Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take Two”—Jim P’s review
This will have to be quick (unlike my time). I have a lot going on today.
Theme: Common phrases have the first two letters detached to form an initialism.
22a [Security at a media happening?] PR EVENT DEFENSE. This was tough to parse, but it’s a sporting term in football (and basketball?) where the team on defense seeks to keep all the action in front of them and keep the other team from scoring. It may allow the other team to progress down the field, but seeks to prevent the big play. See, I learn stuff from video games (thanks, Tecmo Bowl!).
- 28a [Extoller of a news agency’s virtues?] AP PRAISER. This was the one that gave me the theme.
- 34a [Expertise in temperature control?] AC KNOWLEDGE
- 51a [Soldier who gets rid of little soldiers?] GI ANT KILLER
- 63a [Dignitaries hosted by the secretary-general?] UN INVITED GUEST. This is a little bit of a cheat since the removed letters were added on in the first place.
- 81a [Alien’s opinion regarding higher education?] ET ON COLLEGE. I kind of like this one.
- 94a [General’s way of managing things?] CO OPERATION. Same comment as the U.N. one.
- 103a [Way of speaking about the Common Era?] AD DICTION. Meh.
- 111a [Insult about the 26th president’s dinner habits?] TR EATS LIKE A DOG. Never heard Teddy Roosevelt being called “T.R.”
I like the theme fine, but it felt uneven in execution.
A few things:
- Never heard of an ABECEDARY.
- Fave bits of fill: SHERLOCK, MENISCUS (though I had trouble spelling it), PASTEUR, SWEE’ PEA.
- Way too much reliance on crosswordese and lesser fill: MFOR, NORW, NONU(?!), plural LAITS, ROUE, IN HIS, ETCHA, RIV, SET AT, CSIS(!). Ugh to that last one.
- Actually Naticked at SSI crossing SADA. That’s a pretty unfair crossing.
Overall, this felt like a slog. 2.8 stars.
Oh, I was surprised at 36d [Grand Canyon of the Pacific location] being KAUAI. Fun fact to learn, but of course the deepest part of any ocean is the Marianas Trench which has a crescent shape around the island of Guam (from which I write his post). Technically, this makes Mt Lamlam (which means “lightning”) on Guam, the tallest mountain in the world. Despite rising only 1300 feet above sea level, it’s still another 36,000 feet down to the bottom of the trench. Mt. Everest clocks in at a mere 29,000 feet.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Anyone else find this to be of Friday-level difficulty? Despite needing the crossings to piece together 1-Across, and despite the grid’s two halves being connected only through those Down 14s, I filled it in soon enough.
Side note: Now, I’m sad that neither IDRIS nor ELBA is in this grid, because Kameron wrote the new Vanity Fair cover story, a profile of Idris Elba. (His day job, if you don’t know, is film critic.)
Fave fill: SUGAR MAMA, KAZAAM (raise your hand if you thought of the nonexistent Sinbad-as-genie movie Shazam here), EXTRA FRIES, ZAPATISTA, a smooth MUCOUS MEMBRANE (editorial note: mucous is an adjective, and it’s mucus you want if you mean the noun), the splendid word OUROBOROS, and old-school TEN-SPEEDS. Do they still sell many ten-speed bikes? They were de rigueur in my youth but seem to have vanished.
There was a surprising smattering of things I place in the crosswordese category: MAA, RENI, ARTEL. The plural OWS, ANISES (omg, even one is too many), and OOFS were awkward. Is GALOP crosswordese? I’m fairly confident I learned the word from crosswords and have rarely, if ever, encountered it elsewhere.
Did not know: 41a. [Country singer McDaniel], MEL. Probably he is better behaved than MEL Gibson.
Three more things:
- 32d. [Principle associated with Machiavellianism], AMORALITY. Who’s your go-to when you think of contemporary people (real or fictional) with a Machiavellianist vibe?
- 15d. [What ends with Adar], HEBREW CALENDAR. I wanted JEWISH CALENDAR. Jewish solvers, tell me: Which term do you use? Are both equally legit?
