David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Of course this is a Friday puzzle. It’s too easy to fit the Saturday NYT slot, and 7a is FRIDAY. Thirteen rows below, there’s SCIENCE—anyone listen to NPR’s Science Friday?
The marquee answers are MELISSA MCCARTHY (I still need to see this year’s Ghostbusters! Loved McCarthy in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy) and Roger Ebert’s CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Did you know Melissa McCarthy’s from the Chicago area? She grew up in Plainfield, a suburb in a collar county. There’s only one other answer (MAGNOLIAS) that’s longer than 7 letters, and grids packed with 7s tend to leave me underwhelmed. I do like SHIMMY and ANTHRAX, but the rest of the fill is flatter. I prefer themelesses with a higher word count, as the 64-and-under crowd typically have duller fill.
Five more things:
- 25a. Received high marks], GOT A’S. No, this is not a phrase that’s crosswordable. GOT STRAIGHT A’S could work.
- 28a. Flask material], PYREX. The sort of flask that’s heated over a Bunsen burner, not the kind that holds gin in your pocket.
- 52a. “The great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition,” per Adam Smith], SCIENCE. Great quote!
- 3d. Virginia Woolf’s given name at birth], ADELINE. I did not know that. Sweet trivia tidbit.
- 43d. Female hip-hop fan], B-GIRL. That kind of minimizes what B-girl means. “Fan” doesn’t connote “uses one’s talent to entertain,” but one definition of B-girl is female breakdancer. Granted, they’re not non-fans, but would you clue JAY Z as a [Noted hip-hop fan]?
Dupe watch: EASES IN, IN ERROR. HAD AT IT, IT’S OVER. TRIO, “triplets” in the RARE clue.
3.7 stars from me.
Randall J Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Bob for Apples” — pannonica’s write-up
Took a while for me to put the theme together.
It’s a two-part charade. Each theme answer begins with the surname of someone named “Bob”, and ends with a word that can be preceded by “apple”.
- 17a. [Mile High City electricity?] DENVER JUICE (Bob Denver, apple juice). Actor.
- 28a. [Attorney revising LegalZoom language?] WILLS POLISHER (Bob Wills, apple-polisher). Western swing pioneer.
- 46a. [Laptop sent back for a refund?] LEMON COMPUTER (Bob Lemon, Apple computer). Baseball pitcher.
- 60a. [Where to find Bill Clinton’s birth certificate?] HOPE RECORDS (Bob Hope, Apple Records). Comedian/actor.
The parts fit together nicely.
- 8d [Mule or deer … or mule deer] ANIMAL. Of course I put MAMMAL first. Absentmindedly having RAJ for 6d [ __ Express (rail service stopping at Delhi and Agra)] TAJ didn’t help my situation in that upper-middle area. Mule deer is the sister taxon to the white-tailed deer in the genus Odocoileus (“hollow-tooth”); its species name “hemionus” is from classical Greek and means “half-ass” (=”mule”). I feel it’s useful to know how to say something approximating “half-assed” in an academic language.
- 24d [Goddess often depicted holding an ankh] ISIS, 52a [Jodie in “Taxi Driver”] IRIS. Both are also names of Greek goddesses.
- Stacked long downs: 11d [Spotter of subtle design flaws, perhaps] TRAINED EYE, 12d [One up at the crack of dawn] EARLY RISER; 28d [Bit of latitude] WIGGLE ROOM, 29a [Garlic or olive oil, for aioli] INGREDIENT.
- New to me: 15a [Philly suburb adjoining Villanova] RADNOR, (in the clue:) 3d [Phoropter component] LENS.
- … 49d [Takes a prayerful pose, in recent eponymy] TEBOWS. I was unaware that it had proliferated into verb form.
- Favorite clue: 50a [One who shortened Life sentences?] EDITOR. It’s a perennially ripe word, along with the various verb conjugations, for misdirection and punny cluing. This is one of the better examples.
Solid puzzle, with a slightly different theme.
Tony Caruso and C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
So, I’m behind schedule again. This puzzle has a theme that is a breath of fresh air. Phrases with one, two, three and four sequentially have those numbers changed to five, six, seven and eight. The revealer is old-timey golf fashion PLUSFOURS. The normal phrases are KETEL(ONE), LETSPLAY(TWO), THEBIG(THREE) and FROZEN(FOUR).
The rest of the puzzle was both clean as well as featuring interesting answers like KNESSET, LIONSDEN and BBKING.