This week’s AVCX puzzle is a contest due Sunday at midnight – we’ll have a review up after the deadline closes.
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “OO 7”—Jim P’s review
I’m very happy to see Ms. Ellerin’s byline, not only because she makes great grids, but also because I don’t recall seeing a woman’s byline at the WSJ in a very long time. I hope it doesn’t take as long for the next occurrence.
I’m digging this theme, too. We’re presented with seven(!) two-word phrases which have two pairs of Os each. I guess it would be more accurate to title the puzzle OO 14, but I’m not going to quibble.
- 17a [Surefire] FOOLPROOF
- 24a [Uncommonly relaxed] LOOSEY–GOOSEY. I cannot see or hear this phrase without recalling weird Mr. Dozier, our high school Biology teacher and track coach who tried to ensure we were stretched and limber before running by repeating the mantra “LOOSEY-GOOSEY!”
- 39a [Question following an insensitive jest] “TOO SOON?”
- 50a [Logo customized to pay tribute] GOOGLE DOODLE. What a great, contemporary find.
- 62a [Great Dane of cartoons] SCOOBY-DOO
- 11d [Ottoman cousins] FOOTSTOOLS
- 29d [Waved aside] POOH-POOHED
The last one may be a little bit of a cheat since it’s just one word repeated, but I think that’s a quibble. The phrase is valid, and anyway…wow! Finding seven solid-to-fun phrases that have this feature and getting them all to fit in the grid is pretty darn amazing!
And to do that with fun fill like OLD SOUL, “RIGHT ON!”, YALE LAW, and PIE-EYED is more amazing still.
With that mountain of good stuff, you’d be safe in assuming there were some rough compromises. And there are some, but not nearly as much as you might think. The LAHTI / CREON stack in the SW might’ve caused some trouble. OKED always looks weird in a grid. Five-letter AEONS seemed unlikely when a three-letter EON would have fit the clue [Many, many moons] just as well. And I certainly didn’t know [Relief pitcher Darren] O’DAY.
But all that’s pretty minor. Most of my trouble had to do with cluing and pretty much just in the SE since I’d never heard the word “tight” used to mean “drunk” (59d, SOTS). And I think I must be getting PIE-EYED confused with “doe-eyed”, because I didn’t know that it, too, meant “drunk.” But most of those are my own failings.
Clues of note:
- 9a [Pads for artists]. LOFTS. Good misdirection here.
- 10d [Person wise beyond his or her years]. OLD SOUL. Why not just use the singular “their” in the clue? It would work just as well…better, in fact.
On the whole, I loved this theme and grid for its lively, fun phrases and strong fill. 4.25 stars.
Nancy Stark & Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fun theme. 53a. [Amorality … as suggested by 17-, 25- and 41-Across?] clues LACK OF CHARACTER, and those other themers are movie titles suggesting a character who is absent:
- 17a. [1938 Alfred Hitchcock mystery], THE LADY VANISHES.
- 25a. [1999 Garry Marshall comedy], RUNAWAY BRIDE.
- 41a. [1933 James Whale sci-fi horror film, with “The”], INVISIBLE MAN. Not ideal to have that with “The”—particularly when another theme title has its THE in place.
You might quibble that the combo of two 1930s movies and one from 1999 has a “one of these things is not like the other” quality, but there aren’t a ton of vanishing/invisible/ runaway movie titles. I suppose Gone Girl would also fit, if there were another 8-letter title to pair it with.
Clue that doesn’t work for me: 39a. [List for the forward-thinking], AIMS. AIMS are not a “list.” They might be things itemized on a list. But that “forward-thinking” bit is also weird.
Fave fill: VERMEER, PRURIENT, NAYSAY. Not so keen on EX-ALLY (who really uses that?).
Three more things:
- 58a. [Stationery shade], ECRU. Much better than most ECRU clues out there, no? I checked the Crane site and they do indeed offer more wedding invitations in ecru than in white or blue.
- 35a. [Conveyances on and off base], JEEPS. I had the last three letters in place and could only think of STEPS. It’s not easy to envision staircases separating military bases from the civilian world, or staircases along the base path on a baseball diamond.
- 29a. [They can be dangerous when split], ATOMS. Indeed. Have you watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl?
3.8 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Hot Meals”—Judge Vic’s write-up
A quip theme, huh? Don’t get me started. I love them all–except for one that my friend Alan Olschwang did 15 years ago in the Tribune Media daily commuter puzzle (it was an unfunny Shakespeare quote).
Paul Coulter has done a nice quip theme here with an old one-liner that’s also a child’s riddle (if you start it out with a question):
- 17a [Start of a quip] YOU CANNOT STARVE
- 25a [Quip: Part II] CROSSING A DESERT
- 40a [Quip: Part III] BECAUSE OF ALL THE
- 51a [End of the quip (which should be spoken aloud!)] SANDWICHES THERE
There is other good stuff in this puzzle, though not much:
- 11d [Float path] PARADE ROUTE
- 23d [Dangerously unpredictable sort] LOOSE CANNON
The price you pay for a 4/15 theme.
