Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
There’s some nice fill here, but I managed to find the puzzle rather unenjoyable overall. Especially the lower right corner—some unfortunate cluing by way of a sitcom that was canceled halfway through its first season in 1987. There’s no way in hell anyone should be expected to know or remember this. Between the nonspecificity of 53a. [What “check” could mean], the iffy spelling of 56a. [Oil or ink additive], the nonspecificity of 44d. [Sidekick of 1960s TV], and that terrible 50d. [“I Married ___” (1987 ABC sitcom)], it took me a while to unravel that corner. NO BET in, what, poker? DRIER, not DRYER (I prefer to limit drier to the comparative adjective, dryer to the noun). Batman’s ROBIN, and not ROBYN and not ROWAN & Martin (or TONTO, or …). And then the TV clue is DORA?? This is not a work of lasting import or artistic significance. The same corner also clues RTE as 44a. [Metro line: Abbr.], which is really weird. There is nothing specifically “metro” about RTE. There are rural highways called Route X.
I do like COLOR WHEEL, “I KNEW IT,” FRONT PAGE, SNIPPET, SQUEAK TOY, SPLIT ENDS, KNEE BENDS, and TIGER’S EYE. Did not know that baseball had a QUADRUPLE PLAY at all.
Did not care for LSTS, AT IT, long partial THERE IS (39a. [1968 hit by the Dells whose title precedes “the time,” “the place,” “the girl” and “the face”]? Never heard of it), OYES (57a. That courtroom [Cry for silence and attention] is usually spelled OYEZ), IPANA, UKR (because it’s an abbreviation—definitely not because a Ukrainian gave me delicious homemade cookies, not too sweet, this morning), LAP AT (I include this with HAS AT and RAN AT and NIP AT in my anathema AT entries), and TES.
I’ve never seen the term TRIJET (39d. [727, e.g.]) before. Just me?
I like it when a Saturday puzzle has lots of twisty clues that mislead me and make me appreciate their cleverness. This puzzle didn’t give me that fun experience. 3.33 stars from me.
Barry C. Silk’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Kudos to Barry, who has both the NYT and LAT Saturday puzzles this week! Did rather well on this puzzle. It was hard, but not overly difficult to me. Under 7 minutes is fast for me. Although risking sounding like a broken record, this puzzle has virtually no objectionable entries an perky entries. Maybe I had a smooth time because it was a nice, quiet, calm Saturday morning solving experience! Sometimes a good puzzle is all about the ambience, is it not? I enjoy solving in the bed on a quiet morning or a still evening, outside in a lawn chair with a cool beverage (or cocktail!), in a lake cottage with the waves lapping against the shore, and other similar calming locations. Not as preferable? An airline seat, a loud TV room with the TV blaring, or in a car riding along as a passenger. (I get a headache when I do that!) What is your favorite solving atmosphere?
Back to the puzzle! Here are some notes:
- 25A [Co-star of Humphrey in the 1954 film “Sabrina”] AUDREY – As in Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. Remade in 1995 with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond.
- 37A [Heading for old wagons] DUE WEST – Or, in the same sense, heading for Derek in a few years…!
- 55A [Six-Day War hero] DAYAN – As in Moshe Dayan, a former Israeli leader.
- 60A [Ski area purchase] LIFT TICKET – I have never been skiing, but I know what this is. I don’t enjoy playing in the snow. Maybe because I “play” in the snow all day anyway!
- 65A [WorkCentre cartidge filler] XEROX TONER – I don’t know, even if you owned a Xerox copier, if you would ever use the phrase “Xerox toner.” But it’s still a pretty good entry, and it’s also gettable with a few crossings, especially an X or two!
- 10D [“Yo!”] HEY, MAN! – Great entry. Who hasn’t said this?
- 12D [“Sharknado” actress] TARA REID – Have you endured this movie franchise? They are literally painful, and overly campy. I think I have tolerated the second and third versions, but the first edition actually makes my brain liquefy….!!
- 14D [Two-part country] MALAYSIA – This is a large country, and is indeed separated by a large body of water.
- 21D [Clown around] YUK IT UP – Favorite entry. Made me smile!
- 24D [2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee] SEAU – A gimme for me. Junior Seau was a great player, who notably committed suicide and is one of the more famous examples of an ex-football player with brain damage from playing. A tragic story.
- 28D [“The Great Dictator” co-star Paulette] GODDARD – I don’t know this movie either. But this actress seems familiar to me, for some reason.
- 45D [Antacid brand] MAALOX – I’ve ate enough garbage over the years, so I know EXACTLY what Maalox is!
- 49D [Roll] ROSTER – Simple, yet hard. This is not the first use of “roll,” and probably not the second or third, either!
A clean puzzle. 4 stars from me!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This one scared me! I stared at basically an empty grid for a full minute or two! I think I filled in ICU at 39-Across [Area with multiple monitors] first, and even then with not much confidence. I think that feeling of dread is what makes the hard, wide-open, Saturday-level difficulty puzzles fun to solve. It also is, at least for me, a confidence building exercise. Any time you accomplish something that you didn’t think you could do, your self-esteem gets a boost, whether it is in some form or workout, a job activity, a do-it-yourself project, or even a word puzzle! I’m usually pretty confident I will get most any puzzle solved, it’s just a matter of how long it will take!
Having said all that, great puzzle. And solved in under 20 minutes, and without having to check for errors! Lively long entries in most spots, and clever cluing. A sample:
- 1A [Hindi word for “master”] SWAMI – I had SAHIB in there as a guess, but I knew that wasn’t right. Still cannot solve 1-Across very easily, although in this puzzle I actually DID solve the upper half first!
