James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Easier than last Saturday’s NYT puzzle, I thought.
Top fill: The slangy MICKEY D’S (meaning McDonald’s), IN AND OUT clued as [Visiting only a short time] (typically for an out-of-town trip), BOGARTS (You know where I learned that word? From an American song, “Don’t Bogart That Joint,” that I first heard in Czechia), GRAVITY’S RAINBOW (never read it—am I missing anything?), DRUM SET, and “YOU’RE DARN TOOTIN’.” Oh, and BAUBLE, which always reminds me of Eilonwy and her powerful “bauble” in Lloyd Alexander’s books.
- 1a. [Rugby rival of Harvard], MCGILL. School in
TorontoMontréal. One of my doctors-in-training went to McGill. He pronounces capillary with the emphasis on the pill syllable. People from Canadia talk funny.
- 27a. [A place antelope lope], VELDT. I don’t think Gareth likes this spelling, that South Africans who have this landscape feature call it veld.
- 30a. [Maugham’s title girl of Lambeth], LIZA / 20d. [Still matter?], BOOZE. That Z was my last letter in the grid. Tricky clue crossing relatively obscure literary title … yeah. Have any of you read Liza of Lambeth? Anyone?
- 46a. [One of “the highest form of literature,” per Hitchcock], PUN. The clue reads awkwardly, no? And is this about Alfred H.?
- 1d. [Unhand or disarm?], MAIM. Brutal, gory.
- 4d. [Daughter and half sister of Oedipus], ISMENE. I have a faint recollection of a high school English teacher working a dreadful “is me knee” joke.
- 44d. [Davis of film], GEENA. You all know about Davis’s activist work, right? She created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The institute’s focus is on broadening the representation of women and girls in media. I love this work!
Four stars from me.
Brad Wilber & Samuel A. Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Brad has a hand in both this puzzle and the Newsday Saturday Stumper! While his collaborative efforts are generally not as tough as his solo efforts, this one took me a tick longer than a standard Saturday LAT challenge. As mentioned in the Newsday post, I feel more mentally worn out these days. There will be a nap in my future!
But enough about my personal problems: This is an awesome puzzle, which doesn’t surprise me when I see the byline. Lots of great stuff in here, and nothing really that is objectionable. 4.4 stars for this one!
Lots of favorites:
- 1A [Rose of rock] AXL – As in Axl Rose of Guns N Roses fame. Fairly sure he is from Indiana!
- 29A [Turning point?] USE BY DATE – A common phrase seen by virtually anyone who has EVER had milk! Well done!
- 35A [WWI hero portrayed by Gary Cooper] SGT. YORK – The movie doesn’t use the abbreviation, and I don’t like it here, but it still works.
- 44A [Line after Casca’s “Speak hands, for me!”] ET TU, BRUTE – You knew it had to be something famous!
- 58A [Corfu locale] IONIAN SEA – I had AEGEAN SEA at first. Oops! Probably why the time was a tad long!
- 62A [“A Room With a View” author] E. M. FORSTER – Either you know this or you don’t. Looks like you have an error until you realize there are initials involved!
- 4D [Ovoid winds] OCARINAS – Trying to include a pic, but the pics aren’t uploading well.
- 8D [They may provide track details] SLEEVE NOTES – One of the things I miss from actual albums. Maybe I will buy an album on iTunes and see if I can get some liner notes!
- 15D [Browning field] POESY – Not my favorite word, but it helps contribute to a fairly open corner, and I don’t think I could have done any better!
- 26D [Focus of an EPA phase down introduced in 1973] LOW LEAD GAS – As in gasoline fuel, I assume. A tick before my time. And a phrase not used much today, since it is all low lead. At least I think! How about it for talking about something I have no idea about and am too lazy to Google!
- 36D [Chess luminary Kasparov] GARRY – There are a few famous two-R Garrys, but this one just may be the most famous!
- 37D [Much of Botswana] KALAHARI– I think there was a season of The Amazing Race that took place in this desert, but they were in Namibia.
Cubs game tonight! GO CUBBIES!!!
Lars. G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not too tough today! Getting used to a different work grind, so I have been putting off solving a bit because my brain is actually tired! Once I sat down with this one, and with a little peace and quiet, it fell pretty easily. Upper left and lower right areas were probably the easiest, although all corners have long stacks meshed quite nicely. This one is right in my sweet spot as far as difficulty. No really obscure words in the grid, and the tough clues I think I am getting used to! I am sure my confidence will be shot to pieces the next time Brad has a puzzle entered with his own byline instead of this collaboration pen-name with Doug Peterson. A solid 4.5 stars.
- 1A [“Grey’s Anatomy” production company] SHONDALAND – If you have ever seen one of her shows, you’ve seen this image, usually at the end.
- 15A [World Series events] POKER GAMES – The WSOP (World Series of Poker) is still a fairly famous event, but with the upper Midwest caught in Cub fever, this did not occur to me right away! (GO CUBBIES!!!!)
- 35A [“Frankenstien” inspiration, possibly] GOLEM – Have not heard this before, but it makes sense. Very interesting bit of trivia!
- 46A [Pete’s conqueror in the 1992 US Open] STEFAN – As in Stefan Edberg, one of my favorite tennis players of all time!
- 56A [Himalayan ancestor] SIAMESE CAT – Imagine the laugh I had when I figured out this wasn’t some scary Yeti-type monster!
- 5D [“Game of Thrones” hatchlings] DRAGONS – What else would it be??
- 8D [Operator of cookiekahuna.com] AMOS – As in Famous Amos, I assume. According to this blurb on the site, it IS him, just under a different name!
- 12D [Marked by turpitude] INIQUITOUS – Just about needed a dictionary here! This is a case of those tougher words mentioned earlier!
