David Liben-Nowell’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Today’s constructor is a professor at my alma mater, Carleton College. You’re all pretty excited about that out in crosswordland, aren’t you? (No? Well, you should be!) And if I’d put myself in a Carleton frame of mind, I’d have gotten 1-Across a lot faster than I did.
This 70-worder, anchored by the very meta 32a: THIRTY-TWO ACROSS, played more like a Saturday puzzle to me. Same for you, or was I just not attuned to the puzzle’s Friday wavelength?
- 1a. [Ultimate necessity], FRISBEE. For the sport of Ultimate, aka Ultimate Frisbee. It’s big at Carleton. Crossworder and Carleton grad Seth Grossinger plays on a Grand Masters Ultimate team that’s won some titles.
- 17a. [Intro to Comp Sci, for Data Structures, e.g.], PREREQ. Guess what subject Prof. Liben-Nowell teaches.
- 45a. [Auto name discontinued in 1986], DATSUN. Currently Nissan. I still miss the Datsun name.
- 52a. [Nobody special], ANYONE. Was it really necessary for the word “one” to appear in the adjacent clues for OSCAR and JANET?
- 57a. [Order that’s rarely followed?], DESSERT. Indeed. The restaurant server seldom offers another round with the dessert menu at that point. Can you imagine if they did?
- 5d. [Place for a long run, maybe], BROADWAY. Really nice clue, alluding to theatrical runs. With a marathoner in the house, that’s not where my mind went. Speaking of marathons, for his Chicago Marathon run next month, my husband’s raising money for Cornerstone Community Outreach. CCO is a Chicago org that houses and feeds homeless folks, as well as helping them find permanent housing. We’d be so grateful if a few of you were to click through and make a donation for a great cause.
- 12d. [Largest sesamoid bones], KNEECAPS. You’ve got a variety of these smallish, oval-shaped bones in your body. There are teeny sesamoid bones in your big toe joint … and both my husband and I have suffered the pain of sesamoiditis. (What are the odds? We’re not blood relatives. You know anyone else with sesamoiditis?)
- 26d. [Contract employee?], HITMAN. Good clue here. It reminds me of Gary Gulman’s stand-up routine on Conan, in which “contractor” gets some wordplay. It’s a must-watch video! He purports to be telling the story of how the 2-letter postal abbreviations were devised, and it’s a delightfully nerdy sort of humor.
- 39d. [Southernmost city on I-35], LAREDO. I-35 passes near Northfield, Minnesota, as well as 8d ST PAUL, en route to the northern terminus, Duluth.
- 52d. [“What you can get away with,” according to Andy Warhol], ART. Huh.
I wasn’t excited about stacked partials A DAY/A PIPE, plural OHS, awkward BE SORE and IS NEAR (don’t want to see fill like WAS MAD, AM GONE, etc.), the OISE, partial I LED, and plural abbrev APRS.
3.75 stars from me. Enjoy your Friday!
Jascha Smilack’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “X-traneous” — pannonica’s write-up
Phrases have an X affixed to their ends for the expected unexpected results.
- 18a. [Migration, essentially?] AVIAN FLUX.
- 23a. [indispensably helpful cat?] RIGHT-HAND MANX.
- 46a. [World Series prediction that’s dismissive of Boston and Chicago?] I DON’T THINK SOX.
- 57a. [Spending every waking moment on Instagram?] LIFE OF PIX.
In all instances the apportionment of words is unchanged; that is, no reconfigurations via different spacing. So it isn’t necessary at all for me to present the originals.
Speaking of “X-traneous”, there are three additional Xs in the grid, two crossing themers:
- 30d/42a GEN-X, ICE AX.
- 52d/59a X-AXES, TIMEX.
- 33d/63a ARCTIC FOX, INXS. Factette: The [Lemming predator] was for a long time classified in its own genus, Alopex (note terminal X!), but has recently been subsumed into the more common Vulpes; that is, it’s now considered a junior synonym. Alopex—Greek for ‘fox’—also lends its name to the thresher shark‘s genus.
To exhaust the letter report, here are the words crossing the terminal Xs of the theme answers: 13d SAXE-Coburg, 11d RELAX, DUDE, 52d X-AXES, 49d HEXED.
- The other four (!) long down entries are the snazzy POSTHASTE, FRIED RICE, QUINTUPLE, and JACKKNIFE.
