Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword, “What Happened to the Title? I Thought Sunday Puzzles Had Titles”
I am used to doing puzzles in Black Ink, a Mac-only solving software. On vacation with only a Windows laptop, and thus Across Lite … and if this puzzle has a title, I sure can’t find it. Which means I had no hint to figuring out the theme, which is well executed and not one of those achingly obvious themes. Add a “chee” sound somewhere in these familiar phrases and you get some oddball new phrase, clued accordingly. (Black Ink also lets me copy and paste clues, which Across Lite does not. So no thorough theme rundown! This laptop is hot and this hotel room lacks a desk in the room with daylight.)
- 24a. Wounded Knee gets you WOUNDED NIETZSCHE. Hardly ever spell that name right the first time through.
- 30a. Filthy rich becomes FILTHY RITCHIE, with the “guy” in the clue being capital G Guy Ritchie.
- 51a. Black tie yields BLACK TAI CHI.
- 64a. THE LONE STARCHY STATE comes from Texas.
- 80a. “I GUESS SOCHI” combines Sochi, Russia with “I guess so.”
- 97a. TABLE FOR TUCCI, two meets Stanley Tucci.
- 107a. R-rated movie becomes ARCHIE-RATED MOVIE.
Lots of nice fill–COP CARS, LAST WISH, CAMEL-HAIR coat that’s TAN, SCUSI, ROC-A-FELLA, TACO BELL, BAWDY, LATECOMER, and so forth. Not much annoying fill. There’s AROAR, which I reckon Michigan Stadium was this afternoon with 109,000 soccer fans in attendance at the International Champions Cup match between Man U and Real Madrid. My peeps attended without me, as I prefer to avoid places that are too much AROAR (this is a word that is strikingly little used outside of crossword puzzles). Largest-ever crowd for a futbol match in the US of A. (Please pardon my lack of accent marks. I am used to my keyboard shortcuts for accents on the Mac.)
Okay! Back to family vacation time. Thanks to Gareth and Jeffrey for covering the Merl Reagle puzzle and the Sunday LA Times crossword for me! Four stars for the puzzle.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated Sunday crossword, “I’m Not Quite Myself Today 2”
(Note – Jeffrey here filling in for Amy. Given this is a sequel puzzle, and given fill-in bloggers don’t get paid, I will just rerun Amy’s review of the original version, with updates in square brackets as needed. As always, no fact checking has been done.)
I loved this theme! I worked the puzzle without [after] reading the explanatory blurb and it didn’t take me any longer than usual. It’s exactly the sort of wordplay that my brain is fond of: Famous names are broken down into pronounced letter names and words that, when strung together, sound like the name:
- 24a. [A letter + smell + a letter + unbiased + a pronoun = ?], N REEK O FAIR ME. Enrico Fermi, physicist.
- 31a. [Portion + 2 letters + rip + a letter = ?], SHARE E O TEAR E. Cheri Oteri, comic actress.
- 51a. [Scratched + bellyache + a letter = ?], CLAWED MOAN A. Claude Monet, painter.
- 59a. [Plus + vocal quality + 2 letters…], AND TONE E O. Antonio…
- 71a. [… + taboo + a tycoon’s daughter = ?], BANNED HEIRESS…Banderas, voice artist.
- 84a. [Prey + possess = ?], VICTIM OWN. Vic Damone, rapper.
- 91a. [A letter + broadcast + loyal + a deer = ?], P AIR TRUE DOE. Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father. Australian, I think.
- 113a. [Equals + lingerie + a diarist = ?], PEERS BRAS NIN. Pierce Brosnan, Steele, Remington Steele.
- 123a. [Ruin + a Crusader’s foe = ?], WRECK SARACEN. Rex Harrison, pushmi-pullyu linguist.
I’m glad I did read the blurb after [before] solving, because it tipped me off to an Easter egg in the grid—”NOTE: Here’s a sequel to a puzzle I made last March. Example: “Take to court + a letter + leaves port” = SUE + “P” + SAILS, or “Soupy Sales.” In the grid, black bars separate the parts. When you’re done, there’s one more name spanning almost an entire column. Can you find it? Answer next week.” I started at the bottom [top] and worked my way up [down], sounding out each row, until I found [nothing. Because rows aren't columns. So I worked the downs and found it: WIT KNEE HUE STUN. Whitney Houston.]
[About the fill:
No one cares about fill.]
[Edited to add: See my comment below for the real story.]
