Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Either this is a little closer to a Saturday puzzle in difficulty, or my brain’s fried after spending the evening with high-school classmates at a local pizza joint. (Wow! We all got kinda old. Except that one guy who looks easily a decade younger than the rest of us.)
Since it’s late, let’s hit the things:
- Can you have just a single TABLE SCRAP morsel? Looks weird in the singular.
- 17a. [Trendy salad type], KALE CAESAR. What the…? This is not a salad I’ve seen on a menu. Makes me think of “Hail, Caesar!”
- 25a. [Maniacal laugh], BWA-HA-HA. I feel like your evil, maniacal laugh is MWA HA HA, and BWA HA HA is not so maniacal.
- 32a. [Fluff pieces], LINT. That reminds me, gotta empty the dryer.
- 54a. [“Take your time”], “NO PRESSURE.” My favorite of the spoken answers here.
- 10d. [Postarrest ritual], PERP WALK. Am I the only one who thought of CPR first?
- 12d. [Pitched horizontally], SIDEARMED. I don’t know what this means. Baseball? I guess. Not a verb I’ve encountered.
- 28d. [Major lobbying group, colloquially], BIG PHARMA. Remember when Trump said good things during his 2016 campaign, and as recently as spring 2018, about lowering inflated prescription drug prices? Yeah, not a damn thing has happened other than still more price increases. It’s a shame, because even drugs like insulin are unaffordable for too many people.
- 37d. [Bills are found in it], AFC EAST. The Buffalo Bills. A little bit of a cheat to say “Bills” when the team’s referred to as “the Bills,” but still a nice clue.
- 15a. [Tahoe, for one], ALPINE LAKE. My first thought here was CHEVY TRUCK, which is altogether less pretty than a deep lake.
Four stars from me.
Scott Ober and Jeff Chen’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Poets in Poems” — Laura’s review
This week we have poets whose poems contain the names of other poets. I’m going to give you links to freely available versions of the poems quoted, plus a link to a poem by the poet cited in the line, because that is the sort of thing I am paid to do in my day job and also I’m a poetry [10d: Zealot]: FANATIC.
[17a: “Weave in, My HARDY Life” poet]: WALT WHITMAN. Containing Thomas HARDY, who is likely better known for his novels, such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Hardy wrote a poem called “The Convergence of the TWAIN” (1915), about the sinking of the Titanic. (“Yes, and”-ing the gimmick, Mark TWAIN is also better known as a prose writer, but he indeed wrote
[27a: “The Lamp BURNS Sure–Within” poet]: EMILY DICKINSON. Robert BURNS is the National Poet of Scotland. He wrote [52d: Auld Lang Syne], which you sing on New Year’s Eve, and “To a Haggis” (1786), which I refrained from reciting for Fiend colleague Ben when he had to cook it for me last month after losing a bet.
- [42a: “Autumn FROST” poet]: BORIS PASTERNAK (who is likely better known to American readers for his novel Doctor Zhivago). Robert FROST is someone you can’t get away from if you live in New Hampshire. There are several statues of him where I work, and I once gave a talk at his former farm; that has made all the difference.
- [56a: “RICH and Rare Were the Gems She Wore” poet]: THOMAS MOORE. You are likely far more familiar with Moore’s “The Minstrel Boy” and “Tis the Last Rose of Summer,” especially if, like me, you’ve found yourself in a Boston cop bar at 1am singing along with the Irish band. (Speaking of Irish bands, [49d: Irish rocker called Paul David Hewson at birth]: BONO has been known to belt out the traditional tunes.) Adrienne RICH is one of the — if not the — most important feminist and queer poets of the past century. She died in 2012; one of my favorites of her later poems is “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve.”
Plenty more culture in the grid, what with [20a: When “Et tu, Brute!” was spoken]: IDES; [21a: Where the monster confesses murder to Victor, in “Frankenstein”]: ALPS (Frankenstein turns 200 this year; many libraries and English departments and cultural heritage organizations are celebrating, particularly considering what a badass Mary Shelley was); [4d: Genesis figure punished for hindsight?]: LOT’S WIFE (what’s her name, man?); [11d: Genre replete with da capo arias]: OPERA SERIA.
I can’t help but think that the constructors, or perhaps editor Brad Wilber, tossed in a little shout-out to Fiend’s abbreviation for this publication, with [30d: Revolutionary in a beret]: CHE. We see you.
Joe Kidd’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
It always feels we get a lot of add-a-letter Friday themes. Today the letter is “I” and there’s no punchline to it, just I’s. As always, this means your enjoyment hinges almost solely on the (dense) theme collection. I liked the FAT to FIAT and BRAN to BRAIN changes the best, even if the concept of a SATURATEDFIAT is peculiar. On second thought, maybe not. My Fiat is water-tight, but my fiancee’s is… not. So rainstorms are a problem as we don’t have a garage. The HOME to HOMIE and WEDGE to WEDGIE worked less effectively for me as they don’t change the meaning that much.
The rest of the puzzle felt quite functional, though I guess 4 x 11 and a central 13 will force that on you. The long downs are CREATEASTIR and INCOMETAXES. There weren’t too many tough clues or answers to highlight, though [Org. for pugilists] has way too many options these days! WBA is among the bigger orgs., I think?