Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This 66-worder has two stand-alone corners that intersect only with the 15-letter 8-Down, so it was hard to develop a smooth flow throughout the puzzle. The giant middle swath is so open … but if you can’t break into that pack of long answers, you’re in quicksand. The short gimmes are on the periphery, and they’re not really gimmes at all. So it’s a challenging Saturday puzzle.
- 1a. [Begin at the beginning?], MENACHEM. At the beginning of Menachem Begin’s name, hidden capital B at the clue’s start.
- 37a. [Greyhound destinations?], DOG KENNELS. Literal greyhounds, not Greyhound buses.
- 10d. [Bright camp wear], BOAS. I know some people who would have enjoyed going to summer camp more if they could have worn campy feather BOAS.
- 28d. [Runs, for instance], STAT. “Runs” is a noun here, a sports statistic, and not a verb.
- 34d. [Refuse work?], JUNK ART / 34a. [It’s got teeth], JAW. I had a SAW there and fixing the S in SUNK ART was just about the last thing I did in this puzzle.
Fave fill: “WHAT THE…?”, a soothing HOT TOWEL, BEAR ATTACK (who doesn’t love a gripping Readers Digest “Drama in Real Life”-type of tale of a bear attack?), HAPPY MEAL, and EGG DROP.
Is ZEN MONK 100% legit, or is that just a type of Buddhist monk?
The crosswordese OGEE isn’t really any more welcome when it’s expanded to OGEE ARCH.
Four stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I feel like I have known C.C. for years, because she has to easily be the constructor I have blogged about the most! Her prolificness still amazes me, and the quality is still top notch. Lots of great stuff in this one, including terms that are new to me (ALMOND ROCA!). 72 words is a little high for a themeless, but the fill is top notch. And there are only 4 cheater squares, so the unique layout is going to give you a slightly higher count, but some impressive 9- and 10-letter stacks. Let’s call it 4.2 stars today.
Just a couple of notes:
- 1A [One who may start a rally] LEAD-OFF MAN – C.C. is of Asian descent, but baseball is huge over there as well!
- 24A [Gmail lifesaver] UNDO SEND – I have never had to use this. Yet.
- 41A [Addresses capped at 18 minutes] TED TALKS – I love these! Bucket list goal? To give one someday!
- 59A [“I’m with you, girl!”] AMEN, SISTER! – C.C. still does a great job with casual phrases!
- 8D [Top hostess’ asset?] MOSTEST -This is my favorite entry! And a great clue to boot!
- 22D [Avery product] I.D. LABEL – Or any blank object you need printed!
- 29D [Comparative Web traffic statistic] ALEXA RANK – This IS an Amazon company, but I still have never heard this term either. I only know the voice assistant thingie that I will never buy as long as I have children around!
We will stop there. I wonder if C.C. has Tuesday’s LAT as well ……..
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
A 68-word killer today by Frank. I started OK in the lower left corner, but then ground to a halt. I did have a quiet place to solve this time, and I suppose otherwise I would have surpassed 40 minutes! Before I get to my list, let me just mention the clue that gave me the most fits. 38A [Copper figure] got me in the mind of CONSTABLE, especially since I had the STAB letter sequence in there for a while. (There are no correction marks on those four squares!) But even after I had HONESTABE in there, it took me a minute to realize we are talking about copper pennies, and the answer is really HONEST ABE. Extremely diabolical by Frank! (Or I am just an idiot!) 4.6 stars for another gem.
A few more:
- 21A [Start of a conversation stopper] LET’S JUST SAY … – I thought this was excellent! Suffice it to say this has never appeared in a NYT. Frank must have an awesome word list!
- 37A [Estar como __ para chocolate] AGUA – I believe this translates to “it’s like water for chocolate.”
- 49A [Second of 88] A SHARP – I haven’t actually examined a keyboard to verify (!), but this is a good clue. Usually anything 88-related has to do with the number of keys a standard piano has.
- 60A [Utah’s Rainbow Bridge, essentially] SANDSTONE – I had STONE ARCH in here for a while, causing obvious fits!
- 7D [Be a balm] EASE THE PAIN – I proudly wrote RELIEVE PAIN in here early on. Another Longo dead end, which I am sure is intentional!
- 10D [Won’t let go of] HARPS ON – Did you have HANGS ON in here too?
- 22D [’50s singer heard in “V for Vendetta”] JULIE LONDON – I have never seen this movie, and I don’t know this singer, so this was majorly tough for me. Good song though!
- 48D [One to wrangle with] RIATA – I nearly put ROPER in here, but that didn’t quite make sense!
I could go on, because this puzzle was that good. And yes, I had a lot of errors, but it was joyful agony! Have a great weekend!