David Quarfoot’s New York Times crossword
Three main observations:
- I got mired down in the [Sticking points?]/BRIARS corner. Maybe 30 squares, harder to unravel than the rest of the puzzle.
- The fill’s not as zippy as we’ve come to expect from DQ. The top 9-stack of DOHA QATAR, OBAMACARE, and GO BANANAS, plus “IS THAT ALL?” and MARKY MARK are all that sparkled. And I like the AGENT K/KLINGER pop-culture intersection.
- Seriously? A [Collegiate honor society of Bloomberg and Iacocca] that isn’t Phi Beta Kappa or that science honor society? Then I’ve never heard of it. This was an unpleasant game of “fit together the pieces that form three spelled-out Greek letters I’ve never seen in combination.” TAU BETA PI, my eye. That’s the route into that closed-off corner section? No, no. Do not like.
Neat etymology clue for TAPIOCA: [Food whose name comes from the Tupi language of South America]. I would have guessed the word’s roots came from Asia or Polynesia.
Also like the clue for the PINKY finger: [What may represent "I" in American Sign Language].
Meanwhile, in the debit column we have partial A TRAP, Latin/legalese (REA and RES), 1940s-’50s military crosswordese (CAEN, H-TEST, PT-BOAT, ENOLA), regular blah crosswordese (NENE, INRI, ARAL SEA, ORE CAR) plural ALOES ([Some are bitter] but I am not, no, no), super-dry SORT DATA, sports-term-I’ve-never-seen ONE-TIMER (hockey isn’t my thing, so I will let Jeffrey and Howard discuss the in-the-languagosity of this answer), and calculus abbreviation LIM.
Why ST. OLAV ([Leader given the posthumous title Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae]) with a V spelling rather than ST. OLAF crossing FESTS? Also, if I’m reading that Wikipedia write-up correctly, the whole “saint” thing was more posthumous than the Latin title, so the clue would seem to call for OLAFII or OLAVII rather than STOLAV or STOLAF, no?
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Caesar’s Movie Palace” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Hey, it’s fun with Roman numerals! I’ve gone on record here before confessing that I not only tolerate Roman numerals in my crosswords, I like them. What’s more, I like when the clue asks me to perform a mathematical operation to get the answer. So [X x XXX] is about the best clue I know for CCC.
It won’t surprise you to learn, then, that I liked this puzzle. Patrick Blindauer takes four movie titles that start with numbers and converts them to Roman numerals for insertion into the grid. He uses “Caesar’s Movie Palace” as a convenient way to clue each of the theme entries:
- 17-Across: [Caesar's favorite horror movie?] is not “27 Days Later” but XXVII DAYS LATER.
- 27-Across: “Eight Men Out” becomes VIII MEN OUT, [Caesar's favorite baseball movie?].
- 48-Across: [Caesar's favorite sci-fi movie?] is XII MONKEYS (“12 Monkeys”). Simians who play a lot of video games are WII MONKEYS.
- 63-Across: I always like it when the best entry comes last: [Caesar's favorite comedy?] is The XL YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (“The 40 Year-Old Virgin”).
So hey, this theme requires accommodating tons of Xs and Vs, and they’re not always the easiest in facilitating smooth fill. Patrick’s a pro’s pro, though, so not surprisingly nothing stands out as forced or awkward.
Look at that Crossword Hall of Fame in the northeast corner! Immanuel KANT crossing KEANU Reeves (that’s worth the price of admission right there, folks) crossing ENYA and ANITA from West Side Story. In the far northwest there’s TILDA Swinton crossing LEVI Strauss and ARI Shapiro from NPR. And between these two corners there’s a JOHN (of the loo variety) crossing JADA Pinkett Smith and Norwegian saint OLAV.
I once went to church, or should I say, it went to me? They showed me the apse, isn’t it quaint, Norwegian saint?
