Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
I don’t know what a COG RAILWAY (28d. [How many reach the top of Pikes Peak]) is, exactly, but this is still a mighty smooth puzzle. And easier than the usual Saturday puzzle, no? Played like a Friday for me.
Here are my top 10:
- 1a. [Stephen King horror anthology], CREEPSHOW.
- 26a. [Home of the Aggies of the 37-Down], LAS CRUCES. I am fond of it because of that one episode of Wings where the guy from Prizzi’s Honor mixed up Las Cruces and Rock Springs, Wyoming. I exclusively pronounce “Las Cruces” with a rasp.
- 44a. [Game of falling popularity?], TETRIS. Cute clue.
- 55a. [What's often blowing in the wind], POLLEN. POLLEN is the answer, my friend.
- 61a. [Painful spa treatment], BIKINI WAX. I have heard two different comedians describing their experience with a full Brazilian wax, plus read a humorist’s poetic rendition. Sounds gruesome.
- 66a. [Justice from the Bronx], SOTOMAYOR. Love her. Should read her memoir.
- 39d. ["Cloth diaper" or "film camera"], RETRONYM. Acoustic guitar, landline phone …
- 46d. [Cable channel with the slogan "Laugh More"], TVLAND.
- 56d. [___ Biscuit (1912 debut)], OREO. I was thinking of race horses until the crossings bailed me out.
- 10a. [Yoke attachment], OXBOW. Boring clue, though. I much prefer OXBOW as a curved river bend or an arced lake.
I do appreciate a regular ol’ 72-word themeless with some lively answers and no tortured fill. Four stars.
Barry Silk’s LA Times freestyle — Matt’s review
Matt pinch-hitting for Andy on the LAT today, a Barry Silk freestyle. I met Barry in person at the Arlington (Va.) Puzzle Festival last year, nice guy and skilled constructor.
The puzzle grid consists of four pretty compartmentalized sections so I had to break into each one separately (though they do have some long entries in common in the middle). First of the ten 10s I cracked was EDNA FERBER at 26-d [1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist] and after a few letters its neighbor BAD ROMANCE fell [Top-10 Lady Gaga hit from "The Fame Monster" album].
TANDOOR, SHAREWARE and the tricky FOWL TIPS finished off that section, and ???????RAT clued as [Noble] dropped once I realized we were looking at a noun ending in -CRAT. Excellent CREEPAZOID entry gave me JAZZERCISE and ONION BAGEL in the SE, then JOSHUA TREE [Desert plant named for a Biblical spy] and EXPATRIATE [One likely to vote by absentee ballot] and finally I figured out the nice two-word BOSC PEAR with its unusual SCP combination.
This puzzle was all about those 10s; once I got those nailed down the central 8′s and 9′s gave way and the corners were easy to finish off with so many letters. I like all four quadrants but the SE has to win the prize because of that CREEPAZOID/JAZZERCISE/ONION BAGEL power triad.
A fun puzzle but I’ll ding it a few points for ONE B clued arbitrarily as [Spoiler of a perfect GPA] and VANESSA clued oddly as [Genus of butterfly that includes the Red Admiral] instead of as the woman’s name.
Best clue: 47-a [Shell with fish, perhaps] for TACO.
I see as I’m posting this that Barry has the NYT puzzle today, too. Bravo — guess I will go solve that one now as well.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Break in the Action” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme phrases that literally “break” the word ACTION in two:
- ["Upon further thought..."] clues AFTER REFLECTION
- [National Inquirer topic, occasionally] clues ALIEN ABDUCTION – occasionally?
- [Tomoto juice, for one] is ACIDIC SOLUTION – my stomach can testify to this!
- [Fictional supplier of rocket-powered roller skates and jet-propelled pogo sticks] is the ACME CORPORATION – any idea why they kept shipping stuff to Wile E. if he had no obvious means of payment?
Some nice long phrases here in a pretty clean grid, not much more one can ask for in a daily puzzle. My FAVE was the short entry HAT, clued much more complexly as [Balmoral or capuchon]–I’d never heard of either of those hats, and the first term is only familiar to me as the Scottish getaway for the British Royal Family. A capuchon is pictured on the right and is worn typically at Mardi Gras celebrations. My UNFAVE is the reacquaintance with “The Thin Man” terrier ASTA. The “The Thin Man” movie came out in 1934; I think it’s time to retire this poor pooch, don’t you?
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (pen name Anna Stiga)
Smooth fill, tough and oblique clues that eventually make sense. So what else is new? That makes it a standard Stumper, on the more difficult end of the spectrum.
My favorite seven:
- 1a. [Batter's place], BUNDT PAN. Cake batter, not baseball. Gotta love that NDTP consonant pile-up.
- 17a. [Worker's revenge], BEE STING. Worker bee, not human employee. If you have colleagues who arrange for their coworkers or bosses to get stung by bees, you should talk to H.R.
- 42a. [Dr. King's ''too great a burden to bear''], HATE. Just saw the same clue in another puzzle this week, didn’t I?
- 9d. [Beau Bridges' real first name], LLOYD. So he’s Lloyd Jr.? I had no idea. Trivia!
- 24d. [13-time Daytime Emmy nominee], THE VIEW. Great entry.
- 36d. [Sloth descriptor], ARBOREAL. The answer came to me because of that TV show I saw about a sloth refuge center. These creatures are so arboreal, they need a tree or a pole to poop on. And they mate up in a tree.
- 41d. [Name meaning ''princess''], SARA. Did not know that. Amazing, considering how much time I spent as a kid reading baby name books and grooving on name meanings.
Least favorite: 1d. [Pageboy cousin], BOB CUT. I have never encountered “bob cut.” It’s just a bob.
15a looks like “O neon one” to me.
24a: [YouTube features] turned out to be TEXT ADS. I assume this means those irksome lines of text that appear across the bottom of many videos, thankfully with a little “x” to hide them. Haven’t heard them referred to as anything, so TEXT ADS was slow to fall.
I also lingered over 5d: [''Gone with the Wind'' launched it in '88]. I wanted it to be TCM, Turner Classic Movies, or the rival channel whose name escaped me until just now, AMC, American Movie Classics (“In October, 2002, AMC changed its format from a classic movie channel to a broader-based movie network to appeal to a larger audience, including younger folks. We have refreshed our movie library to add some newer titles to the mix, but still feature a wide range of movies.” I never got the memo.) Turns out it’s TNT, which is not primarily a movie channel nor is it devoted to old programming.
3.75 stars from me. Didn’t love the puzzle this week.