Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
At the ACPT, Brad Wilber had something like nine different people tell him that his puzzles routinely vexed them (but that the puzzles he co-constructs with Doug Peterson were a breeze). Nemesis! I do not find that Brad’s puzzles are significantly tougher for me than other constructors’. Sure, his Newsday “Saturday Stumper” puzzles are fiendish, but most all of the Stumper-makers write really tough clues. This puzzle here, it played like a mildly challenging Friday puzzle or an easyish Saturday.
I might’ve liked this one to put up more of a fight, but I really admired the fill. OTB, OREM, FT-LBS (does it really take an S? that’s [Ballistics test units: Abbr.], foot-pounds), and plural ANTONS are the worst on offer, and there is so much good stuff, in both fill and clues:
- 16a. [Livid], UP IN ARMS. I don’t really consider the UP to be duped by the one in 55a: GOT UPSET.
- 17a. [Where Mozart's "Don Giovanni" premiered], PRAGUE. Yes! One of the two operas I have seen in my life was at that very theater in Prague.
- 21a. [Result of pushing too hard?], TILT. In pinball. Where can I play some pinball?
- 32a. [Italian artist with the largest painting in the Louvre], PAOLO VERONESE. Austrian composer in Prague, Italian painting in Paris—Brad brings us the high culture.
- 35a. ["Guys and Dolls" number that ends with the rolling of dice], LUCK BE A LADY. And Brad brings the middlebrow culture too.
- 2d. [One who puts others to sleep?], AU PAIR. Presumably putting his or her host family’s children to bed.
- 7d. [Once-common desert fighting force], CAMEL CAVALRY. This is kinda nuts because I’ve never heard of it before, and I rather doubt it is common knowledge. But alliteration!
- 11d. [Sources of chronic annoyance], BUGBEARS. Love that word. Should use it more often. Everything I call crosswordese? My bugbears.
- 12d. [Many watch his movies for kicks], BRUCE LEE. First thought was VAN DAMME.
- 32d. [Group living at zero latitude?], PURITANS. No moral wiggle room.
- 35d. [Classic Doors song in which Jim Morrison refers to himself anagrammatically as "Mr. Mojo Risin'"], “L.A. WOMAN.“
- 39d. [Exercise in a pool, say], DO LAPS. Definitely in the language.
ACERBITY (33d. [Tartness]) is not a word I run into much, if at all.
I was so pleased with 1d. [Denali National Park sits on one] because I knew it was FJORD. And then the cursor wasn’t where I thought it was, and those letters ended up in the 22a: ALMAY space. And then they turned out to be wrong in the right place, too—the answer is FAULT. D’oh!
Overall, I give Brad a round of APPLAUSE. 4.25 stars from me.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Community Service”—Ade’s write-up
Hello hello everyone!
We have a puzzle for all of the community to enjoy, as Randall J. Hartman’s grid features four two-word theme entries in which the second word can follow the word “community.” Just a week back, the sad news came out that the popular NBC show Community would be cancelled, and I don’t think this puzzle, as fun as it was, is any consolation for those that loved the show (myself included).
- PRIVATE PROPERTY: (17A: [Object of eminent domain]) – Community property.
- TREASURE CHEST: (27A: [Pirate’s pursuit]) – Community chest. Before last year, the answer to this clue could also have been “winning season.” (Until last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team had not had a winning season since 1992.) Both the actual entry and my suggestion are 13 letters.
- STAPLES CENTER: (48A: [Home to the Lakers]) – Community center. If the Lakers keep playing like they did this season (crappy), the clue will/should read “Home to the Clippers,” the other basketball tenant at the arena.
- BUSINESS COLLEGE: (64A: [Training ground for an accountant]) – Community college. Thought about going to business school for a second when I was in high school. That thought lasted exactly one second, however.
You never see the whole show’s title mentioned in the grid, so I do like THE A-TEAM (10D: [1980s TV action series that became a 2010 film]). Have not seen the movie, and am afraid that what I remember about the TV series will be clouded by the movie if I don’t think the movie is good enough. Don’t usually like watching movie remakes at all and just want the memories of the original. Liam Neeson is in the movie, so I should give it a try. Right now, I’m trying to count the number of movies I’ve watched that have involved BRAD PITT (38D: [Benjamin Button portrayer]), and the count is not that high. Mr. and Mrs. Smith might be the last one. I need to go to the theaters more often, huh? Don’t worry, there won’t be any RANTS about moviegoing right now (30D: [Dennis Miller tirades]).
Sooner or later, OPEL (6D: [Corsa manufacturer]) and OPEC (19D: [Cartel since 1960]) were going to be in the same grid. It might have happened in a NYT puzzle in the recent past, but I can’t recall. We’re getting closer and closer to the time of year when you’ll see a lot of weddings, and a couple of wedding references are in this grid, with VEIL (3D: [Bride’s accessory]) and ALTAR (60A: [Place for a preacher]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: POPS (5A: [Daddy-O])- Could have gone the easy route with Shaquille O’NEAL (46D: [Former NBA cager known as the Big Aristotle]), but went with something a little more esoteric. “Pops” was the nickname of baseball Hall-of-Fame outfielder/first baseman Willie Stargell (1940-2001), who played his entire 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, retiring after the 1982 season. He won two World Series titles with the team, in 1971 and 1979, and was the driving force/inspirational leader of the 1979 “We Are Family” Pirates. In 1979, “Pops” was 39 years old, but continued to deliver big hits for the Pirates, including the World Series-clinching two-run hone run in the top of the sixth inning of their Game 7 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Stargell, at 39, won his only league MVP in 1979, and ended his career with 475 home runs and 1,540 runs batted in.
