Friday, June 22, 2018

CHE 5:17 (Gareth) 


LAT 4:57 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:20 (Amy) 


Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 22 18, no 0622

Kind of a weird-looking grid, with that 3×5 island (at low tide) in the middle. Lots of good fill occupying the long zones, though: HOMOEROTIC and IDEALISTIC, GOOGLE MAPS, TANTALIZED (show of hands: how many of you would be tantalized if someone dangled a literal carrot in front of you? Anyone? Bueller?), STARGAZING, TELEPROMPTER, the no-that-doesn’t-exist-yet POSTRACIAL, DRAFT KINGS (it’s big money), PURPLE STATES, VIDEO GAMES, and “I’M INNOCENT!” I also like SAPIENT, LIZARDS, and MCCAFE.

Four more things:

  • 1a. [Something to keep a watch on], WRIST. Really thought the clue was about watching and wristwatches. And then when 16a. [Show of hands?] popped up, I tried MIME before TIME. Jeez, Mr. Kingsley! I know it’s late and I have to get up early tomorrow. You’re stressing me out with this focus on time. (I allowed 20 minutes for the 10-minute drive downtown to my doctor this morning. It was raining so it took 35 minutes. Time is no friend to me!)
  • 14a. [Like much of Shakespeare’s and Sappho’s love poetry], HOMOEROTIC. Sappho, sure. I’m ignorant of Shakespeare’s homoerotic poetry, though, and would love to be pointed towards the better examples. (Happy Pride, y’all!)
  • 40a. [TV character with a rippled snout], ALF. I’d be happier if I could return to living in a world where “rippled snout” hadn’t been added to my lexicon.
  • 53d. [Brit discussing American politics], HUME. Let us pretend this is about Scottish philosopher David Hume, even though he died in August 1776 and missed out on nearly all of American politics.

Grubby bits: TSAR, TO LET, SYST. Not too much offsetting the sparkling long fill.

Four stars from me.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Today’s grid has left/right symmetry (and an extra-long grid) to support an irregular set of theme lengths, or at least support a 16/6 revealer more elegantly. Apart from the revealer, the answers are all short words that can be completed by DUCK. I don’t know about you, but I figured out the theme quite quickly and then rote filled the rows. I also suspected what the theme revealer would be, but tripped myself by putting FATBurnING and BEegeES. It’s a neat revealer, though it was far from an a-ha.

I didn’t know COLD(DUCK), which seems to be an American brand of a sort. I also didn’t know PAGANO (surprised?) and the particular LANA [Parrilla], but mostly fairly few difficult answers. Some weird short bits like ERY make it appearance, but the grid isn’t off the rails today.

3.25 Stars

Kristian House’s Chronicle of Higher Education Crossword, “Mad Scientists” – Gareth’s (not him again) write-up

CHE 20180622
Mad Scientists

Mad Scientists is the title, and we have four wacky (i.e. mad) phrases where one word is replaced by sound-alike name of a scientist. The clues refer to both parts of the original phrase AND the new scientist, which is non-standard, but necessary in this case.

HOOKESHOT refers to Robert Hooke, who contributed to a variety of fields, but is best-known today for a set of concepts now referred to as cell theory: the idea of the cell as the building block of all life. MACHTURTLENECK is based on mock turtleneck, a garment I hadn’t till now heard of; I know what a turtleneck is and Carroll’s Mock Turtle, so this entry confused me; Ernst Mach made a number of contributions to physics. I pronounce his name with a different vowel and consonant to “mock”, so this doesn’t quite work in my version of English – YMMV. LEAKEYPLUMBING refers to paleoanthropologists Mary and Louis Leakey (and their offspring). Lastly Alan TURING is the mathematician referred to in TURINGCAR. His major work was in WW2 with the Enigma machine as well as pioneering contributions to the field of computers.

I particularly enjoyed the extra effort in several clues today:
[Order more Food & Wine], RENEW; a long quip from Mort SAHL; the use of “nyctophobes” in the ELOI clue as well as “tippy-top” in the ELOISE one; the clever, if not very misdirecting, clue referencing Philadelphia and Chicago for GERE.

For the record, I prefer FLANGE for a [Group of baboons]. I’m not sure where Pannonica stands on this issue.

3.75 Stars

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13 Responses to Friday, June 22, 2018

  1. pannonica says:

    NYT: 58a [Lacking hormones, say] ALL-NATURAL.

    That “say” does a lot of work. In fact, I think the clue also needs a supplementary question mark. It comes across as being deeply ignorant rather than in any way clever.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I agree. I think the clue was thinking of milk or meat from animals not given supplemental hormones to speed their growth—but I assume there could be natural hormones contained in either. Even without recombinant bovine growth hormone, a cow’s not going to lactate without certain hormones in her system.

    • Gareth says:

      It’s part of the huge anti-science lie that is ALL-NATURAL. The increase in hormones in the edible parts for any animal that receives any known hormone treatment is so negligible beyond the baseline levels. If hormones were as bad as the fear monger marketing people would have you believe, then you couldn’t eat anything all natural at all. Phytocoumarins, an all-natural chemical in clover will cause much bigger spikes in hormones (and wreck cattle farmers productivity in the process). Further, growth hormone is a polypeptide – and will be digested into its component amino acids, unless you’re injecting milk into your blood stream. (Don’t do that). It is also naturally present in milk and there is a big labelling dilemma because there is no known way to tell the difference between rBST and BST as they are molecularly identical (although the fearmongers will tell you one is natural, and therefore healthy, and one is bad).

  2. JohnH says:

    Like everything else about Shakespeare, the homoeroticism of his sonnets has been fiercely debated, but still a totally acceptable clue, I think. (Come to think of it, Sappho’s orientation has been debated, too, and it doesn’t help how little of her verse survives, and that in fragments, making contextualized readings harder still.) I agree that the hormone clue was awful, and I too had “mime” for TIME for a while.

    The puzzle was fun and relatively easy for Friday for me for most of it, and then I hit a snag in the center. I’d never heard of DRAFT KINGS (on a subject, fantasy sports, I’m not interested in learning, actually), and it crossed (counting the CAR clue) four (!) proper name clues. I guessed DRAFT and decided that its three central crossings were plausible, but then faced the blank for K from an actress I’ve never heard of. Not a puzzle section I liked one bit, and I’m sure not blaming myself for not completing it, which I hate.

  3. roger says:

    “Brit discussing American politics”

    He isn’t discussing them now so think it should be “Brit who discussed….”


    • Papa John says:

      Isn’t there a TV news correspondent named Brit Hume? Maybe FOX News (ptui!)?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Well, yes. I assumed Brit Hume was famous enough that I could comment on that clue without explaining that Brit is a first name and the guy works for Fox News. Apparently (yay!) he isn’t?

        • Papa John says:

          Tongue in cheek is so hard to recognize in print. I thought you making a serious comment about how wrong the clue was, not a joke about how the clue could be read. I may have been influenced by my first impulse that “Brit” did imply an Englishman. My bad.

          Little by little, my neurons are being dissolved in fog of senility. Between losing my mind and losing my physical abilities, I’ve come to believe the guy who said “getting old is not for the faint of heart.” It’s a nasty business.

  4. Thane Plambeck says:

    the bard’s “the expense of spirit in a waste of shame” etc was proposed to me as homoerotic in an english class long ago.

    i wrote in IDIDNTDOIT for 12D at first.

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