Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Hope you all don’t mind me (Ade) pinch-hitting for Amy today, and it just so happens that Friday’s puzzle was constructed by the two people who sat immediately to my left during the 2017 ACPT, Mr. Sam Ezersky and Mr. David Steinberg, two BIG-TIME crossword puzzle constructors (15A: [Major]). It was definitely a fun grid to solve and, despite it leaning towards an easy puzzle for a Friday, I absolutely got tripped up in the Northwest after I thought things there would be a breeze after filling in PTA MEETINGS (4D: [They’re usually held on school nights]), DAYTON (29A: [Midwest city that was home to The Wright brothers]) and ELLEN right off the bat (25A: [Groundbreaking 1990s sitcom]). It was the entry (and clue) of I HEAR YA that that threw me for a loop, as I didn’t link it to the radio transmission translation for a long time (16A: [Jolly “Roger”?]). Even after figuring out what might be happening with the clue, seeing the “YA” ending didn’t help me at all. (“Oh, it’s ‘I hear ya,’ not ‘I hear you.’ Would have gotten that entry earlier if it weren’t for those meddling kids, err, crossword constructors!”)
Outside of that corner, it was pretty much smooth sailing. The intersection of IVORY SOAP (33A: [Product whose original slogan was “it floats”]) and GUMMY BEAR went down quickly and opened everything up, though I really, really wanted to put in “jawbreaker” for the latter (20D: [Chewy, fruity candy]). I have not watched nor read “The Jungle Book,” but what made SHERE a slam dunk was because I watched every episode from its spin-off, “TaleSpin,” in which Shere Khan is portrayed as a ruthless business tycoon (50A: [_____ Khan, antagonist in “The Jungle Book”]). Also loved seeing SPIN A WEB as well (35A: [Try to catch someone, metaphorically]). The intersection of SNIPER RIFLE (24D: [What’s far-sighted?]) and GULF WAR might not have passed everyone’s breakfast tests, but it was fine by me (54A: [Subject of the 2003 memoir “Jarhead”]). I hesitated just a tad in putting in JOSEPH (58A: [Figure in a Nativity scene]) because of having that “J” being the terminus of the across entry, but then seeing the clue to that across entry made SMALL OJ painfully obvious (35D: [Kid’s IHOP order, perhaps]). There were two sports-related entries that made my solving life easier today, with the first being LSU (49A: [Where Shaquille O’Neal played college ball]). The other was probably much harder for those who are not boxing aficionados…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: INGEMAR (17A: [1950s heavyweight Johansson]) – When Floyd Patterson became the first boxer to regain the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world in 1960, he did so by defeating Swedish boxer INGEMAR Johansson, the man who had knocked out Patterson in their 1959 bout at Yankee Stadium to win the title from Patterson. In the match when he became world heavyweight champion, Johansson knocked down Patterson seven times in the third round before the fight was stopped. By the way, if you ever watched the movie All the Young Men with Sidney Poitier and Alan Ladd, you probably saw Johansson’s cameo in the film, as he played Private Torgil.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day runner-up: Have you ever wondered why the University of Dayton athletic teams are called the “Flyers?” (If you haven’t, just bear with me!) Well, just read the clue to DAYTON at 29-Across and you’ll know a big reason why, given the city’s history when it comes to aviation. As a matter-of-fact, here is Dayton’s mascot, the barnstormer Rudy Flyer.
Thank you very much for the time, everybody! I hope you had a good time reading this, and also hope you all have a great weekend in store!
Mary Lou Guizzo’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Hidden Figures” — Laura’s review
Four figures (i.e. the words for the first four English numerals) are hidden in phrases:
[20a: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” setting]: DEPRESSION ERA
- [33a: Skeptic’s mantra, maybe]: THAT WON’T WORK
[42a: Period of space-shuttleradio silence]: EARTH REENTRY
[54a: Time since Christ,datewise]: YEAR OF OUR LORD. Contemporary non-biased usage suggests Common Era (abbreviated as CE) instead of AD (Latin for Anno Domini, or Year of Our Lord), and Before Common Era (abbreviated as BCE), instead of BC (for Before Christ).
This worked fine; I’d’ve been more thrilled had the themer phrases all been related somehow, like if the figures were all hidden in the same category. As it was, it played superfast, like a NYT Tuez, whereas I generally expect something toothier from the Chronicle. There was fill that may be Naticky for some with:
[26a: Text-scanning tech]: OCR, or Optical Character Recognition. Ever use Google Book Search? Made possible by OCR.
[27a: 1974 pension-guarding law, briefly]: ERISA, or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which mandates TIAA-CREF sending financial disclosure statements to people who subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
[37a: 2007 Alicia Keys album]: AS I AM, with the lovely #1 single “No One.”
