Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m generally on the right wavelength for Peter’s themelesses, and I zipped through all of this except the northwest quadrant. Likes: “BA-DA-BING,” EPISODE I, ARMS DEAL, GUY FAWKES MASK, BYE WEEK, HODA KOTB, BODY-SURF, MENORAHS, and ICLOUD.
Five things, because I’m sleepy and headachy:
- 38a. [Dated women?], FAIR SEX. Eh. Meh.
- 41a. [Buck ___, first African-American coach in Major League Baseball], O’NEIL. I first learned of this legend of the Negro leagues from Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary. And now? He’s the only person I remember from all those hours of programming. He was a delight.
- 53a. [Rocker Gramm of Foreigner], LOU. Who? I … never realized that Foreigner contained individuals with names. Have never heard anything about them. (Wikipedia tells me they’re a “British-American band.” News to me!)
- 56a. [“Today” co-host beginning in 2007], HODA KOTB. She cohosts the fourth hour of Today with Kathie Lee Gifford. For work last spring, I actually skimmed memoirs by both of them! I learned that Hoda’s got an impressive background in war reporting, and Kathie Lee is funny. The ratings for that hour have plunged since Megyn Kelly moved into the hour before Kathie Lee and Hoda. Oh, NBC, what have you done?
- 29d. [User-editable internet pages], WIKIS. I hadn’t realized the NYT switched over to lowercase internet for its style. Apparently this is old news. Luckily, I don’t work for a newspaper and can freely disregard Associated Press style mandates and all the spill-over in other papers’ style guides. (At work, I still use Internet, but might’ve been using unhyphenated email before the Times made that change.)
Four stars from me.
Ned White’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Rime Scheme” — pannonica’s write-up
You open up the
.puz file. You see a 15×16 grid. You see a few circled squares along the midline. (You see left–right symmetry.) You see the first clue—1-across—with a slew of cross-references. You don’t even read the clue beyond noting that the first word is ‘Source’ and registering that it’s a very long clue. You begin to resent having to blog this crossword.
You look at the title. You immediately think of the poet Robert Frost, and as the answers in that upper-left section begin to fall, you see that indeed FROST is this linchpin answer.
You arrive at 24-across [“Good fences make good neighbors” poem] and you know for certain that it’s Frost’s “Mending Wall” but the entry only allows four letters. You see that nearby string of three circled letters and reason that they’re probably related, but you don’t immediately know the answer to the containing entry, 24a [Gummed holder in a stamp album]. So you move on.
You hit 9-across and it cross-references back to 1-across, and you scream a silent scream.
Working that upper-right area, you’re getting some but not all of the answers, and that pesky theme-related 9a is not looking like anything you know in relation to FROST, not even after actually reading the clue: [Source of 24, 44 and 64 Across … or, with 9 Across, factor in pothole formation that’s a hint at the visual irregularities of those three entries]. Pothole formation? Frost? Again you feel resentment.
More letters are entered in the grid. Is 9d [Timid chuckle syllable] TEE or HEE? 12d [Competitor of Spalding and Wilson] … DUNLOP is too long. SCHLESINGER is way too long.
—”Could it… could it start with a V…?”
—”Is FROST HEAVE a thing? A thing that has to do with potholes?”
—”Never heard of it, but it sounds vaguely. remotely, possible.”
—”No, that’s too weird. Wouldn’t been a crossword.”
19a [“Silas Marner’ foundling] ya you’ve forgotten that and none of the letters so far are jogging your memory.
26-across: [–]. You know this is Across Lite/XWord’s version of a blank clue. You realize it’s part of the theme. A soft gurgle rises in your throat.
You work the grid some more. You get 26a to be WALL. You have MEND | WALL and hence the three circled letters will indeed be ING,(it turns out the answer is HINGE, which makes sense) completing the title. You assess those circled letters contextually, adjacent to both the antecedent and subsequent parts, but raised one row. You question again whether FROST HEAVE is a thing.
You continue solving, dyspeptically. (20a [Sound from a water cooler] GLUG.)
- 44a/42a/47a. [“Possessing what we were still unpossessed by” poem] / [Buyer of Netscape] AOL / [–] = THE GIFT O UTRIGHT.
- 64a/61a/66a. [“Yet knowing how way leads on to way” poem] / [Dr. treating laryngitis] ENT / [–] = THE ROAD N OT TAKEN.
You finish the puzzle. You question the worth of this particular crossword and its theme. You resent having to blog it—you’re suffering already in the throes of a rhinovirus—but you feel the obligation. You perform the merest wisp of due diligence by searching Google for “frost heave” and are displeased that it has as many as 193,000 results. VOIT.
You also check to see if there’s a song called “White Frost”. There is, but it’s quite terrible, and not in a good way. You can’t justify inflict it on the blog readers.
You resolve to write about it, but instead of doing the normal things like presenting the theme and then discussing it and various other aspects of the crossword, the grid, the clues, you decide to be snarky, though with a halfhearted attempt at 28d TACT—that is, with the annoying conceit of distancing yourself from the disparaging assessments by presenting your write-up in the second-person present tense. And a run-on sentence or two. Some fragments. But everyone knows how you feel, of course. So you feel a little guilt.
But really, you aren’t IN THE MOOD at all (50a) and you just want to be finished.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
It’s add a letter string Friday again. Today’s is +HAM, revealed at HAMMEDITUP. Our four candidates today are: The ad phrase GOTMILK, which becomes GOT(HAM)MILK; S(HAM)INGTHEBLUES, which repurposes THEBLUES to refer to baseball; S(HAM)ANKIN – which is hard to parse, as the break in SANK/IN shifts to S-AN/KIN. The best answer is saved for last. It is also a bit more convoluted than a typical add a letter string answer, exhibiting a tmetic type effect I associate with BEQ. In any case the imagery in POPUPTOA(HAM)STER is great!
The design of the puzzle is notable, with big corners adding to the Friday challenge. Also adding to the challenge is the puzzle’s segmented nature (which helps to fill those big corners adequately), which makes it difficult to get help finishing any particular area you may have had trouble with.