Vic Fleming’s New York Times crossword
The last word I filled in here was YLEM, 47a. [Matter in the Big Bang theory]. I misread the clue as being about the TV show The Big Bang Theory, which I have only seen once, but reading the clue as about science didn’t help me any. Plants have xylem and phloem, but I don’t think my high school and college physics classes covered this YLEM (which is apparently the cosmic primordial ooze). Learned something from the puzzle.
Whereas TARBOOSH, 15a. [Tasseled topper], was one of my first answers in the grid. This is the word from Arabic, while fez is the Turkish equivalent.
- 9a. [Apollo setting], HARLEM. The Apollo Theater. Nice clue—if you thought of Greek mythology, you fell into the trap.
- 20a. [Unenlightened stretch], DARK AGES. Tell me about the Dark Ages of crosswords, Grandma.
- 34a. [“Tell me what you know!”], “SPILL IT!” Casual, fresh fill. The same clue’s reused for 54d: TALK.
- 43a. [2008 crossover hit for the country duo Sugarland], ALL I WANT TO DO. The probably-more-famous Sheryl Crow song is “All I Wanna Do.”
- 52a. [Indy front-runners?], PACE CARS. I’ve seen two of these over the years, in parking lots in Chicago.
- 57a. [Room in back, say], REAR AREA. Is that actually a familiar phrase? Seems awkward to me.
- 21d. [Japanese zithers], KOTOS. More familiar to me (mainly from crosswords, and maybe from Memoirs of a Geisha) than YLEM.
Other fill I liked includes ID BADGES, OUT OF THE BLUE, YULE LOGS, LOOSE LIPS, RUN LOW, and TITLE PAGE.
Wren Schultz’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Pi Row Technics” — pannonica’s write-up
Everyone seems to get excited about Pi Day (March 14th), even those in places where the date isn’t customarily written as month-day. (Pi Approximation day takes place on 22 July, but it’s a lesser occasion.)
Impressively, every row in the grid has a place in the theme. The circled letters spell out the beginning of the familiar recitation THREE POINT ONE FOUR ONE FIVE ad infintum.
With the integer and the spoken decimal point occupying the first two rows, the crossword takes π’s mantissa (curse you, Learned League!) to 13 digits, which is apt for today, the thirteenth of the month. Wait, wait! Stop the presses! After actually examining the bottom of the grid, I recognize that the circled letters in rows 14 and 15 spell ETC ETC, which is also a fine approach. So let me refocus my declaration of aptness by emphasizing that the use of circles is apt. Yes, that’s it!
Would I say that these cruciverbal ‘Pi Row Technics’ are 57a EXPLOSIVE? Not sure, but I certainly can manage a sotto voce ooh and aah or two.
- 42a [Pi’s boatmate, in “Life of Pi”] TIGER. Though the titular Pi is short for Piscine Molitor, a famous swimming pool in Paris, which is in turn eponymous to the protagonist.
- 2d [Algonquin Round Table members, often] HUMORISTS. Alongside 3d [Focus of seismic activity] EPICENTER. See? More circular reasoning.
- 23a [Calculus pioneer] EULER.
- 38a. [Dot follower, at times] NET.
- 7d [Origin] ROOT. Sure, I’ll include this one. Why not?
- Symmetric suffixes! 12d [Pun add-on?] -STER, 52d [Slug’s tail?] -FEST.
- Along with the long verticals mentioned above, we get STEVEDORE, SORE LOSER, BELONGINGS [Effects], ENTRAPMENT, SEMESTER [Term for Brown], IN STEREO [Like many Beatles remasters]. Solid stuff, even if the letters aren’t particularly Scrabbly.
- ARGUER, TAXER, var. EMEER, lesser-known FERLIN Husky, US-TEN are among the lesser fill that some may take issue with.
- 1a [Adjective applied to apples?] THEM. How do you like that? 48a [Beginning and end of a famous Gertrude Stein quote] THERE; “There is no there there.” There being Oakland.
- You thought I was going to include a reproduction of Eyck’s (the Eyckses’?) Ghent Altarpiece, didn’t you?
Good puzzle, which only goes so far.
Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Soft Rock” — pannonica’s write-up
A perennial crossword bit player (I won’t say ‘supporting’ here) gets a star turn in this offering. 109a [Soft rock found in the eight longest Across answers] TALC.
- 22a. [Grounds for divorce] MENTAL CRUELTY. ANIMAL CRUELTY would have fit here as well. Is it less palatable? The Google Ngram of the two phrases reveals interesting chronologies.
