Happy Black Panther release day, everyone!
David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This 70-worder has lots of sparkle, but also the super-crusty AGENA and ONE NO (crossing, no less! good luck to you if you don’t know your crosswordese rocket things and bridge terminology). Lots of sprawling sections with long fill, though, and good flow from area to area.
- 14a. [Brownie, for one], BOX CAMERA. Old school! We would also have accepted BAKED GOOD and GIRL SCOUT.
- 17a. [Dangerous cocktail], SPEEDBALL. Not booze, but hard drugs. David likes to evince that “edgy college dude” vibe with drugs and sex references in his puzzles. (See also: PENTHOUSE SUITE starting with a porn magazine and making me fear the worst.) I’m over it.
- 32d. [Rejection of a honey-do list], “NO, DEAR.” This is a junk entry. This isn’t an in-the-language phrase. There was a sitcom called Yes, Dear. There will never be one called No, Dear.
- 54a. [Fiancée, say], INAMORATA. Why is INAMORATO so much less common a word? See also: 26d. [Epitome of romantic passion], LATIN LOVER—ugh, stereotypes are so tiresome. Why does anyone still use that term?
- 10d. [One with a plant-based diet], APHID. Okay, let’s call vegans “aphids” from now on. I like aphids! (Note: not a gardener.)
- 35d. [Its ribs stick out], CORDUROY. Great clue!
- 49d. [Long dress], MAXI. I filled in SARI first, and then backtracked to *A*I till I saw what the crossings are. The book I’m reading now is essays by Scaachi Koul, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter. She’s a Canadian of Kashmiri descent, and has a long essay about traveling to India for a cousin’s wedding. There is ample coverage of her difficulty finding clothes that fit her body there, her unhappiness with SARIs, the dated gender norms in wedding traditions, and so much more. (Other essays cover growing up brown in a mostly white area, dealing with an alcoholic college buddy, and more. Funny, dark, honest. Recommended reading!)
Shiny bits: YOGURT SMOOTHIE, TATE MODERN, FLAMBOYANT, GOMER. That last one—do people use that much outside of medical circles? A nurse mentioned “the gomers” to me, which surprised me because that’s not a word healthcare professionals are supposed to let slip to patients, is it? I commented on it, and she recommended GomerBlog, a medical humor site. The dictionary suggests it’s also used to insult trainees in the military. [Cloddish sort, in slang] doesn’t mesh with the meanings I know.
Four stars from me.
Peter Koetters’ Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “It Works Both Ways” — pannonica’s write-up
“The orthographic world of ancient Greece was a sparse old place. A literate Greek of Homer’s time reading a contemporary manuscript would be faced with an UNBROKENSTREAMOFLETTERS, all of the same upper case (because at that time there was no other case); not only that, but texts were composed in a style called boustrophedon, or ‘ox-turning’, where the lines ran alternately left-to-right and then right-to-left across the page in the manner of a farmer driving his oxen across his field. Perhaps most cruelly, the visual signposts of punctuation which today we take for granted were completely absent, and it was the reader’s unenviable lot to tease out words, clauses and even sentences from this densely-packed zig-zag of characters.”
–from Keith Houston’s Shady Characters (book and website)
- 64aR [Ancient text written in alternating directions, later suggested by 21. 37 and 48 Across] BOUSTROPHEDON. 58a [Plowing team referenced in the Greek etymology of 64 Across] OXEN; damn, just noticing as I write this that the connection here is explicit. I’d thought I was so clever for already knowing that and noticing the entry.
- 21a. [Outdoor chore often done in a 64 Across pattern] MOWING THE LAWN.
- 37a. [Noisy computer peripheral that used a 64 Across pattern] DOT MATRIX PRINTER.
- 48a. [Board game in which pieces proceed in a 64 Across pattern] SNAKES AND LADDERS.
Not mentioned in the above excerpt is that not only was the direction of text flow reversed, but the letters themselves were reflected, mirror-image style.
- 17a [Come in second, maybe] PLACE. As anyone who’s seen The Sting will most likely never forget.
- 75a [Sidewalk scam] MONTE. In which direction does the confidence go in a ‘con game’? 16a [Cards in 75 Across, e.g.] TRIO.
- 19a [One of the back forty] ACRE. To be plowed, no doubt.
- 33a [Identified as off-limits] TABOOED. Wasn’t aware it was verbable. Perhaps no-one talks about it?
- Colorful terms in clues: 26a [Popinjay] FOP, 60a [Sozzled] LIT, 11d [Tintinnabulate] CLANG.
- 2d [South Asian capital where Arthur C. Clarke is buried] COLOMBO. Trivia!
“Clarke emigrated from England to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) in 1956, largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving. That year he discovered the underwater ruins of the ancient Koneswaram temple in Trincomalee. Clarke augmented his fame later on in the 1980s, from being the host of several television shows such as Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World. He lived in Sri Lanka until his death. He was knighted in 1998 and was awarded Sri Lanka’s highest civil honour, Sri Lankabhimanya, in 2005.” –Wikipedia
(35d [Hunted for pearls, maybe] DIVED.)
54d [Author entombed near Chaucer in 1599, thus creating Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner] SPENSER. O he of recent EYE-PIT renown.
- 5d [Score marks prescribing repeats] SEGNI. Interesting that m-w lists the plural of segno as segnos—not even mentioning an alternative—while Ngrams tells a very different story.
- 32d [Coat of paint?] SMOCK. Cute.
- 34d [La Scala shout calling for an encore] BIS. Literally, “twice” in Italian. Literally, “twice” in Italian.
David Alfred Bywaters’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I admired the way the A to B changes worked in this DOWNGRADEing theme, although none of the results really tickled me: <>MEDIABIAS becomes MEDIABIBS; ALTRIGHT BLTRIGHT; USATODAY USBTODAY; IAMWOMAN IBMWOMAN.