Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
This 70-worder is terrific, isn’t it? The worst things in the grid are partial OR ME, the ALERO, and EMAG. The other 67 answers range from solid to great. I like all four of the 8- or 9-stacks. CREEPSHOW, HEDGE MAZE, ALMODOVAR? Beautiful, with smooth crossings. FESTIVUS between two solid words. The CAPYBARA, our [Largest living rodent]; if there used to be larger rodents, is anyone sad that they went extinct? NEFERTITI‘s TRAUMATIC HORSE RACE, also good. Reggae hit ONE LOVE, a WEREWOLF, two King Lear characters (EDMUND, REGAN), cute XOXO, Scrabbly answers all around, slangy NO DICE, END RUN.
And the clues! I like the cluing here, angling towards contemporary slanginess. Seven highlights:
- 52a. [Apiphobe's bane], BEES. The prefix is helpful, and the clue takes a fresh tack.
- 56a. [Save one's breath, maybe?], NOD. Are you shaking your head? Or clapping?
- 1d. [Political challenger's promise], CHANGE. When you run against the incumbent who ran on a platform of change, what do you promise?
- 6d. [Really hot], SMOKING. Slangily, not thermally. See also 33d: [Stylish, in slang], FLY.
- 9d. [One on a lunar calendar?], WEREWOLF. High on the YIN (47a. [Moon in Chinese]).
- 21d. [Gender-ambiguous name], DANA. Constructor Dana Motley—man or woman?
- 36d. [Primitive], STONE-AGE. We’re going adjective here, not the noun phrase.
Okay, how about 42a: [Figure of speech?], PHONEME? It’s one word rather than “PHONE ME.” I think. Yes? No?
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I liked this puzzle okay but I didn’t love it. I can’t even find an angle for this review. On the plus side, no truly grievous fill. On the down side, nothing that excited me, either. I like the SNOW SQUALL (who doesn’t love a good [Whiteout cause]?) and I like the PSEUDONYM clue (32d. [Ellis Bell, to Emily Brontë]) because I recently saw the Kate Beaton cartoon “Dude Watchin’ With the Brontës” and loved it. But then you have the flat affect of LANATE/[Woolly] crossing OARLESS/[Like a motorboat], and the is-that-really-a-name MUMY (63a. ["Lost in Space" child actor Billy]), and a lot of stuff that strikes me as more or less just there. I’m feeling mehness.
- 21a. [Good location for a fault finder?], WEST COAST. Earthquake!
- 41a. [Dances in the end zone, maybe], GLOATS. Several World Cup quadrennials ago, I read a description of a South American player’s goal-celebrating gloat as a “salacious hip-wiggling dance.” Has any better phrase ever been coined? It’s useful in so many settings, I tell you.
- 9d. [Party whose name means "renaissance" in Arabic], BA’ATH. I wish they had a Bubble subdivision.
- 54d. [Where to get a date], PALM. Palm tree, not hairy palm.
Three stars. Maybe 2.95.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fast Food” – Sam Donaldson’s review
In the spirit of this puzzle’s theme, let’s keep it brief. The grid features four two-word food items that start with a word synonymous with “fast:”
- 20-Across: INSTANT RAMEN is a [Noodle soup option]. Does anyone make “non-instant” ramen anymore?
- 35-Across: SHORT RIBS refers to the [Beef cut that contains a series of bones]. If you have another cut with a series of bones, you might well have a bad butcher.
- 41-Across: QUICK OATS are some [Microwave pooridge ingredients]. I believe the only other ingredients are sugar, water, and, depending on where you got them, various chemical additions.
- 54-Across: HASTY PUDDING isn’t just a Harvard revue; it’s also a fancy name for the decidedly unfancy [Cornmeal mush].
We could go on AD INFINITUM about all the goodies in the grid, but let’s stick to the top three:
(1) GRASS STAINS! Those consecutive S’s look really funky, but the [Prototypical laundry challenges] make for a great crossword entry.
(2) VIXEN, the [Reindeer name rhymed with Blitzen in "A Visit from St. Nicholas"]. Old-school Simpsons fans know what I mean when I say I wanted this one to be DONNA DIXON. (Bonus points for the clue–visions of deja vu were dancing in my head as I read the clue for 22-Down, ["A Visit from St. Nicholas" poet Clement Clarke] MOORE.)
(3) Inner Beavis still can’t read the clue for TASER, [Pulsing pronged peacekeeper], without cracking up.
