Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Damon! Where’d your middle initial go? I thought your bylines usually had the J. Lots to like in this puzzle above/below the byline, of course. We get [Anagrams] for the first clue (SCRAMBLES), fun. [Italian for “sleeves”] to clue MANICOTTI. LENIN’S TOMB and NO TAG-BACKS (we would also have accepted NO BACKSIES, which is also 10 letters). The BLOAT/FATTEN row making us all want to unbutton our pants. Literary [First novel of the Great Plains trilogy], O PIONEERS, and also DESDEMONA. RIC OCASEK, the primary but not only lead singer for the Cars (Ben Orr also sang lead sometimes, as on “Drive”). And another ’80s lead singer whose album I bought, Duran Duran’s Simon LEBON. Names scrabbly (BJORK, GRETZKY) and not (GERALD FORD). Slangy HOT MESS and a lovely WAXES POETIC.
- 26a. [Letters in some church names], A.M.E. African Methodist Episcopal. I grew up passing lots of A.M.E. signs alongside the Dan Ryan Expressway on Chicago’s South Side, so I much prefer seeing AME clued this way than as a French word for soul. (We would also have accepted [Nickname for crossword blogger Reynaldo].)
- 23d. [One unlikely to punk out], REAL TROOPER. I will scowl at this one every single time it’s in a crossword. TROUPER! With a U! Come on, people.
- 62a. [Hybrid woman-bird monster], HARPY. This word’s usually clued as the mythical creature, but sometimes it’s clued as a nagging woman. Gotta give the edge to Greek mythology here.
8d. [Single-named artist], ERTE. Meh. Raise your hand if you tried to get a 4-letter mononymic musical artist in here.
- 13d. [Kind of blue that’s close to green], ETON. There’s an Eton blue?? Googling … I don’t know how to break it to you, Etonians, but that’s basically a putrid shade of light green that you might expect to find on a ’70s house with dated aluminum siding.
4.2 stars from me.
Jacob Stulberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Crossing the Isle” — pannonica’s write-up
Couple of unusual occurrences regarding this week’s—or-biweek’s—crossword. First, I saw that there were already three ratings for it, totalling a mere two stars. Second, I noticed the title before solving; nothing ostensibly to do with partisanship, though it may turn out to be otherwise in terms of audience reception.
Didn’t love it, but it certainly doesn’t seem that bad.
The revealer is in the center: 37a [Where to find all the parts of the answer to each starred clue] ENGLAND. Hence, place names strung together to create phrases that can be wrestled into a semblance of coherence via creative clue-framing.
- 17a. [*Make a time capsule out of magazines you looked at while luxuriating in bubbles?] BURY BATH READING.
- 23a. [*Potters’ argument over whether to make vases or crocks?] STONE WARE BATTLE.
- 51a. [*Excessively theatrical drum major?] HAM BARKING MARCH.
- 60a. [*What a lingerie-store clerk might to after some haggling?] SETTLE THONG SALE.
Varying levels of dubiousness, to say the least, eh? What I do appreciate is that they’re all 15-letter spanners. It constrains and degrades the accompanying fill, but not to an unreasonable degree.
- Longa latinis: 11d [For the time being] AD INTERIM, 31d [School on a résumé] ALMA MATER.
- 42a [Hindu deity depicted riding a parrot] KAMA. Oh, you bet that needs an illustration. Also, it seems his name is more frequently presented as Kāmadeva. The deva makes explicit the personification of kāma, desire. You know, of Kāma Sutra fame.
- Presumably hackle-raising entries: 57a [Gilbert who wrote 1980s sequels to the works of Lewis Carroll and J.M. Barrie] ADAIR, 28a [Gift recipient] DONEE, 69a [Furtive summons] PSSST, 4d [Kind of preservation in an urban myth about Walt Disney] CRYONIC.
- Less obvious name references: 10a [Italian tennis star Errani] SARA, 48d [Founding patriarch of the Flying Wallendas] KARL, 50d [Painter Schiele who was a protegé of Klimt] EGON.
- 56d [Giant cloud producer of the ’50s] H-TEST. President Obama was in Hiroshima today, presenting a historic speech.
- 27a [Country with the only remaining wild Asiatic cheetahs] IRAN. There are rumors of relict populations in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and elsewhere, but their existence seems unlikely. It’s speculated that the generic name Acinonyx refers to the non-retractability of their claws, unusual in felids.
Just want to let you know that I generated a map showing all the locations and connecting the triads, but it turned out not to be worth sharing. You’re welcome?
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Hardscrabble Life” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everybody! Hope you’re doing well and getting ready for another fine weekend ahead. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, takes us into the world of a popular board game, as the first word in each of the four theme entries is also a word that is an element in the game of Scrabble.
- TILE FISH (17A: [Atlantic bottom-feeders found on dinner tables])
- RACK AND PINION (28A: [Pair go fgears, as in a steering mechanism])
- BOARD OF HEALTH (45A: [Group focused on the public’s well-being])
- POINT MAN (62A: [Go-to person])
My old high school biology, chemistry and anatomy professor, who also got me first interested in crossword puzzles, would have a fit if I didn’t get MYELIN off of the bat once seeing the clue (41D: [Insulating sheath around nerves]). Had a devil of time parsing WAPITI in the Northeast (9D: [Rockies roamer otherwise known as an elk]), especially given the fact that it took a whole lot of time to get SWIPES and what that misleading clue was getting at (8A: [Gets credit, in a way]). Much more familiar with hearing a “Brillo Pad” instead of an SOS PAD (6D: [Pot scrubber]). I’ll be using that tomorrow when I make meatballs from scratch tomorrow. To boot, I am glad that I never had to use NODOZ at any time while I was in college to help stay up to study (40D: [Help in pulling an all-nighter]). Something about that made me scared to take it, and scared to sleep in front of my PROFS once I actually entered the classroom the next day (48D: [Many grad student advisers]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALI (5D: [Athlete who said, “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize]) – Not only is she the daughter of The Greatest, Laila ALI followed in her father’s footsteps, recording a perfect 24-0 career record in the boxing ring in a career spanning from 1999 to 2007. Last September, she achieved another feat: her first one-on-one interview with a certain Field blogger, at the U.S. Open in New York City.
Thank you so much for the time, and have yourself a great Memorial Day weekend! See you tomorrow!
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Am I missing something? Because this is not a theme. PEACECORPS / QUIETREVOLUTION and WHISPERJET seem to have a first word that is vaguely similar. PEACE is an mass noun suggesting tranquility; so is QUIET, I guess, though the two aren’t that near each other. Then you have WHISPER, which is not a mass noun, and refers to soft talking. I don’t understand. What is this?
- [Course designer], CHEF. Excellent clue! Who else was thinking along the lines of PETEDYE?
- [Virna of “How to Murder Your Wife”] LISI is not a name I knew, and its crossing with [One of many in “Oprhan Black”] CLONE may be tricky for many. I won the coin flip with CRONE!
- The TEMPI/ONEPM/TOPO/ENOL corner seems strangely subpar.
- [Locks in a zoo], MANE. Another good misdirection.
- [Avid surfers], NETIZENS. I think this word was last used ca. 2006?
- [Money-saving refuge], TAXHAVEN. The US is quickly becoming the world’s biggest…
- [Quattro competitor], ATRA and [Quattro, e.g.], AUDI – the tricky clecho saves ATRA’s bacon!
- [Sixth of five?], ESP. Another fun clue!
No rating as I’m sure I must be missing something…