Andrew Zhou’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, solving and blogging the Saturday Times puzzle while watching Jurassic World: Go.
Likes in the fill: NIQAB, LATIN LOVERS, VANITY PRESS, “KICK ME” SIGNS, KIRSTEN Gillibrand, VIRILITY, BLANK CDS, BEDTIME STORY, ALPINE LAKE, and THE BEARS (we would also have accepted DA BEARS).
Dislikes: INURE, PART A, and –EROO, most acutely. The grossness of the creepy uncle action in 1d. [Two of Ferdinand VII’s wives, to Ferdinand VII], NIECES. And the combo of 35d AGE ONE and [Section one] as the PART A clue.
- Learned some Chicago Bears trivia I didn’t know: 11d. [N.F.L. record-holder for most retired jersey numbers].
- 23a. [Cosmopolitan place] is a great clue for BAR (referring to the pink cocktail called a Cosmo).
- 28a. [Course material, maybe], SOD—golf course, good clue.
- 27d. [“As elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency,” per Raymond Chandler], CHESS. Ha!
3.9 stars from me.
Barry C. Silk’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another good puzzle by Barry C. Silk this Saturday morning. He is fast becoming another constructor that I thoroughly enjoy. Good entries, fun clues, and yet just a touch of challenging words to test your vocabulary. My favorite entries are listed below. I will rate this one with 4 stars. I enjoyed a few entries in particular, as you will see:
- 1A [Mystery novel cover-up?] DUST JACKET – Great 1-Across entry. Both 10-letter stacks at the top and bottom are stellar.
- 37A [Aptly named sleep aid] ZZZQUIL – Great entry for the center, as well! Yes, I thought DayQuil at first until I got some of those Z’s in there!
- 40A [“No way!”] IXNAY – Ah, how handy is Pig Latin in constructing a crossword? At least a little, as evidenced here!
- 44A [Where the Irrawaddy flows] MYANMAR – The former Burma, of course. I knew this was in Asia somewhere, but that’s all I knew until some crossings appeared.
- 2D [Beverage nickname introduced in 1967] UNCOLA – I remember many 7-Up commercials from the 70s-80s like this one:
- 10D [Springsteen’s birthplace?] THE USA – Of course he is from Jersey, but this is a pun based on his most popular album, Born in the U.S.A.
- 24D [Seven-term Mexican president Porfirio ___] DIAZ – Definitely tougher than a clue about Cameron DIAZ! Especially since he was president of Mexico over 100 years ago!
- 28D [Food processors] ENZYMES – As in in your belly!
- 34D [Planned 2019 Pan American Games host] LIMA, PERU – This one was tough, until you realized it was two words! These games could literally be anywhere in the Americas!
- 35D [Open secret, e.g.] OXYMORON – A great clue, here. Great a-ha moment!
Kudos to a fun puzzle. Can’t wait until next Saturday!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
A time under 10 minutes this morning! That can only mean one thing: next week, we will be languishing in the thirty minute range! Got a good night’s sleep, so maybe that helped. Of the Stumper regular constructors, Doug may be on the easier side, or maybe he is more on my wavelength. Whatever the reason, I had very few snags in this puzzle. Next week will be torture!
A few observations:
- 15A [Typical traffic report time] FIVE THIRTY – A nice clue for a seemingly arbitrary time!
- 22A [Resident, e.g.] MEDICO – OK, I thought this meant resident as in someone who lives in a residence! Once I thought outside the box for a second, it became clear!
- 32A [Setting on high] AIRPLANE MODE – I just flew on a plane, and this one also stumped me for a while. Great clue.
- 43A [Dancer admired by Stewart in “Rear Window”] MISS TORSO – It has been ages since I have seen this movie, but if I remember correctly, he had nicknames for a few of the people he saw out of his window. This was evidently one of them. Another great clue that made me think.
- 50A [First rap group on MTV] RUN DMC – I figured this would be an easy one, but I had SPEC instead of ITEM at 41D, so I had ????CC at first for this entry. Once solved, it was like, “Duh!!”
- 64A [Certain security experts] DAY TRADERS – I got this one rather quickly. For some reason, I immediately thought of financial securities. Same wavelength at play here, I think!
- 10D [First song parodied by Weird Al] MY SHARONA – This one was also a gimme. At least after two or three letters were in there. For you LLamas out there, I am anxiously awaiting the One-Day on Weird Al coming up on November 3. Should get 12/12 on that one!
- 25D [Television array] INPUTS – Anymore, it’s all about how many HDMI inputs you have, for all of you game platforms, streaming services, and blu-ray players!
- 42D [Tennessee called her “the greatest living actress”] VANESSA – Pretty sure this is referring to Vanessa Redgrave; couldn’t verify the quote. Makes sense, though.
- 43D [Create a margin for] MARK UP – This lower corner is what I did last. (And not the upper left corner, like usual!) Several of these clues stymied me for a bit, especially this one. Until I realized what margin they were referring to!
