Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword
Toughest fill for me:
- 16a. [“Begone,” to Shakespeare], AROINT. Certainly not one of the more familiar Shakespearean words. This one was used twice, so if it didn’t come readily to mind, you’re in good company.
- 19a. [Hoopster’s playmaking ability], COURT VISION. Don’t recall encountering that term before.
- 35a. [Modern composer’s constructions], TONE ROWS. Zero idea what that means.
Juiciest fill: BOUNCE HOUSE, POWER NAP, ORANGINA, TIME BOMB, WET ONE, BOX SCORE.
In the category of “So that’s a thing? Huh,” we have VIOLA SOLO and TEEN POP. Akin to those, we have the “Um, is that really a stand-alone phrase?” entry of ON SALE NOW.
Vocab of the day: BIBELOT, 33a. [Trinket]. It is from the French and, given its Frenchiness, the T is silent. (I’ve never heard anyone say this out loud—just looked up the pronunciation in the dictionary.)
Letter I’d like to change: The T where TALE and TATER cross. This TATER/baseball home run business bores me. PALE/PATER, VALE/VATER, WALE/WATER, John CALE/CATER … these would all have brought a different (and baseball-free!) flavor.
The cluing felt a little on the dry side to me. Yes? I like it when a clue is tricky and I’m duped by it and can’t help smiling when I finally figure it out. That didn’t happen here. 3.9 stars from me.
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Getting the blog done a little later than I usually do; this morning I ran a 5k! Evidently it helped the brain power somewhat; I solved on the ride home, and the answers were flowing nicely. The NYT took me a lot longer to finish! I admit: I did look up the definition for 2D [Compunction]. I did not remember what that word meant! The dictionary only slightly helped, as it listed qualm as one of the synonyms. I eventually figured out the answer was REMORSE, and then the rest of the puzzle fell into place. This puzzle nearly has triple stacked 15s, but with two 14s and a 15, the fill is EXCELLENT. I laughed out loud when I figured out 16A [It’s broadcast on Telemundo] AMERICAN SPANISH. My first thought? MEXICAN SOAP OPERA, but that was too long! A solid 4.5 star rating from me.
Some more of my favorites:
- 1A [Forecast] PROGNOSTICATED – Great clue. Kept thinking it was PROJECT-something. And the use of forecast as a past tense was tricky.
- 24A [“My Favorite Things” flora] ROSES – Were you singing in your head, too?
- 40A [“The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries” airer] KIDS WB – I had ????WB, and couldn’t figure out the rest until the end. Nicely done.
- 57A [High-stakes game] RUSSIAN ROULETTE – I was thinking some poker variation at first. Russian roulette stakes? Just a tad higher….
- 61A [Whom Paul McCartney called “the best female voice”] KAREN CARPENTER – I would agree. She died far too early.
- 9D [“Honest!”] IT’S LEGIT – Very nice.
- 25D [Piscopo portrayal on SNL’s 40th anniversary show] SINATRA – I think he was on the show just via a clip or two. Probably one of his more famous impersonations that he did.
- 28D [Prince pal of Flash Gordon] BARIN – Did not who who Prince Barin was. I do now. Surprised I hadn’t seen that in puzzles before.
- 41D [Overlapping fugue motifs] STRETTI – This is obviously quite obscure, but it seems familiar to me for some reason…
- 49D [’80s president of the National Cartoonists Society] KEANE – I broke into the grid way down here. Thought of Bil Keane immediately since his name is 5 letters, and the crossing of 49A [Kool-Aid owner] could then be KRAFT, which fit nicely. Filled in most of the bottom quickly after that. In the screen shot, it reflects where I finished.
- 50D [Color from the French for “mole”] TAUPE – Great clue. I feel … smarter now!
Again, a fun puzzle. Enjoyed it immensely. Can’t wait for Brad Wilber’s next puzzle. I like him as a constructor quite a lot; probably one of my three or four favorites when it comes to hard themeless 15×15 grids.
Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Struggled a bit with this one. Upper right corner gave me the most fits. As I keep saying, though, these LA Times Saturday puzzles are becoming a favorite of mine. There is literally NOTHING in this puzzle that is cringe-worthy! Very smooth yet challenging.
Many highlights to mention. Here are a few:
- 16A [Wedding to-do list item] ORDER A LIMO – Great entry and clue. Although I didn’t have a limo at my wedding….
