David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword
The theme song for this puzzle is clearly David Bowie’s “Changes,” what with that lineup of CH- words through the middle of this puzzle. From ch-ch-ch-CHOCULA down to ch-ch-ch-CHROME (okay, I’ll grant you that CHIANTI and CHROME have a K sound), we’ve got a diagonal line of eight C’s followed by seven H’s. The vocabulary those letters bring us is fairly zippy, too, as opposed to the yawners you’d get with a lineup of RE- words. CHUTNEY, CHURRO, CHATTERBOX, and “YOU CHEATED!” were particularly welcome.
Really a top-notch grid all around. Notes on 10 more things:
- 13a. [Raid target], PANTY. Eww. Read this discussion of Revenge of the Nerds and its troubling sexual politics. This was the last place I encountered “panty raid,” just a few days ago.
- 14a. [Something a bride brings to a marriage], TROUSSEAU. That’s … got to be incredibly rare these days, no? This clue feels just as unenlightened as the PANTY clue.
- 21a. [Golden Gophers’ sch.], U MINN. Correct me if I’m wrong, Minnesotans, but isn’t it pretty much “the U” or “U of M” or “Minnesota” and not ever “U Minn”?
- 38a. [Olympian’s first name that sounds like another Olympian’s name], APOLO. Love the clue.
- 39a. [Site of the largest sports arena in Europe], BARCELONA. I asked my household association football fans this one. The man guessed Wembley while the boy nailed it as the place where FC Barcelona plays. Nice crossing with STADIA here.
- 42a. [Ranch dressing?], OVERALLS. Clue tricked me. Also, I’d like some salad now.
- 44a. [Quickly reproduced], XEROXED. Who’s gonna expect to find this word in the bottom row of a grid?? Fancy puzzlemaking.
- 6d. [Org. concerned with bridges and canals], ADA. American Dental Association. I nailed this one fast. #askmeaboutmyrootcanal
- 27d. [Judge of movies], REINHOLD. I feel like my generation is in the sweet spot of knowing Judge Reinhold’s oeuvre and that perhaps older and younger people are mainly at a loss as to having any idea who he is. He was the Close Talker on Seinfeld, among other roles.
- 36d. [Only major U.S. city with a radio station whose call letters spell the city’s name], WACO. Neat little trivia bit.
I’ll dock the puzzle a bit for those first two clues I mentioned and for the cut-offedness of the NW and SE corners. But for a 62-word crossword, it’s impressively low on junk fill, crosswordese, and roll-your own words and impressively full of interesting words. 4.5 stars from me.
Zhouquin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Border States” — pannonica’s write-up
Once again, I’ve made the tactical blogging error of solving a puzzle days before getting around to writing about it. Or, perhaps, blogging about a crossword days after solving it.
Here’s how the theme for this one goes: The longest entries each contain a pile-up of two official US state abbrevs.—official as per the postal service, anyway. The four-letter sequences are helpfully circled.
So, FINDING NEMO contains NE and MO, for Nebraska (see 41a OMAHA) and Missouri, respectively. OPEN ARMS: Arkansas and Mississippi; RED ALGAE: Alabama, Georgia; CAPTAIN COOK: Colorado/Oklahoma; PINKY LEE: Indiana/Kentucky; PARLOR CAR: Oregon/California—Oh wait! Now I get the theme in its entirety; the rest of the write-up will be more appreciative—IN ADVANCE: Virginia/North Carolina—Took me long enough, don’t you think?—BUM A RIDE: Massachusetts/Rhode Island. These stipulations explain some of the less common themers. Jeez.
So, it isn’t merely two random states but two states that share a border, hence the title. Further, the paired states appear in the grid as they do geographically. That is, Oregon and California appear in a vertical answer with the former above—i.e., north of—the latter. The lone stretch is Colorado/Oklahoma; although Colorado is undeniably west of Oklahoma, for their short (approx. 53mi/85km) shared border the former is north of the latter.
