Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Nice grid, with the stair-stepped 14s in the middle crossed by a couple 15s. This puzzle? It PASSED THE TIME, indeed. Highlights: The central stack with DON’T LET ME DOWN and ROBERT PRESTON too, LEGAL PAD, FREIGHT TRAINS with its five consecutive consonants, TRIAL RUN.
Worst fill: REAWOKEN. Reawakened is far better, no?
Five more things:
- 14a. [The “R” of E.R.], REGINA. Elizabeth Regina, queen of the Brexit place, and not emergency room.
- 51a. [Like the papacy of Pius IX, after St. Peter], LONGEST. Papal trivia! Who knew?
- 35d. [Brewery named for a Dutch river], AMSTEL. All right, whose clue is this? BREWS UP is directly above this answer.
- 30d. [TV drama starring Terrence Howard], EMPIRE. Haven’t seen it. I’ll get on that as soon as I’ve gotten around to The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, other hot shows I haven’t watched yet.
- 11d. [Los Angeles suburb next to San Fernando], LAKEVIEW TERRACE. Never heard of it.
Odd to see YULE LOG and EGG NOG in a June puzzle. I wonder if Patrick made this puzzle in December, or if those are just the entries that worked out.
3.9 stars from me.
Emory Ediger and Brad Wilber’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Checkered Employment History” — pannonica’s write-up
Pun-drenched theme here, but first a note on the title. It acronyms to CEH—so close. But I suppose Checkered History of Employment would be too stiff.
- 20a. [“At first I tried to become a barbecue guru. but I __ …”] SOON BURNED OUT. Charming.
- 28a. [“Then I attempted web developing, but things ___ …”] FAILED TO CLICK. I can’t believe it.
- 45a. [“Then I spent some time as a cabdriver, but I ___ …”] COULDN’T HACK IT. Too taxing, I suppose.
- 55a. [“Finally I took up tailoring and __”] FOUND A GOOD FIT. Suited to a T, eh?
I expect one’s reaction to this crossword more or less correlates to one’s tolerance for puns in general. These are fairly harmless (certainly much less awful than my slap-ons).
- By no means unfair, but the crossing of 62a [Austrian city where Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 premiered] LINZ and 46d [Father of Taoism] LAO TZU is probably the toughest in the grid, as one might reasonably consider an S for that spot. Wonder how often the more au courant LAOZI appears in crosswords?
- 7d [What the smell of bitter almonds suggests to Poirot] CYANIDE. 26d [Almond cousin, on a color wheel] ECRU.
- Completely new to me was 11d [Basque dance rhythm] ZORTZICO. That’s a helluva word. Another possible intersectional issue, as the more correct spelling is zortziko, and—speaking of au courant—33a [Denier __ (latest fashion] CRI mightn’t be readily evident to some.
- 13d [Marina del __, California] REY. #notastarwarsclue
- Some funny-looking stacks (e.g., BURS/ANAT/SINO, BLAT/LINZ/TUTU, USCGA/RIYAL) but most were clued and crossed to be gettable without too much effort, at leas in my experience. Ditto for singular fill such as ETYMA, DRU, AMFAR, ORNE.
- Seems that the ITO pendulum in crossword clues is swinging back to judge Lance, away from skater Midori. Is this because of the recent television miniseries?
- 64a [The yoke’s on them] TEAM. Anyone else reflexively put in OXEN?
- 43d [Beetle Bailey’s service branch] THE ARMY. Definite article threw me.
Good crossword, but I can see how the accumulated oddities might be off-putting to some solvers.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Batter’s Boxes” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, has a theme in which each of the theme entries all have the same four letters smack dab in the middle of the entry, C-A-K-E, but jumbled. A fifth theme entry, CAKE MIX, acts as the reveal (37A: [Batter beginner, or a description of the four letters in the exact centers of 20-, 29-, 46-, and 54-Across]).
- STEAK CUT (20A: [Chateaubriand or porterhouse])
- BLACK EYE (29A: [Possible brawling aftermath])
- BACK EAST (46A: [New England, colloquially]) – Have I heard this time used for New England before? I don’t think I have before today.
See bottom for final theme entry…
I immediately thought that APACHES had to be wrong, since it was in the plural form and the clue only referenced one person, but I guess you can refer to the tribe in the plural from the off (44D: [Cochise’s tribe]). Wasn’t too much of a fan of seeing both IS IT (7D: [“Really?”]) and CTS in the grid, let alone having them one right next to the other (8D: [Copper-colored coins (abbr.)]). However, I did love seeing ALACRITY, which is how I approach every assignment that I do, whether in sports or with crossword blogging…well, as long as a sports assignment doesn’t cause me to be late with my blogging (38D: [Promptness in response]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LARUE (6D: [Eva _____ of “CSI: Miami”]) – In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland TrailBlazers famously passed on Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, et al. to select Kentucky center Sam Bowie second overall in the draft. Twelve years earlier, the Blazers, with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected Loyola (Chicago) LARUE Martin. While Martin only played four seasons and averaged just over five points per game, two other players that Portland could have selected, Bob McAdoo (2nd overall pick in ’72 draft) and Dr. J, Julius Erving (12th overall pick), went on to become Hall of Famers.
Have a good rest of your Friday, and a good weekend. I’ll see you tomorrow, and until then…
…TAKE CARE (54A: [Phrase often used when parting])! No, I’m not yelling at you, despite the capital letters. Trust me!
Howard Barkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Although the basic clue reversal theme is a tired (and able to be reproduced almost limitlessly) theme trope, this has several twists that inject some whimsy and life into it. Howard initially confronts us with three clues that are simply [O]. But the O’s actually represent rings, and you probably can only decode this when you get to the bottom of the puzzle. THREERINGCIRCUS is an excellent 15 in its own right; as a revealer, it’s not precise, but with the clue includeing [… confused activity], it was pleasantly whimsical. Also notable, none of the three answer-clues are especially strained: CRIMINALNETWORK, BOXINGVENUE and WEDDINGBAND are all accurate and to-the-point. Perhaps stretching all your definitions to 15 is not actually a requirement?
A fairly sedate, though solidly-filled, grid outside of the theme:
- [Angles for iron users], DOGLEGS is a clever clue. The irons are golf irons.
- [Spoke Abyssinian?], MEWED is cleverer. My favourite clue today! It refers to Abyssinian cats.
- [Toast topping], OLEO. So if people don’t typically call it that these days, what do they call it?
- [Wielder of Mjolnir], THOR. Has MJOLNIR been in a puzzle yet?