Ned White’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Writing here in Wisconsin, I picked up a definite Cheesehead vibe in this puzzle. There’s 1a: SCHLITZ, although it’s crying out for a “beer that made Milwaukee famous” clue rather than this weird “Just the kiss of the hops” clue that did not resonate at all for my WI-raised husband. (Wikipedia gives the two most famous Schlitz slogans. That hops one ain’t one of them.) Heading south from Milwaukee, you get KENOSHA, clued as the [Fourth-largest city on Lake Michigan]. Hmmm. Chicago, then Milwaukee … not sure if #3 is Gary, Grand Rapids, or something else.
–Wisconsin puzzle interlude concludes–
- 48a. [Powerful board member], QUEEN. Took me a while to realize this was about chess.
- 59a. Is NBA LOGO an “inn the language” thing, or is it just a couple words you can put together? CBS LOGO and CITIBANK LOGO would be terrible fill, right? I don’t think this one passes the smell test.
- 57a. Is “VOTER ID” what a poll worker requests, or are they asking for a driver’s license, state ID, or passport? Not convinced that VOTER ID is a thing outside of the “voter ID law” frame.
- 13d. [Cousins of capybaras], AGOUTIS. I’m reserving judgment till I hear whether pannonica supports the clue.
- 34d. [Ironman?], SMELTER. Is SMELTER an actual job, or more a word for the equipment in which metal is smelted? Also, the “man” in the clue, meh.
- 42d. [Often-bracketed direction], SEE NOTE. I wanted “see also.” Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just include a footnote number or symbol than to clutter the text with SEE NOTE notes?
- 55d. GARO Yepremian, ha! I remembered the name, somehow, but I suspect that many solvers were second-guessing all four of those letters and double-checking the crossings.
Top fill: SAZERAC, ON POINT, PIEHOLE, AMISTAD, HEXAGON.
3.6 stars from me. Good night!
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I really should solve more on my PC! Solving times seem to be a tad better. Easier keyboard to type on? Comfy chair? Upright solving position? Music playing?? All of the above? I don’t know. Maybe it was just an easier Saturday puzzle? Nice puzzle by another constructor I am not as familiar with, but that’s OK, because I seemed to be on the same wavelength as Greg Johnson for this particular puzzle. I have the word count at 70 words, since I finally realized I DO have a copy of Compiler on this PC! I believe 70 is at the upper end of a wide-open themeless, but this puzzle has, once again, in true LAT fashion, high quality fill. As long as you are somewhat comfy with a little French and Italian!
Just a few notes on the puzzle:
- 20A [Homework initials?] DIY – Isn’t there still a DIY channel? I used to watch it all the time. I’ll have to go search for it…
- 22A [Top dog] NUMERO UNO – I tried NUMBER ONE at first, and that wasn’t fitting! Nice clue, since this is a common phrase even in English.
- 44A [Iowa campus] COE – I immediately filled in ISU, but then realized there is no indication of an abbreviation here. Coe College is in Cedar Rapids, IA. The University of Iowa football team is in sports news these days!
- 58A [Spanish-style home decor] TERRA COTTA TILES – Nice entry. And a seemingly new one. I get no NYT hits at xwordinfo.com. Bravo!
- 2D [“Out ___?”] OR IN – This entry only has four Shortz era entries. Surprised I don’t see this more.
- 7D [Like the Spaceship Earth sphere] GEODESIC – This word basically means part of a sphere, and the Spaceship Earth sphere at Epcot is made up of a bunch of little triangles. Not an everyday word, but good here.
- 27D [Gymnast Strug] KERRI – She hasn’t vaulted in quite a few years, now, but she is another crossword immortal!
- 31D [Firenze friends] AMICI – I quickly wrote in AMIES without realizing this wanted the Italian word for friends!
- 55D [Téléphone greeting] ALLO – Now THIS is French!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Yes, that time is correct: 37:10! At Stan’s own website, he says the pseudonym Anna Stiga is for “easier” Stumper puzzles. Well, maybe it’s because I was up WAAAY too late last night, but my personal opinion is this was one of the nastiest Stumpers I have seen in a good while. Usually the ugly times for a Wilber or Longo are still just around the 30 minute mark. Pushing 40 minutes for me is rare. I say that not to brag, but usually after staring at the puzzle that long, something eventually seems to fall. In this puzzle, sometimes I was still stuck in an area with only one or two squares left to fill!
Here is how the puzzle went in a nutshell: 1-Across [“Bridge of Spies” star]: Oh, I know that! It’s TOM HANKS! Oh, wait, nothing crosses with that … turns out the correct answer is actually ALAN ALDA. (I have not seen the movie yet, though I hear it is quite good.) Another movie reference traversed this puzzle right in the middle: 33A [Lead role in a 2015 blockbuster film] ANASTASIA STEELE. (I have not seen this movie, either, but I hear it is quite awful, so I have no plans to!)
