Evans Clinchy’s New York Times crossword
Lots of crisp fill in this one, though I might’ve liked a more Saturday-tough level of cluing. Among the best entries:
- 15a. [Guinness record-setter for “highest-rated TV series” (scoring 99 out of 100 on Metacritic.com)], BREAKING BAD.
- 25a. [Group of very small stars?], D LIST.
- 36a. [Get rid of jerks?], GREASE THE WHEELS. Not sure what the “jerks” are here.
- 54a. [Far from scarce], A DIME A DOZEN.
- 58a. [2014 N.B.A. M.V.P.], KEVIN DURANT.
- 60a. [Millions of people swipe them], SMARTPHONES.
- 13d. [Restaurant availability], OPEN TABLE. I liked this one because it’s also the name of a restaurant reservation website, OpenTable. I bet the constructor had it clued that way.
- 32d. [Force to walk with the arms pinned behind], FROG MARCH.
Favorite clue: 49a. [Manhattan architect?] for BARTENDER. Didn’t fool me, though. Usually my favorite clues did manage to dupe me. Runner-up: 50d. [Many an exploding star], DIVA. This one did trick me into trying NOVA first.
- 20a. [Looking up to], ESTEEMING. Rather uncommon form of the word.
- 2d. [Architectural crossbeam], TRAVE. Saturday-level vocabulary, no? I don’t recognize the word. Not really iffy, I grant you—just quite uncommon.
- 27d. [“Benson” actor Phillips], ETHAN. Say what? I watched Benson for years and this doesn’t right the slightest bell. Someone who wasn’t among the five leading characters on a 1979-’86 show really has no business being clued this way. Not a famous name, but a familiar face. (See also: 49d. [“Soap” actor Jimmy], BAIO. Markedly less famous than his cousin Scott Baio, and far less prominent in show biz since 1981 than Phillips. What the heck is going on here?)
Geo-trivia I didn’t know: 43a. [Country that includes the islands of Gozo and Comino], MALTA. And here I thought all of Malta was just the one island. Wikipedia tells me there are three main islands plus some smaller ones; the Maltese language is Semitic and the island was first settled over 7,000 years ago. The language looks so bizarre to me (e.g., Maltese for Gozo is Għawdex).
Four stars from me.
Tom Heilman’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
It felt like there were a lot of phrases in this one, which I like. I think some felt more in-the-language than others, but you can decide for yourself: we have ON LOOKOUT, RANG IN, STAY LOOSE, TAKE A LOAD OFF, OVERDOES IT, “ENOUGH TALK,” YET TO, and ONE SICK PUPPY. CREPE SOLE was new to me, but it’s a term I’m glad to learn. HONEY TRAPS [Espionage strategies using seduction] I only know from Archer, though I think they call it a “honey pot.”
I had a bit of a hiccup at the crossing of AMPAS and SIG, but otherwise things fell pretty smoothly. I liked that ELLIE was clued as [Actress Kemper of “The Office”].
Pretty nice themeless, all in all, and a little different from other Saturday LATs of late. I’ll say 3.4 stars. Until next week!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Really tough puzzle, but not tear-your-hair-out hard. I’ll take it.
Really nice corner stacks of 9s here. BACKSLASH and a WINDOW BOX of herbs, CARBONARA/U.S. CAPITOL/SPACE SHOT, ELBOW ROOM/SALLIE MAE/SHE-DEVILS, TEAM PHOTO, good stuff.
- 1a. [Left-leaning member of the board?] is a cute clue the keyboard’s BACKSLASH. (Note: Do not ever call “/” a “forward slash.” That’s just a slash, honey.)
- 29a. [Tarantino called him “the future of horror”], ELI ROTH. Mismatch between last name in clue and full name in answer.
- 43a. [Spanish fish dish], BACALAO. I’m guessing this is related to the baccala (salted cod) I learned about from The Sopranos. Checking … yep, bacalao is also salted cod. I’ll pass. Does anyone else call macaroni “magarone” ever since Sopranos?
- 65a. [Maleficent and such], SHE-DEVILS. Maleficent is the evil queen (really, she’s just misunderstood) from Sleeping Beauty. Escaped childhood without learning the name but picked it up from my son’s 2nd grade show.
- 7d. [Heads of “des moines”], ABBES. Des Moines means “the monks,” and I can’t believe I didn’t know that already.
- 12d. [Pair on Namibia’s coat of arms], ANTELOPES. Did you know Namibia has only 2.1 million people? The only nation that’s less densely populated is Mongolia. Enjoy this set of people-free photos from Namibia.
- 14d. [Snap on a football field, perhaps], TEAM PHOTO. Deceptive clues are the best, I tell you.
- 21d. [Quaker State’s early headquarters], OIL CITY. Never heard of it, nope. It’s in Pennsylvania, as “Quaker State” suggests. 10,500 people, who are known as Oil Citizens.
- 52d. [What a bell buoy warns of], SHOAL. Be sure to tip your bell buoy for this service.
Four stars overall.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “There’s Been an Earthquake in California!”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone! I hope your weekend has gotten off to a good start.
Today’s crossword puzzle, served up to us today by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, takes us down the anagram road, as each of the theme answers are anagrams of California cities, with puns serving as its clues. Like I’m sure most of you figured out when starting this puzzle, I had a feeling the anagram theme was exactly what I was expecting with those entries given the title of the grid, which was very slick by the way.
- LONG LEASES: (17A: [Extended rental agreements, in Los Angeles])
- BART AS AN ARAB: (29A: [Simpson lad dressed like the emir of Kuwait, in Santa Barbara])
- CON SIN FRACAS: (49A: [Prison donnybrook headline, in San Francisco])
- ACTOR NAMES: (64A: [Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson, in Sacramento])
First of all, there’s no way I can type SOUL TRAIN the way it is stated in the grid, correctly (11D: [Variety show hosted by Don Cornelius]). Give me an “Up on the Soooouuuuuull Train!” Ok, now my Saturday is set. Back to the grid, I had no idea that SPONGEBOB had a job, and when I saw the “Krusty” portion of the clue, I was thinking a Simpsons character (35D: [Cartoon character who works at the Krusty Krab]). The clue on CARLIN may be one of my favorite Carlin utterances, and that’s saying something since he has a litany of them (4A: [Comedian George who said, “If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.”]). I don’t hear IT’S A JOB too often anymore, and probably “It’s a living” is the more apt saying for working just to make ends meet (54A: [“I have to pay the bills somehow”]). Fun solve, and definitely far from a DRAB puzzle (58D: [Dull as dishwater]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROBB (63A: [____ Report, luxury lifestyle magazine]) – Former Major League Baseball player ROBB Nen was best known as the closer for both the Florida Marlins and the San Francisco Giants. Nen was a three-time All-Star, and, in 2002, he saved seven games in the postseason as the Giants came up just one win shy of winning the World Series. Unfortunately, because of overuse by the Giants during that 2002 season, a season in which he was pitching despite a rotator cuff tear, Nen never pitched another game in the bigs after the 2002 playoffs. Also, Nen is one of the first closers to have a theme song attached to his entrance into a game, as “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple was played every time he came into a home game.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!!