- 18A [Grand] MAJESTICAL – This one stumped me. Not as common as the shorter “majestic.” Not in MW 11C, but it’s in the unabridged. All is good; I want the challenge!
- 24A [Actor/director with two Emmys and two Razzies] SHATNER – Emmys for Boston Legal and The Practice, Razzies both for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
- 30A [1935 FDR dedication] HOOVER DAM – Got this one pretty early. Not too much else it could be; just hard to remember when exactly it was built.
- 44A [Grotte de Cussac attraction] CAVE ART – Never heard of this place, but it sounds like the word “grotto.” Educational!
- 58A [Endurance event facility] AID STATION – I just ran a race this morning! Didn’t stop at the “aid stations!” Only a 5k. Marathon aid stations are conversely NOT optional…
- 1D [Union concern] WAGE SCALE – As a union member, I knew this had to do with wages somehow…!
- 5D [Many Shakespearean characters] ROMANS – Tougher than a reference to the Bible book.
- 11D [Marathoner’s misfortune] BLISTER – This could be several things; I have not had the pleasure of experiencing a painful blister when I have run my marathons. Pain everywhere else, though!
- 32D [Witness in 1991 Senate hearings] ANITA HILL – Was that 1991?? I remember this well. I must be getting old…
- 43D [Orchestra leader Billy] VAUGHN – This was HARD. Never heard of him either. Looks like he is a little before my time! Now I DON’T feel so old!
- 44D [“Speak, hands, for me!” speaker] CASCA – From Julius Caesar, I believe. I’m a little rusty on my Shakespeare.
- 54D [Mild rebuke] TUT – Harder than referring to the boy pharaoh.
- 55D [“Get outside yourself” company] REI – Purveyor of all things outdoorsy in a sporting way, from hiking to canoeing to running to cycling to whatever.
A solid puzzle. 4 stars from me.
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Between You and Me”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone! Hope you all are doing great to begin your weekend. There aren’t too many better ways to begin a weekend, if you’re a devout crossword solver, than solving a grid created by Mr. Jeff Chen, and, in today’s puzzle, he produces four theme answers in which the first letter happens to be “U” and the last two letters happen to be “ME.” The fourth theme answer really ties the theme together!
- UNCLE SAM COSTUME (17A: [Many a Fourth of July outfit]) – Thank goodness I haven’t personally seen someone wear this outfit in a long while.
- UNTIL NEXT TIME (23A: [“We’ll meet again soon!”])
- UNSOLVED CRIME (53A: [Cold case, e.g.])
- UNDERLYING THEME (63A: [It’s woven throughout many books (and crosswords)]) – Perfect entry to put a bow on the theme, as well as the puzzle.
It’s possible that two of the hardest entries in the grid today were sports-related answers: BACKUP QBS (3D: [NFL signal callers waiting in the wings]) and RBI MEN, especially given that, if you didn’t know the answers immediately, you would be thrown off by the peculiar letter arrangements of both (34A: [MLB sluggers]). If you had RB—-, that might compel you to think something might be amiss. And let’s not get to the “KUPQ” bunching to the other entry. Fortunately, I didn’t need any crossings for “backup QBs,” but hoped that my hunch at what the answer might be would be right. (It was.) After getting ZIRCONIA (41D: [Cubic ________ (synthetic gemstone)]), and having a chuckle at that entry for no apparent reason, the second “I” in that entry made me initially put in “Harris” at that crossing instead of DOOGIE (67A: [TV doc Howser]). Thought I needed to match his last name in real life with his last name in the show, so that slowed me up for a little while. Other than that, not too much difficulty, which is not par for the course when completing a puzzle of Jeff’s. But what is par for the course in his puzzles in great fill, and today is no different.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BIP (26A: [Marcel Marceau character]) – Former Major League baseball player Leon “BIP” Roberts played between 1986 and 1998 for five teams, mostly known for his time with the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds. In 1992, as a member of the Reds, Bip was named to his only All-Star team, and proceed to get two hits and two RBIs in the game. Roberts is probably most known for breaking up then-Montreal Expos pitcher Pedro Martinez’s perfect game in the tenth inning of a June 3, 1995 game between the Padres and Expos. Martinez had thrown nine perfect innings, but the game was scoreless going into extras. The Expos scored a run in the tenth, allowing Pedro the chance to complete perfection in the bottom half of the inning. First up for the Padres in the 10th inning was Bip, and here’s what he did…
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!! Oh, by the way, HI MOM (12D: [Sideline TV greeting])!!