Friday, September 1, 2017

CHE untimed (pannonica) 


LAT 5:45 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:32 (Amy) 


Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 1 17, no 0901

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.

Clue chat:

  • 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.

3.8 stars from me.

Joon Pahk’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Getting One’s Outrage Across” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 9/1/17 • “Getting One’s Outrage Across” • Pahk • solution

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:

    The Eclipse

    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

LA Times

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?

3.5 Stars

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22 Responses to Friday, September 1, 2017

  1. e.a. says:

    no offense to mr. lopez but ??? at that TRINI clue

  2. Nene says:

    I found this to be rewarding and stimulating. Puzzle touches on so many interesting aspects of the world. Thank you Mr Berry!

  3. dook says:

    I will take issue with “cable channel for cinephiles”. It really screwed up that section for me. No self respecting cinephile would ever watch a film on AMC. That’s TCM or (rarely) TMC are for. AMC shows films with frequent commercial interruptions. And it isn’t a channel particularly interested in films. It is the channel of Mad Men, Walking Dead and other series. The clue was misleading.

  4. David L says:

    Nicely constructed but very easy for a Friday — never heard of CEBU, balked at MARKERPEN, but otherwise straightforward.

    I got the NCTL in 15A and thought what the heck kind of word has that string of consonants — but SUCCINCTLY is lovely.

    AMC may very well be wrongly clued but it didn’t bother me because I have hardly ever watched any of those channels. ACM, TCM, TMC — they’re all just convenient crossword fill to me.

  5. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Nice puzzle overall, but I got stymied in the southeast. I was sure of two wrong answers: GUAM and RETALLIED.

  6. artlvr says:

    What shall go down in history when the Moscow Bromance is laid bare?

  7. Rick Narad says:

    I had __ARKERPEN so without thinking I put in a “P” wondering what made a Parker Pen soft and what the pope had to do with feeling sorry for oneself. Oops.

  8. joon says:

    it’s been ages since i had a crossword published in a newspaper. there’s a story behind this one: it is one of the very earliest crosswords i ever constructed, way back in 2008. (were i to attempt such a puzzle again, i could probably come up with a similar amount of theme material from 2017 scandals alone, but that’s by the by.) my memory of nine years ago is a little hazy, but i am sure i submitted it to patrick berry, who was editor of the che puzzle in those days, and he passed on it, saying he had just run a puzzle with a very similar theme. (you can still read amy’s review of that one on the old crossword fiend site.) will and i think rich likewise passed on it, citing the unfamiliarity of some of the theme answers. then i forgot about it for a very long time. i do not even really remember what caused me to remember its existence and send it to brad a couple years ago, but i did, and here we are.

    looking back at it now, there are some parts that make me wince a little (I SEE A, plus a soupçon of scrabblef***ing), but i’m actually very pleased with the density and stacking of the theme answers, as well as the two long downs.

    pannonica, i don’t quite know what to make of the title either. i think when i submitted it to brad it was called “a scandalous history” or something similarly boring.

    • huda says:

      Great backstory, joon, and nice review, pannonica (maybe you guys make a good team because you don’t capitalize your names).

      What you describe happens to me once in a while with scientific articles– where we write it, it has some trouble getting published, it eventually sees the light of day and I look back at it with fresh eyes. It’s an interesting experience, where you achieve what the French call some “recul”, a stepping back that gives you a fresh perspective. You can see how your thinking evolves and yet stays consistent.

    • Brad says:

      The title is no doubt a stretch….I gave up trying to pun FUROR or SHOCK and just did something with the fact that all the theme entries were Across. Pannonica’s idea that there may be simmering subtext from the present day is not wrong.

      Titles can be difficult. Sometimes a spot-on title is the whole raison d’etre for the puzzle, of course, or a great title lurks JUST below the surface. I’ve probably had a mixed record with titles I’ve mulled over for a long time. I’m not calling joon out specifically, but constructors are often just relieved to sell the concept and the grid fill, and when you ask for title suggestions, you get a big shrug in return! [Earn your money, Ed.]

      • Zulema says:

        I just figured it had to do with the theme answers appearing ACROSS but I really liked the theme and found it very relevant (to what exactly I needn’t go into) but I agree with Joon that a whole new puzzle on the same theme can be constructed based on very recent incidents, alas!

  9. Laura B says:

    Re NYT [55a: Newbery Honor … {etc}] — my personal mnemonic:

    Newberry = Library in Chicago
    Newbury = Street in Boston (original home of Newbury Comics)
    Newbery = Children’s literature prize awarded by the American Library Association
    New Berry = themeless puzzle today
    Booberry = Associate of Count Chocula

  10. Gareth says:

    Had MARK____N and wondered why MARKTWAIN was “soft-headed”…

  11. Martin says:

    Hi, from one of Amy’s least favorite entries, Astoria, OR. We’re on the way home after a couple of glorious weeks on the road in the Pacific Northwest, including eclipse viewing in Scio, OR. Now that’s a small town. Here’s the view of the mouth of the Columbia River and the Megler Bridge over it, to Washington, from the balcony of our hotel room.

    Happily, my server has been chugging away in my absence, so the WSJ, WaPo and Jonesin’ crosswords have been glitchless. That’s always a relief.

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