Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword
I see some Saturday-plus solving times on the applet, and I’m not sure why that is. I would concur that the puzzle’s tougher than the standard Friday puzzle, but not that much. I would have been under the 6-minute mark if not for a Vowels Gone Wild double typo of REDUILS for REDIALS.
The first time the Massachusetts town of Natick was evoked with a crosswordy definition (two proper nouns colliding, significant chance of solvers throwing their hands up in dismay because the crossing letter is elusive), it was when NATICK crossed N.C. WYETH at, I think, the N. Now, N.C. WYETH is in this grid, but with crossing letters that are all inferrable within their contexts. However! There is a potential Natick moment in the southwestern quadrant, where [Knight who hosts a country music radio show] meets [Dweller around Port Hercules]. Say what? Turns out to be LIA and MONACAN, but geography nerds are enchanted by the unusual demonym used to label the people of Monaco: Monegasque. I half pondered MONICAN as a demonym for people from Santa Monica, positing a Muscle Beach place named after Hercules and a mystery DJ named LII.
- 20a. SAGUARO. Lotsa vowels, yet not a regular denizen of crosswords.
- 35a. MOMS, [They deliver]. Babies, not pizza, though some pizza delivery agents are mothers.
- 38a. JIM BROWN, football actor, full name.
- 1d. Would prefer the spelling PUNJABI for the language, but PANJABI will do. I wonder if Brendan originally clued this as actress Archie Panjabi, who gets raves for her work in the TV series The Good Wife.
- 8d. [Many a dreaded native?] is not the fat garter snake I saw today by the vacation cabin, no. It’s a JAMAICAN with dreadlocks. Is it unfair of me to like dreadlocks in general but disdain the white-folks’ dreads look?
- 14d. Remember Paul TSONGAS? I liked him back when he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. I think of him whenever I hear of tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose surname is Congolese rather than Greek. My original surname is a cross-cultural marvel as well, popping up on Greek, Lithuanian, and Arabic people.
- 38d. JILLION isn’t an imaginary number at all. It’s just an unwieldy and nonspecific big number.
- 45d. Nobody talks about throwing WIIMOTEs through TV screens anymore.
Not so thrilled by TSE and TAI despite their novel clues. And SAL SODA is no more familiar in its entirety than when it’s a FITB [__ soda] half answer. NIC, ELOI, LAICS, ASA, ANEAR, ADZ, UTIL, and AMARE also lent little spice to the puzzle. This kinda feels like an old BEQ puzzle that’s been sitting around for a while, as it doesn’t have the same zing as the weekly themelesses at his blog. (Speaking of which: Brendan’s latest blog puzzle is a themed one, and you might win a prize if you can suss out the theme. Visit BrendanEmmettQuigley.com for the puzzle and details.)
Hey, the top two quadrants of this grid have intersecting three-letter twins at the starts of PAN-ARAB/PANJABI and JAM TART/JAMAICAN. Does PAN JAM mean something I don’t know about? Not quite a panjandrum…
Don Gagliardo and C.C Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times Crossword – Jeffrey’s Review
Jeffrey here again. And I don’t know if I’m coming or going on today’s puzzle. Ten theme answers are on the perimeter of the puzzle, with an ”Aptly” missing DIRECTION. Add the direction the word is facing to the beginning of the word and you get the two word answer to the clues. (what is he talking about?)
37A. ["Apt" geographical element needed to complete the answers to 10 of this puzzle's clues] – DIRECTION
1A. [Aptly, Chinese, e.g.] – ASIAN. The word travels east (left to right) so this is EAST ASIAN. Get it?
6A. [Aptly, Park Avenue area] – (East) SIDE
10A. [Aptly, New Jersey beach phenomenon] – (East) WIND
13D. [Aptly, Pierre's state] – (South) DAKOTA. Going down or south now.
45D. [Aptly, "Happy Talk" musical] – (South) PACIFIC.
