Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
This puzzle? Is soopa-smooth. So much zippy stuff in it, too. Here are entries and clues I was particularly taken with:
- 18a. [Doing particularly well], IN RARE FORM.
- 20a. [Site of an annual British music festival], STONEHENGE. Manhattanhenge is Friday (when the rising and setting sun is centered relative to the east/west streets); the next Chicagohenge is September 25 (our streets are not at a weird angle like New York’s).
- 27a. [Judas never attained it], SAINTHOOD. Imagining a “Saint Judas Cathedral.”
- 36a. [Four-hour tour features?], EYE RHYMES. They look like they rhyme, all ending with -our, but don’t because the English language is a ludicrous beast.
- 51a. [Increases risk and reward], UPS THE ANTE. Solid phrase. We get UPS and ANTE in puzzles all the time, but not this phrase.
- 2d. [1998 coming-of-age novel by Nick Hornby], ABOUT A BOY. Also a movie, and then a very different TV series.
- 3d. [Oscar Madison’s weekly event], POKER GAME. I wonder if that will figure into the new TV remake of The Odd Couple.
- 9d. [2013 Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy], THE HEAT. I enjoyed the movie, and just this week read this blog post in which a fat woman greatly appreciated the absence of weight mockery in the movie.
- 13d. [Commercial manufacturers], ADMEN. Interesting clue. You don’t think of making TV commercials as “manufacturing,” but it works. (Still don’t like the gendering of “admen.”)
- 31d. [Atmospheric problem], OZONE HOLE.
- 37d. [Sub entries], HATCHES. Took me a while to understand how the clue fit the answer—submarine hatches.
Did not know: 34d. [Broadway chorus dancers, informally], GYPSIES. Also, the use of “prefers” in the clue for 19a. [Prefers charges against], SUES—was not familiar with that formal usage of “prefer” to mean “submit.”
Anything give you trouble in this one? 4.5 stars from me, for all the crunchy fill combined with the typical Berry smoothness. (Almost wrote “Berry smoothie.” Do people call his puzzles that?)
Daniel Landman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Sheaf Engineer” — pannonica’s write-up
Eight sheets don’t quite make a sheaf, as per the punned title (from “chief”) but there is a sort of paper engineering going on in the puzzle.
- 61a. [What an auditor examines, or what either part of the answer to each of the starred clues can be] PAPER TRAIL. That is, each element of the answers can follow the word “paper” to make a new word or phrase.
- 17a. [*Cat that’s usually the result of zoo inbreeding] WHITE TIGER (paper white,, paper tiger). White paper is also a thing, a much more common one than paper white, but that isn’t relevant here.
- 24a. [*Rebate] MONEY BACK (paper money, paperback).
- 38a. [*Occasion for celebrating with colleagues] WORK ANNIVERSARY (paperwork, paper anniversary).
- 50a. [*Prepare to change classes in wrestling, maybe] CUT WEIGHT (paper cut, paperweight). This entry seems less common, at least to me, than the others.
Run-of-the-mill sort of theme, but made well.
Had trouble completing the grid correctly, the two top corners being especially tricky. In the northwest, ignorance of University of Georgia ‘DAWGS‘ was a liability, while a recondite non-committee clue for AD HOC [Like some hypotheses], difficulty deriving REINA from [Castile’s “Juana la Loca,” for one], hesitation in putting GO before ––NEXT [Follow], plus DARE and ENTERS not being very easily clued all conspired to create recalcitrance.
Over in the northeast, the problem was more one of inattention. Naturally, I filled in -ITIS for 10a [Suffix with laryng-]. And so 19a [Earliest recorded Chinese dynasty] HSI– was completed as HSIU as I entered SLUNK for 13-down without reading the clue. Ah, but that is not the [Sound effect in Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus”], not at all. That would be CLANK, entailing the less-common laryngITIC and the correct HSIA Dynasty.
- Quite a lot of abbrevs. GRE, AT NO, POV, EAP, EPA, plurals RSVPS and VWS,
- Don’t recall encountering IL ROSSO aka Rosso Fiorentino aka Giovanni Battista di Jacopo in my art history classes. 58a [Florentine Mannerist painter nicknamed for his carrot top]. Other Mannerists include Tintoretto, Bronzino, El Greco, Cellini, and Arcimboldo.
- Tough, clever-flavored clues for the paired 9d and 46d. [Word often addressed to Bob] SIRREE, [One who won’t traverse Mississippi?] LISPER.
- Another clue that I couldn’t make head or tail of and only understood in retrospect: 45a [Pharaoh to Charlton’s Moses] YUL. I just wasn’t making the connections.
- 50d [Tech giant whose logo approximates the Golden Gate Bridge] CISCO. This I didn’t know but am happy to have learned.
Good puzzle. More difficult than usual, as I’ve already noted.
