Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Jim Q’s write-up
(Editor’s note: Jim’s write-up will be posted later on. I’m here at the ACPT and did this puzzle on paper in the Marriott lobby. Loved the puzzle! Super-smooth, but if you are stymied by today’s popular music, you may get off to a slow start here. I’ll post my solution grid before Jim gets here, but I won’t feel bad if he replaces it with one that is actually legible!—Amy)
Jim Q here now… and here’s the legible version:
I’m bummed to be missing the ACPT once again this year. But alas, it’s high school musical season, and there’s a lack of piano accompanists in my county. It’s either me or the other guy. But I wore my crossword Converse… so that makes it better.
Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg are both top-notch constructors with a reputation for modern, fresh fill (I’m not saying it has to do with their age or anything…), and this puzzle met that expectation starting with 1-Across. While I’ve never heard of LIFE OF PABLO, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to suss it out since my girlfriend was looking over my shoulder and couldn’t help but shout the answer. I LAID AN EGG in the rest of that corner… some tough down clues there: “Got it” for I CAN SEE, and “Unbroken” for FERAL were tricky, and since I confidently entered FLESHES for “Gets” (don’t judge), I hightailed it outta there.
When I feel threatened, I run. Note to self: Don’t use that as a pick up line.
Rest of the grid fell relatively quickly (for me) though.
- 66a. [“Just stop talking already”] NOBODY CARES. Great clue, great answer. And I appreciate the lack of exclamation point in the clue. Gives it a fun voice.
- 38a. [Raised sharply] JACKED UP. I’m curious to know what the original clue was before this puzzle was edited. I’m willing to make a small wager it wasn’t “Raised sharply.” I’m more familiar with the Urban Dictionary definition.
- 33a. [Classic case of making life choices?] ROE V. WADE. In retrospect, I should’ve filled this in a lot quicker than I did. Don’t puzzles seem super easy once you’re finished with them?
- 14d. [Broadway title character who runs off to Atlantic
City] NANETTE. Okay… this one hurt for the sole reason that the show I’m currently playing piano for is Ragtime. And in Ragtime, there’s a big scene where several characters run off to Atlantic City. So of course, I had to run through those characters first… none of which fits by the way. Also none is a title character, which I realized just now.
- 31a. [Seder celebration] meeting 32d. [Pitcher who was the 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year]. PESAC(H) and (H)IDEO NOMO. This was the last square in the grid for me, and I couldn’t help but see the name GIDEON OMO. So I put in a G. Fully aware that PESACG is ridiculous.
Overall a fun, smooth solve. 4 stars from me… Good luck rating the puzzle though if you’re all on the same Marriott network!
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I think I have done maybe just one or two others by Greg before; perhaps that is why I struggled a bit with this one. Or maybe its just been a long exhausting week! But we are in Stamford now, so that makes it all OK! Should be a fun weekend of puzzling and puzzling, followed by more puzzling!
This puzzle has great long entries that weave through the grid and connect different sections, and plenty of wide open spaces. To accomplish this with a minimum of dreck is a feat. While challenging, this puzzle was actually a lot of fun to solve. How about 4.5 for this slightly-tougher-than-normal Saturday LAT!
A few notes:
- 1A [Hot-button subject in journalism] MEDIA BIAS – A lot of attention is on the media, what with a few of the outlets warring with the President. But all I know is this: The media still needs people to watch or read! And that sometimes may affect what is printed. Getting off my soapbox now!
- 28A [Firebrick cooker] PIZZA OVEN – Pizzas do seem to taste a little better when made in one of these. Met a guy who built one of these in his back yard!
- 49A [Land shaped by erosion] MESA – Or where the Cubs spend their Spring Training days!
- 57A [Common college consequence] EMPTY NEST – Is it wrong that I can’t wait until I have an empty nest??
- 3D [Its only counties are Kent, New Castle, and Sussex] DELAWARE – I have been to Delaware a few times, and I should have known this immediately!
- 10D [Conventional] STEREOTYPIC – Shouldn’t this end in -AL?
- 24D [When needed] AS NECESSARY – Great long entry. And no NYT occurrences ever!
- 34D [What one might do after a broken date] EAT ALONE – I like this clue a lot, perhaps my favorite of the puzzle, because of the word picture it evokes!
- 35D [Credit card bonus] AIR MILES – Flying to Stamford once a year doesn’t get one many “air miles!”
