This Sunday is the deadline for submitting Lollapuzzoola 5 At Home division scores. I’ve only done the first two puzzles so far. Eek! The stopwatch and I will be busy this weekend.
If you missed your chance to buy a set of Lolla puzzles (or even if you didn’t), I’m pleased to share another crosswording opportunity. Lolla cofounder Ryan Hecht is running the New York City Marathon this fall, and he’s raising money for the ASPCA. A $15 donation will earn you something cooler than a PBS tote bag—a set of seven new crosswords by Ryan and his all-star cast of contributors: Andrea Carla Michaels, Doug Peterson, Joe Krozel, Bruce Sutphin/Angela Halsted, Barry Silk, and Neville Fogarty. Click through for details. (Good luck, Ryan! Me, I get tired driving 26.2 miles.)
Dana Motley’s New York Times crossword
Hey! This puzzle felt more like a Friday, and Friday’s NYT felt more like a Saturday.
This 72-worder doesn’t have any big stacks of long answers. The typical Motley grid is a motley one, with 18 answers of 7+ letters interspersed throughout the grid.
Favorite fill and clues:
- 17a. LADY GODIVA, [One barely riding?]. Cute, but not challenging.
- 21a. [20- and 60-Across, e.g.], NAME BRANDS. And also 24- and 25-Across.
- 25a. [Food items once called Froffles], as in “frozen waffles,” EGGOS. Who knew?
- 44a. FREE PASSES, [None for the money, two for the show?]. Rhymes with “one for the money, two for the show.” What does that even mean, anyway?
- 56a. [Vulgarian], LOUT. The word vulgarian is sorely underused.
- 3d. Who doesn’t like hanging out with the BAD APPLES? [Malcontents] have the most fun.
- 29d. [What a host holds], PARASITE. Eek!
- 33d. Trivia! [A 1952 3-cent stamp honored her 200th birthday], BETSY ROSS.
- Market action in two places. 38a: KROGERS are [Some markets] as in supermarkets, while 37d: ONE SHARE of a stock is a [Minimal market purchase].
- Birthstone action in two places: 16a: OPAL is the [Stone for a Libra, traditionally], the October birthstone. But what’s up with 4d: [Stone for a Cancer, traditionally], 4 letters? It’s gotta be July’s birthstone, the RUBY, only … it isn’t. The ruby has largely displaced the ONYX in the past century. Now, that Wikipedia article gives enirely different stones tied to signs of the zodiac (peridot for Libra, emerald for Cancer), so maybe it’s better to stick with the names of months for birthstone clues rather than invoking the astrological signs that correspond to only two thirds of that month.
- 59a. ERSE is never exciting fill to encounter, but I like the etymology clue: ["Plaid" and "spunk" derive from it].
I counted about 17 proper nouns in this one, but none of the names made me hit the skids. Did it feel excessive to you?
Hey, you know how 50a: YMA Sumac ([First name among exotica singers]) has a name that looks reversed? Puzzler Jeffrey Schwartz discovered that cellist Amy Camus teaches at the same school where he teaches engineering.
Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Boxing Rings”
As usual, Patrick Berry dishes out a smooth variety grid that may well take you two or three times longer than a Saturday NYT crossword. It’s not that the clues are hard or that the answers are unfamiliar—rather, it’s that you aren’t sure where to put most of the letters and have to piece words together like a jigsaw puzzle. Since the starting square is the numbered square and you know where the second and the last letters have to go, you can fill in three of the letters for each answer you’re sure of. If an answer butts up against the puzzle’s edges, as #1 and #29 do, that helps narrow down the shapes the answer may take.
I goofed up writing in the letters for #5, KEMO SABE, which made it fiendishly difficult to extract #16: [Georgia's state flower (8,4)]. Eventually I reviewed what I had for each of the other answers in that area and put the B up where it belongs, which allowed the CHEROKEE ROSE to emerge. (Never heard of it.)
Lots of fun answers: GOOSE EGG, SWITCHEROO ([Sneaky substitution]), DOGGONED, LIBERACE, THE MUPPETS … I guess RIOT POLICE isn’t fun but it’s fresh in terms of crossword fill.
Favorite clue: #4, [Product that takes five times as long to cook as its name suggests], MINUTE RICE.
Oh! And because this is a Berry puzzle, you don’t just fill in your variety grid and go home. No, you have to first appreciate the hidden answer that emerges: the boxing-related term SWEET SCIENCE in the shaded ring. 4.5 stars.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Let’s Get Cracking” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The five longest Across answers end with a word that, in a different sense, can be cracked:
- 17-Across: A [Blue line?] is a DIRTY JOKE (“crack a joke”).
- 24-Across: To [Take very few risks] is to PLAY IT SAFE (“crack a safe”). Reminds me of “Safe Crackers,” one of the easier pricing games on The Price is Right.
- 36-Across: The [2003 film starring Julia Roberts as an art professor at Wellesley College] is MONA LISA SMILE (“crack a smile”). I saw this film, and I think it was in the theater. All I remember from it is that Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst were in it. I don’t even remember whether Mona Lisa smiled or, if so, at what.
- 51-Across: A [Nervous wreck] may be called a BASKET CASE (“crack a case” open). One investigating the disappearance of Easter candy might hope to crack the basket case.
- 60-Across: One [Cause of an olfactory offense] is a ROTTEN EGG (“crack an egg”). There are other causes, to be sure, but perhaps we ought not itemize them here.
