Rows Garden fans, take note: The Saturday puzzle at the Wall Street Journal is a new Rows Garden by Patrick Berry.
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword
Another themeless gem from the dynamic duo of Bro-hug Wilberson. First up, my favorite fill:
- 16a. [Transported], ON CLOUD NINE.
- 18a. ["Poor Little Fool" hitmaker, 1958], RICKY NELSON. Dreamboat for my mother’s generation.
- 32a. [Treadmill runners, maybe], PET MICE. Interesting entry. Also considered PET RATS and feel good about the mice.
- 34a. ["Sex is an emotion in motion" speaker], MAE WEST. Full name #2, plus a lively quote clue.
- 37a. [Not reliable], HIT OR MISS. I.e., unlike Bro-hug Wilberson.
- 50a. [Inventor's undoing?], LIE DETECTOR.
- 2d. ["You've got to be kidding!"], OH, PLEASE!
- 12d. [1899 painting used to promote gramophones], HIS MASTER’S VOICE. The dog is Tige, right? Even though that’s better suited to a cat?
- 24d. [Hybrid menswear], BOXER BRIEFS.
- 38d. [Banana Republic defender, maybe], MALL COP. Terrific answer!
And now, we present my favorite clues (along with 34a and 38d):
- 15a. [Start of many a "Jeopardy!" response], WHO. As in “Who is HANS Asperger?”
- 26a. [A choli may be worn under this], SARI. The choli is the short-sleeved, supra-midriff top worn beneath the sari.
- 4d. [Wedding rings?], HORAS. I was over 40 before I experienced my first wedding hora. #shiksa
- 14d. [National service], RENTAL. As in the National car rental agency.
- 40d. [Ersatz blazer], GAS LOG. The blazing is real, but there is a definite ersatzitude involved.
- 51d. [Got out of the way], DID. As in “Well, I got that out of the way.”
- 1d. [Tree also known as a sugar apple], SWEETSOP. Vaguely knew this. With the SW- start, it came together.
- 56a. [Image on Utah's state quarter], GOLDEN SPIKE. Wait, I was assuming this was a plant. Is it a railroad spike? To the Google machine! Yes, railroad. The spike driven to complete the transcontinental railroad in 1869, in Utah Territory. “Immediately afterwards, the golden spike and the laurel tie were removed, lest they be stolen, and replaced with a regular iron spike and normal tie.” Aha! Still botanical—the special railroad tie was made of the California laurel. And I learned a little Utah/transportation history.
Did not know: 3d. [Perfectly], TO A FINE FARE-THEE-WELL. Much better than a fine how-do-you-do, which is a bad thing. A fine greeting is bad and a fine goodbye is perfect? Okay, English idiom. Go home; you’re drunk.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Floating Along” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Five people whose names include a type of boat:
- A ["Knots Landing" costar] clues JOAN VAN ARK – I was more of a Dallas and Dynasty fan in my day, but am familiar with the actress.
- [Academy Award-nominated lyricist of "Come Saturday Morning"] is DORY PREVIN – know the song, not the lyricist. Any relation to the conductor André? Dories are rowboats, I think, or at least they are on the smaller side.
- A [MLB relief pitcher who was country singer Tim's father] clues TUG MCGRAW – more familiar with Tim than Tug, but have heard both names before. I think “tug” and “tugboat” are used synonymously, no?
- [Actor who played a coin-flipping killer in the 1932 movie "Scarface"] clues GEORGE RAFT – is this his most famous role? I do recognize the actor’s name, but not the 1932 movie, thinking there is a more recent remake.
- [Roxy Music lead singer] clues BRYAN FERRY – Love Is The Drug was one of my college anthems way back when. I think there is an association with the very crossword-friendly Brian Eno with this group.
Very tight theme, I congratulate Tony on finding 5 symmetric names that have a type of boat in them. I also enjoyed the appropriate entry MOOR for [Drop anchor] that tailed off the M of the thematic TUG MCGRAW. A few partials and abbreviations, but I don’t want to detract from what is a very solid and enjoyable theme presentation.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
BUSH HOG looks weird in the grid, doesn’t it? I think it’s probably the double-H. Kind of like fishhook. But today I learned that BUSH HOG is apparently a [Brand of attachable rotary mower].