Favorite entry = HEY YOU, the [Cry for attention], with honorable mentions to CORKSCREW and FOX TV. Favorite clue = [Head of England?] for NEW (as in “New England”). I kept wondering how to spell “E” with three letters.
Peter Gordon’s The Week crossword for June 15, 2012 — Jared’s review
Print your copy of The Week crossword here.
If you didn’t read my review last week, especially if you’re not familiar with the puzzle in The Week, you might want to check it out.
This week’s current-event entries and allied fill:
- 17a. [ ____ International (new snack food company that will soon split from Kraft Foods)] – MONDELEZ. My concern: Who will be responsible for macaroni and cheese and will it still be simple enough to prepare that it will remain in my repetoire of three meals that I can make?
- 19a. [Ambush, snare, or trap (and the winning word at the 2012 National Spelling Bee] – GUETAPENS. There seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for the spelling bee within the crossword community. Jeffrey wrote this on Facebook: “What you are all thinking right now: Dan Feyer vs Tyler Hinman Vs Anne Erdmann deserves to be on TV. Nobody tells them what the words are and they still can spell them.”
- 24a/28a. [New Orleans daily that will soon publish just three print editions per week.] – TIMES PICAYUNE. Maybe it’s just a way to ease people away from the treeware version but this seems like a solution that is the worst of both worlds. I think there’s a reason no other newspaper publishes a print edition “sometimes”.
- 33a. [2012 Indianapolis 500 winner] – DARIO FRANCHITTI - All I know about car racing is that a guy named whose first name ends in “ario” usually wins.
- 41a. [Like a light that had been on since at least 1949 and that was recently uncovered during a Los Angeles restaurant renovation] - Noteworthy for breaking the longstanding and much pursued record for clue length for NEON.
- 50a. [Group of potheads that Barack Obama was a member of during high school, according to a new biography by David Maraniss] – CHOOMGANG. Nor does Obama try to pull the Clinton “But I didn’t inhale” garbage – quite the opposite in fact. According to Maraniss, Obama invented “Roof Hits”: “When they were chooming in a car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”
- 14d. [2012 Michelle Obama book] – AMERICAN GROWN. She is, of course, referring to the pot smoked by the Choom Gang.
A taste of the makeweight content:
- 14a. [Geometry figure] – AREA
- 32a. [Geom. point] – CTR
- 39a. [Geom. figure] – CIR
A preview of clues for next week: [Geometry fig.], [Geometry point], and [Geom. fig.]. Further, I’ve been told that there’s a nonzero chance that [Geometry point] and/or [Geom. pt.] will appear. I assume you’re as pumped as I am.
Lars Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really Doug P and Brad W)
Oof, tough puzzle this week. Only one answer that I had never heard of (43a: GEMMY, [Sparkling]–really?) but nearly every familiar word and name and phrase was given a clue that stymied me. Now, I should’ve gotten ST. CROIX because I honeymooned there but somehow I got to thinking Alexander Hamilton grew up in Bermuda.
Usually I hit great fill in quicker succession so it’s boom-boom-boom-boom, color me impressed. Here, the great fill was spaced out temporally so it’s more of a “look back and discover how much good stuff there is” puzzle. I WONDER, ST. CROIX, CALIFORNIA ROLL, BAYEUX TAPESTRY, UMPTEEN (is it bad that the T and N nearly had me convinced the answer must be SH*T-TON?), UNCLE VANYA, Monopoly’s DO NOT PASS GO, pretty TOURMALINE, and fictional ALLY MCBEAL. Plus there’s a smattering of X’s in the grid.
Mildly troubled by having the [Going __] RATE right next to DO NOT PASS GO, crossing [Goes out unintentionally]/NODS OFF, and across the way from GO TO SEA ([Join hands?], as in “all hands on deck”). This puzzle may have prostate trouble or diabetes.
I knew that Marriott hotels are owned by a Mormon (hence the Book of Mormon beside the Gideon Bible in the bedside drawer), but not that BYU’s business school was named after Marriott. [Offering at Brigham Young's Marriott] isn’t caffeine-free TEA or CHA in the hotel lobby, as I was flailing with, but an MBA.
