All new! The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament has released the list of puzzle-makers in advance, rather than making people wait until they pick up their registration folders on site. Read the constructors’ bios, and ponder who’s made which puzzle—because that information is still embargoed until each puzzle is flipped over during the ACPT.
Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword
Sheesh. Three typos in two entries took forever (i.e., as much as two minutes) to find. I could’ve sworn I typed in the missing letters to make ZERO SUM but somehow it came out as ZERO SOM; the opera crossing didn’t scream “Error!” at me. Down below, AT IT AGAIN was mangled into something like ATITFFAIN. Auugh! This is what happens when I don’t eat dinner before doing the puzzle at 9 p.m.
Tough puzzle, packed with interesting and unusual fill. A strong four-star showing, pushing upwards towards four and a half. Here’s the showiest stuff:
- 6a. OSCAR BUZZ! The clue, [It's generated for high-quality pictures], made me think of still photos rather than movies.
- 16a. HARPER LEE, literary full name.
- 32a. Goofball geography, mostly seen back in the day as a crosswordese fill-in-the-blank. Instead of [Bad __]/EMS, we get the full German spa town, BAD EMS.
- 38a. DEAD STOP is a colorful colloquial phrase.
- 51a. Looove ARMS AKIMBO.
- 58a. Nonliterary full name, New Orleans Saints QB DREW BREES.
- 1d. LEIPZIG, a somewhat Scrabbly German city.
- 2d. Scrabbly rocker AXL ROSE, full fake name.
- 3d. Ah! The SILENT T is clued ["The Colbert Report" ends with one]. The clue refers to the pronunciation of the show’s title (“cole-bear ruh-pore”) rather than what ends the show itself.
- 6d. “OH, IT’S YOU!”
- 13d. A ZERO-SUM game is a lose-lose proposition. Or is it a tied proposition?
- 40d. The ONE BALL on a pool table? [It's solid yellow], not striped.
- 47d. [One going off on somebody?] is a PAGER that beeps on somebody’s waist.
Tough stuff that made me get some crossings first:
- 17a. ILLIN’ means crazy.
- 28a. TIMUR is the [King of Tartary in "Turandot"]. That’s the one opera I’ve seen but it’s been years. Somehow I had Tamerlane in my head.
- 42a. Aha! [Exercise done while pedaling] has nothing to do with spin classes. Piano pedals, an ETUDE.
- 59a. [Chemistry Nobelist Hoffmann] is not the most famous ROALD out there. We also have Roald Dahl.
- 9d. APLEY?? [Marquand title character]? Okay, then.
- 11d. BREA, California, is a [City next to Fullerton]. My first attempt was LODI, and OJAI’s another 4-letter CA town.
- 32d. [Kid's repetitive plea?] clues BAA BAA. I thought we claimed goats said NAA or MAA. Now their young say BAA?
- 43d. [Capital whose central plaza is Skanderbeg Square] sounded so Scandinavian, but no—it’s TIRANE, in 54d: ALBania.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sleep In”—Janie’s review
As I see it, the folks at CS are reminding us again that daylight time arrives tonight. If you don’t “spring forward” tonight—move your clocks ahead one hour before retiring—you may inadvertently “sleep in” tomorrow morning. Martin does so today, in a sense, by lacing his grid with four long phrases (two 13s, two 15s), each of which contains the letters N-A-P right at center. This is pretty nifty actually, a nice little construction coup. Here’s how the theme-fill stacks up:
- 17A. HANDS-ON APPROACH [It involves active participation]. This is a terrific trend in children’s museums.
- 25A. TO COIN A PHRASE [Idiom inventor's words]. I also love the related: to coin a cliché…
- 46A. RETURN A PROFIT [Result in monetary gain]. While “turn a profit” receives some 13,600,000 Google hits to return a profit‘s 607,000, the latter is definitely legit. Both, however, tend to be a tad, uh, nap-inducing (relative to the theme-set). I do like, though, the indefinite article here (and above), so that N-A-P spans the phrase.
- 61A. CAROLINA PANTHERS [Charlotte footballer]. Interesting bit of tid about their logo: “It is shaped to resemble the combined borders of North and South Carolina.” I think the only real panthers one might find in the region will be found in the zoo. Or maybe not…
In the area of non-theme fill, I particularly liked seeing ODD SOCKS and its apt clue [Laundomat leftover] in the grid. Our pedal extremities get more notice by way of ODOR EATERS [Shoe inserts]. [Beethoven's third, familiarly] is the EROICA and may leave the listener feeling elated, confident, able to buck the dark tide suggested by words like DERAIL [Get off track?], SCUTTLE [Sink, as a boat] and C MINUS [Below-average grade].
