Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword
I need to make this short because it’s time for New Year’s Eve revelry!! Oh, who am I kidding? I need to keep this post brief because I’m dead tired after a 10-hour road trip followed by, uh, laundry. Let it not be said I don’t know how to do vacation and holidays right! Because it would be mean to point that out.
This is a fairly tough puzzle, especially if the solver is dead-tired and people keep talking to her while she is trying to do the puzzle. I encountered precious few gimmes, a good number of wrong turns, and some just plain weird stuff, so I didn’t whoosh through the crossword. EDUCT and HILUM?
- ICONOCLAST and PARAGON. You can be both, right?
- The ISUZU RODEO.
- LOKI the trickster! Of Norse mythology!
- “MR. ROBOTO”! “You’re wondering who I am, machine or mannequin. With parts made in Japan, I am the modren man.” Does anyone know why Styx went with “modren” (sic)? This song is why my generation knows that “domo arigato” means “thank you” in Japanese.
- FINITO! All done. Wait, not yet.
- HUNKERED down is a terrific verb, isn’t it? Hunker down in your bunker.
- Yay for the German duo, UNTER and ÜBER.
- Crosswordese figure ANOUK AIMEE has fooled generations into thinking her name is Aimee Anouk, thanks to decades of crossword clues for one component or the other that don’t specify the order.
- Does EXTRA MONEY feel like a contrived phrase to you?
- 34d and 35d are depressing in 2010. Also in 2011? People are not LET BACK IN after EVICTIONS, which may come on the heels of foreclosures.
- GOONEYS? The movie makes me want to spell this GOONIES.
- BANJO PICK. Sure, it’s got a J and a K, plus a B and a P, but it seems like such an inconsequential little thing to occupy nine squares of a crossword. Mind you, I’d be fine with GUITAR PICK because there are a zillion of those doodads in my house.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “New Year, Old Promise”—Janie’s review
And a gracious good morning after the night before! It’s a new year, the annual tabula rasa, or as Bruce suggests cruciverbally, a fresh opportunity to trot out the perpetual goals. These four goals constitute the puzzle’s grid-spanning theme fill, three of which are clued [Challenge for the New Year]. There’s a critical variation in the final clue—the response to which the whole endeavor hinges on. So here are the challenges (and you might want to compare them to your own):
- 17A. EAT HEALTHY FOOD. Check. If using a recipe by IRMA ["Joy of Cooking" author Rombauer] perhaps modify the amounts of sweetening and fats called for—for more nutrition-friendly food prep.
- 26A. GET MORE EXERCISE. Renewed my gym membership…
- 47A. LOSE EXTRA POUNDS. Maybe buy some DIET COKE [Sugarless soft drink choice]. Or would that cancel out eat healthy food?…. Ah, but here’s the real rub:
- 60A. [Toughest challenge for the New Year!] KEEP RESOLUTIONS! Certainly for longer than, say, two weeks. Of course, this business of sticking to the program is the reason for resolving to make no resolutions… But not to worry. If your best intentions go astray, no one here’s gonna read you the RIOT ACT [Metaphor for a good scolding]. Life’s too short!
If I were one to make New Year’s resolutions, I think I’d have to put “laugh more” on the list. Enjoy a good JOKE [Jay Leno offering], an SNL or Mad-TV rerun SKIT [Comic routine] or humor that’s out-and-out DEADPAN [Like Steven Wright's delivery]; or even track down some footage of Edgar [Bergen's dummy Mortimer] SNERD and Charlie McCarthy. Maybe hit up YouTube for a glimpse of a TOON [Bugs, for instance] or two.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I like the American lit slant in the bottom half of this puzzle. Herman Melville’s QUEEQUEG (he served under Captain Ahab on the Pequod) has one of the coolest literary character names of all time. (He’s a [Fictional harpooner].) This answer crosses the pop music answer ELENORE (["You're my pride and joy, et cetera" girl in a Turtles hit]), which might make you think of Edgar Allan Poe’s Lenore in the “The Raven.” But no, the [Title lost love in a Poe poem] is ULALUME.
I got slowed down a bit because I figured 36a: [Experimental processor] wouldn’t include the word COMPUTER, which had already been used in the 6d clue for ENIAC, [Room-sized computer]. But no, 36a is QUANTUM COMPUTER.
