ACPT registration for 2015 (March 27-29) is open now. If you’re going to Stamford, Connecticut, start making your plans. The schedule’s pretty sketchy at this point—games and entertainment not yet determined, other than another Sunday morning talent show (…that I will probably be brunching during).
Stu Ockman’s New York Times crossword
Here are the theme answers and their clues:
- 17a. [Hyperbole for an arduous task], “IT’LL TAKE FOREVER.” Not exactly the sort of phrase that we expect to see in a crossword grid, but I think the theme is “random examples of various tropes.”
- 22a. [Oxymoron for cautious travel], “MAKE HASTE SLOWLY.” Is this a thing? Apparently it dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome, but I can’t say it’s remotely familiar to me.
- 45a. [Litotes for beauty], NOT UNATTRACTIVE.
- 50a. [Simile for denseness], AS THICK AS A BRICK. Not the most common simile out there … but it fits a 15-square space, I guess.
I’m not sure what is binding these theme answers together. Arduousness, caution, beauty, and denseness are not a cohesive set. The theme entries don’t share a certain flavor (such as being literary, representing colloquial spoken language, etc.). The lack of focus triggered my Scowl-o-Meter. Pondering this puzzle is causing brow wrinkles. The grid itself has just 72 words, which we seldom see before Thursdays in the NYT. Sixty theme squares plus a themeless-grade word count equals … an assortment of Scowl-o-Meter triggers in the fill. Dated DAWG; plural abbrevs CFOS and CTS; not-quite-household-names ADELA, LUKAS, and KEW (and its sound twin, KUE, 55d. [Scrabble 10-pointer, spelled out], a spelling I’ve never seen before—Wikipedia gives cue for Q, and also notes “The names of the letters are rarely spelled out”); ANIS (43a. [Flavoring for a French cordial]) crossing MYNA (I prefer the MYNAH spelling); AROAR; AH ME; SNO; A TEE; EELER; SACS; and A-ONE. Fifteen entries on my don’t-like-to-see-them list pretty much strips a crossword of fun for me.
Three stars from me.
Brendan Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “Adjusting Downwards”
Brendan riffs on the grammar term “dangling modifier” by dangling some modifying words Down from the Across words they modify. I’ve highlighted the modifiers with circled squares in my grid:
- 17a. [Facing stressful scrutiny (with a dangling modifier)], IN THE SEAT with a dangling HOT, or IN THE HOT SEAT.
- 26a. [Benelux (with a dangling modifier)], COUNTRIES dangling LOW, or LOW COUNTRIES.
- 48a. [Sign near a lake in winter (with a dangling modifier)], DANGER ICE, THIN.
- 63a. [Jake Gyllenhaal, to Taylor Swift (with a dangling modifier)], BOYFRIEND, EX-.
Brendan’s good at finding new ways of juxtaposing words in the grid to create a fresh theme concept. I like it.
Assorted other likes:
- 1a. [It’s sensitive], G-SPOT. What’s not to like?
- 21a. [College for Timothy Leary, Clarence Thomas, and Bill Simmons], HOLY CROSS.
- 53a. [Side dish with kibbeh], RICE PILAF. I don’t know what kibbeh is, but it’s also in the clue for PITA. Dictionary says … ground lamb with bulgur wheat, served cooked or raw. I don’t eat lamb so that explains my ignorance.
- 26d. [Entertainer that scares some kids], CLOWN. Who’s been watching American Horror Story: Freak Show? The clown portion of the season seems to have passed, though Dandy may yet put on Twisty’s mask.
- 51d. [Coin that might be smushed in one of those souvenir machines], PENNY. Nice clue.
- 45d. [“Clockwork Heart” author Pagliassotti], DRU. Never heard of her. She writes fantasy literature and launched her career with a steampunk fantasy novel.
- 28d. RIATA? Blah. Crosswordese with two or more spelling options = never fun. (See also: any appearance of a 5-letter spelling variant for emir.)
- 4d. [Like some streamable TV], ON HULU. Contrived phrase. ON NETFLIX and ON AMAZON PRIME would be terrible entries.
