Announcement! Teen constructor Erik Agard has a website where you can download 14 of his crosswords. Anoa Place … check it out.
Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword, “Make the Change”
“Make the Change”? Yes, make “the” change so that it’s “de” at the beginning of a word, okay? Sometimes this will force you to spell the word after “the”/”de” differently. And then reclue accordingly:
- 22a. [So happy you can't see straight?], BLINDED BY DELIGHT. “Blinded by the Light.” I have never heard Springsteen’s original, just the Manfred Mann Band cover that was a hit in the mid-’70s.
- 34a. [Argument about a fork-tailed bird?], SWALLOW DEBATE. “Swallow the bait.” aka “take the bait,” only one of the first five themers to have a spelling change so it was feeling like a blight on the theme until 110a and 122a came along.
- 50a. [Circle above the airport?], PUT OFF DESCENT. “Put off the scent,” as in make them lose your trail.
- 70a. [Making one's way down the corporate ladder?], GOING THROUGH DEMOTIONS. Cruciverbally, merely “going through the motions” doesn’t get you a solid 21 across the middle.
- 88a. [Breed hatred in?], TEACH TO DETEST. “Teaching to the test” means building a curriculum around what’s going to be on standardized tests. Bleah.
- 110a. [Woman who's the very best at saying no?], QUEEN OF DENIAL. “Queen of the Nile,” Cleopatra. This one has probably been floating around in the hive mind, right? Right up there with “de Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
- 122a. [Really enjoy giving specifics?], LIVE TO TELL DETAIL. “Live to tell the tale” despite the risk of dying during the action.
Solid theme, no clunkers, modest amusement level.
Favorite fill: Ice skate TOE PICK (not to be confused with the picking of toes), OVERPAID pro athletes, “GERONIMOooo!,” INIMICAL, I.T. GUY, APP STORE, JOE TORRE, MOHAWK, and UGGS. I tried on some Uggs flats today, and they hurt my feet. My feet are very particular when it comes to shoes.
Groanworthy fill: Well, there’s EZIO Pinza, but that’s the closest we got to the Scowl-o-Meter stirring to action. And ST. LO. That’s really quite good for a Sunday-sized puzzle.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “Quite Fitting”
A synonym for “quite” fits into each theme answer, hence the title, “Quite Fitting.” That synonym is VERY, and while I am usually underwhelmed by themes that hinge on having a certain string of letters in each theme answer, I enjoyed solving this one. Could be because I was zipping through the puzzle, and there can be a certain fun in that. Could be because the letter V showed up more than usual, and it was pleasing to me for some reason. There certainly are some out-there answers along with some crosswordese, but somehow that wasn’t bugging me. Oh! Is it the bottle of hard cider I’m sipping? It may be. Ha! Didn’t slow me down, did it?
- 22a. [Letting your dad shoot an apple off your head, for example], ACT OF BRAVERY.
- 24a. [Stealing], THIEVERY.
- 31a. [Retired space shuttle], DISCOVERY. This V crosses BIV, as in Bell Biv Devoe or [Spectrum mnemonic, ROY G. ___]. Is it the cider? Because I liked that BIV.
- 35a. [On the abolitionists' side], ANTI-SLAVERY.
- 51a. [Shipping option], OVERNIGHT DELIVERY.
- 69a. [Rascal's behavior] KNAVERY.
- 72a. ["Preposterous!" (or an alternate title for this crossword)], THE VERY IDEA!
- 76a. [Chilled to the bone], SHIVERY.
- 87a. [What the last-minute changes did, perhaps], MADE EVERYONE CRAZY.
- 104a. [Insect with letter-shaped wing markings (3 words)], SILVER Y MOTH. That’s silver Y moth, not silvery.
- 108a. [Puzzlesmith and author noted for writing the rebuses on TV's "Classic Concentration"], STEVE RYAN. Never heard of him, but Merl used to be a game show writer too, didn’t he?
- 116a. [Warner Bros. animator who was the first to have Bugs Bunny say, "What's up, doc?"], TEX AVERY. I like the elaboration in the clue. More interesting than merely calling him the Bugs Bunny animator.
- 120a. [Q: "Psst ... what's the answer to this clue?" A: "___"], NEVER YOU MIND.
- 38d. [Female thief, in Spanish (anagram of ARNOLD A.)], LADRONA.
- 50d. [Red cat of South America (anagram of 112 Across)], EYRA. (112a is mirthful Martha RAYE.)
Favorite clue: 16d. [Palindromic rescuer], REVIVER. I had a typo, TAIL oND, that was making this one look impossible. ROVIV**? What??
Lots of names bring down the rating here. We’ve got ARCARO crossing ALETA crossing TILDA crossing DR. DRE just in the upper right corner alone. AMANDA MEESE CIRCE ELIA CARR OATES EGAN TERES KEVIN MAO EVA ELYSE ESAU SEGOVIA and EMMA could trouble some.
Most troublesome non-name chunk: Where 82d: BESOM, [Broom made of twigs], sits beside 88d: DIDY, [Nursery nappy], both crossing 96a: EDOM, [93 Across's nation], 93a being ESAU.
3.25 stars. I liked plowing through the theme and the grid, but I can’t love all the fill.
Patrick Berry’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 118″ – Doug’s review
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. Sweet Berry today! Just look at all that white space in the middle of the grid. A wide-open 66-worder, and the worst entry I can find is HUMANEST. There are a couple of lesser-known names (ROEG & PENA), but they’re easily gettable from crossers. Another great puzzle from Patrick Berry? TELL ME ABOUT IT (32a).
- 15d. [Alma mater of the builder of the first Ferris wheel] - RENSSELAER. One thing I learned from this puzzle is that I had no idea how to spell Rensselaer. Seriously, it still looks completely wrong to me. Yikes. Anyway, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., designed the first Ferris wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. And he graduated from RPI exactly 125 years before Tyler Hinman.
