Tony Orbach’s New York Times crossword, “Enrich”
On my way to a graduation party (for my cousin’s son Tyler, who got a law passed in Illinois as a high school student, and how impressive is that?), so I must be cursory.
The theme entries are made by adding EN to familiar phrases:
- 23a. Episode title for a cooking show featuring chicken recipes?], PREPARATION HEN. This one made me laugh out loud! Love it when something in a crossword evokes that reaction.
- 32a. Goal for a comic working the Strip?], LEAVENING LAS VEGAS.
- 47a. Informal advice to an overeager picker?], LET ‘ER RIPEN.
- 67a. Request to represent a Minnesota senator’s side of a debate?], CAN I BE FRANKEN?
- 82a. Tarzan’s response when asked if the noodles are cooked?], RAMEN TOUGH. Because apemen have rudimentary cooking skills and put instant noodles in a hot pot.
- 99a. Naval officer who’s an expert in astrology?], ENSIGN OF THE ZODIAC.
- 111a. Religious ceremony for two Hollywood brothers?], COEN ORDINATION. This one was the toughest to parse.
Top fill: Sgt. SCHULTZ, Queen LATIFAH, PONIED UP, cannabis SATIVA, HEDONISM, PERFECT TEN, VANUATU.
Felt a little more crosswordesey than I like, with things like ALINING ([Truing: Var.]) and ITER.
Did not know: 9d. [Vietnamese coin], HAO; or 119a. [Whitfield of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"], SHEREE. SHEREE is more plausible than SHIREE, but I wasn’t sure if the H-less 91d. [People of Ghana: Var.] would be ASANTE (yes) or ASANTI (no). Apparently Asante is a variant of Ashanti, and Asanti is out of bounds.
3.5 stars. Preparation Hen! Over and out.
Todd McClary’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 219″—Sam Donaldson’s review
I broke into this 68/29 freestyle with MSQ, the [NBC game show lasting about 11.5 days, for short], more formally known as Million Second Quiz. I’m familiar with the show, but not as much as one fellow Fiend-ster (hi, Andy). That Q was too seductive to overlook, so I immediately read the clue for the crossing, [Gooey party bowlfuls]. Not an appetizing image, but it was enough to get me QUESO-something. In short order I figured that QUESO DIPS was the right answer, even though it feels a little forced to me. In my world, several bowls of dip are still “dip,” not “dips.” This may explain my diet struggles.
The only lasting error in the southwest corner was ACUITY instead of ACUMEN for [Quickness]. When I finally convinced myself that the answer underneath simply had to be THE ARTS (what else could answer [They may be patronized]?), I knew something was up–the answer to [Spreadsheet configurations] very likely would not start with IATR-. Eventually it all fell into place, so it was off to the other corners.
It seemed each of the other corners had one big “Huh?” entry for me that really slowed my solving tempo. In the northwest it was AQUA-ZUMBA, the [Latin twist on water aerobics]. It has two rare letters (M and B, of course), so I suppose it’s sexy from a freestyle construction standpoint, but its unfamiliarity kept me from enjoying it very much.
In the southeast was UTAH STATE, the [Romney Stadium campus]. When I saw “Romney,” I thought Massachusetts, not Utah. And I was at a loss for colleges starting with U–H that would be anywhere in Massachusetts or even the east coast. Had I sussed out the Mormon connection a little earlier, I might have saved a full minute or two.
In the northeast there were two thorny bits for me: RADIO EDIT, the [Broadcast-friendly version of a pop single with profanity], and TREY SONGZ, the ["Na Na" hitmaker]. Look, I’m the first to admit I’m behind the times: I read “Na Na” and want the answer to be BOWSER. And apparently “radio edit” is a thing, as opposed to “radio version” or even “radio cut.” But I couldn’t shake this “Get off my lawn!” feeling that kept creeping up while I was struggling in this corner. I suppose one solver’s “fresh and hip” is another solver’s “kids these days.”
To be clear, though, I’m shouldering all of the blame for the slower solving time. I admire the construction. Nothing feels trite, and there’s plenty of zip. I liked HIS OR HER, TED TALK, MORATORIA, and SCHEDULE A, the [Form for itemized deductions]. (I’m a recovering tax attorney, so there wasn’t an easier answer in this puzzle.)
