James Mulhern and Ashton Anderson’s NY Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Derek filling in for Amy for Friday NYT puzzles for the next four weeks or so. Hope I am posting everything correctly; I am still a newbie!
This Friday puzzle seemed a little harder than other Fridays. For me, Friday and Saturday puzzles can flip-flop their difficulty level. I may stare at a Friday puzzle for quite a while before it falls, whereas a Saturday puzzle may be solved a lot quicker than the previous day. Distractions play a role; I was watching CFL football!
Now about the puzzle! It actually is a very good one. I know Mulhern, not as familiar with Anderson. Again, on a collaboration such as this one, who did what? Some foreign entries in here caused some hiccups, so my time seems slow for me. But there are plenty of lively entries in this one, and some made me laugh out loud! The middle top fell last, as I had ????SHIRT for HULA SKIRT, and FAST CAR instead of BAIT CAR. I think I had SUN in for 21D [Rainy day rarity] instead of the actual answer, CAB, which must allude to there not being one when you need one? I don’t think I have EVER rode in a taxi, so this one is lost on me. This IS the NEW YORK Times puzzle, so most solvers would be all too familiar with cabs!
I loved DRAG SHOW, CANKLES, GET WEIRD, ATOM ANT, ONLINE AD, KER-PLOP, STAY DRY, SEXY BEAST, KETEL ONE, TOODLES, and TALK BIG. Not too fond of KERB and PACHISI, but I can live with both because of all of the lively entries. A solid 4 stars from me!
Nice Friday puzzle. Hopefully Saturday’s will fall a little easier. Back tomorrow with the Stumper and Saturday LAT write-ups.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Climbing Vines”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning to you, and Happy Friday! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, involves four long down answers in which the letters “IVY” are spelled consecutively, yet going and appearing upward (64D: [Vine “climbing” inside the answers at 3-, 5-, 11-, and 35-Across]).
- ONE-A-DAY VITAMINS (3D: [Dietary supplements since 1943])
- HENRY VII (5D: [King with three wives named Catherine])
- HOCKEY VIOLATION (11D: [It can send a player to the penalty box])
- POLY VINYL (35D: [Common kind of plastic])
How funny is it that I’m in Chicago, and I’m reminded of just that with the Ivy theme – if thinking about Wrigley Field and the ivied walls in the outfield – as well as the appearance of ELS also (27A: [Lofty lines]). There was a prevalence of female names in the grid, including ERICA (15A: [“Fanny” novelist Jong]), HERA (41D: [Queen of Mount Olympus]) and DARYL, who, in this case, makes that specific name a female one (24A: [Tom’s “Splash” costar]). Reading to clue to PRAVDA, I’m pretty sure that I was not aware that Pravda was still in circulation as we speak (35A: [Newspaper produced in Moscow]). Can someone pick me up a copy while passing through Moscow? Just leave it on my front door.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POPE (16A: [Leader chosen by a conclave]) – Former Major League Soccer and U.S. national team defender Eddie POPE is regarded as the best defender the country has produced on the soccer pitch in modern U.S. soccer history. Pope was the second overall pick of the 1996 MLS Draft by D.C. United, and went on to win MLS Defender of the Year in 1997. Pope scored the game-winning goal in United’s 1996 MLS Cup championship game victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Pope also made 82 appearances for the U.S. National Team, appearing in three separate FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002, 2006).
See you all in August…which is tomorrow!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Them’s Fightin’ Words” — pannonica’s write-up
To paraphrase Groucho Marx—or Bugs Bunny, if you prefer—You realize, of course, this means war!
- 23a. [Netherworld overseer?] WARDEN OF INIQUITY (den of iniquity). See also 30d [Fend (off)] WARD. Tsk, tsk.
- 33a. [Warning to one’s sweetheart?] HONEY BEWARE (honeybee).
- 39a. [Polish raga target?] WARSAW DUST (sawdust).
- 63a. [Balboa, being a bit too brazen?] FORWARD EXPLORER (Ford Explorer).
