Have you had zero to 10 of your crosswords published? Would you dig making a tournament puzzle? Does $500 sound good to you? The Indie 500 team (Peter Broda, Neville Fogarty, Evan Birnholz, Erik Agard, Andy Kravis) invite you to enter your creation into their contest to choose the final constructor for next May’s Indie 500 tournament. They especially encourage women, people of color, LGBT folks, and members of other underrepresented groups to submit their work. Click through for the details.
David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword
Looks like David challenged himself to include as many Z’s as possible. There’s FO SHIZZLE in its second 2014 NYT appearance, crossing ZENDA and ZYGOTE. BOZ/SNEEZED in the next quadrant, ZEPPO MARX/DMZ and DROID RAZR/PFIZER in the southeast, and BREZHNEV/CRAZE in the final corner.
Just for shizzles and giggles, let’s count the number of entries that predate David’s birth: FO SHIZZLE (1981, sort of), SUSIE Q (1957-68), BOZ (1800s), EERO Saarinen (d. 1961), BREZHNEV (d. 1982), RIO LOBO (1970), the TRIO Destiny’s Child (group formed in ’90, took that name in ’96), EDWIN Moses (last Olympic medal in ’88), TYPEE (1846 … possibly crosswordese since the 1920s?), ZEPPO MARX, HUME, ZENDA of 1937, LOESSER (d. 1969), KESEY (in a ’68 book), DRED, and MAMET‘s ’82 script. I’ll bet a lot of you figured FO SHIZZLE and that TRIO clue were super-modern things you’d most likely find in a young constructor’s puzzle, but really these things are of a sub-TYPEE oldness.
Clue I really could have done without: 49d. [String bean’s opposite], BLIMP. Yes, let’s go ahead and be bullies who call people names based on their body types. Ya know … it wouldn’t have hurt anyone to try to come up with a good clue relating to actual airships. I think a lot of us look down on the fairly regular crossword clues that engage in fat-shaming.
Top fill: “EXCUSE YOU,” WARM ONGER (…what?), FRACAS (such a neat word), BREZHNEV (always a sucker for a ZH), DROID RAZR, ZEPPO MARX, REDDI-WIP (35d. [Grocery product with a multiply misspelled name] totally gave it away for me—for 6 letters, I’d have gone with TYDBOL). Nice to see OSSO BUCO get its full name in the grid, not just the overused OSSO portion.
Did not know: 16a. [Cosmetics dye], EOSIN. I know eosin is a dye, and I know it’s used in pathology’s hematoxylin-eosin staining, but I didn’t know it was in cosmetics. Also in chemistry not-knowing: 2d. [___ acid (bleach ingredient)], OXALIC. I know it’s in sorrel and spinach, but bleach? Not chlorine bleach; other sorts of bleaches.
Worst fill: 36d. [Hematology prefix], SERO-. It’s a legitimate prefix, but … if it were good crossword fill, wouldn’t we see it all the time with those friendly letters? Just three appearances in the Cruciverb database (NYT, 1998 and 2010). There are other dreadful little prefixes we see more of. Odd.
3.9 stars for this 72-worder.
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Not the usual LAT themeless grid — looks more like a Saturday Stumper grid with very relaxed clues. I liked it! Bullets:
- 17a, SERIALLY [How Dickens’ novels were first published]. The NW corner must have been challenging to fill, and as a result there’s not many “wow” entries. But this one jumped out at me, mostly because I’ve been listening to Serial (a podcast that, like Dickens’ novels, is being published serially).
- 10d, RODRIGUEZ [Five-time A.L. home run champ]. Alex, to be specific. I had ROD______ for a long time, and kept wanting it to be ROD CAREW. Spoiler alert: it is not ROD CAREW.
- 49a, JAZZMAN [1974 top ten hit for Carole King]. Carole King was pretty good at music.
- 42d, GABBLE [Unintelligible talk]. This one was new to me, but isn’t it funny how words that mean this all tend to sound the same (e.g., babble, blabber, gibber, blab, prattle)?
