Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
Judging from the applet standings, I had an easier time hitting Tim’s wavelength than some other folks did. I don’t think we’re usually in sync, but I’ll take it.
The central answer was custom-made for people like the Canadian of Team Fiend, Jeffrey—the TAX CODE is a [CPA's study], all right.
Not crazy about 1a: LONG ARM (it looks silly without …OF THE LAW appended to it), and I can’t say I’ve encountered ILL-MADE before. A dozen further remarks:
- 16a. ST. TITUS, the [First bishop of Crete, traditionally]? Huh. Remember that sitcom starring comedian Christopher Titus?
- 18a. [Pioneer of slapstick cinema], the great Mack SENNETT. Here, enjoy some old-school slapstick.
- 27a. [Tiny carps], NITS. Carping at annoyances, not “tiny little fish.”
- 34a. GO EASY ON, solid three-word answer.
- 41a/42a. [42-Across's creator] and [Princess in 41-Across books] are Frank BAUM and Princess OZMA. I know the latter only from crosswords. Oh, dear. If you don’t know OZMA, good luck in completing the [Largest active volcano in Japan], Mount ASO. Please leave a comment if you got here by Googling Princess AZMA, Princess EZMA, Princess IZMA, or Princess UZMA.
- 52a. FAKE TAN, great answer.
- 56a. Likewise, ALL TALK.
- 59a. ROISTER, or [Party hearty], is a word I know from a Shaw’s Crab House, only they spell their annual oyster fest Royster with the Oyster.
- 7d. [He supplied Lex Luthor with red kryptonite], MISTER MXYZPTLK. The way I remember the spelling is that it’s Mr. mix-up talk, without the vowels, and with an XYZ for the (m)ix art.
- 11d. Oh, dear. Always looks terrible in the grid. [Joined the fight], HAD A TIT? No, HAD AT IT.
- 35d. OUTFALL, [Mouth of a river]? That word’s new to me.
- 38d. [Ancient double-deckers] is a neat clue for an answer word I learned from crosswords, BIREMES. Two levels of oarsmen on each side of this boat. Never heard of the play in the OBIE clue, [2012 honor for "4000 Miles"], and another crossing is tough: 49a RIMA, [Feature of "pasta" and "basta"], rima being the Italian word for “rhyme.”
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “No Strings Attached”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle is an homage to Nancy Reagan. Solvers are invited to “just say NO” to four common two-word terms by adding those two letters at the start of either the first or second word:
- 17-Across: “Mad money” becomes NOMAD MONEY, a [Wanderer's wad?]. Maybe it’s me, but that clue seems kinda gross.
- 26-Across: The [Waver behind an on-the-scene reporter?] is a PUBLIC NOBODY (a play on “public body”). Those camera hogs have never impressed me much.
- 43-Across: Your standard [Ginsu?] is no ordinary “table knife.” It’s a NOTABLE KNIFE. This was my favorite theme entry of the lot. It’s so sharp!
- 58-Across: We all know the eager kids in the classroom who shoot their hands in the air as they exclaim, “Choose me!” Add a little rejection to their lives and we get CHOOSE NOME, the [Words in a travel ad recommending the Iditarod destination?].
This is quite the fashion-forward grid–we have a SKORT, an A-LINE dress, a reference to a turtle-neck in the clue for NAPE, and DONNA [Karan of fashion]. And it’s topped off with a FEDORA, the [Retro topper]. It even comes in the [Eye-catching color] of RED. Tres chic.
Favorite entry = DIRT CHEAP, something [Way underpriced]. But other contenders were READ UP ON, RAN AROUND, OTTUMWA, and IT’S OK. Favorite clue = [It shouldn't be used as an icebreaker] for MOLAR.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
This is exactly the grid I think of when I think of a Martin Ashwood-Smith puzzle: 15×16, anchored by a quad stack of 15s in the center and flanked by two 15s on top and bottom. What’s new, to me at least, are the two 15s running vertically. That’s eight 15s in a weekday puzzle — impressive, no? Let’s go through them together, shall we?
- 17a, AM I GLAD TO SEE YOU(!) [Words of relief]. Much more hilarious when followed by a question mark.
- 30a, STATE ASSISTANCE [Food stamps, e.g.]. Not a particularly Scrabbly entry, but it’ll do.
- 39a, COSMIC RADIATION [Contributing factor in ozone depletion]. Sounds like a good name for a jazz/funk band.
- 40a, UNSENTIMENTALLY [Without nostalgia]. Microsoft Word gives the word “unsentimentally” a red squiggle, but I can think of many things that I remember unsentimentally. Like Clippy, the Word “helper,” for example.
- 41a, TENNESSEE TUXEDO [Chumley's title friend in a '60s cartoon series]. From the makers of Underdog. Tennessee Tuxedo was perhaps Don Adams’ finest role — disagree if you dare.
- 59a, POPE BENEDICT XVI [Leader elected in 2005]. This one definitely threw me off. Were you expecting a President or Prime Minister too?
- 8d, CASTLES IN THE AIR [Daydreams]. This phrase is more familiar to me as “castles in the sky,” but that might just be an idiosyncratic back-formation from the Miyazaki film of nearly the same name.
- 15d, CATARACT SURGERY [Solution for lens transparency problems]. Again, a successful misdirection! Maybe those of you who don’t wear glasses/contacts weren’t fooled?
The 15s are mostly sparkling, as are many of the 8s (MEATAXES, AVEMARIA, YEASAYER). But, as with all quad-stack puzzles, there is some compromising fill to gripe about: Charles READE ["Peg Woffington" author] rears his convenient head (you may know him better as the author of The Cloister and the Hearth — or not at all); OMY [Hop-___-thumb] is ungood; when I think of TATAS, I’ll admit that my first thought isn’t [Exit lines]; ELYSE Keaton of “Family Ties” reifies her status as ’80s TV’s most crosswordese matriarch; I’m not sure if I’m supposed to have heard of a SEINER before (etymologically related to the Seine, I’m assuming?); and there’s the pair of AMOVE and ANEAR (Guess which one is a partial?).
I’m going to go with 4.5 stars for the sheer number of pleasant 15s in this grid, minus 1 star because I’m a curmudgeon. Until next week!
Lester Ruff’s less rough Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Really a Stan Newman byline.
Favorite five entries:
- 24a. [Whom a UK poetry prize is named for], T.S. ELIOT.
- 39a. [War game], LASER TAG. My kid loves this.
- 52a. [Sucralose brand], SPLENDA. I like it as a crossword entry but loathe it as a sweetener. Especially when it’s dumped into food labeled “now with 25% less sugar” that’s sweeter than ever.
- 26d. [Ingredient in a Matador], TEQUILA. Never heard of the cocktail. Googling … ooh, this sounds delicious. Tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice.
- 37d. [Student's permission slip], HALL PASS.
Four least favorite entries:
- 1a. [Commencement ritual], CAP TOSS. It has a name?
- 55a. [Watt-hour fractions], BTUS. Isn’t the plural also BTU?
- 39d. [Opposite of "noble"], LOW-BRED. Didn’t we all want this to be LOW-BORN?
- 44d. [Blocklike], CUBICAL. What’s the difference between CUBICAL and cubic?
Three toughest clues:
- 18a. [Hitherto unknown], STRANGE.
- 62a. [2011 voice role for Owen Wilson or John Turturro], RACE CAR. Meh. The “role” was Lightning McQueen or Francesco Bernoulli, if you ask me.
- 14d. [Part of big-league umpires' attire], REEBOKS. Who knew they had a mandated sneaker brand?
3.75 stars. Fairly smooth and lively for a grid of this style.