Tim Croce and Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword
This 66-worder has an unusual grid, with the six 15-letter answers split into two pairs and two singles. TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE is fine, New Yorky. LIBATION BEARERS crossing ORESTES, classically literary. SEMISOFT CHEESES, why, my current favorite for cheese and crackers is Trader Joe’s Colby-Jack slices, a tasty semisoft cheese option. EARTH-SHATTERING isn’t earth-shattering fill, but it’s quite good indeed. And while a singular member of a sports team is less savory fill than the plural team name, I won’t object to an ARIZONA CARDINAL. (It’s not the SCARLET TANAGERS, hey-o!)
Five other things I liked:
- 27d. [Onetime center for the distribution of oranges], OCALA. Fairly useless trivia for a crossword-friendly city name, but I can use this factoid the next time I’m in Ocala. Really. Or maybe not. What is this one doing in my list of five?
- 3d. [Stick in a purse?], LIP BALM. I have no fewer than three kinds of lip balm (plain, fruity, and tinted) in my bag. I can stop any time I want.
- 11d. [Some corner shops], BODEGAS. How I wish Chicago’s mini-marts, convenience stores, and corner stores were called BODEGAS like New York’s are.
- 39d. [Manhattan eatery referenced in Billy Joel's "Big Shot"], ELAINE’S. “They were all impressed with your Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s.” It astonishes me how often I hear this song when I turn the car radio to the Best of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s station. And I still know all the words because my sister had the album when I was 12 and the liner notes had all the lyrics. I miss liner notes. Lyric websites are horribly unreliable.
- 40d. ["Wow!"], “I’M IN AWE.”
Did not know:
- 18d. [Stanger a.k.a. Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker"], PATTI.
- 8d. [Banker/philanthropist Solomon], LOEB. Never heard of him and don’t know what sort of philanthropy he did … over a century ago.
3.5 stars from me. Good night!
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Very breezy solve for me. Was too lazy to look for the error after I didn’t get Mr. Happy Pencil. Turns out it’s CYCLADES, not CYCLIDES. LAURA is certainly better fill than LAURI, though either sounds good to me as the [Preminger noir classic] I’ve neither seen nor heard of.
Quick review this week. I like everything about both 11-stacks. SQUEEZE PLAY, TURN ME LOOSE, ROUSTABOUTS, MENTAL IMAGE, PETER GRAVES, and ALONE AT LAST are all lovely, evocative entries. Some of the short fill isn’t glistening (IRT stands out in this regard, and I’ve seen better clues for CIS than [USSR successor], though YMMV there). ALL CLEAR, BAKLAVA, ST. PAUL, SEALAB, LOU HOLTZ, STOP LOSS, BEL CANTO, CARCASS, YIELD TO, and CD CASES all struck me the right way. The NE corner felt like a bit of a LETTdown, with PRESETS and ASSERTS sitting there like lumps. Certainly nothing unbearable in the NE, but I’m curious if anyone thinks they can do better in that corner. A singular PAMPA looks weird to me, as does the verb phrase ASK TO.
OILER crossing OIL LAMPS feels sloppy. Lots of 3-letter words in this one, which tend to be uninteresting. Oh, and then there’s QUONSET [ ___ hut], which was new to me. I Googled it and realized I’ve seen some of these in East Lansing.
To RECAP, a fine puzzle with only a few blemishes. 3.5 stars. Until next week!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Lots of crisp fill we don’t often see in other crosswords. Here are some entries that popped out:
- 1a. [Physical effects], KNEE-JERKS.
- 15a. [Dorm shower], CAMPUS MAP. Map that shows dorms, not a coed shower facility.
- 26a. [Succeed], WORK OUT WELL.
- 46a. [Striking formations], PICKET LINES.
- 60a. ["Candid Camera" presaged it], REALITY TV.
- 12d. ["Aah," a la Irving Berlin], “I’M IN HEAVEN.”
- 13d/27d combo, DENTAL CARE and ORAL HEALTH. I like the clue for the latter: [Calculus expert's concern].
- 31a. [Nordic nickname for Helena], ELI.
- 66a. [Letter thought to resemble a skull], THETA. Never thought about it that way … and having Googled images of both theta, skulls, and theta skull, I’m still not seeing it.
- 2d. [Silver with many diamond pieces], NATE. I think of statistician Nate Silver as writing about politics, burritos, March Madness, and the World Cup. So I gather there’s baseball in there too? If you haven’t checked out fivethirtyeight.com, pay a visit. There are articles crunching the numbers for health statistics and more.
- 9d. [Super memorizer], SPONGE. I had SAVANT at first.
- 23d. [Starting impetus], SURPRISE. As in “Oh! You gave me a start.”
- 47d. [Dragoon], COERCE. Dragoon is one of those cool old words that are probably not well known. Etymology is French for “dragon”; the dragoons were heavily armed troops on horseback, who presumably could coerce people into doing a lot of stuff under threat of death.
Four stars. No big “wow!” aspects, but a solid 70-worder.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword, “Sweet Dreams!”—Martin Ashwood-Smith’s write-up
Ade’s traveling today, so straight from the constructor (yoinked from the comments), a short write-up:
If anyone’s interested, here are some notes on my Washington Post crossword today (since there’s no review posted yet).
True story: the idea for this puzzle theme came to me when I was in bed a few months ago (amazing, I know). I was originally going to call it “For Insomniacs,” but decided that “Sweet Dreams!” was a little less depressing. However, it still has an alternate title at 60-A for those solvers needing a bit of shuteye!
- 17-A: AS WHITE AS A SHEET: reminds me that I have to do my laundry.
- 25-A: SECURITY BLANKET: I still have several ;)
- 45-A: TEARS ON MY PILLOW: reminds me not to let pets sleep on the bed with their sharp little claws.
- 60-A: TO BED TO BED TO BED: yawn!
Oh yes, and CLOCK RADIO at 14-A has nothing to do with the theme, honest.