Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword
- 1a. [It may provide closure in a tragedy], ACT FIVE. Better than the more common ACTI/ACTV type of answers, no?
- 15a. [City named for Theodore Roosevelt's vice president], FAIRBANKS, ALASKA. Not Douglas Fairbanks?
- 28a. [Largest city in Moravia], BRNO. Gotta love the Czech places with vowel shortages. I believe my train from Prague to Vienna passed through, and that may be the place where we gave children some money and sent them out to the train platform to buy us some beer.
- 30a. [Morale], ESPRIT DE CORPS. Lovely entry.
- 50a. [1965 Beach Boys hit], DO YOU WANNA DANCE.
- 53a. [Mission], HOMELESS SHELTER.
- 2d. [Lot arrangement], CAR LEASE.
- 13d. [Macedonia's capital], SKOPJE. Possibly my favorite world capital from a spelling standpoint.
- 16d. [Large monitors], KOMODO DRAGONS. Monitors = large lizards as well as computer screens and sentries.
- 33d. [Hit hard, as in an accident], PLOW INTO.
- 41d. ["Yowza!"], “OH, MY, MY.” Felt a hair iffy to me, but it’s also a song title and the songwriters were likely drawing on a familiar phrase.
Here are my favorite clues:
- 17a. [Word search technique?], FREE ASSOCIATION.
- 18a. [Webby Award winner who accepted saying "Please don't recount this vote"], AL GORE.
- 19a, 11d. [With 11-Down, animal called "stubbin" by locals], MANX / CAT. Stubby tail.
- 21a. [Diddly], BEANS. As in “It ain’t worth ___.”
- 29a. [Mob member, informally], ROO. A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
- 35a. [Second in command?], AIM. In the command “Ready, aim, fire.”
- 7d. [Nissan bumpers?], ENS. The N’s at the front and back of the word are analogous to the bumpers at the front and back of a car.
- 10d. [Cigarette paper source], FLAX. I did not know that.
- 22d. [Abandon one's efforts, informally], PUNT. Not just in football.
- 28d. [Dover soul], BRIT. A person from Dover, England.
- 34d. [Tip used for icing], SILENCER. “Icing” meaning killing, executing—not frosting.
Oh, I forgot another hallmark: Scrabbliness. Three K’s, two J’s, an X and a Z.
Quasi-mystery clue: 27a. [-i relative], ESE. I think this is a demonym ending. Japan : -ESE :: Iraq : -I. Agree?
All in all, an AFFABLE (1-Down) puzzle. Four stars.
Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
You know what I really like? This puzzle.
You know why? Cause I’m a sucker for a high Scrabble score. I don’t even care that RAZZMATAZZ and ISUZU RODEO are stacked on top of a lackluster SESAME SEED, or that we needed ARIS to make it happen, because there are FIVE Zs in that corner. In the NE, the literary OEDIPUS REX is the star, sandwiched between the lively CRAPS TABLE and “I CAN RELATE.” Nancy LOPEZ crosses an Arkansas RAZORBACK, JADA JABS in the NW, and there’s an ORAL EXAM on or around SAXONY.
And for having such a high Scrabble score, this puzzle has a lot of good, non-Scrabbly supporting fill as well. The marquee entry is the 15-letter DISCOMBOBULATED spanning the center of the grid. I’m also a fan of FIRE OPAL, SHIH TZUS, “YOU TWO,” DAEWOO, and ALDO GUCCI. And, though your mileage may vary, I liked the phrase-iness of THE TOWEL.
Lest I be accused of cockeyed optimism, let’s have a look at the minus column: -INI as a pasta suffix, ATTA, AROO, the aforementioned ARIS, UP A, AS LOW, TUE, and A DASH. That seems lower than usual, right?
Somewhere in the middle: PINKED (as in “pinking shears,” but a different tense of the verb “to pink”). Did you all like this entry? I’m still undecided about it.
