Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Are you as sleepy as I am? I feasted on Thanksgiving food from 1 to 3 this afternoon, and have only had a little pecan pie since then. I think it might have been supper.
Things that came to me comparatively slowly include ALTO HORNS ([Instruments also known as mellophones]), RHYTHM STICK ([Elementary school percussion instrument]), the minor-league Toledo MUDHENS (started with REDHENS), and AT A LOW EBB.
Favorite bits: CHIHUAHUA clued as a [Big-eyed toy], ARMY BRATS, EGGSHELLS clued as [White trash?] (but if you refer to people as white trash, you’re rather trashy yourself), CHERRY STONE (I love cherries), and DAYMARE.
Interesting clue for RACISM: [What excellence is the best deterrent to, per Oprah Winfrey]. Yes, Oprah, but that leaves just plain average people out of luck, doesn’t it? Not everyone manages to achieve excellence, but no one should be thought lesser because of their ethnic origin.
ERSKINE Bowles is in the middle of a topsy-turvy MADE/EDAM sandwich. ¿Is [Queso relleno cheese] really EDAM? Yucatan Today says sí.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sniggling and Giggling”- Sam Donaldson’s review
It might have helped if I knew that to “sniggle” means (per my dictionary) to “fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook into their hiding places.” That’s because this puzzle’s four theme entries involve eel puns. You read that right–eel puns. Here they are:
- 17-Across: The [Sniggler's love song?] is THAT’S A MORAY. Sure, I know the moray eel, but with just this first one in place I had no clue that all the theme entries would be about eels.
- 26-Across: The [Sniggler's version of the end of a Napoleonic palindrome?] is ERE I SAW ELVER. Apparently there’s an elver eel. Maybe it’s Santa’s favorite.
- 46-Across: [How sniggler's fall in love?] is HEAD OVER EELS. By the time I got here I had forgotten I already had the MORAY entry above. So I was thinking the theme just involved puns. I think I was confusing “sniggler” with “sniglet,” the “neologism” from comedian Rich Hall.
- 59-Across: The [Sniggler's instruments?] are CONGER DRUMS. This one was just one of many problems I had with the southeast corner. See more below.
Ah that southeast corner. It added three minutes to my solving time. I got A CAPELLA and ELMER Fudd with no trouble (though I didn’t know the former was a variant spelling–apparently the normal spelling is a cappella). But the rest just gave me fits. To [Prohibit] is to DEBAR, and the correct plural for [Mosaic pieces] is TESSERAE. I kept thinking the answer to [Pomeranian, perhaps] involved a horse, and with L?P in place to start, only LIPIZZAN came to mind. Imagine the embarrassment when I finally got LAP DOG. For the life of me, I couldn’t come up with SLUSH as the [Kind of fund] even with the SL- in place. Not my finest performance. I blame the Tryptophan.
Favorite entry = HAYSEEDS, the [Yokels]. Favorite clue = [Pie in the sky?] for UFO.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
In today’s puzzle, Ms. DuGuay-Carpenter adds “IX” four times, creating wacky “?”-style answers. There’s no revealer that I can find, although IX seems to be suggesting “nine.” I was tickled by FIXITFORAKING and MIXINGDYNASTY. I’m only vaguely familiar with CRUST as dated(?) slang for “chutzpah”.
There also quite a few medium-length vertical answers today: BOXOFFICE, EYEEXAM, FARADAY, PETEROUT and BIGSKY make for a great set of answers!
Some more comments on individual entries and then I’m out of here:
- I don’t understand [Bottle in a crib] for BABA.
- [Cry near the sty] for SOOEY. I’ve encountered this only in books and crosswords. Is it still used? Effective?
- I am familiar with Sheena EASTON, but not EASTON, PA, the town of 26,800 souls. I initially had ERIEPA despite the clue, [Pennsylvania site of the Crayola Factory], already mentioning the PA part.
- [Trash can scavenger] COON. Around here baboons fill that particular synanthropic niche.
- [Threats to Indiana Jones] ASPS. See also…
- [Where a smash is welcome], BOXOFFICE. I misread this as [Where smash is welcome]… Eww, smash is disgusting.
- [It's hidden by a ponytail], NAPE. I miss my ponytail sometimes. On the other hand, there’s that unruly in-between length hair stage…
- [It might be in the spotlight] for XENON is an A-plus clue!
Patrick Berry’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “The Sound of Science” — pannonica’s review
Extensive puns based on the names of scientific phenomena. How apt that I was solving the puzzle and am composing this write-up while listening to a broadcast of the 2012 Ig Nobel Awards on the radio!
