Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m always pleased to see Peter’s byline, as he’s got great grid-filling skills and tends to spotlight zippy answers. Today’s Zippy Seven are FLAPJACKS, DIG UP DIRT, L.A. WOMAN, RAGE-QUIT, GREEN TEA, EURO ZONE, and THE KINKS (lucky me, I just proofread a British Invasion–themed crossword, so this song-free clue didn’t stymie me). I like this 68-word grid, with those stacked corners of 8s and 9s.
- 28a. [Progressive business: Abbr.], INS. Which businesses are progressive?, I asked myself. Hidden capital letter—it’s Progressive Insurance.
- 31a. [Bid for a balanced hand], NO TRUMP. I don’t follow bridge, but I like this answer’s spirit.
- 37a. [Planks work them], ABS. I’m pretty sure doing a plank would hurt my surgical incision. But! One of my high school classmates, she can hold a plank for 5 minutes.
- 40a. [Gangsta rap characters], THUGS. Eeeeee … I’m afraid the word thug has been skunked. Far too many people are now using it in the same contexts people would have used the N-word a decade or two earlier.
- 56a. [Like the explorer Henry Hudson], LOST AT SEA. Trivia!
- 2d. [1960s-’80s Chevrolet coupe utility vehicle], EL CAMINO. I wonder if Peter originally clued this as the Black Keys album or as the totally awesome cartruck of yore.
- 13d. [Former chain store for kids], KB TOYS. See also: Zany Brainy and any other chain that Amazon killed.
- 32d. [Suddenly and angrily stop playing a game, in modern lingo], RAGE-QUIT. When you hate a crossword but are slated to blog it, you can’t really rage-quit.
- 34d. [Puts up a jumper, say], SHOOTS IT. Is this a solidly in-the-language phrase? Does that IT belong here?
- 41d. [Candy company that makes gummy bears], HARIBO. The original Goldbären!
Least favorite fill: plural USAGES, dull SONE, HAD IN/BASHED IN‘s crossing INs (… crossing INS).
4.2 stars from me.
Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A nice solve on the LAT Saturday challenge. Barely over 7 minutes! I normally solve on my MacBook, but this morning I solved on my big Windows 10 machine, and maybe sitting in a comfy chair (as opposed to sprawling on a couch, as I usually do!) was the difference. Once again, the upper left corner was blank at first, so I moved to the upper right corner. It filled in nicely, then fed into the bottom right, which then wound me back to the upper left. Finished at the highlighted entry CRUS at 35-Across. [French vineyards] stumped me for a bit. That and 10D [___ me tangere] NOLI were probably the only unfamiliar terms to me in this puzzle. I thought it was NOLO!
A few comments:
- 10A [Ustream offering] NET TV – I actually have NOT heard of this service, which is odd since I have USED all of the streaming services in Quigley’s BuzzFeed puzzle!
- 21A [“As if I care!”] BITE ME – Nice. A little sassy, maybe even rude, but nice!
- 27A [Balances (out)] EVENS – This entry got me into the upper left. I never understood why there are clues with words in parentheses like this. [Balances] would have worked fine for me.
- 46A [“Sure, let’s!”] I’M UP FOR IT – Great entry!
- 60A [Attempt] HAVE A GO AT – How much more fun would it have been to have the entry HAVE A GOAT!
- 5D [Ingredient in some Italian wedding soups] ORZO – I am becoming a fan of Italian wedding soup, at least the canned variety you can get at the grocery store. Have I then actually eaten orzo…?
- 41D [The “rh” in “rhapsody,” e.g.] DIGRAPH – I thought this might have to do with the silent letter, and it probably does, but I believe a digraph is any two letters that make one sound. Let’s learn a new word!
- 44D [Cloud function] STORAGE – Definitely a timely clue/entry. I use iCloud, Google, SugarSync, DropBox, whatever Microsoft’s is…
- 47D [Tube] TEEVEE – OK, is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with the redundancy with 10-Across? A minor quibble in an otherwise awesome puzzle.
Yes, an awesome puzzle. I shall rate it 4.3 stars. I think I am getting on Julian Lim’s wavelength! Until next Saturday!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I normally solve this puzzle in the Crosswords app on my iPad, which is nice because the timer is automatic, even if I have to stop and start solving again. For some weird reason, the app is NOT downloading any new puzzles! The Java app on Stan’s website is wonky, but I actually got it to work today, so I solved in an Opera browser. Good news? Puzzle seemed to go smoothly. Bad news? No timer! If I had to guess, I was in the 12-14 minute range. Decent puzzle. Thankfully not as brain-busting as some recent Stumper entries.
A few notes from the puzzle:
- 18A [Epitome] APOTHEOSIS – Don’t ask me how I remembered this word. I NEVER use it!
- 20A [Nickname for a Yank, Packer, or tennis pro] A-ROD – These players are Alex Rodriguez (who is turning into a fine color commentator during the World Series!), Aaron Rodgers, and Andy Roddick.
- 39A [Calling] TERMING – This seems contrived to me, but it is solvable so we will go with it!
- 3D & 9D [All business] NO NONSENSE and STERN – I like the entry at 3-Down and the duplicate clueing in this case. I actually like repeated clues, especially when the answers are not synonyms. These two ARE synonyms, but I still enjoyed it.
