People of the world! Fans of the CrosSynergy crossword! There’s a new game afoot. Antony Lewis, the developer of Crossword Compiler, has also created a crossword Puzzle Solver application. It’s a free download and works for both Windows and Mac OS X. Puzzle Solver can be used much like Across Lite, but it can open multiple puzzle formats. CrosSynergy is transitioning to a new system, and Across Lite won’t open the new CrosSynergy file format. Puzzle Solver will, though. I am super-persnickety about puzzle-solving interfaces, and I find Puzzle Solver to work exactly how I expect it to—the active square jumps over already filled squares, return/tab jumps you to the next entry, using arrow keys to switch directions puts you in the square you expect to be in. There are a couple rough spots (fewer layouts for printing, no print-black-squares-in-gray option, the timer is different) but in general Puzzle Solver is an enormously promising alternative to other crossword solving programs.
Check the Island of Lost Puzzles Tuesday morning for a .jpz download of the CrosSynergy puzzle.
Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Whoa! Elizabeth Taylor died last week and I completely forgot to speculate on when the tribute puzzle to this legend would appear. Who had Tuesday (just six days after her passing) in the cruciverbal pool? Anyone?
The theme feels a tad uneven to me, though, beginning with TAYLOR up top and ELIZABETH parked down below. The movies included in the tribute are CLEOPATRA, THE SANDPIPER (which I’ve never heard of, and my movie-buff friends did not suggest it to me when I confessed to never having seen Taylor in anything besides General Hospital so I don’t know that it should make the short list of Top Taylor Flicks), BUTTERFIELD 8 (with numeral!), and Suddenly, Last SUMMER. Apparently her National Velvet character was named VELVET, and Taylor was married 8 TIMES (nice connection with Butterfield 8‘s number!). Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and A Place in the Sun were all cited by my friends as good Taylor films to watch, but did not get a slot in the crossword.
My browser crashed shortly after I finished the puzzle, so my grid image tonight is borrowed from Jim Horne’s XWord Info. Thanks, Jim! I didn’t want to spend two minutes reentering my answers in the applet.
Did you all know that a [Multicellular animal] is called a METAZOAN (37d)? Me, neither.
I filled the bottom corner via the Downs. (Eww, USENO/TARES isn’t pretty.) So I never noticed ONE-ONE (65a: [Tied in a best-of-three series]). I can’t decide if I like that answer or not. In any case, wasn’t just a day ago that I said I’d learned my lesson about checking the crossings? Yeah, I lied. In an easy puzzle, I’m gonna skip that step.
Those immoral Democrats in the current administration! 40d: [Fed. agencies may issue them] clues STDS. I believe it’s the Department of Health and Human Services that dispenses the STDS. (That is a joke. The abbreviation is for standards, not sexually transmitted diseases.)
Joon Pahk and Andrea Carla Michaels’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Wow – we’ve got a couple of crossword gurus teaming up on this one, and boy does it show! There are seven theme answers – seven! – in this Tuesday puzzle. [Some sculpted abs] are SIX PACKS, as well as [the starts of (the other theme entries) altogether]. This is the closest I’ve come to having that sort of a SIX PACK in a long time!
- 17a. [Completely dark] is JET BLACK, not to be confused with JetBlue. The JET PACK implied by the theme is still a work in development, though.
- 21a. A [Getting-to-know-you party activity] is an ICEBREAKER. ICE PACKs are significantly less fun.
- 26a. [Dirty fighting?] is MUD WRESTLING. What is MUD PACK? Wikipedia, knower of all things, suggests a collection of clay-based Batman villains. Is it a spa treatment instead? These are things I know relatively little about, but I like the clue and entry.
- 39a. [Wearisome routine] is a RAT RACE. Yes, I know who the RAT PACK is. Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and all of them, right?
- 47a. ["Wow, she's good looking!" sounds] are WOLF WHISTLES – your sexist/plural theme entry of the day. At this point, not sure of the theme, I thought WOLF and RAT were the key. Suddenly I wanted CAT CALLS to be a right answer as well, and put it at 47a as well. WOLF PACK is… a pack of wolves.
- 58a. ["Funny Girl" leading role] is Barbra Streisand’s performance of FANNY BRICE. FANNY PACK is the big winner among theme entries for me today. (Editor’s note: Aw, no “pack of fannies,” Neville?)
Well, that’s a great theme with a nice summary entry there at the end. With all of that theme work going in, there’s little room for long fill, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be quality fill:
- 1d. [Low-paying position] – MCJOB. I think the key descriptor missing here is “dead-end.”
- Go look 11d. up in your FUNK and Wagnall’s!
- 32d. [Continue] – not GOON but GO ON. This messes with my head every time I write it in!
- 54a. [Fat cat] – NABOB. That’s just a fun word to say. Just like BLOOP.
But every rose has its thorns…
- 13d. [1980-81 Iranian president Bani-___], whom I’ve never heard of – SADR. Fortunately, I remembered that Sadr City is a suburb of Baghdad, so I assumed it was right.
