Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
Big ups for this puzzle. Or, you might say, many UPs. Four, to be exact: BUFFS UP crossing UP HERE, across from BACKS UP, which is above EATEN UP. What is up with that?!
Quick write-UP as I don’t want to stay UP too late tonight.
Ten things in this 70-worder:
- 19a. [Book of ___], KELLS. Know your medieval Irish illuminated manuscripts, people. Or just this one. This one will suffice.
- 29a. [“M*A*S*H” extra], ROK. Does this count as crosswordese to you? I’ve pretty much only encountered it in puzzles.
- 39a. [Hip-hop’s ___ tha Kyd], SYD. Never heard of him; nor has my kid.
- 40a. [Provider of shock value?], RICHTER SCALE. Cute clue.
- 51a. [Figure also called the crux ansata], ANKH. Not familiar with the Latin term, but crux = cross and ansata and ANKH start with same two letters so I went with it.
- 10d. [1983 Joel Schumacher film], DC CAB. It’s bizarre that an 80%-consonants thing won’t die in crosswords, especially when it’s a movie of no great distinction.
- 30d. [Like one side of the Aral Sea], KAZAKH. Wikipedia describes the sea in the past tense.
- 36d. [Blabber], BIGMOUTH. Blabber as in “one who blabs,” not the verb “blabber.”
- 46d. [Jungle herbivores], TAPIRS. Never trust a tapir with its back to you. They can spray their pee 15 feet behind them, which is rather inconvenient when you are visiting the zoo on vacation and don’t have access to laundry machines for your sprayed clothes.
- 52d. [Noted Greek officer], KOJAK. Not sure that “noted” can mean “fictional, from TV in the ’70s.” Anyone know how they came up with the surname Kojak for the fictional Greek-American cop?
3.5 stars from me.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Four stacks in this 70-worder, with a dozen 10-letter answers. The highlights:
- 1a. [One is featured in the 1962 Ventures instrumental “The 2,000 Pound Bee”], FUZZ GUITAR. Don’t know what it is, mind you, and BUZZ goes with the sound of bees more than FUZZ, but whatever.
- 15a. [He played the bandit Calvera in “The Magnificent Seven”], ELI WALLACH. So much ELI, ELI, ELI; hardly any full names for the famous ELIs. Nice change-up.
- Edible corner—HERBIVORES over OVEREATERS having TEXAS TOAST. Probably not part of a LOW-FAT DIET, because you’re probably going to want butter or cheese with that Texas toast.
- 28d. [Business where lines are short?], SINGLES BAR. Would rather not have the RELINING crossing with the “lines” clue, and I had LINE for 33a at first too. Would have prefered a tailoring clue for RELINING, as most of us don’t have chimney work done (39a. [Chimney repair job]).
ERIE COUNTY is uninspiring, and SAINT PETER looks weird with the “St.” spelled out.
Five more things:
- 4d. [Literally, “twice-baked”], ZWIEBACK. The biscotti of Prussia.
- 20a. [Kid’s cry], MAA. Again, I pretty much never encounter this as the goat’s sound outside of crosswords. Could’ve been MAS crossing TADS, though TA-DA is better than TADS.
- 37a. [Massenet opera], THAIS. Ah, yes, the famous opera! Not really. It is bizarre that this isn’t clued as, say, [Bangkokians] or [Lard na eaters, often]. It’s as if a clue gets soldered into place in the 1970s and can never be dislodged.
- 35d. [1983 Styx hit that begins in Japanese], MR. ROBOTO. This is both great and terrible.
- 34d. [Greenside stroke], CHIP SHOT. I will assume this golf clue somehow misses the point until sbmanion (he who finds fault with a great many sports clues in crosswords) weighs in with his approval.
3.5 stars. MAA, BOAC, ETAS, ULNA, T-NUT, DELES, and MERS underwhelmed me.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Anna Stiga byline)
When you’re already feeling a little dyspeptic, you don’t want to hit an ESTER (13d. [Source of an ale’s fruity flavor]) in a Newsday puzzle. Who would have preferred an ASTER crossing MARA? (Hand raised here.) Did you know that The Social Network actress Rooney Mara’s grandfather and great-grandfather owned different NFL teams? Art Rooney, Steelers; Wellington Mara, Giants. Or! Just clue MARE as the horse rather than the Latinate word for some moon terrain.