The further wrench thrown in the works was 18a. I kept putting in MINNOWS for [Common bait], but it turned out to be MAGGOTS. (Hello! Breakfast test!) I had no idea that PACHISI was the 8a: [Game with beehive-shaped pieces]; I don’t remember that fromm my Parcheesi set back in the day. The adjacent abbreviations both threw me for a loop there, too. 9d: [It may be gross: Abbr.] clues ANAT, short for “anatomy,” and 10d: [Small fee?] is a horrible, ugly clue for CHG. “Let me charge you a fee I’ll call “change,” and let me abbreviate that as CHG”? No. Ick. What a waste of a question-mark clue.
Ten more clues:
- 22a. [Pop singer/songwriter Sands] clues EVIE. No idea who this is. Looking at her Wikipedia bio…nope, none of that rings a bell.
- 27a. Favorite clue in the puzzle: [It takes your breath away] for APNEA, which is formed from a- (“not”) and -pnea (“breathing”).
- 34a. Needed every crossing for this one. [Put out] means “to put someone out cold via anesthesia,” or ETHERIZE. Nobody etherizes anymore. At least not medically—there are recreational users.
- 40a. [Like eagles] could clue AQUILINE, but in golf terms, it’s UNDER PAR. Good entry, that.
- 52a. LINE is a [Word with punch or party]. I was interpreting that the wrong way. What are “line punch” and “line party,” I wondered. D’oh: punch line, party line.
- 4d. [Pou ___: vantage point] clues STO. This is a French thing, I think. STO would be in a ton more crosswords if there were any non-foreign, familiar way to clue it. There isn’t.
7d. Oh! Hello, little fishy! The [U.S. Army E-9] rank is SGT. MAJ. We saw tons of sergeant majors swimming out on the reef that surrounds the Keys.
- 14d. Have you ever used this word in your life? INSERTER? An [Editor, at times] does indeed insert text or punctuation or spaces, but that hardly makes her an INSERTER.
- 44d. Before I read the clue, I wanted *E*UEL to be LEMUEL Gulliver, continuing the 18th-19th century literature vibe. But [One often has a colon in its title] clues SEQUEL.
- 59d. [Suffix with Meso-] clues ZOA. Say what? We talk about the Mesozoic Era far more than the Mesozoa, which turn out to be minute worms that are parasites of marine invertebrates. The Mesozoic Era uses meso- and -zoa in a different way, referring to the appearance of the first mammals. This clue is the runner-up to the CHG clue for the least appealing part of the puzzle. (INHUMAN BRUTAL MAGGOTS? Liked those more.)
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (pen name Anna Stiga)
I embarked on this puzzle slowly. 1-Across wasn’t obvious, and 11-Across had too many possibilities. So I looked at the crossings for 11a. 14d: ["In the Name of Honor" author]…oh, that’s a gimme! GAY TALESE fits perfectly! Mm-hmm, except that Talese’s “honor” title is Honor Thy Father, and the correct answer is PATTERSON. That really gummed up the works in that corner.
- 1a. GO TO BAT FOR, clued with the verb [Back].
- 17a. A GREAT DEAL, clued as [Much]. Good idiomatic phrase, two rows below the also-idiomatic 1a.
- 53a. STALIN is your [World leader from Georgia]. I like the fact that Jimmy CARTER’s last name also has six letters.
- Musicians in the basement! TITO PUENTE and PETE SEEGER are ["The King of Latin Music"] and a [Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient of '93]. The Grammy folks probably figured they’d better honor Seeger before he died but you know what? Eighteen years later, he’s still going strong.
- 5d. [Get on with it] is one of those “it” clues, where the “it” in the clue corresponds to the answer, rather than the entire clue being a substitution for the answer. It’s an airplane BOARDING PASS. Hey! My family has BOARDING PASS numbers 2, 3, and 4 on our Southwest flight tonight. I’d say that’s an auspicious beginning for 2011!
- 21d. [Proven] = TRIED AND TRUE. Another terrific idiomatic phrase that’s utterly familiar and natural.
- 32a. [Doubly misnamed edible] clues the grapeless, nutless GRAPE NUTS cereal. It does look like petrified grape seeds, though.
- 36d. If you’re gonna put Idi AMIN in your puzzle, why not go with a surprising clue? ['70s head of the Organization of African Unity] had me looking for someone much more respectable, like Bishop Desmond TUTU.
- 47d. [Latter-day gewgaws] is a droll little clue for BLING, isn’t it?
All righty, time to get out into the Florida sun so I don’t kick myself later when it’s 20° in Chicago.