John Lampkin’s New York Times crossword, “Predictable Partings”
Quick post, before picking up my son’s friends and heading to Giordano’s for a birthday dinner. Also, I have recurrent hiccups. My solving time would have been a bit faster without the hiccups and various distractions. *hic* Anyway—John’s theme is idiomatic ways of departing, clued as if they pair with certain people because of their occupations:
- 23a. [The paparazzo ...] WAS GONE IN A FLASH.
- 35a. [The demolitionist ...] BLEW THE JOINT.
- 55a. [The civil engineer ...] HIT THE ROAD.
- 60a. [The lingerie manufacturer ...] SLIPPED AWAY.
- 69a. [The chicken farmer ...] FLEW THE COOP.
- 74a. [The sound technician ...] MADE TRACKS.
- 92a. [The film director ...] QUIT THE SCENE. This one’s an idiom I don’t see much at all.
- 108a. [The soda jerk ...] RAN LICKETY SPLIT. Listen, people: Use a spoon at the ice cream parlor. Don’t just lick your banana split.
- 15d. [The ecdysiast ...] TOOK OFF. His or her clothes, that is.
- 17d. [The percussionist ...] BEAT IT.
- 84d. [The van driver ...] MOVED ON. I started with MOTORED.
- 89d. [The paper doll maker ...] CUT OUT.
Nothing in the theme is particularly amusing, but it’s always good to be reminded of the richness of the English language, multiple meanings of words, and colorful idioms.
The bulk of the fill is solid. There’s not a lot of flash (though EAR CANDY is always a delight), what with 12 theme answers occupying lots of real estate.
Clue that tricked me: 110d. [One may have a ball at the country club], TEE. I had DEB and I bet I wasn’t alone.
Word with unpleasant vibes: 105d. [Victory, to Wagner], SIEG. It’s just a plain ol’ German word, sure, but it also evokes the “Sieg heil” Nazi terror. I’m not sure if INSPIRED, STATE, and DIET could be used here instead of INSPIRES, STAGE, and SIEG or if the shorter words might appear elsewhere in the grid, but I’d have tried to make this change.
3.75 stars from me. Over and out.
Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone, and happy Sunday to you!
You can tell whether a harder puzzle is going to be an enjoyable solve off the bat if you can solve, and appreciate, the answer at 1-Across. Tony Orbach’s Sunday Challenge definitely falls into that category, with the amazing fill of BUDDY LOVE (1A: [Suave alter ego in “The Nutty Professor”]). Although his name is starting to remind me of the former WWF/WWE wrestling manager/talk show host, Brother Love.
Other than that, there’s some fantastic fill, as you would expect in a weekend puzzle. Had to reach into the recesses of my brain to pull out TSINGTAO (11D: [Sapporo competitor]). Both the northwest and southeast clusters had great full, especially SNOW GLOBE (64A: [Thing held by Charles Foster Kane on his deathbed]). Any way “rosebud” could have been fit in the grid as well?! Oh, well! For a few seconds, I thought the whisk being referred to was the detergent, only to realize, that’s Wisk, not whisk. After a few crosses, the light came on for EGG BEATER (66A: [Whisk relative]). And probably my all-time favorite non-rebus fill since doing crosswords, having the honor to plop down MOOSE JAW (39D: [City in Saskatchewan that’s home to the Roal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds]). There’s ALWAYS two cities that I remember that are in Saskatchewan: Regina and Saskatoon. But all that hockey-watching has alerted me of all the players that played on junior hockey league teams in Moose Jaw. By the way, the city’s motto is “Surprisingly Unexpected,” and this entry was unexpected, but definitely welcomed! Oh, and having THE MIDDLE GROUND (38A: [Place for a happy medium]) right across the middle of the grid was sweet. And intersecting that vertically, it was, well, VERTICAL TASTING (8D: [Sampling of different vintages of the same wine from the same winery]). Slick!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IROC (28A: Collectible Camaro brand])- IROC, for me when I was growing up, was the All-Star driving competition called the International Race of Champions (or IROC for short). Essentially, the best from Indy Car and NASCAR (and I think other circuits) drove identically-constructed cars and essentially had a race to see who was the best driver. The competition started in 1974, and some of its race champions included solely NASCAR drivers (Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt), solely Indy Car drivers (Al Unser, Jr., Mario Andretti) and drivers who drove in both circuits (A.J. Foyt, Tony Stewart). The competition ended after the 2006 edition.
