Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Dang, this puzzle killed me like a Frank Longo “Saturday Stumper.” The top quarter of the puzzle resisted my efforts to have any idea what answers the clues were getting at. Oof! I even caved and Googled 8d. [___ Bill Weedles (Land of Oz character)] to get CAP’N (never heard of the character), and that confirmed the CASES of 1a DISPLAY CASES (great clue: [You’ll see things in them you can’t handle]) as well as pointing the way towards 13a MOMMIE DEAREST (the movie of which I’ve never seen, but I can get it on demand on TV so I will). I sure did not know 26a. [Ben-___ (N.F.L. cheerleading squad)], GALS (for the Cincinnati Bengals, I presume, ugh, pathetic attempt at wordplay), and I tried LETTER and PARCEL instead of CEREAL for 14d. [Post box’s contents]. Bitten by the obscured capital P, dammit!
Eight more things:
- 45a. [They’re known as “Viennese bread” in Scandinavia], DANISH PASTRIES. Huh. In a local Swedish restaurant, Tre Kronor, they call them Danishes (but I call ’em Swedishes there). Raise your hand, though, if you’ve never used the term DANISH PASTRIES rather than Danishes.
- 27d. [Old Roman coins], LIRE. You were thinking, “Oh, shoot, I only know DENARII, what other ancient Roman coins are there?” In pre-euro modern Rome, LIRE.
- 33d. [Over-the-counter product?], FORMICA. Not sure if Formica is still commonly used in countertops, but it’s a great clue.
- 34d. [Inseparable duo], BESTIES. I just like that word a lot.
- 42d. [City near Turin], ASTI. Ooh! Someone gave us a bottle of Asti spumante for Christmas, and it turns out it’s delicious! If you like sweet wine, this is the bubbly wine for you.
- 46d. [Noted writer who married his first cousin when she was 13], POE. Eww, perv.
- 14a. [Something work-related], COMPANION PIECE. Something related to a particular work (or other thing that’s not a “work” of any sort). I needed plenty of crossings to figure out what this answer was.
- 41a. [Onetime White House family], OBAMAS. Uh, we don’t typically use “onetime” for things from 15 days ago.
4.25 stars from me. Just wish my brain had unraveled the clues on top a little more smoothly!
David C. Duncan Dekker’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one played a little tougher than a normal Saturday LAT, but I will attribute that to a constructor that I am not totally familiar with, and also a visually stunning wide open grid! Only 68 words, and a whopping 16 ten-letter entries! The upper left was tough, lower right probably the easiest part. Lots of great fill, as per usual in an LAT puzzle, and an enjoyable solve. 4.3 stars.
- 1A [Runway covering] TAR MACADAM – Full name for what we call the “tarmac.” Great 1-Across entry!
- 24A [Good yield] BUMPER CROP – I live in the agricultural midwest, so this was a gimme. But a great entry! A rare NYT entry according to xwordinfo.com, my go to site!
- 59A [“Constant Craving” singer] LANG – Why was I confusing K. T. Oslin with k. d. lang? Now this song will be in my head all weekend. And yours:
- 6D [Minor players] COGS – Also an abbreviation for Cost of Goods Sold, which I see a lot in my accounting job!
- 24D [1956 rockabilly hit] BE BOP A LULA – A hit by Jerry Lee Lewis. This will be in your head as well!
- 26D [Code-breaking game with colored pegs] MASTER MIND – Played this a lot when I was younger. Great thinking game. I think I will buy one for my son!
- 29D [Fictional Soviet sub] RED OCTOBER – I read a lot of Tom Clancy novels years ago, so this was a gimme for me. Read Debt of Honor if you never have, and remember it was written in 1994 when you get to the climactic ending!
- 37D [Voice of Master Viper in “Kung Fu Panda” films] LIU – This must mean Lucy Liu. Never seen this movie either!
- 40D [Flamenco guitarist Carlos] MONTOYA – Yes, I tried SANTANA at first, but I know he isn’t a Flamenco guitarist!!
- 55D [Headland] NESS – No clue about Al Capone’s enemy? Bravo!
That’s all for today! Despite that dumb groundhog, warm weather is coming!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
As usual, Anna’s (Stan’s) puzzle is not so horrid. Still took me darn near 20 minutes! Definitely a Stumper, but I wasn’t angry when I was finished, like I sometimes am for a few of these! But that is usually just frustration with myself, and also due to a lot of noise distractions while solving. Life with a four-year-old! 4.4 stars for this 72-worder.
A few notes:
- 1A [Musical with “Find Your Grail”] SPAMALOT – I thought this was what this was, but I hesitated. Ended up filling this in near the end!
- 15A [Nickname of Tiberius’ successor] CALIGULA – Gaius Germanicus was his real name. I had to look that up!
- 21A [About 40% of insect species] BEETLES – I remember this from school!
- 30A [PC switching short-cut] ALT-TAB – One of the first I filled in. And I rarely use this shortcut!
- 35A [End of many British businesses’ URLs] CO DOT UK – Or “co.uk” as it would appear. Great clue and entry, and nice for it to be smack dab in the middle!
- 58A [Dance best known by half its name] HULA-HULA – I don’t think I knew this bit of trivia!