- 42d. [First lady's home?] – EDEN. This is very cute the first time you see it or if you don’t do crosswords all the time, but for many of us, it’s just a freebie. From ACM, early-week puzzle designer extraordinaire, I’ll take it.
See you on Thursday! BLOOP.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Passed Master”—Evad’s review
Today’s CrosSynergy puzzle comes from constructor Tyler Hinman, fresh off his second-place showing at this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tourney. Well done, Tyler! The title gives a pretty good clue of what to expect—words that end in -ST are reinterpreted as past tense verbs, changing that suffix to -SSED. Let’s take a peek, shall we?
- The phrase “going bust” becomes [Leaving right after getting a kiss?] or GOING BUSSED. Rather tortured one there, mi amigo. Not sure cluing it in terms of Greyhound would make any more surface sense.
- A “houseguest” gets the way-back treatment and becomes [Hugh Laurie show given in response to a trivia question?] or HOUSE GUESSED. I think this one works much better than the first one.
- The fizzy soda, Sierra Mist, becomes [GMC truck pined for after being sold?] or SIERRA MISSED. Too bad American Idol season 4 top 10 contestant Jessica Sierra wasn’t more famous or the clue could reference a person instead of a vehicle.
- We move a bit into Onion territory when “self trust” becomes [Tied up without assistance] or SELF TRUSSED. I know Houdini could get out of shackles on his own, but could he also put himself into them?
A rather uneven theme for me, let’s see if the fill brings me back into the fan camp:
- So do you know how to do an OLLIE? Here’s an instructional video if you’d like to try it at home.
- I enjoyed seeing ALL and the prefix OMNI- next to each other.
- The mid-length entries of BIOTECH, ME TIME, POKE FUN AT, TINA FEY, C BATTERY, ARE YOU OK? and SKI JUMP were all nice.
- So have you heard of the SITAR-featuring album Rubber Soul? It was The Beatles’ sixth studio album. George played the sitar.
- Have you read James Hurst’s The Scarlet IBIS? Looks interesting.
- Did I struggle with clumsy cow owner Mrs. O’LEARY! I tried to shoehorn O’MALLEY and O’HARA in there at first. I blame it on the vast quantities of green beer I drank on St. Paddy’s Day.
- QUIRE ([Two dozen sheets]) is new to me. Are we talking paper or linens? Speaking of linens, [They may be fashioned from bedsheets] are TOGAS.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Not What You Think”
Dis- is a prefix expressing negation or absence. In this theme, DIS is tacked onto the beginning of familiar phrases, turning the first word into an entirely different one:
- 18a. [What lexicographers do most of the time?] is DISCUSS WORDS, some of which are cuss words. And to hear the hubbub lately, all the OED’s lexicographers have been doing is going to hell in a handbasket and speeding the demise of the English language.
- 30a. [Laser pointer used by that jerk in the audience?] clues DISTRACTOR BEAM. I don’t know that I’d spell “thing that distracts” as DISTRACTOR rather than distracter. Is there a rule for the -or/-er choice?
- 38a. [Turn a digit into a zero with your bare hands?] clues DISFIGURE EIGHT. This is my favorite theme entry. Would you disfigure an 8 by ripping it into two 0′s, folding it in half, or breaking the center bond?
- 51a. [Friends that share in your tacky guilty pleasures?] might be your DISTASTE BUDS. Hmm, I don’t think so. Your tacky guilty pleasures are to your taste. Who is the judgmental party here, labeling the guilty pleasures as distasteful things?
- 15a. MR. BLUE! I tried MR. PINK first. No idea who is who in Reservoir Dogs.
- 16a. It takes something like 40 gallons of MAPLE SAP to make a single gallon of maple syrup. My cousin Kip tapped a bunch of maples in his yard and at the university campus where he works, and boiled the sap down to make a variety of syrups. My mom and son visited for a syrup tasting. Did you know that silver and Norway maples work too, not just sugar maples? I need to get over to Kip’s for some syrup myself!
- 47a. SMEGMA is my all-time favorite word for something gross.
- 56a. TELEPORT—cool answer, great clue! [Get there in no time?] works. Man, I wish I could teleport.
- 5d. MISS USA, also lively fill.
- 31d. CYGNET is such a pretty word, isn’t it? It’s the anti-smegma.
- 36a. YAU [___-Man Chan ("Survivor: Fiji" participant)]? Really? Let’s Google him. Oh! Never heard of him, but now I love him! Skinny guy in his 50s, outwitted his rivals with his knowledge of physics.
- 37a. [Godsmack lead vocalist Sully ___] ERNA? Really? Not interested enough to Google him/her. Not to be confused with IRNA Phillips, the soap opera writer recently seen in another crossword. Yeesh.
- 8d. [Made some suds] clues BREWED BEER. Uh, not a lexical chunk. “Baked bread.” “Stirred soup.” “Ate a sandwich.” “Did a puzzle.” Not crossword-worthy phrases.
- 22d. [Estonia, in Estonian (hidden in BEE STING)] clues EESTI. Who doesn’t appreciate a Merl Reagle–style clue that helps you get an obscure answer?