Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
We’ve got an automotive theme today, with a feature from the dashboard:
- 44a. [Direction indicator], ARROW. This one is pointing to the E in the nominally unchecked square. The F (for “full” is on the other side, where the arrow would swing after refueling).
- 55a, 57a. [With 57-Across, 1977 Jackson Browne album ... or a hint to what's depicted in this puzzle's grid], RUNNING / ON EMPTY.
- The circled squares in the top half of the grid spell out GAS GAUGE and trace the arc the arrow would follow from F to E.
I don’t think anything else is thematic here. The 15s, ELECTROMAGNETIC and SLOW ON THE UPTAKE, don’t appear related, do they?
Now, not all car dashboards display a gas gauge in that orientation. Mine goes from full at the top to empty at the bottom, which makes perfect sense visually. When the yellow runs out, you need to gas up.
Among the less familiar entries are these:
- 14a. [Ravel's "La ___"], VALSE.
- 16a. [Lincoln Center's Alice ___ Hall], TULLY. What, no love for Illinois’s state fossil, the obscure-everywhere-else ancient invertebrate called the Tully monster?
- 17a. [Division signs], OBELI. We editorial types know the obelus as the dagger (†) rather than the division symbol. (It’s both. Which is awkward, no?)
- 72a. ["___ Flux" (Charlize Theron movie)], AEON. Raise your hand if you got this one only because it was mentioned in another recent puzzle. Raise your other hand if you’d be okay with not seeing it in puzzles again (despite Charlize Theron’s general awesomeness).
- 10d. [Ndamukong ___, 2010 N.F.L. Defensive Rookie of the Year], SUH. Football fans know how to pronounce that name.
- 29d. [Bel ___ cheese], PAESE. I know this more from crosswords than the grocery store. Is it any good?
- 48d. [1965 Physics Nobelist Richard], FEYNMAN. He has more pop-culture cred than the average physicist thanks to his popular books.
Fave fill: SLOW ON THE UPTAKE, LUPINE (it’s a flower as well as [Wolflike]), OLD GLORY, MOONBEAM (Jerry Brown!), CORN SILK.
3.75 stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Laughing Stock” – Dave Sullivan’s review
So one is to take the word “stock” in the title literally–as in livestock, or COWS. Here, words or phrases that begin with CAL are changed to COW:
- [Tools used by dairy farm accountants?] clued COWCULATORS – “calculators” became “cowculators.” Now don’t ask me why!
- [Builder of strong bones at the dairy farm?] was COWCIUM – odd to have a 7-letter theme entry when there are longer across entries not part of the theme.
- [Where the brilliant dairy farmer went to college?] was COWTECH – “Caltech” is short for California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Cowifornia, I mean California.
- [Dairy farm clothing designer?] was COWVIN KLEIN – so what are fashionable bovines wearing these days? I’m sure they are udderly lovely.
- [Hall of Famer on the dairy farm baseball team?] clued COW RIPKEN – isn’t he a Junior?
- [Dairy farmer's wife who was named after Mrs. Julius Caesar?] was COWPURNIA – Calpurnia was the third (and last) wife of JC.
Sorry, but I just don’t get the rationale to change CAL to COW–why not words that begin with CAR or CHOW or anything else? CAL isn’t all that close to the same sound as COW, but maybe this is a regional accent thing that I just don’t know about. I guess I should be impressed with the theme density in this one, but seven-letter entries have to be really good to be justified and COWCIUM and COWTECH just don’t do it for me. Also, the cluing seems forced–there’s really not a lot of surface sense to them. As for the fill, it was serviceable–BOAC ([Airline mentioned in the Beatles' "Back in the USSR"]) was my only sticking point; it stands for British Overseas Airways Corporation, and became part of British Airways in 1974. It’s actually in the first line of the song
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Dear Leader”
Great title—Who doesn’t love hearing an insane dictator referred to as “Dear Leader”? In this theme, synonyms for the term-of-endearment sort of “dear” (hon, love, boo, pet) are added to familiar phrases and glue themselves to the phrases’ first words:
- 17a. [Obnoxious young Civic driver?], HONDA BRAT. Da Brat is a female rapper who first hit it big about 20 years ago.
- 28a. [Lagers with a macabre twist?], LOVECRAFT BEERS.
- 44a. [Food that's either cooked or not cooked, tasty or not tasty?], BOOLEAN CUISINE. Boolean variables are binary: either cooked or not cooked.
- 59a. [Sight in a botanist's horror movie?], PETAL GORE. “Botanist’s horror movie?” I would see that, my pet.
The fill stands out most boldly for having the KISS ARMY and BI BIM BOP. I also like BURKA and BARCA (57a. [Spanish football powerhouse, familiarly]), CAT-SIT, and TABASCO.
People who’ve worked in publishing, proofreading, or graphic design probably know this ORPHAN: 26a. [Single word on the last line of a paragraph, say].
- 15a. [It has banks in Switzerland], the AARE River.
- 24a. [Park neighbor, often], REVERSE. Gears on a car gearshift, not the place with trees and a playground.
- 8d. [Legendarily giant white dude], YETI. White fur. You wanted PAULBUNYAN, didn’t you?
Four stars. The theme was executed quite well, and I like the inclusion of the more contemporary “boo” with its African-American vibe. The corner stacks of 8s are deftly constructed too.
Victor Barocas’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Nice choice of revealer in today’s words that precede/follow iteration. The answer BACKBUTTON suggests that the second part of each two part phrase can have BUTTON appended to it. So we have:
- 17a, [Series of "Got milk?" spots, e.g.], ADCAMPAIGN. Campaign button. A button of the clothing kind.
- 31a, [Snowballing financial crisis], BANKPANIC. Panic Button. A button of the pressing kind.
- 38a, [It's used to break a habit], WILLPOWER. Power button. If referring to a computer, then another button of the pressing kind.
- 50a, [American bacon source], PORKBELLY. Belly Button. A button of the protruding (maybe) kind.
Can you see a weak answer in this puzzle? I can’t! APA? That’s about it, really, and that’s certainly impressive. The puzzle also has four “big” corners, with stacks of 7-letter answers. The answers themselves are not absolutely “wow”, but still fun to fill in, especially HOMINID, BLASTER, HOMINID and ARTEMIS.
Straight-forward puzzle, but constructed with care. 3.5 stars.