David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Rather Scrabbly fill in this 72-worder, with Q XX J KK and VVVV going on (but no Z and pursuit of a pangram, which is fine by me). Fill of variable modernity includes SHAWTY (son says it’s still used in some songs), eHARMONY (are people still using that?), “SEXYBACK” (a decade old, but it was a huge hit), TRYHARD (new to me—current or waning?), and MALWARE (will that one ever go away?).
- Random trivia: 24a. [Celebration that coincided with Truman turning 61], VE DAY.
- 28a. [Tesla competitor], EDISON. It was well after finishing the puzzle that I realized this was about rival scientists Nikola and Thomas, not cars.
- 42a. [What’s usually about 12 people?], JURY BOX. Did you know that Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations for jurors vary by locale? Some really don’t offer any help for a juror who’s hard of hearing and likely to miss some of what’s said. You’d think every jurisdiction would offer the same basic captioning-style of technology—but no.
- 62a. [Prohibitionists’ target], DEMON RUM. I have no use for rum, nor for any sort of whiskey. These are loser spirits, people! (Spare me your rousing defense of scotch.)
- 2d. [Sandwich often served with Dijon mustard], HAM ON RYE. I wish this sandwich, particularly in its partial HAM ON or ON RYE forms, would vanish from crossword grids. What, no TURKEY ON KAISER ROLL?
- 20d. [He wrote “Venus favors the bold”], OVID. I disagree. This sounds like a pickup artist philosophy.
- 25d. [Ill will], ANIMUS. Now pondering cryptic crossword clues. How do you work “I’m” into a cryptic clue?
- 38d. [Beau], LOVERBOY. Also a woeful ’80s band that I liked okay at the time. Here, enjoy “When It’s Over,” complete with Mike Reno’s bandana.
- 52d. [Mr. T vehicle], D.C. CAB. It is quite possible that more people have seen this movie’s title in crossword puzzles than ever saw the movie in its theatrical release. That might’ve been about 4 million people back in 1983-84.
Four stars from me.
Matt Skoczen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I need to stop saying these LAT Saturday challenge puzzles are not hard enough! This one seemed quite difficult. Perhaps because I am not too familiar with Matt’s style of constructing, or perhaps the puzzle was made slightly tougher for a holiday weekend. Or maybe I wasn’t feeling well! At any rate, these puzzles that usually take me around 6-8 minutes, and today’s was well over 12. Not a huge difference, you may say, but that means I stared at it a long time. There are a couple of tough trivia clues in here, and I messed up where you see the cursor in the image, but this is a fairly good themeless puzzle. Certainly fits the bill for being tough! This may have even made a good Newsday Stumper! 4.4 stars.
A few notes:
- 17A [Enterprise enterprise] RENTING – As in Enterprise Rent-a-Car, not the starship. I had the starship on the brain, since I just now saw Star Trek: Beyond!
- 18A [They’re usually kept] GIGOLOS – OK then! Seems a little too much for a family puzzle. Just my opinion!
- 38A [Erupted] HAD A FIT – Nicely done. One word clues are almost always harder since they can be ambiguous.
- 46A [Great extent] LARGENESS – This is technically correct, but not a word you hear much. Or even see in print much. But I am not very cultured or well-read!
- 64A [Sounded like a flute duet?] CLINKED – Best clue of the bunch! This one literally made me laugh!
- 2D [Two-part British academic exam] A LEVEL – I think they have an O Level as well. But I am not sure, since I am not British!
- 11D [Turn preceder, in Texas Hold ’em] FLOP – I have watched my fair share of poker on TV, yet I am still unfamiliar with the rules of this variant. I feel I should learn!
- 24D [Phone accessory banned at Disney parks] SELFIE STICK – Good! I wonder why, though? Seems harmless, but people do silly stuff when it is selfie time!
- 45D [Tried to make it home] SLID IN – A baseball reference! How about those Cubbies!!
- 47D [Hip-hop group at Live Aid’s 1985 Philadelphia concert] RUN D.M.C. – Cannot believe it took me a while to get this! I know I am getting old; a lot of rappers from when I was younger are dead, including Jam Master Jay of this group.
- 48D [Holt’s detective partner in ’80s TV] STEELE – As in Remington Steele, the show that introduced us to Pierce Brosnan here in the US.
- 60D [Moviefone owner] AOL – They are still around?
I said only a few notes! I must have had fun with this one!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Always happy to see the Lester Ruff byline! That means it is likely going to be a tad easier than the regular killers that we have! And “Lester” did not disappoint; this took less than 10 minutes, which for a Stumper is pretty smooth. Make no mistake: this puzzle is not easy by any means, but comparatively it is a welcome break! 4 stars.
A few comments:
- 15A [Street thief in the Bard’s era] CUTPURSE – Haven’t heard this word in a long time. Basically just means a pickpocket.
- 18A [Smooth, as tap-water flow] AERATE – Smooth is a verb here, and even then it reads a little weird. I believe you need proper aeration for a tap to work properly.
- 28A [TV officer introduced in 1966] MR. SULU – As mentioned in my LAT post, I just saw Star Trek: Beyond but I still didn’t think this was what this was. Good movie though!
- 42A [Fried-rice morsel] PEA – But of course! I don’t think there is a word for a piece of rice!
- 61A [Name that means “beloved”] AMY – Similar to the word amity or amicable, I suppose. Good clue!
- 8D [They’re often cited on newscasts] RELIABLE SOURCES – Nice long answer slicing down the middle. A nice contrast to fake news!
- 10D [Chops, drops, or lops] AXES – Clever!
- 14D [“The Instrument of the Immortals”] STEINWAY – This appears to be an ad slogan for this piano company. Also clever!
- 36D [Discount-cruise rarities] OPEN BARS – I can attest to the truth of this!
- 38D [Samsung offering] GAS RANGE – A product they produce that is INTENDED to get hot! ;-)
- 53D [Best Actress Oscar role for 1939] O’HARA – Broke in to the puzzle here. The O led to NERO at 52A, and 1939 and movies usually refers to Gone With the Wind.
That is all! See you next week!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Fill in the Blanks” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! I’m sure many of you are busy with family and/or friends the next few days, and I hope you all stay safe and have a great holiday weekend! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, features clues that feature common phrases which start with the word “blank,” but substitute the word “blank” with an actual blank space. The answers to them are actually the definitions to the clues.
- COMPLETE CONTROL (17A: [_____ check])
- VACANT LOOK (28A: [_____ stare])
- TABULA RASA (45A: [_____ slate])
- RHYMELESS POETRY (60A: [_____ verse])
Outside of the pretty slick clues to the theme entries, nothing too special about the grid today. Pretty BASIC if you ask me (1A: [Early computer language]). Probably wasn’t 100 percent sure before today that ACTABLE was an actual word (10D: [Suitable for the stage]). With the holiday season here, seeing CLARA added a nice touch (29D: [“The Nutcracker” lead]). Alright, time to wait for Santa.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PALMER (23D: [Arnold with a beverage named after him]) – This year has seen many iconic sports figures pass away, and Arnold PALMER, seven-time major winner and one of the great golfers of any generation, passed away on September 25. As for the beverage, the Arnold Palmer is a drink that’s half sweetened iced tea and half lemonade, which is one of my favorite beverages.
See you all on Christmas Day – and for the Sunday Challenge!