Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
Tactical error! I was so sleepy an hour before puzzle kickoff that I decided to take a nap. I forgot that I am constitutionally incapable of taking a restorative nap. My kid woke me up at 9:00 as I asked, but I’m not quite awake. I did Brad’s puzzle with one eye closed—literally. So I’m heading back to bed in a few minutes.
What the heck is an ECHO SOUNDER? Not a happy 1-Across, a sprawling 11-letter term that I don’t know.
REGINAL sure is an unfamiliar word, though at least it looks closely related to Regina (Latin “queen”), reign, and regnal. It’s one of two answers clued as [Queenly]; the other is JUNOESQUE which, these days, might be taken to mean “young, quick-witted, and pregnant.”
Favorite answers: SHARON STONE, MAN BITES DOG, the MANATEE (didn’t know it was a [Marine muncher on mangrove leaves] in particular), VENUS DE MILO, an IRA ROLLOVER, a VANITY PLATE (today, my mom and I couldn’t translate the plate I SF AGNT into anything sensible), CHAKA Khan (“…Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan”), the CAMELOT/Kennedy era and NIXON ERA pairing, ALPHA MALE, and GOT HELP. I would like DATE MY MOM if I thought it was still a current show; hasn’t been on since 2006 but may recrudesce.
All righty, that’s it for me tonight. See you in the a.m.
Nancy Salomon’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ty One On”—Janie’s review
Yesterday we were asked to add a letter to the beginning of a familiar phrase; today, we tie/”ty” two letters (“TY”) on to the end of either the second or first word of a familiar two-word phrase. Similar to yesterday, we not only get some fine results in the theme-fill but some mighty strong non-theme fill as well (thanks, in no small part, to the grid itself). First things first with:
- 17A. [Outsize wharf?] JUMBO JETTY. I like how this one takes us from air to water.
- 28A. [Settle a couple of scores?] COMPENSATE FORTY. That clue allows for some great wordplay. We’re not talkin’ vengeance here. Instead, “settle” (like a bill)=pay up=compensate; “score” (as in quantity)=20 (x 2 = 40), ergo compensate forty. Nice one.
- 44A. [Goal of a gala host?] PARTY EXCELLENCE. When the goal is achieved, this will make him/her par excellence a host.
- 59A. [Small-minded carp] is not a fish you’ll find in the ARAL [Sea on the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan border] but a PETTY PEEVE. Should anyone need an example, my pet petty peeve is the overuse of familiar fill. Today is the second time this week for Aral in the CS puzzles and the third time for STY… (“Oh, Jane… GO EASY [Be lenient]. Focus instead on the joy of the homophone that PETIT [four (small cake)] provides…”)
Far happier-making is the longer, stronger fill of the non-theme fill. In addition to the grid’s triple 6-columns SW and NE, the NW and SE have double 8s. All corners of the puzzle abound in vibrant fill. May I have a DRUM ROLL [Dramatic introduction], please? A quick ONCE-OVER [Swift survey] thus shows us that we get MAMMA MIA! [Musical based on the songs of ABBA], HARPER ["To Kill a Mockingbird" novelist Lee], ARTIST [Once who makes a scene?] (nice how ERTÉ [Folies Bergère designer] crosses this at the “T”), PIÑATA [It's broken into for goodies], ADORED [Loved loads] and REWARD [Bounty hunter's incentive]. All of that, to me, is the DANDIEST [Hunky-dory to the max].
And that ain’t all. Gotta love ON TIP-TOE [Walking quietly] and NEXT YEAR [What fans of losing teams must wait for] (as in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir recounting her affection for the Brooklyn Dodgers), and EARTHY [Lacking refinement]. CHESTS [Treasure holders] is an apt “go-with” for JEAN [Pirate Lafitte].
Two clues that made me smile—the punny [Does sum work] for ADDS and the memory-stirring (because, yes, I’m a Boomer…) [Tramp's love] for LADY. That would be a reference to this Disney classic.
James Sajdak’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Ahh, much better. Eleven hours of sleep leaves me much restored.
I dunno, I wasn’t finding much to love in this puzzle. There were things I liked, sure:
- 7a. [Caber throwers] = SCOTSMEN. My family went to a Scottish festival in the ‘burbs a few years back. All I remember is an abundance of kilts, bagpipes, the caber toss, and a distinctly un-Scottish beastly hot sun. It’s probably a good thing that I remember nothing about what we ate that day.
- 17a. [Jaguar's coat?] = CAR WAX. With a BOBCAT elsewhere in the grid, you could be excused for thinking that this was about jaguars and not big-J Jaguars.
- 34a. [Product with a secret sauce] = BIG MAC. Great entry. Never ate a Big Mac in my whole life, though.
- 61a. [Nearly die laughing] = BUST A GUT. We just had the partial [Bust ___] A GUT in another puzzle and the full phrase is orders of magnitude better.
- 63a. [Zayre department stores creation] = T.J. MAXX. Super-Scrabbly answer (though you’d need a blank tile for the second X), plus a blast from the past with the mention of Zayre.
