David Quarfoot’s New York Times crossword
Sleepy! I don’t know why I’m so tired. Do you think it’s trypanosomiasis? Darn those tsetse flies. Let’s go listicle here.
Most noteworthy entries:
- 1a. INSTAGRAM, [Facebook purchase of 2012]. I don’t see the point of it, I just don’t.
- 15a. HATE CRIME! Who doesn’t love a HATE CRIME? Dismal term, great crossword entry.
- 31a. AMOS OZ, [“A Perfect Peace” novelist]. I read his Black Box.
- 65a. BEER STEIN, [Pint-size collectible?]. I have a pewter stein around here somewhere. When I celebrated my fifth anniversary at my old job, I had to choose a gift from the catalog. This seemed the least objectionable option.
- 1d. I HAD A BALL? Meh.
- 7d. RICTUS, [Gaping grin]. I always thought the word had something to do with creepy skeleton death grins, but apparently not.
- 11d. [Literary sextet], AEIOUY. Meh.
- 45d. [Shot of adrenaline?], EPIPEN. Love that clue! Epinephrine is the same as adrenaline (Greek vs. Latin word forms), so the EpiPen is literally a shot of adrenaline.
- 62a. [“Creation” director Jon] AMIEL is not all that famous. His movies have not been so big that he’s become a household name. With that weird clue for KREME (49d. [Part of some sundae shoppe names]), that unusual clue for SLY (59d. [Feline]), and the semi-oblique clue for STRAP (48d. [Leave in a bad place, say]), you can easily be forgiven for grousing at Mr. AMIEL.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Letter Openers”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Our last mailbag question comes in the form of a text message from Eve in Oahu: How r u? OMG pwned 2day’s xw (me ftw!), but hate how u hav to rite all ltrs 4 evry word. Slowz me down.
Bet you liked today’s puzzle from Lynn Lempel, Eve. And I must admit, I’m, like, totally crushing on it too. The theme involves common terms that begin with a word that’s a homophone for a letter of the alphabet. But those beginning words have been replaced with their homophonic letters, making for a bit of a challenge:
- 17-Across: [Key testimony in many a court case] is an “eye-witness account,” but here it becomes I-WITNESS ACCOUNT.
- 29-Across: [“That is so true!”] is a wordier way of saying “you said it,” which here becomes U SAID IT.
- 47-Across: “Tea leaves” is the answer to [Some bag contents], but in this grid they become T LEAVES.
- 60-Across: The [Penalties for pedestrians] are “jay-walking tickets,” here represented as J-WALKING TICKETS.
- 24-Down: The [Home to a queen] is a beehive, but here it’s a B-HIVE.
- 36-Down: “Pea soup” is one way to describe a [Heavy fog], and in this grid that’s written as P-SOUP.
This is the kind of theme where I worry about missing some in the writeup. Is it ASWAN or A-SWAN? SPAIN or S-PAIN? I’m pretty sure I found them all in this puzzle, but it took some extensive thought.
Granted, some of the theme entries are short, but there are still six of them in this grid, and yet Lynn makes it all look effortless. I love the way Princes William and Harry found their way into the clues three times: DIANA is [William and Harry’s mom], ANNE is [William and Harry’s aunt], and ETON is [William and Harry’s college].
I didn’t know HUMMEL, the [Collectible German figurine]. I know RIPON, Wisconsin as the home of the National Forensic League, not the [“Birthplace of the Republican Party”].
Favorite entry = DUE SOUTH, clued as [Straight to Antarctica]. Favorite clue = [Location that prompted Thoreau to write “Civil Disobedience”] for JAIL. I dunno, I just liked it.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
It’s the bold crossworder who GOES IT ALONE, but I must FORGE AHEAD. SHALE we?
What a NW corner! LADYMACBETH holds her own at 1a [Fictional sleepwalker] (probably the most famous one, at that), stacked on top of the trivia-y clued UNDERTHESEA [1989 Best Original Song Oscar winner]. How does that line go again? “Out, out damn dinglehopper?” And to round out the corner, there’s the satisfying meal of ROASTTURKEY and an ESKIMOPIE.
