All new! The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament has released the list of puzzle-makers in advance, rather than making people wait until they pick up their registration folders on site. Read the constructors’ bios, and ponder who’s made which puzzle—because that information is still embargoed until each puzzle is flipped over during the ACPT.
Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword
Sheesh. Three typos in two entries took forever (i.e., as much as two minutes) to find. I could’ve sworn I typed in the missing letters to make ZERO SUM but somehow it came out as ZERO SOM; the opera crossing didn’t scream “Error!” at me. Down below, AT IT AGAIN was mangled into something like ATITFFAIN. Auugh! This is what happens when I don’t eat dinner before doing the puzzle at 9 p.m.
Tough puzzle, packed with interesting and unusual fill. A strong four-star showing, pushing upwards towards four and a half. Here’s the showiest stuff:
- 6a. OSCAR BUZZ! The clue, [It’s generated for high-quality pictures], made me think of still photos rather than movies.
- 16a. HARPER LEE, literary full name.
- 32a. Goofball geography, mostly seen back in the day as a crosswordese fill-in-the-blank. Instead of [Bad __]/EMS, we get the full German spa town, BAD EMS.
- 38a. DEAD STOP is a colorful colloquial phrase.
- 51a. Looove ARMS AKIMBO.
- 58a. Nonliterary full name, New Orleans Saints QB DREW BREES.
- 1d. LEIPZIG, a somewhat Scrabbly German city.
- 2d. Scrabbly rocker AXL ROSE, full fake name.
- 3d. Ah! The SILENT T is clued [“The Colbert Report” ends with one]. The clue refers to the pronunciation of the show’s title (“cole-bear ruh-pore”) rather than what ends the show itself.
- 6d. “OH, IT’S YOU!”
- 13d. A ZERO-SUM game is a lose-lose proposition. Or is it a tied proposition?
- 40d. The ONE BALL on a pool table? [It’s solid yellow], not striped.
- 47d. [One going off on somebody?] is a PAGER that beeps on somebody’s waist.
Tough stuff that made me get some crossings first:
- 17a. ILLIN’ means crazy.
- 28a. TIMUR is the [King of Tartary in “Turandot”]. That’s the one opera I’ve seen but it’s been years. Somehow I had Tamerlane in my head.
- 42a. Aha! [Exercise done while pedaling] has nothing to do with spin classes. Piano pedals, an ETUDE.
- 59a. [Chemistry Nobelist Hoffmann] is not the most famous ROALD out there. We also have Roald Dahl.
- 9d. APLEY?? [Marquand title character]? Okay, then.
- 11d. BREA, California, is a [City next to Fullerton]. My first attempt was LODI, and OJAI’s another 4-letter CA town.
- 32d. [Kid’s repetitive plea?] clues BAA BAA. I thought we claimed goats said NAA or MAA. Now their young say BAA?
- 43d. [Capital whose central plaza is Skanderbeg Square] sounded so Scandinavian, but no—it’s TIRANE, in 54d: ALBania.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sleep In”—Janie’s review
As I see it, the folks at CS are reminding us again that daylight time arrives tonight. If you don’t “spring forward” tonight—move your clocks ahead one hour before retiring—you may inadvertently “sleep in” tomorrow morning. Martin does so today, in a sense, by lacing his grid with four long phrases (two 13s, two 15s), each of which contains the letters N-A-P right at center. This is pretty nifty actually, a nice little construction coup. Here’s how the theme-fill stacks up:
- 17A. HANDS-ON APPROACH [It involves active participation]. This is a terrific trend in children’s museums.
- 25A. TO COIN A PHRASE [Idiom inventor’s words]. I also love the related: to coin a cliché…
- 46A. RETURN A PROFIT [Result in monetary gain]. While “turn a profit” receives some 13,600,000 Google hits to return a profit‘s 607,000, the latter is definitely legit. Both, however, tend to be a tad, uh, nap-inducing (relative to the theme-set). I do like, though, the indefinite article here (and above), so that N-A-P spans the phrase.
