Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oh, hey. I found the Tuesday puzzle. They ran it for Wednesday. Cute theme! The revealer is FLIPPED THE BIRD, 56a. [Gestured rudely … or what this puzzle’s circles have done?]. The other three themers contain bird names that have been flipped:
- 20a. [Grand preparations?], PIANO REHEARSAL. A flipped HERON.
- 27a. [Things that go bump in the night], POLTERGEISTS. Flipped EGRET.
- 47a. [Iconic logo since 1962], GOLDEN ARCHES. Flipped CRANE.
Fairly lively set of themers, super-zippy revealer. Moving along to the fill, there was plenty to like: CHEAP SHOT, KILLS TIME, COCKY, PRENUP, lots of easy/familiar stuff.
Five more things:
- 28d. [Action that could cause a QB’s fumble], LOW SNAP. Not a term I’m familiar with, but it makes sense.
- 24a. [Sushi bar offering], UNI. I don’t eat sushi, but I checked the menu of the last Japanese place I ATE OUT at, and they do list uni in all caps and a little “sea urchin” in fine print in parentheses. With URCHIN in the grid, it might have made sense to just clue UNI as the prefix or the British/Aussie curtailment of university. Also, apparently UNI is specifically sea urchin gonads. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
- 39a. [“___ never!”], WELL, I. Looks weird in the grid, but certainly that’s a familiar phrase as clued.
- 67a. [7 7 7, in France], SEPTS. Meh. Also in the “emh” category: OPES, IONIA, EDSEL.
- 62a. [Home to the Triple Crown of Surfing], OAHU. The last winner of this, of course, is Justify.
4.25 stars from me.
Mel Rosen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Big Picture” — Jim’s review
When a constructor goes for a pangram, it’s often unrelated to the theme and rarely leads to good fill. Here we have a grid that isn’t just incidentally going for the pangram, that’s the whole point of it.
- 5d [This completed grid contains…] EVERY LETTER A TO Z
- 10d […in other words…] IT’S PANGRAMMATIC
- 12d […so it treats the alphabet…] INCLUSIVELY
- 24d […in other words, there are…] NONE OMITTED
Despite that last entry, I feel like I’m missing something. Yes, I see the huge black H in the grid; it was the first thing I saw. And since there’s no H in the fill, this seemed appropriate.
But why? Why do this? Why H? Why not I or L or something else? What makes this crossword-worthy? I kept waiting for the punchline, but it never came. The last letter I filled in was the second N in NONE OMITTED, and it felt so anticlimactic. If indeed I’m missing the joke here, please let me know and I will re-evaluate. I may be slow on the uptake, but I can’t believe I’m the only one a little bit befuddled by this puzzle.
Maybe this is the thought process: Let’s say you don’t notice the giant H staring you in the face. I’m sure this happened. Then you get hit over the head with all the theme answers telling you repeatedly that every letter is included in the grid. You’re game, so you run through the alphabet, dutifully looking for each example. But wait, one’s missing. Where the heck is that gol-durned H? You search and search but can’t find it. In frustration, you begin to pen a letter to editor Mike Shenk claiming that you have triumphantly found an error in today’s puzzle. Just as you’re about to hit Send, a chance glance at the grid shows you the error of your ways and brings you crashing down to earth.
Okay, if this is you, that’s kind of funny. But if you saw the H before you even looked at a single clue, the joke is non-existent.
So I was left spluttering at the end. Further, I was bothered by the repetitive and unexciting nature of INCLUSIVELY and NONE OMITTED as theme answers. And the structure of the theme clues didn’t make sense to me either; I felt they should have blanks in place of the second ellipses, as in […in other words, there are ___] for NONE OMITTED.
This theme wasn’t for me, but how about the rest of it? The long fill (by which I mean the plethora of 7s) is really nice. It started off strong with NOXZEMA and POITIER. And then there’s BUG-FREE SARA LEE, AMERICA, RAT-A-TAT, EYESORE, IODIZED, ARSENAL, PERUSAL, COVETED, MONIKER, and KATYDID. Wow!
