Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword
I’m not sure if this was tougher than usual or if the Negra Modelo impaired my solving a tad. I suspect the cluing is just so out-there that it slowed us down. Let’s hit some categories: (1) Juicy fill, and (2) wicked clues.
Hot stuff in the grid:
- 17A. CLAYMATION is [Frames that take shape?]. Wonderful answer, but the clue seems off to me.
- 32A. JONESES is clued as [Indiana and others]. I figured it was people, not places or schools, but I thought of artist Robert Indiana (the “Love” sculpture guy) and tried ROBERTS.
- 53A. JAPERY is [Mocking fun]. I love that word.
- 59A. [Holy line] clues the series of DALAI LAMAS.
- 65A. WINE COOLER! Kickin’ it old school with a [Bartles & Jaymes product].
- 1D. WACKOS! They’re [Flakes] or nuts, but not found in a cereal box.
- 2D. “I’M, LIKE…” is the [Start of many a comment in Valspeak]. Um, hasn’t that, like, totally spilled out way beyond Valspeak into general under-50-speak?
- 8D. Ah, M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN, the [1999 Oscar nominee for both direction and screenwriting]. He peaked with The Sixth Sense, didn’t he? I harbor thoughts of buying a bunch of deep red Snuggies and reenacting The Village.
- 13D. Gotta love an -IM plural like CHERUBIM, [Guardians of Eden, in Genesis].
- 35D. The Green Mill is in my area, but I’ve never gone there to hear LIVE JAZZ. That’s [Some lounge entertainment].
- 41D. TONY DOW? [He played the Beaver's big brother], Wally Cleaver, on Leave It to Beaver.
And now, the wickedest of the clues:
- 42D. Gotta start with the [Onetime snake venom antidote] THERIAC. Never heard of it!
- 15A. [Edward James Olmos's directorial debut, 1992] is AMERICAN ME. Didn’t see it, but I heard good things about it.
- 30A. [Cause of rage against the machine?] is a TILT in pinball.
- 41A. [Sequoias, e.g.] are SUVs, TOYOTAS in particular.
- 55A. ACRE is clued [Siege of ___ (opening of the Third Crusade)]. Did you goof up and put the place that was the opening of the Second Crusade? Me, too! Rookie mistake.
- 12D. [Shots after shots?] are the punches in a BAR BRAWL. Great answer.
- 24D. [Schools where students wear white] are karate DOJOS.
- 26D. [Letters after many animal names] are ESQ. No, wait. It’s DDS. No, wait. It’s “E-I-E-I-O.”
- 36D. I looooove this clue. [Saint in "Exodus"] is actress EVA MARIE Saint.
- 47D. You know senility and you may know senescence, but have you seen [Senectitude]? It clues OLD AGE.
- 61D. I don’t know what [V-mail handler] means. Dictionary tells me it was V-for-victory mail to WWII soldiers that was microfilmed to make it cheaper to ship by the answer here, the A.P.O.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Average Guy,”—Janie’s review
To my mind, this was an especially good week of CrosSynergy puzzles–and what a great way to finish the week Randy’s puzzle is. As alluded to in the title, it all comes down to the clue at 42A. [Average guy (and a hint to the first part of 17- and 65-Across and 11- and 30-Down)]: JOE. Here’re the decidedly lively and fresh phrases whose first part our friend Joe can precede:
- 17A. SIX-PACK ABS [Results of crunching] → Joe Six-Pack. He received an awful lot of attention last year as a result of Sarah-whose-last-name-will-go-unmentioned…
- 11D. “BLOW ME DOWN!” [Exclamation from Popeye] → Joe Blow. I just love this one–I didn’t know where the fill was going and because I never saw it comin’, it took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud. Anyone else?
- 30D. COLLEGE TRY [Serious effort] → Joe College. Seems the term came about in the ’30s–but the interesting part (according to this source) is that the phrase was modeled on Joe Blow. Go figger!
- 65A. MILLER LITE ["Great taste, less filling" product] → Joe Miller. Never heard of the guy, but it seems he was an 18th century English comic actor whose name became synonymous with the stale joke. Ouch. Nice to learn somethin’ new!