- 10d. [Sludge metal band named after a noble title], BARONESS. Never heard of the band, nor sludge metal! BEQ puzzles do educate me about music. And the clue was certainly helpful.
- 11d. [Doesn’t flow], EBBS. I was thinking that an ebbing tide is flowing backwards, but apparently tide terminology says that the incoming water is flowing and the outgoing water is ebbing, opposites.
Overall rating, four stars.
Fred Piscop’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I found this puzzle a bit weak conceptually: the link between HOPIN and HOP being in the middle of the answers is a bit thin. That said, the puzzle is a well-constructed Monday, from a veteran constructor of easy puzzles. The theme answer choice is interesting: SANCHOPANZA and GAUCHOPANTS are both fun and IDAHOPOTATO and BRITISHOPEN are solid.
Elsewhere, the grid is conservatively designed. You can wall the grid off in many different places. This facilitates the polishing of each individual section nicely, although it is frowned upon in some circles. For me, it’s more of an issue in hard puzzles where one needs to “flow” from one section to the next. There’s very little splash in this design: SAGEHEN is quirky, otherwise SUNSPOT and JONESES (plural name that’s not forced!) are about it. KARAT‘s K made another appearance, but I had the K already at that point! But more importantly, there’s also almost nothing to frown at, a Newsday level of cleanness! It’s no coincidence Mr. Piscop has constructed extensively for Stan Newman!
[Drop in the ocean] for EBBTIDE and [Housewarming buy] for STOVE were my picks in the clues. What else, oh, Indonesian ISLAM is the origin of South African Islam, whose spiritual heart is near where I’m living in the town (now part of Cape Town) of Macassar, named for a city in Sulawesi. I thought that was interesting, YMMV.
3.5 Stars. Nicely made Monday, running on a Wednesday, but the distinctions are quite slight in LA Times land in any case!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Or Else”—Ade’s write-up
Hello once again, everyone! Hope you’re doing very well today…or else! Well, today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, takes common phrases or nouns and alters them by adding the letters “OR” to them. Puns make up the clues to each of those theme entries, and a couple of them are really good ones!
- ORATE LIKE A PIG: (19A: [End a speech with “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks”?) – From “ate like a pig,” something I’m about to do for lunch. Where? I don’t know as of yet. Maybe a Thai food place.
- SWISS ORCHARD: (33A: [Alpine apple site?]) – From “Swiss chard.”
- ORLANDO LAKES: (42A: [Places for boating near Disney World?]) – From “Land O’Lakes.”
- BLOWN TO ORBITS: (57A: [Like planets after the big bang?]) – From “blown to bits.”
Now I know the experience of seeing an entry that you were planning on using in a future crossword grid and then getting upset (in a playful way) when seeing it in another grid, and that’s the case with SLOW BURN (40A; [Angry buildup]). Was just thinking about buying an ECLAIR at a pastry shop when I made my way into one the other day, and settled for a real good cannoli (3D: [Bakery buy]). Was really intrigued by all of the strong seven-letter entries in all corners of the grid, and it’s hard to single out one more than the other. Regardless, I’ll have to give those awards to OILSKIN (17A: [Whaler’s wear]), BLARNEY (18A: [Hot air in Ireland]) and BURNETT, probably my favorite comedienne of all time, especially since I grew up watching her variety show on syndication (65A: [Comical Carol]). Apologies to University of Texas fans, but DEHORNS can also describe the process of when schools defeat the Texas Longhorns in different sporting events (41A: [Removes a rack]). Sorry, but I had to throw in that jab. Here’s hoping this SMOOCH from me makes it up to you (1D: [Smack]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STOW (35A: [Pack]) – A melancholy yet uplifting moment of the day, and it involves Bryan STOW, the former paramedic and San Francisco Giants fan who was the victim of an unprovoked assault outside of Dodger Stadium by two men at the end of the 2011 season opener. Stow was left with permanent brain damage and spent two years in a hospital. Stow is now back at his parents’ home and is being cared for by them as well as professional aides. Here’s the story from USA Today Sports, accompanied by video…
Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll speak with you tomorrow!