- 32d. [Woman led astray, in Italian] - TRAVIATA. Interesting. I’ve heard of “La Traviata” of course, but didn’t know the translation. I’m sure some of our erudite commenters can fill in the details.
- 25a. [Yankees bench coach Tony] - PEÑA. OK, I feel kind of dumb after those first two bullets. I do know some stuff. So yeah, I knew this one.
- 46a. [Self image?] - TATTOO. Awsome clue.
- 13d. [It’s good to get it out your system] - SPYWARE. Clue of the Day.
- 7d. [Someone with a lot to show?] - REAL ESTATE AGENT. This one didn’t fool me for a second. I’ve seen lots of “lot(s)” clues related to real estate.
- 8d. [Search for arms with hands] - FRISK. Clue of the Day, Part Deux.
Other goodies: WE AIM TO PLEASE, WEED EATER, CHOCTAW. Neville will be filling in for me next weekend, so I’ll see you sometime. Peterson out.
David Steinberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Got Milk?” – Jeffrey’s review
If you weren’t expecting such a crazy theme from a puzzle in the LA Times, shame on you. There’s a fun curve ball like this every now and then. It makes the weird ones (like this puzzle) stand out more.
Neville wrote the preceding paragraph on Thursday. Looks like every now and then is becoming every now and now.
After Monday’s debate over whether to mention the age of the 98-year-old constructor, we got the latest memo from THE FIEND, reminding us that all puzzles are equal, and we should not mention ages. So you will not learn here that today’s constructor is 15.
(THE FIEND is tough. I heard a rumor she is heading to Atlanta to ensure Sam keeps blogging even on his wedding day)
- 18A. [One dealing with spirits] – LIQUOR STORE OWNER
- 29A. [Tony Award won four times by Tommy Tune] – BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
- 90A. [1983 World Series champs] – BALTIMORE ORIOLES
- 107A. [Spanish saint who wrote the encyclopedic "Etymologiae"] – ISIDORE OF SEVILLE
- 46D. [Removed by hand, in a way] – TORE OUT
- 48D. [Put up points against] – SCORE ON
Oh by the way, the six OREOs are isolated with black squares above and below, so they each look like an OREO. Clearly the work of a seasoned constructor. You would never see that from a teenager.
The fill still has room for some good stuf like:
- 5A. [Furry '80s fad items] – CHIA PETS
- 20A. ["That dress is perfect!"] – IT’S SO YOU
- 24A. [Outing that includes birding] – NATURE WALK
- 38A. [Cold War enemy, informally] – RED RUSSIA
- 76A. [Survey an enemy position] – RECONNOITER
- 34D. [Experiences] – SILENT ALARM
- 44D. [Word with analysis or significance] – STATISTICAL
But we do have to endure:
- 9D. [Cutesy-__] – POO
- 10D. [Mock tail?] – ERY
- 16D. ["Star __"] – TREK ?? What is that? Never heard of it. Was it like Star Search?
- 45D. [Italian lover's coo] – TI AMO
13D. [Texter's hedge] – FWIW, 15? 69D. ["I don't believe it"] – CAN’T BE!
By the way, the OREO is 100 years old. I will shortly turn exactly one-half that. But we never talk about age around here. Now, get off of my lawn!
Note – Here is an example of the in-depth field research that goes on here at Fiend HQ:
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Pick the summary that works for you:
The glass-half-full review = Crosswords are great for learning new things, and boy did I learn a lot from this one!
The glass-half-empty review = One looking for a grid filled with uninteresting esoterica would do well to study today’s puzzle.
Yes, there was much here that was new to me, including (but not necessarily limited to the following):
- [Internet components, per Senator Ted Stevens], are TUBES.
- A MAN APART is a [2003 Vin Diesel movie].
- [Cotton threads] are LISLES.
- Somehow, LATENT is a [Dusting find].
- And somehow to be [In a tough spot] is to be TREED.
- ALONE IN THE DARK is a [Video game based on H. P. Lovecraft’s works].
- The [“Ice Age” squirrel] is named SCRAT, and not FRIEND OF THE MAMMOTH VOICED BY RAY ROMANO. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to know only certain bits about a film.
- There’s a [Choreographer (named) Michael] KIDD. Wonder if he’s related to the new New York Knick Jason Kidd?
- There’s also a [#1 Presley hit] called DON’T.
- SEALERIES are [Arctic habitats]. Okay, look: if this was really awesome crossword fill, we’d see it All. The. Time. what with all those common letters.
- [King Kong’s love in the 1976 film] was DWAN. The only Dwan I know is a professional poker player, but I suppose that may say more about me than about this puzzle.
- ALLELE is a [Certain gene].
- Your everyday [(herb mixture)] is a Bouquet GARNI.
Okay, I’m really now for the vocabulary test! For those counting, that’s 13 of the 70 answers for which I hadn’t the foggiest, even with lots of help from crossings. When almost 20% of the answers might as well be foreign words, one can’t expect a solver to gush about a puzzle. I will say that I liked SHAKE BEFORE USE, KITTY CORNER, and UNCLUTTERED quite a bit. And [Like blue prints] is a terrific clue for RACY. My favorite was [Secret of Glen Bell’s success] for TACO, but that’s only because I happened to know that Glen Bell was the founder of Taco Bell, my Mecca for fast food.
I think I set a “personal best,” so to speak, for incorrect guesses to a single clue. For [Treats unfairly] I had ABUSES, CHEATS, SHIRKS, SHORTS and, thanks to a typo, my favorite of the list: SHARTS. Of course the answer was SHAFTS, a complicated word that no one understands (you damn right).