NYT 4:20 (Amy)
LAT 5:49 (Gareth)
CS tk (Ade)
CHE untimed (pannonica)
The WSJ puzzle for Friday is a contest puzzle by Matt Gaffney. Dave will review it on Crossword Fiend after the contest closes Sunday evening.
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Check out that skewed 7×7+ chunk of white space in the middle of the grid. It’s free of junk! This is a good thing.
Ignore the green checkmarks noting my corrected squares. Careless typos, that’s all.
Tired! Straight to bullets:
- 14a. [Jesus in the outfield], ALOU. My friend Elizabeth (aka PuzzleSister) saw signed baseballs from two of the Alous this week. She said, “Couldn’t find Jesus.” Ha!
- 28a. [Horror author who wrote “The Call of Cthulhu”], LOVECRAFT. That name should really be the subtitle of the Kama Sutra.
- 36a. [The Sun King’s infamous declaration], L’ETAT, C’EST MOI. Le blogue, c’est moi.
- 3d. [Fits on a hard drive?], ROAD RAGE. One letter off from ROID RAGE, have you noticed that? Tough clue—excellent.
- 18d. [Land in a nautical adventure], NED. There’s a character in … something … named Ned Land.
- 35d. [Plantation owner in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”], BIG DADDY. Not wild about plantation owners, but love this answer.
ASTA, ALOU, LAO, and APSES are on the flat side, but not unforgivable in a Friday grid.
4.2 stars from me. Good night!
Jacob Stulberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Uprouted” — pannonica’s write-up
The theme is based upon an interesting factette of transportational distinction which I haven’t been able to corroborate, but nevertheless trust is valid. 36-down [Beaver State city that’s one of only three places in the world (with 3 Down and 47 Down) where Circled Letter Group A can travel above B traveling above C traveling above D] PORTLAND (Oregon). 3-down is BOSTON (Massachusetts) and 47d is LISBON (Portugal).
The stratified acrosses:
- 18a. [Like many of the balls in an orrery (Circled Letter Group A)] PLANETARY. Crossed by 7d [Initials on many 737s bound for Tokyo] ANA.
- 32a. [Fountain-pen part (Circled Letter Group B)] INK CARTRIDGE. Just cartridge fountain pens, obviously. Crossed by two other cars: 30d CARAT, 33d CAROL.
- 39a. [Elliptical (Circled Letter Group C)] CROSS-TRAINER. Crossed by 41d [Drag] TOW; origin of train: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from trainer to draw, drag (first known use: 14th century).
- 58a. [Thanksgiving dish (Circled Letter Group D)] GRAVY BOAT. Nice misdirection in the clue, inclining the solver to consider the prepared dish and not the dish per se. (Can’t come up with an appropriate aspect for any of the crossing entries.)
So not only are the modes of transportation replicated in the order indicated by the reported factette, but they’re positioned laterally in the grid so as to be directly above each other. Excellent logistics.
Less satisfying, but understandable, is that while the first two containing phrases are etymologically distinct from the vessels they hide, the other two are not.
- 13a [Resin used in incense] ALOES. Not a pluralization of crossword regular, the succulent genus ALOE, but indeed a resin derived from mold-infected heartwood of trees in the genera Aquilaria and Gyrinops. Also known as aloeswood or lignum aloes. I can’t find any verification that the resin itself is called just ‘aloes’. (See also 43d [Cereal fungi) ERGOTS.
- 15a/22a [It’s covered in many a restaurant review] MENU, DÉCOR.
- Bizarre-but-kind-of-charming clue: 61a [Captain Ahab has one] TIBIA.
- Another odd clue choice: 62a [ __ Elms (London district where Vauxhall Motors was founded] NINE. Is this intended as tangential to the theme?
- Not thrilled that the puzzle concludes by resting on the twin feet of ETDS and ENTS (65a & 67a).
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I like the extra ambition in this “add a letter string” theme. The string is QUE which makes for a five Q puzzle. However, I have issues with the execution. First; PI>PIQUE, ANTI>ANTIQUE, MARTINI>MARTINIQUE, UNI>UNIQUE, BRA-BRAQUE; of these, PI is the only to change its sound. That’s a jarring inconsistency. Also, BRA is the only one not to have a terminal I; that inconsistency is less jarring, but it’s still not ideal.
The phrases run the gamut from excellent to indifferent. The central DIRTYMARTINIQUE is clearly the seed for this puzzle and the best thing it has going for it. The pair of ANTIQUEHERO and UNIQUEFORM are interesting in that they both interrupt a single word to make a two word phrase. Lastly, I’m male, but I’m sceptical of the commonness of WIREDBRA as a phrase. I feel like I hear UNDERWIREBRA a lot, and I assume it’s more or less the same thing? I asked our in-house bra guru, Amy, and she hasn’t heard of it either… I await your opinions.
