Mike Nothnagel’s New York Times crossword
I loved Mike’s ACPT finals puzzle, with its fun 15s (that’s as spoilery as I’m getting) and those wicked A-grade clues. This puzzle, it’s got a lot of good stuff but not I’m not loving it, I’m merely liking it. It has no Z or Q, but there are a lot of mid-range Scrabbly letters, the Ws and Ps and Ys and Ms and Ks, plus an X and J.
Favorite fill, clever clues:
- 16a. To [Best (someone) in calculating] things is to OUTWIT them. I had OUTADD here first and was delighted to change it.
- 17a. “And WE’RE LIVE“—that’s often the [Start of a breaking news story]. Now, the TV news people don’t know when to quit being “live at the scene.” When you’re standing outside the building the next day, you’re not impressing us. Could’ve done without the duplicative ARE WE at 4d. “We’re live! Are we?”
- 55a. Who knew PAT BOONE was the [Onetime General Motors spokesman]?
- 5d. Ha! This clued stumped me for the longest time. [It’s used during an introductory course] refers to a SALAD FORK, not to History 101.
- 11d. The SWAT TEAM is [Help in a dangerous situation]. In the Chicago area a few months ago, a SWAT team got extra practice when a woman mistook her butt-dialing husband’s car radio in the background for the sound of captors menacing her husband.
- 12d. From The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes the TIME WARP. It’s the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane, I hear.
- 13d. Another school fake-out clue—[Those involved in cutting class at school?] are hair STYLISTS at a cosmetology school.
- 31d. Who doesn’t appreciate a PRETTY BOY?
- 33d. Another full name in the grid, ERIC IDLE. I pick him over Pat Boone.
Props to Mike for including only six 3-letter answers.
- 1d. All right, who says “IT WAS I” dramatically?
- 49a. A [Coal miner] can be called a PITMAN, apparently.
- 7d. The clue for EAVE reads weird to me. [Builder’s projected expense?] doesn’t parse right. An EAVE is a projection, yes, but I don’t know that it counts as a separate “expense.”
Paul Hunsberger’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Unnatural Scientists”
Cute theme! Various -ologist words are clued as if the part that comes before -ologist is an ordinary English word rather than a Greek or Latin root. Like so:
- 17a. [“You might call me a psychologist,” said the ___] CHEERLEADER, whose job is to psych people up and make them say RAH (2d: [Booster’s bellow]), which crosses 17a.
- 26a. [“You might call me an enterologist,” said the ___] CAT BURGLAR, who enters places without permission. Yeah, but what’s an enterologist, really? I don’t know if there are truly any scientists or doctors who consider themselves enterologists rather than gastroenterologists.
- 37a. [“You might call me a topologist,” said the ___] MOUNTAIN CLIMBER, moving towards the top of the mountain. Is she climbing Mt. SINAI (35d: [Six-Day War battleground])?
- 51a. [“You might call me a cryptologist,” said the ___] TOMB RAIDER, stealing from crypts rather than cracking codes. Nice touch to have the ALAN parked atop this entry clued as 45a: [WWII code breaker Turing].
- 59a. [“You might call me a pathologist,” said the ___] TRAILBLAZER forging a new path.
I forgot that the [School where Jane Eyre spent eight years] was called LOWOOD. With only one W in that name, I am reminded of the LoJack. Did you know that the LoJack folks called it LoJack as the “opposite” of hijack? Don’t know if hijack has any connection to the word high.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Back to Front” — Janie’s review
Today’s four grid-spanning theme phrases play out like full-word Spoonerisms and, like their sound-swapping cousins, provide a high entertainment value. Martin’s clues make a strong visual impact as well—which always leads to a livelier solve. And, as with yesterday’s theme set, the whole solve is improved by the peppy, idiomatic base phrases. I sure got a kick out of seeing:
- 17A. grease the wheels → WHEELS THE GREASE and [Carts lubricant around?]. Silly and sound, no?
- 26A. beats to the punch → PUNCH TO THE BEATS and [Spar disco-style?]. My fave in a group of goodies. Again, the visual factor here is a great asset.
