NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD CONTEST ALERT: The puzzle you want is not posted in Across Lite at the usual place. You can print the PDF, get the Across Lite file at xwordinfo.com (thanks to Jim Horne), or solve in the Java applet. I hear all is back to normal, as of 12:45 a.m. Eastern time. Carry on.
Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—contest day 6, the end
All righty! At last, we have our contest instructions: “Find contest’s meta-answer by reading THE FIRST LETTERS of these clues. Solvers must FILL EVERY CIRCLE in the grids to determine the grids’ proper order.” The first letters of this puzzle’s clues spell out, “The corners of this week’s grids, read in order, spell a famous leader and his crossing words.” I don’t know what that means. I guess it’s time to start eyeballing the six grids!
Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I’m wondering if this puzzle has been sitting around lost in the bottom of the accepted bin because Stella Daily Zawistowski got married, like, two or three years ago. Why, this puzzle might even have been constructed before Joe Krozel and Martin Ashwood-Smith used A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE so much in their stacks that it became a punch line.
The other 15s in the triple stacks don’t feel clunky or played out. We open with a SURPRISE PACKAGE (1a. [Unexpected delivery]), and who doesn’t like to receive one of those? Hemingway’s A FAREWELL TO ARMS is solid, though the clue didn’t give much away for me (16a. [War novel that became a Gary Cooper film]). CONIFEROUS TREES is a little dull (17a. [Cypress and others]). POLITICAL ASYLUM is great (64a. Dissident’s request]), and HOMELAND DEFENSE (68a. [Military priority]) is fine.
I’ve been compiling a list of crossword answers I’d rather not encounter (essentially a Scowl-o-Meter trigger list), and I added three words from this puzzle: 8d: ELON, the [Carolina university]; 55d: OPAH, the [Shimmering swimmer]; and 30d: NACRE, [Shiny shell lining]. One bonus point for including both OPAH and OPRAH in the same puzzle. (50a: NLER and ALER were already on the list.)
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by Stan Newman)
Stan does know how to make a clean grid. This themeless puzzle is filled mostly with plain language, and the clues are “less rough” (as the byline suggests) so it’s not as hard as the usual Stumper. No unfamiliar words, no arcane trivia to know.
- 17a. I didn’t know that BRAD PITT was the [Producer of Scorsese's Oscar film], but I certainly do recognize his name.
- 20a. [Duty schedules] are TARIFFS. Taxes! Zzzzzzz.
- 31a. A DIMPLE is a [Slight depression].
- 38a. [Rooter's preference, usually] is the HOME TEAM. Great crossword answer.
- 63a. If something is NO PICNIC, it’s [Arduous]. My favorite entry in this puzzle.
- 1d. BOBBLED is clued with [Not handled cleanly].
- 3d. [Hiram Walker contemporary] is SEAGRAM. I don’t know anything about anyone named Hiram Walker, but I do know it’s a liquor name.
- 12d. A [Cruise fan] is a SEA-GOER. This may well be the clunkiest answer in the grid, but I’ve seen worse.
- 30d. [Queen Elizabeth's Emma or Holly] is a dog breed known as the CORGI.
- 41d. [Word from the Spanish for "stray beast"] clues MUSTANG. Didn’t know this etymology.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hurly-burly” – Sam Donaldson’s review
I’m guessing most solvers are busy solving the Patrick Berry extravaganza (next time we should get a Patrick Berry fortnight!), so few will make it to this post. For the sake of completeness, though, we persevere. Today’s Randolph Ross puzzle features five common terms all starting with words synonymous with “hurl” (as in “toss,” not “vomit”). Ross kicks it up a notch by cluing the theme entries as though the subject is “hurling” the other word in the term:
- 17-Across: “Pitchforks” become PITCH FORKS, clued as [Hurl some utensils?].
- 27-Across: To [Hurl some wigs?] is to THROW RUGS.
- 36-Across: To CHUCK STEAKS is one way to [Hurl some beef?]. Another is to eat a Taco Bell crunchy taco and wait about a half -hour.
- 49-Across: Your everyday “passbooks” get converted to PASS BOOKS, how a quarterback might [Hurl some reading material?].
- 60-Across: David’s stockpile of “slingshots” becomes SLING SHOTS, how one would [Hurl some bar orders?].
Cute theme, but I’m more enamored with the long Downs like VITAMIN C, the [Cold fighter], SHOP TALK ([Discussions about work]), and SKIP ROPE ([Participate in a game of Double Dutch]). There are several other 6- and 7-letter Down entries that really make the grid shine. So while the theme was nice, it’s the construction that makes this puzzle entertaining.
Let’s close the week with some random observations! (1) Anyone else try PERIOD for the [Sentence shortener] instead of PAROLE? I know, I know–my original answer was the result of over-reading and assuming the clue was trying to be too cute. (2) I like how [Experiencing angst] is right next to [Cause of angst] in the clues. (The answers are ON EDGE and STRESS.) (3) Doesn’t COOLLY look like it has one too many Ls? (4) Six Ks in the grid, with four of them in theme entries. And yet the only section that felt a little forced was the AAAA atop RLS.