Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I like pinwheels as much as anyone, but I can’t say I enjoy a 56-word puzzle. (Unless it’s by Patrick Berry, who used this same diagram with much smoother results in 2006.) There’s a preponderance of roll-your-own fill and repetitions. UNMIXED is dull, but it crosses the weird UNTAPE and then the next quadrant has the terrible UNNAILED. We’ve got the roll-your-owns RESOLE, CUSSER, and JAILABLE; the repetitive I RAISE and contrived I’M SAD; plural name QUINNS; the contrived mini-theme of “TAKE MORE” and “HAVE A SIP.” If you think I’m being too harsh, please do click the link earlier in this paragraph and compare the fill in the Berry puzzle to what we have here.
I actually like the southwest quadrant a lot, except for B-STARS and that HAVE A SIP. WEASELED, “HOPE NOT” (although “I hope not” is more complete) HARANGUE … solid. Elsewhere in the grid, I like OPEN PLAN, DRUM ROLL, and DIVE BAR.
The southeast corner crosses some really tough fill. 43a. [Spiny fish named after a bird], SEA RAVEN?? And the quaint 37d. [Piece of armor worn over the shin], GREAVE?
I used a Google news search to see how much CUSSER, UNTAPE, UNNAILED, and so on are being used in the wild. (The answer? Not a whole lot.) Imagine my surprise when Google included stories that used “unfucked” in the search results for UNNAILED!
Three more things:
- 20a. [High points?], UMLAUT. Two little points, just above a vowel … but not really all that high if you think about the size of the typical bit of text.
- 48a. [Ronda ___, mixed martial arts standout of the 2010s], ROUSEY. I hope you don’t think this athlete’s name is obscure. She’s in about 3,700 times as many news stories as CUSSER or UNNAILED.
- I’ve run out of things.
2.5 stars from me. If you’re going to reuse a low-word-count Berry grid, keep working on it till your fill is as good as Berry’s.
Randal J. Hartman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Down and About” — Laura’s review
Some circled squares spell out a thing that is also its shape in the grid: a SPIRAL STAIRCASE, and our vertical themers are places where you might find that thing-shape, all clued as [Possible location of the object spelled by the circled letters]:
- 5d: OBSERVATORY
- 11d: LIGHTHOUSE
- 27d: OUTDOOR DECK
- 30d: FIRE ESCAPE
I feel like we’ve seen something like this before, with a double helix shape-theme, but I’m always game for a shape-theme, so here we are. There are a few bits of fill that were a stretch, even, maybe for the Chronicle of Higher Education (and I work in higher education…) such as [32d: Heavy stick carried by Indian riot police]: LATHI (new to me) and [39a: Texas hometown of Gene Autry]: TIOGA, which is a place-name I associate with a county in New York State instead of a town in Texas. I would’ve clued (and did clue, in another puzzle) [71a: ___ Gowdy (South Carolina congressman and former Benghazi investigator)]: TREY as [Phish frontman Anastasio], but perhaps that’s my personal frame of reference. Also, I just learned that the clue for ALOP, [10a: Catawampus], is etymologically related to kitty-corner.
So much to learn today! Like that the HIPPO in Fantasia had a name: [1a: Hyacinth in “Fantasia,” e.g.]. Hyacinth and her posse of hippopotamuses (hippopotami? hippopotamodes? they’re as tricky as
octopi octopodes) perform a potamus-de-deux to “Dance of the Hours” from Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda, which was recently name-checked in a Learned League One-Day Special (the tune of which may be familiar if, like me, you sang that Allan Sherman song at JCC camp):
David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The REDSCARE – of Communists infiltrating American institutions – is illustrated by RED infiltrating four theme answers creating wacky clues. The surrounding pronunciations change dramatically in most cases. You can see the RED highlighted answers in the grid to locate the four theme entries.
- [Rum accompaniment?], YOHOHO. From RLS.
- [Ease, as thirst], SLAKE then [Cry of one whose thirst is eased], AAH – clecho! I didn’t see that solving as I didn’t do those clues in order.
- [State of mind induced by monotonous music?], SONICBOREDOM. SONICYOUTH induces that in me…
- [Kvbrick opvs?], MMI. 2001, A Space Odyssey – cutesy Roman signalling for a crummy Random Roman Numeral answer – no thanks.
- [Island vacation ride], MOPED. I know what a mo-ped is, but I don’t know how this connects to an island vacation.
- [Doug of the Sir Douglas Quintet with the hit “She’s About a Mover”], SAHM. I’m not sure why this is crossworth-y. That song is their sole hit, and went all the way to #13. I can sort of get naming the band, but being expected to name members, even the titular one, is a bit much.