Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Permission Accomplished”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The prefix PER is added to well-known phrases.
- 20a. [Bonus for a steadfast employee?] PERSEVERANCE PAY. This was my last themer to fall and I found the pronunciation change somewhat jarring.
- 25a. [In large type, maybe?] PERUSER FRIENDLY. This one also has a pronunciation change, but it’s a little easier to handle. A good entry, especially for those of us whose eyes have started to go south.
- 43a. [Try all of the Sephora samples?] EXHAUST PERFUMES. We also would have accepted [Wearable scents for that stuck-in-traffic aroma?]
- 49a. [Fetish for blankets?] COVER PERVERSION. My favorite of the lot. I’m not sure what a blanket fetish would be, but I bet somebody out there does.
Mostly good, yeah? It’s not all entirely consistent, though. Two entries have pronunciation changes, and two don’t. And in two of them, the second word changes meaning as well. But I felt myself mostly entertained by the theme, so that’s a good thing. I like that they’re all grid-spanners as well.
Fill highlights: GOES BUST, LOST PETS, FOUR-STAR, and IRON FIST. I can vouch for FRY-UP [Brit’s breakfast, informally] which is a quick way to say a more substantial (and probably less healthy) meal than, say, a continental breakfast. Very similar to, but maybe less well-defined as a “Full English.”
Clues of note:
- 5d. [Cheese made with goat’s milk]. CHEVRE. I didn’t know this word by that clue, but it helped that I watched the recent incarnation of Carmen Sandiego with my daughter since the show features a villain named Le Chèvre with goat-like qualities.
- 55d. [Treacherous ensign of drama]. IAGO. I was thoroughly thrown off by the word “ensign,” which I know only to be a military rank. But “ensign” also means a “flag” or “standard,” and IAGO was Othello’s standard-bearer.
Solid add-some-letters theme and strong fill. 3.7 stars.
Derek J. Angell’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
We’ve got an NYT debut today! Congrats, Derek J. Angell!
I really lucked out by deciding to start today’s NYT with the down clues, since I hit the revealer for this week’s grid early on and immediately knew what to do with the rest:
- 13D: What you might cry when trying to answer the six starred clues? — CAN I BUY A VOWEL
I say the approximate amount of grid space and somehow knew CAN I BUY A VOWEL would fit. As that answer indicates, all of the starred across clues could use a vowel or two (or three):
- 55A: *It debuted on 1/6/1975 — WHL F FRTN
- 18A: *Creator of 55-Across — MRV GRFFN
- 20A: *Co-host of 55-Across — VNN WHT
- 30A: *Group of six given for free on 55-Across — RSTLN
- 41A: *Co-host of 55-Across — PT SJK
- 52A: *Bad place to land on 55-Across — BNKRPT
Those answers are, re-voweled, WHEEL OF FORTUNE, which was created by MERV GRIFFIN, is co-hosted by PAT SAJAK and VANNA WHITE, gives out RSTLNE for the final puzzle, and has a BANKRUPT space on its wheel that’s bad news for your score if your SPIN (31D, “Turn in a popular game show”) lands there. This was nicely calibrated – just enough of a tribute without going overboard on fill, and the
I had assumed the order of Wheel before Jeopardy! was standard across the country, but not so! Apparently it’s more of an east coast thing.
As someone who has always lived in places with snow (MN, MA), it took me far longer than it should have to realize that WINTER O’S is indeed an apt anagram of SNOW TIRES.
Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Is it just me or is Julian Lim’s byline been somewhat scarce of late? The design may have tipped some of us this is not a typical puzzle, as there are no obvious long corner answers in which to find the theme. Instead, there is a lone central SIDESALAD and the rest of the answer, as that implies is pushed out on the edges.
SIDESALAD made me think of Nando’s, which, here in South Africa at least, offers so much variety in their sides: chips, wedges, green salad, potato salad, cream of spinach, roast veg, pap & sishebo and several more. More side options! Where was I? Oh yes, eight answers completed by “___ SALAD” skirt the edges of the grid: CAESAR/COBB, FRUIT, CORN/NICOISE, POTATO/TACO, PASTA, TUNA/DESSERT. I was unsure of the last one, it seems to be the same as what we call bazaar puddings?