Martin gives us four different sets of related clue/fill pairs. There’s the military: [GI's address] and [GI's chow] for APO and MRE; the workout-based: [Chest muscle, briefly] and [Bodybuilder's six-pack] for PEC and ABS; the Teutonic: [German town] and [A, in Ulm] for STADT and EINE; and the metallurgical: [Galena product] and [Galena and others] for LEAD and ORES. Just to piggyback on the sound of that last word, we also get ORDERLY which is not an adverb today but a noun, the person who is a [Medical assistant].
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Lovely themeless today! Perhaps a little more challenging than most Saturday LA Times puzzles, but/and packed with interesting and fresh fill. Among the highlights are these morsels:
- 1a. [Closer's bane] is a baseball pitcher’s BLOWN SAVE.
- 15a. ["My Father at 100: A Memoir" author] is RON REAGAN. The NYT review of the book makes it sound fascinating.
- 17a. Rounding out the first three-stack of 9s is ONLY CHILD, clued as [Spoiled brat, stereotypically]. Hey! My kid’s not a spoiled brat! He only seems like one to his parents.
- 31a. [Thematic musical release] clues CONCEPT ALBUM. I think Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid qualifies. Go have a listen! The über-catchy “Tightrope” is my favorite cut.
- 58a. EVERCLEAR is a [Band with the 1997 double platinum album "So Much for the Afterglow"]. I get them mixed up with Nickelback, not knowing either’s sound. Are they both roundly mocked, or is it just Nickelback?
- 12d. [Some facial surgeries] are NOSE JOBS. Some are not.
- 36d. ["Schindler's List" beat it for Best Picture] clues THE PIANO, for which then-young Anna Paquin won the best supporting actress Oscar. The movie is best remembered as the “Harvey Keitel shows his penis” film.
- 37d. A HIDE-A-BED is a [Studio space-saver].
- 26a. ["Out of Sight" co-star, familiarly] clues J.LO. Ooh, I loved that movie. Lopez + Clooney + non-crass steaminess = win.
- 50a. [Ruin] clues SINK, as in “I’m sunk!”
- 1d. [Curling tool] is a BROOM. This one’s not about hair. Do not take a broom to your head! It’s the not-popular-in-America sport of curling.
- 28d. ["Yesterday" or "Tomorrow"] clues SONG.
- 53d. [No dreamboat] is a TOAD. Gendered language—both dreamboat and toad seem to be applied to men far more than to women. The dictionary doesn’t say that toad skews male, though.
- 58d. EWE, standing in for “you,” is a common [Pronoun in a rebus].
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Yay! Three excellent and entertaining themelesses in one day! Doug’s puzzle is at the easier end of the ”Stumper” spectrum, just a hair tougher (for me) than Brad’s LAT.
The highlights are all over the place:
- 14a. A [Superior] is a HIGHER-UP.
- 23a. A RICE NOODLE is a [Thai cuisine tidbit].
- 37a. The FALKLAND ISLANDS were a [Battleground of 1982]. Rocks, sheep, Atlantic Ocean—you can see why Britain and Argentina went to war.
- 47a. A CEREAL BOWL is a [Honeycomb holder] if you’ve got a box of Honeycomb cereal. Honeycomb’s big, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s not small, no, no, no.
- 62a. REELED IN = [Landed successfully], as a fish or a date.
- 11d. SPIKE JONZE is the ["Adaptation" director].
- 15d. PENN AND TELLER share the ["Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends" byline].
- 28d. COLOR-CODED, [Like jumper cables].
- 16a. [Chessgames.com notable] is KARPOV. He’s a big name in chess, but I don’t think any of us non-chess-players would have any reason to know he’s a “notable” at that site.
- 40a. The EGO is the [Handler of defensive functions].
- 45a. Hagiology is the literature of saints’ lives and legends. Translate it into French and focus on female saints and ["Hagiologie" subj.] is STE.
- 3d. [Let sit], past tense, can mean AGED. Like cheese or steak, but probably not a cheesesteak.
- 8d. [Reason for a ringing] of a bell is a TKO, technical knockout, in boxing.
- 9d. [Department with labs] is R AND D, research and development.
- 13d. [French artist Klein] clues YVES. The word “French” is a gift to the solver—without it, would you be looking for a specifically French first name for “artist Klein”?
- 31d. ALDER is a [Wood used for electric guitars]. I didn’t know that.
- 38d. An APSE is a [Polygonal projection] in a cathedral. I was thinking geometry.
Cute clue combo at 39d and 44d. [Users of hub-and-spoke systems] may well have had you thinking of [Bike part]s, but the former’s answer is AIRLINES. (The bike part is a FENDER.)