Thank you very much for your time once again, and now it’s time to run around New York City/Long Island all day like a madman. Hope the weather holds up!
Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Enjoyable solve, and a pretty impressive construction. Four triple-stacks of 9 in every corner, all very nice entries (I NEED A NAP, EXCALIBUR, and ON ONE KNEE stand out). IRON MAIDEN sneaks in there. I always thought the phrase was “dull as ditchwater,” but Professor Internet tells me that over time, it’s evolved into DULL AS DISHWATER. Z AS IN ZEBRA isn’t the worst excuse to jam two Zs into the grid, though I could have lived without EZEK. Lots of Ks in this one, which felt like a very konscious decision on the constructor’s part.
Respectably low frown count: A TOOL, DOES OK (I’m still on the fence about this one), A, B, OR C, BSMT, and we can include the partial ALENE too. IN ON dupes the adjacent ON ONE KNEE, but I’ve been guilty of worse construction sins.
I had AL__E in the SE for ['80s sitcom title woman], and despite knowing it couldn’t be Alice because of the clue for ARLO [Alice's chronicler], I still almost fell for the Alice trap. So, in context, excellent clue for ALLIE. In that same corner, we get TYLER, Texas, a city of almost 100,000 that I’ve never heard of (but probably should have). Now I know how I’m going to clue Warren the next time it goes in one of my puzzles.
Even though it’s a legitimate clue, I always hate seeing KERI clued as the lotion brand instead of as the talented Keri Russell. Not sure why exactly. Consumers (and especially pet owners) probably liked this one: KAL KAN and IAMS, plus OREO, KERI, IMAC, and NANOS.
Definitely somewhere between 3 and 4.5 stars. Until next week!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I got up this morning and decided that today’s Stumper would have to be by Doug since it’s been long enough since his last turn in the rotation. And yay, here he is! If you love Doug’s puzzles but don’t consider him a nemesis like Brad, you should be sure to do every one of his Stumpers because even with a perfectly in-sync wavelength thing, it’s probably going to feel harder than almost any NYT puzzle.
Here are my “I liked this”/”this one killed me” notes:
- 10a. [Molly in "Titanic"], 5 letters. Immediately thought ASTOR. Then retreated to unsinkable BROWN. Finally Vladimir Putin helped me see it was actress KATHY Bates, duh.
- 22a. [Star of Life wearer], EMT. No abbreviation cue, odd. It’s that asterisk-looking logo paramedics wear. Never knew it had a name, wasn’t really aware it was a thing at all.
- 23a. [Nickelodeon live-action kids' show], YO GABBA GABBA. Toddler show, came out after my son was too old for it. I could only think of the Nick teen/tween sitcoms (which, thanks to Brendan Quigley, I now know are called zitcoms). Great weird-looking answer.
- College time! 32a. [Rachel Carson's undergrad maj.], BIOL. (she wrote about environmental problems from DDT). Also 10d. [Putin's first job after college], entry-level KGB AGENT.
- 63a. [Quit lying], RISEN. Hard to parse this one. “He has quit lying down” = “he has risen.”
- 66a. [Hyper?], SLOGANEER. One who hypes. Mind you, this playful “hyper” noun is probably not one you will ever encounter in the wild.
- 12a. [They first ran at Hialeah in 1932], TOTE BOARDS. I kinda wanted GREYHOUNDS. How exactly does a tote board run? Is that the thing that shows the odds for each entrant at a racetrack?
- 21a. [Chain spun off by Barnes & Noble in 2004], GAMESTOP. If you wanted to get my son a gift, gift cards for GameStop are his favorite presents besides cold, hard cash.
- 25d. [Wrench handle], ALLEN. Love this clue. “Handle” = name.
- 29d. Hey, what is COME ACROSS doing running Down in the grid?
- 42d. [Epinephrine manufacturer], ADRENAL gland. Epinephrine = adrenaline. The epi- and ad- prefixes mean “on” or “at,” and the -renal and -nephrine bits refer to the kidney. The adrenal glands are next to the kidneys.
- 51d. [Attach, as a bookplate], TIP IN. If I recall my book publishing know-how, an insert that’s tipped in is just inserted loose into the book … no, wait. Here’s the explanation. Let’s say you’re opting for cheaper black printing but have a section of color illustrations, or an insert of photos printed on glossy paper (as often seen in the middle of nonfiction books). Add it to the signatures for the book and you’ve got yourself a tip-in. (A single page can also be glued or bound in, like a bookplate.) Nice to take a break from the more common sports TIP IN.
Four stars. A few more AGHA HBOMB BIOL IRR STN type answers here than we usually see in the Stumper—those are my bugbears. I can solve ‘em, but I don’t enjoy seeing them.