David Kahn’s New York Times crossword
You know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that double-stacked 15s flow a lot better than triple- or quadruple-stacked 15s. Who’s with me?
David Kahn gets a kick out of answers that interlock in a pretty way, and here we have a minitheme of related central answers: 38a. [See 16-Down], CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, and the 13-letter 16d. [Hijackers who captured 38-Across], SOMALI PIRATES.
The other 15s are the ORLANDO SENTINEL (a gimme for me), SOURCES OF INCOME, the great mobile sculptor ALEXANDER CALDER (ooh, I need to get over to the Museum of Contemporary Art this year for their Calder exhibit), and LOSE ONE’S MARBLES (a lot of ONE’Sies are flat but this one is fun). Other good fill includes CABBIES ([Those who respond to pickup lines?]) and BUMMERS in the top row (though the plurals don’t add value), BLIMEY, and BLUE CHIPS (another plural).
Really and truly did not know at all: 28a. ["A Chorus Line" lyricist Ed] KLEBAN. Never even seen that surname before, but I do know the Kliban cartoon cats.
Clue that I was just guessing at: 4d. [Actress for whom a neckline is named], BARDOT. I couldn’t tell you what sort of neckline that is.
Liked the clue for BEFORE: 8d. [First of two pictures].
Did not care for the ALL dupe (ALL SET, partial ALL OR), and even though we have twin 15s rather than triplets, we still have prosaic fill like ERST, YSER, EPEE, the dread E-NOTE, ARA, KEA, ATRA, ETAS/ARR, and INGE.
Joanne M. Sullivan’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Wold Series” — pannonica’s write-up
So I saw the title, and the first theme answer I completed was 27-across [Assume responsibility] TAKE UP THE MANTLE, and I groaned, making an assumption of my own. “Oh no. A baseball theme. Not only that, a Yankees baseball theme.”
But as the others developed I realized it was something else, confirmed by the revealing entry at 48a [The ends of 19, 27, and 43 Across] EARTH’S LAYERS (which is too easily misread in-grid as Earth slayers). The remaining two are 19a [Pizza Hut offering since 1995] STUFFED CRUST, and 43a [Thoroughly bad] ROTTEN TO THE CORE.
Two points of note. First, the layers are presented in order (a series, if you will), from outer to inner. If you care to quibble about the layers themselves—that there are distinct outer and inner cores, or that in a rheological analysis there is also an asthenosphere as well as a mesospheric mantle—that’s your prerogative, but the three are quite adequate for crossword purposes. Second, the senses of the words are essentially the same in both original phrase and repurposed extraction. Crust and core more literally than the metaphorical mantle, which nevertheless derives both etymologically and symbolically from the same root.
As for the non-theme fill, it’s mostly solid, without anything remarkably uplifting or volcanic. The longs are DRAFTEES and BACKYARD.
- Most noticeably clever bit: the back-to-back cluing of SNORT and INK in Row 11. [Pen sound] and [Pen filler]. See also, to a lesser extent, Row 8 with [What alumni do at homecoming] VISIT, [Tell tales out of school] BLAB, and [Connections] TIES.
- Also liked the side-by-side duo of twentieth-century heroes Jacob RIIS and Jonas SALK.
- The expected influx of Higher Education style clues and fill, including classical Greeks Homer and Aesop, the seven HILLS of Rome, Revolutionary War hero Ethan ALLEN and reference to John Trumbull’s painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, pianist VAN Cliburn, and more.
- Found the pitch of this trio of related items to be very uneven: 50d [Phuket native] THAI, 9d [Nation whose flag depicts a dragon] BHUTAN, 60a [Mekong River locale] ASIA.
- 66a [Active time for deer]. Since they’re crepuscular (assuming we’re discussing North American species), had to wait to see if it was DUSK or DAWN.
Randall J. Hartmann’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Apples and Oranges” – Dave Sullivan’s review
A phrase that typically refers to things that are divergent today leads us on a trip through an orchard and grove, pairing types of APPLES with ORANGES:
- [Dabbling duck with ducklings?] clued MOTHER MANDARIN – I’ve never heard of a Mother apple, but apparently they are from Massachusetts and “rated for their flavor.” Mandarin oranges are typically used in salads. Are mandarin ducks known for their superficial forays into hobbies? (rhetorical question alert)
- [The rite place for four acting brothers?] was BALDWIN TEMPLE – Baldwin apples are bright red winter apples, sweet and crisp for eating fresh or cooking. Temple oranges are Florida’s finest eating (cf. juice) orange.
- [Dracula's delight?] clued DELICIOUS BLOOD – rather unsavory idea, but there are red and yellow delicious apples, and reddish-orange blood oranges.
