Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
While I was solving the puzzle, my mom called and I eavesdropped while she talked to my son, and then as soon I finished the puzzle I talked to her for a half hour. I don’t vividly remember the puzzle at this point. Let’s see what’s in it!
Fave fill: SELFIE STICK, “TOP THAT,” quaint ACCURST (gotta use that word more often), MALL SANTA, “I CAN EXPLAIN,” ATHEISM, COUSCOUS, COMPADRE, and ST KITTS.
- 13a. [Poison also called white arsenic], RATSBANE. Never heard of it. Dictionary labels it “literary.” Easy enough to get the BANE part, but the rest was a crapshoot.
- 39a. [Grub for a grub], LEAF. Nice! [Food for a larva] would be no fun at all.
- 12d. [About 2% of the Hope Diamond], ONE CARAT. Really thought this was going to be something geological.
- 34d. [“The vice of a few intelligent people,” per Voltaire], ATHEISM. Not familiar with the quotation but I like it.
- 54d. [Elephantine Island is in it], NILE. Huh? Wasn’t thinking an island named after elephants would be up in Egypt. The name’s possible derivation’s reviewed, along with the island’s history and significance, here.
Lesser fill (which is to say, fill I wasn’t pleased to see): J’AI (although I like this French swap for the usual jai alai), PARI-, NE’ER, ABES, ERST, RARA, ARLISS, ONE-L, plural abbrev PTAS, and dusty old [Soviet co-op], ARTEL.
Wasn’t sure how legit “SO DOPE” (56a. [Way cool, in modern lingo]) was, but I consulted my household contemporary slang usage expert and he said it’s fine.
3.75 stars from me.
Mark Bickham’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I recognize Mark’s byline this time! Still not used to his constructing style yet, and the time reflects it. I can usually finish a Saturday LAT in around 6 or 7 minutes, and this one took me nearly 9 minutes. Once I get used to his style, maybe I can solve his a little quicker. A great puzzle, though! Interestingly, this puzzle contains F. A. O . SCHWARZ, G. I. JOES, D-CON, G-STAR, and DNA TEST! (Did I miss any others?) A little mini-theme, if you will? Regardless, that makes for a little difficulty in solving when you’re not ready for initials and things like that. It also makes for some lively fill. Once again, there are great entries in here, very little dreck, and this was a fun solve. 4.4 stars today!
Some of my faves:
- 15A [Writing desk] ESCRITOIRE – A great word!
- 17A [Where the Walking Piano scene in “Big” was filmed] FAO SCHWARZ – I recently heard somewhere that this movie premiered exactly 28 years ago! I looked it up, and sure enough this movie premiered on 6/3/88. I actually saw this one in the theater way back when. And this was surely an iconic scene!
- 6D [Foxhole absentees, so it’s said] ATHEISTS – I have always loved this saying! I can only pray I never experience the horrors of armed combat.
- 11D [Absent-minded A. A. Milne title character] MR. PIM – If you say so! Never heard of this character. I am, again, uncultured. I’ll have to stick this on my Kindle!
- 13D [Goes down as planned] TAKES A DIVE – This seems a tad off to me. Am I crazy? If we are talking sport diving, it kinda makes sense. I will squabble on this one a bit.
- 27D [Classic film words of self-revelation] I’M A REAL BOY – From Pinocchio I believe!
- 28D [TV hero who famously kissed 52-Down] JAMES T. KIRK – 52D is UHURA. Another iconic scene from pop culture is referenced!
- 39D [Complex parts] NEUROSES – I think this may be the best clue in the puzzle! Nicely done!
Have a great weekend!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
OK, so maybe not working is helpful to solving? Still off work with symptoms from meningitis, and now that the worse of the headaches are gone, I am able to do some solving from the couch. Perhaps the solving is easier without being physically exhausted! You may be thinking, “Derek, your solving time is over 20 minutes!” And you would be correct; but for a Longo puzzle, that 20 minutes, for me, is a great time! Many times I have battled his stumpers for over 30 minutes, and make no mistake, this one is HARD. Frank is a pro, as I have said many times. This 70-worder seems almost like child’s play to him, as the words seem to mesh so effortlessly. I am truly impressed by his talents. A solid 4.5 stars today!
A few notes:
- 23A [Musicista mitico] ORFEO – I had to look this up: it translates to “legendary musician” from Italian, so it refers to the 16th century composer. You are now, like me, a tad smarter!
- 40A [It may be based on shells] PASTA DISH – There are many candidates, but I think this is the best clue in the puzzle. I will mention a few more as we go, but this one I think elicited the biggest grin/groan!
- 44A [Stop-gap solution?] PUTTY – This one is also quite good!
- 56A [Its solo riders must be 18+] UBER – Uber is now pretty much everywhere; you can catch an Uber ride even here in North Central Indiana! Are taxis going to go away? Only time will tell!
- 4D [SpongeBob pal Patrick] STARFISH – Ashamed to say I got this immediately!
