Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Paolo is young (17 or 18, I think), so he’s peppered his grid with zingy fill. We’ve got WHATSAPP, the 2015 movie THE MARTIAN, PANERA (the sandwich/salad/soup joint), PUB GOLF (which I have never, ever heard of!), TINFOIL HAT (*ahem* Would it kill the world to call it “aluminum foil” since it’s not made of tin anymore?), CAKE POP, and delicious, chewy CARAMELS. Nary an ERNE to be found!
Five more things:
- 29a. [Religious period dating from A.D. 622], MUSLIM ERA. I’d not seen this term before.
- 48d. [Stand-up comedian’s prop, often], STOOL. Thinking of “prop comics” who throw things and make a mess, flinging handfuls of stool.
- 18a. [Core component], IRON. As in the earth’s core, composed mostly of iron and nickel.
- 35d. [Country of 180+ million people that has never participated in the Winter Olympics], NIGERIA. Too busy with chess, I guess.
- 37a. [The orangutan, in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”], CULPRIT. No, that’s not the ape’s name.
I did notice the overlaps of PRIED UP/RARED UP and LASH AT/AT EASE (and I don’t care for LASH AT, since you lash out at things).
4.2 stars. Puzzle played like a Friday for me—how’d it treat you?
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Fitting Movie Credits” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everybody! How’s the weekend going so far? Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, has a pretty interesting theme. Common phrases are used to describe elements in specific movies, with the first word (or the first part of the word) actually being the title of the movie that’s being alluded to in its clue.
- GHOSTWRITER (17A: [Author of a 1990 Demi Moore movie]) – Ghost.
- TAKEN PRISONER (24A: [Abductee in a 2008 Liam Neeson movie]) – Taken.
- BIG BAND (39A: [Soundtrack musicians for a 1988 Tom Hanks movie]) – Big.
- AIRPLANE PILOT (51A: [Peter Graves’s role in a 1980 movie comedy]) – Airplane!
- SPEED WALKER (62A: [Pedestrian extra in a 1994 Keanu Reeves movie]) – Speed.
I knew this grid was a memorable one once I got the chance to fill in KARATE KID, one of my favorite movies of my youth (35D: [1984 movie with the main antagonist Sensei John Kresse, with “The”]). Amazingly enough, I could have taken a tidbit in that clue and used it in the next graph for a sports reference: one of the all-time great college basketball head coaches in the past 30 years also had the same exact name, former College of Charleston head coach (and Brooklyn, NY native) John Kresse. Funny, isn’t it? Also was taken by the seldom-used and exotic-looking words like IMAGO (22A: [Adult insect]) and ENVOI, with the latter being a word I thought was spelled as “envoy” (56A: [Poem dedication]). I think both spellings are acceptable, if I’m not mistaken. I was going to say that I was surprised that there wasn’t a clue relating to music in an Orbach puzzle, but I think the clue/entry combination of “Big Band” would qualify, in a way.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PEDRO (55D: [Pitcher Martinez inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015]) – An eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award Winner, PEDRO Martinez is probably the best pitcher that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Known for his time with the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox, his best season might have been in 1999 for the BoSox, when he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and a whopping 313 strikeouts. I thought he should have won the MVP that year to go along with the Cy Young, but the MVP that year went to Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Martinez is now a baseball commentator for TBS and the MLB Network.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Share ad Share Alike” — pannonica’s write-up
Three-word phrases with a smidge of telescopy. Middle word begins with the last letter of the first word and ends with first letter of the last word; the doubled letters are merged in-grid, compressing the phrases and reducing letter-lengths by two.
- 23a. [School statistics] STUDEN(T)EACHE(R)ATIO.
- 34a. [Be negligent] LE(T)HING(S)LIDE.
- 41a. [Not deviating significantly] WITHI(N)ORMA(L)IMITS.
- 63a. [Online appeal] SUPPOR(T)HI(S)ITE.
- 68a. [Mental scratchpad] SHOR(T)ER(M)EMORY.
- 90a. [Braves’ division] NATIONA(L)EAGU(E)AST.
- 99a. [Causing a person astonishment] T(O)NE’(S)URPRISE.
- 115a. [Challenge for seniors] COLLEG(E)NTRANC(E)XAM.
I like the theme and with the exception of the clunky one’s phrase (99a) all of the entries are good. That works either in the negation (to no-one’s surprise) or with a specific subject (to my/her/his/our/their surprise).
The rest of the fill is good, and overall it was an enjoyable Saturday morning’s divertissement.
