Happy puzzlebloggiversary to Neville Fogarty! His weekly crossword site celebrates its first birthday this weekend. If you’ve never visited, you have dozens of puzzles to catch up on. Knock yourself out!
Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
Eh. I didn’t much enjoy solving this puzzle. Lots of things that I didn’t know (and did not feel particularly enlightened to learn) and a fair number of entries that triggered the Scowl-o-Meter. But first, my favorite bits:
- 17a. [A guillotine is used to remove them], TONSILS. That may be outmoded surgical technology, judging from cursory Googling. Would you like to watch a YouTube of a tonsillectomy performed with some sort of ablation device? (Sorry, I like medical stuff.)
- 27a. [Friday, e.g.], RIGHT-HAND MAN. Irksomely gendered phrase.
- 58a. [Speaker of the house, perhaps], BOSE. Did you read the obituary for Amar Bose, inventor of those Bose stereo speakers? I’d always assumed Bose was a northern European name, but Bose’s dad was from India.
- 65a. [ABC's first color program, with "The"], JETSONS.
- 47d. [Jordache alternative], GITANO. Kind of a terrible entry, actually, but I enjoy a good flashback to the early-’80s designer jeans craze. Raise your hand if you had Jordache, Sasson, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Calvin Klein jeans back in the day.
Don’t really know:
- 1a. [1993 hit with the lyric "Keep playin' that song all night"], HEY MR DJ. Learned this one from a crossword.
- 15a. [Gross, to a toddler], ICKYPOO. Tough to clue, no?
- 46a. [1957 Dell-Vikings hit], COME GO WITH ME. Huh?
- 9d. [He hit 106 more home runs than Barry Bonds], SADAHARU OH. It was looking like somebody RUTH for a while there.
- 51d. ["Orfeo" composer Luigi], ROSSI.
- 54d. [Setting of "Love Me Do": Abbr.], G MAJ. Man, I hate this sort of entry.
Felt sort of contrived:
- 18a. [Good with], ADEPT AT. The “at” feels needlessly tacked on here.
- 44a. [Seeking], OUT FOR. Feels naked without “blood” afterwards.
- 66a. [Big spinning effort], PR BLITZ. It Googles up okay but felt a tad off to me.
- 29d. [Audi model retired in 2005], A TWO. The weird contrivance of spelling out a numeral. It’s the Audi A2, of course.
- 33d. [Meanie's lack], WARM HEART.
The Scowl-o-Meter clanked and juddered when it hit ONER and NEB ([Tortoise's beak]) beside one another.
Tom Heilman’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Quick review this week from me: I’m studying for the Bar exam, so I haven’t had a lot of time to solve.
A very nice puzzle from Tom Heilman. What I noticed immediately was how Scrabbly it is: at a glance I count 1 Q, 4 Zs, 1 X, and 3 Ks. In particular, the SW corner is jampacked with pizzazz: JUAREZ, ZINES, ENOKI, ZEKE, JEDIS, JUNKET, and BLAZON.
The NW and SE are all 8s and 9s. All solid entries, but nothing jumps out at me as stellar. I like LA CROSSE clued as the Wisconsin city rather than the sport, and I thought the clue for LIP READER [One who may confuse cees and zees] was clever.
Ever seen a TREE TOAD [Arboreal hopper]? I’d never heard of it, but a cursory Google search tells me it’s just a less common name for the tree frog.
Faves: YUK IT UP, DCON, Kenneth TYNAN (your mileage may vary), THORAX, and everything in the SW corner.
Unfaves: Not a lot to put here. All BETZ are off, nickel ODEONS. Liked the RED TAG sale on hot brands including ARMANI, but I don’t like hot brands that go on STERE BUTS. LYTE and DERM are meh, CEN is kinda bad.
Another 3.8 stars from me. Until next week!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “To Bursting” – Dave Sullivan’s review
This puzzle feels like it would have best run the day after Thanksgiving as it features four theme phrases that begin with a synonym of how one feels after pigging out:
- A [Big crowd] is a PACKED HOUSE
- A [Pompous dullard] is a STUFFED SHIRT
- [A gun ready to be fired, for example] is a LOADED WEAPON
- And finally, one of my FAVEs, [One of a baker's dozen, perhaps] is a FILLED DONUT – not sure I’ve ever heard this phase without it being preceded by what the filling in–jelly, creme, etc.
