David Woolf’s New York Times Crossword, “Traffic Intersections” — Ben’s write-up
Glad Midsommar, everyone! I celebrated with some Swedish friends this afternoon, and there was frog dancing, a pig roast, multiple shots of Aquavit, and at least 5 different types of pickled herring to celebrate the solstice.
I enjoyed this Sunday’s NYT puzzle, although I needed to make sure I had its special squares colored in correctly after printing on my black-and-white laser printer – I recommend solving this one online if you can so the colored squares are clear.
The title “Traffic Intersections” made it clear that the special squares in this week’s grid are traffic lights. I live in Boston (where these seem to be optional suggestions), but my Minnesota upbringing meant I knew exactly how to treat the answers that intersected with these squares:
- 31A: Showing acute embarrassment, say — BEET (RED)
- 32A: Anti-Communist fervor — (RED) SCARE
- 11D: Detroit Tiger whose #5 is retired — HANK (GREEN)BERG
- 34A: 1991 film with the tagline “The secret’s in the sauce” — FRIED (GREEN) TOMATOES
- 5D: Like the moon during a total lunar eclipse — BLOOD (RED)
- 40D: 1948 John Wayne film — (RED) RIVER
- 46A: The world, idiomatically — GOD’S (GREEN) EARTH
- 26D: Is angry — SEES (RED)
- 52D: Trips in the dark? — (RED) EYES
- 62A: Trident piece? — WINTER(GREEN) GUM
- 45D: Cornell athletes — BIG (RED)
- 69D: Ginger feature — (RED) HAIR
- 92A: Illegal action shown literally in this answer? — RUNNING A (RED) LIGHT
- 67D: Frozen aisle icon — JOLLY (GREEN) GIANT
- 98A: Blushes — TURNS (RED)
- 99A: Cinnamon-flavored candy — (RED) HOTS
- 75D: Symbol of Washington State — EVER(GREEN) TREE
Obeying traffic laws, entries crossing at the marked intersections stop at (RED) lights and go through (GREEN) lights. There’s one (thematic) exception to this, at 92A, although I can’t decide if I approve of it breaking the rule set up in the rest of the puzzle or not. All in all, a cute theme that was easy to crack and fun to solve once you knew what was going on.
Elsewhere in the grid, there was plenty of other great fill besides the theme entries. I spent a lot of time covering the theme entries, so I’ll keep it brief here. Loved the cluing for BEAVER at 38A (“Feller in a forest?”), as well as the appearance of MADLIB, SLEAZO, NOONER (which I definitely think of a certain kind of “Meeting around lunchtime”), and NON-EVENT in the across fill. For the downs, CO-CREATOR was nice, as were ERSATZ, TALLINN (Estonia), GENTEEL, MY MISTAKE, and SANTACON (an event that is a terrible excuse for people to get hammered and clog the streets in Santa costumes in Boston, nevermind NYC or DC where it’s reportedly worse).
One final thing that didn’t get the green light from me on this puzzle: E-DATES (47D) are not a thing. “Tinder successes” are DATES. DATES that happen in person, not online. You can’t just slap an E- on a noun willy-nilly and call it a new piece of fill. I say this as a so-called “millennial”.
I have a hunch that your opinion of this puzzle will depend depending on how you feel about its red/green squares, but I loved it and thought the rest of the puzzle was equally interesting. 4.25 stars from me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “I Ching”—Andy’s review
“The I Ching, or Classic of Changes, is an ancient divination text and the oldest of the Chinese classics. Possessing a history of more than two and a half millennia of commentary and interpretation, the I Ching is an influential text read throughout the world, providing inspiration to the worlds of religion, psychoanalysis, business, literature, and art.
The I Ching uses a type of divination called cleromancy, which produces apparently random numbers. Four numbers, 6 to 9, are turned into a hexagram, which can then be looked up in the I Ching book, arranged in an order known as the King Wen sequence.”
Of course, none of that is relevant to solving this puzzle. It doesn’t take an ancient divination manual to see that the theme here is just inserting the string CHING into normal phrases to get punny results:
- 23a, ORCHESTRA PITCHING [Job for the philharmonic’s publicist?].
- 41a, NOTCHING FOR SALE [Sign over a woodcarver’s shop?].
- 83a, TEACHING CADDIES [Country club mentors?].
- 106a, HAMBURGER BUNCHING [Crowding on the barbecue grill?].
- 16d, BROADWAY HITCHING [Marriage of theater performers?].
- 36d, EVENING STARCHING [Late-shift laundry job?].