Points of Interest:
- I skipped over [It has no arms] at 1-Across, figuring it could probably refer to many things. But once I got the answer, SIDECHAIR, I wondered what else it really could be. I’m still at a loss, perhaps proving that the nine-letter answer to [It has no brain] is DONALDSON.
- ATTN new solvers: the [Westernmost body of land east of the International Date Line] is ATTU. Get used to it.
- [Oz creatures] really perplexed me, and even after I got the answer, ROOS, through crossings, I didn’t get it. It took a few minutes of online research before I finally figured it out: “Oz” is short for “Australia,” just as “roos” is short for “kangaroos.” Color me charmed.
- As a former long-time resident of Seattle, I feel I had edge with ALKI, clued as [Washington's motto, meaning "by and by" in Chinook]. If you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “AL-kye,” not “AL-key” or “al-KYE.”
- SUPERBAD is the wonderful [2007 Jonah Hill comedy]. It features one of the all-time great faek ID names: McLovin.
- You know you’ve been solving a lot of crosswords when your first answer to [Military address] is APO instead of SIR. Novice solvers likely had the edge here.
Favorite entry = BUD ICE, the [Beverage with "Beware the penguins" ads]. I loathe beer and have never tried a Bud Ice, but the entry feels fresh and the clue is playful Works for me. Favorite clue = [Indication that it's time for a change?] for ODOR. Speaking of which, I think I’ll hop in the shower.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Bird Search” — pannonica’s write-up
Fun puzzle here. The common names of birds appear in theme entry words or phrases, some of which are contrived to varying degrees.
- 23a. [*Defiant teens] YOUNG REBELS.
- 25a. [*Baring all] DISROBING.
- 39a. [*Losing medalist's place] SECOND OR THIRD.
- 51a. [*Sunken treasure, maybe] LOST RICHES.
- 63a. [*Oral exam] VIVA VOCE TEST.
- 69a. [*French Louisiana] CAJUN COUNTRY. Nifty, as “Junco Partner” is a New Orleans standard, although it’s a reference to something other than the bird.
- 84a. [*Spinner with numbers] LOTTO WHEEL.
- 90a. [*Neighbor of North Cambridge, MA] EAST ARLINGTON.
- 111a. [*Apology's antithesis] NO REGRETS. More niftiness, as “Non, je ne regrette rien” is one of the signature songs of Édith Piaf, nicknamed the Little Sparrow (actually ‘piaf’ is a term in French meaning sparrow—it was her stage name).
- 113a. [*Beating in brainpower] OUTSMARTING.
Commendably, most of the hidden names span more than one word in the phrases; for one-word theme answers, the cryptic avifauna are found interiorly, not reaching either terminus.
In contrast to the concealed birds of the theme, the rest of the puzzle—primarily the cluing—is overtly festooned with avian references and allusions. I get a kick out of such overkill, as long as it isn’t too goofy.
For example: 1a [Maker of canary food], 6a [On two feet], 11a [Bluebird egg hue], 15a [Just ducky]. That’s right, the first four clues, the entire top row. It would be tedious for me to list all such instances in the puzzle, but feel free to undertake cruciverbal birdwatching on your own. Note: strong duplication with the clue for 11-across (above) and 103d [Collected, as an oologist] EGGED. Continuing, here are some of the more recondite and/or entertaining appearances feathering the grid-nest:
- 61a [Heartfelt flutter?] PITAPAT.
- 78a [Keen] NEAT-O. Think also of keen as a verb. Here’s WB Yeats’ “The Ballad of Father O’Hart”
- 5d [Take evasive action] ZIGZAG.
- 16d [Like birds of a feather] AKIN.
- 54d [Flock of quail] COVEY.
- 71d [Cages for some birds?] JAILS.
- 75d [Lovebirds no more] EXES.
- 57a [Mother of 54-Across] OPS; 54a [Grain goddess] CERES. Know what the Greek name for OPS is? RHEA.
- Not particularly spiffy, but I feel obligated to include 115d [Number of birds hidden in starred-clue answers] TEN, over in the bottom right.
- My solving error was at the crossing of 62d [Like a jay of Brazil] and 65a [Aunt, in Asti]. I’d gone with the Spanish cognate TIA, knowing that ATURE looked woefully wrong. Working it in the wee hours, I just couldn’t see the correct alternative, AZURE. (ergo, Italian for ‘aunt’ is ZIA).
