Photo from last weekend's Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament. From left, J. from Marbles; 2nd place winner Ben Bass; 1st place winner Anne Erdmann; 3rd place winner Jonathon Brown; Amy Reynaldo; Bob Petitto; Lindsay Gaskins from Marbles.
Brad Wilber's New York Times crossword
Aside from two 3-letter answers, there's nothing in this puzzle that's of questionable value. Smooth fill, lots of interesting phrases, several surprising entries, some intellectual trivia, tricky clues—what's not to like? It's even targeted right at the tough-but-not-too-tough Saturday difficulty level.
My favorite parts:
Tough stuff, arcane facts, names, and so forth:
Updated Saturday morning:
Barry Silk's L.A. Times crossword
Barry Silk, constructor of Friday's NYT puzzle, is back with today's L.A. Times puzzle. I blogged it in a fugue state late last night at L.A. Crossword Confidential. I liked the puzzle, I did, but I kept falling asleep while blogging about it. Blogging is hard work, y'all!
What I liked best in this puzzle was the zig-zag of WHIZBANG to GREAT WHITE SHARK to KATE MOSS. Isn't that a whizbang procession?
Good ol' ANIL shows up, but with a botanical clue I haven't seen before—[Shrub of the genus Indigofera]. There's the OXLIP [Plant in the primrose family]. Moving from plants to birds, we have AVI, or [Prefix with fauna]; MYNAHS, or [Winged mimics];; and a WATTLE, or [Turkey appendage]. Moving from biology to physics, we see ROCKETRY, or [Space science], and a RECEIVER, or [Listening device]. Head down the hall to the place where chemistry class and auto shop collide, and you'll learn a few more things: HEXANE is a [Hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum], the antifreeze ZEREX is a [Prestone competitor], and the tire company UNIROYAL [merged with Goodrich in 1986.
ICE FOG is not something I've ever encountered, but I like its clue: [Weather phenomenon also known as pogonip]. The word pogonip comes from a Shoshone word, and it's fun to say. Do yourself a favor and read the Wikipedia entry. They say that in Siberia, a person walking through ice fog clears out a body-shaped tunnel, so you can play a game of guessing whose tunnel you're looking at based on its size and shape.
Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
I wonder if Newsday and the other papers that carry its puzzle have been getting letters of complaint lately about the Saturday puzzles. Not only is there the whiplash from six days of easier-than-the-NYT puzzles to a tough themeless, but lately the Stumpers have been markedly more difficult (from my perspective). Woe to the less adept solver who blithely picks up the Saturday puzzle, thinking it's the same sort of challenge as the Tuesday puzzle!
The top of this one killed me. (Solution here.) I even Googled INNES, the ["Wreck of the Mary Deare" author], but that didn't help too much. Might I kvetch here about the INNES clue? Yes, it is factual. But English classes and bookstores don't tend to focus on Hammond INNES, do they? (Actress Laura Innes is better known on the Google front.) Sure, that book was made into a movie with Gary Cooper...who died several years before I was born. A thriller that won no awards, based on a novel by a genre writer of no great distinction? Feh. You can learn something by Googling all this, but it sure is boring. More trivia clues:
NAPSTER is a [Best Buy buy] not because you can buy Napster at Best Buy but rather because Best Buy purchased the Napster company in 2008. Other tech answers include DSL, or [High-speed initials], and WIFI, a [Cafe offering].
Tough clues I didn't find so irksome:
These ones weren't so hard for me and I liked 'em:
Now, Newsday team: Can we go back to Doug Peterson puzzles that are like his NYT and LAT puzzles? Maybe 20% harder than those, not 100% harder?
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Let Me Add...Um...To That"
Well, the title describes what goes on in the theme entries, but it doesn't sound natural at all.
My favorite theme answer is SENIOR MOMENTUM, or [AARP movement?]. Hartman takes a lively phrase, tacks on an UM, and creates a workable clue. I'm less fond of the other theme entries, particularly RED BARNUM. We don't precede a person's name with RED to indicate that they're embarrassed, and "red barn" feels a bit like "silver car"—yes, red barns are more common than other colors, but... And then there's COUNTRY DECORUM ([Etiquette while traveling abroad?]. Wait, a red barn and country decor? Too much! I am an urbanite. The ACHE FORUM ([Chat room for hypochondriacs?]) is okay.
There's lots of cool fill—W.C. Fields' The BANK DICK, the BIG EASY, RAY KROC, THE MAN, NO PROB, and that GOOSE EGG with three sets of double letters.
April 24, 2009