- [30d: Big name in power tools]: STIHL. Not to be confused with the Dutch modernist art movement De Stijl, or the 2000 White Stripes album De Stijl.
[51a: ___ Trinket (“The Hunger Games” chaperone)]: EFFIE, played by Elizabeth Banks in the movies. May the odds be ever in your favor!
[68a: Swiss name in graph theory]: Leonhard EULER, 1707-1783, who developed much of the notation you use in math.
Janelle Monáe starred in Hidden Figures as NASA engineer Mary Jackson; don’t even bother finishing reading Fiend today before you watch Ms. Monáe sing about something very important:
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I cottoned to the theme of this “wacky-style” Friday puzzle by Zhouqin “C.C.” Burnikel. If you hadn’t, the revealer is in the bottom-right, where ATOLL is parsed as A >TO< LL. Liked TELLTOWEL the best, thanks to the clever clue; SELLCRUISES was a bland note to end on. Lastly regarding theme entries, I can’t look at CHILLPETS without thinking of our body freezers, but ymmv.
This was a largely clean grid with a whole slew of great entries. My favourites were: EDAMAME, GETANTSY, SPUMONI, LETMEKNOW, full-name IDRISELBA, and TROTSKY. Best clue was [Play with a ghost] for HAMLET, with its fakey verb.
Couple of notes on Ade’s sports moments:
Re Dayton’s aviation history: the city is home today to Wright-Patterson AFB; the Patterson part is not named for Floyd but for a member of the family that founded NCR Corporation who was a test pilot during WWI.
Re Floyd Patterson vs. Ingemar Johansson: the Swede’s victory in their first of three bouts plays at the end of Lasse Hallström’s “My Life as a Dog,” a film about a boy named Ingemar. Johansson’s only two losses were in his rematches with Patterson.
Good puzzle from Sam and David. Only hemidemisemiquibble is the 4D clue, which might still be “usually” true, but at my son’s school the meetings were always 8 a.m.
Funny how people solve puzzles differently. I was tripped up by the southwest corner initially. Puzzle was a good example of a themeless puzzle. Lots of interesting clues and answers.
NYT: Excellent puzzle! I like to watch collaborations in puzzledom. In science, a good collaboration is like alchemy, it can yield gold.
INGEMAR definitely got me. Let’s hope the story under the rubric of “sports making me smarter” will stick for future reference….
The central stretch with DATYON, MUD TIRES AND IVORY SOAP was so nice and Midwestern! Excellent!
INGEMAR was my first entry. One of the controversial stories about him was his sparring match with then Cassius Clay. Some have described it as the greatest example of boxing skill ever as Ingemar quite literally didn’t lay a glove on Clay. Others have said that he was notoriously uncaring about sparring and that Clay simply ran away from him.
Easy, fun puzzle for me.
Not to besmirch science, but a good collaboration in any field is likely to yield rich results.
Slapped INGmarR down as soon as I got to it… Spelling let me down though.
INGEMAR looks weird to me but I wasn’t even aware of it until I came here. I must of gotten it with the down fills. I think I did the entire puzzle in daze. It didn’t pose much of a challenge, especially for a Friday.
Looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday, imo this week’s NYT puzzles have been excellent, and XWInfo’s puzzle of the week still hasn’t come out yet.
Over at Rex’s blog, he made an observation that I can’t unsee: the symmetrical placement of PTAMEETINGS and SNIPERRIFLE in the NYT puzzle. Yeeeesh.
A very good puzzle, but as usual I was overwhelmed by some of David Steinberg’s clues (I’m usually on the same wavelength with Sam Ezersky so I’m inclined to think that those that made me groan came from Steinberg. Sorry for the predisposition!)
What gave me a tough time was NE for two reasons. 1. INGEMAR and 2. BIGTIME and [Timely question?] quasi-dupe, or inelegance. The naïve solver in me thought that the editors would have taken care of it, so I put in BIGNAME and thus struggled for a considerable amount of time (INGEMAR is not an easily guessable name)
Still, 3.8 stars from me but if the NE was handled more properly I would have probably gone above 4 stars.
NYT was a tour de force – clues, marquee entries, everything in between! Strangely, because I had NOVAs, MANGE was my last answer, despite the fact I treated a dog for MANGE only today… (Came for 2nd weekly noromectin injection…)
Despite Sam Ezersky’s site still being listed on this blog, it’s been nearly two years since he posted a new puzzle there. Anybody know what’s been happening? I miss his puzzles!
He’s working at the NY Times Crosswords with Will and Deb and a bunch of emus…