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: