Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
Happy Friday, everybody. JKras here to discuss the latest JKroz creation. First the facts, courtesy of JimH at xwordinfo.com:
The twelve 15-letter answers (six Across and six Down) and the 44 three-letter ones both tie the record set by David Levinson Wilk back in 2009. In fact, the shapes of the two grids are identical.
There are 36(!) squares where the 15’s cross. Gotta be gibberish right? Let’s analyze them:
- 17A. [Is curious about] – HAS AN INTEREST IN – Fine.
- 24A. [Off-putting?] – PROCRASTINATING – I’ll talk about this one later.
- 31A. [It may help you get from E to F] – GASOLINE STATION. Good clue. I was thinking musical notes. Yesterday I filled up after letting the gauge get as close to E as I ever get. I usually freak out at the ¼ mark.
- 41A. [Bad quality for dangerous work] – CARELESS ABANDON. Alternate clue would be [Driving on E.]
- 48A. [Barely lost] – RAN A CLOSE SECOND. Another perfectly good phrase.
- 58A. [Drug study data] – TOLERANCE LEVELS. So far, we are far within acceptable TOLERANCE LEVELS for 15’s.
Those six cross:
- 3D. [Notorious 1960s figure] – BOSTON STRANGLER. A little iffy, breakfast-test-wise.
- 5D. [Company of which Thomas Edison was once a director] – GENERAL ELECTRIC. Still no ickiness.
- 6D. [Greets with a beep] – HONKS ONE’S HORN AT. Alert! Alert! The dreaded ONE’s has been spotted! Please step away from the puzzle, and keep ONE’s hands up!!
- 8D. [Doctoral candidate's starting point] – THESIS STATEMENT. Ok, I guess. I don’t have no fancy PhD, so I can’t judge. I have a CPA, so I can add.
- 9D. [Large portion of Africa] – THE SAHARA DESERT. This ONE was also in Mr. Wilk’s puzzle. No biggie.
- 11D. [Source of hardwood?] – PETRIFIED FOREST. Cute clue from Joe/Will.
One is satisfied with the quality of these entries.
Now, let’s do a detailed review of the 44 three-letter words:
Kidding! They work. I’m sure everybody can find one or two that don’t thrill you, but I did not cringe at any.
Crossing I bet some of you had trouble with:
- 65A. [Georges who wrote "Life: A User's Manual"] – PEREC/49D. [Tropical lizard] – ANOLE
52D. ["I'm serious!"] – NO LIE. That wasn’t so bad, huh?
I hope, like me, Everybody had fun tonight! 1D. ["___ of fools sailing on" (Wang Chung lyric)] – A SHIP
Victor Fleming’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Signature Styles” — pannonica’s write-up
This is a fine example of a CHE crossword, solid on its own in grid and clue, with a theme that taps into what I call the Higher Education Vibe™. In this case it involves literature and language.
35-across, dead center, sells it: [Like the answers at 17-, 21-, 52-, and 56-Across]. They’re all EPONYMOUS adjectives, derived from authors’ names.
- 17a. [Oppressively impoverished, in a way] DICKENSIAN.
- 21a. [Passionately rebellious, in a way] BYRONIC.
- 52a. [Hellishly bizarre, in a way] DANTEAN.
- 56a. [Nightmarishly illogical, in a way] KAFKAESQUE.
Points for using the four most common endings for such adjectives, once each (though -ian and -ean are just variations of each other). More points for succinctly and consistently (adverb-adjective) characterizing said adjectives. Don’t know if the echoic “in a way” after each definition is necessary, but neither are they so ritzy so as to distract unnecessarily.
- Misfills: 19a [Free ticket] COMP for PASS; 46a [British composer Thomas] A–––, ADÈS for ARNE.
- 45a [Canoeing spot] POND, 49d [Canoeing spots] LAKES. Who canoes in a pond?
- Bonus eponymous adjectives: ELIAn, EWELLian, ARNEan, SATURNine, TUTUesque, ARIc, TANYAn, STROMbose, KENnic.
Enjoyable, above-average puzzle.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Outer Layer” – Dave Sullivan’s review
One of my favorite CrosSynergy (or anywhere, for that matter) constructors, Lynn Lempel, reinterprets the word “layer” in the title as something that lays, in this case a HEN:
- [Common ailment whose name falsely describes it] clues an ailment I suffer the chronic version of: HEARTBURN. I demonstrated my lack of older movie knowledge in yesterday’s post, but isn’t Heartburn a more recent movie title as well? I’ll take HH’s advice and check the imdb.
- A [Highly emotional state often used as an alibi] isn’t “the dog ate my homework,” but in the HEAT OF PASSION. Not a very effective alibi in most courts of law, I’m afraid, but perhaps it resonates more in the court of public opinion.
- [Party bobber on a string] clues HELIUM BALLOON. Hand up if when you read the word “party” and “bobber” together, you think of apples.
- [Lousy forecast for picnic planners] clues something our state is experiencing a lot of in the last few days, HEAVY RAIN. Forecasters are even predicting a bit of snow for Sunday’s Vermont City Marathon. Egads!