These kind of themes work best when the operative word doesn’t have its traditional “title-implied” meaning (as in yesterday’s “Melancholy, Baby” puzzle, “blue” as in “BLUE RIBBON PANEL,” does not mean sad). But here, I think the words just have the meaning implied by the title. Anywho, the phrases were PACKED with some fun and punch, and that always makes for an enjoyable solve.
The puzzle actually made me kind of hungry–not only with the FILLED DONUT, but there was [Milk thickened with a butter and flour roux] for BECHAMEL crossing [Pushover] or CREAM PUFF (there’s that filling I was missing!). When I think of bechamel sauce, I think of the Greek eggplant dish of moussaka…share your favorite recipes in the comments below. Other nice entries are CRAZY IDEA, SNOOZED, DR. SEUSS, KNAPSACK and “TEN-FOUR”, the last I always want to append with “good buddy.” My FAVE fill was both the word [Crotchety] and what it clued, PECKISH. I think of being hungry if I’m peckish (there’s that food again!), but of course, if you’re hungry, you also tend to be crotchety as well.
The fill in this one is good enough to not merit an UNFAVE, so congrats to Tony on that.
Jeffrey Harris’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Super-smooth fill, challenging Stumper-grade clues, 72-worder, a dozen long answers, minimal abbreviations, reasonable number of proper nouns? 4.5 stars. Here’s hoping that Jeffrey Harris becomes a regular member of Stan’s Stumper stable of constructors.
My favorite bits:
- 15a. [Model for an '85 Warhol painting], BARBIE DOLL. Great entry.
- 39a. [What a toxoid can prevent], TETANUS. If you haven’t had a tetanus toxoid vaccination in the last 10 years, get one from your doctor or at a drugstore clinic. /servicejournalism
- 44a. [Feature of some watches], GPS. Fresh clue. Good for runners and hikers; can be used to track the distance and route traveled. Anyone got a recommendation for a good GPS watch for runners? My husband wants one.
- 52a. [___ America (cable station)], BBC. Love this because Gordon Ramsay is my TV boyfriend. I do enjoy Kitchen Nightmares.
- 55a. [Victim called Dr. Black in Britain], MR. BODDY. The victim in the board game Clue (the limeys call it Cluedo, and I want to know if that’s pronounced Clue-dew or Clue-dough. Clue-eh-doh?)
- 65a. [Home of ''Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant''] EURODISNEY. I didn’t translate the French (The Castle of Sleeping Beauty,” I think) and assumed it was a painting in a French museum. Crossings didn’t work for Musée Orsay, which is Musée d’Orsay anyway. D’Oh.
- 67a. [Game with a Blitz variation], SPEED CHESS. Great answer. For a 9, we would have accepted BEJEWELED.
- 13d. [Splits], DIVVIES UP. Great entry.
- 14d. [High-grade quality], STEEPNESS. Dull answer with a great clue. As in a steep grade on a mountain road.
- 32d. [''Whichever''], EITHER WAY. Colloquial.
- 33d. [Top-10 duet of 1960], LET IT BE ME. See, I’ve heard of this song.
- 50d. [It flows from some fountains], SYRUP. As in soft drink fountains dispensing sodapop syrup and fizzy water. I like the Coke-branded machine with the touchscreen that lets me combine Diet Coke, orange, and root beer.
- 58d. [Nobelist role that won an Oscar], NASH. One of my Facebook friends just chatted with John NASH (who was played by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind) at a conference in New York. “Got to talk to John Nash on a walk back from lunch. The topics were west virginia, nebraska, the etymology of my first name, and alaska,” he reported.
Things I liked rather less (or didn’t know):
- 2d. [One of the Cavalier poets], CAREW. Baseball’s Rod Carew was a Cavalier poet? No, Thomas Carew, pronounced “Carey,” 1595-1640.
- 10d. [Pipers of song], ELEVEN. I don’t care for a number being clued as a noun this way.
- 34d. [Lose one's touch], GO COLD. This is a stand-alone phrase? I’m feeling cool towards it.
- 52d. [Capital near Köniz], BERNE. Never heard of Köniz. Population of less than 40,000? Pfft. The town’s job here is just to say “5-letter capital in a country where German is spoken.”
Keep on stumpin’, Jeffrey.