Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
A word count of 58? Huh. That explains why I did not particularly enjoy this puzzle.
Granted, there are some entries I enjoyed seeing:
- 16a. ["Oo la la!" jeans, informally], SASSONS. It is a dreadful answer, I know. Plural of an ’80s designer jeans brand name? But! I had Sassons. They were corduroy. In a dark taupe. They enhanced my wardrobe, which also included Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
- 38a. [Round trip for one?], SOLO HOMER. Baseball. The season is almost over! Rejoice, all.
- 14d. [Remedy for a bad leg], KNEE PATCH. This takes me back to my pants of the ’70s. There was a time when iron-on or sew-on patches were all the rage.
- 27d. [2002 Best Original Screenplay Oscar winner for "Talk to Her"], ALMODOVAR.
- 29d. [Spotted hybrid house pet], BENGAL CAT. Bred by mating an Asian leopard cat with a domestic cat.
- 30d. [1980s Olympic star with the autobiography "Breaking the Surface"], LOUGANIS.
- 32d. [Geisha's instrument], SAMISEN. It’s a pretty word, and crossword-friendly to boot.
The interlock of all the 9-letter answers in the middle is pretty, but that pinwheel spins off some roll-your-own entries, such as UNDOCK, RESEES, and TOOLER, as well as some unexpected plurals (PIA MATERS, PRESTOS, ROSSES, AMNESTIES, INNERS). Is any puzzle improved by the presence of any of these eight entries?
My eyeballs hurt, so I’ll sign off here for the night. Tough puzzle, no? Not crazy-hard like so many Newsday “Saturday Stumper” crosswords, but it definitely took some work to piece everything together. How’d it treat you?
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Weather Worries” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme entries (well five, if you count the middle revealer) that end with a type of storm:
- [Smash hit by Prince in 1984] was PURPLE RAIN – and I wanted Raspberry Beret at first.
- [New burst of energy] clues SECOND WIND – we had some serious windstorms here in Vermont last week. An old maple on our property (probably over 100 years old) came down and took down an electric pole with it.
- [Be unused for a long time] was GATHER DUST – I think “collect” is a bit more idiomatic. Dust storms remind me of the Peanuts character Pig-Pen.
- ["Poetry Man" singer] clues PHOEBE SNOW – only vaguely familiar with this singer; here’s her Poetry Man.
Theme was just okay in this one, but the “pinwheel” theme configuration allowed some nice medium-length fill to hold the puzzle together. I’m talking about the current FLAME WAR, TOP BRASS and CLAMS UP. I also liked the SUET / LARD one-two fat punch. I was a bit surprised to see ICE TEA get a British reference in the clue; I guess on this side of the pond we typically call it ICED TEA, but I think the former is also in currency here. I’m torn between awarding my UNFAVE to SSTS or the uncommon E-NOTE, so we’ll just call that one a toss-up for now.
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Tough but rewarding Saturday offering, but further-but not too tough. Found it much easier and more enjoyable than, say, today’s NYT crossword.
A well-filled grid, great cluing, one really couldn’t ask for more. Also, sleepy me must have fallen into every trap. So let’s review the experience by reliving
my every slip most every slip I made, why don’t we?
- Over at 27-down I was so proud of myself for knowing a sports answer without any crossings: famed “Zen” coach Phil Jackson played basketball as a New York KNICK for most of the ’70s. Then I zinged 40d [Success on a mat] PIN. This naturally led to 43a (Yupik craft] ––I–K. What? It’s obviously KAYAK, so out goes PIN and the I … Of course I forgot about the classic UMIAK, and PIN had been correct from the start.
- 47d [Jamaican hybrid fruit] Classic contemporary crossword fill: UGLI! Bam, leading to 47a [Astronomy Muse] beginning with U, so in went URANUS. Have I mentioned that I wasn’t completely awake? In the same area, with the UGLI L in place, I nailed 56a [Singer of the children's album "Camp Lisa"] as LOEB. This was horribly counteracted by being completely fooled by the surname shenanigans in 45a [Thomas who co-created "Free to Be… You and Me"]—you know, the much more famous children’s album from my actual childhood? Gah, curse you MARLO Thomas! (You’re still ok, URANIA.)
- 1d [What collaborators should be in] at four letters, TUNE, duh. No, SYNC, duh. Similarly, and again in UGLIville, 58a [Minute] I––– for ITTY, natch. Ahem, ITSY.
- 51d – At least I was wise enough not to automatically put down YALE for the four-letter [Ivy league member]; it turned out to be PENN. One in a row!
