Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
This one struck me as a little bit easier than yesterday’s Berry, despite the length of time I went before I found a clue I could answer. It helps that my first answer in the grid was a 15 in one of the vertical triple-stacks—11d. [Per a 1942 song, “She’s making history, working for victory”], ROSIE THE RIVETER. I made good headway in the right side of the grid thanks to all those footholds, and then those crossings soon delivered the adjacent 15s. The vertical triple-stacks intersect an Across one at the bottom, and aren’t we all glad the top wasn’t also stacked 15s? (That mandated left/right symmetry or no symmetry, rather than rotational crossword symmetry.) Because the fill was pretty good and there was plenty to appreciate.
Things I liked:
- 7a. [“My old lady”], THE MRS. It’s balanced nicely by “the Mr.” and “my old man.” It’s always troubled me that “old man” and “old lady” can mean either your spouse or your parent. We need a sharper demarcation here, people.
- 16a. [Wraps around an island?], SARONGS. Cute clue. Comfy attire for men and women alike.
- 17a. [City across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Tex.], REYNOSA. You know what? We don’t get a lot of REYN— names in the grid. I’ll take it.
- 29a. [Scorer of the first double eagle in U.S. Open history, 1985], T.C. CHEN. Not the most famous golfer, no, but just try pronouncing his name as if it were a single word. It seems almost Georgian. The four consonants in a row looked implausible.
- 57a. [Locale of five major U.S. volcanoes], WASHINGTON STATE. I cannot name all five. Can you, without looking this up?
- 60a. [Big wave, e.g.], ATTENTION-GETTER. Nothing gets my attention quite like a tsunami.
- 1d. [Fighting losses], CASUALTIES OF WAR. Also the title of a 1989 Michael J. Fox war movie. He hasn’t done a lot of war movies.
- 7d. [“Such gall!”], “THE NERVE!”
- 10d. [Masterpiece designated “quasi una fantasia”], MOONLIGHT SONATA.
- 37d. [Frenchy portrayer in “Grease”], DIDI CONN. My go-to Didi Conn reference is the movie, You Light Up My Life. She lip-synced the title song on screen, but Debby Boone did the actual singing. Wikipedia tells me the critics hated it, but my mom and my sister and I? We liked it a lot.
- 54a. [How a champagne bottle may arrive], IN ICE. Yes, it’s technically placed in ice, but the common phrase for that set-up is “on ice.” This is why there will be people Googling 48d. [One with patches], PONTO, trying to figure out what the hell PONTO means. (PINTO, horse whose coat is patchy.)
- 50d. [Settle a score, old-style], VENGE. So old-style, some dictionaries leave it on the cutting room floor.
- 56d. [Good name for a chauffeur?], OTTO. I’ve seen punny clues like this before (good name for a mechanic, maybe?), and they always chafe. “Auto” is pronounced more like awe-toe, whereas OTTO is ah-toe. Different vowel sound entirely, per me and at least one dictionary.
- 26a. [Vocalist’s warm-up run], LAS. Those aren’t la-la-las?
- 45a. [Ugly ___], AS SIN. It looks peculiar in the grid, and I keep parsing it as ugly-assin’.
- 56a. [Natural thing to feel], ONE G. Why go with the crosswordy spelled-out number when you could use the O-neg blood type?
- 14d. [Many an old red giant], N-STAR. Snooze.
- 9d. [Shoreline avifauna], ERNS. Crosswordese.
- The IN zone, with IN ICE crossing WADING IN nearby INS.
Given the nine 15s, the grid’s got a lot of boring short fill. That, and the onesie REST ON ONE’S OARS, are pretty much par for the course when you’re looking at a stacked puzzle.
Aside from the PONTO moment, I didn’t encounter any real trouble spots in the grid. 3.9 stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s Greek to Me”—Ade’s write-up
We’re already 10 days into the new year?! Yikes! Anyways, I hope you all are doing great to begin the weekend. Today’s crossword grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, takes phrases/proper nouns and replaces one of the words in it with a homophone that also happens to be a Greek letter.
- SHEPHERD’S PI (17A: [Greek meat and mashed potatoes concoction?]) – Last month, I had dinner with Angela Halsted (a.k.a. PuzzleGirl) in midtown Manhattan and we both had some of the best shepherd’s pie we’ve ever dined on! Mmmm, and then some!
- HEAVING A PSI (52A: [Expressing relief like a Greek?])
- SPANKING NU (11D: [Appearing to a Greek for the first time ever?]) – I guess if this grid needed a 15-letter theme entry, “Brand Spanking Nu” would have been perfect.
- CANNERY RHO (27D: [Steinbeck story, to a Greek?])