- 20a. [Makes fun of a school director] MACH’S PRINCIPLE (mocks principal).
- 30a. [Cook cabbage salad in hot water?] BOYLE’S LAW (boils slaw).
- 41a. [Row of shapely legs?] GAMMA RAYS (gam arrays).
- 50a. [Chocolate cake on the go?] BROWNIAN MOTION (brownie in motion).
Quite a clever and amusing bunch of transformations! Although all involve altering two words, the final theme answer unfortunately involves three words, and the last bit “motion”) remains unchanged in both spelling and meaning; it’s a slightly off-note to end the procedures on.
- 15a [ __ concolor (cougar's taxonomic name)] PUMA. Amazing coincidence! Actually, for a very long time and until relatively recently, pumas were classified in the genus Felis, along with many of their smaller cousins, including housecats.
- 26d [Astronomer who famously observed a supernova in 1572] TYCHO BRAHE. Also famous for having a nose prosthesis made of metal.
- Hmm. I thought there were more. Oh well.
- Both 10d MILLSTREAM and 44a DOOR KEY are compound constructions that misleadingly seem a bit redundant. I ended up liking them in the grid.
- The great outdoors! 16a [Walk in the woods] HIKE, 62a [Backpacking burden] TENT, 18a [Climber's goal] APEX.
- Favorite clues: 47a [One's final stand?] BIER, 27d [Went through channels?] SWAM.
- 1d SPAM, 36d SMARM.
- Higher Education vibe: 9d [1940s U.S. poet laureate Karl] SHAPIRO, 32d [Architecture critic __ Louise Huxtable] ADA, TYCHO BRAHE.
Strong theme, great non-theme highlights, flowing construction. A very enjoyable puzzle.
Natalia Shore’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Black Friday” — pannonica’s review
Well, if you live in the United States, it’s been practically impossible to remain in blissful ignorance of the so-called Black Friday, what with the controversy over Walmart and its ilk opening their stores ever earlier for ever more enticing sales and offers. Juiced also because the state of the economy is a front line topic.
As announced by (the unbalanced) 111-down [Observe Black Friday (and a chunk of the eight longest answers)] SHOP, the inundation of SHOPping is enough to make the average solver drop.
- 23a. [His first film role was Goon in "Rebel Without a Cause"] DENNIS HOPPER.
- 40a. [Where Spiro Agnew studied chemistry] JOHNS HOPKINS.
- 43a. [Its champion wins the Claret Jug] BRITISH OPEN.
- 65a. [Lottery winner's choice] CASH OPTION.
- 69a. [Flowering plant also called miterwort] BISHOP‘S CAP.
- 95a. [Minty cocktail] GRASSHOPPER.
- 98a. [Japanese age that began 100 years ago] TAISHO PERIOD.
- 119a. [Despairs] ABANDONS HOPE.
All solid entries. Good variation of SHOP placement (location, location, location) among them. I might not be thrilled by the choice of theme, but it’s well executed and makes sense in a venue such as the financially oriented Wall Street Journal. Black Friday is so named because many retailers see their annual profits go “into the black” during the mania of this manufactured occasion.
What struck me most, however, during the solve was the wealth of great clues. In fact, there were so many that I strongly suspected that “Natalia Shore” was an additional pseudonym for editor Mike Shenk, since his hand is so distinctive. Sure enough, Ms Shore is indeed a fabrication, an anagram of another alias.
How about this? I’ll just read through all the clues and pick some of the best ones, and let that list comprise the remainder of this write-up.
- 1a [Its cards include 30 clubs] TOPP’S. Not TAROT (yes, oops).
- 82a [It might get you a wrap sheet] TOGA PARTY.
- 112a [Christmas or Easter: Abbr.] ISL. (not HOL.).
- 115a [Cry from a gull] “I BEEN HAD!“
- 4d [Busy worker after a strike] PIN SETTER. Although, is there anyone who still does this manually? Or can it refer to the mechanism?
- 7d [Group that may be at your service] CHOIR.
- 18d [Order follower] NUN.
- 38d [Following] AS PER (not AFTER).
- 42d [Union contracts?] PRENUPS.
- 43d [Maker of big bucks] BRONC.
- 46d [One might look you in the eye] OCULIST.
- 56d [Lead a lush life] TOPE.
- 62d [From Land's End, perhaps] CORNISH.
- 93d [Unmistakable] DECIDED.
- 108d [Calls for] NEEDS.
All right, in the course of my tour I found a few extraneous aspects I could mention, but—I’m not going to. I’m married to the idea of simplicity here (see 42d).