Sean Dobbin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Key points: (1) Standard Saturdayish solving time. (2) Windmill grid spinning around the central plus sign, good flow throughout. (3) Lots of juicy fill. (4) And a smattering of blah bits.
Elaboration on point #3: I particularly liked PHOTOBOMB, ROB REINER, LIP SERVICE, CINDERELLA, RENE RUSSO, “IT CAN’T BE,” SING-SONG, TROPES, CLOSERS (as in “coffee’s for closers”—foul Mamet language alert), BRALESS, “ATTA GIRL,” and Julie TAYMOR.
As for point #4: MT. APO, OENO-, assorted abbreviations … hey, that’s not bad.
Seven more things:
- 21a. [Exercise position that strengthens the abs], PLANK. Learn how! I … don’t think I’m ready for the plank yet. I had an 8″ slice through my abs and obliques less than six months ago.
- 36a. [Breaks one’s word?], SPELLS. As in breaking up a word into its constituent parts, P-A-R-T-S.
- 55a. [At the beginning], AD INITIUM. Not sure I’d seen this Latin phrase before. “Route 66” writer Bobby TROUP was even less gettable for me.
- 2d. [Schnoz], HOOTER. Say what? Who calls a nose a “hooter”?
- 24d. [You can’t focus when this is on], LENS CAP. See? So much better than yesterday’s LENS COVERS.
- 35d. [Lufthansa connection?], UND. “And” is a connecting word, Lufthansa’s a German airline, hence UND.
- 50d. [Swagger, slangily], ‘TUDE. Have you heard of Ameritude? This concept was introduced to me by some children via an alarming song they performed at a Trump event.
Fun puzzle, 4.2 stars.
Alan Olschwang’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I nice, tidy challenger this week in the Saturday puzzle. Four sets of 10-letter stacks, one in each corner, and a word count of 70. Seems like a lot of Zs in this puzzle! 6 total, I believe? Puzzle not pangrammatic, but it still has some nice variety and the 10-letter entries seem pretty smooth! Some dreck this time, but only a couple of entries or two.
Here are the highlights (and lowlights…):
- 1A [Showy display] RAZZMATAZZ – Once I figured out how to spell this, it got immensely easier!
- 11A [2010 CFDA Fashion Icon Award recipient] IMAN – How timely is this? Isn’t this the late David Bowie’s widow?
- 24A [Qatari currency] RIYAL – Not my favorite. Shouldn’t this be tagged as variant spelling?
- 33A [Walking on the beach, maybe] SANDALED – I like this entry, not the clue so much. For some people, walking on the beach may mean barefoot! Or some other type of footwear. Seems to vague.
- 40A [“Wait just a darn minute!”] HEY NOW! – How about this clue: [Hank Kingsley catchphrase]. Is that too obscure? That show was hilarious!
- 48A [B’way Joe’s alma mater] ‘BAMA – This is timely too! Alabama just won the college football national championship this past Monday.
- 49A [Old apple spray] ALAR – My least favorite. Why not put in ALAS, which would then cross POSTER??
- 3D [2002 A.L. Cy Young Award winner Barry] ZITO – This is a gimme for me, but I am a rabid sports fan. I wonder if this gives people fits?
- 7D [Singer/actress O’Shea] TESSIE – This is waaaay obscure! Never heard of her.
- 8D [Dramatist Fugard] ATHOL – This is icky too. I have heard of him, vaguely, and only in crosswords. Maybe I am not as cultured as I need to be!
- 25D [St. Peter’s Square wheels] POPE-MOBILE – This is my favorite!
- 30D [Like many an easy grounder] ONE-HOP – This is also not too hard for me, but again, I watch more baseball than most.
- 46D [Milano meal] PASTO – If ALAR was changed to ALAS, it could also be ALES, making this entry PESTO. Were these entries intentionally made more difficult?
All in all, a fun puzzle still. 3.5 stars on my radar. See you for next Tuesday’s LAT.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Today’s solving experience was unique! The first entry filled in? 1-Across! Actually filled in the upper left corner rather quickly! Then reality set in, and the puzzle got really hard really fast. The lower right corner fell quickly, too, but with virtually no squares connecting it to the rest of the puzzle, it doesn’t open up the puzzle much. Great fill in this puzzle. I am not on my computer that has Crossword Compiler, but except for V and Y, I believe this puzzle has every other letter. Anyone know an easy way to check a puzzle for pangrammatic qualities on a Mac? Actually, I still solve this on my iPad, so I don’t even know how to get the file isolated, other than to type in the grid by hand. When is Stan going to make .puz files available on his website??
Lots of stuff to mention in this puzzle:
- 1A [Dessert with coffee] TIRAMISU – The aforementioned first entry filled in. Took a stab, and it worked!
- 16A [Colleague/friend of Harper Lee] CAPOTE – Is it just me, or should the clue not include the word “Harper?” The entry doesn’t include the word “Truman!” That would make solving nearly impossible, as there are tons of “Lees” to choose from. Don’t like this clue anyway. Lots about Truman CAPOTE to mention in a clue.
