Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This one feels a little hit-or-miss to me. I mean, it’s still a Berry, so it’s more hits than misses. I like PAX ROMANA, SUCCINCTLY with all its C’s, the word OBELISK, MESS AROUND, MONKEY BARS (which is the term I grew up using for any jungle gym climbing apparatus at the playground), GEORGE WILL, GAS BILL, SMORGASBORD, and LAYAWAY PLAN. But then there’s also MARKER PEN (um, we just call those either markers or felt-tip pens). And RETOTALED. Crosswordese SHOAT. OPERA BOXES felt iffy to me—[What a theater’s grand tier is divided into], just any theater, or opera houses, or what?
Granted, the rest of the fill wasn’t irksome. If the byline were any of thirty other people making this 66-word puzzle, perhaps I wouldn’t ding them as much for the lowlights. But Berry’s set the bar high for himself, and an awful lot of people can’t hit his typical level of smoooooth.
- 24a. [Passed slowly], WORE ON. As in “Time wore on as she solved the Sunday puzzle and she lost the will to survive.”
- 39a. [Pacific island Magellan visited in 1521], CEBU. It’s in the Philippines and my friend Florence is from there. You all know that Magellan didn’t circumnavigate the earth, right? Lapu-Lapu and his fighters killed Magellan in Cebu. Magellan’s crew doesn’t get the credit for actually sailing around the world.
- 55a. [“___ Enchanted,” 1998 Newbery Honor book], ELLA. Made into a movie with Anne Hathaway. Am I the only one who really wishes it were the Newberry or Newbury?
- 3d. [Certain Caribbean islander, informally], TRINI. A Trinidadian, I presume. I don’t recall that Trinidadian college friend using the term, but then, college was in Minnesota and who would have known the word?
- 51d. [Clothes closet fixture], ROD. Spare the rod, wrinkle the clothes.
Joon Pahk’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Getting One’s Outrage Across” — pannonica’s write-up
Downright (and accrossright) scandalous puzzle here. And with a whopping six themers, two pairs of which have significant stacking overlap.
- 18a. [Scandal investigated by the Tower Commission] IRAN-CONTRA.
- 20a. [Nickname for the scandal-plagued 1824 presidential election] CORRUPT BARGAIN.
- 24a. [Diplomatic scandal leading to the Franco-American “Quasi War” of 1798–1800] XYZ AFFAIR.
- 48a. [Scandal in which the White House Plumbers were implicated] WATERGATE.
- 53a [Scandalous shell company created by Union Pacific bigwigs] CRÉDIT MOBILIER.
- 61a. [Scandal damaging to the Harding administration] TEAPOT DOME.
Not entirely sure how to interpret the title in context. Certainly scandals—especially famous, named ones—tend to elicit outrage. And the theme answers undeniably are across entries in the grid. But is this title based on some familiar phrase that I’m not recognizing? Or is it merely subtextual editorializing about our current age of imminent and rampant scandal(s)?
- 13a [Frost bit?] POEM, Cute little masked capital clue.
- 30a [Reef component] POLYP. Would have gotten this answer a few seconds more quickly had the clue been [Coral component]. Less removed in the hierarchy.
- 28d [“___ chapel all of gold …”: William Blake] I SAW A.
- 44a [Lily’s role in “All of Me”] EDWINA. Just recently appearing in the NYT and giving some solvers trouble.
- Symmetrical pair YUM and EEK. 23a, 50a
- 67a [Pair spotted in bunnies?] ENS. Maybe a little too cute here. Clue left me nonplussed and I had to backsolve the clue after filling in the answer in order to understand it. Similar experience with 40d [Celebrated caricature hanger of New York], the restaurateur Vincenzo SARDI.
- 3d [Florentine diva referenced in recipes] Luisa TETRAZZINI. The namesake dishes are an American concoction. They also tend not to involve spinach, which is characteristic of dishes called Florentine. Oh mild irony.
- Long down answer symmetrical to that is 31d [Voluble], the lovely-in-a-crossword LOQUACIOUS.
- 47d [Eclipse, in some cultures] OMEN. Gives me yet another chance, in another forum, to share this gem of a short-short story by Augusto Monterrosso:
When Brother Bartolomé Arrazola felt that he was lost, he accepted the fact that now nothing could save him. The powerful jungle of Guatemala, implacable and final, had overwhelmed him. In the face of his topographical ignorance he sat down calmly to wait for death. He wanted to die there, without hope, alone, his thoughts fixed on distant Spain, particularly on the Convent of Los Abrojos, where Charles V had once condescended to come down from his eminence to tell him that he trusted the religious zeal of his work of redemption.
When he awoke he found himself surrounded by a group of Indians with impassive faces who were preparing to sacrifice him before an altar, an altar that seemed to Bartolomé the bed on which he would finally rest from his fears, from his destiny, from himself.
Three years in the country had given him a passing knowledge of the native languages. He tried something. He spoke a few words that were understood.
Then there blossomed in him an idea which he considered worthy of his talent and his broad education and his profound knowledge of Aristotle. He remembered that a total eclipse of the sun was to take place that day. And he decided, in the deepest part of his being, to use that knowledge to deceive his oppressors and save his life.
“If you kill me,” he said, “I can make the sun darken on high.”
The Indians stared at him and Bartolomé caught the disbelief in their eyes. He saw them consult with one another and he waited confidently, not without a certain contempt.
Two hours later the heart of Brother Bartolomé Arrazola spurted out its passionate blood on the sacrificing stone (brilliant in the opaque light of the eclipsed sun) while one of the Indians recited tonelessly, slowly, one by one, the infinite list of dates when solar and lunar eclipses would take place, which the astronomers of the Mayan community had predicted and registered in their codices without the estimable help of Aristotle.
©1959 (translation ©1995 Edith Grossman)
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Another Friday, another letter addition theme. I liked the direct nature of this puzzle’s revealer – RAILROADED means +RR. Stacked pairs is a risky design gambit, but it is forced by an unusual 10/12/11/12/10 arrangement. I particularly enjoyed the changes of SOY to SORRY and FEET to FERRET, though I know at least one quad-stacking constructor who may object to calling a FERRET SQUARE… Scofflaw in the clue for BURRSTICKETS was the most unfamiliar thing in the puzzle; I presume this describes his duel in some way?