The Davids Phillips & Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Standard Friday-level difficulty for me, and lots of lively fill working its way through the 13/14/15 stacks. Who doesn’t love cozy PAJAMA BOTTOMS? IMAGINE DRAGONS is a current music reference. 16a. [Celebrity with the fashion line “V.”] turned out to be VANESSA WILLIAMS, but did you know that VICTORIA BECKHAM is also 15 letters? That misstep didn’t slow me down too much, luckily.
Other good stuff: SICHUAN, MAKE MINE A DOUBLE, ATTACK AD, GET BACK AT, ODWALLA juice, and a piddly little SMARTCAR.
The [Celebrity whose name sounds like a drink] is on my TV right now—ICE-T.
Fill I didn’t like: E-ZINE (such a dead term) and DATING AGENCIES (“dating service” is far more familiar).
Three more things:
- 41d. [Some beachwear], THONGS. Remember when those rubber sandals with the strap that goes between two toes were called thongs instead of flip-flops, and the butt-floss variety of thong was a niche garment not sold in regular lingerie departments?
- 44d. [Source of the words “curry” and “pariah”], TAMIL. This listing suggests that those two words aren’t specifically taken from Tamil. Who knew catamaran came from Tamil?
- 32a. [Tigerlike], FIERCE. Was this F****E spot supposed to lure solvers into writing FELINE?
Four stars from me.
Lee Taylor’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Remember Your Manors” — pannonica’s write-up
Oh look, it’s me again. Hello.
Here’s a puzzle. It’s a crossword puzzle. With a literary theme, as befits the Chronicle. The longest entries are clued simply, naming the named edifices from classic literature, and are answered with the relevant homeowners and/or significant inhabitants. Tempted to invoke the term bildungsroman, but it isn’t quite accurate for all of the answers, and the etymology becomes interestingly convoluted. How? Let it be an educational exercise, Reader.
- 17a. [WUTHERING HEIGHTS] HEATHCLIFF. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847).
- 23a. [MANDERLEY] REBECCA DE WINTER. Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (1938).
- 36a. [THORNFIELD HALL] EDWARD ROCHESTER. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847). Definitely a bildungsroman. See also 45-down.
- 48a. [LONGBOURN] ELIZABETH BENNET. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813). The archetypal novel of manners?
- 59a. [MISSELTHWAITE MANOR (and garden)] MARY LENNOX. Francis Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden (1911).
Hey, where are the male authors? What the deuce? Note however that there is 40% representation in-grid. Really liked those three 15s spanning the midriff.
- 50d [“You may have the universe if I may have ___” (Verdi opera line)] ITALY; sung by EZIO in ATTILA. 41a [Part of 50 Down where Reggio Calabria is, metaphorically] TOE, 56a [Part of 50 Down where Bari is, metaphorically] HEEL. 24d [Europe’s tallest volcano] ETNA.
- 20a [Measure based on the length of a typical human arm] ELL. Not exactly standardized, eh? Check it out. Originally a cubit.
- 6d [Fluvial plains] DELTAS. Terminology here. Fluvial, alluvial, estuaries at the mouth, and sometimes the floodplain and tributary system is called a delta (as in Mississippi Delta (of blues iconography)). So confusing.
- 18a [Wake-up call issuer, of a sort] COCK.
- 32d [Groucho Marx role in Otto Preminger’s “Skidoo”] GOD; did not know this. 33d [Bygone Pontiac muscle car] GTO; intending to soon rewatch Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop—a personal favorite—with audio commentary track(s).
All in all, a well-crafted and pleasing offering to return to crossword-solving with.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Once in Love With Her” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! Hope you all have a fun weekend planned. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, probably should have been blogged by Amy (Reynaldo), since other famous Amys were featured in the grid as puns, resulting in common phrases with not-so-straightforward clues.
- GRANT MONEY (17A: [Concert take for “The Next Time I Fall” singer Amy?])
- SMART CAR (24A: [Vehicle for “Crank” actress Amy?])
- TAN LINE (39A: [Short except from author Amy’s “The Joy Luck Club”?])
- CHOW CHOW (49A: [Grub for gold medal-winning gymnast Amy?])
- ADAMS APPLE (62A: [Fruit choice for “American Hustle” actress Amy?])
So we have all these famous Amys, and then we also have AMI in the grid as well (63D: [French friend]). I think I have two friends names “Ami,” spelled in that way. Haven’t heard/seen CHURCHIFY before (auto-correct was activated as I typed the word just now), but it definitely stands out in the grid in a good way for me (33D: [Christianize, slangily]). Had a couple of multiple-word entries that started with articles, including A LIFE (1A: [Words found in biography titles]) and AN EAR (8D: [Something to lend]). Oops, I missed A FEW, another one of those (40D: [Just some]). There’s definitely some GLOOM in the forecast here in New York, and I hope I can get home before the rain comes (6D: [Darkness]). Knowing my luck, there will be a downpour the second I leave work and head outside.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MING (31D: [Former Rocket Yao]) – The 2016 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class that will be inducted this fall will include Yao MING, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft who made eight All-Star teams in his nine years as a player form 2002 to 2011. Also part of the 2016 Hall of Fame class? Everyone’s favorite athlete who appears in crosswords…SHAQ(uille) O’NEAL.
Have a great weekend, everybody! See you all tomorrow!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today, YOUVEGOTAFRIEND signals to us that the trigram PAL is added to three theme phrases. Three letters is a lot to add, especially when it doesn’t make a prefix or suffix, so the phrases were quite fun, considering. With three added letters, the conceit was easier to suss out than most. So, we have a [Financially distressed royal residence?], PALACEINTHEHOLE whose grammar as clued seems a tad wonky; a [Pious antelope?], IMPALABELIEVER and the best answer: [Clairvoyant magazine staff?], PALMISTSOFTIME!
