Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword
Fairly low word count here—64. So there’s a smattering of crosswordese (NARIS, singular of nares, Latinate term for nostrils; PENNI, the [Bygone Finnish coin]) but also some good bits:
- 8a. [“I haven’t the foggiest”], “BEATS ME.”
- 31a. [Children of American Communists], RED DIAPER BABIES. Never, ever heard the term, but learned a similar one in a recent New Yorker article about China’s president: “second-generation reds,” or princelings. I’m thinking the red diaper babies have markedly less influence than the princelings.
- 43a. [Exactly, informally], SPANG. As in “I looked him spang in the eye and he backed down.” I need to start using this one.
- 1d. [Highest officer in his field, ironically], DRUG CZAR. Playing on “high,” as in high on drugs.
- 8d. [“Isn’t he great!”], “BULLY FOR HIM!”
- 22d. [Bed-hopped], SLEPT AROUND.
- 32d. [Secret society brother to George W. Bush and John Kerry], BONESMAN. I thought I was looking for a person’s name rather than a generic. Member of the Skull and Bones society, I assume.
Five more things:
- 13d. [Bonkers], MENTAL. Sigh. Again? Really? Using “mental” as a disparaging, mocking term really doesn’t help people dealing with mental illness. Mental exertion, Mental Floss magazine, mental note, mental calculations—we have other choices here.
- 55a. [Tail waggers?], MOONERS. Can’t say I’ve heard this used as a noun before. “Omigod, they mooned us,” yes. “Omigod, look at those mooners,” no no no. Would have preferred salacious NOONERS crossing TON.
- 1a. [Coffee-brewing device], DRIP POT. I wonder if that’s the coffee thing my parents had when I was a kid. Or the unused coffee maker somewhere in my kitchen? Or more like a French press? Not a coffee person here.
- 12d. [British beer with a kick], STINGO. Is that IMPORTED here? Yes, it is. Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo.
- 53a. [Being tracked, in a way], ON RADAR. Is that phrase solidly in the language? “Not on my radar” would be niftier.
3.9 stars from me. It’d be good to have a little more flow in and out of the SW and NE corners, no?
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
If you’re like me, there’s only one veterinarian/author you’ve ever heard of. I borrowed my mom’s copies of the All Creatures Great and Small series of memoirs by English animal doc JAMES HERRIOT around the middle school years, so he was my guess for 19a. [“Let Sleeping Vets Lie” author]. Veterinarian Gareth could fool solvers who know what he does for a living by having a vet = veteran or vet = vet meaning “check out” clue in every puzzle.
The long fill in this puzzle is quite nice (with the exception of ADULTERATES, which is merely an ordinary long word):
- 32a. [Ready signal], ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO.
- 47a. [Subject of the biopic “I Saw the Light”], HANK WILLIAMS. Add the 1982 Herriott compendium-of-previous-memoirs and autobiography I TINA, and you’ve got a lot of bio action here.
- 7d. [Hippie phenomenon], THE SUMMER OF LOVE. Gareth should have been 21 that year. His soul is a few decades older than he is.
- 11d. [Overseas farewell] and 12d. [Overseas thanks], ARRIVEDERCI and DOMO ARIGATO. Different seas to cross over.
- 23d. [Canadian territorial capital], YELLOWKNIFE. I wonder how the place got its name.
Did not know: 46d. [Acting brother of Cuba Gooding Jr.], OMAR. He’s not a marquee name. Also did not know 29a. [__ de canard: duck feathers used to tie fishing flies], CUL. Ass of the duck?
I MISFIRED on the clue 21d. [Mineral whose name is Latin for “crumb”]. It’s not soft, crumbly TALC, it’s cleavable MICA.
A hair more crosswordese than I like to see in one puzzle—IDEM, Siberian TOMSK (Russia’s also got an Omsk), RIA, RDA (the US government ditched the “RDA” concept years ago… though people still use it unawares), plus overly common answers such as EBAN, SOT, and SAHIB.