- 36a [Bird feeder mount] POST, though I tried POLE first; 73d [Spot for a bird feeder] PATIO.
- 59a [Gas giant half] MOBIL; 89a [Rival of 59-Across, once] ESSO—now it’s the other half: ExxonMobil. Also, intersecting 89a is another gas company, HESS, though it’s clued as [Pianist Dame Myra] (85d). See also 2d [Old rival of 89-Across] AMOCO.
- 28a [Pueblo people] ZUNI; 45d [Arizona tribe] HOPI.
- 50a [Curly cohort] is MOE, but STAN is merely [Ollie's sidekick] (121a)? That doesn’t seem egalitarian at all.
- Tough (and toughish) fill: 107a [Library endower Pratt] ENOCH; British politician Powell and musician Light are both more familiar to me. 10d [Willful state?] TESTACY. 13d ["Wir,' objectively] UNS; farther afield than typical crossword-German. 52d [Broccoli rabe] RAPINI. 63d [2010 NL MVP Joey] VOTTO.
- Tough clues: the crossing 101d [Chucked] SHIED and 110a [Besom rider] HAG. See m-w.com for the former, specifically 4chuck (noun) 2 : an abrupt movement or toss. Really, that’s the closest it comes.
- Not much in the way of long non-theme fill. COLONELS, AIRPORTS, PERFORMS, LION HUNT. The first two have bird-infused clues, the third vaguely suggests showy displays à la peacocks, the last has no ornithological implications, unless you want to go as far as thinking of one of Heracles’ other labors (№ 6, the Stymphalian birds)
- Favorite clue: 56a [Pub. for docs] JAMA. Was totally fooled into thinking docs was short for documents.
Very good, entertaining puzzle. Perhaps I should tweet about it.
Elizabeth Gorski’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “Pas de Deux”
At the top of the post, I wished a Happy Father’s Day to all the papas, and that’s Liz’s theme: PA— PA— phrases. Cute title! Here are the themers:
- 22a. [Van Eyck's "Ghent Altarpiece," for one], PANEL PAINTING. That one has 12 panels, a quadruple-triptych level of paneling.
- 32a. [Baking pan liner], PARCHMENT PAPER.
- 49a. [Eaten or drunk], PAST PARTICIPLE.
- 66a. [Restaurante cookware], PAELLA PANS. Is that a thing? Apparently it is. Is there also a specific word the Spanish use for this, or do they go with “paella [Spanish word for 'pan']” too?
- 73a. [Comedian the Smothers Brothers convinced to run for President], PAT PAULSEN. Pop culture for the 40-and-up crowd.
- 90a. [Swirly fabric design], PAISLEY PATTERN. Possibly redundant.
- 104a. [Breakdancing garb], PARACHUTE PANTS. Gettable with no crossings, really. Pop culture for the 50-and-down crowd.
- 120a. [Sleepovers with pillow fights], PAJAMA PARTIES.
Halfway reminiscent of an old Byron Walden Sunday NYT, full of MA— MA—s and PA— PA—s. That one included PARACHUTE PANTS, PAST PARTICIPLE, and PAJAMA PARTIES along with another PA PA and four MA MAs.
Four more things:
- 80d. What a piñata gets at a kids’ party], THWACKING. Feels awkwardly clued, as a piñata doesn’t get THWACKING, it gets a thwacking. Would have preferred a verb clue instead of this a-less noun.
- Proper noun crossing of doom, for a number of solvers: 41a. [Maestro __-Pekka Salonen], ESA meets 37d. [Senior golfer Aoki], ISAO at the S. Know your crosswordese names! ESA could also be clued as the Spanish word, but not when 117d: ESOS is in the grid too. (See also: 61a. [Airline to Oslo], SAS meets 47d. [Hall of Fame football coach Earle "Greasy" __], NEALE at the A.)
- Lots of crosswordese in general make this puzzle better suited to longtime solvers who have picked up the vocab already—AMAT/OTERI, TET/OBI, YSER and ORSER, NEALE/ESSEN/SAS, O-LAN/NNE, UTA, TRA, plural abbrev STAS, EMBAR, STEROL… I do have limited affection for such fill.
- The clue, 50d. [William and Kate's set], stymied me for so long! Even when I had TELL* in place, I was thinking “aristocracy” and “I know there was a William Tell, but is there a Kate Tell?” The TELLY! The TV set. D’oh!
