hot dogs, of course, are sold by length.
Second most perplexing clue: 6a. [Spot on a small screen], for TV AD. We all wanted BLIP, right?
Tough southwest corner for the folks who don’t recall names. H.H. MUNRO and the Italian SETTE (7) cross rapper NATE Dogg, RITA [Moreno of "West Side Story"], and [Utah Valley University city] OREM.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “From the Old Country” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme animals whose name includes a demonym of a country that no longer exists:
- [Dog breed that has a distinctive dorsal feature] is a RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK – Dog doc Gareth can probably enlighten us about this canine that comes from the region now known as Zimbabwe.
- [Ovine with curly black hair prized by furriers] is a PERSIAN LAMB – also known as the “karakul,” it comes from an area that is now part of the country of Uzbekistan.
- [Exotic reptile wreaking havoc in the Florida Everglades] clues the deadly BURMESE PYTHON – Burma is now known as Myanmar by the ruling junta there.
- [Lady's feline tormentors in "Lady and the Tramp"] clues SIAMESE CATS – Siam is known officially as Thailand, unless you are watching The King and I.
Pretty interesting and tight theme, so thumbs up for that. Some nice longer entries such as LINE ITEM ([Type of veto]), SAID NO TO ([Refused]), BEATRICE ([First cousin of Prince William]) and the terrific TENERIFE ([Largest of the Canary Islands], but I’d have to say my FAVE entry was to see ["Henry and June" author], ANAIS NIN‘s full name in the grid. My Waterloo, though, was the crossing of the ACAI berry with the ABACO Islands group from the Bahamas. I played with that C for a while–trying J and G first, before I got Mr. Happy Pencil. Tough crossing for new solvers and even some old ones like me!
Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
The one struggle I have with Jack McInturff is that the proper nouns he knows and the ones I know seldom match each other. We’re three generations apart so that makes sense. It does mean that when the theme is proper names, I’m going to struggle. I solved this one in fairly average time, but I quickly decided to rely heavily on the downs!
I don’t know when Americans “celebrate” Father’s Day, but today’s theme is “male actors who have played a title role in a film or TV series with the word ‘Father’ in it”. The answer BESTDAD goes through three of the five answers. We have:
- 18a, ["Father of the Bride" co-star], STEVEMARTIN. I know the title as an early ’50s film whose actors I don’t know. I know of STEVEMARTIN as an actor who is about as funny as an anatomically-shaped vegetable. Apparently the film was remade in 1991.
- 26a, ["Father Dowling Mysteries" star], TOMBOSLEY. Late ’80s/early ’90s TV show I’ve heard of but never watched. Apparentlty a TOMBOSLEY was the star, like the clue says.
- 34a, ["Father Knows Best" star], ROBERTYOUNG. Know this show by title, but know nothing about it. Apparently, it started on radio in 1949, switched to US TV in 1954 and ended in 1960. Oh, and it starred someone called ROBERT YOUNG!
- 41a, ["Father Goose" co-star], CARYGRANT. I know that name! Never heard of “Father Goose” though. Apparently it was his second to last role and was made in 1964, and it won an Oscar.
- 55a, ["Father Murphy" star], MERLINOLSEN. Never heard of the show. Dimly heard of the actor, but could tell you nothing about him prior to looking him up.
So yes, I relied a lot on the crossing answers for most of the above. I appreciate that there weren’t too many proper names in the downs, and those that there were (DENIRO, OHENRY, CABOTS, ALGORE, ERNESTO and ASTA), were very well-known (or, in the case of ASTA, well-memorized from other crosswords!).
Other answers to comment on:
- 14a, [Pewter with 80% tin], LEY. Didn’t know that answer! I’m quite familiar with LEY lines though, thanks to a phase of interest in the paranormal as a tween.
- 46a, [Freud's "The ___ and the Id"], EGO. Always sounds like the title of a Hugh Cook book, except neither noun begins with W.
- 50a, [Brouhaha], RHUBARB. A very old meaning of the word! I had a lecturer who used to yell “Rhubarb, rhubarb!” if he asked a question and got a chorus of indistinct answers from the class.
- 11d, [Like a Greek siren], ENTICING. I don’t see the point of Greek in that clue.
- 36d, [Pirate's cry], YAR seems oddly devoid of G’s and H’s to me. While I’m here: Why are pirates called pirates? I don’t know, but they arrgh.
- 51, [Sheep's sound], BLAT. I’m sorry, there’s something wrong with your sheep if it goes BLAT. It has dictionary support, but I’ve never heard of it. In my world sheep bleat or go baa.
I’m abstaining from a vote today. This puzzle was so far out of my cultural frame of reference I may as well have been blogging from the moon. FWIW, “Father” shows I have watched include “Father Dear Father” and “Father Ted”. I actually don’t think I could name actors from either, except Ardal O’Hanlan (?) in the latter.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Full Titles”
Various song titles with first names in them are expanded to include last names:
- 17a. [Velvet Underground ode to an ironic English novelist?], SWEET JANE AUSTEN.
- 25a. [Michael Jackson song dedicated to a prickly conservative/droning actor?], BEN STEIN. “Ben” was about a rat.
- 28a. [Eminem song about a Marvel Comics magnate?], STAN LEE.
- 36a, 48a. [With 48-Across, Ramones song about how the author of "Blubber" doesn't give a fuck?], JUDY BLUME IS A PUNK. (Not to be confused with “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” which is the only “[blank] Is a Punk __” song I’m familiar with.)
- 51a. [With 59-Across, old Marvelettes tune about the resilience of the 42nd president?], DON’T MESS WITH BILL CLINTON. Don’t know “Don’t Mess with Bill.”
Not the easiest theme for me, but overall the puzzle wasn’t too challenging.
Five more things:
- 16d. [Key disciple of Buddha], ANANDA. New to me.
- 43d. [Jersey Shore garment], TUBE TOP. Blurgh.
- 50d. [Brown bag item], PB AND J. My kid had to take his lunch for a field trip today (to the Holocaust museum in Skokie). He isn’t a fan of sandwiches on regular bread. I bought sub rolls, and he complains that there’s no parmesan topping baked on like at Quiznos, plus he wants his sandwich (to be eaten hours later) to be toasted.
- 52d. [Hawks], SELLS. Go, Hawks! Beat the Bruins!
- 36d. [Discontinued brand-name lawn dart, familiarly], JART. Remember Jarts? They were taken off the market because too many kids were getting speared by them. Clearly a bigger danger than guns.