Andrew Ries’ New York Times crossword—Ben’s write-up
Hi everyone! Ben, filling in for Amy on this Saturday’s NYT themeless. It’s a puzzle from Andrew Ries. He’s a Minnesotan like me, so this puzzle can’t be too bad, right?
Right! I found plenty to like in this puzzle, starting with the center trio of CAESAR SALAD, FARMER’S ONLY (which is a very real thing that I know about from jokes on TV shows), and NOT GONNA LIE. All lovely choices, as were SPACE CADET, ENAMELWARE, DORITOS (which were first produced at Disneyland! Who knew?), PLAYER’S ENTRANCE, USED CAR SALESMAN (clued with the wonderfully jokey “One who works a lot?”) and a shout out to MELISSA McCarthy. Hopefully if you were saying I’M SO MAD or WHAT A DAY or some other FOUL LINE after this Thursday’s puzzle, you’re happy that the NYT is back to BASICS with today’s puzzle.
Less great (to me, at least): TEL, BUC, CAV – lots of abbreviations in the small fill today. Didn’t love ENMESH as “Catch in a net”, but it technically works, word-wise.
Places I got stuck: BILBO (I kept trying to remember GEORGE R.R. Martin’s first name, which is far too long, anyways), LA MESA (my San Diego suburb names are rusty), TITUS, and remembering if that one basketball player’s first name is STEPH or not.
4 stars from me. How’d it go for you?
Mark Diehl’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A puzzle by one of the themeless masters! This one is no disappointment. A solid 4.7 stars from me today! This fill seems effortlessly done by Mark, with very common words seamlessly interlaced in a 66-word puzzle. A little difficult, as I don’t feel I breezed through this one, but that’s OK for a Saturday challenge. More coffee next week! But this puzzle was a joy to solve, and Mark remains one of my favorite constructors.
I cannot mention all the good, but here is a sampling:
- 26A [Formulation in Newton’s “Principia”] LAW OF GRAVITY – I had LAW OF INERTIA in there at first. It still works!!
- 31A [“Coming Out of the Dark” singer] ESTEFAN – As in Gloria Estefan, of Miami Sound Machine fame. They had a lot of jumpy dance music in the 80s and 90s, and some of their/her music remain among my all-time favorites.
- 35A [Height is an exception to it] I BEFORE E RULE – Excellent! By far my favorite clue. I literally laughed out loud!
- 37A [Stylish beach resorts] LIDOS – This is probably one of the tougher words in the grid. I am familiar with cruise ships usually having a lido deck on some level, so it made sense!
- 52A [Pitching pro?] AD WOMAN – Never thought of this! And I don’t consider myself a sexist! ;-)
- 2D [Without dissent] AS ONE MAN – Awesome. Actually appears in NYT more than I would have thought!
- 7D [Lab warning] GRR – No, it isn’t the alarm of a science lab! Awesome clue again!
- 9D [Norah’s dad] RAVI – As in Norah Jones and Ravi Shankar. I don’t think I remembered he was her dad. Another singer whose music I really enjoy. Norah Jones, that is. Her dad is before my time!
- 15D [“Paradise Lost” style] BLANK VERSE – I remember this vaguely from school. I seem to remember it as “poetry that didn’t rhyme!”
- 27D [First book of the Great Plains trilogy] O PIONEERS! – This book appears a lot in Saturday LAT puzzles! I should read this with all my new found free time … !
- 33D [Like some storage shelves] ALL METAL – This is a NYT rare entry. With all of those common letters, it seems as if it should appear more!
As mentioned earlier, I could go on. Bravo, Mark! Everyone have a great weekend!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
The time today was under 20 minutes, but that is deceiving. I kept turning my timer off and on, and I’m sure I solved a little without remembering to turn the timer back on! A toughie, as evidenced by my myriad of errors in the grid. Tactic for next Saturday: more coffee! The Northeast section gave me the most fits; just too much up there I didn’t know. Sometimes those corners seem helpless until you get a toehold!
Lots of good stuff in this one, though. A few obscurities, but in the end you should feel smarter after tackling this toughie. 4.4 stars.
- 8A [Cain descendant, per ancient literature] GRENDEL – Did not know this. I don’t think it is actually true!
- 18A [Only female role in a certain Bard romance] MIRANDA – This is from The Tempest.
- 22A [Unexpected break caused by a fall] SNOW DAY – The best feeling in the world … until it’s time to shovel!
- 34A [Disapproval for a change] YOU USED TO BE COOL – One of my favorite clues in the puzzle. My favorite coming up!
- 37A [Exotic diagnoses, in medical slang] ZEBRAS – I must not know medical slang!
- 52A [How sets begin] LOVE ALL – As in tennis sets! Still was tough to get, as this is rarely said by a tennis commentator.
- 54A [Explanation for disorder] ENTROPY – I guessed this for a Learned League question the other day whose answer was actually “adiabatic!”
- 20D [Radio format for those 25 to 55] ADULT HITS – I must not be an adult then, because I don’t listen to this genre much!
- 26D [“Apt” instrument in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”] OBOE D’AMORE – I have NEVER heard of his instrument, but still a great entry and clue!
