Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword
Mighty smooth for a 66-word puzzle—of course it is, because that’s how Berry rolls. Demanding grid with zero questionable fill and only two 3-letter answers.
There may be more proper nouns than usual for a Berry themeless. PEPYS, DARIN, CHET, DAVIS, SAN ANGELO, IVAN, JOSIE, ELLEN, TEXAS, MARIE, CARTHAGE, THEBAN, ALDA, NELL, TROY? That’s 15. They’re not obscure and the only one that may be challenging to spell has been famous for over 300 years.
Question for pannonica and the other sciency readers: Is it kosher to clue the TENT CATERPILLAR as a [Tree-defoliating insect]? Is it not strictly a larva until metamorphosis gives it the six legs of an insect?
- The stacking and interlock of long answers in the northwest and southeast quadrants. The stacked pairs of 15s bundled with 8- and 9-letter answers haven’t yielded a bunch of ugly 4s. (My least favorite answer here is ROTA, this time clued as [Membership list]. Not sure which clubs use the term these days.)
- Answers with attitude: SPITBALL, HAVE IT OUT, TANTRUMS, EJECTS. These could all go together at a baseball game.
- 21a. Rose hips are the little crabapply fruits of the rose, so a ROSE is [One with big hips, maybe]. This isn’t about Pete Rose or Rose McGowan.
- 51a. I’m no fan of the Confederacy, but I like the [Mid 19th-century president] mislead. Not GRANT or HAYES of the U.S.A. but Jefferson DAVIS of the C.S.A.
- 4d. Cute: A TENTACLE is an [Arm of the sea?].
- 37d. [Where one may take the plunge?] is the DEEP END. Not the matrimonial plunge. Think instead of the Nestea plunge.
- 44d. Interesting quote clue. FEAR is ["That little darkroom where negatives are developed," per Michael Pritchard]. Who is Pritchard? Oh, dear. A motivational speaker.
Not a ton of super-zippy stuff here, just the absence of junk, an ambitious grid, and a nice quartet of 15s. Would have been more fun if the clues were tougher, but hey, it falls in line with standard Friday NYT difficulty. Four stars.
Marti Duguay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review
Let me tell you an old story about this puzzle:
- 20a. [Mount Olympus and environs?] - MYTH UNIVERSE (Miss Universe)
- 34a. [Thinking like Aesop?] - FABLE MINDED (feeble minded)
- 40a. [One majoring in traditional knowledge?] - LORE STUDENT (law student)
- 54a. [Quills for Chaucer?] - TALE FEATHERS (tail feathers)
I like pun puzzles, and this one worked for me, mostly. LORE for law is a bit too much of a stretch for me, and the direct homonym of TALE/tail isn’t quite consistent, but I like the rigid theme that Marti’s got going on here.
But my oh my, this puzzle was an ordeal. I hate to just BASH IN this puzzle, especially with cool entries like NEW-AGER, SKI AREA, BEER KEG (my favorite!), WASABI and ISHTAR (which is admittedly trivia), but there’s a fine, FINE LINE between a puzzle you love and a waste of time. After gleaning the theme quickly, I think I should’ve stopped – some of the fill is just blech. These answers shouldn’t all be in the same puzzle:
- C FLAT (Which as the clue admits is quite rare, unless you play in flats all the time)
- A TO B
- LEO I
- KALB (Can you do FITB clues for parts of words now? Oi!)
- LODI (???)
- TO A T
- O.D. ON
- IS YET
- NLER (The Worst!)
That’s over a quarter of this puzzle’s entries. Now, you may tolerate AERIE – it’s a real word, and alone it’s no big deal. But maybe you don’t like ADJ. or LOO. Be honest – do you find this acceptable? I kind of wish there had been a note that said, “This puzzle has a darn good theme, but you might not like the rest of it.”
Word of the day: ABZUG. Bella ABZUG was a member of the House of Representatives, representing both New York’s Fightin’ 19th and Brawlin’ 20th. She was an avid supporter of the ERA, Zionism and Gay Rights, and an opponent of the Vietnam War. In her own words: “This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives!” Needless to say, Abzug was on Nixon’s List. (You know the one.)
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “You Should Join the Y!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Aloha, everyone. Yes, I’m blogging from Hawaii. Yes, I’m the only person within sight that has a laptop on the beach and cursing the slow Wi-Fi. And yes, my priorities need realignment. I’m here for a business conference (seriously!) through Saturday, then it’s back to the mainland for my school’s commencement ceremony.
