Jeffrey Wechsler’s New York Times crossword
- 30A/35A. The DIVINE / COMEDY is clued as the [With 35-Across, source of 15-/23-Across] and [See 30-Across].
- 52A. DANTE ALIGHIERI is the [Creator of 30-/35-Across].
- 15A/23A. “ABANDON ALL HOPE / YE WHO ENTER HERE” is clued with [With 23-Across, famous "opening" line] and [See 15-Across].
- 40A. The [15-/23-Across location] is THE GATES OF HELL.
Who loves cross-references? Let’s see a show of hands…anyone?
I like Dante, I do. I took a 5-week college class dedicated to The Divine Comedy, and the “circles of hell” concept is ageless. Good literary material for a Tuesday theme.
Have you seen the Dante’s Inferno video game? Entertainment Weekly ran it by Columbia University Dante scholar Teodolinda Barolini. She noted, “Of all the things that are troubling, the sexualization and infantilization of Beatrice are the worst. Beatrice is a human girl who is dead and is now an agent of the divine. She is not to be saved by him, she is saving him. That’s the whole point! Here, she has become the prototypical damsel in distress. She’s this kind of bizarrely corrupted Barbie doll.” People! Stay away from ill-advised video game adaptations of classic literature.
There’s some classic crosswordese in this puzzle. 36D: [Classic silver coin of ancient Greece] is OBOL. Haven’t seen that one lately.
I forget what else I had planned to write about because (a) I got distracted by the movie Hard Candy and (b) my browser crashed. So that’s all for tonight. See you in the morning, folks.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Periodic Table-Hopping”—Janie’s review
Wow. Thank you, Donna, for one very fresh approach to the “substitution theme.” I saw the title and immediately said, “Uh-oh–I’m gonna need to know the abbreviations for the chemical elements,” but no. Instead, Donna “hops” around the “periodic table” by engaging in some “weird science” so to speak.
Each of the four theme answers has the same basic clue, beginning with the words [Proton-enhanced...]. This doesn’t entirely shed light on where the fill is going–so once again it was helpful to fill in the Downs. I managed a real “aha!” though as Donna tied her experiment together at 60D with [Number of protons by which the elements in the four longest puzzle answers have been enhanced], and that’s ONE.
So–as I realized at the end of solving–Donna has taken four base phrases, each of which names a chemical element and added a proton to it to come up with the next element on the table–and substituted that element in the base phrase. That’s pretty fabulous in my book. See if you don’t agree as:
- Silver bullet → CADMIUM BULLET. Close, but no cigar.
- Iron maiden → COBALT MAIDEN. Ouch. Maybe cobalt is preferable…
- Carbon copy → NITROGEN COPY
- Gold digger → MERCURY DIGGER. Now this is a very funny concept when ya think about it.
Is that good or what? And with all those elements, we get bonus fill as well with NEON [Like many signs on the Vegas strip] and NA CL [Table salt, to a chemist] (or sodium chloride).
And the remainder of the puzzle is solid as well. NET GAIN [Tax return calculation) is the symmetrical opposite and (potentially) a financial opposite to a RAW DEAL [Short end of the stick]. STICKS BY [Remains loyal to] has as its grid-opposite the once-sexiest, highest-tech POLAROID [Snapshot that develops instantly]. PLAUSIBLE [Believable] is a word we don’t see in the puzzles everyday, so it’s nice to see it today. I’d say we hadn’t seen it ERE NOW [Heretofore, poetically], but that wouldn’t be entirely true (though it does look to be making its CS debut).
I think [Produces some litter?] for BREEDS is a tad stretchy—though the idea does amuse me. But is “litter” a non-count noun? I don’t think so. Unless this is “some” in the adjectival sense–as when Charlotte wove into her web “Some Pig” to describe Wilbur. [Detached] for ALOOF was far more successful as a “misdirect,” as it had me thinking of physical rather than emotional detachment.
Finally, two complementary clue/fill sets would be [Carnegie] MELLON [University], which is the alma mater of many of our best actors, and “A VIEW [from the Bridge" (Miller play)], one of our best plays and currently enjoying a highly acclaimed revival on Broadway (with some of our best actors); and AGRA [Indian tourist mecca] and YOGA [Ashram activity]. Lotta ashrams in India.
Mangesh Sakharam Ghogre’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Congratulations to a debut constructor are in order.
The sweet theme involves three spreads that may contribute to MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD:
- 17A. STRAWBERRY JELLY is a [Sweet toast topper].
- 29A. APPLE BUTTER is a [Fruity toast topper]. I don’t see the appeal of making a thick fruit spread and calling it “butter”…but I have no problem at all with peanut butter.
- 50A. ["Schmeared" bagel topper] is CREAM CHEESE.
I like how JAM UP crosses JELLY at the J. The clue, 19D: [Copier problem], doesn’t do it for me, though. I want JAM UP to be clued as a verb; the noun is just a paper JAM.
Raise your hand if you did not know 2D: ARTA, [Greek city on its own gulf]. Is that even old crosswordese? Long-time solvers, help me out. This one doesn’t even look vaguely familiar to me. Did the word used to party with the PROA and ANOA, or was it never crosswordese?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Who Wants Crabs?”
- 18A. SANTA CLAWS is a [Crabby holiday figure?]. There’s a Sandy Claws in A Nightmare Before Christmas. And then there’s Santa Claus, your base phrase here.
- 33A. [Crabby protest song?] is “WE SHELL OVERCOME,” playing on “We Shall Overcome” but ending up making no sense grammatically.
- 41A. Doberman pinschers become DOBERMAN PINCERS, or [Crabby dogs?].
- 57A. Lex Luthor turns into LEGS LUTHOR, or [Crabby villain?]. This one feels like more of a stretch because there’s not much that’s crab-specific about LEGS. Many thousands of organisms have legs. Not so many have eyestalks but where the pun? VLADIVEYESTALK?
- 8D. [Word before break or training] would be SPRING if there were six boxes to fill. But there are five: POTTY.
- 52D. [Ferber and Krabappel, for two] clues EDNAS. No, a plural first name clue isn’t sought-after fill, but I like how Matt has put the cartoon Krabappel on a level with a novelist.