Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Wow, I don’t know how that happened, but I just whizzed through this 66-word puzzle. The last word I filled in was ASPHODEL (7a: ["That greeny flower" in a William Carlos Williams poem]), after I had enough crossings to put it together, and luckily I never even saw the clue for 8d: SIMNEL [___ cake (marzipan-covered dessert)] because I’ve never even heard of that cake. That reminds me—I have a slice of chocolate-caramel cake waiting for me after I finish blogging this puzzle.
Other answers I didn’t know but pieced together as if I knew these things:
- 15a. [Husband of Denmark's Queen Margrethe] is HENRIK. It was the only name I could think of that ended with the IK I already had in place. (The Princess Bride‘s Fezzik doesn’t count.)
- 27a. Never heard of this party, but the Spanishiness of [Justicialist Party founder] nudged me towards PERON. I know, “Justicialist” doesn’t look aggressively Spanish, but I could swear I saw an accent mark in there before.
- 28a. [Arid area agriculture] clues DRY FARMS. Nothing I’ve ever heard of, but it makes sense with that clue.
- 46a. The SNOWBOARD is an [Item first marketed under the name Snurfer]. Ah, I see: a portmanteau of snow + surfer.
- 50a. [What phorid flies are imported to prey on] is FIRE ANTS. I guess I don’t watch as many of those cable shows about alarming insects as I thought.
- 11d. Never heard of this [Bruce Springsteen ballad], “ONE STEP UP.” Old? New?
Among the things I did actually know, these were my favorites:
- 29d. FLOP SWEAT! [It sometimes covers first-time performers]. At today’s day camp talent show, only one kid sat down and cried instead of participating with her group’s performance. Poor kid! Amazing that the hundreds of other kids managed their dance routines just fine.
- 36a. Love the word TRAIPSES, meaning [Walks aimlessly].
- 54a. It’s full of those easy-to-fill-the-bottom-row-with letters, sure, but REST EASY is colorful language and I like it. [Not worry] is the clue.
- 1d. SHAFTED is a colorful verb, too. [Given a raw deal, slangily] is accurate.
- 5d. FINDS FAULT, [Is critical]: What are two ways you would not describe my reaction to this crossword?
- 10d. I like words for young animals provided they’re not wickedly obscure. [A leveret is a young one] clues a HARE.
- 12d. I am fond of the word DEPLORE ([Censure]). If something vexes me, I will deplore it.
- 20d. [Goes up a degree or two] clues WARMS, as in the temperature. No NTH or PHD trickery here.
- 27d. Haven’t read PARIS TROUT, the [Pete Dexter novel whose title character is an unrepentant murderer], but I know the title. Is there a sequel called Chicago Smelt?
- 36d. Yay, it’s not about baseball! [Seeking relief from a pitcher?] clues THIRSTY.
Did you find this one easier than most Friday NYTs, too? If not, did you savor the smoothness of the fill and its high interest level, too? And are you ready for chocolate cake? I know I am.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Copper Colossus”—Janie’s review
Make no mistake—I liked this puzzle tremendously. My one complaint? I think for about the first time ever with a CS puzzle, the title felt superfluous and actually diminished the pleasure in seeing the theme fill emerge. That’s because 63A covers it perfectly: STATUE OF LIBERTY [She has the items at the ends of 17-, 26- and 49-Across]. She has ‘em indeed, and they’re there in some excellent phrases:
- 17A. CARRIES THE TORCH [Serves as leader]. This strong image-based phrase gets things going perfectly. Also appreciated that it was clued in relation to being a beacon and rather than to being lovelorn—making it a most worthy image for “our lady of the harbor.” Along the lines of leadership, the puzzle also offers up (the undemocratic, not very American…) RULED [Occupied the throne]. Which is a segue (of sorts…) to
- 26A. ROYAL CROWN [Cola brand]. RC has been around since 1905 (when it was known as Chero-Cola). It got the name we know it by today in 1934. Hadn’t realized, though, that Nehi was an RC venture; but Diet Rite? Oh, yeah…that I knew.
- 49A. COLD TABLET [Dose for a person with the sniffles]. Also a way to describe the contents of the lady’s left hand in winter… Really like the polite “sniffles” of the clue, too.
Patrick keeps things lively throughout with fill like ZEALOUS [Gung-ho] and TARTLY [In a caustic manner]—which might describe the way much of the dialogue in the [Tomlin/Martin comedy] ALL OF ME is delivered. Much the same may be said of Musetta, the saucy soubrette in [Puccini masterpiece] LA BOHÈME.
A [Tram's haul]? ORE. Which you’ll want to ASSAY [Analyze for smelting value], though you’re not likely to find much “smelting value” in MICA [Sheeted mineral].
We also get “climate” extremes (or a reminder of a Revlon lipstick fave…) by way of FIRE SALE and LIKE ICE (clued respectively as [Event with smoke-damaged goods] and [Frigid to the touch]). The clue for the former ties into an [Adjective for volcanic fallout] ASHY, which lives in the NE corner and has as its grid-opposite ASHE [New York stadium honoree Arthur]. Serendipity or plan? Matters not. The cohesion factor is high here and that’s always good. In my book.
Charles Barasch’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I didn’t much enjoy this puzzle. The constructor’s wavelength eluded me and I just didn’t experience that sense of flow that I usually have when solving. The theme entries add a K so that a word ending in C instead ends in CK, changing the meaning:
- 17a. [Pre-1991 Russian veto?] is a SOVIET BLOCK.
- 29a. [West Florida currency?] is a TAMPA BAY BUCK. This one feels a little off to me. “Tampa Bay Buccaneers” or “the Bucs,” sure. Do people use the singular shortening, “Tampa Bay Buc”? Maybe they do in Tampa, I don’t know.
- 35a. [Assault by killer trucks?] is a BIG MACK ATTACK. That’s cute, but this is the only one where the K isn’t added to the end of the final word—and the final word is itself a -CK word.
- 43a. [Construct a microscopic house?] clues BUILD ON SPECK. Feels rough because you’d build on a speck.
- 57a. [Jumpy bug?] is a NERVOUS TICK. I do love this one! (We will ignore the fact that too many people misspell “nervous tic” with a final K anyway.)
- 1a. [Like some teeth] was rough. I had the final -PED and went with CUSPED and then CAPPED before GAPPED, which doesn’t work for me. “Gapped teeth”? No. “Gap-toothed” is the term people use most.
- 40d. I knew right away that [Magic, at one time] referred to Magic Johnson, but I messed things up in that corner by putting the more specific L.A. LAKER where NBA STAR belongs.
- 32d. I was stumped on [Slightly eccentric]. The crossings led me to PIXILATED, but I don’t know this definition of the word. I checked one dictionary (the Mac widget drawing on the New Oxford American Dictionary) and it only listed the pixel-related senses.
- 38d. [Driver's gadget, for short] clues TACH, short for tachometer. But a TACH isn’t a “gadget,” which is a small device or tool, a stand-alone thing. It’s not as if you go buy the latest cool tach and put it in your car.
- 3d. [Scissors feature] is a tough clue for PIVOT. Yes, that’s what the screw thing in the middle does; it lets the two blades/handles pivot. But it isn’t what I think of when I think of scissors. I think of the fulcrum more than the pivoting that happens at the fulcrum. See? Not on Mr. Barasch’s wavelength here.