David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Of course this is a Friday puzzle. It’s too easy to fit the Saturday NYT slot, and 7a is FRIDAY. Thirteen rows below, there’s SCIENCE—anyone listen to NPR’s Science Friday?
The marquee answers are MELISSA MCCARTHY (I still need to see this year’s Ghostbusters! Loved McCarthy in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy) and Roger Ebert’s CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Did you know Melissa McCarthy’s from the Chicago area? She grew up in Plainfield, a suburb in a collar county. There’s only one other answer (MAGNOLIAS) that’s longer than 7 letters, and grids packed with 7s tend to leave me underwhelmed. I do like SHIMMY and ANTHRAX, but the rest of the fill is flatter. I prefer themelesses with a higher word count, as the 64-and-under crowd typically have duller fill.
Five more things:
- 25a. Received high marks], GOT A’S. No, this is not a phrase that’s crosswordable. GOT STRAIGHT A’S could work.
- 28a. Flask material], PYREX. The sort of flask that’s heated over a Bunsen burner, not the kind that holds gin in your pocket.
- 52a. “The great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition,” per Adam Smith], SCIENCE. Great quote!
- 3d. Virginia Woolf’s given name at birth], ADELINE. I did not know that. Sweet trivia tidbit.
- 43d. Female hip-hop fan], B-GIRL. That kind of minimizes what B-girl means. “Fan” doesn’t connote “uses one’s talent to entertain,” but one definition of B-girl is female breakdancer. Granted, they’re not non-fans, but would you clue JAY Z as a [Noted hip-hop fan]?
Dupe watch: EASES IN, IN ERROR. HAD AT IT, IT’S OVER. TRIO, “triplets” in the RARE clue.
3.7 stars from me.
Randall J Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Bob for Apples” — pannonica’s write-up
Took a while for me to put the theme together.
It’s a two-part charade. Each theme answer begins with the surname of someone named “Bob”, and ends with a word that can be preceded by “apple”.
- 17a. [Mile High City electricity?] DENVER JUICE (Bob Denver, apple juice). Actor.
- 28a. [Attorney revising LegalZoom language?] WILLS POLISHER (Bob Wills, apple-polisher). Western swing pioneer.
- 46a. [Laptop sent back for a refund?] LEMON COMPUTER (Bob Lemon, Apple computer). Baseball pitcher.
- 60a. [Where to find Bill Clinton’s birth certificate?] HOPE RECORDS (Bob Hope, Apple Records). Comedian/actor.
The parts fit together nicely.
- 8d [Mule or deer … or mule deer] ANIMAL. Of course I put MAMMAL first. Absentmindedly having RAJ for 6d [ __ Express (rail service stopping at Delhi and Agra)] TAJ didn’t help my situation in that upper-middle area. Mule deer is the sister taxon to the white-tailed deer in the genus Odocoileus (“hollow-tooth”); its species name “hemionus” is from classical Greek and means “half-ass” (=”mule”). I feel it’s useful to know how to say something approximating “half-assed” in an academic language.
- 24d [Goddess often depicted holding an ankh] ISIS, 52a [Jodie in “Taxi Driver”] IRIS. Both are also names of Greek goddesses.
- Stacked long downs: 11d [Spotter of subtle design flaws, perhaps] TRAINED EYE, 12d [One up at the crack of dawn] EARLY RISER; 28d [Bit of latitude] WIGGLE ROOM, 29a [Garlic or olive oil, for aioli] INGREDIENT.
- New to me: 15a [Philly suburb adjoining Villanova] RADNOR, (in the clue:) 3d [Phoropter component] LENS.
- … 49d [Takes a prayerful pose, in recent eponymy] TEBOWS. I was unaware that it had proliferated into verb form.
- Favorite clue: 50a [One who shortened Life sentences?] EDITOR. It’s a perennially ripe word, along with the various verb conjugations, for misdirection and punny cluing. This is one of the better examples.
Solid puzzle, with a slightly different theme.
