Brandon Hensley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I am yawning nonstop here, but I’ll try to blog as if I’m still sentient.
Did not know: 25a. [Region around a star “just right” for habitable planets], GOLDILOCKS ZONE. Cute science!
- 16a. [Ones who don’t take a seat?], ALSO-RANS. V. excited that a couple GOP candidates dropped out this week and not next week, as I was able to update a Daily Celebrity Crossword clue to reflect the current status! (Crossword editors don’t get a lot of excitement, to be honest. I know you’re surprised.)
- 9a. [Cetacean’s closest relative], HIPPO. I had no idea. Pannonica, you agree?
- 20a. [Bombshell], GODDESS. Gross. Please take your male gaze off my crossword puzzle. You couldn’t clue GODDESS with respect to power?? This is bull.
- I like CRY YOUR EYES OUT, LOCAVORE, LOADED UP, HEAT WAVE, BUZZFEED, DYNASTY, GO CRAZY in the [“Knock yourself out”] sense, PETE ROSE, PILSENER (though I prefer the pilsner spelling), and UHURA.
- 51d. [Bergen dummy], Mortimer SNERD. You know which dummy ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (Candice’s dad) was best known for? Not Snerd. Charlie McCarthy. I missed one on a Sporcle.com quiz because I could only think of Snerd. I blame crosswords.
4.1 stars from me. Good night, folks!
Neville Fogarty and Doug Peterson’s BuzzFeed crossword, “Themeless”—Derek’s write-up
A smooth themeless puzzle from this pair of crossword construction titans. If this partnership continues, they will likely need some catchy, cryptic surname! A fine 72-worder, lots of great fill, and typical irreverence in several clues, in fine BuzzFeed fashion! There are a couple of answers I was slightly unfamiliar with, but most of the crossings were helpful. The only problem I had is shown in the grid, where I had GLOBS instead of GLOPS at 31D. There the crossing was NOT helpful, at least to me!
Lots to discuss:
- 1A [Fictional dragon that’s known to be the product of evolution] CHARIZARD – I wondered what was meant by this, but we are talking Pokémon here! This site explains it all, if you’re like me and have never played the game.
- 10A [Indian tribe that becomes a restaurant when you move its last letter to the beginning] HOPI – Which becomes IHOP when you follow the instructions! Getting hungry! Also, on an unrelated note, I think I made a Hopi mask years ago in the 2nd grade….
- 16A [First TV show (of three) to end its run at the top of the Nielsen ratings] I LOVE LUCY – The other two? I have no idea either. I tried to Google it. My guess would be M*A*S*H and Seinfeld. Or maybe Friends.
- 20A [Ariana ___ (fake Starbucks order)] GRANDE – See next clue…
- 41A [Ariana ___ (Starbucks order that’s not only fake, but doesn’t make sense as a pun!)] MOCHA – This is kinda funny … but not really! Different though, I must admit!
- 23A [Camp accessory] FEATHER BOA – Yes, THAT kind of “camp!”
- 30A [Rickman who played Professor Snape, who responds to “After all this time?” with “Always”:'(] ALAN – I believe this is a mini-tribute; he died 1/14/16. I remember him best from Die Hard and Galaxy Quest!
- 47A [Yo La Tengo singer Ira] KAPLAN – The aforementioned crossing clue that didn’t help me much. And I would say I know music fairly well; off to Spotify we go…
- 55A [Super Bowl ___ (game that will be played in the year 3516, we assume)] MDL – This would be accurate if they didn’t make the decision to stop using Roman numerals!
- 60A [Regimen that requires early meals?] PALEO DIET – I heard a great quote the other day: ‘If that caveman saw that donut, he would eat it without hesitation!’
- 37D [“Anti” dropper] RIHANNA – This album is brand new, so if you haven’t heard of it, that is why!
- 46D [Link from Germany] WURST – Getting hungry again…
Now that I am starving again, I will find some food! 4.6 stars for a stellar themeless!
Randall J Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Embed of Roses” — pannonica’s write-up
A Valentine’s gift?
Famous people whose surname is Rose have their first names ’embedded’ into preëxisting words or phrases to create wackified ones. The inserted letters are helpfully pre-circled.
