David J. Kahn’s New York Times crossword — Matt’s write-up
Matt here, filling in for Amy. A pleasure to see David J. Kahn’s byline on today’s puzzle, a longtime favorite of mine whose Manhattan apartment I once attended a crossword party at. He has a full-sized quilt of one of his NYT puzzles, hand-made by a fan, hanging on his dining room wall! Amazing. And we once co-authored a book together. Or two books, come to think of it.
Anyway, on to the puzzle. Took me over a minute to get my first correct answer, which was 53-D TUMS clued as [Over-the-counter antacid], which I knew had to be right because 56-A [Funny feeling] had to be UNEASE. After that I quickly polished off the circumscribed SE corner, with the best clue being [Casual invention] for FIB and the the second best being [___ shot] for JELLO. Even with [Field near the Anacostia River] I still managed to need a bunch of letters to get RFK STADIUM even though I saw my first concert there (The Who, July 1989).
What was up with the mysterious central minitheme? 33-A was [His first major screen appearance was in 1940] and 13-D was [Partner of 33-Across]. I was thinking humans but no, it was the untrustworthy PINOCCHIO and JIMINY CRICKET. I know the name but really couldn’t have told you who Jiminy Cricket was, but if he hangs out with Pinocchio he must be a chump.
A couple of nice full-name humans with UMA THURMAN [“Be Cool” co-star, 2005] and JOE TORRE [Co-author of “The Yankee Years“].
Mystery clues: [Warning in a school zone] for SLO? Is that a thing? Because when it comes to the safety of our nation’s children, let’s by all means save on a W’s worth of paint on a sign. [Fox neighbor] for OTO? The tribe looks like they spell it unambiguously with an E so better stick with the ear prefix here.
Other nice fill: IN NO TIME, SHOT PAR, ARMENIA, LANCELOT and DISHY. Overall the cultural references skew a little towards BOOMERS, with MOREY Amsterdam, Crosby/Bergman (Bing Crosby and…Ingrid Bergman I guess?) and Alben Barkley getting shout-outs. But hey, if you punk kids don’t like it then there’s always the BuzzFeed crossword.
Fun stuff, 4.10 stars.
Barry C. Silk’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another fine Barry C. Silk construction this Saturday. A little challenging, at least by my standards, and I only say that due to the 12+ minute time for me. Tons of good fill, and nothing drecky. Okay, maybe VAPORY seems a little, I don’t know, rarely used in conversation, but it was still solvable! I think, even though this one was tough, I am getting on Barry’s wavelength a bit. Time will tell…
A few notes:
- 15A [Prior name of Burkina Faso] UPPER VOLTA – This took forever to come to me. Old age is getting to me…
- 22A [Key with one flat: Abbr.] D MIN – As in D minor. I put in F MAJ. Each key signature, if memory serves me right, has a major or minor key.
- 32A [Grandpa Munster portrayer] AL LEWIS – This one ALSO took forever to pull out of the little grey cells! Haven’t seen this show since I was younger when it was on in syndication. I’ll have to see if it’s on TVLand!
- 49A [1994 Polka Music Hall of Fame inductee] WELK – As in Lawrence Welk, whom I also used to watch a lot in syndication when I was younger! Nowadays when I hear the word polka, I think of Weird Al! How long until HE is in the Polka Music Hall of Fame?!
- 54A [Landlocked Asian country] NEPAL – Great clue, since this is usually LAOS!’
- 57A [Pine Tree State college town] ORONO, MAINE – After my recent trip to Oregon, I though it might be the Pine Tree State, since it literally smelled like Pine Sol everywhere! Orono is the home of the University of Maine. I think they’re usually good in hockey!
- 65A [A.1., for one] STEAK SAUCE – Yes, I thought, “this cannot simply be STEAK SAUCE!”
- 13D [Assistance trio?] ESSES – This one seemed actually too obvious!
- 31D [Oregon Treaty president] JAMES K. POLK – Is he ever listed as simply James Polk? Jimmy Polk? Jimbo Polk??
- 36D [Diving ducks] SMEWS – OK, I forgot about this one. I rarely see this either.
