Brad Wilber and Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword
Some people are afraid of Brad’s solo themelesses. Some people are afraid of Byron’s solo themelesses. Some people, presumably, will be mightily vexed by this puzzle. I found it to be a little easier than the typical Saturday NYT. How did it treat you? Do you have a crossword-constructing nemesis?
Terrific puzzle, with a dozen 7s and a dozen answers of 8+ letters. The highlights:
- 1a. [Keister], CABOOSE. I didn’t fill this in right off the bat, but it’s a fun 1-Across.
- 18a. [Onetime White House resident with a cleft palate], TAD LINCOLN. Did not know that.
- 22a. [Handy talent?], BLUES. That’s blues pioneer W.C. Handy. Here’s Louis Armstrong playing some Handy.
- 52a. [Java file, e.g.], SOURCE CODE. Also the name of a diverting Jake Gyllenhaal movie.
- 59a. [Legs’ diamonds?], ARGYLE socks. Not to be confused with Legs Diamond. Tricky clue.
- 3d. [Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” originally], B-SIDE. I love that song! Please do enjoy the video, complete with disco roller-skating.
- 7d. [Author of the 87th Precinct series], ED MCBAIN. Full name, and with that impossible-looking pile-up of consonants.
- 13d. [Spots likely to smear], ATTACK ADS. Smooth clue, fresh fill.
- 28d. [Stone coal], ANTHRACITE. My old VW‘s color was called Blue Anthracite, but I always considered it to be dark gray.
- 31d. [University of Phoenix specialty], eLEARNING. Arizona State has land-based campuses, but is also big in the online college business (and if you want tuition assistance as a Starbucks employee, ASU is your only choice—which I find obnoxious).
Trivia I did not know (along with the TAD LINCOLN bit): 21a. Only man ever to win an L.P.G.A. Tour tournament (1962)], Sam SNEAD. It was his second attempt; he placed third in a coed field the first year.
Crosswordese card game fact I didn’t know: 23d. [Game in which top trumps are called matadors], SKAT. Pretty much any time there’s a 4-letter card game, your answer’s going to be SKAT. Anyone ever play it?
Four stars from me for the B-Dubs’ puzzle.
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Hey! This was merely a tough themeless puzzle and not a Stumperesque “omigod, so hard” crossword. Plenty of great clues to appreciate here:
- 1a. [Cow without a sound], STARE DOWN. Cow as a verb.
- 16a. [A “Global Traveler” Best, 2004-2007], for O’HARE Airport? You have got to be kidding me. I consider that a place hell-mouth akin to the one in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- 19a. [Series with many numbers], GLEE. TV series, musical numbers. No math!
- 33a. [Fashion choice opposed by PETA], UGGS brand footwear, etc. Made of shearling.
- 35a. [Square accessory], POCKET PROTECTOR. For super-square nerds.
- 7d. [Malay word for “man”], ORANG. You knew this one, didn’t you?
- 9d. [Prodigious record collector], NSA. Here are photos of people with massive collections of vinyl records.
- 21d. [Owner of Olympia and Rainier], PABST. The Washington State geography threw me off the scent.
- 23d. [Center of the Nollywood film industry], LAGOS. I learned something new—that Nigeria’s film industry is called Nollywood.
- 34d. [“If two lives join, there is oft a __”: Browning], SCAR. Didn’t know this poem line. Deep, no?
Favorite fill not already mentioned; LOCAVORES, AIR CANADA, VIGILANTE, WEDDING REGISTRY, PACKED IT IN.
The worst entry in this puzzle is ADES, which is frightfully common in crosswords even though people seldom talk about “ades” without a preceding fruit name. I like a puzzle in which the lousiest entry is actually not so grievous. I like a puzzle in which the worst entry doesn’t really have any competition, because everything else is smooth. That’s the Newsday charm, people.
Barry C. Silk’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s review
Short post, before people decide to lynch me. I “never” drink and I’ve had a rum and a strong-ish brandy before starting so here goes…
I’m a big fan of the seed patch (tm T Campbell) approach to themeless crosswords. The grid has an oddly lop-sided feel with 3×11 horizontal stacks and 3×7 vertical ones. In all four cases, the stacks ooze great answers: IMGONNA like many spoken word phrases hovers between arbitrary and lively, but I think ends on the latter side of the fence. IMAGINETHAT is also chatty. In fact all of the longer answers are good to great, but I also particularly liked the cocktail two-fer of BAHAMAMAMA (which looks ridiculous in the grid!) and AMERICANO, as well as full-name DANIELCRAIG and MESOZOICERA. My favourite clue was [Brand used with wings] for WETNAP.
Less well-known answers like DOGE, OMARR, and METZ are perfectly fine when used in moderation and reasonably spaced out, especially later in the week. There are a few convenient contrivances: AMAD, CDI and PLIER spring to mind, but I’m far more inclined to be forgiving when I’ve been delighted elsewhere in the grid.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “All in Favor”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone! How’s your Saturday going so far??
It’s been a while since solving a puzzle by Ms. Lynn Lempel, and I’ve been missing out. Another fun grid from her, and the theme is pretty simple: each theme answer creates a pun from phrases/nouns by adding the word “for” somewhere in the entry.
- REFORM SLEEP: (17A: [Find a cure for insomnia, say?]) – From REM sleep.
- FORBIDDING WAR (26A: [Peacenik’s wild fantasy?]) – From bidding war.
- STANFORD STILL: (41A: [Moonshine apparatus at a top university?]) – From stand still.
- FORREST STOP: (54A: [“Mr. Gump, cut that out!”?]) – From rest stop.
One thing that I remember, or I think I remember, about puzzles done by Ms. Lempel are the great down entries, and this offering today is no exception! The one down answer of interest was…OF INTEREST (27D: [Newsworthy]). Throw that in with CREDENZA (9D: [Sideboard for serving a buffet]) and RINGS A BELL (11D: [Sounds vaguely familiar]), and you have an amazing set of long down entries. The crossing with RINGS A BELL, RUB, was awesome as well, given that I’ve read the Nunnery Scene from Hamlet a few (hundred) times and always loved saying those words out loud (11A: [“Ay, there’s the ___] (words from Hamlet)]).
My mother, mostly out of habit/necessity in growing up in Nigeria and not having the luxury of having certain appliances at home, still prefers using clotheslines over DRYERS (43D: [Clothesline alternatives]). It’s to the point that there are a few clothes that I’ll wash at a laundromat but dry at home in the bathtub instead of putting it in the dryer. Maybe it’s a little neurotic, but picking up a habit from my mother can’t be a bad thing, right?!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BENES (25A: [Jerry Seinfeld’s buddy Elaine]) – Seeing Benes reminds me not just of Seinfeld, but also of former major league pitcher Andy Benes, who played in the Majors from 1989-2002, mostly with the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals. Benes finished third in the Cy Young Award voting in 1996 while a member of the Cardinals, and he made the All-Star Game as a member of the Padres in 1993, his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic. Benes’ most memorable year might have been in the strike-shortened 1994 season, where he became one of the few pitchers in major league history to lead his league in both losses (14) and strikeouts (189).
See you for the Sunday Challenge, everyone! Thank you for your time!
Take care, all!