David Phillips’ New York Times crossword
Quite a good Friday puzzle here. A 70-worder, corner stacks of 8s and 9s, reasonable flow throughout the grid (the NW and SE corners are a tad cut off, but with two not-so-hard longish Downs feeding into them, not so fearsome).
I was up mighty early this morning, so I’m going to keep this quick.
In the fill, I like: the AFC SOUTH/MARINARA/PRIME RIB stack, with 85% good crossings; LIZ TAYLOR crossing VIOLET eyes; the SIDE SALAD/PRICELINE/RON REAGAN stack and 80% of its crossings; “IT’S A DATE”/PET NAMES/TRUE LIES and 75% of its crossings; pretty SYCAMORES.
Clues that worked particularly well: 59a. [Love handles?], PET NAMES; 16a. [“A cozy lie,” per Susan Sontag], SANITY; 37a. [One unable to adapt], DINOSAUR; 12d. [“Success is a great deodorant” speaker, informally], LIZ TAYLOR.
I don’t see 29a. urban SPRAWL as an [Urban phenomenon] but as a suburban one. Didn’t care for ATARI CORP as an answer; who calls it that? Regional DEL TACO, I only know from crosswords that horrible time when it was a gimmick theme answer involving Greek letters (and for all I knew, the place was called THE TACO), meh. And ABOU, literature more from crosswords than from English classes.
Janie Smulyan and Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Type Set” — pannonica’s write-up
A crossword about typography? You bet I’m going to be nitpicky and judgmental. Dreadfully so. Apologies in advance to anyone (everyone?).
- 17a. [York Minister or Notre-Dame de Paris, e.g.] GOTHIC CATHEDRAL.
- 26a. [Ancient chariot-racing venue] CIRCUS MAXIMUS.
- 48a. [They divided Vietnam into two zones in 1954] GENEVA ACCORDS.
- 63a. [Estate in an Arthur Conan Doyle classic] BASKERVILLE HALL.
Do you see what’s going on? I think I do. We’re dealing with typefaces here. Beyond that, however, it gets a bit murky. BASKERVILLE is a venerable typeface dating from the mid-eighteenth century. MAXIMUS is a modern face designed by Walter Tracy in 1967. (There are some decorative fonts called CIRCUS (this one, for example), but I’m not sure any one of them is definitive.) GENEVA is an early desktop knockoff of twentieth century titan Helvetica, developed by Apple. (Arial is the IBM/pc analogue.)
And then, then we have 17-across. In these modrun [sic] days of computing there are scads of amateur designers and hobbyists, as well as professional freelancers and small design houses—one doesn’t need to work for a big type house or foundry. This is how I found a few minor designs called Cathedral, or a variation thereof. However, I’m pretty sure the part of the answer intended to be theme-relevant is GOTHIC. Unfortunately, that isn’t a font, it’s a category of fonts, essentially synonymous with sans-serif.
So. If each of the theme answers begins with the name of a font, we have GOTHIC, CIRCUS, GENEVA, and BASKERVILLE, with the first two being problematic. As there aren’t any fonts called Accords or Hall, it can safely be assumed that we aren’t talking about both parts of each theme answer, let alone just the second part. If instead we work with the indisputable idea that the leading GENEVA and BASKERVILLE are key, then for symmetry’s sake CATHEDRAL and MAXIMUS should be the other two theme elements, but CATHERDRAL is insubstantial. If, on the other hand we take it that GOTHIC and MAXIMUS are the crucial bits, then 26a becomes the only themer whose second part takes precedence … and GOTHIC is still unlike the others.
Bottom line (baseline in typeface anatomy): one theme entry is unquestionably different than the others, and either the remainder or all of them together lack a satisfying symmetry in either construction or significance.
- Central vertical 28d [Chain calling itself “America’s Drive-In”] SONIC. SONIC is also a zippy font designed by Bitstream/Monotype in 1994.
- There’s also a 1977 font family called SENECA (35a [ __ Falls Convention (first-wave feminism event)]
See also, 46d [Proposal opposed by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum: Abbr.] ERA.
- 36a [Yarn-project beginning, maybe] wasn’t LOOM as I first surmised, but LOOP. In typeface anatomy, the LOOP is the bottom part of the ‘two-story’ (aka ‘double decker’ or ‘looptail’] rendition of the lowercase (minuscule) g.
- 10d [Teaching by example] MODELING. Not a very exact term, but typefaces can be modelled during the design process. Here’s a video I found (only 3 views! – let’s boost that number) called “Art deco typeface modeling in Lithuanian typography”.
WARNING: may induce photosensitive epileptic seizures, if you’re prone to that sort of thing.
- 38a [Reach the denouement] END, which is an informal name for a letter’s (glyph’s) terminal, which may or may not feature a serif.
Oh, and there was also some other fill. It was pretty good. Despite the exegesis/diatribe, I still liked this crossword quite a bit. Because, hey, typography!
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “MOtoR Pool”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, folks! My apologies to you, but I’m going to have to scale back on the review for today, as I have a couple of stories that I have to file by the end of the day (March Madness is going to kick my butt in terms of being available on here and providing lengthy reviews for the next month). But, today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bob Klahn, is actually his most straightforward theme that I’ve done yet…not that it was any easier for me. All the theme was is common phrases/nouns which change when the letter R is substituted in place of where the letters MO would be.
- BARELY RVING (20A: [Vacationing in a no-frills camper?]) – From ‘barely moving.’
- RON ROCKS (33A: [Effusive words about Burgundy?]) – From ‘moon rocks.’
- ROD SWING (38A: [Fly-fishing motion?]) – From ‘mood swing.’
