It’s ACPT weekend. Good luck on Saturday and Sunday to everyone who’s competing! Remember: The real point is to hang out with fellow crossword buffs and nerd out big time. The puzzles come second. And! No matter how slow you are, if you show up to every puzzle and turn in a paper with some letters filled in, you won’t end up in last place. (The lowest-ranked contestants usually don’t show up for all the puzzles.)
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
*waving hi to the Brohug Wonder Twins from Chicago*
Surprised to see a relatively easy Saturday puzzle on ACPT weekend. Smooth fill with lots of sparkle, such as GAP-TOOTHED Michael Strahan (did you know he can dance? he had a key role in Magic Mike XXL), ETHAN FROME (who wants to go sledding?), the inaccurate but in-the-language BUSH SR., HIBACHI, PEDANT (nope, don’t know anyone like that), GUITAR SOLO (love the clue, [Metal staple]), quaint GEWGAW, HOGWARTS, “I HEAR YOU,” TAN LINES, POOH-POOH, and “STEP ON IT.”
Five clues I wanted to mention:
- 51d. [Contents of a do-it-yourselfer’s gun], CAULK. I had glue guns, nail guns, and staple guns in mind.
- 25a. [San Diego Zoo’s ___ Cam], PANDA. Wait, what? Hmm, the Panda Cam is blacked out right now, but I see a modest amount of action on the Penguin Cam.
- 57a. [“Being ___” (2015 documentary featuring many wipeouts)], EVEL. I don’t think I knew there was a Knievel doc last year.
- 31d. [2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee], JETT. Here’s Joan and the band performing at last year’s induction ceremony. She’s 57 now, which means that when she had her first big hit, she was 23. So talented! Most of the really young stars are just singers, right? Jett was named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
- 55a. [Want], DEARTH. Raise your hand if you filled in DESIRE first.
Worst fill: How many people filled in EMDEN for 9d. [Port in Lower Saxony] without hesitation (and without crossings)?
Four stars from me.
Patti Varol & Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
So here at Stamford, the time for solving this puzzle suffered just a tad. Perhaps because I was in a lobbyful of crossword enthusiasts, who can be loud, as I have long known! Actually, the sound in the lobby is really not too distracting at all, and it is one of the few places in this country where you can go and see a couple of dozen people sitting leisurely solving more puzzles! This is remarkable because the bulk of the weekend is involved in a competition where you are going to solve more puzzles!! It only illustrates the love people have for this relaxing hobby!
This Saturday puzzle is not overly difficult. I did have an error, as you see in the screen image, because I had written ENSURE in at 3D [Promise] instead of the correct answer ASSURE, and I forgot to change the E to an A! So I am not at all dissatisfied with an 11 minute solving time; especially since I was carrying on a conversation while solving! Lots of good stuff in this puzzle: for the lively entries, we will rate it a solid 4.4! Here is some of what I liked:
- 4A [Current information source] TWITTER FEED – For some occupations, I think Twitter is almost indispensable for keeping up with things! Somehow that seems sad…
- 15A [Like many a Beverly Hills partygoer] FASHIONABLY LATE – I hear this is also routine behavior in Miami. Perhaps the gorgeous weather has something to do with people not wanting to go indoors?
- 27A [Zsa Zsa’s older sister] MAGDA – Crossword famous is this lady! I’m not sure I have ever seen a picture of her. Until now:
- 49A [DVD special feature, perhaps] ALTERNATE ENDING – I thought it might have been DELETED SCENES, but not enough letters!
- 50A [Time for fluff pieces] SLOW NEWS DAY – Favorite entry of the puzzle. Of course, there haven’t been many of these as long as the presidential election is brewing!
- 2D [Castle wall] BAILEY – The only term I wasn’t totally familiar with. ABA at 1A makes total sense, but when I was looking at ABE, I was confused!
- 7D [“Orphan Black” star Maslany] TATIANA – I watched this show when it first came out. This actress does a magnificent job playing like a dozen different characters. Highly recommended. Sadly not on Netflix. Yet.
- 29D [Its first national tournament was held in 1932 in Atlantic City] SKEE-BALL – Great clue. I had no idea they had a national tournament!
- 32D [Hillary aides] SHERPAS – An even better clue! You know you were thinking Hillary Clinton, and not Sir Edmund Hillary!
- 36D [Trifle] GEWGAW – An odd word, and not one you see often. Well done!
Well, by Tuesday’s LAT I can tell you how bad I bombed at the tournament! Enjoy your weekend!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Good night’s sleep: check
Four mile soul cleansing run: check
An easy time with this week’s Stumper puzzle: NO CHECK!
