Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
Just as in yesterday’s puzzle, lots of zippy fill here: RAGE-QUIT and SICK JOKE, MCDREAMY (I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy but I thoroughly enjoyed the recap of the “McDreamy dies” episode), RICO ACT (anyone else slow themselves down by trying RIOT ACT here?), NBC NEWS, PONY CAR, PGA TOUR, KIA SOUL, HOT WAX ([Brazilian supply], factual clue), ST. CROIX, AMEX CARD, and TAX CUTS.
Usually I’m bored by the fill in a grid like this, with all sorts of dry 7-letter inflected words. Kudos to Tim for packing in so much lively material.
I struggled in the northwest corner, and not just because of the RIOT ACT misstep. Despite having fished for bluegills as a little girl, despite hearing my dad speak of crappies (say it “croppies”), I did not know you’d call either of them PANFISH. And “ace” can mean so many different things; 1d. [What an ace is rarely seen on] clues a PAR FIVE golf hole but I wasn’t thinking of golf. And I went for I DO instead of VOW, which also mucked things up here. I was surprised my solving time wasn’t longer, given how long much of this corner was empty.
Least favorite bits:
- Clunky fill IPSA, -INE, HIT AT, FOTOS.
- 53a. [Expansion group?] as a clue for FATS. Um, what does the clue mean? Eat fats, your body size will expand? Because you can gorge on carbs and low-fat protein and still gain weight. And is there some other meaning of “expansion group” this is supposed to be a play on? I know of expansion teams, but not “expansion groups.”
- EASY ONE feels contrived, and has too much of an echo of EAZY-E. I am guessing Eazy-E chose that name without picking an etymology that’s independent of “easy.” However! The late EAZY-E is of the moment, as there’s an N.W.A. biopic coming out in August; the movie brings us a new OSHEA clue, too, as Ice Cube’s son and namesake, O’Shea Jackson Jr., plays him in the movie.
Four stars from me.
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Am I getting better? Did I sleep well? This puzzle took me less than twenty minutes! And no Google crutch this week! No error marks in the pic! I’m curious to hear what others think. Not that this puzzle wasn’t extremely difficult; I whizzed through the upper left area…..then ground to a halt. Slow moving after that. I had ADELE for 32A [Grammy winner for 2013’s Song of the Year], which was LORDE, which slowed me a bit in that section. This was actually the last entry I filled in. Also, for 38A [Retirements on many pro teams], I put NUMBERS in quite early, but it turned out to be JERSEYS. Similar, I suppose. I was on the right track! Had a few others wrong as well; will discuss below:
- 1A [Part of “America’s New Year Celebration”] ROSE PARADE – I could pass on the Rose Parade. Would much rather watch games involving a 8 or 16 team playoff!
- 15A [Moscow stage premiere of 1899] UNCLE VANYA – Probably one of the only Russian plays I know!
- 23A [Place abutting Pennsylvania Railroad] ST JAMES – How’s your Monopoly knowledge?
- 30A [Colleague who said Jim “raised puppeteering to an art form”] SHARI – No doubt referring to Shari Lewis, creator of Lamb Chop. I wrote in FRANK, thinking that this was referring to Jim Henson’s longtime colleague Frank Oz.
- 34A [“Party with ___!” (2000 Latin jazz album)] PUENTE – I thought this would be the correct answer, but was to hesitant to put it in. Wonder where that hesitance was on all the wrong answers I boldly entered…
- 39A [Puts riders on] AMENDS – Nice tricky clue. This one stumped me at first.
- 40A [Boat trailers] WAKES – This one stumped me for a second, too. Then I thought, “What trails behind a boat?? Oh yeah…”
- 42A [Legendary galley] ARGO – For some reason, I put in NINA. The Nina is kind of legendary, isn’t it?
- 48A [Carnival rides] CRUISES – Thinking of carnival fair rides. Its a shame, since I’ve been on a Carnival cruise…
- 52A [Least wind resistant] SLEEKEST – For some reason I read this as MOST wind resistant. Pre-coffee brain cramp…
- 63A [No nail-biter] SNOOZEFEST – Great clue/entry!
- 11D [Major employer] ARMY – I wasn’t fooled by where this was going, but I put in USMA at first. Clue doesn’t suggest an abbreviation! Overthought this one…
- 12D [Amy Adams role of 2013] LOIS LANE – She starred in Man of Steel with Henry Cavill. She will be in the sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming out next year. I told you I was a comic book fan!
- 25D [Literally, “gentle way] JUDO – I was thinking JETE, as in the ballet jump. Learned something new!
- 33D [Not below] ON DECK – Crosses CRUISES, which in a way is a mean joke! Another great clue!
- 35D [1993 CBS debut] LATE SHOW – Another wrong entry for me. I put in CSI MIAMI. That show didn’t debut until 2002. David Letterman recently retired; Stephen Colbert will take the helm this September.
- 36D [It’s sung 18 times in “A Wonderful Guy”] I’M IN LOVE – This song is from South Pacific. Yes, I looked it up; no, I have never seen it!
- 42D [Lady Bird Lake locale] AUSTIN – Figured this had to be in Texas somewhere…
Awesome puzzle. Feeling good since it didn’t take me an hour. Will no doubt be re-humbled next week! 4 stars!
It is another splendid Saturday challenge puzzle in the LA Times. Another Times constructor I am not altogether familiar with, but so far, I am impressed. To steal a phrase from Amy, nothing in this puzzle registers on the “Scowl-O-Meter” at all. There are some obscure entries, but that’s OK. Unfamiliar terms, maybe a couple. But ultimately solvable and enjoyable. A few comments:
- 1A [NASA program for aspiring explorers] SPACE CAMP – This actually exists? I don’t think I know anyone who has been to one of these. Maybe because I don’t live near Cape Canaveral…?
