Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
I don’t usually end a puzzle in 1-Across, but I did this time. Nice to start/end the puzzle on a high/obscene note with the ONE-FINGER SALUTE. I like to use my pinky for that, personally. It’s fancier that way. (Although I don’t really recognize the phrase as a thing I’ve heard before, ’tis true.)
16a: CALIFORNIA GIRLS is a great answer, though the clue told me nothing. (I’m terrible at lyrics. How many of you also had no idea the song mentioned any other groups considered inferior to California women ([Hawaiian island dolls' superiors, in song])? This is Beach Boys, right? Katy Perry spells it “Gurls”?
I like 17a: A FIGHTING CHANCE. The upper triple stack strikes me as better than the bottom one. 61a: EMOTIONAL OUTLET feels sort of off to me; not sure if this is that much of a “thing.” I love the MOMENT OF INERTIA (66a) in physics because the phrase can be applied to any torpor you may be experiencing. “You go on without me—I’m having a moment of inertia.” 67a: SPARE THE DETAILS is missing its real object, the “me” who wants you to spare me the details. Yes? No? Discuss.
Some would call SAM ELLIOTT “MY DARLING,” but the burly mustache thing just doesn’t work for me.
Likes: TACO SALAD (except I usually don’t like taco salad), ATE IT, Georg SOLTI and Buck O’NEIL (an obvious pairing), and OMA! I don’t have a [German granny], but I did take German and Oma and Opa (grandpa) are German I material, super easy. It’s hogwash that we get Spanish TIO and TIA (uncle and aunt) all the dang time but almost never get the German grandparents.
Dislikes: Well, now that I look at all the stuff between the triple stacks, plus some of the crossings … I see plenty I’m underwhelmed by. An ELISA Donovan I don’t recall from Clueless despite loving the movie. Partial IF HE and could-be-clued-as-partials NOTA, NOT AS, DO I, IS ON. Crosswordese AGHAS, LIANAS, -ESE, COATI, TECS. Foreign word crossing of Italian SEI and French REINE. Insane foreign cluing of 38a: TEL, [__ quel (as is, in Arles)]. Say what? I took a year of French in college and this looks entirely unfamiliar. Not-a-thing TIE A TIE. Roman MII (aww, no Wii avatar Mii here?) Middle name OLAV. LOA with an unfamiliar Hawaiian clue, ["Aloha nui __"]. Talisa SOTO is a gimme for me, but if you weren’t going to Bond movies or reading popular magazines when License to Kill came out, you’re excused from ever having heard of her.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Broken Eggs” – Sam Donaldson’s review
When you see Patrick Blindauer’s byline, you know you’re in for something unexpected and creative. Patrick constructed the hard puzzle at this year’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Like most in the room, I didn’t completely solve it before time expired. Heck, I never figured out the theme. That sometimes happens to me with Patrick’s puzzles. I can usually solve them completely and yet miss a subtle layer or two that turns a good puzzle into a “wow” puzzle.
This time, I think I see the whole gimmick. In fact, I was proud of myself for figuring it out before getting to the hint in 65-Down that OVA are [Egg cells (which are broken three times in this puzzle)]. That’s because the O-V-A letter sequence is “broken” by a black square, meaning that the theme answers occupy two entries instead of the usual one:
- 20/21-Across: [A certain Canadian] is a NOV / A SCOTIAN.
- 39/41-Across: [Like some conditioning] clues CARDIOV / ASCULAR.
- 56/58-Across: The [Goal of many pharmaceutical companies] is FDA APPRO / VAL.
Fun theme! Now take a moment to admire the beauty of this construction. The first and last theme entries are symmetrically placed, as one expects. But that means Patrick had to find terms with the O-V-A sequence in precise locations so that the black squares could be symmetrically paired too. That’s just awesome.
Among the highlights in the fill: NO MAYO, I’M COOL, SALVO, MEANIE, MAHALO, and AFRICA. I didn’t know MENOTTI, the ["Amahl and the Night Visitors" composer] but I feel like I have seen AMAHL in crosswords before. That name sounds to me like a cigarette brand. Call the AD MEN, the [Campaign fellows]!
Today’s favorite entry goes with today’s favorite clue: [Balance, for one] for ENERGY BAR.
