LAT 4:00—fantastic themeless, don't miss it (Across Lite at Cruciverb.com, applet at latimes.com)
CS 7:16 (J—paper)
Guess what? When there's an outdated crossword clue about nurses, they notice. And they don't like it. Must reading for crossword constructors and editors.
Edited to add: Writer Dean Olsher (his book, From Square One, is in bookstores now) will be blogging the Sunday puzzles for us.
Vic Fleming's New York Times crossword
Vic's puzzle is anchored by a 15-letter answer running down the middle and criss-crossed by three more 15s as well as two 11s and four 10s. It's an unusual grid layout. The fill isn't very Scrabbly, perhaps because of the constraints of this layout. Overall, the cluing was more lively than the fill, I thought. Highlights:
What I don't quite get or didn't much care for:
Updated Saturday morning:
Randall J. Hartman's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Ow, Ow—That Hurts!"—Janie's review
Nuthin' like a fine array of percussive sounds to generate a headache, is there? BANG! BOOM! KNOCK!—and what's the upshot? "Ow!" Double the cacophony and "Ow, ow!" Randy plays with these sounds in today's puzzle, but I don't imagine you'll need to take two aspirin once you've solved it. Additionally, he's given us three grid-spanning theme fills of the very fresh variety: the first two appear to be major-publication firsts, the third a CS debut:
In the STAT department, I loved seeing today's one J, two Vs, three Zs and six Ks. Back to comedy... I'm reminded that in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, funny-man Willy Clark ZINGS:
"Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka Seltzer is funny. You say "Alka Seltzer" you get a laugh . . . Words with "k" in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that's a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny. Car keys. Cleveland . . . Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny. Then, there's chicken. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny."We get two references today to the changes we've seen in automobile manufacture over the years: OLDS [Automaker until 2004] and NASH [Bygone auto]. The last of these rolled off the Kenosha, WI line in 1969. [It's a gas] is neither a way of describing a particularly funny experience nor something along the lines of neon or nitrous oxide. No, ARCO is a brand of gasoline to put into your auto of choice. Glad it's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where there's little chance that a leisurely Sunday spin will lead to an encounter with BLACK ICE [Winter driving hazard].
The [First name in mausoleums] is TAJ and two crossword-friendly last names (because of their constructor-friendly vowel sequence] are CAAN and KAEL. (And funny, too!) There's some fine slang in the fill GONZO, here clued as [Eccentric] (but which I think of more often as meaning extreme as in the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson); and SHAG, here clued as [Catch fungoes]. "Fungoes" (great word in itself!) are fly balls "hit for fielding practice by a player who tosses the ball up and hits it on its way down with a long, thin, light bat," so in sports jargon, SHAG=catch. In BritSpeak, SHAG=have sex with.
Yesterday, BLONDIE appeared in the puzzle as a [Chic Young creation]. Today, the wife of her husband Dagwood's boss (Mr. Withers) joins the party. Hello, CORA. You're in excellent company with RAVI [Sitarist Shankar] OLEG and IVAN. Glad to see this last one clued in reference to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's ["One Day in the Life of ___ Denisovich"]. It woulda been really easy to clue him as [Tennis great Lendl], partnering him with ILIE [Tennis bad boy Nastase].
Brad Wilber's Los Angeles Times crossword
This one's been short-listed for the annual Oryx honors for the awards panel's favorite themeless crossword. It's got an abundance of fresh fill that really crackles with liveliness, plus Scrabbly letters up the wazoo. Holy frijoles, did I ever like this puzzle. Here's what I like best in a themeless puzzle:
The edges of Brad's crossword feature a dozen long answers, stacked three deep in each corner. There are all sorts of nutty entries I've never seen in a crossword before. And once I got MALT LIQUOR at 1-Across (clued with a brand of malt liquor, Colt 45, e.g.), I began to suspect there'd be all sorts of Scrabbly goodness lurking throughout.
Favorite answers and clues: I'll pick and choose and leave out some of my favorites, because dangit, there are just too many today.
Overall, this crossword really wasn't too tough, not as themeless Saturday puzzles go. There were a couple short answers that kept me waiting for crossings, though. There's 2D: Hypothetical particle (AXION), which I've never heard of. (Physics is not my forte.) And the abbreviation DAU. was kinda painful; it's clued as 31A: Abbr. in a genealogy volume, so I surmise that it's short for "daughter." You really have to expect to see some things you simply have no way of knowing in a Saturday puzzle, so you really can't call foul on these. And their crossings were rock-solid—it's not as if we had to guess a letter in DAU that crossed an Armenian river, you know? This puzzle is eminently fair in addition to being a sparkly marvel of yumminess.
(Writeup adapted from my post at L.A. Crossword Confidential.)
Adam Cohen's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
I think Adam Cohen's new to Stumper constructing, though his work has been published in the NYT every day from Monday through Saturday. This Stumper was decidedly non-stumpogenic as Stumpers go—I finished in a Friday to easy Saturday NYT amount of time. He's a promising addition to the Saturday Newsday crew.
Things that made me go "ooh":
Things that made me go "huh?" or "meh":
July 24, 2009