Toughie this week! Again, I solved some of this while trying to socialize here at the Stamford tournament, so when I finally sat alone in the ballroom, answers started to fall. Yes, I made some errors, but Google was not consulted! Had a nice discussion with Stan this morning about what should and shouldn’t appear in puzzles, and I will probably have a nice discussion with him about this particular puzzle now that I have finished it. One comment Stan did make was after you figure out the answers, they should all make perfect sense, even though the initial clues usually leave you scratching your head! But I think a lot of solvers WANT the challenge, and when the puzzle is finally done, it is an incomparable feeling.
Having said all of that, this is actually a pretty good puzzle. What I will mention below are the aspects I found most dastardly, but in the end all is fair and, as usual, there is nothing overly obscure to be found. 4.5 stars!
Here are those toughies:
- 1A [Stable parent] BROOD MARE – I don’t know horses, so I am not as familiar with this term. I had BROOD MATE and BROOD MALE in there at first. I will blame it on not enough coffee.
- 15A [Lecter’s literary debut] RED DRAGON – I knew this, but it didn’t come to me until I had about half of the letters!
- 33A [Una doceava parte de un año] MES – Translation: one twelfth of a year. But you knew that already…
- 35A [She wrote her first teen novel in high school] & 67A [Name on the “Howards End” poster] S. E. HINTON & E. M. FORSTER – Two, count ’em, TWO authors who go by two initials at the beginning! Extremely dastardly! ;-)
- 41A [Glass holder in the kitchen] OVEN DOOR – My favorite clue in the puzzle. A true head slapper!
- 44A [Approval of disapproval] ME NEITHER – My favorite entry. I had several letters and still couldn’t get it.
- 53A [Bean causing of the lentil] FAVA – Hinted at possibly by 15A?
- 2D [Magnate who sponsored “The $64,000 Question”] REVSON – I do not know this man, but he evidently was the founder of Revlon. The Wikipedia page speaks of some scandals the show was involved with, similar to the scandal portrayed in the movie Quiz Show.
- 10D [Uncle Si’s favorite color, on “Duck Dynasty”] CAMO – Is camo really a color? It evidently is to Uncle Si!
- 13D [Party to many Pez contracts] LICENSOR – This one stumped me good. Evidently refers to Pez getting all of the licensing rights to the characters on their dispensers! Well done.
- 38D [Phrase on some Caribbean coins] TEN CENTS – This was just cruel! I’m looking for some ridiculous pidgin English phrase or something….
There are plenty more, but you get the idea! As of right now, the Stamford puzzles start in about 30 minutes! Have a great weekend all!
Amy Johnson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All Rise!” — Jim’s review
Jim here sitting in for pannonica. To those of you starting your day in Stamford, good luck! May your pencils be sharp, your fingers nimble, and your arm-raising motion practiced!
So it sure was a luxury solving this WSJ as a .puz! What a treat not to have to deal with the annoying WSJ Java applet. Sure wish this was a daily occurrence (hint, hint)!
Amy Johnson brings us the super-sized Saturday puzzle. She’s taken legal phrases and re-purposed them to wacky effect. The title had me thinking we were going to play with the letters ALL, possibly having them turn upward in the grid, but that’s not the case. Instead, it just puts us in a courtroom setting.
- 23a [Checkup given by an angry doctor?] CROSS EXAMINATION. Doctors need to have patience with their patients (and their patients’ parents according to my pediatrician wife).
- 37a [abraham lincoln, e.g.?] CAPITAL OFFENSE. Nice. I like it.
- 59a [Ordeals for Hall of Famer Johnny?] BENCH TRIALS. For some reason, the clue made me think game shows and announcer Johnny Olson. Maybe the word Hall also had me thinking Monty Hall. When I didn’t see OLSON appearing in the grid after my first pass, I re-read the clue correctly. Problem was, I didn’t know the phrase BENCH TRIAL, but I correctly deduced what it meant.
- 82a [Where you might find a needle?] ON THE RECORD. Did you try IN A HAYSTACK like I did and find that it fit? I’m more familiar with the phrase “for the record”, but it turns out ON THE RECORD is a Fox News show with Greta Van Susterenenen. I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record.
- 99a [Correspondents covering Wimbledon?] COURT REPORTERS. A rather obvious one once you’ve grokked the theme.
- 120a [“Last call for alcohol”?] CLOSING STATEMENT. Very good!
- 16d [“Talk to the hand” gesture?] MOTION TO DISMISS. Outstanding! My favorite of the bunch. Too bad it’s relegated to the Downs.
- 47d [“I really don’t think the moon is made of cheese,” e.g.?] REASONABLE DOUBT. This was the last to fall for me. In fact the whole western side seemed tougher than the rest of the grid. But this gave me a smile when I finally plonked it in.
I for one like wacky puzzles. I love it when the constructor causes us to look at something familiar in a new and different way. And isn’t that the purpose of art after all?
