CS 7:20 (J―paper)
Happy Fourth of July!
Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword
When a holiday lands on a Saturday, every now and then we get a commemorative themed Saturday puzzle. Peter and Joe's puzzle is anchored by INDEPENDENCE DAY running down at 7D, clued as the [Highest-grossing film of 1996], crossed by three related 15s: THE UNITED STATES is not just a country but also the [Fastest ocean liner ever in a transatlantic crossing (3 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes)]. The STARS AND STRIPES is what we call the U.S. flag and the name of a military newspaper, clued as [Private reading?], as in the newspaper read by privates in the Army. [Patriotic display] is the RED, WHITE, AND BLUE—and I didn't need the clue to fill that one in with a few crossings in place. The word count's just 70, so with unrelated 15s, this could be a themeless grid. I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit.
Seven highlights before I hit the sack:
• 15A. MONGO is the [Planet ruled by Ming the Merciless in "Flash Gordon"]. I half watched the movie with my son last year. Ridiculously cheesy!
• 33A. [Copy cats?] is a verb phrase. If you imitate kitties, you might PURR.
• 49A. To [Bellyache] is to KVETCH. You know what the kvetchers cry, don't you? They cry "oy vey.'
• 58A. ROD STEIGER looks great in the puzzle. [Oscar-winning portrayer of Police Chief Bill Gillespie, 1967] is his clue. In the Heat of the Night opposite Sidney Poitier, no?
• 31D. [Star of India and others] are SAPPHIRES.
• 34D. [It may make people jump to a conclusion] clues a SACK RACE.
• 35D. [Broke a court rule] in basketball is TRAVELED.
Updated Saturday morning:
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Space Exploration"―Janie's review
While we don't have "Stars and Stripes Forever" on this Independence Day, Randy has provided a celestial array (with one star anyway). The beginning of each of the five theme-related phrases (in 61 letters of theme-fill) names a heavenly body.
I've not yet seen the movie (it's on my library dvd-list), but (the trailer of) Fight Club came to mind when I saw ACTS OUT beside RULE ONE [Most important guideline] (both of which appear to be CS debuts). Remember? "Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!" That's one rule one ya wanna take very seriously!
Oh―and I'm wondering how many times NICOLAS [Cage on film] appears in the same puzzle as his aunt TALIA [Shire in show business]. Anyway, it's nice to see them paired here.
The cluing throughout was fairly straightforward, but not without some highpoints. I liked seeing familiar ASEA clued as [Between ports] which gives me a strong visual. Also liked ESTS for [Ballpark figs.]. Nice misdirection there, as often-as-not the fill is MGRS. So we're in the metaphorical ballpark today with an abbreviation for estimates and not in [your favorite stadium here] with the team's managers.
I felt there was something off in the cluing of ARMBAND. While there's precedent for [Symbol worn on a sleeve] as a crossword clue, darned if I could find support for it in the dictionary. Looking through most of the Onelook.com listings, I consistently came up with some variation of "band/piece of cloth worn around the arm for decoration/as identification or to indicate mourning/protest." The clue suggested emblem to me―which is one letter shy of course―the sort that folks in the military display. Or Scouts for that matter.
Before parting, will add that I enjoyed seeing the meeting of MA'AM and MESSRS in the northeast corner. Enjoy a happy, safe and glorious Fourth, all!
Dan Naddor's Los Angeles Times crossword
There's much to admire in this themed, 15x16, 73-word holiday crossword. Tons of good fill, clever clues, the works. See what I had to say over at L.A. Crossword Confidential. Between a foot injury, a nascent cold, and sleeping in this morning, I find I lack the pep to blog this puzzle a second time. But it's a good puzzle! If you haven't done it, you ought to make time for it.
Updated Saturday afternoon:
"Anna Stiga" or Stan Newman's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
I did this one a quadrant at a time, starting with the lower right corner, moving up to the upper right, filling in the lower left, and trudging through the upper right last. While the only famous [Jan. honoree] is Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., it took forever to figure out what combination of his name and titles would fit together there. I call foul on DR. M. L. KING, JR., which looks cool in the grid with its 90% consonants, but doesn't at all sound like a common way to refer to King. It Googles OK but...meh.
JOB LOT isn't so familiar to me. It's a [Large quantity] and a solid in-the-dictionary term. I had the J for a long time before coming up with RAGTOPS (not HUBCAPS!) for [Auto parts] helped jostle things loose in that section.
Favorite clues and answers:
• [His fiction inspired "Airplane!"] clues Arthur HAILEY, who wrote Airport, which spawned several '70s disaster movies, which Airplane! then spoofed.
• IRA LEVIN, author of Rosemary's Baby, gets this clue: [Stephen King called him "the Swiss watchmaker"].
• A plain ol' LENS is [One of your contacts].
• When I had ODI* for [He wears a yellow coat and pants], I paused to question whether this was cartoon dog ODIE (yes) or Norse god ODIN (no).
• [Something Spooner might have "flung out"]...hmm, it's probably a spoonerism involving "hung out," so what's something that starts with FL that can be hung out and that becomes another word when the FL turns into an H? Flag —> HAG.
• JUDGE JUDY! Great answer. She's a [Non-nonsense arbiter] on TV.
• Trivia! [His "Time" cover featured seven syringes] kept me guessing for a long time. Turns out it's polio vaccine developer Jonas SALK. With S***, I briefly contemplated SOSA.
July 03, 2009