Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
If you like Patrick Berry’s work and aren’t afraid of challenging variety cryptic crosswords, check out his newest puzzle suite, “Son of the Crypt.” $15 gets you anywhere from hours to months of brainy entertainment.
For an easier challenge, we’ve got Patrick’s Saturday puzzle here. He makes space for 12-, 13-, and 14-letter entries that are often left out of themeless 15×15 grids (where it’s usually either 15s or entries that are ≤11 letters). NISSAN TITANS is awkwardly plural, I like ONCE UPON A TIME, SHOCK-RESISTANT is a little boring, ROSEANNE CONNER is an absolutely terrific answer, Monopoly’s VERMONT AVENUE is pleasingly pale blue, and a retro CASSETTE TAPE evokes nostalgia.
Elsewhere in the grid, I learned a new word: 37d. [Australian monitor lizard], GOANNA. JOANNA would be better fill, but how are you gonna clue JEE? Rupert Jee doesn’t show up on TV much anymore.
Let’s see what we have in the clue department:
- 23a. [Jugged ___ (old British delicacy)], HARE. I Googled this after solving, hoping to find that, like Welsh rabbit/rarebit, it was a cheesy vegetarian dish. Alas, no.
- 45a. [Land line?], COAST. Not a telephone land line but the line at land’s end.
- 1d. [Ticket waster], NO-SHOW. How many no-shows do you think there are at a Cubs World Series home game?
- 9d. [Ruins the reputation of], TAINTS. That word makes me laugh and I blame David Cross and Bob Odenkirk.
- 11d. [Small carp], NIT. Yeah, I filled in KOI first. Just me?
- 27d. [Liqueur in a margarita], TRIPLE SEC. Listen, here is the best margarita: Fresh-squeezed lime juice (no marg mix), Patrón Silver, and Triple Sec on the rocks, salted rim optional.
- 32d. [Compiler of an 1855 reference work], BARTLETT. I have two pears ripening in the kitchen, and you can quote me on that.
3.9 stars from me. It’s got smooth fill, yes, but there wasn’t a lot of bite, or devious cluing, or surprising fill. And I like all three of those to be in a Saturday puzzle.
Peter Wentz’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Mr. Wentz makes great puzzles! This puzzle was enjoyable, unlike the Cubs game last night. But it’s not over yet! (Hopefully that last sentence explains the late post!) A fine 70-worder with some great long entries; I will rate it 4.4 stars. Yes I am being short because the Cubs have me all emotional!
- 23A [Marx work] DAS KAPITAL – I have time to read this now!
- 35A [“Pretty much goes without saying”] “IT’S ALMOST A GIVEN”
– Awesome 15-letter entry. Understandably it has zero NYT occurrences!
- 42A [Roman commoner] PLEB – The only tough vocabulary word in the puzzle. At least to me!
- 6D [Send in the cloud] UPLOAD – A part of life in the 21st century now! I have cloud accounts with Google, Apple, Microsoft, SugarSync … I should consolidate!
- 8D [Hotel dining room option] BREAKFAST BUFFET – I tried to squeeze BREAKFAST IN BED in here! That’s how I roll!
- 12D [Certain explorer] SCUBA DIVER – This one gave me fits. Good clue, but very vague, which gives the solver fits if you’re not thinking on the correct wavelength.
- 27D [Sight from the Oval Office] ROSEBUSHES – I forget which president had these put in. And I also have never been in the Oval Office. Obviously!
- 34D [2012 Nintendo debut] WII U – An abysmal system, or so I hear. Never owned one. I evidently would rather solve word puzzles than play video games!
- 50D [One of the Ringling brothers] OTTO – I believe you! I don’t think I ever knew this!
Going to be a long weekend if the Cubs lose Saturday night. Hopefully you all enjoy your weekend! Time will tell if I enjoyed mine!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Yes, the Cubs lost on Friday night. Subsequently, I feel like I lost in the puzzle against Brad’s clues! True, solving a puzzle is not as emotionally taxing as watching the Cubs in the World Series, but this was close! Although once a toehold is gained, I found myself saying several times to myself “Oh yeah! DUH!” when I figured out several clues. Brad is one of the masters of this form of crossword, and this one doesn’t disappoint Several Ks and Xs make for some not too common fresh entries. A solid 4.5 stars for a puzzle with virtually nothing objectionable in it!
Some faves (and areas where I was stumped!):
- 1A [Finishing touches] MOP-UPS – I had RECAPS in my head, and even SERIFS. This corner was actually not that hard, once it’s finished!
- 15A [Amin’s ’70s headquarters] KAMPALA – I thought ENTEBBE at first; then when I had the K from KARL MARX (mentioned in a clue for today’s LAT!), I though KARACHI at first, but that’s in Pakistan!
- 26A [Oceanic force] ARMADA – One of those “Oh yeah! DUH!” moments. Had EL NIÑO in there at first!
- 30A [Work parodied by Duchamp] MONA LISA – Found a pic of it. Read this to understand the letters!
- 44A [“The Economist” coinage of 2012] BREXIT – This word is that old? They’ve been discussing this that long?
- 56A [Singer voicing Gazelle in “Zootopia”] SHAKIRA – This is tough if you haven’t seen the movie. Which I haven’t!
- 1D [Mideast’s “radiant city”] MEDINA – Again, it totally makes sense once you get it, but with wrong letters in there it makes it tougher!
- 3D [Capoluogo della Sicilia] PALERMO – “Capital of Sicily” if your Italian is rusty!
- 9D [2015’s fastest-growing music format] LPS – Interesting! I see lots more vinyl at our local Barnes & Noble. Maybe we will see a record store resurgence! (Or not!)
