Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
Hello! Thanks to Team Fiend for filling in this week. They’re great, aren’t they? I say we keep having more of them and less of me! By the end of this post, I’m sure you’ll agree. They bring so much energy, which I, unfortunately, am lacking at present.
No idea what 15a is getting at. [Beginning of time?] is ONEO? One o’ time? Wait: ONE O’clock? Oh, dear. That’s pretty bad.
But I liked most of the long fill. The MOST WANTED list is right ON THE MONEY. BEER BOTTLE, A LITTLE BIT, KOSHER DELI, STOLEN BASE, MIND READER, LEGALESE, FAKES OUT, and DOG-TIRED are all great stuff.
Could do without chemistry corner: 9d: STERIC and 26d: ENOL. Plenty of abbreviations and crosswordese in the short fill.
Overall rating, 3.85 stars.
Steve Salitan’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Overall, a solid themeless with some surprising incursions of crosswordese.
Highlights: The ADRIATIC SEA (I like my seas), a LINEN CLOSET, tasty POTPIES, SHARON STONE‘s full name, a puzzle that doesn’t END IN TEARS, and BLUE CHIP. I like [Upside list] as a clue for PROS (as in listing the pros and cons), ["Hogwash!"] cluing LIES, and [2011 Hiroshima Art Prize winner] as a fresh clue for Yoko ONO.
- 53d. [Le Havre handle] is the word ANSE, French for “handle.” If you thought “handle” was slang for “name” in this clue, you thought wrong. Hardcore crosswordese. Bundling this answer with ABAB and BOAC doesn’t help, and its crossing stack of 11-letter answers also crosses the tired SLA.
- 3d. [Ocean flier], ERNE. The top stack’s other crossings include PALP, -EAN, ECON., ESS, and SEED CASE, all on the dry side.
- 12d. [Radish, for one] clues EDIBLE ROOT. Rather a dry 10-letter answer, no?
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “On Your Marx…” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Add an O to the ends of three familiar terms and suddenly you have new terms that refer to the Marx Brothers:
- 20-Across: “Military chic” (a cool term in and of itself) becomes MILITARY CHICO, a [Marxist in the Army?].
- 30-Across: Good ol’ “Oscar the Grouch” turns into OSCAR THE GROUCHO, the [Marxist on "Sesame Street"?]. Now that’s the silliest thing I ever hoid.
- 52-Across: The Grass Harp, a Truman Capote novel (I’ve never heard of) morphs into THE GRASS HARPO, a [Marxist novel about a meadow?]. Wouldn’t you need to change the strings in the grass harp all the time?
Cute idea! I got a lot of traction early on in the southwest, so I had THE GRASS in place fairly quickly. Seeing that I was supposed to be looking for something “Marxist,” I filled in the last five squares with IS RED. Because, you know, to a Marxist the grass would be red, not green. With that kind of mistake, you can see why I started plodding in the southeast. So I moved up and quickly got OSCAR. Okay, I know Oscar the Grouch, of course, but I was stuck wondering how we make him “red” to fit with the theme. OSCAR THE RED didn’t fit, and I was at a loss from there. It wasn’t until I finally got GROUCHO that everything made sense. Still didn’t stop me from trying POLE DANCER as the first answer to [One who does some bar hopping, say]. Even as I typed in POLE, I wondered whether Patrick would hear from people upset about seeing a POLE DANCER in their puzzle. Maybe that should have told me the answer was GO-GO DANCER instead.
There was lots to like in this lively grid: TICKER TAPE, EXIT SIGNS, SNAIL MAIL, MT. HOOD (this native Oregonian plunked it down in a heartbeat),a clue that splits an ION into two words (["Am ___?" (performer's query)] becomes the partial I ON), and the modern clue for LIKES, [Appreciates, on Facebook]. I also liked the lexi-licious [Locale for legions of legends], the clue for ATLAS. My favorite clue, though, was [Six-foot soldiers?] for ANTS.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I have no idea how to flip this photo on a Windows machine. When I emailed it to myself from my iPhone, it was right side up. Windows, what gives? [fixed! –p]
A little easier than I was expecting for a Stumper by Brad. I did have two mystery items:
- 22a. [Pre-Socratic philosopher], THALES of Miletus.
- 32d. [Session-starting student seatwork], DO NOW. What the…? My kid says that’s called “morning work.” Never seen this DO NOW term before. Plus, SEATED is in the grid at 8d, so ideally “seatwork” would’ve been left out of this clue.
Lots of trivia clues today. Here are 10:
- 16a. [Originally, the greatest extent of the Ottoman Empire], NEAR EAST. And then it expanded further?
- 18a. The GARDENIA is [Coffee kin]. Who knew?
- 20a. [Europe's largest port] is the Dutch ROTTERDAM. Got this off the R, not sure why.
- 30a. [One living near Mount Cleveland] is an ALEUTIAN. Got this off the LE, I think. Not sure why, as I’ve never heard of the mountain.
- The biggest! 55a and 56a give you the [Largest citrus] and [Largest terrier], POMELO and AIREDALE.
- 2d. Who knew? HONOLULU is [Nicole Kidman's birthplace].
- 7d. [Miss Universe 2011, e.g.] is an ANGOLAN. Who knew?
- 29d. [Panasonic acquisition of 2009] clues SANYO.
- 40d. [Word from the Arabic for "fortress"] clues CASBAH. Rock it.
The longer answers in this puzzle stack together nicely, with decent short crossings, but they’re not too thrilling. AS WELL AS SEMIRURAL BROMIDIC TINSELLY HASTENED? Meh. 3.75 stars.