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Natan Last's New York Times crossword
I wasn't loving this puzzle when the clues for 2- and 3-Down weren't getting me anywhere. But eventually I landed on the coolest entries, and warmed up to the crossword:
There were also some clues to savor:
There's an assortment of tough clues, too, as you'd expect for a Saturday puzzle. 49D: [Noel Coward title woman "from Argentina"] is NINA; musicals are not my thing. 17A: [Kind of statue or status] clues ICONIC; clue feels nonspecific to me. The [Bust of Pallas, to Poe's raven] is its 27A: PERCH; just wasn't putting the words together right here. 30A: ["___ the Viking," 1989 film starring Tim Robbins] is ERIK. Really? I have zero recollection of that. 9D: [Sixth-century year], bleh, DLI or 551. (Could also have been DII, DIV, DVI, DIX, DXI, DXV, DXX, DLV, DLX, DXC...) 12D: [Reeve's charge] is MANOR; Chaucer's Reeve was "manager of a large estate." Do you know your Spanish? 13D: [Between, to Batista] is ENTRE, same as in French. 26D: [Ending for a record] is the superlative suffix -EST; the puzzle's docked 10 points for having both this and SUREST in the grid.
Updated Saturday morning:
Lynn Lempel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "That Is..."—Janie's review
Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but I confess it: I love puzzles that add (or delete) letters from a well-known phrase to create something new, possibly whimsical, maybe even groan-worthy, and almost always smile-worthy. That is... I love the puzzle Lynn has given us to day, which gets a lot of mileage out of the addition of IE to the base fill. (For them what needs remindin', those are the letters that abbreviate the Latin phrase id est [translation: that is], which is used after one statement and preceding a clarifying statement.) In this way:
There's more good fill of the non-theme variety, too. I like :
Two terrific clues for two tiny words are [Frequent joiner] for AND, and [Lousy in Eng. class] for ADJ. (i.e., in a discussion of "parts of speech," the word lousy is an adjective...).
Finally, in a puzzle whose theme is inspired by one everyday Latin abbreviation, thank you, Madame Constructor, for the bonus entry—another everyday Latin abbreviation: ETC. [Writer's list topper]. (That one's short for et cetera...)
Brad Wilber's Los Angeles Times crossword
I like Brad's puzzles, but of course I'd prefer a Saturday puzzle clued harder than the Wednesday level. As I said over at L.A. Crossword Confidential, SQUIB KICK (29A: [Football boot that takes unexpected bounces]) was my big "Wha??" answer: Never heard of it! My son's been playing the Madden NFL '08 video game on Wii, though, and he's learned a lot about football from it. More than I know, actually. Shouldn't "squib kick" be used more broadly, in situations where life takes unexpected bounces?
These are a few of my favorite answers:
Not all the fill was as entertaining as those answers. INTERMESH and pretax SUBTOTALS and an oddly COCKED HAT didn't do much for me (though the dictionary tells me a COCKED HAT is a thing, a "brimless triangular hat pointed at the front, back, and top," is it a hat any of us have heard of?). The short stuff also seemed heavy. Five entire Across rows and three Downs containing nothing but three- to five-letter words? ANOS, TAS, DMS, OAS, ECK, IPO, Spanish URANO (2D: [Seventh planeta]), the old crosswordese 7D: Dreaded mosquito, AEDES? Meh.
Barry Silk's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
(PDF solution here.)
I wasn't quite sure my solution was correct until I checked the PDF. 37D: [End neighbor] clues PGDN. That's the "page down" key on a computer keyboard. On my Apple keyboard, do you know what that key says? It's labeled "page down." My husband's Windows laptop has "Page dn." Does anyone have PG DN?
Since when are 1A: [Burger and fries] COMFORT FOOD? The clue should read [Grilled cheese and tomato soup], obviously.
I didn't know AUTO-REVERSE a week or so ago when it was in another puzzle but now? It was my #1 guess for [Cassette-player feature].
Too bad [Holy ___] clues only SEE (65D) and not also MACKEREL (24D, [Salt-cured sushi]).
Did you know MR. T is now a [Tormenting voice on some GPS devices]? Poor guy, always typecast. Why wasn't he cast opposite Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List? Where is his romantic comedy career?
October 09, 2009