Not too much more to comment on here [“D’oh!”], IMAJERK seems a little loose, as does [Napoleonic?], INEXILE – Friday! GINZA is apparently [Japan’s answer to Rodeo Drive] – does Rodeo Drive have shops or something?
The NW is the sort of thing that annoys the hell out of me in a puzzle, with the 14 letter 14a crossing 3 and 1d. I’m sure everyone will tell me that those are such well known names, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The trouble with these weird rock group names is that they are often totally non intuitive. Even where the crosses are reasonably straightforward it can be almost impossible to figure out the name, let alone when they are not.
There are lots of ways of translating the Chinese hot food province, though the ones I know have more letters. I used to like Cat Stevens. I don’t care what wants to call himself now, but I do care that he so enthusiastically endorsed putting out a contract on the life of Salman Rushdie. Perhaps I am overreacting to a few small points, but to me the puzzle ended up being unsatisfying and bad tasting.
What’s going on with Sichuan is transliteration rather than translation. The earlier Wade-Giles system has for decades now been superseded by Pinyin. Those are the two historically predominant ‘solutions’.
Happy to see you back, pannonica. You were missed.
Delighted to see you, Pannonica.
I actually meant transliteration, to Pinyin.
Thank you for the welcome! CHE forthcoming.
I have to agree with Bruce on the NYT — more of a slog than a romp. But the CHE makes up for that strain on those of us who are older — loved the theme ;-)
This was one of the very few puzzles I have not enjoyed even though it fell reasonably quickly. I agree with Bruce.
My analysis of words/answers I do not know is whether I find it interesting when the answer reveals itself. I did find VANESSA WILLIAMS to be interesting, but not IMAGINE DRAGONS and especially not PIVEN and ODWALLA.
Is ODWALLA regional and how is it parsed?
I guess the NYT is one of those “your mileage may vary” puzzles that illustrates the potential pitfalls in using proper names and pop culture in the grid. Overall, I thought it was a good puzzle.
The NW took me some time to suss out, too. But even though I didn’t know PIVEN, couldn’t recall JANIE (tried Suzie for a while), and did not know MISE en scene, I do know ODWALLA and IMAGINE DRAGONS (didn’t know the album name, but they do have a single “Demons” that I’ve heard and like).
I looked up Piven and Entourage, and see that it was a well-received show (on HBO, which I don’t subscribe to) and Piven won an Emmy for his performance three years in a row – so, bad on me for not knowing his name.
The only thing that clanked for me was DATING AGENCIES, for the reason Amy already mentioned. I’d add SNARE DRUM to Amy’s list of “likes.”
Steve, ODWALLA is a Coca-Cola brand, so I’m pretty sure it’s available across the U.S., if not internationally. It’s a single word, but I’m not entirely sure how it’s pronounced – I call it odd-WALL-uh.
I didn’t remember the name ODWALLA, but now that I’ve looked them up I recognize their juices and have tried them before.
Kind of funny that Entourage was once critically acclaimed given the attitude toward the show now.
Re “thongs” for sandals: there was a time when we called them “zoris”, after the traditional Japanese style of sandal, much like a flip-flop, originally made with a straw sole. Ages ago! These days we send away for the sturdier Birkenstocks.
Pretty quick solve on today’s NYT. I expected a lot more teen-speak with the Phillips/Steinberg collaboration, but aside from IMAGINE DRAGONS the fill didn’t skew that way–lively long answers around the outside, clean short fill through the middle. TALKS NONSENSE took me a while to put together–once I had TALKS NONS___ I kept thinking “talks non-stop” even though I knew it couldn’t fit.
Re: SICHUAN: there is a restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown, Lao Sze Chuan, that I used to go to often when I lived on the South Side. Years ago, I went on a date there with a Chinese-American girl–it was a first or second date, can’t remember. Anyway, I let her order for us, including some noodles that she said were really spicy. Well, one bite of these noodles, and I thought I was going to die. I actually started crying because they were so spicy, which must have been quite a look! Things didn’t end up working out between us, but I’ll never forget that date.
I theoretically agree about the proper nouns and their crossings in the NYT, but because I knew enough of them to solve the puzzle, I was thrilled to be able to do a Friday puzzle with a Steinberg byline. Couldn’t help loving it. I’m glad to know about Yusuf Islam’s (CAT STEVENS’s) remarks about Rushdie, though:
I’m not sure that the constructors’ giving STEVENS the honor of being in a puzzle is a reason to take off a half a star, but I forgot to, anyway. We have other creeps in the puzzle all the time. As Bruce said about himself, I used to like the singer.
Agree with Bruce and Lois about Cat Stevens. Used to like him, but haven’t since his support of the fatwa on Rushdie.
Overall, a good, Friday-appropriate puzzle.
Loved today’s LAT puzzle! It was rough at times, but when I got the theme, it became fun. The theme was “You’ve got a friend,” which meant you added “pal” to the theme clues. Great job, Jeffrey!!
Literature is definitely not my strong point- I had to solve all the themed answers by crossing in today’s CHE.
What Bruce N. Morton said goes for me in spades, and I thought there was a lot of very loose (and just barely accurate) cluing in the NYT and LAT today. NYT: the clues for OGLES and SPLAYS just made me wince. LAT: I’M A JERK and IN EXILE were noted in the review, but YES SIR? No! The salutation was YES M’LORD. Ugly.
Hey, how did Frank LONGO get into this CHE puzzle?
(I see that LONG_O has appeared twice in the NYTimes, both in 2006, neither by Frank L.)