Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
There were a number of answers here that didn’t feel quite crosswordable. TV DRAMA, AD-SPEAK, EYE TEST (we prefer eye exam in this house), “THAT’S HOW,” and RECORD SET (not double album, triple album, boxed set?) feel a bit shy of the mark. And then you have binary ONES along with “one” in the MONO prefix clue, 49d. [One up front?].
Favorite bits: WATERMELON SEEDS that you know just might grow vines in your stomach, MR. PINK from the now-24-year-old movie Reservoir Dogs, POSTERS clued as dorm room decor, CAMBODIANS clued with informative trivia (25d. [People ruled by an elective monarchy]), STRONG POINT, and STEPKIDS.
On Twitter, one solver flagged the Natick crossing of Rabindranath TAGORE and MOSE Allison. If you don’t know either of those names (and I’m sure a great many people do not), it’s not as if TAGOR* and MOS* are obviously completed by just one correct letter. A, C, E, I, H, O, T, U, Y … if you figure Allison is a first name (it isn’t here), there’s zero hint to how to assemble the last name. And if you’re not familiar with Bengali names and their spelling, well, this crossing probably snagged more than one person.
Grid design issue: The northwest and southeast quadrants are fairly cut off from the rest of the puzzle, which made it harder to make headway in those sections. My solving time was definitely on the harder end of the Saturday NYT spectrum (though this was still easier than most Newsday Saturday Stumpers).
Four more things:
- I could’ve sworn Joel McHale hosted Talk Soup but apparently THE SOUP was sort of a spin-off of the former.
- 20a. [Small glass disk used as an ornament in a stained-glass window], RONDELLE. Disk = round thing = rond- root seems plausible. It’s helpful that the crossings weren’t proper nouns.
- 36a. [Potential libel defendant], TABLOID. Why, how timely. In the current era, we’ve got the National Enquirer tabloid openly supporting Donald Trump, who talks of suing the New York Times and other media outlets for purported libel.
- 26d. [___ al Khaymah (one of U.A.E.’s seven emirates)], RAS. I didn’t know this place name (got the letters from the crossings, and have done crosswords long enough to nail CONGER with a vaguely eelish clue), but it felt plausible because of Batman’s enemy, Ra’s al Ghul. Apparently the villain’s name translates from Arabic as “the demon’s head.” So the place name is the head of something? Yes, “headland of the small huts.”
3.25 stars from me.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Usually the puzzles with the byline Matthew Sewell are usually not too problematic for me; this one was! Sailed through the upper left quadrant, then was totally stymied for long stretches of time. Maybe it is the amount I have on my mind today: today is my college graduation! (Check Facebook for updates and pics!) One of these days I will wise up and have someone sub-blog for me when I have a big event. But in all honesty, I am going to do the puzzle anyway, so it’s like a relaxing, calming part of a busy weekend!
I am rambling. This puzzle is really good! How about 4.5 stars today?
- 20A [Took too many courses] ATE A LOT – I had OVERATE in here at first, which naturally caused severe problems in this area!
- 34A [Reason for diminished returns] CAPITAL GAINS TAX – For some silly reason, I wrote “LAW” instead of TAX. A simple clue once you get the answer, but a great clue nonetheless!
- 49A [Leader between Jacques and François] NICOLAS – As in Nicolas Sarkozy, between Chirac and Mitterand. I figured they were talking French presidents, but I couldn’t remember Sarkozy’s first name!
- 54A [Awesome prospect] PANORAMA – Not a common use of this word. More familiar with the panorama pic feature on iPhones, of which my wife just got the new 7 yesterday!
- 1D [Term now sensitive for some Finns] LAPP – This is interesting. I wonder why this is the case? Should we use it in puzzles??
- 2D [Its 50 is getting a redesign in 2017] EURO – I have never held any euros in my hand. My trip to Europe 13 years ago was to countries that didn’t use it yet (Denmark and Britain). This website shows the differences between old and new. Great current events clue!
- 6D [Undoing of many Bard protagonists] FATAL FLAW – Part of the reason his stories (or whoever wrote them!) are timeless!
- 12D [Trend scout] COOL HUNTER – I had to look this up, and once I did, it became my favorite entry in the puzzle! This site explains all!
- 13D [Starting order] ON YOUR MARK – Even my four-year-old knows this!
- 25D [1 or pi, for instance] REAL NUMBER – This always gets me, because I know pi is an irrational number also. I guess a number can be real AND irrational, unlike people!
- 26D [Baker’s butter substitute] APPLESAUCE – I had APPLE?????, and couldn’t remember this. Once I got it, it was a definite “Oh yeah!!” moment!
- 32D [Bashes] WINGDINGS – Awesome! I have been to a few “wingdings” in my day …
- 41D [Metaphorical obsession] BEE – This one I don’t understand at all. Stan, explain!
I could go on and on, because not only was this a fun puzzle, but I know it intimately SINCE I SPENT SO MUCH TIME ON IT! Have a great weekend, all!
Mark Diehl’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A themeless challenger from one of the masters! I wish I had constructing talent like this! I find I just enjoy solving more, but I still wish I could produce work like this! Not quite as hard as the Stumper or NYT Saturday, but still some great clues, lively entries, vocabulary stretching words, and even a fair amount of humor! 4.6 stars for another tour de force from one of my favorite crossword “setters!”
A taste of what I liked best:
- 15A [Mine shaft tool] TREPAN – Did I now mention vocabulary stretching? This is one of those EYKIOYD words!
- 17A [Cab Calloway catchphrase] HI-DE-HO – Or hi-de-hi! My grandmother once told me that we were shirt-tail relations of his. Hasn’t translated to any royalties, yet …
- 18A [Jonathan’s cousins] WINESAPS – Great misdirection clue!
