Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Mighty smooth for a 64-worder. We’ve got ET SEQ and the new-to-me ACOMA (29d. [Historic pueblo near Albuquerque]), but other than that, everything here ranges from utterly solid to great.
Favorite fill: The great BARBARA JORDAN, of course. Allergenic CAT HAIR (cats are one reason I buy antihistamine eye drops), BOCA RATON, ROBERT ALTMAN, METEOR SHOWERS, SOCIAL STUDIES, LEO FENDER, AS LONG AS, and ZIPPO. And I always appreciate a Dick Van Dyke Show reference, though I suspect younger solvers are at a loss to recognize MOREY Amsterdam.
False advertising! 46a. [Delicious item] clues RED APPLE, as there are Red Delicious (and Golden Delicious) apples … but they are not delicious. I’m bingeing on SweeTango apples this season. They’re a Minnesota-bred hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar, sweet and juicy and crisp and flavorful. Get ’em while you can! (Check Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, or SweeTango’s store finder). I actually had to clean my TV because I bit into a juicy apple and splattered the screen. (Note that 27a here is TANGO. The puzzle wants you to try these apples.)
What do you think about 31a. [History, philosophy and so on] as a clue for SOCIAL STUDIES? I consider history and philo to be in the humanities, with social studies/social sciences encompassing poli sci, econ, anthro, and sociology. Harvard seems to include history with those social sciences, but philosophy, I think, is found elsewhere.
I count over 20 proper nouns (places, people, brand names, characters). I suspect a number of solvers were vexed by assorted pile-ups of these, but I do well with names in puzzles.
4.25 stars from me.
Dave Sullivan’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Raising the Bar” — pannonica’s amicus curiae
Members of the jury, I submit that my solve was initially slow inasmuch as there were certain areas which seemed to be inexplicably recalcitrant.
But after further investigation, to wit: (i) recognizing that the problem areas were vertical theme answers and (ii) two of the clues relatively explicitly indicated that they were attorneys, and (iii) considered with the crossword’s title (Exhibit A, above), it became clear that there was a gimmick involved, i.e., reversal of entries. While not per se criminal or illegal, it arguably stretches the boundaries of propriety. So too is the unorthodox -- but still I stress, not illicit -- 15×16 grid proportions.
- 3d. [Author of 1997’s posttrial “Without a Doubt”] KRALCAICRAM (Marcia Clark).
- 9d. [Famous defender of Patty Hearst] YELIABEELF (F Lee Bailey).
- 17d. [He’s concerned with his Scout’s honor] HCNIFSUCITTA (Atticus Finch).
- 34d. [Loser of only three cases in a nine-year TV run] NOSAMYRREP (Perry Mason).
I admit that I was underwhelmed with the conceit, based on a so-so pun. Furthermore it was a minor hassle to enter electronically (rather than the more traditional hard-copy solve where such flexibility is more easily effected. But then, fine members of the jury, I saw the revealer (Exhibit B):
- 30d [Getting counsel, colloquially ... or what a solver of this puzzle is doing>] PUGNIREYWAL -- Lawyering up.
Quite brilliant. Not only is it a huge enhancement to the previously-seen-as-mediocre theme, but it heeds the precedent established by those other theme entries and it’s au courant. Mea culpa for doubting Messrs Sullivan & Wilber’s (esq.) abilities.
Note also that, as the fifth (5th) theme entry is a revealer, there are only four (4) ‘true’ entries. Additionally, let the record show that they are divided equitably between real and fictional entities. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, the same may not be said of the apportioning of gender among the answers, with male counselors outstripping their female colleague three-to-one (75%). I blame society! Alas, society is not on trial here, so that is a fight for another day.
<turns and mumbles to judge> Your honor, the remainder of my arguments are hereby submitted in writing under separate cover in the file marked “Blah Blah Blah“. (Exhibit C)
I rest my c---
Oh, wait. I have two other items in re: Crossword Puzzle (“Raising the Bar”) which I feel must be explicitly mentioned at this venue:
- 1d [Cartoon supplier of dehydrated boulders, cactus costumes and iron bird seed] ACME. I acknowledge a debt to the estimable body of work of my erstwhile colleague Mr Harold Schoff.
