James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword
Lots of zippy fill in today’s puzzle, but the cluing seemed a tad on the easy side for a Saturday. Here are the crispiest bits:
- 1a. [Big chain closed on Sundays], CHICK-FIL-A. Oddly, the fast food chain styles it Chick-fil-A, with a little F, big A. Weird choice.
- 15a. [Version of a song that’s shorter or cleaner than the original], RADIO EDIT. Such as “Forget You,” the radio edit of CeeLo Green’s “F*ck You,” which we can scarcely like anymore because he ruined everything with his rape/consent remarks.
- 24a. [Predigital beeper?], ROAD RUNNER. So, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote’s nemesis. What’s the clue mean? That Road Runner, who “meeps,” is a beeper that predates the now largely obsolete electronic beeper/pager? Or that he’s an animated critter who beeps and predates digital animation? Or both? (Instead of paging someone, now you PING them—36a. [Contact briefly electronically], via a quick text, IM, email, or other message.)
- 48a. [Use a two-digit confirmation code?], PINKY-SWEAR. Love it!
- 57a. [One may soak a competitor], SQUIRT GUN. This is what I grew up calling the toy, not “water pistol.”
- 2d. [It can be a headache], HANGOVER. Never did see any of the movies in that franchise.
- 6d. [Completer of a career Grand Slam in 2009], FEDERER. Roger was wearing black crew socks in Thursday night’s US Open match. Black socks with shorts: Is that a thing now? My son sports this look routinely, and I saw a guy biking with shorts and black socks this afternoon.
- 10d. [Prime piece], MAGNUM OPUS. Now, 43d. [Leitmotif settings] clues OPERAS, and OPERA doubles as the plural of OPUS.
- 38d. [“Most seeming-virtuous queen,” in Shakespeare], GERTRUDE. Hamlet’s mama.
I dispute the clue for 44d. TIN HAT. [Stereotypical wear for the paranoid] clues tin-foil hat. TIN HAT is right there in the dictionary as a British term for a soldier’s steel helmet.
41a. [You might strain to produce them] is such a surprising clue. I had *UR**S and could only think of a 5-letter word, not a 6. (PUREES turned out to be the answer.)
Blah bits include variant spelling YEH (meaning “yeah”), –OSE, OTO, partials OR I and A RAP, and KONY (5d. [“___ 2012” (viral video)]—yeah, I think we can go ahead and forget this one now … and I bet the constructor made the puzzle when KONY was still an active thing people were talking about).
Four stars from me.
Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
Lots to like about this one! We’ve got:
- 7d, ROCKET J. SQUIRREL [Flying cartoon hero, formally]. Better known as Rocky, of “Rocky & Bullwinkle” fame. Lots of fun letters to include in a central themeless entry. Rocky is very rarely referred to by his full name, kind of like THEODORE (“Beaver”) CLEAVER. Which, I’m just finding out, also appeared in a puzzle once, though that was a themed 2001 CS puzzle by Fred Piscop, in which the other themers were SIMON BOLIVAR and ALVIN TOFFLER. A more modern puzzle with that theme might choose SIMON BAKER (to avoid the pronunciation discrepancy) and the more famous ALVIN AILEY. I might also choose THEODORE DREISER. But I digress. Rocket J. Squirrel is fine, if a bit formal.
- Crossing that 15 are 31a, BAZOOKA JOE [Gang leader of old comics] and 43a, LIQUORED UP [Stewed]. Excellent entries with nice clues. I suppose if you’ve never heard of Bazooka Joe, the “J” in ROCKET J. SQUIRREL could have been a blind crossing.
- Continuing the comics/animation theme, CATWOMAN [1992 Michelle Pfeiffer role] appears in the NE.
- Lots of Scrabbly letters in the fun entries BAMBOOZLE [Hoodwink], UNDERBAKE [Cook poorly, in a way], EMPTY NEST [1980s-’90s Richard Mulligan sitcom], and KAHUNAS [Hawaiian priests]. This one’s not a pangram though, since there’s no X.
- In case you didn’t know, CINNABAR is a [Common ore of mercury].
- Lovely entry at 1d, HE’S A REBEL [1962 Crystals album with cover art of a biker]. If you still haven’t seen 20 Feet from Stardom, the 2014 Best Documentary Oscar winner, go watch it ASAP. The lead vocalist on “He’s a Rebel,” Darlene Love, is one of the superb backup singers highlighted in the film, and she provides some fascinating insight as to how “He’s a Rebel” was made.
- 2d, “AS IF I CARE” [“Whatever”] is another gem of an entry.
DELANO has been clued as the California city many times, but for some reason it felt new to me. Weirdly for me, I also struggled with the grammar term ADNOUN [“Free,” in “land of the free”]. As you might expect, it means roughly “an adjective acting as a noun,” which is how I guessed it correctly. Maybe I used to know that?
