Jason Flinn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Jason Flinn’s trying his hand at the Martin Ashwood-Smith game of quad stacks. I really like the 15s—THE GREEN LANTERN, GAVE IT ANOTHER GO, ETERNAL OPTIMIST, UNIVERSAL REMOTE, “GIVE ME ONE REASON” (would have loved to see that clued by way of the Tracy Chapman song, though, because that clue/answer combo feels not quite as solid as the song or, say, “give me one good reason”), and a STAR-STUDDED CAST are particularly nice.
The short fill, though … a lot of it lost me. Partial I HATE near stodgy I’M HIP, and I’M OK is also in the puzzle. Partials IN HIS, A SOU, ON NO, DO I (oh, look, a fourth instance of the first-person pronoun), A NIT. Pl. abbr. MTGES. Mostly-seen-in-crosswords AGER. Plural AHEMS.
The most unsavory material was the crossing of 38a. [Stuffs one’s face with], ODS ON and 34d. [Stuff down the throat of], FORCE-FEED. You don’t OD on food, and force-feeding is really violent unless you’re talking about information or beliefs. Actually stuffing things down the throat of a hunger striker, torture victim, or farm animal … so unsettling. And then there’s SLAVER, which is a perfectly good verb for drooling dogs, but here it’s clued as 45d. [Middle Passage transport], one of those ships on which untold numbers of captive Africans died. This is, needless to say, a real downer. Gonna be a lot of fun for the Saturday morning breakfast-and-coffee solvers.
Three more things:
- 36a. [Finish better than fourth], MEDAL. Raise your hand if you had PLACE.
- 31d. [It gets clicks for flicks], IMDB. Man, that website used to be great. Internet Movie Database. Now, if you’re researching a clue and trying to see where someone was billed in a movie, good luck to you. Last I checked, they were listing cast members in order of some IMDb popularity score. Utterly useless. It also gets page clicks for TV shows, of course, not just “flicks.”
- 27a. [Mr. ___, protagonist in Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost”], OTIS. Not a Wilde tale I know, and not a Wilde character I’ve heard of, but I find it hard to object to an Oscar Wilde reference in the puzzle. Better than [Elevator name] or whatever.
3.25 stars from me. The unpleasantness in cluing got in the way of my enjoyment, as did the clunkier short fill.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “At Your Service” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everybody! What’s in store for all of you this weekend (other than crossword puzzle solving)? Today’s grid, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is a tribute puzzle, as today happens to mark ARMED FORCES DAY, and that entry’s clue explains the rest of the theme (58A: [May 21st celebration honoring those who keep America safe on the fronts formed by the first few letters of 20-, 34-, and 43-Across]).
- SEARS CATALOGUE (20A: [Publication whose 1897 edition featured 25¢ straw hats]) – I’m guessing the “1897” part of the clue explains why “catalogue” is spelled the way it is.
- AIREDALE TERRIER (34A: [Canine hunting breed named for a Yorkshire region])
- LANDO CALRISSIAN (43A: [Han Solo’s buddy in the “Star Wars” franchise]) – I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen/had to spell Lando’s last name. Was fun doing it.