Colorful and creative theme. A few “what the…?” moments in the fill for me, though. I have never heard of José Jiménez nor his “alter ego” BILL DANA. Reason why is that he was on the Steve Allen Show in the late 1950′s, just a bit before my time. SMELLER for [Schnozzola] makes some sense, but I’ve never heard someone’s nose referred to by what it can do. (Is a mouth sometimes referred to as a TASTER?) Anyway, rather appropriate to have the crossing LOOKER, which I suppose could’ve been clued as [Eye] on its own, but was [Eye candy] instead. RED DOG as a [Quarterback blitz] was also a new term to me; would Peyton Manning say that after “Omaha,” perhaps? (Probably not as it sounds like a defensive, not an offensive maneuver.)
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sloganeering” — pannonica’s write-up
Corporate advertising slogans, partially reëngineered.
- 23a. [Slogan for an auto or a golf tournament?] DRIVERS WANTED. Volkswagen.
- 32a. [Slogan for a chip or the CIA?] INTEL INSIDE. Intel. My favorite of the themers. Also—but only coincidentally—the only one to include the company name.
- 40a. [… for a coffee or parachute maker?] GOOD TO THE LAST DROP. Maxwell House.
- 68a. [… an antacid or Mariano Rivera?] HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF? Rolaids.
- 94a. [… a credit card or a pickpocket?] WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? Capital One.
- 106a. [… rental autos or hanging judges?] WE TRY HARDER. Avis. For hangmen, GOOD TO THE LAST DROP could also apply.
- 120a. [… a burger chain or a complaint department?] WHERE’S THE BEEF? Wendy’s.
Proud to report that I had to look up a few of these to identify the referenced entities. Also, some of these slogans are retired, or at least dormant. Nevertheless, they’re all iconic, memorable, et cetera.
- Partials of various configurations and presentations: LADY IN RED, I PLEDGE, OENO-, OOP, YES ON, I SHOT. Flimsy phrases: OLD CAR, SAD SONG, and to a lesser extent FOR FREE.
- Favorite clue: 28d [Took its toll?] PEALED. Runners-up: 48d [Orbit, for example] GUM, 128a [Conn man] STEERER, even though STEERER is not ideal fill (see also 82d PRYERS).
- Interesting diad: 104d [Goddess of wisdom] ATHENE, the less common (but my preferred) spelling / 115a [Cultural group] ETHNOS, a relatively uncommon word from Greek. Somewhat related: 67d [Goddess of the hunt] DIANA / 96d [Activity in which one takes a bow] ARCHERY (another great clue, by the way).
- Did not know 48a [Reflective opal] GIRASOL, which comes from the Italian for sunflower, and is also a name for Jerusalem artichoke, also called sunchoke, which is really a variety of sunflower. Also unfamiliar with OILCLOTHS in the sense of 84d [Cupboard shelf liners].
- With –––––GE in place, 22a [Act the marauder] was obviously (to me) BESIEGE. Bzzt! PILLAGE, which is a better fit.
- Favorite long non-theme fill: SUSHI ROLL, CALIBRATE.
- Clue That Did Not Work For Me: 60a [Green water] DEW. I get that green is meant in the sense of a lawn, but I still don’t care for it.
- After it was filled in, kept reading 103d [California-based sneaker brand] LA GEAR as “lag-ear”, reinforced by its proximity to 105d DEAFER. Also, it reminded me of lop-ear.
Cute puzzle, about average overall.
Paul Hunsberger’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’m slightly ambivalent about today’s set of puns by Paul Hunsberger. The sound change emulates a common speech deficit, which I find gives it a stronger effect. The theme clues themselves are very evocative, another big plus. Saying all this, some of the parsing was “out there”, I’m still not exactly sure how FREEMENANDABABY answers [Guys with plenty of time for child care?]; [Like Barney with his pal?] for HANGINGBYAFRED requires one to suspend disbelief that one wouldn’t really say HANGINGWITHFRED – I guess that’s what makes it wacky. [Lament following an Elizabethan wardrobe malfunction?], THEFRILLISGONE is excellent though and [Got locked out of a Finnish sauna during winter?], FROZEINTHETOWEL is probably one of my favourite joke answers in recent memory! It paints an excellent mental picture that one! I guess I’d call these pun answers brave collectively, and consider two smash hits a better deal than “four meh but solid” answers.
Despite four long themers, Mr. Hunsberger has also graced us with a number of superlative non-theme answers: STARSONICE, HOTANDCOLD (crossing FROZEINTHETOWEL with its sauna clue!), the interesting letter patterns of MCMUFFIN and UVFILTER , and GLORYBE would all be top answers to be in any themeless grid! I also have an affinity for ANILINE , a chemical whose derivatives have many uses, including the world’s first synthetic dye – mauveine! There are some trade-offs for these: 3 partials (ATEM, ANERA and TALKA) one more than the official limit (which isn’t hard), and one or two bits of word detritus like UNE and TRA. Of the plurals, GIVENS looked strange at first, but considered in a mathematical context, it’s perfectly normal; ICINGS is also odd, but defensible. Lastly, I also didn’t know COLS as a word.
Any failings this puzzle did have were more than made up for by FROZEINTHETOWEL and the excellent long answers in my book! 4.25 Stars.