Kristian House’s New York Times crossword
This 70-worder differs from yesterday’s puzzle in that it’s got a solid collection of no-foolin’ crosswordese in it. AEON with the A, AGHA and OGEE in the center row, and the AGENA rocket ([It was boosted by Titan]) crossing an AMAH ([Asian au pair]). Heaven help the solver who doesn’t know AGENA or AMAH, because that crossing isn’t going to be too helpful.
This puzzle was also making me feel a little constrained by gender roles. The AMAH and YENTAS are specifically feminine nouns, one evoking subservience and the other gossipiness. AGE LIMIT is clued by way of the Miss America “scholarship pageant” (now with bikinis). PANTY LINE is a [Female fashion faux pas] instead of just a [Fashion faux pas], which would be more Saturdayish, no? And then there’s MUFFIN TOP, [Effect of tightening an extra-tight belt, maybe]—generally applied to women far more than to men.
Eight more things:
- 58a. [Long-running show about a Time Lord], DOCTOR WHO. Would you believe the New Yorker—that bastion of editorial correctness—recently printed the show’s title incorrectly as Dr. Who? The apocalypse, my friends, surely is nigh.
- 49d. [Sharpen anew], REHONE. A roll-your-own RE+ word, yes?
- 40a. [Trial and error, e.g.], NOUNS. Did this clue type trick you again? Definitely gave me pause.
- 28d. [Port whose name means “Christmas”], NATAL. It’s in Brazil. Its population is more than twice that of BARI, and I like the name etymology aspect of the clue.
- 43d. [Rosenfeld who wrote the best seller “Live Now, Age Later”], ISADORE. I’m not sure why I got the first name so quickly. I don’t recognize his books, I had no idea he was ever on Fox News, and Wikipedia’s team doesn’t deign to give him a page.
- 52a. [Marine mollusk named for its earlike tentacles], SEA HARE. That’s bogus. Those slugs don’t look a thing like rabbits.
- 12d. [Weapon for the Caped Crusader], BATARANG. It boomerangs back, I assume from the name?
- 45d. [McCloud of 1970s TV’s “McCloud”], SAM. Whoa, really? 38+ years is a long way to go for a SAM. Apparently most of the show’s episodes were 90 or 120 minutes long. I wonder what sort of audience was ga-ga enough over the show to commit that much time to it on a weekly basis.
3.4 stars from me.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Totally forgot about blogging this morning, so I’ll be quick about it.
This one made me a little grumpy, I’ll be honest with you. ONE I LOVE dangling without its introductory THE, the awkward “is that a thing?” AGE NORM, ANCHOVY PIZZA (just about nobody orders that—there’s a local pizza place that offers free anchovies on any pizza just to get people to eat them but I don’t think they get many takers), plural abbrev ALTS, and fill like AREOLE, ALEE, GARR/ESAI/FARR, ESTH, HINTERS, meh.
I do like WARM GLOW, MONSTER HIT, LASER TAG, QUESTION MARK (and yes, the clue 30a. [Character in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”] totally duped me), and PRIZE MONEY, but overall it felt like maybe a few too many trade-offs in exchange for the four Z’s.
3.5 stars from me.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Well! That was not easy. When I was somewhere between 10 and 13 minutes into this thing and the bottom remained largely empty, I used the “check solution” function and identified 5 incorrect squares that were blocking me from getting any further. I didn’t find the clues particularly pleasant, these ones that obstructed me from getting on with my day. Sigh.
I forgot about FRISIAN ([Germanic language group]), despite having enjoyed a video this spring in which Frisian dairy farmers were unloosing their cows into the fields after a winter in the stables. (They danced. The cows, not the farmers.) Could only think of Faroese and Finnish, and of course Finnish is the furthest thing from Germanic.
Never, ever heard of the 44d. [Connecticut prep school] POMFRET, despite reading The Preppy Handbook in high school and going to college with some East Coast preps. Looked up a list of 50 elite boarding schools—it’s not one of them. I’m calling it obscure fill, fill for which most solvers were going to need to crack the crossing clue for every letter. Boo.
1a. [Limit], FINITUDE? Possibly I have never seen this word before.
CHAT AREA, is that still a thing? Are LAW CASES a thing, or are those just cases, legal cases? GENERATE REVENUE feels a tad “random verb + object” to me.
3d. [Aye’s opposite] is NE’ER? I’ve seldom, if ever, seen “aye” as “always.”
GREAT WHITE SHARK is fun fill.
3.4 stars from me.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”—Ade’s write-up
Hello once again, everyone, and welcome to the weekend! Love the title to today’s crossword, which was offered up to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin. Don’t sweat the small stuff, people! In the crossword, each of the four theme answers start with words that are synonyms with small, almost specifically words that describes one’s stature.
- SHRIMP SALAD (17A: [Pinkish lunch entrée that might be served in a lettuce cup])
- PEANUT FARMER (27A: [Jimmy Carter, once]) – All this grid needed, after this reference, was a “Billy Beer” entry.
- SQUIRT BOTTLE (44A: [Squeezable container])
- PEE WEE REESE (59A: [Hall of FAme shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers])
My eyes immediately drew to the long downs in the Northeast and Southwest, and the fill definitely didn’t disappoint. I always remember EPHEMERAL when studying for my SATs appearing in a flash card, and I never forgot the word and use it more often than most (12D: [Short-lived]). Also liked seeing DOTS THE I’S, though I’m sure if this opens up a constructor in the future to add “cross the t’s” in a grid (31D: [Pays attention to details]). And as an on-camera and radio reporter, it was a pleasure to see SIMULCAST as we’ll, and got the answer off the bat (33D: [Radio-and-television event]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OTIS (36A: [SportsR&B’s Redding]) – Former Major League centerfielder Amos OTIS was a stalwart on the 1970s Kansas City Royals teams that consistently were one of the best in baseball. After joining the Royals via a trade with the New York Mets, Otis went on to make five All-Star teams and win three Gold Gloves in centerfield for the Royals. In the 1980 World Series, Otis hit three homers and batted .478 in a losing effort against the Philadelphia Phillies.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge