The Wednesday NYT puzzle is by the JASA’s crossword constructing class (and their instructors). A timely announcement: If you’ve been thinking about learning to make Minis, you’re in luck, as Joel Fagliano will teach a class benefiting Ronald McDonald House New York on June 1. No need to worry about coronavirus exposure—the class will be an online one via Webex. Registration is $20, and all proceeds go to Ronald McDonald House, an excellent cause.
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Meet the Faculty”—Jim P’s review
Theme: School teachers are re-imagined based on a play on words in the teachers’ titles.
- 20a [Drama teacher?] TROUBLEMAKER
- 23a [Bookkeeping teacher?] LIBRARIAN. This is the first entry I solved, and it’s also the weakest since bookkeeping is not a class at most schools, unlike all the other theme clues.
- 32a [Shop teacher?] BARGAIN HUNTER
- 50a [English teacher?] POOLSHARK
- 52a [Chemistry teacher?] SEX THERAPIST
A fun theme—one of those “wish I’d thought of it” themes. It’s only slightly marred by the little inconsistency, but I wish something else could’ve been found. Art teacher? Gym teacher? Math teacher? Hmm. I can’t come up with anything better.
Good long fill with “IT’S A GIFT,” WELL NIGH, and RED STATE. I APPROVE. I MEAN IT! I also like SHTICK, BO-PEEP, and DEWDROP.
BE A STAR is less exciting, and EAGAN [Tony winner Daisy] and AGE OF [___ Empires (video game series)] are tough ones in that crowded center. But given that all the theme entries are smushed into the middle of the grid and the central entry is 13-letters long, it could’ve been much worse.
Clues of note:
- 31a. [___ Empires (video game series)]. AGE OF. I spent many (many) hours playing these games, but this was years ago. Apparently there’s talk of AOE 4 coming out in the next year or two, though there’s no definite date set.
- 6d. [Manhattan purchaser]. MINUIT. New to me. It’s referring to Peter MINUIT, Dutch settler who purchased the island in 1626.
- 7d. [Uzo of “Orange Is the New Black”]. ADUBA. You should know her name by now. She played “Crazy Eyes” on that show and won multiple Emmys for her portrayal. How’s this for crossword serendipity: She’s one of only two actors to win an Emmy for the same role in both the comedy and drama categories; the other being crossword staple Ed Asner.
- 34d. [Wayne’s sidekick]. GARTH. I really thought this was going for Bruce Wayne, so I reluctantly put in ROBIN, even though I knew the correct entry should be GRAYSON (Dick Grayson being Robin’s secret identity). Instead, it’s a Wayne’s World reference. Party on!
Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Natan Last, Andy Kravis & J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Andy, Natan, and the crew managed to squeeze 64 theme squares into this 16×15 puzzle. Each themer is made of an 8-letter word followed by a pair of 4s that are the two halves of the 8, with the resulting goofball phrase clued accordingly:
- 18a. [French cheese tasting that lasts only a minute?], BRIEFEST BRIE FEST.
- 28a. [“That handlebar has gotta hurt!”], MUSTACHE MUST ACHE.
- 51a. [Headline about a pagan rotisserie shop?], HEATHENS HEAT HENS.
- 68a. [Screed about Old Glory that goes too far?], FLAGRANT FLAG RANT.
Fun theme. It makes my brain tired to ponder brainstorming words that work this way.
- 22a. [Symbol of nakedness], JAYBIRD. I briefly considered FIG LEAF, though that’s a wee covering of nakedness.
- 39a. [___ Chu, Nobel Prize-winning member of Obama’s cabinet], STEVEN. Always cool to give a shout-out to smart scientists.
- 3d. [It might be painted in the bathroom], NAIL. I mostly paint my nails at my desk. I also don’t think I’ve ever polished just one single, solitary nail.
- 14d. [“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but ___”: The Economist], DATA. If only we actually got paid for the data that’s collected about us.
- 33d. [Concert tees and the like], MERCH. Short for merchandise, natch.
- 46d. [Private employer?], THE ARMY.
