AV Club tk (Amy)
NYT 3:08 (Amy)
LAT 4:45 (Gareth)
CS 9:43 (Ade)
AV Club is a contest puzzle, so no write-up today. If I’d known it was going to be a contest puzzle (and for all I know, Ben totally announced that the week before the way Peter Gordon does for Fireball contests), I would’ve held off on its ratings widget till the write-up was done after the contest. Oh, well…
Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword
The theme goes two ways:
- 17a. [Gillette razor brand], ATRA PLUS. If ATRA stopped appearing in crosswords, I wouldn’t miss it.
- 34a. [Conductor’s place], ORCHESTRA PIT.
- 43a. [Grammy category won five times by Eminem], BEST RAP ALBUM.
- 66a. [Warning to the answers to the three starred clues regarding the word hidden in 17-, 34- and 43-Across], “IT’S A TRAP!”
- 4d. [*Tough test, slangily], BEAR. The BEAR’s paw is caught in ATRA PLUS’s TRAP.
- 8d. [*Fodor’s guide buyer], TOURIST. Trapped in 34a.
- 44d. [*Mob hit victim], RAT.
The revealer doesn’t work for me because nobody shouts “It’s a trap!” at bears and rats and tourists. And while BEAR and RAT are clued as not-the-animals, TOURIST is TOURIST, no extra definition. So there’s inconsistency in the handling of starred answers, a misguided revealer, and a dull/half-crosswordese first theme answer, ATRA PLUS. Also, there are a POSER and a GOAT that also appear to be stuck in the TRAPs (though “poser trap” and “goat trap” are not yet familiar phrases). The WEASEL eludes capture.
Four more things:
- 37d. [Poor box contents], ALMS. An old, old answer. Here’s where I donate ALMS for the homeless: Cornerstone Community Outreach.
- Lots of short fill in here is clunkier than C.C.’s current quality level (Fiend readers know she’s particularly prolific in the LA Times). Those two rows that are all 3s—ETE SEP EIS LAO and NSA TCI ARR COE? NSA is by far the best of that batch—though its clue would have vexed me had I not filled in the answer via the crossings. [U.S. counterpart to Britain’s GCHQ]?? Never heard of this GCHQ. Perhaps I should read The Guardian more. See also: SSR, ITAL, USRDA, OTT, and more foreign vocab (ETRE, EIN).
- 10d. [Sound of an air kiss], MWAH. My favorite fill in this grid.
- ABC NEWS, Jake LAMOTTA, ICARUS, RED STATE, ESCARGOT, and SLUMP are also good fill.
3.2 stars from me.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s the Norm”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Anniversary to me!!
Hello there, everyone! I hope you’re doing very well today on this Hump Day. Now, what’s up with that first line, you ask?! Well, on April 8, 2014, I posted my first review of the CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword puzzle here on Diary of a Crossword Fiend. Time does really fly when you’re having fun, huh?! Well, I’m so appreciative of all of the readers/commenters on here for putting up with the sports commentary, light-hearted non-sports comments, somewhat relevant YouTube videos and general inanity with my reviews. Here’s to another year!
In today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, each of the four theme answers are three-word entries in which the first letter of each word make up SOP, short for Standard Operating Procedure (65A: [The usual routine, briefly, and a hint to the starts of each word in 17-, 27-, 47-, and 63-Across]).
- SHORT ON PATIENCE (17A: [Easily irritated]) – I’m a pretty sure I wouldn’t be described as that.
- SENSE OF PURPOSE (27A: [Goal-oriented quality])
- SEE OTHER PEOPLE (47A: [Date a variety of individuals])
- SPEAKS ONE’S PIECE (63A: [Expresses an opinion (about)]) – Probably the biggest stretch of the four theme answers, since you usually say your piece and speak your mind.