I loved the stacked 6′s in the two corners (especially NO IDEA, ENIGMA, and RANG UP), though I had NOH idea on the answer to [Japanese drama] (Godzilla didn’t fit). I struggled with [Goya's "The Naked] MAJA, but had no problems with the RAJAS in the northeast. I was hoping for the trifecta with BAJA, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
Speaking of “let’s get cracking,” we should move to my guesses in today’s entry for Name That Constructor Month. I can’t shake the nagging feeling that this is a Patrick Blindauer puzzle, even though I can’t seem to find a sub-theme or some elegant extra that would clearly identify the puzzle as one of Patrick’s. I’m hoping that nagging feeling is The Force and not just a horribly wrong guess based only on the observation that Patrick likes subtle themes, and one has to do some thinking to suss out what’s going on here. (Plus there’s STL, the abbreviation for Patrick’s domicile.)
I need two more guesses for a complete entry. Let’s see, there’s gotta be somebody here who hasn’t had a CS puzzle in a while. I’ll go with:
1. Patrick Blindauer. 2. Alan Arbesfeld. 3. Ray Hamel.
Looks like that nagging feeling was just a nag. Good thing I’ve been awaiting an Arbesfeld puzzle for a while now! Alan, since I know you’re reading this, thanks for the puzzle!
Name That Constructor Stats After 18 Puzzles: 7 correct first choices (3 points each), 4 correct second choices (2 points each), 1 correct third choice (1 point each); 30 points total so far; adjusted score to beat = 30.5 points. Will I beat the adjusted goal on a Sunday Challenge? Come back tomorrow and see!
Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Raise your hand if you have never, ever heard of these “RAZZLEBERRY PIES” at 8d, supposedly [Fruity desserts].
Okay, how about 1a: LAND SHARK, ["SNL" predator voiced by Chevy Chase]? I knew that one, from a classic ’70s SNL sketch. The wily land shark would dupe people into opening their doors by pretending to be a candygram delivery person.
And then there’s the WISHBONE OFFENSE, a 32a: [Football backfield formation named for its shape]. I know this one as intimately as I know razzleberry pie, which is to say, really not at all.
- 28a. “RIDE ‘EM, cowboy!” This [Cowboy directive?] is really a 6-letter partial, because “ride ‘em” scarcely exists outside of the “__, cowboy” phrase. But even though it’s a partial, I liked its freshness. Mind you, RIDEEMCOWBOY would have been worlds better.
- RED SCARE, WASHED UP, LEMON ZEST, STAMP OUT, HOOPLA, PIG-HEADED—these are all good stuff.
The other “huh?” or “meh” stuff:
- 30a. [Seat usually in first class], ONE B. Seat numbers are never spelled out as words. Also, Southwest Airlines has no first class seating. I like Southwest because I can sit in rows 1 and 2.
- 52a. [Mother of Aphrodite], DIONE.
- 20a. [Alcopop brand], ZIMA. Eventually it failed in the marketplace, but not before it became entrenched in crosswords.
- 31d. [Charge __] A FEE. CARD would’ve been better than this awkward partial.
- 10d. [Chide], JAW AT. I wonder if this guy‘s ever been jawed at. I don’t think anyone’s ever jawed at me. Awkward verb + preposition phrase.
- 47a. Plural FLOYDS, [Boxer Patterson et al.]. Have you non-Midwesterners heard of the microbrewery 3 Floyds? They make a beer called Gumballhead that I see on a lot of restaurant beer lists.
- 2d. [Literary character in an old candy bar logo], ARAMIS. What, the Three Musketeers wrapper used to depict the Musketeers?
- 36d. ["__ I Jubal's Lyre": Handel], O HAD. Ouch. Ugly partial. I suppose a number of you have heard this piece of music before. The H crosses 39a: [Former South Korean leader], RHEE. Probably a tough crossing for a lot of solvers.
Barry Silk’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
This grid’s got twice as many answers of 7+ letters than the NYT, but zero of them are longer than 7 letters. Feels a little dry, as do most 7-dense puzzles.
Favorite misstep: For 56a, [Buzz source], I had LAGER first. Had no idea how LOPE worked for 56d: ["Fools rush in" source] but eventually hit on Alexander POPE and a PAGER, which doesn’t even rhyme with LAGER.
- 1a. [Cold War accommodation], SPY SWAP. Not your usual 1-Across.
- 28a. [Neither here nor there], BETWIXT. I like that word, quite possibly because of the game Twixt.
- 51a. [Niveous], SNOWY. A literary word related to the Latin niveus, the glacier/snow term névé, and possibly Neve Campbell.
- 55a. [It's held in an orbit], EYE. The eye socket bone is called the orbit.
- 63a. [1972 Match of the Century participant], Boris SPASSKY. Sky Spas would be more fun than a SPY SWAP.
- 2d. [Fit for the draft], POTABLE. See also: LAGER.
- 7d. [Hairsplitters], PEDANTS. Hello! *waving to all the pedants* (Come on now, there’s no shame.)
- 8d. ["The City That Never Sleeps"], TEL AVIV. Who knew there was another (3,4) city with that nickname besides New York?
- 14d. That’s OLD NEWS.
- 29d. [Wake, for example], TRAIL. As in the wake a boat leaves behind it as a visible trail.
New to me: DOPED is clued as 53a: [Calculated, with ''out'']. I never knew I was “doping out” anything.
3.5 stars. No junk fill, but no particular excitement in the grid, either.