Much more impressive than I initially realized, and there’s no cause to complain about extraneous state abbrevs. in themers (such as Indiana (twice) in 17a FINDING NEMO), or pairings of state abbrevs. in non-theme entries (e.g., Georgia and Louisiana in 1a GALA).
The remainder of the fill is pretty strong, with just a handful of crosswordese/abbrev. type compromises (f’rinstance ISERE, EES, ETAS, et al.), and varied, engaging cluing throughout.
- Liked the pairing of 3d and 4d LENTO and ANDANTE.
- Favorite clue: 40a [“__ peanut-butter sandwiches!” (“Sesame Street” incantation]. À LA. Runner-up: 61d [U.S. Constitution’s first article] THE; right after “We”. Favorite fill: 13a [Spy novelist Steinhauer] OLEN; okay, maybe not favorite fill, but I appreciate seeing him in crosswords, as his books are very, very good.
- Least favorite clue/answer: 48a [Year in which Martin Luther first entered university] MDI. I don’t care if it’s the CHE, yuck.
- Fooled-me clue: 26a [Abbr. preceding ten digits]. Of course I thought it was crossword-favorite SSN, but it was shown to be merely TEL.
Very good puzzle.
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street journal crossword, “G-Rated” — pannonica’s write-up
Drop in the soft-G phoneme (d͡ʒ, also called the voiced palato-alveolar affricate) and see what magics it max, erm, makes.
- 23a. [Allocated amounts that are guarded?] CAGEY RATIONS (K-rations, superseded by MREs, meals ready to eat (or be eaten, if you will)). See also 118a [Servings for those serving] MESS.
- 34a. [Marshmallow, essentially] SPONGY SUGAR (spun sugar). See also the nearby 22a [Springy dance] JIG.
- 55a. [Part of a South Pacific cruise itinerary?] FIJI SCHEDULE (fee schedule).
- 64a. [Color of pond scum] ALGAE GREEN (Al Green). His father’s middle initial is G, but it seems Al(bert) doesn’t have a middle name, let alone a middle initial, let alone the middle initial G.
- 68a. [Retirement residence for thespians?] STAGEY HOME (stay home).
- 76a. [Device to keep a springy cord from contracting too much in winter?] BUNGEE WARMER (bun warmer).
- 96a. [Fixture over a parakeet cage?] BUDGIE LIGHT (Bud[weiser] Light). Clue duplicates the CAGEY in themer 23-across.
- 109a. [Samurai soldiers stationed on a volcano?] FUJI FIGHTERS (Foo Fighters).
Kind of want to pair them off as CAGEY/STAGEY, FIJI/FUJI, BUNGEE/BUDGIE, and SPONGY/ALGAE. In any case, it’s mostly a good mix of phrases, the wackified versions are mildly amusing, and there are some good spelling alterations (my favorite being spun → spongy).
- 80d [Eurasian grazers] ROES. This seems to be a corollary of the “kind of” clue Amy took to task in last Thursday’s New York Times crossword:
“[Kind of beer], BIRCH. A ‘sea anemone’ clue. Birch is not a kind of beer, just as sea isn’t a kind of anemone.”
Capreolus spp. can’t go by the partial identifier ‘roe’. See also 101a [Graph line] AXIS.
- 20a/61a [In-group outcast] MISFIT / NERD.
- 103a [Island named by Columbus in 1493] ANTIGUA, though it isn’t significantly older than the other Leeward Islands.
- WSJ style! 58a [Stock that’s hardly a blue chip SMALL CAP, 99a [Take off the stock exchange] DELIST, 72d [Company bigwig] SUIT, 91d [Universal Stock Ticker inventor] EDISON, 112d [Interest rate setter] FED.
