Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
Crikey, I am crazy-tired. Finished the puzzle fine—felt easier than yesterday’s NYT, in fact—but crashed immediately thereafter. Too sleepy for complete sentences.
Terrific fill, tons o’ bright spots, massive Scrabbly action. Favorite bits:
- Scrabbly FAX PAPER, IDEE FIXE, VEXES (crossing ADIEUX, making its second appearance this week), KABUKI, QUEEN MAB, one-vowel/-seven-consonants SCHMALTZ, BACKHOE, HENRY IV, QUETZAL, BYE WEEK
- Old-school HOG-TIE and POMADE together
- CH- comestibles crossing in the top corner: CHEVRE and CHIANTI
- Chatty “oh, I’VE EATEN“
- Snappy PIRANHA
- 32a. [Film villain who sings “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do!”] clues HAL, the 2001 computer. Creepy!
- 64a. ALOE VERA = [So-called “wand of heaven”]. I think that’s new to me.
- 67a. To run naked or STREAK is to [Barely risk being arrested].
- 40d. [Time unit] is an ARTICLE in Time magazine.
This 72-worder is packed with juicy fill and has a fairly small number of 3-letter answers (eight). No crappy fill. Two thumbs up.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Gallery Display”—Janie’s review
We close out the CS week with an embedded word gimmick. The title gives us a good hint as to what that word is, but in case there was any doubt in your mind, there’s a reveal at 58-Down, where the clue [Exhibit found in this puzzle’s four longest answers]—and the 3-letter limit—confirms that it’s ART. I love a good gallery or museum visit and love that the treasure buried in the theme fill today is art. With one exception, though, I’m not so wild for the theme set itself, which is a tad on the dry side. Please don’t assume I’m simply JADED [Bored by it all]. I know what a challenge it is to come up with four phrases that work, and wish to take nothing away from the constructor. And am happier still that instead of RETICULAR TISSUE or AKBAR TANJUNG, we got the so-much-nicer-by-comparison:
- 20A. CLEAR THINKING [Not mentally confused]. (See? Isn’t that better?]
- 31A. SMEAR TACTIC [Political ploy]. The best of the bunch, for my money.
- 42A. GRAMMAR TEST [Language exam].
- 55A. CELLULAR TOWER [Elevated communication structure]. I wouldn’t go touchin’ any wires around one, lest you get a JOLT [Shock].
Gail makes great use of the long “down” opportunities her grid provides. Standouts would have to include EMOTICONS [Cyberspace symbols], SET A TRAP [Arranged an ambush], RIO GRANDE (somewhat redundantly) clued as [Texas border river] and “IT’S SO YOU!” with its calling-all-tweens, pitch-perfect clue [“What an awesome outfit!”].
There’s a sweet olfactory tie-in between SCENTS [Potpourri offerings] and LILAC [Flowering shrub]; and a lovely euphonious one amongst ATONAL [Lacking a musical key], LODES [Mineral deposits], OWENS [Country singer Buck], SLOES [Plumlike fruits], ALOES [Ointment ingredients] and ALOHA [Polynesian greeting].
And if you’ve never read her, I do commend WILLA [Author Cather] to your attention. Not just the novels either. Have a go at some of her short stories. One modern woman, that Willa, even if she was born nearly 140 years ago.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This is Julian’s Week of Triumph, with an amazing Fireball crossword followed mere days later by a zingy LA Times themeless. Today’s cluing seemed easier than usual for a Saturday LAT, but I can forgive the puzzle for not putting up much of a fight because it gave us these entries:
- 1a. [Its first mascot was a toque-wearer named Speedee] refers to MCDONALD’S. The Speedee trivia is something I learned from crosswords.
- 15a. OBAMACARE is the [2010 health statute, informally]. The term’s mostly used disparagingly by the law’s opponents.
- 20a. [Groupings affected by natural selection] are GENE POOLS. Not sure I’ve ever seen this term in a crossword before.
- 36a. [Roll with the punches] clues TAKE IT AS IT COMES. Fresh, in the language, five words long.
- 56a. [Potter’s concern] is not clay or kiln temperature, it’s Harry Potter’s archnemesis VOLDEMORT. Do yourself a favor and watch the Harry Potter Puppet Pals “Mysterious Ticking Noise” video. You’ll never be afraid of Voldemort again.
- 12d. [Fight fiercely] clues GO TO THE MAT. Fresh language, plus it wedges four words into a single entry.
- 27d. The ATKINS DIET? [It was blamed for reduced pasta sales in 2003]. I needed crossings to point the way. Was thinking of a food poisoning scare or some such culprit.
Among my favorite clues were these:
- 43d. [Wrap artist?] is Santa’s ELF, wrapping Christmas presents. Parents! Tell your kids that Santa is going green and not wrapping any presents. Will save you lots of time and hassle.