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Pun Party”
The order of the day is puns:
- 23a. [French school famous for its uncomfortable chairs?], THE SORE BUNS. Funny, but the S at the end detracts from the “Sorbonne” pun.
- 29a, 39a. [With 39 Across, story of a Greek who was very close to his men?], ADJACENT AND THE ARGONAUTS. “Jason” pun here. Hitch: ADJACENT is simply not a noun.
- 53a. [Main competitor of Betty Crocked?], DRUNKEN HINES. Puts me in mind of the gross-out puns-on-brand-names stickers that were popular when I was a kid. Googling … Here they are, Wacky Packages. (Duncan Hines.)
- 61a. [To be thinner, stronger, smarter and richer?], FOUR WANTS IN MY LIFE. Here, two words are changed in the pun, “for once” to FOUR WANTS.
- 75a. [Director's shout on the set of a zombie movie?], LIGHTS, CAMERA, ASHEN. Today’s zombies are less pale and more bloody and rotting.
- 83a. [The other whale-obsessed mariner, the one who got some therapy?], CAPTAIN REHAB. Ahab needed therapy, man.
- 97a. [Beatles tune about a property seller?], ALIENOR RIGBY. Eh. Words like ALIENOR do not bring the funny.
- 108a, 116a. [With 116 Across, where radio and TV commentators worship?], CHURCH OF THE ENUNCIATION. “Church of the Annunciation,” referring to either this place in Nazareth or perhaps a more generic church.
Eight theme phrases occupying 10 entries take up a lot of space in the grid, so there is less room for sparkling fill.
A few more things:
- 64d. [Storm-tracking org.], NHC. I wanted the NWS, National Weather Service, but it’s the NWS division called the National Hurricane Center, which Floridian Merl likely pays more attention to than this Midwesterner does.
- 10d. [71 Across, in Italian], ESSA. 71a is SHE. Cross-referencing + foreign = likely annoying to some solvers.
- 83d. [Hannibal's home], CARTHAGE. My first thoughts were Hannibal Lecter and Hannibal, Missouri.
- 84d. [Certain music note], A NATURAL. This one I had to work for, as I was thinking it was some 8-letter musical term I didn’t know ending with TONAL or something. I am not a natural when it comes to clues like this.
3.5 stars from me.
Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone! A happy Sunday to you, and a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, granddads, great granddads and father figures (male or female) out there that live up to the spirit of what being an exemplary dad is all about!
Some more Sunday Challenge goodness in the offer, this time by Mr. Doug Peterson. Had a good flow going in this grid for almost the whole solve, until EPISTLES was initially filled in as Apostles (8D: [New Testament section]). That misspell made FLIBBERTIGIBBET, already a bear of an entry, even more of a near impossibility to solve (17A: [Scatterbrain]). If those two weren’t bad, the first “e” in flibbertigibbet made me put in “SEC” instead of LEG (9D: [Hypotenuse neighbor]). Was completely flummoxed about that whole region for about four minutes, until I backtracked on my trigonometry, dusted off the trig knowledge and figured out “sec” (secant) could not have been that answer. The next guess on that was LEG (a correct one), then afterward, AUEL, after a letter change, came to view (9D: ["The Clan of the Cave Bear" novelist]), and subsequently, apostles became EPISTLES and I was finally off the proverbial hook.
Some of my favorite fill today included ALCATRAZ (38A: [San Francisco Bay tourist attraction]), LEARNER’S PERMITS (14A: [Documents acquired by most minors]), AL FRESCO (1D: [Dining option]) and BREMEN, a German city that I definitely want to visit after my time in Hamburg years ago (45D: [Home of Beck's Brewery]). Hamburg is on the Elbe River, a popular crossword entry, but the German river du jour is SAAR (54A: [German basin or river]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PICABO (44D: [Street in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame])- Picabo Street, who did not have legal first name for the first two years of her life and actually named herself at age 3 (yes, her parents allowed all of this), is arguably the most accomplished female skier in U.S. history. After winning the silver medal in the Downhill at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Street won the gold in that same event at the 1996 World Championship in Spain. Street reached the pinnacle of her Olympic career in 1998, when she won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in the Super G.
Thank you so very much for your time, and again, a wishing everyone a very Happy Father’s Day! Let us know what you did to bring a smile to your old man’s face!