Happy New Year, everybody! PuzzleGirl here to kick off today’s puzzle discussion. I’m only writing up the NYT today, so I think that means I get to go first. The others (I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure who) will be along shortly. So here we go ….
Robert H. Wolfe’s New York Times crossword
I am SO far behind on my puzzles. We had company last weekend then PuzzleHusband and I traveled for a couple days this week and were super, super busy the whole time. I hate doing the puzzles out of order, but figured I was going to have to since I committed to blogging this one. Then I got an email from Orange telling me this puzzle was very difficult, as evidenced by relatively big numbers on the applet, so I decided I would just skip the solving part and go straight to the blogging part. It feels like total cheating but I figure it’s better than emailing Crosscan or joon or someone and asking them to cover for me at the last minute (which I admit I considered because thoughtfulness is not my best thing).
Looks like four separate puzzles to me and for some reason I’m finding it hilarious that it’s all held together with OGEE [Sigmoid architectural feature] and TRAS [Skipping syllables]. I’ll just go ahead and get the clunky stuff out of the way first. Obviously, in a grid like this you’re going to have to make some compromises and sometimes that means the inclusion of “odd jobs.” Today’s odd jobs are ENTERERS [People working with logs?], SEATERS [Those who put you in your place?], and ATTAINER [Goal getter]. I was going to include POLLUTERS but, in addition to having a pretty cool clue — [They're not green] — this actually seems like a word a person might use in conversation. The other ugly spot was, of course, PROSED [Wrote an essay, say]. I’m sure it’s a perfectly legitimate word or it wouldn’t be in the puzzle, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
In addition to the speed-bumps already mentioned, I saw a couple WTF words that I’m seriously dying to know if any of you have ever heard before. YTTRIA? Oh sure, it’s that oxide. You know, the one used in television tubes. Who doesn’t know that?! And ORACHE? I don’t even understand the clue on that one [Spinachlike potherb]. Once I look past those, though, I do some stuff that’s pretty fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to see a good GASBAG in the puzzle now and then? ESOTERIC is a cool word. What do you guys think of ON RUNNERS for [How most sleds are mounted]? I’m a fan of the prepositional phrase answer, but I’m guessing there are some people who would take the other side of that argument.
Bob Peoples’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Sam’s review
This freestyle offering has a relatively low word count (66 isn’t as low as the 58 from today’s NYT, granted, but it’s still low), but it gets clogged in the center: only two white quares connecting the western half to the eastern half. If you get stuck at either gate, you could be hosed. Fortunately, the clues around each narrow passageway are easy enough to facilitate a smooth solve.
As one would expect, the triple-stacked 10s contain some great entries. The NW features I BELIEVE SO, the [Hedged reply] at 1-Across, with CON ARTISTS and IN THE STARS immediately below. The SE has HAIRPIECES (cleverly clued as [Locks out of a store?]), OLD MINE CUT diamonds, and GLASS DOORS. The old mine cut diamonds were new to me, as my knowledge of jewelry is limited to cuts of cubic zirconia. Other bright spots in the fill included: the SPRUCE GOOSE, the [Flying boat built by Hughes Aircraft]; GABFEST, the [Gathering with much rapping] (anyone else think of freestyle rap competitions at first blush?); and BAR NONE next to ATE IT UP. I was less enthused with ESTEEMING, CIE, and ["Carmina Burana" composer] Carl ORFF directly atop the [Andrews Sisters hit], “BEI Mir Bist Du Schoen.” That’s just ugsome. But overall, the fill is pretty clean and interesting.
The clues were fairly easy. Believe me, when I can crack a freestyle in under ten minutes, it has to be on the easy side. I’m guessing speedsters like Amy will clock in around the 2:40 – 3:20 mark on this one. Though maybe too many clues were easy, some were pretty fun. I liked [Image adjusters] for PR FIRMS, since my first and second thought related to camera equipment. [Cold fish, so to speak] is a tricky little clue for ICICLES. I rarely think of a cold, unemotional person as an icicle, but my dictionary does. I even like [They travel a great distance to get here] as a clue for ETS.
The only troublesome spot for me was where the completely-foreign-to-me GAMBADO, the [Long legging attached to a saddle], crosses both MERES, the [Metz mothers] and the [I.Q. test pioneer] Alfred BINET. Anytime I see a 5-letter entry clued with “I.Q.,” I think Mensa, but that clearly would not work. And I could kick myself for sputtering so long on MERES since just yesterday I was considering that word for a freestyle puzzle of my own that’s currently under construction. Me gusta las palabras en espanol, no en frances. Cest la vie.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sleep On It”—Janie’s review
If one had to judge from this puzzle’s theme, one might describe our Sarah as the “retiring” type. I mean, she suggests we “sleep on it” and then spells out at 60A what “it” is: MATTRESSES [What the first words of 18-, 23-, 40-, and 51-Across can describe]. But judging from the robust theme-fill, I’d have to say otherwise. It comes on strong with:
- 18A. TWIN SISTER [Ann Landers, to Abigail Van Buren]. Eppie and Popo. Nothin’ retiring about those gals either.
