John Lampkin’s New York Times crossword
This 66-worder has four wide-open quadrants joined by a swath of 5s. There were plenty of neat entries, but I dunno, I wasn’t feeling this one. Possibly the distracting shouts of hockey fans knocked me off kilter.
Here’s what I liked:
- 1a. [Cause of an artery blockage], STREET FAIR. Who doesn’t love a street fair? Unless one is trying to use the street that it’s occupying.
- 15a. [Foam item at a water park], POOL NOODLE. I love pool noodles. Tie one in a pretzel and you’ve got yourself a floating seat.
- 19a. [Innards], ENTRAILS. So help me, I like the word ENTRAILS. See also: viscera.
- 53a. [Visual expertise], TRAINED EYE.
- 14d. [One left shaken?], SNOW GLOBE.
- 27d. [A woolly bear becomes one], TIGER MOTH. Who doesn’t love a woolly bear? The name alone… Plus, the (sheepish) bear becomes a tiger. Except it’s just a bug.
- 32d. [Trysting site], LOVE NEST.
There was a bit of stuff I’d bundle in the crosswordese corner: ANON, NEBO, ESSENES, ENO, SONES, CANA, ULEE. I did like the fresh ULEE clue, though: [Lead role in the film known in France as “L’Or de la Vie”]. The Gold of Life = honey. I guess L’Or d’Ulee didn’t fly. Foreign fill includes German DAS, Spanish SRTA, French MER and ILE, and Italian PONTI (bridges, clued as 41d. [Rialto and others]). Entirely fair in a Saturday puzzle?
SONES is … meh. 35a. [Acoustic units]? I don’t know who uses sones and their buddies, phons. I’m a decibel fan. So much so, in fact, that I recently dropped 99¢ on the Decibel Meter Pro app for my phone. When you’re wondering just how loud a restaurant is, now you can actually find out.
3.5 stars from me.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Suited to a Tiara”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone, and hope you all have a great weekend in store!
Our puzzle for today, authored by Mr. Raymond Hamel, is an homage to Princess Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. WONDER WOMAN (52A: [Character introduced in All-Star Comics #8]). Any tribute to the most recognizable female comic book superheroine is more than fine with me, and having the trivia-type clues reminded me how much of a fan (a.k.a. NERD) I am, knowing each of the answers without needing any crosses to fill them in. Just know that you won’t see me at a comic book convention anytime soon, hoping to find people attending dressed as Wonder Woman!
- DIANA PRINCE: (17A: [Alter ego of 52-Across)
- AMAZONS: (35A: [Group that included 52-Across])
- STEVE TREVOR: (11D: [Significant other of 52-Across]) – Did all Amazonians fall in love with guys who have two first names?
- LYNDA CARTER: (24A: [Actress who played 52-Across]) – Now I can’t get the theme song out of my head…”Wonder Woooomaaann!”
Disappointed that “Lasso of Truth” couldn’t be fit into this puzzle in some way!! Outside of the theme, there was some interesting fill in this grid that took a little while to get a handle on, with BACTRIAN being a handful (9D: [Camel variety]). Near that entry, MINX was fun to fill in, though I had to dust it off from where I had left it in the recesses of my brain (8D: [Mouthy maiden]). In that area as well, really like PRETEXT as fill (20A: [Concocted reason]). Further down in the grid, BILATERAL stands out, in a good way (31A: [Politically two-sided]), and finally, I get TEEPEES in the spelling that I usually use for it (48A: [Homes on the range (var.)]).
Although I do not speak Spanish fluently, my vocabulary in the language is in-depth, so HUEVO was no problem in trying to figure out the Spanish word for egg (58A: [Mexican omelet need]). If I’m correct, “huevos” is also slang for guts/bravery, as in, “You don’t have the “huevos” to punch me in the face!” Good to know, I guess!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HAYNES (27A: [“I’m Not There” director Todd])– There have been good number of professional athletes with the surname of Haynes, but one stands out in my mind: Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Mike Haynes. He played for the New England Patriots (1976-1982) and the Los Angeles Raiders (1983-1989) and was regarded as the first true “shutdown corner,” as he was one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history. He also was a tall cornerback (6’2″) which was then – and still now – a rarity at the position.
