Lily Silverstein’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Terrific 68-worder from a newbie, with really smooth fill. We’ve got staggered 13s in the middle—a CHANCE MEETING, a Kafka story I’ve never heard of called A HUNGER ARTIST (can’t go wrong with Kafka), and your PLATELET COUNT. Stacked 7s with 6s in each corner—I’m partial to MOCKERY, BIT PART, and ECLIPSE, though the rest of those stacks are entirely solid. We’ve got some long Downs tying these stacks together—CHALK UP TO, RIGHT ANGLE, PAPER-THIN motel walls, an AEROSOL CAN, a DEFEATIST (you know who you are). And then the short fill that serves as the glue—the worst you can say about it is that there are a handful of familiar abbreviations. Dare I say that this reminds me a tad of a Patrick Berry grid? It’s just free of junk.
- 29a. [Charles who created murals for Harlem Hospital and the American Museum of Natural History], ALSTON. I’d never heard of him before, but that’s on me. Here’s a bio and a slide show of some of his work.
- 36a. [Pioneer in New Journalism in the 1960s-’70s], TALESE. Has Talese lost it all?
- 47a. [Part of a hit 1940s-’50s film trio], LAMOUR. Dorothy Lamour starred with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the “Road to ___” movies.
- 34d. [Start of a Hamlet monologue], ALAS. Did you plunk in TO BE from the soliloquy rather than going with “ALAS, poor Yorick” from the start? I know I did.
We’ve got about an equal number of references in clues and fill to men and women (maybe about 11 to 9). If you were thinking that the puzzle was weighted to the female side, it’s not so—but I appreciate the approximation of equity.
4.3 stars from me. Welcome to crossword constructordom, Lily!
Kevin Christian’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A couple of stacked 15s in this puzzle make it a little difficult to solve. All great phrases, and I will list all four of them below. I count 72 words, and tons of great fill in this one. I believe this is the second or third puzzle by Kevin Christian that I have seen. All very well made, and more from him are welcome! 4 stars even today.
- 15A [“Be right with you”] HOLD ON ONE MINUTE – Who hasn’t said this?
- 17A [Serious request for help] “I NEED A HUGE FAVOR” – Who hasn’t said this also?!
- 18A [Island where Dionysus discovered Ariadne] NAXOS – If you say so …
- 28A [Suzanne Collins trilogy, with “The”] HUNGER GAMES – I know they are teen fiction, but I have read most of the first book of this trilogy. Hopefully soon I will have more time to read!
- 39A [Loreena McKennit genre] CELTIC MUSIC – Never heard of her. Perhaps I will find her on Spotify!
- 54A [Parker or Getz] JAZZ SAXOPHONIST – Kudos for lots of Zs and Xs!
- 58A [Ancient] OLD AS METHUSELAH – Favorite entry! And how I feel most Friday evenings …
- 3D [Singer/songwriter ___ Ray Joel] ALEXA – I am a big Billy Joel fan. I believe he even has a song entitled The Downeaster Alexa which is a tribute to her. Haven’t heard any of her music, though. Back to Spotify!
- 26D [Big attractions] MECCAS – Usually don’t encounter this word in the plural form, but it works!
Are you wilting in the summer heat? Find somewhere cool to enjoy your weekend!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Y Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
We have a theme for this nearly always themeless puzzle! Did you notice the Y added to the title? The letter “Y” should precede the three answers that start with ellipses. They are listed below:
- 21A [Y … on a plane ticket] ECONOMY CLASS
- 34A [Y … on Canadian mail] YUKON POSTAL CODE
- 43A [Y … on some plots] VERTICAL AXIS
Not too complicated once you figure it out! I’ll bet a lot of people may not notice the changed header for this Stumper! Perhaps several people are scratching their head wondering “What goes before these clues??” I like it, and I like this puzzle, too. Extremely challenging, although not the toughest that Stan produces. I messed with my timer, so my actual time may be a minute or two slower than roughly 16 minutes; still well under the soul-crushing 30 minute times of the more difficult editions of this puzzle. Kudos for originality, so I give this one 4.7 stars.
Some more notable entries:
- 16A [“Pinocchio” whale] MONSTRO – Why don’t I remember there being a whale in this movie? Perhaps because I haven’t seen it in 40 years??
- 17A [Superhero’s secret station] BAT CAVE – Seems as if this clue should be a tad more specific; a mention of Bruce Wayne, perhaps?
- 54A [Word for the Latin for “little broadsword”] SPATULA – Favorite clue of the bunch. A great piece of trivia for a common word!
- 58A [Anthropologist who won a fiction Pulitzer] LA FARGE – Won for Laughing Boy in 1929. Maybe a little obscure? Or maybe something I should read! Boy, am i uncultured!
- 2D [Deli American purveyor] LAND O’LAKES – Tricky clue! I was wondering if “Deli American” was a brand, but Land O’Lakes makes cheese that you may find in a deli!
- 5D [Strikes + rebounds] CAROMS – Simple! I was thinking of some weird stat formula …
- 8D [Only female argonaut] ATALANTA – Figures! I am not that familiar with mythology, but I have heard of this character.
- 23D [“In My Own Fashion” autobiographer] CASSINI – I had the central S; it was either him or VERSACE!
- 31D [Region with dozens of Autobahns] RUHR – A workmate of mine was recently in Germany this summer scooting around at well over 100 MPH! Doing this is on my bucket list!
- 36D [Boxer once on “Dancing with the Stars”] LAILA ALI – Recently in the news with the passing of her father. Often in puzzles with all of those vowels!
