Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword
This 60-word grid looks like an eyeball, man.
It’s got lots of great long answers, a couple mediocre long answers, some ordinary shorter fill, and some abysmal short fill. On balance, I didn’t find it a fun solve because of the parts that clanged instead of humming.
First up, the likes:
- 10a. [Massachusetts governor after John Hancock], SAMUEL ADAMS. We would also have accepted [Beer brand].
- 12a. [One who was very successful with numbered balls] made me think of lottery winners but it was MINNESOTA FATS playing pool.
- 27a. [Feature of some televised debates], SPLIT-SCREEN. Can be entertaining.
- 32a. [Survey militarily], RECONNOITER. It sounds a little like yesterday’s ACCOUTERING, only it’s a word people actually use.
- 45a. [One who is very successful with numbered balls] … hey! Here’s my LOTTERY WINNER.
- 50a. [Exercise leader], that’s easy. As Jeffrey told us on Thursday, PETE ACHER “was the world’s first referee to use a whistle, at Wagar High School gym class in 1879.”
- 10d. [Dublin-born singer with a 1990 #1 hit], SINEAD O’CONNOR.
- 11d. [Kings’ home], STAPLES CENTER. The Los Angeles Kings NBA team. The Grammys show was also at the Staples. There was a no-liquor policy and yet Jay-Z had a snifter of brandy with him.
- 12d. [GQ sort of guy], METROSEXUAL. Nobody much seems to use the word anymore, but it’s still KINDA cute.
- 37d. [Luster, e.g.], SINNER. As in “one who lusts.”
And now, the dislikes:
- 17a. [Cerebral canals], ITERS. Anatomical crosswordese.
- 23a. [Board game found in Egyptian tombs], SENET. Never heard of it despite its incredibly crossword-friendly letters and alternating consonant/vowel pattern. That doesn’t bode well for a word’s crossword-worthiness. And if you don’t know your ANILINE dye (19d. [Chemical used in dyes]), woe to you at guessing that N in SENET.
- 35a. [Yeomen of the Guard officer], EXON. Wha…?
- 42a. [Some Japanese-Americans] … I’ve got ISSEI and NISEI, both five letters long. SANSEI? Issei were born in Japan and immigrated to the US (or Canada). Nisei are their kids, first-generation Americans of Japanese descent. Sansei are the grandchildren of immigrants from Japan.
- 5d. [Street caution], SLO. Can you find me any street signs that say SLO instead of SLOW? A cursory Google image search suggests that the signs actually use the real word, what with the requirement that road signs communicate clearly and efficiently.
- 7d. [Writer LeShan and others], EDAS. Bring me the others!
- 14d. [Mess makers], LITTERERS. We call ’em litterbugs.
- 16d. [“Just a few more miles”], IT’S NOT FAR. Feels a mite contrived as crossword answers go.
- 28d. [Battle of ___ (first Allied victory of W.W. I)], CER. Whoa. Just as EXON’s prior appearances in the NYT puzzle were all clued as some old Nebraska senator, CER’s priors are all [Wax: Comb. form]. The world was not crying out for a fresh, old CER clue.
- SETAE, YMA, -IEST, TOD, ESO, TES, DES, AUER? Meh.
I don’t give bonus points for low word counts that are reduced at a steep cost, and that dislikes section was expensive. 2.75 stars from me, recognizing the zippiness of much of the long fill while feeling disappointed by the goo in between.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Hi all! A not-too-lengthy review this week (note the use of the lately-crossword-prevalent litotes), as I’m struggling to fill a NOTEBOOK with my thoughts about a massive reading list, to no AVAIL.
First, some factoids:
- 3d, BAY BRIDGE [Structure damaged in a 1989 earthquake]. The Loma Prieta earthquake, to be exact. A terrifying thought — reminds me of the winds that damaged the Tacoma Narrows bridge.
- 35a, PYGMY CHIMPANZEE [Former name of the bonobo].Did you know that bonobos use sex as a greeting, as conflict resolution, and as postconflict reconciliation? And some people say we didn’t evolve from monkeys…
- 15d, LA JOLLA [Home to California’s Torrey Pines Golf Course]. Tiger’s done particularly well there — he just wrapped up his eighth PGA Tour win at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago. I like to say “La Jolla” as if it were a Hebrew exclamation. Try it at home!
- 36d, YTTRIUM [Element No. 39]. Along with ytterbium, one of two elements named for Ytterby, Sweden. Yttrium may be element number 39, but it’s element number 1 in my heart.
- 21a, LEE J. COBB [Johnny Friendly portrayer in “On the Waterfront”]. One of the few actors whose full name seems to show up more than either partial (also looking at you TEA LEONI). I think I remember solving a crossword with LEE J. as an entry. (XWord Info informs me the LEE J. partial has occurred in the NYT puzzle not once, but six times. Blegh.) Anyway, a beautiful entry in full.
- 4d, UNCLE SAM [Guy giving you a pointer?]. For some reason I assumed the clue had to be referring to the last name of someone named Guy. And that’s how I got hung up on thinking the answer had to be LOMBARDO, which in hindsight wasn’t actually a bad guess.
