Byron Walden and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Pretty much what I crave from a Saturday NYT here. Dense, well-stacked grid with lots of good fill and a healthy dose of tricksy cluing. But also a puzzle that yields with enough pressure. It leads the solver astray, but leaves various threads to pull (“Irish pennants”?).
The obscure stuff seems well distributed. That is, non-sportsy people will need help filling in 21a [Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dan] ISSEL, the NIT Season Tip-Off (37a), perhaps some others. Similarly, 30a [Hooked projection on a feather] BARBICEL isn’t something the average Jo knows, nor is 23a VERISMO, the [Opera genre for “Tosca” and “Pagliacci”], et cetera. See? There’s not something for not everyone in this crossword! But of course nobody likes the crosswordese ADIT (29a [Mine entrance]). OLEAN wasn’t so hot either (36a [New York city near the Pennsylvania border]).
In case things were getting too easy, up the difficulty with clues/fill such as 25a [Green curtains?] ECOCIDE (crossing 14d [Ozone layer issue] DEPLETION makes it extra demoralizing, existentially), 17a [1980s electronic innovation from Detroit] TECHNO MUSIC, 42a [Like seven of the 12 presidents between 1869 and 1923] OHIO-BORN (despite this priming, the tacit misdirection of 50d [’60s president] Jefferson DAVIS was still effective), 63a [Ones using slides] TROMBONISTS, 12d [Pride of Moscow?] MISS IDAHO—you know, I could go on with another eight or ten, it’s that kind of crossword; that’s what I’m talking about.
Favorite clues: 31d [Tender towards one’s exes?] ALIMONIES, the mysterious-at-first 48d [Series often seen with S’s on the ends] MTWTF, 35d [Good deal] TWO FOR ONE. I want to like 53d [Common Allen wrench?] ANGST, but it’s trying too hard (Woody Allen, in case the connection isn’t evident).
Mis-fill: 61d [Start of many California place names] SAN for LOS. Mis-fill wannabes: 45a [Conditional construct in computer programming] IF THEN for ELSE IF, 1d [When “Double, double toil and trouble” is chanted in Macbeth] ACT II before ACT IV (oops!), 51d [Some drivers with “slow-moving vehicle” reflectors] AMISH rather than generic-plural-ending-with-S, taking a while to realize 38d includes the definite article: THE ’BURBS. Dupe: 9d [AriZona competitor] NESTEA, 60d [N.L. West team, on scoreboards] ARI.
Fun Saturday challenge.
Gareth Bain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Our man Gareth has today’s LAT challenger. Pretty smooth puzzle, I must say! Didn’t have too much difficulty solving, even through some headache pains this week. (Just got home from the hospital, so at least that is good!) You know you’re addicted to crossword puzzles when you’re still doing them during a bout of meningitis! There is truly something wrong with me! We will rate this puzzle a solid 4.2 stars; the interlock seems effortless. And, per LAT puzzles, virtually no dreck.
- 16A [Indianapolis’ ___ Dome] RCA – This building no longer exists. Was it that iconic even?
- 25A [Film for which Anthony Quinn won an Oscar] VIVA ZAPATA – Never seen it! It is notably NOT on Netflix!
- 44A [Holder of an affectionate message] CANDY HEART – These take us all back to our childhood, don’t they!
- 62A [Fluid accumulation] EDEMA – I think I had a bit of edema this past week…
- 5D [“The Magic School Bus” teacher] MRS. FRIZZLE – I had an error in the puzzle when I first solved it; I couldn’t remember this lady’s name. This also takes me back to childhood, so going back that far is sometimes hard!
- 41D [Its first truck was a Ford Model A] RYDER – Great piece of trivia! Didn’t think Ryder trucking has been around that long!!
Sorry for the slightly short post, but not feeling well still. Have a great weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Just got home from the hospital, so at least now I can get some decent sleep instead of someone poking me for vitals at 3:00 am! Still able to do puzzles, because I am addicted, and Brad’s puzzle today actually wasn’t that torturous! Several tricky spots in there, don’t get me wrong, but maybe I am getting used to how he thinks. A solid 4.4 stars from me today.
- 31A [’39 film whose poster urged, “Don’t pronounce it — see it!”] NINOTCHKA – Never saw this movie either! And it’s not on Netflix either!
- 40A [Songwriter with the most Oscar nominations] SAMMY CAHN – I had to look up what he wrote, and it’s a prolific list. Most famous song appears to be Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! There were several on his Wikipedia page that I recognized. Great piece of trivia in this clue!
- 63A [Operation that captured Saddam] RED DAWN – Also notably the title of the first PG-13 rated movie!
- 1D [Harlow in “The Aviator”] STEFANI – As in Gwen Stefani, the singer. Yup, you guessed it: never saw this movie!
- 32D [Removed mud from, maybe] HOSED DOWN – Great entry. Reminds me of my son’s favorite line from Peewee’s Big Adventure!
- 43D [Bavarian collectibles] HUMMELS – This came up in a puzzle before, and I wasn’t familiar with them then either!
Off to try to get some rest. Have a great weekend!
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Sweet Life” — pannonica
Without a doubt this puzzle is trying to get on my good side this ayem, plying me with theme answers remolded as ostensibly cacao-related. All the clues involve a hypothetical chocoholic, which of course is someone who is addicted to chocohol.
