Barbara Lin’s Fireball Crossword, “Scientifically Speaking”–Jenni’s write-up
Yes! You are not imagining it! The Fireball was constructed by a woman (confirmed by the constructor herself, not simply based on the name).
And it’s a good one that played a bit harder for me than most FB puzzles. Each theme answer is a scientific measurement clued as a soundalike phrase.
- 18a [“Rats! I stubbed a digit!”?] is HECTOHERTZ (heck, toe hurts).
- 23a [Punch out an embedded agent?] is DECAMOLE (deck a mole).
- 35a [Fondle a diamond?] is PETAJOULE (pet a jewel).
- 42a [Consumer of laughter?] is GIGALITER (giggle eater).
- 52a [Rip off a morsel of food?] is TERABYTE (tear a bite).
- 61a [Factory where a certain antiperspirant is made?] is MILLIFARAD (mill of Arrid).
GIGALITER is my favorite because it made me, yes, giggle. They all work, and they’re all funny. Nicely done! Here’s hoping the next run of male constructors in the Fireball lineup is broken more quickly.
A few other things:
- 4d [Parabolic course?] took me a while, partly because the ski jump clue at 1a had me thinking about that kind of course. This one is math: PRECALC, where one would study parabolas.
- I never know which [Legalese adverb] is which. This one is THERETO.
- I do know that APU has an 18-letter surname, even though I’ve never seen an episode of “The Simpsons.” I also know that Hank Azaria decided to stop voicing the character after it was pointed out to him that it’s racist AF. I don’t know why it took him that long to figure that out.
- 48a [Electronic transmission] is a FAX. Kids, ask your parents – unless you’re a doctor, in which case you still use a fax machine regularly, because for some reason faxes are HIPAA compliant and standard EMail clients are not. Whoever wrote that law never walked past an unattended fax machine.
- I knew that APOLLO X included components named Charlie Brown and Snoopy. YAY ME.
What I didn’t know before I did this crossword: that KEDS have a wedding collection. I approve. I also did not know that ERIC sings “Her Voice” in “The Little Mermaid.” I’ve never seen it; not a big fan of romantic stories that require a woman to literally give up her voice to get the guy. That’s not even subtle.
Barbara Lin’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
This is the second week in a row that I’ve been underwhelmed by the theme of the Thursday NYT Crossword:
- 17A: The unhappy drill press operator… — FINDS WORK BORING
- 34A: The unhappy calendar maker… — NEEDS A WEEK OFF
- 40A: The unhappy elevator operator… — ASKS FOR A RAISE
- 62A: The unhappy orthopedic surgeon… — WANTS MORE BREAKS
It’s some C+ job-related puns! This unhappy crossword reviewer DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE why this is a Thursday puzzle. The theme’s absolute Tuesday material and slight trickier cluing/fill doesn’t really make this feel any more worthy of a later-in-the-week slot. Maybe I’m JADED, maybe the INDECENT both-sides-ism of the NYT’s op-ed department has me in a particularly harsh mood, but this just didn’t do it for me.
Be well, all!
Alexander Shames’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Finally!”—Jim P’s review
Brand new byline today, so congrats are in order.
We’re given an add-a-word theme in which the letters AT are tacked on to the ends of theme answers. 48d AT LAST is the revealer, clued [Song covered by Celine, Beyoncé and Aretha, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme]. Odd that Etta James, who had the biggest version of the song in 1960 is not included in the clue.
- 18a [One or two lucky turkeys, every Thanksgiving?] PARDON MEAT
- 24a [Delivering millions of presents in a single night, e.g.?] SANTA FEAT
- 37a [“Four Weddings” front-runner?] BRIDE TO BEAT. I’m not getting this. “Four Weddings” is a show, I take it? I know the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, but not this.
- 51a [“…except for the patriarchy,” for example?] MAN CAVEAT.
- 57a [Unhealthy ecosystem?] BAD HABITAT.
Solid wordplay. The first one feels somewhat forced, but I’m good with the rest of them.
Plenty of fill highlights today: SPELL OUT, KIA SOUL, ANTONIA, TANLINES, THREE-DAY weekend, URSULA, BINGED ON, GAMEBOY, NAT-GEO, and “I’M RICH!“. That’s quite a load of riches for a debut grid.
Clues of note:
- 35a. [Disney villain partially inspired by drag queen Divine]. URSULA. Good bit of trivia I didn’t know. As is [Only player with 10 World Series championships] for BERRA.
- 21d. [Nudist’s lack]. TANLINES. Unexpected, but technically the truth.
A nice grid with good wordplay and impressive fill. 3.7 stars.
Christopher Adams & Michael Sharp’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
HIDDENCARBS is a great revealing answer, and worthy of a themeless grid. That said, not every puzzle idea has enough thematic meat to be carried full term. I feel like this should have been rejected at some point in the construction process. OSCARBUZZ is a solid nine. Then RACECARBED is a ten pluralised to pair with HIDDENCARBS. That’s already a shaky start. And then…
MADAGASCARBEANS is a 15 that has very little presence on Google and which I have never heard of. It exists in exactly one dictionary on hand, Merriam-Webster, which simply says “1: Hyacinth Bean. 2: Lima Bean.” The clue claims they are “Lima family legumes…” Lima beans are a species of the legume family, so I’m not sure what that first part means. The second part claims “… that yield vanilla.” Vanilla comes from an orchid not a bean. The orchids are found in Madagascar and sometimes their pods are called “vanilla beans”. But the clue seems to be conflating several different things and based on not much in the real world.
Now are there alternatives? Not really. There aren’t many unrelated answers that hide CARB across two words. When you have no viable entries that match up properly, the best course of action is to can the puzzle in its entirety. I’m further mystified this puzzle not only was submitted, but passed by editing and fact-checking without an eyebrow raised.
The grid is actually very well filled, with SHANIATWAIN and THESEDREAMS as a non-thematic long pair flanking the theme answers and UMADBRO, BOBROSS and SPLENDA among the medium-length answers. Outside of the theme, which was a non-starter, this puzzle did provide entertainment.