- 9D [Favorites list] HIT PARADE – Not a phrase used often these days, in the era of playlists and such. Or is it just me?
- 11D [1952 presidential election predictor] UNIVAC – I know there is ENIAC and UNIVAC among old computers. You know: the type that used to fill an entire room?
- 34D [“Props, dude!”] YOU DA MAN! – I would have clued this as some sort of golf reference, as you often hear someone shout this after a player has hit a tee shot. Of course, now that I think about it, maybe that was more of a late 90s early 2000s phenomenon. Anyway, it is timely: we can all see if it happens next week at the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday. Conspicuously Tiger-less, might I add … !
- 36D [It may mean “Good dog!”] ATTA GIRL – I will call this one the 2nd best clue. Best clue for this entry I have ever seen!
- 41D [Certain Looney Tunes shout of approval] ARRIBA – A Speedy Gonzalez quote is always welcome!
- 51D [Lead-in to joule] TERA – Another good way to clue a rather common prefix.
I could go on, but I will stop there! Enjoy your weekend!
Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal, “That Hurts!” — pannonica’s write-up
Tacking on—punctuating, if you will—an OW to humorous effect. That’s the intent.
- 23a. [Quality material for basketry?] GOOD WILLOW (Goodwill). I’m thinking this the Goodwill corporation, or perhaps even the generic phrase, rather than, say, a reference to the film, whose character was Will Hunting.
- 25a. [Something hard to look out through, unless it has knotholes?] WOOD WINDOW (woodwind).
- 37a. [Item on a bed?] SLEEPING PILLOW (sleeping pill).
- 61a. [Deep dugout for Hammerin’ Hank?] AARON BURROW (Aaron Burr). How many people have full names that both begin and end with a doubled letter?
- 75a. [Feline food that’s only so-so?] FAIR CAT CHOW (fair catch). Far and away my favorite themer, due to the radical redivision of CATCH to CAT CH…
- 96a, [Rural tract named in honor of Elizabeth II’s sister?] MARGARET MEADOW (Margaret Mead).
- 114a. [“Let me in!” for example?] DOOR BELLOW (doorbell).
- 117a. [Phoenix’s final indulgence?] FIRE WALLOW (firewall).
- 6a [Melodramatic lament] ALAS, 92a [Wistful sigh] AH, ME, 26d [Shows woe] WEEPS, 108a [Suffer] AIL.
- 17d [Apple introduction of 2001] IPOD, 34d [Apple introduction of 2010] IPAD. Sheesh. 94a [“Really!”] I SWEAR, 124a [“By Jove!”] I SAY.
- 82a [Kind of bore or basin] TIDAL, 115d [Boring existence] RUT, 91d [Undermine] ERODE.
- 67a [Liquor in a bee’s knees] GIN. The other famous ‘bee’ cocktail is the bee STING (see 73d [Jellyfish attacks]). Both also have honey as an ingredient, though many mellifluous imbibables aren’t apinomial.
- 74d [Simone Signoret movie that one the 1977 Foreign Film Oscar] MADAME ROSA. New to me. Here’s the AllMovie synopsis: “Madame Rosa (Simone Signoret) is an aging former prostitute who, in her dotage, makes a living by caring for the children of other prostitutes in Paris’ Arab community. Haunted by memories of her experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Rosa is seized with the notion that the Gestapo is still after her. She thus begs one of her young charges (Samy Ben Youb) not to give away her “hiding place.” Madame Rosa was based on Momo, a novel by one Emile Ajar (better known as Romaine Gary).” Holocaust survivor + prostitute with heart of gold = Oscar shoo-in. 13d [Holed up] HIDING.
- Okay, back to my RUT of pairing linkable clues and/or answers. 116d [Route] WAY, 73a [Process] SYSTEM.
- 21a [Hostile to] ANTI, 64d [Supporter’s answer] YEA.
- Language lesson! 36a [Currency whose name means “round”] YEN, 65a [Moorish word for “lord”] CID.
- Favorite clue: 18d [Post production] NEWS.
CAPABLE (90d), anodyne crossword.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Water, Water, Water Everywhere” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, crossword lovers. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, is surrounded by water, in a sense. Each of the theme answers is a pun, with the answer composed of three words that each can also come before the word “water.”
- HIGH HOLY SURFACE (17A: [Top of a stack of Bibles?])
- FRESH ROSE BRANCH (40A: [Just-picked, hardy flower stem?])
- WHITE HOT MINERAL (65A: [Extreme-temperature bit of magma?])