So, of course this JETS fan (5A: [Team with a green-and-white football-shaped logo]) has solve a grid which also features BRADY, evoking all of those times Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have done a number of Gang Green for the past 15 years (52D: [Name on a 1994 gun control law]). I’m only putting a spin on the latter entry, as I definitely am aware and respectful of the seriousness of the incident that eventually led to Jim Brady’s name being lent to that piece of legislation. Might be hard to make a segue from that, but I’ll try. Honestly, I didn’t know that BOULDER was where the show referenced in its clue took place until right now (9D: [Colorado setting for “Mork & Mindy]). Had to laugh a little when seeing both DEB (32A: [Society newcomer, familiarly]) and SLOTH in the same grid, as good friend and New York Times Wordplay blogger Deb Amlen has an unyielding attraction and love of sloths (8D: [Slow-moving arboreal critter]). Just noticed seeing VFW as well, as this grid really is giving a serious shout out to the men and women who’ve served (26A: [Organization in whose halls heroes might congregate]). And, although somewhat of a stretch, you can add PBA to that somewhat overarching theme as well (51A: [Cops’ labor union (abbr.)]). Now all I can think of now are police officers at the bowling alley, trying to become members of the other PBA, the Professional Bowlers Association.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: REIGN (11D: [Be in charge]) – Whether it be in basketball or in soccer, the Seattle REIGN was the name of a couple of women’s professional sports franchises in the Emerald City. The first one was a women’s basketball team in the American Basketball League (ABL), founded in 1998. The team, as well as the league, dissolved two years later. Currently, Seattle Reign FC is a professional soccer team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). They’ve finished with the best record in the league the past two seasons, but have lost in the championship game in both 2014 and 2015.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
OK, I have learned that solving on my iPad is in fact slower. It is much easier to type on a keyboard! This Longo puzzle was the usual killer, but what usually takes over 25 minutes took me less than 20 this week. Maybe the environment was different, but this puzzle seemed quite difficult to me. Yes, there are errors in the lower left! And some of these clues, when I finally figured them out, elicited a large groan! I will definitely mention some of them below, but this is a solid 4.4 star challenger. Frank is the best!
Here are some of those groaners, among others:
- 10A [Sobriquet for food-industry VIP John Schnatter] PAPA – As in Papa John’s. Or the guy in the commercials with Peyton Manning!
- 26A [Where royals are seen] FACE CARDS – Best clue in the puzzle. And the biggest groan inducer!
- 38A [Much-anticipated plug-in unveiled in 2015] TESLA MODEL X – Another great clue, since I was thinking of some sort of computer peripheral! This was just on the news not that long ago; I think this is the new cheaper model.
- 46A [Special K “Protein” products] CHOCOLATE SHAKES – This clue seems too healthy!
- 58A [Indonesia’s 27th province, today] TIMOR LESTE – East Timor this used to be. Did not know it was an Indonesian province. Great piece of trivia!
- 2D [Last of the bovines?] ZEBU – Had to look this up. I assume this clue is a play on the fact that this starts with a Z?
- 6D [Whom Federer beat in the 2009 Wimbledon semis] HAAS – This didn’t come to me quickly at all, and I am a tennis fan. Hard to believe Tommy Haas was around for so long! He would have been 31 at the time of this match, which is fairly old in men’s tennis. Unless your name is Roger Federer!
- 9D [Oscar role for Roberts] PARALEGAL – I knew she won for Erin Brockovich, but we are looking for the profession, not the character name! Nicely done!
- 26D [Word from Old French for “wicked person”] FELON – Another great piece of trivia. Does kinda seem like a French word, now that you know it is!
- 34D [Where whiffs are taken] HOME PLATE – Another great clue!
- 48D [Site of the 2016 biathlon world championships] OSLO – Makes sense. Around here, the sport does not seem to get much airplay until the Winter Olympics, when the event is dominated by … people from Oslo!
- 51D [Eddie Redmayne went there] ETON – Guessable. Where else would he have gone with 4 letters? YALE? DUKE? Not for an Englishman!
Can’t wait for Frank’s next one! Until next Saturday!
David Steinberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A fun puzzle, and a good time this week. Probably not due to the puzzle being too easy; it has more to do with I do a decent job on David Steinberg puzzles. Even though he is a bit younger than I am, due to my uncommon level of hipness, I am usually on his wavelength! A solid 4.2 stars for this challenger. The 11-letter entries seem effortless, and with all the crossings relatively easy for the most part. I envy this level of constructing skill!
A few notes, highlighting a few of those 11-letter entries:
- 17A [Whatchamacallit] THINGAMABOB – I think I have seen this spelled THINGUMBOB, but they don’t talk like that where I am from. There also seem to be a couple of ways to spell “thingamajig!”
