PSA: After this week, the CHE transitions to its less frequent summer schedule.
Bill Clinton and Victor Fleming’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m seeing some answers I’d have liked to have more fun clues in this themeless by erstwhile President Bill Clinton and his longtime Arkansas friend, Vic Fleming. (Give my best to Hillary! *sob*) At work, we’ve got a campaign song theme pending, so I was just thinking about Fleetwood Mac’s “DON’T STOP.” Imagine my surprise to see the flat clue, 17a. [Continue]. Oh! I just now noticed the unsignaled mini-theme! Flat 35a THINKING ABOUT and 57a TOMORROW round out the Fleetwood Mac chorus. Cute! Here’s a video of a 1977 concert performance of the tune.
The inclusion of a 29-letter mini-theme in a 72-worder makes it harder to avoid junky full like TERR, ARA, ATTU (hardcore crosswordese), and DRAWEE. There are zippier answers in the mix, too. I’m partial to MISHMASH, OLD STYLE (though it would be more fun clued as the lousy old beer that is apparently now HEP among 20-something Cubs fans—not sure if people are drinking Old Style much in other parts of the country), ELEANOR Roosevelt (one of my top three favorite First Women in the White House), literary HIAWATHA, and the G.I. BILL.
Nine more things:
- 9a. [Heavy metal shortage?], ANEMIA. The “heavy metal” in question is iron, in your bloodstream. I like the clue.
- 18a. [A real money maker], U.S. MINT. If you shake that sort of money maker, does it sound like a tin of Altoids being shaken?
- 38a. [Long, narrow land], CHILE. You were looking for a generic geographic term, weren’t you? But no, just a long, skinny country.
- 47a. [Molières : France :: ___ : U.S.], TONYS. Theatrical awards, I gather. Didn’t know that’s what the French ones were called.
- 8d. [With it, man], HEP. Not keen on the MAN overlap in 1d MADMAN.
- 21d. [Not a lot, but ___], ENOUGH. This … feels like a clue that was written by a newbie constructor, because it’s not NYT crossword style.
- 25d. [“It’s the ___, stupid!”], ECONOMY. And now, I’d pick health care as the key domestic issue.
- 38d. [Residents of Cambridge, England], CANTABS. From the Latin Cantabrigiensis, meaning from Cambridge. I always thought Oxford and Cambridge were near each other, but Google Maps tells me that Oxford (where Bill studied as a Rhodes Scholar) is about 80 miles from Cambridge.
- 51d. [Record producer Pettibone], SHEP. Never heard of him. The list of SHEPs famous enough to be in a crossword is indeed a short one.
Overall, the clues felt like they weren’t really put through the Shortz/Fagliano editing process, as they don’t read like Times crossword clues. Perhaps former leaders of the free world are more resistant to editorial changes than the typical crossword constructor?
3.75 stars from me.
Jeffrey’s Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Land’s End” — pannonica’s write-up
- 7dR [Coastal region of western Europe … or an alternate title for this puzzle] THE LOW COUNTRIES.
- 3d. [1970 top-10 hit for Santana] BLACK MAGIC WOMAN.
- 5d. [Latin phrase for some abrupt endings] DEUS EX MACHINA.
- 19d. [Query at a fast-food counter] FOR HERE OR TO GO.
- 11d. [Terse bit in the personals] ONE-COLUMN-INCH AD.
The circled letters at the ends, or bottoms, of the theme answers are the names of countries. All involve a realignment from their original phrases. Oman and China are the ends of longer words, Togo is coterminous with two small words, while Chad is composed of the last part of one word and the entirety of another. Minor inelegance with three four-letter nations and a single five-letter one.
The real Low Countries of the revealer clue are not as I’d thought Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, which are collected in the portmanteau Benelux. Instead, as per Wikipedia, it is “a coastal region in western Europe, consisting especially of the Netherlands and Belgium, and the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt, and Ems rivers where much of the land is at or below sea level. This wide area of Western Europe roughly stretches from French Gravelines and Dunkirk at its southwestern point, to the area of Dutch Delfzijl and German Eastern Frisia at its northeastern point, and to Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast.” So, even though I’m seeing some sources use the terms Low Countries and Benelux interchangeably, they aren’t precisely equivalent. To revisit an adjective I’ve already used in the context of orthography: they aren’t coterminous.
- 10a [Deck crew chief, informally] BOS’N, an elided form of boatswain.
- 8d [Shards may be collected in one] DIG. I will always prefer the spelling ‘sherds’ for items in an archaeological milieu.
- 66a [Sputnik coverer] TASS crossing 43d [Comes unglued] LOSES IT.
- 44a [“Napoleon in the Wilderness” painter] ERNST.
- 9d [“Fearless minds climb ___ unto crowns”: Shak.] SOONEST; this is from Henry VI, Part 3 (Act IV Scene 7). 39a [“O, I am fortune’s fool!” speaker] ROMEO.
- 40d [Giant marine hunter] ORCA. In the news.
