Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I wasn’t digging 1-Across and 1-Down—WE MET and WINS AT?—but the puzzle swiftly won me over with its plethora of juicy long fill. My first long answer was ERYKAH BADU, and then she was accompanied by her neighbors, IVORY TOWER and NOSY PARKER (I love that quaint old phrase, I do). The middle of the grid served up BIODEGRADED, Baltimore’s CAMDEN YARDS, and JUDGE WAPNER bolted together by IGGY POP. There’s a CUB SCOUT in the southwest corner, and to its right we have the Potterverse’s BUTTER BEER, “I SMELL A RAT,” and a browser ADDRESS BAR. BOX SET, “I’M GLAD,” SRSLY, and OTTERS (because look at these otter hands!) also pleased me. Give me a dozen really good entries in a themeless crossword, and I’m a happy solver.
Five more things:
- 38a. [Mountains have grown over them], EONS. Yes, orogeny takes a long time. Interesting clue for a little word that gets used an awful lot in crosswords.
- 36a. [Gardens of Babur city], KABUL. I had the ***UL and tried MOSUL first, but 35d wanted to be JANE DOE and not JO— anyone.
- 43a. [One dealing in space and time], AD REP. Tough clue. All that talk about gravitational waves and Einstein this week, and I was not thinking of print media space ads here.
- I wonder if Peter cycled through TONY PARKER in place of NOSY PARKER while developing this grid.
- 5d. [B and O, e.g.], TYPES. Not the B&O railroad, not body and odor, but blood types B and O.
4.25 stars from me.
Mark Bickham’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I haven’t done too many of Mark Bickham’s puzzles, so I am not too keyed in on his style quite yet, but even so I was able to knock this one out in under 9 minutes. There are some fairly difficult entries in this puzzle, but nothing too out of the ordinary. A fitting challenge for a Saturday themeless. I rate this one a solid 4.4 stars.
A few comments both good and bad:
- 18A [He broke Walter’s NFL career rushing record] EMMITT – We are talking about Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. I am a Bears fan, and I really can’t stand the Cowboys anymore, so when this record fell, it was not a good day!
- 26A [Philosophers in the news since 1985] CALVIN AND HOBBES – Tough clue, referring to them as “philosophers,” but the comic strip characters are actually named after philosophers! I would say that even the comic strip produced a lot of keen sayings over its all-too-brief run.
- 44A [“Running on Empty” (1988) actress] LAHTI – Ah, yes, another actress with lasting crossword fame!
- 61A [Forbidden zone] NO-GO AREA – This is my only beef in the puzzle. This seems contrived, but it’s not. It’s only a beef with me because I have never heard of it! It gets hundreds of millions of Google hits, so I have learned something new!
- 8D [Colossus and Cyclops, e.g.] X-MEN – This one was a little tricky, even for a comic book nerd like myself! Great clue, perhaps my favorite in the puzzle.
- 10D [Dragon habitat] KOMODO – I never thought of this as an actual place, but it is! I believe this is one of the largest, if not the largest, lizard in the world.
- 21D [Sweeps on a gridiron] END RUNS – Two football related clues in the puzzle. The Super Bowl is over! Like many football fans, I am already jonesin for next season!
- 30D [Pearly coating] NACRE – I remember this as one of the first “crossword words” I learned. I don’t think I have ever seen it in a setting other than a puzzle!
- 57D [Paving stone] SETT – I have seen this before, but it’s been a while. Another good term to learn, if you haven’t already!
As said earlier, a fun puzzle. Until Tuesday’s LAT review, enjoy your weekend!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I have run a 5k already this morning. Yes, it was about 10 degrees. Yes, it snowed last night about 3-4 inches. Yes, I am slightly crazy. Having said that, I knew that I had to solve the puzzle before I left. I was actually hoping to have the blog done before I left, but since I slightly overslept, that didn’t happen. It also didn’t happen quickly because there waiting for me this fine Saturday morning is a difficult Frank Longo special! This one is especially difficult, and I was stumped hard for several minutes on this one. It’s a good thing I had some exercise this morning; it was necessary to get the knots out of my brain! Another stellar themeless from Frank this weekend. A solid 4.7 stars. Great entries, and brutally difficult clues.
Some examples of the torturous clues:
- 17A [1492 Columbus stopover] GRAN CANARIA – Largest of the Canary Islands. With only a few letters, I was thinking it might be GUANTANAMO, but that’s not long enough!
- 28A [Europe’s “Linenopolis”] BELFAST – Never heard this term, but this page explains it all. Apparently there was a cotton famine during the civil war!
