Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Unusual six-pack of latticed 15s in this grid—the overall vibe is “feels like there are a lot of M’s, H’s, and W’s, and less of a reliance on the RSTLNE letter set.”
- 17a. [Turkey sticker], MEAT THERMOMETER.
- 27a. [Benchwarmer's plea], “PLAY ME OR TRADE ME.”
- 46a. ["That subject's off the table!"], “DON’T EVEN GO THERE.”
- 59a. [Universal query?], “WHERE’S THE REMOTE?” “Universal” in that many homes have a universal remote.
- 3d. ["And now?"], “WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?”
- 11d. [Gets payback], SETTLES THE SCORE.
I like that two thirds of these (plus “HEY, MAN”) are spoken English rather than dictionary-grade fill. ARMY STRONG is a neat answer, too.
Mind you, some of the shorter fill leaves a bit to be desired. In Partial Land, we have A STAR, -SOXER, USE AS, and RETIN-. ESPO, the dreaded E-NOTE, REE, SERE, and CWTS ([1/20 tons: Abbr.]) can fit into the crosswordese category.
I’m not a big fan of ARAL‘s disproportionately large presence in crosswords, but you can always win me over with an etymology clue like 64a. [Turkic word for "island"]. (Bonus points if the source language family is Turkic.)
The clue for GINO’S is terrible. 43a. [Papa ___ (Northeast pizza chain)]? Puh-leeze. Give me [___ East (classic Chicago pizza joint)] any day. Why, a few of their locations are even situated outside of Cook County.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Runic Inscriptions” — pannonica’s write-up
Standard hidden-word theme this week. As the clue for 58-across NORSE GODS explains, [They’re hidden in 16, 24, 34, and 47 Across].
- 16a. [Common Cajun side] DIRTY RICE. Yric, the Norse god of slashed vowels.
- 24a. [Fictional Japanese character who wears a bow] HELLO KITTY. Okit, the god of flat-packs and hex wrenches. Factettes: Hello Kitty’s head is bigger than the rest of her body, and her forehead is bigger than the rest of her head. Also, over 50,000 different products have been officially branded with her likeness.
- 34a. [James Hilton novel that's the source of the term "Shangri-La"] LOST HORIZON. Ostho, god of taciturn films and little meatballs.
- 47a. [Duke Ellington classic] MOOD INDIGO. Dindi, goddess of fjords and snorkfröken.
The longest downs are ELECTION and LEMONADE, neither of which are too exciting, but when considered along with their stacked neighbors, AVIATOR/DENTYNE and SUMATRA/KNOW-HOW, their impressiveness improves markedly.
- 1d [Mythical monster depicted on the flag of Sicily] MEDUSA. What the frigg? I never realized that was supposed to be Medusa. In truth, I mainly think of the triskelion, that three-legged symbol. The Medusa on the flag has no snakes in her hair, just a pair of wings and three lengths of wheat, durum no doubt. Perhaps it depicts her prior to her punishment at the hands of Athena?
- 9d [Les Cayes's country] What the hel? Misread that at first as “county,” and anyway I thought it was the guy who played guitar with Patti Smith. Turns out to be HAITI.
- Like a dagr to my heart! Interesting quote: the great Union general and later US President Ulysses S GRANT, a West Point graduate, said, “I have never felt any sort of fondness for war.” (43a)
Fun puzzle, but about average, all told.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter & Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
I’m going to be putting up shortish write-ups to both puzzles I’m set to blog. I’m taking over from Matt covering for Dave who’s on holiday.
In today’s puzzle, phrases that end in -UN now end in -UNK. I loved ATTILATHEHUNK, which amused me, and the rest are rock-solid.
- DARKHUMOR/TEAMPHOTO are a nice pair of long answers, that obviously went in the grid first after the theme!
- AHAB linked to ISHMAEL was tricky for me, probably because, being the narrator, he isn’t mentioned by name.
- I liked the trivia clue for NERO, which I didn’t know. Apparently he lyred while Rome burned.
- Had sAlt for NACL initially: should’ve worked out the hint of “H2O” [sic] in the clue.
- Remembered JARTS after learning about the previous time.
- Surprised to find SHISH/KEBAB spelled the way I see typically see it. Normally I get confused by weird spellings like KABOB!
- I was totally fooled by [Boxer's attendant]!
- I didn’t care too much for the HAJJI/ALOUS/ALEG/JOANI corner…
Generally entertaining: 3.5 stars
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy crossword “Mum’s the Word” – Gareth’s Review
In today’s puzzle, three 15-letter phrases are clued with the title. MYLIPSARESEALED is fun, and IWONTTELLANYONE and ITLLBEOURSECRET work.
There are couple of clues winking at the theme: [Mom's mates] and ["Mamma Mia!" inspiration]. More colour is added by MOBSCENE, CASABA and OLDSAW, but the grid felt rougher around the edges than I’d expect, especially with a three-part theme. For instance, I’m not sure why the tiny corner at the top-left needs SSA and partial DOI. The middle-right has a Roman numeral CIV as well as EELER. Unless I’m missing something, these are the types of answers you would only use in utter desperation…
2.5 Stars: Sorry I just wasn’t feeling this one.
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “J. Crew” — pannonica’s write-up
Presto-Jange-O! Substitution time! The theme answers contain words that begin with ch, whij is janged to a j. Less orthographically and more phonetically—not to mention technically—the voiceless palato-alveolar affricate t͡ʃ slides over to the voiced palato-alveolar affricate, d͡ʒ.
- 23a. [Athlete who consumes too much trail mix?] JOCK FULL O’ NUTS. No comment.
- 33a. [Jack's grownup partner?] THE BIG JILL.
- 51a. [One voting for Ford in the 1976 election?] JERRY PICKER.
- 68a. [Not very good bread spread?] JUNKY PEANUT BUTTER.
- 86a. [Hiss and boo orchestration?] JEERLEADING.
- 100a. [Totally prepared to go on at the comedy club?] ALL JOKED UP.
- 117a. [Funny president?] JESTER A ARTHUR.
It reminds me a little bit of that simplified spelling satire, often misattributed to Mark Twain:
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise x would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which c would be retained would be the ch formation, which will be dealt with later.
Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish y replasing it with i and Iear 4 might fiks the g/j anomali wonse and for all.
Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c, yand x — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais ch,sh, and th rispektivli.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Back to the crossword, though. I found the new, wacky phrases to be occasionally smirk-inducing, but not guffaw-worthy. Even with just seven of them, it felt played out, although I can’t say exactly why.
Thirteen-across irks my-don’t-let-the-theme-gravy-touch-the-regular-fill-peas instinct; it’s the only instance of a J—and that voiced palato-alveolar affricate—appearing outside of the theme (discounting the necessary crossing downs). And it’s at the beginning of a word too.
- 62a/68d [Volkswagen model] PASSAT / JETTA. 31a [Iraqi's neigbors] SAUDIS, 64d [Iraqi's neighbor] SYRIAN. 104a [Baker's tools] WHISKS, 109a [Baker's wear] APRON.
- SNARERS, SEATERS, blech. (45a, 123a) But BAJA | MAJA running down Column 1 is cute. TOTTER, SCEPTER, et al. are okay.
Plus the usual mix of clever and entertaining clues and fill. A couple unfamiliar names (José MARTÍ, HAP Arnold), two musical abbrevs. (RIT., A MAJ), and some other minor “infractions” lowered my estimation of the puzzle, but it’s nevertheless about average.