- 13D [Perioperative occupation] SCRUB NURSE – Makes sense. I had NURSE in early, but couldn’t figure out the specialty!
- 25D [Not exactly choice words?] ORDER – Not sure I understand this clue. Having a brain fart no doubt!
- 26D [Bit of paste] RHINESTONE – Oh, as in paste JEWELRY! I get it now!
- 31D [Coiner of “selfish” and “nectacled”] OGDEN NASH – One of my favorite poets ever! A great coiner of nonsensical words similar to Dr. Seuss!
I could say more because I had a ton of fun on this puzzle. Have a great weekend!
Jacob Stulberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Up the River”ddd — pannonica’s write-up
Clever puzzle here. There are six four-letter rivers appearing vertically in the grid, and each links two across answers. Together—the first across segment, the river name bottom-to-top, and the second across segment—the three elements comprise a single, long answer. I’ve circled the letters of the rivers in the grid to make the connections explicit. Also, I can attest there is no PADDLE in the grid.
- 11d. [This one is in Africa] NILE; 26a [Isn’t fooled by appearances] READS BETWEEN THE | (E)LI(N) | (11a [clued elsewhere]) NES = READS BETWEEN THE LINES. See also 93d [Addict’s problem, often] DENIAL.
- 32d. [This one is in central Europe] ODER; 50a (&32a) [Many an emergency contact] PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR.
- 55d. [This one is in California] NAPA; 72a (&55a) [Severely squished] FLAT AS A PANCAKE.
- 57d. [This one is in Russia] LENA; 74a (&57a) [Haithi in “The Jungle Book,” for one] INDIAN ELEPHANT. Crossed by 49d [“Better man than I” of verse] GUNGA DIN.
- 79d. [This one is in central Europe] ELBE. 96a(&79a) [Experimental to the point of risk] ON THE BLEEDING EDGE.
- 106d. [This one is in Russia] NEVA (which is what I first tried at 57d); 118a(106a) [Be thorough ad then some] LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED.
Spiffy, no? Leans heavily on Russia/central Europe, but I guess that’s where a lot of the good letters are. For some relatively well-known examples not represented here geographically that also have promising-looking letter strings, Western Europe provides ARNO, EBRO, and AVON, while Asia has DEVI, YALU, and RAVI.
May as well mention—if I don’t surely someone in the comments will—the fact that the NILE is famously the only major, major river that flows from south to north. It isn’t significant in context of this crossword despite it being the first theme answer and considering how the rivers “flow” from “south” to “north”.
- 14a [Image of Pluto] CEL. The Disney dog, not the planet, not the Greek god.
- 21a [Remorseful feeling] RUE. Noun form!
- 62a [Avoid procrastination] PLAN AHEAD. Au contraire! Planning and doing, not the same.
- 75a [Spanker, e.g.] SAIL. New to me. Related to spinnaker?
- 85a [Donne and Bradstreet] POETS. Ooh, so cute, WSJ.
- 113a [“Rocky III” co-star] MR T; 81d [Ivan __ (“Rocky IV” boxer] DRAGO.
- 13d [It may be on the house] STUCCO, 98a [Painting surface] GESSO.
- 18d [Low-calorie quaff] DIET POP. This is just so alien to my lexicon, even though I’m aware that large swaths of the country use this term. I can only muster “soda pop” or “sody pop” facetiously, and never an unadorned “pop”. It sounds even iffier than 70a [Motel guest’s woe, perhaps] ROAD NOISE (which I think of as hearing while one is actually in a car, through the tires and windows and so forth). No, I will not be inserting a video of the Doors’ “Cars Hiss By My Window” – you’re welcome.
- 96d [Covent Garden offering] OPERA, 31a [“The Gondoliers” maiden] TESSA, 41a [Subject of many arias] AMORE.
- 100d [Common infection, briefly] STAPH. I had STREP, briefly. Not in my body, in the grid.
- 44a [Erne] SEA EAGLE. That’s a refreshing reversal.
- 59d [Penultimate letter] PSI. Greek, not English or Latin. Paralígousa? Also, this will be the penultimate item in the bulleted list. I’ve just decided.
- This item has no significant content beyond providing veracity for the foregoing one.
Striking theme, lots of solid mid-length fill, very little frass, and generally high-quality cluing. Very nice crossword.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Let’s Have Dessert First” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon (now, evening), everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Lynn Lempel, appeals to our sweet tooth with the starts to each of the theme entries.
- PIECEWORK (17A: [Person paid per item produced])
- FLANDERS FIELDS (27A: [Area of devastating World War I battles])
- CRISPUS ATTUCKS (42A: [First American casualty of the Revolutionary War])
- TARTAN PLAID (56A: [Boxy Highlands garb])
The number of FLEABAGS I’ve stayed in during my travels over the past decade or so have been too numerous to count (3D: [Hotels for the desperate]). Hoping that’s not the same next week when I have to stay over in Pittsburgh for a night. Liked that fill the most, and usually have a pretty good time with a Lempel puzzle. Would write more, but currently have to head out and make sure I catch an early enough train from Princeton to New York so I have some energy for tomorrow. By the way, if you’re wondering how I can leave now, but have time for the “sports…smarter” clue, know that, most times, I type that part of the blog before the meat and potatoes here.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROSS (33A: [Supreme singer?]) – Could have gone many different ways with this, but I decided that I’ll highlight beach volleyball player April ROSS, who has won Olympic medals in each of the past two Olympic Games. A two-time First Team All-America and two-time national champion while at USC, Ross teamed up with Jen Kessy to win the silver medal in beach volleyball in London in 2012, losing to the legendary team of Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. In Rio, Ross, now teamed with Walsh Jennings after May-Treanor’s retirement, won the bronze medal.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!