Andrew Zhou’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Lots of cool longer fill in this grid. There’s the central 15, GET THE WRONG IDEA. You can eat that BAMBOO SHOOT, CHEEZ-ITS, and MYSTERY MEAT. AD EXECS was strangely hard to assemble the letters for, but utterly familiar. HOMO ERECTUS would probably be appalled by Cheez-Its. A Patrick Stewart ONE-MAN SHOW is appealing. The creepy EARWIG is not at all etymologically related to the PERIWIG. MCCAFE is something I’ve not tried. And EUGENE LEVY! I watch the Canadian sitcom starring Levy and Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek, and I adore it. (It’s on Pop TV, which used to be the TV Guide Channel.) Season 2 began this winter.
What’s with the Xmas vibe here? We have “Christmas” in the MERRIEST and ONE-MAN SHOW clues, plus a wintry RIME.
The Friday LAT got dinged for some 6-letter partials/nonstandard fill, so it’s incumbent on me to point out OR LESS and A NOTCH.
Did not know: 10d. [Massachusetts’ ___ College], OLIN. Is it named after the same Olin family who are benefactors of so many colleges’ science buildings?
Did know: 53d. [Sir ___ Ive, designer of the iPad, iPod, iPhone and iMac], JONY. Memorable name, if you’ve read about Apple’s industrial design over the past 15 or so years.
Didn’t love the whole puzzle, but I liked it okay. 3.9 stars from me.
Debbie Ellerin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Once again, I find myself tripping up in the NW corner of a puzzle! Most of this puzzle fell rather quickly, but my time still drifted past 12 minutes. I know that is not a horrible time for most, but I can usually finish these LAT Saturday puzzles in around 8 minutes. The answers just weren’t coming this time! I will blame it on a rough week at work; I won’t have that excuse next week, since I am off all next week!
You can see in the screen shot a litany of errors in that upper left corner. GLINT gave me the most fits; I wanted it to be GLEAM or GLARE, as the clue was [Sparkle]. And 1A of course didn’t come quickly, otherwise I could have nailed the corner a lot faster! A nice puzzle from a constructor I am not too familiar with. Lots of good stuff in this puzzle, as is usual with LAT puzzles. Virtually no dreck at all. 4.5 stars today!
Some of the more interesting entries:
- 1A [Ring pairs] TAG TEAMS – Oh, THAT ring! Totally fooled.
- 16A [Plant from the Greek for “flame”] PHLOX – I had to see if there are other words with this root, and there are: phlogistic, phlogiston, and phlogopite, to name a few! Great bit of trivia!
- 32A [Lethal phosphorus compound] SARIN – I believe this is a mainstay in chemical warfare.
- 39A [“Rent” Pulitzer- winning dramatist] LARSON – As in Jonathan Larson, who died prematurely from undiagnosed Marfan syndrome. There are a lot of good songs in that musical!
- 55A [“Aha!”] NOW I GET IT! – Favorite entry in the puzzle!
- 13D [They’re turnoffs] EXIT LANES – I wasn’t totally fooled, but I had EXIT RAMPS in there at first!
- 30D [Cuban home?] CIGAR CASE – Favorite clue of the puzzle. Very clever!
Hope to see more puzzles from this constructor! A job well done! See you all at next Tuesday’s LAT writeup!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not a totally bad time, but I tripped up in the upper left corner AGAIN! I had all sorts of trouble sleeping, so I tried to solve this thing in the wee hours of the morning. Ran a 5K this morning, so I wanted to at least have it solved before the run. I am almost embarrassed to say that I was stumped the worst by 1A, a sports reference!! All in all, this puzzle wasn’t horribly difficult, which means I better get ready for next Saturday right now!
Usually a puzzle with a grid design like this is not too hard to solve, as there are not many long answers. This grid appears to have nothing longer than 8 letters. The addition of cheater squares in the corner actually tends to make the fill a tad better, and this puzzle has pristine fill. Except for one entry…
4.3 stars. My list of standouts, including 1A and that one entry…
- 1A [Sports star’s souvenir] GAME BALL – Duh! I almost thought it was some sort of chronic injury!
- 17A [Instruction] PEDAGOGY – I don’t know where this word was in my deep subconscious, but it came out!
- 30A [“Rachael Ray” producer] HARPO – As in Oprah’s production company! She sure knows how to make daytime TV!
- 33A [Toon inspired by Carney’s “Honeymooners” role] YOGI BEAR – Favorite clue. It makes sense, now that I think about it!
- 35A [F. Murray, in “Amadeus”] ANTONIO – As in Antonio Salieri, played by F. Murray Abraham in the movie that I still have never seen.
- 54A [Possible undone paper-clip shape] ESS – Not my favorite clue. You can bend that thing into almost ANY shape!
- 57A [Direct connection] IVE – This is that entry I don’t get. Here in Indiana we say “IV” for an intravenous hookup; what does IVE stand for? Someone will have to explain this to me. Alternative clue: [Apple’s Jony]. He is the dude with the smooth British voice you hear during some of their keynotes that makes you want to run out and buy everything they sell!
- 65A [Focus of Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book] KEN KESEY – The book is entitled The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I have read A Man in Full, though. Maybe I am not that uncultured after all!
- 3D [Action hero making a fourth appearance in 2015] MAD MAX – Probably my second favorite clue. Have not seen this movie yet, but I do realize it won several Academy Awards!
- 7D [Largest living felines] LIGERS – Not fair! Hybrids don’t count!
