Ashton Anderson and James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword
Between LEGALIZE IT (16a. [Debut Peter Tosh album, and a rallying cry for pot smokers]) and REEFER (12d. [Joint]) lighting up in this puzzle, I’m surprised the puzzle wasn’t held for the week of April 20. So close!
On the tough side for a Saturday NYT, no? Or am I just solving past my bedtime?
- 26a. [Rihanna or Sharon Stone], SEX SYMBOL. It’s a lively phrase, all right. But a horribly gendered one, no? This term needs reclaiming and a new angle.
- 34a. [Artist and chess player who said "While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists"], DUCHAMP. I just saw a photo of a men’s room wall with a missing urinal. Some wag had written in the gap “DUCHAMP WAS HERE.”
- 44a. [It involves hand-to-hand coordination], PATTY-CAKE.
- 52a. [Singer with the 1996 triple-platinum album "Tidal"], FIONA APPLE. Full name #2, after golfer TOM KITE. You may be asking, “Gosh, Will, why does the clue have an album from almost 20 years ago? Doesn’t she have anything more current?” Her most recent album is called The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, and the newspaper is only so big.
- 56a. [Where Jason Kidd played college hoops], UC-BERKELEY. Did not know that. Smartypants, eh?
- 58a. [1996 Rhett Akins country hit], “SHE SAID YES.” Never heard of the song, never heard of the singer, but the song title makes for a good crossword answer. Consent is a good thing, yes?
- 1d. ["Yes?"], “WHAT IS IT?”
- 4d. [One may prefer them to blondes], AMBERS. I do, in fact, prefer amber ales and brown ales to the pale ales and blondes.
- 27d. [Cockerdoodle, e.g.], MUTT. Good clue. That would be part cocker spaniel, part poodle, no?
- 28d. ["Oh goody!"], “LUCKY ME!”
- 34d. [Certain gumdrops], DOTS. Tough/good clue. Capital-D Dots are this chewy, sorta gross candy. Who knew that Tootsie made Dots, and that 4 million Dots a year are manufactured here in Chicago? “Who the hell is eating them?” my husband inquires.
- 36d. [Earn a load of money, in modern lingo], MAKE BANK. The kids these days don’t refer to it as “modern lingo,” mind you.
- 39d. [Impressive range], PANOPLY. I need to use this word more.
- 41d. [Tool], DOOFUS. I had DOODAD at first, but this is the modern lingo sort of “tool,” a a jerk or idiot.
- 9d. [Internet traffic statistics company], ALEXA. Sitemeter and Google Analytics, I know. Alexa Vega and Alexa Ray Joel, I know.
- 5a. [Drive to drink, e.g.], PRIMAL URGE. I dunno. I’m thinking the drive to drink is an acquired thing and and not at all primal. Unless this is about the drive to drink water and avoid DEATH/[The end]? Maybe that’s the angle here.
Overall, the fill is pretty smooth. NES, FER, AYLA, IST, and YING are no great shakes, but they’re the outliers and there aren’t too many of them. The 72-word grids are better able to avoid the ungainly compromises.
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
I blew through 3/4 of this grid, but I had problems in the NW. Had nothing west of ____ING DOWN, ____RT RADIO, and ____ THE COST for almost a full minute. Finally, IHEARTRADIO [Music lover's resource] came to me, and the rest fell. FALLING DOWN [Performing poorly] was a doozie at 1a, and I just really wanted EAT THE COST instead of BEAR THE COST [Accept financial responsibility], even though it doesn’t fit.
A lot of lively fill in this one. In fact, all the long entries are beautiful: besides the NW, we’ve got AKRON OHIO, BART STARR, ALFA ROMEO, BOA FEATHERS, MENTAL IMAGE, DNA ANALYSIS, MADE GOOD ON, GOLDEN MEAN, CANDY STORE, ROTTERDAM, and GRECO-ROMAN.
