The Crossword Bloggers’ Union has arranged for this weekend to be a vacation period for everyone in management. So I’ll be away, and Deb Amlen has already been off for a few days, and Michael Sharp is vacationing as well. We’re not off having a cabal meeting. I swear.
Liz Gorski’s New York Times crossword
I had no idea that there were any big payouts for scratch-off lottery tickets, but apparently there are some INSTANT WINNERs who win over $1 million, or $10,000 a week for life. That’s not Warren Buffett rich, but it’s comfortable, certainly. Liz’s theme is a word ladder that takes you from POOR to RICH, by way of POOR, POOL, POLL, POLE, ROLE, RILE, RICE, and RICH. Nice concept, and certainly a more cheerful story than someone going from RICH to POOR.
I didn’t know 22a. [Via ___ (main street in ancient Rome)], SACRA. I know the sacra that are the bones right above our collective tailbones, but not my thoroughfares of ancient Rome.
I vacation-planned myself into a migraine before doing this puzzle, so I’m a little hazy on what is in the puzzle I just did 15 minutes ago. Fill was a little on the tough side, suitable for Thursday. Liked PELOSI, ORBACH, OKEY-DOKE, LI’L ABNER, FLO RIDA beside NELLY, and INFINITI. I even liked seeing E COLI, since this morning my colorist was telling me that the suburban Mexican restaurant with the E. coli outbreak this week is one he has been eating at a few times a month (not that foodborne illness is any joking matter—I hope they track down the exact source and that all the affected people make swift recoveries).
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “One to Ten” – Dave Sullivan’s review
When in (Ancient) Rome, the numbers one and ten are represented by I and X, respectively:
- The [Sixteenth Amendment subject] concerns INCOME TAX. It reads in full: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
- [Blink, wink, blush or sneeze] are types of an INBORN REFLEX – I’d go along with all but winking–that’s not a reflex is it? I might add yawn to the list instead.
- A [Web scam] is an INTERNET HOAX – yes, please do not send money online to anyone in Nigeria with a name you don’t recognize.
- [Seventeenth century pope painted by Diego Velázquez] clues INNOCENT X – also by Francis Bacon. Do you like that in this case that final X stands for the number ten?
Lots to like in this puzzle with clues that had me smiling all over the place (is that an “inborn reflex” as well?). Just a few to whet your appetite:
- The connection between clues–["In a pig's eye!"] for NO WAY! crossing [Pig's digs] for STY. Also, two entries with the same clue: [Guitar bar] clues both CAPO and FRET. Are these different things or do they both refer to the raised bars on the neck of a guitar?
- Rhymes, such as [Inks or clinks] for PENS – the “clink” is a jail cell, or pen, I believe.
- Cute question-marked clues, like [Did the Wright thing?] for FLEW and [Useful opening?] for LONG U. Clues that perhaps could’ve received them are [One wearing very little clothing] for DOLL and [Maker of heroes] for DELI.
- Alliteration alert: [Messy munchy] clues S’MORE and [Shay shomething] for SLUR. For another speech defect, see [Struggle with one's sisters] for LISP.
So much to like, I won’t pick just one FAVE today. My only stumble was the B crossing between BOP and BUNCO as I’m not familiar with the latter 3-dice game.
David Sullivan’s Fireball crossword, “Logical Conclusions”
A contest puzzle this week, so no commentary until the solution comes out Sunday night.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Another crossword by Team Jeffrey! Mr. Wechsler’s puzzle is quite subtle. Even with the revealer, PARTINGSHOT, I needed to stare post-solve to figure out the theme. At first glance, forum, ye, mouth and origin don’t seem to be in any way parting shots, but take another look… Is that RUM, RYE, VERMOUTH and GIN I spy? Yes, it is! Very clever! The 5 theme answers occupy 61 squares, which is a lot! Of the answers, HEARYEHEARYE is superb and PORTOFORIGIN and CLOSEDFORUM are good. TIDALRIVERMOUTH clued as [Estuary] is probably as good as you’ll get hiding VERMOUTH!
