Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword
It is late! And I am sleepy. Random comments:
1a. Boy, I didn’t know that PIPE DREAMs are [What many a character in “The Iceman Cometh” expresses]. Just how many pipe-dreaming characters are there, anyway?
10a. [Part of a Spanish forest], ARBOL. Not among the most common Spanish words in American crosswords, that’s for sure.
17a. So, this CURSE WORD replaced by a dash business—is the custom to include letters at the beginning or end (as in f—), or is there an established practice of just using — and — to replace swear words? Because I like em dashes, and —, they’re not obscene.
30a. I want [Italian almond cookies] right now. Or Chinese almond cookies. Or regular American ones.
36a. SOMETHING FIERCE was the name of my second-favorite Carleton band. (#1 was Fish, for which my husband played guitar.)
39a. [Poses a bomb threat?] as a sly clue for the football term GOES DEEP? Eh … meh. Plus, GOES crosses GONE. Tch.
43a. You know what texter tells me “bye now” with TTYL the most? Ms. Deb Amlen. She is, of course, fully able to use complete words, and does so with abandon at Wordplay.
5d. Whoa, nerd alert. D-TEN (or, presumably, D10), is a [Decahedron-shaped die, to a gamer]. I know this term only from Battleship. And bingo. Or dingo.
31d. MONOTREME is a word I associate most strongly with the They Might Be Giants song, “Mammal.”
32d. Didn’t know that [Belladonna lily] was another name for the AMARYLLIS, or that amaryllis went by any other name. I like the AMARYLLIS/AMARETTI crossing. A nod to Amar’e Stoudemire?
52d/52a. Wonder how many people would go with VALE rather than DALE for the [Lowland], as they’re roughly synonymous. If you don’t know that the vacuum-filled, double-walled DEWAR is an object named after someone, and not just the eponym of a whiskey brand, you could be excused for considering VEWAR.
Four stars. I like the plain-language expressions here—LOST A STEP, WRIT LARGE, WITH EASE, AS IF TO SAY. Lots of words with Old/Middle English roots there.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Jeopardy!”- Sam Donaldson’s review
63-Across reveals that ALEX is the [Trebek who’s in “Jeoprady!” and in 17-, 27-, 42-, and 52-Across]. That’s because you’ll see the A-L-E-X letter sequence inside each of these answers:
- 17-Across: The [Crime scene investigator, at times] is a MEDICAL EXAMINER.
- 27-Across: One thing you can say for sure about an OPTIONAL EXTRA: [It’s not standard equipment].
- 42-Across: The [Drill for a fleet] is a NAVAL EXERCISE.
- 52-Across: GENERAL EXPENSES are [Day-to-day operating costs].
The theme already requires five Xs in the grid, but Martin sneaks in two more, along with a couple of Js and a couple of Zs. Those who appreciate Scrabbly grids will surely appreciate this one. And you have to like TEX-MEX–it’s the law. Other goodies include AT WILL, I LOSE, TAXIS, and APNEA.
I wasn’t sure I had heard of SAL [soda (sodium carbonate)] before, so I went digging in the dictionary and online. One website waxes poetic about the product thusly: Before the days of Shout! stain removers and Oxi-Clean, there was Arm & Hammer Sal Soda, or sodium carbonate. Added to a load of laundry, sodium carbonate acts as a water softener, making detergents more effective, and it helps remove grease, alcohol, and oil stains. These days, Arm & Hammer markets it as “Washing Soda” and you can find it for sale alongside the detergents and such at the supermarket. Back in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s, they called it “Sal Soda.” (cue NBC’s “The More You Know” jingle here).
Favorite entry = JAILBIRD, the [Pen resident]. Favorite clue = [They may get bruised] for EGOS.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Quick review today.
I love a good Barry C. Silk puzzle (to clarify, this was one of those). Nice long 14s down (KALAMAZOO RIVER, TARGET PRACTICE). TAX LAW was a gimme in the NW, and I sped through the rest of the puzzle. Other highlights: PARALLAX, BODY CHECK, CAMEMBERT, CHINATOWN.
Lowlights were MAH, AARE, NCOS, and the UPS/UPC near repeat.
Excellent puzzle. 4.5 stars from me!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by Stan Newman)
You want to know why the northwest corner of this puzzle took me a long time? Because I had COOLIO in place and decided a likely answer for 3d: [Former Columbia Pictures owner] was … COLUMBIA. Didn’t quite comprehend the clue! The real answer, COCA COLA, works so much better with the crossings, I must say. I knew 32a wouldn’t have an IIA letter string in its middle. ([Warrior of 1 Samuel] is GOLIATH.)
My favorite clue is 51a: [Name meaning ”beloved”], AMY. The same clue and a 5-letter space could be DAVID. Much nicer than, say, “resolute protector” or “sea of bitterness.”
A couple other favorites:
- 25a. [Major medieval nutrition source], ALE. Heard something on public radio the other day about archeologists finding a kiln and determining it was for beer, and then recreating the beer from whatever ancient culture it was. The resulting beer was to be eaten with a spoon, not drunk. May I just say that spoonfuls of beer gruel sound unappetizing?
- 1d. They’re tracked by Canada’s Radarsats], ICEBERGS. Who knew?
Less fond of 10d: [Southern pie filling], YAM. You mean sweet potato pie? I’ve never heard it called yam pie. And an ANSWERER is a 65a: [Person coming back]? Don’t like the clue or the answer for this one.
Top fill: AL PACINO, GLOM ONTO, I HOPE NOT, COCA COLA, ALL CAPS.
I have only ever encountered TIN HAT in crosswords. It’s clued here as 12d: [Soldier’s wear]. Here, go read about it. Devised during WWI, used through WWII, a chiefly British term, actually made of steel and not tin, and perhaps still used by Israel’s Civil Guard.