Always liked Randy Ross’s puzzles. This one is no exception. A whopping 11 theme entries, and lots of lively fill. At least nothing that annoyed me. Theme is clever to boot: the title, “Identification Required,” hints at what is happening. Add the letters “ID” to several phrases to get new, amusing phrases. Here they are:
- 23A [Request to a cardiologist for a blood test?] READ MY LIPIDS
- 35A [Hairstyle for many a female gymnast?] SPORTS BRAID
- 44A [Misload soup or green tea?] ASIAN FLUID
- 52A [Makes one’s granny look better?] TIDIES A KNOT
- 67A [U. S. Matchmaker?] AMERICA’S CUPID
- 82A [Vice president who doesn’t play rough?] GENTLE BIDEN
- 89A [Bag for the ransom money?] KIDNAPSACK
- 99A [Meeker of Taylor’s husbands?] TIMID BURTON (Minor complaint here; clue shouldn’t reference Richard Burton. [Reserved “Beetlejuice” director?] seems better. But still solvable…)
- 114A [Tell off a revolutionary?] CHIDE GUEVARA
- 17D [Performers would work prestissimo?] RAPID SINGERS
- 63D [Head of the Hells Angels?] RIDING LEADER
Most of these made me chuckle, which is what you want. High quality stuff. Some notes:
- 19A [Sleep Dr.?] DENTON – After googling, I realize I slept in these…
- 26A [Robbins of Baskin-Robbins] IRV– Gettable. Goes in the learn-somethkng-new-everyday category.
- 61A [City across the border from Buffalo] FORT ERIE – Since TORONTO didn’t fit, this was also inferable. Never heard of it, though.
- 88A [Crotchety fellow] GEEZER – What I’m turning into…
- 119A [Robbers advance man] CASER – Who says this?? “Butch, you be the CASER…” Still gettable…..
- 1D [Dreams role on “The Sopranos”] ADRIANA – A reference to actress Drea de Matteo. Actually never seen the show. Will likely binge watch someday.
- 45D [“A Tale of Two Cities” heroine] LUCIE – Much better clue than a reference to Port St. Lucie, FL.
- 58D [Where Starbucks started] SEATTLE – Heading there in about a month!
- 61D [Fannie of film and fiction] FLAGG – Wasn’t she a regular on Match Game? I’m showing my age again….
- 70D [“Going Rogue” author] PALIN – Ah, the once-golden hope for the Republican Party…maybe she will join the other 57 Republicans running for the 2016 nomination?
- 92D [“I haven’t the foggiest!”] GOT ME – I usually add the word “You” in front of this phrase.
- 93D [Wes in the Basketball Hall of Fame] UNSELD – I realize this may not be an easy clue for most, but it was a gimme for me. Maybe for longtime Knicks fans, too!
Solid all around. 4.5 stars from me!
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
This puzzle is offbeat in a number of ways. The first thing most of us noticed(?) is the atypical left/right symmetry. This is done for reasons of convenience in terms of theme answer length, as the theme entries don’t make up a symmetrical set: 15, 11, 8, 8 – 42 squares. The whole puzzle has the feel of a slightly blacked-in themeless, but with a kooky theme: [Self-preparing dessert?], AUTOMATICTRIFLE; [Dry, powdery dessert?], DUSTTRUFFLE; [Surreal dessert?], DADATART. I had no idea what a dust ruffle (the base phrase) was, but it turns out it’s what’s called a frill in South African English (See one of our biggest local linenware shops). Some supplementary googling suggests dust ruffle is used in US English, bedskirt is US and UK English and valance mostly UK. Bedskirt is the only one that sounds familiar to me! I think we all understand the conceit? Add a T to a phrase and create a wacky phrase with a dessert in it. Just three theme answers of variable length feels a tad underdone, but I’m suspecting this is a highly (too?) restrictive theme idea.
We have, as noted, a low theme density, but also a low word count. Left/right grids are also more difficult to balance adequately. There are lot of longer non-theme answers, many good to excellent, but with compromises in the shorter answers.
- [Kids’ rainy day projects], MUDPIES. Good as an answer in isolation. Apt over here, as we’re starting a week’s worth of constant drizzle (hello winter!). Can either be seen as a bonus answer or one interfering with the theme, depending on one’s outlook; this is especially so given DUSTTRUFFLE.
- [Red giant], SSTAR. This type of answer that just feels desperate.
- [Nocturnal demonic visitor], INCUBUS. Who doesn’t like a bit of mythological rape in their crosswords?
- [Pushover], SOFTIE. Fun word, but not enough to counteract SSTAR.
- [Wagnerian soprano], ISOLDE. I wish her name wasn’t spelt so many darn ways!
- [Choreographer with nine Tonys], BOBFOSSE. Full name.
- [Facetious scapegoat], EVILTWIN. Fun clue/answer angle!
- [Acorn woodpecker, e.g.], STORER. Clunky answer and weird clue, but it all comes out OK in the end, because how fascinating is this behaviour?
2.5 Stars. I appreciate that this puzzle has taken risks and approached crosswords from a different angle, but I don’t think the whole thing quite lands.
P.S., John sent one of his many nature photographs, one of BEES, but the attachment seems to have fallen off… This may be updated later.