The Fireball crossword is a contest this week. The review will be posted after the submission deadline has passed.
Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
Happy to see all you Crossword Fiend acolytes! Here’s the review that I write for you every week.
What a rare treat to see Peter’s name hereabouts! Only two grids from him after two-thousand-four, though he’s had eighty-five others in Shortz’s reign (plus, of course, plenty of puzzles in other spots).
Not a ridiculous challenge to solve this one. Trivia question plus trivia answer — you fill in the grid and the fact becomes clear enough:
- 20a / 25a / 43a, WHAT FAMOUS POET / HAS A NAME THAT’S / A DOUBLE DACTYL? [Start of a question is … / More of the question is … / End of the question is].
- 52a, EMILY DICKINSON [Here’s what the answer is … ].
If you were wondering, here’s what a dactyl is: metrical unit, like EMILY, having three syllables of the form S-U-U (Stressed/Unstressed). Double the dactyls means S-U-U-S-U-U; EMILY DICKINSON, S-U-U-S-U-U.
That alone probably wouldn’t have tickled Will. Happily, Peter has taken things deeper still! All of the clues (for you counting at home, we’ve got seventy-four) have this metrical form! It’s an excellent gimmick, and I only noticed it after I realized some of the clues had been phrased somewhat awkwardly: [Really quite taken with / “How’m I doin?” pol / Footwear with lozenges].
This is a fabulous crossword accomplishment! I was amazed at the careful construction; a few of these entries were probably hard to find dactylic clues for, eh? Just as I’ve come to expect, the surrounding fill glimmers with Peter’s particular mastery. Nothing stood out as uncrossworthy (IMO).
Peter earns over four stars for his efforts here.
Last of all, Peter would like me to mention his Kickstarter project — his newsworthy crosswords are excellent, fun, educational, timely, and, most of all, needing more fiscal contributors! Deadline for sign-ups is only three days from now! FIREBALL NEWSFLASH: it’s news, it’s symmetrical!
Thank you for reading this; see you all Thursday next!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dressing Down” — Jim’s review
Sam Donaldson is bent out of shape today. All the theme entries are phrases in which the last word is also a salad dressing. The phrases start Across then turn Down at the beginning of the dressing.
- 1a/6d [Cocktail made with vodka, Kahlua and cream] WHITE/RUSSIAN
- 10a/13d [Treatment for dry or damaged hair] HOT/OIL. Is OIL sufficient enough of a dressing for anyone? I would think it would need some kind of qualifier like OLIVE or 10W-40.
- 30a/33d [Utterance after an oath] PARDON MY/FRENCH
- 43a/46d [2016 Coen brothers movie] HAIL/CAESAR
- 50a/53d [Cowpoke’s milieu] CATTLE/RANCH
Nice enough theme. I built a similar one and I can tell you they’re difficult to wrangle just right. For the most part, the grid looks pretty good; it’s fairly wide open. (Mine had a lot of cheater squares in it.)
But there’s a pretty high price to pay to get all the theme material and the open grid. We get three INs (STAND IN, REELING IN, HANG IN) the latter of which is just strange. It’s clued as [Persevere] and feels like it’s missing a THERE.
We also have SNEES, ESSE, EYRES, A RAGE, and AEF which is clued as [Gen. Pershing’s WWI command] and stands for American Expeditionary Force. Plus there’s ALPH [“Sacred river” in Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”]. The only ALPH I know is from Nintendo’s Pikmin 3 (really fun game, BTW). Finally, RETAILS AT (32d, [Goes for]) sounds really odd to my ear. I more often hear “retails for,” and Google’s Ngram Viewer agrees with me.
I do like TAPENADE, SIX FOOTER, OFFICIAL, and INGMAR. I also like ORIENTING, mostly because I can’t stand the chiefly British use of the word “orientating.”
But I felt the negatives really got in the way, and the theme, while well-executed, doesn’t deliver a lot of wordplay beyond the title. For me, I would have preferred to see this one cleaned up some.
A few clues of note:
- 34a [Cartesian conclusion]. I AM. As in “I think, therefore…”
- 54a [Some jazz chords]. ELEVENTHS. New to me. Anyone care to explain this one?
- 22d [Liv’s “Persona” director]. INGMAR. I of course was thinking Liv Tyler, but it’s Liv Ullmann, who apparently is known as one of the muses of Bergman.
- 8d [Misstep]. GAFFE. Couldn’t see this without thinking of the GAFFE heard ’round the world on Sunday night (at the Oscars).