Only six theme answers, but they’re all fairly long ones. Also a lot of long surrounding fill–some of it good (MT SHASTA, “YOU MISSED!”, FEAST DAY, WAVES IN, TAPE DECK), and some of it less s0 (REPACKER, ON A BUST). Interesting Price Is Right clue for ALL THIS [What “can be yours … if the price is right!”]. The Britishisms crossing of RASING [Devon demolition work] and RUB UP [Refresh one’s knowledge of, to a Brit] stood out to me. It seems like the Brits use “rub up” the way we use “brush up.” Any Brits care to weigh in?
I had the terminal –LF for [To whom Alice said, “Why, they’re only a pack of cards] and thought, “No, it couldn’t be…” Oh, dear readers, it could be: HERSELF. Very nice clue, I thought.
CD FILE? That’s not a thing, right? There are files that can be burned onto CDs, but “CD” isn’t a file format. A “green paint” kind of answer for me.
Overall, a refreshing challenge. The theme was of standard difficulty for LAT Sundays, but the grid was much tougher (much like Jeffrey’s signature LAT Friday puzzles). Until next week!
Brendan Emmett’s Quigley’s CRooked crossword, “Last Shift” — pannonica’s write-up
Another entry in the add/drop/change a letter/letters theme. Here, in two word phrases, the last letter of the first word is shifted one place down in the alphabetic sequence. Explaining this is more cumbersome than experiencing it.
- 22a. [Deeply ill composer Edvard?] GRIEG STRICKEN (grief-stricken, f→g). See also, 111a [“Peer Gynt” dancer] ANITRA.
- 38a. [Pilfer blades?] STEAL KNIVES (steak knives).
- 68a. [Tease Strauss’s hair?] PRIMP LEVI (Primo Levi). Even though I hadn’t worked out the theme by the time I saw this, I knew that 22-across would contain GRIEG, thus suspecting that RICHARD might be part of this answer, and that theme would have a classical composer angle.Nope! That was a bit of a monkey wrench.
- 96a. [Deposed leader’s rugs?] SHAH CARPETS (shag carpets).
- 115a. [Cause of connectivity issues on the Web?] MODEM BEHAVIOR. Modems are still a thing, right? Built in to a router? See also, the preceding 113a [Reason for a good recpetion] ANTENNA.
- 3d. [Santiago smarty?] CHILE PRODIGY (child prodigy).
- 15d. [Egyptian dog?] CAIRO TERRIER (Cairn terrier). From one place name to another. See also, 33d [Actress Ione] SKYE.
- 58d. [Sort of nonconformity?] QUASI-DISSENT (quash dissent). Thought this might start with QUEER–.
- 64d. [Methods of bundling up for winter?] SCARF TACTICS (scare tactics).
Okay, this theme works. Doesn’t set my heart ablaze, but it’s 76a SOLID and enjoyable.
Let’s see what notables I can find in a plow-through of the clues and answers.
- Favorite clues and fill: 21d [Branding figure] AD EXEC, 63a [Dog covering] RELISH, 8d [Gossip] CHINWAG.
- 27d [Russian] SOVIET. I don’t believe those two are interchangeable.
- 44d [Romantic partners, for short] SOS. Significant Other, pluralized. Not great, but a welcome change from dit-dit-dit, dah-dah-dah, dit-dit-dit, distress signal.
- Similarly interesting to see 106a CHE Guevera clued with ‘diplomat’ as the sole descriptor.
- Nice to see a—what is it the kids say?—shout-out to desert wackos and SST mainstays the Meat Puppets in 54-down’s CRIS Kirkwood. I’ll keep it gentle with their big hit “UP ON the Sun”.
- Least favorite fill: AS ROMA, VENDEE, ARETE, baseballer Jim THOME, pokerist Phil IVEY, NDA (non-disclosure agreement), TAS (teaching assistants) and TA-TA.
- 84d [Actress name-checked in “Anything Goes”] ANNA STEN. Not to be confused with Jennifer Aniston.
- 87d [Window-closing key] ESC. Sometimes it’s ALT-F4, sometimes CTRL-W. No, I’d rather not see those in-grid.
As much as I like Edward E(llington), not a big fan of his arrangement of Edvard G(rieg)’s Peer Gynt Suite, so…
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “E-trade” – Jenni’s writeup
I am in New Haven at a conference and I can tell you that everything you’ve heard about New Haven pizza is true. Yum. There were also drinks. There was dessert. There was lively chatter. I tell you this to explain my slightly slow (and every so palindromic) time on this puzzle.
“E-trade” is an internet-based investment company. You may have seen one of their ads during the Super Bowl. In Evan’s hands, “E-trade” is a double-barreled clue to the theme. Each theme answer is an odd phrase made up of two words that when flipped (or traded) turn into the name of a company with an app (an e-trade.) I like this theme. It’s accessible and interestingly layered all at the same time. Mmm. Layers. Cake. No, I already had cake….OK, I’m back. Here are the theme answers:
- 23a [Enumerate people like comedians Kilborn, Ferguson, Robinson, etc?] = LIST CRAIGS (Craigslist.)
