Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, see? The Friday hit me like a Saturday and now the Saturday feels like an easy Friday puzzle.
Things I didn’t know (but they didn’t slow me down): SEMIBREVE, LIDA ROSE. Also didn’t know the fencing term QUINTE, [Fifth of eight parrying positions in fencing], but the fifth/quint overlap made it gettable.
Names I liked seeing: ANTOINE/Fats, AVEENO (good lotion for sensitive skin!), the QUAKERS, the SCHUYLER SISTERS of Hamilton, Gertrude EDERLE, RAGNAROK ([Day of doom, in Scandinavian mythology]? So that’s what that means!), “WE MADE IT,” ELLIE KEMPER, a DEERSTALKER hat, Sara TEASDALE, mathy TETRAHEDRA, and Ta-Nehisi COATES.
Interesting that of all the names in the puzzle, I think only two (Yogi BERRA, ELON Musk) belong to a white man. Lots of women, a couple African-American men—not the usual preponderance we see in so many crosswords (and history books, and the literary canon, and …). I like it. Representation matters, in bylines as well as in crossword content.
Clue it took me till just now to understand: 24a. [Practice composition?: Abbr.] for DRS. As in what a medical practice is composed of.
Most hardcore crosswordese: 28a. [Port on Ishikari Bay], OTARU.
Most repellent answer: 1d. [French anise-flavored liqueur], PASTIS. I do not like anything with an anise, licorice, or fennel flavor.
Arcane vocab word I learned: 23a. [Ones putting down quadrels], TILERS. A quadrel is a square stone or tile, and it’s fairly obscure. The only Wikipedia article by that name is about a 1991 video game.
52d. [They’re high at M.I.T. and Stanford], IQS. I just read about drugs at MIT today, in the context of the university dismantling a dorm that’s been home to many low-income or LGBT students. It’s too bad.
4.25 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I have the pleasure of blogging another Erik Agard masterpiece this Saturday! This guy is really good, and if I haven’t already, I will give a shout out to his website and his book that I recently bought! A good themeless, but not too tough. But what lively entries! Do I need to remind you how young this dude is?? 4.6 stars for this 70-worder!
Just a smattering of some of the fun:
- 1A [Where regular payments are made] GAS PUMPS – Right off the bat, we have what may be the best clue in the puzzle!
- 17A [Soybean product also called yuba] TOFU SKIN – I am not a vegetarian, so I am not that familiar with this. I should probably go vegan, though, since I still have 25-30 lbs to shed …
- 35A [Modern pizza option] GLUTEN-FREE CRUST – Another food option for the diet conscious!
- 45A [Debate-ending procedure] CLOTURE – A fairly rare word, unless you have taken a debate class in school.
- 60A [Mongo Santamaria jazz standard whose title is rhymed with “cocoa hue” in Oscar Brown Jr.’s lyrics] AFRO BLUE – Wow. I am not familiar with this particular song, but I know Oscar Brown Jr. extremely well. My grandmother had a version of this album. Here is “Afro Blue” for you, but I also recommend “Dat Dere” if you have children!
- 12D [First director to win back-to-back Oscars since Mankiewicz] IÑÁRRITU – I spelled it right!! Iñárritu won for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Revenant in recent years, while Mankiewicz won for A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve in 1949 and 1950.
- 14D [One screening fliers] TSA AGENT – The bane of air passengers in this country!
- 31D [“That wasn’t exactly honorable of me, was it”] “I FEEL DIRTY” – The best entry in the puzzle!
- 36D [Drink from a stand] LEMONADE – I guessed this right off the bat, and I was right! Still a clever clue!
I could go on, but you get the point. I literally think I will get out his book tonight!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Matthew Sewell for a Stumper usually means a teeny bit easier puzzle. I had the first three-quarters of this solved in about 10 minutes, but the lower SE corner (with all the correction marks!) took the rest of my time. This puzzle has 72 words, which also leads slightly better fill than anything less, and this fits that bill as well. I am becoming a big fan of this guy’s puzzles of late. Keep ’em coming! 4.5 stars this week.
A few notables:
- 17A [Some yoga poses] HEADSTANDS – No thank you!
- 21A [Be boring, perhaps] TUNNEL – I have seen this clue before, but our company does underground “boring,” so I was ready!
- 33A [Nation of 150-plus million] BANGLADESH – I am running into this fun fact a lot recently: this country has more people than Russia! And most speak Punjabi, making it one of the most spoken languages on earth.
- 46A [Abrupt ender of a probe] M.Y.O.B. – I thought I had an error! Until I figured out this was the acronym for Mind Your Own Business (or Beeswax!).
- 34D [Favoring management] ANTI-LABOR – I had ANTI-UNION!
- 35D [Shade of orange] NECTARINE – I had TANGERINE!
- 41D [Winter squash used in quesadillas] CALABEZA – A new word! I don’t believe I have ever heard of this variety. My son’s quesadillas are usually just cheese!
On to schoolwork this weekend!! Have a great one!
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dialogues” — pannonica’s wrote-up
Once again, preoccupations prevent me from being expansive.
We have common collocations of encounter that have been punnily—often literally—reconceived.
- 21a. [Dialogue between mountain climbers?] SUMMIT CONFERENCE.
- 34a. [Dialogue between cows?] STOCK EXCHANGE.
- 55a. [ … between arson investigators?] FIRESIDE CHAT.
- 67a. [ … between heterosexuals?] STRAIGHT TALK. Not a fan of nominalizing adjectives about people.
- 90a. [ … scaredy-cats?] QUAKER MEETING.
- 107a. [ … scuba divers?] DEEP CONVERSATION.
- 15d. [ … hot dog vendors?] FRANK DISCUSSION.
- 40d. [ … diner waitresses?] COUNTER ARGUMENT.
I thought these were rather clever and well done. The ballast fill and cluing are also high quality, in the main. Some notable exceptions include 97a [Police officer, at times] CITER, 60a [Judges and juries] TRIERS, and 15d [Propagation by sowing] SEEDAGE. The best stuff includes clever clues for short entries such as 89a [Ticker tape, for short] ECG and 68d [Firm finish] INC. Longer answers are LAUGHS LAST, SAINTS DAY, stacked ON ONE’S TOES / ESSAY TESTS and PARCEL POST / OREO COOKIE.
It’s been fun talking at you all, but I’ve got to go.