Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword
If you spent 3½ hours in a kids’ entertainment joint called Go Bananas and then came home to do the Saturday Times crossword, how do you think you’d feel about blogging right about now? I just want to lie down on the couch and enjoy the peace and quiet and the whiteness of the walls and ceiling. Good lord, the sensory overload in those places is horrendous.
- 55a. Took forever to piece together O’DARK THIRTY because that’s slang—[Very early morning, in slang]—that I don’t use. Mighty fresh fill, though.
- 12d. “HOLD, PLEASE” is a [Call waiting line?].
- 25d. [They might fly out during an explosion] clues SWEAR WORDS. One of the other moms at Go Bananas tonight used a choice swear word or two to describe the depth of her feelings about Go Bananas.
- 27d. PALE SHERRY seems like a weird answer to me, but I like any reference to [Amontillado, e.g.] thanks to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado.”
- 43a. OREO O’S were a [Former chocolaty Post cereal] I don’t recall at all.
- 7d. [Shell collection?] clues PUMPS. Oh! Wait, I get it now. Gas PUMPS collected at a Shell gas station.
- 30d. [Swinging] clues JIVEY. Needed nearly every crossing for that.
- 37d. [British home of Cow Tower and Dragon Hall] is NORWICH. What, there’s no minor-league soccer team to clue the town with?
- 30a. JONGG, [End of a tile game's name], looks terrible floating around with no MAH.
- 24a. The clue [Pointed artwork?] for STIPPLE feels off to me.
- 49a. TEA CANISTER feels boring to me. [Its contents may get strained].
- 13d. ROSE LEAVES are clued as [Bouquet greenery], but that clue had me thinking of leather leaf or baby’s breath—a plant used to add greenery to a bouquet. The leaves of a rose are quite beside the point once the flowers have been cut.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Either this puzzle is at the toughest end of the LAT spectrum or I really shouldn’t do crosswords before breakfast and before caffeine.
- 26a. [Plotting problem, perhaps] clues WRITER’S BLOCK.
- 37a. I like WHISKEY as an entry, but [Jell-O shot ingredient]? I thought vodka was the go-to spirit for Jell-O shots.
- 43a. An EXIT STRATEGY is a [Plan to minimize losses].
- 58a. The CHIPPEWA are [Ojibwa speakers]. I like the entry, but the clue fails—the word Chippewa is naught but a variation of Ojibwa.
- 4d. KRAKOW, Poland, is a [Former capital on the Vistula River]. Too bad there’s no non-terrible way to make a theme out of the similarity between the words Vistula and fistula.
- 24d. [1963 Chevrolet debut] is the STINGRAY. My kid is a fan of all things Corvette.
- 16a. [Benedict XIII's family name] is ORSINI. Needless to say, this is not the current Pope Benedict.
- 40a. [Milo, e.g.] is a GRAIN. In case you were wondering, no, milo and millet are not two words for the same thing.
- 56a. [Apt to change] clues LABILE. As in “emotionally labile,” having emotions that change at whiplash speed.
- 14d. [They activate hammers] clues PIANO KEYS. Not too hard to figure out with a few letters in place.
- 21d. [Huge amount of power] doesn’t mean might or strength, it’s a large unit of electrical power: TERAWATT. Remember when the Back to the Future movies called a unit a “jigga-watt,” rather than pronouncing “gigawatt” with a hard G? We talk about gigs of memory now, so nobody would go with the soft G—but both pronunciations are in the dictionary I checked.
- 25d. [They're often drawn] clues…FACES, PICTURES, LOTS? No. ALES from a tap.
- 28d. [Rescuer of Odysseus] is INO. If the name were more familiar to Americans, we’d probably see this answer in a lot more crosswords.
- 32d. [1898 battle site] is MANILA BAY, in the Philippines, from the Spanish-American War.
“Omigod, really?” section:
- MAPPER (24d: [1963 Chevrolet debut]) crosses APERS (49d: [Some parodists]) and REWET (50d: [Keep from drying out]). Can you use these three words in a sentence?
- Dishonorable mention to the little flecks of dirt: -ITES, -STER, BRYN, A TEN, E.S.T., and APPL.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “And Therein Lies a Tale”—Janie’s review
Is there one well-known source for this title phrase—or is it one of those tropes that has always had a life of its own? (My Google search was pretty much fruitless…) Regardless, today, embedded within each of the four fine theme phrases, you will find the word tale—and (with her economically worded clues) here’s how Lynn does it:
- 18A. SMART ALECK [Sassy sort].