- Herewith my only other substantial complaint against S&W. The crossing of little-known playwright Brian FRIEL and also somewhat arcane (not withstanding nearly 800-thousand “Google hits”) web-based schedule polling software DOODLE when the latter could easily have been clued via a more -- that is, a less onerous approach.
And now I respectfully rest my case, hoping that justice will prevail.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LAT Crossword – Gareth’s review
The “suffix” -ious is added to the first word of phrases radically changing their meaning. The word DEBTS (= IOUs) reveals all. As this genre of theme goes, this was one of the more interesting, with a “chunky” addition, and radical changes to the base phrases. So, STUD(IOUS)FARM (except the farm itself isn’t exactly studious, this one’s a little tenuous); FUR(IOUS)TRADER, TED(IOUS)KNIGHT and COP(IOUS)SHOWS. I suspect there are fairly limited options here; especially as when you add four letters, your original phrases need to be quite short.
- According to Jeffrey Wechsler: BIBLE/AVOIDS/MYOPIA… Discuss.
- [Content of little substance], FLUFF. CRUFT has nearly the same letters, but is more esoteric…
- [KFC option], BREAST. Never had no options at KFC. You get “pieces”, and usually if you order two or three pieces, you aren’t going to get a breast…
- [MLBer at AT&T Park], SFGIANT. This is headline-ese, right?
- [What most pitchers have, as batters], LOWAVERAGES. Cricket season has just started, and this applies equally to cricket. For a dual-purpose example, watch baseball pitcher turned fast bowler Mornantau Hayward try to swing baseball-style against one of the fastest bowlers of all time…
- [Get on with one’s life], TURNTHEPAGE. Opts for a generic clue, rather than referencing Mr. Seger…
- [Prize for Indy], ARK. Jones, not the cars…
- [Toyota’s KY. plant, e.g.], USASSET. Another quirkily abbr. answer.
A joy to solve. Thank you Mr. Berry!
Fairly easy for me, though I didn’t appreciate all those names. I stayed a week cycling in Albuquerque last month doing 40 miles a day on its trails, an incredible biking town and almost as good as Tucson. I thought I knew the surrounding area pretty well but never heard of Acoma.
Nice CHE gimmick. Didn’t look at the title and was fun to figure.
NYT: I agree with you Amy, I think the cluing for Social Studies is not accurate. Social Studies is an interdisciplinary area that integrates various elements of the humanities, the social sciences and other relevant disciplines to derive a better understanding of society. The National Council for Social Studies defines the purpose as “the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence”. But the clue makes it sound like an umbrella concept that subsumes a whole range of disciplines, rather than their intersection.
‘Philosophy’ is notoriously unclassifiable, and often deliberately so. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”, as they say. Which reminds me– Existential Comics is an excellent webcomic.
Ooh, I just looked at Existential Comics. Love it! Thanks, MattF.
For some reason my junior high school referred to a class that was more or less history as Social Studies.
Betcha didn’t cover much philosophy in there, though.
pannonica that was brilliant.
Let the record show that the writer of this deposition smiled upon the Coyote V. Acme case.
I enjoyed the CHE puzzle and simply loved the write-up by pannonica. And I agree that FRIEL / DOODLE (as clued) intersection was a killer (I ended up cheating on that one)
Your honor, I plead guilty on the charge of lacking a clever response, so I’ll just say “Thanks!”
I also enjoyed the IOUS in the LAT puzzle. Cute!
(I don’t always do themeless so I usually don’t rate them)
Two-fifths of FLUFF is not “nearly the same letters” as anything.
LA TIMES: Was this puzzle a contest to see how many A-E-S letters could be used?! Ughh.
I’m posting a day late, so no one will read this, but I have to set the record straight. People are allergic to cat dander, not cat hair. Cats and dogs produce dander, a substance given off by the skin, and this is what causes allergic reactions.