Hearty congratulations to Evan Birnholz, who will be taking his puzzlemaking skills to the Washington Post next month, making Sunday crosswords every week and working on filling Merl Reagle’s shoes. That is a mighty tall order, but Evan is super-talented and I am expecting grand things from him.
Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
You know how the Saturday puzzle comes out on Friday night, and sometimes your family is watching a gripping movie and even though you finished the puzzle promptly, suddenly you find yourself sucked into the movie? The Gift is kinda scary! It has pretty much made me forget the crossword. So: Seven things, and a summary:
- 1a. [Mer d’Aral, e.g.], LAC. Oof, French clue for a French answer—the Aral Sea is technically a lake. See also: DIEU, CÉSAR, opera’s MANON, French region CORSICA, unfamiliar Issy-LES-Moulineaux.
- 4a. [Centaurus A is one], RADIO GALAXY. Not sure I’ve seen that term before.
- 18a. [Mold in the freezer?], ICE CUBE TRAY. Anyone else now picturing spots of mold on an ice cube tray?
- 31a. [Book between Hebrews and I Peter: Abbr.], JAS. When I was a kid, my dad’s name, James, was abbreviated as “Jas” in the phone book. Some family friends assumed he went by Jim because Jasper was an odd name.
- 56a. [Financial adviser Edelman], RIC. Never, ever heard of him. Is he on TV or something?
- 60a. [It goes head to head, for short], ESP. Newsflash: Actually, it does no such thing.
- 46d. [They charge a lot for their cars], TESLA. Double meaning: expensive cars, and you have to charge their batteries.
I like ABRACADABRA, ICE CUBE TRAY, BON JOVI, PLEISTOCENE, and LINE JUDGE a lot. I’m not loving much else, though. It’s a 72-worder, but with plenty of NAM ADE YAYS RIC -THON AUTH. sort of stuff. 3.25 stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I must be extremely tired today. Or the puzzle is just THAT hard! It has been a long week; we relocated this week, so I am just about spent. But that is no excuse! Great puzzle by Ed Sessa today in the LAT. Normally Saturday LATs take me less than ten minutes, but this one took nearly 15. Did I mention I haven’t had enough coffee??
Great clues abound. Some examples:
- 1A [Four Corners collectible] NAVAJO RUG – I know the Four Corners is the junction of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, so this is definitely Indian country. I wasn’t thinking that way at first, though!
- 26A [Bounty maker, briefly] P AND G – As in Proctor and Gamble. Yes, I thought it was POSSE at first!
- 36A [Real estate pioneer with a Long Island town named for him] LEVITT – I believe the town is named Levittown on Long Island. Nice informative clue.
- 48A [Best ever] CAT’S MEOW – I had the W at the end early on, but had no idea what this could be! One of my favorites in the puzzle.
- 9D [Memorable ’70s Ford] GERALD – Admit it: you were rifling in your mind through car models, weren’t you? I know I was!
- 14D [Enchant] BEDAZZLE – Kudos for the Zs. I believe if there was a Q in this puzzle, it would be pangrammatic! (I really need to get Compiler again!) Not sure who BOZ at 24A is referring to, though. Anybody?
- 37D [Noah’s predecessor?] STEWART – As in Trevor Noah, the new Daily Show host. Favorite clue!
- 49D [___ cracker] SODA – I mention this because it is the same clue as 29A! (ANIMAL in that answer) Well done.
- 53D [Four on Augusta’s fifth] PAR – If you don’t know golf, this would stump you.
Didn’t care for BOVID, or AMORES, or PENTANE, but crosses for all were fair enough. 4.1 stars from me today. I’m going to take a nap!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Ah, I knew it was coming! After a couple of easier Stumpers, reality has set back in. It usually does when Longo is the constructor! In a change from my normal solving woes, I actually solved the top third of this puzzle rather quickly. The bottom left fell rather fast as well. Then, well, let’s just say the solving app on my iPad will pause the timer when I put it down! As you solvers are well aware, sometimes the best way to crack a puzzle is to put it down and pick it up later, even sleep on it perhaps. The middle of this one gave me fits. RECIDIVISM RATES??? Yeah, that’s something I discuss regularly, … NOT! Does make for a nice 15-letter entry, though!
- 19A [Bugs’ girlfriend in “Space Jam”] LOLA – I filled this in immediately. That should give you an idea of the kind of movies I like!
- 23A [Distance or speed] SCALAR – Yes, SCALAR is a noun.
