Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, I cannot conceive of the 49a. [Kiss ___] CAM clue being Kam’s, because plunking a “kiss Kam” into his puzzle would be too much.
Cinematic content in this puzzle includes JUNO, possibly the TEN BEST lists so many movie critics compile, SHREK, that hardcore movie trivia clue for OLIVER REED (57a. [Actor whose first name is the title of a Best Picture he co-starred in, and whose last name is that film’s director]), DALI clued by way of a silent film, award NOMS, SCREENER DVD, and TALIA. Did you know Kameron is a film critic? True story. Here’s his latest, on the Independence Day: Resurgence sequel.
This word? 37a. [Pedestal support], SOCLE? I’ve seen it before but not for a long time (and only in crosswords), and so I struggled with the middle of the crossing in 34d. [Municipal mainstays: Abbr.]. POS, post offices? All right. I looked up SOCLE in the dictionary. Did you know it rhymes with “cockle”?
Highlights: “DON’T SASS ME,” ALOHA SHIRT, CODEINE, “YOO HOO,” HOT SYRUP, GUNS N’ ROSES, BODY ART, and MUST-READ. Plus, that SCREENER DVD.
Unfamiliar terms here include KREMLIN INC (guess I don’t read enough about Putin’s regime) and JUKE HOUSE (“juke joint,” on the other hand, I know).
Three more things:
- 7d. [Ones with wedge issues?], SHOE ADDICTS. I know there are people who buy a lot of shoes, therapeutically or problematically, but I’m not sure I’ve heard SHOE ADDICTS as a term.
- 42d. [13th-century B.C. king with 10 namesakes], RAMSES. When you misread the clue by skipping the B.C. part, it makes it a lot harder to figure out.
- 17a. [Rich, sweet-and-sour dessert], LEMON TORTE. Is that a thing? Apparently it is. Here’s a recipe for one that looks unfussy and, with the ground almonds, delicious.
With that OLEO/OIL in the mix along with SOCLE/SEKO, ALEE, and OHOH, this isn’t my favorite KAC puzzle, but it did indeed offer a Saturday-grade challenge so it did its job. 3.9 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith & George Barany’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Imagine my surprise when the LAT Saturday challenger is a 15×16 quad stacker co-constructed by Martin Ashwood-Smith! He is a wizard with these grids. Will give props to George Barany here, too, as I have no idea who did what, but whatever the case is this is a tour de force feat of construction! The crossings when you stack 15-letter entries can sometimes be, well, icky. But this is a smooth puzzle with the trademark LAT fill. Almost nothing that is problematic. I will address the one or two entries that tripped me up in the comments below, but that doesn’t detract from the solving enjoyment. A solid 4.7 stars for this one! I had tons of fun solving this puzzle!
Some comments (I cannot mention everything I like!):
- 14A [Freezer bar with Sir Isaac Lime and Alexander the Grape flavors] OTTER POP – I was going to say I wasn’t familiar with these, but I am! Just haven’t had one since I was a kid! My youngest son is just learning the joys of popsicles (a word he can barely pronounce!), and he likes a different brand of basically the same thing. Only TWO NYT occurrences according to xwordinfo.com!
- 16A [It’s airtight] THE PERFECT ALIBI – The first of the 6 15-letter entries. No NYT occurrences!
- 19A [Sea lion, e.g.] EARED SEAL – This is a phrase I only know from crosswords! But look at the letters it has!! It’s no wonder!!
- 29A [Light carrier] FIBER OPTIC CABLE – It took me a few crossings to get this one, and I smiled since it is a great clue! Again, zero times in NYT!
- 35A [Text ending in Panama?] A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL… – Awesome!
- 36A [Eviction consequence] VACANT APARTMENT – Makes sense!
- 37A [Investment in a relationship] EMOTIONAL ENERGY – Got this one quick because I say this all the time! Again, zero NYT occurrences!
- 54A [Retire] PUT OUT TO PASTURE – UPS is gonna PUT me OUT TO PASTURE hopefully in a few months!
- 15D [“The Office” star] STEVE CARELL – I am not a fan of his (don’t always care for his style of comedy), but I thought this cannot be right; it was too easy! Great job to get this sort of entry to cross 4 15s!!
- 21D [Be affected by gravity] DROP TO EARTH – The other long down crosser. Effortless!
- 28D [Big name in backpacks] KELTY – OK, this I didn’t know. Their site seems nice. They have also been around for decades. I don’t hike, so … let’s just say I learned something!
- 32D [Nursery item] PLANT POT – This is the other one that gave me difficulty. Seems like something no one ever says. I also don’t work at a greenhouse, and I hate gardening, so … let’s just say it’s OK!
I could go on and on, but you get the point! Have a great weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I was understandably concerned when I saw Brad’s byline, but I now have a record time for this Saturday Stumper: a solid 10:00 flat! Solved on my laptop instead of my iPad, so that accounts for some as it is easier to type on a keyboard instead of hunting and pecking with your thumbs! I was no doubt emboldened by the fact that I was able to fill out 1-Across immediately! Yes, PAPA SMURF was a guess, but how many other [Bearded blue toon]s can there be?? That are exactly nine letters?? Maybe if the word “bearded” wasn’t there, the difficulty may have ramped up to where Stan likes it! Make no mistake, though; this puzzle is difficult! I am anxious to see your comments on how hard you guys found this one. There are at least a couple of entries in here that I literally have never heard of, and it didn’t go swiftly at times. Maybe it is simply the fact that I haven’t worked in a month and my brain is fresher! 4.4 stars for this 70-worder!
- 17A [Simple melodic passage] CANTILENA – See, I told you there were words I had never heard of!
- 18A [Popular aquarium denizen] BETTA – Yeah, you know you wrote TETRA in there like I did! Another word I am unfamiliar with; disclaimer: I have NEVER had a fish tank!
- 39A [“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” airer] CNN – Had no idea. Nice piece of trivia. I don’t watch CNN much, either!
- 59A [First Super Bowl MVP in an “I’m going to Disney World!” spot] SIMMS – I remember this! Can you believe that was 30 years ago?!
- 60A [Big show of support] STANDING O – Best entry in the puzzle!
- 10D [Old Testament matriarch] REBEKAH – The mother of Jacob and Esau, of course! Stumped me for a bit since I thought it said PATRIARCH. And I had TETRA in there as well!
- 21D [Barbara, to Jeb] NIECE – Referring to one of Dubya’s twin daughters, not the pearl necklace wearer! Seriously, google “Barbara Bush”. You cannot find a picture of that family MATRIARCH (!) without pearls on!
- 27D [Conformist’s justification] WHEN IN ROME – A phrase I use a lot; it is easier sometimes to go with the flow!
- 53D [Gretzky’s MVP award collection] NINE – I know he was the greatest, but this still surprised me! He actually won the Hart Trophy every year between ’79 and ’89 except for one. There was no cable in my house when he started, so nobody except Canadians got to see a lot of what he did. Can you imagine how big he would be today in the world of social media and zillions of sports channels? Here is one example of his records: He holds the record for most points in a season (215). He actually holds the best FOUR seasons for points! They are all over 200, he being the only player to have that many. And if your name is not Gretzky or Mario Lemieux (the player who won that other Hart Trophy in the 90s!), the next best point total is 155! The points leader this year? Patrick Kane from my hometown Chicago Blackhawks at 106! Sports rant is now over!
Since this makes two relatively easy ones, next week may be tough! Enjoy your weekend!
Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Desperation” — pannonica’s write-up
Revealer at 90-down: [Desperate, as suggested by the finishes of the eight longest Across answers] DO OR DIE. So … I think this means simply that the relevant entries alternate, ending first in DO, then DIE.
- 22a. [Vacation home, for some] TIMESHARE CONDO.
- 32a. [Minnesota Fats rival] FAST EDDIE. Felson. Not WILLIE MOSCONI, as it turned out. And certainly not RUDOLF WANDERONE.
- 47a. [Popular game system of the 1990s] SUPER NINTENDO. See also 124a [Genesis creator] SEGA. Also-see-also 4d [Famous two-person home[ EDEN.
- 63a. [“Lonely Boy” or “Soul Man”] GOLDEN OLDIE.
- 71a. [Kiddie lit question] WHERE’S WALDO?
- 82a. [“Shalimar the Clown” writer] SALMAN RUSHDIE. Curious as to why that title was chosen; it isn’t his most recent, while The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children are both more well-known and equally terse. Dupe deftly avoided at 54d [Spine handle] AUTHOR, with the crossing 53a [“The Flies” playwright] SARTRE.
