Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The Friday puzzle’s got a quad stack in the middle and another pair of 15s. SERVICE PROVIDER, solid if dull. “HOTEL CALIFORNIA,” fun (and one of several pop music clues). ARRIVES ON THE DOT, feels slightly awkward. LAID IT ON THE LINE, solid. TRAINING SEMINAR, solid/dull. HAD THE LAST LAUGH, solid and properly placed in the bottom portion of the grid.
The other longish answers are also of variable quality. MARMALADE, COCA-COLA, EGG NOODLE (I think of egg noodles as the yellowish, flat noodles used with, say, Polish or German food, and the “pasta” of the clue as Italian noodles generally consisting of durum/semolina and water, no eggs), TRIAL JUDGE, COPACETIC, and LA VIE BOHEME were good. OF THE PAST seems entirely contrived to me.
Five more things:
- 5d. [Ivanka’s younger brother], ERIC. Really?!? Twice in one week, you go with a Trump for your ERIC clues? Those of us who didn’t like it on Monday really weren’t expecting to see it again on Friday.
25d. [“Fooled Around and Fell in Love” hitmaker of 1976], ELVIN BISHOP. I know the name, but not the song. Apparently Bishop was inducted into the Rock HOF last year.
- 51d. [Michelle of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”], YEOH. She’s going to be on the new CBS streaming show, Star Trek: Discovery. She’ll play the captain, but the show will take the perspective of a crew member played by The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green. Woman star, woman captain!
- 60a. [Flower known to attract butterflies], PHLOX. Not sure whether there was any phlox in the butterfly haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum yesterday, but there was heat, there was humidity, there was butterfly action.
- 47d. [Compact item], ROUGE. Makeup from the ’70s. Everyone calls it “blush” now. (Please, Herbach, don’t rebut this.)
- 45d. [___ Balbo, right-hand man to Mussolini], ITALO. I know this because there’s a statue of him near Balbo Drive in Chicago’s Grant Park. Why on earth Chicago has been honoring Mussolini’s buddy for decades, I can’t say.
3.4 stars from me. Bits like ADAIR, ETH, RIA, ORARE, I’M ON/ONS, IN A near HAD A HAND IN crossing two 15s that contain IN (and there’s another HAD in 55a) lowered this one in my estimation.
Martin Ashwood Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Hideaway” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is somewhat of an inspiration to to try and find some warm place to nestle in while finding shelter from the cold. Each of the first four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the letters N-E-S-T span the two words in each of them. The final theme entry, NEST, also acts as the reveal to the theme (71A: [Hideaway hidden inside 17-, 29-, 47-, and 63-Across]).
- ONLINE STORE (17A: [Amazon, for one])
- DRONE STRIKE (29A: [Unmanned aerial attack])
- STONE’S THROW (47A: [Short distance])
- WINE STEWARD (63A: [Sommelier])
Tried to solve this puzzle as fast as I could so I can get to solving Martin’s puzzle that he created with George Barany in today’s New York Times. (I’m currently printing it out as we speak.) I’m pretty sure my first two athletic shoes that I wore when I was starting to realize that I liked playing sports were shoes made my REEBOK, and I totally remember the red-and-blue shoe boxes that featured the Union Jack that they came in (15A: [Shoe named for an antelope]). Looking outside and feeling the chill from the freezing temperatures, definitely wouldn’t mind being in BANGALORE right now (54A: [City west of Madras]). Two of my friends live in southern India and have told me how nice the weather is all year around over there. Wouldn’t mind being there for that as well as watching some top-level cricket matches. Not the biggest fan of WAS A (51A: [“I _____ Teenage Werewolf”]) in the grid, but I don’t want to come off as a nag…or NAG NAG about it (36D: [Response from the henpecked]). I’ll just nag about something else, like the fact that the ink is running out of my printer. Well, that’ll be more money coming out of my pocket pretty soon!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SKELETON (10D: [Anatomy class teaching aid]) – A spinoff of a British sport called Cresta sliding back in the 1880s, the winter sport of SKELETON, involves a single rider sliding down a frozen track head first on a small sled. Before 2002, skeleton only appeared in the Winter Olympics twice, both being in the games held in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1928 and 1948. The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City saw the return of skeleton, with a women’s skeleton being added as well that year, and has been a staple in the winter games ever since.
