Allan E. Parrish’s New York Times crossword — Janie’s review
Darned if I could find any Irish or Scottish holidays on the calendar for November 19th, but Allan’s nifty 72-word/29-block puzzle has serious Gaelic overtones, with its quartet of right-angled name pairs beginning with “MC.” The CLAN roll-call delivers up: MC GWIRE and MC COURT, MC CAREY and MC MANUS, MC QUEEN and MC LAREN, and MC BRIDE and MC MAHON. Wow! In a puzzle where half of the fill is made up of 7-letter entries, these eight make up almost 25% of those.
And look how Allan’s configured the grid. Each corner is composed of 3-stacks and 3-columns of seven (24). Then, he virtually outlines that center cross with sevens (8)—and boxes it in with them as well (4). Beautiful. As construction feats go, I’d say this one was NOT EASY.
That it delivers a lot of challenging fill as well marks it as a solid Saturday. New words for me? CEREBRA—which is the plural of cerebrum, the right and left hemispheres of your brain. Whence the literal and slightly skewed [Think pieces?] clue. Then there was TAI, [Sea bream in a sushi bar]. Okay. Just glad we saw bream earlier this week so I had something to work from. Those ETESIAN winds were new to me, too—but as the dictionary tells me, their name derives from “Latin etēsius yearly, from Greek etēsios, from etos year”—whence the “annual” reference in the clue.
Nice how that meteorological word intersects with CLIMATE and its [Pattern of highs and lows]. We get another matched set of sorts with the over-the-counter pharmaceutical crossing of TYLENOL and GERITOL. Appropriate, too, that oater star CLU Gulager sits below Steve MC QUEEN, who played in his share of Westerns.
Some FAVE clues would have to include the sneaky/literal [First character to appear in "Carmen"] for CEE; [Treadmill setting] for GYM; and [Producer of a chilling effect] for ICE CUBE.
Nice to be back with that ol’ Team Orange gang o’ mine (for the day)! Them’s some of the highlights for me, solvers (oh—and the colloquial, somewhat snarky “CAN IT!”). What’s your take?
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Newsday “Saturday Stumper” – Doug’s review
Hey, crossword fans. I’ve been assigned “Saturday Stumper” duty this weekend. After I was about half-done with the puzzle, I realized I probably should have been timing myself. Oh well. Difficulty-wise, this one felt like a middle-of-the-pack Stumper. I flew through the bottom half of the grid after dropping in ARACHNE and AS MAD AS / A WET HEN almost immediately. Then it took some doing to break into the upper portion.
- 8a. ["Dang!"] – OH, FUDGE. Mmmm…fudge. My #1 entry of the day. This section was the last to fall because I tried OH, PSHAW first. And OH, PSHAW is the #1 non-entry of the day.
- 18a. [Psychologically expansive] – FREEING. I don’t know enough about psychology to fully grasp the clue.
- 27a. [Names seen on Smithsonian walls] – DONORS. I liked this clue. I had no idea where it was going, and then it hit me. Nice.
- 49a. [Sincere or insincere approval] – GREAT. Another fun clue.
- 51a. ["Two Years Before the Mast" author] – DANA. Dana Delany is certainly talented. Actress, crossword constructor, author. She can do it all.
- 56a. [Pop-art precursor] – DADAIST. I think DADAISM fits the clue better.
- 28d. [Spherical edibles] – ROE. I tried KIX first, which is a cool answer. Look for that in one of my future Stumpers.
- 53d. [Communication trademark] – WIFI. Interesting. I had no idea WiFi was a trademark.
- 43d. [Birds named for their love of flax seeds] – LINNETS. Because flax seed is also called linseed. And linnets get their scientific name, (Carduelis cannabina), from their “fondness for hemp,” according to Wikipedia. I get it. After they indulge in their fondess for hemp, linnets get the munchies and chow down on flax seeds and nachos.
Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s Review
Theme: A bunch of words and phrases that cross a bunch of other words and phrases for your solving enjoyment.
1A. [Quinine target] – MALARIA - I know MALARIA is bad so that must mean Quinine is good.
15A. [Hard to nail down] – EVASIVE. Trying to figure this out but the answer keeps slipping away.
