Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m too tired for sentient blogging. Less than 6 hours of sleep last night when I really prefer 8!
Best bits: CARD CATALOG (mostly electronic now), GAME OF THRONES, GOT INTO HOT WATER, SENEGAL, C.J. CREGG (did you see that Allison Janney reprised her West Wing character last week at the White House?), NOGUCHI (and note that CJ CREGG and NOGUCHI have just one proper name crossing out of 14—and JAGUAR could easily have been clued as the animal instead, so there’s no excuse for crying “Natick”), MAKE THE BEST OF IT (good thing to do after you 14-Across), RECRIMINATION, DO A GOOD TURN, CAT SCAN, JAGUAR, and CHIFFON.
There’s plenty of short fill that is uninspired, as you would expect with stacks of long fill. 15d: REPEN is pretty awful. Funky grid. There are probably clues worthy of remark, but I’m fading fast.
3.8 stars from me.
Jules P. Markey’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “The Deck Has Been Stacked” – Jenni’s write-up
I love the CHE puzzles. The themes are interesting, the fill is fresh, and it’s a fun way to start the puzzle weekend. In this puzzle, all the themers are going down and they have circles to tell us which part is salient to the theme:
- 3d: [Enclosure with a rebate request] = PROOF OF PURCHASE. At first glance, I thought the circles enclosed all of PROOF and we were headed for a TGIF drinking theme. I took a second look and realized it was ROOF. Ah.
- 28d [First lady from 1946 to 1952, familiarly] = EVITA PERON. “Evita” was her nickname; her actual first name was Eva. We need the nickname to get the circles around TAPE.
- 7d: [Event where seals are put through their paces?] = TUPPERWARE PARTY. Burping seals, not barking seals. I just ordered some Tupperware the other day as part of a fundraiser for my choir. The circles focus us on UPPER.
- 9d: [Chowderhead] = NINCOMPOOP. Great one-word insults, both of them. The circles are around POOP. I was scratching my head at this point – no idea what the connection was.
- 11d [Noguchi sculpture in Philadelphia that pays tribute to Benjamin Franklin] = BOLT OF LIGHTNING. I have driven past the sculpture and had no idea what it was. I’m glad to know. The circles emphasize FLIGHT.
ROOF, TAPE, UPPER, POOP, FLIGHT. When in doubt about a theme, check out the title – ah-hah! The DECK is stacked. ROOF deck, TAPE deck, UPPER deck, POOP deck, FLIGHT deck. Now it makes sense. A few other things:
- Apparently there’s a TAPIR in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” (1a) I don’t remember that, but then again I saw that film once and it was almost 40 years ago.
- I went the wrong way with 6d [Virus spreader, at times] because I was thinking of viruses that infect humans. The answer is EMAIL. We are all vectors.
- David hates SCOTTS lawn care (22a) because they promote the use of herbicides and pesticides. I hate them because of their idiotic commercials.
- Love a WKRP shoutout (36a), this time clued with Venus Flytrap. “My children…”
- 69d [Doctor who invites you take his word for it?] is not cluing one of my more pompous colleagues, but rather Dr. ROGET.
What I didn’t know before I did this crossword: that Gustav MAHLER wrote something called “Songs of a Wayfarer.” My musical education was apparently sadly lacking.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Are We Done?” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! Hope you have a fun weekend ahead. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, involves four different phrases that mean the same, with “we’re done” as the clue for each of the theme entries. Obviously, I don’t have to type the same clue four times when typing out the theme answers, but I’ll do it anyway.
- THAT’S A WRAP (17A: [“We’re done”])
- END OF STORY (62A: [“We’re done”])
- PULL THE PLUG (10D: [“We’re done”])
- CALL IT QUITS (23D: [“We’re done”])
Not sure how many people thought there was/is a jazz musician named KARL Malone, as opposed to the Hall of Fame basketball player for the Utah Jazz (37A: [Jazz great Malone]). Above that, probably my favorite clue/entry combo was for REAL EASY (31D: [Like duck soup]). I guess UH UH can come out as a grunt, but I know I don’t feel as if I’m grunting when I say that (16A: [Grunts meaning “No way!”]). It’s a straightforward grid, but nothing there that really pops out, especially with the concept of the theme and just thinking of other ways to phrase the same clue.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MATTE (50A: [Finish option]) – Who was the first person to run for over 100 yards in the Super Bowl? The answer is Tom MATTE, who rushed for 116 yards on only 11 attempts for the Baltimore Colts in their loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Because of that performance, Matte still holds the Super Bowl record for yards per carry (10.55) in an Super Bowl game.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
It’s heterograph time at the LA Times! Today features answers that are OFFCOLOR because they contain a heterography of colour. Two are at the beginning of their phrases, and two at the end.
- [Lost it, BLEWAFUSE]
- [Entertained the kids, in a way, READALOUD]
- [Cottage site in the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four]
- [“Bonanza” star], LORNEGREENE
The rest of the grid was pretty quiet. Nothing too flashy, except maybe BBKING, but smooth like you’d expect from a seasoned constructor.
- [Storage place], CDROM. Quaint!
- [Play set], SCENERY. Excellent, succinct clue!
- [Lack of get-up-and-go], ANEMIA. Why is this always clued so vaguely?
I was really hoping for a week without a CC Burnikel LAT. Week ruined! :(
What does that mean? I thought the LAT was very amusing, quite clever!
I liked it, too, although I can understand why others may not. Some of the clues are a stretch but they all seemed fair enough.
It just seems, to me from my POV, there are often stretches on some theme entries and some fill in her puzzles that I otherwise feel I would be (and have been) struck down on in my submissions. Example: a few weeks back in a Mon or Tues, there was an odd plural name (let’s say (MYRAS) but I’ve had a request to redo fill because of a NEALS appearance). That’s all. I know she has many other fans.
