Kyle Mahowald’s New York Times crossword
It’s been a while since we’ve seen this byline, no? The constructor’s notes over at Wordplay say yes, it’s been six years since his previous puzzle. And it’s a doozy. I don’t know about you, but that southeast quadrant stymied me as if this were a Newsday Saturday Stumper. Here’s why (aside from the section being largely cut off from the rest of the grid):
- 46a. [Fencing move that means “arrow” in French], FLECHE. It didn’t help that I tried CHAT for 46d. [Talk, with “up”], instead of FESS. Yes, I realize now that “chat up” means “talk to” and not just “talk.”
- 47d. [Certain noble], LADY. EARL and DUKE would also fit, as would RANI and RAJA.
- 51d. [Year the Liang dynasty began], DII. Sure, because the ancient Chinese loved nothing better than Roman numerals.
- 49d. [You, overseas], SIE. Zero hint about what language it’s going to be. Really, for a Friday puzzle? It seems like a Saturday-grade ruse.
- The two IT phrases, 54a. [“No turning back now!”]/IT’S DO OR DIE and 56a. [“Not so hard”]/EASY DOES IT. The clue phrases aren’t so specifically pegged to the answers.
And now, some things from elsewhere in this 68-worder:
- 23a. [Like many hooks], J-SHAPED, crossing 23d. [Crawford who won the 2014 Sixth Man of the Year Award], JAMAL. Never heard of the basketball player, so I was running the probabilities on the various hook-shaped letters that could complete *AMAL.
- 20d. [1960s Robert Loggia series about a burglar-turned-bodyguard], THE CAT. I have never, ever heard of this show.
- 21a. [The Mariners, e.g.], PROBES. The NASA Mariner probes, not the Seattle Mariners, who are PRO Baseball ExpertS.
- 14d. [New England delicacies], SCRODS. That plural feels weird. SCROD isn’t one particular kind of fish, though, I just learned. It’s young haddock, cod, or similar fish, more when eaten than when swimming.
- 5d. [“‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster” reciter], ALICE. It’s the Alice in Wonderland Alice, alas, and not the Alice of Travels with Alice.
- 33a. [Leader who said “It is right to rebel”], MAO. What a con man. Just don’t rebel against his Communism.
- 28d. [Screenwriter who knew the identity of Deep Throat before it was made public], EPHRON. Nice trivia. Did I know this?
Unfavorite bits: STP, IS NO, ERAT, ATS, DII, SLUED, THE CAT, O GOD.
3.9 stars from me.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fowl Fellas”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, and a Happy Friday to you all! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Sarah Keller, is one for the birds! Each of the theme answers are puns, with the clues – as well as the answers – referring to types of birds, though the clues can be interpreted in a different context with the presence of the question mark.
- FOOLISH GANDER (20A: [Goose?])
- COWARDLY ROOSTER (40A: [Chicken?]) – Anyone else think about Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and his canine nemesis who probably would say something along the lines of “cowardly rooster?”
- BONEHEADED TOM (55A: [Turkey?])
Got off on a serious wrong foot when I put in “ONE L’s” instead of FROSH at the beginning (1A: [First-year students, briefly]). Why I was thinking law school, I have no idea! Also, when seeing coquette, I was thinking of the bird and not of the flirt, so MINX (15A: [Coquette]) was lost on me until I saw the light (finally) with TEASE (70A: [Coquette]). There was really no part of the puzzle where I really gained too much traction, even when I sussed out the tricky clue to ALICE, referring (I think) Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter (43A: [Blue beginner?]). Oh, and seeing EMUS in the grid made me think of a recent exchange that occurred with myself, Amy and Eastern Michigan University’s men’s basketball Twitter page (6D: [They lay green eggs]). I tweeted about the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team’s win against the Univ. of Michigan a couple of months back, and Amy made a joke about actual emus, given that Eastern Michigan’s abbreviation is EMU. Well, the school tweeted back to us, saying that their nickname was the Eagles and clarified that EMU stood for Eastern Michigan University. Clearly, the University wasn’t privy to crossword community talk and humor.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FRYER (3oD: [Dinner bird]) – Our “moment” allows me to tell you about one of my favorite memories in sports, the day when Loyola Marymount University basketball player Jeff FRYER hit an NCAA record 11 three-pointers in a win against defending NCAA champion Michigan in the second round of the 1990 NCAA Tournament. To this day, it was the greatest shooting performance I’ve ever seen in a college basketball game. This also was the year that Loyola Marymount played the NCAA Tournament in honor of Hank Gathers, the college basketball great who passed away after suffering a heart attack on the basketball court just two weeks prior to the tournament. Here’s a video which includes all 11 threes that Fryer hit in that game. Enjoy the video, and Quinn Buckner’s incessant laughing…
See you all on Saturday, and thank you for your time!
