Martin Ashwood Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
At about 9:05, I saw a Facebook post from Joon, asking who wanted to solve this stacked-15s puzzle Downs only. I was game for it, but did use a smattering of Across clues to finish the puzzle. (Hey, I only got five hours of sleep last night. And finishing 35 seconds behind Joon, with the aid of some Acrosses … I’ll take it.)
I definitely saw the clues for 18a HOOTS (to nail down SPAT); 20a LEX (to finish 14d); 25a NAE and 29a TOTALITARIANISM (inadvertently); 41a -ITA, 46a TET, and 53a WOMEN (didn’t recognize 47d ENTRE-deux and started with PAS DE); 55a PILOT (by accident); and 61a TESTED THE WATERS. Otherwise, I worked through the Down clues and made educated guesses on piecing together the Acrosses. This, by the way, is a great approach if you’re bored by easy puzzles. You find the Monday puzzle tiresome? Try assembling the theme without any Across theme clues! Markedly more challenging.
Top fill: “I APPRECIATE THAT” (meh on I LET and I AM NOT), “I COULD EAT A HORSE” (the fourth “I” answer, yep), SLEEPLESS NIGHTS (sure, it’s got five S’s, but it’s not at the bottom of the grid, and it’s a great phrase), LAID IT ON THE LINE, MISHA Baryshnikov, and CHILDBIRTH.
Worst fill: RET., ICOSA-, IS SET, AAHS, and the partial festival of I LET, A WIRE, and A HAIR. With three stacks containing ten 15s, you have to expect some junky glue.
Utter mystery: 26d. [Hopeless], ALL UP. Never seen this one before.
Most inappropriately jocular clue: 23a. [Org. opposed to weaving?], MADD. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. You know what? They’re against people being killed or injured by drunk drivers, not “weaving.” You think the clue’s playful and fun? Then read the news story about the wanton killing of National Puzzlers’ League member and math professor Tom Gazzola. (I know people who were really close to him.) Tom died last year after a drunk driver hit him while he was out running. The bastard was sentenced to an enraging 20 days for caring so little about humanity that he drove drunk and killed someone. Each day, 27 Americans die in drunk driving crashes. So forgive me if I’m not applauding the jokey clue (which doesn’t really have MAS’s vibe).
Three more things:
- 8d. [Faboo], NIFTY. I spell it fabu, personally.
- 22d. [Large beer mug], SEIDEL. I know this only from crosswords, and it took me way too long to retrieve it from the memory banks. Tough one for a Friday, but I believe Will likes to schedule showy grids for Fridays, when more solvers will see them.
- 9d. [Go, for one], GAME. You wanted VERB, didn’t you? Nope, it’s the 5,500-year-old game from China.
3.8 stars from me.
Kyle Mahowald’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “… They Are a’-Changin’” — pannonica’s write-up
In another twist of fate, a second recent crossword I’m obliged to write about has (apparently) inadvertent coincidental Bob Dylan-entanglements, For this one it’s the title, which more pragmatically references how the original theme phrases have the word times rearranged.
- 17a. [Trip and land in a rock pile?] FALL ON HARD ITEMS. See also 32a [Stumbles] ERRS.
- 38a. [Colosseum gladiator’s next task?] SMITE NEW ROMAN. Russell Crowe received a Best Actor Oscar (1992) for his performance as the gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius; the following year he was nominated but didn’t win for his portrayal of John NASH (the crossing 41d [“A Beautiful Mind” mind]). See also 18d [Pub. called “The Gray Lady”] NYT.
- 60a. [Itchiness?] A SIGN OF THE MITES. Disclosure: I was going to put a video of Prince’s (2007 Super Bowl halftime show) cover of “All Along the Watchtower” here, but I couldn’t find a decent version; see also 10a [First name in psychedelic rock] JIMI. So let’s take a reverse tack and go with:
- 16a [The loss of Ahab’s hat to a hawk, according to Ishmael] OMEN. Now that’s a classic CHE literary clue. Chapter 130, people. See also The Birds of Moby Dick.
- And then the colloquial 11d ‘That’s going too far] I MEAN REALLY.
- 40d [Tendency] WONT. Had BENT first.
- 46d [Fierce crusades] JIHADS. Unnecessarily belligerent characterization, promulgating an overpopularized notion of the term. This is similar to my opinion regarding ODOR as so frequently being presented in clues as an unpleasant smell, and the flip side of that is that AROMA (5d [Coffee-shop hallmark, often]) isn’t necessarily a good smell. There are however, synonyms that are unequivocally or nearly unequivocally pejorative or complimentary.
- 55d [Wide-eyed primate] LEMUR. Wonder which of the 100 or so species the clue-writer had in mind here, Most species don’t have a notably large-eyed or wide-eyed appearance. That’s a characteristic more common to other prosimians such as tarsiers, bushbabies, and lorises.
- 49d [Abundant Yosemite tree] RED FIR.
Chuck Deodene’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Excellent theme! It’s a variation of the clue/answer reversal trope, but it’s far more interesting, as it has a delayed reveal, and it has variety. The answers are all real phrases, which is also a big plus!
Various answers related to different senses of DRIVE: You take a DRIVE on an EXPRESSWAY; you run a DRIVE on a CATTLERANCH; you install a DRIVE on a DESKTOPCOMPUTER; You hold a DRIVE at a BLOODMOBILE; and you hit a DRIVE on a GOLFCOURSE.
Best clue? [Prom duds] for TUX.