David Duncan Dekker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
There was a time, back in the ’00s, when grids jam-packed with uncommon letters delighted me. That time is past. This puzzle offers 8 Zs along with a smattering of Q/X/J/K action. Maybe it’s a pangram—I don’t check for such things.
There are some clues I wanted to write about, though:
- 2d. [Alphabetically rhyming river name], PEEDEE. Not much reason you’d recognize the name if you don’t live near it, but my buddy P.D. does like to see his namesake crosswordese river in the puzzle. Hi, P.D.!
- 23a. [John of pro wrestling], CENA. He was in the Amy Schumer movie, Trainwreck. He was hilarious and you get to see his naked butt.
- 28a. [Brown Betty, e.g.], PUDDING. What?? No. It’s in the cobbler family. The only people who would call an apple Brown Betty a PUDDING are British. Speaking of which: 59a. [A trivial sum, informally], TWO PENCE? Yeah, not in this country. See also: the British spelling ENQUIRY. Plus, 9d. [Common four-year deg.], B.SC.? No, the B.S. is common in the U.S. The B.Sc. is mostly elsewhere.
- 38a. N.B.A. Hall-of-Famer Mourning], ALONZO. Alonzo and I both got our transplants because of the same kidney disease. Earlier today, I saw a PSA promoting living kidney donors (and people who need kidneys making “The Big Ask”). Morgan Freeman plays a kidney patient on dialysis who happens to be planning a heist with his old pals.
- 35d. [“Presto chango!”], ALAKAZAM. This is also a Pokémon! First you acquire an Abra. Then you evolve it into a Kadabra. And then the next evolution is, naturally, Alakazam.
- 37d. [Good practice for the show “It’s Academic”], QUIZ BOWL. Weird clue, because in the U.S., the show is primarily seen in the Mid-Atlantic states.
Favorite clue: 13d. [What has different strokes for different folks?], SWIM MEET.
Richard Monsaythe and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Shellacked” — pannonica’s write-up
- 56aR [Butcher-block application, and a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters] WOOD FINISH.
- 17a. [Outermost layer of a white-tie ensemble, perhaps] OPERA CLOAK.
- 23a. [Once-common talc target] DIAPER RASH.
- 33a. [In command] AT THE HELM.
- 49a. [“Toughen up!”] GROW A SPINE. I was thrown off by the non-three letter tree, how about you?
Indeed, all the ‘hidden’ woods appear at the finishes of their containing entries.
- 21a [Women’s clothing label whose name was inspired by Hamlet’s soliloquy] BEBE. This I didn’t know. “‘Two’ be or not to be …” get it?
- 6a/41a [Oodles] MANY, LOADS. Neither A TON nor A LOT.
- 45a [Body part jarred at concerts, say] EARDRUM. Clue tries too hard in its misdirection.
- 31d [Like Scrabble’s Triple Word squares] RED. But this appears dead center in the grid, where the light blue Double Word STAR (5d) appears! Cognitive dissonance!
- 36d [Evel Knievel, notably] MONTANAN. Trying to parse this clue. Is he notable for being from Monatana, or is he merely a someone from Montana who became famous? I say this as someone who’s seen a documentary about him. Factette: I once convinced someone that his birth name was Evelyn. (It’s Robert. Robert Craig Knievel, Jr.)
- 38d [Fish sometimes used to make dashi] SARDINE. That’s a Japanese style of soup.
- 56d [Rome-to-Syracuse dir.] WSW. This of course is in upstate New York. For the towns’ namesakes in Italy, the answer is SSE.
- 48d [Ill-gotten gains] PELF. From the same root as pilfer.
Solid, well-hewn crossword.
Andrew Woodham’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The puzzle’s theme is halfbaked. GREEKLETTERS is interpreted as “parts of phrases which are homophones of Greek letters have those letters spelt out”. There are three example: PIRHOMANIAC and PSIPHIFILMS are real lexical units; the first is made up – NUALPHAROMEO. It is especially bad form to start with a made-up answer and then switch.
There is a gridiron minitheme going on, with SHOTGUNS clued in a way I don’t understand plus abbrs. QBS and LTS, both in quiet areas of the grid. Another mysterious clue is the “orange-handled” part of DECAF. I had the F so it was already obvious want it was going to be, still. Is that a thing in the US?
Most obscure things are definitely the foreign pair of BAILA and EISEN. Hope you grokked the theme properly, else there are good odds you have BAYLA there right now…
4.5 for the LAT not 3. Sorry ’bout dat.
