David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword
Lots of fresh fill in this one:
- 1a. [Air protection program?], APPLE CARE. For a MacBook Air, or an iPad Air.
- 17a. [1992 chart-topper that mentions "my little turn on the catwalk"], I’M TOO SEXY. Heh. Goofy song.
- 39a. [Long, slender glass for drinking beer], ALEYARD. This is fresh in that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it before, but that also makes it … perhaps a mite dreadful.
- 60a. [Prevent a crash, say], FORCE QUIT. Yep, been there, done that this week. Firefox seems to have incapacitated itself on my machine.
- 63a. ["Buy high and sell low," e.g.], BAD ADVICE. Possibly a touch contrived as phrases go, although “good advice” and “bad advice” are definitely two big advice categories.
- 5d. [___ Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal], ELON. Much fresher clue than the North Carolina university.
- 7d. [Temporarily inactive]. ABEYANT. Never seen this form of the word before, just “in abeyance.”
- 8d. [___ Place (Edmonton Oilers' arena)], REXALL. I grew up with a Rexall Drugs across town, but the US chain no longer exists and is unrelated to the Canadian chain.
- 12d. ["G-Funk Classics" rapper], NATE DOGG.
- 21d. ["Holy smokes!"], “OH, BABY!”
- 35d. [Pioneering underground publication of the 1960s], ZAP COMIX. Think R. Crumb.
- 37d. [1990s sci-fi series], AEON FLUX. Kept alive only by crossword clues for AEON, am I right?
- 11d. [She loves, in 10-Down] clues AMAT, the Latin word. 10d is ROMA, Italian for Rome. They speak Latin in Roma, do they? With zero suggestion that the answer is intended to be the ancient metropolis of the Roman empire, this makes no sense.
- 30a. [Contact on Facebook], POKE. Tell me: When’s the last time any of you used Facebook’s “poke” function? I just checked to see if it’s still there, and yes, I was able to poke Michael Sharp. I don’t know how he’ll be alerted. As far as I can tell, nobody uses “poke” anymore. It has always been entirely useless. It’s for telling someone “I’m thinking about you but I’m too lazy to actually type the word “hi.” Update: He poked me back! So I poked him right back. Now he’s asked me to stop and says no one else has ever poked him. (Note: The word is entirely valid, but the Facebook clues have got to stop already.)
- 2d. [Marmalade fruit], POMELO. You don’t say. Orange marmalade is markedly more popular than pomelo marmalade.
- 47d. [Italian P.M. Letta], ENRICO. Enrico is a common enough Italian name, sure (heck, maybe it’s Latin too), but I don’t keep up on Italian politics. He has held the position for over six months now.
- 61d. [Shopper's choice], QVC. Choice as in “preference” or choice as in “one of a zillion options”? QVC has never been my choice.
Fill I would do without if I had my druthers: OATERS, ALER (22a. [A or O, but not B]), ELEONORA Duse (DUSE was in another recent puzzle with an iffy crossing), STOA, EDY, PRS, DEDE, AMAT.
The Java applet solving times are trending toward the agonizingly slow. What areas threw you for a loop? Was it the unfamiliar words and names I mentioned above?
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “The Heat is Gone” – Dave Sullivan’s review
I believe the title is a play on this song by Glenn Frey, but here we have four phrases where the heat is gone:
- [Get party guests to start mingling] clued BREAK THE ICE – party games like “Spin the Bottle” seem to do this effectively.
- [1983 film in which Kevin Costner portrays a corpse] was THE BIG CHILL – I hear he was very convincing in that role.
- [Employer's cost containment ploy] clued WAGE FREEZE – better that than demotions, I suppose.
- [Act casual] was PLAY IT COOL – another cool phrase.
