Daniel Landman’s New York Times crossword
With the plural foreign interjection ACHS at 1-Across, I feared the worst. But we ended up with a math theme I liked better than yesterday’s. Six squares have letters that can spell words that mark the vertices of various shapes:
- 20a. [ELK, geometrically, in the finished puzzle], RIGHT TRIANGLE. Not the only right triangle here. ARK and LEG also spell words and are skinny little right triangles. (Do the points have to be given in a certain order? Been a long time since I had geometry.)
- 28a. [EARL, geometrically], TRAPEZOID.
- 39a. [ELK, EARL, LEAK or GEAR, geometrically], POLYGON.
- 48a. [LEAK, geometrically], RECTANGLE.
- 58a. [GEAR, geometrically], PARALLELOGRAM.
- 52d. [What each of this puzzle’s circled squares represents], VERTEX. No symmetrical partner in the theme, but I don’t mind it here.
I like how this plays out.
Good fill: SIDE NOTE, BACK PAIN, DOGGONE. Ungood fill: the uncommon SHAHDOM (since when is [Iran, formerly] anything but PERSIA??), B FLAT (I never like the musical terms), LIDA, LIRR, S.DAK., GTE, LEANT, … not loving those.
Two more things:
- 7d. [Director Riefenstahl], LENI. She worked so well for Hitler, shame how she misused her talent. Would you believe my kid goes to school with a Leni?
- 1d. [Mixing male and female characteristics, slangily], ANDRO. I have never, ever heard this as shorthand for “androgynous.” It’s entirely missing the -gyn part!
Four stars, mainly for the nifty theme.
Byron Walden’s AV Club crossword, “Mixed Up at Birth”
I’ve long known about this set of apt anagrams, but Byron takes them a step further by pairing each with a two-word phrase made from the same letters:
- 21a. [Group considering works like “Gouache Ultrasound No. 2” by moms-to-be?], PRENATAL ART PANEL. Note that, entirely unrelatedly though sort of related, PLACENTA swaps the R of PRENATAL/PARENTAL for a C.
- 36a. [Verizon offering for moms and dads?], PARENTAL RATE PLAN.
- 49a. [Update about dads who are about to drift off?], PATERNAL NAP ALERT. Okay, NAP ALERT is wildly contrived (and I might start issuing such alerts). ART PANEL is rather contrived as well; RATE PLAN sticks out as the one that’s a real thing.
This 73-worder is 16 squares wide. Fairly wide-open feel to the grid.
Five more things:
- 13d. [Bottom face of a gemstone], CULET. Holy cow! I just learned this one a couple months ago from a 1973 crossword. It was clued rather unhelpfully as [Facet] there. Not sure it enhances any puzzle other than one in a jeweler’s trade publication.
- 37d. [“Presto!” alternative], “ALAKAZAM!” Fun.
- 4d. [Like flatbreads, typically], OVEN-BAKED. Got slowed down here by assuming they were OVERBAKED. What?
- 23d. [Well-run operation, as it were], TIGHT SHIP. Great entry. So are AP BIOLOGY, GUERNICA, and TED ALLEN.
- 22d. [Allusive and epic, as writing], TOLSTOYAN. Anyone else want this to end with -ESQUE?
4.25 stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I think we last had a TONIGHTSHOW crossword around the time CONAN came and went? Anyway, this features 4 out of 6 of the hosts’ first names in non-name contexts at the starts of the theme entries. I appreciate the non-name angle. Only including four out of six is awkward though, but almost certainly unavoidable. Firstly, six entries plus TONIGHTSHOW is an insane amount of content for a daily puzzle. Secondly, neither CONAN nor STEVE can easily get the non-name treatment. If you bend the rules a little there’s STEVEDORE, but that’s not an entry one bends rules for. At least the four chosen are all the J’s and I think more or less cognates. Lastly, you may also be forgiven if you’re wondering when BOB, RAY and ERNIE hosted the TONIGHTSHOW. Those are good entries, but a little confusing as long acrosses in a name-based theme! (There are stars to guide.) Anyway, the theme entries:
- [*Knave in a black suit], JACKOFCLUBS. Paar
- [*Griddle-cooked corn bread], JOHNNYCAKE. Carson
- [*Symbol of nakedness], JAYBIRD. Leno
- [*Like a well-made lock], JIMMYPROOF. Fallon
I admire the grid design – 6 non-thematic 9’s, but it still feels balanced enough to allow solid fill. Yes, there is that tight little centre, but it was gone quickly enough. I mentioned BOBANDRAY (never heard of ’em, but they seem famous enough) and ERNIEPYLE (wanted GOMER first… a reflex) already, but there were also the pairs in the top-right and bottom-left. I know ARTCARNEY primarily from a line in Mad Magazine about the Flintstones that “Barney / Is No Art Carney”. I get a lot of what old US TV and other pop culture knowledge I have from Mad Magazine! Actually, the whole puzzle has quite an “old US TV” vibe going on. Rounding out the set of 9s, STRIKEOIL and BOHEMIANS are both nice answers. The latter’s clue, [Dvorák and Smetana], made me immediately want to know why CZECH had so many extra blanks! PICASSO and BAKLAVA are a pair of 7’s and both excellent choices.
- [Senate electee], MEMBER. I thought those were SENATORS…
- [Russia-Manchuria border river], AMUR. The Amur Falcon is a not infrequent visitor to these parts.
- [Learns], HEARS. HEARSJIMMY?
- [Subjects of two Goya paintings], MAJAS. Pretty sure it’s one MAJA, two paintings…
- [One who whistles while he works], REF. Creative clue, but I’m not sure whistle is used as a verb in that context.