Lollapuzzoola! I am so looking forward to this tournament tomorrow morning, but I can’t believe I have to be somewhere at what feels like 9 a.m. Central time. Could be worse. I could be coming in from Mountain time (hi, Al Sanders!) or Pacific time (hi, Trip Payne!) or Australia time (woman I don’t know named Joanna who surely wins the prize for biggest time differential). If you want in on these delicious Lollapuzzoola crosswords but won’t be in Manhattan on Saturday, try the at-home solving division (details here: bemoresmarter.com).
Chris McGlothlin’s New York Times crossword
Super brief post tonight, as I am out of town, sleepy, and mildly inebriated, and nobody else on Team Fiend was able to pick up the Saturday NYT assignment.
Highlights: GODEL ESCHER BACH is a helluva 1-Across. PRIVATE AUDIENCE is nice. SPOKE OFF THE CUFF is very effy. And I love PUTS THE KIBOSH ON.
Lesser lights: Didn’t much love the short fill, and some of the eight 15s left me cold. “ONE SECOND, PLEASE” feels mildly arbitrary. STATE ASSISTANCE feels like the sort of answer that may have appeared in the bottom row of triple stacks before, what with all those S’s and T’s. And I don’t know who is content to have CAUGHT A FEW WINKS. Just a few? People! Do not settle for anything less than the full forty winks. You need to have napping standards. 35d: [Manhattan univ.] plays the “ha ha, it’s Manhattan, the town in Kansas, not the Big Apple” trick, but the answer just feels wrong to me. KANSAS ST? I could swear it’s “Kansas State,” “K State,” or “KSU” and never ever “Kansas St.” Yes? No?
I put together POTSDAM, ARAPAHO, NOKOMIS, and STEFANO with crossings. Surprised to have that many 7s requiring the back-and-forth work in the grid.
Favorite clue: 45d: [One trying to avoid a banking crisis?] for airline PILOT. Our pilot today did a lot of banking. Rather more than one would have liked, in fact. But it was a Delta Shuttle flight and Gareth Bain’s LEAPIN’ LIZARDS puzzle (3/26/13 NYT) was in the in-flight magazine. Least favorite clue trying to be cute: 49d: [Little chances?] for OPS, short for opportunities.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Only 64 words in this grid, but boy does Julian Lim make them count. Hardly any RUBBISH in this grid, and I’m still marveling at those 6×6 blocks in the NW and SE. If I’ve solved a grid like this before, I can’t remember it.
I think the star entry in this one is 7d, “DON’T EVEN GO THERE!” ["That's a touchy subject"], and I love that it crosses the also-slangy 15a, “OH, I DUNNO” ["Well, it sure beats me"].
But even those great entries are overshadowed by the beautiful construction of those 6×6 corners. To me, the cleanness of this grid is more impressive than a sloppy triple stack of 15s. If there’s a weak spot in the NW, it’s probably 19a, ROSTEN ["The Joys of Yiddish" author Leo], but the crossings are all more than fair.
In the SE, 45d, ARMERS [Weapons suppliers] is a bit ugly, especially crossing the much more acceptable SCORER. But everything else in those corners is gold. Highlights include WHARFS, WHISKS [Froth makers], ANKARA, KARENINA in the NW and DOCUDRAMA, RED SOX, BIEBER, and BEDLAM in the SE. That Julian Lim, he’s NO SLOUCH.
I never really knew that 20a, TWEEDLES, meant [Lures with music]. I guess I thought it meant the same thing as “twiddles?” The clue for 39a, GIFTS [Occasional presentations?] was nice, and I also liked the clues for the suffix -ADE [End of the block?] and its neighbor HEXERS [Charming people?]. Other than that, the cluing in this one was pretty straightforward.
Just a few bugaboos in this grid: the DUC/DUCTED echo, OUIDA (fine, but never my fave), NISI, the SAAR/ROES crossing, and the partial A SEED.
3.75 stars from me. Until next week!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Closing Bell” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Like our blog hostess, I’m in NYC for LPZ 6, so will also be brief. Four theme phrases that end with a word that can precede “bell”:
- [Join someone for a drink] clues BELLY UP TO THE BAR – “barbell.” Seeing BELL begin that phrase troubled me more than just a little bit–I was wondering at first how “closing” in the title could imply that phrase would begin with BELL?
- [Urban foraging technique] is DUMPSTER DIVING – a “diving bell” is some type of bathysphere, no? And as for the phrase “dumpster diving” itself, I’ll refer you back to prior discussions re: HOBOES and move along.
- [Traditional elocution exercise] clues HOW NOW BROWN COW – a “cowbell” hangs around a cow’s neck and also is often used at road races to cheer the participants.
