Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword
Tough for a Friday puzzle, no? I wanted PIRATED at 13a for too long, which derailed me. And 16a BIG YEARS doesn’t feel like a familiar, in-the-language phrase in the plural. [Prime times]? You can have a big year, full of lots of successes, but BIG YEARS sounds off.
- The MICKEY MOUSE/SMARTY-PANTS is a nice collision in the middle. MICKEY MOUSE as an adjective is something I associate with my 8th grade algebra teacher who used the term dripping with disdain.
- COMEUPPANCE and MISS MANNERS beside those other two, also lovely.
Did not know: 32d. [When repeated, Thor Heyerdahl book], AKU. Really?? I guess it’s better than having RA I foisted on us as the presumed name of the Heyerdahl craft that preceded Ra II, but less familiar than the Kon-Tiki craft/book title.
Five more things:
- 36a. [Spaghetti western persona], LONER. I guess I don’t watch any spaghetti westerns, because the clue seems oddly over-specific to me.
- 47a. [Tin alloys], PEWTERS. In the plural? Does that work?
- 1d. [Reese’s field], EBBETS. Brooklyn Dodgers, right? I wanted this to be a rebus with PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CANDY DELICIOUSNESS.
- 6d. [Nature’s pacifiers?], TEATS. Slightly … creepy.
- 7d. [Spinning], AREEL. Regular people say “reeling.” At least its neighbors are ROAR and ON TIPTOE rather than AROAR and ATIPTOE.
What is this, a 66-worder? Good flow throughout the cloverleaf grid. Overall vibe … I’m gonna say 3.8 stars.
Mary Lou Guizzo’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Frame Job” — pannonica’s write-up
This was an unusual solving experience in that revealer was exceptionally, immediately, startlingly … revelatory. Uncharacteristically, I’d noticed the title, then the first part of the revealer and in passing made vague assumptions about the theme. But it wasn’t until the grid was completely filled and I revisited 36a [Like some eyeglasses … or like this puzzle’s grid] HORN-RIMMED—that I actually appreciated what it was all about. The frame—that is, the entries comprising the perimeter of the grid—are words that can each precede horn. It has so little do with eyeglasses! The revealer and the title are both perfect.
- 1a. [London weather phenomenon, stereotypically] FOG.
- 4a. [DeSoto or LaSalle, e.g.] CAR.
- 7a. [Momentous] BIG.
- 10a. [Subwoofer’s output] BASS.
- 13d. [Burden (with)] SADDLE.
- 46a. [Ski-report word] POWDER.
- 64a. [“__ on the G String”] AIR.
- 63a. [View from Lake Como] ALP.
- 62a. [Teton Range herd] ELK.
- 61a. [Protracted] LONG.
- 43a. [Wing, in 26 Down] FLÜGEL. This was the only notably aberrant answer among the themers. Had the crossword been presented as a meta, undoubtedly this is the answer that would tickle most solvers’ antennae and provide their entry to the secret.
- 1d. [Language in which “Carmen” is most often sung] FRENCH.
Good assortment of answers. Musical instruments, general sound-producers, animal features, structural features, etc. Some overlap among them because, let’s face it, they are all ultimately related.
Those eight across themers impart a less-than-ideal fractured quality to the grid, but it’s a small price to pay.
- 20a [Tried to move about unnoticed, as a shamus] GUMSHOED. I’ve not seen or heard it as a verb before, but it seems plausible. Okay, Ngrams substantiates it. Also, shoehorn!
- 40a [Road Runner sound effect] BEEP-BEEP. There’s a persistent minor controversy whether it’s beep-beep or meep-meep. Also, 4-across!
- 33a [Discover accidentally] HAPPEN ON, which in this context seems a lot less common than happen upon.
- 28d [Williams on the “Footloose” soudntrack] DENIECE. Also, a French-derived adjective for referring to your sibling’s daughter.
- Did not, not care for the crossing of 49a [Quintillionth: Prefix] ATTO- and 49d [The Blue Devils and Demon Deacons play in it: Abbr.] ACC. Nasty. 50a [49d sch.] UNC is inferable if you know Duke—or whatever the other team plays for—or that the A stands for Atlantic. But it doesn’t do itself any favors.
- Acceptable amount of crosswordese, abbrevs., partials. This things are more or less unavoidable, to some extent.
- Those paired, stacked 7-letter entries running down in the center look so odd. Thank or blame the 16-column format.
