Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hey! There’s some cool stuff in this puzzle. And Paula’s themelesses often take a different angle on the grid—it’s sort of a flower with a matrix of 13- and 15-letter answers holding all the 7s together. I liked the puzzle a good bit more than I usually like freestyles that are packed with 7s.
Here’s what I enjoyed the most, in terms of the fill: GLUTEN-FREE PASTA, CAST OF THOUSANDS, DANTE’S INFERNO, POTATO PEELERS, BACK IN THE SADDLE, SWEE’PEA, CLARICE Starling, FRACTAL, SINKS IN, RATED PG, and STAN LEE.
I liked having NANETTE clued as [Fashion designer Lepore], but was surprised that BETSEY was [Great-aunt in “David Copperfield”] rather than designer Johnson. Johnson is my go-to BETSEY-with-an-E—one of my Facebook friends has a slew of bodacious Betsey outfits.
Is it just me, or did this puzzle tip over like a Tuesday puzzle? Either the cluing was really easy or I channeled Paula’s brainwaves here.
Fill that didn’t win me over (but also didn’t alienate me from liking the puzzle overall): dated KEL, ITO, antiquated ONE-O-CAT (which I daresay many of us know mainly from crosswords, particularly from ugly partials like ONEO or OCAT—at least the whole game name shows up here), KTS, E-DATES (I know a ton of people who’ve done online dating and I’ve never heard a one of ’em talk about an “e-date”—but I can’t find a way to change this into ELATES or EMOTES or tasty ELOTES), and TRA. So you do the puzzle, you shout at E-DATES a little, and you move on.
You can’t even be mad at a 6-letter French phrase like A TROIS when you remember the saucy longer phrase it is a part of.
Tom McCoy’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Now I Know My ZYXs” — pannonica’s write-up
I enjoy a tidy theme, and this is one. Seven instances of trigrams in contralphabetic sequence. The first and last are themselves only three letters in length, and are initialisms, The other five locate their triplets across words. All are helpfully circled.
- 1a. [Sch. for Mountaineers] WVU. West Virginia University.
- 19a. [Excitement fueled by rising mercury] SPRING FEVER.
- 24a. [Major Melanesian language] FIJI HINDI. I was unaware of Hindi’s presence there, let alone that it was a distinct sublanguage.
- 39a. [Measurable bits of brainpower] IQ POINTS.
- 54a. [Holder inside a lunchbox] ZIPLOC BAG. Genericized trademark.
- 61a. [It enables listening to plays in the car] SPORTS RADIO.
- 72a. [Jan. honoree] MLK. Ending on an anniversary note.
See? Tidy. Oh! Forgot to mention that the grid is more expansive than typical, at 16×15.
- 41a/41d, [Cookout discard] COB, COBB salad. Unsure if there’s a common etymology.
- 8a [“I’m giving up the past tense for __”] LEND. Unfamiliar with this joke, my inclination was the unpunny NOW.
- 55d [Out of the mainstream, say] INDIE. Sundance Film Festival is going on now.
- Similarly, I mistook 60a [Oater portent] NOOSE as NO-ONE.
And with that, I must skedaddle. Promised to help someone move house.
Mary Lou Guizzo’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s review
Nice themeless grid today from Mary Lou. It’s got all of your BuzzFeed favorites: Modern pop culture figures (ROBERT PATTINSON and KANYE), new-fangled terminology (NOMOPHOBIA [Fear of not having a cell]), obligatory Harry Potter reference (RON at 21A), and of course your scatological humor (ENEMA [Cleaning the basement, medically]).
Other great long entries: MUD WRESTLER, INTEL OPERATIONS, EYE ROLLING, SITTING DUCK, all arranged in sort of a pinwheel formation.
Lots of good mid-range stuff, too. I like EARBONES, RATED E, BITE ME, TRENTA (which was absent from Gorski’s Starbucks cup size theme earlier this week in the WSJ), AKIRA, TARGET, ALBINO, IN SEASON, POISON, SCORSESE, and LEGUME. I really like SITTING DUCK sitting on top of IN SEASON. Reminded me of Bugs Bunny.