So with 61 theme squares you’d expect only short answers in the rest of the grid, right? Wrong! We have 4×10 letter down answers: 3 are phrases: TOTHEPOINT, FREEALLDAY and YOUVEGOTME. The fourth is a word, and a new to me: AUTODIDACT which is clued straight-forwardly as [Self-taught indivdiual]. Like many here I’m something of a cruciverbodidact!
So any weak spots holding together such an impressive collection of theme answers and long downs? There’s a bit of specialist vocabulary in ENATE and EPODE, that you’d probably only come across if you were interested in genealogy or classical poetry, one Roman numeral, and ELUL. And then there’s ATIP, which is tacked onto LEAVES to avoid being a partial. It still felt awkward though.
Clever theme, nice long answers, and minimal compromise: 4.1 stars!
Tyler Hinman’s AV Club crossword, “The AAB List”
It took me a while to make sense of this theme. Each name has three syllables, and the first two rhyme—hence an AAB rhyme scheme. We’ve got ANN LANDERS, RAY DAVIES, PHIL SILVERS, SAM CHAMPION (although I would argue this one is AABC—no idea how this guy I never heard of pronounces his surname), the fictional BOB LOBLAW (who was fond of mentioning the Bob Loblaw Law Blog—go ahead and say that out loud), and the also-fictional JOHN CONNOR (whose last name I always pronounce the way Arnold-as-the-Terminator did: “Cah-nuh”).
Solid puzzle, lots of funny clues—but I won’t list those great clues because I really need to start packing for a trip. And thieves take note: My house will be occupied and there is an alarm system.
Brendan Quigley’s 6/20 Website Puzzle and 6/13 Contest Puzzle
Before we get to today’s puzzle, let’s take a look at Brendan’s contest crossword from last week, “Theater in the Round.” Instructions: The answer to the meta is the name of a famous play. OK, so what are our theme entries?
3-d [Stupid and then some] = DUMB AS A DODO. We showed them!
18-a ["You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" one-hit wonders] = DEAD OR ALIVE. I remember this song, but it’s not good enough to link to.
26-d [Fighter whose punches don't connect] = SHADOW BOXER.
59-a [Hopi carving] = KACHINA DOLL.
I looked over the theme entries after solving and could sense a pattern, though it took me a couple of minutes to identify it. They all have a D, which is somewhere in the middle…and an A…aha! I finally realized that each of the four has an ADO in it. As my eyes were making their way around the pinwheel testing the ADO theory, my brain suddenly informed them that the word NOTHING probably appears as the central across entry. The eyes landed on the central entry and found: SQUAT, aka nothing, as in “That guy doesn’t know squat.” Funnier than using NOTHING.
Oh yeah, the meta: all those ADOs around a word for “nothing” must mean MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is our meta-answer, and it is. Nice idea! Read Brendan’s own write-up here.
Now, to Brendan’s puzzle from today, “Body Shop,” where he reinterprets familiar phrases that start with a part of the human anatomy:
16-a [Cups that may be watching you?] = EYE GLASSES. Spooky.
25-a [Thing that holds your TV up by the fingertips?] = HAND STAND. Also spooky; repurposed body parts are indeed rather Stephen King.
39-a [Butter maker that employs gastric juices?] = STOMACH CHURNER. Nice CH-CH action there, but we’ve graduated from “spooky” to 57-a.
49-a [Bonsai shaped like a head?] = FACE PLANT. Heebie-jeebies territory now.
And now, the piece-de-resistance: 60-a [Stiff fastener?] = (drum roll, please…) figure skater DICK BUTTON. Whose name starts with, as perhaps he was reminded several thousand times in his childhood, “dick butt.” He’s a very active 83-year-old, according to Wikipedia, just last year embroiling himself in a controversy over who should be nominated to the Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
So that’s a willies-inducing but amusing theme. 4.05 stars.