With the clue for ABBA being something I haven’t seen before, I’m trying to guess how many different clues I have now seen for that entry, in terms of referencing the music group (25D: [“Chiquitita” quartet]). That number is probably somewhere around 40. By the way, who knew that a PORNO (15A: [Blue material]) could make you SAD (11A: [Blue])? Don’t you hate it when pornos have sad endings? Moving on, seeing —-TI threw me for a loop, but caught on quick enough parsing SHORT I from the clue (28A: [Hit sound?]). Initially put in “impish” instead of BOYISH, which I guess was similar enough to me when I first put it in (46A: [Like Peter Pan]). Probably my favorite entry in the puzzle was CAPSTONE (4D: [Most notable achievement]), with STOPGAP coming a close second (39D: [Makeshift]). Oops, almost forgot to give PERSONAS a shout out for being good fill as well (20A: [Public faces]). Coincidentally, I solved this puzzle at the same time a good friend of mine, A.S., who I believe has Greek ancestry, told me she was solving the puzzle! So I definitely hope this was to your liking, and thanks for the crossword camaraderie!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DIDI (50D: [Actress Conn of “Grease”]) – After the retirement of Derek Jeter, it appears that the person who will have the first crack at replacing the living legend at shortstop for the New York Yankees will be DIDI Gregorius, a Major League shortstop who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks by the Bronx Bombers in a three-team trade last month. Gregorius was born in Amsterdam and raised in Curaçao, where former Major League All-Star outfielder Andruw Jones was born and grew up. (And yes, that’s how his first name is spelled…Andruw.)
See you all for the Sunday Challenge, everyone!
Alan DerKazarian’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Unusual themeless grid here—crossing 9s in two corners, a matrix of 10s and 12s meeting in the middle, only eight 3s.
Entries of note:
- 21a. [Quantum theory pioneer], MAX PLANCK. He’s 7/9ths consonants.
- 26a. [Heart part?], COCKLE. As in “that warms the cockles of my heart.”
- 32a. [Facetious Appalachian portmanteau], PENNSYLTUCKY. A little off from the nickname of an Orange Is the New Black character, Pennsatucky.
- 41a. [Smart alecks], WISENHEIMERS.
- 53a. [Rare pro golf feat], GRAND SLAM. Like MAX PLANCK opposite it in the grid, not many vowels.
- 33d. [Kind of telescope], NEWTONIAN. Don’t really know what this means, but I feel a little smarter for having it in the puzzle.
- 38d. [1991 “Favorite Album – Country” American Music Award winner], REBA LIVE. We get REBA pretty often, but her 24-year-old album? Not so much.
- 43d. [1998 “King Lear” Olivier Award winner], IAN HOLM, full name.
I did not know 39d. [1970 sci-fi film starring Joan Crawford in her last big-screen performance], TROG. Maybe she should have stopped a few years earlier and skipped both Berserk! and Trog?
Also was not familiar with the phrase in 16a. [Take __ at: try to wallop], A RIP. I’ve never taken a rip at anything except paper I’m tearing.
I took crosswordese attendance and unfortunately, the following students were not absent: SNEE, STELA, and ORT. Words like these should need a note from a doctor before they’re allowed to return to class.
Not keen on the clue for I HAD: 42d. [Start of a favorite-meal reminiscence]. Would have worked better as a FITB like [“If ___ a hammer …”].
3.5 stars from me.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I nearly FLUNKed OUT of this puzzle thanks to the northeast quadrant. Another solver mentioned that the northwest was her Waterloo. Presumably others were bitten by the southern corners. Here’s what did me in:
- 5a. [People playing in vehicles], MOVIE STARS. Trying DRAG RACERS really didn’t help with any of the crossings.
- 6d. [Short-story award eponym], O. HENRY. Why, oh why did I fill in ELLERY? That’s so wrong.
- 7d. [The world, figuratively], VALE. I don’t understand the connection here at all. Dictionary suggests that vale of tears means “the world regarded as a place of sorrow,” but it’s a stretch to lop off of tears.
- 11d. [Fireballs], TIGERS. I tried COMETS.
- 13d. [Fresh supply], REFIT. Say what? REFIT is a noun? Never knew it as anything but a verb.
I had a blank second word for URGENT NEED, and I figured 24a. [Guitar sequence] meant something musical (vs. physical parts of the instrument, FRETS). Between nothing feeding into that corner and finding none of the clues within to be gimmes, that was a big ol’ mess.
- 37a. [Neither foggy nor windy], CLEAR AND CONCISE. Not about weather.
- 45a. [What flashing or swelling is symptomatic of], OP ART. Ask your doctor if symptoms last longer than four hours.
- 49a. [Asian capital-list leader], ABU. Geography trivia—Abu Dhabi is the first alphabetically in a list of capitals in Asia.
- 1d. [Major attitude adjustment], ABOUT-FACE. Imagine if that meant turning your face upside down.
- 3d. [1999 biography subtitled ”Magician or Mystic?”], URI GELLER. So what’s the answer? Is it “Neither! He’s a hack”?
- 10d. [Most common labor issue], SON. More boys than girls are born, but baby girls and old women seem to be more robust than their male counterparts. And yes, I had PAY here first.
- 32d. [Bimonthly ”Magazine of Southern People”], Y’ALL. Who knew?
- 35d. [Field where Arabic etymologies are common], ASTRONOMY. Azimuth, for example.
- 48d. [The __ day], OTHER / 31a. [What impatient people don’t have], ALL DAY. Too many days.
- 54d. [School-__], AGER. Not at all familiar. But teen- was off limits because of EARLY TEENS (not that the day/DAY dupe caused a problem for the editor here).
- Rather more short blah stuff in this 70-worder than I expect to see in a Stumper. AYR, EER, RHOS, ENID, AGER, ERGS …
Overall 3.75 stars from me.