- 31A [Tree bark, to a botanist] CORTEX – The word essentially meant “outer part” of something, so a great clue!
- 34A [Transitions (into)] SEGUES – Thought this was right but was afraid to type it in at first. Gotta go with that gut instinct!
- 50A [“Portrait of the Artist…” setting] DUBLIN – This was hard. One of those answers right on the tip of the memory, if you will!
- 56A [Italian sonnet’s conclusion] SESTET – I was thinking this might be an Italian word! Again, go with the gut!
- 4D [Peace Prize shared of 1994] ARAFAT – This puzzle has the same clue, but with 1994 changed to 2007, at 43D. Nicely done! Good thing I didn’t mix them up!
- 7D [___ Minella (Muppet chimp)] SAL – I consider myself fairly well informed on the Muppets, and I have never heard of this character. Maybe I am just too old!
- 12D [Audio guide renter] TOURIST – Ever rented one of these in a museum or the like? I cannot say that I have. I keep saying I am uncultured…
- 14D [Veto] DEEP SIX – Liked this one too. Couldn’t figure it out for the longest time!
- 21D [Wyoming’s National ___ Refuge] ELK – I know some folks that have traveled to Wyoming specifically to hunt ELK. What other three letter animal could it be? And I STILL erased it after I initially filled it in! Gotta trust my gut instinct more…!
- 27D [Pair on Brando’s “Mutiny on the Bounty Blu-ray case] LEIS – There sure are!
- 36D [Square structures] GAZEBOS – Don’t care for this clue at all. Who says a gazebo is square? I would venture that only a minority of them are actually square! It seems as if most of them are hexagonal or octagonal!! At the very least, maybe rectangular!
- 48D [Silver State souvenirs] DICE – I am fairly certain the Silver State is Nevada.
A solid 4.4 stars today. And I even ran my 5k AFTER I solved today! Took the plunge and signed up for a marathon in November. First one since October, 2011. Regular updates coming throughout the year! Happy Saturday!
Charlie Oldham’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double-O-Eight” — pannoonica’s write-up
This is the sort of theme that could go on forever, but it’s here limited to eight entries. In each, a phrase containing a word with an O has that O doubled, spelling a new word and wackifying the phrase in the process.
As for rigor, it’s good that each of the entries originally contain a single O. It’s distracting, but probably nigh-unavoidable that double-O words appear among the non-theme fill; just two, admittedly, but one of them—117a LOOSER—also spells a legitimate word in single-O form. That it echoes, or complements one of the themers (28a) is a further unfortunateness.
- 23a. [Watering hole frequented by knockouts?] BEAUTY SALOON (beauty salon).
- 28a. [Guess the word in Hangman?] WIN BY A NOOSE (win by a nose).
- 36a. [Longtime FBI head’s scrapbooking, e.g.?] HOOVER CRAFT (hovercraft).
- 59a. [Member of a cockfighting squad?] TEAM ROOSTER (team roster).
- 70a. [Poultry pen employed for smuggling drugs?] TRAFFIC COOP (traffic cop).
- 94a. [One of those”Far Side” drawings with cows?] MILK CARTOON (milk carton).
- 102a. [Profits at a pricey garage?] PARKING LOOT (parking lot).
- 109a. [Show evidence of having had a difficult day?] DRAG AND DROOP (drag and drop).
Minor technical inconsistency in 36a, the only theme answer where word spacing is affected, but I suppose it could be argued that the new version is one word. As an aside, when I was young it took a while to sort out the difference between salon and saloon, (not to mention Sasson jeans and Vidal Sassoon (found in salons)) and realizing that a hovercraft was in fact not a “hoovercraft”.
- Long answers feature the two downs, ACE OF HEARTS and SALESPERSON, as well as the two stepped trios bracing the center, MARKETER / TOREADOR / DOORMAT and TAMALES / CORONARY / COVERAGE. Also appearing: OVERLEAF and TUMBLE TO.
- I’m thinking that MARKETER and SALESPERSON influenced me to think that 119a [Field worker] was REP and not REF. Took quite a while to uncover this mistake.
- 78a [Playlist player] IPOD, 87a [Serving for those serving] MESS.
- 4d [Like crab apples] SOUR—I would have said TART; 61d [Dry and crumbly] MEALY.
- Intersecting Italian musical terms, but the crossing letter should have been easily guessable even for those unfamiliar: 57a [Too much, to musicians] TROPPO, 38d [Lovingly, to musicians] AMOROSO.
- 79d [President overthrown in 1955] PERÓN. Is he the only non-US president in crosswords who doesn’t require mention of his country? It’s a misdirection that gets me all the time.
Solid Saturday fare.
That other song was a bit silly, and I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of Lowell George, so here’s the final song from that 1979 album, which tragically was also his last before he died, aged 34. (note: I never liked that particular Neon Park portrait for the cover.)