Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword
The theme answers change words with an /sk/ sound into /skw/:
- 17a. [Food critic's assessments of calamari?], SQUID MARKS. At first, I thought this one would be a specific assessment, such as SQUID REEKS. (Skid marks.)
- 27a. [Maneuver on a chessboard?], SQUARE TACTIC. (Scare tactic.)
- 43a. [Rug rat pursuer?], SQUIRT CHASER. (Skirt chaser.)
- 57a. [Outstanding posture for a catcher?], GREAT SQUAT. (“Great Scott!”)
Colorful base phrases for the four theme entries. Now, ideally, either all four would have the SQ word at the beginning of the phrase, or all at the end, or half each way. It’s always a bit discombobulating when you get X … X … X … and then Y. With so much symmetry in crossword puzzles, the theme ought to hew to the same model. Did the fourth theme answer’s structure throw you for a loop, or did you not care?
- 21a. [Part of a Holmes comment to Watson], ”MY DEAR.” “Elementary, ___ Watson.”
- 24a. [Tony-nominated musical based on a 1992 Disney movie], NEWSIES. I don’t care for a newsboy cap. There, I said it.
- 10d. [Topiary pro], LANDSCAPER. Any mention of topiary is good by me.
- 27d. [Made more aware], SENSITIZED. Generally always a good thing.
Dislikes: -ESQUE, ANIL, -EER, -ETH, HGTS., APERS, HIREES. Does anyone’s employer actually call new hires/new employees/new staff “hirees”? This source suspects not.
Ben Tausig’s Chicago Reader/Ink Well crossword, “A Little Off the Top”
As the title suggests, we’ve got vertical theme answers that have each shaved a letter off the top/beginning. They’re all clued with haircut-related contexts:
- 3d. [Person offering their wavy hair to someone in need?], PERM DONOR. Sperm donor.
- 19d. ["Get $5 off on your haircut by getting tight waves"?], CRIMP AND SAVE. Scrimp and save.
- 14d. [Answer to a problem with bobs?], ALINE SOLUTION. Aline is a cousin of align that I’ve seen in crosswords. Or maybe it’s A-line here. Not sure I’d say that a bob follows an A-line, though. Saline solution.
- 7d. [Stylist in charge of dealing with complicated cuts?], LAYER MANAGER. Player-manager.
- 33d. [Money earmarked for neatening up one's hairline with a razor?], EDGE FUNDS. Hedge funds.
- 13a. [Spoils seekers], MARAUDERS. Love the word marauder.
- 17a. [Reach for balls rather than the ball, say], PLAY DIRTY.
- 47a. [Soviet contraband literature], SAMIZDAT. Is that what that means? Okay.
- 59a. [Some Cadillac lowriders], ELDORADOS.
- 62a. [Top of the card], MAIN EVENT. Boxing/MMA reference.
- 35d. [Austin, TX festival], SXSW.
Lowlights: When there’s a little too much blondiness going on from the last couple rounds of highlights, my colorist applies lowlights. In the puzzle, also, plural ERTES, meh.
Did not know: 22d. [Big name in classical guitars], ALVAREZ.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Pass the Ammo” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme entries with a synonym for ammunition (where does that “o” of “ammo” come from? Why isn’t it “ammu”?):
- [Beef strip loin] was SHELL STEAK – yesterday’s first theme entry was Veal Scallopini. The puzzle is starting to cater to carnivores, no?
- [Speech highlights] clued BULLET POINTS – I like to think this term stems from the shape of the arrows that precede each item on a slide, but I may be wrong.
- [Stimulus] clued SHOT IN THE ARM
- [Tournament format] was a ROUND ROBIN – a “round” seems like a unit of ammunition, not a synonym (as the others are), but, despite now living in Vermont, I don’t have any experience in this area.
You know, with the world being such a dangerous and militaristic place that it is, I’d really prefer to keep that topic away from one of the few areas to succumb to such trends, our daily pastime. Perhaps that’s a bit pollyannaish of me, but do guns have to invade even something meant for our amusement? Ah well, we did have the fun PODUNK, ADLIBS (which reminded me of playing Mad Libs as an adolescent), and BREEDER, which is how the gay community sometimes disparagingly refer to the other 90% of the population. I thought the clue for SPLIT, namely [Champagne container] was interesting–I see here it’s synonymous with a quarter bottle.
Patrick Blindauer’s December website puzzle “Turning 100” – Jeffrey’s Digression
Hi, all! Jeffrey here, filling in for Matt Gaffney, who claims he is too busy to blog but likely couldn’t solve the puzzle, as he is bad at trickery in crosswords.
The December monthly puzzle at Patrick Blindauer’s web site is by Patrick Blindauer. Patrick calls this “a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle” which is timely as December 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle.
But the title “Turning 100” has a second meaning. Wherever you see a “C”, which happens to be the Roman numeral for 100, you turn from across to down or from down to across to complete your answer.
