The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, an avowed crossworder, looks at our world through the eyes of aliens understanding our society via the NYT crossword. If this doesn’t make you giggle at least twice, there’s no helping you.
Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
And they say the NYT puzzles aren’t edgy in their content! Well, this one has a hefty serving of DIRTY WORDS, on a week-starting Monday, no less.
- 17a. [Not just well-off] FILTHY RICH.
- 27a. [Low-class diners] GREASY SPOONS. Or as my father (who was an art director in advertising) invariably called them, Greeky spoons.
- 44a. [Window material in many cathedrals] STAINED GLASS. Some people call DIRTY WORDS colorful language, you know.
And the proceedings are boxed up and wrapped with a bow via 60a: [Curses … or the starts of 17-, 27- and 44-Across?]
I for one hope this trend of fewer theme entries and stronger overall fill continues, especially for early-week puzzles.
Try to solve this one more quickly than usual and took to supply answers without looking at the clues. As a result, had to correct fill such as: 20a ARE TOO from ARETHA; 43d AS NEW from ASNER; 22d CAP’N from OATY; 52a SPLIT PEA from SWEET PEA. On the other hand, I put in all the theme answers correctly with less than half the letters in place—without reading the clues (except for 17a) or knowing the theme itself. Was probably a wash as far as speed of solve was concerned.
- 21a [Where many digital files are now stored] THE CLOUD; 49d [Electronic storage medium] CD-ROM.
- Other longish non-theme fill: SPLIT PEA, SHEEPDOG, USHERS IN. Nothing to knock your socks off, but solid.
- German articles! 6d [German "the"] DER, which is masculine (see also 57a [Male or female] GENDER); the other options are DIE (fem.) und DAS (neut.). 55d [Mozart's "__ kleine Nachtmusik"] EINE (which is feminine, by the way).
- 43a [Pimply] ACNED. Not a nice looking thing, per se or logographically. Am thinking “trite” in a Cockney accent.
- Surprisingly playful (and welcome) clue: 38a [Word after eye or makeup] EXAM. Similar but less so for 23a ["Curse you, __ Baron!"] RED, but it does wink at the theme.
Very solid, well-pitched Monday.
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Let’s just list the theme answers first, then discuss the properties which link them.
- 20a. [Original Ice Follies slapstick skating duo] FRICK AND FRACK. Nothing to do with natural gas exploration, obviously. Also, a nifty bit of trivia.
- 28a. [Retaliatory equivalent] TIT FOR TAT. Doesn’t have to be aggressive or negative; reciprocal is a neutral way of describing it.
- 39a. [Happy heartbeat sound] PITAPAT.
- 48a. [Knickknacky stuff] BRIC-A-BRAC. From the French … ah … à bric et à brac, meaning “at random.” Also, “knickknacky”!
- 58a. [Small, irregular amounts] DRIBS AND DRABS. I’d also stipulate that the frequency of the amounts’ appearances is irregular, but that would make for an unwieldy clue.
So, instinctively we can all appreciate what the theme consists of: words and phrases with a repetitive aspect, albeit with an alteration. Technically, what we’re dealing with is a form of reduplication. More specifically, it’s a reduplication involving apophony, called ablaut reduplication. (In case you’re wondering, ablaut and umlaut—both from German—are related terms.) Further, each of the words/phrases incorporates an interior syllable; this is called epenthesis. Even more specifically, it’s the epenthesis of a vowel, anaptyxis.
So, the theme is: words and phrases featuring ablaut reduplication and anaptyxis. Now you see why I didn’t lead off this write-up with that characterization. Also, I was hoping to phrase it in a more condensed way, but I couldn’t confirm an adjectival form of anaptyxis.
