Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword
I find myself oddly unmoved by this puzzle. Not enchanted, not irked, not bored, not entertained. So I haven’t got a ton to say about it. Stray remarks:
- 12d. [Earl in the Baseball Hall of Fame], AVERILL. Who?
- 33a. [Lovers of all things Barbie, say] are GIRLIE GIRLS? That really wasn’t my first thought.
- 23a. [Summer mountain feature], SNOWCAP? That’s all wrong. Everyone knows that word is a mandatory plural with no W.
- 39a. [Noted rock site: Abbr.], GIB. raltar. Meh.
- 35d. [Dutch Golden Age painter], JAN STEEN. Pretty high-end for a full-name crossword answer.
- 36a. STRANGE BIRD, strange bird.
- 37d. [Kings and queens, say], TWO PAIR. Card-gamy S-less plural, v. nice. Much cooler than yesterday’s ONE CARD.
A-a-and … that’s about all I’ve got in me tonight. 3.5 stars.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review
Nothing like ending the week on a fun note. (Or, if this is more relevant to you, nothing like starting the weekend on a fun note.) Patrick Blindauer gives us four theme entries (all in the Down position, curiously), where an S has been placed atop common terms:
- 3-Down: “Able-bodied” truns into SABLE-BODIED, [Like a weasel's cousin?]. I’m willing to bet I’m the only person around these parts who saw this answer and thought of the former professional wrestling valet, Sable. That’s the kind of high-brow circles in which I run.
- 9-Down: Cute and cuddly “care bears” become SCARE BEARS, clued here as [Grizzlies?].
- 26-Down: Ooh, this one’s my favorite, as a “chick flick” becomes a SCHICK FLICK, a [Movie about razors?]. Very cutting-edge, so to speak.
- 31-Down: Cornbread, the great partner to a bowl of hot chili, turns into SCORN BREAD, a [Starch that's broken with contempt?].
Add-a-letter themes work best, I think, when both the base term and the wacky term are entertaining. This puzzle does that, as both “care bears” and “chick flick” are lively already. SCHICK FLICK is comic gold, and both SABLE-BODIED and SCARE BEARS are quite strong. So this one worked for me. Throw in triple 7s in each corner, fun entries like ACTIVIA, ALTOIDS, THELMA and Louise, P.O. BOXES, BONOBO, and even GOITER and you have another terrific puzzle.
As we expect in Patrick’s puzzles, the clues were lively too. I liked the reference to “Raider of the Lost Ark” in the clue for ASPS and to “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” for ELSA. [R-V interior?] is a brilliant way to clue the letter sequence S-T-U. But my favorite clue was [It's often written in stone] for R.I.P.
But hmm, what’s this crossword’s title? It’s the last day of Name That Puzzle Month (assuming tomorrow’s puzzle is a freestyle Sunday Challenge) and I don’t think I’m any better at guessing titles or coming up with better ones than I was when I started. I’m at something of a loss here. There has to be something about the theme entries running in the Downs and not the Acrosses, so the S is atop the terms instead of at the start or to the left. Hey, that’s it–”S atop,” or S-Tops! I’m hopeful I got this one right, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick and the CS gang came up with something better.
Nailed it! (Well, close enough at least.) The real title is “S-Top,” singular not plural. A fun twist on a similar re-parsing of “STOP” from a NYT puzzle nearly four years ago.
Barry Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Solid puzzle overall. Am grateful that PIZZA CRUST was clued as a [Place for toppings] and not with a reference to those chains that sell pizza with abominable gobs of cheese stuffed inside the crust edges.
Least favorite answer: 62a: ALINED, [Put in a row]. I’ve never seen this non-G spelling outside of crosswords. Dishonorable mention: Two entirely unknown-to-me names, 9d: [Guitarist Ángel or Pepe] ROMERO and 58a: BENITO, [Five-time all-star catcher Santiago]. Speaking of baseball… Barry’s fellow Phillies fan Stella Daily Zawistowski noted this the other day: “Before the current baseball season started, I made the following observation. 2008, Phillies have neither Lee nor Halladay, win World Series. 2009, Phillies have Lee, lose World Series. 2010, Phillies have Halladay, lose NLCS. 2011, Phillies have Lee and Halladay, lose NLDS. And then I pessimistically predicted that in 2012, they’d have Lee, Halladay, and spend some money on the bullpen, and not make the playoffs. God, I hate being right sometimes!”
Trivia I learned: 40a. [Invention credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori circa 1700], PIANO.
Nice to see STEPHEN HAWKING in the grid, even if he doesn’t get TOP BILLING.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
3.75 stars for this one.
- 58a. [Feature of Duncan Phyfe sofas], LYRE ARMS. I am not in possession of a Duncan Phyfe sofa.
- 19a. [Shakespearean fool], FESTE. If you knew this one, congratulate yourself for being more literate than me. (And don’t judge me for not using “than I.” I hate the sound of it.)
- 23d. When MIT mails acceptance letters], PI DAY. That’s March 14, as in 3.14…
- 27a. [Credit on ''A Home in the Wilderness''], IVES. Burl, the singer? Currier and Ives, printmakers? Another Ives altogether? No idea.
- 41d. [Welsh-born couturiere], ASHLEY. Who?? Is this Laura Ashley? It is. “The Laura Ashley style is characterized by Romantic English designs—often with a 19th-century rural feel—and the use of natural fabrics.” That doesn’t scream couture to me. I got married in a white cotton Laura Ashley dress. Cost me about $150. I enjoy watching Say Yes to the Dress on TLC even though I dispute vigorously that every bride must have a gown that makes her cry and feel beautiful and matrimonial—the point of the wedding, I have always thought, was the union of two people. Not the accoutrements or the splendor of the reception. /soapbox
- 20d. [French word for ''down''], DUVET. Didn’t know that. It is, however, time to bust out my Primaloft comforter for the season.
Over and out.
Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Rows Garden”
Solid “Rows Garden,” as usual. Now, the typical Berry puzzle is pretty much flawless. You can argue whether having “candies” in the TOOTSIE ROLLS clue ([Chewy candies included in WWII field rations]) and CANDY-GRAM in the grid ([Sweet Western Union innovation of the 1960s]) is a flaw or just two uses of a word in one puzzle.
Didn’t know HYDRANGEA was a [Flowering plant whose name means "water vessel"]. What a curious name. I could see that for a pitcher plant, but hydrangeas?
Went awry in rows I and J, when I plugged the wrong EST-containing blossom into place and couldn’t get the J answers to work out. Turned out the one on the left was where NESTED belonged, not BEHEST. I don’t usually fall into traps like that in Berry’s Rows Gardens.
Fave fill: CHARMED LIFE, ADAM LEVINE (you know, CEE LO GREEN is also 10 letters long), MAYNARD G. KREBS, TOOTSIE ROLLS, BAD TO THE BONE, and the DAZZLE/ZITHER blossoms with Z’s.