Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
Well! Josh Knapp’s last appearance in the NYT was on Thursday, May 2. While it may seem a little soon to repeat a byline, I can’t complain too much about having another Knapp attack. Because this guy makes puzzles with good fill. Highlights from his past crosswords include SUPERVILLAIN, RACHEL MADDOW, JACK IN THE BOX, CREEPSHOW, BUZZKILL, HELLO KITTY, and MEXICAN STANDOFF. (Way to set the bar high.) Does today’s puzzle rise to that level? It’s pretty darn good:
- 17a. ["NYC 22" replaced it in 2012], CSI MIAMI. What is this NYC 22 you speak of? Let us ask the Google. “NYC 22 is an American police procedural drama which ran on CBS from April 15 to August 11, 2012. The series was a mid-season replacement for CSI: Miami. On May 13, 2012, both series were canceled.” Okay, then! I am surely not alone in not knowing of this 13-episode show.
- 31a. [Style of New York's Sony Building], POSTMODERNISM.
- 34a. ['60s film character wearing one black glove], DR. STRANGELOVE. If only all the clues rhymed with their answers.
- 35a. [Literary classic featuring the teen Tadzio], DEATH IN VENICE.
- 52a. [Allowing no equivocation], EITHER/OR.
- 55a. [Favor doer's comment], YOU OWE ME. Gotta love the word “doer” in this clue. (Actually, you don’t.)
- 57a. [Like some sunbathers], TOPLESS.
- 15d. [It's known for its start-ups], SILICON VALLEY.
Clue I found the trickiest: 34d: [Mailing to a label], DEMO TAPE. Record label, not address label.
Also hard, for me: 23a. [Hernando's "Hey!"], OYE. As in “Oye Como Va.” (Translation here: (Literally) “Listen to how it goes”; (Colloquially) “Hey, what’s up?” or “Check it out!”, or more literally “How’s it going?”) The song was a hit for Santana, but written by Tito Puente. Also in the category of “Spanish words Amy doesn’t know” is verano, in 51d: [Verano, across the Pyrenees]. The answer is ETE, so I gather that verano means “summer” in Spanish. Speaking of Romance languages, boy, I sure didn’t know that 53d: [Yours, in Turin], was TUO. Hard to back out of that one.
Completely true: 54a. [Stupefying thing], OPIATE. I visited a friend in the hospital today, and that morphine drip kept making him nod off. I don’t know how he’ll handle the book of Saturday NYT crosswords I gave him.
Least favorite entry: 40d. [Antares or Proxima Centauri], M-STAR. Runner-up: 18a. [Key represented by all white keys on a piano], C MAJOR, which I entered as *M**OR and finished with the ABCDEFG/AI/JN letters from the crossings. I reckon a Dan Feyer had that answer after reading the first five words of the clue, but I don’t know musical stuff.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hidden Mikes” – Dave Sullivan’s review
No, this isn’t another Obama administration scandal about covert surveillance, but instead we have four phrases where a famous Mike’s last name is “hidden” within:
- Clinton’s youngest cabinet member, Mike ESPY can be found within the German sports car PORSCHE SPYDER. I think he was the Secretary of Agriculture and was about 40 years old when he served. Contrary to popular belief, he was not named after the cable channel sports award.
- Heavyweight champ Mike TYSON hides amid a PARTY SONG. What’s your favorite party song? I’m rather partial to The Chicken Dance and since this particular Mike shares his last name with a poultry farm, I bet it’s his as well.
- Liz Taylor’s husband #3 and the tragic victim of a plane crash Mike TODD can be found in GREAT ODDS. Borderline phrase here–if odds are “great” are they actually “excellent” (as the clue implies) or are they prohibitive?
- Like this review, the phrase ALL OVER THE MAP hides Beach Boy Mike LOVE.
