Jeremy Newton’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Choice Words”—Jim P’s evaluate
Theme solutions are acquainted phrases of the shape X OR Y the place each X and Y begin with the identical letter and might be clued (roughly) with the identical phrase.
- 16a. [“S” term meaning “to take a dip”?] SINK OR SWIM. No one would name this an “‘S’ term,” nevertheless it didn’t take lengthy to get the gist of what was occurring, and for the needs of the puzzle, offering the beginning letters was useful. To go down, or SINK, is to “take a dip.” Same with SWIM, although in a distinct sense.
- 22a. [“F” term meaning “a way to rise up”?] FIGHT OR FLIGHT. This one’s a little bit awkward. FIGHTing is “a way to rise up” in a method, as is FLIGHT.
- 35a. [“P” term meaning “to drop, so to speak”?] PUBLISH OR PERISH. To PUBLISH one thing is to “drop” it (slangily). You don’t usually see “drop” as a synonym for PERISH, however I suppose I’ve encountered it sooner or later. Perhaps, “they were dropping like flies.”
- 46a. [“R” term meaning “what a sane brain demonstrates”?] RHYME OR REASON. “Sane brain” demonstrates a RHYME, and having a “sane brain” demonstrates one’s means to REASON.
- 56a. [“B” term meaning “a setup with an out-of-sight microphone”?] BOOM OR BUST. A BOOM microphone is out of sight. A BUST (as in a legislation enforcement raid) would possibly contain a wire, aka an “out-of-sight microphone.” Another stretch, nevertheless it does work.
There’s no requirement for these phrases to have phrases with the identical beginning letters; that seems to be a constraint the constructor employed to assist us solvers and to make the theme tighter—and I for one appreciated it.
Some of those had been a little bit iffy, however on the entire, I loved the theme as one thing just a bit bit completely different than the standard. It’s not simple to clue two fully completely different phrases with the identical clue (a la Shrödinger puzzles), so getting simply shut sufficient is perhaps the very best we may ask for.
As an train, are you able to give you a clue that works for each phrases in some “or” phrases (no matter whether or not they begin with identical letter)? How about “hit or miss,” “heads or tails,” or “rain or shine”? How’s this for “trick or treat”: [Something people like to take?]?
Nice lengthy fill with BRIEF WORD, NBA CHAMPS, PHOTOBOMB, and TOUGH SKIN [Ability to endure criticism]. Not certain about that final one within the singular (“thick skin” sounds higher), however the plural Toughskins brings again reminiscences of my childhood Sears-purchased garments. Anyone else?
- 1a. [Yes and no, e.g.]. RSVPS. Given the puzzle’s title and this clue main off at 1a, I believed it was a part of the theme.
- 55a. [Vatican’s surroundings]. ROME. Nothing incorrect with the clue, however I believe [Vatican’s environs] sounds higher.
- 4d. [Fifth-most populous nat.]. PAK. I attempted USA first. See the chart exhibiting the highest 10. I by no means realized how huge a spot there’s between the highest 2 and the remainder of us.
- 28d. [Banking tool]. CUE. Tricky clue. I used to be considering in monetary and piloting phrases earlier than getting all of the crossings.
Nice puzzle. Four stars from me.