Newsday 8:30 (Amy)
NYT 5:45 + 5 minutes meta (Amy)
LAT 3:35 (Andy)
CS 11:48 (Ade)
Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword
So I solved Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest puzzle this morning—the crossword portion thereof, anyway. Not sure where to go with the meta. A Week 4 MGWCC is often beyond my meta-cracking skills, even in a 5-Friday month like this one. I have some notes written down, but I’m not sure I’ll make much headway unless I get some vague nudges from someone cleverer than I.
The NYT six-puzzle meta, on the other hand, took at most 5 minutes to crack after I finished the Saturday crossword portion. I’ll grant you that the broader audience for the NYT means that a markedly easier meta is called for, but it might have been more fun to struggle with it for a bit longer. Make it as tough as an MGWCC Week 3 puzzle, say. Matt’s easiest puzzles may get around 650 correct answers, with one prize a week plus 10 more prizes for a selection of the folks who got all of the month’s metas right. The NYT contest will, I assume, garner tens of thousands of submissions and award 20 random people a $39.95 prize. I think anyone’s odds of winning the NYT contest are slimmer than their odds of winning a MGWCC weekly prize—but really, we just want to beat the puzzlemaker and aren’t doing it for the prizes. The “meh, that was too easy” vibe makes me give the six-day suite of puzzles an overall rating of 3.75 stars. And I know that when you cut him loose of mass-audience constraints, Patrick can be wickedly challenging! I’d have liked a little more of Wicked Patrick and a little less Nice Patrick (though the Friday puzzle makes me want to see more freestyle puzzles from Blindauer, for sure).
Please refrain from discussing the NYT meta solution (or the approaches you’ve considered) in the blog comments until after the Sunday 6 pm Eastern deadline has passed.
In the meantime, keep yourself occupied with Patrick Berry’s latest Rows Garden puzzle at the Wall Street Journal.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Doubleday”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and welcome to Saturday. Or in this case, welcome to Saturday, Saturday!
That’s because this grid, offered up to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, gives us some double-feature action when it comes to the days of the week…well, at least some of the days. Abbreviations of days of the week are hidden inside of the theme answers, and the abbreviations appear back-to-back in each entry. Those theme entries are clued as puns, creating some pretty interesting answers.
- CHEWED WEDGIE: (20A: [Result of the dog getting into the shoe closet, perhaps?])
- DREAM ON MONICA: (28A: [“Fat chance, Ms. Lewinsky!”?])
- REMAINS UNSUNG: (46A: [Continues to receive little recognition?])
- AIMS AT SATURN: (55A: [Points a telescope in the direction of the second-largest planet?])
I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve never had a GREEN BEER in my life, though I’ve been in bars a good number of times on St. Patrick’s Days gone by (18A: [St. Patrick’s Day quaff]). I have five months to go until I have a chance to rectify that. For the second time in about a week, there’s an appearance of WIGWAM (6D: [Home on the range?]). When rare entries show up, they show up in bunches sometimes, huh? Speaking of entries coming in bunches, there’s another appearance of ELENA, although, in this instance, this Elena is pronounced slightly different (14A: [Justice Kagan of the Supreme Court]). TUMBLE DRY was the last thing I was expecting when I was reading its clue, and I was not thinking about laundry and washers/dryers at all (60A: [Words before low or medium]). Now that I’m talking about laundry, it reminds me that laundry day is probably coming up real soon for me!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: INTER (66A: [Bury]) – F.C. Internazionale Milano, otherwise known as INTER Milan, or just INTER (pronounced IN-ter, not in-TURR), is one of the most well-known European soccer clubs in the world, as they have won their Italian First Division League, Serie A, 18 times, including winning the Scudetto a record five straight years, from 2006-2010. They’ve also won the UEFA Champions League, the European tournament matching the best squads from all over the continent, three times, the last coming in 2010, defeating German side Bayern Munich.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!!
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Excellent puzzle. But I like proper nouns more than most, so it’s possible that the 23 in this puzzle — Brian ENO, ARCHIE MOORE, Donna KARAN, PIA ZADORA, EL SALVADOR, La VIDA Breve, LENOX, CORETTA Scott King, Charlie CHAN, KOLKATA, ERASMUS, TED Nugent, SHERPA (language), “All My EX’S Live in Texas,” Elia KAZAN, Jorge AMADO, Ivan PAVLOV, DETROIT, Lucie ARNAZ, Kurt GODEL, UTNE Reader, SHEP, and LINZ — were not as well received by you, the readers of this blog. I also like Zs and Wheel of Fortune more than most, so PRIZE PUZZLE was a welcome surprise in the SW corner of the grid. The center of the grid is beautifully constructed, but there are a lot of potentially blind crossings if you’re not up on your Brazilian literature, New York fashion, classic directors, and/or Pia Zadora (Pia Zedora? Pia Zidora?).
