Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Nice themeless from Ms. Guizzo, and my main disappointment was that it played like a Friday NYT. I like Saturday puzzles to have more bite, and this one was on the easy side for me.
MALALA YOUSAFZAI was a gimme, and then with that Z in place, PIZZA MARGHERITA filled itself right in for 12d. [Italian food named after a queen]. I order a margherita about once a month, so right in my wheelhouse. (What the hell is a wheelhouse and why is somebody’s set of knowledge said to be in it?) The other matrixed 15s, ALL KIDDING ASIDE and LAID IT ON THE LINE, are super-smooth as well. Other entries I was keen on include GOSH-DARN, PINED FOR (this and REINS IN are good examples of verb phrases with a preposition/adverb/whatever that are not at all strained, whereas I hate to see something like DAB AT in a grid), an electron’s ORBITAL, ANAIS Nin, SCULPTOR, and CODE RED.
Fill in the Department of Underwhelm: partial OLD AS, LEM, plural abbrevs LTS and RRS, and R.E.A. (huh??). The legitimate verb OKING (OKing) looks terrible and nonsensical to me (but it is legit), and RETIN-A is weird as a partial medication trade name.
Five more things:
- 24a. [Missouri and Arizona], SHIPS. The U.S.S. ___. Was anyone fooled?
- 1d. [“I wasn’t expecting it, but …”], SOMEHOW. I wasn’t quite seeing how this clue applied, but now I’m imagining a solver saying “I wasn’t expecting it, but somehow I managed to finish this puzzle!”
- 27d. [Like kiwi fruits], SEEDY. They’re so run down. Tropical fruit from the wrong side of the tracks.
- 7d. [Classic film whose soundtrack is famously composed entirely of strings], PSYCHO. Really? How did I not know this trivia?
- 57d. [“I already have other plans,” often], LIE. It’s the new “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.”
4.3 stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Just a tad tougher than normal, but all-in-all another solid LAT entry. Hardly anything too hard, but what is difficult is rather tough. I will try to mention a couple of the doozies in the comments below. But we want a challenge, don’t we? 4.3 stars for this one.
A few notes:
- 1A [Time keeper?] NEWSSTAND – One of the best clues in the puzzle!
- 29A [High-end chocolatier] LINDT – Making me hungry …
- 42A [Home to Mount Kinabalu] BORNEO – If you say so!
- 54A [Mideast unitarians] DRUZE – One of the tougher entries. Not familiar with this much at all! Here is some background info.
- 2D [Hydroxyl compound] ENOL – Never fun to see this one. In Ed’s defense, the crossers are all awesome.
- 8D [Emeril’s French Quarter restaurant] NOLA – Eating at one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants is on my bucket list! Getting more hungry …
- 11D [Feature of Civil War General Ambrose Burnside] MUTTON CHOPS – This dude if most famous for being the eponym of the term “sideburns!”
- 22D [Explosion surrounding a star?] MEDIA FRENZY – This is probably the best clue! Yes, I was going to put in SUPERNOVA, but it wasn’t long enough!
- 28D [Dr. Alzheimer] ALOIS – Another toughie. I had to look this up to verify. This page mentions more about another famous eponym!
- 30D [Ordinary people] COMMONERS – Similar entry in the Saturday Stumper at 11-Down!
- 38D [“Dancing With the Stars” numbers] LINDIES – As in Lindy Hop, I think. Maybe a clearer indication of a slang term would help?
- 49D [Golden State sch.] UCLA – The Golden State, is, of course, California!
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Yes, 31 minutes. This one was tough! I breezed through the SW corner actually quite rapidly, but then it was all over. Many error squares today. I even tried to solve this time with some headphones on pumping soft classical music into my brain! It was quiet, peaceful and calm, and it still didn’t help!! Despite the difficulty, this is a really good puzzle. There is only one word in here I don’t know, and the clueing is quite tough, but fair. Too tough maybe, but the Stumper is supposed to be too tough! A solid 4.3 stars today.
- 7A [Shield from enemy eyes] DEFILADE – The aforementioned word I didn’t know! I checked; it’s in the dictionary …
- 17A [Top male R&B artist of the ’90s] R. KELLY – Who else could it be? This was actually almost a gimme.
- 18A [Audio storage units] CD TOWERS – I think this is the best clue in the puzzle. Great misdirection!
- 32A [Raconteur in Ken Burns’ “Baseball”] O’NEIL – As in Buck O’Neil, I believe, the Negro League legend. I never saw all of this documentary, but I remember him being in it quite prominently.
- 3D [Ezra recounts its rebuilding] THE TEMPLE – Yes, I wrote JERUSALEM in at first! Oops!
- 7D [Shape of some foreign coins] DECAGON – An example:
- 24D [She edited Princess Grace’s book] JACKIE O – I couldn’t find what book is being referred to here. My wife says my Google skills are horrible, though!
- 25D [Least stale] TONIEST – Eww. Not my favorite, but it works.
- 34D [Anagram of “redaction”] I DON’T CARE – This is really clever!
- 38D [Setting for any “M*A*S*H” movie] MESS TENT – Why movie? I would think most any episode! They were always eating!
