Newsday just under 11 minutes
CS 12:27 (J—paper)/3:47 (A—Across Lite)
Martin Ashwood-Smith's New York Times crossword
Remember Roberto Duran's famous plea, "¡No mas!"? Based on the early returns (i.e., the applet times posted thus far), I suspect more than a few people have been feeling rather "¡No mas, M.A.S.!" about this puzzle. Interesting and tough fill, a hearty batch of challenging clues, several easy traps to fall into, and some crazy crossings? That's a recipe for an arduous solving experience. What a great-looking grid, though, eh? Look at that diagonal swath of white space sprawling across the middle of the puzzle.
First up, the Tar Pits of Traps and Tricky Crossings:
That was some hardcore Saturday stickiness, wasn't it?
Moving along to regular ol' tough Saturday clues without, perhaps, that extra touch of evil the aforementioned bits had, we have these:
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few other things I liked:
You know, looking back at this grid, I see that the northwest and southeast corners don't have much interplay with the rest of the puzzle. If you aren't hitting a couple quick gimmes in each corner, that could make it an arduous task to work your way into those sections. I didn't personally feel attacked by that, but I recognize that it's the sort of grid that can frustrate too many people. But it's still pretty...
Updated Saturday morning:
Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Cool Bin"—Janie's review
If you don't enjoy a good pun (or three), this puzzle is not for you. On the other hand, if you're like me and take high pleasure in this low form of humor, this one's for you! Bob has given us three phrases, each containing a word that has the letter sequence "oa" in it, and changed it to a word with the "oo" phoneme in its place. The "cool bin" in the title, was once a "coal bin." Get it? Good. Then get a load of the great clue/fill combos we get with:
How else did I love this puzzle? Let me count some of the more outstanding ways. For starters, there's the particular range of names, including: actors JOHN HURT, Robin WILLIAMS, Christina RICCI, and Lash LA RUE; conductor Seiji OZAWA; author ENID Blyton; athletes OLGA Korbut, OTTO Graham and Jim THORPE; Old and New Testament reps ISAIAH and JUDAS; distiller HIRAM Walker; and Emperor HIROHITO.
One of my favorite crosses is HIROHITO with MOJITO [Rum-and-mint cocktail...]. Because it's an almond-flavored liqueur, I'd always thought AMARETTO meant "almond." In fact the word for "almond" in Italian is mandoria (which gets me thinking of mandelbrot...), though Amaretto may be distilled from bitter almonds—whence the clue [Liqueur that's Italian for "rather bitter"]. All of which is a PROLIX [Long-winded] way of getting to my point, which is that I also love seeing potable AMARETTO by HIROHITO's side also being crossed by potable MOJITO.
And since I've mentioned it, let me add that the SE column made by PROLIX, APOGEE and PETARD is a beauty. Nice, too, the way ARMY sits atop BASE in the SW—and the way that crossing herpetological pair SNAKY and SLITHERY falls in between.
Some fave clues include:
No doubt, I've excluded your fave(s). SUNLIT, anyone? In that case, do speak up. I think we can agree, though, that once again, Bob has made something EPIC of this compact 15x15 form.
Newsday "Saturday Stumper" by Anna Stiga, a.k.a. "Stan again," a.k.a. Stanley Newman
(PDF solution here.)
Nothing too deadly, but nothing too delightful either. I didn't push to go as fast as I could this time. Here are some answers that did not come quite as readily as the others:
Barry Silk's Los Angeles Times crossword
My full writeup, including a LEIF Garrett video, is over at L.A. Crossword Confidential.
I don't know about this puzzle. Usually I enjoy Barry's puzzles quite a bit, but this one didn't do it for me. Maybe I was just tired yesterday when I did it. Or maybe it's that crosswords with this sort of grid—tons of seven-letter answers but not much in the Really Cool Long Answers department—seldom delight me. When Saturday rolls around, dang it, I want Really Cool Long Answers. I want a JOE BAZOOKA more than BETTERS, PETTIER, and AIRIEST, y'know? The fill was pretty Scrabbly (a pangram to boot), but outside of REYKJAVIK and SPECIAL K, the Scrabbly letters weren't put to splashy use. A Z and an X in close proximity sounds awesome, but the TAX-FREE CZARINA? Eh.
I will almost certainly like Barry's next creation much more. He's got the chops to do cool stuff, but this wasn't among my Silken favorites.
July 31, 2009
Newsday just under 11 minutes