Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword
Wow, I knew that Jersey Shore had a Pauly D dude, and possibly that he was spinning a DJ career out of his reality-TV fame, but not that the moniker DJ PAULY D (6a. ["Jersey Shore" housemate's music-biz name])was a thing. No idea if this means the at-the-club or on-the-radio type of DJ (and if you know, please don’t tell me; I know too much already). In the 6-Across space, we would also have accepted ST. PAUL, MN.
Favorite clue: 26d. [Three-ring setting], because I didn’t fall for the CIRCUS trap and filled in BINDER, thanks to the B in TAB. And then it turned out to be the BIGTOP after all.
Second favorite clue: The oddballness of signaling ASIAN with 1a. [Like cork trees and flying lizards]. I was tempted by the answer but moved elsewhere in the puzzle right off the bat because I was not at all certain that ASIAN would be right.
- 50a. [House meeting place], THE CAPITOL.
- 60a. [Be an unhelpful interrogee], STONEWALL. We would also have accepted [Birthplace of the gay rights movement].
- 4d. [Like cute nerds, in slang], ADORKABLE. The word was first applied most prominently to Zooey Deschanel’s character on New Girl. With bangs. And cutesy dresses. And, apparently, a certain nerdiness.
- 8d. [Keeping buff?], PACK RAT. Love this great clue! One who is a buff/fan of keeping too much stuff.
- 31d. [Foreshadow], PREFIGURE. I like that word. So sue me.
- 40d. [Touching scene at an airport?], PAT-DOWN. Creepy, both clue and answer—but fresh for a crossword.
Place-name trivia I didn’t know:
- 19a. [Where Lee Harvey Oswald was a lathe operator], MINSK.
- 20a. [City where some believe Cain and Abel are buried], ADEN.
I wonder how many people hit 15a. [Big Dipper's setting] without any letters in place (or with only the 2nd or 8th letter) and filled in URSA MAJOR instead of GREAT BEAR.
Thing I’ve never, ever heard of: 37d. [Constituent of molding sand], SEA-COAL. Also: What’s molding sand? To the Google! Molding sand is used in sand casting, and it also contains bentonite clay (which I also know nothing about).
Another thing I don’t know anything about is the battle of the St. Lawrence (10d. [Raider in the battle of the St. Lawrence]). A U-BOAT? Is this the St. Lawrence Seaway? More or less—the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. L. German U-boats sinking Canadian ships. I bet our Canadian friends are better versed in this bit of history.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
The grid for this one made it very difficult to solve smoothly: it’s very nearly split into two halves, connecting only at the S of CELS/SOMINEX and the R of WEEDIER/ROAM. I found myself jumping from section to section, starting in the NE, going into the S, moving back toward the SE, back up into the N, then to the NW, and finally to the SW. This recap would be much easier with a telestrator, probably.
Hit parade: ZIPPER MERGE, OXYGEN MASK, AREA CODE MAP, SPLASHDOWN, RIESEN (yum!), ANSEL clued as [Adams of film?] (not Amy), SOMINEX, PERU (Indiana), SAGUAROS [Sonoran Desert natives]. I also liked seeing Jorge AMADO in the grid ["Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands" author], but I’m guessing he’s not the most popular entry in today’s puzzle. PHLOX is never a gimme for me. I should probably go learn something about it.
ANEMOSCOPE rubbed me the wrong way, but maybe I’m just bitter because I put ANEMOMETER at first. The puzzle felt more science-heavy than usual, which I liked: I’m counting PHLOX, SAGUARO, and ANEMOSCOPE among science entries, along with ECOTYPES, AMIDE, and perhaps SOMINEX. If you don’t know your sleeping aids, nitrogen compounds, Greek prefixes for “wind,” and Brazilian authors, then the south section of this grid was probably a bear.
In the “didn’t know that” category, see James OSGOOD [whose company published the first U.S. edition of "The Prince and the Pauper]. Apparently Osgood was friends with Mark Twain, and his publishing company would eventually become the New York branch of Houghton Mifflin.
