Jacob Stulberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Am I tired, or is this Friday puzzle more like a Saturday for you, too? We’ve got a mini-theme, with OVER THE MOON opening the puzzle and UNDER THE SUN closing it out. Nice!
Favorite fill: CAMERA-READY, TIPS ONE’S HAT, AGE OF REASON, BOWL A STRIKE, ARMCHAIR critic, “MY PRETTY,” EMPIRE clued as the TV series (which I’ve yet to watch but hear such great things about), DC COMICS, and SUDOKU.
- 21d. [Kind of calendar], JULIAN. This is timely, given that this Sunday is Christmas for Eastern Orthodox adherents.
- 59a. [Fish ___], FRY. I know this term mainly from Wisconsin, where Friday fish fry is commonplace.
- 28d. [Ovary’s place], PISTIL. Only if you’re a plant.
- 7d. [“Thanks in old age – thanks ___ I go”: Walt Whitman], ERE. I like literary/notable quotation clues, but am not keen on “age” being repeated in AGE OF REASON. Plenty of other ways to clue ERE.
- 13d. [Venomous swimmer], SEA SNAKE. The worst kinds of snakes are the ones that swim in the water. Just as alarming? Tree snakes. Why can’t snakes let us have “in the water” and “off the ground” as safe places? Also, did you ever see that video where a bunch of small snakes are menacing a marine iguana? This BBC Planet Earth video will have your heart in your throat! (Because I am thoughtful, I’m not showing the video here, just giving you the link in case you want to see A WHOLE LOT OF FAST SNAKES.)
Janie Smulyan’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “I Like Icon” — pannonica’s write-up
In a series of statements that comprise the theme, the solver is addressed in the second person:
- “I’m familiar to you, but my face isn’t, since I almost always appear ___”] IN SILHOUETTE.
- 28a. [“That’s me, helping you through traffic ___”] AT CROSSWALKS.
- 37a. [“If you’re wondering where to go, I’m providing clues ___”] ON RESTROOM DOORS.
- 45a. [“For hikers, I mark Point A ___”] AT TRAILHEADS.
So who’s the mysterious stranger?
- 56aR [“You guessed it! I am ___”] HELVETICA MAN.
Well that threw me for a loop. I’d gotten some of the theme answers and the HELVETICA part of the revealer, but it wasn’t coming together. Helvetica is an iconic typeface, and ‘face’ as mentioned in the first theme clue seemed as if it could be a pun. It appears frequently on signage in public places, but I was sure that it wasn’t used in all of those inventoried contexts.
It turns out that ‘Helvetica Man‘ is a colloquial name for the most famous standardized figures seen so many places, introduced by the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) in 1974. It has no connection to its namesake typeface but acquired the appellation by virtue of its analogous ubiquity. Incidentally, I find it interesting that the AIGA seems to shun use of its full name, instead consistently pairing the logotype with “the professional association for design”.
The notion of personifying the figure reminds me of the quirky Japanese series of room-escape games from No1game known as ‘Find the Escape-Men’.
- 16a [Tanked up] OILED. Despite both terms being automobile-related, the way in which they’re connected here is as synonyms for inebriated.
- 25a [Topic for an X’s-and-O’s session in football] GAP. Kind of a weird clue, even though it’s accurate.
- 51a [Card game akin to crazy eights] MAO, but of course I first filled in UNO.
- 63a [Bear with a hard chair and bed] PAPA. Liked this clue very much.
- 4d [Welcome sign of aging?] PATINA. Not sure why it should be welcome, even with the question mark, though often a patina can enhance an object’s aesthetic appeal.
- Arbitrary but convenient triple-S version of PSSST at 27d [“Yo, buddy, over here”].
- Surprising trivia: 29d [Play in which Spencer Tracy made his Broadway debut] RUR. Now, speaking of the crosswordy hit parade: ETUIS, ELIE, ISMS, AGOG, NEET, OMOO, OSIERS. (36a, 62a, 65a, 66a, 68a, 6d, 8d)
- 34d [What “fresh as a daisy” is, ironically] TRITE. Cute.
- 38d [Place for some of Beethoven’s trumpets] EAR. Eh? What’s that you say?
- 58d [“The longest distance between two places,” per “The Glass Menagerie”] TIME. Interesting quote.
Time’s up. Good puzzle.
