Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay! All is right with the world. The Friday NYT is at its standard difficulty level as a balm to the solvers who were beaten up the last couple Fridays or who loathed the deliciously insane Thursday puzzle. And it’s a Berry puzzle, with all sorts of tasty clues. I like the grid, with its stacked 9s all bordered by peripheral 9s broken into pairs of 4s. Pretty smooth for a 66-worder, but I’m not here to talk about the fill. Let’s appreciate these clues:
- 17a. [Life preserver?], CEREAL BOX. I’m more of a Cheerios person, but that can’t hide in plain sight as the first word of a clue the way Life can.
- 37a. [Eponym of Bible history], KING JAMES. That “Bible history” phrase kinda threw me.
- 40a. [Was unconsciously disturbing?], SNORED. It’s fiendishly difficult to hear oneself snore.
- 55a. [It may be off the charts], ISLET. As in an uncharted isle that’s not recorded on maps.
- 56a. [Like some physicians], ATTENDING. Collect the whole set!
- 2d. [School zone?], OCEAN. School of fish.
- 6d. [It’s hard to find in a crowd], ELBOW ROOM. You’re looking everywhere and you just can’t find it.
- 10d. [Winner of back-to-back Best Rock Instrumental Grammys in 1980 and 1981], THE POLICE. Okay, I don’t really care about this clue. I just like the Police. Hey, Sting has a new album coming out in November. Here’s the lead single, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.”
- 29d. [Quarters’ quarters?], COIN PURSE. Nice clue.
4.3 stars from me.
James Sajdak’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Repeat After Me Timbers!” — pannonica’s write-up
So here we are.
- 54aR [Do impressions to observe September 19, maybe] TALK LIKE A PIRATE. In case you’re unaware, ITLAPD is a “parodic holiday” since 1995. Links to various sites can be found there. It’s characterized most readily by repetition of “Arrr!”, but there are plenty of other verbal trappings.
- 17a. [You can 54 Across by naming … this prolific British romance novelist] BARBARA CARTLAND. Not an author I’m familiar with.
- 23a. [… this quarterback hero of the 1967 “Ice Bowl”] BART STARR.
- 36a. [… this “Yardbird” of jazz] CHARLIE PARKER.
- 46a. [… this tooting mime of Hollywood] HARPO MARX.
Each of these people’s names repeats the characteristic exclamation. Not finding this to be an exciting theme, but it’s timely and works well enough. But yeesh! what an ungainly title. Not that any better alternatives are readily manifest. I’m convincing myself that here “timbers” is the variant spelling of timbres, “the quality of the sound made by a particular voice or musical instrument.” (The etymologies are different.)
- Last square: Intersection of 5a [Jettison] and 5d [“Guess what I heard?” follow-up, perhaps]. Had PITCH, which made the nonsensical PIRT. The correct entries are DITCH and DIRT. For the latter, see also 10a [Sibilant summons] PSST. The former evokes jetsam, and that isn’t the only nautical/piratical resonance in the crossword …
- 7d [It may be marked by an X in a pencil game] TAC, 10d [Be at the helm of] PILOT, 48d [Pussycat’s boatmate] OWL, 58d [Suffix with cannon] -ADE, 52a [“Hug __” (Shel Silverstein poem] O’ WAR (man o’war, anyone?). And there are some even greater stretches, such as 20a [Off-course] ERRANT (“course”), 24d [What assesses current conditions?] AMMETER (electrical current vs ocean current), 33a [Stave off] COMBAT (staves are parts of barrels, and barrels are on pirate ships!), 1d [They might get rattled in tense negotiations] SABERS (sabers, cutlasses, whatever), 23d [Vacation island served by Qantas airways] BALI (piracy in Indonesia!), 59a [“The African Queen” screenwriter James] AGEE (Charlie Allnut, somewhat like a pirate?), et cetera.
- 16a [Assemble-it-yourself chain] IKEA, but for some reason I first tried IHOP.
- 33d [Piccolo-playing actor] CAAN. Football player Brian Piccolo, not the woodwind instrument.
- 14a [Passion for Picasso?] AMOR. Though it could just as easily be AMOUR, as he spent a lot of time in France.