Thank you for the time and have a good weekend!
David Steinberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Top-Down Design” — pannonica’s write-up
It’s a Hanukkah theme, with a few interconnected parts.
In addition to grid art (with detached entry) and circled letters, the Note reads, “Fill in the three isolated central squares with the same letters as the squares numbered 52, 55 and 61 in the main part of the grid. This will spell the fourth possible result of 11 Down.”
With that preparation, 11-down is [Hanukkah activity suggested by the circled letters in 3, 21 and 23 Down] DREIDEL SPINNING.
- 3d. [Incredulous query?] HOW IS IT POSSIBLE? containing HE. “A great miracle happened here”?
- 21d. [Dated descriptor often applied to Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly] GOOD-TIME GIRL containing GIMEL. Little bit of Christmas seeping in with holly? See also 22a [Literally anointed one] MESSIAH, which is a Hebrew word and has pre-Christian significance.
- 23a. [“Doesn’t that prove the point?”] SEE WHAT I MEAN? containing SHIN.
Not part of the theme: 14a [Over] ATOP. Dupey (title). 25a [Grain in some gluten=free challah] OAT.
- 20a [Morsel] SMIDGEN, which looks like the name of another Hebrew letter. (etymology: “probably alteration of English dialect smitch soiling mark”)
- 2d [Bohr found them far from boring] ATOMS. Speed-solving might result in both missing the pun and filling in NEILS.
- Something ominous about the side-by-side arrangement of 8d [Pre-eruption warning] TREMOR and 9d [Peaceful] SERENE.
- In the same place: 5a/10a [Sports-betting figures] STATS, ODDS. 10d [They’re often put into shells] OARS, 60a [It’s often put into shells] RICOTTA.
- 34a [Screen idol who portrayed Myra Breckenridge] WELCH, atop (14a) 38a [Slashed pronoun] HE/SHE, giving it perhaps a temporal dimension. Still, risky.
- 44a [Mushroom feature] STEM, not STIPE.
- 52a [Cat or dog tail?] NAP. I’ve long found it fascinating how divergent in meaning the various cat/dog compound terms are. Catnap/dognap, catfight/dogfight, catfish/dogfish, cathouse/doghouse.
A fine diversion, not so complex so as to leave one spinning.
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I’m filling in for Gareth, and I don’t regularly do the LAT puzzles. I was surprised to find such an easy puzzle on a Friday. This is not a complaint; it’s a lovely smooth puzzle with consistent fill and an amusing theme. I’m a big Gail Grabowski fan, and she did not disappoint.
We get a revealer as our very last clue: 71a [Sport that hints at this puzzle’s theme]. I finished the puzzle without sussing the theme, and then I went back and figured it out. The answer is POLO. Let’s see how it applies:
17a [“Don’t waste your money on that pendant”?] is a LOCKET VETO. If we swap the LO for PO, we get the POCKET VETO. Aha! PO-LO. Got it.
- 23a [Spinner in a numbers game?] = LOTTERY WHEEL (pottery wheel).
- 51a [Hammock?] = LOLLING PLACE (polling place). I’d rather have a lolling place, to be honest.
- 64a [Pruning ideology?] = LOP CULTURE (pop culture). This could also be how you grow rabbits.
The original phrases are all solid and the theme is consistent; I needed the revealer and I far prefer it when the revealer is at the bottom of the puzzle. Nice.
A few other things:
- 1d [Vegetation in underwater forest] is KELP, which always reminds me of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- 6d [Comforter] is DUVET. I seem to remember a long thread on the old NYT Forum about whether a duvet and comforter were the same thing. My research suggests that a duvet is intended for use on its own, while a comforter is placed on top of a top sheet and a blanket. Hence the need for an easily washable duvet cover. The terms are used interchangeably in the US, so the puzzle is OK.
- 9d [Henry Ford, e.g.] is an interesting clue for EPONYM. My mind goes immediately to medical eponyms, of course. Henry Ford is more likely to make me think of epithets than eponyms.
- 10d [Excavating aid] is a BACKHOE. I did Google image search for “front hoe” and “backhoe” and they look the same to me.
- We get PALE ALE and OPEN TAP but they’re not cross-referenced. Too bad.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that ELM was [Split-resistant wood].