- 45A. spare the details → DETAILS THE SPARE and [Decorates a trunk item?]. This one is maybe a tad weaker because there’s usually an object in the base phrase. Still, I’m getting a picture of a spare tire covered in découpage. Not terribly practical, but who knows what won’t be done for art’s sake.
- 60A. trick of the trade → TRADE OF THE TRICK and [Magician’s profession?]. A final treat. In another kind of publication, I suppose this might’ve been clued as [World’s oldest profession?]… And if you missed constructor/magician David Kwong’s construction cum magic at the ACPT, run-don’t-walk to YouTube.
Love the look of this grid, too—the actual appearance created by the placement of the black squares—and particularly the way Martin’s filled the six sevens inside. It PLEASES [Delights] me to (also) call out SAME DAY [Like some dry-cleaning service], SPEARED [Harpooned], DENOTES [Stands for], CLERICS [Ordained ones], and STATELY—with its image-specific (thus more interesting) clue [Like Wayne Manor].
That same kind of cluing specificity improves the use of a word like APSE. Today it’s a [Notre Dame niche]. That helps when using (often unavoidable) crosswordese. I wouldn’t put ROAR in that same “crosswordese” category, but cluing it as [Victoria Falls sound] sure makes things more interesting. More of that, please!
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme entries have all lost half of their opening pair of twin syllables. Now, I wouldn’t describe any of the resulting phrases as HALF-BAKED, though they do look [Not well thought out]. Here are the halfsies:
- 17a. Chinese appetizer is pu pu platter, so the theme answer is PU PLATTER. It doesn’t sound appetizing in English with one PU or two.
- 21a. HIP HOORAY sounds wan.
- 37a. BYE BIRDIE, a HALF-BAKED musical though in actuality the title is only missing one quarter of its letters. This theme answer has two thirds of the original words and three quarters of the letters. It’s at least TWO THIRDS BAKED, if you ask me.
- 51a. A KNOCK JOKE is even less entertaining than a knock-knock joke.
I suspect there’s a better way to tie together a theme consisting of phrases that have lost one of a twin set of words, but I don’t know what it is. Ideas?
- 11d. [They don’t laugh when they’re tickled] clues the IVORIES, or piano keys.
- 39d. Gustav Klimt’s THE KISS, an [1889 work of art deemed unsuitable for general display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair]. Correction! Commenter Linda Murray says the steamy artwork in question is the Rodin sculpture called The Kiss, not the Klimt painting. Linda’s an artist herself so (a) I believe her and (b) you should check out her work.
Randy Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Job Search”
Eight theme answers fit the category of phrases that end with words that can also mean “job”; each is clued as without reference to the phrase’s usual meaning. In an ambitious touch, Randy has stacked the top and bottom pairs of theme entries so that they overlap by 8 letters. The theme:
- 24a. [Shakespeare’s job?] is his AVON CALLING.
- 26a. [General’s job?] is a MILITARY OCCUPATION in more ways than one.
- 40a. A MEDICAL APPOINTMENT is the [Surgeon General’s job?].
- 60a. [Movie composer’s job?] is SCORING POSITION.
- 68a. [Unsuccessful dieter’s job?] clues NO-LOSE SITUATION. I don’t know that I’d call a job a “situation.” You can be situated in a job, but is the job itself a situation?
- 81a. [Handyman’s job?] is a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT to work on a home.
- 101a. [Cable network exec’s job?] is LIFETIME EMPLOYMENT, Lifetime being the name of a cable channel.
- 105a. Saving the cleverest for last, [Mayor Bloomberg’s job?] is indeed a NEW YORK POST.
I don’t get why 22a: [Equation answer] is ROOT. Which equations have roots for answers? Dictionary says: root is the “value of an unknown quantity satisfying a given equation.” And there you have it. Not a term I knew.
Overall, the fill is quite solid, though not especially zingy. Fairly easy cluing throughout.
