Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Came to the puzzle on the late side, so straight to listing.
- Favorite fill: SPAM FILTER, GREENS FEES, the central mini-minitheme of ATTICA and SPARTA, newsy SEEK ASYLUM, STARRY-EYED, ACTIVISM (I saw lots of it while stuck in traffic Wednesday afternoon—the anti-Rahm Emanuel activists were making a big splash in and around the Loop), and VERTEBRA (only because I had the last three letters first and now want to market a Verte bra).
- Unfortunate collision: AAA CELL crossing TRIPLE A. Bad idea. Also, nobody I know calls that battery anything but a TRIPLE A battery.
- Never heard of: 9d. [Internet-based Homeland Security program used by employers], EVERIFY. To make sure an employee is legally allowed to work? Or that they’re not on a terrorist watch list?
- 49a. [Some unpleasant reminders], SCARS. Mine remains purple and 8″ long, but it is far less unpleasant than it was three months ago!
- Fill I’m never excited to see: I-BAR, OTT, ACR., ST. LO, INRI, ISS., TSPS., CIERA. Would prefer PHI and ARI not clued as abbreviations that may or may not be seen on baseball scoreboards.
Over and out.
Max Sherer’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s review
Themeless Friday! But wait…do I detect a hint of theme?
20A is START SMALL. 45A is MICROPENIS. The central entry (33A I HAVE A POINT) may or may not go along with this mini-phallus mini-theme. Is Max Sherer trying to tell us something?
I’d never heard the term MICROPENIS, and it sounds sophomoric, but it’s actually a medical term. Per Wikipedia, it occurs in 0.6% of men and can be treated with hormones as early as infancy.
But enough of that. What else does this puzzle have for us to grab onto?
The highlight has to be that nice central section with the offset triple-stack of 11s. SMITHSONIAN atop I HAVE A POINT atop FROZEN PIZZA generously covered with delicious Zs. I HAVE A POINT sounds a little odd with its clue [“You gotta gimme that”], but once you say it with the right inflection, it works. Still, seems like YOU HAVE A POINT is much more common.
The crossers in that middle section are nice too: FELINES, IRRIGATE, AMAZON / RIVER, MITTEN, SPIDER, BOOZE, IONIZE, even ANGINA.
But what’s holding this puzzle back is its segmentation. The NW and SE sections are too cut off from the rest of the grid effectively turning it into three puzzles. Plus, those two corners only have one marquee answer each, so they just don’t sparkle as much as we’ve become accustomed to. In the northwest I like STELLA (especially with its funny clue: [Beer brand Marlon Brando was really craving in “A Streetcar Named Desire”]), and in the southeast I like ZIPPO and MISERS. The rest is all pretty standard stuff (except for REROSE—bleh).
The other two corners are also plagued with subpar fill, especially RXS, DET, and ESE. STD at 11A is saved by its clue [Result of eating raw meat, maybe? (Sorry!!!!)] which is saved by that apology. It turned an ick clue into a funny one. And PAI is saved by its Kill Bill reference [___ Mei (“Kill Bill” kung fu master who catches the Bride’s eye, so to speak)]. Despite being wrong (spoiler: he “caught” Elle’s eye, not the Bride’s), it made me think of Kill Bill which is a good thing.
A couple other clues are worth noting in addition to those already mentioned. THAW‘s clue got a chuckle for [Bring back Walt Disney, say], though apparently he was cremated. INNIE gets the most-improved-clue-for-standard-fill award for [Angelina Jolie’s belly-button, for one]. [Pie with frosting?] is good for FROZEN PIZZA and [Teenie weenie?] for MICROPENIS.
One clue I didn’t care for was 3D‘s [Respond to the killer leaving the room you’re in, say] for EXHALE. It’s fine for a horror movie, but in this day and age of mass shootings every time you watch the news, why remind us of the atrocities that go on outside of the grid? Also, 45D‘s clue [They usually encircle castles] is plural while the answer, MOAT, is not.
