Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Surprisingly easy for a Saturday NYT, particularly since the Byron Walden byline cautions you, “Twisty clues ahead.”
My favorite fill includes SNOCKERED (we would also accept SCHNOCKERED), LOUIS C.K., EXIT POLL (not … always accurate), the dated-but-still-amusing “I’M TOO SEXY,” a SLEEPER HOLD, Hall & Oates’ “SHE’S GONE,” PARTY BUS (!), SCHNOZ, seasonal EBENEZER (bah, I say, and furthermore, humbug—and yes, I know the lovely clue is the unrelated [___ Baptist Church, where M.L.K. Sr. and Jr. preached]), KAUAI (seems like OAHU gets the bulk of the crossword love on the Hawaiian island front), and SKI LODGE.
Six more things:
- 7a. [Bugaboos], PET HATES. Is that actually a thing?
- 7d. [Sign of the cross?], PED XING. Great clue!
- We’ve got a subway series, with [Subway ___] cluing both STOP and LINE.
- Russian lit gets two clues: 44d. [Gogol’s Aksenty Poprishchin, per the title], MADMAN, and 4d. [The middle Karamazov brother], IVAN.
- 60a. [Like Robinson Crusoe], MAROONED. Speaking of MAROONED, there was a discussion on Facebook today about which Gilligan’s Island character would have been best in the sack. Some guy said Mrs. Howell, while the women’s consensus was the Professor. Your call?
- There’s an Italian vibe here, with Verdi’s ERNANI (which I know only from crosswords), ETTORE Bugatti (ditto), and DIALECTS clued as [Sicilian Italian and others].
4.2 stars from me.
Lee Taylor’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Set the Table” — pannonica’s write-up
Entries containing, in part, elements of a dinner table setting. For cohesion, all are clued via references to a named person. Nothing fancy going on in terms of placing the parts in their “proper” relative locations.
- 25a. [Part of Wayne Gretzky’s setting?] STANLEY CUP.
- 40a. [Part of Lewis Carroll’s setting?] LOOKING GLASS.
- 96a. [Part of Fox Mulder’s setting?] FLYING SAUCER.
- 113a. [Part of Vladimir Horowitz’s setting?] TUNING FORK.
- 7d. [Part of Gianni Versace’s setting?] FASHION PLATE.
- 42d. [Part of Paris Hilton’s setting?] SILVER SPOON.
- 39d. [Part of Doug Flutie’s setting?] LIBERTY BOWL.
- 66d. [Part of Bertold Brecht’s setting?] MACK THE KNIFE.
Here are some further observations. (Keeping it short in an effort not to disturb the blog monster that’s been menacing us.)
- 1a/36d [Hardwood choice] ASH, ELM.
- 34d [It may be made of koa wood] UKE, 68a [Spew pahoehoe] ERUPT.
- 95d/96d [Tex-Mex offering] TACO, FAJITA.
- 76a [Stunted, as trees] STUBBY. Was immediately obvious that KRUMMHOLZ wouldn’t fit.
- 72a [Smart] NATTY, 124a [Au courant] TRENDY.
- 24a [Prepared for a punch] TENSED, 97d [Like punches that pack a wallop] SPIKED.
- 105d [Pottery piece] SHARD. Said it before, and I’ll say it again: I prefer SHERD, and reserve SHARD for materials such as glass.
- 46a [Poetic feet] IAMBI. Ouch.
- 51a [“Who Put the __ …” (Barry Mann song)] BOMP. Ellipsis because the answer word is repeated later in the title. Three times.
- 65a [Capital nicknamed “la Ciudad de los Reyes”] LIMA. That’s Spanish for “the City of the Reyes”, you know.
- Nifty vertical triple eight stacks in the northwest and southeast corners. ASTEROID/SAIL INTO/HOME TEAM, SIDEWALK/ACADEMIA/CELERITY.