- 55D [Skunk River city] AMES – A nice alternate clue that doesn’t reference Iowa State University!
How about a robust 4.2 stars for a nice challenger with a seamlessly filled grid!
Doug Peterson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Late posting today; had to attend a funeral in Chicago. My aunt’s mother-in-law; I hope I live to be 96! I did get a chance to solve the puzzle before we left. Although my time said 27+ minutes, in my defense, I DID set my iPad down once or twice to tend to some matters! But that doesn’t mean this puzzle was easy; it just means that I didn’t have the peace and quiet I crave to solve this. And I didn’t sleep well….
But enough excuses! Doug made a fine puzzle, which I will rate at 4.5 stars. I did have the satisfying feeling of having a barely filled in grid, and then slowly chipping away at it with several “a-ha” moments along the way! I liked the three-way tie-in of 6D MSG with 30A SALT and 21D ADDITIVE. Here are some more of my favorites:
- 18A [Target area] AISLE – As in Target the big box store! This one fooled me good.
- 31A [Temple authority] DEAN – As in Temple University! Fooled again!
- 41A [What Nick Charles recommended one “shake to waltz time”] DRY MARTINI – I’ve been watching James Bond movies on Hulu, so I’ve seen a few dry martinis in the recent weeks. Great clue. Wonder which movie this is from?
- 48A [Frequent cable news show guests] SPINMEISTERS – I don’t watch much political TV, so this is not a familiar term to me.
- 24D [Symbols of British Conservatives] OAK TREES – If you say so!
- 36D [Captain who claimed Antarctica] NEMO – Is this fictional??
- 51D [Common Sikh surname] SINGH – It was either this or Patel!
Nicely done, Doug! Can’t wait for your next one!
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Life of A’s” — pannonica’s write-up
The original phrase here is ‘life of ease’, and the theme entries reflect that: long-e sounds are converted to long-a ones—spelling changes sometimes occur—for wackifying ends. This vowel shift is broadly similar to an aspect of a stereotypical Irish accent. See also, 75a [Leisurely] EASY and 17d [Pathology study] DISEASE.
- 23a. [Hell’s throne room?] SATAN HALL (Seton Hall).
- 25a. [Pursuit of an office fastener?] STAPLE CHASE (steeplechase).
- 28a. [Vatican van company?] PAPAL MOVER (people mover).
- 47a. [Thinking like Aesop?] FABLE-MINDED (feeble-minded).
- 60a. [Chess club headquarters?] MATING HOUSE (meeting house). The G-rated clue, obviously. Also, I went with PLACE at first.
- 70a. [Comic fellow with an unpleasantly harsh voice?] GRATING CARD (greeting card). Extra-good because the sense of CARD is changed from the original. Gilbert Gottfried (see also the crossing 70d [Subject of Hamburg hymns] GOTT) is a real-life example.
- 76a. [Oscar Wilde and Ben Franklin, to writers of quote books?] SAYING STARS (seeing stars).
- 100a. [Schooner enthusiast?] SAILING FAN (ceiling fan). Another noun-sense change.
- 105a. [Part of a setting for George’s kooky wife?] GRACIE’S SPOON (greasy spoon). George Burns, Gracie Allen. See also, 42a [1977 comedy film whose sequel appended “Book II” to the title] OH GOD.
- 107a. [Heaping mound of breakfast meat?] BACON HILL (Beacon Hill). Not to be confused with Pork Chop Hill.
- 3d. [Under a falling anvil, e.g.?] FATAL POSITION (fetal [fœtal] position).
- 57d. [Purpose behind a choice of wording?] PHRASING POINT (freezing point).
Quite a lot of theme content. And check out the three-way overlapping of the answers in rows Three and Four, Eighteen and Nineteen. My two favorites, easily, are 70-across and 100-across, precisely because of the additional wordplay already pointed out.
- Loved how symmetrical pair 4d and 104d are cross-referenced counterparts: THIS and THAT.
- 32a/34a [Home style] CAPE COD, COLONIAL. 35d/71d [Techie type] NERD, GEEK.
- 38a. [Number of V’s in this puzzle’s answer] THREE. That’s the entire solved grid. Still, a strange clue choice.
