Ben Tausig’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
So I solved the puzzle but didn’t get the thumbs-up from the solving software because I pretty much ignored the end of the clue for GENDER-FLUID, 37a. [Having a variable identity, as suggested by four squares in this puzzle]. This isn’t a tournament, and it is late in the evening—so I didn’t bother reviewing the whole puzzle to find them, I just used the “check” function and homed in on the squares that I’ve circled. I had an M or F in each of them, but I needed to enter both of them. 1a. [Part of a house] was a weird clue for ROOM … and it’s also a weird clue for ROOF. F and M, your gender-fluid options here.
To 4d. [Fabricate] something is to MAKE it, or lie and FAKE it. 5a. [Old-seeming] clues both MUSTY and FUSTY (I prefer FUSTY). This one crosses 5d. [Reveal a secret, say], FESS UP or MESS UP (by violating a confidence, a bit stretchier of a clue there).
61a. [Topic to ask a fortuneteller about] is FATE or MATE. 45d. [It’s combined at the beginning] clues PREFIX or PREMIX.
67a. [Tough stuff to walk through] is MIRE or FIRE. 60d. [Word that can precede sex] crisply clues both SAME and SAFE; I wonder if this was the seed for the puzzle.
So it’s sort of a Schrödinger theme, but with the letters that change strictly limited to M and F. Although in a GENDER-FLUID puzzle, sometimes those letters might be both, or neither. *deep thoughts*
Three more things:
- 12d. [Snake’s place, partly], OREGON. That would be the Snake River. This whole corner was tough. TORO clued as sushi (which I cannot eat, so don’t give me any crap about my unfamiliarity with the ways of sushi), a tricky clue for XEROX ([Run off, in a way]), the uncommon phrases GO NEXT and LOW ART … it’s a good thing I encountered AC/DC’s “TNT” during my adolescence to help out here.
- 1d. [Cause of some allergy flare-ups], RAGWEED. You know what? I’ve only been hit by seasonal allergies once. It was in May 2007, in England. I thought I had the worst cold of my life until I tried an antihistamine (one that’s not available over the counter in the U.S., which is a shame because it was amazing) and was 95% cured. I was lucky on the allergy front (but I make up for it in other ways).
- 10d. [Best-selling author who was a neighbor of Twain in Hartford], STOWE. Harriet Beecher Stowe, I presume. I’d have gotten this a lot faster if she were clued by her work rather than the guy who lived nearby.
4.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Back In School” — Ben’s Review
It’s September already! Feels like we were just starting the summer. 6 years on from graduation, there’s something in my brain that’s still attuned to the academic calendar – living in a massive college town like Boston doesn’t do much to tamp that down, either. 2016 may have started in January, but September still feels like a new year in Cambridge.
BEQ seems to be in the same spirit with this week’s theme entries:
- 18A: Sly’s emo boxer? — SULLEN ROCKY
- 20A: Letters from a Muslim’s deity? — ALLAH NOTES
- 30A: Rouse Martin known for nailing tenets to a church door? — AWAKEN A LUTHERAN
- 42A: “I need help getting this into English”? — HELP ME TRANSLATE
- 57A: Mos uncomfortable place to sleep for overnight guests? — WORST FUTON
- 60A: Wreck Italy’s capital? — DESTROY ROME
It’s all about going back to school – a college’s name is backwards in each entry. From top to bottom, we have CORNELL, SETON HALL, TULANE, TEMPLE, TUFTS (the first entry I got since it’s basically in my backyard), and EMORY.
I’ll keep my other notes short and sweet this time, since I need a bit more coffee:
- 9D: “___ was crazy and could be grounded” (“Catch-22”) — ORR (Finding a new clue for ORR is admirable, but I read Catch-22 earlier this year and I couldn’t place this answer without the crossings.)
- 36D: Supposedly unscripted programming — REALITY TV (I can tell I’ve been programming again because I was trying to parse this into some name of a programming language.)
- other fill I liked: CADRE, REEBOK, BUGLE CALL, CO-HOST
Tracey Gordimer’s (Mike Shenk’s?) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Back to School” — Jim’s review
Four-letter school names are found backwards in four theme answers.
- 16a [Signal to start playing] MUSICAL CUE & 47d [School back in 16-Across] UCLA
- 24a [Resistance-measuring device] BRIDGE CIRCUIT & 25d [School back in 24-Across] RICE
- 42a [Jambalaya seasoning] CAYENNE PEPPER & 49d [School back in 42-Across] PENN
- 54a [Art director’s creation] PAGE LAYOUT & 33d [School back in 54-Across] YALE
The theme is fine. BRIDGE CIRCUIT is a little out there as a theme entry, though. Heck, I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and I didn’t even know the term (Note: I’m not claiming to be a good electrical engineer).