- [Monument dedicated in 1886] is The STATUE OF LIBERTY – the “Liberty Bell” sits in Philadelphia and has a crack in it. Read all about it here.
Besides my beginning misstep thinking BELL would start the phrases, I enjoyed the rest of the theme. I think the scientist in me enjoyed [Move to a different state?] for MELT the best, whereas [Six feet under, metaphorically] for DEAD was something I’d rather not be reminded of in my daily diversions.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”- Sam Donaldson’s review
With so many members of Team Fiend in New York this weekend, it falls to me to review this week’s Saturday Stumper. I was happy to see Frank Longo’s byline. He’s one of the best around, and his Cranium Crushing Crosswords remains one of my all-time favorite puzzle books. Today’s puzzle reminded me of many in Frank’s book–I hit several walls, and each time I broke through one, entries started falling left and right, leading me to think the end was near. But then I’d hit the next wall. The timer would keep tick-tick-ticking while I sat there motionless. A few minutes later, another breakthrough until the next (inevitable) wall.
I was thiiiiis close to writing that the puzzle had one too many walls for my liking. But looking back, I see that I created a few of them myself. Like using MVP as the [Coveted sports award] instead of a perfect TEN. Or SCARF for [Gobble] instead of SNARF. Or HOME DECOR as a reasonable guess for the ["House Beautiful" rival] instead of the correct (and heretofore-unknown-to-me) answer, ELLE DECOR. Or three wrong choices (TIMEX, SEIKO, and SANYO) for the [First watch on the moon] instead of OMEGA. Most embarrassingly, though, I had TIGER STADIUM (believe it or not) as the answer to [Tigers' home] instead of COMERICA PARK. Thank goodness I caught that one early enough that no one would ever know about it. Wait, oops! Um, never mind.
Other items of note:
- I was almost sure that [Employed a king] was a chess reference, but it turned out to be a king-size mattress upon which one would have SLEPT.
- I was excited to learn about the UPA [___ tree], a confider that’s a member of the yew family. As in “yew read that wrong, mister.” It’s UP A tree.
- [What some city drivers will glance at] was a nasty little clue for the BUS PASSES that bus drivers may glance at as one boards or exits. And BUS PASSESS sits atop BREATHERS, with the fun clue, [They might lighten your pants]. (Yes, Virginia, I tried BLEACHERS first. And no, Virginia, I’m not proud.)
- I can see how B AND E, (“breaking and entering,” not, as I had hoped, the new channel from the folks who brought you Arts & Entertainment Network) would be a [Crime, to a cop], but it’s a crime for everyone too. And not all crimes involve breaking and entering. To my ear, [Certain crime, in cop-speak] would be a more accurate (albeit less Stumper-ish) clue.
- Part of me really wanted the ["Cafee" alternative] to be EAU DE TOILET (it fits, though the spelling’s a wee off). But it’s just good old-fashioned Franch mineral water, or EAU MINERALE.
- ESTATE TAXES are a [Financial planning concern], but with such high exemption amounts in place (currently $5.25 million for single people and $10.5 million for married couples) it’s only a real concern for a very, very small segment of the population.
- Crosswordese saved by a good clue: [Professor's final?] for IAL, as in “professorial.” Crosswordese made even worse by a bad clue: [Edgar Lee Masters masterwork, initially] for SRA, short for the Spoon River Anthology. All the Mexican misses should be up in brazos. Note that the two examples in this bullet point are located symmetrically in the grid. That’s either eerie or cool, your choice.
- I thought I knew my breakfast cereals, and right away I sensed that [Post product] wanted some form of Post cereal. But RAISIN BRAN didn’t fit, nor did SHREDDED WHEAT or every crossword-lover’s favorite, ALPHA-BITS. It turned out to be GREAT GRAINS. Bah, cereals without sugar don’t count!
- You know [Bold choice] is a tricky clue when you see it. I thought maybe “Bold” referred to Bold laundry detergent. But here we are supposed to be thinking of a bold font, in which case ARIAL works.
- Those with refined tastes may appreciate the two [Tapered end]s in the grid, NOSE and DEE, along with PURL, the [Ornamental lace edging]. But for brutes like me, those clues just have us saying, “Next clue, please.”
- Had I known that Lionel Martin was one of the founders of a car company, I might have been able to suss out that the [Hill where Lionel Martin raced cars] was ASTON Hill, thus giving us the Aston-Martin name. There’s just enough information in that clue to get you to the right answer, and even though I got lost in the popcorn trail, I think the clue is great.
Favorite entry = OFFING, clued as the [Near future]. Favorite clue = [They're often helping hands] for ACES, cards which usually serve to help poker hands.