Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
Short post! This puzzle’s a blend of juicy fill and stuff we have seen in far too many crosswords.
The list of the good stuff is topped by CRYPTOZOOLOGIST—it’s a nutty word about a reasonably goofy thing, and it’s got unusual letter sequences. My kid used to have an awesome t-shirt full of cryptozoological beasties (Nessie, Chupacabra, Yeti, leprechaun, et al.) and his younger cousin wears it now. I also like HAPPY DAYS, PAT BENATAR (who won four Grammys, one for the Crimes of Passion album with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Treat Me Right”), WOODY WOODPECKER (no Grammy wins yet), CLOSE QUOTE, GIRL GROUP, STOWAWAYS, MAHALO, ALANIS Morissette (whose last name just looks misspelled, I tell you), DR. J (Barry’s obligatory Philly sports reference), and EYESTALK (which I like because the SpongeBob characters with eyestalks are entertainingly animated).
No love lost for ADENI, PERI, OSTE, LANI, LODZ, A FLAT, NEET, ADLAI, EMILE, USHERETTE, ALDO Gucci, jai alai PELOTA, STIPES, EWERS, AGRA, and LEW. I’m surprised to see so many of these in a 70-word grid.
People I didn’t know: ALEC, [Writer Wilkinson of The New Yorker]; ADA, [Novelist Leverson]; ANDREW, [Merry-___ (clown)]. And yes, I know that last one’s not a person. One dictionary shows me an unhyphenated, lowercase merry andrew and labels it archaic. Yeah, I don’t think the term’s going to come back into vogue.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Happy New Year everyone! I know I’m a little late, but this is my first review of 2013. And what do you know, we get a beautiful themeless from Doug Peterson to start the year off right. So let’s move past the AFFLECK CALORIE TRAGEDY of 2012 and get to crosswording!
My New Year’s resolution is to focus on words or clues that weren’t immediately apparent to me, and commit them to memory. So let’s start with those:
- 25d, ALSOP [Journalist Stewart or Joseph]. This never looks quite right to me, probably because it looks like someone spelled Aesop wrong, but there you have it. Together, the Alsop brothers wrote a regular column called “Matter of Fact” for the New York Herald Tribune. Gore Vidal’s Washington, D.C. is loosely based on Joseph’s life. Stewart also wrote for the Saturday Evening Post and Newsweek. And they were Eleanor Roosevelt’s cousins.
- 28a, WALE [Fabric ridge]. Think corduroy. From Wikipedia: “The lower the ‘wale’ number, the thicker the width of the wale (i.e., 4-wale is much thicker than 11-wale).” Wale [WAH-lay] is also the name of the rapper behind Lotus Flower Bomb, which is nominated for Best Rap Song at the upcoming Grammys.
- 39a, BESIDE THE POINT [Not related]. I fell for the misdirection hook, line, and sinker. We’re talking about ideas, not people.
- 50a, MAMBO [Dance popularized by Perez Prado]. Apparently he’s “King of the Mambo.”
This one had a ton of great cluing:
- 10d/3d, KIDDIE POOLS / GARDEN HOSE [Tots' coolers / Filler of 10d]. I love when a cross-reference is useful. Here, tots’ coolers that can be filled are probably pools. Two nice long entries.
- 8a, JUKEBOX [It may hold old records]. Not Babe Ruth. This old Scrabbly standby could just as easily have gone in the good-fill section.
- 8d, JURY [Dozen in a box]. Not donuts.
- 12d, BOOM [Good time] / 44d, TURKEY [Flop]. These make a funny pair.
- 22a, DEMON [Overly possessive type?]. Ha.
- 30a, BAA ["Listen, ewe!"]. Haaaaa. (Ewe laughing at me?)
- 45a, IRE [Heat source?] / 53a, SEXY [Emanating heat] / 54a, CHAR [Result of excessive heat] / 60a, CALORIE [Heat measure]. As I was solving, I scoffed at the “heat” clues in the same way you scoff at something you’re supposed to be offended by, but that you secretly find funny.
And a lot of nice fill:
- 1a, PAGEBOY [Style associated with Prince Valiant]. See also He-Man.
33a, THE KING’S SPEECH [2010 film about George VI]. Still haven’t seen it, strangely enough. Come to think of it, I think the last Colin Firth movie I saw was Mamma Mia!, which is embarrassing for everyone involved.
- 24d, ASKED AROUND [Took an informal survey]. I asked around, and nobody else thinks bangs are valiant.
- 30d, BEING THERE [Showing one's support]. I have a feeling this was originally clued as the Jerzy Kosinski novel, or the Peter Sellers film based on the novel. As much as I would have loved those clues, the fill is great regardless.
