Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword
It’s hard to focus on writing about a crossword when there is the #trumpmycat hashtag to check out (wads of shed cat hair placed atop a cat’s head, nice look). And also when one is sleepy.
Fave fill: NBA DRAFT, LISA SIMPSON, COUGH DROP, NEXXUS, “I’M NOT SO SURE,” DID SQUAT, GAS METER, CANDIDE, SLAB-TOP, GRAMPS, LOST DOG, X AMOUNT.
- 20a. [1970s-’80s Olds], OMEGA. There are far better ways to clue this than with an undistinguished car model.
- 5d. [Put on a list], ENROL. Repeating my request for constructors to excise this word from their word lists. Speak American. The word is enroll.
- 41d. TUNA CAN? Is that a thing? I would say “can of tuna,” personally.
- 46d. [Free from tension], UNBRACE. Please use this word in a sentence, and make it a good one. Totally natural and unforced.
Clues of note:
- 63d. [What’s what south of the border?], QUE.
- 16a. [Star close to Venus], SERENA. I vote we change the name of the planet Mercury to Serena.
- 17a. [Jordan was part of it in 1984], NBA DRAFT. How many people thought “Um, could it be the UAR?” instead of Michael Jordan?
- 35a. [Game for cats], MICE. Was thinking of games that are played and not game that is predated by a predator.
- 67a. [Monthly reading], GAS METER. Or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, whatever.
- 14d. [Served with a sauce of mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, oil and wine], MARENGO. Long-abandoned theme idea: horrifying recipes involving duplications like MARE MARENGO and YAK YAKITORI. (Would not eat either.)
3.75 stars from me.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Ouch. Started this puzzle early Saturday morning, put it down for a bit, picked it up again, put it down again, then finally cracked it after nearly a half an hour of total solving time. All my confidence from last week down the tubes. I expected a battle with Frank Longo’s puzzle, though, since his are usually even more stumping than the usual Saturday Stumper. (Feeble excuse: solved some while watching Breakfast at Wimbledon!)
Biggest problem? For 17A [Folders in pockets], I had KERCHIEFS instead of the correct answer, PEN KNIVES. So that obviously slowed me down, and the upper left was the final area I solved. Having said that, this puzzle is going to be 5 stars from me. Was it hard? Absolutely. But there is not ONE bad or obscure entry in here. I did not need to Google anything. Obscure terms had easier crosses. As you can see from the screen shot from my iPad, I did use the check your answer feature a few times, which leave little gray marks in the corner when a square is incorrect. But after 15-20 minutes for me, I’m going there. The difficulty is clearly in the cluing, which is brutal. But I want a challenge. How else does one train for a possible stage appearance at Stamford? ;-)
Some highlights of the grid:
- 1A [Force unit] POLICE CAR – Yes, I was thinking of a physics unit ending in -METER or -BAR. GREAT clue. Stumped me good. Almost mean for 1-Across!
- 22A [Something circular] ROUNDEL – A little obscure. But its in the dictionary…
- 27A [Chicken, on Chinese menus] GAI – As in moo goo gai pan. Which I never order.
- 40A [Get off of your desktop, maybe] CLICK AND DRAG – I figured the clue was referring to computer lingo, but it still took me a bit to get this one.
- 49A [White base for canvases] GESSO – Years of watching Bob Ross finally paid off! Although not in the form of a beautiful landscape…
- 53A [Southern terminus of the world’s highest railway] LHASA, TIBET – For some reason I had a location in Colorado in mind, but that likely is only the highest railway in the U.S. Great combo with 53D [Title associated with 53 Across] LAMA. Nicely done.
- 2D [Nike’s home] OREGON – First word filled in. I wear Nikes a lot when I run. Can’t afford their basketball shoes, though!
- 3D [Opposite of “bref”] LONGUE – Short and long in French. “Longo,” according to Google Translate, is Portuguese for “long.” Coincidence?
- 10D & 55D [“Dancing With the Stars” trophy] DISCO BALL – My only minor issue with the puzzle. I’ve watched this show, and it seems as if Tom Bergeron and cast repeatedly refer to the trophy as the MIRROR BALL trophy. It does look like a disco ball, though:
- 37D [Simmons debut of 1940] HIDE-A-BED – Gettable if you think what Simmons he’s referring to. Nice clue/entry.
- 54D [Unibody hardware brand] IMAC – Saw the word “unibody” several times when researching my own Mac purchase; it seems almost as if I’ve not even seen the word used in any other context. Maybe with automobiles?
Again, 5 stars. Loved this puzzle. Themeless puzzles don’t get much better than this, in my opinion. Anxiously awaiting next week!