- 28A. MENTAL EFFORT [Brainwork].
- 47A. TOTAL ECLIPSE [Unusual astronomical event]. (Besides “Total Eclipse of the Heart”) I love the play this phrase gets in “You’re So Vain” when Carly sings:
Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won.
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun…
Next time that happens in the U.S.? August 21, 2017. Get yer pinhole projectors ready and mark yer calendars! (Love a lunar eclipse, too.)
- 62A. FATAL ERROR [Mistake with major consequences]. In computing, among other contexts. Nothin’ like the blue screen of death to ruin a perfectly good day…
How politely Lynn clues SEX-LINKED [Like some genes]. No mention of governors and their mistresses or presidents and their interns… The IMPACT [Effect] of that POTENT [Forceful] fill is well-matched in its symmetrical opposite, SLOPPY JOE [Saucy sandwich]. What a nice job Lynn did, too, in balancing those two 6-letter entries with OODLES [Tons] and the humorously (and accurately) clued DIAPER [Product destined to be on the bottom?].
Interesting pair of strong women down there in the SW: BUFFY [TV's vampire vanquisher] and none other than Scarlett O’HARA [Bride of Hamilton, Kennedy and Butler]. In her very funny little book It’s Not PMS, It’s You!, constructor Deb Amlen gives us a whole new take on Ms. O’Hara in the computer age. Chapter 4: “Scarlett Goes-a-Courtin’ on the Internet.” Read it and weep. With laughter.
Lynn gives us several examples of “the art of the clue.” The fill (in some cases) may be more functional than fun, but the clues keep the life of the puzzle going. Brava for:
- [Ready for the bar?] for ON TAP—and its complement in the [Sudsy quaff]/ALE combo.
- [Worker for the short haul] for TEMP. The clue had me thinking this would be truck-driver related. Wrong.
- [Striking metal instrument?] for GONG. “Striking” here is a synonym for “eye-catching” but there’s more wordplay goin’ on as the percussionist will be “striking (this) metal instrument” to produce sound.
- [Honkers without horns] for GEESE. Click here to listen…
- [Genesis escape vessel] for ARK—which makes it sound like some sort of biblical rocket and not that hoary floating zoo.
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I really wanted 17a: [Unwanted overhang] to be MUFFIN TOP, but it turned out to be the synonymous SPARE TIRE. And I sort of wanted 15a: ["Rabbit Seasoning" character] to be BUGS BUNNY, but it turned out to be ELMER FUDD. Given that not a single one of the Downs crossing those answers was a gimme for me, I left the northwest section largely blank for and returned to it after filling in the rest of the puzzle. Overall assessment: Not an annoying puzzle like some Stumpers. The good stuff was solid, and the clues were less oblique and more clever.
- 20a. NANCY DREW is ["The Clue in the Crossword Cipher" solver].
- 49a. NO-DOZ is a [Pickup provider]. Straight-up caffeine.
- 53a. [They're panned in Hollywood] clues TV CAMERAS. Ooh! The clue totally tricked me. I was thinking pan = “review negatively.”
- 61a. [Tulane team] is the colorfully named GREEN WAVE.
- 3d. A [Flip one] is a SMART ALECK.
- 11d. [It weighs less than two ounces] had me thinking I needed some obscure metric measure, but it’s the iPOD NANO.
- 43d. [Ultra-odd] clues BIZARRO.
- 48d. [Chow line?] is the BOW WOW that a chow might emit.
Lots of tough clues:
- 16a. [Above a flood, say] is UPLIT. Something above a floodlight may be uplit.
- 18a. [Whom a leader trails] is NO ONE at all.
- 2d. [Product once pitched by Garfield] the cat is ALPO.. Is it bad that I tried RAGU first?
- 4d. ["Before You Leap" author] is KERMIT the frog.
- 8d. [Audiophile's purchase] clues CD RACKS. Really? Is that what the music lovers are buying these days? So many new CDs that they need racks to hold them? This is a 1999 clue.
- 10d. [20th-century revolutionary] is mighty vague. The answer is SUN YAT-SEN.
- 23d. [Where Bob Woodward went] is YALE. Does one need to have seen All the President’s Men to know this? Why should I care? I’m thinking Yale has a great many more famous alumni than Woodward.
- 40d. [Element of change] is a CENT. This is my favorite clue in this puzzle.
- 58d. AVES, the taxonomic class of birds, is clued as [Flying class].