I also don’t know what–ohhh, now I get it. 1d: [Kevin's second Oscar role] isn’t about Mr. Costner, who I think won a directing or Best Picture Oscar for Dances with Wolves but has not won an acting Oscar. Kevin Spacey, LESTER Burnham in American Beauty. That was a lead role; his other win, Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects, was a supporting role.
I thought there was a typo in 44d: [Resolution frequency], as the earth has a YEARLY revolution around the sun–but no, it’s New Year’s resolutions made each January.
Michael Wiesenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I had just listed a bunch of crossword-friendly short celebrity names in a Facebook conversation (where I mentioned the recent debut of a Scottish R&B singer named Emeli Sandé) when I opened up this puzzle. Boom!
- 16a. ITO, [Simpson judge]. Judge Lance I. and skater Midori I. fight it out with ["What was ___ do?"] in every puzzle with an ITO.
- 19a. SIG [Ruman of Marx Brothers films]. Wait, what? Who? This is not one of those short names kept alive in crosswords. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Sig Ruman. (Ruman Sig? No, Sig Ruman.) I wonder why the constructor didn’t go with SIS/ONES.
- 29a. RANDI, ["Conjuring" author James]. I love the Amazing Randi, magician and debunker of fraudulent claims of psychic powers. He’s the most famous Randi we have, and I’m fine with his continued appearance in crosswords.
- 36a. PINZA, ["South Pacific" Tony winner]. His first name, EZIO, is more commonly foisted on crossword solvers. See also: ENZO Ferrari, ENNIO Morricone, and the ELIOs Petri and Chacon.
- 48a. ELG, [Taina of "Les Girls"]. Oh, dear. This one is as terrible as SIG. The long answers Ms. ELG crosses are good, but they come at a price.
- 4d. UNA, [Actress Merkel]! She’s right there with INA Claire and UTA Hagen in my hippocampus. (I’m not saying they’re fat.)
So, those short names and some other ungainly little entries (AGIN, SSS, PTER), along with bottom-row REASSESSING, are the negatives. The positives include the following:
- 1a. I’M OUTTA HERE, ["See ya!"]. See? That’s how you want to launch a puzzle. Put something fun at 1-Across so the solver’s in a good mood from the get-go. If 1-Across is [Taina of "Les Girls"], a lot of solvers are just going to shake their heads and walk away.
- 15a. NANNY STATES, [Overprotective governments]. Much in the news this week thanks to New York’s Mayor Bloomberg and his anti-sugar/salt/transfat initiatives.
- 17a. THE AMERICAS, [Western Hemisphere group]. Thought it would be some organization name, but it’s the very much in-the-language THE AMERICAS.
- 38a. SOUTH SEA, [What Balboa called the Pacific]. Interesting. Unfortunate that both SOUTH and Pacific are in the clue immediately above, but how else are you gonna clue PINZA? (Yes, I know, I know: [He played Emile opposite Martin's Nellie], [1950 Tony winner Ezio], etc.)
- 49a. TAMIL TIGERS, [Longtime separatist Sri Lankan group]. What U.S. politics needs is more groups named after animals. Just having the donkey and elephant mascots isn’t enough.
- 14d. MOONSTONES, [Opalescent gems]. Loved moonstones when I was a kid.
- 25d. GRAB SOME Z’S, [Snooze]. Went with GRAB A FEW Z’S at first. Terrific entry! Nice and slangy, like 1a.
Can someone explain why 50d: [Common commuting letters] is MTA? I know there’s an MTA in New York City, but I’m not aware of MTA being used for transit agencies anywhere else. CTA, BART, MARTA—those are the other rail acronyms and abbreviations I know. Boston, D.C., L.A., they don’t have MTAs.
Four stars for the good stuff, two stars for the bad—three stars overall.