Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Ms. Weintraub’s last puzzle was also a Friday NYT, about 6 months ago. And it was also a fun and breezy solve for me, easier than most themelesses (this week’s Monday puzzle actually took me longer than this one). Keep making your themelesses, because I like them.
Lots of highlights to mention: JEDI MASTER is a zippy 1-Across. MIRACLE MAX from The Princess Bride. ACETONE‘s great clue is 28a. [Manicure destroyer] (and I suspect a woman wrote that clue). TOY BOXES also has a cute clue, 29a. [Hot Wheels garages?]. JURASSIC, CHORUS LINE, “DO ME A FAVOR,” SHALLOW END of the pool, HANGOVER, LOGJAM, CASE LAW with a fake-out plural clue, POLAROID, and MENSWEAR are also good fill.
Five more things:
- 5d. [El Capitan platform], MAC. The OS between the current one, Sierra, and the one I have, Yosemite. So glad they moved on from all the big cats.
- 19a. [It’s not a welcome sign], EXIT. Although when you’re approaching your destination on the highway, that exit sign is your friend!
- 8d. [2012 Republican National Convention host], TAMPA. Best wishes to all our Florida friends as they ride out Hurricane Matthew. We’re worried about you and hope you’re all safe tonight and Friday.
- 37a. [Expert savers], GOALIES. This is about hockey or soccer, not financial responsibility.
- 6d. [Literary hero whose name is Turkish for “lion”], ASLAN. Anyone know Persian? Does Reza Aslan‘s surname have the same meaning?
I don’t love all the shorter crossings in the corner stacks (EERO, NAVE, SNERD), but overall I enjoyed the puzzle. 4.25 stars from me.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Alternate Current” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, is very electric, in the sense that nouns that usually pertain to electrical storage and currents are put into a different context and used as puns to the clues that each is given.
- MASTER SWITCH (20A: [Change of dog owners?])
- SHORT CIRCUIT (29A: [Regular clubs for comedian Martin to play?]) – “Johnny Five alive!”
- BOOSTER CABLE (43A: [Telegram from a fan?])
- BREAKER PANEL (52A: [Group of dancers at a hop-hop dance contest?])
Not the biggest fan of mushrooms, so what’s referenced in BARLEY isn’t anything that I’ll be trying anytime soon (46D: [Mushroom ______ soup]). I guess that’s why I needed most of the crossings to figure out what that was. Well, regardless of what you eat, you have to prepare it, and there’s to references to microwaves in the grid, ZAPS (1A: [Microwaves, slangily]) and NUKED (26D: [Microwaved, slangily]). I thought I knew a whole list of words that denoted people who claim to be able to tell the future, but the first time I’ve come across SYBILS before (44D: [Soothsayers]). I mean, I’ve come across people named Cybil, but that’s about it. Worked for many years on the EAST SIDE, and, specifically, on the corner of 34th St. and Madison Avenue (9D: [Madison Avenue’s locale in Manhattan]). Nice theme and smooth solve to head into the weekend. Time to head to the West Side of Manhattan now, but not before this…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POSEY (65A: [Actress Parker of “Best in Show”]) – There’s a good chance you’ll be seeing a lot of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster POSEY in the next few days if you’re a baseball fan. Posey currently is on his way to a Hall of Fame career, as he’s a four-time All Star who also has been a pivotal member of the Giants’ three World Series championship teams this decade (2010, 2012, 2014). Posey won NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and won the league’s MVP Award in 2012.
Have a great rest of your Friday, everyone!
Alex Eaton-Salers’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Caesar Cipher” — pannonica’s write-up
Rather than an actual letter-shifting Caesar cipher—ROT13 the most notable—the theme turns on definitions of abbreviations that are also Roman numerals.
- 17a. [4?] DEHYDRATION CURE (IV, intravenous [fluid]).
- 25a. [400?] VINYL SUCCESSOR (CD, compact disc).
- 47a. [105?] DETAILED RÉSUMÉ (CV, curriculum vitae).
- 59a. [600?] SMITHSONIAN SITE (DC, District of Columbia). Could have done without the superficial dupe of 57d [Diminutive DC Comics hero, with “the”] ATOM; that stands for “Detective Comics” (see also RAS ayndrome).
Unsurprisingly (this is English after all), many elements of the abbreviated phrases have Latin etymologies, and one (47a) is straight Latin.
Theme-adjacent: 9a [Macaulay’s “__ of Ancient Rome”] LAYS (for which I first had DAYS; DACROSSE (9d), however, isn’t a new hybrid sport), 50a [“Dies __” (Latin hymn)] IRAE, 52a [Many verses by Dante] SESTINAS (though Alighieri famously wrote in the vernacular), 48d [Chinese company that acquired IBM’s personal-computer division] LENOVO (portmanteau of ‘legend’ and novo). Plus, all the more common stuff that has Latin roots (e.g., 16a AQUA).
- Next most common non-English language: French. 9d [Sport in which the ball is “cradled”] LACROSSE, 19d [“Au contraire!”] NOT SO, 27d [“Il faut cultiver __ jardin” (famous “Candide” phrase)] NOTRE, 49d [Word on Roger Federer’s Davis Cup jersey] SUISSE, 12d [RSVP facilitator: Abbr.] SAE. This list excludes other items, such as the loanword ARTISTES (36d [Virtuoso performers]).
- 7d [Like a crossword clue about crossword clues, say] META. This crossword clue is, obviously, about crossword clues and hence META itself. Of course I like that sort of thing.
- Unknown, but easily inferable: 38d [Igneous rock named after Southern Hemisphere mountains] ANDESITE.
- ALPO ITTO ATTU IRAE ESAU. AWAH TOGO SIAM! (22a, 24a, 32a, 50a, 51a. Confession: 24a is a two-word entry.)
- 41d [It has an axial tilt of about 23.4 degrees] EARTH. But this is not a constant figure.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s piece
This is a more ambitious letter addition theme than usual. The letters are the entire syllable JACK. The changes to the thematic parts – CARING to CARJACKING especially – are dramatic.
- [Item on a certain thief’s rap sheet?], PASTCAR(JACK)ING
- [Dinner for a lottery winner?], (JACK)POTROAST
- [Mural of a wild canine?], (JACK)ALFRESCO
- [Last of a $140 stack?], SEVENTH(JACK)SON
14/12/12/14 is not a huge amount of theme, but both 14’s in the 3rd row and middle 12’s create design challenges. You can see those in the pairs of 8’s in the top-right and bottom-left, both of which have utilitarian word choices.
- [City NE of Odessa], MIDLAND. In crosswords, ODESSA is usually in Texas!
- [American Pharoah accoutrement], BRIDLE. Cruciverbalists got very excited about this horse!
- [Party plannner’s compilation], ELIST. [Sideways look]. Is that really something anyone >ever< does. The only e-list in my life is Cruciverb-l; this may be why crossword constructors don’t look askance at it.
- [Graceful wader], EGRET. Saw a Little Egret, the most common of the “true” egrets here in SA, at Paardevlei yesterday.
- [Like hunks], STUDLY. When my one brother (I’m a fifth son) does something embarrassing, his wife is wont to say, “Less Dudley, more STUDLY”. (His name is not Dudley.)
- [Moody Blues hit…], GONOW. Also a Chinese car marque, not sure if it’s sold in the US yet.