- 29a. [Werewolves do it] clues MORPH.
- 45a. [Beer named for a river] is AMSTEL. Are you like me, folks? Would you be favorably disposed towards a beer labeled EBRO, YSER, or NEVA?
- 10a. [Father in the comic strip “Bringing Up Father”] is named JIGGS. Don’t know this comic strip; never heard the character name.
Not wild about fill like SERI, LITA, ANIL, and LAHR—if you do too, too many crosswords, these pose no challenge and bring no joy. I am waiting for ANIL Dash to be deemed familiar enough for his first name not to be an obscure crossword answer. Or word maven ANU Garg—if you’ve ever used the Internet Anagram Server tool, you know Anu’s work.
Barry Silk’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Beautiful puzzle, the epitome of a Stumper—tough puzzle with smooth fill, the toughness coming from the clues rather than the vocabulary found in the grid. Here’s what’s in it:
- 8a. Boris KARLOFF, a Vincent [Price contemporary].
- 16a. [Spam source] is an E-MAILER. Not just Hormel.
- 17a. Old Hollywood trivia: THE ROBE was the [First CinemaScope film].
- 25a. [Fly or drive]? Each is a VERB.
- 39a. Who knew PINE-SOL has been a [Clorox brand since 1990]?
- 43a. [Fingerprints, often] are SMUDGES. Take a look at your monitor. See?
- 48a. Love the word TRAIPSE. Clue is [Be a rover].
- 53a. We all know the YMCA, but how many of us know it was a [USO cofounder]?
- 56a. [At the peak] clues UP TOP. Hey, wait a minute…there are three UPs in this puzzle. POP-UP AD ([Surfing annoyance]) crosses this one, and then there’s TIME’S UP (testing [Monitor’s announcement]).
- 61a. [Patched] looks like a past-tense verb, but it’s an adjective here meaning PIEBALD. A piebald horse has patches of two colors in its coat.
- 2d. [Letter recipient] is an ATHLETE who wins a letter to put on his or her coat.
- 8d. Who knew the KESTREL, a falcon, was a [Lizard hunter]?
- 9d. Ah! [Blasting aid?] without a question mark would be TNT, but with the question mark, it’s an AMP that blasts music at a concert.
- 12d. OLD NEWS is a [Currency lacker]. It’s no longer current.
- 13d. I like this name clue. FELICIA is a [Name that means “happy”]. This one’s better than some of those other “meaning of a first name” clues because there are familiar cognates: felicity, felicitations.
- 24d. [Prairie pest] isn’t a GOPHER, it’s a LOCUST.
- 26d. [Sub groups] that substitute for the starters on a sports team are the B-TEAMS.
- 30d. Data [Storage devices] can be collectively referred to as MEMORY.
- 41d. [Reserve for the future] sounds like a verb, but it’s a noun: NEST EGG. Good one.
- 42d.[Longitude symbols, in cartography] are LAMBDAS. Had no idea. Greek letters are fairly common as scientific symbols, though.
- 55d. [Limited quantity] is a PIECE. Huh. I wanted PINCH.
- 64d. Didn’t know [Wet concrete, to builders] was MUD, but it seemed instantly correct. Yay!
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, cryptic crossword “Word Square”
Oof! Nine minutes to wrangle the first 40 clues for the outer grid, and then 11 minutes more for the final four clues for the word square in the middle. The 40 outer clues were surprisingly easy. But those other four—oof. They fought me, and their surface senses were generally less entertaining than the outer clues’ surfaces.
- a. [Inside drew gold brick] yields IN + GOT, or INGOT.
- b. [Love horn sounds] has two definitions of TOOTS: the “love, honeybuns, toots” terms of endearments and the sounds made by a horn.
- c. [Circle French gold particle] yields OR (French “gold”) + BIT, or ORBIT.
- d. [Iota inside horn set off owner] clues RHINO. Iota = I, and “HORN set off” scrambles to RHNO. Put the I inside and you get RHINO. But how is a RHINO an “owner”? It’s the owner of a horn, but I’m not used to seeing a definition word hinge on reuse of another word in the clue.
I took a few wrong turns in assembling the word square when I had only ORBIT and RHINO. Eventually I hit on the right layout, and that coaxed me towards getting INGOT and TOOTS. The fifth word in the square is BINGO, which may be what you said to yourself when you finally figured out the puzzle’s final answer.
ORBIT RHINO BINGO INGOT TOOTS
Wasn’t sure of HESIOD or AFTRA when I submitted, but pleased to get Mr. Happy Pencil when I did. QUETZAL reminded me (nostalgically) of my favorite Karen M. Tracey puzzles.
Loved it! Great work, Brad.
