Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m not seeing any thematic answers that connect to the black squares all appearing in 1×1, 2×2, or 3×3 blocks. Which is fine! I like my Friday and Saturday NYTs themeless, not tortured. The blank grid’s unusual and pretty, and the fill’s a mix of good stuff and the sort of entries (like CLI, ENSE, ONE-L, and ITERS) that are there just to accommodate the better stuff.
Favorite fill: BAR-BACK (friend of mine used to work as one, so that was a 1-Across gimme for me), literary ALLUSION, MAINSTREAM MEDIA, MR. AMERICA, ATTENTION-GETTER, SPELMAN College, TATER TOT, ALIEN VS PREDATOR (!!), EYE CHART, ENDOCRINE SYSTEM, and LOIS LANE.
- 3d. [Fugitives], RUNAGATES. Oof! I had RENEGADES and was thoroughly perplexed about the crossings not working. RUNAGATES is an archaic word, so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t know it.
- 54a. [“The application of democracy to love,” per H. L. Mencken], ADULTERY. Never heard that one before. Mencken was kind of a jackass, wasn’t he?
- 40d. [One of Buddha’s 10 disciples], ANANDA. Not sure I’ve seen the name before, but who can object to learning a little about Buddhism?
Tough to stomach: 51d. [One making a report], GUN. Less than a week after Orlando, I’d have preferred a squirt gun clue.
Three more things:
- 29d. [Liberal political activist Ralph], NEAS. You know, I had to work the crossings for that last letter, but then I checked his Wikipedia bio to see what he’s done. Holy cats! An awful lot of things. He was honored with an award from P-FLAG, which helps make up a little for the jarring GUN.
- 38d. [___ Stewart, singer of the 1979 #1 hit “Knock on Wood”], AMII. This one was a gimme for me! I grew up in the disco era, and of course was going to take note of a famous Amy by any spelling. Here, click through to the video and enjoy a classic disco video.
- The doom crossing of KNELLS and “ALL IS LOST” is … well, it’s not cheerful, but it works. See also: The RAN/STAY “skedaddle(d)”-related clues.
3.8 stars from me.
Paul Hunsberger’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Three-Yard Gain” — pannonica’s write-up
Having trouble interpreting the title, but the theme itself is easy enough to understand.
- 126R [Something to hop on, which in fact hops into nine answers in the puzzle] ONE FOOT.
- 22a. [Travel via white water surrounded by greenery?] RA(FT) IN FOREST (rain forest).
Oh wait, I get the title now. Somewhat more removed than is typical. Explanation after the list.
- 30a. [Lounging robe fit for an English King?] JAMES CA(FT)AN (James Caan).
- 50a. [Handled some weighty court evidence?] LI(FT)ED UNDER OATH (lied under oath).
- 70a. [Hit the gym after a little dessert?] WORK OF(F T)ART (work of art).
- 86a. [Animal higher up on the food chain?] THE DE(FT)ER HUNTER (The Deer Hunter). Not keen on the clue here. “Food chain” is a long-outmoded metaphor, and even if it were accurate, it wouldn’t match the answer anyway.
- 111a. [Suggest a name for the garbage-handling mascot?] SAY HE(FT)Y KID (Say Hey Kid. Original phrase almost always collocated with the definite article, more so than 70a takes an indefinite one.
- 120a. [Instructions at a paper plane contest?] LO(FT) AND BEHOLD.
- 15d. [Shoddily built Trojan war vehicles?] DRA(FT)Y HORSES (dray horses). Potentially confusing, as the appellation draft horse is probably more well-known than dray horse. Both Google Ngram and www searches confirm this.
- 63d. [“Wait a minute… These eggs are hard-boiled?”] I TOLD YOU SO(FT) (I told you so).
Cute enough. Back to the title. First, there are three FT in a yard, which makes the “three-yard” specification seem reversed, I also cleverly noticed that only FT was inserted into each phrase, so no ‘yard’ there. Ah, but the cumulative number of inserted FT is nine—that is, three yards. 109a [Cry accompanying a head slap?] D’OH. Open mouth, insert foot?
