Kameron Collins and Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Of course the two themeless constructors with 7/6/7 names needed to pair up on a puzzle, just to elongate the byline. If it’s kosher to have three constructors collaborate, I’d like to see Narayan Venkatasubramanyan join forces with Kameron and BEQ.
So, what have we got in this 68-worder? The showier material is BEAT A DEAD HORSE (such gruesome imagery, really), GOOGLE HANGOUTS (I have never once participated in one), ROB REINER, PLUS ONE, MARLOWE (I realized earlier today that if I’d ever had a daughter, Marlowe, sounds like Marlo but is cooler, would have been a great name), and my favorite entry, UGLY CRY.
- Sure, ANNES looks like a dreaded plural name entry, but you clue it as 27a. [Auntie ___ (pretzel chain)] with its implicit apostrophe, and you’ve got me thinking of cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites and all is good.
- 57a. [English headwear with a short visor], ETON CAP. Meh. Put this in the same category as SAND DAB, ENCASES, and SEEDPOD: dull 7-letter answers.
- 62a. [Like many of the Minions in “Despicable Me”], ONE-EYED. I assume I’m not the only one here who’s never seen any of the movies with Minions? (*ahem* Note PLUS ONE/ONE-EYED grid repetition.)
- 25a. [“___ the Agent” (old comic strip)], ABIE. Who? Never heard of this strip, but apparently it was launched in the 1910s and helped introduce America to Jewish people beyond the stereotypes that were out there.
- 51d. [Tequila chaser], AGUA. Wait. Is that a thing? Drink tequila, then water? I’m all about hydration, but this doesn’t ring a bell. (Note: Drinking straight liquor is not a thing I do.)
- 48d. [God father?], TITAN. Ah, Greek mythology. Neat clue.
- 49a. [Word after who, what, where, when, why or how], ELSE. I had the E and filled in EVER, which slowed my progress in this corner. Anyone else?
3.75 stars from me. Not as zippy as I expect from either of these constructors. Makes me wonder if there’s some interesting angle or constraint that I missed seeing.
Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
In a world so ignorant of biology that baseless GMO fearmongering can exist and not just be laughed out of the room, this theme uses remarkably technical language. On the other hand, the fact so many of the phrases used are so similar could be also be racked up to that fact. GENEEDITING is, loosely, a technique where the DNA an organism’s genome is broken at a specific point, altered, and then rejoined. Here it is taken as: “other phrases with gene are changed by one letter and clued wackily”. Let’s look at the theme phrases, because it’s here where this theme gets messy. GENETHERAPY is the use of GENEEDITING therapeutically; GENEEDITING is a (controlled) form of GENEMUTATION; GENESPLICING is similar, but involves breaking one organism’s genome and harvesting a gene and then inserting it into another organism – called recombination. This essentially makes a GMO, but although most modern cheese and insulin, for example, uses recombinant technology, none of the anti-GMO people have their undies in a bundle because it isn’t named. And only the proteins are harvested and they’re molecularly identical.
But this puzzle is stillborn. Should have been sent back with a note saying it was a clever theme idea, but you can’t have four theme answers that are so similar to each other in meaning…