- 100a. [Comic work that gave us “pooh-bah”] THE MIKADO.
- 114a. [Smile inducing phrase] WATCH THE BIRDIE.
Doesn’t seem like much of a theme, but it’s amicable enough, and the entries themselves are all quite strong.
- 28a [Rent strike participant] TENANT, 95d [Rent strike target] LESSOR. 24d/29d [Frosting buy] CAN, TUB. 60a/120a [Shade] HUE, TINT. 69d [Things to try to live up to] IDEALS, 112d [Lofty pursuits] ARTS, 75a [Ascends dramatically] SOARS.
- 23d [Key surroundings] SEA, wrapping around to 30a [Flower once thought to protect against evil] ANEMONE. Cute, plus some good trivia.
- After getting 44d [YouTube upload, casually] VID, was worried that SP–– at 33d [Carbo-loader’s fare, informally] was going to be the maybe-British sounding SPAG, but it turned out to be SPUD.
- 35d [Rio, for 2016 atheletes] HOST. [Aedes egypti, for Zika] HOST.
- 63d [Earth prefix] GEO-, 64d [Earth-friendly prefix] ECO-. 67d [Suffered from fat finger] ERRED, 68d [Negligible] SLIM.
- 87d [Mountain goat strength] AGILITY. Has OREAMNOS ever appeared in a crossword?
- 92d [“Rats!”] EEK. Misdirection? 74a [Doc of the bay?] VET – wow, that’s a stretch.
- Booze! 107a [Bourbon barrel wood] OAK, 2d [Antipasto accompanier, perhaps] CHIANTI, 70a [Gin cocktail] COLLINS, 102d [Scotch distiller John] DEWAR, 58a [Wine grape] PINOT.
- Quotes from Shakespeare! 13d [“When will this fearful slumber have __?”: Titus Andronicus] AN END, 66a [“Put out the light, and then put out the light” speaker] OTHELLO.
- 12d [“Understand?”] CAPEESH, aka CAPSICE. Is it just me, or does the bastardized version seem like it should be KAPEESH? Google results are greatly in favor of the C version.
- More Italian! 68a [Tuscan city with a famous horse race] SIENA, 2d CHIANTI, 83d [Heavenly instrument, in scores] ARPA, 14d [Valuable strings[ STRAD, 26a [Dido’s lover] AENEAS, 106d [Half of dodici] SEI.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s a Cover-Up!” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, is all about taking cover, as common phrases/nouns are presented as puns to some pretty slick clues.
- SECURITY BLANKET (17A: [Cover for a passenger screener?])
- CHEAT SHEET (30A: [Cover for a con man?])
- CRAZY QUILT (43A: [Cover for Norman Bates in “Psycho”?]) – Found out recently that Crazy Quilt is also the name of a super villain in the Batman series.
- MIDDLE-AGE SPREAD (56A: [Cover for a fortysomething?])
If you like your grid with insects hanging around it, you definitely got it here, with both MOTH (6D: [Commom culprit in the closet]) and LOUSE in the grid (14A: [Cause of some nit-picking]). Along with those were other animals that you hope never to come across in your home, MICE (6A: [Nursery rhyme victims of the farmer’s wife]). Once in a while, you get to see “usury” in a grid, but USURER is definitely a first for me in terms of seeing that in a grid (4D: [Loan shark]). The fill was pretty good, though nothing too long – outside of the theme entries. Well, it’s time to FLOUNCE (52A: [Wide ruffle]) my way out of my apartment and into the Saturday evening warmth of New York City, and hopefully I’ll be very PLAYFUL in an activity that I end up doing tonight before Sunday comes (34D: [Frisky]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SKILLET (36A: [Frying pan]) – When Texas rivals SMU and TCU play their annual football game against each other, the winning team takes home the trophy known as The Iron SKILLET. Depending on which version of the story you believe, the awarding of the Skillet came about in 1946, when a TCU supporter was outraged that an SMU supporter was frying frog legs in a skillet before the game. (TCU’s mascot is the Horned Frog.) The TCU fan then confronted the “cook” and said that cooking frogs legs was going too far, and that the winner of the football game should own the skillet and frog legs. I so hope this story is true, because it’s just awesome!
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!