- Didn’t fall for 1-down’s ambiguity; withheld filling in EEL or GAR until the fill developed. Ditto 13d [Singular] LONE/SOLE, 114d [Booted, perhaps] AXED, SHOD, 115d [In a jiffy] ANON/SOON. Okay, so it’s fairly commonplace in crossword solving, but being one of the lead-off clues makes it more noticeable and memorable.
- 129a [Like measuring cups, often] NESTED.
- 26a/29a [Classical element] AIR, FIRE. 83d unrefined stuff] ORE, 85d [Unrefined] CRUDE.
- 18d [resolute] STEELY, 107d [Remington on old TV] STEELE. Ow.
- 114a [It’s right under your nose] SINUS. Really? Well, I suppose so, in a limited way.
- 16d [Bottled spirits] GENIES. Common misdirection, but it relates a little to 1a GAS LAMP (vs oil lamp).
- 7d [Downloaded crossword, often] PDF. That’s a little bit meta.
- 21d [Zipper brand] TALON. Did not know this.
- 73d [Prospero’s “tricksy spirit”] ARIEL.
See also 48a [Impertinent pipsqueak] TWERP? Or might that be better as PUCK?
- 91d [Risque bar slurp] BODY SHOT. That’s a funny clue. Accurate, but funny.
- 13a [Where hot-dogs are warmed] LODGES. Think skiing.
- 27a [Conductor’s path] AISLE. Huh?
- Having fun pronouncing 39a [Mole, e.g.] ENEMYSPY as if it was one word.
Lively crossword for a not-so-thrilling theme.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A 68-worder this Saturday if my count is correct. Once again, impeccable fill in an LAT puzzle. Not too used to Ed Sessa’s cluing, or maybe this puzzle was just fairly challenging. I finished in under 8 minutes, but that surprised me when I saw it; I was pretty well stumped in a couple of areas, most notably the NE corner. The cursor in the image is in that area because that is where I finished! A totally enjoyable challenger that gets 4.3 stars from me!
Just a few comments:
- 1A [Alaska’s Alaskan Malamute, for one] STATE DOG – Do all states have a “state dog”? Evidently not!
- 22A [___ United: English soccer team] LEEDS – I have been watching a lot of English Premier League the last couple of years since it has been on NBCSN on weekend mornings. Leeds United was in the EPL from 1992-2004. You have to qualify to play in the top league; they are still in the second tier league across the pond. Yes, soccer is slowly gaining popularity in this country, and maybe the culture will change now that it is on TV quite a lot!
- 26A & 36A [Where Andorra is] IBERIA and EUROPE – Well done! Kind of surprised me a bit when I got to the second clue!
- 38A [Few are chosen] SURNAMES – This may be my favorite clue of the puzzle!
- 40A [Hamlet] DORP – Yes, this is a word! I had to look it up …
- 53A [Hyphenated frozen food brand] ORE-IDA – Getting hungry … !
- 5D [One barely working?] ECDYSIAST – Haha! This is a synonym for a stripper!
- 28D [Yellow Pokémon species that ultimately evolves to Alakazam] ABRA – If you say so … do people actually KNOW this??
- 30D [What “love is like,” in a 1960s hit] LEMON TREE – Evidently this is a Peter, Paul and Mary song. Before my time!
- 44D [Godzilla ally, at times] RODAN – In the mood for a cheesy movie? Old Godzilla movies always fit the bill!
