The Chronicle of Higher Education is off this week. Those academics, always slacking off in the summer.
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Have we ever seen stacked 15s from Patrick Berry before? I’m not sure we have. These particular 15s are pretty darned good:
- 16a. [His death prompted Georges Pompidou to say "France is a widow"], CHARLES DE GAULLE.
- 19a. [Show stopper], COMMERCIAL BREAK.
- 45a. [Words after "Oh well"], YOU CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL. I would have cried if this were ONE CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL.
- 48a. [Loaded roll], EVERYTHING BAGEL. As 1d says, YECCH. I like a plainer bagel. No onions. No salt chunks. No seeds.
Elsewhere in this 68-worder, I’m partial to VENEZUELA, CALAMARI as crossword fill (YECCH as food), “WHAT’S THAT?,” NORMA RAE, and the SACRED GANGES.
When LENIN in is the puzzle, it’s odd to see “Red Terror” in another clue. PHAR LAP was the [Celebrated racehorse nicknamed "The Red Terror"], whereas LENIN is merely presented as [Survivor of two 1918 assassination attempts]. He would have liked the nickname, no?
I’m not finding much in this puzzle I’m compelled to remark on, for good or ill. It’s just sort of there, without any “Wow!” or “Ugh” moments. 3.75 stars.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Department of Ed” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Some might say that constructor Patrick Blindauer lives in the past after solving today’s CrosSynergy puzzle, and I’d say they were right. He adds the suffix -ed to four common phrases:
- [Cut back a trio of something?] clues PARED THREE – “par three” holes are your shortest ones on professional golf courses.
- [Afraid of combat?] is BATTLE SCARED – hmmm, the more common phrase here I think is “battle-scarred” (already in the past tense), but I suppose you can have a “battle scar” as well.
- [Prerecorded some ballerinas?] clues TAPED DANCERS – ballerinas require a lot of tape on their feet to be en pointe so much.
- [Like a ghostly-looking superhero?] clues WHITE CAPED – a “white cap” is a strong ocean wave with foam on the top. Speaking of superheros, does the new Superman: Man of Steel come out today? I was a big fan of Henry Cavill from his role as Henry VIII’s confidante Charles Brandon on The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Myers.
Cute theme, consistently applied. And, as typical for this member of the pantheon of crossword constructors, the fill has lots of interesting entries as well, including the Newhart actor TOM POSTON, the Jewish and consonant-rich SHTETLS and my FAVE [Starting place for many puzzlers], which was ONE ACROSS. (I tried to start there, but didn’t see HEFT for [Weight] until I got some of the crossing entries. I also enjoyed the clue [Hitch, slip, and granny] which are all types of KNOTS. I was less happy to see the partial ABOO (as in ["Peek-___, I see you!"]. That’s one I’d rather stayed hidden.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter is our regular Friday MESSIAH delivering us from the blahs with clever wordplay. Today, she offers us a homophone theme, where a silent “B” is added to familiar phrases. We have:
- 18a, [Like a door with three people squeezing through it together?], JAMBPACKED. Cute visual!
- 33a, [Where to find wool?], ONTHELAMB
- 45a, [Out-of-control carpenter's tool?], WILDPLUMB. Of all the carpenter’s tools, the PLUMB is probably the least scary if it were to go out of control…
- 63a, [Title for Shakespeare?], IAMBLEGEND. Martis saved the best for last! How brilliant is that answer!?
What else do we have? Well, first off, did anyone else titter at 1a, [Go like heck]? Such a minced crossword clue! Hmm, I think should start listing…
- 10a, [Lose on purpose], DIET. Without a “?” this was a tough clue! Clever too!
- 22a, [End of a conductor's shout], ABOARD. “All aboard!” Bus conductor. Another clever one!
- 24A, [Alice's restaurant], DINER. Doesn’t refer to the massacree by Arlo Guthrie but Mel’s Diner where sitcom Alice worked.
