Jeff Chen and Dick Shlakman’s New York Times crossword
Playful homophone theme, where three sound-alike words are strung together in “As B Cs” format, making plausible sentences:
- 17a. [MOUNTAINS TICK OFF TOY DOGS], PEAKS PIQUE PEKES.
- 28a. [SOUTH AFRICANS ARE UNEXCITED BY SWINE], BOARS BORE BOERS. Gareth may not pronounce BOERS the same as the other words, but the dictionary I checked does include a pronunciation that matches perfectly.
- 42a. [COUPLES PEEL FRUIT], PAIRS PARE PEARS.
- 54a. [PASTORAL POEMS INCAPACITATE TEEN FAVES], IDYLLS IDLE IDOLS.
I enjoyed working through the theme. Wordplay! Consistent formatting is another plus.
Five more things:
- 7d. [Tailgaters’ activities, for short], BBQS. Turns out that the meaning of “barbecue” is culturally specific, and unless those tailgaters started very early in the morning to smoke their meat, they’re merely having a cookout. If you invite a Southerner over for a BBQ and you’re just grilling burgers and hot dogs, she’s probably going to be very disappointed.
- 32a. [Big name in fancy chocolates], LINDT. I approve wholeheartedly. If your travels to Europe ever offer a stop at the Zurich airport, you could do worse than to swing by the boutique selling Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate and pick up a gigantic bar of fine chocolate.
- 40a. [“Pics ___ didn’t happen” (“Where’s the proof?!”)], OR IT. Nobody really loves partials (unless they crave them as likely to be easy fill-ins) but the clue sells this one.
- 43d. [Singer with the 1994 hit “Bump n’ Grind”], R. KELLY. Essential reading on R. Kelly, right here. Not a good man.
- 6d. [Lena of “Havana”], OLIN. If only she would get a juicy part in a successful, big-budget movie so that we could all clue OLIN with reference to something many of us actually saw.
Top fill: BAD RAP, ABANDON SHIP, NO PROB. Blah fill: TSAR meets URSA, ELBA meets OLIN, ODIE and ELD.
Duplication zone: UPKEEP and KEPT are too closely related for comfort. I’m not bothered by [China’s Sun ___-sen], YAT and SUNS.
Question: Why is ELBA still clued as the [Isle of exile] so often when Idris ELBA is working so much in Hollywood? He’s won a Golden Globe, been nominated for Emmy awards, been on a hit sitcom, and portrayed Nelson Mandela.
Tracy Bennett’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Tracy gives us a very creative theme today: phrases that end in words that are also short forms of common first names are re-imagined as apt bynames tied to potential occupations. The clues all use “username”; I’m not sure what’s up with that bit!
The spanner [Apt username for Catherine, the handywoman?], DOITYOURSELFKIT is brilliant! And maybe the seed? I enjoyed all of them! The rest are: [Apt username for John, the labor organizer?], UNIONJACK; [Apt username for Margaret, the geometry teacher?], SQUAREPEG; [Apt username for Dorothy, the Oktoberfest accordionist?], POLKADOT (I didn’t know Dot was short for Dorothy!); and [Apt username for William, the rural worker?], FARMBILL.
Despite the lack of longer non-theme answers, Tracy managed to squeeze in several phrases into the medium-length answers: MYDEAR/YESNO/SATBY/NOHOW/OHGOSH. This helps to make the puzzle sparkle!
- [Protestant denom.], METH. Is far more awkward than the drug, but avoids mentioning the drug.
- [Equanimity], APLOMB. Both fun words to say!
- [Actress Gaye of “Ali”], NONA is a tough name for a secluded section! I suspect it was a deliberate choice on Tracy’s part. I looked her up… She’s Marvin’s daughter!
Tyler Hinman’s American Values Club crossword, “Online Connections”
More later—my new desk is being delivered in 10 minutes and … there is still lots of stuff on the old one. Like this computer. Short form: Theme makes puns that involve the names of dating/hookup websites.
—Okay! Desk is sorted, work has been done. The theme answers are as follows:
- 17a. [Dating site for very active gay men?], DAILY GRINDR. The daily grind meets Grindr, an app that facilitates hookups among men in proximity to one another.
- 27a. [Dating site for lonely demons and zombies?], MONSTER MATCH. “Monster Mash” meets dating website match.com.
- 42a. [Dating site for people looking to get to second base?], PETTING ZOOSK. Petting zoo meets … I don’t know what Zoosk is. “Behavioral matchmaking”? Whatever.
- 55a. [Dating site after the bar?], LEGAL TINDER. Legal tender meets Tinder, which I think is somewhat akin to Grindr. You choose people, I learned from a Buzzfeed listicle or something, based solely on appearance and possibly proximity, not on written profile information.
Tyler fit in plenty of longer fill, including “DON’T DELAY,” CLAMBAKE, VIBRATORS (11d. [Robotic members of congress entering a recess?], clever), G-STRING, VIDALIA onions, a mythical GRYPHON, “MERCY ME,” and OMNIVORA. Smart fill, sometimes saucy. I also like “MM-HMM.”
20a. [REI rival] clues EMS. I assume EMS is a brand of sports/outdoors gear? Yes, Eastern Mountain Sports. Not a brand I know—they have no stores outside the East, though presumably they have nationwide web customers.
Four stars from me.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Old MacDonald’s Rejects”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and hope you’re having a good Wednesday so far.
While Amy is in the middle of installing her new plaything (desk) so she can place her other playthings on top of it, I’ll just slide in and talk quickly about Ms. Sarah Keller’s puzzle today, which are phrases that include the names of animals.
- BLACK SHEEP: (17A: [Undesirable family member])
- DIRTY DOG: (27A: [Scoundrel]) – Initially typed in DIRTY RAT…seemed right at the time!
- TROJAN HORSE: (32A: [Destructive computer virus]) – Computer viruses just flat out suck!!
- DEAD DUCK: (41A: [Goner])
- COLD TURKEY: (54A: [In an abrupt manner]) – This is what I’m going to have, literally, for lunch: cold turkey (slices).
I used to be scared when I watched THE ABYSS a couple of times when I was a kid (10D: [1989 James Cameron underwater thriller]), but then realized how much of a scaredy cat I was when I watched it again just a few years back. We have some gods and goddesses going at it in this grid, with THOR (10A: [Adventurer Heyerdahl]) on top of HERA (16A: [Juno’s Greek counterpart]). Not sure how Zeus would feel about that union, although he had other lovers, so he probably doesn’t feel UNEASE at the prospect of Hera running around (37A: [Discomfort]). Here’s hoping you foodies out there don’t run me out of town for this, but I’ve never officially ordered a CREPE in my life (20A: [Brunch serving]). Sure, I’ve ordered pancakes before and some of them may have ended up so thin that they would be considered a crepe, but never have officially ordered one before. Maybe that’ll change soon. If it wasn’t for the crossings, RYAS would have been trouble for me…again (61A: [Scandinavian rugs]). Not sure how I feel about the partial A BEND, though the answer was fairly an easy one to get (25A: [V.S. Naipaul’s “______ in the River”])
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LSU (30A: [Baton Rouge sch.])– What do ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich, Y.A. Tittle, Shaquille O’Neal, and Lolo Jones all have in common? They all were were athletic stars that attend Louisiana State University. Maravich is probably the greatest collegiate player the school has ever produced, as he is still Division I’s all-time leading scorer with 3,667 points (averaged an amazing 44.2 points per game in his college career), and Shaq is probably the most popular athlete the school has produced, with a lot of his off-court endeavors (though he wasn’t too shabby playing basketball, either).
Have a great day, everybody, and I’ll see you tomorrow!