Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Here’s one of those themelesses where three Across 15s and three Down 15s form a lattice in the grid. MADAME PRESIDENT is a [Title for the leader of Chile or South Korea]. ULTRA-FASTIDIOUS seems bogus to me, and a Google search of a one- or two-word version gets such a low count of Google hits, it appears the world agrees that this is iffy. NBA ALL-STAR GAMES would be better in the singular. Moving to the Downs, NO DAY AT THE BEACH Googles okay, but is less familiar than the NO WALK IN THE PARK that I wanted. Scandal star KERRY WASHINGTON is the star of this puzzle, and THE NEW YORK TIMES contains an unfortunate duplication of the copyright line. (Kidding.)
The rest of the fill doesn’t thrill me. Nothing is beyond the pale, but there’s an awful lot in the ESSE ENID SETTO SRTA SAGO TTOP class of words that appear in crosswords far out of proportion to their use in regular American life.
Three more things:
- 59a. [Italian sausage ingredient], ANISE. Wikipedia says Italian sausage often includes fennel or anise, which have a similar taste, but I think fennel (specifically fennel seeds) is far, far more commonly used than anise here.
- 40d. [Loser of the Drama in Bahama], ALI. Even my sports-fan husband was not aware of this event—Muhammad Ali’s final bout. Be sure to read the “Farce” section of the Wikipedia article for a pained laugh.
- 57a. [“Paul Bunyan’s toothpicks”], LOGS. Gotta love your American folklore. A few months ago in Minnesota, the big Babe the Blue Ox statue blew over in a storm. Bunyan didn’t lift a finger to help him.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Play” — pannonica’s write-up
Double letters—consonants—are inserted into recognizable phrases, making them wacky.
- 22a. [Conference for circus performers?] CLOWN SUMMIT (clown suit).
- 24a. [Charmer with a tight schedule?] BUSY BELLE (busy bee).
- 38a. [Copper guarding Westminster Abbey?] ALTAR BOBBY (altar boy).
- 69a. [Summer getaway for family guys?] DADDY CAMP (day camp).
- 98a. [Pitiful pesto?] SORRY SAUCE (soy sauce).
- 115a. [Travel period for the Amish?] BUGGY TIME (buy time). Verb becomes attributive noun.
- 117a. [Trial venue for swanky cases?] CLASSY COURT (clay court).
- 37d. [Shrewd family man?] SAVVY UNCLE (say ‘uncle’). Another verb to attributive noun change.
- 46d. [Indiana WNBA team, after their 2012 championship?] HAPPY FEVER (hay fever).
65a [Soft drink invented in the 1880s] DR PEPPER, 12d [Pathetically bad] CRUMMY, 23d [Weapon of some medieval assassins] STILETTO, 25d [Quotable catcher] BERRA; less infringing (not introducing a new syllable) are 35a [Mount in the Bible] ASS, 93a [Renaissance rival] HYATT.
Cocked-eyebrow clues: 88a [Filled to excess] SATED, 51d [Offhand comments] REMARKS, 96d [Readies for publication] REDACTS.
1d [“Designated Survivor” network] ABC, 119d [“Major Crimes” network] TNT, 77a [“Better Call Saul” network] AMC. That’s at least one too many.
ON IT, LATER ON, SLAM ON. Three of those seems excessive, too. 9d, 10d, 98d
45a [With 89-Across, discusses in detail] HASHES | OVER. Hash* out versus hash* over.
Favorite clues: 5d [Money notice] RENEWAL (not RECEIPT), 1a [Green follower] AMBER, 50a [Text read from left to right] TORAH (text as book rather than merely letters, words).
Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a nice surprise! A puzzle by one of my buddies Erik Agard! The puzzles that appear on his site are top-notch, so head there if you haven’t already! In typical LAT fashion, this one is not too difficult, but with some great entries and several lively clues. I had a couple of errors, as you can see in the screen image to the right. I will explain some of my gaffes in the comments below, but this was a really fun puzzle, and I give it 4.4 stars. I hope you all enjoyed this one as much as I did!
- 1A [Diagnostic aid] TISSUE SAMPLE – Great 1-Across entry. Not too difficult, but my down errors didn’t help. I had RAJ instead of TAJ at 1D, so that didn’t help. Kept trying RISK??… for this answer. Oops!
- 13A [ESPN game show where four expert panelists compete debate-style] AROUND THE HORN – Never thought of this as a “game show,” but they are keeping score! And there is a “winner” at the end!