- 23A. FULL NELSON [Arm-locking wrestling hold]. In the event you find yourself in one, here’s how ya get out!
- 40A. QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN [Second wife of Henry VIII]. a/k/a Anne of the Thousand Days. Nothin’ retiring about this one either, though Henry did retire her in a most unbecoming way. In the movie A Man for All Seasons, she was portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave, whose sister makes it into today’s puzzle, crossing Queen Anne Boleyn in LYNNS [Actress Redgrave and football's Swann].
- 51A. KING COTTON [Personification of an important Southern crop]. Excellent. You’d have heard this term a lot around the time of the Civil War especially. John Philip Sousa got in the act some thirty years after, delivering the “King Cotton March,” yet another tribute to the crop.
So there ya have it: twin-, full-, queen- and king-sized mattresses. I’m sure that you, like Goldilocks, will find one that’s “just right.”
As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to talk about the lengthening of the days. It started almost two weeks ago. And then today, Sarah dropped EDT [NYC summer clock setting] in the grid. Guess what, folks? Only nine weeks to go! ‘Til then–and definitely after in these parts…–we’ll probably still have ample opportunity to experience HUMID weather [Like a snowy day].
As the winner of an Oscar and a Pulitzer, and a two-time Tony-nominee, surely there must be more that can be noted of William INGE besides his being the playwright of Picnic. This is his second appearance in the puzzle this week and the second use of Picnic in the cluing process…
On the other hand, I definitely enjoyed seeing DELI clued with [Salami hangout?]. Get the picture? Ditto “I FORGOT!” with ["My memory's shot!"]. A couple of weeks ago I received an email that captured that very sentiment. I was able to find a website or five that had the message I received, and I’d like to share it with you. It’s called “A Beautiful Message about Growing Old,” though when I forwarded it, I changed “Old” to “Older.” No need to add insult to injury.
Anna Stiga (Stan Newman)’s Newsday “Saturday Stumper” Crossword
Jeffrey here. At the special super-top-secret meeting held at Fiend Central to allocate the workload for the holidays, everyone was happy to do any puzzle. Except one. Two Fiends said they “suck” at the Saturday Stumper. Since they were quicker than me, here I am with the task.
This post will be a little different. I’ve turned off the timer, and will take you on my journey as far through the Stumper as I can get. Hopefully, this won’t be the first puzzle in Fiend history to be incomplete.
Here are my entries in order. I’ve omitted the clues for space concerns. Items in red were wrong.
42D.GETS IT/49A.ALT/38A.DOR/43A.HERO/39D.ORDER IN/45D.”S”/47D.COMPS/
30D.”S”/37A.OAR/30D.OBOES/31D.HEAL/30A. OH HENRY/14D.SENSERY/18A.ERIN/
13D.erase DIRTIER/23D.PUNKS/26A.JUL/32A.SANK/29A.HUN(26D.JUNE)/34A.erase DEGREES/
32D.SETTLERS/29D.HAUNT/45D.FADES/57A.SET IN STONE/53D.”C”/46D.OLIVE/53D.CLI/
55A.EVIL SPIRIT/50D.BOSN/50A.BONNET/43D.HOOF IT/50A.erase BONNET/52A.DISCOMFORT/
40D.ROSETTE/47A.COLDS/38D.DEL TORO(50A.BOOTEE)/34A. STATUES/10D.STRAW/
1A.”—OR”/1D.SUCCEED/15A.”UN”/35D.TAKE OFF/35D.erase TAKE OFF/56A.IN AN/
34A.TISSUES/41A.UNION/32D.”MAN”/32D.erase “”MAN”/23A.PETRUCHIO/8D.erase TONSIL/
7D.SIP/17A.CAMEL OPAKI/1A.SURPRISE ME/34A.PLAQUES/41A. erase UNION/
48A. erase DELE/34A.erase PLAQUES/54A. VIEW/56A. erase IN AN/35D. REVERIE/
56A. NEER/54A. erase VIEW/32D. SQUATTER/41A. RERUN/36D.ARTICLE/34A. PLAQUES/
35D. erase REVERIE/44A EAT AT JOES(45D.JADES)/34D.PRESTON/51A.TACT/54A.OGLE/
Done!! anyone make similar errors?