This is a fine grid and solid enough in its own right, but it’s not quite on a par with recent BuzzFeed themelesses. Those NW and SE corners could have been opened up more. It might have required some sacrifices, but with few constraints, I bet they could be improved mightily.
Toby Orloff’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Union Representation” — pannonica’s write-up
As 2-down proclaims, the [Event depicted in this puzzle’s grid] is a WEDDING. Indeed, the grid presents an overhead schematic of the relative locations of the various parties (at least in a Western churchy wedding, the tacit default), rotated 45° from the typical depiction.
The circled squares present us with:
- A BRIDE to the left of a GROOM (circled).
- Buttressing the former is a 13d [Young attendant at a 2 Down, often] FLOWER GIRL.
- Correspondingly, a 26d [Young attendant at a 2 Down, often] RING BEARER is located beside the GROOM.
- The betrothed stand before a PRIEST (circled), and behind them sit the GUESTS (circled).
Rounding out the proceedings, but perhaps undermining the vibe, is 47d [Certain inducement for a 2 Down] SHOTGUN. Presumably wielded by one or another of the BRIDE’s relations. Obviously another seven-letter matrimonial entry was needed to keep the symmetry intact, but perhaps something like NUPTIAL was unworkable?
Anyway, it’s an impressive feat of construction, and the 62a [Strain] TENSION is evident most notably—but there are more—in such minor compromises as the 3-3-5 (5-3-3) composition of the first and last rows, 6d [Suffix with micro- or macro-] -COSM, 10d [“LO I must tell a tale of chivalry”: Keats ….. ]*, 51a [Indigenous Oklahoman] OTO, and 24d [Ancient ointment] NARD. Nardly, dude!
* Not sure what’s going on with that five-part ellipsis, either in placement or composition. The quote is the first line from Specimen of an Introduction to a Poem.
- 44d [Sound effect in a Three Stooges routine] BONK. Also a humorous euphemism for sex.
- 55d [Painter who did a series featuring the Rouen Cathedral] MONET.
- 64a. [Translation of the diner slang Adam and Eve] TWO EGGS.
- 40a [Shaw with a clarinet] ARTIE. He of the eight marriages.
- 40d [Related on the father’s side] AGNATE.
- Favorite clue: 1d [Group of letters in typing] ABO. Unfortunately I found it to be undermined by 21d [“Which is it?] A OR B. Runner-up: 59d [Toy intended to get blown up] KITE.
- Most CHE-esque clue and answer: 11d [Yet-to-be-deciphered Minoan sscript] LINEAR A.
- Briticisms! 25a [Honour declined by George Harrison: Abbr.] OBE, 26a [Demolish, in Devon] RASE.
- 45a [King Marke in “Tristan und Isolde,” e.g.] BASS. Not a fish. See also, 70a [Fish without pelvic fins] EEL.
- 71a [ID clincher, at times] DNA; 18a [Like some biometric scans] RETINAL.
- 41d [Prestigious cartooning award since 1946] REUBEN. Named for Reuben ‘Rube’ Goldberg.
A good puzzle; I wish it all the best.
Jeffrey Harris’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Finishing Touches”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! I hope you’re doing amazing and have a great weekend in store. The weekend starts with a puzzle from Mr. Jeffrey Harris (first CS puzzle from Jeffrey, I believe), and it’s a very “touching” one. Each of the theme answers is a multiple-word entry in which the second (final) word also is a type of physical touch. If only this title was “Physical Challenge,” then I would have regaled you about how much I loved the “physical Challenges on the TV game show Double Dare. Alas, that’s not the case. (But I did love Double Dare!)
- BUTTER PAT (17A: [Square on a roll])
- SHAVING BRUSH (31A: [Barbershop item dipped in lather])
- GROUNDSTROKE (46A: [Tennis shot following a bounce]) – This is a multi syllable word, as opposed to multiple words.