- 27D [Key inspector] SCUBA DIVER – THIS is my vote for the best clue!
- 41D [Judean sage] HILLEL – Or Hillel the Elder, according to Wikipedia. I am not Jewish, so didn’t get this one quickly!
Time for a neck rub after this one! Enjoy your weekend!
Michael Dewey’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Climb In!” — pannonica’s write-up
Took a moment to parse the title, after solving. This is another insertion theme; today’s iteration is UP inserted after the first word of phrases to create new versions. Distracted by the actual (or “surface”) meaning of the title, my mind went to “hop up/hop in”, that sort of thing. But it’s simply climb = UP literally in the phrases.
Having solved the NYT crossword immediately before this and clocking the noticeable duplication of 43d TEAR UP and 47d USE UP, it seemed this fella was one-upping it with a vengeance. Six-upping it, in fact.
- 21a. [“Let them barbershop singers dangle!”] STRING UP QUARTET.
- 29a. [Doing a jig to celebrate dissolving a relationship?] BREAKUP DANCING. So much for my provisional characterizations of the augmented versions all incorporating phrasal verbs (“x up …”).
- 46a. [Batter Cream?] BEAT UP THE BAND.
- 66a. [In the drunk tank?] LOCKED UP AND LOADED. The standout themer and quite possibly the seed entry. Phrasal adjective here.
- 85a. [“Edit this manuscript I wrote!”] MARK UP MY WORDS. This one is first runner-up.
- 102a. [Cause a Congressional bigwig to bust a gut?] CRACK UP THE WHIP.
- 115a. [Retire from refereeing with a bang?] BLOW UP THE WHISTLE.
Ultimately, 29a is anomalous, but I feel the theme stands up well despite this.
- 70a/53a [Mini marsupial] JOEY, ROO. 17a [“What nonsense!”] OH POOH. Not sure how crosswordthy that last is.
- 72a [Red wine from Australia] SHIRAZ. Also known as syrah. Not to mention Shirazi wine, or for that matter petit syrah. It’s all a little confusing. 36d [Somewhat] A BIT.
- 112a [Muse often depicted with a celestial globe] URANIA. Not ERATO, not CLIO! How refreshing.
- 49d [Seville tourist attraction] ALCÁZAR.
- 11a [Grouse] CARP. Bird → fish.
- 52a [Reproachful sound] TSK, 58a [Company best known for its cassette tapes] TDK, 125a [Festoons on Halloween, informally] TPS.
- 17d [Checks the figures?] OGLES, 23d [Lothario] RAKE, 95a [Pair on a pinup] GAMS, 99a [Consider] LOOK AT. 96d [Watch like __ ] A HAWK, 104d [Point of view] ANGLE, 110d [Apparently is] SEEMS. I’ll say this: no duplications. Not even in the clues.
- 38d TACKLE BOX, 43d GRAND JURY, 16d LITERATI, 81d CONTRAST. Those are all very nice.
- 83d [With a rhythmic groove] FUNKY, 84d [Delhi tongue] URDU. Sadly, I found no examples of FUNKY URDU music to share here. Can’t imagine it’s completely nonexistent, though. Would have a been a nifty coup and a good way to finish up this write-up.
NYT – Good puzzle, but not knowing a McCarthy actress led me to think of Candice Bergen, via her father’s famous puppet Charlie McCarthy… It turns out she had a blind date with Donald Trump while in college! “Short date.The sparks didn’t fly. I’m a Hillary supporter.”
Today’s LAT and NYT from Mark and Andrew were both extremely good. Well done to you both. I’m saving the Stumper for this evening. I always look forward to the challenge.
It was good to not be tortured by the weekend NYT puzzles and they were enjoyable as well. Thank you for making up for Thursday.
I had an error. I wrote I’M SO BAD, because that’s something you would say before quitting a video game, right? Like “Rrrrrr, I’m so bad at Mario Brothers!” [flings controller across the room]. Also ABU is a much better entry overall than AMU.
I found the Stumper to be a joyless slog.
Agreed. Too much trivia will do that.
More along the lines of tediously oblique clues, oblique only for the sake of being oblique. Not clever or insightful enough, no sense of fun in the revelations. And ultimately no feeling of reward or accomplishment.
Thought the NYT was very good. CS was irritating to solve [Joan Jett’s backup band is not in my frame of reference] but the theme was very clever in retrospect. Liked the LAT except for the SE. ADWOMAN? Puh-leeze. Aren’t we headed for gender neutral? And ALL METAL? I don’t think that’s really a thing. Disappointing, because the rest of the puzzle was very solid.
I enjoyed the puzzle. I got a kick out of FARMERS ONLY (dot com), but now I can’t get the jingle out of my head.
One nit: Psychiatrists do not rule in court. Psychiatrists give their opinion and judges rule.
Pretty easy weekend fare.
WSJ: 105D “Dreadlocked dogs” crossing 112A “Muse often depicted with a celestial globe” was brutal. I guessed right, but I never heard of the dogs and don’t feel much inclined to use (up) any brain storage on that word.
LAT: “A murder of crows” is one of my favorite phrases!