If you’re up for a challenge and like anagramming, check out Tim Croce’s anagram crossword. Each answer needs to be anagrammed into something new before being entered in the grid. Took me 24:04, so somewhere between 5 and 10 times longer than a standard puzzle with straightforward clues and fill. A delight!
Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
Hello, Doug and Brad! HELLO KITTY! Hello, migraine. Poor timing, for the headache to roll in right at blogging time. Abbreviated post!
Likes: CLASS TRIP, the KEMPT/TEMPT combo, RALPH NADER and HELLO KITTY (together again), ROSA PARKS, “ABOUT THAT…,” our LEAD STORY tonight, and the LIMELIGHT/TOP SECRET/”I’M TOO SEXY” stack.
Least friendly fill: 46d. Italian city near the Slovenian border], UDINE. If you’re going to mention Slovenia and cities, by gum, don’t bother me unless it’s Ljubljana. Also unfriendly: the word AXER. And ENCHAIN. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that form of “chain.” LESE, SCH, SYN, SEN, PTS also underwhelming.
70-worder, five mini-puzzles. Felt tough—took a while to break into each section.
3.8 stars from me. Usually I like Doug and/or Brad’s work more than this. Is it the puzzle or is it the headache talking? Either’s possible.
Jonathan O’Rourke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I liked this puzzle. Lots of fresh, lively fill. I was partial to IP ADDRESS, YIPPEE-KI-YAY (though I had YIPPIE first), ED HELMS, ZERO TO SIXTY, the ROSE WATER/APPLETINI/BOY SHORTS stack with solid crossings, SLEAZEBALL, DIDGERIDOO, FILM NOIR, and YAHWEH. (Any solvers enter dashes in place of the vowels in that last one?)
Before I solved the puzzle, a fellow Team Fiend member mentioned that there was a deadly crossing. If you don’t know the initial at the end of MURRAY THE K (who I’d never heard of when he was alive—I don’t think he made much of a dent in Chicago) and you’re not up on your lesser Elizabethan playwrights like Thomas KYD (certainly he’s of less import than Shakespeare, Marlowe, and o rare Ben Jonson) … well, that’s a tough crossing. There isn’t anything telling you that it’s not, say, Murray Thew rather than a three-word answer. The crossing didn’t snag me, but yeah, I could see this being problematic for a lot of people.
Things I was less enamored of: singular SPICE GIRL (though I loved the clue, [Baby, for one]), partial YE GOD, Mr. REE!, dated SDI (though Reagan’s military doodads did get a shout-out in the Colin Firth movie Kingsman), AIN’T HAY (which needs a “that” before it), SERE, and –ICS.
Combo that occurred to me: Between 9d. [Instagrammed item], SELFIE and 45d. [Name derived from the Tetragrammaton], YAHWEH, we need an Instagrammaton.
3.9 stars from me.
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Okay, I got entirely stuck in the northeast corner. Not sure I’ve ever heard of a GYROCOMPASS (10d. [Navigation device]), was thinking ANTIC or MUSIC was in Merrie Melodies (rather than Mel BLANC), was drawing a blank on the three 7s, and finally Googled 12d. [Third Pillar of Islam subject] to get ALMS and make headway there. 8a. [Jumbles] could be a verb or a noun; here, it’s the noun RAGBAGS. 16a. Xanadu-like], IDYLLIC—I wanted UTOPIAN but the crossings were no good. 18a. [Word on some ”Simpsons” paraphernalia], CARAMBA? Yuck. Didn’t Bart stop saying “Ay, caramba!” about 20 years ago? Or am I thinking of “Eat my shorts”?
- 15a. [Home of the $3 bill], BAHAMAS. Clue kept me guessing.
- 33a. [Guide for gardening], FARMER’S ALMANAC. Haven’t seen a print copy in decades.
- 39a. [Wishful thinker’s phrase], “I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I?” Lovely entry.
- 29d. [Wing, ding, or sting] … I was thinking “Ooh, they’re all VERBs … and they’re all NOUNs.” And then it turned out that they’re also synonyms for HARM.
- 31d. [Napoleon’s place], PATISSERIE. Napoleon the emperor? Napoleon the pig from Animal Farm? Nope, the pastry.
- 48d. [Capital of Cameroon], FRANC. Currency, not capital city. The latter would be Yaoundé, which I was blanking on, but I couldn’t think of any 5-letter African capital that could apply. (Accra and Cairo and Tunis are all elsewhere.)
- AFC WEST, SPASSKY, countries without ARMED FORCES.
Questions and disgruntlements:
- 57a. [”I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke” speaker], MAGUIRE. Is this a movie quote from Jerry Maguire, or something entirely different?
- 23a. [Workforce-readiness researcher, for short], ETS. Huh? They offer the GRE, TOEFL, and an assortment of other tests I’ve not heard of. No idea which sort of workforce’s readiness is assessed, or what sort of research ETS is doing aside from standardized tests.
- DOSER, XED, SEEST, ARFS, I-BAR, IN A STIR, S AND L, A-ONE … we don’t usually see much blah fill in Doug’s puzzles, particularly when the word count is 72. These feel a little less smooth than the customary Stumper fill.
3.8 stars from me. I wasn’t loving any of the day’s themelesses today, but none of them was terrible either.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Split Scenes”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everyone! Hope everything is well with you. It’s snowing once again in New York, and I’m about ready to split from here and head to Florida (which I will do in April for a week, but wish it was much, MUCH sooner). Speaking of splitting, today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, includes four theme answers clued in the same exact way, “Place for splits.”
- BALLET SCHOOL (20A: [Place for splits])
- BOWLING ALLEY (27A: [Place for splits]) – I need to start bowling again. Haven’t gone to the lanes since gym class in high school. By the way, what’s your highest score you ever recorded in the bowling alley? I think my highest was 158, if I can remember correctly. For those that are bowling aficionados, don’t laugh at me!
- DIVORCE COURT (47A: [Place for splits])
- ICE CREAM SHOP (55A: [Place for splits])
I guess I’m pretty good with parsing hipster lingo, but BAD SCENE was one that was lost on me for just a bit (37D: [Regrettable situation, to a hipster]). I might have heard that once or twice to describe that type of scenario, but I can’t say that it stuck as lingo I should remember. Looks like a trip to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is in the works to brush up on my hipster lingo. (As a near lifelong Brooklynite, that’s just so weird to say.) I definitely don’t mind the earworm that RATT has given me just now (6A: [“Round and Round” rock band]). Does anyone own an exploding CIGAR these days (51D: [Exploding prank gift])? Have seen that gag in cartoons and such, but I want to see that in person, and preferably, not done at my expense.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OSPREY (50D: [Hawk which nests near water]) – The OSPREY is the nickname/mascot for the University of North Florida athletics programs and the university. UNF initially made the jump to Division I in 2005 and became a full-fledged member of Division I in the 2009-10 academic year.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!