- 25a [Zipper?] = FLY SHUTTER (Shutterfly.) I hadn’t figured out the theme yet and I spent a long time trying to make this “fly swatter,” which was – disturbing.
- 39a [Where you can major in funny business?] = HUMOR COLLEGE (Collegehumor. Sophomoric. Hah.)
- 55a [Unhip astronaut, say?] = Space square (Squarespace.)
- 68a [Construction work?] = BUILDER CAREER (Career builder.)
- 79a [Cabinet member’s excursion?] = ADVISOR TRIP (Tripadvisor.)
- 91a [Chess expert’s requirement for attending a chess tournament?] = MASTER TICKET (Ticketmaster.)
- 111a [What a high-tech spy experiences each day?] = HACKER LIFE (Lifehacker.)
- 114a [Thunder, eg] = CLOUD SOUND (Soundcloud.) This is the only app on the list that I own and thus it’s when I figured out the theme, finally.
A few other things:
- 5a [Completely lost….unless you’re a pirate, and if so, carry on] = AT SEA. It was a gimme, and it was a gimme that made me laugh. Nice.
- 47d [“Ignore all of my orders,” e.g.] = PARADOX. Another laugh.
- We get Ouagadougou in the clue list by dint of cross-referencing BURKINA and FASO. I’m glad Ouagadougou was in the clues and not in the grid.
- Blast from the past at 117a: [Kid list writer Blyton] is ENID.
- I saw [Judd of note] at 42a and figured it was one of the singing Judds. “Of note.” Nope. It’s Judd HIRSCH. Good misdirection. Then I saw [Judd of note] at 104d and this time it was NAOMI. I enjoyed that.
I enjoyed this whole puzzle. I enjoyed the dinner and the drinks and the dessert that preceded it and now I will enjoy my last night in the hotel bed before I head home.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was a movie called “Hot Fuzz” and that it was directed by EDGAR Wright.
Alan Arbesfeld’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well on this fantastic Sunday weather wise – at least here on the East Coast. Today’s Challenge was brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, and it was definitely a stroll in the park that was definitely enjoyable when making your way through the grid. Lots of long fill you can sink your teeth into today, with LORELEI LEE being probably the standout for me, and not just because I asked myself whether gentlemen actually do prefer blondes (62A: [Iconic role for Marilyn Monroe]). Actually took me a while longer than it should have to get DOUBLE DATE (30D: [Outing for a quartet]) since I, for some reason, put in Fathers (FRS) instead of Doctors (DRS) on one of its crossings (30D: [John and Ruth]). I guess solving in the heat outside can cause some brain locks! No real issue with the grid either, except for the crosswordese that’s dripping from ETTES (51D: [Kitchen extensions?]). A couple of years ago, I was playing tennis on a somewhat regular basis, and I always marvel at the people who are able to have a consistent ball TOSS with their serve (44D: [Part of a tennis serve]). I say that because my ball toss has never been consistent, and, without that, can mess up the rest of your game. I mean, the point starts with the serve! I stopped hitting the hard courts for a while, but if anyone here has a tip or two with improving your ball toss and/or making it consistent, let me know! I’m 6’4″, so I’m thinking that the lower the ball toss, the better. But who knows!.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MARV (27D: [First name in play-by-play]) – Instead of focusing on the broadcaster (Albert), I want to quickly mention the former New England Patriots tight end of the late 80s and early 90s, MARV Cook. Picked in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft out of the University of Iowa, Marv proved to be one of the few bright spots on an dreadful New England Patriots teams, making the Pro Bowl in both 1991 and 1992. In 1991, Cook had 82 receptions, which was fourth in the entire league, ranking only behind the combination of Haywood Jeffries and Drew Hill of the “run-and-shoot” Houston Oilers and Michael Irvin of the Dallas Cowboys.
Have a great rest of your Sunday, everybody!
>how you feel about its red/green squares
I anticipate this puzzle will be absolute total nonsense to most everyone who sees this in regular paper-printed medium in a week (syndication), when it’s printed in complete black and white with no cues whatsoever.
It will be chaos! Complete chaos!
That’s…definitely going to be interesting. The constructor notes over on the NYT site indicate that the red/green squares were Will’s addition – David wanted the way those black squares behave to be an extra “aha” for the solver.
Will probably thought it too not obvious. You even write that “I needed to make sure I had its special squares colored in correctly”, which seems to indicate you needed them. Having not solved the puzzle for myself (you know week, syndie), do you feel like you could have handled it without the cues?
That’s perhaps the question to ask for all involved.