- 52D [Azalea from Australia] IGGY – I think I mentioned before how she is replacing IGGY Pop in puzzles; you know you’re famous when you’re a crossword staple!
I will give this puzzle 4.1 stars. Nicely done, great clues, and I did well on it! Until next Saturday…
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s a Job”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Saturday, everyone! Hope all is well. About to celebrate a friend’s wedding, so can’t stay too long. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, include four multiple-word theme answers in which the last word in each is a synonym to the word “job.” Each of the four answers are common phrases and/or proper nouns standing alone, but the puns as clues give those answers a different meaning.
- CARRIAGE TRADE (20A: [Job in the buggy business?])
- DRAMATIC WORK (28A: [Job in the acting business?])
- WRIGLEY FIELD (44A: [Job in the chewing gum business?]) – “Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day – Eleven days ago, on Oct. 13, 2015, the Chicago Cubs won a series-clinching playoff game at WRIGLEY FIELD for the first time in the stadium’s 101-year existence when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-4, in Game 4 of the National League Division series.
- POCKET CALLING (53A: [Job in the billiard table business?])
Interesting fill throughout the grid, and it started out with the first entry of the entire puzzle, ERISA (1A: [Pension law acronym]). Don’t think I’ve ever come across that entry in a puzzle, but definitely didn’t mind it at all. Also didn’t mind the full name of MARIO PUZO in the grid, and this reminds me that I have to read his books and not just continue to watch the movies based on his books (34D: [“The Sicilian” author]). Always like geography in a grid, and we have the intersecting answers of SAMOS (32A: [Greek island in the Aegean Sea]) and ALGIERS, with the latter always being a good entry in my book given the reference to Africa (5D: [North African seaport]). Fun solve.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: WRIGLEY FIELD (44A: [Job in the chewing gum business]) – See WRIGLEY FIELD above.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Heidi Moretta’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “M & M’s” — pannonica’s write-up
Familiar words or phrases respelled so that the junction of the constituent words repeat an m sound. That is, the first ends with an m and the second begins with one. Orthographically, the ms needn’t be consecutive. That is, there are some silent letters. The new, wackified versions are of course clued at face value.
- 23a. [Reaching through an invisible box?] MIME MISTAKE (my mistake).
- 25a. [Roomie’s rodent pet?] DORM MOUSE (dormouse).
- 37a. [Documentaries about skyscraper construction?] BEAM MOVIES (B movies).
- 40a. [Disguise worn while plotting?] SCHEME MASK (ski mask).
- 59a. [Monument equipped with radiators?] WARM MEMORIAL (war memorial). See also 104d [Radiator attachment] HOSE.
- 71a. [Thor, coordinating the thunder and lightning?] STORM MANAGER (store manager).
- 91a. [Cemetery caretaker?] TOMB MASTER (two-master). Ketch? Schooner? Yawl?
- 93a. [Name for a squad that does a lot of traveling?] TEAM MOBILE (T-Mobile).
- 107a. [Part of a florist’s model of the solar system?] BLOOM MOON (blue moon).
- 110a. [Gorgon working in a garment factory?] SEAM MONSTER (sea monster). Nifty, APT (1a) crossing: 89d [Company with a Medusa logo] VERSACE.
Cute theme. The m-sound always extends from the beginning of the second syllable to the end of the first. The originals might not be particularly exciting, but the wordplay is more than adequate.
The long non-theme entries are the downs TIME WARNER, TOURNAMENT, DIET SODA, COMEDIAN, DEFAMATORY, GERMINATES. Solid bunch. (3d, 14d, 34d, 62d, 69d, 74d)
- For 114a [Largest New Deal agcy.] I at first had TVA before WVA, which made for an amusing answer to 88d [Battleship that is now a Los Angeles maritime museum]: USS IOTA.
- 1d [“Summer and Smoke” heroine] ALMA. 15d [Rick’s flame] ILSA, 60d [Director Kazan] ELIA, 58d [Singing slave girl] AIDA. I feel like David Letterman here.
- Interesting factette: 87a [Airline begun in Key West] PAN-AM.
- A typical assortment of deft Shenkian clues. Here are a few: 30a [Senior moment?] PROM, 79a [One might serve a sentence] PHRASE, 103a [Clubs on diamonds] BATS, 7d [Class-conscious individual?] TEACHER.
- 86a/100a [Back] REAR, AFT. 56d [Hosp. areas] ORS, 65d [Hosp. workers] DRS. 5d [Merchandise Mart station stoppers] ELS, 102a [Commuter’s choice] RAIL (also one of many alliterative clues). There may be a few more.
- 82d [Bongo, for one] ANTELOPE.
Enjoyable Saturday outing.