- 61d. [Club drug, informally], XTC. Sounds like “ecstasy.” The British band XTC was on this beat 40 years ago.
3.6 stars from me.
Christopher Adams’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I have done a few of the puzzles on Christopher Adam’s website (you can find them here), and I like his style. I enjoyed this puzzle, even though I was able to plow through it. It has been a stressful last few weeks, so I did not even try the Downs Only rabbit hole, but it would have been tough. Maybe I will take the time to try that route on the upcoming day off this week! I am awaiting nice relaxing Thursday, and I will try to watch the Hot Dog Eating Contest, which I have missed the last year or two. Yes, it can be disgusting, but the announcer is hilarious and it actually makes me NOT want to eat, and I still need to lose 30 lbs!
I got off on a tangent. 4.5 stars from me for this fun puzzle. Lots to talk about, but I will narrow it down to ten items:
- 15A [Trendy Starbucks option] SOY LATTE – This answer is in the Stumper as well. I am still not going to order one!
- 33A [2022 World Cup city] DOHA – The Women’s World Cup has been fun to watch. The major sports in this country need to take notes on how to produce more drama, as there is urgency from the very first games. (I am looking at you, baseball!)
- 38A [Academic dictum] PUBLISH OR PERISH – Excellent 15-letter entry.
- 44A [Album by Destroyer with a German title meaning “broken”] KAPUTT – This plays tough for me, primarily because I have no idea who this band is!
- 50A [Eponymous Portland bookstore founder] POWELL – I should have stopped in here when I was in Portland a few years ago. I hear it is spectacular.
- 63A [Tasmanian capital] HOBART – There is also a Hobart, IN, just an hour or so west of South Bend. Not quite as famous, though, as this one!
- 8D [1927 Hemingway short story collection] MEN WITHOUT WOMEN – Obscure, but an interesting title that I admit I am not familiar with. I am also highly uncultured. Is there a mini-theme here …
- 12D [Workplace concern] GENDER BIAS – … because speaking of the World Cup, explain to me how the women’s team isn’t paid as well as the men! Their lawsuit has gone into mediation, and the results from that will be interesting. This would actually be a debate if the US men’s team was any good, but they are painful to watch, while the women’s team is far more enjoyable to see. But if they win another World Cup title, anything less than pay equality will be laughable.
- 28D [It has over 43 quintillion configurations] RUBIK’S CUBE – My youngest son is interested in solving these now. We shall learn together!
- 49D [The CW show about a vigilante archer] ARROW – I used to watch this show, but I don’t watch much TV anymore these days. This show, as well as a spinoff or two, is on Netflix, so maybe I will try to catch up!
I think I will try my next LAT review with Downs Only again. See how poorly I do this upcoming Tuesday!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Lester Ruff was not “less rough” for me this week. As mentioned in my LAT review, it has been a little busy, and my brain feels a little fried. Also, this weekend, I am volunteering at the U.S. Senior Open, which is right here in my backyard at the golf course at Notre Dame. I am working the leaderboards, which for USGA events are still manually done, which I think is one of their iconic features. They also don’t allow professional male golfers to wear shorts when it is 90 degrees, while female golfers are allowed to wear shorts, skirts, skorts, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and anything else to keep cool. After seeing how fit even the Senior Tour golfers are, this boggles my mind. This also relates to the answer in today’s LAT at 12D (see that review above). In summary: it has been more tiring than I thought it would be. I am getting old! Getting brutalized by this puzzle also didn’t help one bit. I need a nap. 4.6 stars for a tougher-than-usual puzzle by Stan himself.
Some high points:
- 16A [”Oklahoma!” fiance] ADO ANNIE – I have seen this answer before, but I don’t think I have watched this movie/play in its entirety. Is this the character that the actress in the wheelchair won the Tony for? I saw her performance on the Tony Awards show, and she was amazing.
- 18A [Vanilla-flavored refresher] SOY LATTE – This answer was in the LAT puzzle as well!
- 55A [”Simpsons” store mascot] LARD LAD – I don’t regularly watch The Simpsons, so I don’t actually remember this. I know the police are always at the donut shop, though! Pretty sure Homer is a big donut fan as well!