- 53d. [Animal crossing], HYBRID. Tricky clue, given the current popularity of the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
I would not be bothered if STOAT never appeared in another crossword.
Four stars from me. How’d you like the group venture?
Kevin Salat’s Universal crossword, “NFL Owners” — pannonica’s write-up
It’s the sort of thing we’ve seen many times before, but that’s not a knock.
Original phrases have a crucial S re-parsed so that they are possessives. In all instances the original words happen to be professional football team nicknames. It’s easier to understand with examples than to describe:
- 20a. [Arizona NFL player’s business connection?] cardinal sin becomes CARDINAL’S IN.
- 56a. [Minnesota NFL player’s mid-body joints?] VIKING’S HIPS (viking ships). The hip joint is the interface of the hip socket and the femur’s head—I don’t feel you can call hips a joint. But I can see how there’s some semantic flexibility for ‘hips’.
- 11d. [Cleveland NFL player’s manner of speaking?] BROWN’S TONE (brownstone).
- 29d. [New York NFL player’s British pound?] GIANT’S QUID (giant squid).
SEE how it works? (63d [“Get it?”])
- 17a [Majority shareholder?] LION. Cute. My favorite clue in the puzzle. Would that be the Lion’s hare?
- 30a [Charming characteristic] CHARISMA. Had to check to see if there was etymological overlap, and there is none. Courtesy m-w.com: charm: Middle English charme, from Anglo-French, from Latin carmen song, from canere to sing — more at CHANT; charisma: Greek, favor, gift, from charizesthai to favor, from charis grace; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice — more at YEARN. Also from m-w:
The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” In English, it has been used in Christian contexts since about 1640 to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. (This sense is now very rare.) The earliest nonreligious use of “charisma” that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber’s work was published.
- 53a [State whose east and west borders are rivers] IOWA. Mississippi to the east, Missouri and Big Sioux to the west.
- 3d [With 5-Down, 2017 superhero film directed by Taika Waititi] THOR | RAGNAROK. Tangential to the VIKING’S HIPS themer.
- 10d [2019 Levi Strauss & Co. event: Abbr.] IPO. Wow, so late.
- 54d [Cappuccino’s top] FOAM. Yes! Unlike the misstep in the NYT back on 15 April.
- 51d [Desert that covers much of Libya] SAHARA.
Jesse Goldberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I suppose the main reason this puzzle was written was to see if the risque WORKONESBUTTOFF is fit for crosswords. The rest of the entries form a tight quartet of idioms in the form >VERBORGAN(OFF/OUT). The choice was made to use ONES, which is how they appear in dictionaries, but rarely in real life. The other advantage is ONES is easier to fill around than four YOURs.
Like a lot of puzzles with four spanning horizontal entries, the rest of the puzzle is more about accommodation than including lots of other splashy entries. We are treated to some subtle wordplay with [Day care charge] for TOT & [Cats play with them] for PAWS. RICOLA and MUKLUK are tricky letter strings to predict for those who didn’t know them; FONDU would be too, but it gets a cheesy hint.
Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #47” — Ben’s Review
It feels like it’s been a while since we got a themeless from the AVCX, and even longer since it was a KAC Themeless, so seeing his byline in my inbox was a pleasant surprise this Wednesday. In typical Kam fashion, the grid itself is pretty to look at, and the fill inside is pretty crisp, too:
- The wide open spaces in this grid leave lots of space for long stacked trios. Across, we’ve got “CUT THE CRAP”, ON A RAMPAGE, and ROTO-ROOTER (“Company that deals with obstructions”) in the upper left, and BONSAI TREE, ISAAC STERN, and TASTE TESTS (“Trials for one’s buds”) in the lower right.
- We also have stacks going down in the other two corners of the grid – the upper right has ARAB LEAGUE, RESOLUTELY, and PATTY MELTS, and the lower left has SPONGE BATH (“It involves some pleasing squeezing”), LOUIE LOUIE, and UNINSPIRED.
- I’ve seen lots of native tribes pop up in crossword fill, but somehow not the YAVAPAI, who are the native “people of the sun” in Arizona.