I didn’t go to the Crosswords LA tournament last Saturday and I didn’t have time join the ranks of test solvers, but I hear wonderful things about the puzzles that were commissioned for the event. Good news! They’re for sale now, five bucks cheap, in both .puz and .pdf form. Six tournament puzzles (by Donna Levin, Aimee Lucido & Zoe Wheeler, Todd McClary, Trip Payne, Brendan Emmett Quigley, and Byron Walden) plus two bonus crosswords (Andrea Carla Michaels, Doug Peterson) and a team game (John Schiff) can be your for that low, low price and the money goes to charity (Reading to Kids). To order the puzzles, visit alexboisvert.com/xwla/.
Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
I liked the look of the grid and the theme’s neat—three 7-letter words that are spelled out in songs are spaced out in rows 5, 8, and 11. The only one I’d recognize is Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” as I don’t listen to country music and don’t know Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” song or Travis Tritt’s “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” one. PuzzleGirl’s the crossword-solvin’ country-lovin’ one, not me.
Now, packing more than 30 7- and 8- letter answers into a grid brings certain challenges, and I cannot affirm that the challenge was met here. While there are plenty of solid entries (USED CAR, TALIBAN, “WRITE ME,” lovely if now dated NEW MATH, “I INSIST,” EGO-SURFS, SIR DUKE, and LION CUB are the highlights), regrettably there are also … regrettable entries:
The verb dupe of GONE APE and GO PRO. The plural propers ARTUROS and O’TOOLES and ITOS. The is-this-a-lexical-chunk ONE BASE. The Connecticut town MERIDEN. Te DEUM, meh. Partial A POT and overlong partial ST. ELMO’S. Crosswordese SETTS. The enpair ENTWIST and ENLACES. And the most ungainly “word” in the puzzle, 50d: IASI, [Former capital of Romania]. Is this about money or a capital city? In my three-plus decades of solving crosswords, I don’t recall seeing this one before. Googling … capital city of Romania from 1916-1918, while Bucharest was occupied. Wikipedia quotes historian Nicolae Iorga as saying, “There should be no Romanian who does not know of it.” I bet Iorga would pardon those Americans who do not know Iași. And maybe the Romanians shouldn’t be so proud of it (horrible pogrom). Now I know a bit about IASI but I sure hope never to see it again in a crossword.
Steve Salitan’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Don’t touch that dial! It’s time for the LA Times puzzle.
- 17a. [Gene Rayburn-hosted program with a six-celebrity panel] - MATCH GAME
- 35a. [Sitcom that received 17 Emmy nominations in 2011] – MODERN FAMILY
- 41a. [2000s high school drama] - BOSTON PUBLIC
- 60a. [Jon Stewart vehicle, with "The"] – DAILY SHOW
- 48d. [Den, often, and in way, what 17-, 35-, 41- and 60-Across end in] – TV ROOM
It took me a while to fully understand the theme. The TV bit refers to the fact that each theme entry is television show. In addition, ROOM can follow the last word of each theme entry. A public room is a lounge that’s open to everyone, like in a hotel or on a ship; I had to look that up. It’s a large part of why the theme confused me. Oh, well.
Two ? clues start off this puzzle, giving you a little doubt in how to begin. Admittedly, DEBT is pretty obvious for [Result of a dough shortage?], but DAMSEL is the cute answer for [Distressed gal]. Further, the [End of a court game] is ALAI – as in jai alai – I thought we were squeezing MATCH POINT into four letters.
I’m not convinced that OLD ENEMY is a real phrase. NO HAIR is better, if only for the thought of Telly Savalas. Of course, SLUGGO from the comics is as good as bald, but he’s no Kojak.
When SITKA, Alaska was under Russian rule, it was called New Archangel. Well, it was called something in Russian, but you get the idea. Fortunately this made more sense than SYTKA, and that made [Lancelot's unrequited love] ELAINE and not ELAYNE. Whew – crisis averted.