Good theme, lively cluing and fill. A solid Saturday morning offering.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I thought this would go smoothly after the first part of the puzzle went well. I’ve been in a decent groove recently and the upper left of this puzzle was filled in almost instantly. Then, in usual fashion for these Stumpers, the progress ground to a halt. The lower left wasn’t too bad, but some real toughies in the lower right and all kinds of fits in the NE corner did me in. All in all another great Longo puzzle. I count 68 words, and except for one term that is unfamiliar to me, I see nothing objectionable in this puzzle. This one was REALLY hard, I think! But still 4.5 stars.
Mainly a list of my mistakes:
- 18A [What’s west of the Sea of Japan] KOREA – This makes perfect sense, so why did I try KYOTO instead?
- 25A [Chocolate/cream desert] MUD PIE – I tried MOUSSE here. Both made me hungry!
- 42A [’80s Pontiac] FIERO – As tough as this puzzle was, I filled in quite a few entries instantly. This was one of them, because I remember these cars! My brother used to drool over them!
- 58A [Caterpillar in a forest] LOG LOADER – This is the unfamiliar term, but Frank really fooled me here! We are talking about Caterpillar equipment!
- 10D [Tap] MAKE USE OF – I had TAKE ONE OF. I must be slightly selfish!
- 13D [Square root of “cento”] DIECI – I figured “cento” was 100; had to look it up to verify this is all Italian!
- 32D [With jurisdiction] RIGHTLY SO – No problems here, just mentioning a favorite entry! No NYT appearances ever!
- 35D [Audience for a 1963 JFK speech] BERLINERS – This one made me think, which I like!
- 54D [Way to express affection] XOXO – Also slightly fooled by this one! Nicely done!
Another Longo classic. Time to ‘”ice” my sore gray cells after this one!
Doug Peterson & Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I mentioned in my Newsday post that I have been in a solving groove of late, and this puzzle is a prime example. Done in under 5 minutes! Perhaps I am getting better; perhaps it is solving a lot of Peterson and Varol puzzles. Perhaps the planets were in perfect alignment! Regardless, I had fun with this one, as a smooth solve hits some sort of pleasure sensor with me, as I am sure you all have experienced at some point. Another smooth LAT challenger for this Saturday; 4.4 stars for this one.
A few notes:
- 1A [Sole proprietor?] SHOE STORE – Great clue, but I wasn’t fooled for a second!
- 16A [Certain internet chatter] AOL-ER – Is AOL still a thing? I haven’t been on their site in YEARS!
- 30A [Test ban subjects] A-BOMBS – I never know if we are talking A-BOMBS or H-BOMBS! I don’t think they’re called N-BOMBS, but we have N-TESTS!
- 34A [Crow heard on tracks] SHERYL – Wasn’t fooled here either!
- 43A [1980 film with the #1 hit “Magic”] XANADU – I am old, so I remember this movie. It was weird. Good song, though!
- 46A [Like the Kara Kum] ARID – This is a desert in Turkmenistan. Wikipedia has it as one word or hyphenated, not two words.
- 68A [Montana’s has a plow, a pick and a shovel] STATE SEAL – Yes, I tried STATE FLAG!
- 23D [“Herbie: Fully Loaded” star] LOHAN – Is she still around?? Believe it or not, the movie is from 2005! (I thought it was older!)
- 31D [TD Garden skater] BRUIN – Home of the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics!
- 48D [Demon of Semitic lore] LILITH – I think the lore has it this was Adam’s other wife or something. I am too lazy to look it up!
- 59D [Electoral analyst Silver] NATE – His fivethirtyeight.com website I believe is now owned by ESPN!
That is all for today! Have a great weekend!
NYT: PET HATES not really a thing. “Pet peeves” is. Much more common & better on many levels. Also, bugaboo really is more about fear or trepidation, not hate. Not a bad puzzle but that particular clue/answer failed on both fronts.
I had the same reaction. PET was the last thing to go in…
NYT: I like the Russian Lit vibe… I went through a Russian literature phase in my youth (weird, I know) and then never looked back, but recently I’m feeling nostalgic about it, as I am reading “A Gentleman in Moscow”, by Amor Towles. So well done! And a reminder of Russia’s history, culture and politics, which are suddenly rather relevant nowadays…
In your Russian Lit phase, did you read The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov? I found it very humorous, which seems not to fit the Russian Lit Paradigm, but a very enjoyable read.