Thank you for the time, and will see you on Monday, where I’ll review my first New York Times crossword puzzle on Fiend. Go easy on me, please!! Or not!!
Post Puzzler No. 212, by Patrick Berry – Gareth’s review
The puzzle started with two big gimmes, which always helps ones confidence:
- My first answer in the puzzle was [1967 hit single for Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston], ITTAKESTWO. He had a number of other duets around that time, but they were all with Tammi Terrell.
- This was followed shortly after by [Company boycotted by the band Pearl Jam], TICKETMASTER.
Of the other long answers, my two favourites were:
- [What you might pick up at a dealership?], NEWCARSMELL
- [Snoopy's doghouse, at times], SOPWITHCAMEL. A great answer, but also a good choice of clueing angle!
There were nice pairs of echoing clues/answers:
- [What Attila reputedly demanded 3,000 pounds of as a ransom for the city of Rome], BLACKPEPPER and [Dead Sea, e.g.], SALTLAKE
- [Ill treatment], HARM was followed by [Good treatment], CURE
I had two unknown names to contend with:
- [Archbishop of New York after Egan], DOLAN. I know the obscene and incredibly vapid cartoon of that name, but I wish I didn’t.
- [Actor John of "Deadwood"], HAWKES
There were also some very tough clues among the shorter answers:
- [Colorful shooters], AGATES. I was thinking drinks, not marbles, as were most of you, I’m sure.
- [Crib sheet users], BABIES. Very devious!
- [Platform [part], TENET. Political platform (tenuous)
- [States with zoning], TRANCES.
Lastly, I’d like to remark on [Search more effectively], SPLITUP. This is definitely a good idea, especially when searching for an axe-murderer.
The most impressive thing about this puzzle, as always with Mr. Berry, is that there are no short, contrived answers to be seen – none. After a whole weekend of great themeless puzzles, the only person who could out-themeless them all did so.
Gail Grabowski’s syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword, “Featured Article”
THE nine THEme answers each have a hidden THE that spans two words:
- 23a. [Organic farming staple], COMPOST HEAP. It’s always good to begin your theme with a decomposing, rotting pile.
- 25a. [Co-beneficiary], JOINT HEIR. Not sure I knew this was a thing.
- 38a. [Batsman's protection], CRICKET HELMET. Cricket players wear helmets? I guess that makes sense but I couldn’t tell you what one looks like. (Gareth could.)
- 49a. [Slim down and shape up, say], GET HEALTHY. Although technically, you can slim down and be unhealthy (anorexia?), and you can put on or maintain a higher weight and remain healthy. [Eat better and exercise regularly] would suit me better.
- 68a. ["The Snows of Kilimanjaro" author], ERNEST HEMINGWAY.
- 89a. [Stand up to], MEET HEAD ON. The only theme answer with an extra word that isn’t part of the THE-hiding.
- 97a. [Government appropriations session], BUDGET HEARING.
- 117a. [Became discouraged], LOST HEART.
- 119a. [Floor-warming technique], RADIANT HEAT.
- 121d. [Featured article hidden in this puzzle's nine longest answers], THE. The word “the” is a definite article.
THE THEme feels so dry to me. A bunch of dull nouns, a few verb phrases, and (the highlight) Hemingway. And “Hey! Look! The word THE is hiding in there!” does not have a high “wow” factor. Overall, the puzzle felt almost like a big unthemed puzzle, just “here are a bunch of clues to answer, not much wordplay involved anywhere, only a very few playful question-marked clues.
Trickiest clue, for me: 35d. [Hose in a shell], L’EGGS pantyhose sold in a plastic eggshell case. I was envisioning a garden hose, and the “shell” possibilities I considered included a boat, pasta, and apparel.
I don’t recall ever seeing this clue for ODIE: 61a. [Garfield's "purebred clown"]. I like that this isn’t the only Garfield clue, either. There’s also 104d. [Garfield's successor], ARTHUR—the president, not the comic-strip cat.
73d. 20th-cen. largely female labor org.], ILGWU—That is one of the ugliest acronyms ever, no? But I like the TV commercials they used to run, like this one. “♪♪ Look for the union label … ♪♪”
Not much else to talk about here. 3.25 stars.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “The Doctor Is In”
This week’s theme is a mixed bag of puns that incorporate famous doctors or “doctors”:
- 16a. [Doctor's job that requires a knife (and spoon)?], JEKYLL LANTERN. Jack-o’-lantern, carved with a knife and depulped with a spoon.