That’s all from me. Until next week!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Pixar Remakes” — Ben’s Review
Totally managed to over-think this one while solving this morning. Each of the theme clues is a “remake” of a Pixar film, in the cryptic sense – each film title (given in the clue) needs to be anagrammed to match its new description:
- 17A: “Inside Out” remake only shown in the States? — US EDITION
- 22A: “Ratatouille” remake about how to drink beer? — ALE TUTORIAL
- 36A: “The Incredibles” remake about an English muffin with Canadian bacon, a hot dog topping, and hollandaise sauce? — RELISH BENEDICT (this totally should have been “…remake about enjoying actor Cumberbatch”, but I digress)
- 45A:”Finding Nemo” remake about a rasta writing a dictionary? — DEFINING MON
- 56A:”A Bug’s Life” remake about an apt picture for memes? — USABLE GIF
I don’t love the idea of giving you what’s meant to be anagrammed in the clue itself (that seems to break some sort of unspoken rule), but this would be waaaaaay too hard (IMO) to connect to the originating Pixar movie without it.
- 23D: It’s called with the Curb app — TAXI (Quick soapbox here – don’t use Uber. There are other ridesharing and taxi hailing apps like Lyft, Curb, and many more where the company culture isn’t terrible for their drivers and engineers)
- 60A: “___ On Down The Road” — EASE (Love The Wiz)
- 6D: Big name in chocolate syrup — BOSCO
Kevin Christian’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary
The theme lists various places associated with different queens: CHESSGAME, BEEHIVE, DECKOFCARD, ENGLAND and ARENAROCK (as in the band).
ADP/PELHAM/ELM (as clued) is going to be a banana skin.
WSJ: Jim, try googling “eleventh chords”. The Wikipedia article gives some examples.
Very impressive! Didn’t notice the double dactyls in the clues until I came here.
NYT — This puzzle had a special resonance for me. I knew Tony Hecht, the inventor of double dactyls, very well. He taught at the University of Rochester when I was a graduate student there. Tony attended Our Thursday night beer drinking sessions where the conversation would often turn to thinking of famous people with double dactylic names. This was encouraged by the now well-known American philosopher Peter van Inwagen. Some of you may enjoy the game, so I won’t post any spoilers.
It’s also nice the see my hometown celebrity the Belle of Amherst, the enigmatic Emily Dickinson, in a puzzle.
I didn’t do the puzzle with the entry 11th chord, so I will mercifully spare you a musicological tutorial about 11th chords.
I have to confess that, in contrast to the initial raves about the NYT, the theme left me cold. It seemed more a gimmick for the constructor than anything that enhanced the solving experience or was really a neat idea from the solver’s viewpoint. Guess I’m in the minority on this one.
Well, it’s at least a minority of 2.
Stars in a crossword of
Andy’s review, too, is
Written in dactyls en-
great post, Noam
Agree. Much more fun than the puzzle!
I thought the NYT was, well, weird.
I got the poet’s name before I completed the question. I admit, I don’t know dactyls from duck tails, so most of the puzzle was beyond me, including the clever clues. The cluing was easy enough that I completed the puzzle with little trouble.Finishing it left me feeling rather empty, though, not much fun for me.
The most famous double dactly of all — Ludwig van Beethoven. Also Dmitri Rachmaninoff, and Vladimir Horowitz –*except* — Vladimir is pronounced in Russian with the stress on the second, not the first syllable. Also Susan B. Anthony.
Who in Arthur’s name is “Dmitri Rachmaninoff”??? Sergei Shostakovich’s alter ego?
I don’t mean to be snarky, but so what? Is this something that holds significance to poets or is it merely a matter of mental masturbation? The whole concept eludes me.
I have to admit that constructor’s m***** m*********** was the first thought that came to me.
Why is it that when someone starts a sentence
I’m not _______, but . . .
I don’t mean to be ______, but . . .
the next words contradict the first ones?
If you could explain how I was snarky, please do. “So what” can be taken many ways. I was trying not to offend — not an easy endeavor on this blog.
Apparently some even find the term “mental masturbation” offensive, too.Gee whiz, I thought we’re all adults.
How can “so what” be taken? Let me count the ways:
Unnecessarily censoring something has the effect of making it seem more offensive or provacative. This is true of text, images, and audio. Many deliberately humorous examples are readily discovered on-line.
That’s not snarky. Papa John is not alone in finding the clue side of the NYT theme to be entirely underwhelming. I’m guessing that 99% of all solvers will not have noticed the dactylic clues at all. I mean, who makes a habit of reading clues out loud? Blind solvers using an app that reads the clues aloud would pick it up, but hardly anyone else would. And if they did pick it up, there’s still the “so what?” factor. It doesn’t add humor or cleverness. It’s just there as a constructor stunt.
I think I was confusing Sergei Rachmaninoff with my friend, the Russsian pianist Dmitri Rachmanov (sic).
USAINBOLT??? What’s that all about?
8-time Olympic gold medalist, fastest human of all time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usain_Bolt