- 50A [Exotic pet from Africa] HOUSE SNAKE – I can’t think of anything I would like to own any less than this. Perhaps a tarantula is close. Also thought this might be an actual animal breed, not a term for a type of pet. Nicely done.
- 64A [Cell bells, maybe] E-MAIL ALERTS – Great clue. Favorite of the puzzle. Thought it might be referring to cell phones, but the phrase “cell bells” not only rhymes nicely but is totally unfamiliar!
- 4D [Mixer nixers] LONERS – I misread the clue here, I think. I had TONICS in here at first, just seeing the word “mixer.” Another great clue.
- 7D [“You make bath time so much fun” singer] ERNIE – Got this one immediately! A line from Rubber Ducky, which I first heard on Sesame Street when I was a little guy!
- 13D [What flashes consist of] RECENT NEWS – This one is just brutal. Didn’t think of “news flashes” until I had almost every letter.
- 23D [Cashier] OUST – This one had me scratching my head. Afterwards, I looked in the dictionary. According to 11C, this is the FIRST definition of cashier! I have learned something new!
- 26D [Song heard in “Good Morning Vietnam”] I GET AROUND – It is on the soundtrack. Certainly fits the period.
- 28D [Driver’s shoulders] BERMS – This was hard, too. At least until you figure out what is meant. It sounds like a golf question!
- 39D [Insulation material] MICA – What does mica insulate? Evidently it is used in electrical insulating applications. This was super hard. Not thinking this way at all!
- 48D [“Chin-chin!” kin] SKOAL – I have never heard of this particular toast. We will chalk that up to my uncultured-ness!
Peter A. Collins’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Secret Passions” — pannonica’s write-up
Completely forgot about today’s bloggy obligations! Here we go.
- R68a. [Song by the Troggs, and a hint to part of eight other Across answers] LOVE IS ALL AROUND. It was the ’60s, of course.
- 25a. [Pioneering computer programmer Ada] LOVELACE.
- 31a. [Everywhere, so to speak] ALL OVER TOWN. Echoes the revealer, too.
- 49a. [Four-time portrayer of cop Roger Murtaugh] DANNY GLOVER. I assume this is from the Lethal Weapon series.
- 51a. [“The Road to Ensenada” Grammy winner] LYLE LOVETT.
- 91a. [Green-trunked shrubs] PALO VERDES. This is significantly better than referencing the towns in California and Arizona.
- 93a. [Interstate interchanges] CLOVERLEAFS.
- 106a. [1995 Tom Hanks role] JIM LOVELL. 31d [“__ 13” (movie referenced in 106-Across] APOLLO. I don’t mind theme/ballast crossover so much when it’s in this direction.
- 114a. [Purple flower] FOXGLOVE.
Yep, another Valentine’s Day theme. This one’s modest but works very well.
- Let’s start with the end. Last square for me was in the upper left, the crossing of 1a [Jeremy of “Law & Order”] SISTO and 4d [“Pagliacci” clown] TONIO. Sure, TONIO seemed likely and familiar, but Herr Kröger is more in my wheelhouse.
- Some hefty long verticals. Stacked I FOOLED YOU / SOUP LADLES and LADYBEETLE / EMERALD CUT, plus OFFER ADVICE, OBSOLESCENT, LEMON SEED, ALEXANDRE. It seems that some see the LADYBEETLE (aka ladybug aka ladybird) as a symbol of love, and that in the Netherlands a street tile featuring the insect is laid at sites of incidences of senseless violence.
- 34a [Supreme being?] ROSS. Hey, I know a lot of people like the mellow painter guy, but come on.
- 54a [Creditor] DEBTEE. This, so close to 48a [CXXXIV tripled] CDIII – can you believe it? Clue and answer duplicate C and I (thrice!).
- 116d [IV squared] XVI. Get out!
- 65a [Canadian crooner Michael] BUBLÉ, whom I know only via Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
- 96a [“Anna in the Tropics” playwright Cruz] NILO. New to me. Contemporary, Pulitzer Prize-winning.
- 29d [Scales of “Fawlty Towers”] PRUNELLA. Nice to see Sybil! Have you ever seen her make toast?
- Trickiest clue: 81d [Lines on a map] FOLDS. I liked it, though.
Oh, still here? Hi. Okay. You see, I was going to abstain from the obvious play of including the Troggs song or one from the LOVETT album, but it turns out I can’t quite resist the latter. Here’s one that includes both LOVE and—the clincher—wordplay involving different ways of parsing a phrase: