You’re reading about Friday crosswords? Then clearly you like a challenge. There are two puzzle suites of interconnected crosswords that lead to a final meta answer that you can buy now (you can order the puzzle suites, not the meta answer … unless you find some knave who is selling contest answers):
Patrick Blindauer‘s Xword University puzzlefest launches in early March. Order here for $15 (or more, if you want the bonus items).
Trip Payne will be sending out his Triple Play Puzzles Puzzle Extravaganza on August 1, so you’ve got more time to register here. Just $10 (or more with bonus puzzles).
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Tyler Hinman’s nifty keyboard-shift theme in this week’s AV Club puzzle was evoked when I typed ABIFR instead of ABIDE. D’oh! Adjacent-key double typo.
Mighty smooth for a 64-worder. The highlights, gridwise:
- 30a. [Provider of early projections], CAMERA OBSCURA. Topical, as it figures into the new documentary Tim’s Vermeer, about a guy who figured out what tricks Vermeer used (camera obscura, mirrors) to make his highly realistic paintings, and obsessively set out to paint his own Vermeer using the same devices.
- 34a. [Catchphrase that encourages extravagance], GO BIG OR GO HOME. If you decide to go big with a word count of 64 or less but you can’t manage really smooth fill, then you should go home, or try filling an easier grid.
- 5d. [One with a thing for laughter?], PROP COMIC.
- 11d. [Swingers], PENDULUMS. Who doesn’t love a pendulum?
- 12d. [Another time], ONCE MORE.
- 30d. [Buildings often segregated by floor], COED DORMS. Although when I was at Carleton, there were only two single-sex floors in all the dorms. Is this “segregated by floor” plan pretty common?
- 34d. [Leaves from the Orient], GREEN TEA. Nice entry, but I don’t want to drink it.
- 35d. [Big name in outdoor art], CHRISTO. Do you like his work or consider him a hack?
- 43a. [With this, you'll probably manage], MBA.
- 48a. [Panhandler, of a sort?], IDAHOAN.
- 50a. [They run out of clothing], STREAKER.
- 19d. [Las Vegas block?], DIE.
- 32d. [Worker also known as a cordwainer], SHOEMAKER. I didn’t know that. I looked up that clue word, which dates back to Middle English and derives from the Old French cordewan, meaning “of Cordoba.” Unusual.
17a. [Queen's Chapel designer ___ Jones] clues INIGO. Raise your hand if you’d prefer a reference to Mandy Patinkin’s indelible character in The Princess Bride: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Worst fill: Phnom PENH, non-Montoya INIGO, OAST. Really, Berry? That’s the worst you can throw at us in a 64-worder? Well done.
Barbie and Don Gagliardo’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Confession: I solved this one days ago and failed to write it up. The details are no longer fresh in my mind. From my protracted solving time, you can see that it was a bit rougher going than the usual CHE fare. Turns out that it took some time to realize it was a puzzle with rebus squares, and then more time to work out what the constituent rebuses were, which turned out to be four unique rebuses.
If only I’d encountered the revealer (in a typical revealer location—the last across entry) earlier on! It’s 70-across [Education-policy acronym for the four fields featured in this puzzle] STEM, i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, Math(ematic)s. Or, as the crossword has it, the common abbreviations of those disciplines.
- 17a. [Giving in] ACQUIE(SCI)NG.
6d. ["Casino" co-star] PE(SCI).
- 24a. [Centuries-old philosophical text] TAO (TE CH)ING.
10d. [Block buster?] KARA(TE CH)OP.
- 53a. [It has a lot of prides] SER(ENG)ETI.
44d. [Scottish woolen bonnet] GL(ENG)ARRY.
- 63a. [2013 portrayer of P.L. Travers] EM(MA TH)OMPSON.
64d. [Syndicated court-show judge Greg] (MATH)IS.
The crossings don’t make uncovering the rebuses easier than they need to be. For instance, world-famous crooner Johnny Mathis vs small-screen small claims court judge Greg Mathis, or the well-known play and film Glengarry Glen Ross as opposed to an actual toponymous glengarry, or straightforward clues for 10d and 53a. So that also explains the longer solve.
Do I care that the words splice inconsistently? That SCI and ENG are wholly within single words, that TECH is split across more than one word (albeit with the same break point in both crossings), or that MATH is internally inconsistent with its crossings? No, I do not. It strikes me as reasonable variation.
Here’s a recent article that tangentially addresses the STEM curriculum by way of comparison to the humanities, and strong criticism of the beloved-by-many film Dead Poets Society (1989). It also has a number of links to articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Imagine that.
- Bottom row: OXEYE, ROSE, STEM.
