Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I don’t get it. NUCLEAR FOOTBALL is the only 15, and the grid, with left/right symmetry, has what sort of looks like a football goalpost made out of black squares. But the NUCLEAR FOOTBALL doesn’t get thrown through goalposts. There are a couple football-related clues (KNEELS clued as a noun, ugh, and D-LINE) but I wouldn’t call that a mini-theme. Also lousy timing for a puzzle that evokes the NFL.
There are a few entries that irked me. “I’M STUCK” feels a bit contrived, AD UNITS is dully unfamiliar, and “AH, BLISS” is not all that common a remark.
I do like the contemporary “HATES ON” (as in “Amy was really hating on AD UNITS”), VROOMED, a fireworks (or candy) STARBURST, “LET’S ROLL,” THE VOICE, classic HOT ROCKS (absolutely part of my collegiate listening), abhorrent PINE SCENT, a FAIR SHAKE, and the literariness of an ANTINOVEL (I took a college class on plays and antiplays—Ionesco’s Rhinoceros was among our readings).
Five more things:
- 5d. [World Cup cheer], USA. This is clearly a reference to the US Women’s National Team, because the Men’s squad doesn’t always qualify for the tournament. Save the clue for 2019, the next time the Women’s World Cup takes place. Anyone cheering “U.S.A.!” at he 2018 Men’s World Cup will get funny looks.
- 2d. [Simple fighting style], MANO A MANO. Hand to hand, not man to man, despite the common misconception. I bet most of you know that.
- 4d. [Rocker nicknamed “The Motor City Madman”], TED NUGENT. Eww. Of all the pop-culture 9s you could include, he is right down there near the bottom of my list.
- 33d. [Man’s nickname that sounds like two letters], ARTIE. Except I pronounce the name Artie with one of those flattened-out T’s that could practically be a D, and not the way I’d pronounce ar and tee separately. My go-to ARTIE is Rip Torn’s character on The Larry Sanders Show, but that’s not super-current.
- 44d. [Spanish omelet ingredient], HUEVO. Going out for brunch tomorrow. I think I’ll order a one-egg omelet.
3.25 stars from me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Ancestry.con” — Laura’s review
Before I blog this, let’s establish that anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors through the process of evolution by natural selection, ok? If you’re a creationist, this puzzle may not make sense to you. For our theme, four ancestors of modern humans get an update, like so:
- [16a: Somewhat aimless archaic human?]: MEANDERTHAL. Neanderthals went extinct about 40,000 years ago, and intermixed genetically with modern humans, according to some evidence.
[29a: Archaic human with refined tastes in beef?]: CRO MIGNON. Cro-Magnon Man were Homo sapiens who lived in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic, contemporaneous to Neanderthals. Did you read the Paleolithic romance novel series, The Clan of the Cave Bear, by popular crossword entry Jean M. AUEL? It’s a highly fictionalized imagining of Cro-Magnon culture.
[41a: Archaic human who foreshadowed the Three Stooges?]: POKING MAN. Fossil specimens of Peking Man, a subspecies of Homo erectus, were discovered near Beijing in the 1920s.
[58a: Archaic human who was voted into leadership?]: HOMO ELECTUS. Homo erectus lived during the Pleistocene Era.
Fill that didn’t let me forget that this puzzle was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
- [36a: Expressionist Chaim ___, known for distorted portraiture]: SOUTINE. We’ve also got [55a: “Harlequin’s Carnival” painter]: Joan MIRÓ and the PRADO, [3d: Where Velázquez’s “Las Meninas” is on view].
[61a: Dagger-shaped editing mark]: OBELUS. Is this a dagger I see before me? †
- [4d: It’s complete from A to Z]: PANGRAM. This puzzle isn’t one — it’s missing some of what constructors call “Scrabbly” letters: F, Q, X, and Z. My favorite pangram is
“Watch Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.”
- [1a: Cartoonist who created the Shmoo]: Al CAPP and [21a: Donald, to Dewey]: UNCA round out the old-timey comics category.
Winston Emmons’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I feel somewhat ambivalent about today’s theme. I like the basic concept here: take one word in a phrase and anagram it to create a new, wacky phrase. I especially enjoyed the opening entry, which was probably the seed – GAMEOFHORNETS (THRONES). It is perhaps not the best design to use up your best theme answer first though. On the down side, after hornets we have GNAT (TANG), MITE (TIME) and FLEAS (FALSE). Three insects, one arachnid, though all are arthropods. Not good to have three answers with a closer commonality and a fourth outlier. I also feel the revealer was a let down, and possibly not necessary (although this is a more convoluted theme than we often see in the LA Times, so possibly it is). PESTS is vague, and I’m not sure HORNETS are pests in the same (agricultural) sense as the other three.
Things I didn’t know:
- [Actress Gilbert of “The Big Bang Theory”], SARA was in things after Roseanne…
- What the heck a [Binky] was – PACIFIER. As in dummy?