Sam Donaldson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Four weeks ago at this time, I was soon to head back to my room after transplant surgery. Checked into the hospital at 5:30 that morning, so it was a hella long day. Actually had my first solo outing today—went in for lab work and picked up groceries. Then I sat on my duff for pretty much the rest of the day. My body is still working on healing and getting that kidney anchored into place, you know.
So! The puzzle. Loved it! So much dandy fill. Sam gives a shout-out to Deb Amlen, who responds to random New York Times bungles by saying “I DIDN’T DO IT“™. He’s also got the super-colloquial “WAIT, WHAT?” The colorful LAWYER UP at 1-Across signals Sam’s career (though who lawyers up with a tax law professor?). LES MIZ, GO PUBLIC, PARSLEY, FIRE CODE, “YOU’RE OK,” FREAK OUT ON, FOISTED, and MASS EXODUS are also great fill. And Wanda SYKES! Love her.
Favorite clue: 12d. [Lots of outgoing people] for MASS EXODUS. The “exiting” kind of outgoing, not “extroverted.”
Three more things:
- 19a. [Locale of the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington], E STREET. Indeed! When I went to D.C. for the Indie 500 tournament, I stayed at the Courtyard Foggy Bottom right across from the ARC HQ. I had hoped the photo would show the ornamentation better than it did.
- 43d. [Captain Clutch of baseball], JETER. I can’t say that nickname is ringing a bell here.
- 44d. [One who made many Shakespeare characters sing?], VERDI. Let’s see … there’s Otello, and … the other characters in Othello, and … I got nothin’. Opera’s not my forte.
Such a fun solve, and pitched right in the sweet spot of Friday NYT difficulty. 4.25 stars from me.
Oh! For another fun freestyle puzzle packed with zippy fill, don’t miss Sam Ezersky’s puzzle #49. I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s not really themeless. I loved the theme. 4.5 stars.
Melina Merchant’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tennis, Anyone?” — pannonica’s write-up
Often while solving, the quality of the experience resolves to a single, distilled word as impression. For this offering that was especially salient, and the word was “lively”. Not merely the theme, but the other fill and the cluing and more.
- 22a. [Proper sequence of games making up a tennis tournament?] ORDER IN THE COURT.
- 32a. [Like a line judge who allows a ball a few inches over the line?] GENEROUS TO A FAULT.
- 56a. [Feature of an extended rally between cheerful tennis rivals?] MANY HAPPY RETURNS.
- 66a. [Tennis pro’s income?] NET PROFIT.
- 77a. [Start of a tennis game in front of the local population?] COMMUNITY SERVICE.
- 99a. [Tennis equipment useful for warding off errant lobs?] PROTECTION RACKET.
- 111a. [Tennis, essentially?] PLAY WITH MATCHES.
Not the most innovative or exciting of themes, but the puns are very well crafted and that counts for a whole lot. I suppose it helps that tennis has some idiosyncratic terminology.
43d [Five time U.S. Open champ] GRAF, 102d [Wimbledon quaff] TEA.
- 6d [Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” e.g.] SONNET, 34d [Shelley’s “Adonais,” e.g.] ELEGY, 78d [Shelley, for one] ODIST.
- 11d [Bittern’s cousin] EGRET, 81d [Extreme bitterness] VENOM, 119a [Make petty attacks] SNIPE. 19a [Three-time All-Star shortstop Vizquel] OMAR, 83d [Shortstop Iglesias] JOSÉ, 28a [Banks of Chicago] ERNIE. 103a [Foal’s mother] MARE, 86a [You can bet on them] PONIES, 67d [Breaks, perhaps] TAMES. 117a [New Horizons org.] NASA, 35d [Splashdown site] OCEAN, 101d [Site of Chicago touchdowns] O’HARE.
- 55d [Subject of a modern map] GENOME, 91d [Helical pasta] ROTINI. 84a [Creature on the Australian coat of arms] EMU, 89a [Argentine flag feature] SUN. 58d [Underlying principle of the universe] TAO, 114d [Acupuncturist’s concern] CHI. 53a [Titanic] BIG, 106a [Lilliputian] WEE.
- Entries such as the above twosomes and threesomes contribute to the liveliness I mentioned earlier. So do entries like BEDEVIL, NERVY, SCARE UP, MORTIFY; perhaps the sinister sound of these give them an extra charge, some VIM (75a)?
- Most obscure clue? [21a [Longest-running Broadway musical until “Pins and Needles” in 1939] IRENE?
- 77d [Parabola, ellipse or hyperbola] CONIC. Needed to look up whether the word functions as a noun as well as an adjective; indeed it does, and is synonymous with conic section.