Time for today’s entry in Name Than Constructor Month. Earlier this week we had a grid containing every letter of the alphabet and I bet the farm (well, my first guess) that the puzzle was by Patrick Jordan. Have I learned my lesson not to be so hasty? Nope. I’ll go with these guesses:
1. Patrick Jordan. 2. Gail Grabowski. 3. Ray Hamel.
Dang it!! I swear I started to type Tony’s name as the third choice. But then I thought, “No, I have been guessing him almost every day and it’s starting to look lazy.” Alas, close doesn’t count in Name That Constructor.
Name That Constructor Stats After 11 Puzzles: 2 correct first choices (3 points each), 2 correct second choices (2 points each), 1 correct third choice (1 point each); 11 points total so far; score to beat = 15.5 points.
Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
This puzzle beat me up. Nothing in the top half yielded quickly, save for 31a: SPIELS (which I soon erased because nothing was working in that area). The lower right quadrant wasn’t so hard, but the other three quarters of the puzzle really worked me over.
I…gotta run. My morning schedule just got interrupted, so I’ll post the grid and will be back later to talk about all those deadly clues that turned out to be fair play (just really difficult play). Four stars.
Okay, I’m back. You want to know which clues stumped me? It was most of them. Here are some of the vexing (but ultimately fair) clues:
- 11a. [Group signed by Polar Music], ABBA. Polar because Scandinavia is not far from the North Pole?
- 15a. [Popular impressionist subject], PETER LORRE. People who do impressions of famous people, not Impressionist painters.
- 16a. [LPGA Toledo Classic host], FARR. M*A*S*H actor Jamie Farr, who played a character who was from Toledo?
- 17a. [Fine-grained carpentry supply], ORANGEWOOD. Manicure kits traditionally include orangewood sticks for pushing back cuticles, but I’ve never heard of orangewood in any other context.
- 22a. [Strip with a binding], SKI. To me, “strip” connotes something made of a single material, which doesn’t sound like a ski at all.
- 30a. [Galileo discovery of 1610], EUROPA. Moon of Jupiter.
- 41a. [Chaplin film about a late-coming homeowner], ONE A.M. Never heard of the movie, and “late-coming” doesn’t suggest ONE A.M. to me. It suggests an hour after any appointed time.
- 43a. [Cap'n Crunch's pet], SEADOG. Whoa, really? No idea.
- 54a. [Ersatz letter opener], STEAM. Steam is not a device known as a letter opener, but what is ersatz about it? If it opens the envelope, it’s very much a real letter opener.
- 60a. [Pair on the ''Invasion U.S.A.'' poster], UZIS. What’s Invasion U.S.A.?
- 1d. [Algae products], SPORES. Ferns and molds, I knew. Algae have spores?
- 3d. [Dining partner request, maybe], A TASTE. Not sure the “A” really needs to be there.
- 4d. [Most prominent position], CENTER STAGE. Did you know CATBIRD SEAT has the same number of letters? I never put those letters into my grid, but having it in mind still interfered with getting to the right answer.
- 7d. [Bunker Hill victor], HOWE. Not sewing machine inventor Elias Howe, nor hockey’s Gordie Howe.
- 8d. [They carry brand logos], IRONS. I only now figured out what the clue was getting at. Horrible branding irons used to sear livestock, not golf clubs or laundry irons.
- 11d. [Home of Globemaster IIIs], AFB. Apparently the Globemaster III is a military plane? Never heard of it.
- 12d. [Old-fashioned accommodation?], BARSTOOL. Where you sit to drink an old-fashioned.
- 14d. [Main consumer goods source, before 1750], ARTISANS. The clue suggested a single purveyor rather than a huge group of unallied individuals.
- 26d. [Coney Island-born singer], ARLO GUTHRIE. Didn’t know that about him.
- 32d. [Thing in some packs], LIE. I know ICE isn’t a “thing,” but the “pack of lies” concept was not at all in my mental list of “things in packs.”
- 33d. [Hip-hop technique], SCAT. Have never heard the term used in reference to hip-hop.
- 37d. [Starting a new movement], SEGUEING. Musical term, yes?
- 39d. [College final?], EDU. As in the .edu domain. Not happy with this clue, as “final” doesn;t quite work that way.
- 61d. [Disaster area], STY. As in “Your room is a disaster area! Clean it up or I’m taking away your Wii privileges.” This is my favorite clue, actually.
Did this puzzle pummel you, too?