Timothy Wescott's New York Times crossword
America's pastime! Glorious baseball! It's that time of year, when the excitement grows to a fever pitch!
Yeah, I don't really care about baseball, so the "wow!" factor of this puzzle drops down a notch for me though I expect others will ooh and aah over the pictorial representation of their beloved BASEBALL DIAMOND (57A), where a WORLD SERIES GAME (20A) will necessarily be played. At the appropriate places, there's a MOUND (42A: [Center of a 57-Across]) and then all four bases (HOME, FIRST, SECOND, THIRD) rounding the corners in V-shaped segments of circled squares. The fill is surprisingly decent given the constraints of three-way checking and those two 15-letter theme entries locking things down. Plus! The first and last letters of SECOND base appear in symmetrical points within 20A.
Favorite answers and clues:
Nominee for people's least favorite crossing: The X where AXON, or 58D: [Dendrite's counterpart], meets AXIL, or 64D: [Botanical angle]. The existence of a botanical ARIL (seed covering) threw me for a moment.
No, wait. Maybe it should be where people meet, not scientific terms. 54D: [Actress Kruger and others]? Well, there's Diane Kruger, but that won't fit. ALMAS? Who is Alma Kruger? Is she new? No, she was born in 1868. Her first letter crosses 54A: [Finnish architect Alvar ___] AALTO. I know my vowel-rich crosswordese architect names (Ieoh M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Alvar Aalto), so Alma could not hurt me.
Updated Wednesday morning:
Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Bridge Keepers"—Janie's review
No. Not like the troll in "Three Billy Goats Gruff." Instead, each of today's two-word theme-phrases contains (keeps) a word that can be followed by bridge. The results of the first three entries are related as they each describe something that spans two points; the last... takes a different approach. Taking it from the top:
What else works for me? Well, it seems Ray has this barnyard mini-theme going. Going sequentially from [Farm sound] to [Farming song refrain], we have the pig's OINK and E-I-E-I-O. It's not impossible that Old McDonald also had a BRANT, a [Small dark goose] running around, or collected STUD FEES [Thoroughbred breeding costs] on the side. (He might've had a thing for racing—ya never know...) We know he had chicks, whose parents certainly made use of the ROOST (the cleverly clued) [Night stick?] come sundown. And sheep—and perhaps a CORGI [Welsh canine] to assist with the herding the sheep or, yes, the chickens. (TIM ["Wild Hogs" costar Allen] was not in a movie about four-leggeds, btw, but about motorcycle enthusiasts. From what I've heard, this movie is for cyclying fans only...)
[Serious drinkers] SOTS are followed by [Serious ceremonies] RITES. Seems to me there are many not-so-serious drinking rituals. Here's something that should help to ELUCIDATE—an illustrated list of 21 drinking rituals from around the world. Is it my imagination or does more than one of these resemble an ORGY [Wild party]?
Lee Glickstein's Los Angeles Times crossword
(Taken from my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.) Last Wednesday was mustaches; today we have an unusual collection of 15-letter answers (all rock-solid) that start and end with A. The Wednesday puzzles are still skewing easier than one might have expected (solidly Mondayish in difficulty), but maybe the Wednesday themes are a bit more inventive than the Monday and Tuesdays? Thursday and Friday L.A. Times puzzles just irk me because I want them to be markedly more challenging, the way they used to be. And then I cry on Saturday when a themeless puzzle rolls in at Monday difficulty. But Wednesday! It's not a grievous assault on nature for Wednesdays to be this easy.
Brendan Quigley's Onion A.V. Club crossword
Each theme entry takes two NBA players and smushes them together into one new phrase:
Hot word of the day: QUIDNUNC, or 10D: [Busybody]. It's an archaic noun I've never had cause to use, from the Latin for "what now?" Last answer I figured out—and that only after I had it filled in and stared at it: WHITE ZIN, or 34D: [Pink blush] wine. I was parsing it as one word, as makeup or skin tone. The last square was the T in 49A: [Dis opposite], or DAT. I was thinking of dis, the verb, not this wid a D sound.
For me, this one was on the challenging side for an Onion puzzle. How about you?
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Rotation—Make that sideways"
Put this in the category of "puzzle titles you should pay attention to": the answers to the five question-marked theme clues are familiar phrases in which the Ns have been rotated 90° to become Zs. PAT BOOZE, or [Alcohol that's exactly right?], plays on straight-arrow Pat Boone. A crane operator on a construction site turns into CRAZE OPERATOR, or [Fad runner?]. [What the bearded lady has?] is a FUZZY FACE (funny face). The L.A. Times crossword had both NIT and ZIT, and this puzzle converts one into the other with HAS A ZIT TO PICK, or [Sporting a whitehead?]. Ick. The alliterative [Vermin's verve?] clues RAT'S ZEST (nest). It took me a while to see what was going on in the theme entries, what with paying no mind to the title, but when I saw boozy Pat Boone in the puzzle, the payoff was good. Seven Zs in this puzzle, six in BEQ's Onion puzzle.
Please don't grumble that PAT BOOZE and basketball's Carlos BOOZER cross. They're not the same word. BOOZER clued as a sot would be a duplication; this isn't.
Favorite clues: [Overnight] shipping is NEXT-DAY. [Court do-over] is a RETRIAL, as this is not a tennis court we're talking about.
October 06, 2009