Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword
Will Nediger commented Friday afternoon, “Oh dear, I’m up next in the NYT, which means I have to follow up that stunner of a themeless by Patrick Berry.” It’s a thankless task. Let us speak no more of the Berry. Onward!
My favorite parts:
- 15A. [Throw off] was a gimme. EMIT! After skimming a handful of clues and having nothing leap out at me, I was glad to hit a familiar word.
- 18A. LEANN RIMES was the [First country singer to win the Best New Artist Grammy]. Always nice to have a famous person’s full name in the grid.
- 21A. Guy is a first name in France, so [Guy's buddy] is <i>son AMI</i>.
- 42A. It must’ve killed Will N. to include SUN PARLOR rather than PARLOUR. He’s Canadian, you know. This room is the [House part that gets flooded on a clear day?].
- 47A. ZINGER is a great word. ["Touché!" elicitor] describes it well enough.
- 54A. And the famous people can be fictional. ALEX KEATON was the [Young Republican of a 1980s sitcom], Family Ties, played by Michael J. Fox.
- 55A. RENE! We add yet another to our collection of Semifamous Men With the Same Name As My Husband: [___ Caovilla, maker of high-end women's shoes], is one I’ve never heard of. You?
- 2D. Scrunch up AM I LATE into one word, and you get AMILATE, which sounds like it means “emulate Amy.” ["Have you started without me?"] is the clue.
- 3D. Aha! [One in debt?] is the third letter, a SILENT B.
- 5D. In [One putting a tale in the air?], “air” means a song. The answer is BALLADEER.
- 6D. I can appreciate the redundancy of FREE GIFT, but this clue is horrible: [Product recipient's surprise].
- 12D. I’m astonished every time there’s a Louisa May Alcott character or title in a crossword and assorted men comment that they sure don’t know any of that because those books are for girls. If you ask me, Little Women is part of the cultural literacy the menfolks can reasonably be expected to have too. Don’t we all have a cocktail-party level of passing familiarity with many works of art we haven’t personally experienced? You need not read every novel and play, see every movie and Broadway show, watch every TV show, or listen to every opera and symphony in order to know enough to fill in a crossword answer. (And don’t get me started with sports!) So no grumbling that you didn’t know JO MARCH was a [Literary tomboy]. I know Mel stinking OTT.
- 26D. Weird but accurate clue for Leonard NIMOY: [Player of a logical crew member]. We would also have accepted CHO QUINTO.
- 29D. I so wanted [Ailurophile] to be CAT FANCIER. It’s CAT PERSON. I am decidedly not a cat person.
- 31D. A Philip [Glass production] is a CONCERTO.
- 32D. Ooh, science. [Bands appearing after split-ups?] are SPECTRA. Last weekend, we took the boy to the “Science Storms” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. We adjusted huge prisms and mirrors to generate strips of rainbow, splitting the light into bands of different colors.
- 33D. TINFOIL is a [Cheap hat material], yes, but still surprisingly fashionable.
- 38D. Who doesn’t like an ALL-MALE revue? The adjective is clued [Like some risque revues].
- 50D. I like KIX cereal and had no idea it has been a [Puffed product since 1937].
Five clues I think people will be Googling on Saturday:
- 34D. UNICODE is an [Ascii alternative].
- 40D. A [Sawhorse, e.g.] is a TRESTLE. Really. Look up “sawhorse” in the dictionary, and it’ll tell you it’s a frame or trestle.
- 19A. OLEG is the name of [Cosmonaut Makarov].
- 24A. [Kafka confidant Max] BROD is no one I have ever heard of.
- 5A. [Key of Schumann's "Spring" Symphony] is B FLAT MAJOR. Man, I don’t like the musical note/key answers. I piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle because I never have any idea what the right answer is supposed to be.
Vic Fleming’s Los Angeles Times crossword
With a 4:20 solving time for me, I’ll rate this puzzle a bit tougher than the average Saturday L.A. Times crossword—but still easier than most of the NYT and Newsday themelesses.
- 1a. [McCarthy era phenomenon] is the RED SCARE. Wouldn’t it be awesome to use that clue for an answer like BUDDY HOLLY?