- 15A [“42” subject] JACKIE ROBINSON – I still haven’t seen this movie. As you can gather from reading my blog at all, I watch very few movies! Finally saw Spectre this week! Maybe a movie this weekend is in my future … ?
- 43A [Mitt with ten fingers] ROMNEY – Best clue in the puzzle! Actually one of the best clues I have seen in a while! Totally fooled by it, and I think this is quite clever. Nice one, Erik!
- 65A [Early U.S. Navy flag motto] DON’T TREAD ON ME – This isn’t that hard, but it took me a second. And several crossing letters!
- 66A [Likely to be returned] MISADDRESSED – This one hits home! You would be amazed how many people don’t know their own address, or mistype into web pages! Back in the pre-internet days, it was only funnier as businesses would take phone orders and would never bother to correct spellings! Did I mention how much I don’t miss UPS?? ;-)
- 4D [Japanese hot pot dish] SUKIYAKI – If you say so! Also a 70s song!
- 8D [“I see now”] AH, OK! – This was a tad tough, and helped contribute to my trip-ups in the upper area. But it’s actually a great entry; a great example of casual speech.
- 10D [Trey Anastasio’s band] PHISH – I would never know this. I am familiar with this band, but not THAT familiar! They seem to have been around forever, though. I could not name one song they sing!
- 14D [Unequivocal rejection] NO MEANS NO! – Great entry, and familiar if you have children!
- 25D [Indian flatbread] CHAPATI – This isn’t ringing a bell, but I am sure I have heard of this before. I don’t eat much Indian cuisine. There are now a couple of Indian restaurants in my area, so maybe I will give it a shot!
- 29D [Actor __ Elba of “The Wire”] IDRIS – I think the “of The Wire” part is unnecessary; this dude is pretty familiar nowadays. He’s in the Thor movies!!
- 53D [Rapper Kendrick __ ] LAMAR – This dude is also pretty famous. His music is at least very interesting. At most, moving!
- 56D [Mennen skin product] AFTA – I use this stuff!
Erik, make more puzzles! Have a great weekend all!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Mercifully, a slightly easier puzzle this week. Sailed through he upper left, as well as the whole upper half for that matter. But the lower right took a bit, and the lower left actually ate me alive. As you can see in the image, I had several hiccups in that area. It got surprisingly easier once the wrong letters were erased! That still led to a time I am quite satisfied with (around 15 minutes), especially since I tried to solve this one in one sitting with some headphones on so as to concentrate as well as I could. Of course, this means next week we are likely in trouble … but we will give a solid 4 stars to this one!
A few notes:
- 16A [Macaw aunt’s voice in “Rio 2”] MORENO – No doubt this is Rita Moreno. Purely a guess. I don’t remember seeing this movie, although I am pretty sure I saw the original Rio.
- 33A [33-mission shuttle] ATLANTIS – Had trouble remembering space shuttle names! Has it been that long?
- 38A [Overused Facebook request] SHARE IF YOU AGREE – A great 15-letter entry! Also something I strive NOT to do. Sharing something on Facebook does not define you as a person!
- 45A [League with the top avg. player salary] NBA – As a sports fan, I actually knew this one. If you stop and think about it, it also has the smallest teams and is popularity is pretty much unmatched except for football in this country. A huge TV deal garnered by the league has driven salaries of even journeymen players into well over $10 million/year!
- 67A [Winner of the most singles titles] ROD LAVER – I figured this had to do with tennis. Laver makes sense, but one would think this record would have fallen by now. One would also think another male would have completed the calendar Grand Slam like Laver did by now!
- 68A [Take back for polishing] RE-EDIT – One of the better clues in the puzzle. Being a funny looking word doesn’t help!
- 9D [Box bought at Best Buy, perhaps] AMP – Maybe. I tried DVR at first. Describing an AMP as a “box” seems like a slight stretch, at least to me.
- 26D [Brand whose plural was decided by popular vote (2011)] PRIUS – I wonder what it is? PRII?
- 47D [Opposite of “acquired”] NATIVE – Another excellent clue. Yes, I was going to put STOLEN in at first!
- 49D [Nickname on 45 Across uniforms] SIXERS – Nice tie-in clue. The team is technically the 76ers, so indeed on their uniform does appear a nickname!
All in all a fun puzzle! Next week’s is sure to be tough, but we have a four-day weekend to enjoy! Have a great weekend!