Michael Ashley’s New York Times crossword
This was the final puzzle at the Marbles crossword tournaments last weekend. Solid puzzle, with a few spots that snarled our Chicago finalists:
- 12d. [What it often takes, it's said], ALL KINDS. I started out with A VILLAGE, and so did two or three of our finalists, I think.
- 13d. [Hit a lazy pop-up, say], SKIED OUT. I’ve never seen that term. Like the finalists, I initially had FLIED OUT. Note that 12d and 13d are right next to each other and you’ve got a morass of bubbling tar.
- 20a. [Some cornbreads], ASH CAKES. Mmm, ashes. Apparently you plop your patty of bread dough right on the ashes of a campfire, let it bake, and then brush off the ashes? This is insane.
- 3d. [Marshal Dillon portrayer], ARNESS. Kids these days! Not everyone has any idea who James Arness is, and it’s not as if Arness is a really common, inferrable last name if you don’t know this guy. If you’ve forgotten whether 19a: [Cash in Cambodia] is RIELS or RIALS, you gotta know James Arness.
- 39a. [Viagra maker], PFIZER. Not spelled PHIZER, no, sir.
- 22a. [Base fare], MESS, not MRES.
- 9d. [TV set?], tricky clue for a SEASON of TV shows. With the second S coming from ASH CAKES, some of our Chicago finalists had a persistent blank there.
- 30d. ["Wearing the face that she keeps in ___ by the door" (Beatles lyric)], A JAR. One of our finalists had some blanks in that one. Again: Kids these days! Get off my lawn.
I appreciated the Scrabbliness and pop-culturiness of this puzzle. We’ve got three people’s full names: STAR JONES (a sign, perhaps, that this puzzle was constructed eons ago—Jones left The View nearly 7 years ago and hasn’t had nearly as prominent or long-term a TV gig since, and why would you put a now-just-a-footnote celeb at 1-Across?), ANNE MEARA (who is great, but does anyone think she’d be in puzzles this much without that cvvcv last name?), MILA KUNIS. Two fictional creations: SGT. PEPPER and the movie ENEMY MINE. We’ve got Scrabbleosity, including JINXING, TOXINS, MAJESTY, JAMS, and TANZANIA.
I can’t say I’ve ever seen that [Professional claims examiner] spelled ADJUSTOR rather than claims ADJUSTER. One dictionary shows me -er; the other has -er but says “also adjustor.”
11d. [Lee of silent films], LILA? Darn it, I’m not up on people whose movie careers began 95 years ago. Interestingly, her final movie, Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers, came out in 1967 and not in the 1930s.
Jim Holland’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
The theme is puns whose first word is the adjectival form of a European country. The second and fourth answers are homophonic, the first and third change the vowel sound. The answers are:
- 17a,[One lingering in Edinburgh?],SCOTTISHTARRIER.
- 27a,[Some Athenian physicians??],GREEKORTHODOCS. That’s a great pun!
- 50a,[Berlin sidewalk writing?],GERMANCHALKLIT. That’s also a clever one!
- 17a,[Fancy singles event in Stockholm?],SWEDISHMEETBALL
Otherwise, we have a typical all-long-theme-answers grid. Not much in the way of long splashy answers, BRISTOL maybe? Who else started at 1a at [___ Squad] and went “bomb? riot? Better wait for crossers…” TAPIRS are apparently [Hoglike], despite being perissodactyls… Lastly, I can foresee the names in the bottom-right giving some people trouble: I didn’t know the particular YANG and TARA, but they were inferrable enough. If someone managed to avoid knowing Tiger’s ex ELIN then it could be a bit harder…
Overall, some nice puns. Not much else. 3 Stars.
Jacob Stulberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Pen’s Tip” — pannonica’s write-up
It’s a quote theme. 18a [Start of a "grook" (an aphoristic poem) by Danish scientist Piet Hein]. Well, that didn’t mean much to me while solving, but now I have the luxury of looking it up (at Wikipedia, the easiest place to go). Turns out that Hein is the inventor of the gruk and the primary, if not only exponent of the form.
