Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword
A lovely themeless from the power duo of Brohug. The whole thing is packed with lively words and phrases with interesting clues. My top 10:
- 1a. [Old Hollywood low-budget studios, collectively], POVERTY ROW. Entirely unfamiliar term to me.
- 15a. [Wine bottle contents in Hitchcock’s “Notorious”], URANIUM ORE. Didn’t know this, either. Thought it would be some wine varietal.
- 17a. [Dessert often with cream cheese icing], CARROT CAKE. I need me a gluten-free carrot cake, dang it.
- 32a. [It was dissolved in 1991], WARSAW PACT.
- 60a. [The goddess Kali appeared on its first cover], MS. MAGAZINE. Neat trivia.
- 62a. [New Jersey childhood home of Whitney Houston and Queen Latifah], EAST ORANGE. Pop culture trivia if you like it, New Jersey geography if you don’t.
- 12d. [Press production], APPLE CIDER. Not a printing press. I bought some cherry juice at Trader Joe’s today and mixed it with equal parts raspberry lemonade and water. Mmm, mmm, good.
- 25d. [Substance that citrus peels are rich in], PECTIN. I liked this because I learned yet another new thing.
- 42d. [Baseball’s ___ Line (.200 batting average)], MENDOZA. In Lexulous (a Scrabble variant on Facebook), my Mendoza line is 350 points. Any less than that and I’m disappointed in myself.
- 58d. [“A defeat for humanity,” per Pope John Paul II], WAR. Nice echo of the Warsaw Pact at 32a. Poland, freedom vs. communism, etc.
See? I think some folks believe that when I criticize fill that’s unfamiliar to me and suggest it’s too obscure, I’m just being a dim philistine. But there are indeed things I’m pleased to learn in crosswords. When I criticize something I’ve never encountered before, trust me, I’m not the only solver looking askance at it.
The 39a. [Onetime TV music vendor] K-TEL is still around. Check out their website!
Constructor Liz Gorski was just telling me that LPGA (18a. [Ironwoman org.?]) is sorely underused in crosswords compared to PGA. Nice to see it here with a tricky clue.
Tons of nifty fill, a boatload of interesting clues, no junk fill? 4.33 stars.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Loafer’s Lament” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Have I mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of quip themes? Well, if not, let this be the first time. Instead of four or five themed AHAs, we just have one long one, which is an all-or-nothing shot. Today’s CrosSynergy’s Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) quote was more on the nothing side of that “or”:
- THERE IS NOT
- ENOUGH TIME
- TO DO ALL
- THE NOTHING
- WE WANT TO DO
Though the sentiment of the quip is cute (and certainly appropriate for a cartoonist known for his depiction of a child’s imaginary world, far from adult responsibilities), most of the quote consists of dull combining words, without much pizzazz. The entire first line is just a preface, really, and was just something to get through to get further into the quote. Lest you think I’m too grumpy today, I did enjoy a couple of entries I think I’m seeing for the first time–UCLAN for [Golden St. collegian], which made me think of the Wu-Tang Clan) and LAY SISTER for [Certain woman of the cloth] crossing at the common L. For the latter, if you are a layperson, can you truly be said to be “of the cloth,” which I assume is reserved for those who are ordained in some way?
Not so big a fan of REWET, HET UP and EROSE, so I’ll give that my trifecta the multiple UNFAVE award today. Maybe I am kinda grumpy, huh?
Steve Blais’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I just took a massive 18 seconds off my record Los Angeles Times Friday time! Was it as easy for you as for me?
Part of the easiness was the theme. Inventions whose names are >inventor< >invention< are re-imagined as though the invention is a verb, which is then converted into the past tense. Such a beautiful, tight concept, a real wish-I’d-thought-of-it puzzle theme! The one negative is that some of the verbs are decidedly transitive – PETRIDISHED… gossip, RICHTERSCALED… the mountain – they sound slightly awkward without a direct object. As I was saying about easiness, I found these answers a lot easier to figure out than most Friday “pun” answers; after I got the first one, they practically filled themselves in; that isn’t a complaint, more of an observation.
The 65(!) squares of theme answers are as follows:
- 18a, [Physicist got all wound up?], TESLACOILED. Tesla Coils
- 29a, [Mathematician got ready for a shower?], MOEBIUSSTRIPPED. This clue would’ve been more amusing in a racier venue! Moebius Strips.
- 36a, [Seismologist rose to new heights?], RICHTERSCALED. The Richter Scale
- 44a, [Physicist made an opposing move?], GEIGERCOUNTERED. Geiger Counters
- 61a, [Microbiologist spread some gossip?], PETRIDISHED. Petri Dish. If the litany of male inventors was getting to you, you can take some comfort in the fact that the most common Petri dish variant, the Agar plate, was invented by technician Fannie Hesse!
As you probably know, 65 theme squares is no picnic to fill, and having two 15’s and a 13’s in the middle five rows is especially challenging! You aren’t going to get away without some collateral damage.
There are actually some fun longer theme answers though: STOPTHAT (very un-Canadianly rude though), INLOVE, CANINE, HECTOR, ELNINO and the short OHHI. This is offset by the following list of clunkers: the (defensible) prefixes INDO and SERBO, nautical jargon ALEE, ELHI, AHOP, SST, ERST and the gimme-for-me, but only known for a few roles, Canadian actor NEVE Campbell. None of those are particularly bad, andd there are surprisingly few abbreviations, which often end up being over-represented in puzzles such as this!
Most of the joy for me was in the theme though, which really spoke to the science nerd in me! I just can’t help giving this puzzle 4.5 stars, although I anticipate not everyone will be as enamored!
Finally, does anyone want to play a game with me in the comments? How many more theme answers can we come up with? I’ll start the ball rolling with [Painter-turned-inventor wrote software?]
