James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword
I am not a fan of having two themelesses by the same constructor scheduled in a single month, and we just had James Mulhern’s last puzzle three weeks ago. I did like that one, but I also like variety. It is, after all, the cumin of life.
Oh! If you don’t download the NYT puzzle from nytimes.com, you may not have seen the new interface. It loads faster, it looks better, and there’s a more intuitive placement of the “print” and “download Across Lite file” buttons (you needn’t click “Play” and then wander through a list of options anymore). If you solve online rather than by printing out the puzzle or using the .puz file, it will save your work on multiple puzzles and you can start solving on your phone during your commute and then finish up on your work computer. That seems handy as well (for those of you who aren’t about to blog the puzzle after solving it).
Back to the puzzle. Things I liked best:
- 1a. [Any of the three authors of "Pull My Daisy"], BEAT POET. Nice answer. Never heard of what’s in the clue.
- 17a. [Elicit a "T.M.I."], OVERSHARE. Would you like details about my sinus infection? (I don’t actually have a sinus infection.)
- 28a. [Light on TV or Broadway], JUDITH. That’s actress Judith Light.
- 31a. [Star of Bombay, e.g.], SAPPHIRE. I like famous gemstones.
- 35a. [Riveting piece, perhaps], MUST-READ. I still have Part X to go in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations.” Excellent historical read, and I’ve learned a lot about the shameful history of redlining and such right here in Chicago. I’m also reading Middlemarch for the first time. I’m three chapters in and you know what? It’s kinda funny. And I’ve had to look up five words in the dictionary already. Guimp!
- I like the tasty country clues: 41a. [Its flag includes an image of a nutmeg clove], GRENADA; 51a. [Its flag includes an image of a cocoa pod], FIJI; and 27d. [Major cocoa exporter], GHANA.
- 6d. [Midwest city named for a Menominee chief], OSHKOSH. If you know your Midwest tribes, “Menominee” points you towards Wisconsin.
- 28d. [Oscar nominee for playing Cal Trask], JAMES DEAN. Thank you, crosswords, for the years of CAL clues referencing East of Eden.
Never heard of: 20a. [1,000-pound weight units], KIPS. Dictionary suggests the name comes from ki(lo)- and p(ound). I had no idea anyone needed this unit of measure.
In the debit column, we have these things:
- 10d. [Tag statement], “I’M IT.” I dunno, I’m not feeling like this is something kids say when playing tag.
- 14a. [He may have many lines memorized], LADIES’ MAN. Yes, it is a colorful phrase. But I was just thinking about the term two weeks ago when it was in an NYT theme clue, and it feels extra-creepy now after the Santa Barbara mass murder, what with the connections to the “Pick-Up Artist” crowd and its woeful disregard for women’s autonomy.
- Fill like TELE-, SSE, PAH, ACU-, and AEON.
This clue isn’t quite sitting right with me: 59a. [Subject that includes women's suffrage and the Equal Rights Amendment], HERSTORY. Okay, yes, the word was coined in the ’70s when there was a concerted effort to pass the ERA. Hey! My state senator, Heather Steans (whose husband is my second cousin), is trying to get Illinois to ratify the ERA now. Better late than never, right? Anyway, the clue sort of suggests that HERSTORY is outdated, and yes, the word is not much in vogue, but there are still websites that embrace the term. Yes, the Saskatoon Women’s Calendar Collective is keeping it going! (I just like to say “Saskatoon.”) Yes, this paragraph wanders, loses the thread, and contradicts itself. It’s bedtime.
3.75 stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “And/Or”—Ade’s write-up
It’s Friday, everybody! That means you have to put your hands in the air…and wave them like you just don’t care.
This offering from Mr. Randolph Ross was a little tougher than normal, and had to struggle to parse some of the non-theme answers. In terms of the theme, the theme entries are either terms or puns that, when removing the “OR” part of that entry, form an entirely separate phrase (or person).
- RES(OR)T AREA: (17A: [The Catskills in the 1950s, e.g.]) – One of the best weekends I’ve ever spent was a summer a few years ago in The Catskill Mountains. Need to go back someday…and soon!
- B(OR)ING CROSBY: (20A: [Uninspired costar of Bob Hope?])
- WHAT A PIG ST(OR)Y: (35A: [Great review of the movie "Babe"?])
- IV(OR)Y LEAGUER: (54A: [Member of a group of tusk hunters?]) – Any tusk hunters that you know of who went to Dartmouth?
- THIN S(OR)KIN: (58A: [Screenwriter Aaron after a diet?])
There were a couple of entries that, without the crossings, I would have been done for, and that includes ALEGAR (8D: [Sour, fermented liquid]) and YALU (39D: [Korea Bay feeder]). Loved NAME BRAND (32D: [Not generic]) and ASOCIAL (25A: [Not at all a party animal]). Crossing ASOCIAL was AMEBAE, which was/is all sorts of awkward to look at (12D: [Slide subjects]), and that’s even when you include WAACS (9D: [WWII support group]). After getting a couple of letters to AMEBAE, especially the last “e,” I knew it had to be something involving ameba/amoeba, but then thought, “It can’t be AMEBAE, right?” Wrong!