- 30A [Common contract-date preceder] ON OR BEFORE – Great entry.
- 49A [Brand name derived from a “2001 …” line] IPOD – Great piece of trivia. No doubt from some line like, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL!”
- 61A [Unwelcome comment from a salesperson] THAT’S EXTRA – Another great entry. Paints a vivid picture!
- 64A [Cause of teen torpor] SENIORITIS – Yet again, a great word. I had a bad case of this in high school!
- 12D [King of Rome, C. 1815] NAPOLEON II – Hard clue for a common entry. Also slightly harder with the II trailing the name. Nicely done!
- 28D [Not overly skilled] BLUE COLLAR – This is the only clue I slightly disagree with. Some may even take offense to this? A “blue-collar” mechanic, for instance, would seem to me to be quite highly skilled. “White-collar” workers, or office staff, are also skilled, but I would say they just have different skills. Interested to see comments on this clue!
- 29D [Popular deck decoration] BOSTON FERN – Popular? Perhaps. Maybe “common” would read better? Maybe it’s just me. This and the last clue, though, both entirely solvable as is.
- 50D [___ cup] DIXIE – Great vague clue. Harder in that DIXIE, as a brand name, would be capitalized, whereas cup would not. I think I filled this entry in last!
- 53D [Gaga’s partner on “The Greatest Thing”] CHER – Did not know this song. Still don’t. Maybe you have heard it before:
- 57D [“Divergent” heroine] TRIS – I’ve been meaning to read these books and see these movies; haven’t done either. So this one was not a gimme.
Again, a great puzzle. An even 4 stars. Can’t wait for next weeks agony!
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Celebrity Anagrams”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone. Busy couple of days away from here, so can’t stay too long. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is more fun with anagrams, as the clues include words in capital letters, which also happen to be anagrams of the entries, who also happen to be celebrities.
- MILEY CYRUS (17A: [Pop star who could say, “USE MY LYRIC”?])
- GEORGE CLOONEY (23A: [Actor who might offer COOL EGO, ENERGY?])
- JENNIFER ANISTON (35A: [Comic actress who may appear FINE IN TORN JEANS?])
- CLINT EASTWOOD (50A: [Actor/director who could produce OLD WEST ACTION?])
- CAROLE KING (58A: [Singer/songwriter who can provide GENIAL ROCK?])
Word of the day that I got a chance to learn from doing this grid? SISAL (9D: [Rope fiber]). I’m almost giddy anytime I see some basic French in a puzzle now since I’m learning the language, so À TOI is now food and drink for me (31A: [Yours, in Tours]). Also learned that “vôtre”could also be used. Favorite fill was MICROCOSM (10D: [Small representation of a larger group]), while TUBBS gave me an earworm of one of the best theme songs in television history, in my opinion (5D: [Detective Crockett’s “Miami Vice” partner])…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ALL DAY (45A: [Like many amusement park passes]) – The nickname of current Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, A.D., doesn’t stand for his first two letters in his first name, but for ALL DAY, as in, he’ll run up, down and around opposing defenses all day.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I’m Way Ahead of You” — pannonica’s write-up
In which IM- is appended to phrases and the altered version is clued.
- 22a. [Rodin’s “The Thinker”?] IMAGE OF REASON. See also, 97a [Output of un penseur] IDÉE.
- 33a. [Put a contract addition on a spindle?] IMPALE RIDER. In reference to the Clint Eastwood western, itself an allusion to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. See also 80d [Ruination] DOOM.
- 44a. [Plastic surgeons?] IMPLANT MANAGERS.
- 64a. [Charge Dame Nellie with official misconduct?] IMPEACH MELBA.
- 74a. [Confiscate a baker’s wares?] IMPOUND CAKE.
- 90a. [Purpose of fertilizer?] IMPROVING GROUND.
- 100a. [Frequency with which one has sudden urges?] IMPULSE RATE.
- 118a. [Home of a foreign trader?] IMPORTERHOUSE.
Varying amounts of strain in this lot. Save for the first themer, the added IMs are precisely concordant with the actual prefix of the new word. So that’s a notable inconsistency.
Lots of chewy midlength and longish fill throughout the grid. Triple seven-stacks in the southwest and northeast, held in place with the eights ARMS DEAL and DROPOUTS. Another two sets vertically on either flank, these shot through by a pair of tens comprising Row 11: PAUL BUNYAN (with the superb clue [Lumbering giant] and EXPRESSION.
- Tough, perhaps confounding duo at 98- and 99-across: 98a [Renée of the 1926 silent film “The Blackbird”] ADORÉE, [[Browning who directed the 1926 silent film “The Blackbird”] TOD. But I think the relatively easy crossings relieve the burden. TOD crosses actress ANN TODD (68d).
- 25a [Morgan’s mother] MARE. Nothing supernatural or mythological here; it’s a breed of horse, developed in New England and named for a teacher called Justin Morgan.
- 11d [Neurological gap] SYNAPSE, 60d [Failure of judgment] LAPSE. At least 105a [Cathedral parts] was SPIRES and not APSES.
- 71d/80d [Their business is picking up] BUSES, MAIDS.
- 88d [Language that gave us “pemmican”] CREE.
- Second-favorite clue (after 69a): 92d [Taking its toll?] PEALING.
- 15d [Ankles] TARSI vs 101d [Triceps attachments] ULNAS.
Modest but well-made crossword.