Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Huh. Played like an easy Friday NYT for me, even though there was so much that didn’t fall immediately. Names that didn’t come directly to mind, awkward or unfamiliar phrases and words … it doesn’t make sense that it went fast.
Favorite fill in this 64-worder: DOUBLE DOG DARE, BARNYARD ANIMALS, “ONE THING AT A TIME,” ELLEN DEGENERES, artist JOAN MIRO.
Least favorite: ESTAB, an ocular AREOLA, DAIN ([Hammett’s “The ___ Curse”]), DIPSOMANIAC (is this word still needed? do we have anyone here who works in the addiction field?), stilted ON A VISIT, roll-your-ownish UNRENTED.
Remarks! I got ’em.
- 14a. [“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” composer], ENNIO MORRICONE. Spaced on the name until I had the first two letters in place.
- 19a. [Automatic bill payment], DIRECT DEBIT. I use that method, but I can’t say the phrase rings a bell.
- 28a. [Forward-looking sort], SEER. I wonder how much people actually use this word, instead of fortune-teller or psychic. My guess is seldom.
- 29a. [Big name in chocolates], RIESEN. Big name for German chocolates imported to the US. Did you know that NESTLE (46d. [Toll House cookie dough maker]) is also a big name for chocolates made in Japan? My kid picked up some Japanese KitKats at the H Mart today. (We have raised him right. Also, the raspberry ones are amaaazing.)
- 61a. [Who said “I like my men like I like my coffee. I don’t drink coffee”], ELLEN DEGENERES. Ha!
- 5d. [Sam ___, author of the classic “Cyclopedia of 5,000 Puzzles”], LOYD. An old name in puzzledom. I’m sure Will Shortz owns some collector’s editions of Loyd’s work.
- 9d. [Final toast of a meal], GRACE CUP. Boy, I’ve never seen that phrase before, I don’t think. (I have to say “I don’t think” or else Martin H will Google and try to find evidence that I’ve typed those words in a blog post.)
- 51d. [Real last name of Mama Cass Elliot], COHEN. Did not know that! I like this sort of trivia.
3.4 stars from me. I do tend to prefer a grid with a higher word count and crisper fill.
D. Scott Nichols & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a fun puzzle, even though I jammed through it pretty quickly. My timer got messed up, so I don’t have an exact time, but I am guessing 5-6 minutes. I count 70 words in this fairly wide open grid. I am quite familiar with the prolific C.C., but I am not as familiar with D. Scott Nichols. I cannot say I solve every LAT puzzle, so if their puzzles appear on other days of the week, that may be the case. At any rate, I did have one small typo at 11D, and that answer made a lot more sense once it was correct! 4.2 stars today.
- 10A [Beach pretender] HODAD – Who does this??
- 17A [Fund for incidentals] PETTY CASH – Is this still done? We use company credit cards at my job instead.
- 43A [Kate of “House of Cards”] MARA – I saw a few episodes of this, but gave up after four or five. Not sure if I want to watch now after the Kevin Spacey scandal broke. The only question now: who will be next to fall?
- 56A [West of Tinseltown] MAE – Did you think this was SEA? Actually, I think I wasn’t much fooled at all, but still a clever clue. Fairly sure I have seen it before.
- 5D [Dessert company founded in 1928] EDY’S – I LOVE ice cream, but it isn’t exactly vegan. I have learned to enjoy soy or almond milk based ice cream. Go look; your local grocery store has these!
- 42D [Caribbean city with cocotaxis] HAVANA – This may now be accessible since the embargoes and restrictions are slowly being lifted. Vacation spot one day … ?
- 51D [Teammate of Mariano for 19 years] DEREK – Any puzzle is better if it has my name in it!
That is it for today. Lots of college football to watch later!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not a horrible time today, but, as you can see from the image, not an easy solve! I don’t always do it, but for this one I did hit the check letters option in Across Lite, and sometimes when you’re about 2/3 done solving, tons of errors crop up. Once these were fixed, the puzzle fell rather easily. Make no mistake: this puzzle had that feeling of dread at the beginning where I am staring at a blank grid for what seemed like an hour! 4.3 stars, and a slight bit of dread since there will probably be a REALLY hard one next week!
A few more things:
- 16A [Imaginary strings] AIR GUITAR – I actually filled this in first!
- 34A [Bryan’s “matter of choice,” not “chance”] DESTINY – I assume this is referring to William Jennings Bryan, the statesman from the 19th century. But I agree, and that’s what makes this a great clue; it seems to spark some introspection to at least a small degree!
- 40A [Unwritten constitution] PHYSIQUE – Also a great clue. Tricky!
