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