I tried reading Chekhov’s Comic Stories, but I think they’re only comic if you’re Russian.
My fastest Byron solve ever. He’s getting merciful in his old age. Great puzzle though, as always.
NYT/Gilligan’s Island: Totally Team Professor. Going for the Nerd Love.
PET HATES: for me, not a Thing. It sounds more anti-pet than pet-peevish. But it’s offset beautifully by lots and lots of great clues and answers.
Very enjoyable solve and not as wicked as I had feared after seeing the Byron-line.
Is a party bus a thing? I suppose you could have a party anywhere you wanted, but it sounds even less idiomatic to me than “pet hates.”
Yes, a party bus is a thing. Rented for excursions and events. Partying on *and* off the bus. I’ve never done it myself, but even in our little town, one can charter a party bus.
There was also an episode of The Big Bang Theory which had a scene that took place on a party bus.
Also Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Didn’t help me get the PARTYB__ answer.
I love “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”!
I’ve seen a lot of refitted-with-tires trolley cars used as party buses in Chicago. There’s someone in the building across the street who’s rented a party trolley twice. It is bizarre to see a trolley parked in front of a fire hydrant while somebody fetches another keg of beer from upstairs!
WSJ: Pale in color. Huh? Has anyone EVER commented to you-“Gee, you look washy?”
Your clothes can look washed out after many launderings, so that seemed only a tiny stretch.
1a : weak, watery <washy tea>
b : deficient in color
c : lacking in vigor, individuality, or definiteness
2 : lacking in condition and in firmness of flesh
Sorry but this is one that needs to be washed from acceptable.
WASHY anchored a triple-Natick of trivia (Hogwarts stuff, “Carol” director, “On the Beach” author), so I just quit on that corner. Yuck.
I’m surprised at the negative reaction to PETHATES — it’s an entirely idiomatic phrase for me. Maybe it’s more Brit than US.
Very nice puzzle and not as cryptic as the usual Walden opus. I got hung up in the SW by putting VALORO (which ought to be VALERO anyway) in place of TESORO, but then I remembered IMTOOSEXY and all was well.
SNOCKERED doesn’t sound quite right to me — SCHNOCKERED is what I would say. And KNEADERS doesn’t sound like a genuine job description. But those are small complaints.
WSJ/122a: “I resaw Casablanca last night” said nobody never. (I had to fight with the spellchecker to get it into this comment.)
Yes, that one was unfortunate, but I didn’t feel like calling it out. Seems that most every large grid contains at least one “roll-your-own” (as Amy calls them) clunker.
My only negative reaction was to the clue for SLEEPER HOLD. Most choke holds are illegal in college and amateur wrestling, although I frankly do not know where the line is drawn. SLEEPER HOLDS are common in mixed martial arts, judo and the cartoonish world of professional wrestling. I would have much rather seen a reference to martial arts than wrestling. As drafted, the clue seems like, say, a positive reference to a spitball in baseball.
Brilliant puzzle (as usual) of slightly easier than normal Byron difficulty.
“Esthete” is so unpleasant-looking without the a.
Stumper — Derek’s clue for RIGHTLYSO should be “With justification” ….. and I agree on the coolness of the entry (zero NYT uses? wow.)
This puzzle was in the 30 min. range for me, super swift. My unfamiliar bits were CROSSTREE (piece of yuletide decor) which crossed EXTEMPORE (offhand).
Several other fiendishly-clued bits:
[Taking off] = LESS
[One with uplifting feet]= ODE
[Upgraded improperly] = CHEATEDON (wait, i began thinking this was un-PC for a sec ….)
[Belt’s smaller relative] = SIP
[Comparatively considerable] = TIDIER (early on i had tinier, which mostly works too)
[Spots with no difficulty] = EDENS (sheesh, i was definitely thinking SPIES, NOTES, etc ..)
[Inflationary spiral] = AIRHOSE (man, i sort of guessed this one and WHALEBONE in quick succession just to see where it led, and hitting the nail on both was the inertia that carried me through the puzzle)
Such great wordplay, a real joy.