NYT 4:56 (Amy)
LAT 3:50 (Gareth)
CS 13:13 (Ade)
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica)
Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
This themeless doesn’t seem to have an overarching vibe. It’s not a “let me stuff it with wild new entries” puzzle, or a “how low can I get the word count” thing, or a triple-stack. It’s got some good stuff and it’s got some “meh” stuff. It lands squarely in the Friday NYT difficulty zone. Here are my favorite parts:
- 19a. [“I wouldn’t lie”], TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Puts me in mind of Chris Farley’s mangling of his cinematic dad’s wisdom in Tommy Boy. Here’s the timeless clip.
- 32a. [Ruined “rose-red city” of Jordan], PETRA. I like this because a constructor friend is taking a round-the-world trip this fall that includes Petra … and various other majestic sights in Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. I need to get into her luggage!
- 33a. [Much of Mae West’s wit], DOUBLE ENTENDRES.
- 55a. [It may not be able to pick up something tiny], NAKED EYE.
- 3d. [Drop in library use?], BOOK RETURN. Cute clue—”drop” as a noun, not a verb.
- 4d. [Will of “30 Rock”], ARNETT. Will Arnett is funny in nearly anything he does.
- 7d. [Storied storyteller], BARON MUNCHAUSEN. If you’re wondering about the spelling—no umlaut? only one H?—read on. The literary character is spelled this way.
- 9d. [Pea-brained researcher?], MENDEL. I like the clue.
- 20d. [Singer John with the 1984 #1 hit “Missing You”], WAITE. The early ’80s were my peak pop music years. Video time!
- 27d. [What half of a battery is next to], STRIKE ZONE. “Battery” means something in baseball. I couldn’t tell you what.
- 29d. [Easily taken in?], TASTY. The question mark tells you not to put NAIVE in here.
- 42d. “TOLD YA.”
The grid’s a 70-worder, so you hope for maximum smoothness. I was disappointed to find fill like EL ORO, OPAH, STEN, RENI, GTE, and ELY.
Overall gestalt rating, 3.33 stars.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
BLOWNAWAY or BLOW N AWAY is a very creative revealer indeed! The application thereof felt a little arbitrary though: always the 3rd letter of a 4 letter word, which is found either at the beginning or the end of an answer. LIVINGOFFTHELA(N)D is the big home-run humour-wise; the other answers: HOTDOGBU(N)S, LO(N)GDIVISION, and LI(N)EPRINTERS were more so-so for me.
The fill tended to be NOFRILLS in the main, with that and COINOP being the big high points in the fill. Of course it did start with one of my favourite dishes: bangers and MASH! [Ferber novel], five letters, can be both GIANT and SOBIG, but in crosswords it is usually the latter.
Victor Barocas’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Colorful Language” — pannonica’s write-up
Mildly perplexed here. We get what seems like a patriotic, Independence Day theme, but 4 July falls next Friday. Does editor Mike Shenk have a second one lined up for that date? Do we really need to stretch the affair to two weeks? And hey, if this one had been scheduled to run on the following Friday (the 11th) it would be just a few days ahead of Bastille Day, and it would be just as applicable.
Wait. Come to think of it, it would need some tweaking. More on this after the theme rundown.
The revealer is over at 115-across, [Words that can precede, in order, the three words in each starred answer] RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.
- 23a. [*Smart ducks during hunting season?] ALERT WATERBIRDS (red alert, whitewater, bluebirds). As you can see, I’m taking what I feel to be appropriate liberties with rendering compound words, as did the constructor.
- 37a. [*Make a recording of Salvation Army Santas?] TAPE CHRISTMAS BELLS (red tape, “White Christmas”, bluebells).
- 47a. [*Tusk, often?] BULL ELEPHANT TOOTH (Red Bull, white elephant, Bluetooth).
- 64a. [*Response one might get from Beijing when asking about Tibet?] “CHINESE MATTER, PERIOD” (Red Chinese, white matter, Blue Period (think Picasso).
- 83a. [*Library section that, to my knowledge, would be completely empty?] LIGHT RUSSIAN BOOKS (red light, White Russian, blue books). I’m assuming the clue refers to intellectual rather than physical heft. Which isn’t to say that frivolous Russian novels don’t exist, but that isn’t their reputation. Incidentally, it’s unusual to see a first-person clue in a mainstream (i.e., non-indie) crossword. Refreshing.
- 94a. [*Hershey’s Kiss, essentially?] GIANT CHOCOLATE CHIP (red giant, white chocolate, blue chip). Oh look, we end the themers with a Wall Street reference.
The strung-together answers are admirably coherent, and the clues do a good job of reeling in any nascent or latent inanity. So, good theme, well executed.
As for my earlier speculation regarding the French national holiday on 14 July, it’s a bit of a no-go—the country’s tricolore is blue, white, and red (blue, blanc et rouge, if you will). Such an adjustment would entail not only reorganizing the revealer but modifying each of the theme answers. Talk about upheaval and revolution!