- 28d EGGS, clued as [Early birds?], which is a venerable if slightly hoary crossword clue. Nevertheless, I managed to be completely bamboozled by it, wondering about everything from Archaeopteryx to mourning doves.
- 32a [Authorizing]. Oh right, this one. Just didn’t see it properly; was bizarrely thinking that it was a rather silly and arbitrary variation of “authoring.” Writimating, anyone? OK-ING.
- Had enough? I think you get the idea.
- Oh, here’s another. 54d [FF's opposite]. Seemed reasonable that it was PPP, very piano and not forte. But it was REW(ind), in contrast to fast forward.
Moving forward from the litany of mishaps, let’s have a more conventional look. Some great long fill: two 15-letter spanners to help anchor the grid, NON-DOMINANT HAND [It's hard to write with one] and GOLDEN RETRIEVER [Hunter's companion], then HOT TAMALES and the exclamatory I HAD NO IDEA, as well as the precisely stacked (and excellent) SHABBY CHIC (lovely opener at 1-across) / YOU ARE HERE and KEPT IN LINE / SWEAT GLAND.
- Well-executed cross reference with that YOU ARE HERE, directed to the nearby 22d XES.
- Smartly avoided cross-reference: 49d [Star of Looney Tunes' "For Scent-imental Reasons"] PEPÉ; 24a [Word in a Le Pew address] CHÉRI. All right, appealing to actual francophones here: shouldn’t it be CHÉRIE, as the object of his desire, while of a completely different genus, is indeed female? Although, considering Monsieur Le Pew’s bastardized faux-French, it probably doesn’t matter. Side note: Warner Bros would have been somewhat more progressive if the unfortunate white-striped feline was occasionally a male cat, non? Obviously, I’m making this observation retrospectively. Besides, Bugs and Daffy never hesitated to tog up in drag for amorous liaisons when it suited their needs.
- 6d [Dweller on the Red Sea] YEMENITE, versus YEMENI? Thoughts?
- 37a LET BE crossing 38d BY AND BY. Though neither is clued in any way musically, I instantly imagined a mash-up of the Beatles’ “Let it Be” and the Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
- 34d [Toots] DEARIE. This was asked elsewhere recently: how well-known is Blossom Dearie?
- 11d [Cheesy stuff] SCHLOCK. How can it be schlock when it’s more than 85% consonants? So, file this one under HETEROLOGICAL with “monosyllabic,” “unwritten,” and others.
- Finally, in the CENTRE (10d) is 34a [In reality] DE FACTO.
And this crossword is a DE FACTO winner.
Lars Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber)
Team Brohug is back with a second themeless today. I really liked their LAT puzzle, and their “Stumper” landed smack-dab between the LAT’s and NYT’s difficulty levels. I preferred their LAT to this, actually, what with all those zippy 10- and 15-letter answers. There’s less spice in a puzzle that’s dense with 7s.
- 16a. [Italian for ''what is above''], SOPRANO. I did not know that! Terrific etymology clue.
- 23a. [Fleet with stars on its tailfins], EL AL.
- 25a. [Photo finish focus, maybe], NOSE. Not matte vs. glossy, but a photo finish where one horse wins by a nose.
- 47a. [Dalmatian, for example], SLAV. Dalmatia is a region of Croatia.
- 3d. [Radio show with a wrench in its logo], CAR TALK. Fresh but gettable. It’s now an erstwhile show, no?
- 7d. [TV vehicle for Justin Bieber], CSI. The Bieb was on CSI??
- 11d. [Top-10 surname in Spain], SANCHEZ. My cousin picked up the Sánchez surname by marriage.
- 21d. [Element of much film noir], VOICEOVER.
- 44d. [Brand whose success was groundless?], NESCAFE. Instant coffee, in some mystical form that is not coffee grounds. (What is it?)
- 56d. [Bunch of waiters], LINE. As in the bunch of people waiting in line for new iPhones yesterday.
- 64d. [National grp. since 1897 that elected its first male head in 2009], PTA. Interesting trivia clue.
Favorite fill includes TINDERBOX and ZEBULON Pike.
Not wild about:
- 1d. [Call a bad name], MISTERM. I have never used this word.
- 5d. [Bash], WHOP. This just looks wrong to me. Wanted WHAM, then WHAP. Mind you, WHOP dates back to late Middle English and is still in use now, and is thus unimpeachable as crossword fill. It’s both a noun and a verb.
- 6d. [Captious], SOUR. I dunno. Is a captious person who nitpicks necessarily SOUR? Perhaps so.