Tom Heilman’s New York Times crossword
Call me crazy, but my single most favorite thing in this entire puzzle is the bizarro clue for the humble word EATS. 26d: [Manducates]! You can faintly see the etymological connection to your chewing mouthparts, your mandible. (Not man education, no ducal mandates, not Manchurian dates.) But have you ever seen this word, which my dictionary labels “formal”? I have not. I don’t know if I will ever encounter manducate again, but I’m oddly tickled to learn it.
I’m less pleased to learn 38a: SPEKE, [John __, English explorer who named Lake Victoria]. Never heard of him. But now I want to boss around a dog. “Speke, boy! Shake hands! You want a treat? Manducate!”
1a: SALSA DIP nearly lost me. This phrase keeps showing up in crosswords and I keep thinking, salsa salsa, not salsa dip. I suppose if you mixed the salsa with beans or cheese or sour cream, you’d have yourself a salsa dip. Mmm, sounds good.
Highlights, in brief:
- 16a. ARMPIT! I like Florida because it clearly has an armpit to its geographic anatomy.
- 25a. [Have a heated phone exchange?] is a terrific clue for SEXT.
- 32a/60a. The 13-letter ASIAN AMERICAN is split across two entries.
- 42a. “FLOOR IT!”
- 52a. [Lowest number on a clock] confused me, but if you look at the bottom of a clock face, there’s the SIX down there.
- 11d. “I’M JUST SAYIN‘,” y’know. Favorite answer in this puzzle.
- 54d. Another nutty word in a clue: [One guilty of pseudologia], or false words, is a LIAR.
It’s time for ELI to quit being clued as [TV title lawyer Stone] or the like. If you ran for about a year and the critics didn’t complain bitterly when you were canceled, I’m afraid you have lost your crossword cred. I may need to edit a clue in another crossword that has Maria Bello as the star of Prime Suspect (the U.S. version)—they’ve aired nine episodes and there’s no guarantee the remaining four eps will ever run. If you’re a movie that hardly anyone saw or a song that was never a hit, nobody wants to be quizzed about you in a crossword.
Anyone else try to make 45d: [Dos for dudes] be SHAGS? Is that a hairstyle for men? The answer is STAGS, meaning stag parties, “dos” being a fairly British word for “parties.”
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s Your Choice” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Decisions, decisions. Today’s puzzle puts to us five different choices:
- 17-Across: The [Choice about a deal] is to TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. I usually take it and wind up wishing I had left it.
- 29-Across: The [Choice about personal taste] is to LOVE IT OR HATE IT. I kept wanting LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT, as I’m more familiar with that phrase from the popular bumper stickers of the 1970s.
- 34-Across: The [Choice about an expiring offer] is to USE IT OR LOSE IT. Most of the time I don’t really lose it when I lose it, except for when I lose it on accident. Trust me, that makes sense.
- 42-Across: Apparently one’s [Choice about acceptance] is to LIKE IT OR LUMP IT. Say what? That expression is entirely new to me, so I sent Google digging for 0.07 seconds. One website says that when “you tell someone to like it or lump it, you mean they must accept a situation they do not like, because they cannot change it.” Putting aside the singular/plural problem in that sentence, if that explanation is correct then it seems like there’s not much of a choice there. If the expression is synonymous with “like it or not,” there’s no choice to be made, right? Moreover, how the heck does “lump it” mean “accept it anyway?”
- 55-Across: The [Choice about going all out] is MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. That’s a nice ending, a lively phrase that you hear in conversation all the time (though I tend to say “go big or go home” to express the same sentiment).
Some may subtract points for repetition–the “___ IT OR ___ IT” means you’re only digging for two of the five words in every expression. But I liked it. I’m still a bit baffled by LIKE IT OR LUMP IT, but I decided just to let it go (hey, like it or lump it, right?).
I liked the fill and clues even better. [The time of one’s life] is a fun clue for AGE, even though it didn’t fool me. It feeds GO AWOL, [One way to get the attention of MPs]. There’s a nice shout-out to PHIL Donahue as the [Pre-Oprah talk-show host], [Sheepish statement?] as the clue for BAA BAA, [Brave Henry] for the former Atlanta Brave Hank AARON, [Triumphant shout] as the clue for YES (I have my reasons), and good entries like I’M OKAY, and OPT OUT. Lots to like.