The “outer” part of the title is depicted by finding the letters of HEN split to the outer ends of each phrase. I like that it’s split in the same way each time (HE/N); an entry like HANDWRITTEN would work, but would be a bit inconsistent. I think it’s a bit overkill to include HEN as an entry as I’m becoming less and less receptive to revealing entries and like the extra challenge of figuring out the theme on my own. My FAVE entry this morning is the long down DELIGHTFUL, since that’s my impression of this puzzle. I also liked the entry TOFU over CRUNCH, thinking that could be a new protein-rich breakfast cereal name. Unfortunately, I have to award my UNFAVE entry to the old-timey BEWAIL. Not a word I use very often, but then again, I’m not one to [Lament] much either.
James Sajdak’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Gareth’s review
Interesting theme. I remember well a variation of this made by joon pahk. It was Sunday-sized! This one has an added layer though. The theme can be explained as follows: Each answer’s second half is a card game. The first half is clued “?”-style as though it were modifying said card game, although in the original phrase the second half isn’t a card game. I think I’ve made this a lot more complicated than it is!
Anyway, the answers are as follows:
- 18a, [Card game horn music?], WINDSOFWAR. Had to google to find out this was a novel by Herman Wouk set in World War II. Probably just my ignorance.
- 25a, [Card game where one person plays all the hands?], LONELYHEARTS. Sgt. Pepper was a fan…
- 40a, [Card game played in dugouts?], DIAMONDSOLITAIRE. Again, I had no idea what this was. I can find SOLITAIREDIAMOND, which is a jewel with a single diamond. I don’t get jewellery so my knowledge thereof is limited…
- 55a, [Card game by the Thames?], LONDONBRIDGE
- 66a, [Card game requiring waterproof cards?], BATHTUBGIN. If you play London Bridge at London Bridge you also need waterproof cards…
I had quite a few dilemmas today:
- For 51a, [Mail folder], SENT… I had spam first
- For 52d, [Conundrum], ENIGMA… I had puzzle first
- For 54d, [Large search area], THENET… I had THENET first
- Also 68d, [One of LBJ's beagles], HIM could’ve been HER
- [Portly pirate] for SMEE is a simple but great clue
- [Brightly plumed songbird], ORIOLE. The oriole species most Americans have encountered are not related to the original orioles being of a different family in the Passeriformes. Africa’s orioles, like the Blackheaded Oriole (photo from Wikipedia) are true orioles. I saw several while walking at a local reserve last weekend!
- [1993 Fiat acquisition, MASERATI. I drive a Fiat. They also own Ferrari. I sometimes tell people I drive a small Ferrari!
- [Popeil of infomercials], RON. Never heard of this Ron before, but he’s in both the NYT and LAT today![Iconic sales rep], AVONLADY is my favourite answer for today!
- ["Can I go out?"], ARF. An apt arf clue! Sometimes arf clues reference big dogs, but this one is size-neutral. IMO only little stoepkakkers go arf, to use a bit of local slang.
That’s me! 3.2 Stars, depending on how many others are unfamiliar with those two theme entries… And interesting twist on the category theme nonetheless and a well-filled puzzle.
Evan Birnholz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Special Education” — pannonica’s write-up
Good luck finding any of these MAJORs (98d) in a reputable course catalog.
- 23a. [The study of Muppet news flashes?] GONZO JOURNALISM, referring to the beak-nosed character.
- 32a. [The study of erotic literature?] BODY ENGLISH. Am now thinking of The Pillow Book, but “body Chinese” is iffy at very best.
- 50a. [The study of the Springfield Isotopes?] TEAM CHEMISTRY. Simpsons reference.
- 64a. [The study of the altered ego?] REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Not feeling this one, but perhaps that’s just how it was intended I react?
- 86a. [The study of selling the joke] FUNNY BUSINESS.
- 96a. [The study of great plays at the plate?] HOME THEATER. A second baseball-tinged themer?
- 114a. [The study of magic markets?] VOODOO ECONOMICS, which doesn’t stray far from the original sense of the phrase.
Amusing theme, but it feels both a bit slight in concept and a little bumpy in execution. Fortunately, the ballast fill was overall interesting and there were some genuine clue highlights.
- The long downs are excellent: ECOSYSTEMS, LIMESTONE [Makeup of the Great Sphinx], E-COMMERCE (undermined by 99d E-ZINE), and THAT’S RIGHT, which parallels both ways the clue ["Oh, yeah!"] can be interpreted (abrupt realization or celebratory declaration, though the comma shades it slightly more strongly to the former sense).
- 13d [Cartesian conclusion] ––M. Once again, will it be I AM or SUM? Was hoping 10a [First name at Woodstock] would help me, but I dropped in ARLO which didn’t work with either possibility. Then I put in JELL-O at 10d for [Quivery dessert], for J––– across. JOAN Baez! No. “Oh, it’s an I for I AM, JONI Mitchell!” No. Finally I nailed it with JIMI Hendrix, boy did I feel smart. Eventually.
- Favorite clue: the slyly deceptive 93a [Sound in one's head] SANE, but only because TINNITUS is a little too long. Twice as long, actually. Also really liked 105a [Put on] CONNED or DONNED?
- 45d, 62a: [Like some poetry] LYRIC crossing ODIC. 110d [Spot] SITE, 112d [Spot] ESPY (the two separated by SCUM, alas). 70d [Decrease] DROP, 71d [Increase] RISE; nice touch, especially in the WSJ, with its market-watching ways.
More deft cluing throughout, good puzzle, about average.