I think these comments are saying a lot more about you than anybody else…
I’m not really sure what your bottom line is here, Gareth, but it’s rather rude, I’ll surmise. I believe I’m entitled to an opinion like anyone else here about likes and dislikes and such. If I offended you in anyway personally to make the comment you did, let me know.
I’ll just say that Zhouqin not only maintains a supportive community of LA Times solvers, and not only is a prolific constructor, and not only mentors many other new constructors, but she is also a delight to work with from an editorial standpoint. She’s the newest member of the Daily Celebrity Crossword team of constructors, and she’s professional, attentive to style specifications, prompt, and cordial. We crossword editors appreciate that.
For all I know, Rich Norris (who is an incredible constructor) looked at C.C.’s fill with a plural name and deemed it to be a necessary compromise, too difficult to change in that particular grid. Maybe your NEALS was unnecessary because the section could easily have been filled without it.
I can’t see a REPLY option after Amy’s comment (from 6:05pm). So let me note here: I agree with you, Amy, really, and I’ve heard Ms. Burnikel is helpful, nice, etc., and I agree especially about Rich Norris whom I admire and LOVE to work with. However, I didn’t realize I would cause a mini-backlash on what I thought was a very basic comment of a very personal opinion–which I feel I’ve read many of towards many other puzzles and puzzle fill and construction and even constructors all the time here. Obviously, I’ve done something quite erroneous by commenting on this puzzle constructor and/or her puzzle. My bad. I shall refrain from any further comments here on any of Ms. Burnikel’s puzzles in the future. Sheesh!
I think it was the “week ruined” bit that irked people. If you don’t like the crossword, okay, but people might have felt the initial comment was a bit strong. It reminds me a little of what I might see on Rex’s blog rather than Amy’s blog TBH.
I wasn’t expecting the roast from Erik either, but that’s his business and not mine.
boyyyy the last time i did one of your puzzles the fill was so clunky i had to stop mid-solve and do a cleansing ritual. but yeah definitely keep getting mad online every time one of crossworld’s brightest stars graces us with a byline. that seems like the best use of your time and energy
I liked the NYT, but struggled a bit in the west-central region. Started with SEAbedS at 20-A and aJCRaiG at 33-A (I had a yawning abyss instead of a yawning CHASM at 33-D). Thought I had done well to (almost) remember Allison Janney’s West Wing character, but I didn’t have any idea on the spelling of her last name. Didn’t help that I was not familiar with the meaning of “tally” at 22-D.
All the long acrosses were nice. There was some crosswordese, but the only thing that really clanked for me was REPEN.
Hardest themeless of the year for me.
C.J. CREGG and NOGUCHI were jumbles of letters for me, and crossing stuff like REPEN did not help. So this one killed me, and while I enjoyed the top and bottom halves, the sides were root canal-pleasing. Didn’t parse STEPHEN, I don’t like first-name only celebrity clues. Reminds me of those gossip magazines at the supermarket, where you’re supposed to understand the headlines based on first names. “Kris and Jon break up!” (what? who? etc.)
Sorry, this one just really got on my bad side.
When I was going through my Kerouac period, I thought Noguchi was terrific, very Zen. Looking at his stuff, today, it seems dated and, in many cases, void. Some of his stonework is still captivating and I’m certain he will retain his standing for a long time to come; certainly enough to be fair puzzle fodder. Those of you unfamiliar with him should look him up. You’ll be surprised how much he’s influenced your life. His influence is vast.
An art history teacher I had included questions on a test that asked for the first names of various artists under study. His justification was that he thought his students should know these guys “on a first name basis”. (Sadly, many in the class did not.) Apparently the same rationale applies to names from pop culture.
I do appreciate learning of (new to me) names, places, works, etc. from crosswords – and this example is no exception. I really meant here that my initial reaction to those areas was one of frustration, since there were quite a few spots like this (on the left, it was SENEGAL and ARNO near CJGREGG that caused some angst).
I’m still peeved about STEPHEN though – I never like those clues ;).
I was in the audience during the last season of The Colbert Report, so I’ve actually chanted, “STEPHEN! STEPHEN!”
I thought it was amusing that Noguchi showed up in both the CHE and NYT today. If I’d never heard of him, I would have found that more annoying than amusing. And you didn’t really need to know who Noguchi was to parse the CHE clue.
I greatly appreciated the fair crossings along CJCREGG/NOGUCHI.
I also had ABYSS and SEABEDS and did not know NOGUCHI. Having said that, it wasn’t that hard to get around those errors. I have not watched GAME OF THRONES and was unaware as to how many Emmy’s it has.
At least STEPHEN Colbert pronounces his name the same way I do. My friends have been jokingly calling me STEFF and STEFFEN since the emergence of Steph Curry.
On the XWord Info and the Wordplay pages, NYT constructor Julian Lim says that he planned the STEPHEN Colbert clue as a STEPHEN Fry clue. His clue for Fry was easier, though punny: “Fry in England.” Shortz must have thought the U.S. puzzle solvers would prefer Colbert. About an equal number of Google hits for each name, around 34-35 million. (I don’t consider that criterion a be-all-and-end-all.) Though NYT readers might be more familiar with Colbert, the Fry clue has the advantage of being a last name calling for a first name, rather better, I think. I like both those TV hosts!
In the comment above, I should have said possibly misleading instead of punny.
Can’t find a single reference anywhere for “Repen”….can anybody enlighten me?
To pen again. Actually, this one didn’t bother me. I found it to be a help on a Friday.