- SPINAL TAP (63A: [Band in a 1984 Rob Reiner mockumentary])
My absent-minded self started off on the wrong foot, inputting FireWire instead of FIREWALL when I actually meant to type firewall all along (5D: [Computer security barrier]). That slowed me up a little, but, outside of that, breezed through the grid. How about two (TWO!) African cities in the grid? Well, you get it with this one with RABAT (1D: [North African capital]) and CAIRO, a place where a good number of my friends have visited (or come from originally ) and a place I need to go to the second I have a chance (16A: [North African capital]). Blanked on AGUILERA and who sang the song in question for a while, though the tune was in my head all the way through me trying to figure out who it was (40D: [“Beautiful” singer]). Loved the fill of WHODUNIT (42A: [Agatha Christie specialty]) as well as its crossing, TWO-STEP, a clue I so wanted to feature on the next graph and talk about former NBA player Tim Hardaway and his signature move, the UTEP Two-Step (41A: [Hoedown dance]). I guess I’ll wait until the next opportunity, just like I have to wait until the next time I see IVEY to talk about the famous poker player, Phil Ivey (25D: [Tony winner Judith]), and how I have to wait for the next time I see SOUSA to talk about the former international soccer player and now soccer coach, Paulo SOUSA (48D: [“The March King”]). But I will talk about…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ZIGGY (34D: [Pantsless comic strip character]) – How about a “sports…smarter” clue in which a person who happens to be involved in sports is named for the actual character referenced in the crossword?!?!?!? Evander “ZIGGY” Hood is currently a defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Chicago Bears. A standout defensive player while at the University of Missouri, Ziggy was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the final pick of the first round (32nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He got the nickname “Ziggy” because his grandmother could not pronounce his given first name and subsequently called him after the family’s favorite cartoon character…Ziggy! How about that?!?
Have fun this weekend, everyone! See you tomorrow!
Kurt Krauss’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
We have a fairly straightforward, yet at the same time quite interesting theme: four two-part answers’ second word is a type of headgear. The word in the phrase is not referring to headgear but is reimagined to be so in wacky Friday clues. Thus [Headgear not for amateurs?] is a PROBOWLER; [… for a certain batting champ?] is a TRIPLECROWN, [… for some skaters?] is a ROLLERDERBY; and […for contract negotiations?] is a SALARYCAP. It is essentially a “Phrase Parts Are Members of Set x” theme with a late week twist of lime.
Like yesterday, this is another pretty conservative grid for the end of the week, but it played to typical Friday difficulty. I finished a full minute slower than the NYT themeless, but my cider pint’s level was lower… Yeah, that’s the reason.
Tough spots: [Spotted wildcat], SERVAL, if you’re not from a part of the world where they come from! Never seen one! Those things are elusive! They’re also pretty awesome! The clue on [Career grand slam leader], AROD – you’ll be forgiven for thinking tennis and for not expecting a nickname. [Princess friend of Dorothy], OZMA is from the Oz book sequels and not the movie. [Dr. Howser of ’80s-’90s TV], DOOGIE – maybe it was just me, but I clung to HARRIS for far too long! The vague [Tolkien race member], ELF clue – ORC and ENT were in play there too! [Breadcrumbs used in Asian cuisine], PANKO especially crossing APOS! PANKO is also a contemporary nickname for Emily Pankhurst… [Board game using stones], PENTE – one of my favourite entries in the grid too, though. [River through Frankfurt], ODER – you’re also forgiven for putting MAIN and wondering why that was the choice of clueing angle. Frankfurt-am-Main is one of Germany’s principal cities; this Frankfurt has a population of 58,018 per Wikipedia and not much else going for it…
Another question: [German import], BMW. Are they seriously not manufactured or assembled in the U.S.? Pretty sure we have an assembly plant in Rosslyn, Gauteng.