James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword
This 72-worder announces its intentions at 1-Across, with EDM DJ SKRILLEX (1a. [Leader in electronic music with multiple Grammys]), but then it doesn’t end up being a puzzle for ravers.
Fill/clues I liked best:
- 15a. [1960s-’70s band that took its name from an Aldous Huxley title], THE DOORS. Literary plus rockin’.
- 18a. [Gourmet], FOODIE.
- 22a/23a. [Henry ___], FONDA and also VIII. I always get those two mixed up.
- 32a. [Brand name with 2/3 capital letters in its logo], TAB. My son’s 8th grade teacher drank a can of TaB a day at school. I like a man who isn’t afraid of pink.
- 48a. [Leonine : lion :: lutrine : ___], OTTER. I don’t think I knew the word lutrine but I’m going to find a way to use it. I just wish the first half of the analogy had been ursine : bear.
- 64a. [“It’s not my place to decide”], YOUR CALL.
- 69a. PETE ROSE, full name.
- 39d. [Author who created the fatalistic optometrist Billy Pilgrim], VONNEGUT. I forgot the optometrist part altogether.
- 55d. [“The beacon of the wise,” per Shakespeare], DOUBT. The full quote, from Troilus and Cressida, is “Modest doubt is call’d / The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches / To the bottom of the worst.”
Did not know:
- 62a. [Composer György whose music was featured in Kubrick films], LIGETI.
- 66a. [Marketing space], AD UNIT. An “ad unit” is a thing?
- 37d. [Religious garment suspended from the shoulders], SCAPULAR. I am not up on my religious garments, but it makes sense anatomically.
Least liked: ESTOP, IDI, GBS. Not much junk. See? That’s what I want to see in a 72-worder. Bring me some sparkle, keep out as much junk as you can, write some fun or interesting clues. Four stars from me.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gimmie A Break”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Hope you’re all going to enjoy the last Saturday of April. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, accomplished two things. First, it showed that each of the three theme answers are two-word entries in which the second word could also precede the word “break.” Second, it made me incessantly think about the 1980s show Gimmie A Break, with Nell Carter and Joey Lawrence. Is that a good thing? I believe so!
- TURKISH COFFEE (20A: [Hot drink popular in the Arab World]) – Can’t say that I’ve had a Turkish coffee before. Well, I haven’t had any cup of coffee in years. (I know, I’m weird.)
- PRIVATE BATHROOM (39A: [Common executive office perk]) – You know you’ve made it when you have your own private bathroom, huh?!
- BUSINESS LUNCH (55A: [Repast where a deal may be made])
Had a feeling immediately that the clue for C-FLAT was a music one, despite my relative inability for recognizing music clue misleads or non-straightforward music clues in general (9A: [B, essentially]). Also in that corner, initially typed in “Heile” instead of HAILE, though I knew the spelling was the latter from the beginning (16A: [Selassie of Ethiopia]). One of those unintentional typos when trying to finish as quick as possible I suppose, even though I’m far from a speed solver. Did anyone else type in ‘Argo’ instead of SAGO initially, like I did (32A: [Pudding starch])? My mother buys Argo corn starch almost religiously, so I’ve been pretty much trained to put in Argo anytime I see a four-letter entry dealing with food starch. Finally, I’m asking you all to do me a favor: for every time you see YAHTZEE as an entry in any crossword puzzle that’s reviewed on Fiend, you have to go into the comments section and end each of your comments/postings on there by typing “Yahtzee!!” (28A: [Dice game name since 1956]). Who’s with me?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DICKEY (4D: [Detachable shirtfront]) – College basketball coach James DICKEY is currently an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. He’s most remembered for his 10-year tenure as head basketball coach at Texas Tech University, where, in 1996, he led the Red Raiders to a 28-1 record going into the NCAA Tournament, the best winning percentage of any team in the field (and in the country). That team made the Sweet 16 before losing to Georgetown. In the second round, Dickey’s team defeated North Carolina, and one of the Red Raider players, Darvin Ham, did THIS during the game…
See you all for the Sunday Challenge! Oh, and Yahtzee!!!!
Daniel Nierenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I had a sinking feeling when I started this puzzle because 1-Across had a lot of possible answers, so I looked at 1-Down and encountered a crusty bit of crosswordese: 1d. [Currency exchange fee], AGIO. I feared the worst, but the puzzle turned out to have more lively entries than crusty junk (IONA, OATEN, and MOTET were the dryest).
- 15a. [Video game that comes in a World Tour version], GUITAR HERO.
- 17a. [Meditation goal], INNER PEACE.
- 36a. [Sports demographic], NASCAR DAD. More of a political demographic, no?
- 51a. [Software for screenwriters], MOVIE MAGIC. Didn’t know it, but glad to learn it.
- 22d. [Dieter’s brand], LEAN CUISINE. I like how CARRION butts up against this answer.
- 26d. [2007 Nicolas Cage title role], GHOST RIDER. Did the script writer use Movie Magic?
Random thought: Add-a-letter themes can be pretty boring, but if you stuck an S into familiar phrases and turned 56a: PERSONAL AD into PERSON SALAD, you’d have a recipe for horror. Mesclun greens, heirloom tomatoes, golden radishes, candied walnuts, and Soylent Green vinaigrette.
Five more things:
- 27d. [Odin’s Germanic counterpart], WOTAN. Was leaning WODEN at first. Won’t you join me in pronouncing “Wednesday” as Woden’s Day?
- 47a. [Hophni’s father, in the Bible], ELI. Didn’t know there was a Hophni in the bible.
- 8d. [“Sleepy” woman in the song “Daydream Believer”], JEAN. No clue. Had the J and A, filled in the N, waited for the crossing to give me JEAN or JOAN.
- 30d. [“Blah …”], YADA. You have to mentally fill in two more “blah”s in the clue. One is not enough ….
- 43d. [Comes down], RAINS. Late April and rainy with temps in the 40s all weekend? Come on, Lake Michigan, heat yourself! You are wrecking spring.
3.75 stars from me.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Despite having some entries I didn’t know, Brad somehow crafted this to be the easiest Stumper in a while. The clues must’ve landed in my wheelhouse more than usual. Good! Because I don’t have much time to devote to the puzzle, and tearing my hair out for twice as long is highly inefficient.
- 1a. [Church rite], SUNG MASS. As opposed to spoken?
- 19a. [National ethos], VOLKSGEIST. Did I know that was a word?
- 7d. [Disney’s first movie sequel], SON OF FLUBBER. Trivia I didn’t know.
- 20d. [Staff notation], KEY SIGNATURE. Not sure what that is.
Favorites fill: CLARA BOW, the “It” Girl; ANTIGONE; AMARYLLIS; crusty BAGUETTES; HANG TEN; Germaine GREER.
Five more things:
- 34a. [Coveted shade in bottle collecting], PUCE. Well! I did not know that.
- 31d. [Source of many valuable drawings], IRA. As in required distributions of funds from your retirement account.
- 15a. [What Shaq took when he moved to the Heat], PAY CUT. Fresh fill, fine bit of trivia.
- 47d. [John Rambo lives among them], THAIS. Movie geo-trivia instead of the less accessible opera called Thaïs.
- Bits like STET and ULNAE are rather dry but overall, the fill’s smooth.
3.9 stars from me.