Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
My favorite answer in this puzzle is one that I disappointed myself by spacing on until I had some key crossings. SLOW JAM! ([Mellow R&B track].) Dang it, I knew that.
In the running for the Favorite Fill category tonight, we also have STONE AGE, PAPER CUT, HAN SOLO, HATERADE (don’t drink it!), ODE TO JOY, HASHTAG, LINER NOTES, HAIR OF THE DOG, Monopoly’s STATES AVENUE ([Pink property] threw me—I think of that trio as magenta), ABU DHABI, and JACK LEMMON. Nice to see BONG clued as a noun rather than a sound effect, too.
Lesser fill: ESTER, AGUE, MOA. Anyone remember the Baskin-Robbins drink called Moa-Moa punch back in the ’70s?
Did you see Barack and Michelle Obama doing the TANGO (30d. [Steps in a ballroom]) with professional dancers in Argentina? First time I’ve seen a woman lift a leg up and onto the president. (No, she was not tackled by the Secret Service.)
Three more things:
- 32a. [Extreme], ARRANT. Surprised there’s no suggestion of this word’s quaint oldness.
- 44d. [One of the knights of the Round Table], GARETH. I’m sorry, Dr. Bain, but GAWAIN was my first try here.
- 17a. [Slice from a book?] isn’t about editing or excerpts, it’s a PAPER CUT. The paper cut has an uncanny knack for irritating the nerves, doesn’t it?
4.1 stars from me.
Jennifer Nutt and Andrea Carla Michaels’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Holding Court” — pannonica’s write-up
54-across has [Diana Ross’s group, with “the” … and a hint to the power group detectable in half of 21, 29, 37, and 46 Across] SUPREMES. Accordingly, those four answers provide the first names of all of the women who have served as justices on the US Supreme Court; three are still there.
- 21a. [Actress who left “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2014] SANDRA OH. Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the SCOTUS in 2006. I kind of like the Oh/O’ similarity.
- 29a. [Restaurant critic who wrote the memoir “Garlic and Sapphires”] RUTH REICHL. Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- 37a. [Pseudonymous author of the four so-called “Neapolitan Novels”] ELENA FERRANTE. Elena Kagan. Those books are all the rage, but I haven’t read any of them yet.
- 46a. [Brazilian co-star of 1985’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman”] SÔNIA BRAGA. Judging by the relative obscurity of this answer, it was obviously difficult to find a suitable proxy for Sonia Sotomayor.
A few random points: “the Supremes” is common casual parlance for all the members of the court, but of course it works just fine in this more narrow context. The ‘half” suggested in the revealer’s clue isn’t a literal or enumerative half, but reflects the first name of a two-word full name; that kind of half. Last, it would have been extra-spiffy if the quartet had appeared in chronological order—as it is, it’s very close, with only the final two transposed. I’m not sure if that tantalizing nearness makes it seem worse, sort of like loss aversion. No doubt the constructors tried, but it proved impossible.
- Long verticals are: 3d [One practicing both running and swimming, maybe] PENTATHLETE. Why—aside from having too many letters—isn’t this TRIATHLETE? Because then 27d [Event for a 3 Down] EPEE wouldn’t have a tie-in. 26d [Refutes] CONTRADICTS.
- Turnabout! 34a [Bottom-of-the-barrel residue] LEES, followed by 36a [Groundbreaking] NEW.
- 63a [It’s in your jeans] DENIM.
- 58a [Prepare, as milk for a cappuccino] STEAM, but I had FROTH at first.
- 9d [Monastery figure ranked below an abbot] PRIOR. Not to be confused with a FRIAR. And now I’ve just learned that there’s such a thing as a friary as well as a priory.
- 40d [Hardly Joe Cool] NERD. To my eye and ear, the clue parses more naturally as suggesting an adjective for the answer; to wit, NERDY.
- 56d [Suffix with phosphor- or fluor-] -ESCE. Come on, I’m more or less obligated to call out that one.
- 6d [Sultanate on the island of Borneo] BRUNEI. No doubt I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still pretty good general geography knowledge: three nations have territory on Borneo. Tiny Brunei is entirely on it, Malaysia has two states—Sabah and Sarawak (cf Peninsular Malaysia), and Indonesia claims the rest—over 70%—which is collectively called Kalimantan.
Okay, that’s it! Good theme, good puzzle.
Warren Stabler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
You will be forgiven if you missed the revealer tucked away at 68A – PRISM, reparsed as PR IS M. Four answers have five PRs changed to M. The first answer had two M’s already, which was distracting during solving. PRIMENUMBERS becomes MIMENUMBERS; PROVINGGROUND changes to MOVINGGROUND; a PRICEINCREASE becomes the statement MICEINCREASE and the twofer PRINTINGPRESS becomes MINTINGMESS.
- [Celebrity known for wearing gold jewelry], MRT. Had DRE first.
- [Dreaded mosquito], AEDES. I wish we got more arthropod genuses in crosswords! Species in the genus transmit amongst others dengue and Rift, both extremely feared diseases!
- [Date night destination], CINEMA. Well… What happened the last three times: Let’s go to the cinema. What’s on? I don’t know, let’s look. Anything you want to watch then? No. No. Moving on…
- [Capital on its own river], BOISE. State capital.
- [Stock-tracking device], EARTAG. Cow bling!
- [Current-carrying components], ARMATURES. If, like me, you are not sure what they are… To the Wikipedias! Now you’re just as in the dark!
- [Substances that add protein to meat], EXTENDERS. I managed to study meat safety and hygiene without ever hearing this term… I assume, given meat is largely protein, they mean cheap, vegetable protein like soya…
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Extreme Positions”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Doing the sports stuff now, so can’t stay too long. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, features words in which the second part of the word are also extremities. The theme entry in the middle of the grid, GOING OUT ON A LIMB, acts as the reveal (40A: [Taking a risk, or how the ends of 18-, 23-, 51-, and 62-Across could be described]).
- TENDERFOOT (18A: [Novice])
- FIRSTHAND (23A: [From direct experience])
- MISTLETOE (51A: [Kiss elicitor])
- LADYFINGER (62A: [Tiramisu staple])
What gave me the most trouble was FINAL EDIT, as, for some reason, I started with “final exam,” then “final exit” (34D: [Last chance to put in a good word]). Have seen OPERA a couple of times recently in the CS puzzles, and the same opera mentioned in the clue today was also referred to in the other puzzle (6D: [“Nixon in China,” for one]). Going to sign off now, as I’m in Philadelphia now covering the Sweet 16 in the men’s tournament. Speaking of sports…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: COTY (13D: [Big name among perfume]) –For the first four years of his National Football League career, cornerback COTY Sensabaugh played for the Tennessee Titans. Last season, he returned an interception for a touchdown in what happened to be the first-ever regular season pass of the player who was selected No. 1 overall in last year’s draft, Jameis Winston. Sensabaugh signed with the Los Angeles Rams this offseason.
Have a great Friday, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!