Anyway, filling these grids is no picnic, and that, as well as the limited scope for new wrinkles in the theme type itself, are why we rarely see them. You can witness the knock-on effect in the number of subpar short answers, however nothing is rarely rip-up-the-grid worthy. For this theme variety, that’s a win! Also, we get chatty IAMSODEAD and IOWEYOU.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Say Again?” – Jenni’s write-up
I’m not sure why this puzzle felt so difficult. Maybe it’s my brain being stuck in first gear. I got into the shower with my glasses on the other day so…yeah. Anyway. The theme answers are phrases clued as if they were pronounced – differently.
- 18a [Thing that scorches an X-ray blocker?] is a LEAD SINGER.
- 27a [Front part of a ship after several passengers pop their pimples there?] is PUSSY BOW.
- 38a [Biblical patient man without an electrolyte imbalance?] is a UNIONIZED JOB.
- 52a [Reply to “Blondie” cartoonist Young’s question “What’s next after uno and dos”?] is TRES CHIC.
- 63a [Thing that makes an old Spanish coin unable to feel anything?] is a REAL NUMBER.
Both words are pronounced differently, so it’s solid, consistent, fresh and funny. Nice.
A few other things:
- 1a [Andro, e.g.] is ROID as in steroid. Androstendione.
- 15a [Army brass?] is a fun clue for BUGLE.
- Guessing I’m not the only one who plopped in PLUMP for [Like babies’ thighs] at 11d. It’s PUDGY.
- The Trademarked Peter Gordon Very Long Clue is [Unless otherwise posted, it has a Richtegeschwindigkeit (advisory speed limit) of 130 kmh]. That’s the AUTOBAHN. 130 KMH is basically 80 mph – not all that fast.
- 57a [Kid’s meal?] is TIN CAN. Kid as in goat.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of the ARTEON. Turns out it’s new.
Roger Miller’s Universal crossword, “Finding Inspiration” — Jim Q’s write-up
Seems to be a debut for Roger Miller! Congrats!
THEME: Famous artists are hidden within common phrases.
- HUMANE TREATMENT. Édouard Manet, not to be confused with Monet.
- NUCLEAR POWER. Jean Arp. A name often seen in crosswords!
- HOME RUN DERBY. Winslow Homer… not the cartoon character, or The Odyssey poet.
- ART APPRECIATION
I’m going to jump right into my NIT (bigger than a NIT for me, actually) with Universal’s inability to offer circles in its widely distributed puzzle platform. I solved in the webapp (sans circles), and saw that I had to count letters. But I just hoped the hidden words would pop out at me since I didn’t want to count. In the first answer I saw MANE. In the second, CLEAR. In the third OMER (which is the mascot of Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem-solving team that I coach in my high school).
So it wasn’t until post solve that I could really appreciate what was happening. Too late, imo. I would’ve liked the aha mid-solve on this one.
Nothing wrong with the construction, however! With much of the fill having to cross two theme answers, there aren’t too many long, splashy fill entries, but all of the themers landed and all of the hidden words bridged multiple words. Not much more to ask for in this type of theme.
EYE CUP is a new term for me. Didn’t know that’s what it was called.
3.4 stars with circles.
2.4 stars without.
Looking forward to the circle fix.
NYT: Very cute, definitely my speed. Once you tumble to the trick, it flows easily.
I think I’ve watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy since they started. 7:30pm is still associated with Jeopardy in my mind, and it’s very sad to think about the passing of Alex Trebek.
Did anyone else notice that 2020 has sucked?
Has it? Huh, news to me.
*Totally* unrelated and apropos of absolutely nothing, I was fully lobotomized in mid-2019.
Anyway, it’s so weird to me that Jeopardy would ever air before Wheel. Looking at Ben’s map, I would initially think I’m in the minority, but now I’m curious as to how population density might correlate with the different regions, and if maybe it’s closer to 50/50 than I might think.