- 26A [Down a lot] TOPE – A word I actually am not that familiar with. I know “toke,” but this is a little different! A tad obscure, but that is my opinion.
- 42A [___ pedal] ECHO – So simple, but I had WAWA in there at first!
- 62A [Amusing editor, at times] AUTOCORRECT – Boy is it ever! There are some funny stories you find on social media dealing with this phenomenon. Is it because the buttons are so small or can people not spell??
- 1D [Yoga variety] HATHA – Not familiar with this either, but I don’t pay much attention to what is what when I do yoga poses. Only rare entry of the 22 that cross the 11-letter entries, and that again is only my opinion! A word worth learning, so a masterful job!
- 11D [Basil’s wife on “Fawlty Towers”] SYBIL – My wife knows this show; I do not. Got the name from the crossings. I remember the book/movie about the schizophrenic!
- 29D [Bear fruit?] CUB – Alternate clue: [Near future World Series champ!]
- 36D [Team member in “Moneyball”] ATHLETIC – As in a member of the Oakland Athletics, or Oakland A’s. Great movie, and, as always, a better book!
- 49D [TED talk subjects] IDEAS – I like watching these. Maybe I will get the chance to perform one someday! All I need is an idea…
Alana Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Middle Class Values” — pannonica’s write-up
126R [Class figure found in the middle of nine Across answers] GPA, or grade point average.
- 22a. [Declining to draw] STANDING PAT. See also 63d [They may be drawn] BLINDS, 17a [Bid “one club,” e.g.] OPEN.
- 24a. [“Excuse me?”] BEG PARDON. Might the clipped answer have been better served by [“’scuse me?”]?
- 36a. Grammatical no-no] DANGLING PARTICIPLE.
- 56a. [Premarital affair] STAG PARTY. nice clue. See also 106d [Clandestine meeting] TRYST?
- 68a. [Narc’s discovery, often] DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. See also 45a [Smuggler’s unit] KILO.
- 81a. [Hardly an Olympic swimming stroke] DOG PADDLE.
- 96a. [Where you might see a 78-foot-long Kermit the Frog] THANKSGIVING PARADE. A significantly less common locution than Thanksgiving Day Parade, as per Google Ngram.
- 116a. [Sizzling site] FRYING PAN.
- 119a. [Not falling behind] KEEPING PACE.
Solid if unexciting theme. Some nice phrases, and essentially a necessity that the trigram is split the same way each time. So, uhm, middle-of-the-road?
- 1a [“The Toys of Peace” writer] SAKI, aka HH Munro, Hector Hugh Munro.
- 30a [“Anne of Green Gables” town] AVONLEA, 25d [King Arthur’s resting place] AVALON.
- Favorite clues: 88a [Book maker] PRESS, 127a [Private agreement?] YESSIR.
- Favorite fill: 97d [Cry of exasperation] AARGH, 100d [Noisy disturbance] RUMPUS (“Let the wild rumpus start!”) (see also 55a [Noisy disturbance] DIN).
- 52d [Wine, e.g.] DEEP RED.
- Not so interesting but I’ll list them anyway: 59d/83a [Capitol Bldg. VIP] REP, SEN. 39d [Alicia Keys album “__ Am”] AS I, 61d [Spillane’s “__ Jury”] I, THE. 32a [It’s located in the Tyrrhenian Sea] ELBA, 40d [Cruise stop] ISLE.
- 2d [IBM PC of the 1990s] APTIVA. Ooh, that’s some barrel-dredging.
- 84a [Clouded leopard’s habitat] ASIA. Unusual clue choice. That’s Neofelis nebulosa, as well as the recently described N. diardi. Factette: they have the longest canines relative to skull size of any extant felid, somewhat reminiscent of saber-toothed cats.
Okay, that’s it. I’m out.
Oh, average crossword, I guess.