Caleb Emmons’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Tory Spelling” — pannonica’s write-up
Considering the venue, you can rest assured this isn’t a Hollywood-themed crossword. Instead, it’s quite reasonably one involving Anglophone orthography. “Tory” (not “Tori”) is the conservative British political party, currently in power. Each of the four themers consists is a two-word phrase for which both elements typically have different spellings depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re looking at.
- 21a. [Item scanned for a PDF bank statement] CANCELLED CHEQUE (canceled check). I tend to prefer the double-L for the preterite, as does the New Yorker style guide, which tends to match up with my preferences.
- 25a. [Anise oil can mimic it] LIQUORICE FLAVOUR (licorice flavor).
- 46a. [Playbill] THEATRE PROGRAMME (theater program).
- 51a. [Unions, say] ORGANISED LABOUR (organized labor).
In all cases the UK spelling is as long as or longer than the
antipart counterpart, so there’s little surprise ( surprize) that the puzzle’s expanded to 16 columns.
Some undetected typos padded my solving time, but there’s no doubt that even without those hiccups (hiccoughs) it would have taken me longer than usual.
- Liked both of the long acrosses that overlapped themers near the top and bottom. 18a [Insulated] CLOISTERED and 61a [One who is nodding] SLEEPYHEAD.
- Speaking of Anglo-American relationships, TS Eliot (born in the United States, naturalized (naturalised) UK citizen (
citisen) is tapped for 28d I DARE, [“Eyes __ not meet in dreams …”].
- 17a [One of the Van Pelts in “Peanuts”] RERUN, whom I was unaware of, so of course wrote LINUS. See also, 62d [“Hi and Lois” twin] DOT.
- Higher Education Vibe™ clues: 60a [“Principia Ethica” philosopher] MOORE, 22d [Literary journal with a botanical title] CALYX, 57d [Logician’s error, maybe] LEAP.
- 10d [The Creator, to some] BRAHMA, 23a [The Creator] GOD; I’d have made it the same clue for both. 26d [Dubliners, e.g.] IRISH, 44d [Bazaar story in James Joyce’s “Dubliners”] ARABY.
- List favorite fill (both geographic): 6d [Home of the world’s northenmost capital city: Abbr.] ICEL; 58d [Longest Ubangi tributary] UELE.
- 36a [Lane on the eastern edge of Convent Garden] DRURY.
- 39d [Dubbing luminary Nixon] MARNI. I had some trouble parsing this clue correctly, pictured ol’ RMN receiving a knighthood. Very strange tableaux. Oh, also: with GRAP–S in place I was predicting the answer for 48d would be GRAPES and maintained that notion even after seeing the clue [Sales-meeting visual aids] and conjured another incongruous image. It’s GRAPHS, of course.
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “L’s Where” — pannonica’s write-up
Going to have make this a brief write-up.
Theme is contrived two-part phrases in which the letter L migrates from one spot to another. Essentially, these are minimalist anagrams. Title puns on “Elsewhere”.
- 22a. [Agreement signed by a struggling artist?] EASEL LEASE.
- 24a. [2008 running mate without any makeup?] PLAIN PALIN. Once again, I’m reminded of Sarah, Plain and Tall. See also the nearby 34a [Starbucks order] TALL.
- 37a. [Pilot’s leeway in choosing how to fly?] ALTITUDE LATITUDE. Despite understanding how the theme works, I was still bent on getting ATTITUDE in there, perhaps because it can describe both an airplane’s position and a pilot’s position. See also 75a.
- 54a. [Line of jeans endorsed by the King?] ELVIS LEVIS.
- 75a. [Setting for cockpit instruments?] PLANE PANEL.
- 90a. [Adverse reaction to plantings of dark-barked trees?] BLACK ASH BACKLASH. Nice find, but it does require a laborious clue.
- 108a. [Amount of slant applied to a Christmas tree topper?] ANGEL ANGLE.
- 111a. [Swelling section of a military horn?] BUGLE BULGE.
- 3d. [Feature of a Victorian overcoat made of satin?] ULSTER LUSTER. If this were today’s CHE, that aspect would be stretched to LUSTRE.
