Friday, February 22, 2019

CHE 16:17 (Vic) 


LAT tk (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 7:30 (Vic) 


Daniel Nierenberg’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 2/22/19 • Fri • Nierenberg • 22 Feb 2019 • solution

Pinch-blogging for Amy this evening.

Despite falling into what must have been a deliberate trap at 1-across—figuring the [Rum drink popular at beach bars] was PIÑA COLADA rather than BAHAMA MAMA—my solve for this puzzle was rather speedy. So many of the As coincided! Other reasons: PIÑA COLADA is probably more iconic, and it’s a more common crossword entry (especially as the partial PIÑA).

Anyway, the northwest and southeast corners feature triple-stacked 10s. The island vibe continues immediately below the opener, with 15a [Hawaii landmark featuring four seven-ton clocks] ALOHA TOWER; unfamiliar to me but made much easier by the telegraphed clue. >checks calendar< Yep, it’s a Friday puzzle. Weird. That block is then backed up by an IDLE THREAT (17a).

Down below, it’s Kosher DIETARY LAW, meditative INNER PEACE. and rounding out with NEAR MISSES (57a, 60a, 62a)

Long entries among the downs include 11d [Temple, for one] which is rather open-ended (religious building? Philadelphia university? cranial feature?) until a few crossings point to CHILD STAR Shirley; 12d ADDED SUGAR (37a [Fill out] PAD); 27d SOLAR FLARE; and 32d PEPE LE PEW.

  • 35d [First name in court fiction] ERLE Stanley Gardner, 11a [Cold __ ] CASE; 26d [Getz who was nicknamed “The Sound”] STAN.
  • 33a [Oratorio opener, often] OVERTURE. Oh, oh, oh.
  • Not quite needing the supplemental words are 41a [In spite of] PALES (… in comparison) and 41a [In spite of] FOR ALL (… that). Yet: 34d [Hinge (on)] RELY.
  • 47a [Ship with a prophetic prow] ARGO. Literally. Made of magical oak from the forests of DODONA.
  • Yet another pithy quote on the nature of ART, which seems to be a crossword trope, this time courtesy of James Baldwin: “All ART is a kind of confession, more or less oblique.” That, uh, sounds like life to me. (10d)
  • 24d [Season opener?] PRE-. Minor double-entendre.
  • 46d [Dye used in some ballpoint ink] EOSIN. Red dye, I presume. Little tough, even for a Friday? Crossings were fair enough. 42a [1981 novel that introduced the character Hannibal Lecter] RED DRAGON.
  • Vertebrate vocabulary! One I knew, the other is new to me: 25d [Ophidian menaces] ASPS, 55d [Gimmers are young ones] EWES. Ophidia is a taxonomic group including snakes; the name comes from Greek. Gimmer is a … consults … a chiefly Scottish dialect word meaning a yearling female sheep – a two-tooth ewe, which definitely sounds like the punchline to some arcane joke.

Typical to late-week crosswords, there’s an uptick in oblique/ambiguous clues relying on homonyms. Including but not limited to: 1d [Chum, e.g.] BAIT, 21a [Run] BLEED, 24a [Hawk] PEDDLE, 38a [A resident might carry one] PAGER, 49a [Parts] ROLES.

Time to get this thing posted!

All in all, a solid Friday offering.

Marie Gillette Speicher’s Chronicle of Higher Education Crossword, “Presidential Leadership”–Judge Vic’s write-up

Marie Gillette Speicher’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Presidential Leadership,” 2-22-19 solution

(Effective immediately, I’ve accepted the job of reviewing the CHE crosswords, as Laura doubles down on her Inkubator project with Tracy Bennett.)

An unfamiliar name pops up in the CHE byline this week. Marie Gillette Speicher has constructed a crossword puzzle that I like a lot! Last names of presidents can be first names of other people:

  • 16a [Member of the Los Angeles Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome,” formally] ROOSEVELT GRIER–Golly, how I love the lovely alliteration in this clue! (Try saying “Fearsome Foursome, formally” five times fast.)
  • 26a [Indiana Jones portrayer] HARRISON FORD–This clue is too easy, imo, based on the others. I’d have preferred a Rick Deckard reference, or maybe even something more remote than that, with a helper, even, like [John Book portrayer, in “Witness”].
  • 41a [“The Grass Harp” novelist] TRUMAN CAPOTE–A clue parallel to the one just before, in terms of difficulty, would have cited In Cold Blood or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The Grass Harp (1951) was Capote’s second novel, and he himself adapted it into a play in 1952. I got this one only after the crossers showed me an unmistakable pattern of letters.
  • 52a [Painter with a famous “drip period”] JACKSON POLLOCK–The 1947-50 stretch known as Pollock’s “drip period” may be famous to some, but let’s just say I was proud to remember Pollock at all and be able to get his name(s) from the crossers, after I’d kenned the theme.