- OPTICAL RUSE (55A: [Bit of perception deception?]) – From ‘optical mouse.’
Entries that helped me get out of a couple of jams was BOUVIER (7D: [Marge Simpson’s maiden name]), SUMATRA, after changing it from ‘Jakarta’ after realizing quickly that the latter is a city (2D: [Java’s large neighbor]) and PRO BOWL, which was a cinch for me from the clue (30D: [Its teams are now chosen in a “fantasy draft”]). The bug referred to in SERA is a virus, not an actual insect, in case anyone was wondering about that (51A: [Bug zappers?]). Wish I had more time to elaborate on CHOO, as in the current Major League Baseball outfielder Shin Soo-CHOO of the Texas Rangers (26A: [Said twice, a “twain”]). Well, I said I don’t have time to talk, yet this is almost the length of my regular posts. Guess I can’t help myself when talking the CS/WaPo puzzles, huh?! OK, my sports moment is going to be short and sweet…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HANCOCK (12D: [Noted 18th century signatory]) – The Sun Bowl, tied for the second-oldest college football bowl game in terms of its inception (1935), used to be called the John HANCOCK Bowl from 1987 to 1993. The game is played annually in late December in El Paso, Texas.
Have a good weekend, everyone! See you tomorrow!
Steve Marron’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
This was a rare “figure the revealer out at the second theme entry” day. PTTSBURGHPRATES, MAMDOLPHNS – AHA! THERESNOIINTEAM! It’s refreshing to see an MLS team, CHCAGOFRE, included in the theme entries. We also get an MLB team and two NFL teams (the other being DETROTLONS). A fun spin on the basic US sports team theme, but fairly easy and transparent for me. Just to clarify, there’s also no WE in TEAM either.
The filling felt creakier than normal. As far as I can see there are several factors at play: 59 squares is a fair amount of theme real estate; because of their I-less-ness, the theme entries are high in consonants, leading to unusual letter patterns; also, the grid design is problematic, with its big corners, necessitated by the central 9 theme answer.
OEN/OED/FDS is a terrible little corner all on its own. Note that despite how small the corner is there really isn’t a better fill. The other option is a whole new grid design… RIS is another example of extreme desperation fill. So is SOI. So is KMS. I have no idea why it’s clued in relation to Duesseldorf. CATBERT, BASMATI and I guess SAPPHO are some consolation.
2.5 Stars. The theme is sound, but I would advocate a more conservative grid design and new puzzle around the theme would have improved the experience.
Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shifting an Hour” — pannonica’s write-up
As if it were a reminder that we’re to set our clocks forward tomorrow overnight—which I suppose it sort of is—this puzzle features rows of paired long answers (20 letters total for each pair) in which the bigram HR (short for “hour”) is (1a) MAPped—or shifts—left to right. That is, forward in time.
- 23a. [Products sold at Cut-Rate cash registers?] CHEAP TILLS.
25a. [King Gunther’s perch in “Götterdämmerung?”] RING THRONE.
(cheap thrills, ring tone)
- 35a. [Name for an ursine golf team?] THE TEE BEARS.
39a. [Garden area reserved for hedges?] SHRUB PLOT.
(The Three Bears, subplot)
- 52a. [Daiquiri for a dimwit?] SIMP COCKTAIL.
57a. [Violent spasm in the very end of one’s finger?] TIP THROE.
(shrimp cocktail, tiptoe)
- 75a. [Foil used to hide the dirty dishes?] SINK WRAP.
78a. [Cheapskate’s gift for Dad on his silver anniversary?] CHROME TO PAPA.
(shrink wrap, come to Papa)
- 92a. [Result of wearing a too-tight dunce cap?] CONIC PAIN.
94a. [Phone hacker on the expressway?] PIKE’S PHREAK.
(chronic pain, Pike’s Peak)
- 109a. [Ancient form of beacon?] FLAME TOWER.
111a. [Greeting to one on the other side of the temple?] SHRINE WAVE.
(flamethrower, sine wave)
Pretty wacky stuff, eh? Note that the HR consistently occupies the second and third letter slots in the originals and relocations, though I feel that may have more to do with the inherent nature of English (and its Germanic antecedents) than constructor design.
- 12d [Machinery parts] COGS. See also 32a [Daily grind sufferers] DRUDGES.
- 97a [Doesn’t commute to a domestic job] LIVES IN; 69d [Naughty way to live] IN SIN. 7d [Kellogg’s cereal introduced in 1916] ALL-BRAN, 46d [Far and wide] ALL OVER.
- Not dupes: 6d [Hill, in Hebrew] TEL, 59d [Verizon, e.g.] TELCO; 22a [What half a loaf is better than] NONE, 96a [Losing score in many a football match] NIL.
- 61a [Stable sight] HAY RACK. Surely I wasn’t the only one who first went with HAY BALE?
- 9d [Hip-hop headwear] DO RAG. Still? I don’t really know, but this seems dated to me.
- Really misled by 67a [Cant] for TILT. Was eminently (hah!) confident that it was LILT. LIE UPS rather than TIE UPS for 67d [Commuting headaches] didn’t seem entirely beyond the pale.
- Also, had IDIOM instead of SLANG at 114a [Translating challenge]. Fortunately, the crossings readily made that error obvious.
- 3d [Masters work] POEM. Edgar Lee.
- Not so thrilled by SAID TO, BE MAD, HIT UP proximate to TIE UPS.
- Favorite clues: 13d [Sites of some mergers] ON RAMPS (remember the venue), 38d [Riviera and Park Avenue, e.g.] BUICKS, 91d [They take a bow] ARROWS.
Good crossword, about average. Theme’s a little iffy in the resultant answers.