Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
What happened? On Facebook, multiple people have remarked on how easy this puzzle was. And yet! It took me as long as a toughish Saturday NYT. It really didn’t help me that I decided that 8d was TECHNICAL WRITER, and thus that 41a was BOOLE. Nor that I tried IGOR and ILSA before INGA on the Young Frankenstein clue at 54d. Really, Amy? ILSA? The name associated with Casablanca?
I like the minitheme of LENNON/MCCARTNEY and PAPERBACK WRITER, complete with the Apple-is-a-computer-company bait I took.
Other goodies: BUBBLE UP (remember the sodapop by that name?); the [Abrupt discussion ender] “DROP IT” (I kept waiting for the crossings to confirm OR ELSE but they refused); the dance THE STROLL rightly using the definite article; TANZANIA; TEXACO; SPERM DONOR, or [One banking a bank deposit?]; the hockey [Enforcer's place, often], the PENALTY BOX; the ENIAC trivia clue [Six women at Penn programmed it]; and the insanity of cluing DANE as [King Gorm the Old, e.g.] (and I really want to know if modern Danish people name their children Gorm).
Could do without: ARA, C FLAT, OEN, ALERO.
Did not know: 31d: [Samuel Johnson's only play], IRENE.
So, how did this puzzle treat you? I bet the people who trounced me did not flail around blankly at the central 15s. If I’d made that mental leap sooner, the puzzle would probably have fallen much more swiftly.
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Andy’s Review
Welcome to Whose Crossword Is It Anyway?, where everything’s made up and the stars don’t matter. That’s right, the stars are like 47% of voters to Mitt Romney. I’m your host, Andy — let’s get this show on the road!
For 4 minutes and 45 seconds, this was a really enjoyable puzzle. Early gimmes with KARA, TMZ, and the afore-referenced DREWCAREY made the NW a breeze. SKATEBOARD [It's mounted at the X Games], PALMREADER [One studying lines], and FROZENROPE [Hard-hit line drive, in baseball] all clued beautifully, all interesting entries. Slapped down ALOt without checking the clue and moved out of that corner.
Immediately I laid down evilquEen at 39-A [Disney's Maleficent, e.g.], confirmed by ANDREI ["War and Peace" prince] at the only correct letter. But Simone _ Q _ _ wasn’t ringing any bells, so I hightailed it out of there. To my pleasant surprise, NANCYLOPEZ [Four-time LPGA Tour Player of the Year] was waiting for me in the SE. (Oh hey, you know who else’s name fits in that slot perfectly? Karrie Webb. Webb won Player of the Year twice, but she has a career Grand Slam to her name, unlike Lopez, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship three times but never another major.) The Z in LOPEZ turned me on to CHEZ, and after plunking down fellow single-major-winner ANA Ivanovic, the SW fell pretty quickly.
Up into the NE, where AROD crossed A. REID. I bet they get confused for each other all the time. MARCONIRIG [Sailboat configuration named for its resemblance to a radio antenna] was a shot in the dark, and STEEPGRADE was ASWELL. Really wanted ESCALLOP to be “En Gallop“, but I’m probably the only one.
Given the 10×3 stacks in the corners, I was really impressed by the center of this grid. If you’re not going to clue ADELE as the singer of the new Bond theme, then for my money [Mr. Rochester's ward] is the best clue, especially with the nifty cross-reference at 56-A with EYRE.
Eventually figured out SORCERESS and SAARBASIN (both of which I love), which brought me into the SW. Love the shout out to Red Cloud, a non-Crazy-Horse member of the OGLALA Lakota. PROHIBIT, GRES, and EYRE made FACESPONGE, ARTFORGERY, and LINTROLLER obvious-ish. I took a second and third glance at NELS, which I’ve never seen before. I’ve never seen “Mama” before, either. Or heard of it. It’s the kind of thing that smacks of pre-Maleska NYT puzzledom to me, which is why I decided it was probably right. Put in the second L in FALLS and the D in ARID, and poof. Done.
Except no Mr. Happy Pencil. First place I went back to? NELS. But I was pretty sure CHASSE was right, and ARTFORGiRY probably isn’t a thing. So I worked my way counterclockwise around the grid, scanning for my error. All the weirdest crossings (MERC/MEN, SEC/ETTE, CES and everything it crossed) were right. And that’s when I realized I hadn’t looked at the clues for ALOP and SAP. Whoops, my bad.
Let me just say this, though: ALOP? ALOP‽ Here’s what I did when Mr. Happy Pencil informed me that I was a SAP for not thinking of ALOP: I typed “define alop” into Google. You know what it turned up? This L.A. Crossword Confidential blog post from 2.5 years ago saying that when you type “define alop” into Google, you get no dictionary sites. You get acronyms, “Did you mean alopecia?”, but no definition of “alop.” That, unequivocally, is a surefire test for intolerable crosswordese.
What makes the whole Alop Affair worse is that there were at least two — and in my opinion four — fill options that were better, if less glitzy: 1) my original goof of ALOT/SAT; 2) the-still-not-good-but-at-least-not-as-bad partial ALOG ["I should be sleeping like ___," The Beatles] crossing SAG. The lesser two are 3) the trip-around-the world pair of ALOO and SAO, and 4) ALOE crossing the ugly abbrev. SAE.
What about you, dear readers? WERE you displeased with that entry, or did you not find it as APPALLING as I did?
