Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword
Hey! A themed Saturday puzzle. That’s a rarity, and I liked this one. The theme entries spell out EACH CLUE IN / THE PUZZLE / IS MISSING / THE LETTER N. Which, luckily, I figured out on my own before I had those all filled in, as it might’ve killed me otherwise. [First part of a hit for this crossword], the first theme clue, needs an N in “hit” to make it “hint,” of course.
- 19a. [Relative of “Hey, ma”], PSST. “Hey, man.”
- 24a. [Pog or Pogs, formerly], FAD. Pong or Pogs.
- 30a. [Fly of film], ERROL. Two N’s missing from Flynn. You wanted Jeff Goldblum here, didn’t you?
- 38a. [Covered with slug mud], SULLIED. Slung mud. I like this “slug mud”!
- 52a. [Part of a euro], AXON. Neuron.
- 57a. [Like a great bod], AAA. As in an AAA-rated bond, the investment instrument.
- 2d. [Vegas would love this type of world], MEAT-FREE. Vegans.
- 3d. [Casio game], BACCARAT. Casino, as in Vegas, which here is hiding vegans.
- 4d. [Kat’s “I”], ICH. Kant.
- 13d. [Gere of “Gulliver’s Travels”], SATIRE. Genre, not Richard Gere.
- 25d. [You might board yours at the keel if you take a cruise], DOG. Kennel. I like the keel/cruise ship interaction.
- 33d. [Doe, e.g.], POET. Donne, not done. I like the extra trickiness of the deleted double-N’s.
- 53d. [Refusal from a boy lass], NAE. Bonny, not bony. No geder-beding here.
Quibble: I liked the peace/penance play in 36a. [Perform peace], ATONE, except that PEACE is also in the grid at 14a, and it makes you wonder if there’s supposed to be an extra layer of “find the grid words in the clues,” but no.
And 11d. [Margarie might be described thus], ERSATZ? I don’t know what “Margarie” is doing in there. A not-very-common variation on Marjorie??
I loved the “wait, decode each clue first” gimmick, and the wealth of words that differ only in the presence/absence of N’s. 4.5 stars from me, an engaging and enjoyable puzzle.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
The last two Saturday LATs have been particularly challenging, so it was nice to have one that seemingly returned to standard difficulty. On the other hand, this is the kind of puzzle whose fill is so plain that an added notch of difficulty in the fill would have been welcome. Puzzlers who disdain proper nouns in their puzzles will mostly likely fawn over this puzzle.
I, on the other hand, struggled to find dazzling or fresh entries. Maybe… SOCK PUPPET? HORSE SENSE? CARDBOARD BOX? SATURATED FAT? Those are all fine. But then there’s LIMESTONES plural, XEROX TONER (whose last appearance seems to be in a BEQ puzzle designed solely to maximize the puzzle’s X count, and whose lexicality is and was dubious), SSE and ESS next to each other with ESSE and EROSE in the same stack (all reasonably acceptable on their own, but noticeable together), and lots of 3s and 4s of marginal interest. The clues were also not noteworthy, except for two: [The digits in all but one of its two-digit multiples add up to it] for NINE, and [2005 National Toy Hall of Fame inductee] for CARDBOARD BOX. RAM was clued as [Butter on a farm?], which is nice but not new. Even the one signature of Silk puzzles, high Scrabble count, is even lacking by Silk standards — a couple of Zs and Xs but not much else.
One bright spot is that, aside from the aforementioned LIMESTONES and XEROX TONER, there really isn’t a fishy entry in the entire puzzle. Plenty of entries that would register a mere blip on the Scowl-o-Meter, but certainly nothing more. One additional note I’ll make–and this puzzle isn’t the only offender on this count–is that I find USE ME as a standalone phrase highly suspect. As the Bill Withers song? Sure. A dated reference, but fine. But I’ve never heard anyone say this to mean [“I’m here to help”]. (As it turns out, a quick xwordinfo.com search reveals that USE ME has been clued this way once in the NYT puzzle, by none other than Barry C. Silk.)
I love Barry Silk puzzles in general, but this one really just didn’t do it for me. I can’t even bring myself to give it a star rating. Until next week!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Tell me, why is a U-BOLT [One with two heads in the kitchen]? I can’t think of a single U-bolt in my kitchen.