- 65A [”Revenue Recognition” reader] TAX PRO – I am an accountant, but I don’t do taxes much. I thought this might be TAX CPA; PRO never occurred to me until the very end.
- 2D [Person most special to me] ONE I LOVE – This seems like an awkward partial, but I suppose it works.
- 7D [They may be mixed into margaritas] CASABAS – They may? OK! Somebody make me one so I can try it! (Or I can Google a melon margarita recipe instead!)
- 8D [Device in a ”busting miles” crime] ODOMETER – I had to look this up afterwards, but it makes perfect sense now. Still a very tough clue.
- 26D [House associated with elegant eggs] ROMANOV – It’s not FABERGÉ? Not sure I know anything about Romanov eggs. Off to Google again …
- 38D [”Pygmalion” lead character] CAPITAL P – TOTALLY fooled by this one. I told you I was tired!
- 44D [10+2, half the time] MIDDAY – Fooled a little by this one, but not sure what this clue is referencing, if anything. Enlighten me!
Everyone have a wonderful weekend and a safe holiday week!
Ross Trudeau’s Universal Crossword, “See Attachment”—Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Things attached to male characters
- 17A [Accessory for Frosty] CORN COB PIPE
- 23A [Accessory for Woody] SHERIFF’S BADGE
- 51A [Accessory for Shrek’s friend Gingy] GUMDROP BUTTON.
- 60A [Accessory for a 40th Anniversary Ken Doll] BOUTONNIERE.
- 36A [Resist authority, and a hint to 17-, 23-, 51- and 60-Across] STICK IT TO THE MAN.
Smooth, cohesive puzzle with fun consistency in the theme. Anyone else have trouble with the spelling of BOUTONNIERE? Ha!
Also appreciated the wink Ross gave to his father with the clue for TOONS [Mike and Alex Doonesbury, e.g.].
Both “Hebrew” and “Jewish” Calendar sound reasonable to me, although I say “Jewish Calendar” myself. Nonetheless, I learned the months as starting with Tishri, which starts with Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), and ending with Elul.
I use “Hebrew calendar” and agree both are reasonable. According to the Torah, the New Year starts with Pesach in the month of Nisan, which would make Adar the last. I agree that in current observance we start with Tishri and end with Elul.
Wikipedia puts “Hebrew” first, but has both terms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar
Lester Ruff my a##. Maybe add even more obscure trivia next time to make it even less ruff.
I agree. Usually the Les Ruff puzzles are a tad easier, but I was banging my head against the wall on this one.
Derek, you didn’t mention TITTLE, which should win the ORCA for most obscure entry of the year. If we had one. Which we should.
Yeah, I was like “wha, can it really be tittle?”
I nominate OUROBOROS, for sheer obscurity as an entry, although at least as an entry, it is an accurate representation of its clue (although I had an H where there is a B: HOP seemed just as reasonable to me as BOP).
I see, though, that the relationship between TITTLE and its clue might take a prize for obscurity. Tough clue.
KAC used OUROBOROS in the exact same spot, in the exact same grid, on March 18, 2019 in The New Yorker. https://crosswordfiend.com/2019/03/17/monday-march-18-2019/#tny
Wow. Cool. Sorry I missed that one!
Nice catch! There are unpublished alternate versions of every puzzle I run, I just happened to like this puzzle’s shadow version (which ran in TNY) enough to publish it.
As for OUROBOROS being obscure — this reaction has surprised me, because many people know it as the extremely common tattoo: https://www.google.com/search?q=ouroboros+tattoo&client=safari&hl=en-us&prmd=isnv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj327XP44_jAhUiTd8KHdiLB2AQ_AUoAXoECBAQAQ&biw=375&bih=635
I had the same problem with B/H, not recognizing OUROBOROS and in my case not even knowing that BOP in this sense existed. Otherwise, though, decent puzzle.
I agree with the review of the WSJ, that the themers dividing off the prefix kinda ruined the more clever ones splitting words. (I didn’t know the sports term either, but it looked believable.) I also agree with the review that there was too much weird fill, although my natick was the place name with BRATT. Brett sounded more like a name, so I went with that.