In Chicago, Jeopardy is on at 3:30 in the afternoon, and Wheel airs at 6:30. It’s wild when someone we know is on Jeopardy, and I know who won hours before the rest of the country sees that episode.
2020. Ugh. I feel more certain now than ever, in 2020, after witnessing fascist militancy in the rise, that I was right to ironically endorse the use of guns because those who use them kill themselves and their families more than anyone else. I said that a couple of years ago, and Amy Reynaldo and all of her fans jumped down my throat. Now, when I seriously think about that statement, I don’t even mean it satirically anymore. Please fascists, kill yourselves and your families and remove yourselves from the gene pool.
I know this is not the place, but given the fact that I was piled on for this here, maybe it is.
As much as I detest guns and don’t own one for fear that I may actually one day follow through on a suicide attempt, this very thought has crossed my mind numerous times since Charlottesville and has intensified with the seemingly unrelenting strife we’ve seen this year. I hate that it has come to this, and I hate what recent events have done to my and our collective psyche.
Half of this nation appears to be dangerously lacking in empathy, and the rest is quickly losing empathy for that half. Despite the election results, I don’t think we really won. Not yet, and not for a long time.
Are WINTER’S O’S a thing? Because if not, I don’t see how it’s particularly interesting (or “apt”) that it can be anagrammed into something else.
Snow tires are used in the winter and they are O-shaped. It may be a somewhat nonsensical phrase, but it is an apt anagram.
I read it quickly as “Winter SOS”, which I think would be a better fit.
Not that it matters, but I wouldn’t get hung up on why Iago in the WSJ is an ensign. He’s identified clearly enough in the play either way. But it’s not really that he was a flag bearer rather than officer. It’s more that Jim has found the origins of the word for that officer. Remember, too, that it used, although mostly before Shakespeare, to be really important for leaders not so much to represent the flag of their country, assuming nations as we know them even existed, as to have heraldic coats of arms.
Actually, the trickier part for modern readers, although easy enough to get past, is that on the page Iago is called an ancient. Think of it as just that Elizabethans had their own way with spelling and pronunciation. FWIW, Cassio is Othello’s lieutenant, and one interpretation of the play stresses that Othello, as a military hero and public figure, could never fully adjust to inner matters such as premeditated lying or of the heart. He goes to his death recalling his exploits in killing, turning the gesture on himself. That interpretation helped me a lot, since jealousy isn’t something I identify with much. Of course, there are other interpretations to do with race or with good vs evil as well.
LAT: Gareth missed two salads, the nicoise salad and potato salad on the east side :) . Ten salads and you made me hungry for the South African menu sides in the bargain, with the write-up :D .
I wonder what is “pap & sishebo”?
LAT 1D, “The fault…is not in our stars” speaker. The quotation certainly comes from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, but is said by Cassius. How can the answer be CAESAR? Is this not a glaring mistake?
Thank you! I filled in Casius there, uncertain about the spelling but pretty confident of the speaker. Was surprised when it didn’t work and I had to change it to Caesar, but then forgot about it and never looked it up.
BEQ: Anybody have an idea on the translation of the third themer? I have the grid filled, and I understand the first two but can’t make the third “sound” like anything much.
Thanks for any help.
ok. That works better than what I was hearing… something close to “caller ID ” with a thers after it which makes no sense.
Sub O for hole in all themers so cHOLEra is cOra
yes, I see that now. I was going for “sounds like” which worked for the first two, but not at all for #3.
Thanks for the help!
First two work better sounding hole like O.
For anyone else struggling the 2 other themers become Hello Newman (from Seinfeld) and Mano a Mano.
I liked that there were no other “O”s besides in the themers. It would have been wonderful, if difficult, to also eliminate Ds, Rs, etc.
BEQ: On an absolutely unrelated note, does anyone feel that the 50D clue/answer pair is somewhat out of touch, not to mention really UGH? I mean, seriously? “One who never got busy”? And the answer is “virgin”? I feel like we’re in a frat house, or maybe an Access Hollywood taping.
BEQ can be frat housey