Lots of fun clues in this one, too:
- 45a, GUARD DUTY [Gig at the brig]
- 26d, PERSIAN [Blofeld’s cat, in Bond films]
- 25a, BIG DIPPER [Highly visible septet]
- 38a, FAA [Hot air ballooning watchdog: Abbr.]
- 7d, GOLF BAGS [Drivers can be seen in them]
- 9d, FRAUD [Mountebank] (Mountebank is such a fun word)
Some closing thoughts: I always forget about BUZ Sawyer. GRAND JETE is a very nice entry. EVE ARDEN was very good in Grease. 3.75 stars from me. Off to go look up some vegan marzipan recipes. Until next week!
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Lars Doubleday byline)
Forgot to do the puzzle earlier. Biscuits needed to be made and eaten.
Standard Stumper difficulty level, meaning significantly harder than the Saturday NYT but not a supreme killer like last weekend’s.
Highlights in the grid include Gaga’s BAD ROMANCE, a SNAIL’S PACE, the WOMEN’S ARMY CORPS, the BETSY WETSY doll, TIM TEBOW, ROPE BURN, tasty PROSECCO, and “STOP THAT!”
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Literally, “sense of touch”], TACT. Didn’t know it and yet it quickly emerged as obvious.
- 55a. [Queequeg et al.], HARPOONERS. I bet Doug and Brad both managed to finish Moby-Dick in summer 2013 … I lost the thread myself.
- 61a. [Demure drinker of the Baby Boomer era], BETSY WETSY. Sounds like she’s sipping cocktails.
- 6d. [Chicago Luvabulls, for instance], DANCE TEAM. I bet the Luvabulls make peanuts despite being expected to practice, work, make unpaid public appearances, avoid weight gain, and pay for hair/makeup/tan maintenance. NFL cheerleaders end up making less than minimum wage.
- 28d. [Academic position], THESIS. As in “taking a position on the issue,” the core of your thesis.
Clue I don’t get: 14d. [They may be crying], NEEDS. As in “there’s a crying … need”? Ah, yes, that’s a phrase.
Unfavorites: The awkward BLOTS AT (“dabs at” works for me, but I think you just blot things, no “blotting at”), crosswordese ARA, AM SO, SRO, TSAR, LOEW, KAT.
3.75 stars from me.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Lariat King”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Saturday, everybody! Here at Harvard University taking in some rivalry football with Yale and Harvard, but just wanted to check in and tell you about our puzzle, authored by Mr. Patrick Jordan. Each of the theme answers start with the same four letters, R-O-P-E, but positioned differently with each answer. The reveal, ROPE TRICKS, is included as the final theme (59A: [Will Rogers’s vaudeville stunts (and what the first four letters of 17-, 27-, and 44-Across are doing?)]).
- REPORT CARD: (17A: [Education evaluation])
- PEORIA, ILLINOIS: (27A: [City famed as a test market])
- PEROXIDE BLONDE: (44A: [Woman with artificially lightened hair])
I’ve never been too enamored with the WAX WORKS when I come across them at the Times Square location of the place mentioned in the clue (38D: [Figures at Madame Tussauds]). Love to learn something new, and I definitely got to do that with the clue to GAZEBO (10D: [Open-sided garden shelter]). Did I know off the top of my head that OPIE owned a lizard on The Andy Griffith Show (51D: [1960 sitcom kid with a lizard named Oscar])? I think I did, but definitely did not remember its name. We have the presence of ULEE (15A: [Cinematic beekeeper whose “gold” is honey]), but we make up for that very common entry by the crossing, NUCLEI, with is a pretty sightly entry (6D: [Cell centers]). Any grid that includes information and/or trivia about Africa and African geography always gets an extra star from me, so this grid earned that extra rating point with RWANDA (45D: [It borders Burundi]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MAYO (49D: [Sandwich spread, for short]) – It’s a good thing I’m giving this entry a sports slant, because talking about the condiment would make me puke, literally. However, O.J. MAYO, current professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks, doesn’t make me puke. Receiving media hype almost rivaling LeBron James out of high school, as well as even elementary school, Mayo played one season at the University of Southern California before turning pro, and was drafted with the third overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. By the way, O.J. stands for “Ovinton J’Anthony,” which makes my full first name, Adesina, sound so pedestrian.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!