Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword
Another unusual themeless grid, quite different from Friday’s (which was unusual) and from most themelesses we see. A 15 stacked with a 12, with an 11 passing through both? This 70-worder has lots of fresh stuff mixed with some old fill. Here are the fun bits:
- 3d. [All right, to 42-Across], OKELY-DOKELY. 42a is NED Flanders from The Simpsons.
- 20a. [“… and that’s no joke!”], “BELIEVE YOU ME.” That’s one of three colloquial phrases here. The others are 32d: “OH, COME NOW” and 57a: “SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.” Oh, and “HOW NICE,” and possibly “BOOK ‘EM.”
- 40a. [Their 1982 album “Combat Rock” went double-platinum], THE CLASH. Of “Rock the Casbah” fame. Good gravy, 33 years ago? The music of my youth is now as old as Elvis’s first hits were when I was a teen.
- 33a. [It runs to the right], TEA PARTY.
- 24d. [“Boogie Nights” persona played by Mark Wahlberg], DIRK DIGGLER. Movie came out 17 years ago, but if you saw it, you can’t forget that character’s ridiculous porn name. And if you don’t know it, oy vey. Name crossings with LINA, NED, GOA, SELA, and ORLY. If you don’t know that 53a. [Foreign state with the capital Panaji] is GOA, certainly NOA/DINGLER could be plausible—that is a tough clue for Goa that doesn’t suggest “Indian coastal state with Portuguese heritage” at all.
- 54a. [Beatles song in which no Beatle plays an instrument], “ELEANOR RIGBY.”
OEDIPAL, BABYSIT, ETYMON, Aaron ECKHART, and PANTERA also are welcome in my puzzle.
Less welcome: ICE-COLD BEVERAGE is a little meh, and –ARY, OTTO I (how many people are psyched to see a clue like [Emperor crowned in 962]?) crossing OTO and UTE, OLEO and ALAR, NEC, IPSO, and DECI– didn’t enhance my solve.
Tough clue for 25d. ONTO, [Able to see through]. I had O*T* and was taking onageric guesses at the other two letters. Never, ever heard of 39a. [Graham ___ (old Kellogg’s cereal)], CRACKOS (though it pretty much had to be an O), and I had no idea what the 30a. [“Singin’ in the Rain” role] was, given that LI*A could be completed with a variety of consonants. LINA? Doesn’t ring a bell (I haven’t seen the movie—musicals vex me), and I can’t say I recognize the actress’s name.
Five more things:
- Tons of proper nouns (over 20) in this puzzle. The “I hate trivia quizzes” people probably didn’t have much fun with this crossword. Rows 8, 9, 14, and 15 are entirely names.
- 46d. [Model in a science class], ORRERY. Model of the solar system, that is. I learned this word in crosswords, actually.
- 51d. [Checker piece, e.g.], OLDIE. As in a piece recorded by Chubby Checker.
- 48d. [Cricket infraction], NO BALL. Unlike Gareth, I don’t know my cricket terminology.
- 49d. [Pass on a proposal], SAY NAY. Is that a thing, “say nay”? It’s not ringing a bell.
I like the zippy stuff, I do, but there are so many intersecting names (which can make for an unfair grid) and some blah stuff, so 3.5 stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hooked”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! The reports are that the weather today here in New York is going to be wonderful, with temperatures almost reaching the 80s. Woohoo! Definitely the perfect time to head out and frolic in the sunshine. But before doing that, we have a puzzle to solve, and today’s offering, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is all about puns with pirates and pirate-y things!
- LONG JOHN SOLVER (20A: [Captain Hook’s crossword-loving colleague?])
- AGE BEFORE BOOTY (25A: [Captain Hook’s sentiment about his senior crewman?])
- DAVY JONES’ LAGER (44A: [Captain Hook’s preferred potable?])
- DID YOU MISS SMEE (51A: [Captain Hook’s question to the crew after making his first mate walk the plank?])
