Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hey! This puzzle took me exactly as long as last Saturday’s NYT. Which is too bad, because I was thoroughly enjoying the fill and clues, and wouldn’t have minded a little more time with the puzzle. (Note: Speed solvers finish puzzles in exactly how long it takes them to work through the grid. We are not avoiding “savoring” the way Joey Chestnut doesn’t take time to really enjoy his hot dogs.)
Highlights in the fill: While I prefer the more common snowcone spelling, I’m OK with SNO-CONES. And I like LOCAVORE, AVE MARIA, RWANDAN, JOE TORRE, SNOOZED, SAWZALL, WAGES WAR, PLAYPENS, “I PROMISE,” BEE VENOM (is that still being used for multiple sclerosis?), MR. PEANUT, CAMAROS, LOAN WORD, JAZZ AGE, and old polish SHINOLA (I wanted WOJTYLA when I had the LA in place).
Worst thing: 12d. [Hillbilly sorts], REDNECKS. If you’re gonna have REDNECKS in the puzzle (and I wish you wouldn’t), you need to clue it from more of an insider angle, such as with a (dated) Jeff Foxworthy comedy reference. I looked up both redneck and hillbilly in an Oxford dictionary. Both are tagged “derogatory.” This was a definite SOUR, or [Off-key], note.
Five more things:
- 17a. [Moldable kitchen stuff], GELATIN. Have you ever seen those horrifying photos of beige molded gelatin entrées with seafood from 40+ years ago? If any of you have prepared or been served these things, please tell us about your experience.
- 27a. [Terminal giant, once], IBM. Did we all try TWA first?
- 35a. [Bucks, e.g.], NBA TEAM. The ballers that made Milwaukee great.
- 16d. [Lures with music], TWEEDLES. I’ve never tweedled, have you?
- 43d. [Pickup line?], “GET IN.” As in when you pull up to the curb to pick someone up.
4.5 stars for everything but that gross REDNECKS/hillbilly combo, which is –10.
John Lampkin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one was a struggle. I am not familiar with the constructor, but that shouldn’t matter too much. I normally get these Saturday LAT puzzles done in under 10 minutes, but I stared at this one for a while. Each corner took forever to fall, and I had a slight error because I don’t know if I have ever eaten COTTAGE PIE! But that error is inexcusable because I also have never tasted COTTAPE PIE!!
We will rate this a solid 4 stars. Some trite crosswordy entries in here this week, but a nice challenge; I think I like the slightly harder puzzle, if that is indeed what this one is.
Just a few notes:
- 1A [What separates the gulls from the buoys?] WEBBED FEET – Right off the bat, the best clue in the puzzle!
- 16A [20 fins] ONE C – This seems contrived. Who calls a hundred a C?
- 38A [Eponymous Seminole leader] OSCEOLA – There is an Osceola, IN, right near Elkhart!
- 41A [Kiwi genus] APTERYX – I clench up when I see the word “genus” in a clue, but this one wasn’t as bad as I thought!
- 14D [Homeowner’s burden] SCHOOL TAX – Some are worse than others. We used to live in an area that had super low taxes because the township didn’t support the local library!
- 31D [Short putt] TWO-FOOTER – I am glad the clue didn’t say [Gimme putt]. I miss these too often!
- 33D [Generally gluten-free snacks] RICE CAKES – I am most notably NOT getting hungry from this entry!
That’s all for this week. Looking forward to another challenger from John Lampkin. Have a great weekend!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
A tad easier this week! A 72-worder with tons of 8 and 9 letter entries that makes for a nice, wide-open, and I must say refreshingly different grid. As is the usual case, the fill is impeccable. A total joy to solve! May have even had a slightly faster time if I wasn’t exhausted!! It has been a long week! A solid 4.6 stars this week.
Lots to discuss!
- 14A [Bayer brand] ALEVE – A staple of my daily routine! Also, Bayer is a company that used to be HUGE here in Elkhart, IN. Used to be known as Miles Laboratories until it was purchased by the German company. Filled this in immediately!
- 25A [UPS concerns] WTS – Only for billing purposes! UPS here is used to hint at an abbreviation, but I was told that the company is simply known as UPS, not officially as United Parcel Service, years ago. A check of the bottom of the website shows that the legal name is still the full name. UPS isn’t concerned with weights, but my lower back is!!
- 28A [Margaret ___ Thatcher] HILDA – I know I have seen this before, but it didn’t come to me until I had most of the crossings. Great piece of trivia I need to remember!
- 40A [Amy Poehler’s “polite” memoir] YES PLEASE – I didn’t realize she had written a book. I don’t go to Barnes & Noble as much as I used to!