- 23a. [When a chocoholic is under pressure?] CRUNCH TIME.
- 28a. [Keep a chocoholic to a high standard?] RAISE THE BAR.
- 35a. [Some data on a chocoholic’s computer?] BROWSER COOKIES.
- 54a. [Chocoholic’s favorite Grammy-winning blues rock band?] ALABAMA SHAKES, led by Brittany Howard.
- 69a. [Chocoholic’s favorite romantic song?] SEALED WITH A KISS.
- 87a. [What sycophantic chocoholics earn?] BROWNIE POINTS.
- 100a. [Something extra special for a chocoholic?] ICING ON THE CAKE.
- 110a. [What a chocoholic statistician uses to avoid error?] FUDGE FACTOR.
- 122a. [Chocoholic’s destination in Florida?] COCOA BEACH.
Can’t hate this one, even if the thematic lineup isn’t exceptionally overwhelming. Moving on, Not part of the theme: 59a [Sweet songs?] EAR CANDY, 77a [Nutty liqueurs] AMARETTOS (specifically, almond-flavored), 105d [Sugar source] CANE.
- 84a [Puts down] KOS. No doubt in the wake of his death many of you have recently seen or have been reminded of that iconic photograph of Muhammad Ali standing menacingly over a listless Sonny Liston, SHOT (119d) by NEIL LEIFER in ’65.
- Combining the puzzle’s title with a couple carefully chosen entries, one can’t help but think of of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. 17d [“La citta eterna”] ROMA, 120a [Stressful type: Abbr.] ITAL. The cast includes ANITA Ekberg (famously cavorting in the TREVI fountain, ANOUK AIMÉE, ALAIN CUNY, MAGALI NOËL, NADIA GRAY, and the score is by none other than NINO ROTA.
- 56d [Angel’s opposite] BRAT. Mmm, brat food cake.
- 66d [“__ hoppen?!”] WHA.
- 86a [Place on a pedestal] IDEALIZE. 62a [Perfect places] UTOPIAS. Just a friendly reminder that UTOPIA literally means ‘non-existent place’.
- 20a [Met expectations?] OPERAS. This would be a great, tough clue without the question mark. As it stands, it’s still quite good.
- 115a [Brings to a boil] INCENSES. Possibly a double-boil. Especially if one IRES (72d) beforehand.
- Lesser fill: 6d [Soaks in water] RETS, 24d [Loc. of 46-Across] NORW (46a is OSLO), 28d [Seoul soldier] ROK, 29d [Astros, on scoreboards] HOU, 71d [Opel model] KADETT, 92a [Big name in bowling alleys] AMF, 18d Salon worker] DYER.
- 50a [Islamic devil] SHAITAN. Yes, it shares an etymology with ‘Satan’. But it’s also what a vegetarian Sean Connery eats when he wants a change of pace from TOFU.
- 67d [Reindeer-herding people] SAMI. This term is much preferable to the outdated and insensitive LAPP, which still has life in crosswords.
- 4a [Nice round figure] CIRCLE, 81a [Doughnuts and bagels] TOROIDS, 116d [Raid the fridge] NOSH. Numnom.
I prefer my chocolate bittersweet; crosswords, less so. This one was mostly enjoyable.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Unplugged” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Still galavanting around San Francisco as we speak, but definitely had some time to do some crosswords and stop by here with a review of today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman. Coincidentally enough, my hotel was next to UN Plaza here in San Fran, and the theme of today’s grid was adding those letters consecutively in the middle of other well-known terms to create puns.
- MOUND SQUAD (17A: [Grounds crew?]) – Mod Squad.
- FLAUNT BREAD (30A: [Show off a wad of dinero?]) – Flat bread.
- ESCAPE POUND (49A: [Break out of an animal shelter?]) – Escape pod.
- BRASS HAUNT (65A: [Officers club?]) – Brass hat.
Definitely had a slow start on the Northeast, as, for some reason, I wasn’t confident putting down ROOM at first although it seemed pretty obvious (2D: [Part of a presidential suite]). Loved the fill of, as well the clue for MULLIGAN, even if I’m such a terrible golfer and haven’t stepped on a golf course in more than a decade (21A: [Duffer’s do-over]). I’ll admit that I played way too many video games growing up (mostly sports games and anything with Carmen Sandiego) and I definitely didn’t get BRAIN ROT (10D: [Result of playing too many video games, say]). OK, maybe there was a little bit of rotting, but it was all in fun and helped balance my childhood. Before heading out to walk in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, I can’t help but feel heartened by all of the posts and tributes celebrating the LIFE of Muhammad Ali, as “The Greatest” passed away yesterday at 74 (23A: “____ is full of misery, loneliness and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon” (Woody Allen)]) Love live The Champ!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: DAMON (34A: [Actor who will be Bourne again in 2016]) – Somehow possibly being as beloved in the Massachusetts area than the Cambridge-born actor of the same surname, former Major League Baseball player Johnny DAMON will be best known as the person who hit the Grand Slam in the second inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, giving the BoSox a 6-0 lead on their way to completing their epic comeback in the series against their blood rivals. Oh, and then there’s this great nugget: Damon is only one of 11 players in Major League history to have at least 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs in a career. The other 10 players on the list are all Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, George Brett, Paul Molitor, Al Simmons, Goose Goslin and Robin Yount.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!