Gary Schlapfe and C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword
There are four arbitrary [Bridge] definitions: CARDGAMEFORFOUR, HELMSMANSPOST, RIVERCROSSING and DENTALAPPLIANCE.
I thought the artist’s name was JEAN ARP. I found this puzzle to be very hard because I jad several partial answers, but still could not figure out the complete answer. I had HANS, but was not thinking ARP.
BOWL A STRIKE is certainly a correct response to the clue, but not an idiomatic one. A bowler STRIKES. “BOWL A” in front of it is superfluous and would not normally be used in any bowling context except possibly words of encouragement for a child or other novice.
Every Catholic everywhere of a certain age knows Friday Fish Fry. I have always wondered what happened to those mortal sinners who ate meat on Friday after it became permissible to do so.
It seems to me that there were several ages/periods between the end of the Renaissance and what I always called the Age of Enlightenment. My first thought was Reformation, but I was not confident that that was a correct answer.
Hard for me as well. Toughest Friday in memory. CHE wasn’t a pushover either.
And the penguins remain a mystery. Maybe someone tagged me, is on my trail?
I like the penguins – they have character and a bit of je ne sais quoi.
If the Mystery Penguin Provider wants to tag me with an owl or two, I wouldn’t say no :-)
I just now remembered what your penguins remind me of. When I was (a lot) younger I saw a cartoon titled “Jackson, the Sliphorn King Of Polaroo” which featured a trombone-playing penguin who used his trombone to inhale a great quantity of spaghetti which seemed to be all one noodle.
Now I have to go try to find it online.
It’s on YouTube:
I found it! Okay, Jackson wasn’t a penguin. But there were penguins.
I went and looked it up after the puzzle, since I only knew JEAN ARP as well. Turns out he was born HANS, but after the French reclaimed the border region he lived in, they asserted that his name was JEAN in French. From then on, he went by JEAN when speaking French and HANS when speaking German.
I liked the Stulberg NYT a lot. I agree with Amy that the UNDERTHESUN/OVERTHEMOON mini-theme was very nice. BOWLASTRIKE seems in the language to me – and the added touch of the crossing down entry SPARE was also cute. For once, I beat Amy’s time – that was a real thrill. The only thing I didn’t like was DIPSOS. Alcoholism is an extremely difficult disease. I’d like to see the end of references to lush, sot, etc. in grids. But all in all, this was a very enjoyable puzzle. 4.5 stars from me.
Okay, that snake video had a terrifying quantity of snakes. How could there be that many snakes in one place?
Go, iguana, go!
Loved the puzzle. 4.5 stars from me too (didn’t love the NE, but it was fair).
Re the snakes and the baby marine iguanas:
Harrowing. I just watched this in the last month after realizing unbeknownst to me they had made a second Planet Earth. That bit on the marine iguanas–in particular, the racer snakes’ ambushes–was well filmed and well edited. It left me feeling like I’d watched a good horror/suspense scene, only it was REAL or whatever. Great TV. Props to the mighty David Attenborough, too.
I thought NYT was tough while I was doing it, but my final time was only a bit over the ‘usual’ Friday time. NNW was last area to be filled.
I really really liked the puzzle and also found it more difficult than usual.
same here. loved [Very bright circle?]
First time in ages that I couldn’t finish a Friday. Not in my wheelhouse at all. I struggled through most of it and finished with SEASNAKE in the NE, but couldn’t figure out the three short acrosses. I thought Quicken Loans Arena must be in Detroit, but apparently not, and anyway I couldn’t remember what the basketball team there is called. “Flash source” for DCCOMICS is totally outside my ken. And DSL for “browsing inits.” seems misleading to the point of being arguably incorrect.
Oh well. Not my morning, I guess.
With you on DSL.
Agreed. How about:URLS, HTTP, or worse HTTPS?
Yeah, had URL for the longest time and finally switched to DSL out of desperation. And that snakes video has me changing my New Year’s resolution to NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AGAIN! :)
NE was by far my most difficult quadrant.
NYT was a fine puzzle, but definitely felt like a Saturday. NE corner was the last for me as well. DSL was a trip hazard.
NYT was enjoyable. It seemed hard at the outset but kept giving up its secrets slowly, though I did have a couple of errors. However, I found it easier than most Fridays and more interesting too. One nit: Having lived through the 1960s and having attended a few love-ins and be-ins, I thought that, although it is possible to find the word “protest” associated with love-ins online, it’s not a good clue.