Murray Chandler > Raymond Chandler
Shortly after we went into Afghanistan, Time or Newsweek published pictures of all the traditional Muslim attire. I tried to memorize them, but could only remember BURQA. I tried several additional times and now remember a few others. NIQAB is not one of them. The link below has pictures of many of them, including NIQAB, which in a way is the strangest of all of them.
For the third week in a row, I was not on the right wavelength and found it tough. BEDTIME STORY finally broke it open for me.
“The strangest of all of them” is very much a culturally freighted judgment. I see a number of women with faces covered but eyes uncovered right here in Chicago. The hijab is fairly commonplace among my son’s classmates; the niqab/abaya options seem more common among the older generations (moms and grandmas) here.
I was initially led into the wilderness on 1A, thinking I was clever knowing “hijab,” which works splendidly with the gimmes 4D (“Arkin”) and 5D (“bee”). I also thought I’d hit pay dirt on 9D with “hurdy-gurdies” — which crossed nicely with 18A (“uber”) and 33A (“vanity press”).
But when nothing else worked with those, I had to go back to the drawing board. Overall, an enjoyable, reasonably challenging puzzle, perfect for Saturday.
Words are so funny. I cringe at the word “hysteria” and avoid it at all costs. I’m surprised that it doesn’t bother more people. Either they are unaware that it means “ruled by the uterus” or perhaps the sexist origin has been polished away by use.
The engineering term “hysteresis” (a lag between the application of a force and its result) comes from “hysteros,” meaning “after” or “later.” The relationship between hysteros and hystera (womb) is obvious but not well understood. The most likely explanation is that the placenta (“afterbirth”) and uterus were confused and both called “hystera.” But the evidence for the etymology of “hystera” is not very solid.
Oh, “hysteria” is absolutely sexist and dated, and I was actually surprised that those *two* clues (for DORA and LACAN) didn’t enclose the term in quote marks.
LAT: Lots of fun entries, I was held up by the geography bunch of Myanmar/Amstel/Lima, none of which I could guess. Otherwise, things fell in nicely, with the final squares being the DIAZ/DAT/KRAIT trio. Loved [Place to see a hit] for SIDEA. Also BRETHREN is a great entry.
Stumper: Pretty smooth for this slow guy today. NE and SW were last. Of the 12 long entries, only MISSTORSO and maybe AIRPLANEMODE are unusual in any way. Beautiful smooth fill, but nary a spicy entry. 47 leisurely min. for me.
I loved [“Terrible”] for HOWSAD, [Rock-band discoveries] for ORES and [Continuously contracted] for EER, all fantastic clues.
I quibble, in a silly way, with referring to DayTraders as ‘experts’ in securities. It seems such a compulsive, short-sighted enterprise. Similarly silly, who eats hotdogs with coleslaw, as clued by [Dog neighbor, perhaps] for SLAW? I’d always seen it as a side for fish dishes, but I don’t eat out much. Trebly sillily, aren’t curling surfaces called SHEETS rather than RINKS?
Last quibble, I swear, is with [Drawing preventers, briefly] for OTS. First, I love the misdirection, as overtime periods are instinctively thought of as something which ‘extends’ and ‘enables’ a match to generate a winner, rather than something which ‘prevents’ the initial even result. Great. But wait. The way it’s worded, seems to me to say “overtimes prevent drawings” or “overtime prevents a drawing”. Wouldn’t better usage be “overtime prevents a draw” or “overtimes prevent draws”? Thus, I wish this great clue was [Draw preventers, briefly] instead. To wit, there were 6 Premier League matches today, with nary a draw among them. Now that is a rare occurrence for a typical Saturday, which would be rarer still if there had been ‘nary a drawing among them’.
I loved the reference to “Rear Window” – one of my all-time favorite movies. I was confused, though, because the clue says “Stewart”, which led me to believe that the answer would be the actor’s name, not the character. I have no idea who played Miss Torso, and also do not remember what Jimmy Stewart’s character was named…so I guess if the clue had conformed to my expectations, it would have been harder.
Loved the puzzle. I agree with Derek that it was one of the easier Stumpers in recent memory.
Apropos “hysteria”: Yes, it often is used in an obviously sexist way (“hysterical woman”). But I question whether it should be entirely expunged from the lexicon used by politically sensitive people (the way, for example, “gypped” should be).
I’m just not sure there’s another single word that conveys the same sense of irrational frenzy and mania. And it would be a loss to deplete the language of an otherwise useful word.
I’d suggest it’s still acceptable, but only when used in a clearly non-sexist context, such as: “Mass hysteria gripped the town elders of Salem, as they started an indiscriminate round-up of young women accused of witchcraft …” In that example, the “hysteria” is being exhibited by the “town elders” – men.
Loved the LAT puzzle and took way too long to solve the NYT. I also had Hurdy gurdies until LATIN LOVERS showed up, and generally found it much more satisfying than Friday’s NYT, which had too many of what I might generously called neologisms, except that I thought they were misused.