Got off to a pretty slow start, so decided to hop around the grid for the first couple of minutes to see where I could get a foothold. That finally happened in the Northeast, where the intersection of BOOP (10A: [Cartoon flapper Betty]) and BULLHORN opened things up for me (10D: [Portable PA system]). I still prefer to call it a megaphone, but to each their own, right? Extra props to this grid for the African geography with TANGIERS (5D: [City near Gibraltar]). I may have seen or heard OSMOSE, in the verb tense, once in my life before today, but I definitely can’t remember when that was (47D: [Seep through]). Loved that Australian tennis great EVONNE Goolagong (Cawley) got some love in the grid as well, and, on any other day, I would expound on her achievements on the following graph of this blog (8D: [Tennis rival of Billie Jean]). But that’s not the case today, and that’s because of…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: YEO (45D: [USN clerk]) – This might be one of my favorite “sports…smarter” entries because of the unlikeliness of using this entry and giving it a sports angle. If you end up watching today’s Stanley Cup Playoffs playoff game between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues (3 PM ET on NBC), you’ll get a chance to also see Mike YEO, the head coach of the Minnesota Wild hockey team and the youngest coach in the National Hockey League (41 years old). Yeo was an assistant coach on the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup, and, last season, he led the Wild to their first playoff series win since 2003 when they defeated the Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Bit of an overriding baseball vibe here:
- 22a. [1975-’76 World Series champs, on scoreboards], CIN.
- 29a. [Citizens Bank Park team], PHILLIES.
- 37a. [Youthful nickname for the 1950 29-Across], WHIZ KIDS. (Mini-theme paired with 29a.)
If you ask me, one baseball reference per puzzle is plenty.
- 23a. [Called, nowadays], SKYPED. Many of our chats with my in-laws are via Skype.
- 51a. [Jackson 5 song covered by Mariah Carey], “I’LL BE THERE.”
- 33d. [Offended outburst], THE NERVE!”
- 3d. Fictional code name], DA VINCI. I liked the way the name was slumming in this clue.
Fill I could have done without: EBAN, CLE, AYRES, SHA, NENE, KPH, SRI, UTEP, ESTE, RAI, S-SHAPED. And I’m okay with 38d. [Siberian metropolis] IRKUTSK, but if you don’t know that place name and you don’t know your crosswordese and old bits like AYRES, KPH, UTEP, and ESTE, good luck to you here.
If you’ve been hankering to watch the news in Italian, here’s the Rai News livestream. I’m not sure that [Italian counterpart of the BBC] is wholly accurate, because Rai seems to be a news channel, whereas the BBC has news plus a line-up of entertainment shows.
3.5 stars from me.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (written as “Anna Stiga”)
Hey! Look. A Stumper that doesn’t bring me to a screeching halt in one section. Finishable in less than twice the time of the other Saturday themelesses!
Lots and lots of fill we don’t see often in crosswords. Here are some of the less stale entries (which is not to imply that the rest of the puzzle is stale; it’s not):
- 1a. [Drier times], WASH DAYS. Clothes drier, not the comparative adjective.
- 20a. [”Curb your enthusiasm”], “DOWN, BOY!”
- 35a. [Novelist made a Baroness], P.D. JAMES.
- 63a. [Victoria descendant who’s reigned since 2014], FELIPE VI. Raise your hand if you haven’t been keeping track of European monarchs’ Roman numerals.
- 65a. [Material in a book you might not be able to put down], FLYPAPER. Lots of stickum.
- 7d. [Koran : Allah :: Hebrew Bible : __], YAHWEH. Now, would a more observant Jew enter ALLEY C–T and R–DOS for the vowels’ crossings?
- 14d. [North Atlantic remnant of New France], ST. PIERRE. It’s partnered with “et Miquelon.”
- 36d. [”ER” ogre], DR. ROMANO. That’s a rather dated pop-culture reference. He was only a main character from 1999-2004, and popped up again briefly in the final season.
- 37d. [Crowds], JAM-PACKS. P.D. Jam-Packes?
Five clues of note:
- 30a. [Where salt is sea dust], DINER. Never heard this particular bit of diner patois.
- 39a. [What Civil War troop records were kept in], RED TAPE. Where we get the phrase from.
- 51a. [Word from the Dutch for ”pirate ship”], YACHT. That’s … surprisingly apt.
- 28d. [Queen of Sheba’s homeland, today], YEMEN. Did not know that.
- 56d. [It can precede or follow ”cover”], SLIP. Slipcover on a sofa, cover slip on a glass microscope slide.
Four stars from me.