Anna Shechtman wrote about getting started in crossword constructing and working for Will Shortz here.
Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
After a 40-mile drive that took twice as long as I expected tonight (I waited till after rush hour, honest!), I’m not really in any sort of blogging mood. Ergo: bulleted list posthaste.
- 1a. [Up-coming world phenomenon?], EARTH RISE. Uhh… as seen from the moon or a spacecraft or something? Odd to find a rather unfamiliar term parked at 1-Across.
- 17a. [Notable switcher from Democrat to Republican to Independent], BLOOMBERG. Tried to think of a congresscritter who fit that description.
- 22a. [See 4-Down], IRON. Iron! I’ve been taking a lot of it since The Bloodletting.
- 29a. [Life preserver?], CEREAL BOX. Cute clue, but the box doesn’t do a damn thing to keep Life cereal fresh. It’s the plastic bag inside the box doing the job.
- 48a. [Searchlight in comics], BAT SIGNAL. Chicago is standing in for some other city (does Metropolis have D.C.’s metro stations?), apparently, in the Batman vs. Superman movie that’s begun filming. Superman and Lois Lane (Henry Cavill and Amy Adams) were shooting outside in the Loop Friday evening. No idea if the movie will have a bat signal.
- 59a. [“Die Fledermaus” soprano], IDA. Who? I’ve been seeing a lot of talk on Twitter lately about what a badass Ida B. Wells was. The NYT has clued IDA by way of Wells three times in the past decade. I’d love to see her get a few more crossword shout-outs.
- 67a. [Bureaucratic environmental regulations], GREEN TAPE. I know red tape; didn’t know GREEN TAPE was a thing.
- 12d. [Song whose title follows “Para bailar”], LA BAMBA. Nailed it. Don’t know what the words mean, but I nailed it.
- 13d. [Harry and Wills acquired one in 2005], STEPMOM. Weird to clue this by way of British princes, no? Wouldn’t Camilla be their stepmum?
- 32d. [Blanket produced in Mexico City], SMOG. “Dang it, SERAPE won’t fit into four squares.”
Not so keen on repeaters AMATI, TET, YSER, ESSES, KTS, L RON, and EL AL, nor on plural SOLS. Might have expected fewer of those in a 72-worder. ONE IOTA feels a little stale as a 7, too. 3.33 stars from me.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Art Exhibit”—Ade’s write-up
Hope you all are doing well, and, for those living in the Northeast, hope you all are staying warm after a pretty chilly Friday night. Today’s grid, brought to us today by Ms. Lynn Lempel, features a lot of art, as in the word “ART” being embedded in the theme answers, creating puns from common/proper nouns.
- MARTINI VAN: (17A: [Mobile liquor vendor?]) – From “minivan.” I know someone, somewhere, wants to make the thought of a martini van come true.
- POLICE MARTEN: (26A: [Weaselly supplement to a K-9 unit?]) – From “policemen”
- APPLE PARTIES: (43A: [Galas to celebrate the latest iPhone?]) – From “apple pies.”
- HEARTY JUDE: (58A: [Law after getting stellar reviews?]) – From “Hey Jude.”
Yes, SPAM comes from Nigeria (51D: [Email from Nigeria, say]). It also comes from the United States. And it also comes from many other countries, I’m sure. So, once again, hope there’s more care for specificity when it comes to the “Nigerian email” clues in referencing “spam.” That, and I’m Nigerian, so just have to make sure to point it out…or I’ll be outed by my Nigerian princes and punished by them sending me a countless amount of spam letters (ok, now that was a joke). After getting CAMEO, I was wondering if that word was ever clued in referencing the R&B/hip-hop/funk group of the ’70s and ’80s (32A: [Carved pendant]). I’m pretty sure Cameo, the singing group, is still chugging along these days! Can’t believe that it’s almost that time of the year again to get the SCARF ready when creating your snowman (51A: [Part of a snowman’s outfit, often]). Love the mislead to MR. SPEAKER (34D: [House call, of a sort]), and kind of knew that it was referencing Washington from the beginning. I didn’t fall into that BOOBY TRAP of a clue, that’s for sure (11D: [Devious device to catch the unwary]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BAMBI (1D: [Disney pal of Thumper and Flower]) – BAMBI is the nickname of NFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth, who played most of his career with the San Diego Chargers during their run in the American Football League. Alworth was widely considered to be the best receiver in professional football in the 1960s, and his slight build, along with his graceful running style and jumping ability, earned him the nickname “Bambi.” Alworth, along with current Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, hold the AFL-NFL record for the most 200-yard receiving games, with five. In his last game as a professional, he scored the first touchdown of Super Bowl VI and helped the Dallas Cowboys win the championship over the Miami Dolphins.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!! Have a great day!