Peter Gordon’s The Week crossword for July 6, 2012—Jared’s review
If I knew one thing this week it’s that Nora Ephron was guaranteed to show up in this puzzle. That tells you how this week has gone for me. (Because you don’t do the puzzle, let me be explicit – I was wrong.)
We do have a recent death memorialized in the puzzle, LEROY NEIMAN, but it’s someone I’ve never heard of; [He was known for his paintings of sports figures in motion]. If your thing is writing full names into crossword grids then you missed out if you didn’t partake in this one. There’s also JOHN BRYSON, [Commerce secretary who recently resigned] and ANN CURRY, [Today co-host reportedly on way out] and NIK WALLENDA, [Acrobat who recently walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope].
Did you also think the Rodney King quote was “Can’t we all just get along?” According to Peter, and I assume he’s right, it was CAN WE ALL GET ALONG.
This week’s winner for “common entry artificially gussied up with a hyper-current clue per the mandate of constructing a crossword puzzle for The Week” is CEO, [Jamie Dimon's title at JPMorgan Chase]. See also: NBA, [Org. whose 2012 champs are the Miami Heat] and) END, [Seeking a Friend for the ___ of the World (2012 Steve Carell film)].
Other Entries With No Unifying Characteristic Other Than That I Have Something To Say About Them:
- [Sandusky Lake], ERIE. I’m torn on whether this clue was chosen as the one among hundreds due to a very different Sandusky’s appearance in the news or if it’s just a coincidence/oversight.
- [Travelers without reservations] is just STANDBYS. I was let down by the answer not being something clever.
- If a beer is [More bigheaded?] it’s FOAMIER. A stretch, but fortunately these things don’t have to stand up in court.
- [Red state], IRE. Cute. There’s precious few clues like this in The Week. I’m surprised it didn’t have a question mark.
- [Direction opposite ESE]. As soon as I come across this and wrote in the answer, I made a mental note that I’d mention in this write-up how it’s sometimes nice to have these “directional” clues as gimmes rather than as the direction from one obscure city to another. Yet you know what I accidentally wrote in the grid? WNE. If you’re below a certain threshold of idiocy like I am, no clue is too easy.
- ["____ alors!] ZUT. Huh?? Maybe I just don’t do enough crosswords but I swear I’ve never come across this before and it means absolutely nothing to me.
- [Dog bane?] clues FLEAS. Why does this have a question mark?
- [Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey recently threw two in back-to-back starts], ONEHITTERS, is the obligatory Peter Gordon baseball reference. This clue took me a second to parse – at first I just read it as a statement of fact.
- [Flower in the olive family], LILAC. This confirms how little I know about vegetation. But you know what? I probably don’t know that much less than you. I don’t buy that you knew that flowers and martini garnish were this closely linked either. Unless you’re Joon Pahk or Neville Fogarty. They pretty much know eveything.
- [Eschew the fat?], DIET. Do you see what Peter’s done here? See, “chew the fat” is a so-called in-the-language phrase. He’s altered it a bit to mean something completely different but still evoke the original expression. This is something that’s often done to produce theme answers in a themed crossword puzzle, though you’d need several (more, on a Sunday) in-the-language phrases that you can alter in a hopefully systematic fashion to create new, ideally funny/entertaining or at least mildly whimisical, phrases. That’s not what happened here though, because (a) The altered expression occcurs in the clue, not the answer, and (b) It is not part of a family of similarly altered expressions.
John Farmer’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Will be quick because Comcast is supposed to come shortly and will be dislodging me from this here internet.
Tough puzzle for me, surprisingly difficult for an LA Times crossword. For you too?
- 15a. [Musical flourish], GRACE NOTE. Lovely phrase, but I never realized it was also a musical thing.
- 18a. ["Simply a patient wolf": Lana Turner], GENTLEMAN. Interesting clue. I’m going to predict that this clue/answer was one of the seeds for this puzzle.
- 52a. [What excessive volume might do, facetiously], WAKE THE DEAD. Fun entry, especially when partnered with 11d’s ZOMBIE.
- 59a. [1995 film based on an Elmore Leonard novel], GET SHORTY.
- 1a. ["__ & Son": "The Bullwinkle Show" feature involving morality tales], AESOP. Ridiculously out-of-the-way route to clue AESOP, if you ask me.
- 19a. [Ones whose business is going down?], SCUBA DIVERS. Had the DIVERS part but the “business” in the clue threw me off. Are most scuba divers recreational divers or professional ones?
