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!
A very fast Friday for me, happily low in trivia. The joy of getting SLOW JAM was somewhat diminished by its appearance just two weeks ago, though I do give a gusty cheers to HATERADE.
NYT: never heard of HATERADE, but liked figuring it out.
It was a fun puzzle because of all the little pleasant surprises that popped up during the solve. I didn’t know Etihad Airlines, but figured it would be related to the Emirates…it’s an Arabic word that means Union, so it’s apt given the union of the Emirates.
That little stack in the SW with HATERADE, ODE TO JOY and HASHTAG is pretty awesome.
I was set up to finish this puzzle in under five minutes, and then I reached the NW corner and was stumped–I just looked at the clues for a good 2-3 minutes before I could start hazarding any guesses. Clever, tough clues. Great fun!
I have a question. I’m looking for generic crossword discussion and questions (solving, but constructing too) and I’m not finding anything. Is there a good place for that?
Have you tried mattgaffney.com? That page is chock full of things beyond puzzles. At the bottom of the page is a link to his Mental Floss article on crossword construction. Heck, here’s the link.
Ode To Joy was played in Brussels today
This was an excellent puzzle, slightly harder for me than what appears to be the consensus.
My big hangup was the clue EXTREME for ARRANT. I am not saying at all that it is wrong. I have always thought of ARRANT as meaning total or utter, as in ARRANT nonsense. Extreme fits, but I just didn’t see it.
I was unfamiliar with HATERADE.
Ruth Reichl garners 423,000 hits on google; SONIA BRAGA 366,000 so I am not sure it is fair to say she is dramatically less known. She continues to work.
It is impressive to work the entire cast of female justices into the puzzle. It is a testament to the changing world that 3 are still serving.
Re the Chronicle puzzle, pannonica said of “Sonia Braga”: “Judging by the relative obscurity of this answer, it was obviously difficult to find a suitable proxy for Sonia Sotomayor.” I’m often amused by what people consider well known or obscure. Sonia Braga was the only one of the four names I knew. I had never even heard of Elena Ferrante or Ruth Reichl.
Yes, to me Sonia Braga is really well known, in my little world! (But I had never heard of ELENA FERRANTE, tho she apparently si all the rage right now)
We spent many an hour talking about who is known and who isn’t. We had the tiniest of pool to draw from, never mind the correct amount of letters!
I would have loved to see RUTHBUZZI!!! But we were also going for different fields (Actress, writer, critic, etc. didn’t want all but one to be actress)
Thanks for the thoughtful write up and the swell comments! It’s Jennifer’s and my first CHE puzzle and it was a real challenge to construct, but fun fun fun!
Strangely enough, when this puzzle came into my inbox from Jennifer and Andrea, it had been less than a month since I had finished both “Garlic and Sapphires” and “My Brilliant Friend,” Book 1 of the Ferrante series. I think I will keep going with the Neapolitan tetralogy. I don’t admire it quite as much as some have, but it’s well worth the time.
I laughed out loud at this one. SONIA BRAGA has historically been on many lists of the sexiest women alive. She is almost the same age as I am and has a permanent place on my list. I am also sure that I am not alone in this assessment,
I meant to emphasize the relative obscurity of the reference (presuming that that’s what she was most famous for)—a 1985 independent film (that admittedly received accolades). It could have been phrased better.
LAT absolute indecipherable -without going to the “cheat sites” that received thousands of hits using this puzzle’s clues. MRT???? Give me a break! After a run of three weeks of decent challenges, this was a disappointing mess. LAT: Be ashamed!
MR T is certainly a famous person from the A team, Rocky movies and his health battles.
It was decipherable.
And he was recently in the news attending Nancy Reagan’s funeral…
I pity the fool.