With five theme entries and 71 theme squares, some compromises are almost required. Fortunately, the worst here is probably either AABA, the
[Swedish group with a spelling problem] [Rhyme scheme of “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening”], or AT. NO. (short for “atomic number”), clued as [8 for O and 6 for C] (i.e., 8 for oxygen and 6 for carbon). TACET, to [“Be silent,” in a score], didn’t really bother me, but I think that has more to do from the very gettable crossings.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I worked this puzzle last night so it’s not that fresh in my mind, but I don’t remember a single reference to Philadelphia. There is, of course, baseball right at 1-Across: A WILD PITCH can be the [Cause of a run, perhaps]. Because if there are two things Barry Silk’s wild about, you’re looking at Philly and America’s slowest-moving national pastime.
There are a few three-word answers today:
- 15a. [Two-time Best Situation Comedy Emmy winner] is an oldie but a goodie, I LOVE LUCY.
- 35a. [Butter up, perhaps] clues BE NICE TO, which looks strange in the grid. BENICETO? Is that an Italian pope name? Why am I thinking about Benicio del Toro and connecting him to 26d: THE MATADOR (26d. [2005 Brosnan/Kinnear film with a bullfight scene])? And does Benicio really wish the Chicago Bulls mascot wasn’t named Benny the Bull?
- 67a. [“I need a hand!”] clues “HELP ME OUT.”
- 27d. [Aces] on the golf course are HOLES IN ONE.
Other favorite answers and clues:
- 9d. [It’s always number one]? That’s HYDROGEN, #1 on the periodic table of elements. This has nothing to do with micturition, other than that the water content is H2O.
- 14d. TEXAS TOAST is that fat-sliced white bread that makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich. [Southern side]? Really? Wikipedia says yes, toasted Texas toast is a side with barbecue, fried catfish, and other Southern meals.
- 28d. [Lottery draw] clues INSTANT WIN. I don’t get how the clue works, though. I thought instant wins didn’t have to wait for the lucky numbers to be drawn.
- 39d. [Construction site sight] is a BOX LUNCH. I thought construction workers usually brought a lunch box, whereas a box lunch is catered in.
- 21d. [Karl Benz or Henry Ford] fairly shouts CARMAKER but the answer is EPONYM, as they named their cars after themselves. An eponym is either the person a thing is named after or the thing that’s named after a person. Isn’t that lazy, using the same word for both sides of this equation?
- 31d. [Town in Salerno] makes me want Salerno butter cookies. Suitable for wearing as rings on your fingers! The answer, however, is EBOLI. I never understood the memoir/movie title Christ Stopped at Eboli, because when was Jesus hanging out in Italy? Turns out (according to the Wikipedia discussion at that link) the Eboli area hadn’t fully embraced Christianity. Today, I have learned something new about a word that’s crosswordese to me.
- 12d. [Featuring built-in columns] clues PILASTERED. Can you use that word in a sentence? “I drank too much Schinapps and got pilastered.”
Nothing much in this puzzle to make me have NOSTALGIA (great clue: [It “isn’t what it used to be”: Peter De Vries]) for it next year, but it’s solid, even if it would’ve been more fun with a GAR at 10d. 3.5 stars.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper,” attributed to “Lester Ruff”
If this Stumper stumped you less than you expected, give thanks (or blame, if you’re a crossword masochist) to Stan’s “Less Rough” alter ego. It was still tougher than today’s NYT, if you ask me, so Lester could have made things easier.
This will be a quick post because my kid needs the computer to work on making a zine (!) for homework.
The toughest clue, for me, was 26d: [One seater]. My first thought was BOBSLED, but then SLEDDED popped up at 14d: [Went over banks], which is where I wanted FLOODED. The [One seater] is the MAITRE’D who seats a party of one (or more). I don’t love the clue.
Seven more clues:
- 15a. [Saint who named a city] is LOUIS IX. St. Louis, Missouri? Yes.
- 22a. [Robert Turner III] is TED Turner.
- 26a. MEAD, the old honey booze, is a [Beer progenitor].
- 64a. [What Adam and Eve never did, per Twain] is TEETHED.
- 30d. [Stains, or removes stains] could certainly be BLOTS (my first guess), but it’s SPOTS. I think of “spot removal” and “spot treatment,” but not “spotting” to remove stains. And you?
- 38d. The San Diego [Chargers’ group] is the AFC WEST.
- 39d. [Scrabble player’s favorite card game] is the super-Scrabbly BEZIQUE.