Milo Beckman’s New York Times crossword
Will return after an hour of family TV time to talk about the puzzle. In the meantime, here’s my grid and my 4.33-star rating. — And I’m back.
- 1a. AIR QUOTES, [Sarcasm indicator]. My favorite air quotes usage is in this Chris Farley SNL bit.
- 14a: CHEAT SHEET, 17a: HOT TAMALES (remember, people: the Spanish singular of that is hot tamal), 30a: AQUA VITAE (I think I learned this one from a Shakespeare play, though I have no wish to drink any [Brandy or whiskey]), 59a: EXXON MOBIL, 2d: I HOPE NOT, 29d: WINGMAN (is this [Lead pilot's support] the origin of the term for someone helping you pick up a 55a: FOX at a bar or party?), and 10d: MY AIM IS TRUE are my other favorite answers.
- 51d. I think I’ve seen this clue before, [Sound of silence?] for LONG I. Does anyone dispute the pronunciation?
- I like the AMORAL/AMORES crossing, which makes it look like AMORAL has to do with love rather than the absence of morality.
- 12d: Kazakhstan’s capital ASTANA crosses 16a: baseball’s Eddie YOST at the S. I bet a lot of Saturday newspapers will have YORT or YOLT or YOTT filled in there. Regular solvers should at least get the capital’s T from ASTI.
- 1d: ACHESON, 6d: OSMAN, and 52a: EHLE probably stumped some people and made them work the names out through the crossings. Same with 33d: LEE ELDER, [First African-American golfer to play in the Masters].
New and unexpected clue for TSE: 57a, [Cyrillic letter between kha and che]. Not Mao __-Tung, not T.S. Eliot’s initials, not the Tokyo Stock Exchange, not that high-end cashmere label.
True confession: I wanted that PURITAN at 21a to be a SPARTAN, so when faced with MY ARM______ for the Elvis Costello album and unable to think of any “My Army __” album, I filled in MY ARMISTICE. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. I love MY AIM IS TRUE! It’s one of those albums where the brain gets trained to await the opening notes of the next song because one has listened to it in its entirety so many times. (Kids these days, with their iPods, they’re losing that experience.)
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Running in Neutral”- Sam Donaldson’s review
The title led me to believe this would have something to do with automobiles, and the first theme answer appeared to confirm my guess. Alas, however, I was all wrong. “Neutral” refers to a shade, and this time it’s ECRU, which 61-Down tells us is the [Neutral color running through the four longest puzzle answers]. One way to deal with tired fill like ECRU is to make a theme out of it! Here are the theme entries:
- 20-Across: A [Black and white, vehicularly speaking], is a POLICE CRUISER. See? “Vehicularly?” “Cruiser?” I think I was baited into this mistaken-theme trap.
- 35-Across: DON’T BE CRUEL is the [Elvis Presley song with "Hound Dog" on its flip side]. Great trivia-based clue.
- 42-Across: ORANGE CRUSH is not only a [Fanta rival], it’s also my favorite soda pop from childhood. Back in the day, I would have done anything for an Orange Crush. I think my mom used it more than once to encourage good behavior.
- 58-Across: The [Fruity streusel-topped pastry] is an APPLE CRUMB PIE. Mmm, pie. Sing along kids: it’s a wonderful day for pie!
Fitting for this theme, the fill is pretty pale too. Very little jumps out as interesting or fresh. One of these days, I’ll learn that SOEUR, clued this time as [Frere Jacques's sister]. All I know about her is that she lives on campus in the Dorm Ayvoo. Yeah, I better stop here.
Favorite entry = CRUD, the [Gunk] at 21-Down. Favorite clue = [Actor Maguire, formally] for TOBIAS. No doubt he’s thrilled to see this in the newspaper.
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
ALOHAS, y’all! Welcome to my first post of the MONTH! I’d be remiss if I didn’t start by saying how lucky I am to have missed the worst of the storm. I hope things are returning to normal for you readers more affected by Sandy than I.
For me, solving this puzzle was like eating a bunch of MARS BAR and PRAWN sandwiches for breakfast — I was unfamiliar with two things, and it was unpleasant when they crossed. For example, the guessable Mr. REE [old whodunit game], LENA, clued not as Dunham but as [Hyena in Li'l Abner], and the also-thankfully-guessable SEAHERO [1993 Kentucky Derby winner sired by Polish Navy]. Or SHRUNK [Dwindled] and KLU [1950s Reds nickname]. Or the strange trio of POLER, DELEAD, and REYNARD.
- It takes a lot of weird crossings to make a grid this visually appealing work. We’ve got four 15s:
- 15a, CLEAR NAIL POLISH [Solution for repairing snagged nylons]. Apparently it’s also good for smudge-proofing labels, sealing envelopes, and threading needles!
- 17a, JOGGING STROLLER [Fitness-focused parent's purchase]. I wonder if you can use clear nail polish to repair runs in jeggings?
- 44a, TENSILE STRENGTH [Spider web's abundance]. I wonder if the reason clear nail polish is so useful is because of its tensile strength?
- 47a, ESCAPE ATTENTION [Fail to get caught]. Like nylons, failing to get caught on a nail and snagged.
Other super cool entries:
- 1d, MCJOBS [They're often filled with teens]. Get your minds out of the gutter, readers!
- 18a, OH GEE [Rueful exclamation]. Not ogee, for once!
- 30a, B-TEAM [Blowout substitute?].This clue tickled my fancy.
- 33d, SKATER [Button, notably]. Dick, that is. Achewood has some particularly poignant insights about Dick Button.
The 5-letter staircases are both really well done. There were crossings in all four corners that gave me some fits, and I could definitely see this being a did-not-solve for more solvers than usual. Tell me about it, readers!
3 stars from me. See you next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Busy morning, hence cursory blogging.
- 24a. [Four-time Primetime Emmy role, 1994-1999], SIPOWICZ. “Sad pumpkin”—anyone else remember that NYPD Blue episode, when Sipowicz had a reaction to an IV contrast agent in the hospital?
- 44a. [Way to show approval], EMOTICON. Or disapproval. :-/ :@
- 50a. [Vitreous humor, e.g.], GEL. The vitreous humor is the goo inside your eyeball.
- 51a. [Jackson 5's hometown], GARY, INDIANA.
- 2d. [Charmingly traditional], OLD WORLD. See also: old school.
- 18d. [Simple suffix], TON. Simpleton.
- 25d. [Parker pen product], WIT. Dorothy Parker, not Parker Pens.
- 27d. [Kiddie pool accessories], KICKBOARDS. Kiddie accessories in a big pool.
- 39d. [AFI top-10 film of 2011], J. EDGAR. I had JEDGA* and was mystified for a while there.
- 45d. [It goes out with a boom], CRANE. Thanks to the 57th Street crane collapse during Hurricane Sandy, this clue was gettable.
Four stars. Nothing clunky in the fill.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Wall Street Journal Saturday Puzzle, “Missing Links”
The task here is to identify the answers that are one letter shorter than the space allotted and then fill in letters that make new words in both directions. Boy, I thought something was terribly wrong when I had most of the 11 extra letters—but there were three B’s and three E’s. That just seemed implausible. Turned out the titular “Missing Links” are a golf course, PEBBLE BEACH.
None of the clues and answers was particularly enchanting. I suppose the answers are forced to be blander in general to accommodate 22 of them being transformable by letter addition. Lots of back-and-forth between the grid and the clues to piece things together, which is the sort of puzzly challenge I always like—though the endgame didn’t bring much of a “wow!” Four stars, as there’s no crap in the puzzle either.