The puzzle started out poorly for me as I put in NAVE at 1a where APSE should have gone [Altar setting]. The nave is where the people sit. Silly me! It wasn’t until I was nearing the end that I corrected that problem. But from there things progressed smoothly.
There were a few hiccups along the way—things I didn’t know. Like STOP TIME (66A, [Jazz technique]), PISTE (90a, [Marked ski run]), BALBOA (59d, [Panamanian currency], “Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!”), TO MY (112d, [“You Go ___ Head”], turns out to be a 1938 Billie Holiday song), and ADAIRS (103a, [Firefighter Red and romance writer Cherry], yikes!).
But it was 74d that gave me the most trouble, on the western front as it were. I’d never heard of an OBOE D’AMORE. The crossing with ADAIRS was tough enough having never heard of Red or Cherry (I’d considered EDAIRS, too). The crossing with 123a [Kathryn of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”] was harder still. I considered ELBE, EBBE, and ENBE, before getting to ERBE. An OBOE DAMONE sounded like it could be a thing. An OBOE named after entertainer Vic DAMONE? Sure, why not. So it was just a matter of finding the right permutation at those two crossers. Maybe a bit unfair, and I would surely have finished with an error or two, but my Crossword app didn’t give me the figurative happy pencil…until I got it right.
A few other notes:
- 27a [One of over two million in the Eiffel Tower] had me thinking LIGHT at first, with all the recent times it’s been lit up or not as the case may be. Turned out to be RIVET.
- 69a [Prize for P.D. James] is EDGAR. As a fan of her novels, I enjoyed this shout out.
- 70d [DMV wait, seemingly] is AGES. Have you seen Zootopia, yet (edit: aka Zootropolis here in the UK)? The DMV is accurately staffed, I’d say.
- 108d [Parts of parts] is LINES, referring to actors’ parts. (I’m talking roles here, not body parts of actors. Stay focused.)
- 31a and 128a [Karnak god] and [Karnak locale] are referring to the Karnak Temple Complex near Luxor, EGYPT, not Johnny Carson’s Carnac character.
- 106a [Kin of granola] is, of course, MUESLI. Did you know there is a German company dedicated to bringing custom-made MUESLI to the masses? They say you can “mix your individual organic muesli from over 80 different ingredients” giving “566 quadrillion possible mixes”. They also have brick-and-mortar stores in various German cities (we found one in Nuremberg), which are fun to wander around in. Sadly, they don’t ship to the US. :(
Oh, I didn’t mention the only other long bit of non-theme fill: MAINSTREAM at 17d with the nifty clue [Alternative alternative]. Nice.
Overall, a good puzzle with entertaining re-imaginings. Let’s close it out with Billie Holiday’s “You Go TO MY Head”.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Brief Word from Our Sponsor” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Here’s hoping that, if you’re reading this and are in Stamford, that you got to Connecticut safe and sound and that you’re having a great time so far. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is one where you can’t get the remote control and zap the advertisements. Each of the theme entries is a pun created by adding the letters “AD” at the front of common phrases.
- ADAGE OF AQUARIUS (17A: [Bit of horoscope wisdom?])
- ADVICE SQUAD (23A: [Team of consultants?])
- ADDRESS CODE (41A: [Zip?])
- ADJUST THE TICKET (53A: Fix the summons?])
For some reason, the area that was hardest for me to complete was the Northwest, where BASH (1D: [Big blowout]) and BLAB were not coming to me at all, and didn’t come for a long while (1D: [Spill the beans]). Also never seeing/hearing BEFOGS didn’t do me any favors also (6D: [Muddles]). That area definitely wasn’t the HIGHLIGHT of my solving, but it got done (4D: [Best part]). Outside of that, actually had fun with the grid, and especially liked MUSCLE CAR, something that my 2001 Ford Taurus definitely isn’t (32D: [Souped-up auto]). It’s a good thing LEIGH (30A: [O’Hara portrayer]) was a gimme, because, for one of its crossings going down, I was definitely thinking of “Aqua Velva” and “Aqua Fresh” before VITAE (25D: [Aqua _____]). Again, definitely a choppy solving experience for me, but not because the grid was choppy.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: T. BOONE (5D: [Billionaire Pickens]) – With some of those billions, oil magnate T. BOONE Pickens has made very handsome donations to Oklahoma State University, his alma mater. If you end up heading to Stillwater, Okla. and attending a college football game there, you’ll do it inside of Boone Pickens Stadium, the stadium that was renovated and then rededicated in his honor in 2009.
Mr. Dave Sullivan, the erstwhile blogger of the CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzles, will be pinch-hitting for me and will blog the Sunday Challenge tomorrow. Exciting!!