As much as I enjoy a Saturday New York Times crossword that delivers a solid thrashing, I suppose there's something to be said for an uncommonly easy Saturday puzzle. Mark Diehl's crossword just might let some folks finish a Saturday Times for their very first time, which will whet their appetites for more such conquests. Sure, they might get their asses handed to them next weekend, but maybe they'll be more likely to keep trying—and that is objectively a good thing.
This puzzle seems to be trying to convey a narrative: "OPEN YOUR EYES (["Look, bonehead!"]), JAVA MAN ([Early hominid])! JIFFY POP ([Brand for preparation in a stovetop]) is RACIST ([Like some misguided remarks])."
More specific people in the puzzle:
There are a lot of common letters in these names—why, look how many of them can be broken into two shorter crossword answers. DES/ADE, TIER/NEY, SIN/ATRA, EST/ELLA.
The RICE ([Jambalaya need]) University sports teams are the OWLS ([Fifth-year exams at Hogwarts])—I wonder if the constructor originally had these clued together.
Brad Wilber's LA Times crossword introduced me to a marine creature, the SEA HARE (a [Marine slug named for its earlike appendages])—watch it locomote in this video. Here's a good example of how clues transform ordinary, familiar answers into Saturday-grade creatures: ERIE is [1960 railroad merger company] rather than, say, [Pennsylvania port] or [Toledo's lake].
Assorted answers from the arts:
Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" (PDF solution here) taunts me with SLEEP IN ([Stay out late?]), as my son prevents me from sleeping in on 98% of weekend mornings. I slowed myself down with some wrong turns—like MOONSTONE instead of METEORITE for [Exotic rock]—and blanked for the longest time on the ["Still Standing" actress]. I could picture her in Twister and Square Pegs but my brain played word-pattern tricks on me and I couldn't get GOMEZ out of my head instead of Jami GERTZ (same G, same Z...). GOMEZ turns out to be [DiMaggio's first Yankee roommate], six answers to GERTZ's left. Favorite answers:
Crosswordese opera star EZIO PINZA was the ["Some Enchanted Evening" introducer]. [Name meaning "rose"] is RHODA. Apparently complaining about these etymology-of-names clues just makes Stan Newman put more of them in. Uncle! (Though this one was a gimme, Stan...)
Ooh, there's a misspelling in a clue. ALIKE is clued [Analagous], but that should be [Analogous].
January 23, 2009