But you don’t care about that–you want to chat about another terrific Bob Klahn offering. I’ve solved enough Klahn puzzles to know that the highlights are always in the clues, and such was the case here. The theme of this crossword is good, don’t get me wrong, but you solve a Klahn for its clues, so let’s change up the usual template. We’ll get to the theme entries later, but let’s start with some of the most memorable clues:
- GLEE nowadays is nearly always clued with reference to the wonderful Fox TV show, but I like the Christmas-in-June clue here, [You might shout out with it, if you're a reindeer].
- A SCALE is a [Lie detector for a supposed loser?]. Despite the many times I have seen “loser” used as a misleading clue for a dieter, I still got stuck on this for a while, and the resulting “aha moment” was nice.
- My favorite clue in the puzzle is [Pole star?] for STRIPPER, even though I have no idea whatsoever as to its meaning.
- What makes a Klahn a Klahn is that even the most humdrum fill can get a complex clue. I like [A word with you] for ARE.
- [Trojan targets] had me thinking of all kinds of things, but none of them had three letters. Under my newly-imposed Weiner Rule (no putting anything on the internet I wouldn’t want my mother to see were she still alive), I can’t share most of the possible answers I had in mind. It’s enough to say I thought of condoms, USC, and the Trojan horse before tumbling to the Trojan computer virus–the answer is PCS (personal computers).
Oh yeah, the theme. Klahn adds a Y to the start of five common terms, and four of the five resulting entries are terrific:
- 17-Across: Ever wonder [What to expect from a "Hee Haw" calendar?] It would be a YEAR OF CORN. Not to mention a year of Roy Clark songs, Minnie Pearl jokes, and pictures of cute girls in haystacks. Sa-lute!
- 24-Across: Wanna know [Where to learn about the dark side?] You have to enroll in YIN SCHOOL. This was the iffiest theme entry, in my view.
- 39-Across: On the heels of the iffiest theme entry comes my favorite one. One way to describe a [Wish list?] is to call it a YEARNINGS REPORT. That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!
- 48-Across: The [Location of the White House bakery?] is the YEAST ROOM. Ask White House tour guides for a tour of the Yeast Room and you’ll get a rise out of them. (Look, the sun is getting to me.)
- 62-Across: No “add a Y” theme would be complete without everyone’s favorite term for a safecracker. Sure enough, the [Mind of a safecracker?] is a YEGG NOODLE. A cannibalistic chef prefers his or her safecracker in the form of yegg noodle soup.
Finally, I did not know that LEMUEL was Gulliver’s first name. My first name shares four of the six letters, in order, but I think if my first name was Lemuel I would go by my last name only, too. Like Lemuel Bono.
Patrick Blindauer and Steve Salitan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mixed Company”
It took me a long time to see what the theme was doing—anagramming one word of each corporate name. It wasn’t until the fourth theme answer that it became obvious to me.
- 23a. [Even game in Alabama?] = MONTGOMERY DRAW (Ward).
- 36a. [Completely eschew the nanotechnology trend?] = ENLARGE MOTORS (General).
- 45a. [Troubles with transcript transfers?] = CREDIT ISSUES (Suisse). Given that credit issuer is an actual thing, this one didn’t scream “anagram theme.”
- 58a. [Member of the royalty with a secret journal?] = DIARY QUEEN (Dairy). A-ha!
- 68a. [What an auto club provides after a blowout?] = TIRE AID (Rite-Aid). This one’s shorter than some non-theme fill.
- 78a. [Place where plumbers stay very busy?] = LAND O’ LEAKS (Lakes). The only three-word themer.
- 91a. [Valerie's public persona?] = HARPER’S IMAGE (Sharper).
- 97a. [Country fair awards for those soakin' up the sun?] = BASKIN’ RIBBONS (Robbins).
- 112a. [Carrier whose passengers leave their shoes off?] = UNTIED AIRLINES (United).
Smooth grid with plenty of longer fill of note. In particular, PODCASTS, ICY STARE, SODAPOP, HORN IN ON, PREORDAINED, AU GRATIN, and TIM ALLEN stood out .
Patrick reports that their clues were toughened up and indeed, this puzzle took me about 20% longer than the typical Sunday NYT crossword.
- 74d. [Jazz sound?] is the SHORT A in the word “jazz.”
- 22a. [Culture known for breaking traditions?] is HIP-HOP, as in breakdancing.
- 96a. OPTOMETRY is a [Field that tries to make you look better?] with a new pair of glasses.