Let’s see if I can find some specific highlights.
Ah, no. No, I just don’t have the wherewithal. Also, I don’t trust myself with some potentially charged fodder. So tempting. But really, it’s a fun crossword.
Mark Diehl’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A puzzle by one of the masters! Mark had an LAT Saturday puzzle two or three weeks ago, I believe, and I also believe I had struggles with that one as well! I can usually bust through an LAT Sat puzzle in under 10 minutes, but this one caused my all kinds of fits. Lower half definitely much easier; upper half of the puzzle much more difficult. Especially if you have never heard the expression at 15-Across, which I barely know! (See below!) As per Mark’s style, a great wide-open grid with awesome fill. 4.6 stars for a pleasurable stumper!
- 8A [Licorice-flavored liqueur] SAMBUCA – I detest licorice flavor, so I definitely have never had this, and didn’t know it at first. I think I have heard of it, though. Many years ago!
- 15A [Loaded] AS RICH AS CROESUS – That phrase mentioned earlier. First, you have to realize which meaning of “loaded” he is referring to! Then you have to know Greek history!
- 27A [Leaf producer] NISSAN – I think I have seen this clue before, but I still think it is one of the best in the puzzle. And I don’t think I have ever seen a Nissan Leaf on the road. Who is buying them?? (Just looked it up: this car starts at $30,000!)
- 41A [“Tell It to My Heart” singer Taylor __ ] DAYNE – I know this because I am old!
- 50A [Cub, for one] NATIONAL LEAGUER – A tribute to the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs! At least that’s how I see it!
- 1D [King pen name] BACHMAN – As in Richard Bachman, the pen name used when he wrote The Running Man way back in 1982. That was made into a movie with the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- 4D [Japanese two seater] MIATA – Do they still make these? (Just looked it up, and they do! Called and MX-5 Miata, and starts at around $25,000. Cheaper than a Leaf!)
- 9D [Film beeper, familiarly] ARTOO – Took me a minute to figure out which “beeper” they were talking about. my mind said some sort of censor instead. Should have been easier with the Star Wars reference at 40-Across!
- 16D [Sushi bar selection] SPICY TUNA ROLL – I am learning to like sushi more and more as I get older!
- 39D [Many in España] SENORES – Great clue. I was trying to put in some sort of number, or maybe literally the word “many” in Spanish.
- 49D [Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Levy] MARV – Trivia point: he was evidently present at the 1945 World Series that the Cubs last played in before this year!
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I believe I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I would like to see more puzzles by Matthew Sewell. My wish is granted! This one wasn’t too horrible to solve, even by Newsday standards. Took me just over 15 minutes, which is a pretty good time for me. I do think that solving these all the time has made me a better solver; I had some times a year ago well over 30 minutes! I had several issues in the upper left corner, mainly due to a couple of wrong answers I had in. And hard clues, of course! A solid puzzle, worthy of 4.5 stars today.
- 1A [Of significant impact] PERCUSSIVE – This one stumped me. Wrong letters and 1D and 9D didn’t help!
- 17A [Titian contemporary] TINTORETTO – I don’t know how I remember this dude’s name. Art is definitely not one of my strong suits!
- 20A [Take on a break] NOSH ON – This is something nobody says except in crosswords, so a slight example of crosswordese, but still gettable.
- 43A [Comic on a 2014 Canadian stamp] MIKE MYERS – I love it! This is one of a few stamps commemorating Canadian comedians, including Jim Carrey and Martin Short. is Mike Myers that old??
- 1D [Bartender’s product] POTATION – I had LIBATION instead. Close!
- 8D [Fixer’s query] IS THERE A PROBLEM? – Great long entry!
- 12D [Home of the Longhorns] AUSTIN – As in Austin, TX, where the main campus of the University of Texas Longhorns is. As of Saturday they have fired their coach Charlie Strong after three years and are set to hire Houston coach Tom Herman in his place.
- 14D [Faces on screen, perhaps] SKYPES – I suppose if you are Skyping someone you are technically facing them on screen, but this still reads a little off to me.
- 25D [Where Mary Barra is CEO] GM CORP. – I tried AMCORP at first. I did not know who their CEO was. Another answer that seems contrived, but is also gettable, especially with the crossings that are a tad easier.
- 39D [Distiller that merged with Louis Vuitton] HENNESSY – I believe you!
Had fun with this one. And not too horribly difficult even for this long weekend! Enjoy your weekend!