Barry C. Silk and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
Yay! Reason for a new portmanteau name: Barry and Brad have teamed up to make this puzzle, and I shall call them Barbra.
Lots of great stuff here, and one utterly unfamiliar thing that didn’t look plausible even though the crossings checked out: 24d. [Common British Isles shader], WYCH ELM. Wych?? Huh.
Highlights: PETIT FOUR, DONNA REED, Laura Bush the LIBRARIAN, GO-GETTERS, PIDGIN, GNOCCHI, FOREVER STAMP, TWITTERVERSE, BEANBAG, EXPEDIA, and WIPEOUTS.
Mystery of the sort-of-junky-fill variety: ERI is ["Cap'n ___" (Joseph C. Lincoln novel)]?? Did not know the NICOLAI clue, [Gedda or Ghiaurov of opera fame]. Opera “fame” might be pushing it a bit, though I have no doubt that both names are entirely familiar to opera-buff Brad. I would only have known this one if the clue were [Amy's 7th-grade math teacher Mike]. Mr. Nicolai was a little dreamy, since he taught the gifted kids about computers with that TRS-80 machine.
Am visiting family with a toasty warm fireplace, but that fire is hell on my sensitive eyeballs, so I’ll sign off now and rest my eyes. 3.95 stars, a little under 4 what with ENIAC and ERI.
Patrick Blindauer’s January website puzzle, “Here’s Looking at You” — Matt’s review
Before you read my review, take a minute and check out Patrick’s sweet new site redesign:
Too cool. That’s an appropriate phrase to introduce this review as well, since 14(!) squares in this month’s puzzle take a rebused double OO. You’ll forgive me for not listing all 28 (OO) words, but some highlights:
***I’m well beyond being surprised when an answer I know is correct doesn’t fit into a Blindauer grid. The one that gave the game away here was 45-across, where [1990 movie based on a Nicholas Pileggi book] is certainly going to be Scorsese’s classic GOODFELLAS. That’s a 10-letter movie going into nine boxes, so I knew tomf(oo)lery was af(oo)t.
***The big payoff comes at 61-across, where [1974 Rolling Stones hit] is D(OO) D(OO) D(OO) D(OO) D(OO). That l(oo)ks very nice, but I’ve seen the Stones in concert twice and I don’t think I know this song. Let me Y(oo)T(oo)be it to jog the old memory. OK yes, I do know that song but thought it was called “Heartbreaker.” Wiki tells me it hit #15, so definitely legit.
***Long solving time for me (11:30), due to not knowing where those OOs were lurking plus some tricky clues. Such as [You might put one on a horse] for BET, [Exercise performed while seated] for ETUDE, and [Layer of flooring] for TILER.
Fun puzzle. There is no other rating I can give it but 4.(00) stars.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Good Dog” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four phrases begin with commands one might give to a dog:
- [Take it easy] clued a nice 15, SIT BACK AND RELAX.
- [Ignore one's bedtime] clued STAY UP LATE.
- [Kraft coating mix] was SHAKE ‘N’ BAKE. A staple of my adolescence. “Shake” is a bit unusual as a command to a dog; I guess it only works with larger dogs who can lift their paw to human height when seated.
- ["I just remembered ..."] clued another nice 15, COME TO THINK OF IT.
Not very original as theme ideas go, but I did enjoy the conversational tone of these particular theme entries as well as the consistency of the commands starting each phrase. I first suspected a rebus with 1-Across: [Hit video game that has players emulating musicians], which I assumed was Guitar Hero. I’ve never heard of this ROCK BAND version and wonder if it’s a similar idea? [Crow with a distinct voice] was a deliberate ploy to not have you think of the musician SHERYL Crow. Never watched a full episode of [Showtime series about a psychopath], but DEXTER is a nice entry in that lower left quadrant. Had my hardest time in the lower right–I had Analyze THIS before THAT, so it took me a long time to see ANOINTED for [Oiled in a way] and TEMPESTS for [Boating dangers]. The crossing KIP-up as a type of gymnastics move was a real head-scratcher as well. Here’s a video of someone doing one. Don’t try this at home folks, that guy is a professional!
