Vic Fleming and Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword
My favorite moment in this puzzle was when I had a bunch of the crossings filled in for 8d. [Knight who fell to the dark side] and still drew a blank. A*A*INSKY-someone? Is this some Russian legend? Durrr … it’s ANAKIN SKYWALKER.
Freshest fill: 31a. [They might like your comments], FACEBOOK FRIENDS. I might like this answer a lot.
What else of note appears in this 70-worder? This stuff:
- 1a. [Displeases one's buds?], TASTES BAD. I like that clue.
- 23a. [People thank God when it comes], FRIDAY. I did not see that answer coming.
- 28a. [Cops, in slang], POPO. Love it! Picked this word up from an episode of House, where a cop had something horribly amiss in his body and was laughing inappropriately after chasing a guy into an alley. The guy being chased inquired, “You high, popo?” and my husband and I have used the phrase ever since. (Wonder if this one came from Judge Vic or Teen Sam.)
- 30a. ["Wiener Frauen" composer], LEHAR. I know this is German for “Viennese Women,” but “Wiener Women” is kinda funny.
- 47a. [Ad mascot in sunglasses], JOE CAMEL. Discontinued years ago.
- 49a. [Spanish soccer club, for short], BARCA. The Barcelona team in the Spanish soccer league La Liga. The Argentine player Lionel Messi is Barca’s star; watch for him this Sunday in the World Cup final. He will play hard—he’s no Barca lounger.
- 10d. [Spot, to a tot], DOGGY. Veiled capital-S Spot, not spot.
- 14d. [Power line?], EMPERORS. Not a great clue when SEWER LINE is just to the left.
- I like the Scrabbly FLAPJACK and GAUZE PAD, too.
3.75 stars from me. Over and out, so tired! Long day and ready for 23a.
Jacob Stulberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I find it interesting how the theme shaped the grid design of this particular puzzle: STANDIN/THECORNER occupy two central stacks of 4×7 narrowing to meet in the middle. That in turn creates four corners, with one theme answer, meeting the pattern “___ stand”, going around each. This grid results in an unusually high density – 30 out of 74 – of 7 letter answers!
I’m kind of neutral towards the theme itself; this style (words in corners) tends to result in what is effectively a themeless grid. The answers themselves are rather prosaic: MUSIC, DISPLAY, WITNESS and TAXI stand.
Sevens are in a sort of limbo between long and short fill as crossword answers go. I liked (but not loved) a lot of them: SUMATRA, FLATTAX (dumb idea though), the Bible two-fer ABRAHAM and MATTHEW, MAGENTA, BROMINE and TRICEPS; ANODYNE is dated, but evokes 19th century poetry and so is IMO a plus, even if some people won’t know it (shock, horror). LOUISII is probably the worst of the 7′s – inferrable but he’s not exactly the most historically important LOUIS.
One or two of the shorter answers are tres awkw: ANS, XIS, ABMS, ERN, EMP – but they’re well-spaced and more than understandable given the stacks.
Elizabeth Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Plant Parenthood” — pannonica’s write-up
The revealer at 84-down makes it clear why the theme entries appaear vertically. [Tourney favorites (and a hint to this puzzle's theme] TOP SEEDS, so we get phrases whose first, id est, upper component is a type of seed.
- 3d. [Symbol of Americana] APPLE PIE (apple seed).
- 5d. [Showy orange-and-blue bloom] BIRD OF PARADISE (bird seed). Of course also a family of dozens of bird species; invoking the flower provides adequate separation between clue and answer.
- 12d. [Warhol inspiration] TOMATO SOUP CAN (tomato seed).
- 16d. [Cinderella's ride] PUMPKIN COACH (pumpkin seed).
- 33d. [1970 satire film inspired by Kafka's "Metamorphosis"] WATERMELON MAN (watermelon seed). This is more well-known than Herbie Hancock’s 1962 composition, either in his performance or Mongo Santamaría’s? The film is not to be confused with 1974′s Mr. Majestyk.
- 53d. [Kansas] SUNFLOWER STATE (sunflower seed).
- 55d. [Color of the winner's belt at Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest] MUSTARD YELLOW, aptly (mustard seed).
- 60d. [Show that features Chicago, a vegetarian lion] SESAME STREET (sesame seed). Was not aware of this, but I don’t approve, as it promotes misinformation. All cats are obligate carnivores. We don’t need little Johnny or Janie Q Public (see 28a) whining to their parents that Fluffy or Ansonia needs to be a vegetarian too.
Annnnnddd… which one doesn’t belong? That’s right, the second: BIRD seed. All the others describe the source of the seed while this one identifies the intended consumer. With all the varieties of seed in the world, it seems that a more consistent candidate could be found. Alternatively the theme could have mixed it up more: demon seed, Albion’s seed, and, er, umm, dragon seed, and … well, all right, maybe not that.
As for the ballast fill, it was a dichotomous experience for me: lots of good fill and clues, but also what felt like an overabundance of abbrevs. and partials. For the later, I refer AGS, STA, NSW, KTS, ELHI, DEFS, HRS, SGT, MTGE, YDS, XTS, SLR, PCB, UKR, LCD, SRS, TERA-, NOM DE, NORTH OF, USE TO. And Roman numeral MCV.
Favorite clues and fill: 63d [Running mates?] ELOPERS; 95d [It has wings and flies] STAGE; 81a [Given the royal treatment?] CROWNED. BEATBOX, TARANTULAS, EASY READ, REAL PEOPLE. The nearly symmetrically located ELUDE/AVERT (upper right, lower left).
86-across, [Chris of football's Giants] SNEE—is this better than the crosswordese knife? It’s certainly more current; perhaps it’s the leading edge of a very minor cluing revolution.
With ANAÏS Nin already filled in below it, my brain was short-circuited into thinking 70a [Black currant liqueur] was asking for the anise liqueur PASTIS instead of CASSIS. Hahahahahaha >gasp!< hahahahahhaahaa … I need to breathe, 51a [Allow to breathe, in a way] DECANT.
So, with a kind of ho-hum theme containing one striking anomaly, plus a burdensome amount of scowleriffic fill, this ended up being a subpar solving experience for me despite the admittedly good parts.