As is often the case, with so much horizontal theme matter, there’s not a lot else to remark on in the Across arena. But a few items did catch my attention:

    • 21a [They’re often found between shoulders] LANES–At first I answered MANES, which kinda, sorta fits, don’t you think?
    • 29a [Assumption during a life of crime?] ALIAS–I thought this was clever.
    • 30a [It “marches on its stomach,” per Napoleon] ARMY–I was unaware of this Napoleonic quote.

And then there were a slew of nice Downward entries. E.g.:

    • 1d [Stimulant trademark] ADRENALIN–I did not know this factoid.
    • 2d [Stores with arrays of leather goods, usually] BOOTERIES–I did not know this word.
    • 5d Like experimentation done on living organisms IN VIVO–This phrase I knew (though, from where I cannot recall), but had not seen or heard from it in a long time.
    • 28d [Currency whose name contains only letters used in spelling its issuing country, Nigeria] NAIRA–Who in the world sussed this out?  (And how do we account for the fact that the currency has two a‘s and the nation only one?) Fun stuff, folks! Don’t take my second-layer analysis as a nit!
    • 31d [Recount] CHRONICLE–A nice little tip of the hat to the publishing venue?
    • 32d [Common Persian Gulf ship] OIL TANKER–Great term, this!
    • 33d [Crumb] BAD EGG–Very clever, a foodie clue for a foodie answer.

Nicely done, Ms. Speicher! Look forward to seeing more of your work.

4.1 stars.

Mark McClain’s Universal Crossword, “Special Delivery”–Judge Vic’s write-up

Mark McClain’s Universal Crossword, “Special Delivery,” 2-22-19 solution

Here we have a journey, from the NW corner’s HOME to the SW corner’s CAMP, of a Care Package. To wit:

      • 1a [Source of the “package” that traverses the grid via the starred answers] HOME
      • 17a [*Touching tenderly] CARESSING–Here we see care at the front of a nine-letter word,
      • 28a [*Work event?] CAREER DAY–I don’t get the wordplay or trickery that is signalled by the question mark. I think of Career Day as an event at school with speakers from various real-world jobs. But, in any event, care, still at the front  (of the first word of a two-word phrase), has moved to the left a bit and down.
      • 48a [*”The Price Is Right” host] DREW CAREY–I thought about writing in BILL CULLEN, then realized it wouldn’t fit. Care is now at the front of the second of a two-worder … and has moved down and right a bit more.
      • 66a [*Horror film shocker] JUMP SCARE–This phrase has its own wiki article. Care is now the last four letters of a five-letter word, which is the second of two, etc.
      • 73. [Destination of the package from 1-Across] CAMP–Early on, I superimposed and visualized the care package in a car, which is a part of each instance of care. But, as I guess everyone knows, a care packages is always mailed.
  • Actually, pretty clever. Other noteworthy answers include:
      • 21a [Deep perception] INSIGHT
      • 26a [Hearing range] EARSHOT
      • 32a [Most expensive] PRICIEST
      • 46a [Former tiny music player] IPOD NANO
      • 58a [Four squared] SIXTEEN
      • 50d [Day spa service] WAX JOB
  • 3.5 stars.

Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Solution Grid

LA Times

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4 Responses to Friday, February 22, 2019

  1. Steve Manion says:

    I was surprised to learn that ATHWART means side to side. I guess I can understand it in light of my own occasional usage of the word to mean contradictory in a deliberate way.

    Very easy Friday for me this week.


  2. Doug says:

    Interesting that LAT 1A and WSJ 60A are identical, both clue and answer. It seems that would have to happen from time to time, but I’ve rarely seen it on the same day.

  3. Victor Fleming says:

    Re today’s CHE, this just in!
    After all deadlines had passed, I received some information regarding Ms. Speicher. She’s been constructing crosswords for less than a year, and this is her first published puzzle. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she grew up in Pennsylvania and studied Latin, French, Portuguese, Catalan, and Spanish. She holds a BA, an MA and a PhD in Spanish linguistics from Penn State, where she taught Spanish and Italian for 20 years. So, between Ms. Speicher and me, we speak six languages. And we all look forward to more puzzles from her!

    • Noam D. Elkies says:

      Yes, a good debut — fortunately most of the names were well-known (and in the one exception all the crosses for GRIER were fair, at least to a solver who has seen enough EPEE(S) clues). The awkward clue for 1D:ADRENALIN was needed to distinguish from the more common spelling “adrenaline”.

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