Perhaps to emphasize the vexillologic aspect, 6-down starting in the top row is [Emulate Betsy Ross] SEW. Oh, and look, tangentially related content right alongside it: 19d [“Common Sense” writer] Thomas PAINE. All right, that’s it. Not going to look for more connections in that vein. Let’s not get carried away.
- Last square to fill correctly was the longish 120a [Braided together], for which I had INTERLEAVED rather than the more accurate INTERWEAVED. INTERLEAVED, however, is one way you can store your TISSUE PAPER, which is the symmetrical partner of this answer, up at 18-across.
- Another lingering misfill was at 47d, where I wanted RIB for [Chest protector]—the correct answer is BIB.
- Stemming thence is the abstruse clue [Diamond club] which turns out to be a baseball BAT. See also 36d [Sources of durable wood] ASH TREES. I’ve learned from crosswords that ASH is the preferred (only allowed?) material for MLB swingers.
- 72a [Be compliant] OBEY; 105d [Doesn’t ignore] HEEDS.
- Oh look, here’s another section where I stumbled: 81a [Facial spots]. We all know that that’s ACNE, nothing else, right? Wrong! A clever misdirection—it’s SPAS, with “facial” as a stealthily disguised noun. Didn’t help that with DR––E in place, I assumed that the “Best I Ever Had” rapper was DR DRE when it turned out to be DRAKE; oh yes, that muddied the facial issue somewhat.
- In the same little section, not so keen about 69d [Baked, so to speak] ON POT, but I concede that it’s a valid lexeme. In contrast, I do not feel 84d [Buy a green car] GO HYBRID is crossword-worthy. Nuh-uh.
- Also fooled by the old clue at 96d: [Wicked thing] CANDLE. Am now imagining a horror movie featuring giant, killer candles looming on the gloomy horizon.
- 38d [“Very funny!”] HAHA, made better by the endearing 97d [Cry after stubbing one’s toe] OW, OW.
- Strong long fill: BESMIRCH, FISH TACO, RIVALRIES, BACKSLIDE, STARVING.
- Favorite clue: 20d [Story that’s sometimes dirty] ATTIC, though admittedly I spell this kind of tier with an e, storey, precisely to avoid confusion.
Fine theme, minimal frass, enjoyable weekend lead-in.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Inside Voice”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody, and a happy Friday to you all! It can’t be that happy since today is the first day without a World Cup soccer game since the beginning of the tournament! *Sad face.*
Here’s a smooth and fun puzzle for today, authored by Mr. Tony Orbach. In each of the four theme answers, the word “alto” is hidden in each of them, as well as having the reveal, ALTO, in the puzzle (71A: [Voice type that figures into this puzzle’s theme]). While I talk about the voices inside the answers, I think I’m going to listen to the voices inside my head (and my belly) to have Indian food for dinner tonight.
- MENTAL TOUGHNESS: (17A: [Grit with an inside voice?]) – Mental toughness: something I have in abundance.
- FACIAL TONER: (29A: [Smoothing skin care product with an inside voice?]) – Facial toner: also something that I have in abundance.
- VIRTUAL TOUR: (47A: [Online real estate shopping aid with an inside voice?])
- ELECTRICAL TOWER: (62A: [Lineman’s work site with an inside voice?])
Is a certain crossword constructor heading to, or just came back from, Hawai’i? Lots of Hawai’i references, which I don’t mind at all, and they include MAUI (21A: [Molokai neighbor]) , LANAI (66A: [Molokai neighbor]) and ALOHA (55D: [“Welcome to Waikiki”]). This might be the third straight day when, in a clue or as an entry, that AB FAB has been part of an answer (43A: [Raunchy BBC comedy, informally]), and again, that’s a good thing! I initially put in SHOP instead of CHOC, which was tricky being that the middle two letters are the same (40A: [Prefix with -aholic]). Is anyone reading this both a shopaholic AND a chocaholic? It’s ok to admit it!!
Although I’ve frequented many a souvenir shop, I can’t tell you when was the last time I bought one of their T-SHIRTS (9D: [Souvenir shop items]). I’m just not a big t-shirt buyer at those types of shops, but maybe that will change soon. Nice to see some wildlife right next to each other with IGUANA (8D: [Dewlapped lizard]) and GULL (19A: [Coastal bird]). Oh, and the slickest part of the grid, by far: the intersection at the “B” with NLRB (26A: [Collective bargaining watchdog org.]) and BOARD (27D: [Plank]). You’re a sneaky one, Tony!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALOHA (55D: [“Welcome to Waikiki”])– One of my staples of Christmas Day when growing up as a child was watching the Jeep Aloha Bowl, a college football postseason bowl game that took place from 1982-2000 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. When I got a little older, I used to always as myself, “Why are they playing a football game on Christmas Day when it’s possible someone could get hurt on Christmas?” Anyways, the bowl ceased operations after the 2000 game, but two years later, the Hawai’i Bowl was created, which takes place in the same stadium (Aloha Stadium) as the Aloha Bowl.
Enjoy your weekend, everybody, and we will see you tomorrow…well, as long as I can pull myself from the World Cup action that resumes on Saturday.