- 31A [Stallone, in “Capone”] NITTI – Never saw Capone, but I will see if it is on Netflix!
- 37A [Replacement for unlisted items] AND SO ON – Or can be read and clued as AND SOON!
- 41A [Charity tourneys] PRO-AMS – As in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament held every year, in which Donald Trump used to play! Maybe not anymore … !
- 58A [Baloney] FOLDEROL – Another great word, and also fits the definition of vocab stretching!
- 7D [“The Shape of Things to Come” author] H. G. WELLS – Well known author; not so well known work!
- 9D [Ziering of “Sharknado”] IAN – You know this clue makes you smile! And you know you suffer through these campy comedies just so you can understand what everyone is talking about!
- 12D & 14D [1994 Peace Prize sharer] YASSER ARAFAT – Shared with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.
- 21D [Peace Nobelist of 1983] WALESA – As in Lech Walesa, the famous labor leader from Poland. This puzzle may have a record number of Nobel Peace Prize winners in it!
- 32D [Like tournament favorites] TOP-SEEDED – I like this. Don’t see this much in puzzles
- 36D [Craig role] BOND – As in Daniel Craig, whose latest Bond movie Spectre I have yet to see. I think it’s on Amazon Prime this month!
- 52D [Nice school] ECOLE – As in Nice, France! This always fools me at first!
As mentioned in my Newsday post, today is graduation day! See Facebook for pics! Have a great weekend, and GO CUBBIES!!!!!!
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Nice Round Numbers” — pannonica’s write-up
“Round numbers” as in a round of golf. Each theme answer sees a phrase altered by the addition of the trigram PAR.
- 22a. [First choice for conducting your wedding?] FAVORITE PARSON (favorite son).
- 33a. [Something hard to come by on Fifth Avenue onn St. Patrick’s Day?] MARCH PARKING (March King).
- 45a. [Rescinding of a contract put out on an informant?] MAFIA PARDON (Mafia don).
- 66a. [Kid trading his Lego set for more valuable toys?] BRICK PARLAYER (bricklayer).
- 79a. [Everglades Day event?] GATOR PARADE (Gatorade).
- 93a. [Lingo that you don’t need to pay for?] FREE PARLANCE (freelance).
- 106a. [Some royal affairs?] WINDSOR PARTIES (Windsor ties). Is there a special tie or is it just a necktie with a Windsor knot?
Not an especially exciting theme.
- 19a/45d [Portland setting] OREGON, MAINE. There’s also one in England, but 96a provides [Sussex sip] TEA.
- 25a [“__ Wrong” (2014 #4 song by Nico & Vinz)] AMI, 52a [Brigitte’s buddies] AMIES. (84a [Geeral assemblies?] ARMIES.) Also, who the hell are Nico & Vinz? #getoffmylawn
- 54a [Eastern events] SUNRISES. Nothing too crosswordy there; I’d been expecting TETS or some such.
- 58a [Blood count?] DRACULA.
- 90a [They may be decorated] HEROES. With lettuce, onions, et al. Oh wait.
- 1d [Lite] NO-FAT. As is typical, had to wait for crossings to eliminate LO–FAT and LO-CAL, and even NO-CAL.
- 17d [Annoyance for online gamers] LATENCY. Wasn’t familiar with the word in this context. For reference.
- Last spot to fall: the conglomeration of the erstwhile obscure 66d [Mark for an 88] B-PLUS, 70a [Metric prefix meaning “trillionth”] PICO-, and 78a [County named for the first president of the Republic of Texas] BURNET. Interestingly, crossing the B there is 74d [Porterhouse’s kin] T-BONE.
- New to me: 96a [Noddies, e.g.] TERNS. “Noddies are members of the tern family Sternidae in the genera Anous, Procelsterna, and Gygis.” ANOUS undeniably has crossword-friendly letters.
- 105d [Mkt. measured by the Nikkei Index] TSE, Tokyo Stock Exchange. Because we’re all tired of Thomas Stearns Eliot?
So I guess I’ll call this one 72d [Vaguely] SORT OF… average?
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Following Along” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Hope you’re all well and having fun this Saturday! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, has three 15-letter theme entries, with each first word – or part of the first word – being a synonym of the other two, meaning to follow.
- LATTER DAY SAINTS (17A: [Mormons])
- POSTSEASON GAMES (32A: [Sugar and Rose Bowls]) – I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended a Rose Bowl before. The stadium (Rose Bowl) is a sight to see and watching a big-time college football game isn’t bad to boot..
- AFTERNOON PAPERS (51A: [Once common dailies])
Always was going to love the grid, given the abundance of longer fill. Wasn’t so thrilled with the entry of SELECTEE, as that tied me up in knots for a while (34D: [One caught in a draft]). The crossing of DACHA didn’t help, especially since I put an “S” instead of a “C” in the middle, causing a trouble spot (48A: [Russian summer home]). Other than that, loved the solve, especially the pop culture-centric bottom right hand corner, with both BERNADETTE (55A: [Actress Peters of film and stage]) as well as the full name of ANDY WARHOL featuring (57A: [Pop art pioneer]). Then there’s the lively fill of HOOTENANNY crossing both of those (27D: [Musical wingding]). Have to head out now, as I’m getting ready to board a train from Princeton, N.J., heading to New York. Oh, and it’s a little cold as I’m waiting on the platform and my fingers are starting to get a little numb. Definitely a sign that I should wrap up. But, before I go…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GAYE (9D: [Marvin of Motown]) – One of the most famous renditions of the national them sung before a sporing event was performed by Marvin GAYE, preceding the 1983 NBA All-Star Game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Here it is…
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!