In addition to that great theme fill, there’s a lot going on in the non-theme fill department. There’s LAVISHES clued as [Showers] (when someone lavishes attention on someone, we say s/he showers that person with attention); UNCLE SAM [Patriotic poster pointer] (and his corollary TIO [28-Across por ejemplo]); and more Spanish fill with EBRO [River of Aragon] and DOÑA [Respected Madrileña]. A [Pretty woman] is a BELLE, and it’s very likely she’ll have a GLOW, a [Healthy look] about her.
[About half of all schoolchildren] are GIRLS. No, wait–[About half of all schoolchildren] are BOYS. Stop–you’re both right! [Giveaways at the poker table] are TELLS, body language clues that others may pick up on. A tell, though silent, may inadvertently BLAB [Spill the beans] for you–so be careful!
Fave cross today? The rhyming baseball double-play of [Diamond doldrums] for SLUMP and ["Safe" cracker?] for UMP.
Gripe of the day? The usual–that repeat cluing and fill. On Monday we had SWAN clued as [Long-necked trumpeter], today it’s clued as [Certain trumpeter]…
To conclude on a high note–in a final homage to Joe Six-Pack: thank you, Randy for [Brings up the rear?] and MOONS. Always nice to leave ‘em laughin’!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday “Saturday Stumper”
Let’s break this one down into the fun stuff and the toughest clues. First, my favorite answers and clues:
- Traffic violations! 23A: RADAR TRAPS are [Dangers for the over-70 crowd], those driving more than 70 mph. 37A: [Automatic ticket machines] are RED LIGHT CAMERAS, which are proliferating in Chicago. In Illinois, when you make a right turn on red, did you know you’re required to come to a complete stop first? No rolling through.
- 47A. [They work with numbers] clues POP SINGERS, not anesthesiologists or accountants.
- 8D. ALTERNATE ENDING is a [DVD feature, at times]. Did you know some rental DVDs omit all the special features? The studios want people to buy the INFERNAL (15A: [Blasted]) thing instead of renting.
- 21D. [Stopped working] clues STRUCK. You know—as in labor UNIONS (57A: [Leagues]) going on strike.
- 39D. “Hey, EINSTEIN.” That’s slang for a [Brain]y person.
- 1A. MAUNA KEA gets promoted from its usual [Mauna __]/”is it LOA or KEA?” slot. It’s the [Site of many observatories].
- 9A. COSTCO is a [Washington-based chain]. I was thinking RAMADA because it’s got 6 letters.
- 18A. The bounding main is the open sea, so [Main threat] is PIRATE. Captain [Cook of the sea] was named JAMES and I’ll bet he would have gotten that clue right off the bat.
- 42A. [Potsdam "prego"] is BITTE, German for “please.” “Prego” is the Italian equivalent.
- 52A. [Esau alias] clues EDOM. The people of Edom were said to be descended from Esau.
- 59A. I like [Busted] as a clue for IN PIECES, but it would be nice if the answer right above it (TILE) weren’t clued [Kitchen piece].
- 62A. [Tops in brass] isn’t about the metal or the top-ranking military officers. It’s NERVIEST, tops in cojones.
- 2D. [Basketball Hall of Famer Donovan] is ANNE Donovan. She took Old Dominion to the collegiate national championship twice, racked up impressive stats as a player, and is now a successful coach in the WNBA.
- 3D. Really? Wow. UFOS is a [USAF coinage of '52].
- 4D. ["The March of Time" production] is a NEWSREEL of yore.
- 12D. TEAM SPORTS offer [Letter-getting opportunities]. I’ll bet ANNE Donovan knows all about that.
- 25D. [Scraped: Lat.] clues RASA. Tabula rasa means “blank slate” or, literally, “scraped tablet.”
Michael Wiesenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword
My full write-up is over at L.A. Crossword Confidential today. Please click over there for a more in-depth discussion of this Wednesday-difficulty puzzle.
Most interesting clue: The WRISTWATCH is a [Gadget largely pooh-poohed by men until the 20th century]. Anyone else now thinking of Christopher Walken’s monologue in Pulp Fiction?
Biggest mystery: TARNISHED ANGELS is clued [WIth "The," 1958 Hudson/Stack movie about a former WWI ace]. Not a big fan of long movie titles whose THE is sequestered in the clue—especially if the title’s not one people talk about much. Phantom Menace is “in the language” without its “The,” but not every title lends itself to the article lopping.