Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
I feel as though I may have spent more than half my solving time in that closed-off midsection. I wrongly assumed that 36a: [Follower of grazing cattle] was a person, a COWHAND, -POKE, or -HERD. I had the D from DEO, so that H seemed solid except that I was then utterly stymied by 22d and 23d (I had 21d, but not the Shakespeare word in 21a). *NAHLER, [One who shouldn’t be helping]?? *YT*MES, [Winner of over 100 Pulitzer Prizes, briefly]?? Somehow I wanted 23d to be a nationality rather than the NY TIMES, but it finally poked its way out and took me to ENABLER and thus COWBIRD. Bird! ::shaking fist angrily::
Nothing else gave me anywhere near as much trouble, though I wanted WET BEHIND THE EARS to fit at 16a (IN ONE’S SALAD DAYS also means [Young and inexperienced]). I love the conversational nature of two of the answers in the top triple-stack and one in the bottom, GIVE ME ONE REASON, SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW? and YOUR PLACE OR MINE? INSTRUMENT PANEL is fine, and PASSES ON DESSERT is less lexically chunky than “skips dessert,” but at least it’s not the usual phrase-full-of-S’s we find at the bottom of a puzzle.
Didn’t see all of the blah short fill when the 15s took care of filling them in for me. OSE, NAL, RAES, OYE ([“Listen up!,” to Luis]), CEN, AMO…meh. Check out the insane clue for ELOI, usually clued as the hapless victim race in that H.G. Wells book: [Word repeated before “lama sabachthani” in Mark 15].
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Making up for the Fireball puzzle that was short one row, Gareth’s puzzle is one row wider to accommodate the central answer. The plays out well enough but the connection between the two components feels a little stretched:
- 19a. LEVI’S JEANS, [*Casual-wear brand since 1873]
- 25a. LIVES IN FEAR, [*Enters a witness protection program, say]
- 42a. LESSER OF TWO EVILS, [ *Compromised choice]
- 58a. BRIDAL VEILS, [*Wedding shop array]
- 64a. ALL SHOOK UP, [Song that first topped the charts on 4/13/1957 … or how its singer’s name appears in the answers to starred clues]
Ohhh! I couldn’t see the entire clue until I copied and pasted it out of the solving software. Now I see that there is no stretch at all. I was thinking that ALL SHOOK UP merely described the scrambling of LEVI’S/LIVES/EVILS/VEILS as a weird homage to the song on the 55th anniversary of its success. Elvis! The “singer’s name” part was invisible to me while I was solving in Black Ink. All right, that’s cute. Elvis sings in the first person, “I’m all shook up,” so his name is similarly shook up.
I also went a little backwards on things with 3-Down, [With the order switched]. I tried IN REVERSE, and luckily while four of those letters worked in the real answer, VICE VERSA, the corner didn’t want MOIST eyes, it wanted a MOVED heart (1a: [In tears, say]). Another misstep was LOAMY for WORMY (17a: [Like healthy soil]).
Question for Gareth: I see your countryman ERNIE Els there, but is the PECAN something you have in Africa? When a friend of mine was living in Prague, she had to bring pecans back to the Old World for her boyfriend’s mom to bake with, as she couldn’t get the nuts there. (I sprinkled some pecans on my salad at lunchtime. Love a good pecan.)
Could do without crosswordese hits like ELIEL, ELOI, -ANE, and EBRO, but I didn’t actually scowl when I hit them, which means I was enjoying the puzzle enough to forgive a few clunkers. I liked [Take off the TiVo] cluing 46a: ERASE, the freshness of WWJD as fill (10d: [Christian bracelet letters]), [Start to fast?] cluing 37d: STEAD, and UNI– clued as a [Prefix for corn]. When you just eat a single kernel, that’s a unicorn you’ve eaten.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Heading For Trouble” — pannonica’s review
…in which is commemorated a screw-up of—in at least one sense—epic proportions.