- 31d, AMMAN [Mideast capital once called Philadelphia]. I’m pretty sure one of the Ptolemys was responsible for that.
- 63a, SKEET [Game with a disk operating system?] Good clue!
My error was completely my own fault: as the screenshot above will tell you, I had RHoMBS/HoBBLE instead of RHUMBS [Compass points] and HUBBLE [Eponymous astronomer]. Didn’t check that crossing at all because I assumed it had to be an O; that is to say, I had never in my life heard of RHUMBS. But now I have. While of course I think my wrong fill is better (because clearly RHOMB is a word in much more common usage than RHUMB) /sarcasm, the HUBBLE crossing makes that entry more than fair.
There was a lot of good stuff in this one, not already mentioned: AZURE BLUE, STEAL HOME, RENAULT, NOT GUILTY, CLAIM FORM, UTAHN. Little to gripe about: the initalisms HST/RLS and the French CES not offering too much resistance. I’ll put this one at an even 4 stars. Until next week!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “You Don’t Know Jack!”- Sam Donaldson’s review
When I say there’s not a whole lot to this puzzle, I’m referring to the theme and not the puzzle’s quality. The theme entries are all clued [It’s not much], and three of them have a food connection:
- 17-Across: HILL OF BEANS. It’s what the problems of three little people in this crazy world amount to.
- 28-Across: SMALL POTATOES. As Former Vice President Quayle will tell you, they’re the fancy ones–the ones with an E.
- 47-Across: PLUGGED NICKEL. Growing up, I knew this expression as “plum nickel.” Too bad that’s not it, because then there would have been a foodie component to the theme entries too.
- 62-Across: CHICKEN FEED. Surprisingly, chicken feed is actually moderately expensive.
The theme may be modest but the fill is terrific. I especially liked DON CHEADLE, the [Basher Tarr portrayer in “Ocean’s Eleven”], GOPHER, the [“Caddyshack” menace], FARRAH, the [First name in swimsuit posters], and [“The Prime of Miss Jean] BRODIE. Good thing I knew that last one or else I would have insisted that the crossing [Acronym used by techies] was GIGA instead of GIGO (which I now know to stand for “garbage in, garbage out”). I also struggled with OSKAR [Werner of “Fahrenheit 451”] and [“The Old Devils” author Kingsley] AMIS (Eek! They even crossed!). But eventually it all fell into place.
Huh, I guess [It’s not much] can also serve as a review of this write-up.
Favorite entry = MEAT LOCKER, the [Butcher’s storeroom]. Favorite clue = [Thunder and Lightning] for professional sports TEAMS.
Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
A workmanlike Stumper this week. Nothing too clunky, nothing too zippy, lots of 7s and 8s, 72-word grid. (Dictionary defines workmanlike as “showing efficient competence,” in case you thought it was an insult.)
- 1a. [”Where Happiness Means the World” sloganeer], CLUB MED. Nice way to open at 1-Across.
- 28a. [Word from the Italian for ”wine cellar”], CANTEEN. Etymology!
- 57a. [”It is the nature of ambition to make men __”: Tynan], LIARS. Far better than quote themes are individual quote clues, particularly if the FITB is a single key word and the “punch line” rather than a little-junk-words partial or a woeful obscurity.
- 62a. [Despotic organization], OCTOPUS. Nonzoological cluing approach, nice.
- 1d. [Terra-cotta novelty], CHIA PET. Right up there with CLUB MED as a fun start to the puzzle.
- 8d. [Tough guy’s challenge], WHO’S NEXT. I would’ve liked it clued as the album from The Who.
- 24d. [Stretches out], RATIONS as a verb rather than a noun.
- 36d. [Sight from the Great Glen Way], LOCH NESS. We don’t get the lake’s full name in the grid too often.
- 45d. [Fringe group], TASSELS. Ha! Don’t you want to refer to all fringe groups as tassels now?
- 63a. [Climactic], APOGEAL. Astronomical.
- 22a. [Fool, to Felipe], TONTO. Spanish word. Rather insulting name to drop on the Lone Ranger’s sidekick.
- 31a. [Stadium cannon fodder], T-SHIRT. T-shirt cannons to fire free t-shirts into the crowd.
- 54a. [__ Foundation (major NPR donor)], SLOAN. I guess I don’t listen carefully between the shows.
- 2d. [Double-edged cutters], LANCETS. Wanted RAPIERS first.
- 41d. [Respond to pressure, in a way], DARE. I’m not seeing this. Can someone come up with a sentence in which “dare” and “respond to pressure” are interchangeable?
- 53d. [Persistence over resistance], SIEGE. This assumes that the people the SIEGE is being perpretrated on are the resistance. I suppose two opposing sides in war view the other side as the resistance? Or the aggressor and themselves as the resistance?
Four stars. Nothing higher because it wasn’t a “Wow!”/knock-your-socks-off sort of puzzle, but it’s smooth.