Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Smooth and clean, just as challenging as a Friday NYT ought to be. And it’s Friday the 13th, so it’s a lucky puzzle! (Side note: Visited Lake Forest College with my son on Monday, and the campus map has all the buildings numbered. There is no 13. So silly.)
Favorite fill: Pretty DAMASK and GERANIUM, FLOTSAM, KAPOW, G.I. JANE, LEG RAISE (today was, in fact, leg day at the gym, and there were assorted varieties of leg raises done while down on the mat), WHISPER above TSK-TSK, AMERICAN DAD, MARKETWATCH, PILOT SCRIPT, and WENT BERSERK.
I might actually have preferred 13a as IMAGINE, complete with SIN and crosswordese AGAS crossings. I’M ALONE feels iffy as a crosswordable phrase. ARE YOU ALONE is a more familiar things. And now that I’m staring at the grid, I suppose that COR, CRUS, and R IS are pretty meh as well, but all have straightforward crossings and clues.
Five more things:
15a. [Marching ___ (Midwest college band)], ILLINI. While I’m glad U of I finally ditched the “Chief Illiniwek” mascot, I wish they’d change the team name too. You know how many Illini remained in Illinois when the university was founded in 1867? Hardly any at all. Some had fled to Kansas, and those who remained were forced to relocate to Oklahoma decades earlier.
- 28a. [Person in a trailer, in two senses], ACTOR. Cute clue. I watch a lot of movie trailers for my job (mostly trying to see which actors figure into a movie prominently enough to rate being a crossword theme), but have never been inside a vehicular trailer on a set.
- 56a. [Ice cream treat], TORTONI. This one again? I have seen it once or maybe twice before, in crosswords—never in a restaurant or gelato joint. I’ve now done a Google image search and I want Tortoni. It’s a rich ice cream, heavy on the eggs and cream, with chopped cherries in it, topped with minced almonds or crushed macarons. I’ll take the cookie crumble and the almonds, please. If I ever see it on a menu, I’ll have to order it.
- 1d. [Bits of information?], DIGITAL DATA. At first I was thinking that DIGITAL was redundant here, but then again, you might have a notebook filled with data you’ve jotted down in analog form.
- 5d. [Grand duke vis-à-vis a czar], SON. Had no idea. Now say “Zsa Zsa Gabor vis-à-vis a czar” three times fast.
Olivia Mitra Framke’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “The X Factor” — pannonica’s write-up
Rather straightforward phonetic theme, but done well. Terminal –cks strings are replaced with the more economical –x to, of course, humorous effect.
- 18a. [Wonder-ous rejection?] STEVIE NIX (Stevie Nicks). Not finding any collaborations between the two, though Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders” comes up. So instead I had to hunt this up (it wasn’t easy, just so you know):
[Edit: Guess the description didn’t show up as intended; this is “Get With the Beat” by Billy Nix.]
nb: I will not be sharing “Cotton Eyed Joe” by the Swedish band Rednex.
- 24a. [Horrifying bagel accompaniment?] DREAD LOX (dread locks). Crosswords need more clues with ‘horrifying’ and ‘horrific’ in them. Just my opinion.
- 33a. [Cereal that comes with a guarantee?] CERTIFIED CHEX (certified checks).
- 48a. [What military higher-ups pay the IRS?] BRASS TAX (brass tacks).
- 52a. [Some slot-machine pop-ups?] CHERRY PIX (cherry-picks).
So that all worx.
As e.a. has already observed in the comments below, the grid is quite pleasing with a lot of white swaths and open flow.
- 16a [Celestial peacock] PAVO. Didn’t know that offhand but fortunately knew the genus for peafowl, which is in fact the same (Latin).
- 42a [Base for some French toast] BRIOCHE. Presumably on the same more-eggs-are-better approach that encourages challah french toast.
- 4d [Chateau __ Michelle (American winery)] STE. That’s … new, at least in my experience with crossword clues. Their website suggests that it’s Washington state’s oldest winery (founded in 1954). I Certainly would have guessed Wisconsin or Michigan or Minnesota.
- 22d [Lake Michigan herring] ALEWIVES. Disguised plural. Distinct from the same word indicating a female alehouse proprietor. Merriam-Webster proffers, by way of etymology: “perhaps alteration of obsolete allowes, a kind of shad, from French alose shad, from Old French, from Late Latin alausa“.
- 33d [1978 R&B album whose title rhymes with the name of its highest-charting hit] C’EST CHIC. That’d be “Le Freak” by the band Chic.
- 41d [Paint-can instruction] STIR. A change from the humdrum [Recipe word] or [Ado].
- 42d [Focus of many May negotiations] BREXIT. That’s Teresa May, current prime minister of the (more-or-less) United Kingdom.
- 47d [Brought into being] SIRED. *AHEM*
Okay, I’m out. Fun crossword, but it’s been a busy day.
Morton J Mendelson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s theme is rather offbeat. We are presented with four themers clued only with letters followed by ellipses. Once the answers emerge, you realise the clues are initials of parts of adages which are completed by the four theme phrases. [Two wrongs…] DONOTMAKEARIGHT; [Don’t Count Your Chickens…], BEFORETHEYHATCH; [Cleanliness is…] NEXTTOGODLINESS; [All good things…] COMETOANEND. Why? And why these idioms of all the near limitless idioms to choose from? I couldn’t say.
The grid was a lot more closed than most late week puzzles. That should make it easier, however, that was balanced by the nature of the theme, as well as generally tougher clueing (I thought) of the shorter answers.
- [Yanks’ foes], JAYS. A double-crosser right up! We all plonked REBS down, correct? Are Blue Jays and Yankees rivals in the Liverpool Everton vein?
- [Backs up a videotape], REWINDS. Arch.
Well, that was hardly worth starting bullets? You have anything more you’d like to highlight?