- Had a little trouble in the central area. Wasn’t sure if 21a [AM frequency meas.] was MHZ or KHZ, and therefore whether 21a [Bauhaus instructor] was (first name indicator not present) MIES van der Rohe or Paul KLEE. This was before I’d finalized 6d [City west of Daytona Beach] OCALA and, more significantly, the crossings to help with 8d [Takeout side that often contains scrambled eggs] FRIED RICE: 27a [Soldier from Seoul] ROK, 34a [Stick in the medicine cabinet] Q-TIP (stick? really? not my first association, despite a preference for the kind with wooden shafts), 41a [Chantilly’s department] OISE, 38d [Fall in with] JOIN, 38a [Titillating] JUICY. Obviously, not all of these are onerous, but it took a while to tease them together.
- 64a [Fuse with a blowtorch] WELD. From Wikpedia: “The blowtorch is commonly used where a diffuse (wide spread) high temperature naked flame heat is required but not so hot as to cause combustion or welding. Temperature applications: soldering, brazing, softening paint for removal, melting roof tar, or pre-heating large castings before welding such as for repairing. It is also common for use in weed control by controlled burn methods, melting snow and ice from pavements and driveways in cold climate areas, especially the United States and Canada road repair crews may use a blowtorch to heat asphalt or bitumen for repairing cracks in preventive maintenance. It is also used in cooking; one common use is for the creation of the layer of hard caramelized sugar in a crème brûlée.” (emphasis mine)
- Don’t know why my first impulse for 59d [Something closed at last call] was TAP rather than TAB. TAP doesn’t make too much sense, though the association is obvious. Conversely, the trickiness of 1a [Go downhill say] seems intentional—it’s SLOPE, not SLIDE.
A cute puzzle, but not a big splash for the first CHE crossword after a long hiatus.
Mark Feldman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
OK, the theme is SPOONER-isms: DUMPTRUCK to TRUMPDUCK, RUNNINGCOACH to CUNNINGROACH, CRUSHINGBLOW to BLUSHINGCROW, and TOUGHROAD to ROUGHTOAD. It’s an open-ended theme, though the chosen constraint today appears to be that all the spoonerisms result in the formation of animals: two birds, one insect, and one amphibian – no mammals!
I’m not sure I can find much more to say – the grid is clean, though without too much colour – LIPSYNC is a fun answer, and the clue of the puzzle is clearly [Stranded messenger] for RNA – that’s higher grade biology wordplay for sure! OCTAVOS and PAROL form the “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” section…
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Threepeats” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everyone! Another long day here at the US Open, so only can do a real quick review. Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, literally turns phrases that include the word “triple” and triples the noun it’s describing.
- AXEL AXEL AXEL (20A: [Figure skating feat, literally]) – Triple Axel.
- CROWN CROWN CROWN (35A: [Horse racing feat, literally]) – Triple Crown.
- PLAY PLAY PLAY (51A: [Baseball feat, literally]) – Triple Play.
Can’t stay long at all, but let’s combine the theme and the “Sports…smarter” moment. I think you’ll like it. As most people know, regardless of your sports fandom, that triple plays are very rare to see in baseball. Did you know that, on July 18, 1990 game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti started two triple plays in the same game? Take it away, Mel Allen!
Have a great first weekend of September, everyone! See you tomorrow!
NYT: An additional, subtle and probably unintentional allusion in the BROADWAY clue is that the street is the only one that runs the entire length of Manhattan island. Plus the Bronx, plus Yonkers …
My Grandfather and Uncle are both Carleton alums, so I was a little bit excited.
One of my nephews is a Carlton student & spent the summer on the hill in D.C as an intern with IL Sen. Dick Durbin. Last summer he worked for the Illinois Secretary of State.. Can’t wait to see what next! Hillary?
Definitely a Saturday for me. I have had plantar fasciitis and tendinitis (or tendonitis, apparently both are used), but never sesamoiditis. I think most of those injuries are overuse related.
East was much harder than the West. Only the SW was easy for me.
I’ll have you know my sesamoids are congenitally bipartite! I’m quite averse to overuse. My husband’s were broken by overuse (see also: marathoner).
NYT: definitely felt more like a Saturday for me. I try not to look at anyone else’s completion times from Friday on because it’s a little disheartening. I have trouble getting the Friday/Saturdays done in one sitting and usually need a few minutes of mental recharging to solve them.
Really liked the elegance of 32A and how it fitted pefectly in a 15×15 grid.
Professor Liben-Nowell told me he had a puzzle coming up when he was over for dinner on Monday. I (am embarrassed that I…) didn’t get 1A instantly, but I did laugh at the PREREQ clue.
Okay, I feel better about not getting 1a more quickly.
Where has Jascha been