If you didn’t see the late comment on the Tuesday post, the new WSJ Saturday Puzzle will be available online and for free. W00t! While wsj.com/puzzles is a dead link at this writing, that’s where the puzzles are to be, starting January 16.
Kevan Choset’s New York Times crossword
- 17A. IRIS MURDOCH was the subject of that highly regarded movie I didn’t see a few years ago. She’s the [Author of "The Sea, the Sea"], which I have not read.
- 28A. The fictional DAISY MILLER is a [Henry James heroine]. I may or may not have read that book.
- 46A. I approached the [Noted mother of nine] from the tail end, and the clue alone wasn’t doing anything for me. With some letters at the end, I filled in ETHEL KENNEDY. Well, I filled in as much of that as would fit, paying no mind to the lack of any ethels in the garden. ROSE! ROSE KENNEDY.
- The grand unifying FLOWER GIRLS answer is clued as [Certain wedding participants or a hint to] the theme answers. Hey! Women, not “girls.”
Five clues, quickly:
- 50A. A [Unit of cultural information] is a MEME. The internet is where many memes are passed along from person to person. That bra thing on Facebook the other day? Meme.
- 11A. PEZ, [Candy in a dispenser]. The dispenser’s inventor died the other week.
- 24D. Do you like clues such as [Certain amino acid]? Yes, LYSINE is really quite certain. No uncertainty there.
- 7D. [What circles lack] are ENDS, not to mention corners.
- 15A. SIN TAX is a [Cigarette additive?], or at least an addition to the price of smokes. Speaking of sin, is 24A: [Friction fighter]/LUBE intended to be automotive here?
- 20A. [Films have them] clues RELEASES as a noun. Not too be confused with the [Pond film], which is 1A: SCUM. Wait, that’s eight clues, not five. Don’t say I never gave you anything.
I like the alphabet soup over in the mid-Atlantic region—EXHIBIT A hits T CELL, which collides with R-LESS. In general, the fill’s zippy and Scrabbly and the clues are lively.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Full of Energy”—Janie’s review
Yep. This one is “full of energy” and vim and, as 60A confirms for us, PEP [Word separated in 17-, 23-, 48-, and 58A]. Even “separated” there’s little that can break the spirit of pep. Look at the nice phrases it finds a home in:
- 17A. ESCAPE PLAN [Strategy for a jailbreak]. And plot device of countless movies–and these are only the ones with the word escape in the title…
- 23A. BAGPIPE PLAYER [March parade performer]. Comme ça.
- 48A. GRAPE POPSICLE [Purple treat from the freezer]. Make your own! Very hard to go wrong.
- 58A. CRÊPE PAPER [Party decoration]. Ever wonder how it’s made? Me, too!
There’s a lot of peppy fill (and some peppy clues, too) that keeps this keeps this puzzle a lively one. If your energy is dragging, however, you can always take a caffeine break from that COFFEE POT [Server with a spout]. However you don’t want to be taking KICKBACKS [Shady payments] (though doing so might certainly get your adrenaline goin’…). CAPRIS are defined here by saying [They end above the ankle], but according to this article, they may also end anywhere above the ankle to a couple of inches below the knee. (Any shorter and they might be mistaken for clam-diggers–and we wouldn’t want that!) MASCARA is clued as a [Cosmetic counter item], but you’ll put a huge OBSTACLE [Barrier] in front of yourself if you think [Counters with beads] equates with display cases at Michael’s (craft store chain…) and not ABACI.
[Slick material?] is not sharkskin, but OIL; if you want to [Form a secret union], by all means ELOPE; that [Topping in a tub] is not your rubber ducky, but OLEO; and for a non-violent, non-alcoholic way to [Get ready for a shot?], why, simply ask the photog to point the camera and then POSE.
In the “You’re in the army now” column we see CAMP as a [Troop training place] and MESS HALL as a [Base cafeteria]. And in the “Sometimes I’m cranky” column: a [Surly sort] is a BOOR; a [Small-minded] person is characteristically PETTY and easily IRKED [Rankled], someone who may be provoked to PAN [Critique harshly] a movie or play if s/he’s not enjoyed a good meal first (or perhaps eaten at an especially “base cafeteria”…).
