The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament starts today, and you can follow along at its website. Good luck everyone!
Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword
Another tough puzzle. Remind me next year that Will likes to run puzzles that I can’t do when he’s gonna see all the top solvers. Also, that I don’t solve so well when I’m tired–I would have done it tomorrow, but I knew I needed to post tonight. Did I mention it’s completely amazing that Amy is able to keep this up day after day after day?
Anyway, this was a solid puzzle with mostly fresh fill and tough (for me. Only for me?) cluing. The only real obscurity was MASTIC, the clue for which, [Resin used in varnishes], is perfectly parodic. A few pieces of trivia I didn’t know, like that the [Basilica di San Nicola locale] is BARI, or that the airline that [stopped flying to New York in 1979] is AIR IRAN, but I’ve at least heard of BARI and AIR IRAN makes sense in retrospect. And some nice colloquial-phrase action with I TOLD YOU, ON LEAVE, IN SPADES, STOOD APART, LORD IT OVER, and EVEN MORE SO.
- 7a. CAR BOMBS is clued with [They make vehicles very volatile]. This makes me think of the (yummy) drink instead. Which has an unfortunate name, but it’s not like the imagery of this clue is any better.
- 20a. [2, 4, 6, 8, 10 ..., e.g.] clues SERIES, though it’s technically a sequence. Is there a non-technical sense where this is correct? I’m leaning no, and my dictionary seems to agree. But feel free to tell me why I’m wrong.
- 19a. I am unfamiliar with [Pablo Neruda's "ODES to Opposites"], but I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda.
- 37a. [Borderline fare?] is TEX-MEX because “taco” and “burrito” don’t fit. If I continuously love TEX-MEX food, would that keep pushing my love over the borderline?
- 44a. TIME [can be bought without money], but not the Time that has Eds.
- 3d. EUGENE LEVY, a [2003 Grammy winner for "A Mighty Wind"], is funny and underrated.
- 29d. I thought [Spirit of the Caribbean] was maybe a CRUISE SHIP. Which I had in place for a while, before I realized that clue would need an e.g. It’s JAMAICA RUM.
Finally, I do not understand CLONES for [Matchmaker's output?]. A little help?
Updated Saturday morning:
Okay, this is probably just referring to clones as matches. That’s terrible.
Frederick J. Healy’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Toughest Saturday LA Times in weeks.
- 15a. [Actress Thompson] is SADA. Which I learned from AMY when we talked once about how she was a gimme for anyone [Amy's age] and virtually unknown for those less than [an age between Amy's and my slightly lower age]. Well, a gimme now.
- 18a. is [MASTERMIND]. Andrea, still no good ideas….
- 34a. [Color on the Irish Flag] clues ORANGE, which is also a fruit, a blogging alias, and a hard rhyme.
- 41a. BANCO is a [Baccarat call]. Thanks, Ian Fleming! See also DR [Julius] NO.
- 42a. Maybe you didn’t have as much trouble sussing out [Trying to be quiet] as I did. With xxxxOEING in place, I could think of _nothing_. Yeah, it’s TIPTOEING.
I think the long downs in the middle is where I ran into so much trouble. [Pitching device?] is a tough clue for CAPO if you don’t play guitar, AIN’T HAY sounds like an awfully dated expression for not much money and the question-marked [...peanuts?] clue didn’t help, TRISTE is French, and I’m only up to Wednesday in my Puzzle French, and [Starts an operation] is great and tricky for SETS UP SHOP.
I ended at square 1–I don’t know how many times I’ve seen X’S AND O’S [Romantic writing?], but I have trouble parsing it every time. And for [Jags of the past] I didn’t think of the obvious cars for an awfully long time. I’m on quite a solving roll.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Why Me?”—Janie’s review
Hey, why not me? Randy’s puzzle gives us a theme set of five entries featuring that personal pronoun, each preceded by the letter “Y”—and while I admire the theme’s ambitions, I had a very mixed reaction to its execution. The good news? Don’t fail to notice the way entries one and two, and four and five overlap—by 11 squares. That’s impressive in my book. I was disappointed, however, by the inconsistent choices for theme fill. The first two are song titles, the third is a song title but isn’t clued that way, and the other two are in-the-language phrases (one of which does use the word song)—fine phrases in and of themselves (lovely in fact) but, well, disappointing by virtue of the expectation delivered by their predecessors. Here’s what we get:
- 17A. “CRY ME A RIVER” [1955 Julie London hit].
- 19A. “FLY ME TO THE MOON” [Tune originally entitled "In Other Words"].
- 33A. “STAND BY ME” [Request for support]. Also the title of a very well-known song…
- 50A. “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” [Question asked on bended knee]. See? One of the loveliest phrases of all. Goes nicely with AMO [Latin lover's word], though this needs an object (te comes to mind).
- 54A. “PLAY ME A SONG” [Request at a piano bar].
Perhaps you have a better opinion about the make up of the theme fill. Me? I got lots more enjoyment—OODLES [Tons] of it even—from the non-theme fill. Like STREETCAR [Tennessee Williams transportation] (as in the title of his play, A Streetcar Named Desire). Then, look at all those sevens in the corners, will ya? And so fresh, with the likes of RED FLAG [Alert], TRELLIS [Vine support] (reminder that spring arrives tomorrow[!]), BREW PUB [Suds producer], “IT’S LATE” [Excuse to leave], KLEENEX [Brand in a box in a bathroom] (also on a desk, on a kitchen counter, on a bed-table…), and “ALL MINE!” [Non-sharer's cry]. (Ooh—just noticed how A.A. MILNE [Eeyore's creator] is almost an anagram of all mine. Just swap out an “A” for an “L” and yer in business!)
Also liked the confectionery spin with ICER ["Happy Birthday" writer], BAKERS [Sara Lee employees] (where I’m going to bet most of the icers have been replaced by machines…) and “A CUP…” [Sugar borrower's request]—for some home baking, perhaps.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
So close! Any Brad Wilber scares me, and I’ve gotta admit I usually don’t even do the Stumper, so I was glad to finish this almost correctly.
And I only feel a little bad about my error–I should have figured that the [Sleuthing sister in "Psycho"] would be LILA instead of Lilo (LILI was already taken), but [Unnamed guy] could have been MAN or MAC, and I didn’t know that EASY ACES instead of EASY ONES was an [Absurdist series of old-time radio].
Some stuff I circled while solving:
- 1a. My first thought for [Feed provider] was OATBAG instead of WEBCAM. Because of ultimate frisbee.
- 19a. With TxN in place, I still had to work hard at [Booth takeaway]. Nasty clue for TAN.
- 35a. SOIGNÉ is post-Wednesday Puzzle French, even if it’s now also English. Apparently, it means [Well-groomed].
- 49a. ["The Lost World" author] is DOYLE, not Michael Crichton. I feel so uncultured. At least I knew 24d. [Units in scoring] would be musical; it’s NOTES.
- 52a. And I thought I was so clever with ALGAE for [Rootless type], but it’s just a NOMAD. See also 29d. NORAD, the [U.S./Canada partnership]. Shall we play a game?
- 44d. With TELL and BRA written in lightly, the [Court Order] ALL RISE was my first answer written with full pen. I’m a Zebra F-301 guy, but I haven’t tried their pencils yet. I’m sure I’ll have to for next year’s ACPT; in the meantime, my completed puzzle looks an awful lot like spin art.
Puzzle 1 is in progress! Good luck, everyone!