I can get behind HAN SOLO and MOTORBOAT in a puzzle, so all in all, this puzzle’s Must See TV.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Capital Punishment” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The Co-Queen of Mondays, Lynn Lempel, pops up on a Thursday with a simple but effective anagram theme playing with the names of world capitals:
- 17-Across: The [Piece of South American game equipment?] is QUITO QUOIT, Quito being the capital of Ecuador and “quoit” being an anagram of Quito. So what’s a quoit? According to my dictionary, it’s a “ring used in a game of quoits.” Um, thanks. So what’s quoits? (Don’t tell me–a game in which you use a quoit?) The same dictionary says it’s a “game in which flat rings of iron or rope are pitched at a stake, with points awarded for encircling it.” I get it–horseshoes with rings.
- 27-Across: The [Pacific island critter?] is a MANILA (of the Philippines) ANIMAL.
- 48-Across: The [Men like Macbeth sent to the Mediterranean?] are ATHENS (Greece) THANES. Interesting cross-pollination of Europeans.
- 63-Across: A [Contemptible Asian?] is a SEOUL LOUSE. My favorite part of this is “contemptible.” An adjective to which I can aspire!
This has a more Scrabbly feel than the typical Lempel grid, what with a couple of Q’s in one theme entry and a couple of X’s in opposite corners. I fell into quite a few traps, like SNEERS for [Shows contempt] instead of SNORTS (how contemptible!), RATED R instead of R-RATED, ASS instead of OAF for the [Blockhead], and so forth. All of these errors took a toll on my solving time. But I do feel a little smarter for learning that SUET is the [Hard fat used in bird seed].
Favorite entry: OSMOSIS, but that came to me gradually. Favorite clue: [A fair to remember] for EXPO, with an honorable mention to [Outing to watch the big game?] for SAFARI.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “The Evolution of President Obama” – PuzzleGirl’s review
I don’t always do all the puzzles right away when they come out and I often have a couple BEQ’s on the old clipboard just waiting to be solved. But I volunteered to blog this one today so I got to it right away and I’m glad I did. What we have here is an excellent, hilarious puzzle. As I’m sure you know, President Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage has been “evolving” for some time. Last week, it finally evolved to the point where he believes same-sex couples should have the right to marry. (Yay! if you believe in civil rights for everyone.) (Boo! if you’re scared of the gay.) And I can’t think of a better way to commemorate that historic announcement than creating a puzzle where theme answers are anagrams of PRESIDENT OBAMA and one of the entries is DREAMBOAT PENIS. Everybody else can just give it up — Brendan wins the internet today.
Other theme answers are PIRATE ABDOMENS, SPIDERMAN TAE-BO, and SO IN A BAD TEMPER. Those are good — funny even. But come on. DREAMBOAT PENIS! There’s also some other good stuff in here, including answers (CHEM LAB, UNIX) and clues (68A: Some Matt Gaffney Crossword Contest prizes, 39A: Facebook stalker), and some clue-answer pairs (35A: Derring-do (BALLS)). I even had to chuckle at [1A: Classic Massachusetts vacation spot, with "the"]. I have jokingly called Cape Cod “The Cod” for so long that I actually hesitated when I saw the answer was four letters instead of three.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 51″
Liked the puzzle but didn’t love it, so I’ll call it four stars. Short on time this morning, so I’m going short here. Highlights: APOCALYPTO, GIUSEPPE VERDI, MEAN JOE GREENE, MACKINAC County and Island (final C pronounced as a W), TAPIR (word to the wise: don’t stand within 6 feet of a tapir’s back end if there’s no glass between you, and also do not be alarmed if a male’s crazy-shaped penis is on display), PED XING, Rebecca ROMIJN‘s Dutch spelling, Eric Berlin’s Winston BREEN (mysteries for kids in the 8-12 age range), and DOG KENNEL.
Blah filler: TSETSES (27a. [Glossinas]??), EDER, UNOILED, ESO BESO (which I’ve seen in three or four puzzles this week! ¡No mas!), SSTS.
What’s with this CUT NO ICE at 37d? [Fail to impress]? This isn’t ringing a bell. Do you use the phrase? Have you heard people use it?
Time’s up. Back later for the Tausig.