The New York Times note:
All the puzzles this week, from Monday to Saturday, have been created by one person, Patrick Blindauer. Keep your solutions handy, because the Saturday puzzle conceals a meta-challenge involving the solution grids of all six. When you have the answer to the meta-challenge, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Twenty correct solvers, chosen at random, whose entries are received by 6:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, will win one-year online subscriptions to the New York Times crossword. Only one entry per person, please. The answer and winners’ names will appear on Friday, Oct. 31, at www.nytimes.com/wordplay.
Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Will try not to inadvertently highlight meta material during the write-up. This is also an excellent excuse to produce a minimal missive, if I do say so myself (and I do).
The theme entries is comprised of phrases containing units of time, progressively greater.
- 17a. [Instant] SPLIT-SECOND.
- 26a. [Product that competes with Uncle Ben’s ] MINUTE RICE.
- 35a. [Midnight] THE WITCHING HOUR.
- 50a. [1965 Beatles hit that begins “Got a good reason for taking the easy way out”] DAY TRIPPER.
- 58a. [Time leading up to Easter] PASSION WEEK.
No significant double meanings here; the progressive units (second, minute, hour, day, week) are the same units as those in the actual phrases. Unless I’ve been pronouncing that rice brand incorrectly all these years (they aren’t that small). At the front end SPLIT-SECOND, taken as whole phrase, is also less than a second. Similarly, tacked on at the end is 70a [Number of years in a decade] TEN. I’m confident this is neither part of the theme (it skips over month) and is also not part of the meta—i.e., suggesting month—as that just isn’t elegant enough for this constructor.
Smooth fill, a couple of entries that seem above typical Monday content. Some other aspects that are potentially suspicious, but you didn’t hear it from me.
Good puzzle, and good luck to you all on the meta-challenge!
David W. Cromer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A rather outré theme here. The clues are imagined questions followed by an addressee. The weird part is that it turns out the questions have been asked by horses! The responses likewise end with the addressee, i.e., the horse associated with the person in the clue. Oh, and the answers are common phrases.
- 20a. [“What is our flatware made of, Lone Ranger?] STERLING [,] SILVER.
- 36a. [“What does it take to succeed in Hollywood, Tonto?] TALENT [,] SCOUT.
- 43a. [“What makes up my mane, Roy Rogers?] HAIR [,] TRIGGER.
The fourth theme spot is a revealer, but I can’t believe it’s not Buttermilk. Oh well. 57a [Start of the “Mister Ed” theme song, and hint to who is asking 20-, 36- and 43-Across] A HORSE IS A HORSE seems tenuous. On the other hand, [“Who’s the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Dale Evans?”] for IRIS [,] BUTTERMILK is far too obscure to fly here.
“The mystery of Valletta’s three-legged horse: horse statue’s missing leg, shortened name, symbolises lost power” (Times of Malta, 29 August 2014).
Ballast fill is tame, but well-groomed.
- Cross-references for EGG | NOGS (37d/38d) and TACHS / RPMS (25d, 45d).
- Favorites: 39a [Quahog, for one] CLAM, 28a [Red, White or Black] SEA, 5d [“I wouldn’t do that if I were you”] BAD IDEA; 4d [Drink inelegantly] SLURP.
- Television! 18a [Agent Scully on “The X-Files”] DANA; 55a [CBS forensic drama] CSI; 21d [ABC drama about a missing plane] LOST; 64d [“Doctor Who” network] BBC; 63d [Television award] EMMY.
Interesting Monday offering—not your usual fodder.
Brendan Quigley and Kevin Der’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
They promised tough cluing in this puzzle and I was whipping through the first three quadrants with ease—and then I hit the skids in the southeast. Had EVER SO and CLOSE IN, no problem, and ON STILTS, but tried ACTS for [Book entries] instead of ODDS and couldn’t make any headway till I Googled mexican cheeses and found QUESO ANEJO (one of the seed entries in this tag-team puzzle—the other is FRIEND ZONE, and if the term is new to you or you embrace it, please read this takedown of the sheer privilege and entitlement the term encompasses). Googling the cheese did let me crack the rest of that corner, luckily. It’s wild how just having one more letter opens the mind to the answer possibilities for a tough clue.
Did not know:
- 40a. [Vol-au-vent alternative, in cuisine], PATTY SHELL. Never, ever encountered this term before.
- 2d. [Certain resident’s area, casually], NEURO. Not a neighborhood, as I was reading the clue, but a medical resident’s area. D’oh! Sneaky clue.
Not keen on the stacked duplication in ORDERS TO GO and LET IT GO.
Got 29a. [Livery workers] (OSTLERS, people who work with horses) because my grandma’s grandfather ran a livery on Chicago’s South Side 100+ years ago, before cars. The guy died in his early 40s of pneumonia. Please give a kind thought to the beauty of antibiotics, people. And hope like hell that we can somehow get US agriculture to stop overusing antibiotics so we won’t end up having pneumonia routinely kill healthy young people.
27d. [Lanchester’s contemporary], STEN—crosswordese actress Anna Sten of way-way-yore. Meh.
This 66-worder looks to have been a tough grid to fill, what with all the stacking and interlacing of long fill. The resulting compromises were, I guess, decent overall, but I didn’t enjoy the puzzle as much as I’d expected to. 3.9 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Generation Gap”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to a new week, everybody!
In less than two weeks, it will be November. Yikes…or, yippee, depending on which time of the year you prefer! Today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, highlights two of the more timeless actors of any generation, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and one of the many many movies in which they paired together to co-star in.
- GET OFF MY LAWN: (20A: [Outburst #1]) – I still think about/hear in my head Clint Eastwood saying this line in Gran Torino.
- THAT’S NOT MUSIC: (28A: [Outburst #2])
- KIDS THESE DAYS: (44A: [Outburst #3]) – I’m finding myself saying/thinking this more often, despite my relatively young age.
- GRUMPY OLD MEN: (49A: [Source of the outburst (and hit comedy of 1993)])
There’s almost always a word or two that I encounter in a MAS crossword that I will have never heard before, and, for today’s grid, that word was TAFFETA (5D: [Fabric for evening gowns]). Other than that, every other entry was pretty much straightforward, even WIGWAM, especially since I already knew beforehand that the Native American tribe mentioned in the clue is also called Chippewa, which happens to be the nickname of the sports teams at Central Michigan University (9D: [Ojibwa home]). See how sports bailed me out a little on that clue? Do you think a crossword will ever clue DESIGNER as, “type of drug?” (37D: [Fashion world VIP])? Maybe I’ll have to do a BEQ grid to see that sort of clue. This grid is a little presidential as well, particularly, the 42nd president, with the entries of SAX (57D: [Clinton’s horn]) and YALE (52D: [Alma mater for Bill and Hillary Clinton]). This was a nice grid to start out the week!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GOMEZ (19A: [Morticia’s morbid mate]) – Here are a couple of famous people surnamed GOMEZ in sports history. Lefty Gomez was a seven-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion for the New York Yankees as a pitcher, and was one of the first players of Hispanic descent to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (inducted in 1972). Scott Gomez is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion ice hockey player who spent most of his career with the New Jersey Devils, where he won those two Cups (2000, 2003). Scott won the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year in 2000.
See you on Tuesday, and thank you so much for your time!