Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oh, hey! Here’s the breezy Friday puzzle I couldn’t find yesterday. I kept looking for it and it finally turned up in the last place I looked.
Lots of fill I enjoyed here—PARTY FOUL, ON THE FRITZ, ZOO CREW, HOMESLICE, the inimitable PETE SEEGER (whose Folk Songs for Children or some such album is an indelible childhood memory [except for the title—holy cats, they’re selling it at Target now!!]), the chessy ZUGZWANG (I had a transplant nephrology fellow last year named Zwang and that is just a delightful syllable), “OPEN WIDE,” and SET THE SCENE.
There are a few dusty bits like ERLE, ESTO, NOBIS, PAH (which I happily play in Lexulous/Scrabble), and EMEND, along with a plural NEDS, but mostly the fill is crisp.
Seven Eight things:
- 24a. [Political writer/blogger Klein], EZRA. I don’t seek him out, but enough people tweet links to his stuff on Twitter that he’s quite familiar to me.
- 51a. [Buddy from the block], HOMESLICE. Hooray! The clue doesn’t paint the word as something used by other people “in the ‘hood.”
- 59a. [Hopper full of dirt?], HEDDA. Old-timey gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, hidden capital H in the clue. If you know the name, the clue is cute. If you don’t, it’s probably mystifying.
- 8d. [Oversize hip-hop tops], TALL TEES. Didn’t know they were called that but have certainly seen people wearing giant T-shirts.
- 32d. [Chess situation in which any move is a bad move], ZUGZWANG. You may be wondering if this is named after a German player. Nope! It’s from the German for “compulsion to move.” You don’t want to move, but you don’t have a choice and you’re stuck making a bad move.
- 34d. [Directive that has some teeth to it?], OPEN WIDE. Cute clue.
- 44d. [Motivate], INCENT. You may hate corporate jargon all you want, but I don’t think this one can be put back into the box anymore.
- 49d. [Second-largest body in the asteroid belt], VESTA. I sure did not know this one.
4.2 stars from me. A fun Friday puzzle—on Saturday.
Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
According to my Facebook feed, Jeff has a little baby barely a month old. How does one find time to construct with young babies? I curiously made very few crosswords after, oh, about 1998. Funny, my first child was born in January of that year! Likely it is more because I am a lot less talented than both Jeff and Mary Lou! As is usually the case, I am curious as to who did what in this collaboration. Not overly difficult, but just challenging enough for a Saturday LAT, probably a tad more than normal. As I mentioned in my Newsday writeup, I need to stop solving while watching U.S. Open tennis (or TV in general!)! I have some noise cancelling head gear like they wear in a shooting range; I should dig those out and try to solve in total silence and see if that helps! 4.3 stars for this puzzle today!
- 1A [Subject of the 1998 Supreme Court case New Jersey v. New York] ELLIS ISLAND – My wife looked this up for me; evidently New Jersey was awarded a percentage of this property in this case? I was there in 2001. I remember because on that New York trip we decided no to go up to the top of the World Trade Center, and then it wasn’t there a couple of months later!
- 40A [Felix ___, CIA friend of Bond] LEITER – Had a 007 binge session for a couple of weeks some months ago when most of the Bond movies were on Hulu. This character has been played by a few different actors over the years.
- 49A [Actress in “Spy” (2015)] MIRANDA HART – Not familiar with this British actress. Did not see Spy, but I am not a fan of Melissa McCarthy. She is funny and all, but so is Steve Carell and I don’t care for his humor either. Fun fact about Miranda Hart: she is 6′ 1″ tall!
- 53A [“Grown Ups” star] ADAM SANDLER – This movie was painful, but sure made a lot of money! Sandler has a few ridiculous movies on Netflix, including the appropriately named The Ridiculous 6. Purely escapist movie-making, which also describes most of his major studio releases!
- 5D [Apia natives] SAMOANS – Why am I thinking of Girl Scout cookies?? Oh wait, those are SAMOAS!
- 7D [“Either/Or” author Kierkegaard] SOREN – Got this immediately; I have actually been to Denmark, Kierkegaard’s homeland!
- 14D [Basic kids’ book] EASY READER – How about [Morgan Freeman character from “Electric Company”]? I used to watch this show all the time when I was younger, and he was on there all the time. Get it? Not “Easy Rider“, but “Easy Reader“!