It is challenging going down blind alleys in these hard puzzles. I knew that 16A [Annual short story award] was likely O. HENRY, and I knew that 57A [First appearance of Sid the sloth] had to be ICE AGE, but with erroneous entries near these, I hesitated to put them in, and it turns out they were right all the time. Lesson to learn? Trust your instincts in these cases!
No list of comments for this one, but I will show a picture of 15A [Kensington Gardens statue] PETER PAN. I had PETE???? for the longest time, and I thought it was a famous PETE going here! Unless you’re from this area, how would you know there is a statue of Peter Pan in a park?? I will chalk this up as a learning experience and file it away in my trivia banks!
Having said all this, this Saturday morning was a glorious case of joyful agony, the oxymoron I use to describe my Saturday morning solving mood! This puzzle was HARD, but still solvable. Next Saturday, I will get my cup of coffee FIRST! 4.4 stars for a great solving experience, “Anna!”
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Black-and-White Cruisers”—Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everybody! We have some marine life swimming around in today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen. In the grid, each of the four theme answers is a multiple-word entry in which the letters ORCA appear consecutively in it, spanning two words.
- INDOOR CAT (18A: [Cooped-up feline])
- WINDSOR CASTLE (28A: [Royal residence along the Thames])
- LIQUOR CABINET (44A: [Where spirits might be located])
- PARLOR CAR (57A: [Upscale train option])
Lots of strong fill, and the one entry that took out to me was DIONYSUS, particularly because one of my friends had a co-worker named Dionysus and used to talk about him a lot (9D: [Greek god of wine]). Almost every time she talked about him, I asked her, “His given name is Dionysus?” The grid wasn’t Greek to me, but there’s another reference to another ancient Greek, PLUTARCH (39D: [Greek biographer whose work influenced Shakespeare]). More of the lively fill came from entries like BLEED DRY (4D: [Take and take and take from]) and NUT ALLERGY, something that I, thankfully, do not have to worry about (30D: [Reason to stay away from filberts]). Always feel empathy for those who have food allergies, especially since my oldest brother has a real bad allergy to shellfish. I’m glad that, in all my years of school, that I never got a SEE ME note on an exam (20A: [Note accompanying an F, maybe]). That doesn’t mean I passed every test that I ever took, however!! And there’s that pesky, somewhat unsightly YES’M that creeps into a grid every now and then (49A: [Polite affirmative from a ranch hand]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JUMBO (1A: [Mammoth]) – Former NFL offensive lineman John “JUMBO” Elliott played as left tackle and spent all of his professional career (1989-2002) playing for either the New York Giants or New York Jets. Elliott was a member of the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning team of 1990. Elliott is probably most remembered for his game-tying touchdown catch (a rarity for an offensive lineman) late in the fourth quarter in a 2000 Monday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins, a game in which the Jets came back from a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit to win in overtime, 40-37.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Putting In a Little Time” — pannonica’s brief write-up
Been a busy day, put in a lot of time engaged in other obligations. Aptly, I’ll heed this crossword’s title. At least in spirit, since I’ve no intention of liberally inserting the letters MIN (short for ‘minute’) into this write-up.
- 23a. [Pull out a grade in the low 80s?] CATCH THE B-MINUS (catch the bus).
- 32a. [Graduate course in Neverland?] PAN SEMINAR (pan-sear).
- 45a. [Result of reducing the young homeless population?] RUNNING OUT OF GAMINS (running out of gas).
- 66a. [Toilet tissue for cold climates?] ARCTIC CHARMIN (arctic char).
- 78a. [Moniker for a big lemon?] MINIVAN THE TERRIBLE (Ivan the Terrible).
- 97a. [Only one fur coat per week, say?] MINK RATION (K-Ration).
- 108a. [Kept crime boss Persico in check?] MANAGED CARMINE (managed care).
Uneven quality among these themers, in clue and in pun. My favorite is definitely MINIVAN THE TERRIBLE and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the seed entry.
See also 31a [Little time] MOMENT.
Even as the theme wasn’t particularly exciting, I encountered great clue after great clue. Let’s have a sample:
- 17d [Reverend known for “bird watching”] SPOONER. That’s ‘word-botching’.
- 41a. [decreases?] IRONS.
- 59a. [Keep house?] CASTLE.
- 102a. [Hearing aide: Abbr.] ATT.
- 106a. [Verb that’s an anagram of itself] STIFLE.
- 8d [Showing strenth in the face of pressure] UNBENT.
More strained are:
- 1a [They have all the anthers] STAMENS.
- 26a [Piles on the floor] RUGS.
- 65a [Male delivery] SON.
- 103a [Instrument for a lei person] UKE.
- 9d [Club member?] TOMATO.
- 67d [Grant for making movies?] HUGH.
- 94d [Child labor] RECIPE.
- 98d [Stick in school] RULER.
Recap: Overall the fill was clean and the clues were good, but the theme isn’t particularly galvanizing.