David Woolf’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m really tired, people, so I am not in a frame of mind to enjoy a crossword or the blogging thereof. So without further ado: cursory blogging!
First: I don’t know how you put PUT A RING ON IT in a crossword and mention neither Beyoncé nor “Single Ladies” in the clue. [Get engaged, in slang]? I don’t think so.
Second: Speaking of “in slang” clues, we’ve got DOPENESS clued as [Excellence, in modern slang]. My local expert on modern slang (my 15-year-old city kid) says that “dope” is used plenty but never this roll-your-own DOPENESS.
Third: A clue that includes slangy language, [Old-school rapper?], produces an incredibly dated (the dictionary labels it “historical”) answer, FERULE. That was a flat ruler used to abuse children (dictionary says “punish” but let’s be real here) in the past.
Overall impressions: I like the staggered 12-letter stack in the middle. That fourth 12 means the grid is 16 rows high. My favorite entries are RADIO SILENCE, “APRES MOI, LE DELUGE,” CILANTRO, LATTE ART, BOBA TEA (we would also accept BUBBLE TEA), MILA KUNIS, and THE MOB (plus 37a). Least favorite: Dear lord, we’ve actually got ESNES in a 2015 puzzle. That had to hurt Will Shortz to include—nice stacks, but archaic crosswordese.
3.9 stars from me.
Don Gagliardo’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Nice Saturday puzzle. OK, maybe I am saying that because I had a good solving time! Didn’t seem THAT easy, but the answers kept coming fast and furious! Maybe the constructor and I think alike! Even though the custom has gone on for years now, I must take a minute to underscore the importance of the constructor byline. Can you even imagine the time when they weren’t mentioned? Different constructors certainly have very different vibes, and Don Gagliardo’s seems to sync with mine!
Having said all that, the puzzle has some neat entries! Note just a few:
- 17A [“Gilligan’s Island” ingénue] MARY ANN – Got this immediately. Watched TONS of Gilligan (in syndication; I’m not that old!) when I was younger.
- 19A [Telltale facial mark] MILK MUSTACHE – This is where themeless puzzles can get fun. This entry isn’t likely to lend itself to a themed puzzle, but it’s fun and playful!
- 37A [Medium-dry sherry] OLOROSO – This one not too familiar with me, but I have seen it before. Not a big wine consumer.
- 54A [Picnic piece] CORN ON THE COB – Another long, amusing entry. And making me hungry…
- 63A [Original McDonald’s mascot] SPEEDEE – Ok, so it wasn’t Grimace! Again, I am not that old! Speedee is definitely before my time:
- 4D [’70s-’80s San Diego Padres owner] RAY KROC – Another veiled McDonald’s reference here!
- 20D [You won’t hear any hits on it] TALK RADIO – Great clue. This stumped me for a bit. And I listen to sports radio all the time!
- 24D [Arbitrary experimentation variable] FUDGE FACTOR – Totally not familiar with this. Anybody use this term at all? Gettable, but if I’ve heard it used before, I cannot recall it now.
Again, a very fun puzzle for a themeless Saturday. 3.2 stars. Always good to smile when solving a crossword, and this one made me smile repeatedly!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Up early this Saturday morning! Busy day ahead: pancake breakfast, then a bike ride, then heading over to a bike show while picking up my registration packet for another bike ride on Sunday! With all these activities looming, I figured I’d get up nice and early and solve the Stumper.
OK, actually I couldn’t sleep, and since I will be gone most of the day, I did think it would be nice to get the blogging done. While on some occasions the quiet, early morning atmosphere helps with solving, I seemed to be in a slight fog this morning. I stared and stared at the puzzle for what seemed like eons while it looked like this:
Lots of errors in there, so that didn’t help! I thought 12D [Good source of beta carotene] was some sort of JERKY! I also had IRON in instead of LION at 36A [Symbol of strength], so that also didn’t help! After checking for wrong squares, and seeing the sea of red this app displays when a letter is wrong (!), I then quickly finished the puzzle. Lots of forehead slapping near the end, especially when filling in FORMAT, RHINO, MACAW, and, of course, MANGO JUICE!! EDWIN DROOD, at 23A [Dickens title child] is not that familiar to me, but I have heard of this book. That slowed me down a bit.
