Damon J. Gulczynski’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s review
Beautiful, beautiful grid today from Damon Gulczynski!
Those NW and SE corners are just stellar. Up top we get SWEEP THE LEG, THERE YOU ARE, and AARON SORKIN. If that’s not good enough, they have these outstanding crossers: WHAT IF, TYSON, HOOBASTANK(!), and EUROPOP. (The ERI / GENET tandem at 10- and 11-Down is about the only downside in the whole grid.)
I confess to having never watched “The Karate Kid” even though I’m right in the demographic for the original. So 1A‘s clue [Karate move Sensei Kreese instructs Johnny to do in his match with Daniel-san], got me to think “Karate Kid” but the only move I know from the movie is “WAX ON, WAX OFF”. And whaddyaknow, it fit in the grid, so in it went. Didn’t take long before I realized I had to rip it out.
Moving to the SE we find REALPOLITIK, DARLENE LOVE, and SUPER SOAKER with their crossers MOSELLE, FIXER UPPER(!), IS IT OK, and NO JIVE. And there’s no crud down there at all, unless you count EAU as crud which I don’t. Beautiful job!
The other corners are almost as nice with THE LORAX, LYIN’ EYES, and LOW NOTE in the NE and IRON MIKE, NOT TAKEN, and SINATRA in the SW. The Xs in XEROXES are adeptly handled in FIXER UPPER and THE LORAX, and we also get a MEAT PIE and an AMATEUR thrown in for good measure.
Things I didn’t know (of which there are a lot): Didn’t know DARLENE LOVE by name (“He’s a Rebel” singer), but was able to sort it out without too much trouble. Never heard of the “PEN 15″ club though it looks like it’s popular with middle school boys. Not familiar with “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” which appears in the clues for 51A and 54A SOB and WEPT, nor “1Q84” which appears in the clue for 10D ERI. Nor Jean GENET in 11D. Nor Crystal MOSELLE (41D) who directed “The Wolfpack” (which sounds extremely interesting). In my screenshot, you’ll also see my error in 21A. [“I like my coffee like I like my men…I don’t drink coffee” quipster] for some reason made me think George Burns and Gracie ALLEN, and of course, I already admitted to not knowing its crosser, GENET.
There is a good variety of clues and entries in the grid from an age-perspective. We get references to a number of 2015 films as well as Kesha, AARON SORKIN and HOOBASTANK from the recent past, but then we get EUROPOP, TRL, and “Karate Kid” from the 80s, LYIN’ EYES from the 70s, DARLENE LOVE and NO JIVE from the 60s and SINATRA, the Three STOOGEs, and Fay WRAY from the distant past (relatively speaking). That’s a great range of pop culturey knowledge!
Clues were pretty good — a bit wordy at times, but not over the top. My favorite has to be 63A [Arm full of water] for SUPER SOAKER. 46A‘s [“I ain’t lying, home slice from the 1960s!”] for NO JIVE made me laugh and goes along with this theme of historical era mash-ups. WARP‘s clue at 54D ([Pervert]) I find strangely elegant.
The BuzzFeed themelesses have been a joy to solve in recent weeks. I hope this trend continues.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I remain wiped out (*cough, sneeze, sniffle*), so let’s eyeball this puzzle and see what we’ve got. Two 15s that pair well, COMPUTER MONITOR and OPERATING SYSTEM, plus a quad-stack in the middle with four good entries—APPLIED RESEARCH, CELESTIAL EMPIRE ([Old nickname for China] … did I know that?), “I CAN SEE FOR MILES,” and DAYTON, TENNESSEE. I used the first couple Downs crossing the quads to crack open the middle of the puzzle.
Zippiest fill outside of the 15s: “THOUGHTS?” clued as a question (I use this all the time); gross DETOX DIETS; LONG-STEMMED roses and wineglasses; PROLIFIC; and PECAN. Mm-mmm, I love pecans. Prolific pecan purchaser here.
Five more things:
- 44a. [Sharp as a bowling ball], DIM. Never heard that phrase before, but I’m not so bowling ballish that I didn’t figure out the answer.