- 54A [Boyardee’s “bowl of classic comfort”] BEEFARONI – I remember eating this as a kid, although when I say Chef Boyardee’s name I immediately thought of Spaghettios, even though that is a Campbell’s product!
- 58A [Wins easily] BREEZES IN – This seems a little amiss to me, but I get what they’re trying to say. “Breeze past” maybe.
- 12D [Patria di Pavarotti] ITALIA – I think this means “father of Pavarotti,” which would mean homeland, maybe? I don’t quite get this clue.
- 25D [Something rolled for breakfast] OAT – I have had a lot of oatmeal recently. Not surprisingly, I am also rarely sick these days. Eat healthy!
- 35D [Warning from Trebek] “PHRASING!” – People always forget to put it in the form of a question on that game show!
- 44D [All-time highest-ranking woman in Presidential succession] PELOSI – This makes sense. We almost had a female president! Hopefully we get some of these “firsts” out of the way so it isn’t a big deal anymore.
Have a great weekend!
Matthew Sewell’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Flight Club” — pannonica’s write-up
Chock full of cross-references for the theme. Various volant fictional characters and their respective means of transport.
- 1a. [Means of flight for 2-Down] UMBRELLA. Always so nice for 1-across to be a cross-reference.
2d. [Sometime resident of Number 17 Cherry Lane] MARY POPPINS.
- 20a. [Pole star?] SANTA CLAUS.
14d. [Means of flight for 20-Across] SLEIGH.
- 34a. [Means of flight for 35-Down] HELMET.
35d. [Roman god of trade] MERCURY.
- 104a. [Means of flight for 70-Down] MAGIC CARPET.
70d. [Foe of Jafar] ALADDIN. He also (at times?) wore HAREM PANTS (17a), or at least something resembling them.
- 128a. [Means of flight for 75-Down] BROOMSTICK.
75d. [Dream analogue of Almira Gulch] WICKED WITCH (of the West).
- 127a. [Diagon Alley shopkeeper in “… the Cursed Child”] RON WEASLEY.
119d. [Means of flight for 127-Across] CAR.
As you can see, each pair’s components intersect (so disregard 118a [Yellow tape words] DO NOT CROSS), and their locations are approximately symmetrical—hey, they involve differing word lengths. Four of the six have acrosses as the vehicles, so a slight imbalance there. No big deal.
But! Some serious double stacks of long entries—often with the theme material. Including BREAK POINTS, FREE ON BAIL, SPLATTERED, MENTALISTS. (3d, 23a, 24a, 121d)
Theme adjacent: 36a [Alternative to JFK] LGA, 37a [Quick flight] HOP, 67a [Mach 2 flyers, once] SSTS, 59d [“Grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore”] RAVEN. Borderline: 55d [Genre for the Penguins and the Flamingos] DOO-WOP, 105d [Spurred on] GOOSED. Nope: 77d [Organizer of the Wonderland caucus race] DODO.
- 36a [Alternative to JFK] LGA, 96a [LBJ or JFK] DEM, 22d [“Part of the way with LBJ” protest org.] SDS.
- 45a/73a [Online qualifier] IMHO, FWIW.
- 48d [Starbucks order] TALL, 116a [Item in a coffee shop stack] LID.
- 13d [Bear the expense of] EAT, 76a [was blessed with] HAD, 101a [Land] GET.
- 60a [Primordial entities in H.P. Lovecraft’s stories] OLD ONES followed by 61a [Beechbone and Treebeard] ENTS.
- 114d [Pub conveniences] LOOS followed by 115d [British bum] ARSE.
Liked seeing: 74d [Invented language, often between twins] IDIOGLOSSIA, 131a [Kerfuffle] BROUHAHA, 89a [Prophetic sign] AUSPICE, 79d [Like bel canto singing] LYRICAL.
Did not like seeing: 88d [Beat to the summit] OUTCLIMB, 72d [Navigator’s charts] SEA MAPS.
Clever clues with caveats: 38a [Person who might give a general anesthetic] COMBAT MEDIC even though it’s extremely unlikely that a military general would be anywhere near actual combat. 103a [Supreme authority?] MOTOWN—definitely needs that stretchy question mark.
95a [Sanctions] OKS. Why such critical words as ‘sanction’ and ‘oversight’ are autantonyms is a mystery I’ll never be able to ravel. It’s like a conspiracy.
1058a [Dizzy Gillespie specialty] BOP. Surprisingly, can’t seem to find any instance of him recording the jazz standard “Flying Home”. Alas. So instead: 15d [Heck] TARNATION (another one I liked seeing].