David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What do you know? The Friday puzzle played like a Saturday for me, and the Saturday puzzle was markedly easier.
Feeling mighty tired, people! Inadequate amounts of sleep pretty much all week, and three hours in the sun for the Cubs parade. (Raise your hand if you think that both 20-something Kris Bryant and 60-something Joe Maddon are eminently crushworthy.)
The puzzle! Okay. Each quadrant has some good stuff in it. I was partial to SHOPLIFT, OVERPLAN, ST. KITTS, SCABBARD (love that word! and also scabrous), MONROVIA, STARDATE, FLAT-RATE BOX, STREET-SMART, LINE ITEM, MEGATRON, and SWERVE.
Question about licorice: The ANISE clue is 46d. [Black jellybean flavorer]. Aren’t those licorice-flavored? Wikipedia’s ANISE article says the spice is used in those infernal candies. I looked up the ingredients of two brands of black jelly beans, and both say only “natural and artificial flavors.”
- 52a. [Conservationist’s field?], PRESERVE. As in a grassy field, not a field of study. And probably wildlife conservation rather than art conservation. Tricky clue.
- 38a. [TV character who said “Help always come when people fight for right”], TONTO. Crikey, really? You people know that there are actual indigenous Americans who solve the crossword, right? Who likely feel crapped upon by a clue like this, with the ungrammatical “dialect” foisted on the character.
- 36d. [Device used to detect radio waves], COHERER. This sounds a lot like one of those roll-your-own words. Apparently this is a real (and maybe dated?) thing, but something like spectrometer garners 192 times as many Google hits.
- 25a. [Cicero’s longtime servant and scribe], TIRO. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this name before. I have seen the entry in fusty crosswords, but clued as a variant spelling of tyro.
- 28a. [Flatten], SMUSH. Yes, I filled in SMASH first, but I actually prefer SMUSH. It’s more apt for certain applications.
- 47a. [Gail ___, inventor of condensed milk], BORDEN / 40d. [Popular arts-and-crafts brand], ELMER’S. “What are logos with cows?”—imaginary Jeopardy! player.
- 43a. [Character in Uncle Remus tales], BR’ER FOX. Brer being an elision of “brother.” Would have preferred this to be clued by way of old African-American folklore rather than referencing the Joel Chandler Harris stories. You can read a bit on Harris’s iffiness.
The TONTO clue is more tone-deaf than the BR’ER FOX one, but the combination of the two in a single puzzle stands out.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The prolific constructor C.C. Burnikel has made a fine puzzle this weekend. I am getting pretty used to her style, which may explain the fast solving time, or maybe it’s the fact that I am in a good mood because the CUBS HAVE FINALLY WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!! I still cannot believe it. Glad to be able to say I saw them live this year at Wrigley Field. Now I am sure the apocalypse will start soon … !
As mentioned, I had little difficulty with this one. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great entries in it. Clues more entertaining rather than having a high difficulty level. Which is fine with me! 4.1 stars.
Some of the highlights:
- 17A [Hunt object] EASTER EGG – Especially in video games! Or in this Kickstarter, a collection of puzzles I have never finished!! His puzzles supposedly all contain an Easter egg, and I have never found one of those either!!
- 19A [“Break Free” singer Grande] ARIANA – She is slowly becoming a superstar. Still young, only 23 years old!
- 20A [Benihana founder Rocky] AOKI – Another famous AOKI to add to the golfer and the DJ!
- 31A [Most Hong Kong Airport travelers] ASIANS – Is she sure … ? ;-)
- 35A [Movie with the subtitle “Dawn of Justice”] BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN – I must see this movie soon, because I read a lot of DC Comics as a kid. I just hear it is so terrible!
- 41A [Showtime title vigilante] DEXTER – Another show I need to catch up on. I am in Season 3 somewhere. Highly recommended, and on Netflix!
- 63A [Historic sewer] BETSY ROSS – No, not a city sewer! Nice clue!
- 6D [“Around the World in 80 Plates” co-host Cat] CORA – A veteran of Iron Chef on the Food Network. This show is on Bravo, or as I like to call it, “that channel I never watch!”
- 12D [Big bird watcher] EAGLE CAM – I think this refers to a camera set up to watch an eagle’s nest. Not too common, but a great entry.
- 37D [Cellphone annoyance] TEXT SPAM – Also good! And get your number on the no call list!
- 52D [“Enigma Variations” composer] ELGAR – My mission is to learn this piece intimately, so I can understand the puzzle!
Marathon race this weekend! Hope I survive! Have a great weekend all!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not too horrible this week; and that’s a good thing, as Saturday is my first full marathon in 5 years! Going to be a slow one, as my health problems have slowed me a bit this year. But Jennifer and I will finish!!