Just what I like in a Saturday puzzle. 3.75 stars from me. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (writing as Anna Stiga)
I made it through the bottom half of this puzzle okay, but the top half knocked me down with a series of wrong turns. I had the R in place for 20d. [Most of Mauritania], and filled in SAHARA instead of the correct answer, DESERT. The H in SAHARA made me think 29a. [Military band] might be HOST (whoops, it’s SASH), which led me to fill in MUSCAT for 8d. [Mideast capital] (but that one’s RIYADH). The S in MUSCAT enticed me to fill in DESI ARNAZ for the 18a. ['50s TV superstar] (this one turned out to be ROY ROGERS). Imagine my surprise to find ARNAZ in the grid after all, clued as 30a. [Co-inventor of the rerun]!
The Stumper is custom-made to lead you down these Pathways of Wrongness, with clues that are open to (mis)interpretation.
My favorite bits:
- 19a. [Shown to be insecure], HACKED. An insecure website or computer system, not an emotionally insecure person.
- 27a. [''Ice __'' (tennis great's nickname)], BORG. I swear I did not know this, but the iceberg/Ice Borg play felt natural enough.
- 41a. [Home of the Tyrolean Lodge and The Innsbruck hotel], ASPEN. Ha! Austrian Alps in the Colorado Rockies.
- 50a. [Trade partner in the oil business], CAP. Not a “trade partner” but a “word that partners with the word ‘trade.’”
- 58a. [Result of some successful pitches], STRIKE ONE. So often, “pitches” in crossword clues are sales pitches. Not this time.
- 1d. [Quest for some Yelp users], SUSHI BAR. Great entry. Not wild about the nonspecificity of the clue, though.
- 5d. [Take turns], STEER. Would have been easier as [Make turns]. But who wants easier in a Stumper?
- 25d. [Some pubs], MAGS. Magazines, publications.
- 26d. [Character last seen at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony], MR. BEAN. Rowan Atkinson, slapstick.
- 32d. [Stage line], REIN. Stagecoach, not theater stage.
- 33d. [Modern music outlet], EARBUD. Yes, music comes out of an earbud. Meanwhile, a TAPE DECK is an [Old music outlet], and a JUKE(box) is a [Record holder of yore].
- 38d. [Letter-reading rituals], EYE TESTS. Individual letters on the Snellen chart, not written correspondence.
Worst fill: None.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy crossword, “The Bee Gees” — Matt’s review
Can’t go on autopilot while solving a Klahn since the clues are so original and tricky. Bob is famous for his clues — the Orca Award for cluing is named in his honor — and this puzzle’s roster won’t tarnish that reputation one iota.
The theme is a vowel progression (with a nice title):
17-a [Hip-hop wear] = BAGGY PANTS
23-a [Seeking compassionate treatment] = BEGGING FOR MERCY
34-a [VIPs] = BIGGIES
47-a [Stretching credulity] = BOGGLING THE MIND
53-a [Heading for the hills] = BUGGING OUT
Works for me. I had UNVIABLE at 35-d [Unable to survive or develop normally] leaving me with BUG-something, but I knew a pro like Bob would never in 1,000,000 years do a vowel progression theme out of order so in the I eventually went. Only other real snag I hit was in the SW corner, where GO/NO GO was unfamiliar but sounds cool [Like decisions to quit or continue] and EGOS was clued with typical Klahnian misdirection as [Star wars starters]. I had E?O? and wanted it to be EWOK. Is EWOK the plural of EWOK, and weren’t they too fuzzy and cute to fight wars? And 10 seconds got added to my time.
Bob has long been a master of smooth fill — he was Will Shortz’s longtime “grid doctor” at the Times — and there’s not much CRUD to complain about here. If AGA is the worst thing in your 15×15, you’re doing well. TAGUS (which is Lisbon’s river) is a bit tough but worth knowing and all its crossings are easy. Standout entries include MR. MAGOO, OOMPH, PERNOD, EGG NOG and FUDGING.
Now let’s get to those clues. There aren’t many constructors you can routinely do a “Top 10 Clues” list on a 15×15 for, but with Bob you can. In no particular order:
[Get up and go] = MOVE
[Top specialist at the bakery?] = ICER
[Nasal passages?] = ODORS
[Place in France?] = LIEU
[Play poker?] = JAB
[Skein game?] = GEESE
[Do goo] = GEL
[Pigmented peeper part] = UVEA
[Brought to naught] = UNDID
[Third of October?] = TEE
Totally professional crossword. 4.25 stars.