- 8d ITUNES is an anagram+T of 35a IN USE. Kind of interesting, maybe.
- 38d [Colombia-Venezuela border river] ORINOCO. And not an Enya to be seen!
- 44d [Prickly plant that attracts goldfinches] TEASEL. Also spelled teasle, teazel, and teazle.
Very nifty crossword. Liked it a lot.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
This theme is more creative and unusual than most LA Times puzzles, where safe is the watchword. SPLITPEA, unusually for a revealer, found in the bottom-left, implies that 5 two-word answers with the pattern “*P P*” share their adjacent P’s. Note that other P’s occur in the puzzle which do not follow that pattern – these are ignored. The 5 are STRI(P)OKER, CAM(P)ENDLETON, PO(P)SYCHOLOGY and KEE(P)OSTED going across, and TRI(P)LANS going down. POPPSYCHOLOGY is a great answer in anyone’s book!
Another unusual grid arrangement: long downs and a central line of 5 “black” squares. Strangest clue angle: [Tough test metaphor], ABEAR. Most unusual uninflected form: [Denounce unmercifully], SCATHE. Three-part phrase mini-theme: GETABITE, HADAKID. Clue most likely to mystify: [Grey area], OLDWEST. That’s Zane.
Daniel Landman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fantabulous Edutainment” – pannonica’s write-up
The title could describe crossword puzzles in general, but here refers to this one’s thematic content. The central revealer explicifies™ it: 66a [Type of word found twice in each of the six longest answers] PORTMANTEAU.
- 23a. [Advice to one who spends an inordinate amount of time at the office?] CHILLAX, WORKAHOLIC (chill, relax, work, alcohol).
- 38a. [Site for devotees of crossbreed dogs?] LABRADOODLE BLOG (Labrador, poodle, web, log).
- 89a [Mechagodzilla, essentially?] GINORMOUS CYBORG (giant/gigantic, enormous, cybernetic, organism). I’m not enough of a Japanese monster maven (kaijuxpert ?) to know if that descriptor is accurate. … (some time passes) … Okay, fine. Checked at Wikipedia. It seems that the Millennium/”Kiryu” version of Mechagodzilla (appearing in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS) is a “a true cyborg, being a machine built over organic matter, the DNA-enhanced computer systems the mech sported (and the spirit of the original Godzilla)”. Well then, that settles it.
- 106a. [Periodical dedicated to a supercouple?] BRANGELINA FANZINE (Brad, Angelina, fan(atic), magazine).
- 16d. [Synthetic fashion accessory for guys?] PLEATHER MANBAG (plastic leather, man, handbag). “Manbag” seems a bit dodgy—could it be simply man + bag, in which case it’d simply be a compound word? Are compound words a subset of portmanteaux?
- 48d. [Joey and Chandler’s relationship on “Friends”?] SITCOM BROMANCE (situation, comedy, bro(ther), romance).
Level One: portmanteau words. Level Two: phrase mash-ups. Works for me. Didn’t spot any others elsewhere in the puzzle, which is good.
103d [Spice akin to nutmeg] MACE. Very akin, as it’s the same plant. Nutmeg is the seed of Myristica sp., while MACE is the lacy aril that surrounds it. Clue partially dupes 61a [Flesh and blood] KIN.
- Another duplication: 58a [No longer on deck], which I thought was going to be nautical, is UP TO BAT; 77d [Leading indicator?]
- 87a [Memory triggers, often] ODORS. Said to be the strongest of the senses in this regard. Something about the relative locations of the primary olfactory complex and the amygdala, if I recall correctly. I’m sure Huda could expound on the subject for us if she cared to. (No obligation, Huda!)
- Many top-tier clues to choose from, but my favorite is 45a [Champagne pop?] for PÈRE. Runners-up: 51d [Party animals] PIÑATAS, 118a [It might come from Mars] CANDY.
- 88d [Not the brightest crayon in the box] DIMWIT; 55a [Periwinkle, e.g.] SNAIL.
- Icky crossing: 29a [2013 tech debut with “the power of lightness”] IPAD AIR, and 15d [W-2 inclusion] FICA. Could reasonably have thought to have been O. (Federal Insurance Contribution Act)
- 13d [Looking bad?] OGLING, 52a [Looks bad?] LEERS.
- 98a [Beggar’s-ticks pod] BUR. Hate that spelling. Factette: genus is Bidens (“two tooth”).