We’ll talk about the Fireball puzzle Sunday night or Monday, in the Monday post. Contest puzzle! And I’ve griped that the Fireball metas are often too easy, but this one … the first 10 minutes of meta pondering got me nowhere and I don’t have a clue how to proceed at this point.
Alan Arbesfeld’s New York Times crossword
Compound words that end with “back” have the “back” lopped off and the front runs backwards to replace it:
- 17a. [Singer in the sea, literally], PMUHWHALE. That’s a humpback whale.
- 27a. [Plan B, literally], LLAFPOSITION. A fallback position.
- 42a. [Gridiron maneuver, literally], RETRAUQSNEAK. Quarterback sneak.
- 57a. [Little kid's lift, literally], YGGIPRIDE. Yggi pride! No, piggyback ride.
I like the theme, and the crisp assortment of phrases selected. The “backed” word is always the first one in a two-word phrase, so there’s solid thematic consistency.
Seven more things:
- 20a. ["Smack"], HEROIN. Whoa. I was not expecting that answer.
- Do you know how often 23a. ATT is clued as an abbreviation for “attorney”? According to the Cruciverb database, about 60% of the time. It’s [Long-distance inits.], missing the ampersand, here because right below ATT is 26a. [Fiction's Atticus Finch, e.g.: Abbr.], ATTY. That ATTY clue is quite nice, though.
- 33a. [Some intellectual property, for short], TMS, trademarks.
- 46a. [Comprehensive, in edspeak], EL-HI. Meh. I used the “search inside this book” tool at the Amazon page for Edspeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, Jargon, and you know what? It came up blank for EL-HI. If a 245-page glossary of educational jargon doesn’t include this term, maybe it deserves to be purged from constructors’ digital or mental word lists.
- 7d. [Indicator of stress], ALL CAPS. I AM PRETTY UPSET RIGHT NOW. It works!
- 13d. [Fisherman's bane and hockey player's boon], EMPTY NETS. Not to be confused with an empty nest. But hey! Why on earth is ONE clued as ON “E,” 10d. [In dire need of gas, say], when that E means “empty” and there are only two answers between 10d and 13d?
- 43d. [Bush successor], QUAYLE. I forgot about that guy.
3.75 stars from me.
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Check Your Privilege” — Matt’s review
9-A [Guitarist with a 2014 #1 album “Lazaretto”] = JACK (WHITE), crossing [Tropical devil ray] = (MAN)TA.
20-A [Event to get rid of unwanted goods] = (WHITE) ELEPHANT SALE, crossing [Basketball star turned so-called diplomat] = Dennis ROD(MAN). North Korea’s favorite ball player.
38-A [Become pale] = TURN (WHITE) AS A SHEET, crossing [Fact checker's well-worn book] = ALMANAC
51-A [Admits defeat] = WAVES THE (WHITE) FLAG, crossing [Native American poet/author Alexie] = SHER(MAN). Who is also a BEQ fan, as evidenced by a testimonial on Brendan’s website.
64-A [Harmless stories] = (WHITE) LIES, crossing [The Eternal City resident] = RO(MAN).
The solution graphic is provided by the author himself. I spent a minute trying to figure out who the guy in the grid is, but Brendan tells me it’s just some random dudebro.
***Could not get a toehold on this grid at first; felt like solving a Blindauer where nothing is as it seems. Had BARS for 1-A [Sudoku constraints] when it was ROWS; Had HAUL for [Booty] at 5-A when it was TAIL; Had REBAR for 4-D [Reinforcement material] when it was STEEL. Finally found a solid entry point with [Farsi-speaking nation] for IRAN at 7-D.
