Neville Fogarty and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Filling in for Amy, who did Wednesday’s for me. I had an emergent dental procedure this afternoon so this will be brief.
I liked this puzzle. It was on the easy side for a Friday but didn’t yield immediately. Things I particularly enjoyed:
- 1d [One going against the grain?] is a REAPER. This turns harvesting into an existential struggle, which I guess it pretty much is.
- 12d [Musical “girl who cain’t say no”] is ADO ANNIE. This was the gimme that helped that whole corner fall for me.
- 17a [First world capital, alphabetically] falls into the category of “fun facts to know and tell.” The answer is ABU DHABI, which was obvious as soon as I got a couple of letters, even though I didn’t realize until tonight that it’s the capital of the UAE.
- 38d [It could be on the tip of your tongue] is a TASTEBUD. If it is, you’re tasting salty/sweet. Tastebuds specialize and have a relatively standard distribution.
- 59a [Jacob’s partner in “A Christmas Carol”]. This would be Jacob Marley, who went into business with EBENEZER Scrooge.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: ABU DHABI. I had also never heard of NIGHTMARE FUEL.
I leave you with Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie and a very young Shirley Jones as Laurie.
Alex Bajcz’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jim Q’s write-up
First of all, I’m very curious as to how telemarketers pronounce our constructor’s last name when they call. It must be entertaining for Alex to hear them try.
Though the theme of this puzzle was familiar, I still found it fun and chuckle-inducing at times.
20-Across: [What Darwin did aboard the Beagle?] WRITE OF PASSAGE. Rite of passage.
25-Across: [London supermarket sections?] BRITISH AISLES. British Isles.
48-Across: [Tie shoes professionally?] KNOT FOR PROFIT. Not for profit. Also, I’m thinking of a career change at this point in my life, and never considered this possibility. *updates resume*
55-Across: [Lacking a critical watch-making supply?] OUT OF HOUR HANDS. Out of our hands.
I had a lot of missteps in this puzzle starting with 1-Across, where I entered DIRTY instead of SPILT [In need of mopping]. This led me to DIP instead of SAG for 1-Down [Sink]. My less-than-stellar Spidey Senses eventually kicked in and told me that something was wrong, so I fled to the south. Some people stay to tough it out. Some flee. I’m in the latter group. Probably not my most admirable trait.
However, I think that the theme answers were strongest in reverse order. The visual of a frustrated watch maker getting bent out of shape as he opens a drawer and finds he’s out of tiny little hour hands is pretty darn entertaining. The idea of someone earning a living by being a really good shoe-tier is hysterical (“The rabbit goes AROUND the tree THEN down the hole!”) British aisles? Sure! Why not?
But I have to admit, I was totally ignorant of Darwin and his voyage on the Beagle. I’m never proud to admit ignorance, but I have to be honest. My first thought was that Darwin was riding a breed of dog, and I pictured the beagle I once owned totally confused as to why a man was trying to ride him like a horse. I mean, I couldn’t even housebreak that darned dog, let alone teach him dressage.
So for the most part, the themers landed for me.
- GAH for PAH [“Blast it!”] Much prefer my wrong answer over the correct one. PAH feels dated to me.
- SORRY for SORTA [Wavering word] Don’t know what I was thinking there.
- TWA for NWA [Carrier merged with Delta since 2010] I’ve never seen NWA clued as anything unrelated to rap. I prefer that to stay rap-related.
- LUTE for HARP [Plucked instrument] But hey… there’s a lot of plucked instruments, right CELLO?
- EEW for EEK [“What is THAT?”] Also prefer my wrong answer here. I feel that when people EEK, they know what they’re EEKing at. Whereas when people EEW, they honestly don’t know. I’ve witnessed this first-hand when guests open my fridge. It’s all EEWs. Followed by “What is THAT?”
Overall, smooth fill with some solid entries like GREAT STUFF and NOT NICE.
Will Nediger’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Blended Family” — Jim P’s review
Jim P. here sitting in for pannonica. Jim Q.’s post is elsewhere. Please, mind your Jim P. and Jim Q.
We’re treated this week to an over-sized grid featuring anagrams of a familial nature.
- 18a [Prescription from an obstetrician] PRENATAL VITAMINS
- 34a [Eloise Drew, to Nancy, e.g.] PATERNAL AUNT
- 53a [MPAA recommendation] PARENTAL GUIDANCE
Yes, only three theme entries, but those are nice finds, especially that matching pair of 16-letter grid-spanners.
If you’re wondering about etymology, the words appear to be unrelated though they all come to us from Latin. “Natal” of course is related to birth or origin, “paternal” comes from “pater” meaning “father,” and “parent” is derived from “parire” which meant “to bring forth, give birth to, or produce.”
The grid may be 16×15, but it’s still only a 75-worder. It looks and feels wide open and yet it’s loaded with nice entries, not the least of which are the two crossing grid-spanners GREENER PASTURES and ELIZABETH BENNET (of Pride and Prejudice). Other favorites are AMADEUS, STUN GUN, BRIT POP, DOO DAH, DINESEN, BRAVURA (isn’t that a car?), FABIAN, FROLLO, and IACOCCA. You younger pups probably don’t know that last one, but as the head of Chrysler back in the ’80s, he was kind of a big deal. Hey, guess what. He’s still alive and 93 now.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of BELMOPAN (7d, [Capital that replaced Belize City]). Per Wikipedia, after Hurricane Hattie destroyed 75% of homes in Belize City in 1961, a new capital was built on higher ground 50 miles to the west. The name is actually a portmanteau of “Belize” and “Mopan,” the names of two major rivers.
I didn’t care so much for seeing CBGB, especially at 1a, but that was really it for crutchy fill. When your wide-open grid has only one iffy entry, you’ve got a good puzzle on your hands.
Cluing felt tough, but then, this is the CHE, so it should be. It seemed like there were a lot of cutesy ? clues, but maybe that’s because I was struggling while trying to watch Ponyo with my daughter at the same time.
- 38d [Gerrymander, say]. REDRAWS. Don’t get me started. If there’s one single reason we’re in the mess we’re in, it’s this. I heard one of the Wisconsin districts that’s being redrawn originally looked like Bullwinkle the moose. There ought to be a simple way to define districts nationwide, and this practice of choosing your own constituents ought to be unconstitutional.
- 47d [Gas stopper]. BEANO. Ha! Didn’t know that this clue was going to go there, but it did. In the U.K., BEANO is a long-running children’s comic strip featuring their bastardized version of Dennis the Menace. No word on whether they use the strip to peddle anti-flatulence pills.
- 4d [Awesome song, slangily]. BANGER. I guess I’m old. To me, a BANGER goes with mash.
- 30d [Story about disillusionment in James Joyce’s “Dubliners”]. ARABY. I’m afraid I don’t know the story, but I do know the old song “Sheik of ARABY.” See below for Leon Redbone’s manic (more like maniacal) version.
Overall, a beautiful puzzle, maybe light on theme, but elegantly constructed and filled with sparkly entries and juicy clues.