The big corners were ambitious. I like the sciencey stacks of ADRENALIN (no E; in the rest of the world, there are no trademark issues, so epinephrine is able to be called adrenaline freely and without shame), HEARTBURN, AQUAREGIA and FULLMOONS. It is at the expense of some ugly and/or difficult shorter answers, but I think those stacks are a net plus.
In fact, I’d say that that goes for a lot of the fill in the puzzle: BEATUP, ANUBIS, TAIPEI, and HOWTO all represent good choices for medium-length answers. There is glue, but it mostly feels under control.
FWIW, I didn’t know GULDEN, though I happen to live in the suburb of Guldenland. Note that the South African usage of ‘suburb’ is equivalent to the American term ‘neighborhood’; more or less.
P.S., in honour of today’s cross-crossword mini-theme:
Lots of tricky/fun clues in this one. Even with Google, I couldn’t figure out what the land of Ned was. But then my spouse came in and said, “20,000 Leagues” and then at least I could google it. She was like, “are there other nautical adventures?”
Yeah, I hung onto NOD for the longest time–thinking of the sailing adventure of Wynken and Blynken I guess.
PB’s themelesses are such a joy to solve–it’s like I just finished eating a fine meal at a five-star restaurant!
Hand up for being confounded by NOD. Was only when Amy mentioned “Ned Land” that I recalled 20,000 Leagues. I’ve read that, twice. It’s a deep cut! Other than Captain Nemo, the characters aren’t memorable for me (clearly)…
On Todd’s CS, the theme idea was nice, but I could only rate this at a 3.5 because the theme elements’ interaction was somewhat inconsistent. I see the ratings are all over the place, as often seems to happen with any puzzle with even slightly challenging twists. I’m wondering if those 1 ratings come out of frustration with slow times, or if the raters really believe the puzzle is that bad.
Also, on the CH – I lived in Boston for ten years, and I wonder, does anyone know where the referenced action happens?
Has to be the airport. Logan is on the water and has a subway stop (I think it’s an above ground train there). There are lots of overpasses, so there must be a place where the train goes over a road over the water, with an airplane up above.
Amy – that was my guess, too, but Brad informs me Jacob’s citation was the BU Bridge. I should have known. Back in college, we used to do bridge circuits over this every day.
I just checked Google maps and it looks like the BU bridge runs over a railroad bridge. You have to look at the pictures because the railroad line isn’t on the map. Any info about Portland or Lisbon? I thought those would be airports too.
Just finished the CS, and thought it was all pretty good – 3.5 seems reasonable to me.
I learned a couple of things – Josh GAD and BOWER were unfamiliar. Rimsky-Korsakov would have been easier for 30-A, I think.
Not quite sure what you mean about the inconsistency in the theme answers. The “falling” color shows up in the middle, start, start, and end of the answer, but other than that, it seems pretty straightforward. The downs are all standalone words and fit with the autumn theme.
Little known fact: there was a fourth Alou brother who played 1st base for the Orioles in the ’60s & ’70s. For some unexplained reason, he decided to change his last name to Powell ;)
NYT- A joy to behold.
“L’etat, c’est moi” always makes me think of the less elegant modern-day version by W: “I’m the Decider” (although Rumsfeld might have thought otherwise… maybe one of his known unknowns).
I do these Patrick Berry little puzzles that show up in the Sunday Times Magazine with words intertwining, being read forward and backwards, etc… It’s like language is encoded differently in his brain.
Typically great Berry, and mostly on the easy side, except for one square. LANCOME/WENCES seems a nigh uninferrable cross. Didn’t know either of those answers. I did guess correctly, so yeah…
“Sí. Difficult for you, easy for meee.”
Big Daddy was also the moniker of Blanche Devereaux’s father on “The Golden Girls.” That could’ve made for a nice (tougher?) clue, too. Still, Burl Ives as Big Daddy was one his better roles!
There are so many references to BIG DADDY you could do a puzzle with that as the only clue
Late getting to the LAT. I had a lot of trouble with AQUAREGIA. Lucky guess on the G in GOA but far from certain about it. and I didn’t know open MRI either. Had open MIC at first. I also wanted crude carrier to be OILER or DUCT or something like that. I guess some RAFTs are crudely made, but I wouldn’t have said necessarily. Ah well. At least I knew GULDEN’s mustard, a staple around our house and the ball park.
I think the “Fits on a hard drive” = ROADRAGE should be up for freshest and most clever clue of the year. Just brilliant!