- 15D [Theorist on the “Sgt. Pepper” cover] KARL MARX – Mentioned above. Lots of famous people on this album cover! (I won’t show it here; it would be too small to see anybody!)
- 36D [What six bells can signify] SEVEN A.M. – I never understood how this worked!
- 41D [End of some tour-de-force solos] MIC DROP – Great entry!
- 45D [Herbal beverage] TISANE – I have watched every episode of Poirot on Netflix, and this is his beverage of choice!
Going to be a stressful weekend of baseball! See you on Tuesday!
Raandolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Two for the Presidency” — pannonica’s write-up
Surnames of US presidents are ubiquitous eponyms. Even with such fertile ground, it takes keenness to distill and manipulate them into the constraints of this theme. Seven pairs of them have been sorted into various categories, and they’re in the crossword grid with the usual stipulations of symmetry in location and length.
- 23a. [Two airports] REAGAN AND KENNEDY. Pool of eight, but these are probably the two most prominent.
- 32a. [Two automobiles] FORD AND LINCOLN. Oh, I should mention here that these things are not necessarily named in honor of the presidents. Henry Ford preceded Gerald Ford (né Leslie Lynch King Jr) by a good while.
- 46a. [Two Ritas] COOLIDGE AND WILSON.
- 61a. [Two 1950s Hollywood sex symbols] MONROE AND TAYLOR. Tom and Rod.
- 79a. [Two brothers who founded a Fortune 500 company] JOHNSON AND JOHNSON. This one is like cheating.
- 93a. [Two stars of the 1942 comedy “The Talk of the Town”] GRANT AND ARTHUR.
- 103a. [Two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees] HARRISON AND TYLER. George (twice; also Jerry and Nigel) and Steven.
It’s a spiffy theme, admirable and commendable, but not exactly thrilling.
Not part of the theme: 36a [Jefferson Starship and Bush] BANDS. Cute flourish, but a distraction and even a detraction. There are other theme-adjunct elements, including 97d [Term of office] REIGN, 39a [Presidential staffer] AIDE, 52a [Pres.’s domain] USA.
Solid long non-theme fill: nine-stacks across to open and end the affair: 1a [Keeps down] OPPRESSESS, 20a [Downtown, e.g.] URBAN AREA, 111a [Jazz singer who’s a British Dame] CLEO LAINE, 114a [Not multiple-choice] OPEN-ENDED. The two longest downs are 17d [Business cycle description] BOOM AND BUST and 67d [Sounds familiar] RINGS A BELL.
- 42d [“Nashville” director] ALTMAN. A film set against a rally in support of a populist outsider running for president of the United States. >shudder<
- 16d [Siren, e.g.] ENTICER, 98d [Played the siren] LED ON (not LURED).
- 33d [Draftable status] ONE-A, 60d [Country club for kids] FOUR-H.
- 34d [Bound to get] IN FOR, 70a [Seeking] OUT FOR. Hmm.
- 71d [Roman holidays] FESTAS. Bit arcane, no? I also didn’t know 69a [Particle with a strangeness of +1 or -1] KAON.
- 57a [Berlin brewski] BRAÜ. That’s, uh, an obvious cognate.
- 75a [1920s blues song that was a 1966 hit for the Animals] C.C. RIDER, aka “See See Rider”. Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels had a big hit with it the year before, but I can appreciate why the other version was chosen for the clue.
- 64d [Apple for Apple and target for Target] LOGOS. Amazing. Yet… favorite clue: 40d [Animal that might be mistaken for you] EWE, which is also rather hokey. I realize they aren’t comparable, a homphone and a couple of tautologies, but hey we’re just the fingers and we type what the brain’s neurons signal us to. Second-favorite clue: 22a [Fewer than few] NONE.
- 81d [Lock changer?] DYER. Is Geoff DYER still not famous enough?
- 100a [Peppershrikes and greenlets] VIREOS. Oh my.
A well-made, timely crossword.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Back Out” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, is more fun with puns, as, because of the clues, the word “back” is taken out of common phrases to create the funny answers.
- BREAKING JOB (21A: [Work involving a jackhammer on a sidewalk?]) – Backbreaking job.
- QUARTER SACK (31A: [25-cent tote bag?]) – Quarterback sack.
- GROUND CHECK (40A: [Gardener’s test with a moisture meter?]) – Background check.
- PAPER WRITER (50A: [Student working on an English essay?]) – Paperback writer.
Man, for some reason, neither DUBAI (1A: [Persian Gulf port]) nor DOME off the bat, and that made me abandon the Northwest corner all together until the very end (1D: [Rotunda topper]). It also didn’t help that I wanted, and was committed, to put in “trio” instead of BAND when I knew the band in question had many more than just three people (3D: [Chicago, for one]). Guess my head was all over the place today, which it has been since I just came back to New York from nine hours of traveling on an Amtrak. Lots of geography in the grid, and I especially liked the intersection of IRAN (49A: [Country with a Caspian coastline]) and ITALY (49D: [European country featured in “Eat Pray Love”]). OK, time to catch up on some rest, have dinner and watch a little World Series action.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TRIBE (13D: [Ancestral group]) – With Cleveland being in the World Series, one of the storylines that’s once again come to the fore is their nickname, “Indians,” and it’s place in sports. Colloquially, the team is called the TRIBE, in reference to Native American tribes. In the past couple of years, the Indians changed the primary logo from Chief Wahoo, the red-faced abomination of a mascot to the block “C.” However, if my memory serves me correctly, the Chief Wahoo logo was on the team’s hats during last night’s Game 3 of the World Series.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!