Jeffrey Harris’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 226″—Sam Donaldson’s review
Here’s a 66/36 freestyle crossword starring six intersecting 11-letter entries that make for a wide open midsection. The corners sport triple-6s meeting up with some 6-7-8 stacks, giving even the corners a wide-open feel. From a solving standpoint, the good news here is that a little bit of progress can give you lots of traction. For me, it started in the northeast corner, where knowing that NINTENDO is the [Company that owns the Mariners] and that [The movie "Clue" has three] different ENDINGS gave me enough to get through the midsection relatively quickly.
Those of us “of a certain age” had no problem sussing out TAPE RECORDS as the verb for [Puts on cassette], and JAMES FRANCO likely comes easily as the [Actor who co-hosted the Oscars the same year he was nominated]. And while I wouldn’t have been able to answer the [Dish also known as a Norwegian omelet] without crossings, it didn’t take many before BAKED ALASKA came into view. The crossing 11s aren’t quite as snazzy, but they’re solid. ESTATE SALES get too much love in crosswords because their five unique letters are all quite common: A, E, L, S, T. Heck, you could probably make a regular crossword using just those five letters, but I doubt it would be much fun to solve. SOLAR FLARES and VETERANS DAY are more interesting in large part because of their clues, [Phenomena that follow a cycle of about 11 years] and [Observance given its current name in 1954], respectively. (In 1953, it was known as Rookies Day, and prior to that it was Prospects Day.)
The four corners had some goodies too. Each was made accessible through one or more rather “gimme” entries, like MATTEL as the [Fisher-Price parent] in the southwest, YARDAGE as the [Golf hole figure] in the southeast, and DARKNESS as [Satan's princedom]. Oddly, the only time-consuming section was in the same northwest corner where I started. I had MOANER and not WHINER as the [Bellyaching sort], and SALINE was a reasonable-at-the-time guess for the answer to [Kelp is rich in it] (though the answer proved to be IODINE]. Were I up to speed on my Angolan capitals, I would have known that LUANDA was the [Portuguese-speaking capital]. Alas, ’twas not the case, so I struggled a little here. Still, the overall solving time for me was faster than the typical Post Puzzler, so it’s a nice confidence boost.
Items of note:
- Boy did I want GLAMROCK for the answer to ["Whaam!" genre] (the correct answer was POP ART). Yes, I saw the extra “a” and knew that couldn’t be close, but still. I guess there ain’t no joy for this uptown boy.
- You may know ERASURE as a [New wave band with an EP of Abba covers]. I know it as an Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Oh, wait, that was Eraser. Never mind. Let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Just listen to “A Little Respect” and enjoy.
- [Mixers found in some bars] is a great clue for DJS.
- I realize a S’MORE is a [Microwaveable treat], but am I the only one who sees “s’more” and instantly thinks of a campfire? A s’more is microwaveable, sure, but so is filet mignon–possible but not advisable
- I liked that SARCASM was the answer to [What an emoticon might indicate], since neither IMMATURITY nor SHALLOW VOCABULARY fit.
Favorite entry = ORAJEL, the [Toothache relief brand] I know only from commercials. Does the “J” make it so consumers say the brand name correctly? Favorite clue = [Brother in the hood?] for a MONK.
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Kiddie Lit”
Today’s theme is of the “merged entries” genre. Two two part phrases have a common middle are merged and make one longer, wacky phrase… In this case one of the phrases is an adult novel and the other is one vaguely related to childhood. It’s a weird concept, but it makes for colourful theme answers. We have:
- [Tolstoy tale of child's play?], THUMB\WAR/ANDPEACE
- [Carson tale of well-behaved classroom clock watchers?], SILENT\SPRING/FEVER
- [Dickens tale of math woes?], HARD\TIMES/TABLE
- [Palahniuk tale of a rowdy slumber party society?], PILLOW\FIGHT/CLUB
- [Orwell tale of Beanie Baby breeding?], STUFFED\ANIMAL/FARM
- [Updike tale of an idle cereal mascot?], TRIX\RABBIT/ATREST
There was also fill, but it went past quickly and I don’t remember it well…
Bob Klahn’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, and happy Sunday!
Bob Klahn, we meet again! Whew, this a tough one, and had to stop for a little bit to make sure the brain didn’t overheat, and eventually shut down. But, once the completed puzzle was in place, it was finally time to appreciate the complexity of the grid.