There are crosswords to be done! Have a great tournament if you’re in Stamford with me!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
It’s funny how these puzzles seem a lot easier when the grid is filled in! Struggled with this one; not a good sign for the crossword weekend that is now upon us! I am writing this from the Stamford Marriott, and hopefully the puzzles fall nicely in the competition! Brad has lots of good stuff here, and, as usual, a couple of the clues are extremely brutal. But as mentioned, on reflection, they make a lot more sense! I’ll discuss several down below, but suffice it to say this was a real toughie. Couldn’t crack 30 minutes! 4.4 stars for this beast!
- 15A [Focus of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling] OBAMACARE – Of course! I forgot this got all the way to the Supreme Court. Certainly in the news a lot these days!
- 17A [Lots of ports] NAPA WINES – I think this may be my favorite and the best clue in the puzzle. Simple, yet dastardly!
- 18A [Netanyahu mentor] ARENS– Who? Moshe Arens, and Israeli politician interestingly from Lithuania. Not a familiar name with me.
- 29A [What talking heads are paid for] PUNDITRY – I tried OPINIONS here. It fit!
- 34A [Darwin’s American ally] ASA GRAY – This name would NOT come to me! On a side note: it is rarely stated that Darwin was English, not American!
- 51A [They would have you “Taste the Feeling!”] COKES – I thought this was a slogan for Coca-Cola, and this is technically correct, although a clumsy plural!
- 7D [Servers of volleys] CANNONRY – Wow! Talk about a rare word. I had the -RY since I struggled in the NW corner (and finished the puzzle in that area!), so I tried WEAPONRY instead. I Googled CANNONRY: 27,000 hits. In other words, not many!
- 10D [Starts Scrabble] DRAWS – My first Scrabble tournament is next Saturday! I will be happy to just win ONE game!
- 29D [Premiere conducted by Toscanini] PAGLIACCI – You have to know some of his works to answer this. Toughie.
- 30D [Self-described “greatest athlete to live” (2012)] USAIN BOLT – This is REALLY tough. But most elite sprinters are extremely arrogant, so this clue makes a lot of sense if you think of it that way!
- 42D [“Twelfth Night” singer] FESTE – How well do you know your Shakespeare? This is a weakness for me. I am doomed if I ever make it to Jeopardy!
- 44D [City north of Verona] TRENT – I believe you. Still on my bucket list to take a trip there for the food!
Enjoy the ACPT!
“Elizabeth Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Block Party” — pannonica’s write-up”
Had no idea what the theme was until just now. I mean, I saw the revealer at 90a: [Hit Netflix show that hints at the theme hidden in the puzzle’s borders] HOUSE OF CARDS. Oh, so all the limning entries are types of cards! In fact, they can all precede the word ‘card’.
- 1a. [Bestselling Michael Buble album] CHRISTMAS. Christmas card.
- 10a. [“That’s exactly it!”] BINGO. Bingo card.
- 19d. [In theaters] PLAYING.
- 60d. [“Cats” showstopper] MEMORY.
- 98d. [Child labor] RECIPE.
- 122a. [2010 Lady Gaga hit] TELEPHONE.
- 121a. [Naive] GREEN.
- 120d [Pack away] STORE. This one’s a bit weak, I feel.
- 87d. [Figures on wanted posters] REWARDS. Cute clue.
- 47d. [College unit] CREDIT.
- 1d. [Cavalry shout] CHARGE.
Counterbalancing the revealer is 43a [Views a season of 90-Across in a single sitting, say] BINGE WATCHES. That’s a nice touch.
Fortifying the grid is the choice to make all of those ringing themers parts of triple stacks. It’s most impressive with the 9-letter entries across in the northwest and southeast. CHRISTMAS / HOOLIGANS / ARSONISTS (that’s quite an implied narrative) and PEPPERONI / CLASS TRIP / TELEPHONE (this potential story would probably be a lot more benign). The others are: two stacks of sevens, four sixes, and two fives.
Found many of the clues charming and entertaining. Here’s a sampling: 28a [When rights may be outlawed] ON RED, 94a [Spot for axels] RINK, 119a [It might end up in a museum] CLASS TRIP, 13d [The last word, often] GOODBYE, 52d [Record holders?] PRISONERS (53d [Cooped (up)] PENT), 92d [Ticket add-on] FEE (not an affix clue!).
38a [“Worldly” World’s Fair symbol] UNISPHERE. In Flushing Meadows Park. Hey, that’s what it says right on the book! Factette I just learned: the name of the publisher is Arethusa Press (but this looks like a vanity operation). No, that isn’t the interesting new information—it’s Arethusa, who was a Peleponnesian water nymph, her name signifying “waterer”.
67a [Coffee go-with] DANISH, 117a [Odense residents] DANES. Yes, we know that danishes aren’t really from Denmark. Nevertheless. 48d [Capital about 100 miles from Key West] HAVANA, 89d [Habanero’s mild cousin] POBLANO.
