Mark Feldman’s New York Times crossword
I swear Mark Feldman’s byline is busting out all over these days. Isn’t this his third puzzle in the last week or two?
Summary judgment: Love the theme, but wonder what some of that fill is doing in a Tuesday puzzle. (Not that the weird words slowed me down any. Surprisingly quick solve for a Tuesday puzzle, and solid crossings for the oddball stuff.)
The theme entries riff on three secretly vigorous, physical verb phrases that can be used to build an EXERCISE ROOM:
- 20a. If you [Make a legislative speech, e.g.], you HOLD THE FLOOR. Wasn’t it wild when Bernie Sanders held the Senate floor for over eight hours on Friday? He wasn’t literally grasping the floor with his hands, but imagine trying to lift the floor.
- 26a. To [Go ballistic] is to HIT THE CEILING, customarily without jumping skyward.
- 45a. Let’s say you’re snowed in, or that it’s too stinkin’ cold to leave the house. You’ll [Be stir-crazy] with your cabin fever and CLIMB THE WALLS. But not the rock-climbing wall.
I like the physicality of the theme, lurking in those ordinary, idiomatic phrases. Head to the gym, to the exercise room, and do three sets of 15 reps for 20a, 26a, and 45a.
My first grumble isn’s so much that 22a is out of place in a Tuesday puzzle, it’s that it is a word that has largely lost its place in the English language. AURIST, clued as an [Ear doctor]?? It’s no surprise that the collegiate dictionary left it out. I did find the word in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, which traces AURIST back to the late 17th century. One wonders how much usage the word has received in the most recent century. Not much, I imagine.
8d: WELL-SET, or [Sturdily built], feels rather quaint or at least not so often used.
36d gives us the title for yesterday’s NYT puzzle by Patrick Blindauer: A [Tearful one] like those theme entries is a SOBBER. Blechy word, but certainly gettable. I just Googled it and found a bizarre medical story from Time magazine, circa 1930. Teenage girl sobbed for five days and amazingly, being thumped on the nose did nothing to stop the tears.
Billie Truitt’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review
- 18A. [Actress in a classic shower scene] – JANET LEIGH. JAN is my arch puzzle solving nemesis; we go back and forth every day besting each other.
- 23A. [Weight management guru] – JENNY CRAIG.
- 38A. [1996 Schwarzenegger Christmas comedy] – JINGLE ALL THE WAY
- 51A. [Comedy Central satirist] – JON STEWART. His real name is Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz and he was born three months after me. Apparently it was a good year for Stuart as a middle name. I will use Jeffrey Stewart when I become famous.
- 56A. [Kipling story collection, with "The"] – JUNGLE BOOK. Bear Necessities!
One-line review for those in a hurry: Unusual vowel progression takes us all the way from A to U.
- 9A. [Hi-tech classroom] – PC LAB. Also, a tactful dog.
- 22A. [Low-lying area] – VALE/27A. [Low-lying area] – DALE. Can you name any other rhyming synonyms?
- 35A. [Like this answer] – ACROSS. Whenever ACROSS is down my head explodes.
- 44A. [Sleepy colleague?] – DOC. I just did another puzzle in a book where the theme was the seven dwarfs. Six of them started a phrase, and Sneezy had a clue like [One of the seven].
- 64A. [Italian bread?] – EURO. LIRA is gone. Get over it.
- 68A. [Standard Oil name] – ESSO. What? No northern neighbour reference?
- 8D. [Wonder of music] – STEVIE
- 21D. [__ Beach: South Carolina resort] – MYRTLE. MYRTLE deserves to be in more crosswords. Ocala gets all the fun.
- 26D. [Adult doodlebug] – ANT LION. Are the other ants scared of an ANT LION?
- 48D. ["We're on!"] – IT’S A GO! Yay!
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “New Job Titles”—Evad’s review
- Barnum and Bailey’s RING-MASTER becomes a “Jeweler?” on the side
- An IRON-WORKER not only works with steel, but can also be a “Laundry maid?”
- A PAN-HANDLER not only begs for money (did beggars used to use a pan to catch coins?) but can also be a “Chef?”
- A COW-CATCHER either sits in front of a train, or is a “Ranch hand?”
First thought the Gauls invaded the Roman Empire before the GOTHS. I see here that Rome was sacked by the Visigoths (who apparently left their clothing back in Germany) in 410 A.D. The Gauls, on the other hand were invaded by the Romans almost 500 years earlier. A couple of other random impressions:
- Pretty long clue for the lowly definite article THE: “I’ll alert ___ media”: Hobson, in Arthur.
- When I thinking of RENDing something, I don’t think of necessarily mangling it, but just tearing it two. Mangling seems much more destructive.
- DEEP DOWN (“At heart”) is a great entry. Love it….two snaps up!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “In a Hotspot”
This theme was not working for me. The title suggests WiFi hotspots, and the two words/components in each theme entry begin with WI and FI. But some of them are of questionable crossword-worthiness.
- 17a. [What some things catch on like] is WILDFIRE. Perfect.
- 23a. [Figures in early Salem history] clues WITCH FINDERS. Is that a, uh, thing? Or just a made-up term? I guess it’s real, but it felt wildly unfamiliar to me.
- 35a. A WINDOWS FIREWALL is [XP protection]. Never heard of it; I’m a Mac user. Sounded inherently plausible, though.
- 46a. [Steadfastly] clues WITH FIRMNESS, and yet the answer conveys great limpness.
- 59a. The WINGFISH is a [Swimmer with large pectoral fins]. Not ringing a bell. Wikipedia isn’t much more familiar with “wingfish” or “wing fish” than I am.
Where this puzzle shines is in the long Down fill. You’ve got all these:
- 28d. MANHATTANS, those [Vermouth drinks] that aren’t traditional martinis.
- 6d. [Russian soups] are beet BORSCHTS. Not crazy about the pluralization of both 28d and 6d, but the words do add spice.
- 38d. Boxer Mike [Tyson's ring nickname] is IRON MIKE.
- 9d. ["No way!"] “IT CAN’T BE!”
- 11d. [Carnival food] clues the horrifying FUNNEL CAKE. Don’t try to tell me it’s delicious. It’s crap and you know it. Lousy “food” but still lively crossword fill.
I have to call a foul on 33a: ABACI. The old traditional [Counters in China] are abacuses. The word doesn’t have Latin roots, so most properly it will not take an -i plural. (See also: octopus.)