Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Whoosh! This was mighty quick for a Friday puzzle. I guess we’re having Easy Week now?
Robyn’s grid features 10 answers that are 10 letters long, and they’re all pretty zippy! Nary a roll-your-own word jammed with affixes. “AND WERE OFF!” is solid. PERIWINKLE was my favorite Crayola hue as a kid, and my front yard’s filled with vinca ground cover. STALE BREAD has its uses, IN THE WINGS is a solid idiom, and GENERAL TSO has been waiting to see his rank included in the grid. SET A RECORD, fine. “I TOLD YOU SO,” lively. OPEN-SOURCE, good but the clue seems off—shouldn’t that be [Like code anyone can use] rather than [Like a code…]? WORKER BEES work literally and as an idiom for employees. And WITCH TRIAL evokes the Salem witch hunt, in which men who felt threatened by women railroaded those women, and this makes “witch hunt” a truly inapt phrase to apply to #MeToo investigations.
Some of the short fill is awfully dry—your APSE NENE LAIC ESME TALI ARIL.
Four more things:
- 13d. [Roger ___, fifth chief justice of the Supreme Court], TANEY. A bad man. He wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case, finding that even a free black man could not be a U.S. citizen. Yet another chapter in the shameful history of this country’s treatment of African Americans. (I write this as Chicago is on tenterhooks awaiting the jury’s verdict in the trial of Jason Van Dyke, the cop who killed Laquan McDonald by shooting him 16 times, mostly in the back.)
- 9d. [Seemingly spontaneous gathering], FLASH MOB. Do people still do these? Any good ones lately?
- 35d. [Newsroom concern], DEADLINE. Another newsroom concern is when the staff’s employer makes an ill-advised change to the corporate name and announces that they now work for Tronc. Remember that? (They said it was short for Tribune Online Content, but just … no.) It took more than two years for that Chicago company to realize how dumb the Tronc name was and change to Tribune Publishing Company (just announced today!).
- 41a. [Brewski], COLD ONE. I still like beer.
In conclusion, MIND-MELD! That’s a great entry, too. Four stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jim’s review
Nifty environmental theme today in which we have to deal with RISING SEA LEVELS (42a, [Result of polar ice melt graphically shown by the second part of six two-part puzzle answers]).
I have to say though, that for the most part, I ignored the theme during the solve. I got the rough outlines of it, and I recognized that there were four rows where each entry had a parenthetical number after the clue. But beyond that, I didn’t feel the need to fully grok the theme to solve the puzzle. Once I did, post-solve, I thought it was pretty cool.
As I said, in each of those four rows (4 and 5, 11 and 12), the entries all have either a (1) or a (2) following the clues. Each (1) goes with a (2) to spell out the name of one of the world’s seas. The idea is that you start with each (1), and since the sea levels rise, you step up to a (2) to finish it off. Got that?
- 25a TAS + 20a MAN = The Tasman Sea, between New Zealand and Australia.
- 28a MAR + 22a MARA = The Sea of Marmara. I didn’t know this one. It’s an inland sea entirely within the borders of Turkey.
- 30a SOLO + 24a MON = The Solomon Sea. I only know of the Solomon Islands, not that there was a “sea” next door.
- 58a BAR + 54a ENTS = The Barents Sea, between Norway, Russia, and the Arctic Ocean.
- 61a ARAB + 56a IAN = The Arabian Sea, surrounded by Pakistan, India, Iran, and the Arabian Peninsula.
- 63a BAL + 57a TIC = The Baltic Sea, enclosed by a whole mess of European countries.
Like I said, I thought this was pretty nifty and a nice change of pace from the typical theme. Even though I didn’t recognize some of the sea names, I’m still impressed that Paul managed to stack so many entries atop each other and still come out with decent fill.
That said, it’s not perfect. There’s ARUM [Jack-in-the-pulpit family] (which I had to look up to realize we’re talking about plants), APIA [Samoa’s capital], ANIL [Deep blue], and most jarring of all, HENNAING [Applying a temporary tattoo]. Not pretty, but still gettable with the crosses.
In the plus column, there’s LIE-ABEDS [Reluctant risers] (if all goes according to plan, this will describe me this weekend), PHAROS [Seven Wonders lighthouse] (of Alexandria), HOT ROD, and MIOSIS [Constriction of the eye’s pupil] (though I thought it was spelled “myosis”).
In the end, the goods cancel out the bads, and with a clever theme, we’re left with a puzzle in the win column. 3.8 stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Crossover Artists” — Laura’s review
We get a lesson in modern art today! The names of five artists are hidden in two-word phrases — in fact, they cross over from one word to another.
- [17a: Target of body blows]: SOLAR PLEXUS. Jean ARP, Dada founder with whom you are familiar from many a crossword grid. Fun fact! ARP is from [45d: Strasbourg’s region]: ALSACE.
- [25a: Hissing de-creaser]: STEAM IRON. Joan MIRÓ, Barcelonian surrealist.
- [37a: One of a dorm pair]: COLLEGE ROOMMATE. Fernand LÉGER, French cubist.
- [49a: “Can I drive you?”]: NEED A LIFT. Salvador DALÍ, Spanish surrealist. I once had a wristwatch that had an image of “The Persistence of Memory,” his painting with the melting watches.
[58a: Masonic order with women members]: EASTERN STAR. Max ERNST, surrealist and graphic artist. I hadn’t heard of this particular Masonic order, but that goes without saying for secret societies.
These were great finds, and the fact that all of the encrypted artists were modernists and/orsurrealists was cool too! I’m on record in this space as favoring art-based themes (indeed, my first published puzzle was all about artist name puns), so perhaps I was predisposed to like this one. I would’ve liked to have seen some women artists included (#includemorewomen), though I can imagine finding a two-word phrase to hide Meret OPPENHEIM might’ve been a challenge.
What did you learn today, Laura? Three things, in addition to the Masonic thing:
[11d: One was named for Amelia Earhart in 2015]: LUNAR CRATER. About time!
[13d: First Catholic vice president of the U.S.]: Joe BIDEN. Wow, that surprised me, that we had a Catholic president before a vice president.
- [1a: Base hits also called Texas leaguers]: BLOOPS. Did not know either of these terms. I know what a BOOP is, however: that’s when you BOOP your forehead onto a cat’s forehead and say “Boop!” and the cat purrs and maybe you scratch its ears and everyone is happy for a moment.