Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Low word count today, just 62. Funky 8-shaped grid. The stairstepped corners allow nice 11/13/15 stacks, with GRACE PERIOD/PRISONER OF WAR/THIS IS SPINAL TAP and STEPHEN JAY GOULD/STORAGE SPACES/SPARE THE ROD. Could definitely do without ENSE crossing one of those stacks, but overall the fill is quite good for a 62-worder. You don’t expect the sparkle of four-word movie titles and three-part names.
- 17a. [Certain shooter], CAT’S-EYE. Why on earth is there a marbles clue? What is this, 1937? Cat’s-eye is also a semiprecious stone.
- 20a. [Musical phrase in which a single syllable is sung over several notes], MELISMA. This is that thing that Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston really nailed and now every woman on American Idol tri-i-i-i-i-i-ies.
- 43a. [We] clues YOU AND I, and then the very next answer includes that clue word? 48a. [“Ready to go?”] clues “SHALL WE?” Rather hard to overlook when the answers are adjacent like this.
- 8d. [First name in gossip], RONA. Rona Barrett retired from TV in 1991. [First name in gossip in the preceding century], more like. It’s all Perez Hilton and TMZ now.
- 11d. [Relative of a Fig Newton], DATE BAR. Apparently the Newton people have dropped the “Fig” from the name. “Newtons” still come in a fig variety, mind you, but rebranded.
13d. [Some old-fashioned hosiery], RAYONS. Never seen this in a hosiery plural form. Perhaps one of our more senior female readers can tell me if this is an “Oh, yes, of course!” or “Huh?” clue/answer combo.
- 33d. [Nuts], IDIOTS. What? This makes no sense. Is the clue suggesting that aficionados are idiots, or that people with mental illness are idiots? If it’s the latter, right on the heels of FUNNY FARM in the puzzle … And then at 51d, [Nuts] clues LOCO.
Four stars from me.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Road to an A”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Friday usually means school children all over are ready to bolt from school and start the weekend. And, of course, all of those kids during their days off from school will do what Mr. Bruce Venzke suggests in today’s crossword puzzle. Each of the theme answers are actions that students hypothetically would engage in to get good grades, and supposedly in the order in which the answers appear in. OK, maybe not every kid will do these actions during this weekend. Maybe they’ll do it next weekend! Or the one after that. Or….
- GO TO THE LECTURES (17A: [Step #1 on the road to an A]) – Guess this would be referring more to college students than anything else.
- READ THE MATERIAL (28A: [Step #2 on the road to an A])
- REVIEW YOUR NOTES (48A: [Step #3 on the road to an A])
- STUDY FOR THE EXAM (62A: [Step #4 on the road to an A])
Pretty straightforward theme, with three of the four answers essentially having an ‘___ the ___’ pattern. I’m a fairly picky eater, and, unlike many people, am not fond of having an AVOCADO (4D: [Guacamole essential]). Usually when I eat a slice of avocado, it’s by accident. Not averse to it, but not a big fan. When I first got a MacBook back in 2008, a friend and I used ICHAT quite a lot, but now I can’t remember the last time I’ve used that program (32D: [Apple messaging program]). I’ve been to Florida about 10 times, but only have gone down to MIAMI twice, and both of those times, I’ve had mixed reactions to being there (58A: [_____ Gardens (2007 Super Bowl city)]). Sure, the weather and the beaches are an allure, but, for some reason, but my experience down there was marked by twice being the first car that had to stop as one of the drawbridges had to be lifted. After the second time, I totally had the thought in my mind of making like Knight Rider and pressing the turbo button on my car and zooming from one side of the bridge to the other in dramatic fashion!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WOLF (49D: [Fairy tale villain]) – Here’s a shout out to one of the famous radio and television sports anchors of modern times, former Washington D.C. and New York sports anchor Warner Wolf. I grew up with Warner when he was anchoring sports for WCBS-TV in New York, and his signature catchphrase was “Let’s go to the videotape,” an utterance he made right before the highlights rolled of the game he was recapping. Definitely one of my earliest inspirations in becoming a sports reporter.
Have a good weekend, people! See you for tomorrow’s puzzle.
John Farmer’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Fun, early-week theme, but with clueing that ramped things up to Saturday NYT level for me. I assume the germ of the idea was that ITWASALLADREAM (a common trope in Dallas, I seem to recall learning by osmosis) hides DALLAS backwards. In case you didn’t figure it out from the circles, or from the revealer, SHOWSUP, each entry conceals a backwards TV show, which appears to run upwards when the entries are placed vertically. Two entries were particularly hard for me to tease out ITWASALLADREAM (super vague clue!) plus THISCANTBELOVE (it has the same number of letters as Labi Siffre’s ITMUSTBELOVE, FWIW).
So, CSI is in THISCANTBELOVE; COPS is in HOCUSPOCUS; GLEE is in IFEELGOOD (another answers that works in two ways!); KOJAK is in CRACKAJOKE (fancy!) and as stated DALLAS is in ITWASALLADREAM.
Particularly hard areas include the top-left, with vague [Still-life subject], PEACHES intersected by [Kool-aid alternative], HIC (= random letters for me); [Detergent with Oxi Booster], ERA (letters again) and the tricksy [Some audiobooks] for CDS. Top- and bottom-right were also very hard for me.
- [“Battle it out” quintent], AEIOU. If the penny hasn’t dropped, look at the vowels in the enquoted phrase.
- [“Love in the Time of ___”: Garcia Marquez work], CHOLERA. Not a disease you see often in crosswords. Still, these days its mostly a third world killer, so distanced enough for crosswords.
- [Title girl in a 1965 #1 hit], RHONDA. Originally sans H. If that version had been a hit, it’d be seen far more often in crosswords.
- [Brief facilities?], LAV. The only person I’ve known who used that word was my grandpa!