Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
By the proper-noun count, this 66-worder is a tad heavy on names. The names did not vex me—how about you? I was particularly pleased by the local-interest symmetrical pairing of EBERT (19a. [Late critic featured on the Hollywood Walk of Fame], and honored in a tribute at the Chicago Theatre tonight) and FERMI (44a. [Element #100 is named for him], as is the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, which hosted the tornado/severe weather seminar I attended last week—if you want an accessible introduction to particle physics, check out this engaging short documentary that played on the screen before the tornado seminar—and yes, I noticed that they probably overrepresented the female scientists there and dramatically underrepresented the scientists with foreign accents).
Most surprising clue: 1a. [Entree meant to be eaten with the fingers, according to its creator], CAESAR SALAD. With raw egg in the dressing? Seriously?
Favorite clue: 15a. [Key chain], ARCHIPELAGO. A chain of islands; keys are small islands.
Clue that answers the question, “What ore do you get if you drop one letter from Miller Lite?”: 16a. [Millerite, e.g.], ORE.
31a. [Big 1970s-’80s band with a geographical name], 6 letters … is it KANSAS? No, it’s BOSTON, of “More Than a Feeling” fame. 7 letters would have been CHICAGO or ALABAMA.
Dupe that Will Shortz honestly doesn’t care about (it’s okay if you care and it’s okay if you don’t): 32a. [Art of television] crosses ART FORMS. The Art of TV is Art CARNEY.
Most likely to appear in the bottom row or rightmost column: 14d. [Victorian-era furnishings], SETTEES. Meh.
32d. [Tool] clues CAT’S-PAW because that means “person who’s used by another, typically to carry out an unpleasant or dangerous task.” Understandable if you tried to make it some sort of SAW.
Not much in the way of “ooh, terrific entry,” but also precious little in the way of “ooh, don’t like that.” Smooth fill, lots of flow in the grid. Four stars.
Victor Barocas’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Split Personalities” — pannonica’s write-up
The somewhat hackneyed title belies the innovative theme at work in this grid, or so I’m ALLEGING. On that note, that eight-letter entry and its partner are the longest words in the grid; it’s almost as if the theme is speaking to the solver: WHERE AM I?
Well, it’s introduced right there in 1-across, parenthetically. In that row and four others, the name of a famous person has been artfully sliced into three smaller yet legitimate words, which comprise the entirety of that row.
- 1a/6a/9a. [Opera __ (or the start of an Old West showman’s split personality)] / [High return] / [Feeling poorly] : BUFFA / LOB / ILL, Buffalo Bill.
- 23a/26a/27a. [Campaigner’s contest (or the start of a 1930s movie actor’s split personality)] / [Student of Seneca] / [Come down] : WAR / NERO /LAND, Warner Oland (né Johan Verner Ölund)
- 37a/38a/39a. [Trading center (or the start of a lifestyle arbiter’s split personality)] / [Cause of many an error] / [Bump on the toad] : MART / HASTE / WART, Martha Stewart. If one reads 39a in HASTE, they’ll presumably see “toad” as “road.” A knowing “speed trap.”
- 46a/47a/48a. [Clipped (or the start of an Air Force general’s split personality)] / [“Lord of the Flies” setting] / [“The Marry Month of __” (O. Henry story)] : CURT / ISLE / MAY, Curtis LeMay.
- 62a/63a/64a. [Water-bowl user (or the start of a film and TV actor’s split personality)] / [Bit of work] / [Five-star reviews] : PET / ERG / RAVES, Peter Graves.
Note how in no instance is the division among the three fill words coincident with the actual division in the person’s name. In other words, the break between first and last names is always subsumed within the middle word. It’s an elegant touch which also has the effect of very effectively disguising the larger answer. A great theme, finely executed, and I’m very partial to it because I’m in the habit of scanning rows and columns for (probably) inadvertent artful meaning, a kind of found poetry.
