CS 7:23 (J—paper)
Matt Ginsberg's New York Times crossword
Write-up and answer grid coming later tonight, after raspberry shortcake and putting my kid to bed.
48A. [Chain of treeless rolling hills] is a WOLD.
44D. The W's crossing is a [Metalworking tool] called a SWAGE.
Now, TOLD/STAGE would fit there and could lend themselves to interesting cluing riffs, but no, we get WOLD and SWAGE, neither of which I've heard of. After decades of crosswording!
Aside from that, there are about a dozen Z's in the grid, which is just insane, so I enjoyed the puzzle. The "pick a random letter and see if the applet likes it" game got old pretty quickly, though. W?? Maybe it's a product placement for the W Hotels.
—Okay, I'm back, and my kid's still not in bed! This puppy's a 72-worder, which means it was probably easier to fill the grid in mondo Scrabbly fashion than it would've been for a 68-worder. I have no objection to hitting the ceiling for themeless word count, especially not when the fill boggles the mind. Favorite answers, enjoyable clues:
Here are a few answers that demanded that I work the crossings a good bit: MAZY is an odd little word, clued as [Tangled and interwoven]. [Clyde ___, "Beau Brummell" playwright, 1890] is Mr. FITCH. (Who?) I know what pomades are, but POMATUM—[Fragrant hair dressing]—is unfamiliar. In music, [Larghetto] means SLOWISH.
Updated Saturday morning:
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Pig Farm"—Janie's review
Anyone who attended this year's ACPT should remember Merl Reagle's puzzle #3: "Lipstick on a Pig" which gave us lots of cosmetic-treatment puns with a porcine twist. When I saw the title of today's puzzle I was immediately reminded of it. Once I started solving, however, it became clear that Martin's approach would be uniquely his. In three grid-spanning entries, Martin gives us some insight into what remains of a pig once it has gone to, and is resting in, Hog Heaven. And what might those options be? Our first choice is :
With two CS debuts (the first two) and one major puzzle debut, this theme fill is both fresh and a lot of fun to boot.
But it's not only the quality of the theme-fill that makes this puzzle so good. The lengthy non-theme fill stands on its own and it, too, is fresh as can be. There are three CS debuts here:
And two major-puzzle firsts:
Three other astonishing women—all born within 20 years of each other—get first-name mentions, and I'll mention 'em, too: hostess PERLE Mesta (1889-1975), aviator AMELIA Earhart (1897-1937) and author EUDORA Welty (1909-2001).
Some clues that shone: [Joltless joe] for DECAF (remember when Joltin' Joe was the spokesman for Mr. Coffee?...); and [Letters on a Cardinal's cap]. I really FALTERED with this one. What sort of religious esoterica is this? How am I supposed to...? Oh. Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals. STL. Nevermind...
And have no idea why I like this particular pair of words, but I do: SPINAL and BUNION. Go figger.
This was a not-too-difficult puzzle with a lotta meaty fill. A Saturday treat (sorry, vegetarians!!). Need more? There's a CD that pokes fun of the ultra-earnest (Gregorian) Chant disc that was so popular for a while. This is called Grunt and is a recording of Pigorian chant...
Robert Wolfe's Los Angeles Times crossword
I've got a longer write-up of this puzzle L.A. Crossword Confidential today. One thing I didn't mention over there is my unease with the clue for 1-Across, WADES IN. Yes, the dictionary says it does indeed mean [Begins energetically], but that just seems wrong. If you're enthusiastic about getting into the water at the beach, you'll move beyond mere wading and splash in for full immersion. Whoever decided that wading in represented a "vigorous attack or intervention" was clearly on drugs. Is there a word for "idiom that seems patently backwards"?
EXTRA-LARGE is clued as a [Soft drink order]. I order that size only at the movies, and refer to it as "a trough of Diet Coke." (ASPARTAME!) [Philippine bread] is Philippine currency, the PESO. My mother-in-law doesn't bake much so I haven't had any Filipino baked goods, but that's not what this clue is about. [Caesar's tax form?] is 1040, or MXL—the clue is just nutty enough that I like it, even though it works that question mark hard. (Caesar did not complete any IRS forms.) The [Burrowing rabbitlike mammal] called the PIKA is adorable. It lives out west in the Great Basin, the area between the Rockies and Sierra Nevada. And, as I learned when reading about it for my L.A.C.C. post, it eats its fresh poop to extract more nutrients and only the second-round poop becomes the familiar pellets of rabbit poop. Shouldn't the pika have evolved a more effective digestive system so it could get all the nutrients out the first time? I'm relieved that humans' GI tract evolved past that.
Updated again Saturday afternoon:
Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
This is among my least favorite Doug Peterson themelesses (answer here), but it's still pretty good. (Doug's set his bar high.) And I like this difficulty level. First, let's look at the parts I liked most:
What worked less well here? This stuff:
May 29, 2009