Talitha Randall’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I really want to like puzzles by new constructors, especially women. I hope Talitha Randall gives us more, because this one….did not thrill me. You have to use the grid to solve this puzzle, and I do mean “solve.” When I saw 2d [Month number 60-Across: Abbr.] I thought it was just an annoying cross-reference. The answer is SEPT, so clearly 60a is NINE. So much for that. Except…
- 21a [With 22-Across, certain way to make 60-Across] is ONE. If you look at the grid you will see the blocks in between 21a and 22a form a + sign. So ONE plus EIGHT equals NINE.
- 33a [With 34-Across, another way to make 60-Across] is FOUR plus FIVE.
- 46a [With 47-Across, a third way to make 60-Across] is SEVEN and TWO.
But wait! There’s more! We also have:
- 7d [60-Across, in baseball] for TEAM.
- 26d [___ 60-Across (state of euphoria)] would be CLOUD, as in CLOUD NINE.
- 28d ]A cat is said to have 60-Across of them] is, of course, LIVES.
- 49d [Prefix meaning 60-Across] is NONA.
Counting 60a itself, that gives us (wait for it) NINE theme answers (counting each addition problem as one answer – there are thirteen theme words in the grid).
I do not care for cross-references. I didn’t actually have to look at 60a to figure out the answers, so it was less annoying that most cross-references. I think the theme was too easy and the volume of theme material constrained the fill, with predictable results:
- Foreign directions x 2: ESTE and OVEST.
- 8d [Person native to an area] is an INDIGENE. I’m sure it’s in a dictionary and it was inferable by analogy to “indigenous,” but I’ve never seen it before and can’t imagine using it now that I have.
- The SW has both EDENIC and SONANT.
- And I just don’t like LIAISE.
I’d rather have less theme material for a somewhat more challenging theme (even on Wednesday) and fill that has words that people actually use.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re; INDIGENE.
Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Get My Drift?” — Laura’s write-up
- [17a: Guarantee that your deception won’t be given away?]: SNOW JOB SECURITY
- [23a: Chore involving seven little pairs of pants?]: SNOW WHITE WASH
- [46a: Tag played on the slopes?]: SNOW BOARD GAME
- [56a: Armed for a winter battle?]: SNOW BALL BEARING
Phrases that begin with snow- are glommed on to phrases that begin with the word that follows snow in the first phrase, making funny new phrases. Two of the base phrases use snow figuratively (Snow White and snow job), while two are literal things that one does or makes with actual snow (snowboard and snowball). This being the season for snow (where I live, we already have about a foot and many of the ski areas have opened) and winter holidays, many clues invoke seasonal cheer.
A few things:
- [9d: It can make for frenzied flocks]: LOCOWEED. I hadn’t heard of this term for plants that produce toxins that harm livestock. But it’s a good one, and has many grid-friendly vowels.
- [25d: Home of the Maple Leafs]: TORONTO. It is unwise to annoy Ontarians (Ontarioans? Ontologists? Unitarians?) by referring to this team as the Maple Leaves, just as it is unwise to annoy Bostonians by referring to their local basketball team as the Celtics with a hard c.
- Lots of music-related entries and clues: a diva’s TRILL, the 1884 opera MANON, EDGAR Winter of “Free Ride” (instead of Allan Poe), R.E.M.’s “The ONE I Love,” and references to several Christmas carols (but not to my favorite, “Good King Wenceslas” — who doesn’t just love belting out “Bring me flesh and bring me wine!”?).
- Here is [11d: Parisian chanteuse]: EDITH PIAF singing a sad Christmas song about a poor waif who won’t get any presents:
Aimee Lucido’s AVCX, “It’s TIME” — Ben’s Review
Aimee Lucido has the second-to-last AVCX of 2017, a 2/5 on the difficulty scale. I don’t always agree with those difficulty ratings, but this one’s spot on. Hope you’ve been paying attention to your current events – if not, “It’s TIME” to catch you up – there are four places in the grid where answers seem to spread over two consecutive grid spaces:
- 17/18A: Sub-rosa — HUSH HUSH
- 25/28A: The next one will mark the start of 5779: Var. — ROSH HASHANA
- 53/57A: Oboe-like instrument whose name is, ironically, translated from the original French — ENGLISH HORN
- 68/71A: Period of gridlock — RUSH HOUR
As 43D explains, the theme of this puzzle is the 2017 TIME Magazine person of the year: SILENCE BREAKERS. Each theme entry has a SHH broken across the two answers. A well-executed, timely theme.
I am so hyped up for this movie where Sandra Bullock & friends rob the Met GALA. WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S NOT OUT UNTIL SUMMER.
- “The only state where the majority of the population belongs to one church”: UTAH.
- In response to 23D‘s “Prince had an exceptional one”, I really wanted to post his song “Wonderful Ass” as this week’s video, but it turns out that it’s not on Youtube (which isn’t surprising with Prince), plus it doesn’t feature his FALSETTO, which is what the clue is actually looking for.
- BEEFALO definitely fits the bill for “certain cattle hybrid”.
- I like that in the Extended Bruno Mars Universe (the EBMU, if you will), Julio both drives the stretch limo and serves the SCAMPI.
- My favorite version of the Classic parental “We’ll SEE” (which generally means “no”) is this one from MST3k:
Send AVCX some love in their tip jar this week – they’ve more than earned it with their constantly amazing puzzles.
Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
WHATSFORDESSERT is answered by four circled words hidden within long across answers in today’s puzzle by Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel. SORBET in JACKSORBETTER is by far the most elegant answer, with the six letters spanning all three words in the answer. The others are a torte in a LIEDETECTORTEST, a PIE in OPIETAYLOR, and a FLAN in PLOTOFLAND.
With so much theme, the rest of the puzzle is mostly doing a great job holding itself together, but there are little nuggets: TONTO, NUTMEG, ELIXIR, TIGRIS – all one-word, but still kept things peppy.