18a/24a/39a/53a/63a: THOSE WHO CAN | WRITE HAVE A LOT TO | LEARN | FROM THOSE BRIGHT | ENOUGH NOT TO.
It’s a sentiment I’ve seen often enough and this is a nifty, concise restatement of it (did Hein write this one in Danish or English?). Couldn’t really get a foothold on the grook, which impacted my solving time. Much of the difficulty, I think, came from having trouble parsing it, especially with the way it was broken up (e.g., the segments ending in LOTTO and NOTTO).
Don’t see much of a connection between title (“Pen’s Tip”) and theme, aside from the notion of advice.
- The lower left corner was recalcitrant, mostly because I couldn’t for the life of me retrieve from memory the answer to 44d [Change a jewel's setting] RE–––––; couldn’t dislodge the too-short RESEAT from my mind. REMOUNT. Also, it didn’t help that I’d filled in GINSU at 54d [Maker of Six Star knives] RONCO.
- Lovely, erudite long non-theme answers: HEMATITE, Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU [Bitter rival of Diderot]*, ENTREAT, and the new-to-me SURCOAT [Garment worn over a knight's armor].
* Just picked up a slipcased Folio Society edition of Denis Diderot’s La Religieuse (The Nun)—with some risqué lithograph illustrations by Charles Mozley. One of the many weird and/or wonderful things obtained from my county library’s annual book drive and book sale, which is a pretty big operation, drawing dealers, collectors, and shoppers from a wide radius.
- 58d ["Die Lotosblome" poet] Heinrich HEINE. Reminiscent of the theme’s Hein.
- 15a [Low clouds] NIMBI. Have never seen them, especially in my backyard.
- Was further hampered getting the quote by having RAIN for HAIL [Heavy weather?] at 25d.
- Classic Higher Education vibe™ clue for the mundane EAR ["The avenue to the heart," per Voltaire]. Wonder if this came from the constructor or the editor. Ditto 37d [First word of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"] YOU. Does Patrick Berry have vast earmarked stores of such literate contexts for humble words?
- 64d [Dentist's need] GAS. Seems archaic.
Good puzzle, but kind of tough and dry.
Alice Long’s (pseudonym of editor Mike Shenk) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double-Crossers” — pannonica’s write-up
The longest across answers are two-word phrases in which the last two letters of the first are repeated as the first two of the second. The twist is that the puzzle telescopes the phrases down, letting those bigrams overlap. Or, to think of it another way, those double letters double up. I’ve circled the relevant squares in the grid.
- 23a. [Extrovert, for one, to a double-crosser] PERSONALITYPE.
- 35a. ["To double-cross," e.g., to a double-crosser] TRANSITIVERB.
- 46a. [Bismark and Pierre are on it ...] MISSOURIVER.
- 61a. [Opera singer with nine Grammys …] PLACIDOMINGO.
- 67a. [Easter morning rite …] SUNRISERVICE.
- 86a. [Personal protector …] GUARDIANGEL.
- 92a. [Valuable volume …] LIMITEDITION.
- 107a. [Border collie's look-alike …] ENGLISHEPHERD. Not all that well-known a breed in the US, since they don’t have AKC recognition (yet).
Lots of juicy longfill strewn about the grid: INCHWORMS, full-name PAT MORITA, CORE ASSETS, PUMPED IRON, NO U-TURNS, NINCOMPOOP, and OLD GEEZERS.
Unfamiliar to me: 25a [Celt, to a Viking] WESTMAN; 118a [Licorice-flavored breath freshener] SEN-SEN (apparently they resemble Vigroids, which sound like something you wouldn’t want to come down with).
Favorite clues: 12d [Bark back] STERN, 91a [It's like a diamond in the sky] KITE (see also 70d [Like a diamond] RHOMBIC); 96d [Home of les astronautes] TERRE, it’s odd but it works.
Good but rather nondescript puzzle.