Tony Caruso and C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
So, I’m behind schedule again. This puzzle has a theme that is a breath of fresh air. Phrases with one, two, three and four sequentially have those numbers changed to five, six, seven and eight. The revealer is old-timey golf fashion PLUSFOURS. The normal phrases are KETEL(ONE), LETSPLAY(TWO), THEBIG(THREE) and FROZEN(FOUR).
The rest of the puzzle was both clean as well as featuring interesting answers like KNESSET, LIONSDEN and BBKING.
NYT– Easier than I expected! Favorite clue: 7A, Web feed. Trickiest, probably Mont Cervin? Otherwise known as the the Matterhorn (German); Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin, (French): a mountain straddling the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. I was lucky enough to ski there in one Xmas vacation years ago…
Staying in Zermatt, and skiing down the wide open lower slope of the Matterhorn was probably my most memorable day of skiing ever with the most dramatic ski sign ever. Towards the bottom of the long descent an arrow pointed left, saying (in English ) “Italy”, and straight ahead “Switzerland”. They even waived clearing customs. That memory made up for the annoying Anthrax, and the Melissa woman.
Loved the NYT! I am not good with the entertainment industry as a rule but I did know Melissa McCarthy, which gave me a nice leg-up in the puzzle.
I have had to use those dental floss picks recently since breaking my elbow made regular floss difficult to use. Not loving the floss picks, or the broken elbow, but I digress.
Didn’t know BGIRL – glad to learn it. Thanks for a great puzzle!
NYT: SCIENCE— Here’s hoping it will survive the latest wave of irrationality…It has withstood many blows through human history, but I have to say that the disbelief in climate change is nothing short of stunning. It makes me wonder how we scientists have failed to communicate with the public to such an extent that people can disregard evidence so completely.
Dear Huda — It’s worse than a question of communication… We’re in an age of fake news deliberately circulated to disrupt. Gullible people are harassing the parents of children slain in the Sandy Hook elementary school because they believe those who tell them it was a hoax perpetrated by actors. Hillary was supposedly involved in abuse of children, etc. Those who believe the lies are roused to acts of violence, & what Trump has wrought with constant falsehoods will take more than attempts to correct them. Freedom of speech is on the line now, like shouting “fire” in a crowded theater: panic ensues.
Yes, I take your point that the issue is broader than communication. I really meant that we have failed to educate or transmit a way of thinking that values evidence and rationality, considers alternative viewpoints, and believes that the truth, while complicated and even ephemeral, is worth seeking above falsehood. Even if inconvenient.
I have managed to share these values with my children and grandchildren. I am proud of my students because they care about the truth in spite of the pressures of our field, and we keep each other honest. I am sure many others have done the same, in their own spheres. But it saddens me to hear about the active spreading of lies and how we have come to tolerate it. Integrity is neither liberal nor conservative, it’s a human value. I have always believed that we in America care about it a great deal, that it is almost a foundational aspect of this civilization. Maybe it’s the optimism of the (much maligned) immigrant. But I hope we will find a way to preserve it.
Huda, It’s almost as if all distinction between rationality and irrationality has become eradicated, and few people seem to care (which is basically saying the same thing twice.) It’s very sad.
Loved the NYT. Had no issue with GOT A’S, Amy — but I did have an issue with TERMING, which felt far more contrived to me.
I’m probably in the minority of those who did not enjoy today’s NYT offering. The NW had a conglomeration of crossword-friendly names (ADELINE, MELISSA, MARISSA), two abbrs. (PTAS, MRIS) and the bland -ER/RE- answers (CATERER, REALIGN). SW was full of vowels with a bunch of answers of the STLNE variety. So did the SE, in addition to the awkward TERMING and the odd NACL clue (salt can react with many other substances besides sulfuric acid, not sure why the clue is so specific, other than to signal an abbr. in the answer). The most entertaining part of the puzzle for me was in the BEAU/PICK/ITSOVER/VACUUMS section. Great SCIENCE clue indeed.
“Say, say, say” for ITERATE was an absolutely brilliant clue!