That’s pretty much the entire puzzle right there, in the positives column. A few negatives: CEREBRATE crossing DACE struck me the wrong way. OHOS is a strange plural. The COTE/AMAT/SNERT/ETTE section of the grid isn’t pretty. I’m not sure why people are still putting IRT into grids. In four years of living in NYC, I’ve never heard anyone refer to anything [NYC subway]-related as the IRT. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company hasn’t existed since before WWII. I’m of the opinion that it should be clued with words like “old,” “bygone,” or “historical.”
3.6 stars from me. Until next week!
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Skate Around” – Dave Sullivan’s review
So today we are treated with four different types of skates, but the “twist” is that the word skate is anagrammed and the phrase reclued:
- [Put one over on Middleton and Upton?] clued SNOW KATES – surprised I haven’t heard of a snowskate before, living here in Vermont.
- [Dice player's wager?] was ROLLER STAKE – I believe roller skates were famous for having “keys” to tighten the laces with, mentioned in this song. So I wonder what Melanie is up to now?
- [Row of hardwood trees?] clued INLINE TEAKS – teaks were the finish of choice of my IKEA-inspired Scandinavian furniture when I first got out of college. “Inline skates” are also called rollerblades, no?
- Another new type of skate to me, the “quad skate” becomes [Beef dish at a campus square festival?] or a QUAD STEAK – I see that these are roller skates with four wheels. Were there other numbers of wheels on them?
Funny how I was mentioning skater Nancy Kerrigan yesterday in the context of her Disney parade comments. It all comes around, people! Not sure in this case the altered phrases give the humorous punch I’d expect from this constructor, but I did like the fact that SKATE has at least four anagrams. (KEATS is another!) I do have to take issue with the entry clued as [Where to find beat reporters, often] which, for me, is ON THE SCENE, not AT. I learned that there was another four-letter Vodka that began with SK, which is SKOL, not SKYY. Good to see it’s a bargain brand that I wouldn’t intentionally order when I belly up to the bar. Other great crossing entries were ECOLOGICAL, EGG TOSS, TERIYAKI, TORQUE and LOVENEST.
One more CS commentary from me tomorrow, and, appropriately, it’s a Klahn!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Whoa! This Stumper took me a bit less time than the NYT. That has hardly happened for months. Still not an easy puzzle by any stretch of the imagination, mind you.
- 1a. [Prague Spring stopper], BREZHNEV. Who doesn’t appreciate a Russian spelling test at 1-Across?
- 16a. [Word from the Latin for "golden"], ORIOLE. I wanted AUR- something, but AUREOLE was too long. It’s its etymological cousin and phonetic twin!
- 18a. [World's most densely populated city], MANILA. 1.65 million people in 14 square miles. I did not know that! About nine times more densely populated than Chicago. Man, traffic must be a bear.
- 25a. [Hawaii abolished them in 1852], SERFS. Another trivia clue. You know likes trivia? Stan Newman. You know who else likes trivia? Me.
- 35a. [Probiotic dairy brand], ACTIVIA. Fresh fill.
- 9d. [Uncle in Uruguay], NO MAS. Yep, I fell for the ruse and figured I needed a Spanish noun for “uncle” used in Uruguay instead of TIO, but no. It’s the “I give up!” sort of “Uncle!”
- CHOWLINE and MESS TENT, BOIL OVER, DEAD TREE, SAM RAIMI, “I’VE GOT IT!”
- 51d. [Power metaphor], PURSE. I don’t get it. I don’t suppose it has anything to do with an old woman whacking somebody with her handbag? I wanted HORSE, since horsepower and “400 horses” are in the language. Is it about a diplomat’s portfolio? Winners of horse races or boxing matches?
- 7d. [Newsweek's 2013 issues], E-ZINES. I want to know if anyone at Newsweek uses the term e-zine to describe their all-digital global magazine. I’m thinking no.
- 28d. [Low interest-rate advocates], DOVES. Is this about anti-war doves with some use of “interest rate” I don’t know, or is it about actual financial interest rates and it’s a use of “dove” I’ve never encountered?
With three Z’s and three X’s, this 72-worder is on the Scrabbly side, but without woeful fill forced into the grid to accommodate the uncommon letters.