- 65a. [Qualifying words] = AS IT WERE. I love that phrase.
- 11d. [London hauler?] = SLED DOG. I was thinking only of lorries and was mighty confused. Jack London’s novel White Fang is about sled dogs. Great clue.
- 31d. ["Being on a __ stops me from getting Alzheimer's": Jerry Stiller] clues SITCOM. “Serenity now!”
- 45d. [Welcome center freebie] = AREA MAP, and I’ve never been enamored of that fill. However, with the REAM in place, I confidently filled in CREAMER. This is on the highlights list because that misstep amused me.
Comments on some other clues:
- 15a. [Paris jilted her for Helen] = OENONE. There aren’t a ton of names in which the first half is an anagram of the second half.
- 18a. ["Two thumbs way up!"] means I LOVED IT. The “thumbs” review is a registered trademark of Siskel and Ebert, and will return to TV in January with the new movie review show Ebert and his wife are producing. Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies is set to air in all major markets.
- [Quick to the helm] clues YARE. The word means “easily manageable,” like a ship. “Quick to the helm” sounds like it refers to the captain racing to the help rather than the ship responding well to the captain’s steering. Weird. Also? I’m not a fan of nautical vocabulary.
- ["__-mite!": J.J.'s exclamation on "Good Times"] = DY-NO. Love the full expression, not wild about DY-NO as a crossword answer.
- [Channeling device?] = STEREO. I…don’t think about channeling at all when I use a stereo. Don’t quite understand what the clue means. Not the most successful tricky clue, if you ask me.
- [Just about knock down the door] = STORM IN. Aww, no ["____ Norman"] clue for Gen. Schwarzkopf?
- [Name for lime based on its chemical composition] = CALX. Brief glance at dictionary entries suggests that calcium takes its name from calx, or lime, rather than calx taking its name from calcium. Chemists and etymologists, what say you?
- [Plant with flamboyant foliage] = COLEUS. Lots of two-toned color combos.
- [Javier's hundred] = CIEN. I don’t know my Spanish numbers much beyond 12.
- [East Los Angeles bus line with a sun in its logo] EL SOL. And I don’t know my Spanish-named bus lines at all, but the clue’s sun and East L.A. being famously Latino helped here.
- [Put away for a while] = EMBAR. I wanted TABLE because who ever EMBARs anything? I never have. Is this legalese?
Barry Silk’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Whoa! This is the easiest Stumper in weeks! It’s far from the toughest puzzle of the weekend. (That honor belongs to the NYT, if you ask me.) There are perhaps more names than usual, and I tend to whiz through puzzles with lots of names. Here are today’s people and places:
- 15a. [Minnesota city] = WINONA.
- 22a. [Motorcycle Hall of Fame name] = EVEL.
- 23a. [Name that means "sorceress"] = SYBIL.
- 25a. [Eleanor's mother-in-law] = SARA.
- 27a. [German Expressionist Nolde] = EMIL.
- 29a. And the fifth consecutive name in the Acrosses, [Ringo Starr's drummer son] ZAK.
- 37a. [Youngest actor to win a competitive Oscar] = Tatum O’NEAL.
- 39a. [Home of "The Garden of Earthly Delights"] = the PRADO museum.
- 40a. ["How Life Imitates Chess" author] = KASPAROV.
- 42a. ['70s CIA director] = BUSH SR. There should be a hint in the clue that the answer will be colloquial, because the two Bushs are not Sr. and Jr. They have different middle names.
- 46a. [Samuel Beckett's "Capital of the Ruins"] = ST. LO. Fresh clue for a stale answer.
- 56a. [Whom the Obamas named their dog for] = BO DIDDLEY. Did you notice that Boo Radley would also fit into the BO***DLEY space?
- 2d. [Word on Pavlova's resume] = the KIROV Ballet.
- 7d. [South African president Zuma] = JACOB.
- 10d. [Canterbury's county] = KENT.
- 20a. ["Wimmin Is a Myskery" heroine] = Olive OYL.
- 38d. [Dan Aykroyd voice role in a 2010 film] = YOGI BEAR. Planning to avoid this movie.
- 51d. [Thoroughfare bordering Yale U.] = ELM ST. Clunky answer.
Yep, 18 names of people, places, and fictional bears is a lot.
- 1a. [Resort haunter] = SKI BUM. Not a ghostly sort of haunting. You were thinking of The Shining, weren’t you?
7a. ["Super Size Me" focus] = JUNKFOOD. You wanted FAST FOOD too, didn’t you? The documentary in question was directed by Morgan Spurlock, and he was still wearing the same scarf seen in the movie when we met him at Sundance in ’06.
- 32a. [Tip of the vertebral column] = COCCYX. I tried SACRUM first, but COCCYX looks 85 times cooler in the grid.
- 4d. [Seal of a sort] = BOTTLE CAP.
- 6d. [Faster than a speeding bullet] = MACH SIX. Science!