Interestingly, once again, one of the last sections to fall in this puzzle was the NW, or the area near 1-Across. In other words, the beginning of the puzzle! Am I the only one who ends these puzzles at the beginning? Doug: did you construct this puzzle from the upper left at first? I am trying to think back to Stamfords I have attended, and many times the final puzzle is completed in this fashion because of a clever 1-Across entry. Anyone else remember ZOLAESQUE? Or FLOP SWEAT from this past year? Maybe that is the reason the NW is usually solved last. Interested to see your comments on this phenomenon!
Great puzzle, Doug. I was sufficiently stumped! 4.2 stars from me. Off to a busy Saturday!
Matthew Sewell and Brad Wilber’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “We Shall Overcome” — pannonica’s write-up
This sort of theme mechanism has been used before, but this interpretation is deft and elegant. Took a little while to perceive what was going on, so I’ve added circles to make things more explicit.
A number of clues are split over two entries, and it turns out that they’re linked in the grid: the full-name answer of a human or social rights figure literally surmounts the black-square obstacle in its linear path.
- 26a & 28a. [Brooklyn Dodger who broke …] [… the major league color barrier] JACKIE ROBINSON, with help from 24a [“Precisely!”] BINGO in the preceding row.
- 45a & 46a. [Politician who …] […dismantled apartheid] NELSON MANDELA, including 34a [“Put that wallet away”] IT’S ON ME.
- 48a & 50a. [Public health advocate who …] […wrote “The Normal Heart”] LARRY KRAMER, 40a [Tandy’s “Driving Miss Daisy” son] AYKROYD.
- 67a & 69a. [Education rights crusader who is …] [… the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever] MALALA YOUSAFZAI, with 64a [Part of MYOB] YOUR. Nice centerpiece entry!
- 91a & 92a. [Labor leader who co-founded …] [… the United Farm Workers] CÉSAR CHAVÉZ, y 86a [Byzantine governor] EXARCH.
- 94a & 96a. [Reformer who drew large crowds …] [… at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair] SUSAN B ANTHONY, topped with 90a [Caribou feature] ANTLER.
- 111a & 113a. [Social reformer who spearheaded …] [… the Indian independence movement] MOHANDAS GANDHI, 105a [Hither follower] AND YON. Partial not-so-bad here.
Really good group—and mix—of people. Plus, they’re all symmetrical in length and placement—with the exception of the overarching segments, which for theme purposes understandably do not suffer inversions. Fancy themerizing!
- 17d [Counterpart of micro-] MEGA-. See also, 39d [Keyboard shortcut] MACRO, which is a … uhm … shortening of ‘macroinstruction’; macro of course comes from the Greek for ‘long’.
- 16d [Talia Shire, to Sofia Coppola] AUNT. She’s Francis Ford Coppola’s sister. His production company is called American Zoetrope, which makes it awfully clever that the clue for the next-door 15d SLIT is [Zoetrope feature].
- 13d [Glockenspiel that’s played upright] BELL LYRA, bell lyre is a more common spelling.
- 38a/80d [Figure skating maneuver] CAMEL, AXEL.
- 53a [Turn left, often] UNSCREW. Such an uppist clue.
- Least favorite clue/answer: 83a [N. Afr. nation] MOR. Morocco. Wait, scratch that. That one’s just a notch below (or above) 115d [CXCVII tripled] DXCI. Wow. Thumbs in for that one.
- Had trouble completing the grid correctly because of the ambiguous crossing of 101a [Melodious solos] and 78d [Acapulco approval]: ARIOSaS/BUENa vs ARIOSOS/BUENO.
- 107a [Sacagawea, e.g.] SHOSHONE. Both she and SUSAN B ANTHONY appeared on a US $1 coin.
- Favorite clue/answer: [Dagger alternative] ASTERISK. Runner-up: 37d [Prize you might get for scoring] OSCAR.
- 74d [Dedicatee of a Beethoven bagatelle] ELISE. This is the third time in two days that I’ve encountered a crossword clue for this including the words ‘bagatelle’ and ‘dedicatee’.
- 68d [Swiss locale painted by Turner in 1843] LAKE ZUG. ARTH is near there. ARTH is in the SCHWYZ district.
Very impressive and enjoyable crossword.