(updated at 9:45 a.m. Saturday)
Okay, I will play the bulleted-list game again. Maybe I'll even add a picture to this post. We'll see if anything visually arresting suggests itself.
The Saturday NYT crossword is by Byron Walden. As with any Saturday NYT, there's plenty to talk about—the befuddling, the clever, the edifying.
- First up, the befuddling: I beg to differ. We oranges are sweet. I'd never heard of the BIGARADE ([Sour orange, in French cuisine]). The [Prince in an L. Frank Baum "Oz" book] is Prince INGA, from Rinkintink in Oz. (Gotta love a prince with a Scandinavian girl's name.) The TAN OAK is a shrubby [Pacific Coast evergreen]. Never heard of ["Farewell, ANGELINA," 1965 top 10 Joan Baez album]. THE TRIP is a [1967 Peter Fonda film written by Jack Nicholson]; sounds trippy, as in LSD-trippy. I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett, certainly not [A HAT Full of Sky. College football is something I pay minimal attention to, so [Georgia Tech football coaching great Bobby DODD] was also an unknown. And it was Wikipedia that belatedly helped me figure out that MER (53-Down) DES (28-Down) Caraibes is French for the Caribbean Sea. You know what? I think that's a few more never-heard-of-it factual clues than I usually encounter in a Saturday puzzle. So edjumacational!
- Groovy entries: LIMA, OHIO; HUMPERDINCK; I CAN'T LIE; the adorable SMART CAR, which we saw throughout London; DRAGON FIRE; END / ON A HIGH NOTE; and the INDIANAN who's a COLTS fan.
- My favorite clues: [Fix...or damage] for SCRAPE (noun and verb!); [Deltiologist's purchase] for POSTCARD; [Silver holder] for REIN; [Literary name with a dieresis] for ANAIS (Anaïs Nin); [Something often laid at a window] for WAGER; [Like best buds] for TIGHT; ["Judge ___..."] for NOT; [Coupling device] for CIVIL UNION; [Gag rule, of a sort] for OMERTA; and [Scoring leaders?] for G-GLEFS.
And now, a picture of the BIGARADE, or Seville orange:
So: Not impossible, no horrifically deadly crossings (well, I lucked out with guessing it was Richard EGAN crossing BIGARADE), nothing patently unfair—but still pretty darned tough. How much did it rake you over the coals?
Stan Newman, writing as "Anna Stiga," constructed today's Newsday Saturday Stumper. What a shame to have AVA Gardner clued as [Artie ex]; according to the Wikipedia piece on Artie Shaw, he was an ass. Shaw had two children by his eight wives. "When asked why he never saw his children, he replied, 'I didn't get along with the mothers, so why should I get along with the kids?'" Lovely man (not). Ava fact: She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Mogambo. CARL XVI GUSTAF slowed me down a bit—hadn't known there were royals with Roman numerals in the middle of their names. Nice mislead with [CBS retiree of '04]—DON HEWITT, not DAN RATHER (who retired in '05). And did you know that ALIAS means [Literally, "at another time"]?
Mark Milhet's LA Times themeless crossword didn't always resonate with me. Who calls it a CUSH JOB? Cushy, maybe, but I don't think I've heard "cush." And LEMON SODA—have you ever drunk this? Is there a national name-brand concoction that's a lemon soda? (Lemon-lime Sprite doesn't count.) But look at that lively DRAG QUEEN down there. Here's Miss Understood for you.) Other highlights: [Pecking order?] for KISS ME and [Grace land?] for MONACO. The clue for OP ART cited [Stanczak's "Provocative Current"], which didn't ring a bell. If you're in the mood for some op art, visit Julian Stanczak's site.
Looks like Lynn Lempel has also joined the CrosSynergy gang! In "So There!" she wedges a SO into existing phrases to create things like KISS AND MAKE SOUP and SOWING NUT. I got bogged down in the top middle by having PTA instead of NEA for [Public school backer], thus obscuring the square-dancing GENT and [Sauté starter] OLEO. If you're sautéing with oleo, I don't think I want to eat your cooking. Ew.