- 17a. The clue [1985 John Irving best-seller] is missing with “The”. With or without The, CIDER HOUSE RULES looks good in the grid. 1985? Holy cow. I still think of this as one of Irving’s more recent novels.
- 20a. I like this clue. Yes, CUTENESS is a [Baby's asset]. Without said asset, the human race might’ve died out eons ago. If you’re going to disrupt my sleep for months, you’d damn well better be cute.
- 30a. [Rested] clues TOOK FIVE, a solidly idiomatic phrase. I got addled by a wrong crossing. For 23d: [Show approval, or disapproval], I had RATE instead of the correct RAVE. (One raves about good things but gets raving mad about terrible ones.)
- 35a. This clue is misleading. [Frequent saver] is a GOALIE? As if. If I were the goalie, I assure you the saves would be infrequent. (Go, Blackhawks!)
- 42a. HOME STRETCH is perhaps my favorite answer today. [It's right before the end].
- 53a. AN ERA completes ["Corporations have been enthroned and ___ of corruption in high places will follow": Lincoln]. Good old Abe knew whereof he spoke.
- 54a. One [Cryptozoologist's subject] is the LOCH NESS MONSTER. Another is the yeti. Imagine my surprise when I drove past a store that had gone out of business and saw its name: Yeti Boutique.
- 8d. [They're not wild] isn’t about untamed beasts, it’s about EDUCATED GUESSES.
- 27d. [It's sold in bars] clues OLEO. “Barkeep! Double oleo, neat.”
- 29d. The only reason I know that a [Paving stone] is sometimes called a SETT is because that word’s been in crosswords before. It’s too rare to count as crosswordese, I think. Luckily, all four crossings are more common, which should take the guesswork out of SETT. You won’t see this entry before Saturday.
- 34d. FRESHEN UP is another great in-the-language phrase. [Shower and change, say] pretty much covers it.
- 56d. [Where "Shazbot!" is a curse] is ORK, as in the planet in Mork and Mindy. Ah, that takes me back to my tween years.
And now, a roundup of the less savory filling:
- 6d. [Sports fig.] clues ATH., short for “athlete,” rather than some sort of statistic.
- 12d. [Everyone, in Essen] is ALLE. People seem to grumble when there are German words in the grid. (Me, I like ‘em because I studied German.)
- 13d. [Suburban followers?] is a cute clue for a plural suffix, -ITES.
- 31d. Boring ONE-A is clued as [Service rank], which makes it sound like a military rank (along the lines of CPL, SGT, COL, MAJ) rather than a draft classification.
- 32d. Sure, a partial like OF AN is not great fill. But I do like the clue: ["Confessions __ English Opium-Eater": 1821 De Quincey work]. Are any of you opium-eaters? No? How about lotus-eaters? Anyone?
- 35d. GOT AT isn’t so easy to put in a natural-sounding sentence in the past tense. The clue is [Touched], but I feel like “getting at” is more about implying. Dictionary tells me “get at” also means “reach” and “bribe.” “I crawled under the car and GOT AT the damaged muffler”—that works, right?
- 41d. ["Life With Father" co-star Leon] AMES is no longer a household name. There was a guy in my college dorm who always called me “Ames.” I’m still surprised no one else ever has.
- 45d. If you haven’t encountered James ENSOR, the ["Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889" artist], in crosswords, you probably haven’t run into him anywhere else. He had a decidedly macabre bent, with skeletons playing a prominent part in his art. Check out his work, and then he won’t be an obscure entry anymore. (Advice: Belgian artist, 5 letters, your answer will invariably be ENSOR.)
- 51d. [Plasm lead-in] is the prefix ECTO-.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Splitting the Atom”—Evad’s review
- NATO MEMBERS – I’m somewhat on the fence on whether this is a valid phrase, what do you think? How about “Greece and Germany” for EU MEMBERS or “Annette and Justin” for CLUB MEMBERS?
- POTATO MASHER – I like my mashed potatoes lumpy, my husband likes smooth, so we alternate between using a masher and a hand mixer depending on who’s doing the mashing.
- ROMA TOMATOES – the best variety for making pasta sauce – hey, I’m getting hungry here!
- MARISA TOMEI – my fave entry of the bunch; loved her in In the Bedroom.