Been to TAMPA three times now, but have never made my way to Busch Gardens (9A: [Busch Gardens locale]). Is there a limit on the number of times you can do to Tampa without heading there?!? This grid was able to appeal to fans of both baseball teams in New York, with both MET (34A: [Citi Field player]) and DEREK featuring (55D: [Career Yankee Jeter]). Usually, seeing one abbreviation for a degree is one too many, but we have two here, and both are plural: MBAS (11D: [Degrees for aspiring entrepreneurs, for short]) and MFAS (34D: [Degrees for aspiring painters, for short]). Favorite clue/fill of the day definitely was HIPSTERS, and, being in Brooklyn, I come across them a few times on my travels around the Big Apple (42D: [Stereotypical bohemians, informally]). OK, maybe more than just a few times.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: REMI (70D: [Do followers, in a scale]) – Former French national soccer team player REMI Garde most recently was the manager of the sinking ship that was/is Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League. As a manager, he had more success with the team he also spent his most years at as a player, Lyon, where he led them to the Coupe de France title in 2012.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!
NYT – A TON OF tricky stuff, but enjoyable. I especially appreciated the link to the island Elephantine in the NILE and reading of the amazing ancient papyrus discoveries there!
NYT: Cluing for ARTEL is a pet peeve. Artels pre-dated the USSR by several decades & were essentially abolished by the Soviets like all commercial enterprises. Sloppy crosswordese.
A cursory online search shows that artels were active until 1950.
Interestingly, most of the hits for ARTEL are defined as a crossword entry.
Well, yes. That’s my point. They pre-dated the Soviets by about 50 years & eventually died off because they were antithetical to the command economy model. I believe a student of Russian history (which I decidedly am not) would never describe this as a “Soviet co-op.”
Look, this kind of cluing was probably first done in 1947 or something, when it was still technically accurate & has just become part of received crossword wisdom (or whatever). But it’s lazy.
A possible learner’s guide to the language of crosswordese, to wit:
GAT, PARI, ONEL, PTAS, SEPAL, ARLISS, MES, ARTEL, JAI, INTL, RARA, NEER, ERST, OXEYE, NORA, ANKA…
If I used any of those gems I would be ACCURST.
Had ATONOF fun with the NYT, though the SE was tough for me, since I clung to TEAACT (instead of TEATAX) for a while. Not sure I like the alleged antonymic relationship between Aye and NE’ER. The equation of Lot and KISMET also seemed a bit strained. But lots of interesting fill. “Annette Sings Anka” is definitely not on my to-listen list…
I understand your point, but I’m not convinced that these kinds of open-jaw definitions are or should be kosher in crosswords. The word “lot” (my capitalization of the word was just a mistake) can, in certain contexts, be replaced with “fate.” “Kismet” can also be replaced with “fate.” But I think those are two different senses of the word “fate.” Related, yes, but not identical. As for the first one, sure, if a character in a melodrama says “Aye! You will do this thing,” his or her enemy can respond with “Ne’er!” But that doesn’t mean that “aye” and “ne’er” are opposites. My opinion, at least.
Maybe a different example would make clearer what I mean about “lot” and “kismet.” If the clue were “Split,” could the answer legitimately be CARVE? “Cleave” can mean “split”–you cleave a log in two just as you split it in two–and you can “cleave” a path through a crowd just as you would “carve” a path through it. But those are two different senses of the word “cleave”–related, but not exactly equivalent.
Gary, can’t CARVE and SPLIT both mean PARTITION, as with the Ottoman Empire? I guess that in order to be truly synonymous in that context, they should both add UP as in the Ottoman Empire was CARVED/SPLIT UP.
I respect your point, but as Martin has often found justification, the ninth definition of a word is fair game especially on a Saturday.
Steve, but not, IMHO, if the prompt corresponds to definition 3 and the answer corresponds to definition 7. That’s what I mean about open-jaw.
Derek (re LAT), “takes a dive” is what a boxer does to throw a fight — going down as if knocked out, when actually he’s okay. He has arranged in advance that he will do this, so that a crooked gambler can win on a bet that this boxer will lose the fight. Thus, the boxer “goes down as planned” (say, in the third round).
Yes, that’s the usual scenario, but it cannot be coincidence that it crosses “No Mas”, which brings to mind one of the strangest moments in boxing history, when Roberto Duran simply walked away from a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, in the middle of a round, with those words, in a fight that was neither one sided, nor particularly brutal. Theories abound. (I didn’t google it, but I’m sure you could find discussions if you just google “no mas Duran.”
That makes perfect sense! Thanks!
One of my favorite movies is ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, which won best picture in the third academy awards. I was so sure that Lew Ayres won best actor (he wasn’t even nominated) that I could not think of anyone else and could only get George ARLISS by the crossings and as with Gary, I had great difficulty in the SE. It turns out that Arliss was nominated for best actor for DISRAELI (he won) and THE GREEN GODDESS in the same awards that year.
I also had TEA ACT.
Overall, the puzzle was fun, but much harder for me than yesterday’s.
Great NYT today but the tiniest ??? over “MAYO” …mes?
Mayo as in Cinco de Mayo (with mes being month). That one took me a second.
Bill, it’s Spanish. May0=May; mes=month.
Stumper: ORFEO isn’t an Italian composer. It’s the Italian version of the mythical musician Orpheus.