- 31a. [Treatment for preemies] NEONATAL CARE. At this point in the solve, since I was working roughly top to bottom (and hadn’t consulted the title), the working theory was that the theme had something to do with nuclear families.
- 49a. [They involve precise tucks] HOSPITAL CORNERS. There went that idea, to be replaced, inchoately, by healthcare … or something.
- 64a. [M5V 2T6, for Toronto’s CN tower] POSTAL CODE. Hands thrown up in the air.
- 67a. [The chaos of life] MORTAL COIL. To be shuffled off, as per Shakespeare via Hamlet.
- 85a. [They may have designs on your floor] ORIENTAL CARPETS. Nice clue, and one of the still-inoffensive ways to employ “Oriental”.
- 98a. [Unambiguous] CRYSTAL CLEAR. In addition to the more common forms, TALC occurs in rarer crystal varieties. How convenient that Wikipedia has a photograph of a specimen right at the top of its article!
- 113a. [Innovation that practically stopped development] DIGITAL CAMERA. Clever clue, too clever?
TALC is famously the reference for 1 on the crossword-favorite MOHS scale, which doesn’t appear here. Nor does OHMS or MHOS, but there is an HMO in the grid at 96a. It neatly crosses 96d [Make better] HEAL. And though I’d prefer to SKIP IT (74a) I’m contractually obligated to mention that one across is [1982 soft rock hit for Toto] AFRICA. If that isn’t MENTAL CRUELTY I don’t know what is.
- 54a [Diode-inventing Japanese Nobelist] ESAKI. 93a [Chief Standing Bear’s tribe] PONCA. Both completely unknown to me.
- Not-a-dupe: 102a [Where you might catch some rays] SEA (in more ways than one); 122a [Site of Northwestern touchdowns] SEATAC. However, 85d [Block] OCCLUDE and 36d [Coalition] BLOC … ? Not so hot.
- 14d [Little rascal] IMP;
- 18d [Nash of the NBA] STEVE. Thanks to crosswords, I’m getting the idea that he’s kind of famous.
- 42d, 107d [Dead on one’s feet] SPENT, BEAT.
- Favorite clue: [Appealing results?] RETRIALS. Also, [Stage craft] for SET DESIGN.
- Least favorite fill: the related 99d [Help a forgetful actor] RECUE.
- 64d [Olive Garden fare] PASTA. Alas, SWILL didn’t work. Gladly I see their menu doesn’t offer a salad NIÇOISE (31d).
- One last bit of themeana: 115d [Mineral suffix] -ITE.
I might have posted a sound file of This Mortal Coil’s “The Jeweller” here, but (1) my go-to site Grooveshark is balking for me lately, and (2) I don’t really like the group or the song. So instead, have this:
Erm, solid puzzle?
Marti DuGuay Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
We have a simple formula today: add R, make wacky. No frills. The theme answers all function, though the sound change in the last answer, from ADIOS to RADIOS, was a bit jarring. We have:
- [Allowance for food, vet visits, etc.?], ROVERBUDGET. I don’t see as many Rovers as Rexes, Brunos and Spotties but the name is out there. It’s sufficiently buried in our collective subconscious that I’m told by my mother that for a couple of weeks at age 3 I wanted to go by the name Rover and be fed dog biscuits. Make of that what you will.
- [Bedtime for bats?], RAFTERHOURS
- [Threw a tantrum at ballet school, RAGEDGRACEFULLY
- [Decisive “Star Wars” victory?], ROUTINSPACE
- [Answer to “What did people listen to during the Depression, senor?”?], RADIOSAMIGO.
I think the best desciptor for the rest of the puzzle is “safe”. A simple, but dense theme means not a lot of space for big splashy non-theme answers. The more difficult / ugly answers are distributed carefully around the grid – everything felt carefully considered.
- [PC key], ALT. Macs have a mac key or an option key or somesuch…
- [Annual New England attraction], FOLIAGE. Deja vu, we discussed this phenomen previously.
- [You might wake up to one], SNORE… but I’d be very surprised as I’m [Single], UNWED.
- [Main forest sights], FIRS. This crosses FOLIAGE.
- [Dinner on the farm, maybe], SLOP. Garbage in, garbage out – a better quality pig ration should be considered!
- Unknown names for today: [Author who created Zuckermann], ROTH – (Philip); knew Philip Roth was an author, but couldn’t give you any of his creations. Also [“Up in the Air” Oscar nominee Farmiga], VERA – rings a vague bell and seems to be in several films whose names I recognize…