- 61A. CAROLINA PANTHERS [Charlotte footballer]. Interesting bit of tid about their logo: “It is shaped to resemble the combined borders of North and South Carolina.” I think the only real panthers one might find in the region will be found in the zoo. Or maybe not…
In the area of non-theme fill, I particularly liked seeing ODD SOCKS and its apt clue [Laundomat leftover] in the grid. Our pedal extremities get more notice by way of ODOR EATERS [Shoe inserts]. [Beethoven’s third, familiarly] is the EROICA and may leave the listener feeling elated, confident, able to buck the dark tide suggested by words like DERAIL [Get off track?], SCUTTLE [Sink, as a boat] and C MINUS [Below-average grade].
Martin gives us four different sets of related clue/fill pairs. There’s the military: [GI’s address] and [GI’s chow] for APO and MRE; the workout-based: [Chest muscle, briefly] and [Bodybuilder’s six-pack] for PEC and ABS; the Teutonic: [German town] and [A, in Ulm] for STADT and EINE; and the metallurgical: [Galena product] and [Galena and others] for LEAD and ORES. Just to piggyback on the sound of that last word, we also get ORDERLY which is not an adverb today but a noun, the person who is a [Medical assistant].
With these words and others, Martin has EFFECTED [Brought about] another well-integrated creation and the conclusion to this week of CS puzzles!
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Lovely themeless today! Perhaps a little more challenging than most Saturday LA Times puzzles, but/and packed with interesting and fresh fill. Among the highlights are these morsels:
- 1a. [Closer’s bane] is a baseball pitcher’s BLOWN SAVE.
- 15a. [“My Father at 100: A Memoir” author] is RON REAGAN. The NYT review of the book makes it sound fascinating.
- 17a. Rounding out the first three-stack of 9s is ONLY CHILD, clued as [Spoiled brat, stereotypically]. Hey! My kid’s not a spoiled brat! He only seems like one to his parents.
- 31a. [Thematic musical release] clues CONCEPT ALBUM. I think Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid qualifies. Go have a listen! The über-catchy “Tightrope” is my favorite cut.
- 58a. EVERCLEAR is a [Band with the 1997 double platinum album “So Much for the Afterglow”]. I get them mixed up with Nickelback, not knowing either’s sound. Are they both roundly mocked, or is it just Nickelback?
- 12d. [Some facial surgeries] are NOSE JOBS. Some are not.
- 36d. [“Schindler’s List” beat it for Best Picture] clues THE PIANO, for which then-young Anna Paquin won the best supporting actress Oscar. The movie is best remembered as the “Harvey Keitel shows his penis” film.
- 37d. A HIDE-A-BED is a [Studio space-saver].
- 26a. [“Out of Sight” co-star, familiarly] clues J.LO. Ooh, I loved that movie. Lopez + Clooney + non-crass steaminess = win.
- 50a. [Ruin] clues SINK, as in “I’m sunk!”
- 1d. [Curling tool] is a BROOM. This one’s not about hair. Do not take a broom to your head! It’s the not-popular-in-America sport of curling.
- 28d. [“Yesterday” or “Tomorrow”] clues SONG.
- 53d. [No dreamboat] is a TOAD. Gendered language—both dreamboat and toad seem to be applied to men far more than to women. The dictionary doesn’t say that toad skews male, though.
- 58d. EWE, standing in for “you,” is a common [Pronoun in a rebus].
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Yay! Three excellent and entertaining themelesses in one day! Doug’s puzzle is at the easier end of the “Stumper” spectrum, just a hair tougher (for me) than Brad’s LAT.
The highlights are all over the place:
- 14a. A [Superior] is a HIGHER-UP.
- 23a. A RICE NOODLE is a [Thai cuisine tidbit].
- 37a. The FALKLAND ISLANDS were a [Battleground of 1982]. Rocks, sheep, Atlantic Ocean—you can see why Britain and Argentina went to war.