- 41D [Winner of six Teen Choice Awards, 1999-2003] GELLAR – No doubt for playing Buffy, the Vampire Slayer!
Again, an awesome puzzle. Enjoy your weekend!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hosting the Games” — pannonica’s write-up
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Close enough, I hope. Who indeed will host the hosts? Eight times in this crossword, it’s a phrase. 118d [Host inserted into this puzzle’s theme answers] RIO. That’s where the 2016 Summer Olympics begin next week. RIO de Janeiro, the river of January.
- 23a. [Result of posting bail for a nunnery leader?] PRIORESS RELEASE (press release).
- 39a. [“Help me hunt, Canis Major!” say?] ORION DEMAND (on demand). Orion is of course a hunter in Greek mythology.
- 41a. [Storage shed next to an ancient racetrack?] CHARIOT ROOM (chat room).
- 67a. [Strike at the plate in Camden Yards?] ORIOLE MISS (Ole Miss).
- 70a. [Plaza in which a jazz group plays to passerby?] TRIO SQUARE (t-square).
- 93a. [Basketball equipment (but not an outdoor court?] INTERIOR NET (internet).
- 95a. [Map of the Spanish-speaking section of town?] BARRIO CHART (bar chart).
- 116a. [Backside dreamed of by a “Buns of Steel” buyer?] WANTED POSTERIOR (wanted poster).
And, for good measure, some bonus material: 88d [Host of the 1972 Winter Olympics] SAPPORO, 25a [Host of the 1900 and 1924 Summer Olympics] PARIS, 50a [Olympic track star Moses] EDWIN, 121a [Nadia Comaneci, in 1989] EMIGRÉ. Less directly is 55a [Sports for All, Forever” org.] AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and by extension some other ‘amateur’ framed clues. More broadly, there are many sports-related clues and entries that involve events that are part of the Summer Games. Some are more noticeably forced than others, such as 57a [Track shoe feature] for LACE.
- 34a [When shadows are shortest] AT NOON.
- 48a [Be liquescent] MELT. Weird-looking but welcome vocabulary in the clue, and I suspect less common than the already uncommon deliquescent.
- 96d [Ref. that includes ROFL as of 2016] OED, 113a [Twitter titter[ LOL. About that.
- 10d [Dijon dance] BAL. Tricky, there. And sneaky that the Journal crossword opted against a financial clue, even for an abbrev.
- A number of Spanish words in the answers, none in Portuguese.
- 42d [Salmon product] HARD ROE. “Female fish produce eggs in their ovaries, which are membranous sacs. The hundreds of individual eggs are held together by connective tissues. This type of roe is called hard roe and it is the most preferred type of roe. Male fish roe, which is the sperm, is sometimes used as well, and is called soft roe or milt. It is considered a delicacy in some parts of Europe.” (CulinaryLore.com)
- Favorite clues: 44d [Class action] REUNION, 91d [Vanishing place?] THIN AIR, 100a [Obtain] DERIVE, 40d [Course collection] MEAL.
- 109d [Buffalo feature] MANE. Tough clue, because (1) I don’t think Bubalus species possess prominent a prominent MANE, and (2) if, as I suspect, the subject is the American bison (Bison bison), probably the plains subspecies (Bison bison bison (nb: not Buffalo buffalo buffalo…]), not too many people immediately identify the woolly hair over the forequarters as a MANE. But it’s legit. Hm, probably should have presented those in reverse order.
- Appreciated the literary clues and entries. Once again, I’m going to refrain from composing a list. But I definitely liked them.
- Answers I’m having fun pronouncing as single, vaguely foreign words: ONECAR, STARTIN, SISENOR, RANINTO. Okay, I confess. It was Spanish every time. Cada vez. Definitely not Portuguese.
Fun, timely crossword.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Stapler Brand, Too” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody. Back here for Saturday’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke. In it, all of the theme entries are all different meanings to the same one-word clue: scout.
- RECON SPECIALIST (17A: [Scout])
- TONTO’S HORSE (30A: [Scout])
- TROOP MEMBER (48A: [Scout])
- HARPER LEE TOMBOY (65A: [Scout])
I’m not sure how accurate TEN AM is in terms of what is in the clue since people drink coffee – and lots of it – on all hours of the day (32D: [Typical coffee break time]). I don’t know how a good number of people drink coffee like I do water. Definitely had flashbacks when seeing GOMER in the grid, as I think that was one of the very first shows I remember seeing in syndication and/or on BetaMax replays when I was growing up at my parents’ apartment (54D: [Goober’s TV cousin]). For some reason, this grid also made me think of professional (“fake”) wrestling, with LEX (51A: [___ Luthor (Superman’s enemy]) reminding me on Lex Luger and RACE reminding me of Harley Race, who once went by the moniker “King” Harley Race (3D: [Hambletonian, e.g.]). That makes it the perfect time to put up Race’s entrance music that he used in the late ’80s…and an excuse to hear the Great Gate of Kiev movement!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TOOLE (61A: [“A Confederacy of Dunces” novelist]) – One of the bright young head coaches in college basketball, Andy TOOLE is currently the head coach of Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Penn. When Toole, who played his college basketball at Elon University and the University of Pennsylvania, was named the head coach at RMU, he became the youngest coach in men’s Division I college basketball at 29 years of age. In his six years as head coach, he has an overall record of 120-88 and led the Colonials to the Northeast Conference Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament bid in 2015.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge! (I think.)