Chris McGlothlin’s New York Times crossword
Easy for a Saturday for you, too? I figured that 1a:[Stopped living the high life?] was SOBERED UP, and then I worked through the 1d, 2d, 5d, 6d, 8d, and 9d crossings and I was off to the races.
I definitely slowed down at the baseball intersection of 30a/30d. 30a: [2011 All-Star pitcher Correia]? 30d: [Ed whose entire 18-season career was with the Mets]? These clues tell me nothing. Luckily, I’ve seen the name KRANEPOOL before and KEVIN is a standard American first name (though I thought I’d need a Spanish name to go with Correia). I’m okay with a lot of pop culture in the puzzle, but I don’t enjoy a baseball pile-up.
I like the 3×10 and 4×9 corner stacks—their short crossings are neither “wow!” or “ugh,” so I’ll take it.
- 15a. [Legendary lutist], ALAN-A-DALE. I leaned on the crossings here.
- 16a. [TV host Chung], ALEXA. Heard of her; have no idea what she hosts. The other halfway famous ALEXA is Alexa Ray Joel, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley’s pop singer daughter.
- 28a. [Character in "Unforgiven"], CAPITAL U. I was almost talking myself into a cowboy named Capiteau.
- 28d. [With 33-Across, "The Voice" vocal coach], CEE LO GREEN like an EMU egg. He’s taking season 4 off (Shakira and Usher are taking the place of Cee Lo and Xtina) but is due to return next season.
- 44a. [0-0], POINTLESS. I wanted a question mark for the clue, but the dictionary does give a meaning for “without a point scored.”
- 4d. [Old-time actress Bennett], ENID. Okay! Raise your hand if this is your kind of pop culture.
- 7d. [Beefy Provençal stew], DAUBE. Never heard of it.
- 13d. [Monster], EXTRA-LARGE. Like monster trucks.
Top fill: SOBERED UP, SADDLEBAG, ODD MAN OUT, LAST SUPPER, OPENING ACT, NOSY PARKER.
Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Apologies in advance, but my reviews for the next couple of weeks will be briefer than usual, as I’m in the middle of a finals crunch.
There’s a lot to like about this puzzle. Though some may have bristled at it, my favorite section of the puzzle by far was the CAT’S-PAW / KATAKANA / EPOXYING / KEY OF C corner. No trashy fill, lots of visual interest, and a broad range of knowledge tested (vocabulary, language, literature, science, music, sports). The other sections of the puzzle were smooth sailing for me: nothing too tricky, no ugly fill, a few bright spots (BRAQUE, SQUID INK, SVELTE, BRISBANE, ED HELMS, I AM SAM), but mostly just solid all-around.
The clue for 38d, ENORMITY [Unfathomable size] might ruffle a few feathers, as enormity‘s primary definition is “great wickedness.” Here to explain is the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel:
Usage Note: Enormity is frequently used to refer simply to the property of being great in size or extent, but many would prefer that enormousness (or a synonym such as immensity) be used for this general sense and that enormity be limited to situations that demand a negative moral judgment, as in Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot’s oppression. Fifty-nine percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of enormity as a synonym for immensity in the sentence At that point the engineers sat down to design an entirely new viaduct, apparently undaunted by the enormity of their task. This distinction between enormity and enormousness has not always existed historically, but nowadays many observe it. Writers who ignore the distinction, as in the enormity of the President’s election victory or the enormity of her inheritance, may find that their words have cast unintended aspersions or evoked unexpected laughter.
Only three clues with question marks in the entire puzzle, which might be why I found it so straightforward: the aforementioned 17a, EPOXYING [Modeling job?]; 33a, ELS [Legal extremes?]; and 23d, LITMUS [Chem test paper?].
This puzzle would also be a good place for aspiring collegians to start studying SAT words: we’ve got 3d, BLANDISH [Flatter in a cajoling way]; 41d, BROOKS [Tolerates]; 44d, IMPUGN [Call into question]; 46d, PLINTH [Statue base]; and 31a, DESPOTIC [Wielding absolute power].
4.1 stars from me. Until next week!
Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Feh. I did not enjoy this puzzle, what with its handful of roll-your-own words and a central pile-up of things that I couldn’t reconcile.
I opted for the slangy KLUDGE for 46a: [Hack], but it turned out that the “person who does dull routine work” sense of the clue word was intended, DRUDGE. Having KLUDGE in place (and it would’ve been my favorite entry in this puzzle!) thoroughly blocked my ability to finish the crossings above it. I also had TENET instead of TENOR for 25a: [Word from the Latin for ''hold''], which meant that the 21d: [Online offering of big-box retailers] space was looking like LE*ALAK, which is nonsensical. I don’t care for that clue for LOCAL AD—have not encountered this particular sort of local ad. I had no idea that RENOIR was our 26d: [Wagner portraitist]; I wouldn’t have guessed a French painter. I pieced together that 31a: ["El mediodía o la medianoche''] wanted the Spanish for “twelve” (midday or midnight), but wasn’t sure if it was DOZE or DOCE. Oy vey!
The roll-your-owniness that I found offputting included VENTLESS, SMITERS, ELOPERS, and LARGENESS. Yes, they’re all valid words, but their root words are not usually joined to these particular word endings. You put one or two of them in a puzzle and I might not notice; four of them will stick in the craw.
- 43a. [Part of the Armored AutoGroup], STP. STP is dreadfully boring repeater fill, but hey! Fresh clue.
- 60a. [Science 101 microscope specimen], ONION. Because it’s thin and translucent and you can see the cell walls, right? Interesting clue.
- 12d. [It's made with anise and fennel], ABSINTHE. And this is why I don’t drink absinthe.
I don’t care for TAN being clued as a trigonometry 63d: [Calculator button] when SINE is already in the puzzle. All those people with math phobias are going to shut down completely. It’s akin to the non-baseball-fans’ shutdown in today’s NYT.
The fill is mostly solid and the clues are mostly solid, but I really did not enjoy this puzzle. It may be a 4-star puzzle for which I had a 2-star solving experience.