- 20a. [Seeks fair treatment, doctor-style?], SEUSS FOR DAMAGES. Sues for damages.
- 32a. [Doctor's comment about famous-brand meds vs. generic?], WATSON A NAME. “What’s in a name,” but entirely grammatically incomprehensible in the pun form.
- 45a. ["Take your best shot," to a doctor?], SALK IT TO ME. Sock it to me. “Shot” suggests injection, such as the polio vaccine Jonas Salk devised.
- 51a, 71a. [With 71 Across, Jill Clayburgh film that doctors recommend?], I’M DANCING AS / FAUSTUS I CAN. I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can.
- 59a. [Certain doctor's fixation?], THE SCHOLL OF YOUR FOOT. The sole of your foot, plus Dr. Scholl foot-care products.
- 80a. [Parts that a doctor may remove — from his car?], SPOCK PLUGS. Spark plugs.
- 92a. [Doctor's favorite medium for making casts?], PEPPER MACHE. Papier mache.
- 106a. [Done with less than minimal care, to a doctor?], DOOLITTLE, TOO LATE. Too little, too late.
- 112a. [Doctor's idea about when children should start dieting nowadays?], ATKINS CEPTION. “At conception.” This one is weird, because CEPTION is not a word.
The puns don’t particularly work for me. The phrases with the doctors’ names don’t always sound quite close enough to the base phrases (WATSON, PEPPER, SALK), and then they’re mostly grammatical mangles.
However! I mostly enjoyed solving the puzzle, as the clues for the fill were generally lively and light. It started right off at 1-Across with [Bunch for a honeybunch], ROSES, putting a smile on my face. There’s also 11a. [You must remember this] for the ALAMO; 36a. [Road runners?] for CARS; 84a. [Darn or dash followers] for IT ALL (this is just one of the many partials that didn’t irritate me in this puzzle); and 79a. [Gamble or gambol] for PLAY. The Merl playfulness vibe was present throughout the puzzle, so even though the theme didn’t captivate me, I’ll still rate it 3.75 largely satisfied stars.
Crooked Crosswords – “GAME PLAY” by Henry Hook – Gareth’s review
Odd puzzle. I’m finished and I don’t what’s going on! The first two theme answers I had filled in both had PLAY in them: SQUEEZEPLAY and DOUBLEPLAY. This is generally a crossword no-no without a very good thematic reason. Shortly after, I encountered 3STRIKES, also thematic, and also baseball related. A single square with a number in it is also normally a crossword no-no. So I proceeded, assuming the rest of the puzzle was going to be baseball-related. And then THEPRICEISRIGHT appeared in the middle. Apparently that’s what the puzzle is about. It has never to my knowledge been broadcast in South Africa. I don’t know anything about it other than it’s a game show and the line “Come on down” may have something to do with it. I somehow don’t think I’m going to figure out the theme today! Other starred answers are TEMPTATION next to TRIPLEPLAY, SHOPPINGSPREE, COMINGORGOING, FREEZEFRAME, PATHFINDER, MOREORLESS, SWITCHEROO, SIDEBYSIDE and FLIPFLOP. When in doubt, read the Wikipedia article… Still clueless, although I note a reference to “freezing”. I assume these phrases relate to the show in some way, but I have no idea how.
I find it difficult to remember specific answers I wanted to discuss in a 21x puzzle. I do remember knowing VASTI from anatomy dissections, but not wanting to put it in because I thought it’d be too obscure for crosswords. ABRAM/RIDD was a correct guess based on ABRAM being a name. Didn’t know RIDD was an actual surname. My wrong answer was LAPALT/PIS – xi, omicron, pi Gareth. Sigh. LAXALT and LAPALT are equally implausible as surnames though. I’ve long resigned myself to encountering weird names I’ve never heard of in HH puzzles – see also EPPA Rixey (or possibly Rixey EPPA) and Joseph ALSOP.
Clues like [Health spas, to Brits], HYDROS are tricky for me. I never know whether to expect a word common to British and South African English, or one like this that is never used here!
I wonder if HH would’ve clued the odd abbr. PRON differently if he could? Given its more modern meaning that is based on a deliberate misspelling…
Does anyone know why [Fish. on "le menu"], POISSON has a full stop in the clue?
I don’t understand the theme enough to rate the puzzle. But it better be more than just words in theme phrases being associated with THEPRICEISRIGHT given the liberties taken with crossword conventions.