- 66a, [Chanteur Jacques], BREL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “chanteur” before: chanteuse is far more familiar…
- 28d, [LPGA golfer Yani Tseng's homeland], TAIWAN. If you don’t pay attention to women’s golf or sports headlines take note. I think this is Rich Norris’ subtle way have of dropping a name that’s bound to become a crossword regular… She’s only 24 and already has five LPGA majors!
- 46d, [Suit in a circus], LEOTARD. Named for monsieur Leotard. That’s him on the right there…
- 55d, [Isn't expanded?], ISNOT. Strange clue: most of the answer appears in it!
A nice collection of theme answers, with a fairly conservative grid, enlivened by its clues: 3.5 Stars.
Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Making Waves” — pannonica’s write-up
For a while I was flopping and flapping regarding the theme—of course I’d neglected to look at the title, as usual—but even so I could tell by the prevalence of sublime cluing that this was a Shenk affair, top-to bottom. Wittiness, SLY (12d) misdirections, unexpected trivia, reverberations, his inky fingerprints are all over it.
The theme entries all had gnomic clues, referencing mysterious Groups 1 and 2, which I ignored in favor of working crossings and other fill. Down at Row 21 things potentially became clearer, with 117a [Feature of the members of Group 2] and 119a [Feature of the members of Group 1]. Oh, and look! 62-across, in the center, is a member of both groups. And hey, all the themers in the top half of the grid are in G1 and all those in the bottom half are G2!
So it eventually became apparent that this is a Flag Day puzzle, representing Old Glory, THE AMERICAN FLAG, with its STARS and STRIPES. Group 1 includes HOLLYWOOD, an ARMY GENERAL, a PLANETARIUM SHOW, and the TEXACO SIGN, while a BARBER POLE, YANKEES UNIFORMS, a BENGAL TIGER, and a CANDY CANE comprise Group 2. Not the most stirring of themes for me, but unimpeachably carried out.
- 1a/45a [Surrounded by] AMONG/AMID. 94a/74d [Elfin] PETITE/TEENY. 118a/3d [Colo. neighbor] WYO/OKLA (good way to make the best of a bad situation). 4d/97d [Naught] NIL/ZERO. 103d [Place to retire]/111d [Place to retire] BEDS/COT.
- Longdowns: RED-ORANGE, TURNS HEADS, OCEAN LINER, SACRED COW.
- Clues that fooled me good: 6a [Spot for a shot] BAR, not ARM (but I wonder if BAR is too reminiscent of “Stars and Bars”). 13d [One with evenly spaced teeth] COG, not SAW.
- Sampling of cleverness: 9a [Internal audit?] CAT SCAN, 93a [They're often glossed over] LIPS, 11d [Waits in the recording studio] TOM, 43d [Screeching baby] OWLET, referencing screech owls (Megascops sp.), 56d [It may have four legs] RACE, 64d [Safety setting] END ZONE, 73d [Runs while standing still] IDLES.
- Some nifty facts: 81a [Gasoline-fueled car inventor] BENZ, 65d [Publisher whose Boeing 727 was named Capitalist Tool] FORBES (ha-ha!), 21a [Last film directed by Howard Hawks] RIO LOBO, 5d [Yellowstone's Lion, Steamboat or Castle] GEYSER.
- I feel better about 67d SLATY being clued with [Like an overcast sky] rather than the way it was [Dull blue-gray] in a recent Monday(!) NYT.
- UK! 102d [Pound note, in English slang] ONER, 55a [Folkestone folks] BRITS, 46a [Last name in a Blackmore title] DOONE, 91d [Savile Row threads] FIBRES, 16a [Black Watch topper] TAM.
- Certainly in a large format grid one is bound to encounter some crosswordese, abbrevs. and partials, but the CAP Quotient™ for this puzzle is admirably low. So …
… in conclusion, this offering is far from the 28a [Said twice, equivalent of "Nothing new"] SAME OLD (, same old).