The cluing was it’s Klahn-esque devilish, and couldn’t do too much on the northwest to begin, and the first answer that I actually entered was right in the middle, with ELEKTRA (37A: [Female ninja and love interest of Daredevil]). I’m not a huge comic book fan, but I know a lot of characters and their allegiances, so that wasn’t too hard. From there, coincidentally enough, I looked at the down answer that bisected ELEKTRA, and BLACKLIST thankfully popped in there fairly quickly (20D: [Ostracize]), and after that, I was able to chip away at the northeast and southeast. Did love the fill at the bottom part of the grid, especially TWENTY-TWENTY (51A: [Normal-looking]) and WIZENED (62A: [Wrinkled with age]). Once 20/20 was down, SLEEPER, a sports-related reference for the most part, came immediately (43D: [Dark horse]).
What gave me the hardest time were the entries in which the clues were quotes or referred to quotes and what subject is being spoken in them. Not my strong point at all unless it’s something I’ve heard a few (hundred) times. That’s part of what made EGOTISM hard to get (17A: ["Usually just a case of mistaken nonentity (Barbara Stanwyck)]), along with that real slow start in the northeast. DON IMUS, however, wasn’t too hard to guess/get once I got a couple of letters in (8A: [My goal is to goad people into saying something that ruins their life" speaker]). Guess I could have used DON IMUS as the sports moment of the day, but since I don’t want to revisit his comments he made a few years back about the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team during their run to the national championship game in 2007, I’ll just leave it here. I wasn’t able to begin in earnest up there until, ironically, WHERE TO BEGIN (a great fill) was able to be cobbled together (19A: ["There's so much I want to say..."]). Afterward, all I wanted was have some food, so I’m off to COWTOWN as we speak (41D: [Burg whose burghers breed burgers to be]). Again, a real tough one to finish, and sorry for not the best of blogs…my brain’s fried, and just wanted to let you know how I somehow got to the end of the grid.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IRONMAN (11D: [Tough-guy competition])- This clue actually gives me a chance to give a shout out to one of my good college friends, Katey Wilhelm, for recently completing an Ironman triathlon competition in Lake Placid! What did she, and may other Iron(wo)men, do, exactly? They do a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and ran a marathon, all in the same day and without breaking. All that means is Katey, and many other people who complete the arduous task, are absolute badasses!!!! You Go, Katey!!
Thank you so much once again for the time, and I’ll see you on Monday!
Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “You Could Put an I Out” — pannonica’s write-up
As the saying goes, It’s all [Fun ’n’ games] (REC, 82a) until someone loses an eye.
Remove a single I from an existing phrase and things can look a lot different:
- 23a. [Londoner's leather?] THE ENGLISH PATENT (Patient).
- 31a. [Refuse a rose?] PASS ON FLOWER (passionflower).
- 34a. [Continuing to weld?] SOLDERING ON (soldiering). If one hadn’t completely grasped the theme or didn’t see the title, the base phrase could plausibly be soldering iron.
- 59a. [Reaction to a fancy Easter display?] AWE IN SPRING (inspiring).
- 61a. [L.A. TV option] THE SOCAL NETWORK (Social). See also, 94d [All meshed up?] NETTY.
- 65a. [Bachelor Party?] THE MAN EVENT (Main).
- 87a. [Cowardly Mr. Rogers?] FRED CHICKEN (fried).
- 89a. [Botanical group of blossoms?] BUDDING GENUS (genius). Clue seems to limit the taxonomic concept of genus to something botanical. Perhaps just for me? Seemed off.
- 105a. ["Flip This House," e.g.?] REALTY TELEVISION. Very minor dupe with the clue for 61a.
I like how the new phrases sometimes entail a redivision of words—all right, just twice, but I liked them most. Significant themer stacking in the middle three rows.
Roughest crossings for me were ones involving actors: 6d [Hargitay's "SVU" costar] MELONI / 5a [Soprano Lucine] AMANA / 20a [Sweetened wine recipe] NEGUS. 67d [Szmanda of "CSI"] ERIC / 72a [Ohio college town] HIRAM. 104a [Actor Zachary] LEVI / 91a [Lifeboat crane] DAVIT.
Another tough crossing for solvers, I suspect, might be 10d [Massenet opera] THAÏS / 21a [Language of Nigeria] HAUSA.
79-across: so refreshing to see a clue for OTTER that isn’t a variation of “playful river animal”, ["Animal House" role], played by Peter RIEGERT.
When I’d completed the grid, was surprised to not receive the ‘correct solution’ pop-up box; took a while to locate the error. 60d [Parlor piece] was SOFA and not SODA, as I’d envisioned for an ice cream parlor. The crossing answer was the easily glossed over 68a [Noun-to-verb suffix] -IFY (not -IDY).
Good puzzle with some rough spots.