- 38a. [Setting for some History Channel programs], WARTIME. I figured it would be something like PAWNSHOPS. Have you seen the History Channel’s lineup of reality programming? Pawn Stars. Swamp People. Ice Road Truckers. Where’s the history? Where’s the war?
- 4d. [Prelude to a historic turning point], ONE B.C. Not at all an obvious clue.
- 9d. [Some nail applications], GELS. I include this here because I bet a lot of folks will be scratching their heads at this one, but I’ve done the gels myself. More expensive, yes, but the gel polish manicure lasts for weeks without chipping.
- 11d. [Debunked claims that don't go away], ZOMBIE LIES. Never seen this phrase before. Zombie rules, yes. Examples of zombie rules in grammar: You must never split an infinitive. You must never end a sentence with a preposition.
- 13d. [2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Hamlin], DENNY. Never heard of him. Does that mean he peaked in his rookie year?
- 26d. ["You Learn" singer], MORISSETTE. I know Alanis but not this song.
- 28d. [Game named for a king], FARO. Pharaoh? Never excited to see FARO in a crossword. Have any of you ever played it? It’s a card game, right?
- 53d. [__ blue: color named for a school], ETON. I bet fewer than 1 in 100 Americans has ever heard of Eton blue. I am a 99%er here.
Lowlights: IPANA, TAMI, OSSA, UTE (I think 99% of Americans have not encountered this as a word meaning an [All-around vehicle, briefly]), plural IZODS, one-two Euro punch of OPELS and SAS, SABU the ["Black Narcissus" actor], FARO. And NO TAKERS is all right but its awkward clue, [Fate of a bad offer], suggests that NO TAKERS is the sort of phrase that is hard to clue.
Not to mention the entire 1-Across corner. Tough clue for AESOP, obscure old IPANA, and tough clue for LIBEL ([Printing error?] feels a little cheap-trickish to me) crossing AILS with a weird clue ([Bugs]), fairly obscure SABU, tough clue for ONE BC, and vague clue for fairly obscure PALAU (could be Tonga, Nauru, or Samoa). Some of those tough clues needed to be eased up, although if you know neither SABU nor IPANA, you’re going to have a blank square calling for a random vowel no matter how easy the clues are (barring an “[anagram of A BUS]” clue).
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (really by “Stan again”)
Lots of good longer fill in this 72-worder:
- 18a. [City named for a Paduan priest], SAN ANTONIO. Didn’t know that. Interesting way to clue the city.
- 21a. [Hotel purchases], ICE BUCKETS. I like the phrase, but who buys hotel ice buckets? Is this referring to things a hotel buys, rather than things we buy at hotels?
- 41a. [Documentary on Don Rickles], MR. WARMTH.
- 48a. [Former world's tallest building], SEARS TOWER. Currently called Willis Tower by sticklers; shorter than the Burj Khalifa, Petronas Towers, and perhaps others.
- 54a. [Caribou Lou's cousin], PINA COLADA. Great entry, but I had no idea what the clue was about.
- 3d. [''Time'' called him ''Bard of the Litigious Age''], SCOTT TUROW.
- 4d. [Hawaii honoree in National Statuary Hall], KAMEHAMEHA.
- 8d. [Distressed], IN A BAD WAY.
- 28d. [Standard Oil descendant], EXXONMOBIL.
- 14a. [Its Web site has a Swim, Sports & Play page], YMCA.
- 40a. [Big name in the stock market] KNORR. If you like making your soup stock from a powdered mix, you should probably look into recipes for making it from scratch.
- 43a. [Element of change], COIN.
- 45a. [Land on the Bay of Bengal], MYANMAR. Had me perplexed. Didn’t realize that so much of Southeast Asia is on the Indian Ocean. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.
- 1d. [Prefix like E-], CYBER. E-tail and cybersex, but never cybertail or e-sex.
- 2d. [Opposite of ''odio''], AMORE. Italian for hate and love.
- 40d. [Travel franchise with a tepee logo], KOA. Although who goes kamping in a tepee?
- 45d. [George Cross, for one], MEDAL. “Who is George Cross?” you may be asking. The highest civil decoration in the U.K., Wikipedia tells me.
Lowlights: RUHR is blah and a gazillion people who aren’t rappers wear DO-RAGs, but overall this fill is super-smooth.