- Central crossing: 40a[It's joined to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway] BAHRAIN, 31d [Yellow highway sign] MERGE – highways and joining! See also, 22d [Joins] MARRIES.
- 9d [Part of a Star Wars name] ARTOO, 34d [Part of a Star Wars name] OBI.
- Favorite clue: 54d [Get the word out?] ERASE.
- 28a [Terminal-screen info, for short] ETA. Ageist misdirection!
- 57a [Charioteer's venue], followed by 59a ["Cheers" surname] subtle, but nice.
Fun puzzle, but a bit academic.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “The Wrong Side of the…” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme answers that begin with a word that can complete the title phrase, “The Wrong Side of the….”
Sorry, busy morning, so only time to post the solution grid here. Share your impressions in the comments!
Peg Slay’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
I picked up on Ms. Slay’s theme quite quickly. It doesn’t have a revealer that I can see, but it doesn’t really need one either; ALL sounds become AIL and the result is wacky phrases. I’ve said this before, but these sorts of phrases tend to be very variable in appeal. They struck me personally as not contrived (a good thing), but not particularly exciting either. We have:
- 17a, [Device that tracks certain weather?], HAILMONITOR
- 23a, [Make a mournful cry louder?], DRIVEUPTHEWAIL
- 39a, [ Follow, oater-style?], TAILINTHESADDLE. The best answer, before and after.
- 48a, [Run-of-the-mill letters?], PEDESTRIANMAIL.
- 61a, [Eight maids a-milking?], PAILBEARERS. Clever clue!
It’s a pretty conservative grid all told too. Not a lot to hate, but not a lot to go “ooh!” to either. There were some nice clues though [Short exile?] for EXPAT was devious. I don’t remember seeing [Id checker?], EGO before, but the chances are it has been done before, given how many times EGO has been in puzzles! I repeat my objection from yesterday to clues like [Jersey add-on] for ITES.
I’ll leave you with a classic song: 28A/13D…
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “TV Switches” — pannonica’s write-up
I’ll explain the theme momentarily, but first a word from our sponsor clues…
62a [TV, informally] BOX. 56d [Old TV parts] DIALS.
… and welcome back to the crossword program. Each theme answer consists of two parts, identical except that the first contains a T and the second has a V in the same location. They aren’t natural phrases, more like channel-surfing mashups. Or as we say in the local
jargonese argotese, “wacky.”
- 23a. [Run-down shack offering travel accommodations?] HOTEL HOVEL.
- 25a. [Writes reviews of techno dance parties?] RATES RAVES.
- 37a. [Written exemption from taking orders?] WAITER WAIVER.
- 41a. [Yucca plant carved from banded quartz?] AGATE AGAVE.
- 59a. [Becomes aware of the rookies?] NOTICES NOVICES.
- 70a. [Moving company with a sunbather mascot?] TAN LINE VAN LINE.
- 87a. [Odgen Nash specialty?] TERSE VERSE.
- 90a. [One longing to enter a volcano?] CRATER CRAVER.
- 109a. [Quiver on the surface of a pool?] WATER WAVER.
- 111a. [The "I" of "HIS"?] TOWEL VOWEL.
Can’t say that any of these are great, but the pool of candidate words doesn’t provide much choice. (Though I can think of at least a couple that are unsuitable for this mainstream venue.) The themers certainly aren’t so dismal that the endeavor should have been abandoned.
In the meanwhile, we’re treated to 16d [Conditioned, as a response] PAVLOVIAN, paired with 76d FLEA BITES [Trivial annoyances], WORLD WAR and BESTOWED.
- 20a [Valuable vein] LODE; 86a [20-Across makeup] ORE; 99a [Tested nuggets] ASSAYED.
- 84a [They're removed in a process called "racking"]. Ashamed to report that I completed it as LEGS before LEES.
- 57d [Deck crew's boss] BOS’N; 15d [Lowly sailor] SWABBIE.
- 78a [Mischievous sprites] IMPS; 69a [Mischievous sprite] HOB, kin to hobgoblin, not seen much even in crosswords.
- Did not know 88d [Computer animation programs] SHADERS. Coupled with 83d [Stock mkt. figures] AV–S and 95a [Tangled locks] S–A–, it was the last section of the grid I completed. AVGS, SHAG.
- 24d [Odyssey maker] HONDA, not HOMER.
- 15d [Get-rid-of-your-cards game] SPIT. I recall this as a fast-paced, reaction-based game that I was no good at all at. Was a fad in my junior high school for a year.
- [Insert quasi-random list of unappealing fill here, n≈8]
- Liked the unusual consonant pile-up of 65a [Eponym of a frozen fish line] MRS PAUL. Very close to MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), though that AUL is a dead-end in that regard.
About average puzzle.