Ori Brian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s (almost) February! And not a moment too soon, because the polar vortex made the end of January a doozy.
Fave fill: UP THE WAZOO, the KAMIKAZE cocktail, ESPRESSO BAR, TOM THUMB, HOT POT, HAIL MARY, KWANZAA, and BLACK MIRROR. I’ve only seen three episodes of Black Mirror, and recommend ’em all. I loved the one with Daniel Kaluuya before he was a movie star, and the one with Letitia Wright before she was a movie star.
I mucked things up in the top right corner, trying NUDE and HBO instead of SEXT and TMC. Oof! My lack of familiarity with ICEBOX CAKE didn’t help matters.
Five more things:
- 19a. [“___ is gained as much by good works as by evil”: Machiavelli], HATRED. Please provide examples illustrating this.
- 16a. [Common type of TV news broadcast], LIVE REMOTE. Or, if you prefer, LIVER EMOTE. I presume a few of you could write a nice cryptic crossword clue for LIVE REMOTE using that mis-parsing.
- 24a. [March 15, e.g.], DATE. You filled in IDES too, didn’t you?
- 26a. [Game-changing invention?], HOUSE RULE. As in a rule you make up for a board game at home.
- 54a. [Event that catches someone by surprise?], POLICE RAID. Those can go tragically wrong. More entertaining: FBI raids. A Chicago alderman recently had a couple of those, and so did Roger Stone. Oh, Roger Stone.
I’m tired and signing off now, with a vibe of 3.9 stars.
Rebecca Falcon’s Inkubator crossword, “Notorious”—Jenni’s write-up
The title gave me at least part of the theme before I started the puzzle: I was expecting the Notorious RBG and I found her at 60a. The puzzle centers on an RBG quote; I don’t usually like quote puzzle but I will make an exception for this one. It’s a great quote and an unusual puzzle in a 20 x 13 grid.
25a is the [Start of a quotation by one of the Justices in this puzzle]. With 43a and 55a, we have WOMEN BELONG IN ALL PLACES WHERE DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE. Amen to that. The other justice appears at 48a: [Supreme Sandra Day] O’CONNOR.
Two puzzles in, and I love this project. It’s not just that all the constructors are women (cis-women, trans-women, and woman-aligned constructors are welcome). The puzzles themselves are full of women’s names, and definitions skew female as well. That is so surprising that it highlights the male-centricity of our usual puzzle fare. And the puzzles so far are well-constructed and fun to solve. Brava and merçi to Tracy and Laura.
Warning: if you are tempted to write a comment saying that this is a) unnecessary b) not worth commenting on c) somehow unfair to men or d) a sign of the impending apocalypse, just – don’t. If you’re a male-identifying person who feels these puzzles are somehow not for you, but you think “regular” puzzles are for “everyone,” you are not even in the same time zone as the point that you have missed.
More about the puzzle!
- 1a [“… I will ___ me down”] LAY. In my head, this is Simon and Garfunkel, not the child’s prayer.
- 7d [Assume control, à la Ellen Ripley in “Alien”] is the kind of clue I’m talking about above. The answer is TAKE OVER, which could have easily been clued without reference to a woman, but that would have been a missed opportunity.
- Political women: Kamala Harris and her run for the OVAL office and IRON LADY Margaret Thatcher.
- One of the most remarkable pieces I read recently was the NYT essay about Margot KIDDER‘s daughter.
- 65a [In misidentified body parts, vulva : vagina :: ____ : nipple]. Far too many parents shy away from teaching kids the actual words for their own anatomy, and when they do, they tend to use “vagina” for external female genitalia, which is wrong. Cis-girls should know that they have vulvas and labias and clitorides just like cis-boys should know they have a penis and testicles. Words matter, and kids who know the actual words and have learned that it’s ok to use those words are less vulnerable to predation. The answer, by the way, is AREOLA.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the venom of ASPS was said to have come from Medusa’s blood.
Samuel A. Donaldson and Doug Peterson’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Stuffed Shirts” — Laura’s review
We’ve got some literal “stuffed” shirts this week, in that words for types of shirts are “stuffed” around longer base phrases. Or rather, longer base phrases have types of shirts stretched across them? Or there’s, like, stuff? In shirts? Here, I’ll show you:
[17a: Ingredient in some sweet barbecue sauces]: BLACKBERRY JELLY
[26a: Visit on the spur of the moment]: POP IN TO SAY HELLO
[44a: Opposite of “easy on the eyes”]: NOT A PRETTY SIGHT
[58a: Emulates a dogged marketer]: DRUMS UP BUSINESS
BELLY, POLO, NIGHT, and DRESS: all types of shirts. This works. Arguably, a belly shirt is the least “in the language” of the set; not that I’ve worn one since I was in my 20s, but when I did wear them, I called them crop tops. I think of a night shirt as something from the nineteenth century — Scrooge trudging around Victorian London in the wake of the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the narrator in “A Visit from St Nicholas” … okay, more precisely, I guess I think of a night shirt as something from the illustrations to Christmas literature from the nineteenth century.
The AVClub crossword team recently did a thing where we made a fake music festival poster using fake band names generated from adjacent entries in our grids from 2018 (if you’re a subscriber, it’ll be appended to your email from this week). Thing is, you can’t unsee those things once you start, and this grid has a few good ones:
ZUCCHINI ATOMIC (their next EP, “BENT ARUGULA,” drops in April)
SPEC AXES (saw them at Bonnaroo a few years ago but I think they’ve sold out since)
ASK ENID (they’re a Letters to Cleo cover band)
STY OWLET (I liked them until they did the song over the credits to the last Avengers movie. Now they’re everywhere.)
[Late breaking edit: There is a Twitter account that is doing this band name thing with NYT grids. Follow it for a daily dose of hilarity.]
Fave clue: [61a: First name in folk] — I had 58d: DJS, so I knew it started with J, so it had to be either JOAN or JONI. They didn’t actually work together that often, but here they are with Bob Dylan in 1975:
David Alfred Bywaters’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Unlike some letter-addition Fridays of late, this one has a revealer, however basic. ALLIN is interpreted as +ALL. The execution was a little spotty, BIGSHALLOT and SAFEBALLET are at least functional. YALLCHROMOSOMES I think was meant to be the big finale, but personally I find building off letters (Y here) a little cheap. BALLADINFLUENCE’s clue, [Up-tempo music lover’s aversion?], was wanting to point to both BADINFLUENCE and BALLADINFLUENCE; a more minor demerit, but still.
Nice to start 1A with something disgusting sounding… [They may be scraped off in bars] is just FOAM. [South side?] for GRITS is another clever clue, though it was kind of transparent.