I’m dragging my feet on blogging this puzzle because I didn’t much enjoy it. There are solid answers whose clues annoyed me. To wit:
- 15a. [Without stopping], FOR ALL TIME.
- 17a. [Line of gravity], I KID YOU NOT.
- 21a. [Largest French commune by area], ARLES. Really? A wealth of fine art clues, and we get a lousy French geography clue that makes us think the answer will be woefully obscure? There are more than 36,000 French communes, Wikipedia tells us, and “The median population of metropolitan France’s communes at the 1999 census was 380 inhabitants.” Arles has about 50,000, but in general, nobody outside that neighborhood need give a damn about French communes. Irksome clue!
- 24a. [Operators standing by?], ER DOCTORS. They’re not surgeons, though.
- 9d. [Numbers for brooders], EMO. Wait, a rock genre can be clued as “numbers”? I know “number” is a slangy way of saying “song,” but songs ≠ genre.
Fill like PRIER and ELY … well, there weren’t a lot of these, but there also wasn’t a lot of sparkle. ITUNES STORE, DATA CENTERS … they needed more friends here.
I did like some of the clues (but there wasn’t enough zip to make me overlook the “bleh” and “really??” stuff):
- 27a. [Firsties], DIBS. Never heard “firsties,” but it’s cute. Didn’t mind learning another way of claiming dibs.
- 48a. [Hero for the Fonz], JAMES DEAN. With the second E in place, I tried TUSCADERO. What?
- 50a. [Connection points for hooks], CHINS. As in a left hook in boxing.
- 59a. [Skill displayed in minutes], NOTE TAKING. If you’ve ever been in charge of writing up the minutes from a meeting, you know this is key.
- 2d. [Pastime for Captain Picard’s senior staff], POKER. Pop culture trivia I didn’t know. Patrick Stewart, who played Picard, has a cute (and wordless) Ice Bucket Challenge video.
- 28d. [Enjoyed the sound, say], BOATED.
- 51d. [Paris is featured in it], ILIAD.
No idea what a CROSS FADER is (65a. [DJ’s device]).
3.33 stars. I wanted more fun, I did.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “RH Factor”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there everyone!! Hope you’re doing great on this Saturday!
Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, involved taking common terms/proper nouns and changing one letter in the entry (from R to H) to create some puns.
- ACCIDENT PHONE: (20A: [Way to get help at a highway crash?]) – From “accident prone.”
- WHIST SUPPORT: (26A: [Endorsement of a four-player card game?]) – From “wrist support.”
- DAWSON’S CHEEK: (42A: [Where a former “Family Feud” host used to be kissed?]) – From “Dawson’s Creek.”
- THICK QUESTION: (48A: [Very long part of a final exam?]) – From “trick question.”
Finally, an appearance of OESTE in the grid (31A: [Colombian compass direction]). Go West, young men and women! Still the morning here as I type this, so a BAGEL might be in order since I’ve yet to have a substantial breakfast as we speak (18A: [Roll with a hole]). I know I’ve heard of a SCHOONER in terms of a beer glass before, but took me a while to remember that (38D: [Draft holder]). It’s taking me even longer to remember when I’ve used the word TIREDNESS (33D: [Reason to retire]), and it’s possible that I just can’t remember ever using it in a sentence. I know it’s a legit word, but, even as I’m saying the word out loud, nothing’s popping in my mind as to when I’ve said that word before. Oh, and a very intricate cluing and entry with ON ONE (12D: [Call for a quick hike?]). I know I talked about the dated nature of a grid entry, HUT ONE, in a puzzle recently, but this is definitely current, as most quarterbacks will make their play call in the huddle and say either “on one” or “on two” to describe when they want the snap from the center.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OILER (46D: [Edmonton hockey player]) – So many options to choose from for this space, including going to my website to download the PODCASTS that I produce each week, interviewing athletes, sports journalists and knowledgeable fans (4D: [Some iTunes downloads]). But I’ll concentrate on a member of a hockey team that was part of the one of the greatest dynasties in National Hockey League history. The Edmonton Oilers won five Stanley Cups in a seven-year span (1984-1990), with most of those being led by some of the greatest Oiler and NHL players of all time, including Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, goaltender Grant Fuhr, et al. Edmonton has fallen on hard times recently, as they have not made the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!