Had a silly mistake appear for a long while when I put in ‘plot’ instead of PLAT (36A: [Developer’s drawing]), and, for some reason, actually then thought that ‘poste’ going down was ok. A very quick vowel run led me to PASTE, and also led me to a palm-on-forehead moment at my computer (31D: [Adhesive]). Is there any other SELA that’s famous other than the actress (58D: [Actress Ward])? Well, there’s the active Israeli tennis player Dudi Sela, but he has yet to do anything of note on the ATP Tour. Although, if you’re ever in New York during the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, and Dudi Sela is playing on a non show court, make sure to walk by where he’s playing. So many Jewish fans flock to see him, and the atmosphere is simply electric! I know that from experience! Moving on…maybe TEE SHOT is an homage to The Masters tournament that’s getting started on Thursday (10D: [Start of many a drive]). Oh, and speaking of homages, how about the clue to HOME ICE, especially since the Chicago hockey team is currently in a fierce battle to get home ice advantage in the first round of the upcoming NHL playoffs right now (46D: [Blackhawks’ edge in Chicago, e.g.]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FLASH (30A: [_____ Gordon]) – Former Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Gordon, nicknamed “FLASH,” had a standout career as both a starter and a reliever between 1988 and 2009. In Gordon’s official rookie season in 1989, he went 17-9 for the Kansas City Royals and finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. His best season as a reliever came in 1998, as he led the American League in saves with 46 for the Boston Red Sox. Gordon went on to set the Major League record in 1999 for most consecutive save chances converted, with 54. One of Gordon’s sons, Dee, is the current second baseman for the Miami Marlins. Another son, Nick, was just drafted by the Minnesota Twins fifth overall in last year’s amateur draft.
There’s a good chance I’m probably in the air flying back to New York, so I wish you all the best from over 25,000 feet above the ground! See you tomorrow, and welcome yourself to some anniversary cake!
Note from Amy: Yay, Ade! Happy bloggiversary to you. So glad you joined this nutty venture!
D. Scott Nichols & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I like the angle today’s POWERCOUPLE of Scott Nichols and Burnikel chose to go with on their revealer THEMASTERS. Rather than simple “x-master phrases”, today’s theme phrases all end in the names of former green jacket winners: Byron Nelson, Gary Player, Tiger Woods, and Fred Couples. I’d say those are among the better known of the winners, but I still bet there will be some who are clueless. I don’t feel sad when a crossword requires you to know stuff. Obviously this theme is restricted by the fact most winners can’t be used to build phrases: SNEAD, FALDO and NICKLAUS go nowhere for starters. We have:
- [Hold banned in amateur wrestling], FULLNELSON.
- [Premier League athlete], SOCCERPLAYER. EPL, which theoretically could turn up in a puzzle some time.
- [Innocents], BABESINTHEWOODS
- [Influential teams], POWERCOUPLES
This is quite a busy grid, though it doesn’t feel like it. The two quieter corners have 10-letter downs: BOBNEWHART (can never get his various sitcoms straight!) and SEXSYMBOLS. I don’t if these were supposed to be linked. In the busier parts our duo still found place for some PINUPS and bonus golf content in the form of prematurely retired Lorena OCHOA.
Enjoyed the subtleties of the clue [Feathers one’s nest, in a way], MOLTS & [A proposal may ultimately lead to one] for ALTAR. Less sure of the way SEXSYMBOLS is linked-up to PINUPS.
- [Onetime Palin collaborator], IDLE. Not Sarah, but Michael…
- [Dr. Mom’s forte], TLC. Dr. Mom should consider joining a tribute group and belting “Unpretty” down at the karaoke bar.
- [1998 Sarah McLachlan ballad], ADIA. If you’ve always seen it in puzzles and never Youtubed it…
- [Some outdoor grills], WEBERS. Have I been surprised before that this brand is as familiar in the US as South Africa?
PENELOPE was also caught in a trap, by her toe anyway. As well as the GOAT and the WEASEL, the EEL and the ESCARGOT eluded capture, as did Jake LAMOTTA. But ICARUS was caught in a trap, which might have been a better outcome for him.
This puzzle seemed disorganized in concept and execution. I had an error with TCO/HOPSON. TCI was, according to wiki, the largest cable company in the US at one time, but it operated largely in the West, which makes me feel less bad in never having heard of it.
I’m not really one for criticizing the work of other constructors in public, but I’ve gotta say, I find the NYT’s non-theme fill today alienatingly bad. This is partially a fault of the acceptance-to-publication gap, I think, because earlier work by since-established constructors often feels drastically out of sync with the exciting stuff they’ve done later on — that is, earlier on, from where the solvers are sitting.
I value the puzzles I dislike, though, for giving me reason to think about and learn from what can make a puzzle so dislikable. The worst thing about abbreviations, I’m learning, isn’t so much (or only) their overabundance in a particular grid as it’s the overabundant “.” signalling in the corresponding clues. It has a way of making a puzzle feel like it’s calling attention to its own flaws.
Enjoyed the NYT and liked the design.
Happy Anniversary Ade. I know I am looking forward to more years of your reviews. I agree that time has passed quickly, in fact, I can’t even remember “old whathisname” before you.
Next time you are in Tampa check out Sarasota – it’s a jewel.
See you tomorrow.
For Gareth, sex symbols and pinups are connected. Pinups are pictures taped to the inside of a locker door, usually from “Playboy,” etc.
No. Really? Astonishing.