Agreed, that was one of the harder Stumpers in the last few months. My knowledge of the The Simpsons comes from crosswords and the documentary about the offensiveness of Apu. Now I need to remember Lard Lad.
After laboring through the NE last night, I retired, rose, realized I misspelled GENTEEL and proceeded to finish the puzzle pretty quickly.
Having seen the byline, I figured I could complete it w/o too much problem and go to bed which skewed my perspective. It was more difficult than a usual Ruff production in my view but not as much as I originally thought. My trivia remark was overstated as well, though the LARDMAN, GEL, DINA cross was a problem.
My apologies to Lester. Tough puzzle, but a pretty good one.
ADOANNIE/NOYES was a problematic proper cross as well. Ada Annie seems more plausible than Ado and if you aren’t aware of the poet or last name NOYES, Nayes works as a joining of nay and yes.
Ada Annie certainly looks better than Ado Annie if you haven’t come across that particular character before. On the other hand, NOYES is better than NAYES for “seemingly indecisive”.
My personal bar for whether a crossing is problematic is whether it prevents me from solving the puzzle at all. I don’t flag individual squares for mistakes, but I don’t mind taking a few guesses if the puzzle isn’t solved with my first try. By that standard, I don’t think this crossing would be problematic. On the other hand, if your goal is to have the crossword solved with your first attempt, I agree that ADA’s being a normal name might sway me to guess A before O in that square, making that crossing a problem.
Same here. I had a blank square at ET_/SEE_ED because I couldn’t believe that a ‘seeded’ sandwich was a thing and I thought perhaps SOYLATTE might be SOYLATTA (some kind of brand name, maybe?) What is a ‘seeded’ sandwich anyway?
ROMANOV was a big misdirect. Isn’t a CASABA kind of big to put in a margarita? I wasn’t entirely sure about the DOO/MOOSHU cross, because I don’t know what song is referred to.
EVENED for ‘moved, as a plane’ doesn’t make sense to me. I know you can use a plane to even a piece of wood, but you wouldn’t say that when you moved the plane you ‘evened’ it.
And yes, TITTLE was pretty ridiculous.
I found this one way harder than last week’s.
SEEDED, EVENED, TITTLE agreed.
Looks okay on my phone (Android using Chrome).
You’re talking to a bot.
10+2=12, which is noon half of the time and midnight the other half.
Close to a record Saturday time for me so I concur — this felt like an easy Friday.
I say “Hebrew calendar” but either would work as an entry.
SILO? As a verb? I hate business psycho-babble.
On the plus side, I loved learning ABECEDARY and ET ON COLLEGE should be a Ted Talk, no?
The rest of the themers? Meh — although TR EATS LIKE A DOG was funny, even though FDR was the only one who was a true initialism.
Lovely NYT by the way. I know I’ve complained about KAC in the past, but this one was nothing but fun.
Also, ‘TR’ seems to be defensible. It’s all over the Theodore Roosevelt Center pages (surely in part a design consideration), as well as in at least a few prominent book titles: TR: the last romantic, TR’s Last War, and the contemporaneous Bill Sewall’s Story of T.R.
FONETIC? I reject the citation on that ground alone. :)
You have no idea.
Also this, usually attributed to Mark Twain:
Good point about SILO. I shrugged at it, but it’s no doubt cringe new usage. I did know ABECEDARY, all the better for a crossword in that I had to get most crossings first. And TR as an initialism is in my vocabulary. Can’t tell you why, as he was so long ago, but still.
You know, now that I think about it, I wonder whether TR entered usage in retrospect because of FDR or rather FDR created his handle by building on the popularity of TR. I leave it to micro-historians of American usage to say.
Can someone explain SWEDES as the answer to 65 Across please?
Ace of Base was a Swedish pop group. Mystery solved!
Thank you, Pseudonym. Guess I should have Googled “Ace of Base.”
BTW, there’s a daily review of the LAT crossword at L.A. Crossword Corner
NYT: Regarding the issue of whether GALOP is crosswordese, I think that its Wikipedia entry is long enough to consider it as a regular word, especially for a Saturday puzzle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galop