- 17d. [Pretty good poker hand], THREE TENS. Okay, there was a whole hubbub when some poker hand was an LATimes answer and Gareth felt it was an arbitrary phrase. Does anyone wish to argue that THREE TENS is not rather arbitrary?
- 57a. [Hoarders’ disorders], RATS’ NESTS. It would be nice to not play on people with a mental illness for a crossword clue, no matter how appealing the rhyme may feel.
- 2d. [Coming or going acknowledgment], ALOHA. Hawaii! Do you appreciate Hawaiian culture? Probably you should watch this video of a dance troupe of men in loincloth-type outfits demonstrating a tremendous amount of muscle strength and control, plus some gyrations.
- 13d. [Snapper on a field: Abbr.], CTR. Um, no. While the word center is often abbreviated as ctr., in football, it’s abbreviated C. Clue it as some other sort of center.
APIS, SCREE, LEPUS, and INO feel a bit more Saturday-level than Friday, but their crossings likely helped people fill those in even if the words were unfamiliar. Plural APRILS and -ISE, meh.
Overall, 3.9 stars from me.
Emory Ediger’s Chronicle of Higher Eduction crossword, “English Course” — pannonica’s write-up
an anniversary quote theme.
19-across initiates: [Start of a transportation factoid from 25 years ago this week] CHUNNEL MAKES | EUROPEAN MAINLAND | BREAKTHROUGH. The other two answers are 40-across, whose 16 letters merit the crossword’s 16×15 dimensions, and 62-across.
My issues regarding the theme are numerous. Beginning with the fundamental facts, from Wikipedia:
A two-inch (50-mm) diameter pilot hole allowed the service tunnel to break through without ceremony on 30 October 1990. On 1 December 1990, Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke through the service tunnel with the media watching.
So, the event actually took place a month earlier than “25 years ago this week”.
Next: is the breakthrough really the significant achievement, or is it the thoroughfare’s opening? That happened some three-and-a-half years later:
Eurotunnel completed the tunnel on time, and it was officially opened, one year later than originally planned, by Queen Elizabeth II and the French president, François Mitterrand, in a ceremony held in Calais on 6 May 1994. The Queen travelled through the tunnel to Calais on a Eurostar train, which stopped nose to nose with the train that carried President Mitterrand from Paris. Following the ceremony President Mitterrand and the Queen travelled on Le Shuttle to a similar ceremony in Folkestone. A full public service did not start for several months.
Finally, is the quadranscentennial mark of an engineering feat news- and/or theme-worthy? I remain doubtful at best. At least it reminded me of the classic (apocryphal) British newspaper headline from the pre-Chunnel era, “Fog In Channel – Continent Cut Off”. (Research suggests it was supposedly a common radio weather forecast in the 1930s.)
Now that my disdain for the theme has been established, how robust was the rest of the crossword?
Solving report: That upper-right corner was the hardest section for me to complete. At 9d, I had no idea that the [Binkley pal in “Bloom County”] was MILO and could only think of BILL the Cat. Without solid crossings, I wasn’t assured that 12d [Albanian currency] was indeed the LEK. Took a while to perceive the wordplay in 13d [Modern art?] ARE, even though it’s a fairly hoary clue. 10d INMOST for [Extremely personal], with its unusual letter sequence, was tricky with limited crossings. Ditto for the MAKES part of the theme answer. Last, and most significant (since it would have cleared up most of the other ambiguities), was 17a [“Yoo-hoo” response, maybe] going to be I’M HOME, I’M HERE, or IN HERE? Rough stuff, all told.
- Incidental to the theme is 30d [Country indirectly referred to in 40 Across] FRANCE.
- Long downs are 3d [Driver of a vehicle with “frequent stops” sign, often] MAIL CARRIER – in some places they just walk, y’know. 29d [Vagaries] UPS AND DOWNS.
- So glad that 32d [Kilt features] was PLEATS and not PLAIDS, as I was dreading. You bet I would have been pedantic.
- 42d [Revolutionary, old-style] ANARCH. You bet it’s old-style, but I kind of like it, musty as it is.