The symmetrical 11×3 corner is also solid, if slightly less Scrabblicious. Of all the ASSORTMENTS, I thought [Antipastos, e.g.] were a good choice, though I’m partial to a Whitman’s sampler myself. And then the NE and SW corners, both with double tens, are beauties. Highlight: ILLBETHERE, clued not as the Jackson 5 song but as [“You can count on me!”] crossing LEEJEANS [Product with the slogan “Get What Fits.”].
- Clever clues abound:
- 4d, YES AND NO [Equivocal response]. This is often my response to “Did you do today’s reading for class?” But mostly no.
- 10d, TEEN IDOL [Cause of screaming and fainting, perhaps]. When you put it that way, Bieber Fever takes a much darker tone.
- 27d, AISLE SEATS [Windows alternatives]. I’ve always preferred the aisle seat myself. Much easier to reach across it that way.
- 36d, WHITE LIE [Benign fiction]. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, which is decidedly not benign fiction.
- 56a, PRETENTIOUS [All fuss and feathers]. When someone’s nickname is Old Fuss and Feathers, you don’t often expect them to be 6’5″. Especially in the 1850s.
- 54d, ATM [Balance-reducing equipment, often]. The only ATM that reduces my balance is an All-Tequila Margarita.
And some interesting trivia tidbits:
- 32d, DRONE BEES [They develop from unfertilized eggs]. Fascinating! This sounds like the product of one of those mit-/mei-oses I’m supposed to remember from high school.
- 34a, OSLO [Home of the Kon-Tiki Museum]. Makes sense, as Thor Heyerdahl was Norwegian.
I only had a couple of minor complaints: The repetition of TBARS and TNUT was a bit LAMENTABLE, as was the 3×3 bit of fill in the SW (UAE/STR/TSE). But aside from that, this was my favorite themeless in quite a while. 4.5 stars from me!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Right as I finished this puzzle, Michael Sharp asked about the clue for 1a: [Show based on a French concept album]. The answer is LES MIZ, but there’s nothing in the clue to hint at the shortening. The original concept album and the show are both called Les Misérables, so I think the clue needs a “familiarly” tag.
Here are the clues I found most interesting:
- 23a. [It went wide in the disco era], LAPEL. My first answer in the grid.
- 22a. [”Good question!”], “GOT ME.” Not “Good question! Let me explain,” but “Good question! I don’t have a clue.”
- 33a. [React to a bump in the night], TENSE UP. Evocative.
- 35a. [Finishes a suit], SETTLES. Lawsuit, not haberdashery or playing cards.
- 43a. [Word from the Arabic for ”fast walker”], GIRAFFE. Who knew?
- 53a. [Block buster?], IDEA. Mental block.
- 26d. [Suitable apparel for a shower], ONESIE. Baby shower, not rain shower.
- 36d. [GE fired Reagan for criticizing it], TVA. Political trivia. Here’s the story.
- 45d. [Back, or front], FINANCE. Front me the money and back my venture, will you?
I had a heck of a time figuring out 7d: [Niobe punisher] after completing 20a: [”I see __ better in the dark”: Dickinson] as THEM. ***MMIS?? There’s no Greek myth figure who fits that pattern, is there? Eventually I made headway through that corner and backed into ARTEMIS crossing THEE.
Overall, the fill is smooth but a tad on the dull side, as we see in these themeless grids that max out at 7-letter answers. It’s definitely [Better than bad], though. Bad is one star. Incrementally better than bad is a TWO-STAR rating. I’ll give this one 3.66 stars.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Labyrinth”
Wow, if you’re stuck on the first Across and first Winding answer, it might take a long time to work your way to the finish. Or to the start, rather. I had the finish, but didn’t know STING‘s album and didn’t narrow down [Battle site of 1942-43]—STALINGRAD—easily without the help of STING and SALARIED.
Other trouble spots included the [Jazz standard that starts, “I can only give you love that lasts forever”], “THAT’S ALL.” Never heard of it, but would have gotten it if clued as [Phil Collins song that starts, “Just as I thought it was goin’ alright, I found out I’m wrong when I thought I was right”]. And who knew there was a [Hitchcock film starring Montgomery Clift as a priest] called I CONFESS? (And who wanted the other answer in row 11 to be ICON instead of IDOL, making the row ICON ICON FESS?)
Not much to delight here, but nothing irksome either. 3.75 stars.