Newsday (not timed, but maybe 9:00ish)
Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword
Joe Krozel makes a habit of stacking and interlocking 15-letter answers in his themeless puzzles. This one is no exception, with two 15's near each edge. Those long answers roll out thus:
The puzzle's word count is 74—two over the usual max for a themeless puzzle. I reckon 99% of the people who solve this puzzle will neither notice nor care. (Edited to add: What was I smoking last night? The crossword has 64 words and a very low black square count of 19—which, again, 99% of solvers won't notice and won't care about.) What they might care about are the answers that are strikingly unfamiliar—though the Saturday puzzle sometimes bludgeons us with such fill:
I dunno, that sort of felt like a lot of "Huh?" stuff for one puzzle, but I still made it through safely thanks to the crossings. Here are some less vexing clues and fill I liked:
Robert Wolfe's L.A. Times crossword
I'm getting a late start on blogging today, and a crossword proofreading gig demands my attention. So let me lay out just a few clues here and then refer you to my L.A. Crossword Confidential post on this puzzle.
If you haven't checked out the new blog yet, let me tell you one cool feature—a "Crosswordese 101" section for every puzzle. PuzzleGirl, Rex, and I are taking a decidedly educational approach over there, laying out the sort of lessons that are a boon for newer solvers. There's also a lot of content like that in my book, How To Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, but hey, nobody who's Googling because they're stuck on a crossword is able to Google their way to the lessons in my book. Today's Crosswordese 101 focuses on the 4-letter European rivers. Who among us couldn't use a refresher course on those?
All righty, some clues from today's LAT:
Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" crossword
Doug Peterson continues to pep up the Stumper with livelier fill than the themeless Newsdays are generally known for. To wit: Christina AGUILERA, the [Best New Artist Grammy winner in 2000], and Paula ABDUL, ["Cold Hearted" singer]. Not to mention MR. T, the ['80s TV star]. The rest of the puzzle (answer here) doesn't swim in pop culture, but that dose of three pop names makes a difference in my enjoyment of the puzzle. It's when the pop culture backslides into the '50s that I grumble—as with ["Hardy Boys" girlfriend] crossing a word with two accepted spellings. Come on! That's hardly fair. Is the [Steer snarer] RIATA or REATA? Is the Hardy Boys character named IOLA or EOLA? (Turns out it's the more common RIATA crossing the really-not-common IOLA.)
One-word clues with multiple meanings abound! [Upset] is the verb OVERTURN as well as an adjective. [Brook] is the verb ABIDE as well as a noun. [Transport] is the noun ECSTASY as well as a verb. [Compact] is the noun ALLIANCE as well as an adjective. This is now the hallmark of Stumpers—clues that are harder than ever to Google. Why use obscure trivia when a one-word clue will stymie solvers just as effectively?
Lynn Lempel's CrosSynergy crossword, "What's in a Name?"
I wasn't quite firing on all cylinders when I did battle with this crossword. I misread the verb tense in one of the theme clues, and the Anagram Center of my brain was dialed way down. Each theme entry has a verb followed by a famous person's surname that's an anagram of the verb. The verbs alternate between no-final-S and final-S:
LEVEE ([Embankment to ward off floods]) and N. DAK. ([One of Saskatchewan's U.S. neighbors]) are topical. OLD FLAMES makes for a great crossword answer; it's clued as [Long-ago loves].
I also like TRADES UP, or [Exchanges for a better model]. I'm thinking of trading up to a new Ford Fusion Hybrid—41 mpg in the city! Any car geeks out there who can give me a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on this idea?
March 27, 2009
Newsday (not timed, but maybe 9:00ish)