- 4D [FDA sanitation designation] GRADE A MILK – I saw the word “sanitation” and all I could think of was trash! Nice clue!
- 19D [Sportscast accessory] HEADSET – Although in recent times there is use of earpieces and smaller mikes for esthetic purposes!
- 29D [She’s out of control with overcontrol] BRIDEZILLA – Great clue. I can’t stand the show, though. I hope they act like that for the cameras and not in real life!
- 41D [Cell-phone standard] SIM CARD – Unless you’re on Verizon…!
- 51D [Barrie’s inspiration for Hook] AHAB – Nice clue. I feel smarter!
Let’s go with 3.9 stars since it was slightly easy. I am going to regret saying a Stumper is easy……
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Changing for Halloween” — pannonica’s write-up
Ah, the old switcheroo. 117-across functions as both (oblique) revealer and as a theme answer, so I suppose you could say it’s homological: [Halloween option?] TREAT OR TRICK. See, the gimmick is replacing in phrases the word trick with treat, and vicey-versey. As a bonus, hanging down from the first letter here is 117d [Pranks a house on Oct. 31] TPS.
- 22a. [Horse on a strict diet?] ONE TREAT PONY.
- 29a. [Playing a bad practical joke on a noblewoman?] NO WAY TO TRICK A LADY.
- 57a. [Milk-Bone for a rabbit or carrot for a pooch?] STUPID PET TREAT. More inappropriate than stupid, but I get it.
- 66a. [Generous restaurant gesture, made with plastic?] CARD TREAT.
- 77a. [Hides one’s pills in one’s dinner, say?] TRICKS LIKE A DOG. Reminiscent of the previous themer.
- 101a. [Bit of breakfast magic?] RICE KRISPIES TRICK.
- 37d. [Part of an Amsterdam bridge game?] DUTCH TRICK.
- 45d. [Penny candy, e.g.?] CHEAP TREAT.
Tasty little theme. Of course it’s balanced with four and four. Maybe 77a is anomalous for using a plural, but then again, one can imagine that the S remains in place as the usual five-letter words (technically, just three letters: ICK and EAT (hmm…)) are exchanged.
Desultory trip ’round the grid:
- 99a [Dreamer’s construction] AIR CASTLE. I’ve heard of ‘castle in the air’ but not AIR CASTLE, which to me evokes bouncy houses.
- 25a [Quaker st. ] PENNA (Pennsylvania), 121a [Tasty tubes] PENNE. 52a [“The Sound of Music” family name] TRAPP, 80d [German industrial family] KRUPPS. 10d [Cloak-and-dagger type] SPY, 73a [Spooks’ org] CIA.
- 35a [Housing discriminators] RED LINERS. No idea what this is, but I’ve heard of a Red Streamliner. Also mystified by 110d [Bats’ paths] ARCS, though I guess a baseball bat’s swinging motion describes an arc … okay.
- Bonus Halloweenesque material includes: 7a [Haunted house scurriers] RATS, 5d [Rick of “Ghostbusters”] MORANIS, 84d [Edward’s adoptive mother in “Twilight”] ESME, 119d [Reacted to a monster] RAN.
- Dupey: 44a [Leaf or Volt] ECO-CAR, 112d [Green subj.] ECOL.
- 27d [Werner who created est courses] ERHARD; clue accurately reproduces acronym in lower case. Here’s a sampling of some other uncommon fill, mostly proper nouns: 59d [European freshwater fish] TENCH, 64a [City on the Ganges] PATNA, 85a [Dora the Explorer’s purple squirrel friend] TICO, 86a [George who won a Tony for “La Cage aux Folles”] HEARN.
- Cute how 89a [Vintner’s sediment] LEES is crossed by 71d [Architect Loos and violinist Busch] ADOLFS: lees and Loos.
Good theme, nice stacking in the corners. More abbrevs. and partials than I prefer, but the lively cluing makes them more palatable. Definitely more a TREAT than a TRICK.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Funny Lines”—Ade’s write-up
Good evening, everyone! Hope everyone is well and having fun and being safe on Halloween. Here’s today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, with each of the theme answers being three-word entries in which the first letters in the three words combine to make LOL, or laughing out loud.
- LITTLE OLD LADIES (17A: [Munchkin great-grandmas?]) –
- LONG ON LOOKS (25A: [Handsome])
- LAP OF LUXURY (44A: [Opulence])
- LEARN ONE’S LESSON (58A: [Avoid the same mistake])
Sorry again that I can’t provide too much analysis, being in Philadelphia as we speak for some postgame coverage of a football game. But I can say that I didn’t catch on to the them at all until I saw all of the themes after I solved and saw what was going on. The grid did make me want to go back to my parents’ place and see if the old LIONEL train set that my dad had bought the family years ago can still be found (6D: [Toy train name]). If so, then I might assemble it the second it is found. Right on the spot. Oh, and TRANSOMS was a new word to me (didn’t know those windows had a name), but not much of a trouble spot, given its crossings (37D: [Windows over doors]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STROP (47D: [Razor sharpener]) – One of the reasons the Chicago Cubs had such a great season was the work from their bullpen, and maybe their best pitcher this season from the ‘pen was Pedro STROP, who struck out 81 batters in 68 innings pitched for the Cubs this season.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!