Natan Last & the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword
Howdy, crossword fans. Doug here on a Friday. I was way too busy the past couple of days, but I’m back to my usual lazy self today. Many thanks to PuzzleGirl and Derek for filling in!
Today we have a treat from Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. (Jewish Association Serving the Aging) Crossword Class. Natan is following in the footsteps of previous J.A.S.A. teachers Caleb Madison (new BuzzFeed puzzle editor) and Ian Livengood. Caleb, Ian, and Natan — that’s the very definition of a power trio. The puzzle isn’t flashy, but it’s solid throughout. I enjoyed the conversational entries: SEE YA SOON, I’M ON TO YOU, BELIEVE ME and the zippy cluster of Z’s in the upper right. Good stuff.
- 52a, [What might make you a big fan?], JUMBOTRON. I didn’t get this clue at first. Then it hit me. Love it! Clue of the day.
- 19a, [Hearst publication since 2000], O MAGAZINE. Our very own PuzzleGirl was featured in O (short for Oprah) Magazine once. She was part of an article called “Women with Weird Hobbies.” Something like that. I looked at the issue in the store, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy it.
- 31a, [Finished with precision, say], DOTTED THE I. This one felt a little off. Isn’t it usually “dotted the Is”?
- 10d, [Sticks in a Halloween bag?], TWIZZLERS. Twizzlers > Red Vines.
- 43a, [Hindu god with the head of an elephant], GANESH. Who can forget Apu’s admonition to Homer: “Please do not offer my god a peanut.”
- 65a, [Stinko], SNOCKERED. Great entry. Especially when pronounced as “schnockered.” *hic*
- 36a / 37a, [“What ___?”] / [“What ___!”], ELSE / A DRAG. This was a fun pairing. I’d normally knock off a point for A DRAG, but the clue echo saved it.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Special K” — pannonica’s write-up
The venerable add-a-letter theme makes an appearance this week. Yup, that’s it: the insertion of a single letter to wackify existing phrases. This crossword brought to you by the letter K. Kappa kappa hey.
- 23a. [Bars that are simultaneously seedy and elegant?] SWANK DIVES (swan dives).
- 25a. [Teaching Islam for alms?] FAKIR TRADE (fair trade).
- 53a. [Pickles in paintings?] VISUAL CUKES (visual cues).
- 59a. [Degreaser’s purpose?] GUNK CONTROL (gun control).
- 73a. [Admissions at North Carolina school?] DUKE PROCESS (due process).
- 79a. [Knack that suits a person for a glazier’s job?] WINDOW SKILL (window sill).
- 92a. [Unenviable job at the zoo’s primate house?] MONKEY LAUNDERING (money laundering).
- 109a. [Part of a lackadaisical stand-up routine?] SLOPPY JOKE (sloppy joe).
- 112a. [Thank-you that’s truly wunderbar?] GREAT DANKE (great dane). Relevant here: the breed has its origins in Germany, not Denmark. Because of national tensions in the 19th century, other countries conspired to snub Germany and rebrand the Deutsche Dogge—aka German mastiff, German boarhound, Dogue allemand, Dogo Aleman, etc.
Not super-amazing originals, mostly mildly mirthful modifications. The grid contains precisely one K that is not part of a theme entry: at the crossing of 34d [Quarterback plays] SNEAKS and 58a [Parts collections] KITS.
Aside from the theme, the two most salient aspects of the puzzle during my solve were the handful of obscure entries and the numerous clever clues. 32a [Revoke as a will] ADEEM, 93d [Pharaoh Akhenaten’s capital] AMARNA, 76a [Kyrgyzstan mountain rainge] ALAI, 7d [12th-century king of the Scots] DAVID I, the crosswordese 63d [Indy champ Tom] SNEVA. 47a [Champagne pop] PÈRE, 97d [Does an entry-level job?] GREETS, 30a [Foul play?] BOMB, 47d [They may be found under the covers] PAGES, 72d [Spots for hustlers] DISCOS. Neither of these are comprehensive accountings.
- 98a [Worryworts] STEWERS. Also the patron saint of decorative pitchers.
