Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
This is the kind of themeless I like best, with lots of longish (9-11 letters) answers, colloquial language, and pop culture. If it’s running as a Saturday puzzle, though, I do hope for more challenging clues. This one played like a Friday for me.
Five Six faves in the fill:
- 1a. [TV host who won a Best Comedy Album Grammy], JIMMY FALLON. He does a lovely job combining music and comedy, so he’s right at home at the Grammys.
- 15a. [Cry used to pump up a crowd], ARE YOU READY … to rumble?
- 67a. [Fall fallout, some believe], ORIGINAL SIN. I like Original Sin hard cider. The pear cider is hard to come by.
- 69a. [Scorsese film before “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”], MEAN STREETS. The sort of letters that make it easier to fill a grid if you put this answer at the bottom, but it’s zippy so we forgive it its swath of common letters.
- 14d. [Nada], JACK SQUAT. This might have been popularized by the movie Tommy Boy.
- 34d. [Picture with a lot of gunplay], SHOOT-‘EM-UP.
Clue in dispute: 24d. [Dangerous thing to sell], SOUL. Really? Dangerous? I wager that I could sell mine and suffer no ill consequences.
Favorite clue: 28a. [Prizes given to good docs?], OSCARS. Docs = documentaries.
Literary trivia I didn’t know: 37a. [Beast hunted by Hemingway in “Green Hills of Africa”], KUDU.
4.25 stars from me. How’d it treat you?
Updated Saturday morning:
Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
It’s always nice to see Doug and Brad’s names in the byline, and today was no exception. My favorites were the four long entries:
- 30a, YOU’RE ONE TO TALK! [“That’s the pot calling the kettle black!”]. The latter saying doesn’t make much sense to a generation who grew up with stainless steel cookware.
- 35a, WEMBLEY STADIUM [London arena that Pelé dubbed “the cathedral of football”]. By way of comparison, it seats about as many people as the Rose Bowl.
- 14d, MONOPOLY MONEY [Currency printed on only one side]. You’d think there’d be more security features.
- 15d, MISSPENT YOUTH [Rued years]. It just occurred to me that this is only a few letters away from being MISS PENTHOUSE.
Other than that, the grid looks a lot like a Saturday Stumper — lots of sixes and sevens. So, without further ado, “the best of the rest”:
- 55a, TREVINO [First golfer to win the U.S., British and Canadian Opens in the same year]. If you know nothing else about me, know this: I love golf trivia.
- 58a, HAT HAIR [Side effect of a bike helmet]. HEAD SAFETY didn’t fit.
- 3d, ROBUSTO [Humidor item]. It has the added bonus of crossing UMBERTO. Isn’t Robusto a brand of pasta sauce?
- 12d, REDBOOK [Magazine in which “The Thin Man” first appeared]. Redbook sure has come a long way since the 1930s.
- 40d, MELANIE [One-named singer/songwriter of the 1970 Woodstock-inspired hit “Lay Down”]. I’ve heard the song before, but had no idea who Melanie was/is.
I had two problem areas: 1) For a while, I had TONGUED for 50a, LINGUAL [Like many consonants], which made breaking into both the SW and SE very challenging; 2) Just the entire NE. RHO was the only gimme in the region, and there were a lot of tough answers and clues up there (BATFISH, CACAO [Creme de ___], BRNO, ORB [Mars, for one], MACHETE [Tool for hackers], MENORCA [Mediterranean island, to locals], OCTO [Pi preceder?]). 57a, TREACLY [Overly sentimental] isn’t in my day-to-day usage, but it strikes me something Brits might say fairly often.
This one took REEL NERF to finish, but I liked it: 3.75 stars from me. Until next week!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Pick Out of a Hat” – Dave Sullivan’s review
When I saw the title of today’s CrosSynergy puzzle, I was thinking that types of hats would be imbedded in phrases, maybe a grid-widening 16 of CALL INTO QUESTION? But instead, we have 3 15-letter phrases where the final word is a part of a hat:
- [Practically flowing over] was FILLED TO THE BRIM – Madison Avenue has me thinking of Folger’s Coffee when I hear this.
- [“Let there be music!”] clues STRIKE UP THE BAND – few hats have bands these days, I’m thinking. Remember the ones where someone would put a fishing lure or was that just my father did to keep sharp objects out of his pocket?
- [Decoration for outstanding service in certain realms] was ORDER OF THE CROWN – my least fave of the three as this phrase is not as familiar (or as catchy) as the other two.
Let me top this one off by saying I thought the theme pretty simple, but nicely executed with three grid-spanning entries. This was also probably my fastest CS solve in a while, clocking just 3 seconds under 5 minutes. (I know, still rather slow by this blog’s standards, but quick for me!) I enjoyed the symmetry of [Luau entertainer’s garment] for HULA SKIRT and [Hawaiian’s phrase that can mean “Take it easy”] for HANG LOOSE. (I think you’re supposed to spin your hand back and forth while holding up your pinky and thumb when saying that.) My UNFAVE goes to the O-less AMEBA, which always looks incomplete to me.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (as Anna Stiga)
Really a nice Stumper this week. Reasonably zippy fill, challenging but not enragingly obfuscatory clues, perfect difficulty level for a Saturday themeless.
My entry into the grid came with the gimme 20a. [Language that gave us ”boondocks”], TAGALOG. It helps to have Filipino family members sensitizing you to Tagalog/English trivia like this. And then the rest of the puzzle required plenty of back-and-forth between the grid and clues, plenty of working the crossings to piece things together, but no particularly resistant zones in the grid.
Seven favorite clues:
- 9a. [Brewers once worked there], A.L. EAST. I thought it would be something like ALE BAR or ALE TAP, but it’s baseball. The Brewers have been in the N.L. Central since 1998.
- 23a. [Purveyor of tees, wedges and bags], DKNY. Tee-shirts, wedge-heel shoes, and handbags. The clue totally read as golf paraphernalia. This one’s my favorite clue today. Potential hall-of-fame clue?
- 33a. [Say when], SET A DATE.
- 51a. [”1001 Arabian Nights” characters], ZEROS. The zeroes in “1001.” I almost went with HEROS, although that would be spelled HEROES.
- 2d. [Name on six Vare Trophies], ANNIKA. Didn’t know the trophy, figured it was hockey or something. And then the crossings made the ending IKA, and I pieced together the LPGA’s Annika Sorenstam.
- 35d. [Parting-word facilitator], SPACE BAR. To part a pair of typed words, not words that part a pair of people.
- 56d. [Web sites, at times], TOES. Webbed toes!
There’s plenty of lively fill, too. Such as 24d. [”A Toy Is Born” subject], YAHTZEE. Great entry! Makes me remember the recent MGWCC meta puzzle I didn’t crack. I also liked WATCHDOG (and I liked the EAT clue, [What may be found between two dogs], but didn’t need more dogs in the puzzle), TIRAMISU, and AZIMUTHS. In addition to ANNIKA Sorenstam, we’ve got Lady GODIVA and Amelia EARHART—three women to one man, Anwar SADAT. (Shakespeare’s ARIEL is variously taken to be male or female.) In general, I do think we see more male names in crosswords than female, so it’s a nice change.
Mystery clue: 22a. [Part of Georgia Tech regalia], TAM. Wha…? Apparently the doctoral headwear is a “black hexagonal tam.” You are excused if you didn’t know that.
4.5 stars. Smooth fill, uniform difficulty throughout the grid, interesting clues.