LAT 3:08 (Andy)
CS 5:01 (Dave)
Psst: Contest puzzle! Andy Kravis has published his first meta contest crossword at Cruciverbalist at Law. Check it out. I’d say the difficulty level is a MGWCC Week 1 or 2.
John Lieb and David Quarfoot’s New York Times crossword
This must be an easy puzzle because I solved it fast for a Saturday puzzle despite feeling off kilter. It helps to know David Quarfoot’s proclivity for zippy, slangy fill (not sure if this is also a Lieb hallmark).
Highlights include MATT DAMON, SPEED DATE, SEXTED, ‘NUFF SAID, HUG IT OUT (my favorite entry!), MALE NURSE (I know a guy who just dropped out of a nursing program, further entrenching this “medical minority’s” minoritiness), Oliver Twist’s “PLEASE, SIR, I want some more,” SKIP CLASS with a Ferris Bueller clue, ROCK THE VOTE, TED TALK, and a real PIECE OF WORK. And just when I thought the puzzle was rocking a “gay gym rat” vibe (HE-MEN SEXTED and maybe SHAGged after going on a SPEED DATE, had a misunderstanding and had to HUG IT OUT), they dropped a G-SPOT on us.
Never excited to encounter fill like ENIAC, EERS, ADENO-, CENTI-, ALOES, SERE, and APER, but overall the puzzle was lots of fun.
24d: [“Mystic Pizza” actress Annabeth] GISH is in something new! I saw her photo in Entertainment Weekly in the article about The Bridge, the hot new FX show starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir that’s adapted from one of those hot Danish TV series. (Really. The cool people in England are all watching Danish shows. As is Stephen King.)
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
A very nice 68-worder from Brad Wilber this week. Not as flashy or Scrabbly as Tom Heilman’s puzzle from last week, but it’s as solid and smooth as you could want from a 68-worder.
My only rough patch in solving this puzzle was at the very beginning, when I wanted 1a, [Many a knockout punch], to be HAYMAKER. But I was sure enough about PELE, possibly the world’s most famous four-letter [Mononymous kicker], PTAS, UPDIKE, and TESSERA to replace HAYMAKER with UPPERCUT.
My two favorite entries in this one are the symmetrical long down answers:
- 12d, I AM AMERICA [Stephen Colbert bestseller subtitled “(And So Can You!)”]. I remember I Am America showing up in a Natan Last puzzle at some point (XWordInfo confirms it was during NYT’s Brown University Constructor Week in 2010)
- 25d, LOVE STINKS [Pessimistic J. Geils Band hit with the line “It’s gonna make you cry”]. I can’t hear this song without thinking of The Wedding Singer.
My other favorite entries:
- 32a, CEVICHE [Citrus-marinated South American fish dish]. Watching all that Top Chef finally pays off. Ceviche is TREF, right?
- 23d, MEL C [Sporty Spice familiarly]. Your mileage may have varied here. If you didn’t remember that the Spice Girls had a Mel B and a Mel C (or which was which), and if you haven’t been watching lots of CSI or Hell’s Kitchen, then the crossings for WHORL and CEVICHE might have been some educated guesswork.
I was a big fan of the ALI MACGRAW / TIN FOIL HAT / SWING STATE stack. It felt livelier than the symmetrical HISTORIANS / SMOKE ALARM / SLEEPER SET stack, but nothing to complain about in either stack. I liked UPPERCUT and NETSCAPE in the NW, but the SE was a bit of a SLEEPER SET of entries (ba dum chhhh).
Least favorite entries: RESNAP, CES, PUCES, UMS, SHERM (before my time, but figure-outable, and probably a very enjoyable entry for M*A*S*H fans. I’m guessing the Venn diagram of people who liked MEL C and people who liked SHERM has very little overlap).
3.6 stars from me. Until next week!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Slanted View” – Dave Sullivan’s review
No, today’s CrosSynergy doesn’t have to be solved in italics; instead, it features four phrases that end with a synonym of “slanted”:
- [Recitation to a department store Santa] clues CHRISTMAS LIST – most list-taking Santas I’ve seen these days are in mall atria instead of individual department stores, more traffic that way. I think of boats listing, do other things?
- A [Reward good restaurant service] is LEAVE A TIP – are you one of the 47% who leave less than 20%? We’re traditionally big tippers, and I know our blog hostess is one as well. (A big tip is on my Christmas list, btw.)
- [Director of “A Passage to India” and “Doctor Zhivago”] clues DAVID LEAN – heard of the movies, but not the director.
- [Moving with maximum speed] clues GOING FULL TILT – excellent entry to close out the set.
Smooth theme and puzzle, this one went by very quickly without hardly a YAWN. My FAVE clue was [Bat poop] for GUANO, since the adolescent (and Christmas list-maker) in me likes seeing words like “poop” in my crossword clues. Contemporary entry of SIRI as [iPhone assistant] was a close runner-up. Not so excited about the partials A DAMN and A TIE, but they really didn’t detract from a pretty perfectly pitched weekday offering.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I did this puzzle Friday afternoon (I upload the Newsday puzzles into the Crosswords by PuzzleSocial Facebook app so I have the files in advance, and no, I can’t share them with you). I don’t know why I did the puzzle on Friday. I was totally off kilter. I nearly fell asleep while solving. So I have no idea if it’s actually a fiendishly difficult Stumper, or if I was an impaired solver. You make the call: Was this a standard Stumper challenge, on the easy side, or incredibly hard?
