David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword
This 72-worder struck me as a bit easier than the typical Saturday NYT. There are a couple bits of 2010/2011 pop culture that make me wonder if David might have made this puzzle a few years ago—ANGRY BIRDS is still around but nowhere near the mania it was, and my son knows Flo Rida’s WHO DAT GIRL but finds it to be not so relevant anymore. The song peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100, so it’s no “Whistle” (one of Flo Rida’s three #1 hits). Over at Daily Celebrity Crossword, I definitely prefer to see top 10 songs in our music themes. A #29 passes muster only if it went on to become a classic (there are numerous much-loved Beatles songs that never charted as singles, for example).
- 26d. [Parlor product made with an iron], WAFFLE CONE. Were you thinking of hair salons and curling irons or flat irons?
- 57a. [What’s a big hit with the school board?], KARATE CHOP. The karate school, that is. A wooden board.
- 61a. [Treat with pudding and graham crackers], ICEBOX CAKE. Dammit, I don’t have any such recipe and that sounds like it would hit the spot. If you have a good recipe, please do share it.
- 63a. [They have an infamous gap], NIXON TAPES.
- 20a. [Old sitcom family name], PETRIE. Rob and Laura, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
41a. [Man on a mission, maybe], PADRE? That’s timely, as Juniperro Serra is to be canonized this fall despite his harms to the native Californians who didn’t welcome forced labor, beatings, and conversion.
Did not know: 58d. [Handel’s “___, Galatea e Polifemo”], ACI.
Could do without bits like ONE-L, ODIC, plural AHAS, EMS, D’ABO, EXE, and OPES.
3.95 stars from me.
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Lots of fresh and interesting long fill in this puzzle: tennis RACKET ABUSE (Brad loves tennis, which helped me guess the umpires in question weren’t in baseball), DOG LICENSES (which was just in another puzzle recently, in whole or part), VAN BUREN, a CURL BAR, Thrilla REMATCH, much-loved word BALLYHOO, NO-TELL MOTEL, ’80s Soft Cell song TAINTED LOVE, some EMPTY STARES, ASIAN PEARS (don’t much care for them myself), SPIN DOCTOR, TACO SALAD, and CABLE THEFT.
In the debit column, there’s SAS starting the puzzle off at 1-Across, keep-seeing-this-woeful-abbrev N CAR, AS IF/AS TO dupe, FER, STET beside ESSE.
Four more clues:
- 22a. [One whose work is at an end?], INDEXER. The indexer works on the whole book, but their work output is invariably at the back.
- 40a. [Small magazine inserts], BBS. Gun magazines, not the kind you read.
- 49a. [JFK, but not LAX], DEM. Has there never been an elected Democrat with the initials LAX?
- 26d. [Lace protector], AGLET. Shoelaces, not lace fabric—but I’d love to see a lacy bridal gown adorned with aglets galore.
Four stars from me.
David Steinberg’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
What a zippy Stumper! This puzzle’s got markedly livelier fill than many a Newsday puzzle. Check out the top stack—HAM AND EGGS on UV EXPOSURE on FIXER-UPPER, with smooth crossings that include a MEXICAN STANDOFF. The bottom stack paints an intriguing picture: PAPER TOWEL at the CRIME SCENE at the AFTER-PARTY. The other Down 15 is fine, if less exciting—PURCHASING POWER. ALCATRAZ and GUPPIES also pleased me.
Tougher bits (and really, the whole thing was clued tough—I scrolled through almost half the Across clues before I found a gimme, SAL Paradise):
- 15a. [It may make your face red], UV EXPOSURE. Not the anger or cosmetic sort of red.
- 36a. [Secondary entrance], POSTERN. Definitely a Saturday-puzzle sort of word. Not easy vocab.
- 8d. [Rainbow fish], GUPPIES. Rainbow? You don’t say.
- 9d. [U. administration], GRE. Colleges administer the GRE test. Whereas 27a’s [Presidents’ subordinates] are college administrators, DEANS.
- Three blow clues—the AFTER-PARTY is a [Blowout follower], SMOTE is [Gave a mighty blow], and HUFFED is also [Gave a mighty blow].
- 25d. [Mini often taken for a spin], TUTU. Mini-skirt for ballet pirouettes, not the car called a Mini.
- 43d. [Crystal collection site], SALT PIT. Didn’t know that was a thing.
- 63d. [Eight dashes: Abbr.], TSP. Know your kitchen measures! I did not. So a dash is 1/8th of a teaspoon, I gather.
4.4 stars from me. An enjoyable and challenging puzzle with lots of sparkle to it. My favorite of the day’s three themelesses, all of them good ones.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Any Time”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers! I hope you’re all doing well and having fun on this Saturday. Today’s crossword puzzle is by a person who could create some lovely Valentine’s Day tunes on his saxophone, Mr. Tony Orbach. In the grid, each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the first word starts with the letter “N” and the second word starts with the letter “E.”
- NUCLEAR ENERGY (17A: [Some power plant output])
- NATURAL ENEMIES (37A: [Dogs and cats, stereotypically]) – Just like me and swimming pools, since I still can’t swim.
- NAVAL EQUIPMENT (44A: [Gear for a battleship, say])
- NARROW ESCAPES (51A: [Close calls])
Well, of course I’m going to like this puzzle being that it has my nickname, ADE, in it (23A: [Commercial suffix with Gator or Power]), though I like to spell it as “Addie” sometimes because of the fear that people will pronounce Ade as “aid,” which has happened a fair number of times. A shoutout to all of the VIRGOS out there, including myself (45D: [Pink and Beyoncé, astrologically]). Of all the popular ski areas that also happen to be popular crossword fill, I liked the uniqueness of TYROL (9A: [Austrian ski area]). At the football/academic camp that I work at once a year in Texas, one of the student athletes needed a little extra tutoring in the math section of the SAT and, though I teach/taught the verbal section, he came up to me and asked specifically about a trig question. Instead of dusting off my knowledge of SECANTs and other inverse trig functions, I originally told my student to wait for one of the math instructors to come back to the dorm (32D: [Trigonometric ratio]). No, I was not about to embarrass myself in front of the students about how much I had forgotten about trigonometry! But I’ll be ready this summer if it happens again!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AZALEA (5D: [Pop singer Iggy]) – How does rapper and current singing sensation Iggy Azalea, who reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts with her hit “Fancy,” figure in this space? Well, currently, the Australian vocalist is dating Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young, a relationship that started late in 2013. Here’s Iggy and Swaggy P (Nick Young’s nickname) in a picture taken during a shoot for GQ last year. You should be happy I’m selecting this picture, since some of the other shots in the magazine were a little more, let’s say, raunchy.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!