Besides every single one of the proper nouns, I also liked BEST BOY, CAME TO PASS, TURN THE TIDE, POTATO SALAD, and REDOX reaction. GHOSTS could have been a 24th proper noun if it had been clued as the Henrik Ibsen play, but instead it gets the Halloween-relevant treatment of [Target of some reality show hunts].
There were a few spots I didn’t like: AM SO, “I USED TO,” DOL. Otherwise, pretty darn clean. My favorite Silk puzzle in a while. 4 stars. Until next week!
David Steinberg’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Shout-out to Mother Jones political blogger Kevin Drum, who is quite possibly the only political blogger ever to have mentioned the Saturday Stumper. Kevin’s in the hospital and embarking on cancer treatment, and I hope you’ll all join me in wishing him the best.
Smooth 72-worder, with a difficulty level I peg at harder than the usual Saturday NYT but not as fearsome as the toughest Stumpers.
Notes on assorted things:
- 17a. [Unrequited relationship], FRIEND ZONE. I kind of loathe the term “friend zone.” Here’s why. It sort of suggests that the default scenario is “guy likes girl, girl returns feelings” rather than “guy likes girl, hopes she returns his feelings but certainly understands that she has every right not to.” Jarring to see the term here a day after the Seattle school shooting, which reportedly may have been motivated by disgruntlement that a girl turned him down and went out with his cousin instead.
- 15a. [Too close for comfort], LOVEY-DOVEY. Only too close for some observers’ comfort.
- 31a. [Dealt with minor needs], SAT. As in babysitting, tending to the needs of minor children.
- 36a. [“Green” heat sources], CHILIES. Dang it! I was stuck thinking of renewable energy sources.
- 61a. DARTH VADER, a timeless entry.
- 67a. [Shower aftermath, maybe], METEORITES. Yes. You rub them on your skin after bathing for extra exfoliation.
- 3d. [Swedish winner of a 2014 Top Dance/Electronic Song Grammy], AVICII. I asked my son if Avicii was Swedish and he said yes so I filled this in. However, the clue is incorrect. That award was a Billboard Music Award; he hasn’t won a Grammy yet. Fact-check!
- 4d. [Staple of Turkish cuisine], LEEK. You don’t say. I know the Welsh love the leek but had no idea the Turks did too.
- 12d. [Literally, “bottom of the bag”], CUL-DE-SAC. Etymology! Originally a more anatomical thing and not a road thing.
- 24d. [Huge fan of a pop star], BELIEBER. We would also have accepted Katycat, Little Monster, or Jonatic if only they had 8 letters.
Four stars; that’s 4.25 for the fill and clues, minus a quarter point for the factual error in 3d’s clue.
I’d have to say I agree that I was a bit disappointed that this one gave up its secrets without much of a fight. Hoping PB can unleash his more wild side in an upcoming Puzzlefest.
tough room! ;-)
i, for one, thought the concept and execution of the meta was a total delight. as someone who, meta-wise, rarely solves anything beyond a gaffney week 2 — and who, like amy, understands that a times meta is going to reach a faaaar wider audience than an indie offering (and a niche solver-base) — i found the level of the challenge to be of the “just right” variety. kudos for the whole smile-making suite!
CS: WEDGIE as a shoe? WEDGE, yes, but the other means something entirely different as far as I know.
It’s a thing. Maybe it’s regional or generational, but I remember female relatives talking about wearing wedgies in the ’60s.
Well I’ll be. Wonder if Weejuns makes wedg(i)es. Wait, don’t answer that.
A truly creative and clever meta could make an easy one satisfying but that wasn’t the case here. Has Jeff Chen been given a chance at this week long meta thing?
That being said, I enjoyed the week worth of puzzles–especially Thursday and today which had some very good cluing–and thank PB for the effort.
I hope we get a chance to rate the combination of the six puzzles and the meta. I would give the combination a significantly higher rating than the mean of my individual ratings of the six puzzles.