- 96d [Durable buff fabric] NANKIN. Derived from an obsolete transliteration of the Chinese city, known in Pinyin as Nanjing. I’m not a historian or expert in textiles, but consulting with various on-line references seems to indicate that “Nankin” is the spelling associated with the porcelain style that originated at that locale (as well as the chicken breed), while the alternative version “Nankeen” describes the textile. Tangentially in the news today.
- 4d [Cross-country train trip, e.g.] LONG RIDE. meh
- 38d [Coordinating with] KEY TO. One of many partials/fill-in-the-blanks, but at least I can use this one for a good song.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LAT Crossword – Gareth’s summary
It’s a pretty theme. When I had LEAP… I tried to put in LEAPINgLIZARD and didn’t even consider elision as a possibility! So I had to wait a while for the theme to coalesce. Four squamates that are usually termed lizards form raised bows to simulate them leaping. I word it thusly because the validity and meaning of the term lizard is under taxonomic debate, as it is thought that monitors (leguaans as they’re known here) and chameleons, for example, are more closely related to snakes than to typical lizards like geckos and skinks. Anyhoo…
I’m not a fan of the extreme compartmentalisation on display here: the top-middle has only two squares connecting to the rest of the puzzle. The two bottom corners have only one connection each. It’s a design choice – allowing Mr. Wechsler to feature fairly dense areas of theme and still have control of the puzzle’s fill, at least in theory. I would have liked a little more balance in the design.
- Awkw. partial that, as clued, doesn’t Google very well: Beef INALE. I know I was trying to come up with something foreign like Itale. I think I’ve eaten it before, though I >think< it was called beef in beer or similar on the cafeteria menu… A unique taste experience, I’ll give it that
- INERTIAL, [___ navigation: aerospace guidance system]. Well, how else were you going to clue that?
- [Wingtip feature], LACEHOLE. This is different to an eyelet how? I received communications from Amy while blogging this. She suggests it could be a veiled insult: “He’s a total lacehole!”
- [Small currency-market trading quantities], MINILOTS. That’s quite a lot of dry, technical down answers, isn’t it?
- […, soccer game cry], ITSA/TIE. Eh? Soccer matches are usually called draws.
- [Stanley who plays Flickerman in “The Hunger Games”, TUCCI crossing SAMISEN. I know the latter from other puzzles. That crossing could be troublesome, though it is mostly inferrable.
Cute theme concept, but the didn’t enjoy the fill for the most part; those big white areas coupled with the thematic constraints were too ambitious, even being walled off.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Final Edits”—Ade’s write-up
C’est vendredi! Happy Friday, everyone! And yes, I’m trying to sprinkle in as much French as possible in my crossword blogs while still in Montréal. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by a Canadian resident, Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is a slick grid in which each of the theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the final word also happens to be an anagram to the word “edit.”
- GLUTEN-FREE DIET (20A: [Regimen that avoids some starches])
- FIT TO BE TIED (33A: [Really mad])
- TURNING THE TIDE (49A: [Making a comeback, say])
I’m sure a lot of attention will be paid to the entry of SADDAM and the ongoing talk about putting in notorious, specifically, murderous historical figures in crossword puzzles (44D: [Former Iraqi ruler Hussein]). Maybe I’m a bad person, or maybe I’m just an insensitive soul, but I don’t really bat an eye when I see this fill, since, in the context of completing a crossword puzzle, I’m not thinking about the atrocities committed by these people, though I definitely am cognizant of it. But I realize that this doesn’t pass the breakfast test for many people, and I absolutely respect that and can empathize. So, again, I hope you think I’m a bad person for thinking that. Only other thing I want to point out is the puzzle is the confusion I had for GO ON TIP TOE, when I thought the clue was in the context of describing a lowlife (5D: [Creep]). I had the “GO ON” part and read it as “goon.” I guess “creep” and “goon” aren’t necessarily similar, so I should have gone off that line of thinking sooner.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DIANA ROSS (30D: [Former lead singer of the Supremes]) – Who was the halftime show performer during Super Bowl XXX between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, back in 1996? It was none other than DIANA ROSS, and I remember that show clearly…at least the end of it! She was flown off in a helicopter! Head to the 11-minute mark to see what I’m talking about.
See you all tomorrow, and thank you for your time!!