Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
Did this play like a Friday puzzle for you folks, too, or did I just manage to skate past the insane clues somehow? There were many clues that felt hostile, and yet they didn’t derail me. Did you have trouble getting the fill to flow past the tight ILLIN/O’CLOCK strait?
I didn’t figure out what the grid image was supposed to be till I reached 24d. [Setting depicted by this puzzle’s grid], ONE THIRTY. See the short hour hand and the long minute hand? The overall grid shape is round, with 4 blocks marking 9, 12, and 3 O’CLOCK.
Weirdest clues in this 56-worder:
- 5a. [Monte Palatino locale], ROMA. “Monte Palatino” is new to me.
- 20a. [___ Hassan, “Arabian Nights” figure], ABOU. ABOU/Abu is Arabic, guessed right.
- 21a. [Spanish city that’s home to the country’s oldest university], SALAMANCA. Not among the three best-known Spanish cities.
- 46a. [Something studied by a caliologist], NEST. I hadn’t known “caliologist.”
- 5d. [Title heroine of an 1884 Helen Hunt Jackson novel], RAMONA. Beverly Cleary’s kidlit Ramona is more broadly familiar.
- 33d. [What “/ / /” may represent], SPARES. On a bowling scoresheet.
Best fill: ALADDIN, THE MAGI, ECONOMIC DECLINE, SHETLAND ISLANDS, “I CAN RELATE,” AIRBALL, DIABLO.
Worst fill: DAST, TESTINGS (!), AT REAR, RESP. And also OLD BATS/[Biddies], negative language aimed at women.
3.7 stars from me.
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Ouch. This one was hard. Did not have total peace and quiet while I was solving, so that affected the time a little, but no references used. You will see TONS of corrected error marks in the puzzle, though. I had SNOW TIRE instead of SNOW PLOW, ADDS TO instead of ADDS IN, and I had RONALD REEVES before I finally figured out the puzzle was referring to RONALD REAGAN! Having said all that, this is a very good puzzle. My new oxymoronic phrase I use to describe solving hard puzzles is Joyful Agony! I even learned a few things solving this puzzle. Some notes:
- 14A [Penalty symbol in soccer] YELLOW CARD – First entry filled in. Thankfully it was correct…
- 20A [“Star Trek” catchword] ENERGIZE – I am NOT a Trekkie, but I’ve certainly seen enough Star Trek in my day to realize I should know this. I had STARDATE in incorrectly here, as well.
- 25A [Staples alternative] W. B. MASON – Not an alternative here in Indiana! I pretty much only know this company from seeing it’s ads on the outfield walls of Yankee Stadium! This was one of the last entries I filled in.
- 41A [It might be repurposed as a trellis] CD TOWER – This actually is a really good clue. I’m thinking of an outdoor trellis! I think this clue refers to a house plant that may be used with an outdated CD tower. (Because we all just download MP3s, right??
- 56A [Minneapolis citywide freebie since 2009] WI-FI – That would be nice where I live…
- 57A [Some “Skeptical Inquirer” readers] UFOLOGISTS – I had the U from EURO in there pretty early, but for some reason I had the UTNE Reader in my mind, and it took a while to shake that thought. Great entry!
- 4D [Southwest New York city] OLEAN – This is the New York Newsday crossword, so refs to things actually in New York should fly easier than here. I almost would have rather seen a reference to Olestra. Wikipedia says there is actually an Olean, Indiana, but it looks like it may be literally just a street corner!
- 5D [Store-window enticement] LOW LOW PRICES! – Awesome. This also was filled in towards the end. I believe I had LOWEST PRICES in there at some point. Nicely done.
- 12D [Locale of the first Apple Store outside the US] GINZA – What?? Apparently this is in Japan. I would have guessed PARIS before this. Not even sure if I’ve ever HEARD of Ginza, Japan.
- 33D [Baltimore Ravens mascot] POE – Yes, the Ravens are named after his poem.
- 35D [Rorschach card complement] TEN – I quickly wrote in INK, since the inkblot was what I thought of first. Quickly saw that wasn’t right either.