- 47a. A CEREAL BOWL is a [Honeycomb holder] if you’ve got a box of Honeycomb cereal. Honeycomb’s big, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s not small, no, no, no.
- 62a. REELED IN = [Landed successfully], as a fish or a date.
- 11d. SPIKE JONZE is the [“Adaptation” director].
- 15d. PENN AND TELLER share the [“Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends” byline].
- 28d. COLOR-CODED, [Like jumper cables].
- 16a. [Chessgames.com notable] is KARPOV. He’s a big name in chess, but I don’t think any of us non-chess-players would have any reason to know he’s a “notable” at that site.
- 40a. The EGO is the [Handler of defensive functions].
- 45a. Hagiology is the literature of saints’ lives and legends. Translate it into French and focus on female saints and [“Hagiologie” subj.] is STE.
- 3d. [Let sit], past tense, can mean AGED. Like cheese or steak, but probably not a cheesesteak.
- 8d. [Reason for a ringing] of a bell is a TKO, technical knockout, in boxing.
- 9d. [Department with labs] is R AND D, research and development.
- 13d. [French artist Klein] clues YVES. The word “French” is a gift to the solver—without it, would you be looking for a specifically French first name for “artist Klein”?
- 31d. ALDER is a [Wood used for electric guitars]. I didn’t know that.
- 38d. An APSE is a [Polygonal projection] in a cathedral. I was thinking geometry.
Cute clue combo at 39d and 44d. [Users of hub-and-spoke systems] may well have had you thinking of [Bike part]s, but the former’s answer is AIRLINES. (The bike part is a FENDER.)
How is a zero-sum game a lose-lose proposition? By definition the total amounts won exactly equal the total amounts lost. If anybody loses, someone has to win.
Okay! I think my late dinner hadn’t made its way to the brain before I wrote about the NYT puzzle.
Amy Reynaldo: L
Nice puzzle, Joon. Lots of great entries.
Tough! I thought I was pretty clever by dropping that NW quadrant in within the first minute…and then came the rest of the puzzle. Spent more than half my time on the NE alone. THATSYOU (instead of OHITSYOU) was seriously holding up things, even though I had originally plopped IMALLEARS without any crossings. Good workout.
Same as Andrew, went easy in the NW, then stumbled around in the NE. I had a problematic SARISEN instead of SAMISEN, and MAAMAA, and OSCAR VOTE (or BAIT). My favorite word in the grid (that I worked hard for) is REDOLENCE.
Good puzzle, lots of good stuff in it… but I tripped up on TIRANE/TIRANA. Fallen behind on sports trivia, I guess. Also, I’ll note that my computer is telling me right now that ‘TIRANA’ is a misspelling and ‘TIRANE’ is not… so I guess I’ll just stop here and lick my lacerations.
Had I known ULALUME, NE would have been much easier…need to read more Poe, I guess. Fair test both of knowledge and puzzle solving skills, Joon.
“The Late George Apley” was wriiten by John Marquand and made into a movie with Ronald Colman (1947!) One of those bits of trivia stuck in my head, but needed _P_EY to get it.
Nice one, Joon. You twisted my brain.
Just the opposite for me. Started with DREW BREES and solved the bottom quickly.
NW was the last to fall. Top was hard for me even though HARPER LEE was my first entry.
NW was hard because I put in WHACK instead of ILLIN’.
For some reason, I had a harder time with DREW BREES than I should have. Top went much quicker than the bottom. This may have been the first SILENT_ answer I got cold. Another gimme was HARPER LEE. Still alive, and still with a single novel to her name, she’s the Jeremiah Farrell* of the book world. Excellent puzzle all around. Way to go, Joon.
* Farrell apparently did a lot of puzzles, going back to the M. Farrar days, but today he has just one puzzle listed in the Xword Info db.
