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.
Goodness, the cluing on this puzzle was outstanding!
“[Brewski], COLD ONE. I still like beer”
funny… timely… Can’t decide how beer sales will be affected by the latest events.
MIND MELt is what I wanted to put down.
The subtext of the Kavanaugh matter is his judicial temperament. The only impeached justice was Samuel Chase, who was acquitted by the Senate, but lives in infamy because his mind was so clouded by his Federalist leanings that he could not be objective.
Taney is the author of what is universally considered to be the worst decision ever, but there are many racist decisions in our history, including Buck v. Bell, the majority opinion of which was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Easy puzzle today.
A couple years ago, I read Imbeciles by Adam Cohen. The book is a well-written, fascinating, and depressing history of the eugenics movement and contains an in-depth analysis of Buck v Bell.
I think of Chase as the money guy. Chase Bank was named for him, he authorized “In God We Trust” be put on our coins, and his mug is on the $10,000 bills we carry around in our wallets (well, not my wallet, maybe yours).
Chase was Lincoln’s pick to replace Taney as Chief Justice, and both served until they died. In times past, justices served till death or health forced them to retire. With Kennedy and going forward, that will be less and less the case. Justices will time retirement to ensure an ideologically like-minded successor. There’s been some of that before, but now it will be an ironclad rule. So when a party has a majority on the Supreme Court, as conservatives have today, that party can maintain its majority virtually in perpetuity. That is, as long as the party wins the White House (and Senate) once every few cycles, and its justices avoid an unlikely impeachment or untimely death. Our kids’ kids’ kids should not be too surprised, if a hundred years from now, they look back and see the same prevailing conservative majority we have today. Lifetime appointments to the court are among the most anti-democratic provisions of the Constitution, even worse than the Electoral College (an un-“popular” election winner at least can be voted out of office the next election). Though unlikely, we really ought to have fixed term lengths for justices. The only other remedy for a majority-party-but-minority-on-the-court is to expand the court beyond nine justices. That could reverse the partisan imbalance but still doesn’t address the problem of lifetime appointments.
Agree with comments that the puzzle was easy, exceptionally clued, and overall very good.
You’re confusing Samuel Chase with Salmon P. Chase. Samuel Chase was from Maryland, signed the Declaration of Independence, and died in 1811. Salmon P. Chase was an anti-slavery activist who was named Secretary of the Treasury and then Chief Justice by Lincoln. He did put “In God we trust” on coins though it was not adopted as the official U.S. motto until the 1950s. Chase Bank is named for him though he had no official connection to it.
Yes, I did confuse Justice Samuel Chase, who was impeached, with Chief Justice Salmon Chase, who was not. The motto “In God We Trust” was first used on coins in 1864, as directed by Treasury Secy. Salmon Chase; the motto was adopted for paper currency in the 1950s. Right, Chase was not affiliated with the bank; it was named for him, as I said.
Great LAT! Nice visual theme with stand-alone answers. Super.
Thanks so much, Lise. This is a theme dear to my heart, since I taught environmental science for many years. My submitted version was quite a bit harder. I had the first piece of a sea clued as *Marine expanse affected by 42. The higher piece only had – – (denoting a continuation.) I’m actually glad Rich eased up on those clues. On the other hand, HENNAING is admittedly regrettable. I originally had GOONAJAG (which I realize looks weird, but it’s “go on a jag.”) The working title was “I’m Swamped,” but I hope it felt enjoyable rather than like work to solvers.
Loved the theme. Thought it was clever and original. Puzzle was a bit too easy would be my only criticism.
Agreed on “a code”—that is definitely off, and it annoyed me when I saw it. “Code” is an aggregate noun, like “water” or “sand”.
Otherwise there was nothing I disliked about this puzzle, aside from wishing it was maybe a little more difficult. It was over faster than I wanted it to be.
Liked the LAT but thought that the PHAROS MAR-MARA cross was a tad unfair, even for a Friday. Pharos, Phalos, Phaxos all felt like possibilities and crossing a totally obscure sea?