I really warmed up to this puzzle–both the theme and surrounding fill played themselves out well. My only sticking point was the crossing between BILGE ([Leakage in a luxury liner]) and RANGO ([Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature of 2011]). I see here that the movie is about a chameleon in the town of Dirt in need of a sheriff. Should I add it to my Netflix queue? Without belaboring the point, I’ll just refer the gentle reader to this most recent post with regard to clue to 32-Across.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
As precisely no one will recall, I wasn’t all that thrilled with Mr. C. Silk’s puzzle two weeks ago. This puzzle? JUST ABOUT perfect.
Can I just say how in love I am with UNBIRTHDAY stacked brazenly next to ONE FINE DAY? It’s as if to say, “Yeah, I put DAY right next to DAY. What’re you gonna do about it?” Those were my first two entries into the grid, and they gave me _AA___ and _YY___ at the bottom.
Surely that can’t be right, I said aloud to no one.
LA ANGELS and CY YOUNG. Of course. I TOLD YOU SO, the puzzle said to me in the SE, mocking my earlier self-doubt. If it weren’t for the signature Silkian, almost oppressive Scrabbliness of this grid, I might have suspected that Peter Collins constructed it — what with the Angels and Cy Young having a little mini-baseball-theme-party over on the left side of the grid, and RUBBER SOUL making an appearance on the right.
ONION RING clued as [Side unit] (no question mark), on top of TENNIS ACE [Court expert] (no question mark) = fantastic. The full name of AMY TAN ["The Joy Luck Club" author] crossing JURY DUTY [Court service] (different court from the aforementioned TENNIS ACE) = so good. I even liked all the short stuff! (YMMV with the TABOR/TYRE crossing, I loved the clue for TYRE as [London flat?].)
What didn’t I like about this puzzle? My only NIT to pick is JAZZES [Spices (up)]. Not a big fan of JAZZES alone — it looks like either a plural of the noun JAZZ, or a transitive verb. (And, of course, if you’re referring to multiple players on the NBA team of that name, it’s Utahs Jazz.) Maybe EDEMAS isn’t so much “in the language” (see also “karsts” from yesterday’s NYT).
4.5 stars from me. Until next week!
P.S.: While I didn’t have any trouble with it on the initial fill, upon reexamining the grid, I misparsed THERON as T-HERON because it was directly underneath T-BONDS. Whoops?
Bruce Sutphin’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
No particular delight and no particular grumbles here. It’s all solid but perhaps also stolid. I miss having zippy longer answers—Steinberg’s NYT had five answers that really popped, while many Stumpers just say “Here are a bunch of ordinary words with tough clues.”
Overall, this wasn’t as challenging for me as most Stumpers are. Here are the parts I liked best:
- 1a. [Literally, "low-stature" animal], BASSET hound. From the French for “short.”
- 29a. [One way to catch the game], SNARE. This is about hunting (UGH) and not a new technology for viewing a sporting event.
- 45a. [Command to a canine], LEAVE IT. Yes, I hear that a lot at my sister’s house. (She has two dogs.)
- 6d. [Top choice], TEE-SHIRT. One of your choices when it comes to wearing a top.
- 24d. [Bits of chaff], HAYSEED. It doesn’t just mean “yokel,” you know. It’s also grass seed from hay. (Just as “grass seed” can refer to a bag containing many thousands of seeds, HAYSEED can be plural too.)
- 48d. [Carol word sung 12 times], PEAR. I needed the crossings before it became obvious that “…and a partridge in a pear tree” is sung for twelve verses of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
Lots of clues that should have led me to fill in incorrect answers, but the crossings were easy enough that I always found myself with a letter pointing the right way. So [Times past] is ERAS, not YORE. [Realizes] is NETS, not GETS or SEES. [Dole out] is LADLE, not ALLOT. [__ tea] is SUN, not HOT or ICE. [Fit to serve] is DONE, not ONE-A. [Paws] is MAULS, not MITTS. [Change] is COINS, not ALTER or AMEND.
I don’t get the clue for GOATEE: [President Lincoln wore one, now and then]. Does that mean now, 2013, as seen on the penny, as well as way back when, or does it mean Lincoln’s beard started out more goateeish and maybe he shaved the sides off periodically?
3.75 stars. Smooth but lacking drama.