- 61d. [Crop hardly good enough for a brewer?] BARELY BARLEY.
Didn’t want to spend the time hunting for my incorrect answer, hence the little green dots in every square but one (the intersection of 4d and 18a, which has a small black triangle). In short, I thought the [Filmography item] was a ROLL and not a ROLE.
Lots of long, chewy non-theme answers: FRAILTIES, POTBOILER, BULLSEYES, WASSAILED, PATCH TEST, MID-MARCH, and even DON’T ASK and TAG TEAM.
- 19a [Fourth page of twelve] APRIL, 48a [Sixth page of twelve] JUNE. Also liked the sequential 41d [One kind of period] DOT and 42d [Another kind of period] ERA.
- 102a [Straw hat] BOATER + 44d [Brass makeup] GENERALS leads me to Buster Keaton, though in that film his costume entailed a military cap rather than his characteristic headgear.
- Obligatory observation: 88d [Fest time in Bavaria] OKTOBER. At this point I think most people know that this is somewhat of a misnomer, with the Oktoberfest occupying most of September and ending in Oktober.
- Wanted FALLS for 39d [Hangs loosely], but it’s LOLLS.
- Umlautery discrepancy! 50d [Supermodel Buendchen] GISELE vs 94a [app-based company protested by cabbies] UBER. Oh wait, I see that the company dispenses with the umlaut, so it “isn’t” UEBER. Never mind.
- Slight archaisms: 97a [“Listen!”] HARK, 118a [For fear that] LEST.
- 20a [Jazz legend whose band was called “the Arkestra”] SUN RA. Among other names. Also, the Myth Science Arkestra, the Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra, the Solar Myth Arkestra, and other variations, and also the little old Sun Ra Quartet.
- Favorite clue: 49a [Good thing that comes to those who wait] TIP.
Fun, fine crossword.
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
A very technical term to base a general-audience puzzle on, but a very pleasing theme concept nonetheless. My experience has been that members of the public don’t know what a fracture is to start with… I’ve had numerous conversations along the lines of, “Your dog has a fracture of the radius.” “Oh, thank goodness! I thought it was broken.” They think a fracture is like a crack rather than a break. I’m learning not to use it in talking to clients, but slowly! Anyway, you all knew it’s just the technical term for a “break”. A compound fracture is doubly confusing… It sounds like it should be where there are lots of pieces (that’s comminuted), but actually it just means the break is open to infection. Bad breaks have actually been a theme for today at work: a small-breed puppy had an encounter with a pitbull that left it with a comminuted humerus fracture; another poodle was mishandled by a tik addict and has a displaced transverse fracture of both its radius and ulna; a third puppy has a fractured tibia after an MVA. So there we go, you get home, and the puzzle’s all about work!
Sorry, where were we? Oh, yes, like I said, a pleasing revealer. Why? The subtle reworking of “compound” to be the language sense. Four triplets line the sides of the diagram, with the first and third combining to mean the second. A BOAT/LOAD is a HEAP; BACK/TALK is SASS; HARD/CORE is AVID. Lastly, HAIR/LINE is THIN. This last one can be seen as a punchline of sorts, as HAIRLINE is also a type of fracture. I got this one first though, which made things confusing for me, as I expected the others to work similarly.
The inevitable result of “four sides” puzzles is some cray-cray answers in the corners. You can see for yourself: DARTE/AREST in the top-right. In the bottom-right there’s ITEN and NOVI (saved a tad by wedging a SAD in somewhere. Still it’s a city of about 200,000 people. I got it without crossers though, so who knows?). The bottom-left gives us roll-your-own TRUSTER, OBEAH, NUTRA (Searle! But how can you blank out half a one-word answer?), and KARLE. KARLE is a 1985 Chemistry Nobelist. Is it just me or are most post-1950 science Nobelists not actually famous. Why? Maybe, because the number of landmark discoveries has slowed tremendously. The BACK/BOAT corner is clean, thank Betsy!
- [Prefix with plasm], ENDO. As in rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). Waiting for RER to show up in a puzzle!
- [Site of unexpected change?], SOFA. Cute Clue (double capitals intentional.)
- [Roxy Music co-founder], ENO. Eno-era Roxy Music.
Gosh, I’ve waffled a lot. Sorry about that! And I’m still intending to bake custard slices tonight! Gah!
4.5 Star theme, but 2 Star fill (just about inevitably…)