So I will thank Stan for a relatively nice puzzle. 4 stars. We solvers will pay for this next week!
- 14A [Air-pressure measure] TORR – Exactly 1/760 of an atmospheric unit. Whatever that means! This page explains it better. A new word to me!
- 15A [Metaphor for density] SARDINE CAN – Nice clue! My son was solving with me, and he thought this was pretty good.
- 43A [“Dancing with the Stars” step since 2009] THE LINDY – Is this the Lindy Hop? I have watched this show off and on, and I have never seen a dance referred to as “the Lindy.”
- 54A [Rapper on Time’s 2016 “most influential” list] NICKI MINAJ – She is pretty popular; I don’t know about “influential.”
- 4D [Emulate eels] WRIGGLE – I had SLITHER in here, especially since ACAI at 17A I knew was right. Caused some understandable issues in that corner!
- 11D [Maker of anvils, birdseed, rocket sleds, etc.] ACME – Wile E. Coyote’s favorite supplier! I laughed when I read this clue!
- 16D [Guys taking race-cations] IRONMEN – As in Ironmen Triathletes. One of these days…
- 28D [Dubble Bubble sister] TOOTSIE POP – No idea at first, but you knew it had to be some sort of candy or similar. Nice piece of trivia!
- 36D [Nutrition Facts standard] GRAM – My son said this had to be GRAM, but I didn’t believe him! Out of the mouth of babes … even though he’s 17!
- 42D [Political power structure] APPARAT – Let’s learn a new word! This is also, to no surprise, where my only error was. Obviously a form of the word APPARATUS, but still a new one on me!
- 50D [First name in an apt “I paint modern” anagram] PIET – As in PIET Mondrian, a painter I am becoming more familiar with. Never exposed much to art history when I was younger; picking up a lot more now that I am old and crotchety!
- 52D [Martial arts weapon] KNEE – It wasn’t FIST!
Almost forgot: HOW ABOUT THOSE CUBBIES!!!!!! Have a great weekend everybody!
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Red States/Blue States” — pannonica’s write-up
Brief, tardy write-up (6 Nov). Apologies.
It’s safe to say that this has been an emotional election season. In this rebusified crossword, the emotional senses of red state and blue state—ire and sorrow—in addition to the identifications of the two major political parties (since 2000).
- 22a. [Best way to view bears] FROM A DISTANCE. Also a fairly turgid yet popular song.
4d. [Drifter] NOMAD.
- 24a. [Some presidential appointees] AMBASSADORS.
14d. [Arab spring opposer] ASSAD. Such an anodyne clue.
- 36a. [“Hamilton” won one in 2015] DRAMA DESK AWARD.
37d. [Catholic boarding school resident of children’s literature] MADELINE.
- 54a. [Alert and energetic] FRESH AS A DAISY.
39d. [Impassioned movement] CRUSADE.
- 72a. [Many an early HDTV] PLASMA DISPLAY.
67d. [Best picture winner whose soundtrack won a classical Grammy] AMADEUS.
- 89a. [Role played to provoke debate] DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.
75d. [Qdoba offering] QUESADILLA.
- 104a. [High-maintenance sorts] PRIMA DONNAS.
105d. [Honoree of a day in mayo] MADRE.
- 106a. [Master of macabre cartoons] CHARLES ADDAMS.
108d. [He addressed the Knesset in 1977] SADAT.
All of the symmetric pairs are MAD and SAD—alternating, no less!— so it’s all evenly balanced. Technically commendable, emotionally distressing.
As a spectroscopist, COHERER is very dated. But, nice to see a scientific analysis tool in the puzzle!
LAT: AMATO crossing GATO? ARIANA crossing CORA? BOLTON crossing TANTES? [And TANTES was a WTF in its own right.] I’ve liked Burnikel’s puzzles. This was a perfect example of what I hate. 4.1 stars, Derek? No.
NYT comments: Wow – getting very PC these days.
Where have you been? I’ve always been this way. Also, the term “PC” is such a red flag to me.
I agree with him… but it’s your blog :)
I agree with Derek about C.C.’s LAT. It was on the easy side, but the fill was so lively, it was a pleasure to solve.
46. Tours relatives : TANTES French aunts.
If Spanish aunts – TIAS – are fair game, TANTES are, as well.
C.C. and Lempel both have predictable, clumsy cluing. Agree with C as well re: NYT>
NYT: Pretty easy for Saturday. I like that! David Phillips has a quite harsh review of his own puzzle on Wordplay and in XWord Info – highly entertaining.