No WSJ puzzle today due to the holiday.
Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
Apparently this puzzle took me precisely the same amount of time as last Monday’s, which is amusing. The theme is straightforward and accessible, although I had no idea what it was until I finished solving, and one of the entries bugs me a bit. It’s a solid Monday puzzle.
If the grid looks slightly off to you, do not adjust your set. It’s 14×15, and the revealer is one of two 14-letter entries: 58a [Kind of test … and a hint to a word hidden three times each in 16-, 22-, 38, and 48-Across]. That answer is MULTIPLE CHOICE. The other theme answers:
- 16a [What M.B.A.s enter upon graduation] is CORPORATE WORLD. This doesn’t make much sense to me without “the” as the first word. The CORPORATE WORLD is where MBAs work. CORPORATE WORLD by itself sounds like an amusement park.
- 22a [Verbatim] is WORD FOR WORD.
- 38a [Canadian team in the N.B.A.] is the TORONTO RAPTORS. The RAPTORS will face the Golden State Warriors in the upcoming NBA finals. I’m sure Ade has more to say about that.
- 48a [Tale that might feature a haunted house] is a HORROR STORY.
The repeated word is OR. You can see it without highlights, right?
A few other things:
- I like the juxtaposition of JIM and JACK at 1a and 1d, respectively.
- The smaller grid and the volume of theme entries combine to constrain the fill. I’m less sensitive to fill than some of the other Fiendsters, but I could have done without OUT OF, and OER and ERE in the same puzzle
- The long Downs are TURBO BOOST and TORCH RELAY, which would be fun if they were combined.
- Constructors notice word counts and patterns, obviously. Bruce or Will (or Joel?) noticed that ROPES can follow both “on the” and “learn the.”
- What I know because I have a teenager: 66a [R&B singer with the 2006 #1 hit “So Sick”] is NEYO.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the planetarium in Chicago is the ADLER Planetarium.
Bruce Venzke & Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Nate’s write-up
It’s been unusually cold and rainy in LA lately, so this puzzle felt quite apt!
20A: RESTAURANT CHAIN [Olive Garden, e.g.]
32A: RAKING IT IN [Winning big]
40A: RAISIN BRAN [Breakfast cereal with dried grapes]
52A: CAUGHT IN THE RAIN [Surprised by a shower … and a hint involving certain outer letters of 20-, 32-, and 40-Across]
Nice, consistent theme with good theme density and in-the-language themers. I especially appreciate that each theme entry took a different form of being “CAUGHT” IN THE RAIN (R___AIN, RA___IN, RAI___N) and in a sequential order. I’ll take it! Now, if only the rain rain would go away in LA. : )
– TISH could be difficult or feel like crosswordese, but its clue in this puzzle makes it reasonable and totally passable.
– I had SSN instead of SSI for [Govt.-issued aid]. Is the clue off or am I not familiar enough with Social Security?
– I’ve honestly never heard of [’60s TV show …] DAKTARI. The show is described by Wikipedia as a drama about an American (read: white) family living in East Africa whose father-figure is a veterinarian. Was this a big show in the ’60s? Comment below if it was!
Greg Johnson’s Universal Crossword, “Core Elements”—Judge Vic’s write-up
As phrases go, core elements feels familiar to me. In quotes, it gets over 3,000,000 Google hits. Yet, as a phrase, it is not in the dictionary. So, is it an in-the-language stand-alone (ILSA)? I dunno.
At a certain website, I find a definition I can understand and, with a little adaptation, fashion a definition: Components of something that must be in their proper places (usually in a certain order) to accomplish some intended effect. Against that backdrop …,
DRILL BITS, NEWS SEGMENTS, REESE’S PIECES, and AUTO PARTS are ILSA’s. The clues for these answers are consistently theme-y:
- 17a D, I, R and L?,
- 29a E, N, S and W?,
- 47a E, R and S?,
- 63a A, O, T and U?