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 16A. [*Dictated reminder] is NOTE TO SELF. Self-defense.
- 19A. “THIS IS INSANITY!” is clued [*"We must be nuts!"]. The insanity defense sometimes involves Twinkies.
- 32A. [*Restricted airspace] is a NO-FLY ZONE. Zone defense is…what, a basketball thing? My husband adds “football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse….” He may be making up that last one.
- 50A. [*"We answer to a higher authority" brand] is HEBREW NATIONAL hot dogs. National defense, yadda yadda.
- 55A. [*Marquee name] is a MOVIE TITLE. A boxer or crossword champion embarks on a title defense against a challenger who would like to unseat her. Not crazy about MOVIE TITLE as a crossword-worthy entry.
- 36D. [Stadium chant, and word that can follow the ends of the answers to starred clues] is DEFENSE.
It looks like a standard Naddor grid with those 7s in the corners opening things up, but for a change there’s a theme answer lurking there.
For more on this puzzle, please see my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Fangs for the Memories”
All righty, a vampire theme that has nothing to do with Twilight: VAMPIRE WEEKEND is a band. The DRACULA SNEEZE is a recent (I think) coinage for the sneeze-in-the-crook-of-your-elbow [Technique used to keep your germs to yourself]. This works even if you’re not wearing a cape, luckily. And Dracula morphs into a bat, so we have BAT ONE THOUSAND. Do people say “bat a thousand” more than “bat one thousand,” or is my sense of it off?
- TWEET is clued as [American Dialect Society's word of the year, 2009]. The vote was just last week, and I followed Jesse Sheidlower’s entertaining live tweeting of the proceedings.
- I like Brett Favre, so I like having DEANNA, [Brett Favre's wife], here.
- Brendan knows that a TV SET is an object that [might be thrown out of a hotel window]. I’m not sure if he succeeded in doing that at a past ACPT, or if he merely attempted to do so.
- ZBIGNIEW! You can spell that too, right?
Not keen on seeing SEISM, or [Land slide?], in a puzzle mere hours after the Haiti quake. I also grumbled at the zoological misclassification of the NEWT; amphibians like newts aren’t [Semi-aquatic lizard]s, as lizards are reptiles. A marine iguana is not a salamander just because it can swim. Fill like ELAM and TO LET and ONER and STS…meh.
Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
This weekend’s MIT MYSTERY HUNT ([Annual puzzle event that begins this year on 1/15/10) is the basis for this week’s theme. You don’t have to know anything about the Hunt to get the other theme entries, luckily—past Hunt themes have included THE MATRIX, CARMEN SANDIEGO, and the HOLY GRAIL. COINS are [Change (and the objects players try to find each year in the 39-Across].
Lots of good stuff, and overall a smooth and entertaining puzzle. Hot shots:
- ETNA is clued as a [Sicilian peak popular in crosswords]. ALAS is clued as ["Them's the breaks," more formally]. That’s one way to rescue boring fill—with terrific or funny clues.
- THE MRS. is a [Spouse, in bar conversations]. Great entry.
- I drew a blank on [It may be measured with alarms] until Sunday’s dinner of CHILI came to mind.
- [Cinematic portrait of "The Artist" as a young man] is Prince’s PURPLE RAIN. Great fill, great clue.
- [Distraction for the dogs in "Up"] clues SQUIRREL. I liked the movie when I finally saw i…SQUIRREL!
- [How aviophobes might travel] is BY TRAIN, not plane. Didn’t know “aviophobe” was a word but the meaning is not hard to derive.
- I have not followed the career of R. KELLY, so I was amused by the song title in the clue: [R&B singer with "I Like the Crotch on You"].
- The last time I remember seeing HAHA in one of Tyler’s puzzles, it was clued as some sort of underground stake/fencing thingamajig. Now it’s an appreciative ["Good one"].