- Favorite clues: 10d [Founders] SINKS, 29d [Tours divider] LOIRE, 11d [Metropolis misidentification] IT’S A PLANE. And hey look they’re all next to each other. Also 41a [Promises the moon, say] LIES, 46d [Without rehearsal] COLD, and 115a [One of many in a bed] FLOWER, which didn’t fool me because I’d been primed by 66d [Iris relatives, for short] GLADS (gladioli).
- 40d [Apostrophe’s neighbor] RETURN. Only on typewriters and Apple keyboards (for whatever anachronistic reason).
Good puzzle, about average.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Chase Around”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to Friday, everybody! Hope you’re all doing great and have an amazing weekend in store!
Today’s grid, authored up for us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, makes us chase down the theme answers, as the word CHASE is broken up between the beginning and the end of the theme answers. By the way, it’s time to make a wish, as I finished this puzzle in 11 minutes and 11 seconds.
- CHAPTER AND VERSE: (17A: [Detailed information]) – Lovely entry.
- CHANGE OF COURSE: (26A: [Directional reorientation])
- CHARLOTTE RUSSE: (43A: [Molded desert made with sponge cake or ladyfingers])
- CHARITABLE CAUSE: (57A: [Animal shelter, e.g.])
I knew POLE STAR was an astronomical term, but didn’t know it had another use as well, as evidenced by the clue…and me looking it up afterwards (37D: [Guiding light]). There was a time when I was absolutely hooked on DORITO chips, but that time has passed now as my snack of choice is unsalted crackers (6D: [Popular snack chip]). The most confusing part came at U CAL, as I first put in UCLA, but knew that couldn’t be the case after looking at one of U CAL’s crossings (25D: [Golden State sch.]). When LANE had to be one of the crosses (33A: [Freeway division]), I initially was left with LLNE, if I had stuck with the UCLA entry. Even I couldn’t rationalize LLNE as being some sort of word/acronym that I never heard of, even though I’ve talked myself into thinking some other odd entries of mine were words also when they actually weren’t. I’m guessing U CAL refers to the University of California at Berkeley, but please correct me if I’m mistaken.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MASHA (1A: [One of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters”]) – MASHA is the nickname of tennis superstar Maria Sharapova (combining the first two letters of her first name and the first three of her last name), a five-time Grand Slam singles champion who has won each of the four majors at least once. If you don’t like Masha as a nickname, you can call her by one of her other nicknames, Sugarpova, which is the line of candy that she introduced in 2012. Here’s Maria in all her Sugarpova goodness on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Jeb Bennett’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I guess the quip would be amusing and worth it for those who haven’t heard it before. It’s quite well-dispersed though, so it’s probably a cliche for most of us. It’s altered from its usual form so it doesn’t sound quite natural. There should be an OUT after FIGURE, and the AND is also added purely to make the word chunks break correct. To spell it out, it’s ICOULDNTFIGURE / WHYTHEBALLWAS / GETTINGBIGGER / ANDTHENITHITME.
The rest of the puzzle felt like most puzzles with four spanning answers, somewhat staid. Solid though, with very little dreck, though a few hard answers. [Ed who was the longtime voice of Kraft Foods], HERLIHY was unknown to me, and boy does his name look wrong in the grid! [Indigenous Japanese], AINU are anthropologically curious. VIREOs are numerous and found all over the New World, but much like many South Africans don’t know about eremomelas and crombecs, I can see this being tricky for some. [River to the Severn], WYE was a gimme for personal reasons; one of my parents’ best friends hails from Ross-on-Wye, but this is easily one of the most obscure answers in the grid! Not well-known by any stretch of the imagination! It’s also a letter, though – spelling out letters is weird!
- [Member of a ’60s quartet], PAPA. Did you ever hear the original version of their breakthrough song
California Dreamin’ with Barry McGuire on lead?
- [Film dog’s first name?], RIN. Unlike a lot of pop culture pets, you don’t meet many namesakes. Let’s face it RINTINTIN is an unwieldy name for a dog!
- [Nordegren who married Tiger Woods in 2004], ELIN. How long will she be remembered? As long as OONA?