David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This could be the first 15×15 crossword with a 14-letter, Spanish-language 1-Across. MI CASA ES SU CASA, those are indeed [Welcoming words]. I like how David features triple stacks of 14s here, since too many of the 15s that work out have been used in multiple puzzles and it gets boring. We also have “I NEVER SAID THAT,” THREE-CAR GARAGE, poets and the ROMANTIC PERIOD, ICING ON THE CAKE, and a CAREER CRIMINAL clued deftly as [One who can’t turn right?].
For me, it’s the crossings that make or break triple stacks. If your long Acrosses sparkle but they’re held together by dreck, I scowl. The worst crossers I’m seeing here is ESA, so thumbs up.
Other bright spots in the puzzle include SWIRL, CHEEK clued via cheekiness, ESCAPADE, O. HENRY, SHTICK, classical HOMERIC, and BAZOOKA. Overall, a smooth 70-worder.
Five more things:
- 41d. [One who’s gotten the third degree?], DOCTOR. Although plenty of people go straight from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate without stopping for a master’s on the way. I also, it must be said, give the third degree to many a doctor.
- 47a. [Old ball and chain?], MACE. I feared the worst after reading this clue and was pleasantly surprised to get a brutal medieval weapon instead of dated sexism.
- 33d. [Critic’s assignment], STAR. As in “I assign this puzzle one STAR.”
- 36d. [Life preserver?], TIME INC. Time Inc. was a subsidiary of Time Warner but was spun back off three years ago. Nobody told me! The Life magazine concept is currently embodied in a photography website Time owns.
- 32d. [Chamber of commerce?], SHOP. Yet another good question-marked clue.
4.25 stars from me.
Randall J Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Initial Finishes” — pannonica’s write-up
Wasn’t sure if the title is a nonce phrase or not, but an internet search indicates ample if usually specialized support for it.
Moving on, theme is two-part answers where the initials of the two words in the first part are recapitulated phonetically in the last, or third, part. It’s positively Steigian!
- 17a. [Award won by a documentary about volcanologists in Sicily?] MT ETNA EMMY (Mt Etna, em-ē). Volcanology, vulcanology, take your pick; m-w suggests the former is the preferred spelling.
- 26a. [Wedding-reception hiree who hits on the bride?] DON JUAN DEEJAY (… dē-jā).
- 42a. [Navy engineer who bellyaches about his job?] CRY BABY SEABEE (… sē-bē). m-w suggests one-word crybaby as the only orthographic choice.
- 55a. [Harvard, when it’s hot?] IN VOGUE IVY (… ī-vē).
You see it, right? You know what I’m going to take issue with, right? Of course you do.
A distinct lack of separation within the construction of two of the four themers. The two middle ones. Those phonetic second parts are themselves respellings of initials, albeit different phrases than the first part: deejay for disc jockey and Seabee for Construction Battalion. Can’t seem to find a name for such words, though I’m sure one exists. Oh wait! Looks as if it’s heterograph. Obviously, it’d be unacceptable—thoroughly inelegant—if these entries were straight-up repetitions, i.e. DISC JOCKEY DEEJAY. Nevertheless, it lends a clunkiness to the theme, which otherwise I like.
As for the others:
- Emmy: “Academy founder Syd Cassyd suggested “Ike,” the nickname for the television iconoscope tube. But with a national war hero named Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, Academy members thought they needed a less well-known name. Harry Lubcke, a pioneer television engineer and the third Academy president, suggested “Immy,” a term commonly used for the early image orthicon camera. The name stuck and was later modified to Emmy, which members thought was more appropriate for a female symbol.” (“History of the Emmy Statuette“)
- Ivy: Middle English, from Old English īfig; akin to Old High German ebah ivy. m-w.com
Let’s see, what else?
- 19a [The “O” in FAO Schwarz] OTTO. nb: Not pronounced ˈfī-(ˌ)ō
- 21a [50% of moral indignation, per Vittorio De Sica] ENVY. De Sica, the well-known Neo-Verisimiltudinist film director.
36a [Italian city famous for its gingerbread-like “panforte”] SIENA.
- 27d [Officer who busts Arlo for littering in “Alice’s Restaurant”] OBIE. That old bastard.
- 34d. [“A Death in the Family” author James] AGEE. But it’s all good.
- 35a [Place of warship?] PIER. >groan<
- 61a [Noogie-giving “SNL” nerd __ DiLaMuca] TODD. Played by Bill Murray way back when. Gilda Radner’s Lisa Loopner was his perennial victim. Never knew there was a last name for him.
- 1d [Hugging twosome] ARMS.
- 11d [The first one was convened in Chicago in 1905] ROTARY CLUB. So there’s a … Rotary Connection?
- I feel compelled to point out the explicit dupe in 26-down.
- 28d [Writer who turned down a invitation to play the title role in 1962’s “Dr. No”] NOËL COWARD. Didn’t know this, but it makes perfect sense once you hear it. Three years earlier he played Hawthorne in Our Man in Havana.
Okay, I’m multitasking inefficiently and just making desultory observations here. Bottom line, this was a fun puzzle, well-constructed, but that thing about half of the theme answers irked me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
This puzzle theme went to the dogs. We have four puns based on dog sounds. The opener was JKGROWLING which was a strong image, and is clearly the best in the set. BARKINGMETERS is functional. YIPPERSNAPPER (WHIPPER) is starting to stretch things – Y and W don’t sound alike enough for the change to work. WORKSOFARF is overreach in terms of sound change; never mind the idea of a painting depicting noisiness (I mean you CAN paint a dog in the act of barking.)
- [It’s not exactly a pick-me-up], DECAF – Why does this exist?
- [News article intro], LEDE. A familiar word with extremely convenient letters. Yet this is one of the first recorded instances of its use ever in a puzzle. Bizarre.
- [Source of much canine delight], BELLYRUB. Bonus answer of a sort. Belly rubs are dangerous with our puppy, as they often lead to champagne showers..
- [Small wading bird], PLOVER. That “small” is a little vague. As waders (in the sense of Charadrii) go, they are about medium; the lapwings (which are related, and sometimes referred to as plovers too) are among the larger. The small members are the Scolopacidae. However, wader can also refer to any bird whose behaviour typically includes wading; in that case “small” is appropriate, when compared to say flamingos or herons… I’m probably overthinking this.
- [State of matter], PLASMA. Physics nerd out. This fourth “natural” state is similar to a gas, but the protons and electrons dissociate… Lightning is a common example. There are even more weird states, but not ones you’re likely to come across incidentally… Not using “phase” here was (I hope) deliberate.