Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Sorry the post is a tad late; on my way to Lollapuzzoola! Just solved the puzzle upon arrival at our hotel. Actually had a good solving time, considering a long day of travel. Would have even been quicker if I didn’t enter YAKS instead of YAPS at 43D. As you can see in the image, that is where I finished up. I enjoy this constructor’s puzzles, so that helped. Lots of lively answers, and the clues were snappy. I cannot find any dreck in this puzzle period. Is it just me, or does this puzzle have only four 3-letter entries? Well done!
Some of my favorites: WELL OK, ZIPLINES, DESK LAMPS, FRAT PARTY, FAKED OUT, TWISTS OFF, AL JAZEERA, JAZZ AGE, PALEO DIET, and SNAPPED TO. A sort of timely reference to the Republican presidential debate on Thursday with RON PAUL, the father of Rand Paul, in the grid. I feel smarter after solving this grid. Why?
- 39A [Language in which the first six counting numbers are tasi, lua, tolu, fa, lima, and ono] SAMOAN – File that away for that Samoan vacation!
- 9D [“The Dead Zone” ability, for short] ESP – Never read the book or saw the movie, but now I know what it’s about!
- 11D [Natural insect repellent (true fact!)] ONION – Who knew??
- 13D [Like inopportune months to eat oysters] R-LESS – I don’t eat oysters very often, so now I know to avoid May-August!
Dan Schoenholz’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “The Power in the Pen” — pannonica’s write-up
Yesterday saw the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing; this crossword acknowledges a contemporary event.
- 44a. [Allegorical novel published 70 years ago this month] ANIMAL FARM.
- 20a. … [With 31 Across, maxim bleated in 44 across] FOUR LEGS GOOD | TWO LEGS BAD. Generous use of “bleated” in the clue to help orient the solver.
- 52a. [Author of 44 Across] GEORGE ORWELL. Né Eric Blair.
A modest matter-of-fact theme, the kind that isn’t going to wow too many solvers. But it’s well-conceived and smartly executed.
- Always off-putting when 1-across, the de facto introduction to a crossword, is a cross-reference. 1a [57 Across feature] CAP; 57a [One in a chipmunk’s hoard] ACORN. Intersecting the former is 3d [See 55 Down] PERU – 55d [With 3 Down, capital visited by Nancy Drew in “The Clue in the Crossword Cipher”] LIMA. Interesting tidbit, but is it worth possibly undermining the solver’s initial experience?
- Auxiliary theme-flavored entry: 9d [Dictator] STRONGMAN. That would be Napoleon the pig, a kind of stand-in for Josef Stalin.
- 32d [Jazz guitarist Montgomery] WES. 65a [Music producer Burnett] T-BONE, also a guitarist. I’m unsure whether Burnett adopted his sobriquet from the Texas blues guitarist T-Bone Walker (Burnett is indeed his surname, shared with Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf).
- 9a [Mister’s output] SPRAY. Other funky clues: 11d [Runner in a hallway, e.g.] RUG, 60a [TV personality who made many deft turns of phrase?] VANNA, 18a [Cause of a rude awakening, maybe] APNEA.
The grid is conservative, without any great flourishes, in keeping with the approach to the theme. So, a solid outing.
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle has but three theme answers plus a long revealer. It features three named keys on a PCKEYBOARD that are typically abbreviated: ESCape, ALTernative, and ConTRoL. Simple enough, but elegant and lent itself to a nice a-ha.
- [DVD extras, perhaps], ALTENDINGS
- [Ones getting away often], ESCARTISTS. We have several frequent visitors to our shelter!
- [Hardly team players], CTRLFREAKS
- [Place to see part of 17-, 29- and 45-Across], PCKEYBOARD
The puzzle features the once standard, but now rare 40 theme squares. This means there’s a lot more room for non-theme action. There are big corners, with FRAIDSO, WHATTHE, PIGIRON (on the Rock Island Line), SLEDDOG (shout out to LMS from yesterday!), and then in the middle idiomatic WINBACK and LALAKER.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “You First”—Ade’s write-up
It’s Lollapuzzoola Eve! I hope you’re doing amazing and getting ready to kick off the weekend in style. Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, might be somewhat of a dedication to Miami Hurricanes alumni, because it’s all about “The U.” Each of the five theme answers are common phrases and terms that are altered by adding the letter U at the very beginning of the entry, creating puns.
- UMASS MEDIA (17A: [News source at an Amherst school?])
