Rachel Maddow & Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I suspect that everyone who’s on the liberal-to-moderate side of the spectrum has a crush on Rachel Maddow. Lesbians, straight men, gay men, straight women, bi or asexual folks—Rachel’s got a sexy mind and she’s cute af, so what’s not to like? This might be the coolest of the celebrity bylines we’ve seen atop the NYT crossword.
Highlights in the grid: Maddow’s fellow TV HOSTS, an FOIA REQUEST (that’s a Freedom of Information Act request for government documents), ROCK FANS, CONTESSA, CRITIQUE, “IF YOU CAN.”
- 1d. [Those who’ve seen both Europe and Asia, say], ROCK FANS. Oh! The bands, well past their heydays, called Europe and Asia. Raise your hand if you’ve seen both bands perform live. Anyone?
- 50a. [Stud of the sports world?], CLEAT. As in a little nubbin that provides traction, not a studly dude.
- 4d. [Keeper of the flame?], WICK. On a candle.
- 12d. [You’re not in it if you’re out], CLOSET. Boom. (If you’re not out, I would never push you to come out unless you’re ready, but I will support you 100% when you do. And before then.)
- 13d. [Car model originally called the Sunny in Japan], SENTRA. Trivia! This may be useful some day. (I compete in the online trivia league called Learned League. It’s hardcore.)
- 38d. [Programming manager’s specialty], SLOTTING. Oh, hey. I do a lot of that. I slot 365 crosswords a year, and then some. I generally call it scheduling rather than slotting, but that’s legit.
- 32d. [“Uhhh …”], ERM. You all realize that this is basically just a British spelling of “um,” right? They aren’t pronouncing that R the way Americans read it. (See also: A generation of Americans thinking that the singer Sade’s name is pronounced “shar-day,” because Brits said so … but those Brits weren’t hitting that R sound. Shah-day. And yes, I’m still mad at the American media for blithely running with that “shar-day” nonsense.)
- 18a. [What might help a hacker go undetected?], COUGH BUTTON. I had absolutely no idea what this meant, and figured it was a weird regionalism for cough drop. But no! It’s a broadcasting thing, basically a mute button you hit to avoid airing yourself coughing. I’m guessing that it was Rachel’s idea to seed the grid with COUGH BUTTON and FOIA REQUEST. Bartender Joe might’ve pitched SAZERAC, but hey, maybe that’s Rachel’s favorite drink, I dunno.
- 9d. [Jacket letters], ISBN. While the ISBN number on a book jacket is all digits, the code is preceded by “ISBN,” which is spelled with letters.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Good Bookends” — Laura’s write-up
The ends of the themers are books of the Good Book, a.k.a. The Bible.
- [17a: Hamlet’s title]: PRINCE OF DENMARK. Mark, second book of the New Testament.
- [27a: Throw off 23-Across]: FACE FACTS. Acts, fifth book of the New Testament.
- [27a: Setting of the cable drama series “Manhattan”]: LOS ALAMOS. Amos, book three of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
- [61a: Fudge, maybe]: STRETCH THE TRUTH. Ruth, from the Megillot, a subsection of the Ketuvim, or Writings, of the Hebrew Bible (although I’m told that Christian Bibles put Ruth in a slightly different order, hence the title of Lyle Lovett’s excellent 1992 album Joshua Judges Ruth).
Trivia Tidbit: The phrase the whole megillah comes from the tradition of reading the entire book of Esther twice on the holiday of Purim (which was two days ago). (Apparently there’s an Irish version: the whole McGillicuddy — which wouldn’t be the first time Irish culture adapted Judaism for its own purposes.) Like most Jewish holidays, Purim boils down to: they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat! I’m not the only one to argue lately that the heroine of Purim, Esther, is a figure for our time. How’s that for a bit of midrash with your crossword commentary?
David Alfred Bywaters’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Hi all–this is Andy, filling in for Gareth today, who’s dealing with a power outage.
The revealer is at 71a, SWISS [Deli cheese … or, in three parts, a hint to the five longest across puzzle answers]. “In three parts” means that we should read SWISS as “SW” is “S,” so the five longest across answers will replace “sw” in common phrases with just an “s,” to humorous effect. Like so:
- 17a, SINGING BOTH WAYS [Ratting to the cops and carrying a tune?]. Swinging both ways.
- 24a, SAP MEETS [Dupe gatherings?]. Swap meets.
- 39a, SEEP UNDER THE RUG [What rain may do to a bad toupee?]. Sweep under the rug.
- 51a, SEAT SHOP [Place to buy a chair?]. Sweat shop.
- 62a, SADDLING CLOTHES [Cowboy outfit?]. Swaddling clothes.
A ton of theme material in this one. Five fairly long theme answers plus the revealer is a lot to pack into a 15×15 grid, and David did a pretty good job here. Nothing too exciting in the fill (the long downs are SPARE TIRES and OPEN-HANDED), but also nothing unusually crosswordese-y for a weekday puzzle (the usual ERTE and OMNIA and IDE and SHUI, etc.).
That’s all for this week. See you next Thursday!