- Bizarre mental lapse: 63a [“Walk On By” lyricist David] … my process: “That’s Burt Bacharach’s collaborator [innominately thinking of Hal David], but wait, his name wasn’t David. Hum.” It was only upon returning to that section with a letter in place did I adapt my thinking to include the notion that ‘David’ was the guy’s surname. HAL.
- 9d [Head of a country in civil war] ASSAD. Oh, not a generic answer. Took a bit.
- 66a. [“Don’t watch television tonight, play it!” advertiser] ATARI. That seems like a relatively archaic tagline, probably from the late ’70s or early ’80s.
- People I didn’t know: 51d [Dean of “Under the Dome”] NORRIS, 58d [Emmy winner Mannheim] CAMRYN, 61d [Outfielder Sizemore] GRADY.
- DO IT, AS IF, AT IT, IN ME, plus FED IN, DIG IN, IN A LINE. (56a, 64a, 111a, 112a, 78a, 52d, 16d)
- 74a. [Screen printing problems] MOIRÉS. Printing isn’t the word I would choose here. Display[ing] is a better choice, I feel. The phrasing in the clue references something much less accessible to people nowadays, referring to a phenomenon in printing production. Or maybe I’m just looking at this wrong.
Solid, enjoyable crossword.
Enjoyed this puzzle infinitely more than yesterday’s, which gave me conniptions (whatever those are). I believe Jimini Cricket is not a nice creature, but I only have that on hearsay. I first had Oahu for ATTU, but RAMADA clinched it. I once stayed at a Ramada, many many years ago, terrible experience.
Now that APRILS has appeared in two puzzles in a row, I fear a complete descent into chaos.
Love the pup, Z!
Yes, very cute!
And I too started with OAHU and wondered for a bit if yAMAhA meant shelter without a wall. But that wouldn’t be paradoxical, would it.
I did this too, but I began to doubt because I’ve been to Oahu, and there really isn’t one battlefield.
I then figured out Ramada because I had recently stayed at one and had looked up what the name meant.
Dave, thank you. My little beagle immortalized in her old age (our old age?). Sorry to give up the dark side, but this is cuter.
I love the idea of the “Sweet Smell of Crosswords”. Thanks for the link… I just ordered one.
The title reminded me of how my son had misinterpreted the name of this country when he was little boy— he thought we lived in the “Nice Taste of America” .
And thanks for posting a time that’s a little less intimidating to BOOMERS.
I liked that BOOMERS clue too. I don’t usually remember that it applies to my oldest daughter, but then see my previous post.
Stumper — weird mix of movie trivia with long entries that were blander and/or more gettable than normal for me. Took awhile to find a foothold in the NE, having TOOLATE instead of ITSOVER first. [official UN agreement] is dastardly good for OUI. Loved [dynamo] for DEMON, and [many a printed schedule] for IRSFORM. 50 minutes here. Anyone think that Llewelyn, rather than Anton, was the hero in No Country …. or that it was a hero-less story?
yup, ANTON as hero is a pretty… interesting reading of the text.
He’s an antonhero, obviously.
If I read your comment right, aside from the play on words, you were saying that ANTON is an antihero, which I’d agree with—but that is manifestly not a hero, just as an anticlimax is not a climax and an anticyclone is not a cyclone.
For instance, dictionary.com’s first definition for antihero refers to “a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure” [emphasis mine].
I think Jiminy Cricket was actually a wise character, not an evil one. I remember him saying “I’m no fool, no siree, I’m going to live to be 103.”
I found this to be far harder than yesterday’s.
Indeed, Jiminy Cricket is wise. He’s Pinocchio’s conscience. The name is also a minced oath for Jesus Christ.
I still don’t understand Fox neighbor. Can someone explain? I feel like world’s biggest dummy. What does it have to do with tribes? Is Fox a tribe?
Yes. A bit obscure for me, too. http://www.sacandfoxks.com/sacfox.nsf/ContentPage.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=EC854C1650666A8B862576950079CFE2
Stumped by “best replacement”. Answer: Starr. Please someone explain so I can sleep at night.
Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best in the Beatles (hidden capital in the clue).