It’s a fun theme. However, the inclusion of a fifth, shorter themer in the center creates the need for a five-letter entry to span three of them. At 29-down there is IPANA, a brand of toothpaste that hasn’t been marketed in the United States in decades and which is, in ESSE (71d) hoary crosswordese with no place in a Monday crossword. My feeling is that TIT FOR TAT and BRIC-A-BRAC could have their places switched, and IPANA replaced with the significantly less recondite ABACI. Or simply drop the PITAPAT and go with an eminently respectable four theme answers.
- Other evidence of ballast fill compromise includes relatively familiar stuff that is nevertheless inelegant for a crossword ostensibly geared to newer solvers: BESO, Thom MCAN (crossing ANN, incidentally), RARA, ESSE, ELIE, EXOD., PARA-, PRE-, ATRA. and perhaps ESTÉE Lauder. Oh, and ADAR, which is definitely not Monday-level.
- 50d [Bloodhound or boxer]. Though it’s acceptable usage, I’m not a fan of CANINE as a noun synonymous with dog. In my book, that’s canid. Canine is fine for referring to the tooth between the last incisor and the first premolar. Unless you’re very familiar with the systematics and taxonomy of the family Canidae and are being quite specific, it’s better to avoid the use demonstrated in the clue. </philippic>
- Appreciated longer fill such as ATM CARD stacked with ROCK STAR and—symmetrical to those—RAIN DATE with SCARLET.
A nicely themed cross-a-word that’s overextended itself with too many resultant concessions in fill.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “An Addled Puzzle” – Dave Sullivan’s review
It’s not often I can guess what wordplay will be afoot in a puzzle just from the title, but today I did guess correctly, parsing “Addled” in the title as “Add-led”:
- [Perturbed putterer?] clued RANKLED AMATEUR – are you in the amateur or amature camp? Was it ever aperteur? Anyway, the “rank” has meaning 4b here, probably more from the strong smell sense than a position. Speaking of ranks-as-position, how are your NCAA brackets doing? Can’t be much worse than mine.
- [Crushed clam?] was a TRAMPLED STEAMER – a tramp steamer contrasts with an ocean liner in that it has no set schedule.
- The group The Foo Fighters gets the addled treatment with [Hoodwinked heavyweights?] or FOOLED FIGHTERS – here’s a clip.
Lots of nice mid-length fill holds the theme entries in place: SNEEZED AT (did you have SNEERED as I did at first?), EMBRYONIC, STALAG and YO HO HO. I’m curious about the phrase I AM OZ; unlikely that’s in many constructor’s databases, but I like it in its quirkiness. Had to get into the Way Back Machine for [Setting for Burma-Shave rhymes] or ROADSIDE. The one pictured to the left dates back to 1950.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan constructed this puzzle with an eye towards seeing it in the NY Times, but apparently FRANK OCEAN (1a. ["Channel Orange" Grammy winner]) was deemed not broadly familiar enough for the puzzle. Now, he was famous first for coming out and being the first openly gay hip-hop artist, and then he went to the Grammys last year with a whopping six nominations to his name, won two Grammys, and performed on the award telecast. So he’s pretty famous.
Mind you, there’s also an oddball answer opposite FRANK OCEAN that stopped me cold. Where 62a. [Silver, e.g.] meets 57d. ["Big Moment. Be Sure" brand], I had to run the alphabet. Silver means not the metal but statistician Nate Silver, and I have not seen STATMASTER before. The brand at 57d is EPT, formerly called the Early Pregnancy Test. I would not have looked askance at FRANK OCEAN at all, but STATMASTER gives me pause.
Top fill: BARGAIN BASEMENT , NOISES OFF, CORPULENCE, ZOOROPA, SWEATS IT.
Favorite clues: 33d. [Some cable channels?], ROPE LINES. Not cable TV.
Do not care for: 43d. [Some office equipment], IBM PCS. IBM sold its desktop/laptop hardware line to Lenovo in 2005. If your office is using computers that are 9+ years old, you have my condolences. Also: ATHROB, ATRA, OVER A.
Did not know: 32a. [Jazz saxophonist Krakowsky], ARNIE.