***Well you’ve got to appreciate WILL SHORTZ at 3-D, amirite?
***Other good fill: POLKA (“Weird Al” is having a great week; I assume you’ve seen this), SLEEPS LATE, E-BOOK, IF NOT.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I wonder how many more theme answers satisfy *ET *ET? That is what the revealer, ETTU is pointing us to. There are only three theme answers: [Protection from a bowler], CRICKET HELMET, [Mozart and Brahms each wrote a notable one], CLARINET QUINTET and ["Deny thy father and refuse thy name" speaker], JULIET CAPULET. CRICKETHELMETS were only introduced in the late 1970′s, before that batsmen face balls coming at their heads at up to 150km/h without such luxuries! My classical ignorance made me look questioningly at CLARINET QUINTET, but it seems to be a well established classical trope looking at google. JULIETCAPULET is strongly clued!
With only three themers, Zhouqin designed a grid with nice flow and managed to include some other top answers: JUSTLISTED, TRADERJOES and ALOHATOWER were particularly great and there were plenty more that were nice too! It is odd that SELA wasn’t connected to WARD.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Last Resort”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and I hope all of you are having/have had a pretty good Wednesday so far!
The 2014 FIFA World Cup, which took place in Brazil, ended last Sunday, and I’m still going through withdrawal symptoms. At the very least, I can think about Brazil a little bit more, due to this puzzle authored by Mr. Patrick Jordan. In it, common terms and/or proper nouns are altered by adding the letters “RIO” to the end of the term, creating some puns with a Samba flavor.
- YO-YO MARIO: (17A: [Foolish Nintendo plumber?]) – From Yo-Yo Ma. Tied for the strongest pun of the four in the grid.
- SANTA ROSARIO: (25A: [Actress Dawson at a Christmas costume party?]) – From Santa Rosa. Here’s the other co-winner, in my opinion. Can we actually get Rosario Dawson to dress up as Santa one day?! Can anyone get on that?
- SUITS TO A TRIO: (43A: [Customizes music for Rush or Nirvana?]) – From “suits to a T.” If I clued this, the trios I would have used were De La Soul and Salt ‘n’ Pepa.
- WET BARRIO: (58A: [Spanish-speaking area after a rainstorm?]) – From “wet bar.”
I’m going to start this blog off by starting with the ones, across and down, as that was the last part I got to finish. I haven’t listened to a lot of Garrison Keillor, so LAKE was a stab in the dark at the end (1A: [Garrrison Keillor's Wobegon, e.g.]), and I also haven’t heard the term LAYER used in the context it was used for today’s puzzle in a long while (1D: [Productive hen]). Rest of the grid wasn’t too bad, especially since once you knew to fill in RIO at the end of the theme answers, it made life a little easier. Using SHOOK, the past tense for 007′s preferred drink preparation was slick (9D: [Prepared James Bond's martini correctly]), especially given the fact that I initially answered going down, and typed in SHAKEN. Definitely not dealing with genius-level intellect with this blogger/solver.
Is it weird that I love (and I mean, love) the AROMA of coffee, yet don’t drink coffee at all (26D: [Coffeemaker output])? If there is any person that hasn’t had a sip of coffee since the beginning of college, raise your hand. (*Hand raised.*) I don’t know how I made it through college and/or life without having any drop of coffee. Tried it when my dad made coffee regularly before working the night shift at his job, and thought it was a cool thing to drink when I was real young and wanted to feel like an adult. Once I actually became an adult, I steered away from coffee altogether for some reason. But I still love the aroma. Not only do we have AROMA in the grid, we also have ODOR, something left in the coffee drinker’s breath that I’m not so hot about (39A: [Pepé Le Pew's problem]). Weakest part of the grid was HAMMIEST, as it makes me think of a person who’s won a ham-eating contest (56A: [Least likely to win a Tony, perhaps]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BERRY (49D: [Hollywood's Halle])- As most of you might know, Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry has had a few high-profile relationships, but her first of those that many in the celebrity gossip world took notice of was her marriage to then-Atlanta Braves slugging outfielder David Justice. They were married from 1993 to 1997. Describing her feelings not long after their separation, Berry stated that she was so depressed that she considered taking her own life. Well, then…good thing she didn’t make good on that word, huh?
Thank you everyone, and we’ll see you on Friday!