David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I suspect ratings of triple-stack puzzles have a bimodal distribution – you either love them or you hate them. I love them. It’s so satisfying to start out with that sea of white squares and fill them all in. One of the criticisms of triple-stack puzzles is that they’re too easy, since you can fill in nearly half the puzzle with six answers. People also complain (justifiably) about the repetition of 15-letter answers. David got around the second objection by making this a 16×15 puzzle, and I don’t think it was too easy.
The triple stack at the top:
- 1a [Someone who cares too much?] is HELICOPTER PARENT. The question mark makes it clear that David isn’t saying the real issue is an excess of caring, which is good, because it’s not. I suspect he means “cares too much” as in “does too much” and I have officially won the overthinking prize for the day.
- 17a [Serious competition] is A RUN FOR ONES MONEY. This was the first in the stack to fall for me.
- 18a [It sends waves through waves] is a SONIC DEPTH FINDER. New to me because I am not a mariner. A quick Google search shows that it’s definitely a thing and a completely fair entry.
The bottom three:
- 57a [Sophomoric rejoinder] is THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. The clue almost saves this entry for me. Almost. “Sophomoric,” in my mind, means “juvenile.” The phrase is juvenile and crass, but that’s not the real problem with it. The real problem is that it’s misogynistic.
- 61a [1958 Bobby Freeman hit covered by the Beach Boys and the Ramones] is DO YOU WANT TO DANCE. I tried it first as “wanna” instead of “want to” because that’s how I’ve always heard the lyrics.
- 62a [Be beneficial to] is STAND IN GOOD STEAD. That phrase always sounds redundant to me although “stand” and “stead” are not really synonymous.
A few other things:
- 19a [College Board offering, for short] is PSAT. Between this and 1a, this is an anxiety-provoking puzzle for the mother of a high school senior who does not yet know where she is going to college.
- 6d [A large quantity] looked obvious to me, so I dropped OF in at the ending. Wrong. It’s OODLES, which is just a fun word.
- 11d [Pressure meas.] also fooled me. It’s PSF, pounds per square foot, and not PSI, pounds per square inch.
- 31d [Quick way through a toll plaza] is the EZPASS LANE. I wonder how this landed for folks who don’t live in the northeast US? It was a gimme for me, but then I do live in the northeast US.
- 59d [Teens fight, for short] is WW I because it’s not about teenagers, it’s about the 19-teens.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: See above re: SONIC DEPTHFINDER. I also didn’t know the Ramones covered DO YOU WANT TO DANCE.
Nate Cardin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “He Who Shall Not Be Named” — Laura’s review
HE shall not be named, nor shall HE be included in any of the four themers, thus:
- [17a: Culinary judge at an Idaho fair?]: TATER CRITIC
- [24a: A for Amstel, B for Budweiser, C for Coors, etc.?]: BREW ALPHABET
- [49a: Priest’s magnanimous exclamation at a gallery opening?]: BLESS YOUR ART
- [60a: Conservative in the British Parliament who is prone to violent outbursts?]: BIG BANG TORY
Congratulations to Nate, whom some Fiend readers might know from his MGWCC guest puzzles and his inspiring editorship of the Queer Qrosswords project (if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go to QueerQrosswords.com! To date, the project has made over $13,000 for LGBTQ+ charities!). One of Nate’s goals for Queer Qrosswords was to mentor and publish new constructors, so for that reason I’m especially psyched to blog his debut in a national print publication.
Most days, a well-executed simple theme is all I want in a 15x puzzle, and this is a fine example of your standard letter-deletion theme-type. You’ve got your AXOLOTL, MUZAK, and FAULKNER as some fun, Chronicle-worthy fill, plus a nod to the higher-ed readership with DEANS and expert-level science-trivia terms like STOMA and TAIGA. Regarding [43d: Sled in movie lore]: ROSEBUD, if you were wondering exactly which movie, @abmartinson just yesterday on Twitter coined the term Rosebud interval as the minimum length of time that should pass before one may publish spoilers for various cultural artifacts. So the Rosebud interval for, say, Citizen Kane (1939), or any movie with a BIG SECRET MYSTERY is maybe a few years, but what’s the Rosebud interval for a crossword? A week or so? It would need to be enough time for regular normal people who aren’t crazy obsessed Fiends to get around to solving it. (Yeah, we spoil puzzles here on Fiend all the damn time, but that’s why you’re here; the Rosebud interval for a daily puzzle is necessarily shorter than that for a weekly puzzle.) How about a formula to calculate Rosebud interval in … minutes? Ri = ms2, where m = media type by language density and s = audaciousness vector of secret, such that larger more complex media types with super crazy spoileriffic plot denouements generate longer Rosebud intervals, on an algorithmic scale.
Lots to [12d: Be smitten with]: ADORE here! I’ll leave you with the best-selling B-SIDE [49d: “I Am the Walrus” or “I Will Survive,” upon release] of all time.
James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s theme features somewhat amusing long “ee” heterographs, with a variety of spelling changes. In order: MIR(MERE)FORMALITY; TIERS(TEARS)OFJOY; PIER(PEER)GROUPS; and SHEAR(SHEER)MADNESS.
We had more olde-school crossword answers than have been seen for a while, including TFAL over ORNE crossing ANEAR, ALCOA and ECU.
- Mystery name was [Fashion designer Rabanne], PACO
- [Elizabeth of “Jacob’s Ladder”], PENA. Great film! A couple of real surprise twists at the end!
- Actually UNOCAL that […merged with Chevron…] was another mystery name.
- [Deck alternative], PATIO. What’s the difference again?
- [Cryptozoologist’s quarry], SASQUATCH. I named my previous lab x that, but her name was quickly shortened to SASSY. She was never sought by any cryptozoologists, though.
- [Wicked slice], GASH. Wednesday’s puzzle had me thinking golf here.