Barry C. Silk’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A smoooooth effort from Mr. Silk this week. Thoroughly enjoyable and, at least to me, a bit easier to solve. Under 8 minutes for me! We must share some subconscious wavelength or something. I describe this puzzle as smooth because there is brilliant fill while only one or two entries are obscure. The answers seem to mesh effortlessly. Some of my favorites:
- 1A [Band conductor] COPPER WIRE – Have you heard the joke, “Do you know who invented copper wire? Two (fill in your favorite ethnicity)s fighting over a penny!”
- 36A [Eye-catching link designed to generate ad revenue] CLICK BAIT – I don’t believe I hear this phrase that often, but it makes sense. You certainly see a lot of things that are practically begging you to click on them!
- 47A [“Beats me”] I CAN’T TELL – Very nice.
- 50A [The same, in Sauternes] EGALE – I wasn’t going to list this one as obscure, but it may be. I have a background in French, so not too hard of a clue for me. Most any entry that is French or Spanish, maybe even Italian or German, should be pretty fair game, especially if it’s a fairly easy word.
- 61A [Doesn’t wait one’s turn] CUTS IN LINE – Another very nice entry.
- 65A [Unauthorized underground city explorer] URBAN CAVER – Not familiar to me, but gettable. I don’t live in a large city, though, so maybe it’s more familiar to some of you city slickers out there?
- 3D [Subject of a 1983 incident in which a George Brett homer was originally nullified] PINE TAR – Another quick gimme for me. I remember this play like it was yesterday. One of the rare times anyone ever saw the great hitter George Brett get angry. Here’s a clip if you’ve never seen it before!
- 10D [Mother of the Valkyries] ERDA – Really? This I did not know. Very obscure. It’s evidently legit according to this page. See Act 2.
- 11D [Dynamic] HIGH VOLTAGE – Love this one.
- 24D [Cutting, as a thick steak] SLICING INTO – Was your mouth watering as you solved this clue? Are you, like me, among the 67-Acrosses?? ;-)
- 39A [CBS Sports Radio host] JIM ROME – He used to be on ESPN. I don’t watch or listen to CBS as much, but he’s a good reporter. He also appears on Showtime. Perhaps most well known for calling then Ram quarterback Jim Everett “Chris” (as in tennis player Chris Evert!), implying he didn’t want to get hit.
- 44D [___ Islands: former name of an Indian Ocean republic] MALDIVE – Clever! Known as the Maldives now. Rarely is the word seen in a singular form, but he found a way to make it work. Bravo!
4.5 stars from me. Next week will probably humble me again….
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who Wants To Be a Milliner?”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, crossword lovers! It’s a good thing that I looked up the word “milliner” a couple of years back when a sportscaster I heard made a couple of references to types of hats when speaking about current New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner. Today’s crossword puzzle, which comes from the mind of Mr. Bob Klahn, alters common phrases and/or nouns and substitutes one of the words with a similar-sounding word that also happens to be a type of hat. Again, sports saves my bacon once again!
- SWING BOATER (17A: [Hat for a big band musician?]) – From “swing voter.”
- GLENN CLOCHE (30A: [Hat for an early astronaut?]) – From “Glenn Close.”
- FAMILIAR FEZ (48A: [Hat for a spirited cat?]) – From “familiar face.”
- BANANA SHAKO (64A: [Hat for a monkey?]) – From “banana shake.”
My apologies I can’t stay too long, but it’s another puzzle in which I’m getting the sense that I’m getting more in tune with Klahn’s clues. (The apocalypse might be coming indeed!) Yes, it took a long while, but got fortunate that some tough clues yielded some gimmes for me, including PEGLEG, an answer that opened up so much in the northwest (5D: [______ Pete (early Mickey Mouse nemesis]). The other that helped so much is one that probably threw a lot of solvers off, ZOYSIA (51D: [Grass used on many golf courses]). Well, if you’re a lawn connoisseur, then maybe that wasn’t so bad for you! Favorite clue/entry pairing for me was SKIING, with the clue referring to the bumpy, downhill race (33D: [Managing moguls]). You don’t get too much bad fill with Klahn’s puzzle, and today was no exception! Again, I say I can’t stay too long, and then I go long. Geez! And now I’m going to go even longer…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: THE ROCKIES (11D: [Where to find chinooks]) – Professional baseball in Colorado goes back to 1955, when the Denver Bears played in Triple-A (the team is now the New Orleans Zephyrs). But the current professional baseball team in the state, THE ROCKIES, have been in existence since 1993, and were founded in 1991. The Rockies have one World Series appearance, coming back in 2007 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!