Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword, —Jim Q’s write-up
Me: (under breath as I download puzzle) Today’s puzzle is by Peter Wentz…
Friend within earshot: Wait… Peter Wentz?
Me: Yes. Peter Wentz.
Friend: Isn’t he in a band? Like Good Charlotte or something?
Me: No. He writes crosswords.
Friend: But I swear he’s in a band too.
Me: (knowing that I’ve solved Peter’s puzzles before, but realizing that the NY Times has a celebrity guest thing going on at the moment) I’ll Google that.
Peter, you’re officially challenged to include Fall Out Boy in a puzzle. Themed or unthemed. Your choice. Also your choice of beer to be delivered to you should you succeed.
This puzzle was a helluva lot of fun for the simple reason that it felt really good to figure
out. The top portion- above the central stack- was a breeze. And as I was cruising along, I said aloud “There’s gonna be a price to pay for this…”
I was right.
I got hung up on everything below TOTO. But eventually it fell into place. Never heard of THE MECHANIC [2011 Jason Statham flick], but it was fun to figure out. SPACE TOURISTS [Ones counting down to vacation time?] isn’t a familiar phrase to me, but it was fun to figure out. PHONE SERVICE [It’s included in many bundles] seemed a bit of a stretch, but it was fun to figure out. JAGR [Hockey legend Jaromir] was unfamiliar, but it was… okay… I draw the line there. JAGR??? Throw an E between the G and the R and we have a good time with memories of college, but thank goodness the crosses were all fair there.
What really screwed me up was OEUVRE [Works of a lifetime]. I had OPUSES. And I was committed to it. Ouch. I’ve seen OEUVRE before, but it seems more like something I’d find on a menu in a French cafe– in which case I’d search for a burger instead. In this case it cut through the center stack and royally messed me up.
56a. [Object of envious comparison] THE JONESES- Fun letter combination and took a lot of crosses. AHA moment for sure- the kind of moment that makes me love crosswords.
27d. [Annual party favors] NOISE MAKERS- Another fun one to figure out as I ran through the traditional things I pass out festively in any given year. MARDI GRAS BEADS didn’t fit.
36a. [Ones counting down to vacation time?] I know I already mentioned this clue, but do you know how hard it is to resist putting TEACHERS in that space even though it neither fits nor meets the ‘?’ standard? I do. We also count down the time to when vacation ends (2 days as of this posting).
44a. [Place for a decal, maybe] TOY CAR. Sure. I guess any place is a place for a decal, “maybe.” Why not MIDDLE SCHOOL LOCKER, or BICYCLE, or MY REFRIGERATOR AFTER GOING TO A BEER TASTING WHERE THEY GIVE OUT FREE DECALS? “Maybe.” Decals definitely go on MODEL CARS. I built them with my dad. And they had decals. But model cars are not toys. I was never allowed to play with them. To this day, I have a display case of model cars I’ve never played with. Now I’m sad. Thanks, Pete.
36d. [Wave off] SHOO AWAY. Have you ever used this phrase? If you’re about to say yes, stop it. I don’t believe you. That being said, I kind of like it, and I’m going to use it.
43d. [School closing?] DOT EDU. Nope. This is not a phrase. I’ll take EDU clued similarly. And I’ll take DOT clued as pretty much anything. But DOT EDU? It may as well be DO TED U [“My friend, please make an inspirational presentation at a well known speaker series!” in a text message].
Nonetheless, this was fun. And sometimes, it’s enjoyable to uncover things like DOT EDU just to groan at when it’s finally parsed. This is not a puzzle to hate.
One quasi-typo kept me from a perfect solve (see grid… it’s the red square), but for me, this was the definition of a puzzle. And I’m sure my good friends IAN and ESIASON would agree (that was brutal, Pete. Brutal).
Will the real Peter Wentz please take the bait? FALL OUT BOY. Crossword-worthy. Original entry. Beer on me. Go. In the meantime, 4 stars from me.
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I didn’t solve this in a quiet, relaxing setting. (Translation: my son Chase was running around yelling the whole time!) So I will take a 9 minute time, although I would hope to knock these Saturday LAT challenges in under 7 or so. I have seen this byline before (I don’t believe it is a pseudonym), but not often enough perhaps. One error in the NE corner, but not a biggie. This is not the ACPT! 4.2 stars.
- 30A [How many TV shows are aired] IN HD – I would venture to say “most” shows?
- 51A [Tahari of fashion] ELIE – This guy. Never heard of him. Evidently an Israeli fashion designer.
- 54A [River across Quebec, in Quebec] ST. LAURENT – French for St. Lawrence, of course!
- 61A [Collector’s targets] DEADBEATS – Best clue of the puzzle, in my opinion. Totally was on the wavelength of complete sets of something, like a collector would collect!
- 7D [Innate] UNTAUGHT – Talented folks are not usually described in this way, but a good entry nonetheless.
- 14D [Candidate for Photoshop] EYESORE – Or any fashion cover model! I had ERASURE in there at first; it fit but didn’t make any sense!
- 49D [Fishhook connector] SNELL – Not my fave.
- 53D [Currency exchange fee] AGIO – Ick. It is a word (Italian origin), but I have never seen this. Never even saw this term in my ACCOUNTING CLASSES!!
That is all. Still moving! One more bad weekend!!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Did I say something recently about the Stumper being due to have a nasty one soon? Well here we have it! This one was REALLY tough. My time was close to 20 minutes, and that was with some timer issues, so it was probably longer than that. This comes in at 72 words, I believe, so that leads to pretty good fill for a themeless, but the clues here are brutal. I went down several dead ends here, so that didn’t help. For instance, the crossing of 59A and 50D is AIKMAN and JUNTA, but I had MCNABB and CABAL, which also works! I wonder if Brad did that by design? EQUIPOISE crossing ISEULT in that same corner also didn’t help. Ignore all of the correction marks I have in my grid! 4.3 stars for this ultra toughie!
- 1A [Storied surprised returnee] PAPA BEAR – Yes, this could also be MAMA BEAR or even BABY BEAR depending on how full you have the upper corner. Mean!
- 17A [Rice, but not pasta] NOVELIST – As in Anne Rice. Nicely done! Best clue in the puzzle.
- 46A [Habitat for many crocodiles] UBANGI – This is tough. Who would think of central Africa here?
- 49A [“Macy’s worst nightmare”] TJ MAXX – Great quote, but I would think their worst nightmare would be AMAZON!
- 59A [’90s star quarterback] AIKMAN – In addition to MCNABB listed above, I tried MARINO as well. GARCIA also maybe? There may even be more.
- 67A [Whom Lewis and Clark got food from] NEZ PERCE – This seems a lot easier after you get it. From the clue, is has to be a tribe. This one didn’t pop into my head quick enough!
- 5D [Ten reams of paper] BALE – I tried CASE. Bales are made of hay around here!
- 13D [Real-estate listing] AMENITIES – This seems like a singular/plural problem of some sort, but technically I guess its correct. There is a LIST of AMENITIES. I still don’t like it.
- 53D [Hot-chocolate drinker of yore] AZTEC – This also seems easy after you get it!
- 63D [Ataturk banned its use] FEZ – There has to be a story here. But I don’t know it!
Still moving! Have a great weekend!