Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Zippy puzzle, great fill! I slowed myself down a bit with the more-familiar MEDIA CIRCUS where MEDIA FRENZY belonged, but other than that, there were lots of gimmes for me.
Favorite fill: “I KNOW, RIGHT?” (we would also have accepted INORITE), FRENEMY, quaint “GRACIOUS ME,” ALL THAT JAZZ, SANTA CRUZ, “I’M BUYING,” MAUNA KEA in full (and getting credit for its undersea bulk), P.T. BARNUM, DEAD RINGER, HALF-CRAZED, THE RITZ, “HEY YOU,” and EYE TO EYE.
Grossest: ENOLA. The names in history that involve nuking civilian populations are no better than genocidal dictator names, are they?
Stalest: ARN, the [Royal son of the comics], from Prince Valiant. Although! I just learned that this comic strip is still running after 80 years. Who knew?
- 3d. [Who said “Without promotion, something terrible happens … nothing!”], P.T. BARNUM. There’s a musical biopic about Barnum coming out at the end of the year. Have there been any other musical biopics? Because this is a genre I’d avoid.
- 7d. [It may be spoiled], ENDING. If you haven’t seen the Game of Thrones season finale yet, allow me to share the highlights with you. The Red Baby Shower sequence was absolutely bonkers, and I can’t believe Jaime lost another limb.
- 10d. [Dirty cop?], HARRY. As in the recurring Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Harry Callahan.
- 19d. [Retail giant since 1886], SEARS. Does Sears still count as a “giant”? If these numbers are accurate, Sears has closed 80% of its locations since 2010.
- 48d. [Beseech], ADJURE. Raise your hand if you had the J and leapt at CAJOLE instead of the less-familiar ADJURE.
4.4 stars from me.
Gordon Johnson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “United Nations” — pannonica’s write-up
A less optimistic title might have been “Border Disputes”.
- 17a. [[A central Asian and an African find common ground]] TAJIKISTANZANIA (Tajikistan/Tanzania, tajikistanzania).
- 26a. [[An African and a European find common ground]] NIGERMANY.
- 48a. [[A Micronesian and a South American find common ground]] NAURUGUAY.
- 62a. [[Two Central Americans find common ground]] NICARAGUATEMALA. (In actuality they’re quite close but separated by Honduras.)
So, mash-ups with constraints: names of nations, three-letter overlaps. Nicely done. The first two had me thinking it might be a fluid sequence, with the second region of one themer as the first in the next, and then perhaps circling around from the final themer’s second half back to the first’s first—a kind of circumnavigation, if you will.
(Glen Velez with Howard Levy, “Border States 2: Sixfold”, from Border States (1993)
47a [Country in the Fertile Crescent] SYRIA. Ooch, inelegant to have another nation in the grid but not part of the theme.
- 1a [Alert also called a BOLO] APB. All Points Bulletin, Be On the LookOut.
- 14a [Highly adaptable type] CHAMELEON. Metaphorically perhaps. In nature, chameleons are highly specialized creatures.
- 37a [Terminus for all roads, in a saying] ROME. Mīlle viae dūcunt hominēs per saecula Rōmam (“a thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”). 32d [Port of ancient 37 Across] OSTIA. Whoa.
- 42a [Cretaceous carnivores, for short] T REXES, and TREXES sure looks odd in the grid like that. I’m inclined to think that most people would say ‘T rex’ or Tyrannosaurus rex, unchanged from the singular, for the plural. But what do I know about other people, really?
- 29d [Spiral-horned African antelope] NYALA, Tragelaphus angasii or Tragelaphus buxtoni. Always nostalgic to see NYALA; it’s one of the few (relatively) well-known animals beginning with N and so was very handy for the variation of Geography I as a child insisted my parents play with me.
- Cutesy clues for two of the longest downs: 10d [You may stick your tongue out at one] ORAL EXAM, 38d [Where to get off?] EXIT RAMP.
- 59d [Like goji berry plants] CANY. Did not know this. In other trendy berry fill there’s 55d [Purple fruit on palms] AÇAÍ, which happens to symmetrically opposite if you invoke left-right symmetry. Oh look, here’s what comes up when I search (images) for
goji acai: “Food Face-Off: The Berry Wars”. And apparently there’s another berry in the running: NONI! It’s like a crossword orgy.
Going to, uh, make some oatmeal now. With dried cranberries. So there!
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle’s revealer is atypically specific. DRAWTOWARD is an example of reversal in letter order – and four words undergo that transformation. The first two are the last word, the next two are the first word. This theme is pretty much endless. It could easily be a Sunday size. It follows that you can be pickier when it comes to theme answers. It was a bit on the flat side for me: GROCERYGAB (BAG), COMPULSIVERAIL (LIAR), BATKEYS (TAB), EVILFROMTHEMET (LIVE) (Seems to be a TV show???)
A lot of clues were way out of my wheelhouse today; guess it must be Friday: [Con ___: tempo marking], MOTO (vs. Mr. MOTO); SAPPORO as the [Oldest Japanese beer brand] not as an island; [Aids for romantic evenings], DIMMERS (had no idea where that was going!); [___ Bauer] for EDDIE (apparently a clothing chain in Americania); [Go ballistic] for RAISECAIN was oddly opaque too, despite a not too oblique clue…