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…