- 53A [Old timer, literally] HOROLOGE – Oh, old TIMER!! Best clue in the puzzle!
- 63A [Lefty] PORTSIDER – I tried writing SOUTHPAW in here, but it wouldn’t fit! This term I rarely hear, but it makes sense.
- 3D [“Yonder peasant, who is he?” inquirer of song] WENCESLAS – I am not at all familiar with the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas. But that is just me. I looked it up, and I guess I DO know the melody!
- 4D [Publisher of “Tennis” magazine] EVERT – As in Chris Evert? I had no idea!
- 6D [August birthstone] PERIDOT – My birth month! Also got this immediately. I don’t care for this stone; my class ring has a ruby!
- 27D [Aptly (?) named former Archbishop of Manila Cardinal ___] SIN – A close second for best clue of the puzzle. I wonder where Stan got this piece of information!
- 35D [Bulova watch introduced in ’27] LONE EAGLE – Evidently made to present to Lindbergh after his historic flight. I learned something new!
- 51D [“There come a time, when good man must wear mask” speaker] TONTO – I thought this might have been ZORRO until I saw the choppy grammar. I wonder if this line is spoken by Johnny Depp in the newest disaster of a movie…
With an easy one this week, it’ll be a doozy next week! Look out!
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “OK Corral” —Ade’s write-up
Hey there, all! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, is an OK puzzle, as those two letters are added to phrases/proper nouns/fictional characters to create the puns from its corresponding clues.
- BOOK DEREK (17A: [Hire Jeter?]) – Bo Derek.
- NANOOK SECOND (23A: [Eskimo’s support for a motion on the floor?]) – Nanosecond.
- HOKEY BIG SPENDER (36A: [One who is both cornball and generous?]) – Hey, Big Spender.
- TOP TOKEN LIST (44A: [Suggestions for the best small gifts to purchase?]) – Top Ten List.
- BROKER FOX (56A: [Hottie investment advisor?]) – Br’er Fox.
Honestly, I still wasn’t getting JAKE even after getting that from using the crosses (1A: [Hunky-dory]). Definitely not from the time period where I heard that word used to describe things being all right. I’ll just stick with all of the people named Jake who I know in terms of using that word. Someone must love their horse racing, as there were a couple of references to the sport of kings, including SHOW (26A: [Third place]). Oh, and someone must love their tennis as well, with both ASHE (25D: [“A Hard Road to Glory” author]) and LAVER making appearances (58A: [Two-time Grand Slam winner known as “The Rocket”]). Just a few days ago, I saw an old episode of To Tell the Truth, and Rod Laver was the guest amongst the impostors whom the panel had to figure out which of the three was a tennis champion. Can’t find the video online, or I definitely would have posted it!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KELSO (24A: [Horse of the Year, 1960-64]) – A 10th round pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, former safety Mark KELSO went on to be an integral member of the Buffalo Bills teams that went to four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s. Also, he was one of the very first (and one of the very few) players to wear a protective plastic cap on top of his helmet in order to reduce the risk of concussions, something that was initially mocked at the time, but is now looked upon as revolutionary…and smart!
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Peter A. Collins’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “On Our Family Vacation” — Jim’s re-cap
Just a short re-cap here after the fact.
Peter Collins’s family goes on vacation all over the country, and he makes a crossword puzzle about it. Here are the results:
- 23a […at the aquarium, we saw a ___] MANTA RAY IN SANTA FE
- 31a […at the music store, we bought a CD by ___] LOU RAWLS IN SIOUX FALLS. Buying a CD doesn’t seem like a significant part of a vacation. How about […at a concert, we saw a tribute to ___]?
- 50a […at the game center, we played ___] PAINTBALL IN SAINT PAUL
- 70a […at the skating rink, we had to ___] WEAR A COAT IN TERRE HAUTE.
- 82a […at the library, we read a ___] SCREENPLAY IN GREEN BAY. I would ask, “Who goes to a library on vacation?”, but we did that very thing when we visited the British Library in London.
- 100a […at the rave, we opted to ___] TAKE ACID IN LAKE PLACID. The family that trips together…
- 112a […and at the maritime museum, we saw a ___] SEACHEST IN KEY WEST
This was a fun rhyming theme that eluded me for much of the solve, but once I got it, everything just fell into place. All the rhymes are solid and unambiguous.
All the city names are two words and in different states, but mostly in the midwest. What is it about the midwest that makes them good candidates for rhyming?
I’ve taken the liberty of mapping out the Collins family vacation, assuming they went in puzzle order. Not bad, but the trip down to TERRE HAUTE is a bit inefficient.
Favorite non-theme fill: PIEHOLE at 57d! Followed closely by I FEEL YOU (16d) and COCK-EYED (83d). Fun puzzle!