18a, 29a, 49a, and 63a replicate […an erroneous “Christian Science Monitor” headline published on April 15, 1912]:
PASSENGERS | SAFELY MOVED AND | STEAMER TITANIC | TAKEN IN TOW
I’m not much into the whole Titanic centennial mania, but I do know that the seas were CALM (1a) that night, and that the ship was a member of the White STAR (17a) Line. I could stretch and shoehorn a few other entries here, but why play Procrustes?
Speaking of Greek mythology, there’s ORION, the [Hunter of the Pleiades], over at 9-across. Since the constellation is visible in the Northern Hemisphere from late fall to winter, it wouldn’t have appeared to those wretched folks adrift in the North Atlantic. James Cameron famously made an (extremely sloppy) error depicting the night sky in his blockbuster movie, and its correction is the only substantial change made for the 3-D re-release. Also in the grid is [Odysseus’ dog] ARGOS, of whom I made mention in my (epic?) write-up of last week’s CHE puzzle.
Very much liked the REGULAR in spacing sevens stretching from the top and bottom, nearly meeting, in columns 4, 7, and 10: MARBLES | DEAD ENDS, ABSALOM | ERRATUM, REGULAR | BAR CODE, the last with the good clue [Product lines?]. I’d have thought construction elements like that would impart a claustrophobic aspect to a puzzle, but the thing flows nicely. nor does the corollary string of four three-letter answers across the middle rankle.
- Learned from 36a that a clepsydra (Gr., ‘water-thief’) is a (frequently ancient) device used to measure time.
- Was well-fooled by the clue for 38d [Harrow blade] and plunked in EPÉE. This is one of those very clever double-fakes where the capital letter is not camouflaging a proper noun, but is instead apparently elevating a common noun to more rarefied status. I was of course thinking of the English school and not the agricultural implement with DISC-shaped blades.
- 67a [Traditional wedding word] OBEY. I like to think of of it as a passé wedding word. 40a [Canine command] BEG.
- Suitably hifalutin clue for BOAS, referencing the anthropologist Franz rather than something more prosaic. And RYDER isn’t clued as the humdrum U-Haul alternative, but as the narrator of Brideshead Revisited.
Nice to have a left-field take on the whole Titanic thing. Incidentally, even though (as I said) I’m not hooked in to the mania, I was captivated by a recent BBC Radio program(me), which reconstructs the so-called Marconi messages sent from and to the ship. The producers (actually Susanne Weber, who spearheaded it) made an excellent decision in replacing the Morse code not with actors reading script, but with distinct synthesized voices; I know it sounds like a bad idea, but it works extremely well. It’s called “Titanic – In Her Own Words“. Here’s an expanded story about the program(me).
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “On the Road Map” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The theme features four two-word entries, each beginning with something that might be marked on a road map:
- 20-Across: An [Exorbitant charge] is HIGHWAY ROBBERY. I’ve always liked that expression. One would think a highway would be very hard to steal.
- 25-Across: RIVER PHOENIX is the [“Stand by Me” star]. It had to be River because you won’t find a “Wil” (Wheaton) or a “Jerry” (O’Connell) on a map. Fun fact: I know the twins featured in this clip from the movie.
- 47-Across: A [Herder’s helper] is a BORDER COLLIE. So’s an AUSSIE SHEPHERD, you know. My step-dog is an Australian Shepherd, so I felt compelled to mention that.
- 54-Across: A [Historic court decision] is a LANDMARK RULING.
The theme may not be an original concept, but the theme entries are lively and the fill really shines. We’ve got WET WIPES, HAT BOXES, ON LOAN, Fred MERTZ, some NOBODIES, and GOOGLE . And then there’s ENCRUSTS–an unusual word that sounds kinda dirty. No wonder Inner Beavis liked it a lot.
[“Wheel of Fortune” category] is a fun clue for EVENT. I had trouble parsing [Becoming a real boy, for Pinocchio], but once I figured out how to read it correctly (I don’t know why I stumbled) I really liked it as a clue for WISH. I also liked [Sink or swim] for VERB.