Really surprised that ADIEUX appears in consecutive NYTs. Not only that, but it crossed Gen Xer in Friday’s puzzle, and then appears immediately to the left of Xer today. This is NOT a criticism though; If anything, I’m grateful because the repetition helped me get those answers more quickly.
Enjoyed seeing both QUETZAL and PIRANHA; my knowledge of neotropical fauna is finally paying off. FYI, there is another 7-letter tropical bird called a HOATZIN, which also has ‘tz’ as its 4th and 5th letters. Now that quetzal has had multiple puzzle appearances, I expect a savvy constructor to throw us a hoatzin curveball somewhere down the line.
Definitely easier than yesterday for me. And enjoyable, lots of lively fill– the initial crossing of CHEVRE and CHIANTI was a particularly tasty way to start. Yum.
How can the Stumper be a 3 1/2 rated puz? (as of this writing) As they say in sports analysis: C’mon man!
Couldn’t remember KESTREL though. So I found myself peering at KESTREP.
Loved it. Favorite answer was TRAIPSE. I always thought that meant to step heavily. “Don’t traipse through the dining room with those muddy shoes!”
@Mitchs: I know! There wasn’t a single thing in the Stumper that made me grumble. It makes me think that people downgrade puzzles that they can’t solve, just out of spite. :-)
In the Hex puzzle, 29D is listed *twice* for word D, so the clue reads “Iota Inside Horn Set Off Horn Owner.” A Rhino is a horn owner.
Too many horns for a quiet Saturday.
My only nit with Brad’s NYT was 39A clue “No relative”, because the standard spelling for the Japanese drama form is Noh. Loved the SCHMALTZ though…
I can’t access the crosssynergy puzzle for today. Can anyone help?
“My only nit with Brad’s NYT was 39A clue “No relative”, because the standard spelling for the Japanese drama form is Noh.”
Saturday puzzles are hardly “standard” — you should know that by now.
Bev: Click the “Today’s Puzzles” link up top and you should be able to download the CS puzzle via the link on that page.
Amy: Tried that. Keep getting yesterday’s puzzle.
Wait, what day is today? Hmm. I see. No longer 3/25.
@HH: you remind me of my high school English teacher. Check out Martin’s comment on Wordplay for definitive explanation.
“HH: you remind me of my high school English teacher.”
Was that a compliment, an insult, or merely an observation?
Why, of course, it’s Saturday Saturday and yesterday was Friday Friday and tomorrow will be Sunday Sunday and Monday comes afterward.
We just link to the “today.puz” file on the CS site, which should get updated every day. If Bob K. is around, maybe he can look into it?
It seems that the Houston Chronicle website is no longer carrying the CS puzzle.
“The crossword puzzle feature has been discontinued on chron.com.”
I got a quick foothold in the NW, where HESIOD was a gimme for me and ruled out other wrong guesses immediately. I actually also knew AFTRA right off; my mother was a member. There the hard square for me was X, as I didn’t know there was such a thing as fax paper (as opposed to ordinary blank letter-size sheets or copier paper), and the connection of Xer to gen X and gen X to disco came to me only after I was done.
The SW was the hardest for me, since I had “miser” for PIKER (and the S in “miser” giving an ending of “shoe” looked very promising), couldn’t spell QUETZAL (tried an E for A at first), and couldn’t get the connection of No to Noh; however, RHUD actually prefers No (with a horizontal accent, whatever that’s called, over the O). I did like the puzzle, though, very much.
at 6:20 eastern time, the cs was still available on the washington post‘s site.
hope this link to the puzzle will take you there sans tears!
I’ll sure miss it if we can’t get the CrossSynergy in AcrossLite format any more.
Hopefully Evad (and Cruciverb, and WIJ’s Pointers) can point instead to the WaPo, which is where CrosswordButler gets it.
didn’t get to the puzzles until late today. but:
1. the NYT sparkled, but was probably the easiest saturday i’ve ever done. certainly the fastest (4:29 paper, faster than several of friday’s puzzles). but this was a beauty—scrabbly all over and packed with good stuff. -ESCE is the only clunker.
2. stumper was hard. THE ROBE/KIRBY in particular—no idea what either of those even refers to. i thought i might blaze through it when i slapped down 1a/1d right away, but no, not even close.
3. julian lim is a pretty sharp constructor, and i’m glad to be seeing his byline more often these days. i remember a year or two ago, before he was first published, he sent me a couple of puzzles to critique and i remember thinking, “this guy has serious talent.” now, i guess, everybody else knows too. :)
4. enjoyed the hex cryptic—the cryptic clues seemed pretty easy, but the gimmick was fun and BINGO was a nice payoff.
I think you should save this dribble for another forum, or are you just a troll?
Sandy, I tossed that post into the spam heap. Tea Party spam’s a new one on me!
LOL! As long as joon doesn’t think I was talking to HIM!!