Tournament news! The Crosswords LA tournament runs this Saturday morning and afternoon. Wish I could be there! I had a blast working with the constructors on a fabulous set of crosswords.
And the Indie 500 tournament has set a date and place: Saturday, May 30, at George Washington University in D.C. The event’s being put together by five indie constructors: Erik Agard, Evan Birnholz, Peter Broda, Neville Fogarty, and Andy Kravis. The constructors will be those five plus another chosen via a competition, which is a nifty way to do it.
Evan Birnholz’s New York Times crossword
Evan releases puzzles on his own Devil Cross site as well as being part of the Indie 500 team. He also works with the establishment, as seen by this here newspaper puzzle.
Here’s the freshest material:
- 5d. [Modern kind of campaign], KICKSTARTER. Here’s one simple Kickstarter campaign, for a gadget that will keep your shampoo bottles from plunging towards your feet. (I’m in for $10.) Another recent Kickstarter I bought into was for lovely Baffledazzle jigsaw puzzles with riddle-puzzles to solve, and those are now available on Etsy. If you like gorgeous wooden jigsaw puzzles and you like mental challenges, check that out.
- 25d. [Aid for clumsy thumbs], AUTOCORRECT. More irritating than helpful a good chunk of the time. Really, when the second word in my sentence is “gave,” what makes the machine think I really meant “have”? When I put a comma in a sentence, what makes autocorrect change it to an exclamation point?
- 9a. [Pants part], CROTCH. The crotch doesn’t get a lot of action in crosswords.
- 45a. [Scorpio hunter of film], DIRTY HARRY.
- 48a. [Noted avoider of the color red], CRIP. Street gang in L.A., gang color preference.
- 35a. [Strong ale, in British lingo], STINGO. Entirely unknown to me in that context. I know only the character in Sophie’s Choice.
- 60a. [Actor with Adam Sandler in “Funny People”], ERIC BANA, full name. Did you hear the terrible news? Adam Sandler has a deal with Netflix for four original movies. Really? Because the regular studio system isn’t releasing too many awful Sandler movies as it is?
I spaced on RAFA Nadal and plunked in RAFE, crossing ERNE instead of ARNE for 53d. [Egg chair designer Jacobsen]. Know your Scandinavian chair designers! One error, drat.
Five more things:
- 34a. [“Wait ___!” (“Hold on there!”)], A MIN. Nice to leave Idi out of it (there’s still Mobutu SESE Seko, of course), but who says this? “Wait a sec,” sure. [“I ___ so much trouble!”] is a better partial approach, IMO.
- 43a. [Competition where the last one standing wins], ROLEO. This word marks the intersection between lumberjack sports and crossword puzzles.
- 4d. [“A hint of lovely oblivion,” per D. H. Lawrence], SLEEP. Had the -EP at the end … and tried JULEP first.
- 12d. [Subject of “The Word” on the first episode of “The Colbert Report”], TRUTHINESS. For real? That wasn’t, like, a year into the show’s run??
- 21d. [Literary figure whose name is a letter short of something he wrote], POE. He wrote a story called “Poel,” of course.
Overall vibe, 3.75 stars.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (writing as Lester Ruff)
Easier than the typical Stumper, “less rough.” I still had plenty of hesitation about finishing, though. I don’t quite get the clue for 30a: KEYPAD, [Combination plate?]. Oh, wait. As in a keypad for a safe or alarm system, equating it with a combination lock? That seems a little stretchy to me. Those last three letters were the last to fall for me. [Person taking the lead] is a PACER in a marathon, not a person pacing back and forth. ZAP is an [Exclamation coined for “Buck Rogers”], in the late 1920s. And [One of six on a standard keyboard] clues DOT? Hang on, hang on. First, do not put “keyboard” in a clue for a word that intersects KEYPAD. Second, how nonstandard are my Mac and PC keyboards if they both have five (period, two in a colon, semicolon, decimal point) and not six?
14a. [Salad throwaway] is OLIVE PIT and it’s making me wish the Olive Garden were called the Olive Pit.
8d. [Abdominal space-savers], LITES? No, I don’t think so. “Lite” foods are lower in calories but that has no bearing on volume. And in and of themselves, LITES (what an awful plural) aren’t “abdominal space-savers” in terms of reducing abdominal size, because people also eat other things, and consuming 12 LITES may bulk you up more than having 3 non-LITES, whatever LITES is supposed to mean. Are we talking Miller Lites? “Less filling” just means less caloric, but the volume of a 12 oz serving is exactly the same as the volume of 12 oz of full-calorie beer. As 10d says, FEH.