Fine, but not my favorite. A highly subjective 3.5 stars. Until next week!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “National First” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Unusual (not sure in a good way, let’s see how it goes as I go through the theme answers) theme where two-word phrases that end with a nationality are reversed:
- [Doppelganger in Den Haag?] clued DUTCH DOUBLE. I enjoyed the Germanic “doppelganger” with the Dutch reference–”double dutch” is a type of jump roping when you have two ropes going.
- [Green light in Dublin?] clued IRISH GO. The base phrase “Go Irish!” comes from the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The made-up phrase here seems xenophobic at best and scatalogical at worst.
- [Lathe work in Kyoto?] was JAPANESE TURNING. The original source of this one is from this song by The Vapors, I believe.
- [Pied-à-terre in Bangkok?] clued THAI PAD. Pad Thai is a type of noodle dish; I enjoyed the turn of this phrase.
- [Withered one in Odense?] clued DANISH PRUNE. I suppose “peach” would’ve worked as well.
Points for originality, but demerits for some awkward results. Kind of expected to find DRESSING RUSSIAN or DRESSING ITALIAN in the mix, both I would’ve preferred to the Japanese entry. [Junk-filled seaport] referred to “junks” as boats, and was my FAVE clue, especially in an internationally-themed puzzle such as this. Speaking of things nautical, [Plied, as a dugout] referred to another type of boat, CANOED. Not as excited about I ATE and SUNTAN, the latter is generally just called a “tan,” unless it’s the spray-on type.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I can scarcely believe I made it through this puzzle alive, sans Googling. It was hard, people. As hard as a diamond. (Your mileage may vary. If you found this to be a standard level of Stumper difficulty, give yourself a vigorous pat on the back, and also a cookie. You deserve it.)
Among the many things that I had to struggle to get, letter by letter, hazarding guesses and puzzling things out:
- 1a. [Word from the Catalan for "soot"], MASCARA. Makes perfect sense. What’s black and has a sort of Spanish-sounding name? Had no idea, though.
- 16a. [Person from Panama], ISTHMIAN. Person from an isthmus? Who knew? Never saw this word before.
- 23a/23d. [Common news group, supposedly], TED, and [Common news groups, supposedly], THREES. Neither clue makes a lick of sense to me. Explanation(s), anyone?
- 33a. [Chart topper], CEO. Topping the organizational chart.
- 39a. [Oil of wintergreen source], TEABERRY. I gambled on this because there’s a Teaberry chewing gum; had no idea if there was any wintergreen connection.
- 60a. [First Arthur C. Clarke Award winner], ATWOOD. The award’s for the best sci fi novel published in the UK and it began in the late ’80s. The Handmaid’s Tale is creepy but it hardly seems like sci fi anymore.
- 11d. [What anchors engender], RELIANCE. As in … the anchor on a tug-of-war team?
- 26d. ["This Cosmos in which we float like a __": Sagan], MOTE. Makes perfect sense, but I didn’t know the quote and it took forever to suss out the word.
- 37d. [Winona Ryder's role in "Great Balls of Fire!"], MYRA. Was stuck trying the five vowels and figuring out it could be a Y was a key advance in trying TEABERRY.
- 57d. [__], ETA. Is there something missing from this clue? Is a pair of underscored spaces somehow equivalent to the greek letter eta?
Since I did manage to finish the puzzle correctly without looking anything up, I can’t say that it’s unfair, but I can also imagine that if I’d been even a tiny bit tired or out of sorts, I would have had a DNF (did not finish). None of the fill is bad fill (and some of it’s excellent—the zippy SILENT TREATMENT, ERNST MACH‘s full name, BLUE TANG, “I HOPE NOT,” LATE SHOW, STRAGGLER, SORE SPOT, TRES BIEN), but Stan may have gone a little overboard on clue stumpification this week. Four stars, maybe 4.25.