What a pleasant surprise to see the full name of 9d, YMA SUMAC [Singer known as the "Peruvian Songbird"]! She gets a bum rap because her first name is such a staple of crosswordese, but I’m a fan.
Here’s a quick rundown of my five faves and five unfaves. Faves (other than YMA SUMAC, that is):
- 37d, HONEYDEW [Muskmelon cultivar]. Delicious!
- 64a, WOODSY OWL ["Lend a Hand -- Care for the Land" spokescritter]. When is SPOKESCRITTER going to show up in a grid?
- 21a, SAT IN ON [Audited]. I like entries like this, where the usual fill becomes the clue and vice versa.
- 42d, OHM’S LAW [Current principle]. As in, Current = Voltage / Resistance.
- 44d, POPEYE [Robin Williams title role]. With Shelley Duvall in the role she was born to play, Olive Oyl.
- 43d, RESPELL [Edit, in a way]. I don’t mind this so much, given the high quality of that corner.
- 57a, EILAT [Israel's southernmost city]. Nice trivia clue, but EILAT shows up an awful ei-lot for a city with a population roughly the size of Mankato, Minnesota.
- 11d, WAS I ["How __ to know?"].
- 8d, LUI [That guy, to Guy].
- 23a, MISE [___ en scène].
There were a lot of other highlights: DOG PADDLE, SCHULZ, ICE HOCKEY / OPEN NET, PLUTONIUM, PROGENY, “I SAID NO”. Nice clues for 10a, SWORD [There's a point to it] and 16a, TAPER [Get to the point?]. It took me a while to remember there was a car company called STUTZ. Didn’t care for NRC, ALECKS, MST. On the fence about DEHORN.
3.33 stars from me. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (writing as Anna Stiga)
Oof! Just me, or was this one a killer too? So many recent Stumpers have slaughtered me. This one let me finish the southwest and the northeast quadrants, but the northwest and especially the southeast corner were downright HOSTILE ([Antagonist]).
There were, in fact, some lovely entries in this grid. They were just so hard to get to.
- 1a. [Really bad], THE PITS.
- 28a. [There could be a future in it], CRYSTAL BALL.
- 39a. [Pesto essential], PINE NUTS. I think I’ll add some to my caprese salad/sandwich at lunch today.
- 43a. [Traditional egg source], EASTER BUNNY. The Easter Bunny is, of course, a monotreme like the platypus and echidna, native to Australia and New Guinea but bred elsewhere.
- 1d. [Till now], THUS FAR.
- 25d. [How some shortcuts start], ALT KEY. I’m more of a Mac person, and we have an option key in lieu of an alt key.
Ten of the clues that kept me guessing the longest:
- 40d. [High-school physics prop], U MAGNET. Kinda wanted UV-something-or-other.
- 46a. [Wet __] MOP. Considered HEN and VAC as well. Without knowing 40d’s second letter, I erased 41d: TO TASTE once or twice.
- 56a. [v], AGAINST. As in the legalese abbreviation for “versus.”
- 53d. [Vino Bello Resort city], NAPA. Wine country in California, not Italy.
- 57d. [Quasi-opposite of astro-], GEO. Earth vs. stars.
- 49d. [Digital display], NAILS. Toenails, fingernails, that kind of digit.
- 6d. [Generations from Adam through Noah], TEN. There is nothing in that clue that suggests you need a number, is there?
- 10d. [Part of Greenstreet's ''Casablanca'' costume], FEZ. I should watch that movie again, huh? I remember nothing. Probably watched it before closed captioning was around.
- 34a. [Apt name for a stand-up comic], MIKE. As in “open-mic night.” People are spelling it “mic” now and not “mike.” There’s been a whole hubbub about that.
- 34d. [Hog's grunt], “MINE!”
As I said before, oof. I did finish the puzzle without Googling and without taking a break, so I can’t say that it is unfair. The struggle was sometimes unpleasant, but the “AAH!” (52a. ["That's better!"]) when it all came together was good. Four stars.