- 51D [Med. number that’s better when it’s higher] HDL – I never get my cholesterol checked, so I don’t know which is which. And since I didn’t know 49A, thus the grid error!
That’s all for today. Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Usually Stan’s puzzles under this pseudonym don’t cause me too much consternation, but my time here is a little slow. I will blame it on the fact that I was watching TV while solving! I will have to get used to multitasking to take advantage of my temporary glut of free time I have now! Retirement from UPS was official Friday with a breakfast at the terminal and lots of parting gifts, including a beautiful plaque that I will have to post on Facebook soon. Even a golf bag! Now the accounting job search begins…
I count 72 words, which makes for a lot of fun fill and very few garbage entries, if any. There are a few obscure references in both clues and answers, but in a Stumper puzzle, that is to be expected. I will try to solve next Saturday’s Stumper with minimal distractions and we will see if I can get my time under 15 minutes. 4.2 stars for this one.
- 30A [#1 active player in career hits] A-ROD – Technically, I don’t believe he is active anymore; the Yankees released him on August 13, and no team has picked him up. But he played this year, so only a minor quibble here!
- 31A [Reagan cadet comedy] BROTHER RAT – This classic is not on Netflix, so I will have to hunt it down if I want to see it! I vaguely remember knowing about this movie, so from my perception it is a bit obscure, but I am young!
- 35A [Favor] GO IN FOR – I had GAINSAY in there for a while, then GAIN FOR for some weird reason. You can see in the image my lone wrong square when I checked the grid after filling it all in.
- 56A [“A Book of Nonsense” author] EDWARD LEAR – This is evidently a children’s book, but I am totally unfamiliar with it. Need to get more cultured …
- 10D [Whom Simul-Search is made for] MAC USER – I am using a Mac as we speak, and I don’t know what this feature is!
- 11D [Affliction of pointless post purveyors] BLOGORRHEA – I love this entry! The clue is nice too with all the alliteration! Favorite entry in the grid!
- 26D [Product placed in “Transformers: Age of Extinction”] OREO COOKIE – I would have to watch this movie again to see exactly where the cookie was or who was eating it. I know product placement in films is a big thing. Even UPS has paid to have their delivery drivers in movies like Legally Blonde and EDtv. Too bad they couldn’t get into one of the most popular movies centered around a delivery company: Cast Away!
- 28D [Word from the French for “sorting”] TRIAGE – This makes sense: triage is sorting out injuries by priority. I guessed and was right!
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What’s My Line?” — pannonica’s write-up
In this one, the theme answers are predicated on the clues, not the other way around, which is the typical arrangement. Each of these clues is a recognizable two-word locution with the syntax ___ line?
- 23a. [Bread line?] MONEY IS NO OBJECT.
- 39a. [Fault line?] DON’T BLAME ME.
- 50a. [Finish line?] I WANT A DIVORCE.
- 66a. [Pickup line?] CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM.
- 89a. [Party line?] HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
- 96a. [Service line?] MAY I HELP YOU?
- 116a. [Police line?] STEP OUT OF THE CAR.
The theme answers are also familiar phrases, so putting this thing together involved finding good matches between “x line” constructions and already-existing turns of phrase. Oh, and making sure there are symmetrical pairs of equal length. And then of course building the rest of the crossword material around all that. In my reckoning it makes for a deceptively nondescript puzzle.
- 12d [Newspaper section] SOCIETY. This seems archaic to me. Wouldn’t it generally be called something else nowadays?
- 47d [Sack] PILLAGE. For a time it looked as if this would be PACKAGE, which wasn’t a great fit for the clue.
- 19th century literature! 18d [Jane who works at Thornfield Hall] EYRE, 115a [Heep of fiction] URIAH, 48d [Slave girl in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”] TOPSY.
- 5a [Key words subject] FLAG, 31a [Swift output] SATIRES, 38a [Future field] RAP, 121a [Garland setting] TEXAS, 40d [Victor at Gettysburg] MEADE—I thought his name was George.
- Kind of tickled by the sequential pairing of 27a [Grommet] EYELET and 28a [Mini maelstrom] EDDY.
- 105d [Eleanor, to Theodore] NIECE, 94a [First mate?] EVE.