I left GRAVY BOAR in the grid for far too long (had BLARING, saw that it needed to be BLATANT, I think I ended up with BLARANT for a while). That’s horribly wrong, but wouldn’t it be great if there were such a thing as a GRAVY BOAR?
Top six clues:
- 1a. [”The Right Stuff” role or star], SHEPARD. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, actor Sam Shepard. Great trivia that totally escaped me.
- 19a. [Mothers who hum to their newborns], LLAMAS. I was reading about that just recently.
- 28a. [Iceberg destination], BLT. Iceberg lettuce, that is.
- 36a. [What the French call ”saucière”], GRAVY BOAT. My impaired brain could only think of sauté pans and sauce pans.
- 12d. [Devils’ playground?], ICE RINK. The New Jersey Devils, hockey team.
- 23d. [School where streptomycin was developed], RUTGERS. Joisey medical trivia I did not know.
Best fill: KIR ROYAL, GRAVY BOAT in the center of the table, TIGHTWAD, SMACK OF, ALLEY CATS (had no idea there was a noted [Yale male glee club]), RED MEAT (and so close to COW RITE! I mean, CO-WRITE).
Least familiar bits:
- 15a. [Armada’s shuttle craft], PINNACE.
- 16a. [California city on Route 66], ARCADIA.
- 40a. [Archery wrist guard], BRACER.
- 58d. [Compound in CRT glass], SRO. Single-room occupancy hotel, standing room only, and … silica something? No, strontium oxide, SrO.
Four stars, I think.
CS: In this country, a tip is practically de rigueur, nowadays at about 20% (as Evad suggests). A reward for good service—as per the clue—would be a big or generous tip.
I was so disappointed to read a blog post a few years ago by a certain $2 million “Jeopardy!” winner, declaring that the difference the money makes is that now he always tips 20% instead of 15%. I prefer tales of rich people who drop $50 or $100 tips at diners. Then there was the story of the guy who committed suicide, so tragic, but left instructions that his family give a $500 tip on a pizza. His brother raised $60,000 via IndieGogo.com and is traveling the 50 states to give out $500 tips on pizzas, giving the lucky waiter or waitress a postcard with a picture of his late brother and explaining the story. It’s a helluva legacy, isn’t it?
Where is everybody? Only one comment, or is there something technically amiss?
And where’s the love for the Lieb/Quarfoot puzzle, which I liked a lot? In fact, with the brilliant Blindauer on Thursday, an excellent BEQ on Friday (WALLACESTEVENS!), and this scrabbly entry today, I feel that this is one of the best puzzle weekends in some time (and I haven’t even looked at the Stumper or LAT yet). Helloo?
I don’t know about you Gary, but I have been taking a cold shower for the past few hours after solving this one.
The SW corner was the first to fall for me and I solved the rest of it thinking that we were breaking new ground. The top was much tougher for me than the bottom.
Excellent puzzle and I do agree it was a great three days of solving.
And don’t forget to solve yesterday’s janie/Tony Orbach opus in the WSJ. It was tough, but excellent with some great allusions.
NYT:Easy Saturday here too, despite a snarl up where after DENS I put in gunmaN for CORDON and connected it with clang for SOFTC. Favourite moments were the clue for SPEEDDATE and the answer PIECEOFWORK. I’m clearly not hip enough to have heard of the phrase HUGITOUT. I saw where SEXTED was heading: the clue still sounds kinda gross to me… PS, I’m looking at the grid a second time and wish I could change my “3” vote to a “4”.
As long as we are in too sexting today, one of the best laughs I have had in the past few years was this scene from Crazy, Stupid Love”
Hugh Jackman in Wolverine also begs the question “Is he photo-shopped?” And Mariko in the movie is a delicate beautiful woman.
Brad has basically mastered Advanced Stumperism, and his clues get only light editing from me. His clue for SHEPARD was “The Right Stuff role””, to which I added “and star”. I knew that because of a trivia question I wrote a few years ago for the intense tournaments I compete in twice a year in Allentown, PA. I’m telling you all this because [HANDS ON BUZZERS, PLEASE], remarkably, there are TWO correct answers to the clue “The Right Stuff role and star”. Alan Shepard is a character and Sam Shepard portrays Chuck Yeager, and what other five-letter surname is also correct? (See below.)
John Glenn (played by Ed Harris) is a character, and Scott Glenn portrays Alan Shepard.
The Stumper left me pretty bruised too. And it’s not like I’m really having an off-day; I did the NYT in under three minutes.
SEXTED and G-SPOT in the NYT puzzle? Seems like everything’s fit to print these days. Will Shortz, I am disappointed in you.
Sat. NYT totally out of my comfort zone, and one of the few I just didn’t much like. Never did commit myself to any answer for 40a, though what I slapped in turned out to be right. What is “Tedtalk”? “Aloes” (plural) is a base for incense? I don’t even understand the syntax, let alone the substance.
Bruce, you would find much to enjoy and learn from in the TED Talks: http://www.ted.com/talks
They’re videos, usually in the neighborhood of 15 minutes or so, of smart people talking about something they’re really into. The first time I heard the term TED Talk was when lexicographer Erin McKean did one on redefining the dictionary in 2007. http://blog.ted.com/2007/08/30/redefining_the/