Not the biggest fan of this type of theme, particularly if the connecting word isn’t split in different ways across the theme entries (two have ATO/M and two have A/TOM). Also there wasn’t much of an element of surprise with the title giving away the gimmick early on. Let’s see if the fill jazzes things up a bit:
- I enjoyed the clue “Cover story?” for ALIBI. Probably have seen it before, but one benefit of a limited memory is the ability to enjoy these type of clues as if they were fresh each time!
- POGO is the “Philosophical possum of the comics.” He lived in the Okefenokee swamp along with Albert Alligator. The famous quotation “We have met the enemy and he is us” is from this strip.
- The food references continue with BUNDT cakes. I actually own a bundt pan, and I bet you do too! When’s the last time you’ve used it?
- BARISTA is a “Starbucks staffer.” Did this term originate with Starbucks or predate it? I see it’s Italian for “bartender;” I suppose it’s just a matter of time before we can get a shot of Sambuca in our Iced Mocha Lattes.
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I had a lot of empty patches and a good number of false starts in this one, but eventually it all came together. The very last square I filled in was the letter where 55a: [Joint enterprise] and 55d: [Make liquid] meet. I didn’t understand why COOP and CASH made any sense, though. Finally realized it’s a two-syllable CO-OP, not a one-syllable COOP, and making financial assets liquid is CASHing them in. I also considered H and L where the C goes.
Favorite clues and answers:
- 1a. A JETPACK is a [Spacesuit attachment] that’s much zipper than an AIR HOSE, my first guess. Not a single letter in AIR HOSE was correct!
- 27a. The VW BEETLE is a [Product with the slogan "Think small"]. Oy! I had a blank between the V and B for the longest time and ran through all the vowel possibilities to no avail. It wasn’t until I gambled on 37a: [Spanish causeway]/ESTRADA that the 28d: [Former 50-pound note portrait] began to take shape as *REN. Christopher WREN! And a VW!
- 35a. [OK] clues ALRIGHT. Purists say “alright” isn’t a word. I beg to differ. “All right already” looks dumb to me, but “Alright already!” sings. Plus, The Kids Are Alright.
- 56a. [It can't stand alone] clues a DEPENDENT CLAUSE. Which actually can stand alone, provided the author knows she’s doing it for a certain effect.
- 62a. [State-of-the-art features] are the HYPHENS in that phrase.
- 2d. [Fort Ticonderoga capturer] didn’t give me the answer—the crossings did. Full name, ETHAN ALLEN. Better known as a furniture retailer.
- 7d. A KLUTZ is a [Bungler]. Great word.
- 13d. Tricky clue for an ACRE: [It's made up of square rods], with 1 square rod being 1/160th of an acre. Nobody measures in rods anymore, but the cubit and hand are mainstays at my house.
- 30d. LEDERHOSEN are a [Bavarian symbol].
Tough little bits that don’t make the favorites list:
- 19a. [Fonda, in "My Darling Clementine"] is EARP.
- 33a. [One celebrating Saint Sava's Day] is a SERB.
- 34a. Crosswordese! [Gross-weight deduction] is TRET. I went with its crosswordese cousin, TARE, which is a word people might actually encounter outside of puzzles.
- 45a. [Big name in general aviation] is PIPER, as in the Piper Cub airplane.
- 46a. BOS. means Boston, an [NBA Atlantic Div. city]. Meh.
- 59a. ["Night and Day" introducer] is ASTAIRE.
- 5d. [Chemist's ending] is ANE. This is one of the worst clues, the random suffix thing, because it’s so nonspecific. The answer could equally plausibly be ANE, ENE, IDE, INE, or ITE—all of which are lame answers.
- 23d. FOGG, as in Phileas FOGG, is the [Third word of "Around the World in Eighty Days"].
- 24d. [Moderates] is an unusual clue for EBBS.
- 26d. [Caramelized creation] clues ONION BREAD. Bleh.
- 31d. [Schedule figs.] looks like it wants something from an IRS schedule, but it’s a plane/train/bus schedule’s ETAS.
- 52d. [Nickname of the baby on TV Guide's first cover] is DESI. I guessed LUCI for Lucy and Desi’s daughter.
(Complete answer grid here.)