Psst: It’s a new month, so there’s a new crossword posted on Patrick Blindauer’s site. Hover over the “Play” tab to access the .pdf and .puz links.
Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword
Four full names in a single freestyle puzzle? That is a lot! And I like it. The names are split evenly between men and women, too.
- 30d. [TV antiheroine for 41 years], ERICA KANE. From All My Children, played by Susan Lucci. My first thoughts were of prime-time TV shows, to no avail.
- 36a. [Member of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke], EMIL NOLDE. Die Brücke means “the Bridge.” (48d. [Severinsbrücke's city] is KÖLN, or Cologne; apparently there was a St. Severin in Cologne back in the day, and a bridge, tower, and basilica are named after him.)
- 13d. [Composer of several "Gnossiennes"], ERIK SATIE. Bothersome to have ERIK and ERICA in the same puzzle, or not at all an issue? It didn’t bug me.
- 1a. [Her 1994 memoir has the chapter "Desert Storm"], BARBARA BUSH.
Names I didn’t recognize: 45d. [Business fraudster Billie Sol ___] ESTES, 48a. [Psychoanalyst Melanie] KLEIN; 46d. [General who won 1794's Battle of Fallen Timbers], WAYNE.
- The MOMMY/MAMBA stack.
- The dissonance of YOUR MAJESTY in proximity to OLIVE GARDEN. (Did you know the entire city of Chicago lacks a single Olive Garden? And yet Manhattan has two.)
- 25d. [Cary's "Blonde Venus" co-star], MARLENE. I grouse about old-timey movie stars like Theda Bara and Jack Oakie showing up in the puzzle, but Marlene Dietrich is more of an all-time legend, no? Mae West, Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino … these people are timeless. I saw Dietrich in 1930′s Der Blaue Engel, in German, in college. I remember nothing of it.
- 21d. [Cooperation exclamation], “WE DID IT!” Sadly, I am hearing the Dora the Explorer version.
- 8d. [Old Sony format], BETAMAX. My in-laws still had a Betamax player when I met my husband.
- 52d. [Port named after a U.S. president, informally], JAX. Jacksonville, Andrew Jackson.
Not so pleased with fill like RRR, OBES, partial MAN A, F-STAR, STE, AVI-, ERLE (nice clue, though: [Man's name that sounds noble]). It’s not as if there is a whole Parade of Bad Fill, though.
3.66 stars. Liked the puzzle all right, didn’t love it.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Strangely, the star of this puzzle isn’t the corners — it’s the center. Running vertically, there’s DR. ZHIVAGO [Physician married to Tonya Gremko] (“physician” being one of those buzzwords that the answer contains the word “doctor”). That crosses two excellent answers and one good one: MINNEHAHA ["Arrow-maker's daughter" in a Longfellow poem]; SE RI PAK [Three-time McDonald's LPGA Championship winner]; and TV PROGRAM [Subject of weekly ratings]. (Last week TREVINO, now SE RI PAK? Be still, my heart!) I watched Pak win all three of her LPGA Championships, but perhaps her most exciting major win was at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open, where she defeated the ultimate Cinderella story, amateur Jenny Chausiriporn, in 92 holes.
I liked one of the long answers, ACTION COMICS [Where Superman made his debut]. Less crazy about the other long one, HERO SANDWICH [Sub]. Do people say “hero sandwich”? Here, it’s just “hero.” To me, “hero sandwich” sounds like you want a long piece of bread between two other pieces of bread. But maybe that’s just me.
The 7×3 corners are all fine-good. TRUSSED is probably the least snappy answer, and TELEXES is fun, if dated. HOME ROW, OPEN BAR, SCAPULA, SCORPIO, GAZETTE, and YOGA MAT all tickled me the right way. I don’t think anyone’s ever going to sell me on HGT, but maybe Hungary’s Got Talent will make it big in the States this year. Who can say.
I liked seeing VISHNU, REPO MAN, and IOLANTHE. TMZ is a fun entry! I wish GRIMACE had been clued as the McDonaldLand character, but there was perhaps already enough McDonald’s sponsorship in this puzzle (see SE RI PAK, LPGA Championship). SHIH and TZU alone are no fun, but cross-referenced in the same puzzle, I think they work. I’m not usually one for re- verbs in puzzles, but RELACES seems right clued as [Tightens, as a corset]. ELKO seems hard for non-Nevadans, but the crossings are all fair, and hey! It’s Saturday, a day when hard puzzles thrive.
A solid but probably not memorable themeless. 3.5 stars. Until next week!
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Reigning Cats and Dogs” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Cats and dogs “reign” in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle by leading off four theme phrases:
- [Spy vs. spy, e.g.] was CAT AND MOUSE GAME – I kept thinking of the comic series that appeared in Mad Magazine, is that the connection here, or is it more generic than that?
- [Best Picture nominee of 1975] clued DOG DAY AFTERNOON – losing to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
- [Harry Chapin] clued CAT‘S IN THE CRADLE – “…with a silver spoon, little Boy Blue and a man in the moon.” A bit of an outlier with that beginning possessive.
- [Elaborate presentations] were DOG AND PONY SHOWS – nice one.
Serendipitous to find four 15-letter entries that begin with CAT or DOG. Funny that I had PESTS before NESTS as [Exterminator's targets], so Nona HENDRYX was a bit hard to see at first. (No relation to Jimi, I take it, who spelled his last name with an I instead of a Y.) ICKY-POO or [Yucky, in baby talk] was another entry I enjoyed encountering and hope to see more baby talk in upcoming puzzles!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I forgot to click the “start” button on the timer, but the puzzle felt more like a rote solve than an existential struggle, so I guesstimate that my solving time was in the range of 6 to 7 minutes.
- 16a. [Big wheel], LONDON EYE. (Whereas 35a [Wheels, bricks, etc.] are CHEESES. Usually a tough puzzle uses “wheel” to mean the VIP sort of “big wheel” so it’s nice to see two literal round wheels here.)
- 18a. [Their emblem is the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor], U.S. MARINES. Lovely entry.
- 28a. Etymology clue! RELY is a [Word from Old French for "hold firmly"], which I did not know.
- 40a. [Moody's lowest investment-grade rating], BAA. The grade for noisy sheep. Who knew there was a non-ovine clue for BAA?
- 58a. NO BIG DEAL, good entry.
- 1d. THE STAND, Stephen King’s [Post-apocalyptic best-seller of '78], another lively entry.
- 2d. I need to hear more about this. WAX PAPER is a [Good garden-tool cleaner]?? How so? Explain, please.
- 11d. [It's in the center of similes], AN I. The letter I in the middle of “similes” rather than the usual partial AS A.
- 27d. [Its collection includes Rivera's "Flower Carrier"], SFMOMA. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, nutty-looking in the grid.
Solid 72-worder overall, though LON NOL and TAM kinda bore me as overused fill (though usually it’s just LON or NOL in the grid, not the full palindromic name). Four stars.