Do you love Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest? Matt is following in the footsteps of other indie puzzlemakers who’ve ventured into making their work available via subscription. Starting in January, the MGWCC meta puzzles will run you $26 a year. That’s 50¢ a week—50¢ for feeling frightfully clever when you triumph over the puzzle, and the same 50¢ those weeks where you beat your head into a 15×15 brick wall and can’t for the life of you figure out the meta. Given the amount of time some people expend on ruminating over what evil thematic ploy Matt used this time, heck, the Week 4 or 5 puzzles might work out to 15¢ an hour. A good value! Head to mgwcc.com to sign up, or tell Santa or Hanukkah Harry that MGWCC is on your holiday wish list.
Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
Solid 70-worder this week. Maybe a smidgen easier than the typical Saturday NYT, though I certainly had to plow through a lot of clues before I was able to start filling anything in (and that was the underwhelming LEN Deighton).
Favorite fill: HMS BOUNTY, EYE OF NEWT, ZOOLANDER, the GODSEND/BLESSES symmetry, KIM JONG-IL, OSCAR BAIT, THE X-FILES, SWAN DIVES, LINKEDIN, a foodie EGG WASH, and the lovely word JOVIAL. Oh! And POPO.
Ten more things:
- 17a. [Gap competitor], H AND M. What? No. It’s H&M with an ampersand, and the URL is hm.com, no AND in sight. Short for Hennes und Mauritz, originally.
- 29a. [Four-time Pro Bowler Michael], VICK. Dammit, I wanted this to be some professional bowler I’d never heard of rather than the NFL player perhaps most (in)famous for his dog-fighting conviction.
- 48a. [Giant article of clothing?], JERSEY. New York Giants, football jersey, or San Francisco Giants, baseball jersey.
- 52a. [Songlike], CANTABILE. So that’s what that word means! “In a smooth singing style,” the dictionary tells me.
- 54a. [Ends of some board meetings?], MATES. Sexual harassment in the corporate office! No, actually, it’s about chess.
- 56a. [Bygone bomber whose name is a call in bingo], B-TEN. Blech, spelled-out numeral to accompany the spelled-out “&” in 17a.
- 1d. [The “Harry Potter” books, e.g.], HEPTAD. My first thought was SERIES.
- 7d. [Some righties, for short?], NEOCONS. Who calls right-wingers “righties”? I swear I don’t hear this. “Lefties,” sure. But not righties.
- 13d. [Twitter trending topic, maybe], MEME. Hmm, I’m not sure how well MEME applies here. HASHTAG is a better fit. I see the occasional meme-type picture on Twitter, but not as a trending topic. Oh, wait! Just the other week we had the Bill Cosby social media epic fail, where the public was asked to make Cosby memes and so many people shanghaied the effort, it must have been a trending topic.
- 25d. [What everyone has at birth], MOM. Well, some animals could lose their mother before birth, if their dad is the one who’s carrying/incubating the fertilized eggs, or watching over eggs in the water, or what-have-you.
Four stars from me. Other than BTEN and HANDM, everything in the grid was solid and there were a lot of zippy entries.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Heard in the Herd”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, CrossSynergists! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, comes straight from the farm, as each of the theme answers are multiple- word entries in which the first word is also one that is associated with farm animals, specifically those of the bovine variety.
- STOCK EXCHANGE: (20A: [It may be heard in the herd])
- BULL SESSION: (31A: [It may be heard in the herd])
- CATTLE CALLS: (40A: [They may be heard in the herd])
- JERSEY ACCENTS: (52A: [They may be heard in the herd]) – Do cows in Edison or Trenton moo in a Jersey accent?
I haven’t seen ENIAC in a while, and that doesn’t mean that I was alive when the system made its debut (44A: [Early computer]). Love the long down answers of CATATONIC (8D: [Completely out of it]) and SUCCESSOR, and definitely want to give a shout out to my predecessor, Dave Sullivan, who held this spot for so long blogging about the CrosSynergy puzzles (32D: [One who follows]). A lot of three-letter fill in the grid, which makes my solving experience more clunky than anything usually (maybe my mind isn’t wired to solve a puzzle so fast with a lot of three-letter fill). Loved seeing THE SAINTS, with the article included, in the grid (22A: [Noted marchers of song]). Not only are they noted marchers of song, they were also the Super Bowl XLIV winners. They’re a worthy candidate for the “sports…smarter” moment, but a clue intersecting it is the winner for today.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TEXANS (15D: [Houston gridders])– Here’s hoping you didn’t type “OILERS” in this space, which would mean you just dated yourself. The Houston TEXANS are the newest edition into the National Football League, as they entered the league in 2002. In their first regular-season game in franchise history, they defeated their in-state “rival,” the Dallas Cowboys, 19-10. The Texans won their first playoff game in franchise history on Jan. 7, 2012, over the Cincinnati Bengals. As a matter-of-fact, both playoff wins in franchise history have come against Cincinnati.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Let’s start with the good stuff (and there was a lot). We’ll get to the THROWAWAY entries LATER ON, I PROMISE:
- 1a, SWEET ROLL [Breakfast fare]. If I’m gonna have a sweet breakfast, it’s pancakes or nothing.