Had ADIEUS and was wondering the heck a GENSER was for the longest time. Twelve minutes of staring at the grid to see the error. Feeling woozy now. *thud*
this fall, the manhattan theatre club produced a play called the pitmen painters, which i didn’t see, but which told the (fact-based) story of a group of coal miners in northern england who, in the mid 1930’s, yes, studied painting — becoming painters themselves. hadn’t fully understood that “pitmen” was another word for “coal miners” — but today’s puzzle definitely cleared *that* one up for me!
loved seeing PAT BOONE sharing the grid with ERIC IDLE and the TIME WARP. now we just need to see pat boone *doing* the time warp… (i assume eric idle mastered it long ago.)
enjoyed this one lots, solving (basically) counterclockwise from sw to nw. “I’M DONE!” for tonight!
There is a Z in SLEAZE. Sexist, I know, but some sexist things are bad. Although, now that I think of it, I am something of SLEAZE fan. Should I wake up my girlfriend?
Oh sure, the Z is GAUZE too, but big whoop!
what’s sexist about sleaze?
I liked the NYT– rather tough for a Friday, IMO. It took a while to get a good foothold, but then gradually filled the thing in going roughly south to north, although the last square filled was the intersection of TYMES and ASTERS. Only mild nit is that It did seem that the clues were somewhat inconsistent in difficulty; some easy, some hard. On the whole, though a good and somewhat tough puzzle.
I also fell for the S/X trick with ADEIUX, but I thought my error was somewhere in GOLEFT, so I never figured it out. Other than that section, I thought it was fairly easy for a Friday; having ERICIDLE and TIMEWARP as gimmes opened up the puzzle quickly.
Tough Friday NYT for me: I was sure a variant like HOKY POKY went where TIME WARP finally appeared! Also Hus for ECK, the Soup Spoon for SALAD FORK, In a Rush for IN HASTE, etc. I finally worked it OUT from the bottom up, and wasn’t pleased with the NE where OUT OF crosses OUTWIT — but SWAT TEAM is great fill. Note that SCISSORS also fits where STYLISTS belongs. Egads. Quite a workout!
>Egads. Quite a workout!
yep — “that’s what it’s all about!”
I believe that 39d in Lampkin’s LAT puzzle referred to Rodin’s THE KISS, not Klimt’s THE KISS, which was created in the very early 1900s.
Thanks, Linda! Post corrected.
Thanks for the link to my work, Amy!
I enjoyed this NYT as I usually do, its being a Nothnagel and all. Also as per usual I had a few interesting incorrect place-keepers along the way: SOUPSPOON for SALADFORK, anyone? How does that happen?! Guess the right and mildly evil cryptic sense of [course] right off and find something with the same first letter and letter count? No wonder I’m still working on puzzle 5 from the ACPT…
Something about the pairing of PRETTY BOY / SALAD FORK amused me. Sounds like a potential crossover professional wrestling / Food Network show character. Will have to pitch this one and see if there’s any interest. Should cover a pretty wide viewing demographic… we’re talking full-contact Iron Chef here!
I was assuming that The Kiss was referring to the film, which turns out to be from 1896. That’s a lot of The Kisses for an apparently chaste culture.
Easy enough to get with crosses, didn’t know “tref” was in common use, actually means torn.
I guessed “in a rush” and “scissors” too but didn’t enter them, as the crossing possibilities looked bad. I went fairly quickly for a Friday, at least the bottom half, but had a harder time working upward. Never did know what TIME WARP referred to. I had “here live” instead of WERE LIVE, which made 1D cryptic, especially as I didn’t remember the bit of Star Wars trivia, but all done.
ECK and The TYMES had me uncertain I got them right, and I got the Y after considering _EOW for a bit, but the guesses seemed reasonable. I kept thinking I should have got TREF sooner.
I raise my hand for SOUPSPOON!
@Howard: I *love* the idea of Pretty Boy Salad Fork. Gosh, the name alone has so much potential.
As usual: thanks, all, for the kind words. More to come…
Friday’s NYT, 22A: “NOT ALLOWED ON CERTAIN DIETS”- TREF? I’m sorry. I just don’t get it. Can anyone explain?
TREF, TREYF, and TRAYF all mean “not kosher.”