Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I know I’m tired, but my solving time is distinctly Saturdayish. Did this puzzle play hard for you folks, too, or is it just me?
Lots of tangy fill here: CAPE FEAR, a NEW TOY, VAMOOSED, SANDRA OH (and that surname is not at all a duplication of “OH, DEAR ME“), CAVE BATS (which, I don’t know if that’s an actual zoological term, but I kinda want to call certain people cave bats now), POMPOUS ASS (ditto), and a skeptical “SURE YOU ARE.”
Here are a few reasons the puzzle played like a Saturday:
- 15a. [Fragile fabric made from certain plant fibers], ALOE LACE. Nothing I’ve ever heard of.
- The paired “nullius” Latin legalese bits, RES and JURIS. (And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also NISI.)
- 36d. [2/2, to Toscanini], CUT TIME. Not a term I know.
- 21d. [Yellow-flowered plant producing a sticky resin], GUMWEED. I’m usually pretty good at plant clues. Never heard of this.
I admire the grid’s diagonal swath in the center with entries of 7+ letters. There are some clunky bits holding this 66-worder together—EMP, SMA, plural TA-TAS and BAHS, EEO, and YERS. There’s no reliance on affixes to lengthen words, though—no RE– or –ERS tacked on and drying things out. (Wait! SUBARID. Prefix and really quite dry!)
Four more things:
- 26a. [Kennedy and Bush 41, but no other U.S. presidents], GEMINIS. I flailed with MARINES based on the ***IN** at first. Leos have done well lately, but no Aries has been president since Jefferson.
- 41a. [“Mr. ___” (Styx hit)], ROBOTO. ’80s music for the win! If you didn’t watch season 1 of Mr. Robot, you should watch those 10 mind-bending episodes before season 2 starts in a few months. (The show has nothing to do with Styx, and is way cooler.)
- 42a. [Blow hole?], NOSTRIL. Whoa. Really? The orifice through which people snort cocaine, or blow? I’m rather surprised to see this clue in the Gray Lady’s crossword.
- 30d. [Forgo a night out], SIT AT HOME. This phrase doesn’t quite feel “in the language.” SIT HOME would be better, no?
Four stars from me.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Cardio Workout”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, allows us to have a heart-to-heart…to heart-to-heart! Each of theme entries contains one word that also deals with that little valentine inside of your body.
- TICKER TAPE (17A: [Passé displayer of stock prices])
- PLATFORM PUMP (27A: [Shoe to help a woman stand tall])
- BUZZER BEATER (43A: [Last-second dunk])
- HEART THROB (57A: [Matinee idol, say])
It’s definitely a coincidence, but RHEA, after not coming across it in a grid for a long while, has popped up pretty frequently over the past couple of weeks in different puzzles I’ve solved, especially on here (18D: [The Americas’ largest bird]). Interesting enough that we had another bird, ROOSTER, intersecting rhea, making this grid one for the birds (24A: [Farm alarm]). Some of the longer fill was decent, though not spectacular. Just noticed the rhyme time that occurred in the Northeast with CONE (16A: [Receiver of a scoop]) and a HONE stacked together (19A: [Sharpen]). Nothing much more to add, other than to say this is another solid offering from Ms. Lempel today.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GRIZZLIES (33A: [Rocket’s rivals]) –I’m a sure a good number got what was going on here, but, in case you didn’t, just know that the Rockets referenced in the clue are the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the entry references the Memphis GRIZZLES, another NBA team. Before residing in Graceland, the Grizzlies’ franchise started out in Vancouver, as it was founded in 1995 as part of the league’s expansion into Canada. Coincidentally, the Grizzlies’ last home game in Vancouver before their move occurred on April 14, 2001…against the Houston Rockets.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
David Steinberg’s BuzzFeed crossword, “The That’s So 2012 Themeless”—Derek’s write-up
This may be one of my last BuzzFeed reviews, as the puzzle is discontinuing soon, and if this is the final one, this is a good puzzle to go out on! Another masterpiece by young David Steinberg, which is not surprising since most every puzzle of his I have solved is high quality. This puzzle is probably a little edgy for NYT, so this is the perfect venue for this one. The theme denotes there are a lot of references that were quite valid 4 years ago; perhaps that is when the puzzle was first made? Perhaps a NYT rejection revamped for here? Perhaps. It’s a good thing this puzzle got published somewhere, since it is a great one! 4.7 stars from me!
Some of my faves:
- 1A [Viral video meme where normal people start going crazy when the beat drops] HARLEM SHAKE – Was this really 4 years ago??
- 15A [2008 French Open winner] ANA IVANOVIC – She hasn’t played as well in recent years (she is currently ranked #16 in the WTA rankings), but she could be a model if she wasn’t a gifted athlete! She even appeared in the SI Swimsuit issue a couple of years ago.
- 32A [Ancient Greek port city restored by Alexander the Great] SMYRNA – …or, a city in Georgia!
- 46A [546-year-old cartoon character voiced by Jonathan Winters] PAPA SMURF – I guess I didn’t realize he was that old!
- 63A [Last name in experimental music and many crosswords that’s one letter away from another last name in experimental music and many crosswords] ENO – The other word is, of course, EMO. Great clue, and it fits the long clue BuzzFeed format!