- TERRENE, SEWED: least favorite fill. (51d, 38a)
But there was so very little creaky fill, crosswordese, fill-in-the-blanks, abbrevs., and so on. Combined with those other positive aspects already discussed, that equals lively.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I made a rejected puzzle that used this same revealer: POETRYINMOTION; I had it clued as the Tillotson smash (natch). I find it fascinating how divergent the themes are. I had ODE move from left to right in successive theme entries. Here we have the actual word POETRY used, and the motion itself is a change in the order of its letters. POETRYINMOTION is certainly a great revealing answer (except for its pesky 14-letter length!) The thematic string here varies in location with two instances being contained within one word (less elegant) and two doing the ideal split-across-two-words thing. It is a six-letter string so some allowances should be made!
Anyway, the answers:
- [Formal dissent], MINORITYREPORT. Had no idea that was a generic thing!
- [Lead role in many a Western], STEREOTYPE. I know I was looking for something more specific like WHITEHAT (too short).
- [Independence Day VIPs], PYROTECHNICIANS. The rare one-word 15 letter theme answer!
- [Vegan diet component], SOYPROTEIN. That looks really odd without the A. But the theme isn’t POETARYINMOTION! I would say it strange that so many vegans are terrified of “the chemicals”, but not the least worried about the phyto-oestrogens naturally occurring in soya. But then we know that nothing natural can ever be harmful. I say this with a mouthful of Digitalis purpurea and Datura stramonium seed salad!
Despite a hefty theme, this puzzle has long non-theme answers. This is mostly because of grid constraints placed by having a 14-letter revealer. The pair are ARISTOCRACY (grisly clue!) and the slightly stilted sounding YOUAREWRONG. GEOLOGY and BASETEN provide some science; MCENROE and KIMMEL bring the pop culture names.
An important, yet subtle, design consideration in this puzzle, is the placement of the ‘Y’s. You want as many as possible to be resting on black squares, so that they can be final letters in answers. This occurs in three instances, with the other two being used as first letters.
Apparently this puzzle is the first sign of Christmas: [“It came without ribbons. It came without __”: The Grinch], TAGS is intersected by [Laundry woe at the Claus home?], SOOT.
Top clues: [Cheap sauce], HOOCH; [Rocky field?], GEOLOGY; [Bit in a horse’s mouth?], OAT.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “By George!”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! I hope you all have some good plans to look forward to in sending the month of August out in style. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, may not have been about Curious George, but still dealt with famous people with the first name of George. Each of the theme answers are multiple-word answers in which the last word is also the last name of famous person with the first name of George.
- BLACKBERRY BUSH (20A: [Perennial with edible dark-colored fruit])
- PLANT FOREMAN (27A: [Factory supervisor]) – If I remember correctly, all of the boxing Hall-of-Famer’s sons all have the first name of George as well. There’s keeping a name in the family, and then there’s that!
- BERING STRAIT (43A: [Passage between Russia and Alaska])
- WHITEWATER RAFT (52A: [Vessel for a Colorado River adventure])
Like yesterday, once you got a hold of the theme, then it was a race to head to the other theme answers to see if they could fall immediately afterward. (Bering Strait and Whitewater Raft were locks, without having filled in any letter prior to answering.) Nice little bit of trivia about SHEBA that I didn’t know about stands out for me when first looking at the completed grid (31D: [Yemen, in Biblical times]). Got an earworm trying to figure out the tune to OVER THERE (33D: [Popular 1917 war song]). Love the synergy of doing this puzzle while at a tennis tournament that immediately precedes the U.S. Open, then seeing a clue about a historic moment in Queens: ILIE Nastase winning the 1972 U.S. Open (16A: [He beat Arthur in the 1972 US Open]). Unlike today, that match was played on a grass court, at the former home of the tournament in the Forest Hills section of Queens. Want to watch some of that match?! Well, here you go! Look at all of the serve-and-volleying, tennis purists!!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HASKELL (5D: [Eddie on “Leave It to Beaver”]) – One of the most anticipated races in the horse racing year, the HASKELL Invitaional Stakes is a 1 and 1/8 mile thoroughbred race that occurs in between the end of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. The race is run in Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., and is an invitation-only race consisting all of three-year olds. The winner of this year’s Haskell Invitational was American Pharoah, the horse who won the Triple Crown this past spring. It was his first race after winning the Triple Crown. (In case you didn’t know by now, “Pharoah” is intentionally spelled like that, with the “o” coming before the second “a.”)
Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you tomorrow!!