A really enjoyable day with three fun but challenging offerings. Thanks for ending March like a lamb.
Very surprised to see pudding as the answer to Brown Betty. No way, no how and an easy mistake to catch. Also was not happy about two pence, smeary (is that a word? would one describe a bagel with cream cheese as “smeary”? No – one would say, in New York, at least, a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese. And the very mention of Ed Koch puts me off my breakfast.
Agreed, those were the worst, but add “BSC” to the list, really bogus IMHO. This puzzle was a frustrating mix of easy and impossible.
Re: John Cena’s butt
Amy, Amy, Amy. Now what have we learned about ogling?
Who’s ogling? Male nudity remains markedly less common in film than female nudity, and its appearances are thus noteworthy. (I also like that I guy who made his name from being Mr. Super Macho Wrestler embraced a film role in which he was indeed made to look quite silly and also sentimental.)
I also think it is appropriate for a surpassingly wealthy and great athlete (LeBron) to ask to have his parking validated. I do not even remember Cena, but thought that LeBron was great.
My comment was (mostly) made in jest. I haven’t seen the film so I can’t speak to context, but your comment in the post made it sound like a bonus feature of the film—another good reason to go see it—rather than a noteworthy moment in cinema. I know you were just being cheeky (haha).
Nudity for titillation purposes (especially of women) is an unfortunate staple in all media, but I don’t have a problem with nudity for dramatic or comedic effect (The Full Monty, John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda, and Helen Mirren’s Calendar Girls, for example).
Calendar Girls! Great movie! And most people to whom I mention it have never heard of it.
Those other two movies weren’t too shabby either, ha ha.
I found a reference to Apple Brown Betty which called it a pudding, and said that the brown part referred to the skin color of the cook. The author of this article decried the racist tone of the recipe but fondly remembered eating the dish.
All the other references I found appeared to be a sort of cobbler, although the picture on the Martha Stewart site appeared to be gooeyer than a cobbler.
Now I don’t know *what* it is; I feel like I know less about it than when I started looking it up, but I liked the puzzle anyway. Actually, I liked all the puzzles. And the CHE had some really great clues, I thought.
I enjoyed the “scrabbly” letters — not sure why it’s a thing to snub them now?!?!
Favorite clues: Well-kept resource, Hard stuff to swallow
Natick crossing of the day: OVETS/PEEVEE
Make that ODETS/PEEDEE (my V was wrong guess)
I’m gonna disagree with you Amy, I thought that puzzle was a blast. I’d even vaguely heard of the PEEDEE river. Not much blah fill, a lot of great cluing (PUDDING for Brown Betty, aside) a relatively low amount of crosswordese for the amount of Scrabbliness…. QUIXOTE, JACUZZI, BUZZ OFF, TOMATOES as rating units, SWIM MEET … this was a terrific puzzle in my lights.
I had great difficulty in the SW. I had UZZI, but was so focused on a weather phenomenon, I could not see the obvious. I did not like BSC and did not know John CENA, but thought the puzzle was excellent.
I put scrabbly letters in the same general category as pangrams: I do not care. I have often thought that scrabbly makes the puzzle easier, which is not a plus IMO.
GROW A SPINE in the Chronicle puzzle is also Dick Cavett’s famous (ad-libbed!) anagram for SPIRO AGNEW. Except that he used the other body part that makes it work, and somehow eluded censorship.
–Mike D. Sloane
Loved the NYC clues, fun puzzle.
“Presto chango” cannot be pronounced with a soft “g.” It should be “Presto Changeo,” as it was a long time ago originally.
My only problem with the LAT was the first theme answer… NuAlphaRomeo should have somehow been NuAlphaRhomeo even though Rho was used in another theme answer. Seemed inconsistent to me.
You’re obviously familiar with football and, presumably, the shotgun offense, so I don’t get why SHOTGUNS was “clued in a way I don’t understand.” The plural was a bit off-putting, but the shotgun is a giveaway that a pass is probably coming.
I had a similar reaction to Gareth with SHOTGUNS – I get what the clue was going for but it felt awkward, especially with other fun ways to clue the word. Would have liked something like [They accompany some grooms down the aisle], [Pounded a beer], or even [Cabinet members].
Gareth, a common kind of restaurant coffeemaker in the US is one with three coffeepots. One of the pots has an orange handle so you can easily distinguish it from the others. And that’s the one you make decaf in. Here’s a picture: https://www.samsclub.com/sams/bunn-12-cup-automatic-brewer-with-3-warmers/146060.ip?xid=plp2052-rest:product:1:2