- 20a. [Hans Gruber portrayer in “Die Hard” starring in a movie set at a sheep ranch?] HERDER RICKMAN (Herman – what kind of phrase is that? Am I missing something?). Alan Rickman, recently deceased. Unrelated to the romantic sheep-herding film Brokeback Mountain.
- 27a. [Pontiff quizzing cardinals-in-training?] POPE TESTMASTER (postmaster, not poetaster).
- 44a. [Get acclimated to intelligence work at Langley?] ADJUST IN AGENCY (ad agency).
- 51a. [Make an error calculating Kobe Bryant’s net pay?] UNDERTAX LAKER (undertaker).
Four themers. Three of them (Derrick, Pete, Justin) are professional athletes, and two of those are young-ish ones completely unfamiliar to me. The fourth then goes ahead and includes a professional athlete in the clue. This all seems wildly imbalanced to me. Also, I would have recognized Charlie Rose, Amber Rose, Anika Rose, even Tokyo Rose (which would have been stretching things a bit) – and some of them could have provided a gender balance, if that had been desired.
Drawing back to a superficial focus, I didn’t find much entertaining here: not the originals nor the modified versions. So, a handful of poorly-cultivated roses?
Don’t know if it was intentional, but I like how the first and last acrosses obliquely suggest the theme: ROBES and NESTS. The former, in addition to evoking enrobement, also replicates ini correct sequence four of the five letters in roses.
- 18a [Sink or swim, e.g.] VERB, 9d [Desert and swamp, e.g.] HABITAT.
- 41a [Cab alternative] ZIN, but I went with ZIP first, thinking of Zipcars. Are they still around? …(checks)… Seems so, can’t help but think they’re getting pressure from tehe ever-expanding Uber. See also, 63a [It comes out of a fiasco] VINO.
- Long downs are 3d [How many deli items are sold] BY THE POUND, 31d [Many Tim Burton characters] ECCENTRICS.
- Have to like the inclusion of the Mort Walker coinage in the clue: 34a [Speech replaced with a grawlix in the funny papers] OATH.
- 37a [Nickname for the Vietnam War’s F-105 fighter plane] THUD. Did not know this (but I do know HUEY). I don’t have a copy of The Lexicon of Comicana, so I don;t know how or if Mort Walker classifies >thud!<.
- 59a [Most populous nation in Caricom] HAITI. Should the clue have reproduced it as CARICOM? That’s the 15-member Caribbean Community, incidentally. (Breakiing news: I’ve been informed that the CHE style guide insists on ‘wordifying’ acronyms thusly; not sure if that includes mere initialisms as well.)
- 1d [Letter in the Hammett equation] RHO. Organic chemistry, really? Yikes! Ooh, that’s a grawlixin’ for sure: @#$%^?!
Okay puzzle, the theme simply didn’t appeal though.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
YO is today’s bigram addition. The revealer is oblique. You have to know ROCKYBALBOA says YOADRIAN; the ADRIAN part is ignored. I only know this from other crosswords. Like many people, the idea of anything to do with boxing is anathema.
The base phrases and the way they change are of particular interest: MARSROVER is au courant and becomes MA(YO)RSROVER, using ROVER as a sort of common noun. My mother tells me that when age 3 I spent 3 weeks pretending to be a dog, my dog name was Rover, so that cultural trope is well entrenched, even if actual Rovers are no longer that common; I’ve met a few… FORPE(YO)TESSAKE – unusual to see a drugs reference in a theme; FORPETESSAKE is also a good base phrase. (YO)GITRACT: Surprised GITRACT is considered familiar enough, though of course it’s familiar to me. STA(YO)FFDOCTORS: The one word becomes two trick I associate with BEQ…
[Item in a ’60s drug bust], LSDTAB – when did it get banned? Wasn’t it legal for most of the 60’s?
[Centrifuge site], LAB. My consult room has a light mike, a centrifuge, a refractometer, and a glucometer. I work at a welfare so I’m have less toys than some vets… It does feel like we’re, for better or worse, more willing to do tests ourselves!
[Shape, as dough for cloverleaf rolls], BALLUP. Cloverleaf rolls?
Well-executed theme, and interesting non-theme choices.