Before Pharrell’s “Happy” became the “it” song in the country, that title, I believe, definitely was going to ROAR (42A: [Katy Perry hit]). Like most unbelievably popular songs, they become victim to overplay, and these two are no exception. Though, unlike a few people that I know that have absolutely tired of hearing “Happy” everywhere they go, I actually reached that point more with “Roar.” And I like Katy Perry (and Pharrell). Just give me some variety with music, radio stations!! (I think you can tell what I think about Top 40 radio.)
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KSU (59D: [The Wildcats of the NCAA])- The Wildcats being referenced are from Kansas State University, located in “The Little Apple,” otherwise known as the town of Manhattan, Kan. The most famous athlete who attended KSU is probably basketball player Mitch Richmond, who was a six-time NBA All-Star in the 90s, mostly with the Sacramento Kings, and was just recently named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class for 2014. Mitch was the “M” in the “Run TMC” era of the Golden State Warriors in the early 90s, with fellow Hall-of-Famer Chris Mullin (C) and All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway (T). Also, Earl Woods, father of Tiger Woods, also attended Kansas State, and played baseball while there.
Make the last few days of May count this weekend! Summer, literally, is right around the corner…yikes! Can someone slow down the clock and make time not fly so fast?
Take care, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s 16×15 puzzle features the opening lines of the 50′s children’s song THEREWASAN/OLDLADYWHO/SWALLOWEDA plus all the animals that she swallowed: FLY, SPIDER, BIRD, CAT, DOG, GOAT, COW and HORSE. They’re in order, which is a nice touch, and also necessitated the answers being asymmetric. Fairly straightforward theme, but sure to invoke plenty of childhood nostalgia! As for the song, who better than Pete Seeger to sing it for us? Oh, and he adds a rhinoceros and a minister!
A fairly quiet puzzle, I guess because lots of theme answers mean that they affect most of the answers. CALLOW is a word I’m rather fond of, plus STEMCELL is contemporary.
Several of the names were outside of my wheelhouse. This is a neutral observation. It happens, and certainly added some bite to the Friday experience. First off, AMRITA, which is not exactly a name, but which is some higher-grade Hinduism! MOLINE is a town of 40-odd thousand that is apparently, per the clue, one of the “Quad Cities”. Gwen IFILL, and TANIA Raymonde were also unknown to me, as was the “Draft INDUCER Motor”…
A bit of a different sort of a crossword, but I enjoyed it: 4 stars.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “IT Department” — pannonica’s write-up
Modest theme, just two-word phrases with the initials IT. None is the eponymous Information Technology.
- 23a. [Work whose title character is Manrico] IL TROVATORE. The titular troubadour.
- 25a. [Yoou can talk to Siri on one] IPOD TOUCH. The site of my error. Being rather Apple-ignorant, I went with IPAD, possibly because the tablets are more ascendant in both crosswords and society. The intersecting entry was an abbreviation that was not in my wheelhouse: 13d [USN personnel whose mess is called the "goat locker"] CPOS. CPAS seemed reasonable, perhaps as a change from the ubiquitous accountants. Retrospectively I can rather easily surmise that we’re talking about chief petty officers.
- 32a. [Aerobatic maneuver] IMMELMANN TURN. A vertical turnabout with a half-twist.
- 44a. [Warning that may be safely ignored] IDLE THREAT.
- 61a. [Market no-no] INSIDER TRADING.
- 71a. [Tiki and Ronde Barber, e.g.] IDENTICAL TWINS.
- 88a. [Place removed from worldly concerns] IVORY TOWER.
- 101a. [Phishing line?] IDENTITY THEFT.
- 111a. [Makeshift river float] INNER TUBE.
- 113a. [Psychoanalyst's tool] INKBLOT TEST. 1960 seems to mark the point at which the one-word inkblot began its ascent in popularity and the two-word ink blot began to decline. In this case it was absolutes, not just relative, i.e., how you look at it. (Google Ngram)
Solid theme, though not intrinsically transcendent. Ten solid entries.
- 40a [Alexander and Lee] JASONS, 64a [Welles and Bean] ORSONS, 106a [Singing sisters on "The Lawrence Welk Show"] LENNONS. Forced nominative plurals tend to stand out, so three in one puzzle feels like too many.
- Speaking of threes: 30d [Number of stripes on the flag of Deutschland] DREI (Schwarz, Rot, Gold); 115a [Number of stripes on the flag of Italia] TRE (verde, bianco, rosso).
- More German. 5d [Christmas loaves] STOLLENS. Wow, I cannot tell you how much that grates on my brain. The plural is properly STOLLEN in both German and English, but there is dictionary supports for the added -s plural. Ach!
- Highlight longish fill: FIRST RUN, EXFOLIANT, SAUSALITO, OSTRICH.
- Favorite clues: runners-up: 26d [Mix flicks] OATERS, 50a [House coat] PAINT. Winner: 65d [Cutting-edge feature] SAW TOOTH.