Thank you for the time today, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the Sunday Challenge!
Barry C. Silk’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
This isn’t the first time Barry Silk has filled this grid. In fact, I don’t know about you, but when I think “LAT Saturday puzzle,” this is the grid I envision: Four identical 10-letter triple-stacks in each corner, and a diagonal run of 5-letter entries in the center.
There’s some really nice stuff in this one. LAKE HAVASU at 1-Across is pretty while still having that constructor-friendly CVCVCVCVCV pattern; right underneath is the also-nice I’VE MOVED ON, which has the equally friendly and opposite VCVCVCVCVC pattern. Those patterns tend to be less noticeable if broken up across multiple words (unless those words are, say, “LA LA LA LA LA”).
I think my favorite stack is the SE, with BOILED OVER, INVIGORATE, and GOOGOLPLEX. ZELIG and CITICORP are also interesting crossings, though I certainly don’t want to see them in every puzzle (especially now that Citicorp is a part of Citigroup). I wasn’t a big fan of ZORI [Japanese sandal], which hasn’t made many appearances in crosswords in the past 10-15 years, and which feels like a decidedly Maleska-esque bit of knowledge.
Two of the long entries were totally new to me: ICE NEEDLES [Winter soil phenomena] and SEALED BEAM [Type of headlight]. Really wanted the former to be PERMAFROST, despite the clue being plural. The stack running from NE to SW is very nice — I particularly liked PIERRE, SD, though I know some solvers dislike entries of that form (see, most notably, ERIE, PA). I also appreciated MATZO, JOSIE, and John LE CARRE with the fun clue [Smiley creator]. Briefly had JIBE for JIVE in the SW, making SHEAVES difficult to see.
Certainly not too much to frown about in this puzzle, though I wonder when ETTA KETT will be retired from the crossword pantheon. It seems to me to be in the same dated vein as the famous trio of crosswordese silent film stars: Nita Naldi, Pola Negri, and Theda Bara. etc. It might be time for this entry to go the way of the ANOA.
3.6 stars. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Quick write-up this week—was gone all morning for a thing at my kid’s future high school, and I need to get out of the house again in a bit. Couldn’t get the Java solver to work so I went the PDF route; trust me that my handwritten solution matches Stan’s PDF solution except that there are lots of erasure marks on mine. Oh, and mine has numbers in the grid.
Tough puzzle for me, tougher than the other tough Stumpers of late. For you, too?
Unusual grid, with the central 9s at the top and bottom flanking the stacked pairs of 15s.
Do not think for one second that 1a: GRAPE SODA is a good [Possible cupcake ingredient]. Sounds almost as terrible as red velvet!
Don’t care for the gendered answer to 43a: [E-scam investigators], FBI MEN. There are women! And perhaps some transgender FBI agents as well. I questioned “e-scam,” but the FBI uses the term.
Top fill: JUNIOR EXECUTIVE, STAR TURNS, MEASURE UP (though there’s also UPSIDE), FLINCH, SECONDHAND STORE, AMERICAN EMBASSY.
Trickiest clue: [Father of the Disney Renaissance], MUFASA. Father of Simba in The Lion King, which … constituted a Disney Renaissance? News to me. Not a term I recall seeing. But the clue smacks of Disney execs (I tried EISNER) rather than Disney toons.
No, wait, this one was trickier. 53d: [Genetics markers, perhaps: Abbr.] clues TAS, meaning the teaching assistants who may grade (“mark”) papers in a college genetics course. Took me till just now to figure that clue out.
Difficult but not really in a fun way, I thought. 3.75 stars. ASO (clued as [–.org (home of a Peachtree St.-based musical group)]—really??), LSU clued as [“Daily Reveille” publisher]), and DCL seemed a little non-Newsdayish to me.