LAT 2:53 (!)
Heads-up! Constructor (not newsperson) Sam Donaldson will be subbing for me on the Sunday crossword blogging.
Matt Gaffney (of Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest fame) reports that Trip Payne's beautiful 21x21 themeless puzzle was constructed by hand, without the aid of a database to fill in the grid more quickly. If you haven't done Trip's marvel (which has ridiculously smooth and interesting fill), go get puzzle 44 here. And then tend to this week's Gaffney crossword contest. I think you don't even need to solve Matt's themeless, as the challenge this week is to come up with a more affirmative descriptor than "themeless" for such puzzles.
Saturday or Sunday, my family's heading to the Lakeview East Festival of the Arts to scope out David Mayhew's photography. My son's an extreme weather buff and Mayhew captures dramatic cloud formations, lightning, and tornadoes. I'm hoping we'll find a nice framed print that is more attractive than the sportscar posters currently adorning my kid's bedroom walls.
Joon Pahk's New York Times crossword
Boy, I know Joon well enough that I could recognize a lot of the fill (sports! New England! Catholicism! science!) as the sorts of things he knows all about but that are not even within earshot of my wheelhouse. (So to speak.) It's rather erudite as Saturday puzzles go, with a little pop culture outnumbered by more scholarly fill.
I had one wrong answer for a while, wrong in two places, and I can't help but think that I won't be the only one who took the same wrong turn. 37D: [Worker's ideal] could be a GREAT JOB, right? Fits most of the crossings. But it's DREAM JOB (an infinitely cooler entry) crossing RAND, the unit of currency that is the [Capital of East London] (RANG made no sense but East London wasn't shouting "South Africa" to me), and 55A: EGOTISM, the [Nathaniel Hawthorne story subtitled "The Bosom-Serpent"], which, it is true, makes more sense than an EGOTIST that's not preceded by "The."
Hawthorne was based in Salem, MA, while Joon's in the Boston area, home to the RED SOX (25A: [Team known as the Americans until 1907]). Baseball takes us to Gil HODGES, 22D: [His #14 was retired by the Mets]. Boston takes us to 24D: [Location of the Boston Mountains and Buffalo River], which, surprisingly, is the OZARKS. KENNEDY also shouts Massachusetts, though the clue is 46D: [Successor to Powell on the Supreme Court].
Scientific content includes the KAON, 54A: [Particle named for a letter of the alphabet]. This...is one of the lesser-known particles to non-physicists. It is "a meson having a mass several times that of a pion," the dictionary tells me. Well, that clears everything up now, doesn't it? The BASAL BODY is a 67A: [Cell organelle with microtubules]. My kid's been learning about the parts of cells, but this particular organelle is not part of the fourth-grade curriculum. And 10D: [Base of a number system] is a RADIX.
Moving along to the sacred, we have VATICAN II, the 39A: [Domain of Paul Bunyan]. No, wait, that answer is FOLKLORE. VATICAN II was a 1A: [Momentous 1960s convention]. Anyone able to get the '68 Democratic Convention out of their head? I wasn't. The language LATIN was a 60A: [1-Across topic]. And back in the day, LEO X was the 48A: [Pope who excommunicated Martin Luther]. (Random aside: Add an I to each of those names and you get two new words, martini and luthier.)
Ten, no, sixteen other clue/answer pairs of note:
This crossword kinda whupped me, but I liked the challenge and declare the puzzle to be tough but fair. Trouble spots for you?
Updated Saturday morning:
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Six Shooters"—Janie's review
In the world of firearms a six shooter (or a six gun shooter) is a revolver—one capable of holding... six bullets. Think of every Western you've ever seen. If those guys weren't firing rifles at each other they were equipped with their handy six guns. Taking its lead from there, this puzzle happily draws on Randy's gift for cruciverbal marksmanship. He's given us an arsenal of in-the-language phrases—six, in fact—whose first word can be paired with shooter, to give us, well, six shooters. Btw, two pairs of those theme entries over lap each other in the grid (the first two and the last two), which makes this a pretty cool construction. Got it? Good! The combination of:
'How do you get to Neverland?" Wendy asked.Elsewhere in the puzzle, there are several nice sevens: the refreshing PERRIER, POPULAR, INFANTS and EARLAPS (or earflaps) because, while they're genuinely practical, are also kinda goofy lookin'. Isn't it the kid in the hat with earlaps who's the target for the kid with the pea shooter?...
'Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.'
There are also three entries that I enjoy because of the way they look in the grid and because they require careful parsing. The first, LEEJ, is in fact LEE J. [Cobb who played Willy Loman]. That would have been for the Pulitzer- and multiple-Tony-award winning (including one for Lee J.) original production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
The second is what may look like LEADORE as in Leadore, ID, and which (in my mind) would pretty much rhyme with the three-syllabled "Theodore," but is actually the two-syllabled LEAD ORE, as in [Galena].
Finally, TOOOLD is not a drawn out spelling (for effect) of told, as in the playground retort-y, "She to-o-old!" Rather, these are the two words that tell you you are [Ineligible for children's prices]: TOO OLD!
Barry Silk, Part 1: His Los Angeles Times crossword
Lemme double-dip and draw on my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.
Yet another easy-peasy Saturday puzzle, the second-easiest L.A. Times crossword I've done this week. It's all topsy-turvy—the Friday and Saturday puzzles were easier than the Monday through Thursday puzzles. Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and sigh.
Barry's previous puzzles have paid homage to his beloved Philadelphia in various ways. This time, it's the 18A: Phillies pitcher who received the 2008 World Series MVP Award, some guy I never heard of named COLE HAMELS. The only other answer that felt completely unfamiliar to me was 22A: Easier version, in music scores (OSSIA). Do the musically inclined among you know this term, or is it pretty far down the list of Musical Vocabulary I Ought to Know?
Barry Silk, Part 2: Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
I cruised through this puzzle (on paper, off the clock) with scarcely a hiccup. I'll label it harder than the LAT and easier than the NYT (which, today, is a pretty broad range). Ten clues:
September 25, 2009