Is everyone running around sleep-deprived this week, staying up an hour or two later than usual watching the Olympics? I've been yawning since lunchtime today, and was out all day celebrating MY BIRTHDAY. Then I come home and face the New York Times crossword by Byron Walden, and it nearly slaughtered me. Is it because I'm tired out? Is it because I'm in (to paraphrase Ellen Ripstein quoting someone else) my very late 30s now that I struggled with the crossword. Granted, it also looks to be a wickedly tough crossword (though I hear Rex has labeled it medium-challenging...hmm), with unexpected fill and lotsa hard clues.
The hardest stuff:
The cleverest or most surprising stuff:
In the "maybe not so tough, and also not so fun" category:
So: really challenging crossword, medium-challenging, or easier than that? Seemed like one of the toughest of the year to me, but maybe I'm just tired.
Frederick Healy's LA Times crossword didn't have any big sticking points. This 72-worder has plenty of long phrases in ordinary English, with a handful of abbreviations and foreign or archaic words to toughen things up:
My favorite long answers are these ones:
Ray Hamel's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" was definitely easier than Byron's NYT but knottier than the LAT. The top and bottom halves of the grid have stacks with an 11, 14, and 12. So, a POWDER MONKEY is a [Worker on old warships]? Hmm. A Stephen [King offering] is a SPINE-TINGLER. The [Ornamental shrub] called COTONEASTER grew in my parents' front yard when I was a teen, so that one was easy for me. To [Show stress] can be to HYPERVENTILATE. A boat's [Course director] steers it—the HELMSMAN. To [Welcome enthusiastically] is to RING IN the new year. I would like to RING IN people who arrive at my house, too. Wouldn't that be fun? Confetti and noisemakers, champagne at the ready? I figured the [Four-time Vardon Trophy winner] would be a hockey player but it's legendary golfer Sam SNEAD. There are two CY- people in the grid, and Cyrus Vance is feeling left out; [Slavic saint] CYRIL and CYBELE, the [Greek "mother goddess"], are hogging the limelight. (There's also actor Cyrus Farmer, who went to college with me.)
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle is called "Grounded Pilots." The theme entries are puns on TV shows, positing the existence of shows with the punnily altered titles. [Pilot about a Hanna-Barbera character?] is NAME THAT TOON (Tune). [Plot about a charm school rescue operation?] is SAVED BY THE BELLE (Bell); I hope there'd be room in the storyline for Screech. [Pilot about an airline on strike?] is AMERICAN IDLE (Idol).
August 16, 2008