- 6D [Indy Speedway’s Turn 2 Suite, e.g.] LUXURY BOX – Just signed up for the Indy Mini, a half marathon that actually runs a lap on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! Race is on May 6!
- 23D [Henna product] TAT – No indication that this is a slang word. Is TAT a slang word? Is the phrase “henna tat” used? I have never had a “henna tat,” so I don’t know!
- 36D [Dolls at the Bedrock City gift shop] DINOS – This is a real place near the Grand Canyon, evidently. I will have to look this place up if I ever travel to the Grand Canyon!
- 43D [Nation named for a tree] BRAZIL – I had the R, A, and I, and I guessed ARABIA!
- 55D [Tarleton twins hangout] TARA – Obscure Gone With the Wind reference. Nice!
- 59D [Bit of Hawaiian pizza] HAM – Ham and pineapple are on a Hawaiian pizza. Getting hungry!
Hopefully you’re all having a nice weekend!
Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Missing the Big Game” — pannonica’s write-up
Wow, it seems as if constructor Alex Eaton-Salners is everywhere lately. Not quantifying this impression, though.
Today, in recognition of the Super Bowl—the pre-game show started this morning at 7am, right?—phrases drop the bigram LI, which is 51 in Roman nvmerals.
- 23a. [Greenskeeper’s charity?] SOD FOUNDATION (solid foundation). Before understanding the theme I suspected that the original phrase was soda fountain.
- 33a. [Curses directed at a happy couple?] DOUBLE HEXES (double helixes).
- 49a. [Hindu dietary guideline?] BEYOND BEEF (beyond belief). A little muddled, as Hinduism is a belief system, and we get unhelpful resonances.
- 63a. [Get-together on a ladder?] RUNG PARTY (ruling party).
- 69a. [Setting for some fishy jokes?] COMIC REEF (comic relief).
- 85a. [Center of a trampoline?] BOING POINT (boiling point).
- 97a. [Very best wurst?] POSH SAUSAGE ( Polish sausage).
- 113a. [Title for a synopsis of pie and brittle recipes?] THE PECAN BRIEF (The Pelican Brief). 18d [Pieman’s wares] TARTS.
Soft revealer at 120a: [NRG Stadium, for Super Bowl LI] VENUE. Companion pieces: 22a [Falcon’s home] ATLANTA, 116d Gillette Stadium player, for short] PAT. There’s more. 60a [Halftime spots] ADS, 75a [Took the trophy] WON / 47d [Didn’t take the trophy] LOST, 121a [Gridiron gains] YARDAGE, 2d [Get a touchdown, say] SCORE, 4d [It follows the Super Bowl] OFF SEASON, 13d [Field workers] ATHLETES, 15d [Didn’t play] SAT, 41d [Andre in the Pro Football Hall of Fame] REED, 64d [Forrest in the Pro Football Hall of Fame] GREGG. I also noticed the clue-only leaning of 52d [They may be dressed in pads] SORES.
WSJ crosswords—especially the 21×21 grids—typically have a high clever clue content, but this one seems to have even more than usual. Some work better than others. Among my favorites: 66a [Second-hand items?] WATCHES, 96a [Something to ruminate on] CUD, 106d [Targets for crackers] SAFES, 115d [Fruit sampler] EVE. In the not-so-much category I put 42a [They’re open daily] EYES, 123a [Some body problems] DENTS, 71d [Stock exchange?] MOOS.
Going to skip further commentary, my typical pulls from the crossword, links, and so on. Have an appointment coming up soon. Good puzzle, but I didn’t get too excited about it.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “3 x 5s” —Ade’s write-up
Good afternoon, everyone! Running around once again in DC, so my apologies for the later-than-expected post. Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is very straightforward: four figures who happen to go by three names, with all of the names being five letters in length.
- SUSAN SAINT JAMES (17A: [“McMillan & Wife” actress])
- JOYCE CAROL OATES (27A: [“Blonde” novelist])
- HENRY CABOT LODGE (49A: [Richard Nixon’s running mate in 1960])
- SACHA BARON COHEN (65A: [Borat Sagdiyev portrayer])
After almost three full years, I finally break the five-minute barrier. Now I know how Roger Bannister felt when breaking the five-minute mile! OK, maybe not. Not at all. But, still, pretty cool to see the “4” in the minutes column. Definitely didn’t hurt that each of the theme entries weren’t hard at all to get if you’re in tune to your pop culture and politics. Nothing much stood out outside of the theme entries, outside of probably wanting a couple of MOJITOS at the end of the night tonight (9D: [Havana highballs]). I have NEVER (18D: [“Not in a million years”]) watched The Real Housewives ever, so I needed all of the crossings to make sure LISA was correct (3D: [Housewife Vanderpump of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”]). It’s pretty cold out east right now, but thank goodness there’s no SNOW to go along with that (64D: [Blanket material]). Alright, time to go back out and head to the Chinatown section of DC for another game. No REST for the weary, that’s for sure (13D: [Take five]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PASS (1D: [Throw from Tom Brady]) – We will definitely see a PASS or two tomorrow thrown by Tom Brady as the New England Patriots play in the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons. Brady holds the Super Bowl record for combined touchdown passes in Super Bowl history with 13. He also has the most combined completions (164) and passing yards (1,605) in Super Bowl history.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!