Tim Schenck’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary
It’s a familiar enough theme concept. The central revealer is SPREADTHEWEALTH, and synonyms for money are spelt out in the circles: MOOLA, LOOT, CASH and BREAD. Not a fan of all the answers being one-word rather than phrases. The use of LOOT also seems to have different connotations to the others. LOOT is also repeated in the entry LOOTER elsewhere in the puzzle.
liked the nyt overall despite having not heard of any of the themers. do people actually “rice” things by chopping them? it feels like “rice” is clued wrong, but i’ve only heard it in the potato context where you definitely don’t chop it. it was also weird to me that “naiver” was clued in a non-comparative-adjective way (at least “not so X” doesn’t sound like that to me)
p.s. would have definitely geeked out if they used “a man escaped” as a themer
Other things are riced by chopping.
If chopping invokes cutting with a knife, then I’d say the cauliflower example is not optimal. Usually you grate it or use an electrical blade to rice cauliflower, right? It clearly is different from the potato meaning where it’s being forced through a hole, but the clue also struck me as slightly off.
I have no problem saying a food processor chops finely. Here’s and example using a food processor, a grater or a knife. You couldn’t use a potato ricer.
I still think that” chops finely” isn’t a reasonable clue for rices unless you’re cluing the Sat. Stumper. Making cauliflower rice is a reasonable thing, but ricing is the very last thing that anyone would think of (if at all) for chopping.
and if you aren’t familiar with your Dutch painters, vedmeer isn’t going to stand out to you as wrong since dices fits the answer just as well, maybe even better,
When potatoes are riced, they are cooked and forced through a sieve or particularly a ricer. Ricing usually does not involve chopping.
NYT: Jeeps haven’t been used in the military for nigh on 25 years when the Humvee came along.
Beautiful WSJ work by Debbie Ellerin!
LAT: Dear Mr. Norris — One of the many things I respect about you is that LAT clues are rarely anti-woman, but today that’s not so. I’m pointing out the problems in the hope that you, other male editors, and all male constructors will make an effort to stop depicting women in destructive and/or stereotypical ways.
We seldom appear in puzzles, and when we do, it’s pretty much for our looks (models TYRA and EMME) or in stereotypical roles (brides, mothers, flower girls, babysitters). Why was TIA clued (elsewhere) as “Sometimes babysitter” but TIO never is expected to babysit? Why was MRS. clued (elsewhere) as “Some mothers” while MR. is understood simply to be male, separate from his reproductive function or marital status? Why has NIECE been clued, in many publications, as “Flower girl, sometimes”? (I doubt that NEPHEW has ever been clued as a wedding-party function.) Why was EVE clued (elsewhere) as “First mother”?
Btw, TRYA could easily become TYRO or TYRE, and EMME could be ESME (interesting Salinger character) or ELLE (Fr. pronoun) — and both could be deleted from wordlists with zero adverse effects on puzzles, because computer-aided construction offers ideas when the constructor hits a wall. And if a section can be filled only by plugging in a regressive idea about women, then that section needs to be redone.
Anyone who thinks that language — which both reflects and shapes culture — doesn’t matter might want to read up on: stats about violence against women; the pay gap; the stalled funding for VAWA; the shameful non-passage of the ERA; and the article I’ll link below, to name just a few problems.
* PEG clued via sports despite its having several meanings to choose form. (Per ESPN, sports are watched by 3-4x as many men as women, so cluing via sports excludes a big chunk of female solvers. No other genre of fill does this — yet sports fill/clues abound.)
* TAHITI clued via Gauguin, which wouldn’t be a problem if women were equally and non-stereotypically represented in puzzles — but they’re not, so please clue it in a way that doesn’t increase that gap.
* BRIDESMAID is one of the 4 themers. Off the top of my head: Brideshead, bareheaded, barehanded, barebacked, bridge hand — none of which reinforce the screwy idea that weddings are paramount in women’s lives.
* AGED clued for Benjamin Button — same problem as TAHITI/Gauguin.
* LOCKE clued for John — How about actor/director Sondra Locke? Yes, she has fewer hits than he — but that’s never a consideration in reverse (ex.: Shortz or constr. clued TONI as Kuloc [433,000] rather than Collette [4.7mil], Morrison [5.1 mil], or Braxton [11.9mil]).
* MATRON clued “___ of honor.” Again, please stop reinforcing the idea that weddings are paramount in women’s lives.
* ESTER clued “perfume compound.” Men don’t wear perfume; perfume is part of the societal-expectation package for women (heels, makeup, time-consuming hairstyles) which goes far beyond the basic grooming expected of all. Please don’t reinforce that particular prison. This could have been clued via essential oils, which are used in cooking, in cleaning products, for aromatherapy and massage — in ways that aren’t gender-stereotype-reinforcing.
Just a comment about “The Invisible Man” Must be a hundred years since I saw it, but I remember only his becoming visible. It’s done very slowly and I still don’t know how they managed to film that. Nowadays, yes, but then..? No wonder I have never forgotten that scene! As for “The Lady Vanishes” I saw it a month or two ago, a real SNOOZER.
Just another comment. THE LADY VANISHES a real snoozer? Not in the least. It is wonderful. One of the best of early Hitchcock.