CS 6:01 (J—paper)/2:47 (A—Across Lite)
A link to J. Zou's "Ode to Shortz" arrived yesterday in Sergio Ximenes' cruciverb-L post. J. Zou, do not despair! We can help you! Try reading How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. (P.S. Sunday's really not so scary—it's like a Thursday on steroids. But have you looked at Saturday?)
Richard Silvestri's New York Times crossword
Isn't it a shame that in a puzzle with a FORTY-FOUR theme, 44-Across is the nonmellifluous TEABAG ([Earl Grey holder])? FORTY-FOUR is at 55-Across (were it at 44-Across, the theme clues would all contain spoilers), and it relates to the other four theme answers:
Answers I liked:
What didn't quite sit right with me:
Updated Wednesday morning:
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Time Pieces"—Janie's review
This well-made puzzle does not deal with hour- glasses or wrist-watches or sundials, but with what those solid objects measure: time itself. The three theme phrases each contain a unit of time. The first two phrases are making their CS debuts, the third is appearing for the third time and, for the third time, in a puzzle of Martin's own making. Without wasting any more time, those theme phrases are:
Primarily because of the cluing, this was a far more straightforward solve than yesterday's, but no less enjoyable. Once again the tight theme fill is complemented by a fine array of non-theme entries.
Let's start with the musical mini-theme which gives us the brilliant and controversial [Conductor Herbert von] KARAJAN (appearing for the first time ever in a major puzzle]; ["William Tell" composer] Gioacchino ROSSINI; [TAJ] MAHAL (well, there's nothing in the clue to say it couldn't be...); and [John Lennon's lady] and wife and collaborator YOKO ONO—appearing with her whole name, thank-you-very-much, and doesn't it look great in the grid?
UP ANCHOR [Prepare to set sail] also looks good in the grid, but took me a while to parse. I had trouble seeing that the correct answer was a phrase and not a single word with PANCHO as its core...
Whether by plan or pure chance, PETTIEST [Most small-minded] and MOODIEST [Most temperamental] mirror each other in the grid—and both are CS firsts. Talk about two ways no one would aspire to be described... Still—fun to see 'em both in the puzzle. Also fun to see the pairing of [Boxer Mike] TYSON and FISTS [Boxers' weapons]—though I prefer not to have a close encounter with either! (Anyone see The Hangover? Iron Mike is almost adorable in his plot-critical cameo.)
Other colorful fill: SPECTRA [Rainbows], which is the plural of "spectrum" (of color); KERMIT; ANNOTATE; MUSTANGS, clued as [Sporty Ford models]. (Am reading Sue Grafton's T is for Trespass and detective Kinsey Milhone's current set of wheels is a 1970 Mustang.)
[Take the wrong way?] has nothing to do with misperception, but does remind us that it's not a good idea to STEAL; and [One with a supporting role?] is a less-than-direct way to clue LEG.
The one word I'd be happy never to encounter again in a puzzle is GREATEN [Become more important]. It's an archaic word also meaning to "increase the size of," and not a word we encounter in contemporary/everyday usage. Writing months after the Great Fire of London, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary: "14 June 1667, Every thing concurred to greaten the fire." But that was then, and this is now.
Still, in a puzzle this good, this is also small potatoes!
And here's Orange again. Janie's right—nobody uses the word GREATEN any more. "Embiggen" is a far more cromulent word. How odd, though, to have a 70-word themed puzzle that falls in a Mondayish amount of time. All those 7's and 8's looked fearsome, but had easy CrosSynergy clues.
Donna Levin's Los Angeles Times crossword
My longer write-up of this puzzle is over at L.A. Crossword Confidential. A while back, Jim Horne of Wordplay asked what I thought about an e-mail he'd received from a woman who wanted more stereotypically female content in the NYT puzzle and bristled at the sports and automotive content that she felt was anathema to her. I hope she's also doing the L.A. Times crossword, because today's knitting theme would be right up her alley.
I'll agree that there's too damn much baseball in crosswords, but I don't know that knitting and other handicrafts are the solution—my XX chromosomes do not include a handicrafts gene.
Here's the theme:
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Bag Lunch"
Today's quip theme relays a joke: EVERY TIME YOU EAT / A STEAK, A / HIPPIE'S / HACKYSACK / GOES IN THE GUTTER. It's from comedian PATTON / OSWALT.
Assorted not-so-easy clues:
Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club crossword
Smooth puzzle, Tyler. 1-Across is a cross-referenced theme answer—[Things at the beginning of 20-, 36-, and 54-Across]—so it looked like a rough start but then it wasn't. 20A is a [Setting for "The Real Housewives"], and I just read the Entertainment Weekly article about the best and worst reality shows. ORANGE COUNTY fit, while New Jersey, New York City, and Atlanta didn't. So 1-Across is...FRUITS or COLORS? CROSSWORD BLOGGERS won't fit there. Then 36A is [Electoral battleground, in modern parlance], or a PURPLE STATE. COLORS it is! I still needed lots of crossings for 54A, [Show on which Alfonso Ribeiro played Alfonso Spears]. He was on something before Fresh Prince? Yeah, it was SILVER SPOONS, which I never watched. Big deal, three COLORS—but wait, there's more! 67A is clued [What the first words of 20-, 36-, and 54-Across lack], and that's RHYMES. Lovely theme with a little surprise lurking at the bottom of the puzzle.
And now, 10 clues:
June 09, 2009