A million stars for NANCYLOPEZ, minus 999,997 stars for ALOP. See you next week!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Four CARs are missing from this grid. Though we don’t know where they went, we know the spots from which they were taken. That’s because each of the four long Across entries is what’s left of a common term once the letter sequence C-A-R has been removed. Fortunately, the now-stranded terms have a whimsical feel to them, which Hartman plays up in the clues:
- 17-Across: “Carbohydrates” become BO HYDRATES, a short way of saying that [Football player Jackson drinks water before a game?].
- 30-Across: “Carroll O’Connor,” star of All in the Family and In the Heat of the Night, morphs into ROLL O’CONNOR, or [Rip off performer Sinead?]. Cute use of the common surname.
- 48-Across: The outdated “Oriental carpet” is curtailed into an ORIENTAL PET, a derogatory term for a [Siamese cat?].
- 66-Across: Which would you rather see at Thanksgiving–a “turkey carving” or a TURKEY VING, [Actor Rhames behaving like a chowderhead?] Yeah, me too. I can eat turkey any day.
Aspiring constructors, take note: two of the theme entries remove CAR from the start of the first word, and two steal from the start of the second word. That’s variety, not inconsistency. Note too, however, that one of the four base entries is one word, while all of the others have two words. That’s inconsistency, not variety.
It’s unusual for four long Downs to outshine the four theme entries in a puzzle, but that’s certainly the case here. I love the quartet of MR. UNIVERSE, STREISAND (is this the closest they have ever been to each other in real life?), TIED ONE ON, and STARK NAKED. Heck, they almost tell a story that sounds half-plausible!
It’s interesting that two states get abbreviated (OKLA and MONT) while a third, IDAHO, gets the full-name treatment. Okay, maybe “interesting” overstates it a little.
Favorite entry = OWN UP, meaning to [Confess]. Favorite clue = [Shout from a mugger?] for HI, MOM, the squeal often heard from someone mugging the camera at a televised sporting event.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Oof! This puzzle is hard, unless you happen to be the sort of person who gets these answers right off the bat:
- 5a. [Like Hello Kitty], BERIBBONED. First suspected the answer would relate to Japanese cartoons.
- 18a. [1982 Kentucky Derby winner], GATO DEL SOL. “Cat of the sun”?
- 20a. [Oxygen barrier provider], SARAN. I was scraping my brain for anatomical/physiological terms rather than plastic wrap. (Scraping your brain for plastic wrap should be inefficient.)
- 33a. [Ford's wife in ''Presumed Innocent''], Bonnie BEDELIA. I went with Greta SCACCHI, who played the woman Ford’s character had an affair with. Whoops.
- 42a. [Premier who deposed the Gang of Four], HUA.
- 49a. [Jousting area], TILT YARD. I’m not up on my medieval terminology, I guess.
- 51a. [Karl Baedeker's birthplace], ESSEN. Not your usual clue for this crosswordese stalwart.
- 58a. [BBC Asian Network language], URDU. The R led me to try ARAB, which of course is not a language. Arabic is. D’oh! I know better.
- 59a. [She played Sean Penn's girlfriend in her film debut], ALLY SHEEDY. 1983′s Bad Boys. Who knew?
- 6d. [Eastern Orthodox deputy], EXARCH.
- 7d. [Gangster movie series] of bullet sounds, RAT-A-TAT.
- 11d. [Betraying unconcern], OBLIVIOUSLY. Why did I have OBLIVIOUS TO? That makes no sense. Maybe it’s not the puzzle. Maybe it’s me.
- 37d. [Colombian export], EMERALDS. When you’ve put down a couple incorrect crossings, it’s hard to tease out an answer for a broad clue like this.
- 52d. [Draw material from], MINE. I started with MILK, which is equally good except for the small matter of the crossings.
- 19a. [Escape artist of similes], “slippery as an EEL.”
- 41a. [Oldest known oil source], SESAME. Trivia!
- 1d. [Where drop-offs are monitored], SLEEP LAB. How many minutes does it take you to fall asleep in a dark room? The folks in the sleep lab can document that.
- 23d. [Done with makeup, maybe], CAMERA-READY. Nice entry.
- 42d. Word from the Latin for “guest room”], HOSTEL. Etymology!
- 55d. [''Thank you, Captain Obvious!''], DUH.
Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Telescopes”
Mea culpa for last week—my browser took me to page 2 of the WSJ puzzles, and I mixed up September and October and somehow decided that the most recent puzzle posted was the regular Friday one and the Saturday one wasn’t up, but in fact it was, right at the top of page 1. I have the 10/6 Hex cryptic printed out, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
I love the way this week’s puzzle plays out its endgame, with the telescoped letters that are shared by two adjacent answers forming a constellation of letters that spell out a brilliant quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “I don’t believe in astrology. I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.” Ha!
The fill in the grid tends to be shorter, more pedestrian material rather than the sorts of long phrases Berry spoils us with in his Rows Gardens. When Row 1 is PEGS/RA(ID)/(ID)ES/CASKS, there is less joy in the process of teasing out answers from the clues.
I started solving this puzzle before I’d read the instructions, but Row 1 quickly revealed that it didn’t have enough squares for its four answers, so I was then reminded to look at the instructions. Note to self: glance at instructions before solving.
4.5 stars. It is a mystery how Patrick Berry managed to break a quote into 1- to 3-letter chunks, put them in a grid with certain Across words overlapping by those letters and no others, and have ordinary Down answers intersecting the whole shebang.