But the short stuff is another story. As I said up top, the fill suffers due to the pangram. See NAW, OSE, XKE, ONE I, ETTE, NUS, LDL, LONG E, DREI, AS I, YSL, DDT, DOA, IDI, and IER. Also, TEEVEE(!). Yikes!
And that CANBY, O’DOUL, LONG E, DREFT section in the west was rough. Thank goodness for crossings, but even then, the NONE in 24d was a long time in coming.
It certainly is different, I’ll grant it that. And I’m appreciative of the effort to produce something different. But this just did not work for me. 2.8 stars.
Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #29” — Ben’s Review
Sometimes the AVCX lands in your inbox early enough in the evening that you can see it’s a themeless from KAC and decide to give yourself the treat of doing it, untimed, on paper.
This was a really great solve. I’m not sure if I’m getting better at KAC’s themelesses, if this puzzle was easier than the regular entries he’s been producing for the New Yorker, or both, but this was breezier than I expected. Let’s run through some fill highlights:
- 19A: Campus with an annual Mystery Hunt — MIT (Mystery Hunt is my favorite thing. It’s the Christmas after Christmas.)
- 51A: Like a present that’s just been sitting therefor two months, never used once — UNLOVED
- 1D: Big name in diet pills — TRIMSPA. I hope your brain did a big Anna Nicole “TRIMSPA, BABY” like mine did.
- 37D: Chuck E. Cheese fixture — BALL PIT
It’s been 4 years since Dash Con, please learn (or re-learn) why “an extra 15 minutes in the ball pit” is an internet thing.
An ELO OVERTURE, for you.
Again, this one was a little slight in the difficulty department (especially given its 4.5/5 difficulty rating), but delightful nevertheless
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I missed the subtlety of a similar theme not too long ago. This one spells it out in the revealing clue on DICEROLLS. You move the D to the end going from DICE to ICED, move the I to the end for ICED, repeat with the C of CEDI and E of EDIC and… you’re back to DICE. DICE ROLLS.
The five-part theme has less room for BAUBLES than many C.C. offerings. I did like EUROPOP; Ace of Base had a lot of reggae influences, which is odd for a Swedish group…
I liked the NYT theme a lot, but OPES and REOPENS is going a bit too far in the dupe category for my liking. Changing COCKY to HACKY would have fixed it easily.
Very good Wednesday puzzle including birds, and one of my most challenging gardening pests the aphid. The oleander aphid, in particular, requires constant vigilance in growing milkweed. The small yellow critters farmed and transported to the plants by fire ants, look a little like Monarch Butterfly eggs and one needs a magnifying glass to distinguish them.
I think you may have confused your Triple Crowns. Justify is the horse racing triple crown winner. I don’t know who won the Triple Crown of surfing, which is held on three different beaches on the North Shore of Oahu. I body surfed on the North Shore many years ago and found it to be quite scary.
The picture of the horse surfing makes me think the Justify comment was made with tongue in cheek.
Why notice the obvious when there’s a chance to mansplain?
There is humor in this for me. The upper right side of my computer is corrupted and I never saw the horse. For the most part, I have long since stopped pointing out small sports-related errors.
What a coincidence! The upper right side of the keyboard is where the “delete” key is. :-)
Also, CRIKEY, MAN. CAN YOU GIVE ME A LITTLE CREDIT HERE? How on earth would I be so dim as to assume that the Triple Crown of Surfing was identical to horse racing’s Triple Crown? Come on.
Sorry, Amy. I could probably dredge up some big time errors in sports jargon, but the truth is that I do not remember any of them. A comment is a spur of the moment matter for me, nothing more.
You are still missing my point! It was a joke. That should have been obvious to you, as someone who’s been reading Fiend for over a decade. Nitpicking an error in a sports clue is not the same as assuming the blogger is a fool.