67A. [Aptly, Israeli-occupied territory] – KNAB. Right to left for West Bank.
68A. [Aptly, Oval Office site] – GNIW. West Wing.
69A. [Aptly, Hollywood locale] – TSAOC. West Coast.
46D. [Aptly, Pyongyang resident] – NAEROK. Up we go for northern answers. North Korean. The Dream Academy.
1D. [Aptly, about 5 percent of the Earth's surface] – ACIREMA. North America.
A very clever theme.
The down(south)side is the unavoidable fill, which has several partials and is mostly sleep inducing.
21A. [Wall makeup, maybe] – STONES
26A. [Main vessel] – SEABOAT. One word? Two words? Who says this?
29A. [Virgil contemporary] – OVID
32A. [Earth, to 29-Across] – TERRA
33A. [29-Across's "__ amatoria"] – ARS. I think we overdid the OVID.
48A. [Like some blog comments: Abbr.] – ANON. Please leave your real or pretend name on all comments.
27D. [Certain counter's unit?] – BEAN. I never liked the term BEAN counter. I prefer Hershey’s Kiss counter.
30D. [Quebec's Sept-__] – ILES. Points for Canadian reference.
40D. [Freshen one's familiarity with] – RELEARN. I always try to forget this word, but I keep having to RELEARN it.
41D. ['70s Robert Blake cop show] – BARETTA. Sammy Davis Jr.
3.95 stars. And I’m done. See you tomorrow.
50A. ["So soon?"] – ALREADY
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Heel of Fortune” – Sam Donaldson’s review
It’s a quip theme centered on a [Born loser’s lament]: I’M SO UNLUCKY THAT / WHEN MY SHIP COMES / IN I’LL BE STANDING / AT THE TRAIN DEPOT. As quip themes go, this one’s quite good. What it lacks in hilarity (it’s more cute or clever than funny), it more than compensates for in its elegance at breaking cleanly into four 15-letter segments with the punchline saved for the last line. So while I normally don’t care much for quip themes, this one rubbed me the right way.
Items of note:
- I’ll start with a confession. My first answer to [Bray beginner] was HOM. As in an hombre, pardner. This is why I don’t solve in pen. (The correct answer is HEE, as in “hee haw,” the braying sound of an ass. One would think I would be eminently qualified to know the sound of a braying ass.)
- As an added embarrassment, I’ll note that my first thought for the four-letter [Member of Mowgli’s adoptive family] was BEAR, as in Baloo. I had forgotten that Mowgli, the protagonist from The Jungle Book, had first been raised by wolves, making the correct answer WOLF. I blame 37-Down’s reference to “Zip-A-DEE-Doo-Dah” for creating the earworm that, I’m sure, controlled my train of thought there.
- I like [Part of a squid’s arsenal] as a colorful clue for INK.
- You could certainly clue PUN in many ways worse than [“A seven-day diet makes one weak,” e.g.]. I kinda liked that one.
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Here’s the Change-Up”
Instead of changing pitchers (wait, is that what “change-up” means in baseball? I have no idea), Dan changes one letter in an MLB team’s name. Ergo, TEXAS RINGERS, NEW YORK MESS, LOS ANGELES CODGERS, MINNESOTA TWITS, FLORIDA MARGINS, PITTSBURGH PILATES, CHICAGO CABS, and BOSTON RED FOX. The best ones are those that cast aspersions on the team—the Ringers, Mess, Codgers, and Twits are all funny. Margins and Cabs are too inanimate. Pilates isn’t a plural of “pilate.” And there aren’t any singular baseball team names like Red Fox. So the first half of the theme is more successful than the second. All eight theme entries are easy enough to piece together from the clues if you know for Major League team names, though.
The fill is smooth, but not so zingy. I do like LOVE/HATE, LIVE A LIE, “SHE’S GONE,” RUST BELT, and PLAY TAG. The latter feels a tad clunky, but I’d love PLAY HIDE-AND-SEEK so I have to like PLAY TAG.