(Reagle, original write-up from 4 Oct 2009)
Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword, “Sound Argument” — pannonica’s write-up
Apologies for the ‘untimed’ designation; having impedimental issues with the keyboard. (Specifically, the arrow keys; after learning to cope with the loss of one, it’s now exponentially worse without the use of two.) Nevertheless, I can report that my solving time was probably longer than usual, primarily because some errors needed ferreting out in the upper left.
Anyway, the crossword per se. The theme takes as its inspiration opposing sides already familiar as perennial fill to crossword solvers. No, I’m not referring to SPY vs Spy (128a [Half of a classic Mad magazine feature]). Instead, refer to the symmetrically paired entries 28a [One side of a childish debate … or a phonetic hint to the answers to the four starred clues] IS NOT, and 109a [Other side of a childish debate … or a phonetic hint to the answers to the four double-starred answers] IS TOO. Gee, now I’m kind of wishing daggers had been chosen to indicate the latter quartet.
So. Not merely a letter insertion theme, but a syllable insertion theme. \ˈiz, əz\ Things become respelled. Let it be noted that, in keeping with the alignments of the revealers, the is-nots all extend from the left side of the grid while the is-toos extend to the right edge.
- 21a. [*Shrink who’s always changing his diagnosis?] FICKLE THERAPIST (physical therapist). Pretty sure ‘shrink’ is considered pejorative these days.
- 26a. [**What ballet patrons dine on?] DANCING CUISINE (“Dancing Queen”).
- 40a. [*Oregon State’s mascot played by actress Arthur?] BEA AS A BEAVER (busy as a beaver). Not only did that letter pile-up of EAAS look wrong, it also took some time to suss out the base phrase. Possibly because it’s a much less common idiomatic metaphor: Ngram.
- 54a. [**A deal on Afro wigs?] BUY ONE GET ONE FRIZZY (buy one get one free). I had no idea Afro was capitalized. Also, I’d say ‘kinky’ is a more accurate adjective, but that’s unworkable for the theme.
- 80a. [*How actor Bill feels about houseguests?] MURRAY LOVES COMPANY (misery loves company). This one doesn’t work at all because Murray’s first syllable features a schwa vowel sound and misery’s a short-i. Pannonica’s Corollary: Misery loves company, but company can’t stand misery. [edit: I completely missed this one, examining the wrong syllable (and also getting things backward), it’s M/ˈiz/URRAY, which works fine. Sorry, everyone.]
- 95a. [**Find cake or Jell-O in the back of the fridge?] DIG UP DESSERT (dig up dirt).
- 113a. [*Fall colors?] AUTUMN SPECTRUM (autism spectrum).
- 121a. [**Question from El Al security?] ARE YOU FOR ISRAEL? (are you for real?).
Clever theme, and—
aside from the phonetic lapse mentioned—I appreciate the rigor with which it was realized.
The troublesome spot I mentioned? For 25a [Grasp] I had GATHER. For the nearby 17a [Move unsteadily] my answer was evolving from TODDLE through others, including TODDER, DODDER, DODDLE, and ultimately back to DODDER (8d [Beach walkers] TERNS was recalcitrant here, too). Back to 25a, that turned out to be FATHOM. But some of the crossings weren’t too easy: 1d [Small scrap] TIFF, 22d [ESPN’s McEachern a.k.a. the Voice of Poker] LON, 17d [Show piece] DEMO (this also intersecting the tricky 17-across).
- Fun, exclamatory colloquial entries, and paired symmetrically to boot: 38d [“Fire away!”] LET ’ER RIP, 55d [“Over my dead body!”] OH HELL NO.
- 19a [What King was king of] BLUES. Ahem. That’s THE BLUES (tut-tut), but is it Riley (B.B.), Albert, Freddie?
- 31a [Lipton rival] NESTEA, not TETLEY.
- 12d [What knows the drill, for short?] ROTC. Too clever, and awkward.
- Paired SOUND CARD and KERPLUNKS very nice. *42d & 48d)
- Cute clue: 92d [Pig with pigtails] PETUNIA. See also 99d [Looney Tunes bird] TWEETY.
Interesting, entertaining puzzle
, though slightly flawed.