A few very minor nits:
- I thought EYE ROLLING could have had a more BuzzFeedy smartassy clue rather than just [“Oh brother” response]. (BTW, doesn’t that clue mean a response to someone who says “Oh brother”? Shouldn’t it be [“Oh brother” accompanier]?)
- Plural of elk is usually elk but according to a few dictionaries I looked at, it can be ELKS.
- ABS (44A) are covered by potbellies? ABS are abdominal muscles, sure, but aren’t they part and parcel of said potbelly? They might be covered by fat but that’s not the same thing. Is it?
- I like the link between SIN (49A) and POISON (61A) with their respective clues [Apple bite, for Eve] and [Apple bite, for Snow White], but I don’t think it quite works. The act of biting was certainly the SIN for Eve, but the bite wasn’t POISON for Snow White. You could argue the apple was POISON for her, but not the bite itself.
- I felt the clue for TESTER [Best job in an ice cream company] would more accurately define a TASTER. You taste ice cream more than you test it.
- The clue for 54D DAS is [___ Racist (“All Brown Everything” rap group]. Shouldn’t that be “All Tan Everything”?
Of interest to those who have had issues with BuzzFeed’s raunchiness in the past: I solved a pre-release version of the puzzle, and found that a couple clues were sanitized for your solving pleasure. ENEMA had previously been clued as [Ejaculation in the butt]. I like the new clue [Cleaning the basement, medically]; it’s funnier. Also, IS NOT had been clued as [Classic response to “Your butt is stinky!!!”] but I think this is more to do with the fact that “Your butt is stinky!!!” isn’t really a classic insult requiring a classic response. Also note that SPEWS has a very tame clue [Ejects], even in the pre-release.
Alan DerKazarian’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
GIMMESHELTER is an excellent revealer. It’s clued as a “classic” because it’s an album track and thus never charted and was not a “hit”. The ends of four other phrases are forms of rude accommodation: SHED, SHACK, HUT, TENT. They’re found in HANDPOLISHED, TALENTLESSHACK (the odd man out), OPENANDSHUT and CRIMINALINTENT.
A 12-letter revealer, plus 14’s and a 13 is a grid design nightmare! MINNEAPOLIS and CASTINSTONE must span three theme answers! ONIN/INHASTE/ANOD/POOHS is one strained corner! I don’t buy TENACRE as an answer…
Fun clues… MINNEAPOLIS refers to […Lynx], [“Camptown Races”…] angle in DOODAH.
Gareth, leaving you with a 60’s classic:
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Peace, Man”—Ade’s write-up
Hey, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying your Friday and preparing for the storm called Jonas that’s ready to cause some havoc along the Eastern seaboard. Just a quick recap for today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman. In it, there’s no war – as in, each of the theme entries are common phrases that have been altered by excising the letters “WAR” from them.
- SEARCH RANT (17A: [“I know my Fourth Amendment rights!”?]) – Search warrant.
- PRISON DEN (28A: [Man cave at Shawshank?]) – Prison warden.
- DEVOUT COD (43A: [God-fearing food fish?]) – Devout coward.
- ACADEMY ADS (57A: [West Point commercials?]) – Academy Awards.
After a few close calls this week, finally broke the six-minute barrier today with this puzzle, so that just made my week! That, and the answer right in the middle of the grid, PRINCE, makes me want to go to the 80s channel on one of the stations on TuneIn Radio and play some throwback music for the rest of the day (28D: [“Purple Rain” singer]). Best fill of the grid was seeing the full name of IVAN PAVLOV going down (3D: [Conditioned reflex researcher]). Can’t stay too long, so bidding adieu now…but not before something sports related.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTTO (16A: [“Daisy Kenyon” director Preminger]) – OTTO the Orange is the mascot of Syracuse University athletics, and is the greatest mascot of all time. Period. If you don’t think so, then you’re wrong! Case closed!
Have a great weekend!