Zachary Spitz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This is kind of a downer of a puzzle, no? If you read through the stuff in the grid, you encounter DICK Cheney, TAX EVASION, an ARSE, SAD, ATROCIOUS, the inedibly named ROCK MELON (I see why cantaloupe is used), the verb STALKS, BAIT on a mousetrap, PLUTOMANIA ([Excessive desire for wealth]—a word I’d never seen before!), ACNE, SEX SCANDAL, SO BAD (clued as in “ooh, I want to see that movie SO BAD” rather than in terms of badness, mind you), the WWII AXIS, IMMOLATES, RANSACKS, dictator BATISTA, BLEW clued as [Ruined, in a way], a LION HUNT, and a LIAR. We need some soft flannel, puppies, and chocolate brownies, man. A little something to cushion the grid.
- I’m surprised to see people still dropping AMAZEBALLS periodically. Feels like the sort of goofy slang that would quickly run its course, but I still encounter it in the wild.
- 20a. [With 21-Across, U.S. Open champ of 1985-87], IVAN / LENDL. “Why isn’t he clued by way of Wimbledon, which is having its finals this weekend?,” I wondered. And then I looked up his record. The great Lendl competed in 14 Wimbledons and never won. He probably hates lawns to this day.
- 47a. [Tree line?], ANTS. I tried ENTS, and also tried CONNECT for 41d’s CONCOCT. Took a little work to unravel that! I like quote clues but so often don’t know whose words those were, so LAO-TSE wasn’t helping me much with [He said “He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know”].
- 62a. [Digital barrage], TWEETSTORM. This one was a gimme. Tweetstorms, though, aren’t quite “barrages.” My definition is: a carefully threaded series of Twitter posts written to share a longer narrative without publishing a short essay elsewhere and merely linking to it on Twitter. There have been other uses of the term, as Merriam-Webster explains.
- In the “bleah” category of fill, we have ATTU, ANON, CKS, and OAKIE. Not too terrible for a themeless, but with a 72-worder, one hopes to avoid the ATTUs of the world.
3.5 stars from me.
Robyn Weintraub’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This puzzle was a lot of fun! Didn’t seem to take too long, and there were some minor errors that I made, but all-in-all a pleasant solving experience. It has been a while since I have solved a puzzle by Robyn, so I don’t feel too used to her style of construction, but it is a good style nonetheless. Smooth clues, nothing wonky at all, and just a joy to experience. 4.4 stars for this 70-word gem.
- 23A [Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid,” e.g.] CRUSTACEAN – This keeps coming up, so I will make it my mission to actually WATCH The Little Mermaid one of these days!
- 35A [Shreds comics?] HECKLES – Great clue; arguably the best in this grid. There area one or two other good ones I’ll mention as we continue.
- 43A [It has a Yakutsk card] RISK – I don’t think I have played Risk in 25 years at least. I will have to start getting these classic games out to play with my youngest son!
- 59A [Like some stage party members?] ANTLERED – Another great funny clue. Get your mind out of the gutter!
- 2D [Morales of “La Bamba”] ESAI – It has been a minute since I have seen his name in a puzzle, but definitely belongs on the list of crossword famous people!
- 37D [President for 200 days] GARFIELD – I had HARRISON. I don’t think he made it quite 200 days!
- 40D [Swahili word for “problems”] MATATA – Two Disney references, sort of! In the song lyrics, the definition of Hakuna Matata is “no worries.”
- 42D [Bacon recipient?] EARNER – This also is one of my favorite clues. And it makes me hungry at the same time!
That is all for today. Have a great weekend everyone!
Dan Addams IV’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I believe I said something about this week being extremely tough. I was right! Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg have teamed up once again under the Dan Addams IV pseudonym and this time put together a doozy. I found this extremely difficult this week. I am sure you can see all of my error marks in the image! I count 68 words, and other than RADOME (which is a balloon that covers a satellite dish, more here), I didn’t encounter an entry I wasn’t familiar with. This was one of those that was so difficult it was almost frustrating for me, but that makes it that much better when you finish it! 4.5 stars for this one.
Just a few notes:
- 18A [Star’s beginnings] RISE TO FAME – I had ROAD TO FAME instead. Close!
- 20A [Emulated Edison, vis-à-vis Westinghouse] SUED – I am sure there is a story here. I will have to look it up later!
- 36A [Big West Conference team] CAL POLY – For geographical reasons, I am not as familiar with the Big West Conference as I am with some of the conferences here in the East and Midwest regions. It is compromised mostly of universities from California, with the exception of Hawaii. I have heard Davis, CA has the most bike lanes per capita in the country, and UC-Davis is a conference member.
- 39A [Rock samples] DEMO CDS – One of my favorites for best clue. And kudos for the phrase using CD and not TAPE!
- 59A [First Northern Plains equestrians] OMAHAS – I had OSAGES at first. Now you see why I had so much trouble!
- 3D [Pope who supported Cesare Borgia] PIUS III – You had to know there would be Roman numerals in this answer. Is this the same Borgia from the Showtime series that I never saw? I think it is.
- 7D [’62 Wayne film set in Africa] HATARI – I remember this because I think this is one of several movies and/or TV shows with a theme by Henry Mancini.
- 26D [“Total Recall” autobiographer’s nickname] AHNOLD – Best entry in the puzzle!
- 38D [16.4% into some years] LEAP DAY – Another great clue that made me think quite a lot!
- 41D [Disputants] DENIERS – This could have gotten political with a reference to climate change. Gladly, they avoided that path!
Here’s hoping for an easier Stumper next week!
David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword. “Minimalism” — pannonica’s write-up
- 23a. [Just a couple of extras?] BELL AND WHISTLE.
- 31a. [Unimpressive portion of data?] FACT AND FIGURE.
- 40a. [Modest investment portfolio?] STOCK AND BOND.
- 55a. [Minor miracle?] LOAF AND bywatersISH.
- 61a. [Inadequate Constitutional limits?] CHECK AND BALANCE.
- 74a. [Paltry assortment of things?] BIT AND PIECE.
- 86a. [Mild anxiety?] PIN AND NEEDLE.
- 92a. [Flag for a country of humble pretensions?] STAR AND STRIPE.
- 108a. [Very simple board game?] SNAKE AND LADDER.
A singular achievement.