Like all of Bob’s puzzles, the clues to the shorter fill are where the hidden gems lie. I’ll just choose the first two clues as my FAVEs today, but there are many more: [Potential puffball] for SPORE precedes [Potential puffin] for EGGS. My UNFAVE is the slightly jingoistic AH SO, even though it was mildly redeemed with the original clue [Words mocking grokking].
Loren Smith and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The asterisk is because I gave Loren advice on this puzzle in its early stages, so I knew most of the theme; although it was nearly a year ago, so my memory wasn’t so fresh! I expect this one to play quite hard for an LA Times, BTW, the theme’s a bit trickier, a lot like a Thursday NYT (in fact it’s similar to this Thursday’s NYT!) Loren and Jeff have certainly kicked things up a notch from when I saw it!
What has completely changed is the revealing answer, and I do love the new one: THEDEPARTED. When I saw it, it was MISSINGPARTS. DEPARTED is certainly more cute and more elegant! If you haven’t fully grasped it yet, PART is absent from each theme answer. What makes things extra-tricky is that a) The PART is removed from a different place in each answer, and b) each new answer is still a crossword-legal fill word. The latter fact is another stand-out feature of the puzzle in my book. Only in the case of PARTCOMPANY and TAKEPART is PART a stand-alone word. The ten(!!!) theme answers are:
- [*Defensive fortifications], RAMPARTS
- [*Noel bird], PARTRIDGE
- [*East Lansing athletes], SPARTANS
- [*After delivery], POSTPARTUM
- [*Baggage holder], COMPARTMENT
- [*Go separate ways], PARTCOMPANY
- [*School celebration], CLASSPARTY
- [*Bestowed], IMPARTED
- [*Crumbled], FELLAPART
- [*Opt in], TAKEPART
So 63 letters are thematic; that’s a lot, even with the advantage of placing themers in the first and last rows allowing for easier spacing than a typical puzzle. And yet we still have room for pizzazzy longer answers. I’m not privy to the back-story behind the top-left answers but sounds salacious! MAKESOUT/SKINTIGHT/ENDEDIT – straight from the pages of Mills and Boon! And then later, GOTBACKAT… TOTERM echoes POSTUM which is also nice! Not much that’s drecky either: ROREM and OMARR are Crossword-ese 201 names for me, but that’s about it!
Something else I appreciated was the clue for ETON, [School that celebrates George III's birthday]. Extra-mile clueing is great, and I must admit to exasperation when writing clues and coming to such answers in my own grids! Nice!
I’m probably biased, but thought this was a stonker of a puzzle, an easy 4 1/2 stars!
Mark Feldman’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Doctors of Literature” — pannonica’s review
Not the academic degree, but doctors from the pages of literature.
- 17a. [Stevenson title character] JEKYLL (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886). Was surprised to find out some years ago that the correct pronuciation is /ˈjē-kəl/. No idea what kind of doctor he was, chemist, medical?
- 18a. [Lofting title character] DOLITTLE (The Story of Doctor Dolittle, 1920, et seq.). Uhm, veterinarian?
- 37a. [Marlowe title character] FAUSTUS (The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, published 1604 but first performed at least 12 years earlier, and based on older, German works). Dunno. Considering the age, perhaps just a general doctorate?
- 39a. [Pasternak title character] ZHIVAGO (Doctor Zhivago, 1957). Medical.
- 58a. [Rohmer title character] FU MANCHU (The Mystery of Dr Fu-Manchu, 1913, et seq.). Er, doctor of evil?
- 60a. [Wells title character] MOREAU (The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1936). A physiologist.
As the clues consistently indicate, these doctors are all title characters as well.
- In the 1967 film version of Doctor Dolittle, the pushmi-pullyu is an animal with the heads of two LLAMAS (1a), one on each end of its body, although the book has it as a “gazelle-unicorn cross.”
- 27a RAP. Crosswords love rap’s Dr DRE.
- 48a UMA Thurman, whose father is Dr Robert Thurman, a prominent Buddhist scholar.