- 28A [They have a purple-mountain logo] COLORADO ROCKIES – I thought this might be Coors, but of course that is waaaay to short! Biggest a-ha moment of the puzzle!
- 58A [High-end main courses] CAROTID ARTERIES – This was a close second for the biggest a-ha moment. Probably my favorite clue in the puzzle.
- 1D [Enjoyed the sound, say] SWUM – See there? Another swimming reference; the triathlon is CALLING me!
- 6D [Venerable Monte Carlo activity] RALLY RACING – Venerable? Is it that important there?
- 10D [Longest human nerve] SCIATIC – I am having back pain today, not sciatic pain, thank goodness, but pain in mind helped solve this. Filled this in first!
- 27D [Reception support group] URNS – This seems a little TOO vague to me. I get the clue, I think, but it seems like a reach. I figured 27A had to be UPI, so I knew the U was probably right early on, but it still didn’t help!
- 29D [White magic staple] DOVE – I was thinking, “Is there an alternative to black magic?!” Nice clue!
- 54D [Private fuel source] MESS – Also one of the best clues in the puzzle. I was thinking MOSS for the longest time, until it hit me!
Another classic by Frank! 4.5 stars. Extremely difficult, yet totally satisfying!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Museum Piece” — pannonica’s write-up
At first I thought this was just a theme composed of M— M— phrases, but 108-down in the lower left both reveals the actual extent of the theme mechanics and provides the anniversary rationale: [NYC cultural center since Nov. 7, 1929 (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] MOMA. The MOMA, Museum of Modern Art. MO— MA—.
- 23a. [GQ and O, e.g.] MONTHLY MAGAZINES. Blah answer, but the clue subtly suggests how initial letters are relevant to the theme.
- 36a. [Organization founded by Jerry Falwell] MORAL MAJORITY.
- 67a. [Drink of rum, vodka, lime and mint] MOJITO MARTINI. Why add vodka to a splendid concoction?
- 101a. [Tender-loving caretakers?] MONEY MANAGERS. Cute clue.
- 117a. [Temporary insanity] MOMENTARY MADNESS. See also, 3d WENT CRAZY, TIZZY
- 16d. [NBA great nicknamed “Chairman of the Boards”] MOSES MALONE. Ah, it was Karl Malone who was ‘the Mailman’, because he always delivered.
- 66d. [Novelty song that was an October 1962 #1 hit] MONSTER MASH. Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett.
Seems to me that there were quite a lot of viable phrase options, though admittedly less common (e.g., Molly Maguires, Moondog Matinee, Mount Mazama, Moira MacTaggert), but these are good enough while not being particularly exciting.
- Speaking of MOUNT MAZAMA (or perhaps MOUNT MANSFIELD), see 41a [Hawaii’s Mauna __ ] KEA, 49a [Peak on an Italian postcard] ETNA,
- 30a [Evildoer] FIEND, 113a [Villainous fellow] MEANIE. 62a [Veggie in some smoothies] KALE / 63a [Fruit in some smoothies] BANANAS. 19a [“__ iacta est” (“The die is cast”] ALEA, 53a [Teatro __ Scala] ALLA.
- 123a [Coffee grinder setting] DRIP right above 127a [Company with an Oil Drop Man mascot] ESSO. 9d [Triumphant cry on Everest] I MADE IT, 89d [Text from a champion] I WON.
- 37d [Eye of Utrillo] OEIL. French painter Maurice Utrillo, né Valadon (1883–1955). Six items in the MOMA’s collection.
- 42a [Cold-__ (sniffler’s purchase] EEZE. Really? Jeeze.
- Lurking around the center is the quartet of JET-SKI, Derek JACOBI, JEANIE (of the Light Brown Hair), and JAOISM –– I mean, TAOISM.
- 4d [Sister of Michael and Tito] LATOYA, 7d [Patrick’s co-star] DEMI, 12d [Friend of Costanza and Kramer] BENES, 25d [Keaton’s “Mr. Mom” co-star] GARR, 95d [Co-star of Kudrow and Schwimmer] ANISTON. Enough! Stop the madness!
- Favorite clue: 78a [Labyrinth settings] INNER EARS. Runner-up: 80d [Like many reality show participants] SHAMELESS.
- 14d [Bouvier __ Flandres (dog breed)] DES. Sometimes mistaken for bears by … oh I don’t know, unobservant people?
- 8d [React when the boss appears] SNAP TO. Not LOOK BUSY?