- 17a, RAISINETS [Breakfast fare]. No, I’m just kidding of course. [Chocolate-covered snack] was the clue on this one. You can’t have Raisinets for breakfast, obviously. Ha ha ha [tugs nervously at collar] ha
- 28a, FAST FOOD NATION [2000s best-seller subtitled “The Dark Side of the All-American Meal”]. Speaking of breakfast fare, who doesn’t love a good fast food breakfast?
- 45a, FIFTH AMENDMENT [It contains a due process clause]. The Fourteenth Amendment has one too. Which amendment is it that protects my right to choose Raisinets for breakfast, again? Asking for a friend.
- 66a, U.S. EMBASSY [There’s one in the London Chancery Bldg.]. If you’re looking for an alternative to Raisinets in London, you might try Paynes Poppets.
- 2d, WHAT IF [Experimenter’s question]. As in, “What if I ate a bowl of Raisinets in milk, with a spoon, for breakfast?”
- 13d, BEER PONG [Pub game]. You know what’s great bar food? Nachos. (What, did you think I was gonna say Raisinets?)
At first WIFI ZONE felt made up to me. Then I remembered seeing these signs all over the place:
At any rate, I don’t think people say “WiFi zone” anymore. I think the term “hotspot” has supplanted it, but maybe I’m an old fuddy-duddy. Maybe the kids are saying “snozzberry” now.
The crossing of ESTH and HEBB was fairly ugly. There’s some other scattered stuff like IES and AROO and LYS that’s less than ideal. DYED EGG doesn’t quite feel lexical to me. The usage of NO-HIT as a verb is new to me, but it appears to be in some dictionaries.
Overall, a joy to solve. 3.75 stars from me. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Anna Stiga byline)
Tough puzzle that resisted letting me fill in anything in the top half for far too long! In the end, everything came together without any gnashing of teeth or cursing of Stan … so it’s a fairly standard “tough but not insanely so” Stumper.
I didn’t know that CRUSOE was an 16a. [Eminent mariner of York]. Strictly fictional, right?
23d. [Passé roll with a hole] clues FAX PAPER and I don’t know what “a hole” is referring to here. The open bore of the cardboard core inside the paper roll? Briefly had WAX PAPER here, which isn’t passé, but 23a. [Rations] are FOOD and not WOOD. Now, you may think that plain-paper fax machines have entirely supplanted the old machines with rolls of thermal paper, but Staples is still selling that fax paper.
Ten more things:
- 15a. [Current danger], UNDERTOW. Standard Stumper cluing, as “current danger” also suggests electrocution hazards.
- 20a. [False profession], PRETENSE. Profession as in “statement you have professed” rather than “career.”
- 22a. [Presents for discussion], MOOTS. People actually use this as a verb? I’ve not encountered it.
- 50a. [Pro athlete often linked with Wilma], ALTHEA. Wilma Rudolph, track and field legend; Althea Gibson, tennis legend. Both were pioneering female African-American athletes.
- 52a. [Settler along the St. Lawrence], HABITANT. This borrowing from French is used in the nickname for the Montréal Canadiens NHL team, called the Habs. You can’t play HAB in Scrabble, though. I’ve tried.
- 55a. [Not much bread], ONE SLICE. Arbitrary contrivance!
- 11d. [Man-cave device], JUKEBOX. I’d wager that fewer than 10% of household “man-caves” are equipped with a jukebox.
- 27d. [Career bio], VITA. This is a weird little word. Curriculum vitae has an E on the end, but VITA floats around E-lessly.
- 34d. [Interview show that got a 1993 Peabody Award], FRESH AIR. It airs from 11 to noon weekdays in Chicago and I love it so.
- 42d. [Prefix for mania], BEATLE. You wanted to plunk an O in the last spot, didn’t you? I did. No KLEPTO or NYMPHO here, though.
Four stars from me for this smooth 70-worder. Didn’t care for ONE SLICE or TEENER. There’s also a minor duplication (TAKE IN and IN LINE), but the INs are in opposite corners so much less noticeable/bothersome.