In each clue, the letters are in alphabetical order. In each instance, all of the letters of the first words of the theme answers are mentioned. Each theme answer includes a synonym of components. The sense in which each of these synonyms is used in the ILSA’s mentioned above is different from the sense that would manifest in the context of core elements.
Other noteworthy stuff: FAN BASE, RANSOM NOTE, ERASER MATE, and ANGEL HAIR.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s review
I was surprised to see the time when I finished the puzzle. It felt longer than six minutes – I would have guessed ten. There were a lot of spots where I had to stop and go somewhere else. Those of you who don’t like puzzles with proper names are not going to like this puzzle; neither are those who think The New Yorker puzzles are obscure triviafests. I enjoyed it a lot.
Part of the reason it felt like a long solve was the slow start. I didn’t know 1a [Lovecraftian entity know for its “call”] and I popped CLAVIER into 1d for [Harpsichord, by another name]. Then I saw 17a, [Laurie of “Lady Bird”] and I knew that was METCALF, so I had to take out CLAVIER and I had no idea what to replace it with. Turns out it’s CEMBALO, and the Lovecraftian entity is CTHULHU, which I have heard of but did not realize was connected to Lovecraft. I also didn’t realize it had a “call.”
One objection: [Guide] for SHERPA. Yes, it’s a perfectly valid clue because SHERPA has come to mean “guide” in English, but the SHERPA are an indigenous people of Nepal who do not exist simply to guide other (primarily white) people who want to climb the Himalayas. I would have preferred to see the clue acknowledge them as a people.
A few other things:
- Movie references sprinkled around:”Lady Bird”; “DEATH Wish”; “UNFRIENDED,” clued as [2014 horror hit about the dark side of social media]; “Tomorrow Never DIES“; “NOAH.” Also references to Gwyneth Paltrow, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg.
- Pop music from various eras: BEY, clued as [“Lemonade” star, to fans];Shakira’s album “Donde ESTAN los Ladrones?”; Steely Dan’s megahit AJA; Gene PITNEY. You may never have heard of PITNEY but there’s a very good chance you’ve heard some of his music.
- Toon characters: ELROY of “The Jetsons” and GREEDY SMURF.
- Fun clue for a very ordinary word: 53a [“___ alive!’] for IT’S.
- What I know because I have a teenager: the word FRENEMY, clued as [Fraught companion].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re; CTHULU and CEMBALO. I’d never heard of the movie UNFRIENDED. I didn’t know there was an actress named TATIANA Maslany in “Orphan Black.” I was unaware of the [Cosmetic trend involving serums and essences], K BEAUTY (the K is for “Korean”). My father always said it was a good day if you learned something.
So many music choices to leave you with! I chose Queen Bey’s “Formation” from “Lemonade,” because if you haven’t seen it, you should.
TNY, alas, a blurry non-pdf again.
just like the LAT every day!
I can sharpen the clues by copying text from the online solver’s interface into a Word document, although then with the paragraph mark after each clue number to remove and a whole document to format in many ways. But the grid can’t really be helped. I can use the print function, enlarge it as best I can in the browser window, and copy it into a new Photoshop document, but there’s only so much that the sharpen and contrast tools can do. Even if I go that long, long, long route, the clue numbers are all but unreadable, which makes solving a way more difficult endeavor. It’s like “forget about getting help from crossings, since you’ll never locate the clues.”
I don’t know if this will help, but this is what I do to create a PDF, and the result looks pretty sharp to me:
1. Click PRINT above the puzzle; that brings up a dialog box (choices: blank puzzle / solution).
2. Choose BLANK PUZZLE and click PRINT; that opens a printable puzzle in a new tab, with a large dialog box that has with a preview image. Don’t click PRINT — click CANCEL.