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Academia Nuts” — pannonica’s write-up
Shameless confession: this puzzle’s title pun hardly ever fails to garner a giggle or smirk from me; I seem never to tire of it. Much the same way I could look on the shelf of my old office, see the spine of Hall’s “American Weasels,” and imagine it was filled with information about my colleagues.
Back to the puzzle at hand. In this instance, the “nuts” of the title works as an anagram indicator, À LA (109d) cryptic crossword cluing. In each theme entry the first part is an American institution of higher education (it is reminiscent of a CHE theme, as is today’s LAT offering) and the second is an anagram thereof.
- 23a. [Spirits from a Massachusetts university?] BRANDEIS BRANDIES. Minimal rearrangement required.
- 32a. [Resin layer on fiberglass from a New York university?] COLGATE GEL COAT. Am currently researching methodologies techniques for a wood-staining project, so the anagram phrase didn’t seem so unusual. Also could apply to nail polish. Cute coincidence (?) that COLGATE, a major toothpaste brand, lies under 29d [Dentist’s detection] DECAY.
- 42a. [Vernacular used at a South Carolina college?] CITADEL DIALECT. A subcategory of militarESE (81a [Argot suffix]? Missing the definite article here. See also 16d [Recruiting slogan that replaced “Be All You Can Be”] ARMY OF ONE. See also also 20a & 21a ALL TOO | AS ONE; seems kinda duplicatey.
- 59a. [Seasoning from an Indiana university?] BALL STATE TABLE SALT.
- 70a. [Car dealer’s event at a New Jersey university?] SETON HALL SELL-ATHON.
- 88a. [Landing spot at a New York university?] ADELPHI HELIPAD. Really like this anagram.
- 98a. [Short-tailed rodent from a Massachusetts college?] AMHERST HAMSTER. Perhaps that would be a better mascot than the current one, Lord Jeffery Amherst.
- 111a. [Feature of a pro wrestler from a Pennsylvania university?] BUCKNELL BULL NECK. “BULL NECK” is not a phrase that comes readily to my mind, and is not an image I particularly care for in my mind’s eye.
Definitely an East Coast BIAS (93a), even a Northeast one. Indiana’s BALL STATE is the greatest outlier, with the southern but coastal military academy the CITADEL giving it a run for the money. Fun puns, entertaining theme.
- Fooled by 1-across [Rock blaster], putting in TNT and then immediately realizing it could just as easily be AMP, which was quickly confirmed by checking the crossing at
1-down damn it’s a cross-reference to 96-across2-down MYRNA Loy.
- Self-referential clue: 119a [119-Across, for example] ABBR., which obviates the need for an abbrev. in the clue to signal that the answer is an abbrev.!
- Too much baseball! Proper name OMAR Quintanilla (49a), 6d [Avoided a tag, maybe] SLID, 121a [Carlos Zambrano pitch] SINKER with another proper noun. Surely one of those could have been clued differently. Conversely, 54a MEL isn’t clued as famed Giant Ott, 118a ACE doesn’t mention pitching, et cetera.
- I must be hungry. At 56d, [Caesar conquered them] elicited “croutons” for me, not GAULS. And at 25d [Angel’s opposite] BRAT, I wondered how awful angelwurst would taste.
- Did not know First Lady LETITIA Tyler at 107a. In fact, didn’t even consider that the generic-sounding John Tyler of the clue indicated president number ten.
- Who? 91d [Golfer Gene] LITTLER, 40a [John of TV’s “Homicide”] SEDA, 38d [Paul of “American Graffiti”] LEMAT.
- Just the right amount of abstract clues which require some crossings. Examples: 50a [Appearances] MIENS, 55a [Pocket] EARN, 43d [Clarifying words] I MEAN (not ID EST), 104d [Benefits] SAKES.
- Oldie-but-a-goodie clue: 34d [What you will] ESTATE.
Very good puzzle.
Ian Livengood’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Alternate Endings” — pannonica’s write-up
This 15×16 puzzle features a really inventive and clever theme. Multiple word phrases are reimagined as if the final word were a suffix appended to the precursor(s), then clued as per the resultant conglomeration.
- 5d. [Disease that makes you say “aww” all the time?] HOWSWEETITIS. No Jackie Gleason reference here. (Stress on syllable 3.)
- 10d. [J. Alfred Prufrock-like quality?] ELIOTNESS. Thomas Stearns. (Stress on 1.)
- 15d. [Traveling south from Birmingham, perhaps?] MONTGOMERYWARD. <“Sweet Home Alabama” YouTube link would go here> (Stress on 2.)
- 25d. [Chemical wood-treating agent?] CARPENTERANT. (Stress on 2.)
- 40d. [Measured amount of a copper/tin alloy?] BRONZEAGE, (Stress on 1.)
I like this theme so much because of the cockeyed but intellectual sensibility it conveys. No further gushing necessary.
- Southeast corner is Scrabbly-SNAZZY. It’s also SWAYZE. Toss in some PAPAYA and the eponymous Fernand LAMAZE, why not?
- 32d [Dangerous ocean creatures] RAYS, 36d [Dangerous ocean creature] ORCA.
- If you’re going employ cross-referencing, it’s best in my opinion to have them nearby, such as: 38d [Uses a 43 Across] ROWS, and 43a [See 38 Down] OAR. The perpendicular arrangement might also suggest an OAR sticking out from a BOAT or a CANOE.
- Boo! 44a [Buried treasure location, perhaps] ISLE, 70d [ __-de-France] ÎLE.
- Favorite clues: 22a [Demo material] TNT, 37a [When a touchdown is expected, briefly] ETA. Bonus: they’re for blah short fill. Honorable mention in this category for 4d [Training ctr.?] STA.