- 12D & 13D [Not doing very well] IN THE RED & BELOW PAR – Well done!
- 36D [Opposite of “eponym”] NAMESAKE – Also well done!
I love these Stumpers! See you next Saturday!
Tracey Gordimer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bad Lot” — Jim’s review
Jim here, sitting in for pannonica again. We have another new byline today, not found in any of the usual crosswording databases, so it’s a possible debut or another pseudonym from editor Mike Shenk. I haven’t yet come up with a likely candidate anagram, but it suspiciously contains the word “editor”.
Let’s get to the puzzle.
- 23a [“Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check” singer] BUSTA RHYMES
- 25a [Mangrove hummingbird’s home] COSTA RICA
- 46a [Whitney Houston’s label] ARISTA RECORDS
- 49a [“Good afternoon,” in Granada] BUENAS TARDES
- 66a [Search anxiously] CAST AROUND
- 69a [N.W.A.’s output] GANGSTA RAP
- 83a [Flee, perhaps] RESIST ARREST
- 97a [Station’s scope] BROADCAST AREA
- 113a [Brand offered in a Four Cheese Corkscrew variety] PASTA RONI
- And our revealer: 115a [Ill-fated, and a description of nine other answers in this puzzle] STAR-CROSSED
I started in the top left as normal and uncovered BUSTA RHYMES first. Somehow I then found myself in the bottom right and uncovered the revealer. I saw the STAR in BUSTA RHYMES, but the phrase STAR-CROSSED in a crossword puzzle made me think I should be looking for a vertical STAR to cross the horizontal STAR.
Not finding one anywhere around BUSTA RHYMES, I continued on, uncovering other theme answers but not finding a single vertical crossing STAR. Then I thought maybe the crossing stars might be the names of stars. But nope. No Deneb, no Polaris, no Sirius.
So all we’re left with are two-word phrases that have STAR broken between them. How are they then STAR-CROSSED? Well, I settled on the fact that STAR bridges two words, i.e. it goes across the gap between the two words. So this must be it. While it’s a perfectly legitimate puzzle theme, it felt like a bit of a let-down from what I was expecting given the revealer. And it still doesn’t feel like the themers are STAR-CROSSED, more like STAR-BRIDGED.
But be that as it may, we have nine solid theme answers (plus the revealer). With those four letters being very common and in a common pattern, you’d expect there to be many possibilities for theme answers here. And there are. And I’m sure there are many more than could fit in the grid.
With that many theme entries and the need to keep them separated, there isn’t a lot of room for long non-theme fill. The longest we get are MOUSSING at 30d and its counterpart DISRAELI at 68d.
The rest of the grid is, as usual, solidly filled, except for a few things that had me scratching my head. Take cover! Here come the bullets!
- Several roll-your-ownish entries were grumble-worthy: 30d MOUSSING [Volumizing a do, in a way], 42d REMAPS [Assigns to a different key, as a computer function], 45d AEGISES [Sponsorships], 84d ATONER [Penitent person], and 90d STAINER [Cabinet worker]. I didn’t include 96d LANCER in this list, because my high school mascot was the LANCER.
- Never heard of 26d RAMSON [Wild garlic], nor of 46d ARMONK [New York headquarters of IBM], nor of 94a K STREET [D.C.’s lobbying biz, figuratively].
Also, never heard of a “blackout SKIT” (72a, [Blackout, e.g.]). It’s defined as a skit ending in a blackout for comedic effect. The SKIT/ARMONK crossing pretty much Naticked me at the end.
- Didn’t know the little ball inside a whistle was called a PEA (122a, [Whistle rattler]), but it makes total sense. Good to know!
- 13d TRS [___-80 (early home computer)]: How many people know this? Also, how many people know that it was known as the “TRaSh-80”?
A so-soish puzzle, mostly because I felt let down by the theme. Not a lot of sparkle besides.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Greco-Roman Wrestling” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody. My apologies for the hiatus that I unexpectedly went on from here. I hope you’re doing well, and I hope you had a good time doing today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach. It’s more fun with anagrams, as we have six (SIX!) theme entries – all of them puns, and all being anagrams of “Greco-Roman.”
- COMO RANGER (17A: [Patrol person on an Italian lake?])
- ROGEN CAROM (24A: [Proprietary pool shot devised by actor Seth?])
- MANGO CORER (29A: [Nifty gadget for cleaning a tropical fruit?])
- ORGAN COMER (44A: [Young keyboard player destined for success?])
- CRAMER GOON (49A: [Bodyguard for Jim of CNBC’s “Mad Money”?])
- OMAN GROCER (61A: [Certain store owner on the Arabian peninsula?])
It took me much, MUCH longer than it should to figure out what was going on, as I thought just the letters that make up “Roman” were jumbled within the entry. But, given the theme, it’s impressive that so many feasible entries could be made with those 10 letters. Interesting cluing with CHINS, as chin-ups are a workout staple at gyms, but hadn’t heard it in verb form before (26A: [Does some lifting at the bar]). Intersecting that is GHANA, and African geography always gets points with me (23D: [Togo neighbor]). Have to cut this a little short, but definitely a fun grid to tackle, especially after Mr. Orbach’s fun NYT grid this past Wednesday.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CELTS (69A: [Beantown team]) – Perfect timing, since the 2016 NBA Playoffs are getting underway today. The Boston Celtics – CELTS or C’s for short – will be taking on the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, with Game 1 being played in Atlanta later tonight.
Hope to see you all for the Sunday Challenge!