Did you find this puzzle to be about twice as hard as the day’s other themelesses, or am I just off kilter?
- 20a. [Gillette introduction of 1979], ERASERMATE. Who knew Papermate pens were a Gillette subsidiary? And why does more than one company make both razors and ballpoint pens?
- 21a. [Mag with a Street Chic Daily web page], ELLE. The shortened “mag” is quite misleading. We don’t get a curtailed COSMO here, we get full-name ELLE. I don’t get it.
- 32a. [Palm product], HULA SKIRT. Made from palm fronds.
- 60a. [Sources of some scratches], HENS. Is this a literal or figurative thing?
- 7d. [The Romans’ name for Turkey], ASIA. Neat clue. Asia Minor?
- 10d. [A noticeable improvement], MORE LIKE IT. Don’t care for the clue here. The answer phrase also feels incomplete without “that’s.”
- 18d. [Shipwreck divers’ mecca], ERIE. Lake Erie? I Googled a couple top-10 shipwreck dives list and the Great Lakes weren’t on either one. Maybe a mecca for Ohio shipwreck divers in particular?
- 24d. [Dated, for short], OBS. Short for “obsolete.” Not keen on “for short” signaling a straight-up abbreviation rather than a more casual curtailment.
- 25d. [Martha Stewart makes them with basil leaves and homemade mayo], BLTS. Now, that’s a fresh BLT clue.
- 28d. [Reminder starter], NOTE TO SELF. My favorite entry in this grid. BUM’S RUSH a close second.
3.75 stars from me.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Capital Women”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody! Sorry for being a little late to the Saturday crossword party, but where’s definitely a spot for the person that comes in fashionably late, right?! (Not that I meant to be fashionably late…far from it.) Today’s crossword, brought to us by our jazzy musician, Mr. Tony Orbach, includes famous women whose last names also happen to be state capitals. For this review, I’m changing my name to “Adesina Jefferson City.”
- KATE JACKSON (17A: [“Charlie’s Angels” actress who should have been from Mississippi?])
- ABBEY LINCOLN (28A: [Late jazz inger/actress who should have been from Nebraska?])
- HOLLY MADISON (53A: [“The Girls Next Door” reality TV actress who should have been from Wisconsin?]) – Would have known who she was if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s a reality TV actress. I don’t do reality television at all.
- TRACY AUSTIN (64A: [Former tennis champ who should have been from Texas]) – Not only does she remain the youngest woman to win the U.S. Open women’s singles title (16 years, 9 months when winning it in 1979), she beat Martina Navratilova in the semifinals and Chris Evert in the final to achieve it. What were you doing when you were 16???
Is everyone getting ready for OSCAR season, with the Academy Awards being next month (32A: [Award for many people honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame])? Is there such a thing as “Oscar season?” Probably my favorite fill (along with its clue) today was, actually, HEY YOU (27A: [“Yo!”]). So a few days ago, I saw A-OKAY in a grid and mentioned how I believed it was rare to spell it a such, and now I see it again in a grid (7D: [Just perfect]). From this day forward, I declare that spelling of A-okay not rare. Actually, my second-favorite clue for the day was DROOPY, which has now made me think of the animated basset hound created by Tex Avery (58A: [Like a flop-eared pup’s ears]). The cartoons with Droopy and Spike are absolutely hilarious, if you ever get a chance to watch.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: L.A. RAM (26D: [Former West Coast NFLer]) – It’s possible that the “former” in the clue may be no longer in a couple of years. The L.A. RAM franchise, which first started in Cleveland, moved to St. Louis in 1995, where it remains to this day. But a recent reports are that the owner of the Rams, Stan Kroenke, is seriously looking into a new stadium project in the City of Angels, with the hopes of moving the team back to Los Angeles. In response, the St. Louis mayor announced plans of possibly building a new stadium in St. Louis to be ready by 2020, in hopes of keeping the Rams. Honestly, these “new stadium wars” are such a detriment to sports. The new stadiums are great and generate a lot of attention and revenue, but the politics and the nickel-and-diming only hurts the fans/citizens at the expense of gluttonous glitz and glamour.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!