16A. [When parents don't want a teen to be home?] – TOO LATE
17A. [Equity complaint] – NOT FAIR. Response of said teens.
18A. ["Don't Wanna Lose You" singer] – ESTEFAN
19A. [Obviously fearful] – WHITE AS A SHEET. I have blue sheets. Does that make me obviously sad?
21A. [Like some jokes] – TASTELESS. Not on this family friendly blog.
25A. [Richard Marx label] – EMI. Grandson of Karl, son of Harpo.
26A. [Crude amt.] – BBL. Barrel. No I don’t know why it has two B’s. I’m a guest blogger, not a Jeopardy champion.
29A. [First of an old film septet] – ROAD TO SINGAPORE. Zanzibar, Morocco, Utopia, Rio, Bali and Hong Kong are the other sixtets of these Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movies. “Paramount will protect us cause we’re signed for five more years”
37A. [Freezes over] – ICES UP. Hell of a clue.
38A. [Hold back] – KEEP AT A DISTANCE
42A. ["Merv Griffin's Crosswords" announcer Hall] – EDD. I believe Amy won $199,000 on this show.
45A. [Doughnut-shaped treat] – LIFE SAVER. I consider more of a donut-shaped treat.
51A. [Howls skyward] – BAYS AT THE MOON
55A. [Rolling service station?] – TEA CART. Solving tip – service always leads to tea.
56A. [They were the Browns before they moved from St. Louis] – ORIOLES. Moving baseball teams is not cool.
28D. [Romantic toon mammal] – LE PEW. “Toon mammal” indeed. HE’S A SKUNK!!!!!
31D. [Defense agency since Nov. 2001] – TSA/34D. [Patriot __] – ACT. Help me out, Americans. Did the latter create the former?
46D. ["Wicked Game" singer Chris] – ISAAK. His other hit was…hmmm…
51D. ["__ Green": Kermit's song] – BEIN’. The Muppets are back!! Yay!!!
Nothing flashy, nothing yucky here. A fast themeless solve. 3 stars.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Quarterback Scramble” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Yay! A sub-ten-minute time on a Bob Klahn puzzle! That’s always a nice way to start the weekend. National Anagram Week (well, it seems that way from this week’s puzzles, right?) continues here, with Klahn offering us four anagrams of QUARTERBACK:
- 17-Across: A BARK RACQUETcould be a [Squash implement with a cork frame?]. Depending on the bark, it might not tolerate much wear and tear.
- 61-Across: A QUACK BARTER is an [Exchange with a charlatan?]. It’s also the term for bill-swapping with a duck. Remember, kids, when you swap bills with a duck, you’re not only swapping with that duck but with every other duck with whom that duck has swapped bills.
- 11-Down: A BRAQUE TRACK is a [Cubist racecourse?]. Georges would be thrilled to know he had a track named after him. But given the sharp angles, it’s not very practical for most races.
- 25-Down: A QATAR BUCKER is a great name to call someone who angers you. In this case, though, it’s a [Middle East bronco?].
“Scramble” is a giveaway for an anagram theme, but I resisted it at first, thinking “there can’t be three to five separate anagrams for QUARTERBACK.” I thought instead maybe the Q and B would be reversed in common phrases. Oops. Even though the four anagrams produce gibberish phrases, it’s pretty cool to see the several ways in which the letters can be arranged.
Four theme entries means there will be four Qs in the puzzle, and that’s not the easiest thing to pull off, but Klahn makes it look easy. My favorite Q crossing is MACAQUE, the [Rhesus monkey]. And here I thought Rhesus only made peanut butter cups.
Anyone have issues with MAKE-UPS, the [Second-chance exams], crossing EATS UP, clued here as [Really relishes]? The duplicate “up” doesn’t bother me, since a grid with, say, WENT IN and SET IN wouldn’t bother me either. Just because the preposition is rarer, it’s still just a repeated preposition (although it helps that it’s only two letters).
My favorite clues this time were [Hardly the big shot] for BBS and the consecutive [Target's target, e.g.] for LOGO and [Tagamet target] for ACID. The clues felt relatively straightforward for a Klahn puzzle–so much so that I was too tentative to plunk some answers down because I thought there had to be a double meaning I was missing. I guess the harder theme entries led Klahn to be a little more merciful this time.