- 64A [Ambitious Kickstarter target] STRETCH GOAL – Was this timely in 2012? Probably! I know some of the best puzzle suites I have ever done have been purchased through this site. Trip, when is your next one???!!!
- 2D [Dangers to gardens?] ANAGRAM – I always get tripped up by these anagram clues!
- 3D [Like 17-Across, 66-Across, and 14-Down] RAUNCHY – The answers referenced here are SAUSAGE-FEST, BOOTY SHORTS, and SEX TAPE. As stated, a little racy for the NYT!
- 5D & 6D [Youngest (Oldest) Gabor sister (they were like the midcentury Kardashians)] EVA and MAGDA – Great clue(s)! Bonus points for them being adjacent in the grid!
- 11D [___-1 (“Ghostbusters” vehicle)] ECTO – Anxiously awaiting the new Ghostbusters reboot with female leads this time!
- 33D [Hannah’s erratic on-again, off-again “Girls” boyfriend] ADAM – Played by the same named Adam Driver, who is now mega-famous by appearing the the newest Star Wars movie!
- 39D [Controversial Red Bull ingredient] TAURINE – I have drank these in the past; now I just try to get more sleep! I use only in emergencies!!
- 55D [Dog who probably peed on the Yellow Brice Road] TOTO – Probably my favorite clue, in typical BuzzFeed snarky mode!
Great puzzle, David! Perhaps we will bump into each other at Stamford!
James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle features a sound change. Two-word Phrases whose second words end in a terminal ən have that changed to iŋ. That’s quite open-ended as changes go; it could easily be a Sunday, I think, so quality control is imperative. I enjoyed most of the answers, especially for the changes from original to new word. The exception is EGYPTIANRUIN. That is not a phrase. Surely that’s a puzzle-breaking flaw right there… Am I missing something?
Today’s set is:
- [Québec quiche, e.g.?], CANADIANBAKING (bacon)
- [Saying “It wasn’t me” when, in fact, it was?], COWARDLYING (lion)
- [“Wish we had built a bigger pyramid,” e.g.?], EGYPTIANRUING (ruin???)
- [Greeting from a faithful friend?], WELCOMEWAGGING (wagon). Beautiful.
- [Tesoro de la Sierra Madre], ORO. Are tesoro and oro related to each other? Because the fact ORO is in TESORO put me off the answer for a while…
- [It can be cured], HAM. Gosh but I clung to HAY here… It seemed so right!
- [Stretcher, to Huck Finn], LIE. Fun clue!
- [Legendary Australian outlaw], NEDKELLY. Whose get rate in Learnedleague was a mere 34%. I was expecting 85+… Surely?
- [Like petroglyphs], INTAGLIOED. Fun word. I think it means more or less etched and then filled with ink?
I liked most of the puzzle; however that third entry seems fundamentally flawed. Pending an explanation, I am abstaining rating this puzzle.
Gareth, leaving you with this song, that name checks UTA Hagen:
Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher of Education crossword, “Found in Translation” — παννονικα’σ write-up
A quintessential Chronicle theme, and splendidly realized.
- 20a. [It was unearthed by a French soldier in July 1799] ROSETTA STONE.
- 28a. [Top feature of the 20 Across] HIEROGLYPHICS, of the Egyptian variety.
- 45a. [Middle feature of the 20 Across] DEMOTIC SCRIPT, also Egyptian.
- 51a. [Bottom feature of the 20 Across] ANCIENT GREEK.
All three elements, in correct top-to-bottom order, it doesn’t get any better than that in a factual theme.
The theme works so well, seems so natural, that one might be led to think it just writes itself, but of course that isn’t the case. It takes work and craft to get it just so, even if the raw material is exceptionally conducive.
- Timely clues: 16a [Third-place finisher at the 2016 Iowa Caucus] RUBIO, 19a [Park planning to unveil a “Frozen”-themed flume ride in 2016] EPCOT, 40a [Setting for the Tungurahua volcano] ANDES.
- 44a [H on a fraternity paddle] ETA. Also found on, oh, the ROSETTA STONE.
- Opera! 49a [“The Bartered Bride” composer] SMETANA (Bedřich), 14a [Igor Stravinsky’s “Scorned! Abused! Neglected!,” e.g.] ARIA (The Rake’s Progress). More ARTSY Higher Ed material in the form of literature (Dostoevsky, Mann), painting (Goya), plus history and much more. Not that it’s all stodgy and ivory-towered; there’s room for Fleetwood Mac, Alicia Keyes, the Hunger Games, some comic-strip character whom I’ve never heard of—LIO (one of the weaker bits of fill)—and more.
- Favorite clue: 36a [Depressing words?] SAY AH. And it’s right in the center.
- 47d [Alligator cousin] CAIMAN. Once again, I’m probably in the minority in waiting to see if it might be GAVIAL.
- My least-favorite fill, and I freely admit that it’s because it’s newfangled stuff I couldn’t be bothered to be informed about, includes the aforementioned 12d LIO and the afore-alluded-to 31d PANEM. No love for abbrevs. 43d [Bishop’s rte.] DIAG and 30a [Navy noncom] CPO.
- Conversely, I was fine with 7d [Peppers, in South American cuisine] AJIS. Or, they were fine with me. Back to 40-across?
All right, it’s late in the day and it’s high time for this to be posted. Once again, I really enjoyed this crossword and it epitomizes the CHE both in theme and supporting fill.