- 16A [Nikon competitor] RICOH – For Nikon, I think cameras. For Ricoh, I think copiers. They evidently DO make cameras, but it seems as they are hardly a “competitor” of Nikon.
- 23A [“Peer Gynt” widow] ASE – OK, maybe a slight “Scowl-O-Meter” needle movement, but this is a rare entry, at least to me. Rare enough that it’s hard to remember. But it somehow doesn’t annoy me. Seems more…literary…
- 28A [Singer with the 2002 debut hit “Complicated”] AVRIL LAVIGNE – Should have got this straight out, but I had a brain cramp. I think she’s married to the lead singer of Nickelback.
- 35A [Ottoman bigwig] BEY – OK, maybe one other snarky entry. Again, this one is rare and is not a pain. At least it helps get a B into the puzzle!
- 50A [“¿Quién ___?”] SABE – Means roughly “who knows?” Often this is clued as Kemo ___, but I like the challenge from this one. Something different.
- 59A [Floor in the Louvre] ETAGE – This answer I have seen multiple times in the last week or so. Some solvers detest foreign words and phrases, but I welcome them. The United States is one of the few countries in this WORLD where only one language is spoken by the majority of citizens. Learning other languages broadens one’s horizons. So says the man who only speaks one! I’ll get off my soapbox now…
- 1D [1978 Toyota debut] SUPRA – I did get this one straight away. My brother and father are car nuts, so I’m pretty familiar with most makes and models. I’d rather have an Acura…
- 3D [Tot’s song starter] ABCDE – I’ve seen ABC, and even ABCD, clued this way. Don’t know if I have ever seen the first five letters of the alphabet. Any five letter alphabet string can be a fair entry, but it also is rare. Nicely done.
- 9D [Like the ancient Olympic Games] PANHELLENIC – Simply means relating to Greece. Nice word.
- 11D [15th-century pope] PIUS II – You know when the answer is a Pope’s name, you’re likely in for Roman numerals. The only question is which Roman numeral! Pius II? IV? IX? The crossings will determine it, but a nice way to add challenge to a puzzle.
- 25D [One who’s easy to take] SITTING DUCK – Again, well done. Great entry.
- 40D [Name from the Hebrew for “lion”] ARI – Nice clue. I believe the Arizona Diamondbacks use ARI as an abbreviation in their box scores and the like, but I feel like I learned something when I solved this clue!
- 44D [Table linen fabric] DAMASK – A word I know primarily from puzzles, but a great entry. The patterns look more like gaudy wallpaper. Textiles are NOT my strong suit!
Great puzzle. Decent time for me on this one, so maybe not as hard? We will see how next Saturday’s LAT puzzle goes. 4 stars for this one.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pitching Repertoire”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, involves taking us out to the baseball game and seeing some pitchers throw their best stuff. Or, it’s four theme answers in which one of the words in each entry is also the name of a type of pitch thrown in a baseball game .
- SCREWBALL COMEDY (17A: [Freewheeling farce]) – The most famous/successful baseball pitcher who ever threw a screwball, New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell, achieved almost inarguably the greatest feat by a pitcher in the All-Statr Game. In the 1934 Midsummer Classic at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell struck out five Hall of Famers – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – all in succession, using his reverse curveball! (Essentially, a screwball is thrown with a curveball grip, but while supinating your arm motion, instead of pronating.)
- LEARNING CURVE (24A: [Mastery rate])
- WHITE KNUCKLER (42A: [Rough airplane trip, e.g.]) – Most people who throw knuckleballs usually don’t have their knuckles on the ball as much as they have their fingernails on it.
- CHANGE DIRECTION (56A: [Go another way]) – Change is the shortened version for a change-up.
Despite the sports theme, took a little while longer to get really going with this grid the past few. Did the word “photos” need to be in the clue for BEEFCAKE (52A: [Mr. Universe photos, e.g.])? Probably would have been just fine with “Mr. Universe, e.g.,” or “Ade, while on the beach, e.g.” Again, any grid is a winner with me if it involves African geography, so pretty nice for me to see RWANDA today (21A: [Where Dian Fossey did her work]). It’s always a little jarring to see a letter be used as a Roman numeral in a grid when the clue doesn’t specifically or misleadingly require you to put in a Roman numeral, as was the case with PHASE I (6D: [Beginning of a new project]). But once you see the ‘phase’ part, it’s pretty much a done deal that a Roman numeral was coming immediately afterward. We’ve had a run of seeing LA LAW a good number of times in recent puzzles, and today’s no exception (24D: [Show featuring Jimmy Smits and Susan Dey]). Can Corbin Bernsen get some love when mentioning L.A. Law in a clue sometime soon?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LAVIN (16A: [Linda who starred in “Alice”]) – College basketball head coach Steve LAVIN was, as of three months ago, the current head coach of St. John’s University in New York (Queens). Before that, he was the head coach at UCLA, and was named head coach right before the 1996 season, when they started their defense of the 1995 NCAA Championship. Lavin took UCLA to five Sweet 16 appearances, but never took the Bruins to the Final Four, which led to his ouster in 2003. Lavin, while head coach of St. John’s, underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2011. After taking St. John’s to two NCAA Tournament appearances – but no victories in the Big Dance – Lavin and St. John’s decided to part ways this past March.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!