Headaches still lingering, but getting slowly better. Have a great weekend!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Still off work from the meningitis; working through lots of pain meds! Hopefully back to work by the end of the month. Headache eased up a little to solve this puzzle. Lester Ruff’s usually are a tad easier, and my time on this was just over 18 minutes. For a Stumper, that’s actually stellar for me! But there were still long stretches of staring at empty blank sections of grid. My theme in the comments below is that I guessed on a lot of answers, and my guesses proved correct, thank goodness! If even one was incorrect, I could have gone down some blind alleys and the time may have been much slower. I actually did have one wrong guess: I had COPY instead of CRIB at 23A [Plagiarize]. But that looked immediately wrong, so no harm no foul! Lots of good in this puzzle, so 4.5 stars is the rating!
Lots to discuss:
- 7A [Kosovar, formerly] YUGOSLAV – Yugoslavia must have been quite populous; it became several countries! Was watching one of them, Croatia, in the Euro soccer tournament on Friday when their fans fired flares onto the field! Yikes!
- 30A [Fox, in three films] MCFLY – As in Marty McFly of the Back to the Future franchise! Took me a minute since those films are 20+ years old!
- 31A [Big name in “A Ghost Story of Christmas”] EBENEZER – This was a guess!
- 40A [Henry Ford’s home] DEARBORN – This was also a guess! I figured it was somewhere near Detroit!
- 41A [Name at the bottom of an Ali serigraph] LEROY – As in LeRoy Neiman, the noted artist.
- 56A [Santa Clara squad] NINERS – I thought this meant Santa Clara University, but the 49ers new Levi’s Stadium is actually in Santa Clara, CA, nowhere near San Fran!
- 60A [“Daughters of Eve” genre] HERSTORY – This word means history told from a woman’s point of view. Great entry, and it stumped me good as you can see by the error marks in the grid shot!
- 1D [German term for a terrier] PINSCHER – I am familiar with Doberman Pinschers, as I believe they are called. They don’t look like terriers; more like terrors!
- 7D [Goatherd, in “The Sound of Music”] YODELER – Once I realized they weren’t looking for a specific name, this got easier. Hey, I haven’t seen this movie in decades!!
- 11D [Holder of 11 WS wins] STL – As in the St. Louis Cardinals. This also got easier when I realized it wasn’t a specific pitcher!
- 30D [Op Art effect] MOIRE – Let’s learn a new word! This evidently is some sort of fabric pattern or such. Never heard of it!
- 35D [Artist Raphael, Titian or Rubens] PEALE – OK, I had to look this up. There is some dude named Charles Willson Peale who had ten sons, and named them after artists! I have learned something new!
- 37D [Topper favored by Frederick the Great] TRICORNE – Another lucky guess!
- 41D & 43D [DVD datum (perhaps)] LENGTH & RATED R – Smoothly done!
- 48D [Former tenant of the MLB Network’s home] MSNBC – I thought this might be MAD TV for a bit. They are in Secaucus, NJ. I thought they were in Atlanta!
- 57D [Do needling] NAG – Saving the best for last! This is the best clue in the puzzle!
Next week’s may be a doozy!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Chocoholics” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Covering some beach volleyball at the moment, so it’s only just the grid that I’m going to post. But today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, alters celebrity names – real and fictional – to give it a chocolaty flavor! Channeling my inner Homer Simpson: “Mmmmm. Chocolate.”
- ELMER FUDGE (17A: [Chocoholic “rabbit” hunter?]) – Elmer Fudd.
- MICKEY MOUSSE (20A: [Chocoholic with a famous set of ears?]) – Mickey Mouse.
- ECLAIR DANES (32A: [Chocoholic Emmy winning actress?]) – Claire Danes. Love how all that was needed to make that work was to take the last letter in her first name and put it as the first letter.
- COCOA CHANEL (42A: [Chocoholic fashion designer?]) – Coco Chanel.
- SHAKE OF ARABY (52A: [Chocoholic subject of a song associated with a Valentino role?]) – The Sheik of Araby.
- MALT DISNEY (58A: [Chocoholic moviemaker?]) – Walt Disney.
Six theme entries. All of them pretty solid. Some pretty funny. Can’t ask for more. Sorry I don’t have more for you, but I definitely will bring it for Sunday.
See you for the Sunday Challenge then!