I could go on, because there is a lot of good here! Enjoy your weekend!
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Uh-Oh” — pannonica’s write-up
Vowel-change theme! From schwa to long-o. As per the title.
- 23a. [Jump from a startled kid?] GOAT REACTION (gut …).
- 33a. [Person deciphering a short coded letter?] NOTE CRACKER (nut…).
- 50a. [A quick snort followed by a quick puff?] NIP AND TOKE (… tuck).
- 68a. [Series finale of a daytime drama?] THE LAST SOAPER (… Supper). See also 113a [Meal] REPAST, 123a [Ready for dinner] SEATED. No dupes.
- 89a. [Style one’s hair like Donald Trump?] COMB ACROSS (come …).
- 103a. [Cowardly horse with a flecked coat?] CHICKEN ROAN (… run). See also 3d [bay baby] ROAN.
- 119a. [Scoundrel from old Iran?] PERSIAN ROGUE (… rug).
Light theme, but the results were at least mildly entertaining, and the overall crossword offered a lot of good stuff. Liked the longish non-theme entries SUCCUMBS, CORRESPOND, INTERSTATE, SQUAD CAR, BROWBEAT, IROQUOIS. (26d, 77d, 4d, 74d, 60a, 81a)
- 16d [“Human Behaviour” singer] BJÖRK. The video was an early directing effort by Michel Gondry
- Favorite clues: 46a [Person that puts up with you] GUEST. 91d [Back on deck] ASTERN (not so original, but I still liked it).
- Conversely, I wasn’t charmed by 99d [One might be in the mail] KNIGHT.
- Oh, speaking of things French … 54d [Pretentious pancake] CRÊPE, 64d [Little, in Lille] PETIT, 47d [It has a duel purpose] ÉPÉE, 58a [President Hollande’s home] PARIS, 27a [Centre de l’orbite de la Terre] SOLEIL, 17d [Nice sunburn color?] ROUGE.
- Let’s make some more connections, shall we?
- 55d [Gwangju setting] KOREA, 117a [SUV from Gwangju] SPORTAGE, 100a [117-Across and others] KIAS.
- 79d Auto that debuted in 2006] TESLA, 80d [Auto that debuted in 1957] EDSEL.
- 39a/68d [Cal. column heading] TUE, THU—at least they’re the two T-days.
- 36d/53a [Have chips, say] MUNCH, SNACK.
- 40d [River of eastern Germany] ODER, 48d [River of western Germany] SAAR—wow, what a pair.
- 83a [Sleep stopper] NOISE, 124a [Wake a bedmate, maybe] SNORE.
- 101a [Save] BUT, 127a [Proviso conjunction] UNLESS.
Decent theme, fairly clean grid, solid and often clever clues, these add up to an enjoyable Saturday solve.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “The Living End” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning from our nation’s capital, everyone! Here in DC to cover a football game (Brigham Young University vs. West Virginia University), but absolutely shattered that I won’t be able to swing by to the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the National Mall. Honestly, sports gets in the way of fun things sometimes!
Speaking of fun things, today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, was just that: fun! In it, each of the theme entries is a noun which takes on a different meaning than its regular connotation because of the way it’s clued. The hook is that each one ends with a word that also can be used to describe where a person may live.
- CLEARINGHOUSE (20A: [Residence in a glade?])
- DOUBLE FLAT (35A: [Duplex apartment?]) – I was wondering where the music-related clue(s) was going to be in Tony’s grid today. Here it was, as one of the themes.
- LANDING PAD (42A: [Crib at the top of the stairs?])
- STATE QUARTERS (56A: [Accommodations at the penitentiary?])
Some of the entries were definitely tough nuts to crack because of their relative obscurity, and, specifically, I’m talking about entries like JUTE (1A: [Rough rug fiber]), AGLET (32D: [Shoelace tip]) and PLOVER (25A: [Piping shorebird]). I guess when I worked for a baseball team whose nickname was the Shorebirds (Delmarva Shorebirds, 2007), I should have read up on actual shorebirds and know all the different ones! Was doing laundry last night while still in New York City and I saw a family who lives not too far from where I live break out the GRILL one last time, despite the fact that it’s officially fall now and the grills are usually put to pasture until Memorial Day weekend (38A: [Cook out, perhaps]). Good for them! Some nice long fill in the grid today, especially that of CORE VALUE (11D: [Basic belief]) and LIKE A FOX, which usually is never used to describe my smoothness…well, a lack thereof is more like it (39D: [In a cunning way]). Maybe I’ll swing by the National Mall area after all and maybe catch a long, long, long-distance glimpse of the C-IN-C at the museum today (18A: [Abbr. akin to POTUS]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KEYS (47A: [Things made to fit in cylinders]) – Considered a future star of American tennis, Madison KEYS currently is ranked ninth in the world in the latest WTA rankings. After her tour victory in Birmingham, England in June, she debuted in the Top 10, making her the first American woman to make her Top 10 debut in singles since Serena Williams first reached the Top 10 in 1999. Keys’ best result at a major was in 2015, when she reached the semifinals of the Australian Open as an unseeded player, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams in the semis.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!