Jules P. Markey’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
When I started this crossword, I felt like I was playing the big board on The $100,000 Pyramid, trying to guess what the words had in common.
Each theme answer has circles identifying a word within the phrase:
- 17a [Weave or tailgate, say] is DRIVE RECKLESSLY.
- 25a [“I’m not at all surprised”] is IT’S NO WONDER, so I was thinking “things that flow….things that fall….”
- 41a [Allows] is GIVES PERMISSION, which put paid to both of those idea.
- 52a [Bailed out on some stock, say] is SOLD AT A LOSS.
RIVER, SNOW, SPERM, and DATA. I got it! Kinds of banks!
There is slightly more to it than that, as we see in the revealer: 62a [Wall Street reformer’s urging … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled squares] is BREAK UP THE BANKS. Each kind of BANK is BROKEN over two or more words. Not a bad theme; it’s consistent, all the theme phrases are in the language, and the topic of breaking up the banks has been in the news since the 2008 crash. BREAK THE BANK is a more familiar phrase, but that’s picky.
A few other things:
- 3d [Reason to summon Batman] is a CRIME WAVE. You’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you?
- 18d [Vacation in a Winnebago, say] is RV TRIP, which strikes me as a roll-your-own. I mean, sure, people take RV TRIPs, but I doubt they say “We’re going on an RV TRIP!” I think it’s far more likely they say “We’re going on a trip in the RV.”
- 19d [Like the lyrics to Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” or 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop”] is LEWD. Or, for that matter, like the lyrics to
John Lennon‘s Paul McCartney’s “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” or Trent Reznor’s “Closer,” which makes Parents Night awkward for the NIN front man. Rap music does not have a corner on lewdness and not all rap is lewd. The Times continues its stellar record (!) of trading in stereotypes. Well done, NYT.
- 38d [Burning Man performance] is, appropriately enough, the FIRE DANCE. I was not familiar with this, so I looked it up. We can add cultural appropriation to our list of ickiness today – but that’s not the fault of the puzzle creator or editor.
- 66d [“The Wizard of Oz” state: Abbr.] is KAN. Lousy entry, but it gives me a chance to give a shoutout to Patrick Blindauer, who recently concluded a run as the Cowardly Lion in a community-theater production of The Wizard of Oz. That took COURAGE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Hal ASHBY directed “Shampoo.” And no, he did not follow that up with real poo, at least not as far as I know.
Julian Thorne’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Poetic License” — Jim’s review
Types of poems are rhymed (appropriately) with other words.
- 17a [Poem consisting of a single couplet?] TERSE VERSE. “What could be worse / Than a verse so terse?”
- 25a [Poem describing an Easter accessory?] BONNET SONNET. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more flow’ry and garish. / Shall I prance in thee through the days of May? / Truly I would rather perish.”
- 45a [Poem that’s uninspired?] PALLID BALLAD. “O writer filled with ennui / Bored expression ’pon his face. / He dips his quill in inkpot black / And stares off into space.”
- 58a [Poem that ebbs and flows?] TIDAL IDYLL. “The sea she rushes and likewise fades / Like breath of one asleep / Lo, see the Road Runner passing by / With subtle comment: ‘Neap neap.'”
I can’t say I found the theme thrilling, but once I realized all the poetic words were types of poems, that little bit of consistency helped raise the standard for the grid. The one exception of course is “verse” which isn’t so much a type of poem as a generic word for poetry. Too bad nothing rhymes with “haiku.” While PSYCHO HAIKU might be funny, it doesn’t quite rhyme. “Ode” would be another option, but it might be too short to be useful.
PALLID and BALLAD don’t quite rhyme to me ear, but I was most surprised by TIDAL IDYLL. I’ve always pronounced “idyll” with a short I, not as homophone of “idle.” But according to online dictionaries, I must be in the minority, as the long I version is favored in America where the short I is preferred across the Atlantic.
On to the fill! Prolonging the poetic feel of the grid are NIGH, LAVE, and DANDLE. Beyond that we have interesting strong characters in MALCOLM X and Pablo ESCOBAR. Plus AFTERNOON, SAVANNAS, TAILSPINS, CORN OIL, TOP CHEF, and sciencey KAON among others.
I’m not sure what’s going on with the clue to LENS [Microscope objective], but I know how I screwed up [“This Old House” contractor Tom]. I put in VILLA because I conflated former host Bob Vila with this Tom SILVA guy. 83% of the letters are the same and maybe somewhere in my brain was the fact that a VILLA is a house.
Nothing else to complain about, so I will leave it at that. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.
Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “Part of America” — Ben’s Review
After a few weeks of delivery issues due to a CMS changeover, it looks like the AV Club is back to showing up in my inbox on time! This week’s edition is by editor Ben Tausig, and it’s a 2.5/5 on the difficulty scale. Let’s take a look:
- 1A: Our nation’s beloved crooner! Remember dancing close? Oh well, let’s cut him in half (the left-wing gets the lust and sloth, the right gets the Gillette razor) — SINATRA
- 20A: Apt way to announce a 69-Across, in our modern media climate — BREAKING NEWS
- 32A: Remember when we bought this for next to nothing? When we used to travel? (the left gets the book org., the right gets the Jamaican pop genre) — ALASKA
- 34A: This went great with beer, especially the domestic stuff we brewed together (the left gets the smokeable cocaine, the right gets NBA guard Jeremy) — CRACKLIN
- 39A: We used to love this deli meat product … before we stopped going out (the left gets all the history; the right gets actor Malek of “Mr. Robot”) — PASTRAMI
- 43A: Our favorite sports events–so classically western *sigh* (the left gets the dowsing device, the right gets the goddess of the dawn) — RODEOS
- 54A: Entity that feels, nowadays, quite a bit like it’s going through a 69-Across — UNITED STATES
- 69A: Process that might require some divvying — DIVORCE
WOOF, this one’s theme clues are on the dark side, but also nicely captures the national divorce in opinion we’re going through lately. I like the general concept here on the theme clues, but I felt like the parentheticals made the answers almost too obvious – I would’ve liked a little more challenge here to figure out what’s going on.
(The new Jessie Ware album is out and it is worth some of your time for a listen)
- I read 17A‘s “Like the poet Rumi” as Rupi, which made me think about how I do not get the current popularity of Rupi Kaur, Instagram poet du jour, at all, but it turns out it’s AFGHANI poet Rumi, who is very different.
- Man, “Steamed taro” does not make POI sound any more appetizing.
- My brain was very confident that the A in “A-Rod” stands for ARON, not ALEX.
- Describing “mansplains” as TALKS AT was lovely, as was EMETICS for “Heaving shots?” and PODIATRY as “Corn field?”
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
This puzzle’s theme is synonym’s for a MEAL, and is revealed at LETSEAT. We have SERVINGtime, a COURSElayout, a FAREincrease, and a HELPINGverb. GRUBSTREET, TUCKERCARLSON, and CHOWCHOW were presumably left on the editing room floor.
I appreciated that the two Z’s of INATIZZY didn’t result in a trainwreck, even though that STU clue is terribly in need of retiring (not their fault exactly). WALLACH/APPALOOSA/DOGHOUSES is an interesting abutment.