73a [Cause a stink?] REEK, 87a [Really smelly] RIPE. 101a [Fill with cargo] LADE, 120a [Pack away] STORE. 50a [Stock exchange?] MOOS, 32d [Scare into silence] COW. 83a [“Don’t change that!”] STET, 109d [Proofing mark] DELE.
Clue I did not care for: 40d [Scottish and Welsh] TERRIERS. Too minimal. Yet 59d [Having hands] ANALOG is similar, but somehow it doesn’t irk me as much. Or should I say LESS SO (95a)?
18d [“Moon River” composer] MANCINI.
Fun, fine crossword.
WSJ News: Maybe others are aware of this but, since this news hasn’t been mentioned here, I wanted to pass it along. Prompted by a comment in yesterday’s WSJ puzzles blog (blog.wsj.com/puzzle/), I went back to comments associated with last Friday’s contest puzzle (March 17). In comments made on Monday following the release of the contest puzzle solution, Mike Miller, the WSJ VP whose area of responsibility includes the puzzles, said “So sometime in the next few weeks, I expect we are going to put the puzzles behind the paywall, accessible only to WSJ subscribers, along with most of the other content the WSJ publishes.” He went on to talk about subscription options, including a current offer for the first 2 months for $1.
As you might imagine, this provoked a lively discussion including requests for a “puzzles only” subscription, similar to what the NYT offers. Mike took that under advisement and promised to keep the blog informed. Later in the week, he posted an update: “Update–the paywall is on its way but it now looks like it’s coming in months not weeks.” He had, earlier in the discussion, said that there were a number of things still to be worked out on the “business side”.
I am currently a WSJ subscriber but I get the crosswords from Crossword Fiend since the WSJ does not make a .puz format available via its website. If/when the WSJ works out the implementation, will the .puz format still be available here? I have in the past lobbied Mike to add that format available but it hasn’t happened yet.
I have no need for the WSJ generally, since any legal news of interest gets reported and repeated other places, but I do enjoy their puzzles and would be open to a puzzle only subscription — but not using their very annoying and clunky app.
I agree — I enjoy the WSJ puzzle and would be more than happy to purchase a crossword-only subscription, but not if that meant I was restricted to solving it in their app, and that’s AFTER the recent “upgrade” (who makes these decisions, seriously?).
Once the puzzle is behind the firewall, I doubt that it will be available here in .puz format.
Quite often pannonica’s musical selections hit the spot for me. When I saw that she highlighted MANCINI [Moon River composer], my spirits took off, expecting to be propelled back to those salad days of wine and roses, wallowing in delightfully sweet reminiscence. Nah, she threw me a curve and, now, I sit here, damn-near broken-hearted. I fell in love for the first time when that song was getting lots of air time. I carried a torch for her until she left us, a few years back. She still occupies a quiet spot in my heart. Only Mancini’s original score can properly color my memories of her.
Oranj Symphonette was a short-lived 1990s project led by cellist Matt Brubeck, one of Dave’s sons. Their first album, from which this admittedly underwhelming “Moon River” comes, was all Mancini covers. I don’t know that album well, but their second—and last—was a more eclectic selection of mostly movie songs and I adore it.
I bet Amy would at least appreciate that CD’s design:
Could someone explain which ENID is referred to in the NYT as a”literary waiter”? Tennison’s doesn’t fit.
From Arthurian tale. She was married to Geraint. So I assume she was waiting for him to return from somewhere.
Jim, thank you, but if so she was misjudged. What she waited for his coming to his senses. It’s a very sad story for Enid, but a “literary waiter” is way off.
Oh, about today’s puzzle, STORE [cards] did not strike me as particularly weak. Wife has a Macy’s card and a J.Jill card (and probably a few others), which are useful for special deals, so the concept of a store card seems pretty solid, although certainly not as common as credit cards and Christmas cards and so forth. But where are business and greeting and birthday and … oh my God, there are way too many. I think TELEPHONE [card] was the weakest of the bunch. Does anyone even have/use one of those any more? That’s almost as old as “dial” for making a phone call. Doesn’t everyone just whip out a cell phone?
Stumper was a quiz in a box.
Since it was a few days ago I doubt if I’ll get anyone to see this, but could I make a case in the top of the SW corner of the NYT puzzle for an R leading to 38A Raised Sharply = “RACKED UP” and 38D Mixed Up = “RUMBLED”? I reckon they fit OK.
They both seem a bit too far off. RACKED UP suggests amassment and makes me want RAMPED UP or RATCHETED UP as R-alternatives. RUMBLED seems to want a clue of [Mixed it up] rather than [Mixed up].