Bill Clinton and Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m seeing some answers I’d have liked to have more fun clues in this themeless by erstwhile President Bill Clinton and his longtime Arkansas friend, Vic Fleming. (Give my best to Hillary! *sob*) At work, we’ve got a campaign song theme pending, so I was just thinking about Fleetwood Mac’s “DON’T STOP.” Imagine my surprise to see the flat clue, 17a. [Continue]. Oh! I just now noticed the unsignaled mini-theme! Flat 35a THINKING ABOUT and 57a TOMORROW round out the Fleetwood Mac chorus. Cute! Here’s a video of a 1977 concert performance of the tune.
The inclusion of a 29-letter mini-theme in a 72-worder makes it harder to avoid junky full like TERR, ARA, ATTU (hardcore crosswordese), and DRAWEE. There are zippier answers in the mix, too. I’m partial to MISHMASH, OLD STYLE (though it would be more fun clued as the lousy old beer that is apparently now HEP among 20-something Cubs fans—not sure if people are drinking Old Style much in other parts of the country), ELEANOR Roosevelt (one of my top three favorite First Women in the White House), literary HIAWATHA, and the G.I. BILL.
Nine more things:
- 9a. [Heavy metal shortage?], ANEMIA. The “heavy metal” in question is iron, in your bloodstream. I like the clue.
- 18a. [A real money maker], U.S. MINT. If you shake that sort of money maker, does it sound like a tin of Altoids being shaken?
- 38a. [Long, narrow land], CHILE. You were looking for a generic geographic term, weren’t you? But no, just a long, skinny country.
- 47a. [Molières : France :: ___ : U.S.], TONYS. Theatrical awards, I gather. Didn’t know that’s what the French ones were called.
- 8d. [With it, man], HEP. Not keen on the MAN overlap in 1d MADMAN.
- 21d. [Not a lot, but ___], ENOUGH. This … feels like a clue that was written by a newbie constructor, because it’s not NYT crossword style.
- 25d. [“It’s the ___, stupid!”], ECONOMY. And now, I’d pick health care as the key domestic issue.
- 38d. [Residents of Cambridge, England], CANTABS. From the Latin Cantabrigiensis, meaning from Cambridge. I always thought Oxford and Cambridge were near each other, but Google Maps tells me that Oxford (where Bill studied as a Rhodes Scholar) is about 80 miles from Cambridge.
- 51d. [Record producer Pettibone], SHEP. Never heard of him. The list of SHEPs famous enough to be in a crossword is indeed a short one.
Overall, the clues felt like they weren’t really put through the Shortz/Fagliano editing process, as they don’t read like Times crossword clues. Perhaps former leaders of the free world are more resistant to editorial changes than the typical crossword constructor?
3.75 stars from me.
Jeffrey’s Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Land’s End” — pannonica’s write-up
- 7dR [Coastal region of western Europe … or an alternate title for this puzzle] THE LOW COUNTRIES.
- 3d. [1970 top-10 hit for Santana] BLACK MAGIC WOMAN.
- 5d. [Latin phrase for some abrupt endings] DEUS EX MACHINA.
- 19d. [Query at a fast-food counter] FOR HERE OR TO GO.
- 11d. [Terse bit in the personals] ONE-COLUMN-INCH AD.
The circled letters at the ends, or bottoms, of the theme answers are the names of countries. All involve a realignment from their original phrases. Oman and China are the ends of longer words, Togo is coterminous with two small words, while Chad is composed of the last part of one word and the entirety of another. Minor inelegance with three four-letter nations and a single five-letter one.
The real Low Countries of the revealer clue are not as I’d thought Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, which are collected in the portmanteau Benelux. Instead, as per Wikipedia, it is “a coastal region in western Europe, consisting especially of the Netherlands and Belgium, and the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, and Ems rivers where much of the land is at or below sea level. This wide area of Western Europe roughly stretches from French Gravelines and Dunkirk at its southwestern point, to the area of Dutch Delfzijl and German Eastern Frisia at its northeastern point, and to Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast.” So, even though I’m seeing some sources use the terms Low Countries and Benelux interchangeably, they aren’t precisely equivalent. To revisit an adjective I’ve already used in the context of orthography: they aren’t coterminous.
- 10a [Deck crew chief, informally] BOS’N, an elided form of boatswain.
- 8d [Shards may be collected in one] DIG. I will always prefer the spelling ‘sherds’ for items in an archaeological milieu.
- 66a [Sputnik coverer] TASS crossing 43d [Comes unglued] LOSES IT.
- 44a [“Napoleon in the Wilderness” painter] ERNST.
- 9d [“Fearless minds climb ___ unto crowns”: Shak.] SOONEST; this is from Henry VI, Part 3 (Act IV Scene 7). 39a [“O, I am fortune’s fool!” speaker] ROMEO.
- 40d [Giant marine hunter] ORCA. In the news.
(original version, with Peter Green on guitar)
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s “wacky” Friday theme is a little offbeat. There is a straightforward progression theme ECONOMYPACK, STANDARDTIME, PREMIUMGAS and LUXURYLINER. A word that can compound with the non-thematic part is inserted in the middle, and a new phrase is made and clued humourously. So: ECONOMY>RAT<PACK, STANDARD>HOT<TIME, PREMIUM>SWAMP<GAS, and LUXURY>EYE<LINER. A hair arbitrary, but fun to have something a bit different!
Four spanning theme answers tends to “lock in” much of the fill. I did enjoy the clues, particularly [Repeated number of curls, say], REP – exercise! The most unfamiliar thing for me was [fish house] in the clue for BIB. Say what?
Mr. Lampkin is a most excellent photographer of birds and insects, and sent this shot of a Swallow-tailed Kite. They look rather like our Black-winged Kites of genus Elanus, but I checked and they aren’t closely related. You do have an Elanus species, but that is the White-tailed Kite.
Answer pertains to 5D and 9D!