- 87a. [Bull that’s afraid to charge the matador?] CAPE COWARD (Cape Cod). See also 1d [Quail] COWER. Tut, tut.
- 94a. [Base of a goblet?] BARWARE FOOT (barefoot).
- 107a. [Best Secret Agent and others?] CLASSIFIED AWARDS (classified ads).Medals such as the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Cross and the Intelligence Star are bestowed in secret ceremonies and then promptly taken away (or returned), to be stored under lock and key. At least, if the espionage novels I’ve read are to be believed.Also, a significant aspect to spying is insertions/infiltrations and extractions/exfiltrations. The former, akin here to the letters W-A-R taking up residence in preëxisting phrases and working mischief.
- More agonism: 5d [Those opposed] ENEMIES, 2d [Have ___ to grind] AN AXE, 29a [Gallipoli Campaign side] TURKS, 90a [Thrusting weapons] ÉPÉES, 43a [Condition of those driven mad] ROAD RAGE (great clue!), 17d [Site of “bombs bursting”] IN AIR (meh partial), 62d [Lady Antebellum, e.g.] TRIO, 15a [Victorious cry] I WIN, 62a [Fight stopper] TREATY.
- Longfill rollcall: SISTERHOOD, SUNSET LAW, WALLA WALLA, DRAMATIST, RERELEASE, BETSY ROSS, SEPIA TONE, NET INCOME. Good stuff.
- Favorite clues: a bunch. 52d [Rooting section?] SNOUT, 67d [Answers after two rings?] I DOS, 97d [You might get down from them] GEESE (even though it is 98d [Hoary] OLD), 66a [It may be given with one’s blessing] TISSUE, 108d [Bass part] FIN.
- 8d [What are you looking at?] THIS.
- 56a [Slightly-better-than-average mark] C-PLUS, 84a [Potential valedictorian] A STUDENT.
- New to me: 103a [Greenbacks, e.g.] TROUT, 41d [Set of cards dealt to the table] WIDOW. At least one of these has to do with rivers. Perhaps both?
Well-executed theme—I liked the redistribution variety. Solid crossword.
Kurt Krauss’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’ve seen this gimmick before. It was less bewildering than on previous occasions. OMNIDIRECTIONAL is in the middle. We then have a set of UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT, with the UP and LEFT answered entered backwards. Similarly there is a second set of NORTH/SOUTH/EAST/WEST. Here, WEST and NORTH run backwards. With the revealer, that is 85 theme squares. 85. That is, to put it mildly, ambitious. Oh and OCTET could be seen as a bonus too. Quick recap of the theme answers:
- [*Ring punch], RIGHTHOOK
- [*Manhattan neighborhood], EASTHARLEM
- [Like the answers to eight starred clues … and a hint as to how to fill them in], OMNIDIRECTIONAL
- [*Liberia locale], WESTAFRICA (backwards)
- [*Ring punch], LEFTCROSS (backwards)
- [*Animated TV series set in the Rockies], SOUTHPARK
- [*Promising], UPANDCOMING (backwards)
- [*Level-headed], DOWNTOEARTH
- [*Challenge to Eiger climbers], NORTHFACE (backwards)
There is not a corner of this puzzle that is not constrained by theme consideration. Given that fact, this is extremely thoughtfully filled. It even manages a few flourishes, like ETTUBRUTE and ANOMALY.
Compromises: DOTHE is saved by the fun clue (Song! oh and another one for good measure!) and IKEAS is a slightly awkward, if defensiblem plural. I can’t see a valid context in which one would abbreviate Occupation as OCC, but I’m willing to be enlightened. RAULS is a plural name and it intersects an awkward partial AWET. That and a couple more dubious if oft-used abbrs. like SER and CRESC is it. It looks a lot all listed together here, but it really was well under control! Excellent constructing.
Unknowns: HESS clued as a [Gas sign…] Apparently an American petrol station franchise. Its neighbour [1965 Sophia Loren comedy], LADYL – still an interesting entry and had friendly crossers – net plus.
4.5 Stars. Don’t be deceived. This is an impressively designed puzzle, with an interesting if not unique theme!