- Withheld answer for 36a [Cautionary opening?] because, even though my instinct was for PRE- I thought it might be SLO-.
Annnnd … not much else I found interesting, though to be fair the theme’s deficiency of appeal pervaded my impression.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Such a Deal”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is an elongated quip broken up into parts that happens to be the theme of the puzzle. Those puzzles always give me the most trouble, for some reason. Hey, at least what’s conveyed in the quip doesn’t actually happen to me at any of my stays in hotels.
- TO SAVE SOME MONEY, STAY AT OUR BUDGET BED AND BREAKFAST, YOU MAKE THEM BOTH (17A, along with 27-, 50, and 65-Across: [Travel magazine ad for lodging])
Again, never been too comfortable with these types of grids unless I’m undoubtedly sure that I’ve heard the quip in question before. (I had never heard of this particular one before today.) I had played with a YO-YO a good number of times when I was younger, and could NEVER perform any tricks, and so wished I could (56D: [You can use it to walk the dog]). Honestly, how do those people do that with yo-yos?! Outside of the theme, nothing really stood out for me, expect for the fact that I’m going to have Shaggy’s voice (Casey Kasem) in my head all day after seeing SCOOB (27D: [Nickname of Shaggy’s dog]). Speaking of that voice, here’s Casey in character during one of the Jerry Lewis’ telethons. Zoinks!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NETS (1D: [Butterfly catchers]) and EAGLE (47D: [Scouting rank]) – Since 1994, play-by-play broadcaster Ian EAGLE (Syracuse alum) has been the voice of the New Jersey/Brooklyn NETS National Basketball Association franchise, first on radio and now on television, as you can catch both Eagle and the Nets on the YES Network. Eagle’s probably (no, definitely) one of the top five sports broadcasters in the country, and definitely give him a listen if you have a chance to watch his games, either on YES or on CBS, doing pro football and/or college basketball games.
Have a good weekend, everyone! See you tomorrow!
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I don’t know the name of the author, Craig Stowe. Is this a debut? It follows on from our BEAR theme yesterday with some lions and tigers… Oh my! Also, I don’t know the central theme phrase here either, KITTYCORNER . Is it American dialect? There’s quite a lot of discussion here: http://grammarist.com/usage/catty-corner-kitty-corner/ . Assuming it is a valid and common American English construct, it is an interesting revealing answer; a very odd turn of phrase indeed!
The KITTYCORNERs in question consist of intersecting pairs of fictional cats from various media: three domestic cats, three tigers, and two lions. The other 37 or so Felidae species are not represented. Bonkers T. Bobcat is unimpressed! We have: SHEREKHAN (originally from children’s literature), and STIMPY (from a TV cartoon); MOOCH (comic strip), HOBBES (likewise); MUFASA (cartoon film) and ASLAN (literature); SYLVESTER (TV cartoon) & TIGGER (literature). Many of those have appeared in multiple incarnations in various media. I didn’t think I knew MOOCH initially, but I did recall her; now what is the dog called? ASLAN is the closest to a stretch as the lion form is just an avatar. Also, is MEW a bonus answer?
These corner themes are trickier than most to fill. That’s a lot of white space to negotiate with two answers already more or less locked in! ENIWETOK is an interesting, albeit difficult answer; I can see it giving some people kittens as few of the letters are inferrable! IRISHSTEW is also good in that corner. ECH is a pretty bottom-of-the-barrel abbr. though. KITTYCORNER from those, TORCHSONG is an excellent choice.
There are compromises in most places, but things didn’t feel totally out of control: ASITS and ALOW are awkward plurals for sure, though they’re in the central area, that central area is receiving grid pressure from all the corners! Do people say RAVELOUT? Its in dictionaries. There are more, like plural DSCS, I’m just scratching the surface here.
Other comments: [Romantic evening highlight, perhaps], MOON. I didn’t know mooning someone was considered romantic. But then I know nothing about romance! Is [Christmas ___], PIE mince pie?? Those are the only pies I associate with Christmas time. Gag me with a spoon.
3.25 Stars. Interesting theme, featuring largely unavoidable consequences in the fill.