- 28a [Time-zone word: Abbr.] STD, 35d [Nasdaq, notably] MKT, bleah. There’s also the less-offputting SEN, MFA, TAS (12d, 43a, 19d). Not too terrible a tally, all told.
- 42d [One making carnival come-ons] BARKER. Will mention again that the preferred term is “talker”.
… And that’s a good place to finish, wouldn’t you say?
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Subbing in on a Friday LAT today! Obviously this is tougher than the Tuesday I usually cover, and I daresay I found it almost as challenging as the Saturday puzzle I normally post a review of. Maybe I am still reeling from that Thursday NYT anagram extravaganza! Theme is good: remove a “T” sound from several common phrases and let the puns fly!
- 20A [Number on some beer bottles?] BREW STRENGTH (brute strength)
- 35A [Washateria wear?] LAUNDRY SHOE (laundry chute) – Washateria?? I guess it is an actual thing … in Australia!!
- 42A [Musical work played where Brits go?] LOO CONCERTO (lute concerto)
- 59A [Smokeless chimney ducts?] THE MAGIC FLUE (The Magic Flute)
Not sure which one I like the best; probably the last one. Theme not too hard to figure out. I got LAUNDRY SHOE first, which then easily identified what was going on. Lots of great entries, including one or two I may never have seen before! Way more good than bad; 4.3 stars.
The good (and bad):
- 9A [Contraction used with “up”] WHAT’S – I thought it might be TURN’T!
- 15A [River originating in Manchuria] AMUR – Ick. I tried to do better, and I got DRAM, A-ONE, and YADA for the across answers. Not much better, but I think better than AMUR. (ROAR, ANDES and MEANT going down.)
- 23A [Make even the slightest comment] SAY BOO – One of the entries with no NYT occurrences! Nice!
- 66A [Contemporary of Beethoven] WEBER – Although much less well known!
- 4D [Pass easily] BLOW BY – This got one NYT hit. Again, well done!
- 11D [Phil Mickelson’s alma mater: Abbr.] ASU – Arizona State University. Why do I know where Phil went immediately? It was one of the Sports Jeopardy! questions when I was on there! (Season 1, Episode 2 on Crackle!)
- 26D [Italian soccer great Rossi] PAOLO – Don’t know this dude. Evidently a star of their 1982 World Cup champion team. A little before my time! He doesn’t look like this now!
- 45D [Like the maximum sum] TIDIEST – Before I figured this out, I thought this might be an error and it was TINIEST!
- 50D [Less, when added?]
PREFIXSUFFIX – Not crazy about this one. It doesn’t seem to read very well.
- 61D [“What a darling baby!”] AWW! – Always said in a sing-songy manner!
Stay tuned for my regular Saturday LAT writeup! Until tomorrow!
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Four Inches, Too” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Let’s give Mr. Bruce Venzke a hand for this puzzle, as this puzzle features four 15-letter theme entries that all are different definitions and descriptions of what “hand” could mean.
- ROUND OF APPLAUSE (17A: [Hand])
- FARMERS EMPLOYEE (28A: [Hand])
- DEALER’S DELIVERY (47A: [Hand])
- POINTER ON A CLOCK (62A: [Hand])
Not too many trouble spots in the grid, though it took me a while to believe that OH, GEE was correct (16A: [Wistful exclamation]). Seeing XIS made me want to go back to the Greek alphabet and remember the letters in order once again (39A: [Nus’ followers]). No fill really stands out today, though WHATNOT is pretty interesting given its increased use these days with people (10D: [This and that]). I find myself saying “whatnot” a good number of times, which I know I hadn’t done at all not too long ago. Not sure if UMW is referring to the United Methodist Women, or if it refers to something else, like a drilling company or a group of people who dress as moles and meet underground (42A: [Underground org.]). OK, it’s time to head out to start the weekend. Well, almost…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SMART (69A: [Suffer hurt feelings]) – Current NBA player Marcus SMART was the sixth overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. Smart played two seasons at Oklahoma State and won the Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year after his freshman year in 2013.
Have a great weekend, everyone!