Bruce Venzke & Victor Fleming’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
This puzzle felt old. There were a few clues from the here and now-ish:
- POLKA [Grammy category eliminated in 2009]. The category was dominated by Jimmy Sturr, who won 18 of the 24 Grammys for Best Polka Album. At some point, there’s got to be a mercy rule. Also, a “representative of the current musical landscape” rule.
- LIU [She plays Watson in “Elementary”].
- IMAN [“Project Runway Canada” host].
ZITS [Comic strip about a high schooler] and ROONEY [Steelers ownership family name] both also feel fairly current. Meanwhile, from the Wayback Machine:
- SPACEWOMEN [Some astronauts]. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard someone use this term (or “spacemen”) to refer to astronauts outside of science fiction (as in, Women From Space) or comics (e.g., Spaceman Spiff). I suspect this is a generational thing. Maybe the death of “spacewomen” is also partly due to NASA’s termination of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
- POTATO RACE [Kid’s birthday party contest]. I had to look this one up. Maybe I’m in the minority for never having heard of a potato race, but I thought this was a poorly-phrased way of saying “sack race.” Not so, apparently. Wikipedia says it’s a footrace involving the collection and relocation of potatoes. As far as birthday activities go, this sounds better than a clown, at least.
- BILL AND COO [Get romantic]. A phrase taken from the things birds do when they get romantic. The Internet seems to recognize the phrase much better as the Oscar-winning 1948 film starring a small cast of trained birds.
And then you’ve got things like the SPIEGEL catalog and HANA Mandlikova and ETERNE and a SPYGLASS and “ERI TU” and POLKA and ELY Cuthbertson and Harry CARAY, and I suspect ROONEY may once have been clued as Mickey or Andy. These are generally fine entries (though ETERNE and HANA and ERI TU have been labeled crosswordese), but collectively they speak to an older generation of solvers. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I suspect there will be plenty of fans of this puzzle.
Also, a few partials, abbreviations, and bits of crosswordese to note: ABAB, A TUB, ETERNE, OR I, ON A LOG, DSO, OBS, ARA, YNEZ, SO TO, TELE-, STR. Didn’t know what a STATOR was, but now I do. (It’s an [Electric generator component], obviously.) I’m gonna bump this one up for having POO in it, but I’m gonna bump it back down for cluing it as [Nanki-___]. 3.2 stars from me. Until next week!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper
I always look forward to a crossword when I see Brad’s byline. This one was tough, but I liked it. Here were the highlights:
- 5a. [Opening-night ritual], AFTER-PARTY.
- 16a. [Aging effect that forgers can’t well duplicate], CRAQUELURE. Neat word, that.
- 18a. [It’s often self-titled], DEBUT ALBUM. A gimme. First entry in my grid.
- 31a. [Mrs. Ethan Frome], ZENOBIA. She went by Zeena. Let’s all go sledding! Would have preferred ZEENA to ZENOBIA in the grid but Edith Wharton’s good stuff regardless.
- 40a/41a/ ANTENNA, DUENNA, fo-fenna…
- 58a. [Pink-purple flower], HELIOTROPE. It’s also a color name.
- 14d. [Original source of mocha coffee beans], YEMEN. This is more a geography trivia question than a foodie question. The seaport Mocha in Yemen is where mocha coffee and mocha leather were originally shipped from.
Fill that brought no particular delight includes PHON/LUMENS, TERCE, -IVE, ETDS, the added GAS in FREON GAS, French VIENNE (really? A town of 29,975 people? So it’s like the Natick of France? I’m just kidding. Natick is 10% bigger.), INCITANT, and DEARER. I was going to grouse about 3d. [Page of many library websites], E-CONTENT—but then I remembered Brad’s day job as a librarian and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this.
3.5 stars from me. More in the “meh” category than I was expecting in a Wilber puzzle, but that top stack of 10s is cool.