- UPS, I LOVE YOU (25A: [Paean to a package deliverer?])
- UK RATIONS (32A: [Meals for the British Army?])
- UNIT PICKING (52A: [Condo shopping?])
- UNO WAY, JOSE (62A: [Alert from a Spanish traffic cop?]) – Definitely the weakest of the five theme answers, though I’m sure some of you may have liked this one.
The first thing I noticed, even before solving for any of the clues, was the bushel of seven-letter entries in the corners, which definitely made me excited for what the fill would be in each. For the most part, the fill in those corners delivered, and the makeup was very cosmopolitan. America was represented with NEW YORK (45D: [Its state flower is the rose]), Austria was represented with STRAUSS (13D: [Composer famous for his waltzes]) and Italy was represented with both TRIESTE (46D: [Adriatic port]) and, my personal favorite for today, SIGNORI (12D: [A couple of Italian gentlemen]). I’m not the musician, so it took me a while to finally figure out TANTARA, and also want a tantara was (41D: [Clarion blast]). There’s a few sports references here was well, from the obvious NINERS entry, referring to former quarterback Joe Montana (31A: [Montana’s championship team, informally]), to the subtle one of HESS, the company founded by the former owner of the New York Jets, the late Leon Hess (10A: [Maker of green and white toy trucks]). But only one entry can make the “sports…smarter” section, and I chose, as per usual, an entry whose clue does reference sports at all.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHOW (1A: [Vittles]) – Longtime college football coach and quarterback guru Norm CHOW is the current head coach of the University of Hawai’i football team. Known for developing some of the greatest college quarterbacks and offenses of all time, Chow spent 26 years in Provo as an assistant coach at BYU, where he coached the likes of Steve Young, Jim McMahon and 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer. Chow also spent time as a offensive coordinator at N.C. State, where he coached Philip Rivers during his record-breaking freshman season (2000), and at USC, where he tutored eventual Heisman-winning quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Despite his long track record of developing lethal offensive teams, Chow was routinely passed over when head coaching positions came open across the country. Finally, in Dec. 2011, Chow finally became a head coach, doing so in the state of his birth.
For some of you, I will literally see you tomorrow at Lollapuzzoola! For others, I’ll see you on this forum tomorrow! Either way, we’ll meet up!
David Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mixed Doubles” — pannonica’s write-up
Clever theme gimmick here. Take words with ligated vowels and treat the crossings with iterated run-throughs, for wackiness there.
- 22a. [Study of art and beauty] ÆSTHETICS, 1d [Burial?] DEAD DEED.
- 23a. [Buzz, plop and swoosh, e.g.] ONOMATOPŒIA, 15d [Thick loaf?] BROAD BREAD.
- 36a. [Applicant’s submission?] CURRICULUM VITÆ, 34d [Molar of an Italian writer?] DANTE DENTE.
- 56a. [Where 300 Spartans were defeated] THERMOPYLÆ, 48d [Victimizer of the devout?] PRAYER PREYER.
- 68a. [Term coined by Freud] ŒDIPUS COMPLEX, 55d [In favor of fighting until it actually begins?] PROWAR PREWAR.
- 78a. [Wind instrument?] ÆOLIAN HARP, 58d [Cuts through curtains?] SHEARS SHEERS.
- 100a. [Loaded] RICH AS CRŒSUS, 77d [Gets the girls, cowboy-style?] LASSOS LASSES.
- 117a. [Many involve animals] ÆSOP’S FABLES, 102d [Bargain predictors at a department store?] SEARS SEERS.
- 120a. [Their love is bottled up] ŒNOPHILES, 120d [Be short a sheep?] OWE EWE.
Note how each of the wacky answers only makes sense—as much as can be expected, anyway—when the two words are arranged in the sequence matching that of the ligature; a perhaps onerous constraint which makes for a more satisfying theme.
Picayune plaints: 78-across is the only across theme entry that has a playful question-mark clue (all of the kooky downs obviously do). The paired words of 58-down and 117-down are very similar.
Lots of good clues and entries. Not going to list them all at this late date, but here are a few notables: 124a [Board application] WOOD STAIN, 122a [Counter at the bar] REBUT, 35d [Coating for silver dollars] SYRUP.
Two more observations: 13a [Not yet bombed] SOBER, kind of a pissimistic—or at least cynical—clue. 84a [Water cooler transmission] RUMOR, not Legionella.
Challenging, entertaining crossword.