But the puzzle gets completely bogged down in trivia and proper names. Here’s the list: NILS Lofgren, E Street Band guitarist (among many other things) and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; GIA [Scala of “The Price of Fear”]; James ARNESS, [Marshall Dillon’s portrayer] in Gunsmoke, and the only name from this list I recognized; [British historian A.L.] ROWSE crossing ELIAS [Literature Nobelist Canetti] — yikes(!); and [Saxophonist Beneke] (TEX), associate of Glenn Miller and soloist heard in “In The Mood.” Lastly, we needed to know that Grant Wood was an IOWAN; he’s the painter of American Gothic, by the way.
But wait, there’s more: PAVANES are [Stately dances of the Renaissance]; EGER is a [Hungarian town known for its red wine] — not by me, though; Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is apparently a pub in London that serves up ALES; and finally, “tintinnabulation” means PEALS, though Wikipedia describes it as “the lingering sound of a ringing bell that occurs after the bell has been struck.” Interestingly, the word was coined by good ol’ E.A. Poe.
More things that irked: A [Horn sound] is not a BEEP or TOOT, but a BLAT, and I’ve never heard that CHI CHI meant [Pretentiously stylish]. [“___ unrelated matter…”] sounds to me like IN AN, but nope, it’s ON AN. And SYL is just plain bad [Pronunc. part]. I didn’t even know “pronunciation” could be abbreviated.
There are some highlights in the grid: ROCKET SHIP [Tom Swift’s Star Spear, e.g.] — more trivia, I know — FRIENDED, and OVERACT. We also get IN EXCHANGE and TOP LAYER (or TO PLAYER, if you prefer).
So while the theme is okay, it’s completely dominated by uncommon proper names and trivial clues, and yes, a few sub-par entries.
Let’s end on a good note, though, just as the puzzle did. 61a is [2015 film that got a Best Picture nomination]. I don’t recall hearing about the film, but ROOM looks very powerful.
Al Hollmer and C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Interesting concept – otherwise unrelated settings for different types of strikes. Two are sports venues: BASEBALLPARK and BOWLINGALLEY. The FRONTLINE (of a war, though not specified) and a UNIONSHOP (wasn’t sure what that precisely was; it seems to be a workplace where union membership is required). All valid phrases, not roll-your-own ones, which is a big strength. What other options were there? Perhaps MININGCLAIM or similar, though can’t find a punchy way of connecting that sense of the word. Anyway…
The top left stack is great: CAMERASHY and TRIMESTER; I would’ve preferred a pregnancy clue for the latter, personally. PALOOKA and ABALONE are also vibrant one-word choices. The latter is usually called perlemoen here.
Lots of sportsing going on the centre: Rene LACOSTE, IAN Woosnam (not his golf contemporary Baker-Finch) and CAL Ripken in the same area as the two thematic sports venues. Might have been an idea to spread those names around a little…
- [Shady garden denizen], HOSTA – the clue’s use of “shady” for “shade-loving” felt a little too loose and cute for me.
- [Psychologist May], ROLLO – Not a name I know.
- [They’re often found in dens], RECLINERS – the clue of the puzzle!
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Get It While It’s Hot” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Thursday, everyone! Oh, and Happy September, the best month of the entire year! (OK, I might be a little biased because my birthday is this month.) Today’s puzzle was brought to us by Buster Poindexter…oops, I mean David Johansen…oops, I mean Mr. Jeff Chen. Here’s hoping the audience reading this is old enough to know why I just made those references. If not, you’ll see near the very end of my blog. The theme is straightforward, so I won’t explain it here. I’ll let the upcoming YouTube video do that.
- STOLEN CAR (17A: [It’s hot!])
- LATEST FAD (24A: [It’s hot!])
- SPICY FOOD (35A: [It’s hot!]) – Love my spicy foods!
- LOVE SCENE (50A: [It’s hot!])
- SUMMER DAY (57A: [It’s hot!]) – This entire summer in New York has pretty much been scorching!
You see OHO in grids a lot (39D: [“What do we have here?”]). You see AHA in grids a lot as well (46A: [“By George, I think I’ve got it!”]). But OHO crossing AHA? Well, that’s new for me in terms of seeing that in a grid. Loved all of the theme entries, as none of the themes seemed to be a stretch. Also liked the paralleling answers of I DISAGREE (34D: [“That’s bunk”]) and FULL BLAST, with the latter being something I’m finding myself saying more and more (4D: [At maximum power]). Before heading out though, I think I’m converting one of my new friends here inside of the USTA Media Room, Ben, into a crossword junkie. We’ve been talking crosswords for the past two days, ever since I saw him work on yesterday’s New York Times at the front desk.Have to head out as the tennis matches are resuming after a rain delay. But don’t think that I forgot about the video. Here’s it is…and it’s Hot! Hot! Hot!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTIS (62A: [Redding who sang “The Dock of the Bay”]) – Though the New York Mets wanted to make him an infielder, former Kansas City Royals star Amos OTIS went on to become one of the best two-way outfielders in Major League Baseball in the 1970s. Otis was a part of some great Kansas City Royals teams of the 1970s, as he made five All-Star Game appearances and won three Gold Gloves. In the 1980 World Series, Otis hit .478 with three home runs and was the Royals’ best hitter in their series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
TGIF tomorrow! Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you then!