- 12d. [Oktoberfest accompaniment] = OOM-PAH-PAH. So much better than having the partial OOM or PAH in the crossword.
- 34d. [Resignation exclamation] = C’EST LA VIE.
- 36d. [Tune heard in "Back to the Future"] = “MRS. AND MAN.” No, it’s “Mr. Sandman.”
There were lots of Newsday-standard one-word clues, but either I was on Barry’s wavelength or those one-word clues were less misleading than usual because they didn’t hang me up. Among the less obvious answers (for me, anyway) are these ones:
- 44a. [Something stored in a garage] = RAG. I’ve never lived anywhere with a garage, not even as a kid.
- 45a. [Vatican tribunal] = ROTA. I’m not up on my Vatican doings, except for this awesome video. Do you like hot men, happy nuns, and appreciative popes? Then you’ll enjoy this.
- 61a. An L.L. [Bean product] is a RAINCOAT. I have some super-toasty gloves from L.L. Bean. They’re good at the warmth business. So is Lands’ End, who sold me a down coat that is much improving my winter tolerance despite a ridiculously cold December.
- 62a. [Stretchy starter] = ELASTO. Bleh.
- 8d. [Makes whole] = UNITIZES. Who uses that word? Sounds specialized because I seldom encounter it.
- 13d. [Cane products] = OBOE REEDS. Bleh. Rather arbitrary-sounding answer.
- 28d. [Trademark in the film business] = MYLAR. As in plastic film, not movies.
- 45d. [Light color] = RED. As in red light, green light—not as in “pale hues.” Great clue.
- 49d. [Filling stations?] = PORTS. As in seaports? USB ports? Venous catheter ports? I don’t know.
- 58d. [Allegheny Valley and Arizona Central: Abbr.] = RRS. Never heard of either railroad line, so this was all crossings.
- 59d. ["Thou source of all my bliss, and all my __": Goldsmith] = WOE. The crossings definitely helped here.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, the variety cryptic “Starlights”
I don’t know about you, but this puzzle kicked my butt five ways from Friday. I’d rather have a gnarly challenge than a variety cryptic that crumbles before me in 15 minutes or less, but this one wasn’t really fun. The “stellar line from a children’s song” turns out to be THE SUN IS A MASS OF INCANDESCENT GAS, from They Might Be Giants. Wouldn’t you know it? That’s not on No!, which is the TMBG kids’ album we have. It’s on their 2009 album. Would it have killed Hex to specify that the “children’s song” in question isn’t an old classic? I was hitting all sorts of snags in the grid too, so I finally gave up and looked to the WSJ blog for a hint. Someone mentioned TMBG, and then I Googled what I had in the outer edge of the grid: “the sun is a mass of.” That gave me the rest of the outside, and eventually I pieced together the innards.
But I didn’t really like the innards. A great many dull 7-letter words? With clues that felt more annoying than clever? Meh.
Here’s how I pieced together the star answers. Let me know if you think I’m off base on any.
- 1. B = good, RIGHTS = directions, BRIGHTS are “high shiners” in car headlights
- 2. WE + ARIES
- 3. anagram IRE GETS = STEIGER
- 4. (a)GENT + EEL
- 5. loVES TIGErs, “mark” = VESTIGE but I don’t think they really equate
- 6. PIE + TIES
- 7. M(IN)UTES
- 8. STUD + I.E. + R (man, is STUDIER a boring word)
- 9. DAIS(I)ES
- 10. anagram IN A SUIT = TUNISIA
- 11. CIRCLES is possessive CIRCE’S with an L = large inserted into it
- 12. WAISTED sounds like “wasted” (“waisted” without “high-” before it looks weird)
- 13. CODE + IN + E
- 14. anagram ENDURED = DENUDER (I challenge you to use “denuder” in a sentence)
- 15. anagram SEDER IS = RESIDES
- 16. MISS(I)ES (how often do we encounter the plural “missies”? hmph)
- 17. BIRETTA sounds like “Beretta”
- 18. backwards ROD + A + TAM = MATADOR
- 19. drill = BORE, so “for drill” = FORBORE (what? the “for” just sits there unchanged?)
- 20. DO(LORE)S
- 21. anagram ROMEO IS = ROOMIES
- 22. P.(IRATE)S.
- 23. anagram LARIAT around T = RAT-TAIL (a cactus I’ve never heard of)
- 24. ALGEBRA is backwards in cAR BE GLAd
- 25. anagram BEE around ARLO for EARLOBE
- 26. anagram FOR DOLE = FLOODER (another really, really boring and not-so-useful word)
- 27. PO(MADE)D
- 28. anagram I TURNED = UNTRIED
- 29. SIN + AT + RA
- 30. (d)ANGLING
- 31. LEAFING through a book is “paging”; LE(A+FIN)G (tough clue! Took me forever to understand how it worked)
- 32. FANFARE (double definition)
- 33. LEA(SHE)D
- 34. S(MA + S)HED
- 35. (i)S + CORING
- 36. BON(FIR)E
- 37. CON(I)FER