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
This is an unusually subtle theme for the LA Times… In fact, although I did glance at the explanation at 52d, I was never really compelled to figure out the theme while solving the puzzles. The crossings provided the theme answers without too much effort. The official LA Times policy is no rebuses, but this is pretty close to one! Four black squares have invisible BRIDGEs (a la that common fantasy trope) that end/start two adjacent answers. Presented “before and after” style they are: FOOT(BRIDGE)HANDS. MRANDMRS(BRIDGE)THEGAP. I hadn’t heard of the former answer. DENTAL(BRIDGE)OFFICERS. NASAL(BRIDGE)HEAD. I think about every meaning of BRIDGE has been used, which is a nice touch, even if it means answers like BRIDGEHANDS that are a touch arbitrary: you could have [any card game]HANDS really.
Other bits and pieces:
- [Creepy thing] for MOSS is avery clever clue to start with indeed!
- [Lit at the table, perhaps], FLAMBE has a clever, if dated clue and is generally a zippy answer.
- ["Shaddap!"], CANIT. Very brash, but it’s a lively shorter answer nonetheless.
- STELE is the type of answer people love to complain about, but if you do any reading about archeology the word will pop up. Specialty words (from whatever field) are perfectly acceptable in moderation in my boat.
- I don’t get why the cash in a COINCASE should be petty. Why should it be?
- [Tip], DOFF. We were taught to doff our required-to-be-worn-when-in-uniform caps at the first primary (elementary) school I was expelled from…
Another strong theme. It’s been a good week theme-wise at the LA Times! 3.75 Stars
Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Morning Addition” — pannonica’s write-up
The title’s a play on “morning edition,” descriptive of newspapers and by expansion some radio and television news offerings. In its modified form, it explains the mechanism of the theme, inserting AM—ante meridiem—into phrases to make new ones.
- 23a [Turkish bath catering to vagabonds?] BUM STE(AM)ER (bum steer). A mentioned in an earlier write-up (or perhaps in the comments), not a fan of equating vagabonds and hobos with bums.
- 25a. Small Chinese alternative to Noah’s Ark?] LIFE S(AM)PAN (life span). Implies that “life ark” (or even “life boat”) is a reasonable description of that vessel? That question mark in the clue is carrying an awfully large tonnage.
- 42a. [How "McHale's Navy" cast members appeared?] AS SE(AM)EN ON TV (“as seen on TV”). Cute, though it might conjure up watching licentious videos for some perverse solvers. Like me, I guess. ps: ick.
- 55a. [Truck driver still in his trial period?] BETA TE(AM)STER (beta tester).
- 80a. [How away parties got back to the Enterprise?] BE(AM)ING THERE (Being There).
- 93a. [Alliance of those who attack from hiding?] (AM)BUSH LEAGUE (bush league).
- 11a. [Paintings depicting one of the Four Horsemen?] F(AM)INE ARTS (fine arts).
- 114a. [Early page in a children's 3-D book of the presidents?] POP-UP AD(AM)S (pop-up ads, not papadams).
- 3d. [Large items thrown overboard?] JUMBO JETS(AM) (jumbo jets). Far and away my favorite themer.
- 67d. [Mariner who can be broken?] T(AM)ABLE SALT (table salt).
Just a few genuinely amusing concoctions, and I became distracted by the preponderance of E → EAM conversions, nearly half of the entries, including the first one across.
- 1a [Rihanna, by birth] BAJAN, which means she’s from the Caribbean island Barbados, not the Mexican peninsula Baja.
- Favorite clue: [Make a cameo] CARVE.
- Initially mis-parsed clue: 104a [Bobby's title] CONSTABLE. Bobby who? Bobby Kennedy? Oh, just “bobby.” Not even Bobby Peel.
- Least favorite fill: 9d [Bank, often] MORTGAGEE. That it crosses 50a PAYEE just makes it that much more offensive.
- 118a [Most hominoids] APES. Most? Did someone confuse hominid and hominoid?
- 56d [Like 60% of all people] ASIAN. Me? My torso, left arm, and right foot (exclusive of fourth toe) are Asiatic.
In general, the CAP Quotient™ is low and there’s enough variety throughout to keep the solve interesting. Good puzzle.