Friday, March 23, 2018

CHE untimed (Jim) 


LAT 6:42 (Gareth) 


NYT 5:13 (Amy) 


Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 23 18, no 0323

Erik launches ACPT weekend with a sparkly 70-word themeless. (Good luck if you’re competing, Erik!) There’s the blushable pair of 14s, KISS ON THE CHEEK and MAKEUP TUTORIAL. The single best makeup tutorial video I’ve ever seen is from a woman who goes by Sailor J. Even if you don’t wear makeup, you may relish “Contouring 101” (see below).

Other fill that caught my eye: DJINN, KIBBUTZ, the gorgeous JANET MOCK, AFROPUNK, ZAMBONIS, and TO BE EXACT.

A couple clue/grid overlaps popped out and bugged me a bit. There’s the clever 40a. [One with a big mouth in Africa?], NILE overlapping with AFROPUNK, and the tricky 9d. [Ice cream holder], FREEZER (I was trapped between a cone and a dish) impinging on ICE IN.

Seven more things:

  • 6a. [Series installments, for short], EPS. Short for episodes. I do use this one a lot, since my job involves TV pop culture.
  • 16a. [ssorcA-41?], ROOM. That’s 14-Across backwards, and 14a is MOOR. Funky.
  • 17a. [Edwin of 1960s-’70s R&B], STARR. Here’s the 1969 video for “War.”
  • 32a. [Bollywood actress Mukerji], RANI. Clued as a proper noun rather than a common noun, for a change. I don’t know of her, so I Googled. Here’s a new interview on the occasion of her 40th birthday and the release of her latest film, Hichki. She’s short and started out with a stammer, and has prospered in Bollywood regardless.
  • 3d. [Something a shepherd may have on], LEASH. As in a German shepherd or, I suppose, a BDSM aficionado who herds ovines.
  • 36d. [Crease smoothers?], ZAMBONIS. In ice hockey, the crease is … something.  (It’s also a thing in lacrosse, I learned in college, from crudely sexist posters promoting the team.) Apparently something on the ice rink.
  • 53d. [“Stay in your ___”], LANE. Meaning, in part, don’t bloviate on something that’s not your area. Best to amplify the voices of the people who are more central to an issue. For example, 29d JANET MOCK can talk about being a transgender woman of color. If you’re cisgender and white, you might choose to let Mock and others with skin in the game be the ones to lead the dialogue on the issues that affect them directly.

4.5 stars from me.

Matthew Sewell’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Sentences in Books” — Jim’s review

Jim P. here, filling in.

Theme: The bad boys (and one girl) of literature

CHE – Fri, 3.23.18 – “Sentences in Books” by Matthew Sewell

  • 1a [He gets 14 years for murder in “A Clockwork Orange”] ALEX. He has no surname in the book, but not knowing this fact, “ALEX” alone felt odd.
  • 17a [He had been imprisoned for stealing bread in “Les Misérables”JEAN VALJEAN. A gimme.
  • 23a [Condemned man at the heart of Richard Wright’s “Native Son”BIGGER THOMAS. Didn’t know this one at all. DIGGER seemed more likely than BIGGER.
  • 32a [Character jailed for a crime he can’t recall in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”THE MISFIT. Aptly, this one gave me fits. I was expecting a name and could not parse it. Consequently, that crossing with FATA got me in the end.
  • 40a [He faces the guillotine in Camus’s “The Stranger”] MEURSAULT. Another one I didn’t know. But I do know MEURSAULT the wine which my wife and I find quite tasty.
  • 45a [Daniel Defoe con artist who avoids the noose through transport to the ColoniesMOLL FLANDERS. I certainly know the name, but that’s little solace when the crossings aren’t coming. I was able to suss it out though.
  • 56a [Protagonist who gets eight years of penal servitude in “Crime and Punishment”] RASKOLNIKOV. Another butt-kicking entry. Thankfully, the crossings were gettable.
  • 65a [Hardy heroine who is hanged for killing a supposed cousin] TESS. Right, so we have seven dudes, some of whom are guilty of murder, but the only person executed is the woman who murdered her rapist. I see.

This was brutal. I was an English major but I may have to relinquish my degree after this puzzle. Of the six long theme entries, only one was a gimme, another I recognize, but the rest were guessing games, especially with their unusual qualities. I confess to having read only one of the titles (O’Connor), but that was thirty years ago.

Maybe it’s because I’m more of a T&A FELLA. Look, just there. POP STARS, FATA, ITAL, and TARS crossing TATA and QATAR. Yeah. That’s the stuff.

The real goodies: BANK ROLL, MERLIN, and QURAN (with its more authentic spelling) qrossing QATAR. (Which reminds me, did you get your Queer Qrosswords yet?)

Dislikes: THUS A [“Skepticism is ___ resting-place for human reason”: Kant]. That’s about the roughest partial I can recall. Also, FATA [___ morgana (mirage)]. (Did I mention the difficult crossing with a theme answer? ) And just a lot of crosswordesey short fill: XIN, ADJS, ORA, LLC, HOI, RDS, SRI, INT, PVTS.

I like the theme, but how many solvers will know all or even most of the entries? I think the puzzle could really benefit from more breathing room by eliminating at least two, preferably three, theme entries. Fewer constraints would mean much cleaner surrounding fill and a more enjoyable puzzle. This was interesting, but it got to be a slog.

Samuel A. Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

The puzzle played like a (74-word) themeless. The theme is PARTTHEREDSEA, and four pairs of consecutive across entries end with RED and then begin with SEA. I found the theme more like an easter egg to uncover after solving.