Thanks for inspiring me to Google Farrell, John—his Wikipedia bio is interesting. I had heard (possibly apocryphally) that he had been so dismayed by heavy editing of his CLINTON/BOBDOLE puzzle that he never constructed crosswords again, but apparently he has remained quite active in the broader puzzling world.
Col-ber Ruh-por? Who knew? Was it Margot Asquith who said to Jean Harlow, in correcting her pronunciation of her first name, “No, dear, the “T” is silent, just as in “Harlow” …
I guess one has to watch the show to hear the punciation.
It’s not that, it’s the usual question marks that weren’t there, for other clues as well as Colbert’s. New challenges on Saturdays?
This was a great NYT puzzle. Good show, Joon!
From the ACPT constructors’ bios: “Narayan Venkatasubramanyan…will not attend the ACPT, staying a safe distance away…, because he has a lurking fear that mobs with pitchforks and torches will be baying for his blood.”
Who does he think he is — me?
Great puzzle, Joon! It took me over 50 minutes, but I finished. That is, if you define “finish” as “use the check function repeatedly and finally punch in every letter of the alphabet until Mr. Happy Pencil shows up” (ULALUME / TIMUR crossing, yikes!).
Sigh. Such a long ways to go until I can regularly finish, not “finish”, the Sat puzzle. But a very enjoyable hour!
Wow, joon, great puzzle! Thanks for the mental workout!
Amy – my typo was in SILENT T. Typos are certainly hard to find in challenging fill.
HH – too bad you won’t be there – we could celebrate our half-birthdays together on Friday.
Practically defeated me, and I admire Joon’s work but often find it way more obscure than most of you do, probably because of something generational. I looked at the four proper names out of the first five down entries with rap slang I knew I wouldn’t know coming across, and I almost gave up. Having SAMISEN and Issaachar nearby didn’t help, and I almost didn’t get the top half and especially the NW. I didn’t know lots else, such as TIMUR, the Mac OS Tiger, and DREW BREES. I didn’t know TRIM SPA but assumed it was meant to be a reasonable deduction for us rather than a factoid.
Actually, APLEY helped me a lot. It took half a day, but eventually I pulled the title out of some unconscious. I’ve never read it or seen the movie. That association with “high-quality pictures” was very hard but more to my liking, as punning and avoiding the obvious associations with high-res. I needed several crossings to get HARPER LEE but felt I really should have got it sooner. It’s a famous story in the literary scene.
My inner puzzler wants to agree with John H. But the fact that Axl Rose was a gimme denies me that excuse. Joon, great puzzle, but you defeated me. Yeah, solve NW in a flash, slam down Harper Lee, spirea, and arms akimbo. And what did it get me? Dead in the water. Still want 38A. to be skid mark. And have never heard of Trimspa. Google and I conferred to finish this one.
I laughed when reading John Haber, because it took me a few hours to get Apley, but unlike John I’d both read the book and seen the movie. Loved them both, but it takes me a while. Atwater also took me a while. I could only remember “At” for the longest time. In the end, just three letters wrong, one look-up cheat on Timur, and one lifeline from husband on Tombs. Thanks a lot, Joon! Loved it.
funny, i’ve never heard of TRIMSPA either. the SE corner that i submitted was totally different; i had DEADEYES instead of DEAD STOP and YAO MING where TRIMPSA was. i kinda like my corner better, but it had the radiohead album KID A instead of KNAR, and maybe will didn’t know that one (or thought there was already a lot of tough fill)… although i could have spared you all a fairly obscure ROALD.
anyway, thanks for the comments—i knew this one was going to be tough, particularly ULALUME/TIMUR/BAD EMS (although i clued TIMUR as the historical figure (aka tamerlane), not this minor opera character—i thought even if people didn’t know it, it would at least sound more important).
“HH – too bad you won’t be there – we could celebrate our half-birthdays together on Friday.”
I don’t even celebrate my actual birthday, so celebrating my half-birthday ain’t gonna happen.