The CHE puzzle returns 6/7; the publication runs biweekly in the summer. The lack of a puzzle this week didn’t stop some yob from assigning it a 1-star rating before I deleted the ratings link. Some people!
Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
My brain is depleted. I think I watched too much of the Scripps spelling bee today. Good thing this puzzle was so easy for a themeless. I had to spend maybe 20-25 seconds looking for a typo (duh, it’s GAME OVER, not GAME EVER) and still finished in under 4 minutes. Certainly not par for the Friday NYT course.
Favorite fill: GAME OVER, DIVING BELL and AQUALUNG, MARIACHI, EVEN KEEL (though it really wants to follow “on an,” doesn’t it?), ON THE QT, EARL GREY.
Most mysterious clue: 34d. [Shout repeated at a basketball game], TWO. We’ve been discussing this elsewhere, and nobody has any idea what this is supposed to be. Who says that? Why do they say it? What does it mean? Is it a Northern thing?
Worst fill: The partials ON IT and SON-IN- are as bad as it gets. Really smooth fill, and it’s not even 72 words, it’s 68.
Four stars. Time for bed.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Women of Note” – Dave Sullivan’s review
OK, folks, I’m going to need some help with this one. All I see are four women singers (the “of note” in the title referring to a musical note):
- [Woman of note #1] clues ELLA FITZGERALD – Queen of Jazz and of clues for the common crossword entry SCAT
- [Woman of note #2] clues WHITNEY HOUSTON – the arc of her career is the stuff of a Greek tragedy
- [Woman of note #3] is KAREN CARPENTER – another tormented soul who died of severe anorexia, as I recall
- [Woman of note #4] is ARETHA FRANKLIN – the Queen of Soul, who is happily still among us
It’s hard for me to believe that the entire theme is just four female singers whose names are 14 letters. I played with the idea that the last names of each singer are shared by other famous (“of note”) people in the world of literature–F. Scott Fitzgerald for Ella, for instance. Or statesmen, with Ben Franklin and Aretha and Sam Houston for Whitney. Something like that should be hinted at in the clues though, and I kept expecting to find some short revealing entry as I solved. Twasn’t to be, so discerning solvers, please clue me in!
Funny to see the word BROODS again, this time clued in its verbal form, [Sulks]. But my FAVE was to see one of my favorite childhood authors E.B. WHITE in the grid. REOIL ([Add more lubricant to] sounds a bit contrived, so that’s my UNFAVE entry today. So long to the merry month of May!
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Sjoe! Took a lot of staring post-solve to find the HIDDENCAMERAS in veteran collaborators Galgiardo and Burnikel’s puzzle. Each of the other three answers has the name of a company that makes cameras concealed within it. I’d put all three theme answers at a themeless-seed-word quality, which is what really impressed me with this puzzle! It’s hard to come up with answers concealing long strings of letters so this is no mean feat! Notwithstanding my inability to see the theme, I still found it strange to have a straight theme on Friday after a wordplay theme on a Thursday. Strange, but not bad. I like it when things are unpredictable! The theme answers are:
- 19a, ITGROWSONYOU, ["This will get better, I promise"]. Colloquial spoken-language phrase! Nice!
- 31a, ICANONLYIMAGINE, ["That's surreal!"]. Also, a popular Christian Rock song.
- 39a, RIBONUCLEICACID, [Substance usually abbreviated]. Vague clue! Letter pattern soon made the answer obvious though: RNA!
Similar arrangement of theme answers to yesterday: rows 4, 7, 9, and 12. Today’s grid, however, is a themeless-stand 72-word arrangement. A risky conceit, but I think DonCC pulled it off nicely! There are some nice longer answers: HULAHOOP, NITROGEN, and EBONIES (which are tinkled less than ivories for some reason?) plus a passel of sixes!
There are also some personal touches from expat CC: her native CHINA ISRED. There’s more red in the form of MARS (the supposed red planet) and in the same corner another (dwarf) planet PLUTO. There’s a third (!) mini-theme in the top-right corner: BRONZE and TAN share the clue [Shade at the beach]. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ENO. His oeuvre was thoroughly (well reasonably thoroughly, his work with David Bowie was left out, I think?) covered in the comments earlier this week. I hope that means today’s clue was a gimme for everybody!
Fun theme answers and an expertly filled grid! A top-notch puzzle! 4.25 stars!
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Automated” — pannonica’s write-up
Base phrases have the letters C-A-R appended to their front ends, literally having an “auto” mated to their bodies. I might have titled this one “Autonomic Fixation,” but that’s neither here nor there.
- 23a. [Stand for a set of hieroglyphic amulets?] (CAR)TOUCHES BASE. Kind of awkward to open the proceedings with a word that I suspect many may not be familiar with, in plural form no less.
- 34a. ["O frabjous day!" and the like] (CAR)ROLL CALL.
- 43a. ["Find the Seed" in a rye bread bakery?] (CAR)AWAY GAME. The seed? As in, only one? Among all the loaves?Okay, wait, perhaps it’s like a French drop. Yes, I can see that.
- 61a. [Muddy footprints, warn patches, cat hair, etc.?] (CAR)PET PEEVES.
- 73a. [Small streams in a California coast city?] (CAR)MEL BROOKS.
- 88a. [Job for the Vampire Lounge's doorman?] (CAR)DING BATS. Exceptionally goofy. Dingbats has been separated here. (See also 79a [Evening wingding] SOIRÉE.
- 97a. [Bunches in the hold?] is not a risqué wrestling move, but (CAR)GO BANANAS.
- 110a. [Rug cleaner in a bright red shade?] (CAR)MINE SWEEPER. Minesweeper separated here.
Cohesive theme, literally again, though it shows some wear and tear by the end. A possible downside with a theme like this—or upside, depending on the puzzle’s difficulty and the solver’s proclivities—is that once the mechanism is grasped, a bunch of “free” squares are given away.
The grid lacks long non-theme entries, which should result in fewer compromises toward junky fill as a nearly unavoidable counterbalance. I solved this puzzle late last night while rather sleepy (or at least distracted), and don’t recall whether this was the case. Hours later, this morning, I’ll say it was neither remarkable nor unremarkable (echoes of “neither here nor there”).
- 11d [Attorney's org.] ABA (see also, 60a [Bar code] LAW; 119a [Tried to pass the bar?] LIMBOED), 16d ["I __ Rock"] AM A (see also 66a [Second in a classic Latin trio] AMAS), 65a [Tuskegee U. setting] ALA.
- Favorite clue: 107a [Some fundraising targets] ALUMNI.
- 82d [Chewy rings] CALAMARI. If they’re overcooked, sure. Besides, the arms and tentacles are best.
- 88d [Like party hats and megaphones] CONICAL. Why did I write in COMICAL? Megaphones aren’t particularly funny.
- Least favorite answer: 95d [Start of a Poe title] THE PIT.
- 91d, 39a [Tar] SAILOR, SEA DOG.