Why can I never remember that a SHAY is a [Light horse-drawn carriage]? (I assume “light” modifies carriage and not the horse.)
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Debatable Job Offers” — pannonica’s review
Downmarket economy? Financially-oriented newspaper? Let’s come up with some inane job titles! Actually, the theme is rather clever, alternately adding the prefixes CON- and PRO-, representing the two sides of a debate, to existing employment positions.
- 23a. [Wanted: Designer for streamlined products] CONTOUR GUIDE.
- 33a. [Wanted: Flier to tow “Occupy Wall Street” banner] PROTEST PILOT.
- 41a. [Wanted: Sergeant to train draftees] CONSCRIPT SUPERVISOR.
- 60a. [Wanted: Person to exchange hypotheses] PROPOSITION TRADER.
- 68a. [Wanted: Tutor to instill morals] CONSCIENCE TEACHER.
- 84a. [Wanted: Expert in acquiring supplies] PROVISION SPECIALIST.
- 93a. [Wanted: Lad to assist British police] CONSTABLE BOY.
- 110a. [Wanted: Person to organize biographical records] PROFILE CLERK.
Lots of long theme fill, which isn’t surprising since many such titles are lengthy to start worth (and there are much wordier ones, with all those associates and assistants and vice presidents, and deputies and so on). Nevertheless, the grid flows well and the ballast fill is solid, but feels decidedly unscrabbly. The best part, for me, was the frequent sparkly clues.
- 90a SHAPE [Fashion] is followed by 91a [Fashion designer Donna] KARAN.
- 94d [Leader of a sporting “army”] ARNIE (When did he retire? Oh, 2006? Then the clue doesn’t seem so creaky.) leads into 118a [2002 British Open champ] ELS; nifty golf confluence, especially with the ARNIE/Ernie similarity.
- 17d [Subtitle of many an autobiography] A MEMOIR. “an autobiography”? “a memoir”?
- 69d & 77a. ONE I crossing ONE-A. Meh.
- 7d [Black bull, perhaps] ANGUS, and 9d [Green bull, perhaps] CHIA PET. That second one is just goofy, but it made me smile. (And yes, there is a Chia Cow.)
- Unusual but welcome clue for OPS, usually a FITB or “follower of” with “photo” or “special.” 52d [Goddess of abundance]. Skimpy Wikipedia article.
- 59d. [Harrison, Kennedy or Clinton]. How could I not be fooled by that one? Not presidents Benjamin, John, and Bill, but musician GEORGE, actor GEORGE, and other musician GEORGE. Sneaky, sneaky. With a few other recalcitrant clues—notably the vague [“That __ you!”] for IS SO, but a few others that could go various ways—ensured that this was the last section I was able to fill in.
- [Biz biggie] gets double duty, cluing CEO and EXEC at 112d and 117a.
- New to me: SATI was the [First wife of Shiva]. (71a)
- Another relatively obscure female deity (and from yet another tradition): 74d [Mother of the Valkyries] ERDA.
- 90d [Early copier] SCRIBE. I wasn’t looking far enough into the past, not being able to get past the too-short MIMEO.
Doug Peterson’s Celebrity crossword, “Sports Fan Friday”
Doug made this puzzle earlier this week, as you can tell from the theme, which didn’t exist until last Sunday:
- 18a. BUBBA WATSON, [2012 Masters Tournament winner, who’s never had a formal golf lesson: 2 wds.]
- 30a, 49a. SECOND PLAYOFF / HOLE, [Where the 2012 Masters was decided: 2 wds.]
- 40a. GREEN JACKET, [Masters Tournament award presented to 18-Across last Sunday: 2 wds.]
The other shiny, new clue is for 40d: GOON, [2012 hockey comedy starring Seann William Scott]. I read my Entertainment Weekly from cover to cover and only heard about this movie in the last couple weeks. Sounds like a much less goofball movie than I expected from Scott’s casting—he’s done so many silly comedies, and this one sounds a little more mindful.