Another commendable aspect of the theme is that while it obviously entailed a lot of work—coming up with five appropriate personalities that work according to the technical constraint described above, apportioning them symmetrically within the grid, and surrounding them with quality fill—it doesn’t come across as a slog or a burden for the solver. It retains a lively feel. Must have required many TWEAKS on the constructor’s part.
- Two more eight-letter entries among the downs: [Summer phenomenon] HEAT WAVE and [Britain : ring road :: America : __ ] BELT LINE, which I’ve never heard of. Beltway, yes, beltline, no.
- Last square to fall: intersection of 23d [Adulatory biographer of Washington] WEEMS, and 28a [Ovid, during his exile] ELEGIST. Was unfamiliar with the former and simply couldn’t ‘see’ the latter.
- Row 2: ORIENT / LIEN / LIE.
- 53a [Question after regaining consciousness] WHERE AM I, not “IS BOB SEGER IN TOWN?“
- 10d [Underlined text, perhaps] LINK. The internet! But I didn’t understand the context of the clue until after getting the answer from crossings.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
Julian Lim’s last puzzle was way back on Wednesday? Remember Wednesday? Today’s puzzle offers a twist on a familiar (to me, I think I’ve seen it a few times) Monday theme: joints. I got the gist of it quite early, when EENK(KNEE)SLAPPER became apparent, which made for more of a Wednesday-type experience. JOINTRETURN is the revealer and four answers start with joints, which are entered backwards: WOBLE(ELBOW)GREASE, EENKSLAPPER, REDLUOHS(SHOULDER)THELOAD, PIH(HIP)HOPMUSIC. It’s especially apt as its filing season, as I’m sure most of you are aware.
Despite the five theme answers (with two double-stacked), Mr. Lim included quite a few longer downs: MOUNTFUJI is great, so is PETULANT , as well as EOCENE and CWPOST (ok 6 letters isn’t that long). THREEMILE felt a bit arbitrary as clued. Of course THREEMILE is also an island, but that would make it a 9-letter partial?
Not too much more I want to say. A solid four-star puzzle in my book.
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Deductions” — pannonica’s write-up
Timed of course to coincide with the peak of tax season, when last-minute filers submit (and I do mean submit) to the IRS,
The theme answers are simply contrived two-word phrases in which one letter has been dropped from the first (a possessive noun, to emphasize the tax-deduction conceit) to result in the second (practically unavoidably plural).
- 23a. [Fusible alloys declared on a GI’s return?] SOLDIER’S SOLDERS.
- 43a. [Seaside structures declared on a musician’s return?] PIPER’S PIERS.
- 45a. [Pergolas declared on a cricket player’s return?] BOWLER’S BOWERS.
- 69a. [Cake sections declared on an attorney’s return?] LAWYER’S LAYERS.
- 86a. [Bottles of Evian declared on a bistro worker’s return?] WAITER’S WATERS.
- 89a. [Cemetery purchase declared on an airline worker’s return?] PILOT’S PLOTS.
- 116a. [Lots at intersections declared on an M.E.’s return?] CORONER’S CORNERS.
Perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to crosswords with “meta” aspects, so I was disappointed to discover that the dropped letters (IPLWIIO) have no greater meaning, don’t anagram to anything, et cetera. Combined with the flat, unamusing answers and their inane clues, the theme did very little for me.
To be sure, there is good fill to be found among the ballast, but a themed puzzle lives and dies on the armature of the theme itself, so the supporting cast of eight- and seven-stacks in the corners,
- 103a DONE, 104a DUNE, 22a DOONE, 16d DON.
- Double-duty clues: [Bit of physics] 52a ION, 65a ATOM. [Big brute] 39d APE, 50d OGRE.
- 93d [Office phone button] LINE ONE. Line one on IRS form 1040 (US Individual Income Tax Return) is a checkbox for “single” as marital status.
- Possibly favorite clue (can’t recall them all): 76a [Followup on a touchdown] TAXI. Airplanes. Possible runner-up: 89d [Hits bottom?] PADDLES.
Needles to say, the crossword on the whole failed to prick my interest. Average puzzle at best.