The joke/allusion is not obvious without the picture of the horse. I reacted to what I thought was a mistake. That is how I always react. It is not in any way a statement or referendum on your intelligence or knowledge. My point about sports jargon is that any comment I make is simply a reaction to the specific comment. It is not an opinion about the commentator
My last obstacle in the WSJ was DREFT. I didn’t know O’OUL just above and don’t care for crossword clues like LONG E, but anyway was facing “no _ omitted.” Obviously “no letter omitted,” say, wasn’t going to fit, and NONE sprung to mind only slowly.
Overall, I liked the puzzle because the grid with the huge H was appealing, but I have no patience for running through the alphabet to verify that it all works out. Besides the detergent and ballplayer, there was too much trivia as well. And I still don’t get why there are NUS in “Santorini.” Oh, I see, it’s a Greek place name I’ve never heard of and not an Italian person I’ve never heard of, but that’s in the category of who cares.
I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Santorini and would also throw it in the dustheap of “who cares.”
Haha, you’ve put plenty of my loves in the dustheap!
It’s kind of significant in world history too.
Additionally, there’s speculation about the correlation of the event to the legend of Atlantis and the bibble’s description of the Red Sea parting.
Worth knowing, maybe.
Plus, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. I recommend staying in your own windmill at this place.
WSJ: I had NONE OMITTED but not the entries to the west. So I erased NONE. Then I put it back. But I don’t know CANBY or DREFT (which I thought might be DRiFT, because that sounds more baby-friendly) and I thought ODOUL was the non-alcoholic beer that we used to give our dog Maggie for a birthday treat (just a little, I swear) but I see that’s O’DOUL’s (which is what a google search of ODOUL brings up). So that area was high on the Argh!-meter.
I loved SNORT. It just says it all, where a bull is concerned. And the long non-themers were excellent. So, mixed feelings about this one, but mostly enjoyable.
NYT: Haha– that theme revealer wouldn’t have been acceptable a few years ago, right? I thought it was fun. I had no idea what came after LOW… I had LOW BLOW for a while… Never mind…
I love the word POSEUR, but people pronounce it Poser, right?
Not I — “posur”
That’s a great Wednesday in the NYT.
I guess LAT is back to their old print version style … last few days have been great.
I have Jim’s sentiments about the WSJ. It would have been cooler with an E.
What’s a TEE PAD. Surely not a tee box in golf.
I think they use the term in Frisbee golf (analogous to a tee box).
It is, in disc golf. I don’t know if the throw off the tee pad is called a drive, or not. Perhaps someone who plays disc golf could weigh in.
The AVCX was the opposite of “breezier” for me, at least in the SW corner. I feel that I just didn’t know enough in that area. The only answer there that I could come up with was ANN. I don’t know from Thai snacks or the mayor of Newark or high-end stilettos or what is FFS? ICE RAIN? I’ve had PAD THAI but didn’t think of it as a late-night snack. I should have known AIG and THAN, though.
I did complete the other three corners. I had to work for them, but the payoff was great.
BATH OIL, HOT SOAK, mmm. Really good stuff.
I like a challenge, even when it defeats me ;)
And another quiz in a box from KAC. Surprising.
AVCX: There are difficult themeless puzzles like this one from KAC and then there are gorgeous themelesses like Patrick Berry’s for the New Yorker on Monday. Life is full of contrasts.
mel rosen passed away on tuesday—the day before this puzzle ran. most of us are just finding out about it today. i would guess that mike shenk didn’t know either when he scheduled this puzzle to run, as these things are typically slotted well in advance, but it’s a fitting tribute.
Thanks for the note; I didn’t know. He was a wonderful guy.
Thanks, joon. While I didn’t particularly care for this grid, I absolutely respect his body of work and longevity. May the rest of us be so fortunate! Thank you, Mel!