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Playing With Your Food”—Andy’s review
- 23a, A MONTH OF SUNDAES [Diet for ice cream lovers?]. Sundays.
- 39a, RYE COMEDY [Farce set in a sandwich shop?]. Wry (I assume).
- 60a, MUSSEL SHIRT [Top for a beach cookout?]. Muscle.
- 85a, TORTE REFORM [Cake recipe overhaul?]. Tort. A law joke featuring cake? Sign me up.
- 102a, LIFE OF PIE [Thanksgiving week for a baker?]. Pi.
- 122a, BULL MOUSSE PARTY [Affair for dessert-loving bovines?]. Moose.
- 15d, BEET GENERATION [Group that thrived during the borscht years?]. Beat. Is “borscht years” a pun? It seems like it’s trying to be, but I don’t know what it’s getting at.
- 52d, WURST NIGHTMARE [Period of terror induced by a brat?]. Worst. Best clue of the bunch!
I liked the theme. The formula (common phrase – word + homophone of that word that is a food) was consistently executed, and it led to some relatively funny entries. But OOFS! NTHS! TNTS! HAHAS! DNAS! And those are just the plurals. You get the idea. There were some bright spots, like VW BEETLE and HOTHEADS and BAR NONE (also the name of a Manhattan bar I actually went to two nights ago, I kid you not). I also liked BY GUM and SAW LOGS.
I’m feeling a little OOKY, so I’m going to go be a SNORER now. There’s NO I in “bed,” but there will be soon. I’ll leave you with some LEHAR.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “Constant Consonants” — pannonica’s write-up
No explicit revealer this time, but the gimmick is evident from the title and the first two theme clues.
- 23a. [Longest English word with just one vowel] STRENGTHS (5).
- 25a. [Term with 6 straight consonants] CATCHPHRASE (6).
So: relatively long strings of consonants.
- 46a. [Volume of articles honoring a scholar] FESTSCHRIFT (6).
- 59a. [Ukrainian soup] BORSCHT (5).
- 76a. [Cord for opening a door] LATCHSTRING (6).
- 96a. [World-weariness] WELTSCHMERZ (6).
- 99a. [Moon walker] ARMSTRONG (6).
- 3d. [Initial use, as of weapons] FIRST STRIKE (6).
- 16d. [Restorative site] HEALTH SPA (5).
- 62d. [Evening classes] NIGHT SCHOOL (6).
- 70d. [Organization needing water] YACHT CLUB (5).
The vertical clues are uniformly two-word phrases, with the consonant runs spanning the gap. I guess they can be considered lesser quality, quasi-themers. In that sense, that they’re grouped together as they are.
Of the single-word answers, three are compound words, two are imported German words, one is a loan word from Yiddish (from Ukrainian and beyond), and the last has a long English history but ultimately derives from Latin via German.
Six letters is ostensibly the maximum string length, but see this discussion over at Stack Exchange if you’re curious for more.
- 5a [Can of worms?] BAIT, 45a [Tackle box item] LURE.
- Icky, icky crossing: 22a [Yesterday, in Rome] IERI and 15d [Ion of tennis] TIRIAC.
- Clue quibbles: 74a [Pictorial PC display] GUI, which stands for “graphical user interface”; display doesn’t feel adequate. 63d [Painting with opaque colors] GOUACHE; GOUACHE is opaque watercolor, and nearly all other paint media are also opaque, so the clue feels too nonspecific.
- 72d [Valuable rock] ORES, 89d [Refine, as 72-Down] SMELT, 85a [Refuse when you 89-Down] DROSS.
- Vowel string: 35d [Farm song refrain] EIEIO.
- Vocabulary word of the day: 78d [Pirates’ daggers] PONIARDS.
- 85d [Darlin’] DEARIE. These two epithets don’t equate, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t have the same tone and I can’t imagine the same person using them interchangeably. It seems to me crossword clues in this vein have been far too lenient.
Solid but far from spectacular crossword.
Bruce Venzke’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Hey there! I hope all is well with you all. Currently in the Washington D.C. area covering another sporting event, placing this here until I can gather my bearings later and break this down a little more later in the day.
Take care, and hope to see you later today!