(original version, with Peter Green on guitar)
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s “wacky” Friday theme is a little offbeat. There is a straightforward progression theme ECONOMYPACK, STANDARDTIME, PREMIUMGAS and LUXURYLINER. A word that can compound with the non-thematic part is inserted in the middle, and a new phrase is made and clued humourously. So: ECONOMY>RAT<PACK, STANDARD>HOT<TIME, PREMIUM>SWAMP<GAS, and LUXURY>EYE<LINER. A hair arbitrary, but fun to have something a bit different!
Four spanning theme answers tends to “lock in” much of the fill. I did enjoy the clues, particularly [Repeated number of curls, say], REP – exercise! The most unfamiliar thing for me was [fish house] in the clue for BIB. Say what?
Mr. Lampkin is a most excellent photographer of birds and insects, and sent this shot of a Swallow-tailed Kite. They look rather like our Black-winged Kites of genus Elanus, but I checked and they aren’t closely related. You do have an Elanus species, but that is the White-tailed Kite.
Answer pertains to 5D and 9D!
Very fast, fun solve.
Harvard students and teams are frequently referred to as CANTABS. I did not realize its connection to Cambridge until today.
Perhaps the least essential Friday puzzle I can remember, bare of interesting clues or answers. “Flat” hardly covers it. Clinton of course is famous for his crossword prowess. How is it possible he’d consider something so sparkleless worthy of his byline? As with all gimmicks, any buzz from the novelty is lost if it sucks. Please no more celebrities if this is the caliber that results.
I liked the NYT, although I hadn’t noticed the mini-theme. Good review! My eraser got a workout, though. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen ILOILO, so I had forgotten it.
ELEANOR and HIAWATHA and ECONOMY were among my favorites. Thanks, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Fleming!
My first (and hopefully, last…) 0ne star rating for a Friday NYT puzzle!
This brought back fond memories of our great president. Celebrity xwords remind us of how difficult it is to construct a five -star puzzle. But I’d take a sublimely competent leader any time!
I definitely agree!
NYT was easier than a usual Friday but still fun to solve. CHE and LAT also fell faster than usual for me – not sure what’s up. I’m also not sure I fully got the LAT theme. Hmm.
I don’t think I fully got the LAT theme either, looking forward to an explanation if anyone has one. Sure, I get the progression from STANDARD to LUXURY, and I get that either of the first two words of the theme answer can work with the last word (standard time and hot time), but I don’t get the connection otherwise. Hmmm indeed.
I will add another m to the Hmmmm
Make it 5 m’s. No clue here.
I just now looked at the LAT Crossword Corner and I think we have squeezed all that we are going to get out of the theme. It is just as we see it: a double theme of ECONOMY through LUXURY class, and the other expression that you get with the addition of the extra word. Two for the price of one.
Unless I’m wrong. ;-)
I spent several years in Cambridge and I never heard anyone refer to themselves or others as CANTABS. Cantabrigians, maybe, but that seemed generally to refer to university people and was more than a little pretentious.
What is TERR? Do some apartments come with terrariums? terrapins? territorial rights?
Terrorists. No, actually, terraces.
Huh. Never seen that, I don’t think.
Weird usage. My home city uses the Terr. abbreviation in numerous street names, though.
There was (is?) a bar in Cambridge, MA, called the “Cantab Lounge.”
23 Down–rather ironic, in a Mr. Clinton puzzle.
Ironic for historical/political reasons, or just “hey, he snuck his name in there”?
Historical–his name was never GI Bill
I’m trying to interpret Fleming’s constructor’s note. Did Clinton help with the grid or just write the clues?
pannonica, thanks for the link to Max ERNST’s Napoleon in the Wilderness. The technique and the painting are fascinating.
and thanks too, pannonica, for posting the original Black Magic Woman. Those early Fleetwood Mac albums were favorites of mine in those long-gone days. Peter Green’s story is sad, though — see the wikipedia page on him. To be honest, I was surprised to learn that he is still alive, let alone that he has performed not so long ago.
Thanks to all who had nice things to say.
When I am able to get 18 ILSAs into a 72-answer grid, I’m usually pretty happy. The puzzle at hand has AT THAT – DON’T STOP – DO-RAGS – DROP IT – G.I. BILL – IGNORE IT – MADMAN – MAIN MENU – MISHMASH – NEARBY – NO HELP – OLD STYLE – SNAP ON – TE AMO – TEA SETS – THINKING ABOUT – THREE-TON – US MINT.
To muster a symmetrically-located 3-answer mini-theme of 29 letters in the same grid pleased me greatly. To discover that ECONOMY would run vertically through the center for “It’s the ___, stupid!” was a blessing beyond belief. Well worth living with COS, MIN, A LEG, AER, and ATTU—all totally legit puzzle entries.
Have a great weekend everyone! Mine is certainly off to a great start!
For the uninitiated, what’s an ILSA?
I enjoyed the Friday NYT puzzle which to me had a refreshingly direct cluing style along with the cleverly hidden sub-theme. The May 6, 2007 Millhauser/Clinton puzzle (Twistin’ the Oldies) referenced by Deb Amlen is also worth looking at!
My thanks to the constructors and editors for both puzzles.