20a. [Emulatee introducer], A LA? What on earth is an “emulatee”? The emulator is acting A LA someone else, but the person who is being emulated … no. Oh, wait. “Kevin Pollak doing impressions a la Christopher Walken,” A LA “introduces” the name of the person being emulated. I am not at all convinced that “emulatee” is a true word.
33d. [Name to the left of Watson in 2011], KEN. That’s Jennings. He offended a lot of people last month with a rude tweet about people in wheelchairs. He was also unfathomably rude (and, IIRC, potty-mouthed?) a couple years ago to a friend of mine who took issue with a previous tweet that offended. Ken Jennings the Insult Comic Dog? Treading into insult comic territory seems like an odd choice for a guy who made his name in trivia and writing smart books.
Trivia clues I appreciated:
- 13a. [Most famous grandson of Josiah Wedgwood], DARWIN.
- 64a. [Schopenhauer called him as “clumsy charlatan”], HEGEL. Oh, snap.
3.5 stars from me. No juicy long fill to amuse me, plus a few flaws—that drops this below the standard 4-star Stumper grade.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
I like the four 11-letter entries that are holding the center of this grid together: PLAY IT BY EAR, SIMPLE AS ABC, BREAKING BAD, and SKYE TERRIER. Also really liked I’M LOVIN IT, ANTIPASTI, WARCRAFT, B-DAY, FRONT GATE (sounds like a Presidential scandal!), BATTLE SCAR, and, strangely, ADDIS ABABA. AT THE START is probably fine, but just struck me as a little off. NONMUSICAL is also okay, but I usually use “unmusical” to mean [Tone-deaf, say].
The only stuff in this puzzle that I wouldn’t use in my own grids even in dire circumstances (and I’m sure I’ll regret such a sweeping pronouncement) are AAR (without the final “e”) and ACADS. CLAPP [“NYPD Blue” Emmy winner Gordon] was new to me. I’m on the fence about U.S. SEAL, but I’m leaning in the positive direction. ANNI and SAE aren’t my favorites, but they’re not inexcusable. ARYA, ATTA, and ALTHO are slightly better than the previous two. I had problems seeing END IT for [Go no further]; I wanted it to be “end at,” but WEaSS looked pretty bad.
Solid Saturday. 3.25 stars. Until next week!
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Wrap Party”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody, and I hope your Saturday is going great so far!
My apologies, but just a quick review today as I’m all over the place for work. Mr. Patrick Jordan offers up a nice wrap to the week, with letters forming words that describe coverings separated at the opposite ends of the theme answers. The actual words appear as one elsewhere in the grid.
- SKIING LESSON, SKIN: (20A: [Instructional session on the bunny slope]), (5A: [Natural wrap enclosing the answer at 20-Across])
- RARE FIND, RIND: (28A: [Exceptional discovery]), (17A: [Natural wrap enclosing the answer at 17-Across])
- HUGE RISK, HUSK: (42A: [Perilous gamble]), (59A: [Natural wrap enclosing the answer at 42-Across])
- PETER GABRIEL, PEEL: (50A: [Former flautist for Genesis]), (38A: [Natural wrap enclosing the answer at 50-Across])
I just recently went out to a friend’s birthday celebration in Manhattan, and one of the guys in attendance, who was complimenting every lady that walked past him by the way, I’m not sure I’m ok with TENNIES, especially since a popular nickname for a certain sneaker back in the early 1990s was “Pennies” (or “Penny’s”), named after former Orlando Magic All-Star basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (23A: [Some sneakers, colloquially]). At least I knew BURST couldn’t be “bursp,” but I’m still thinking about Pennies from back in the day (1D: [Broke open]). Loved PUB CRAWL as fill (38D: [Alcoholic excursion]), as well as having HASH (31D: [It’s slung in diners, figuratively]) next to OPIUM (32D: [Codeine source]). All three of those combined sure would make for an interesting evening, huh?!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EL PASO (43D: [Sun Bowl Stadium site]) – When I grew up, the Sun Bowl, played in EL PASO, Texas, was called the John Hancock Bowl. Along with the Sugar and Orange Bowls, the Sun Bowl in El Paso is the second-oldest bowl game in the country, with the first affair back on New Years’ Day in 1935. The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game, which started in 1902.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!!