Byron Walden's New York Times crossword
The Saturday Times puzzle is noteworthy for three reasons: (1) 15-letter wildlife, (2) heavy preposition action, and (3) fun clues. For the first category, [Marmots and prairie dogs] are GROUND SQUIRRELS and SCARLET TANAGERS are now thought to be close [Cardinal relatives]. These animals with big names are joined by a CAMEL, the surprising [Source of Caravane cheese]—a cheese I've never heard of (shades of PIAVE, Byron's ACPT puzzle #5 cheese from a couple years ago), but then, the name looks like "caravan," which camels travel in, so the clue offered more of a hint than it seemed to at first.
The preposition explosion appears in a bunch of the multi-word answers:
Here are my favorite clues:
There are other difficult clues lurking about here, too. Here are eight of 'em: (1) [Spot announcement?] is a dog's GRR growl. Spot is not among the top 50 dog names, according to a Sporcle.com quiz. (2) Have you heard of EDA LeShan? Sure, if you do a lot of crosswords. How about [Coloratura Christiane ___-Pierre] for EDA? Is that ringing any bells? My bells were unrung. (3) SARIS are in the puzzle a lot, but not as [They may be thrown over the shoulder]. (4) [Jesus cursed one in Matthew 21] clues a FIG TREE. I don't know the background, so I'm guessing he stubbed his toe on the tree. Whether he took his own name in vain, I can't say. Maybe he said "HELLS bells?" HELLS is [Oregon and Idaho's ___ Canyon]. (5) [Where M.S.T. and P.S.T. can be found] is the unusual entry WESTERN U.S. They're the Mountain and Pacific time zones. (6) [Home of la Sorbonne] isn't simply PARIS or FRANCE, it's LE QUARTIER LATIN. I needed a lot of crossings to see where that was heading. (7) [Country singer Collin ___] RAYE is less well-known to me than Martha Raye. He had some success as a country singer in the '90s. (8) [Little ___, island in the Bering Strait] clues DIOMEDE. Again, lots of crossings needed to find this answer.
Updated Saturday morning:
Scott Atkinson's Los Angeles Times crossword
I'm short on time this morning because I'm heading downtown soon(ish) for the Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament, so I'll reroute you to my L.A. Crossword Confidential write-up. Today's "Crosswordese 101" lesson isn't about a repeater answer in this crossword—though SSGT, or [U.S. Marine Corps E-6] is practically begging to be dissected with the other military abbreviations that we see in crosswords. Nope, this time it's the solving tips I prepared for the Marbles crowd. So check that out.
Sandy Fein's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
This puzzle (solution here) was wickedly hard, but not in a fun way. There were a few spots that entertained me, but mostly it was a not-pleasant solving experience. Here are some of the things that irked me:
And now, some clues that were tough but fair:
Doug Peterson's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Say What?"
Hey, speak of the devil! I was just saying in the comments that I have taken to dreading the Stumpers unless they have Doug's byline (not dreading because I fear I'm not equal to the task—dreading because I'm not going to enjoy myself), and here he is again, with an easy themed crossword. The theme entries begin with words that can also mean "say," and they're clued as if they do mean "say" in those phrases:
Some of the fill is the standard stuff that excites no one (NNE, AS OF, ATILT, COTES), but so much more of it lends a fun vibe to the crossword. MIFF crosses MOP UP. The QUEEN MUM ([King George VI's widow, familiarly]), is aptly mirrored by TASTEFUL across the grid. There's a NECTARINE, hopefully not an UNRIPE FRUIT. OLD SALT is an answer rather than a clue for a stale TAR. Take an AISLE SEAT when you fly to the RIVIERA. OSCAR the Grouch ACTS OUT. See? Lively stuff.
April 17, 2009