Otherwise, not a particularly challenging solve, but a very enjoyable one. Perhaps the crossing of ESALEN [Big Sur retreat] and ILO [Workers’ rights gp. since 1919] will give some solvers trouble, but other than that, pretty smooth sailing. 4.1 stars. Until next week!
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Well! I plowed through three quarters of the puzzle in about 5 minutes, but the remaining corner (the northwest one) took a good 7 minutes, and that was with a couple Googles to gain footholds. I had 6d AN I and 7D LECARRE, and I had 40a ENGLISH LIT. That was it. None of the clues inside that section yielded easily. I suspected 5d. [Absolutely unused, in eBay lingo] might be something like NIB, short for “new in box,” but I don’t think I’ve seen the abbreviation so I hesitated to fill that in. And everything else! The few guesses I had turned out to be wrong (OOPS instead of I’M OK at 4d, FIAT instead of LEVY for 21a) and were no help at all.
What I looked up were as follows:
- 18a. [“__ Jubilee” (Carl Perkins’ network TV debut], OZARK. Never heard of it, didn’t know Perkins had any connection to the Ozarks.
- 16d. [What can be edited with the Avogadro app], MOLECULE. You can edit molecules??
Tricky crossing reported to me:
- 45a. [Oscar real-life role of 1996], HELFGOTT. David Helfgott, pianist in Shine. Played by Geoffrey Rush.
- 33d. [Second NAACP president], SPINGARN. The NAACP’s Spingarn Medal is named in his honor, and it’s been awarded to many notable individuals. If you don’t know these names, good luck to you in guessing that it’s a G in that crossing.
- 40a. ENGLISH LIT. My major, and Emma Watson’s. Stan made a Daily Celebrity Crossword this summer featuring EMMA WATSON and ENGLISH LIT to mark her graduation from Brown.
- 26d. BLUE VELVET, [“Rolling Stone” called it “a doleful prom anthem”]. Didn’t know it was a song before it was a Lynch movie.
- 22d. APGAR SCORES, [Newborns’ health measures]. You might think it’s an acronym for Appearance (skin color), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (reflex irritability), Activity (muscle tone), and Respiration, but that’s actually an after-the-fact “backronym.” Anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar devised the scoring system.
- 9d. [Jon Stewart’s “world passing around notes in a classroom”], INTERNET.
- 24a. [Food tested as cannon ammunition on “Mythbusters”], EDAM. Ball o’ wax filled with cheese.
Unfavorite: 16a. [Of bugs], MICROBIC. I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered this particular word form. Microbial is far more common.
3.9 stars from me. Did you find the puzzle to be uniformly tough throughout, or were you also stuck in one corner?
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sound Effects”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone! How’s your Saturday going so far?
Today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, allows us to have fun some with homonyms, this time with the word raze…and rays…and raise. Two of the words come at the beginning of the entry, and at the end of the entry for the other.
- RAZE TO THE GROUND: ([17A: Level])
- SOAK UP THE RAYS: ([36A: Tan])
- RAISE THE TITANIC: ([56A: 1980 movie based on a Clive Cussler best seller]) – Guess there was no way to clue this in one word, as with the other two theme answer clues.
Got stuck for a while at the top, when I put in LEAFS for the Toronto clue at 9-Down and didn’t change it. The correct answer is in the “sports…smarter” section, and committed self-flagellation once it finally came to my mind. Continuing with the Canadian theme, seeing BAZAAR did make me think of the sketch show Bizarre, which I believe originated out of Canada, and all of the fun I had watching Super Dave Osborne, the mock stuntman that always failed miserably in his stunts (3D: [Street market]). Not sure too many four-to-six year-old kids were watching Bizarre in my neighborhood, but I know I was. Yes, it was ADULTERY that earned the stigma of walking around town with a scarlet letter A, but when I first read that in the book, I thought it was cool to walk around with that since my name started with the same letter (11D: [Hester Prynne’s sin]). After I knew what adultery was, then I said, “never mind.” I think I’m one of the few people that spell it GEEZ instead of JEEZ (8D: [“Shucks!”]). Also liked SORTIES as an entry as well, right down the middle of the grid (26D: [Military missions]). There was a lot of juiciness with the fill and it was a fun solve, except for getting hung up with the Canadian sports team, which was….
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARGOS (9D: [Toronto team, familiarly]) – The Toronto Argonauts are a professional football franchise in the Canadian Football League, and the oldest existing pro sports team in North America using its original nickname (founded in 1873). The Argos have won more Grey Cups – the championship trophy awarded to the winner of the Grey Cup, which is the name of the championship game in the CFL – than any other franchise in the league, with 16 triumphs. They last won the Grey Cup in 2012.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge…well, if I can get my head out of the opening Sunday of the NFL season!! I kid, of course…I think.