- 55D [Letter takers, for short] POS – As in Post Offices! Another shout our to my postmistress sister! Yet another misdirectional clue, as I was thinking of some sort of dictation taker.
So the theme for me for this puzzle was: I was fooled early and often. I will try to seek some higher level of peace and quiet next Saturday, but I am slated to run a 5k, so we will see. 4.5 stars.
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A triple-stack themeless! Always ambitious, and well done by Roland Huget. I got stumped in the upper left corner; BROUHAHAS took a while to come to me. Otherwise solving time would have been in the 7-8 minute range. Lots of great fill in this puzzle, and great cluing as well. Isn’t it nice how a good clue can change a trite (!) entry into a lively brain exercise? Some examples follow in the puzzle notes:
- 16A [Eponymous WWII flying ace Edward] O’HARE – As in the airport, once the world’s busiest. Gettable with a few crosses, but a nice challenging clue. Nobody knows who this is. At least I don’t, and I’m originally FROM Chicago!
- 23A [Spoiler of a perfect GPA] ONE B – A great clue. Turns the otherwise worthless ONEB sequence into a lively entry.
- 33A [Best Picture of 1965] THE SOUND OF MUSIC
- 40A [Mario Lanza classic] ARRIVEDERCI ROMA
- 41A [Winner] LAST ONE STANDING – The three stacked 15s are all great entries, acceptable phrases, and stack seemingly effortlessly. Very well done.
- 10D [Theater for Beckett?] THE ABSURD – Another great clue/entry. The “Theater of the Absurd” is what is being mentioned here. I do not know theater that well, even though that’s my best category on Learned League! (After one season…!)
- 12D [Wheelchair-bound “Glee” character] ARTIE – Much nicer than seeing Artie Shaw mentioned again!
- 28D [Funny Car org.] NHRA – National Hot Rod Association. Drag racing, basically. Usually a big national championship can be seen over Labor Day weekend. I know this because it’s in Indianapolis. Always wanted to go; I’m told it’s something you have to see live to appreciate. With proper ear protection, of course!
- 30A [“The Neverending Story” author] ENDE – Most are more familiar with the movie than with the novel by Michael Ende. I didn’t know this answer, but it goes in the learn-something-new-everyday category!
Again, an enjoyable puzzle. Not familiar with this constructor, but I like his style. 4.5 stars for this brilliant construction!
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fault Line”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Hope all is well with you. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Patrick Jordan, is the type of crossword puzzle that always gives me trouble: the line/saying/adage that takes up the entire theme. This one was no different, as I had to piece together what the saying might be, especially with the second line, with the lack of a stop punctuation and having to imagine it between “brother” and there’s.” Anyways, it got done.
- I SURE WISH I HAD A BROTHER; THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH I CAN BLAME ON THE DOG (20A, 31A, 40A, and 52A: [Part one of a single child’s lament; Part 2 of the lament; Part 3 of the lament; End of the lament])
The down answers needed to be lay-ups for me to make sure the theme could get completed, and, for the most part, they were not too hard. Getting TABOO was a little tough, given its clue, and it took me a while to catch on (24D: [Simply not done]). Speaking of tough to get, who in the world still uses BETROTH (5D: [Pledge to tie the knot with])? Is there anyone that didn’t know that BMOC stands for “Big Man on Campus,” a.k.a. something I definitely was not while I was in school (52D: [Collegiate QB, for one])? Have lost some pounds over the past couple of weeks, so definitely have been laying off of the TWIX bars (54D: [Candy bars packaged by the pair]). They’re so good, though! I might cheat tomorrow and grab a Twix tonight! There was some geography scattered across the grid, like with MACON (56A: [“The Heart of Georgia” city]) and OJAI, something that I had forgotten about the television show referenced in the clue (55D: [California home of TV’s Bionic Woman]). But another city gets the “sports…smarter” treatment right now…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ÁVILA (16A: [Walled city near Madrid]) – Major League Baseball player Alex AVILA is currently the starting catcher for the Detroit Tigers. In 2011, Avila had his best season as a Major League player, hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 82 runs batted in.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!