CS 6:55 (J—paper)
Before getting around to the Saturday NYT crossword, I did a few Vowelless Crosswords by Frank Longo. Man, I just flew through one of those puzzles! It only took me 8 minutes, or a third longer than the NYT. Then the next crsswrd took me 26 minutes. Ouch. I'm enjoying the format tremendously but you know what? The fun won't last. Before you know it, I'll have finished the entire book and then what? Then I have to wait until fall for Brendan Quigley's diagramless book, but I test-solved a bunch of the puzzles so those ones will be reruns for me.
Brilliant constructors, please make more tough puzzle books. Publishers, please publish said books. Thank you.
Brad Wilber's New York Times crossword
Tons of cool fill in this puppy, eh? This may be one of the most enjoyable Wilber creations to date. Let's run through some clues:
Michael Wiesenberg's Los Angeles Times crossword
I'm leaving town early in the morning (PuzzleGirl will be here to cover the Sunday puzzles in my absence), so let me excerpt what I've written up for L.A. Crossword Confidential.
Just like last Saturday's L.A. Times crossword, this puzzle felt like an easy Friday NYT puzzle—and I had a bottle of Stella Artois before I began the puzzle.
The grid is unusual—if it weren't for the black squares in each corner, this puzzle would have triple stacks of 15-letter answers at the top and bottom. Instead, it's got pairs of 15's with single 13's. I love that last Across answer, TEETER-TOTTERS (61A: They have their ups and downs). It's got the most boring letters in the English language, the sort of letters that often populate the bottom row of a crossword, but we don't see too many 13's in themeless puzzles, and TEETER-TOTTERS have that playground nostalgia cachet.
Clues? Answers? We got 'em:
Sandy Fein's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
7:37? All right, not too much harder than the NYT puzzle today. I'll take it as a victory.
I like the mislead of [Early riser] as a clue for an UPSTART, and I like the word SWAGGER ([Bluster]). PIUS VII, the [Adversary of Napoleon], is a Roman-numeraled person I don't recall seeing in a crossword before. Bowling [Lane marks] are STRIKES, if you're lucky. Interesting clue for AVARICE: It's [One of Spinoza's "species of madness"]. In hockey, you might get a PENALTY and [It may be served in a box]; so can some lunches. The NEWBERY Medal is bestowed on authors of American literature for kids; the clue is [Medal won by Lofting], referring to (I had to look this up) Hugh Lofting, author of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.
Lotsa weird fill here. The GRAYLAG goose is a [European goose]. Seven-letter partial HENRI DE [___ Toulouse-Lautrec] pushes beyond the usual 5-letter limit but with no great payoff in amusement value or in facilitating great fill in its neighborhood. There are some odd-jobbers in the grid: a TWEEZER, a DWELLER, and some TILTERS ([Quixote wannabes]).
I suspected that [Name to make up with] had to do with making up stories, but ALIAS didn't work with the crossings. The answr turned out to be cosmetics brand ESTEE Lauder. But...you don't make up with the name. You make up with the makeup. Unfamiliar place name of the day: HALLE is [Handel's birthplace].
Updated Saturday morning:
Randall J. Hartman's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Fly Apart"—Janie's review
I'm beginning to thing that Randy is out to give lie to the notion that "breaking up is hard to do," for in today's puzzle we have yet another example of what happens when you choose a word—FLY, say—and break it up, or take it "apart," so that its letters bookend (and belong to) the theme fill. Last week we were happily "covered in MUD"; about a month ago the theme answers were found "in a NUT shell." Today the tried-and-true theme (a pun itself) plays out even more playfully than in puzzles past—and is especially well-met with its non-theme complement. Behold:
There look to be a few sub-themes here today, too. Baseball for one. We get Mel OTT, ERNIE Banks, the METS, EARNED RUN average, and I'm even going to go out on a limb and include LEGGINGS. Was really thrown by [Giant nicknamed "Master Melvin"]. In vain I tried to think of some long-forgotten fairytale character... In other words, terrific clue.
"Things people say" would have to include YES'M ["Okay" for Tom Sawyer] and PAY UP [Shylock's threat]. Didn't help myself any by trying to make this PAY ME...
Then there's the television sub-theme, with hosts OPRAH Winfrey, Tom SNYDER, Jay LENO—and of course, the aforementioned FRED FRIENDLY. And a trio of working types: the ECOLOGIST, and the symmetrically placed odd-couple of PAINTERS and SOLDIERS. That last one can also be associated with NAM, then USAF, then A-TEST. (I'm afraid the more I see this one clued along the lines of [Big blast, briefly], the less amused by it I become.)
Our music today? DOOWOP. But the clue [Style of Randy and the Rainbows] was zero help. Turns out their claim to fame was "Denise," a song I do remember, and that this quintet included two sibling pairs—the Safutos and the Zeros (truly)—and a lone Arcipowski. (This clip is not of the original group, but does feature one Safuto and one Zero for some "doowop reunion" special...)
Finally—how SASSY is that HOT PANTS clue, ["Cheeky" style of clothing]? A fashion trend best suited for the long of limb and firm of flesh, I imagine that hot pants have long been a staple of the Glamour "Don't" list.
June 19, 2009