- 31d, ACETIC ACID [Main component of vinegar]. Acetic derives from acetum, the Latin word for vinegar, and is etymologically related to the word acid. In other words, it’s basically “acidic acid.”
A delightful solving experience! 4.5 stars from me.
P.S. Wouldn’t it have been funny if EFREM Zimbalist had been a cymbalist? No? It’s just me? Okay, fair enough. Until next week!
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bart is a Brat”- Sam Donaldson’s review
I knew from the puzzle’s title that I was in store for some old-fashioned anagram action. For whatever reason, though, I never seemed to find a smooth groove while solving, so I ended up with a slower-than-average time on what, looking back, appears to be a fairly easy puzzle. Oh well–I guess I came into the weekend more tired than I thought.
The theme involves rearranging the letters in one word of a common two-word term until hilarity ensues (or at least grows near). In each case, the only re-arranging required is swapping the A and the R:
- 17-Across: A “wood carver” becomes a WOOD CRAVER, a [Homebuyer who wants all oak flooring?] perhaps.
- 29-Across: A popular commercial asks “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” I’d like to hear the ad that asks “What would you do for a KLONDIKE BRA, the [Support for women in the Yukon territory?]”
- 48-Across: A regular old “arm wrestler” turns into a RAM WRESTLER, [One locking horns with a bighorn?"].
- 64-Across: If the thought of an “art exhibit” leaves you feeling bored, try the RAT EXHIBIT, the [Gallery event featuring stool pigeons?]. I would tell you more about it, but I would risk becoming part of the exhibit.
Highlights in the fill include OH HI, SAY-SOS, SPARE BED, BARONESS, STRAP IN, NILE DELTA, SHOWROOMS, and, for me, BLIMP. As a kid, I had an unusual fascination with the Goodyear Blimp. Whenever it came to town, I would cajole my parents into driving around town following it. It was best at night because that’s when you could read all the messages that scrolled on the ship’s exterior. One year, I received a toy model of the Goodyear blimp as a gift (Christmas? Birthday? I forget.). It was the first model I ever assembled (one of two, as it turns out), and it even flashed messages just like the real thing. It was probably my most prized possession, save for my Captain Marvel costume. Boy, am I glad I grew up before camera phones were widely available.
Favorite entry = MORSELS, clued here as [Chocolate chips, e.g.]. Favorite clue = [Pot holder?] for COOK.
Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Peter Gordon is, to my knowledge, the primary user of stacked 14s in themeless grids. I’m delighted to see Stan wield the 14/14/15 stacks too. There are a gazillion 14s out there that have not been used in 15×15 crosswords, and as far as I know the only reason to avoid them is an aesthetic preference for corners without black squares. (I am also often pleased with the results with 11/13/15 stacks.)
- 15a. [Tennis Hall of Fame inductee in '94], HANA MANDLIKOVA. Nice to have her full name in the grid rather than just HANA.
- 19a. [River through Fargo or Hanoi], RED. Usually the Red River clues are for Hanoi, but I have been to the Red River in Fargo and it deserves a moment in the sun. Surely more Americans have been to Fargo than Hanoi? Or maybe not. A lot of people fought in the Vietnam War.
- 24a, 26a. [Compact] pulls double duty, cluing both adjective SOLID and noun UNION. See also [Drew out]/[Drawing out], ELICITED and EVOKING.
- 31a. [Word from the Czech for ''pipe''], PISTOL. I did just learn that the other week.
- 57a. [Hypoallergenic baby food], POI. Did you know that about the Hawaiian staple, that it’s hypoallergenic and suitable for babies with food allergies?
- 61a. [Film commission], ORCHESTRAL SCORE. Work done on commission, not a committee-type commision.
- 65a. [Bride in 2010 headlines], CHELSEA CLINTON. Kate Middleton is one letter too short, one year too late. Didn’t stop me from trying to fill it in off the -TON.
- 66a. [Stale], YESTERDAY’S NEWS. Lots of ordinary bottom-row letters but a lively answer.
- 2d. [Sort of two-piece suit], TANKINI.
- 11d. World’s third-largest wood consumer], IKEA. Holy crap, really?
- 17d. [They all hold one atom], EMMYS. TV awards, not science. Yay!
- 40d. [Watercolor cousin], GOUACHE. I love that word. Fun to say. Are you in the “goo-osh” camp or the “gwosh” camp?
- 42d. [Argentina's daily soccer newspaper], OLÉ. Fun, fresh clue.
- 50d. [Beans + shell + handle], MARACA. Shake it up, baby. See also: 1d. [Unsettled], SHOOK UP.
Four stars. Solid themeless, a few little blemishes but nothing that irked me while solving.