3. The dialog box goes away, and you’re left with the puzzle grid and clues arranged to fit on 8.5 x 11. Right-click on blank space, anywhere, which brings up a menu. One of the menu choices is SAVE AS PDF. Choose it, and you’ll have a PDF that you can print.
This doesn’t work with the LAT (not for me, anyway), but it does with the WaPo and TNY.
To me, it just brings up precisely the blurry page I’m describing. Of course, one can always print a Web page (or anything else, for that matter) to a pdf. But that doesn’t in anty way improve it, and if you’re not dealing with the original text and grid jpg, it’s just going to be as dreadful.
To put it another way, if you’re satisfied with its quality, why cancel the printing and print to pdf? May as well send it directly to the printer.
Oh, as further confirmation that you’ve just printed an image to pdf that could have gone to the printer, try selecting text in your pdf file. You won’t be able to.
I do it that way because I don’t have a printer — I’m saving the files to print later on.
I don’t know why you’re seeing blurry images where I see sharp and clear ones. And, I was just trying to help — you’re welcome.
can’t find the LAT puzzle in the website’s listing
I had to go the WaPo site to get it — no Across Lite, but the solving platform (if that’s the right word) is very user-friendly:
In case anyone doesn’t know, the WaPo site also publishes a vintage Merl Reagle every Sunday and keeps the three previous ones on the site too:
TNY: Oh, *that* BEY! ? I also couldn’t come up with anything for the harpsichord except Clavier. Had UNFRIEND ME for a long time. And I had SAD SACK for SAD CASE, and then MUD MASK; those held me up for quite a while in that corner, which was my last.
So mine was a rabbity solve as I hopped around the grid (like Jenni). I liked it; the names spanned several eras and the crossings were fair.
Long and very unpleasant solve for me — too many proper nouns and too many overly complicated (but not in a fun way) clues. I knew KBEAUTY and CTHULHU, though I tend to mis-spell the latter, and crossing CEMBALO with CTHULHU is a natick or near-natick for too many people.
I’ve liked this constructor’s TNY puzzles in the past, but not this one. Maybe one or two fewer propers, and maybe a little more transparency on a few of the clues.
Not fun for me either, natch, but my natick was SNOG crossing GREEDY.
It’s rough, but CEMBALO is related to “cymbal”, so at least there’s way to make an educated guess if you don’t know CEMBALO itself (that’s how I got the B of the same word).
As for GREEDY [SMURF] (mentioned by JohnH below), if one has _REEDY SMURF and the clue tells him that the character in question has a “food fixation”, he has only himself to blame if he doesn’t guess GREEDY. Neither of these are real “Naticks”, IMO, although CEMBALO/CTHULHU comes close.
New Yorker: “Those of you who don’t like puzzles with proper names are not going to like this puzzle” — Yup. Even though 1A was a gimme [once I remembered where the Hs, Ls & Us went], this stunk. Most of the puzzle was tolerable, but the SW corner sucked. When I saw the name, I knew what to expect, but I really wish Kameron would stop fucking up his puzzles this way. I can work my way around a lot of them — but an actress I’ve never heard of in a show I’ve never watched [and never will] and an uninferrable Spanish word in the title of a Beyonce song and some old 60s rocker and …. Just, stop. Please.
“…neither are those who think The New Yorker puzzles are obscure triviafests.” Absolutely correct on both counts. This puzzle is the poster child for the worst tendencies of TNY puzzles. Sure, a reasonable argument can be made for any individual entry, but put them all together and it’s just way over the top. And I disagree on the clue for SHERPA being appropriate. This was a real disappointment.
SSN = social security number
SSA = social security administration
SSI = supplemental security income
Same agency; different things.
Ditto, and SSI is the “aid” referenced by the clue.
Re: “Daktari” in LAT. I don’t think I ever saw it, but I got it easily from the last 3 letters. That doesn’t mean it was big. In the ’60’s there were probably only 3 stations, not very many shows and therefore it’s likely that any show from that time sounds familiar if one was alive then!