- 18A. [Real looker] – KNOCKOUT/ 9D. [IPO of 2012] – FACEBOOK
- 26A. & 32D. [Ford Thunderbird, e.g.] – PERSONAL LUXURY CAR
- 39A. [Nobel Prize category: Abbr.] – ECON / 28D. [Ruff stuff] – LACE
- 44A. & 49A. [2001 Treet Williams/Linda Hamilton film] – SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
- 59A. [Face sideways?] – EMOTICON/ 42D. [Monstrousness] – ATROCITY
A fun pangrammatic entry in what will surely be a large number of anniversary puzzles about puzzles. There are a few books out and lots of talk about why crosswords have lasted and are so popular.
I’ll get back to Patrick soon, but first, this seems like an opportune time to describe my hobby obsession.
I was a casual solver until 2006. I did the daily New York Times and also some puzzle books. I knew one name – Will Shortz. So when I saw Will Shortz’s Tournament Crosswords, Volume 2 in the bookstore, I grabbed it. Who knew there was a Tournament? The enclosed link to the ACPT website led me to order the 2006 puzzles by mail. The silly dream of attending was born.
Then “Wordplay” came out. After we watched it, I idly said to my wife “I should go.” For reasons I still don’t understand, she agreed. My life would never be the same.
Since then, I have solved over 15,000 puzzles. I have blogged over 250, mostly here, with guest spots at Rex Parker and LA Crossword Confidential. I have commented on countless other blog posts, initially under the non-de-puzzle Crosscan. I was the self-proclaimed archivist of Ryan and Brian’s crossword podcast, “Fill Me In.”
I have been published in the Orange County Register newspapers. I have Litzed over 700 Pre-Shortzian puzzles. I haven’t been published in the New York Times (yet), although I inspired a Gareth Bain creation.
I have attended 12 tournaments, in Stamford , Brooklyn, Queens, Alameda, Los Angeles and Santa Monica. I have travelled to Seattle to meet with constructors in a bagel place that has a giant crossword on the wall.
Who knew when I watched “Wordplay” that I would one day share a cab with Al Sanders, spar on Twitter with Tyler Hinman, or share Montreal stories with Ellen Ripstein.
Thank you Arthur Wynne, for that first crossword 100 years ago. Thank you Will Shortz, for creating the modern community. Thank you Amy Reynaldo, for letting me be an active part of that community.
Finally, my five favorite memories:
5. Talking about the construction of quad-stacks with my cab driver, Martin Ashwood-Smith, surely a first in the history of cabbie-fare discussions.
4.Completing a Monday Newsday on paper in 1:59.
3. Walking into the Stamford Marriott hotel in 2007.
2. Hearing Will Shortz call my name for the first of my 4 ACPT trophies.
1. Finishing in the Top 10 of Puzzle 5, 2012 ACPT. The creator of that crossword? Patrick Blindauer. See, I told you we’d get back to him.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I loved the self-referential revealer in this puzzle! It’s an EASYPUZZLE because its theme phrases have the letters EZ (pronounced “easy” if you’re American, otherwise ea-zed, which makes less sense) embedded between their two-word phrases. Importantly, the phrases themselves were mostly above average in interest for me.
- 18a, [Plate ump's purview], STRIKEZONE
- 25a, [Soda for dieters], COKEZERO. Great entry! Horrible drink – I hate the taste of aspartame!
- 49a, [Blush wine, for short], WHITEZIN. This sounds made up, but a Google search suggests otherwise!
- 60a, ["She's Not There" rock group], THEZOMBIES. Great song!
- 3d, [Citrus shavings], ORANGEZEST.
- 31d, [This crossword, literally for some, phonetically for all], EASYPUZZLE.. As suggested previously, this clue is incorrect.
- 14a, [Chowhound's request], MORE. I think “chowhound” is a new word to me, but I may have seen in it (a) previous crossword(s).
- 20a, [Brand for heartburn], ZANTAC. A common brand here. Often our medicine brands and America’s don’t overlap, but here there is common ground as far as ranitidine goes! Is the much cheaper Ultak found Stateside?
- 23a, [Scraps for Rover], ORTS. I learnt this word as part of my animal nutrition course. I don’t know where you all learn it?
- 37a, OFLATE; 41a, SUITSME, and 19d, KEEPOUT form a strong area of interconnected answers. The one compromise for these is the awkward ATME.
- 39a, GREASER, [Mechanic, at times]I can’t fathom why this contrived clueing angle is used when there is a natural, and interesting meaning. Here’ a second, less obviously connected Youtube link!
- 5d, BOSCO, ["Thick and Rich" chocolate syrup]. I learnt about this answer from another recent crossword; and I remembered it too!
- 8d, [Freddie __ Jr. of "Scooby-Doo" films], PRINZE. I was very surprised to discover that his father was also an actor!
A clever revealer and a generally fun grid – 4.25 stars.