- 3d [Biblical vessel] ARK, famously pursued by archaeologist Dr Indiana Jones in the movies.
- 4d [Chaos] MAYHEM.
- Stacking along themers: UPSTARTS and DRAWS OUT above DOLITTLE, OVERTONE and REDEEMED beneath FU MANCHU. Quite nice.
- Less common spins on familiar fill: 32a ["Solaris" author Stansislaw] for LEM, rather than the more typical Lunar Excursion Module of the Apollo moon missions; 43a [FDR-created agency with the slogan "We do our part"] for NRA (National Recovery Administration) rather than the controversial and news-hungry association we all know.
- Great clue: [Paradise described in a 1957 novel] SAL, although I’m not a Kerouac fan. See also, 29d [Former "CBS Evening News" anchor] COURIC.
- 22d [It's below the knee] CALF, 24d [It's above the knee] FEMUR. Well, mostly above, anyway. And in between the two? A HEAD!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Here’s the Change-Up” — pannonica’s write-up
The title suggests it’s a baseball theme (what is it with baseball + crosswords, anyway?) and you’d be correct if you thought so. The twist, or change-up pitch if you will, is that a team name (identified by state in the clue) is anagrammed for the second half of each made-up phrase.
- 23a. [Football blitzes in a California ballpark?] DODGERS RED DOGS.
- 34a. [Decor feature in a California ballpark?] PADRES DRAPES.
- 51a. [Corners in a California ballpark?] ANGELS ANGLES. Stop right there! This is not a California-only theme, despite the way it’s shaped up so far.
- 66a. [With 68-Across, bashes in a Pennsylvania ballpark?] PIRATES | PARTIES. See? I would never lie to you.
- 86a. [Humorous tributes in a Texas ballpark?] ASTROS ROASTS.
- 98a. [Part of an email address in a California ballpark?] GIANTS AT SIGN. Uh-oh.
- 114a. [Perfume ingredient in a Maryland ballpark?] ORIOLES ROSE OIL.
So. There they are. Don’t ask me why 57% are California teams. And no, I don’t know why the ATHLETICS CHILE TATS aren’t in the puzzle. I guess these themer phrases are okay, but none of them excited me much.
Thought I’d share the beginning of my solve with you:
- 1a [Pale green hue] (7) – “Hm, could be a lot of things. Next.”
- 1d [1978 Camp David guest] (5) – “SADAT or BEGIN, SADAT or BEGIN?”
- “20a, too long. 23a way too long. 26a [Brewer's output] (3) – “SADAT = A = ALE! But … BEGIN = I = IPA … crap!“
- 2d [Name on a famous B-29] (5) – “ENOLA. Okay, here we go, L = ALE = SADAT” et cetera.
Well, I found it entertaining anyway. Baseball and quasi-baseball stuff in the ballast fill: 57a [Home of the Marlins] MIAMI. 102a [First National Leaguer to hit 500 home runs] OTT. 103a [Indian chief] RAJA. 14d [Kind of slam] GRAND. 16d [Star pitcher] ACE. 17d [One involved in hand-to-hand combat?] CARD PLAYER. 24d [Oakland A's legend Joe] RUDI – is this why no pepper tattoos? 94d [Top bond rating] AAA. 105d [Take steroids, slangily] JUICE. And of course the previously mentioned 26a [Brewer's output] ALE.
- EDNA crossing ENID? That’s got to count for … something. (61a, 44d)
- 29d [Suffix for a believer] -IST, 60d [Jargon suffix] -ESE. I do love me some believerists and jargonese.
- 62d [It may be casual] FRIDAY, but I honestly thought it was NUDITY.
- 76d [Brother of Adam and Little Joe] HOSS (Bonanza); 101d [Martin Crane's younger son] NILES.
The usual good and occasionally playful cluing, under Mike Shenk’s reliable editorship, a good mix of fill, with some flashy stuff, some blah stuff, and some hoary stuff, but mostly solid middle-of-the-road material.