Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword
I had advance warning that Sam’s puzzle was perhaps a little rough—Sam himself allowed that it had “a bit more crosswordese than I would’ve allowed if I’d constructed it today.” (Sam is one of those constructors who’s honing skills by releasing puzzles regularly via his website. Practice makes perfect, provided you’ve got some innate talent. Sam does.) And indeed, though we have the delightful MOZZARELLA STICK/SKYY VODKA crossing, there are compromises in this 70-worder.
First up, the other likes:
- 2d. [“Oops, that had escaped me”], “OH, I FORGOT.” “HOLD ON A SEC” is another nice spoken-word answer.
- 3d. [Boxer-turned-sitcom star], TONY DANZA. He boxed for almost three years, has acted for 37. I contemplated putting MIKE TYSON here, since he is best known as a boxer; his current show is a cartoon and I’m not sure it fits the “sitcom” label. Glad that the convicted rapist was not in the puzzle, at any rate.
- 34d. [Real-time storm tracker], LIVE RADAR. Dang it, I love live weather radar.
- 49a. [Poet Howard who wrote “A Primer of the Daily Round”], NEMEROV. Literary references are a plus in the Saturday puzzle.
Fill that underwhelmed me included ALAN-A-DALE (somewhat overrepresented in crosswords thanks to its consonant/vowel pattern, because isn’t he definitely a B-lister in RobinHood circles?); partials AIN’T I and OR OUT; suffix –IFY and prefix HELI-; possessive BACON’S Rebellion (colonial uprising); and crossword stand-bys ORLY, OYEZ, ELUL, ENL, OLEIN, NERTS, TARE, and TO LET.
Never heard of: 60a. [Its last model was the 1941 Skylark], HUPMOBILE. The Hupp Motor Company made cars from 1909 to 1940. Who knew? Not I.
3.33 stars from me.
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
4 stars. Until next week!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Flavorful Fellows”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there on this first weekend of 2015! Mr. Tony Orbach gets our weekend off on the good foot, with a tasty grid in which the theme answers are celebrities who have first names which happen to also be flavors/spices. Three of the four people referenced happen to be musicians, which seems apropos given that music always provides a certain element of figurative flavor.
- CHILI DAVIS: (17A: [Jamaican-born MLB player-turned-coach who’s a flavorful fellow?]) – His given first name is Charles, but got the nickname “Chili” when neighborhood kids teased him for having a hair cut that looked like he had a chili bowl put on his head while the hair around it was cut (bowl cut).
- PEPPER ADAMS: (28A: [Jazz baritone sax player who was a flavorful fellow?])
- GINGER BAKER: (47A: [Drummer and founder of the classic rock band Cream who’s a flavorful fellow?])
- VANILLA ICE: (48A: [Rapper-turned-home-improvement specialist who’s a flavorful fellow?]) – Question: Is Vanilla Ice a better rapper or home improvement specialist?
Please tell me that some constructor has clued KITT in reference to the car on Knight Rider at some point (61D: [“Santa Baby” singer Earth]). If not, then I’ll have to do just that in the near future. Interesting fill with KO’ING, as it’s somewhat of a stretch to attach the gerund to the abbreviation, even in boxing parlance (45A: [Dropping to the canvas]). But I guess if “KO’ed” is an acceptable boxing term, and it most certainly is, then KO’ing can join in on the fun as well. I hadn’t seen my good crossword friend OGEE in a while (57D: [S-shaped molding]). From reading enough blogs, I now know by rote that PICKAX would be/is a very popular word with the Scrabble crowd, given the “K” and the “X” in the word (1D: [Rock pile worker’s tool]). Oh, and how interesting and/or odd was it to see the somewhat-related, somewhat-rhyming, words of DOWELS (18D: [Wooden pegs]) and NEWELS (52D: [Staircase posts])?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JAYS (56D: [Sox foes]) – The good news? The Toronto Blue JAYS , rivals to the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, have two World Series titles in franchise history, winning them in back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993. The bad news? The 1993 championship is their last appearance in the postseason to date, which is the longest current playoff drought of any team in Major League Baseball now that the Kansas City Royals just snapped their 28-year playoff drought by making it to the 2014 postseason (and the 2014 World Series to boot) this past October. Don’t worry, long-suffering Toronto sports fans, because there’s always the Maple Leafs to save the day!! Umm, never mind.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written as “Anna Stiga”)
Lots of nice mid-range to longer fill here, nothing too crazy-new but overall a lovely batch of vocabulary, and some interesting clues:
- 14a. [Pluviometer], RAIN GAUGE. A puzzle friend in El Paso doesn’t get much use out of hers—8.something inches last year.
- 17a. [Button often seen with a ”+”], ADD TO CART.
- 28a. [Big name in British pop art], David HOCKNEY.
- 40a. [Peers of Countess Violet Crawley], DOWAGERS. Would be nicer to have VIOLET CRAWLEY in the puzzle, or DOWAGER COUNTESS, but this’ll do.
- 42a. [Coin succeeded by a cent], PFENNIG. Also the last name of young Werner, one of the protagonists of All the Light We Cannot See, which I’m reading now.
- 63a. [Riders in satellite trucks], NEWS CREWS. Not NEW SCREWS.
- 12d. [Comedy lead-actor Emmy role for ’90 and ’93], SAM MALONE.
- 29d. [Something to watch at SFO and JFK], CNN. Thought this was going to be something aviation-centered, like the outmoded SST, rather than a TV channel aimed at a captive audience.
- 30d. [Bud holder], KEG. Had CAN first, which made 36a OPINION instead of OPINING.
- 40d. [’70s Chanel spokesperson], Catherine DENEUVE.
No real trouble spots in the grid, no gnashing of teeth, no cursing of the constructor. It’s been a while since we had one of those killer, 2.5-times-as-hard-as-the-Saturday-NYT Stumpers. We might be overdue for one.
Unfamiliar name: 44a. Druyan who cowrote ”Cosmos”], ANN. Carl Sagan was married to her. She’s gone on to be an activist and is involved in the Neil DeGrasse Tyson Cosmos series.