Michael Ashley’s New York Times crossword
Quickly, to get this post published before midnight comes and the blog turns into a pumpkin—
Easy for a Saturday, no?
Highlights in the fill include BUTT-DIALED, TIDAL BASIN, CASSIOPEIA, SMART PILLS (65a. [Nootropics, more familiarly]? New word for me—nootropic drugs enhance memory/cognitive function), SORE LOSER, BOBSLED RUN.
16a. [Popular pizza place, informally] clues UNO’S. What, the United Network for Organ Sharing isn’t broadly familiar? Talk about organ donation with your family, people. Let go of that spare kidney. Not using your heart? Consider donating it.
43a. [Lender, legally speaking], DEBTEE? Did not know “debtee” was a word. Spell-check doesn’t like it either.
The right side and the bottom of the grid are replete with ESSAY TESTS SSNS. I think there’s an ADDER (43a. [Lender, legally speaking]) on the loossssse here.
5d. [Vice president after whom a U.S. city is thought to have been named], DALLAS? I didn’t know that. I would have to study the VPs if I were ever going on Jeopardy!.
3.8 stars from me. Over and out.
Norm Guggenbiller’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Sorry for the terse review this week. This puzzle did not leave an impression on me at all. It’s not a bad puzzle. There’s just nothing at all in it I remembered from solving it an hour ago.
A list of the good stuff: TOUCH A NERVE, SCULPTED ABS, ON THE MENU, SET ON EDGE (I’m guessing Amy won’t like the “on” repeat), LOVE SET, SMEAR TACTIC, “YES, PLEASE.”
Stuff I didn’t like as much: TUTTO (?), LOTTE, EMER, RIAS, TOTIE, GARDENA.
For the low word count, there’s not too much junk, and there weren’t any crazy crossings. I’ll go with 3.6 stars. Until next week!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Blankety Blanks” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Five theme entries in the form X-ety X (or roughly so):
- [Talk, talk, talk] clued YACKETY YAK – my go-to video for this.
- [Big kahuna] was a MUCKETY MUCK – I think I’ve heard “mucky muck” more frequently.
- [Typewriter sounds] was CLICKETY CLACK – my go-to video for this. Shout out to BEQ!
- [Like a horse-and-wagon ride] was BUMPETY BUMP
- [Move like Peter Rabbit] was HIPPETY HOP
I find that words that simulate sounds can be spelled in multiple ways, so I found these entries a bit harder than it might appear, given the strict constraints. Also, having YACK/YAK, CLICK/CLACK and HIP/HOP made it impossible to assume the same word would be used twice in the theme entry. Anyway, an ambitious set and certainly fun to pronounce the entries as one solves. One of my FAVE entries in recent memory has to be [“Gimme a break!”] for “AW, C’MON!”. That’s just awe-inspiring. COLDCOCK for [Knock out] looks a lot worse than it probably is, so I’ll just move on from this one. Laurence TISCH of CBS News is somewhat obscure, but since he was a billionaire and famous philanthropist, I think he’s fair game. [Sack] for BED was also difficult, as I had RID at first.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Low word count for a Stumper—64 words, big corner chunks of white space, four long entries spanning the center.
- The three of the first five Acrosses are edible: TACO MEAT, M AND M’S, and MERINGUE. (Do not combine.)
- 40a. [Mushroom house denizen] is a SMURF, not a spore.
- 12d. DJAKARTA, though I prefer the no-D spelling. [Most populous city in Southeast Asia].
- 37a. [Winds, to windmills], PRIME MOVERS.
- 50a. [Snowflake adjective], STELLATE. Not a common word at all, but the stella- part means “star,” and we all know that snowflakes are little six-pointed stars so it’s somewhat inferrable.
Not in my wheelhouse:
- 30a. ADAPTOMETER, [Instrument for detecting night blindness].
- 19a. CRIES OFF, [Reneges]. “Cries off” sounds unfamiliar to me.
- 8d. [HBO’s first miniseries (1984)], THE FAR PAVILIONS.
- 10d. ALOE, [Plant aka the Wand of Heaven]. Nickname is new to me.
- 42d. URANIA, [Woman on the US Naval Observatory’s seal].
Standard Stumper difficulty and smoothness—no pileup of clues that brought me to a screeching halt in solving, no junk fill, no overly oblique, “What the …? Who would ever get that?” clues. And! Despite the low word count, no awkward roll-your-own words. RETEST is a common word with the RE-, a card SHARPER is just that, OVERARCHing is not overreaching as a word, the plurals are not “What the…? You can’t pluralize that!” words. Four stars. 70-worders are generally more fun, if you ask me, but this is an excellent example of a 64-worder.