I needed to color my squares in since I have a black-and-white laser printer and wanted to make sure I had the colorings from the grid correctly indicated on my print-off from the NYT site.
I think it may have taken me a little longer to solve today’s puzzle without them, but I would have figured out what was going on eventually – there have been a few other puzzles that have done things similar to this without any special markings in the grid (the AV Club’s “Manspreading” puzzle comes to mind) and the “aha” there was a nice add-in.
I never thought of the syndication issue. I’ll be curious to see what the “I-don’t-read-the-blurb” computer solvers have to think of the puzzle in comparison to everyone else. That’ll probably tell you how it’ll play in syndication. Also (surprise!) Will was probably correct in including the colored squares. I suppose that’s why he’s the editor.
It’s a nice concept. I’m looking forward to solving this next week. The only question I have is how it’ll translate out when it comes to people seeing this in print medium, especially since most I know (personally) who crossword solve don’t go anywhere near the Internet. Time will tell I’m sure.
As a confirmed “we don’t need no stinkin’ notes” solver, I loved this puzzle. Took me a while to see the [missing] reds, but [RED] SCARE just had to be, and even longer to catch the greens … and even longer than that to see the intersections. I think I started the puzzle before I’d had enough caffeine. The aha moment, for me, may have been exactly what the constructor was aiming for. Seeing the colors would have made it far too easy. This is one of the few puzzles I’ve ever given 5.
Like Norm, I, too, never look at the notepad and enjoyed the puzzle immensely probably due to not knowing about the color “crutches.” What’s left to solve if you already know about the colors?? just filling in the words??
I figured out that there would be red/green intersections immediately (mostly due to the overly-informative title!) but it took me the entire puzzle to figure out the relevance of the red “stops” and the green “gos.” Really nice puzzle David!!
It seems to me that you answered your own question:
“What’s left to solve if you already know about the colors??”
” … but it took me the entire puzzle to figure out the relevance of the red ‘stops’ and the green ‘gos.'”
I think it’s great if some solvers choose not to look at the notes. But it seems to me that this would have been a very difficult Sunday puzzle without the note and/or the colors in the grid.
Do that on a Saturday, okay – but I suspect that Sunday solvers are much closer to early-week solvers than late-week solvers.
I agree that it was a nice puzzle – but without the colors in the grid (or some clue as to what was going on – beyond just the puzzle title), I would have found it a pain in the butt to solve. And in the end – if I managed to figure it out – I probably would have been annoyed as much as impressed.
Breaking the thematic rule at 92a/94a, RUNNING A (RED) LIGHT, is mentioned in the clue itself, [Illegal action shown literally in this answer?] That setup made the rule-breaking work for me. Really enjoyable theme overall.
Agreed. It functioned as revealer.
Is a tape deck really a music “source”? I wouldn’t call it that – it doesn’t create music at all, just plays it back.
If you were trying to track where music was coming from and found a tape deck playing, it could be considered a music source.
NYT: Appreciate the comment on NOONER, which for some reason is always played straight. Could do with a question mark, at least. The Apartment came out 50 years ago. We can take it.
The tips is amazingly significant.|
Not sure if anyone is still reading, this being an old post.
Gary R writes:
“I think it’s great if some solvers choose not to look at the notes. But it seems to me that this would have been a very difficult Sunday puzzle without the note and/or the colors in the grid.”
Which is why I brought up how this would look in news print. Most of the solving base is going to be getting it this Sunday in the context of the local paper, which one has to ask whether the concept will fly. A lot of them don’t if it won’t translate to B&W news print.
“Do that on a Saturday, okay – but I suspect that Sunday solvers are much closer to early-week solvers than late-week solvers.”
True. I’m sure Mr. Shortz has done statistics based on circulation if anything else that has probably been shared somewhere. But, the largest (and casual) NYT solving audience is sure to be the Sunday grid (2nd Wednesday) based on everything I’m aware of. How many just randomly get a Sunday paper at the newsstand (me before I started this hobby among many others). How many just get a Sun or Sun-Wed subscription. How many get the Sun paper as part of a subscription deal to smaller local papers. It’s the time the non-hobbyists have the most time to play with, coupled with the most circulated time.
Consequently, for something to play well to the majority of the solvers on that day, it’d have to be pretty well polished and drawn out, and pretty straightly played. Think more Wednesday level, as opposed to Thurs-Sat (and some Sun grids), of which several rather “interesting” pejoratives could easily be applied (and have) by more casual solvers.
Anyhow, like I wrote above, I’ll find out for myself Sunday how this grid goes.
FWIW, the burning question here about syndication is answered: This NYT puzzle was not run in my paper. Instead a puzzle entitled “Artful Thinking” by Tracy Bennett was re-run. I guess that’s the answer to how well this puzzle was thought of in syndication.