Loved the puzzle and the same clues Amy singled out. I appreciated the absence of the sorts of things I consider hopeless obscurity. Is “hot as blue blazes” really a familiar, idiomatic expression?
Not double entendre, but . . . courtroom scene from Mae West movie; (I forget which one):
Judge (angrily): Young woman, are you trying to show contempt for this court?
MW (in her characteristic intonation): No, Your Honor, I’m trying to conceal it.
If Gimel and Ugarte are not in Natick they are at least in a car together headed in that direction. Otherwise, enjoyed the puzzle.
Casablanca is one of the most famous, most-watched movies ever made. Certainly on most top 5 lists. No Danzigs here.
You could mention the third letter of UGARTE as well, since the crossing clue left two possibilities. I did end up deciding that UGARTE sounded marginally more name-like than UGURTE, but it was a narrow thing.
battery (in baseball) = collectively, the pitcher and the catcher.
Ah, thanks. I couldn’t figure that one out, to the point where I was beginning to wonder if it were a typo for “batter”.
LAT: Had enough significant dubious spots to make it unenjoyable for me. The two pluralized theme entry bases (HOT DOGS, LINE PRINTERS)—that’s half the theme, not counting the revealer. 19a [Willing] READY: no, I don’t think those are in the least equivalent. By this point I was sour enough to be annoyed by 68a [Round perch] for STOOL.
Unlike Gareth, my favorite theme answer wasn’t the spanner, but LO(N)G DIVISION, even though logarithmic division is a “thing”.
Top was hard for me and the bottom was pretty easy. I did not have any strong feelings about the puzzle. I have never heard the phrase HOT AS BLUE BLAZES, although I have heard HOT AS BLAZES and, of course, BLAZING HOT.
I just saw SOME LIKE IT HOT the other day and was surprised to see that Marilyn Monroe was every bit as zaftig as Mae West.
Speaking of the PSAT, I have been tutoring a group of kids this week on the Writing section, which, incidentally, is the easiest section to improve on. What I found interesting is that they go to a prep school here in the Phoenix area with essentially no band, no sports teams, no real extracurriculars to speak of. They each took five AP courses as freshmen and five more this year as sophomores. One of the sophomore students has completed the high school math curriculum including first year calculus. They all told me that they only get about five or six hours sleep each night because of their homework obligations. While most high schools don’t require enough, this seems excessive to me.
What Steve (& Bruce) said about the BLUE of HOTASBLUEBLAZES. I’m pretty sure white blazes are in fact the hottest too ;).
Really loved the clue for MENDEL BTW.
Here is a very thorough article that addresses this question in depth. The short of it: Blue-violet = high frequency = high energy = high temperature. A white flame has its visible radiation energy spread out more evenly across the spectrum and isn’t peaking on the high-energy blue end. That indicates lower overall energy, and thus lower temperature, than a blue flame.
5-6 hours of sleep? It’ll stunt their growth and development! How on earth do they focus in school on that little sleep?
My son will be taking one AP class in 9th grade (plus a bunch of honors classes), and I expect he’ll continue to get 9 hours of sleep a night.
Our local high school, El Camino Real, won the Academic Decathlon this year, its seventh national title. All good, except the commitment for the kids is unbelievable — daily training from fall until April, up to six hours per day. Not much time left for anything else.
We’ve had some homework issues with my son (a top student, did excellent on the OLSATs). One day, after about five hours of work, I had him stop and I wrote a note to the teacher that enough was enough. That was second grade.
WSJ is not published on July 4 because the markets are closed.
This I did not know.
NYT: PETRA is an amazing place, may be my favorite ancient site (and being from the Middle East, I’ve seen a few). And like Gareth, I loved the MENDEL clue.
Bruce, that Mae West story is very funny.
I miss the days when at least some lead actresses were zaftig, just for the sake of telling womankind that there’s more than one way to be attractive.
LAT: How is it okay to have a theme that tells you to remove the Ns from the theme entries and yet there are still Ns in them (LOG DIVISION, LIVING OFF THE LAD, LIE PRINTERS)? There have to be plenty of other potential entries that don’t have this problem. (I just thought of MI[N]CE PIE – “Tom’s favorite dessert?” and BU[NN]Y RABBITS – “Terse Volkswagen slogan?”)
HOT DOG BUS is also problematic because it assumes a plural form which is not hinted at anywhere. In the other phrases, it’s obvious an N has been removed, but in this one, it seems like an N has been changed into an S.
I like any revealer that causes the solver to re-parse it and apply it literally, but the removal of only some Ns and not others made it seem arbitrary.
maybe the wall street journal won’t be published next friday because it is july 4th so there will be no crossword.
Steve, et al: My grandson would certainly agree with you about the excessive homework. My mother was always an opponent of homework. She finished her schooling in Scotland and they had no homework. Not long ago, the president of France declared no more homework (he has the power) and other European countries have a no-homework policy. On the other hand, Japan has lots and lots of homework. I tend to lean towards no homework.