Kevin Christian’s New York Times crossword
There are one or two fun answers in each quadrant:
- 1a. Having a big itch], JONESING.
- 15a. Sideways look?], EMOTICON.
- 57a. Farmers’ market frequenter, maybe], LOCAVORE.
- 12d. Call from the rear?], BUTT-DIAL.
- 34d. “Come again?”], “HOW’S THAT?”
- 36d. “Go for it!”], “LET ‘ER RIP!”
Did not know: 34a. [Home of minor-league baseball’s Brewers], HELENA. Montana has AAA baseball? Nope. Below AAA, AA, and A, you get the Advanced Rookie league. Had no idea how far down the rabbit hole baseball went.
Seven more things:
- 44d. [State bordering Poland], SAXONY. The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions final today had a whole category of foreign states, but Germany was represented there by Hessen. Which is usually called Hesse here.
- 1d. [Close-fitting, sleeveless jacket], JERKIN. If you wondered, “Does anyone sell jerkins these days?”—the answer is yes. Including Members Only vests, reflector safety vests, and obscene things with the word jerkin’ on them.
- 59a. [Novelist Shreve and others], ANITAS. Boo on the plural first name. 31a. FAYS escapes the plural-first-name trap with the clue [Elves, in poetry], but it’s entirely unnecessary to cross relatively unfamililar FAYS with the dull FEN. Replace that F with a B, D, H, J, M, or P, and you’ve got yourself an arguably much better answer pair. It’s possible the constructor was aiming for a pangram, and that is why many of us find pangrams entirely pointless. Compromises in the fill need a darn good reason.
- 44a. [Org. of sisters], SOR. Frat, frat, frat … sor? Uncommon abbreviation.
- Lots of proper nouns in this puzzle. Twenty of them? That’s enough to vex many solvers.
- 25d. [Source of the delicacy tomalley], LOBSTER. It’s a digestive gland, the liver/pancreas. Sometimes toxic. Yum? You can have my share. Go ahead. I don’t mind.
- 60a. [Hoosier], INDIANAN. Per Wikipedia, “Although most Americans typically adopt a derivative of the state name (either ‘Indianan’ or ‘Indianian’), these derivatives are not in official use or proper within Indiana.”
3 1/3 stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Seismic Shake-Ups” — pannonica’s write-up
… in other words, earthquakes. Each of the four theme answers contains the letters of E-A-R-T-H, conveniently circled, in sequence but rearranged. In other, other words, they’re (11d) MIX-UPS [Muddles], and, hey, earth is sometimes synonymous with mud, but I digress.
- 20a. [Misanthropic Muppet] OSCAR THE GROUCH.
- 33a. [Words after “Huh?,” perhaps] I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I’d have clued it with “La, la, la” as the quote.
- 43a. [Atone] SQUARE THINGS.
- 57a. [They help plants manufacture ATP] LIGHT REACTIONS. That’s adenosine triphosphate. Currently experiencing traumatic flashbacks to the Krebs Cycle. Thanks, Sessa.
Four unique arrangements of the five letters, always spanning two words: good variation. Not even a repetition of “the”.
Also on the topic of variation, the ballast fill comprises a nice mix of vocabulary, from science to pop culture, foreign words to in-the-language content, from literature to the quotidian—or should I say mundane?
- Even though they aren’t particularly impressive fill, I like the pairing of INFINITE / EGRESSES in the lower right.
- 15a [Goal of many a pool shot] CAROM. I wouldn’t say that that’s the goal, more of a means to an end. Even for a safety play.
- Favorite clue: 51a [Org. concerned with caps and crowns] ADA, the American Dental Association.
- Not thrilled with the symmetrical partials, albeit literary, of “How now! A RAT? and “HAD I Not Seen the Sun”
- 25a [Vietnamese noodle soup] PHỜ. Nothing amazing here, just acknowledging that I’d really enjoy a bowl of it right now, what with the chilly temperatures.
- 46d [Pepperdine University locale] MALIBU. How very, very CHE.
- 1d [Grimm ending?] EMS. Have you heard about Jack Zipes’ new English translation of the grislier and more macabre first edition of the brothers’ folktales?
Good puzzle. Literally, but not figuratively, an earth-shattering theme.
Mark Feldman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I supposed I’m expected to like this one based on its beastial theme, but I didn’t. The jump between original and wacky phrase is just too jarring. In essence, each answer’s first consonant changes to make it an animal sound, with spelling adjusted as necessary. Four of these are mammals and one is a bird – that’s like having four basketball teams and one baseball team… So we have:
- [Where dogs chat?], BARKPLACE. Park Place, not dark.
- [Where donkeys make noise?], BRAYAREA. GREYAREA, not TRAY or PRAY.
- [Where horses are treated for laryngitis?], NEIGHCARECENTER. Ignoring the difficulty in connecting to the base phrase, this is quite amusing. DAYCARECENTRE
- [Where lions practice intimidation?], ROARZONE. WARZONE.
- [Where birds sing?], TWEETSPOT. SWEETSPOT.
Rest of the grid is pretty solid. ALONSO is always the [King of Naples in “The Tempest”] and never Xavi or Fernando… [Legendary guy traditionally wearing black boots], SANTA sounded a lot more sinister at first. [What mayo might be], SPANISH conveniently lacks any punctuation to give away the misdirection…
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “E-tail”—Ade’s write-up
It’s Friday once again!! I hope all is well with you. Today’s grid, authored by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, deserves “an E” for effort, as each of the theme answers are common terms that have been altered, through the way of puns, by adding the letter “E” to the end of those terms.
- MOVING VANE: (17A: [Indictor of windy weather?]) – From “moving van.”
- BEER CANE: (24A: [Ambulatory aid after a couple of six-packs?]) – From “beer can.” Not a bad idea for those planning on going on a serious bender before heading out on a Friday night.
- FIVE-YEAR PLANE: (34A: [Limited edition aircraft?l]) – From “Five-year plan.”
- BEST MANE: (44A: [Award won by Simba of “The Lion King”?]) – From “best man.” Best theme entry in my mind.
- DAPPER DANE: (53A: [Victor Borge, say?]) – From “Dapper Dan.” This was a close second in terms of best theme answer in my opinion.
Just for kicks, we should have spelled Schwazenegger’s name “Ahnold” instead of ARNOLD (22D: [First name in California politics]). At the end of one of Arnold’s most popular movies, Conan the Barbarian, I believe there’s an appearance of a Valkyrie, which is from NORSE myth, who saves Conan’s life at one point (47D: [Like Leif Ericson]). I’ll be taking Amtrak a couple of times in the next week or so, and, just once, I want to hear someone lustily shout All ABOARD from the platform instead of hearing an announcement over the loudspeaker (41D: “All ______”]). Maybe I’m asking for too much in trying to harken back to those olden days. I think the number of DIET COLAS I’ve had in my lifetime all put together is somewhere between one and three (10D: [Quaffs for the calorie-conscious]). After losing a lot of weight over the summer, I’ve started to gain some of it back, so I think I might be increasing that number before too long.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ELIAS (4D: [Inventor Howe]) – One of the greatest players in New Jersey Devils hockey history, as well as one of the best Czech players to ever play in the National Hockey League, Patrik ELIAS (pronounced ELL-ee-osh) is a two-time Stanley Cup-winning forward who is the New Jersey Devils’ all-time leader in goals and points. As of Nov. 21, Elias is just five goals shy of 400 career goals and seven points shy of 1,000 career points. (For those who don’t know, points is the combination of goals and assists.)
See you all tomorrow from Harvard Yard! No kidding!