Peter Broda’s New York Times crossword
It’s not so common for 1-Across to be the last answer I finish! I had the JAZZ part right away and I know that Django was Romani, but didn’t know that GYPSY JAZZ was a [Genre for Django Reinhardt]. Spicy 1a, that.
Other zippy fill includes “NOT YOU TOO?,” AHA MOMENT, MS. OLYMPIA, DEGREE MILLS (more commonly called “diploma mills” around these parts), the rude “DID I STUTTER?,” BEER BELLY, WAR CRIMES, silent-P PTARMIGAN, and MATT DAMON.
Did not know: 37d. [Tacky television transition], STAR WIPE; the YO of 2d. [Cry that helps people pull together], YO HEAVE HO.
There were lots of excellent clues … but I have a headache so I won’t review the whole puzzle to find them now.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Side of Fries”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone, and a happy Saturday to you!
Yesterday, I had to deal with having french fries in the brain when one of the entries was Ore-Ida. Today just happens to be a whole lot of fries shoved in my face, and I have the grid of Ms. Sarah Keller to thank for that. In it , the first word in each theme answer also describes a style of French fries and/or those words are ones that can come before the word “fries.”
- FRENCH CUFF: (20A: [Dress shirt feature]) – I have many dress shirts and none with French cuffs. I don’t think I’m missing too much, if you ask me.
- STEAK KNIFE: (32A: [Outback cutting implement])
- WAFFLE CONE: (43A: [Sweet ice cream holder])
- CURLY LOCKS: (58A: [Young Shirley Temple's famous ringlets])
Not sure what to think of the theme. If you consider the theme as words that come immediately before “fries,” then there’s no problem. If you think of it as different styles of fries, then “French” would actually be redundant, right? I think of steak, waffle and curly as different styles of fries, but not French. That’s just nit-picking probably, but would love to know what you think. Here’s an entry/clue free of charge that would work: SHOESTRING CATCH (Defensive baseball play that you might see on highlight reels). And it’s 15 letters as well! BOOM!
Not to say that being in SUFFOLK County is a bad summer destination spot (9D: [Long Island county]), but the couple of times that I’ve had to make it to Long Island this summer probably doesn’t match up to being in BISCAYNE Bay in the summer months (10D: [Miami's ________ Bay]). Interesting intersection with ESO (33D: [___ Beso (Paul Anka hit)]) crossing ISO right smack dab in the middle (41A: [Prefix with bar]). Seeing MASHIES makes me think Ms. Keller must be a real golf fan, since that’s a term I hear only golf junkies use (5D: [Five-irons]). Oh, and to have that clue at 5D and talk about five irons is very clever…or total happenstance. Did anyone get confused by the first two AAs in AARDWOLF and think something might be amiss (51A: [Cousin of a hyena])? I was just fine with that one, as well as AQABA, as I’m seeing that entry more and more now in grids and I’m now making sure I know more about it than I really need to (51D: [Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Egypt]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LOY (30A: ["Cheaper by the Dozen" actress Myrna]) – There’s a pretty good chance that the only time you see LOY in a puzzle is in reference to actress Myrna Loy. Well let me provide you an alternate Loy right now. Former NBA basketball player Loy Vaught played most of his career in the 1990s for the Los Angeles Clippers. Often the only shining light on some really bad Clipper teams, Vaught twice finished seasons averaging a double-double. He averaged 16.2 points and 10.1 rebounds in the 1996 season and 14.9 points and 10.0 rebounds the following year. Loy was also a member of the 1989 University of Michigan team that won the national championship.
Have a great Saturday, and see you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Ned White’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
I found this one much more challenging than the standard Saturday LAT. I also thought there was a lot of interesting fill, and a particularly large number of spoken phrases: “ONE TO GO,” “MWAHAHA,” “GET THIS,” “LET ME SEE,” and “BE BRAVE.” I liked the central mini-thematic crossing of HAPPY MEAL and SILLY WALK, though the latter pushes on the edge of lexicality (and yes, I’ve seen the Monty Python sketch). Other great stuff in this one includes WHATNOT, MAD MAX, Xs AND Ys, ALSO-RAN, MADE HAY, BABAR, TIGHT-FISTED. I thought the clue for GENDERS was quite inventive: [Bases for some roles].
BAD THROW felt a bit arbitrary to me. There’s not a lot of fill in this one that looks out of place in a crossword, though CORT didn’t come to me easily because I initially had LIGHT ON CASH where TIGHT-FISTED [Like one claiming to be short, maybe] should have gone. Hey, Frank LONGO’S in this puzzle! Oh, no, wait, those are LONG Os (clued well as [Solo couple?]). I’m still not sure how I feel about TRIBAL ELDER — I think that’s a perfectly cromulent phrase, but something about it strikes me as very Othering.
Raise your hand if you knew that MAHAL (as in the Taj Mahal) comes from the Urdu for “palace”? Fun Fact of the Day™.
I KANT go on. 3.75 stars. Until next week!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
I did not get nearly enough time to chat with Doug at Lollapuzzoola last weekend. Alas and alack!
Congratulations to Doug on crafting the first puzzle I can remember in which the first four letters in 1-Across spell out TURD. It’s a decidedly non-turdlike crossword, though. Highlights:
- 1a. [Portmanteau often heard in November], TURDUCKEN.
- 27a. [Transmogrification victim of fiction], SAMSA. Gregor Samsa becomes a cockroach in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and “transmogrification” is such a cool word. Dictionary tells me the word joined the English language in the 17th century and is of unknown origin! Yes. There is no “mogrify.”
- 41a. [How a Mexican mythical serpent is depicted], PLUMED. Quetzalcoatl! The original feathered serpent … unless I’ve missed others.
- 51a. [Brita competitor], PUR. I like this one because I switched from a Brita pitcher to a Pur tank this year. Pur filters out more bad stuff, and the Amazon reviewers suggested that Pur pitchers are less prone to gross mold than our always-beset-by-black-grime Brita pitcher. (The answer still wasn’t a gimme for me. I needed the crossings because I forgot the brand name.)
- 1d. [Watch word?] is a great clue for tick or TOCK.
- 9d. NE**A*, [Workers' collection]? I was tempted by NET PAY, but it’s NECTAR. Bees or ants or whatnot.
- 10d. [Quartet in the British royal family], FABERGE EGGS. I love pretty eggs. No cholesterol.
- 12d. [Reason to shout in a convenience store], INSTANT WIN lottery ticket. Fresh entry.
- 24d. [Whom Ricky Ricardo called his main competitor], XAVIER CUGAT. Full name, bonus X.
- 29d. ['50s "Dinner on the dot" sloganeer], MINUTE RICE. Blecch.
- 33d. [How some get their meds], IV DRIP. Raise your hand if you tried the less interesting ORALLY first.
- 54d. [Parlor decorations], TATS. Tattoo parlor.
- 21d. [Accept eagerly], LEAP ON. Usually crosswords give us LEAP AT with a clue like this. LEAP ON seems more like a dog thing, or a little kid thing, full of physicality.
- 44d. [They look like wolves], LEERERS. Who uses this form of the word? Hardly anyone, that’s who.
Overall, lots of fun stuff in this 72-worder. Four stars.