Barry “KarmaSartre” Franklin and Sara Kaplan’s New York Times crossword
Interesting theme: A random assortment of trivia relating to the number 27. It’s a PERFECT CUBE to a mathematician. It’s the number of MOONS OF URANUS (heh, heh) to an astronomer. (Quibble: there’s no hint of “the number of” in the clue or answer, and it doesn’t parse right without it. If you ask an astronomer, “What is 27?” they’re not going to answer, “Moons of Uranus.”) Also the number of WORLD SERIES WINS for a Yankees fan (repeat quibble here). Not to mention the number of HEBREW LETTERS (quibble three). And, the most familiar trivia factoid to me (the perfect cube thing isn’t trivia—it’s just plain ol’ math) is that TWENTY-SEVEN is the [Age at which Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse died].
I liked a lot of the vocabulary in this puzzle: GRUFF, CYNICS, EARTHY, AL GORE, MALAWI, NECCO wafers, and LEGGY are all answers that we don’t see in too many crosswords. Now, HEISS (which is German for “hot”) is something we don’t see in many crosswords, and here that’s a good thing. [Carol __, five-time world figure-skating champion]?? I suspect I’ve seen this name once before in a crossword. It crosses crosswordese STELA, which crosses nonstandard SNAX. Old-timey-famous Kay KYSER is a name I know only from crosswords, and its crossing TER ([Thrice, in prescriptions]) is really not remotely in current medical usage. The abbreviation tid, which is short for the Latin ter in die, is perfectly ordinary medicalese, but TER on its own, no. ESTE and OLEA are also on the repeater watch list.
I wish the theme clues didn’t elide the whole “number of” part that would help them make perfect sense. Between that and the unfortunate bits of fill, 2.9 stars.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review
The theme looks to be terms beginning with musical words:
- 20-Across: The [One with a good fashion sense] is a SHARP DRESSER. I learned an important lesson in the mid-1980s: every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man.
- 33-Across: One who [Sick in bed] is FLAT ON ONE’S BACK. One who’s curled on one’s back, on the other hand, is imitating fried bacon.
- 40-Across: To [Deep-six] is to PITCH OVERBOARD. Another clue for that entry could be [Sell someone on the merits of a Goldie Hawn film].
- 55-Across: The [Honor granted by a municipality] is a KEY TO THE CITY. One receiving such an honor in Islamorada, Florida, gets a key to the Key.
So in today’s installment of Name That Puzzle–the new gimmick where I get to guess the puzzle’s title–I clearly need to think of a title that relates to something musical. Let’s see, sharps and flats appear on a musical staff, and I suppose one would find information about the pitch and key there too. So I think I should be looking for something to do with “staff.” Staff Meetings is a little bland. Staff Infection makes me smile, but there’s no real “infection” here (this is an “insert-a-letter-sequence” gimmick), and the title might be a little off-putting to too many solvers. Since all of the music terms appear at the front, maybe it’s Staff Entrances? Okay, I’ll go with that one.
Whoops, it’s “Clef Notes.” Conservatively, that’s about thirty times better than my guess. Mine was a little too cryptic, and I think the title here is intended to help solvers and not to be an extra layer for solvers to suss out. Lesson learned.
As for the puzzle itself, well, in musical terms, it’s suffering from a bit of a tin ear. Most glaringly, we have TWO (clued as [This plus that]) lurking very close to the clue for BOTH, [Two out of two] (my emphasis). That’s…not good. You see, there’s this convention that an answer in the grid should not be repeated in the clues. While the convention is rightly ignored for little orts like TO, AT, THE, IN, and the like, it sticks out a little too much with a word like TWO. [This and that] would have have been a much better clue, no?
Next, though there’s nothing “wrong” with any of them, I’m not a fan of entries like ASSAY, MTN, RLS, ORA, GRATIA, EST, and the non-breath-freshening SERTS. If you’re feeding solvers with a steady diet of this bland kibble, at least give us some succulent wet food to make it go down better. Here, there aren’t many highlights. I like SAYS SO and the crossing U-HAUL and U-MASS. But that’s about it. Everything else is ordinary.
I’m willing to bet a nickel that more than a few solvers struggled with the intersection of BRAE, the [Highlands hillside], and NICAD, the [Type of storage battery]. And if one does not know Bart STARR or Ars GRATIA Artis, that whole section might go blank for a long time.
Just so we end on a happy note, I did enjoy the clue for METEORS, [Shower components]. Clever!
Gail Grabowski & Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Second things first in this puzzle:
- 20a. [Socioeconomic tension] – CLASS STRUGGLE
- 27a. [Skinny guy's nickname] - STRING BEAN
- 38a. [Wages sans overtime] - BASE PAY
- 47a. [Informational stroll through the forest] - NATURE WALK
- 55a. ["Same here," and what might be said about the start of 20-, 27-, 38- or 47-Across] – I’LL SECOND THAT
Second class, second string… you get the picture. Would it have made more sense to have the second word of each theme entry be the “second” thing? Eh, I think it’s great either way.
As usual in a Grabowski/Venzke puzzle, the long fill’s great: APPLIQUE, BAZAAR and LOVE BIRD, ROLL BAR and LIE-ABED all PIQUE my interest.
Call me a bad Catholic, but I didn’t know that a PRELATE is a [Church dignitary]. I thought that if you were on time, you were pre-late. It was a toss-up between NIBS and NEBS for [Cardinals' beaks]; did you choose wisely at first? In line with this puzzle’s theme, my second try was correct.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Outside Protection”
What protects a banana? The PEEL on the outside. Each of this week’s Jonesin’ theme answers has a PEEL in that the letter PE and EL enclose the other letters in each phrase.
- 18a. [Crunchy stuff in a walkway], PEA GRAVEL.
- 24a. [He released the album "So"], PETER GABRIEL. Am fond of that album. I bought the cassette when it came out.
- 40a. [Trucker's less-green alternative to biofuel], PETROLEUM DIESEL. I’ve never seen “diesel” preceded by “petroleum” before.
- 54a. [What a mom might picture a secretly-bratty kid to be], PERFECT ANGEL.
- 62a. [Staff], PERSONNEL.
This puzzle seems to have a negative attitude. See MANGY, PASTY, BLEARY DWEEB HOUND. “I know you are, but what am I?”
- 13d. [2012 acronym akin to "Be adventurous"], YOLO. From the Drake rap “The Motto,” short for “you only live once.” Because teenagers are exactly the people who need to be encouraged to throw caution to the wind.
- 6d. [Good or bad figure?], COP. As a parent, I play both roles regularly.
- 3d. [Advice to the angry], COUNT TO TEN. If you’re still mad, then count backwards from 100 by 3s. It takes a lot more of your focus.
- AS I, A GIRL, A NEED, IN E = four partials. CDC, NCAA, AGT, SSN, YSL, MRI, LDL = seven abbrevs. CII = one Roman numeral. EIN, AB OVO, ETRE, AMIE, AUF, SOLEIL = six foreigns. OOX = tic-tac-toe. At the not-so-common names party, we have ITALO, LENO, ANDIE, VAL, SELA, ESAI, CLAIRE, and GLEN.
- And it’s an 80-word grid. Less juicy stuff in it than I would have expected.