Bored with easy Monday puzzles? Here are three more crosswords you can wrestle with:
- Patrick Berry posted “Cryptic #3” at his site, A-Frame Games, a month ago. Super-smooth—you know how he rolls. Took me about 11 minutes, so roughly the same difficulty level as Cox & Rathvon’s NYT second Sunday cryptics.
- Trip Payne posted an easier cryptic, “Cryptic #11,” at his site, Triple Play Games. This one took me about 6 minutes, so if you’re hesitant to try cryptics because you think you can’t do ’em, give this one a spin.
- Andrew Ries makes a play on his name for the name of his website, Aries Puzzles. (Just like Trip has Triple Play.) Andrew’s planning to offer one new puzzle a week, mostly of the “Rows Garden” variety devised by Patrick Berry. Fair warning: I Googled seven different clues and would never have been able to finish otherwise. There are some obscure names in there, a couple odd-job -ER nouns, and some ferociously tough clues.
Emily L. Lilly’s New York Times crossword
We’ve got an interesting structure for the theme in Emily Lilly’s debut crossword: Four foods commonly paired together in “X and Y” format cross in the grid, with the X running across and the Y down. The theme entries are symmetrically laid out, with the (6 & 5) answers BURGER & FRIES and FRANKS & BEANS in the NW and SE corners and the (4 & 8) answers CAKE & ICE CREAM and MEAT & POTATOES occupying the other corners. Well done! (Not the ice cream. Ice cream is best served tartare.)
I’m finding the byline to be a bit of a tongue-twister. Go ahead—try to say “Emily L. Lilly” three times fast.
1-Across threw me off track right away. Six letters, [Dog’s bark]? Must be BOW-WOW, right? Nope, it’s ARF, ARF. Isn’t that two dog’s barks?
- 24a. KASHMIR looks great in the grid, whether it’s the [Disputed region between Pakistan and India] or the Led Zeppelin song.
- Double [Lower(s) in rank] action: 1d is ABASE and 41d is DEMOTES.
- 59a. [City north of San Francisco] is NOVATO.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Behind Bars”—Evad’s review
Ugh. I’m sorry, but the world did not need another puzzle that plays off slang words for prison. I mean the constructor gets some props for squeezing a whopping 8 theme entries into the puzzle, but the unsavoriness (is that a word?) of the theme along with the tortured wording of the clues makes this solver rather unhappy all around.
For the record here are the set:
- COOLER HEADS – I want to add “…will prevail” to this
- CLINK GLASSES – does one really “clink” glasses, or are glasses clinked?
- JUG BAND – I think of the Beverly Hillbillies when I think of a jug band.
- STIRFRY – this one has what must be the most tortured clue, “Small fish in a prison?” Those must be some pretty close bars to keep them from escaping!
- CELL DIVISION
- JOINT CHIEFS
- CANCANS – in the plural? Really? And I really don’t want to think about “Jailhouse johns,” particularly if this is refering to toilets
Not much else to mention with so many theme entries. Lots of 3-letter entries take up residence in the four corners of the grid, but the longer CHESS GAME and AIR FLEETS do a nice service crossing 3 theme entries each.
David Cromer’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Going to the gym and running errands took up the morning so I’ll be quick here.
The theme’s tied together by 58d: JET. The long theme answers begin with things you do in a JET: you TAKE OFF, FLY, and LAND. That part is solid, but I’m mystified by the middle entry. TAKE OFF WEIGHT and LAND A GREAT JOB work for me, but FLY IN THE TEETH OF?? Not a phrase I’ve ever heard. It flies in the face of all that is right and good in the world. As Bryan Garner of Modern Legal Usage writes, “Fly in the teeth of is an inexcusable rending of the cliché.” Here’s the difference between the face and teeth phrases: When you Google the full phrase in quotation marks, you get evidence that “face” is used in standard writing. For “teeth,” the first two pages are all reference works/sites giving a definition. That’s a sign of a not-in-the-language word or phrase.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Hubris! I was plowing through the puzzle, quickly following up the NW corner with the TORY/TEK/ONEROUS leg into the rest of the grid. *screeeeeech* Then I hit the skids. I turned Shelby LYNNE into a male writer, Shelby FOOTE. Every other area of the grid had a couple easy things surrounded by clues that weren’t coming to me readily.
Hot spots: MAMA GRIZZLY‘s a great answer. AMONTILLADO makes me think of getting walled up in a cellar somewhere; good stuff. CAMDEN YARDS is lively. CAMEL clue is fresh and entertaining. EXTRA CHEESE will, alas, fill you with extra saturated fat.