I struggled in quite a few pockets of this puzzle, but looking back, there aren’t too many difficult answers. Ones worth highlighting are:

  • [Dental restoration], ONLAY. I’ve heard of INLAY, so that was hard to give up…
  • [Plane, for one], EVENER. Yeah, I also found it hard to believe that was the answer…
  • [Ph.D. hurdle], DISS. Not an abbreviation I’ve come across. Kept trying to figure out how ORAL was supposed to fit.

Clue of the puzzle: [Scout’s honor?], MERITBADGE

3.5 Stars

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25 Responses to Friday, March 23, 2018

  1. huda says:

    That ssorcA-41 really threw me. And the 2 N’s in DJINN.
    SCENE XIV! I forgot (or maybe never knew) that the list of scenes is really long in that play. Pretty unusual compared to other Shakespeare plays, no?
    Lots of J’s in the puzzle. I happened to know NADJA and JAMA, so that definitely helped.

    KISS ON THE CHEEK is very cute!

    • MattF says:

      I got stuck on that ‘ssorcA-41’ because I reversed ‘ssorcA’ but not ’41’. So, the answer was sitting right in front of me.

  2. Mark Simpson says:

    “Best to amplify the voices of the people who are more central to an issue. For example, 29d JANET MOCK can talk about being a transgender woman of color. If you’re cisgender and white, you might choose to let Mock and others with skin in the game be the ones to lead the dialogue on the issues that affect them directly.”

    Or we can judge others’ arguments on the basis of the case they present rather than immutable characteristics. That or you can keep assuming that everyone in each group thinks exactly the same and never have the ability to communicate on even footing.

    • Dedie says:

      Have lived in England over 20 years…have never heard of police box…find another clue

      • Norm says:

        Or find a wacky clue for POLICE BOW and then that effing corner would only be half as annoying.

      • Matthew G. says:

        I assumed that POLICE BOX was a reference to the TARDIS, or at least to the shape the TARDIS is permanently stuck in. The words POLICE BOX appear prominently at the top of it.

      • Jim Peredo says:

        I think there may be a few POLICE BOXes in the wild, but they are few and far between. I recall seeing one outside Earl’s Court tube station in London a few years ago. That being said, it certainly wasn’t manned, so the clue could be worded better. My understanding is that the boxes simply had a telephone with a direct line to the nearest police station.

        As others have said, people know them only from Doctor Who these days.

    • Harry says:

      So you can’t speak authoritatively about something unless it applies to you? I guess teachers can’t speak about educating children then, nor doctors about healing illness, nor living people about the experience of death. People who have skin in the game surely ought to be heard but that doesn’t make them the only people who can educate the rest of us.

  3. David L says:

    FTLB was a blast from the past. I learned imperial units long ago and promptly forgot about them.

    I didn’t understand the clue for LEASH until I came here.

    How is TELE a rhyming prefix for ‘novela’? Close-ish, I guess, but not what I would call a rhyme.

    Pretty good puzzle but too heavy on the proper names for my liking.

  4. arthur118 says:

    The “something” that is the crease in ice hockey is the area directly in front of the net, painted blue with a red border, in which no opposing player is allowed to enter prior to the puck being in the crease. The crease rule exists to allow the goalie a fair opportunity to defend his goal.

    And, in an interesting way to use ZAMBONIS as more than cleaners and scrapers of ice, a recent Boston Globe columnist, (needing a way to deal with the frequent use of the f-bomb by his subject in their conversation), asked his readers to substitute the word ZAMBONI for the f-word whenever it was uttered in the interview.

    The substitution wasn’t enough and even a mighty ZAMBONI couldn’t cleanse the column.

    • Steve Manion. says:

      Not that I am bitter, but here is the crease “rule” in action from the final game of the 1999 Stanley Cup between Buffalo and Dallas. While not as in/famous as WIDE RIGHT, NO GOAL has long been a rallying cry for Buffalo fans. The explanation in this video WAS NOT how such situations were historically called.


  5. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Six dudes, not seven. Moll Flanders, “. . . Twelve Years a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her brother) . . .” was no dude.


    • Jim Peredo says:

      Crumbs. I try to be diligent with my fact-checking, but every once in a while one slips through. Thanks for the correction.

  6. C. Y. Hollander says:

    If you’re cisgender and white, you might choose to let Mock and others with skin in the game be the ones to lead the dialogue on the issues that affect them directly.

    It depends what the dialogue is about, doesn’t it? If it’s restricted to the experiences of the people in question, sure. If it’s about advocating changes in how other people relate to them, then surely everyone whose behavior is questioned or asked to change has skin in the game, too, albeit different skin.

  7. Penguins says:

    NYT: The clue for TO BE EXACT could’ve used quotes and “ssorcA-41?” (which felt completely out of place) a backward question mark at front instead of a proper one at end IMO. Too much trivia made it a bit tough in spots and brought down the fun factor.

    I’d say today’s CHE was the worst crossword puzzle I’ve ever done if it were one; it’s an exam in a box. A one star rating is one star too many.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Couldn’t disagree more strongly regarding the CHE. I wish there were more puzzles with classical/literary trivia and not {Insert name of pop culture celebrity here}.

      I know I’m in the minority, but I dissent from the prevailing crossworld view that current trivia is always better.

  8. Jim Peredo says:

    If the CHE is high brow, then, at least today, The Puzzle Society is low n brow. Fun theme from David Steinberg.

  9. cyberdiva says:

    Just want to say how delighted I was to read Matthew G’s response re today’s CHE puzzle. I enjoyed the puzzle very much. BIGGER THOMAS was one of the very few gimme’s for me, but all the theme answers seemed quite do-able after just a few crossings. And I appreciated the relative absence of pop culture trivia.

  10. doug says:

    CHE – Though this is two days late, I concur with the fans of this puzzle. I’ve heard of most of the theme titles, but only two of the characters. I enjoyed looking up the references after finishing the puzzle. It’s never a waste of time when you learn something.

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