Pretty quickly moving puzzle for me despite another misfire in the MICA section—I had IN A RUT instead of IN A JAM for [Stuck].
3.66 stars from me.
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” (Lars G. Doubleday byline)
This puzzle was not quite as brutal as last week’s, but that isn’t saying much. Still quite difficult. I always figure if one is actively training and expecting to appear onstage at the ACPT, this and the Saturday NYT are the training devices to use. This one is always a tick harder, though.
Upper right fell first, then lower left, then lower right, and for some reason the upper left (beginning) of the puzzle gave me fits.
Notes on fill:
- 14A [SI Sportsman of the Year before Peyton] – LEBRON – this one took me longer than it should have. Sports is what I know. LeBron James is saturated on ESPN; his name in puzzles not so much, so it seemed fresh.
- 25A [Rather long for a gator] – SEVEN ELEVEN – Someone will have to explain this one to me. Sure, a nearly 8-foot alligator would be huge, but this clue is too hard. I believe I first wrote in SIXTEEN FEET. Don’t they get that big? I don’t live in Florida! A difficult clue about the convenience store would seem more appropriate, or even a craps reference, but that may not work.
- 30A [Compensates for clubbing, maybe] – SLEEPS IN – This is a great clue. Made me chuckle once I stopped thinking of someone getting beaten to a pulp…
- 40A [Nefarious masquerade] – PHISHING – Great clue. Wasn’t there a reference to phish, or Phish, earlier this week…..
- 48A [Commentators of yore] – GREEK CHORUS – Another nice clue and entry
- 61A [King in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena”] – ENRICO – Gettable once you think for a second. I liked this one, too.
- 8D [Pepperidge Farm cookie] – MILANO – Haven’t had one of these in forever. This was one of those clues where I can see the package, but the name wasn’t coming at first. When it does come, I believe that is the a-ha moment that challenging themeless puzzles provide.
- 9A [Facebook’s official drink] – APPLETINI – Never saw The Social Network. I assume that movie would explain this?
- 11D [Home to Aggie Stadium] – UC DAVIS – Another great clue. Several major colleges have Aggie mascots, so this prompted another a-ha moment. (Or more of an “oh, yeah…” moment!)
- 38D [Napoleon’s mount at Waterloo] – MARENGO – We will file this under the learn-something-new-every-day category.
4.5 stars. Loved this puzzle.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Twisted Sister”—Ade’s write-up
How’s your Saturday, everybody?! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, are multiple-word answers in which the first six letters of each are anagrams of the word “sister,” hence the title of the theme. We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it, anymore!
- SETS RIGHT (17A: [Fixes])
- TRIES SOMETHING (28A: [Takes a stab])
- RESISTED ARREST (49A: [Refused to go to jail])
- REST SIGNS (66A: [Musical stop symbols])
Was anyone onto the alternate spelling of SLUE, because I sure as heck wasn’t (14A: [Swing around]). Always knew of that spelling as slew, but I have never known the spelling of OUTS to be “oets,” so that’s when I had to rewire my mind (3D: [Triple play trio]). I believe there’s already been a triple play recorded in Major League Baseball this season. Yes, and it happened to be the first-ever 4-5-4 (second baseman to third baseman to second baseman) triple play in MLB history! Love the clue and entry of HINT HINT (10D: [Comment on the sly]). Though I knew RIVER immediately, a part of me wanted to fit “SEC school” in the space (29D: [Missouri or Arkansas]). What? KATHIE Lee is back with Regis again (8D: [Live! with Regis and ______ Lee”])?? OK, maybe not.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TROP (70D: [St. Pete ballpark, with “the”]) – The “Trop” is short for Tropicana Field, the indoor facility that has been home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team since the team’s inception in 1998. Though the building hosted the World Series in 2008, the most famous game to take place in the arena might have been the 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game, when the Connecticut Huskies shocked the No. 1 team in the country, the Duke Blue Devils, 77-74, to win its first national title in men’s basketball in school history.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!