Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The second 62-worder in two days and … Patrick Berry is a tough act to follow. Jeff’s grid is more flowy and it’s got some sparkle, but it’s also got more compromises than the Berry. I like ANTIGONE, ROOT BEER (fun clue, [Hires for a float?]), DEADHEAD (though I know that only as a Grateful Dead or gardening term, not as an [Ineffective pill]), CAN’T-FAIL, GETS DOWN, FOLK ART, BIT PART (nice clue, [It’s just a line or two]), ‘NUFF SAID, POOHBAH, and XKCD.
On the other hand, DONEE, AERI-, ANIL, ROB A BANK, NO-TAR, ABRA, and the DUET/DUELIST crossing (though apparently DUEL is a bit less two-centric than I’d thought) knock things down a couple notches. Does anyone still use NETIZEN? Feels dated.
Three more things:
- 10d. [Gordon Gekko or Rooster Cogburn], ANTHROPOMORPHIC ANIMAL CHARACTERS. No, wait. Those are human ANTIHERO characters played by Michael Douglas and John Wayne.
- 4d. [Words accompanying a head slap], “I SEE NOW.” Really? I’m not seeing it. “Oh, now I get it!,” sure. I SEE NOW feels awkward and unconnected to any forehead slap.
- 9d. [Head scratcher?], WOOL CAP. Life’s too short to wear itchy things.
3.5 stars from me. Bring me a 68- to 72-worder with smoother fill and I’m happier.
Matt Skoczen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Best Bets” — pannonica’s write-up
Very brief post today. Emergency I may have to help with.
Phrases with the letter sequence TS are wackified by transposing the two.
- 23a. [Southern dish provided to factory workers?] GRITS FOR THE MILL (grist …).
- 32a. [Military barracks inspection?] COTS ANALYSIS (cost …).
- 37a. [Spa for some specialized bodybuilding?] LATS RESORT (last …).
- 66a. [Program about the polish of popular poets of the 1950s?] BEAUTY AND THE BEATS (…beast).
- 92a. [Piano bar covers?] IVORY COATS (… Coast).
- 98a. [Heavenly real estate?] PARADISE LOTS (… Lost).
- 112a. [Fools who favor a fragrant flavoring?] PEPPERMINT TWITS (… twist).
Easily-grasped theme, smooth solve.
Not involved in hijinks: 71a EXIST, 83a PLANETS, 1119a MT ST Helens, 14d STANLEY, 32d CATS, 53d ALERTS. Understandable—it’s a very common letter sequence—and not at all distractive.
Just one critical comment, that’s been discussed in these pages previously: 101d [Reindeer herders] LAPPS. That’s considered by many to be a pejorative term, and SAMI is preferred.
Mike Buckley’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have a themed Saturday LAT challenger! Check out the related astronomical entries:
- 4A [Largest galaxy in the Local Group] ANDROMEDA
- 34A, 35A, & 36A [Second-largest galaxy in the Local Group] THE MILKY WAY
- 56A [By some calculations, projected fate of 4-Across and 34-/35-/36-Across in three to four billion years] COLLISION
Yikes! At least we have some advance warning! This gives me time to get my affairs together. If you’re wondering what the Local Group consists of, see here. Lots of goodies in this puzzle, and high kudos for a simple yet clever theme in a wide open puzzle. 4.7 stars!
- 19A [Talmud letters] ALEPHS – I hope there are other letters of the Hebrew alphabet in there! Slightly odd clue, but I get what they mean.
- 42A [Is demanding] ASKS A LOT – Like I did when I asked for help moving!
- 3D [Whitney Houston appeared on its cover in 1981] SEVENTEEN – A long time ago!
- 9D [Marvel Comics hybrid super villain] MAN-APE – I used to think I was familiar with comic book characters. I now realize I haven’t read them hardly at all for nearly 30 years. Who the heck is Man-Ape??
- 31D [2008 Phoenix/Paltrow romantic drama] TWO LOVERS – I think I am more familiar with the Motown hit by Mary Wells with the same name!
- 50D [XX x XXXV] DCC – Math is hard. Roman numeral math is harder!
Still moving. My back hurts! Have a great weekend!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I have usually not had too much trouble with Matthew Sewell’s Stumpers. This one started tough, but I will take a time of around 15 minutes. There are some really great entries in this one, and, as usual, some of these clues invoke some very interesting mind pictures! I cannot say much today, as I am in the middle of moving, but this was a really good puzzle. A solid 4.4 stars.
A few good things to mentions (and there are too many to mention!):
- 17A [Resistance pilot in “The Force Awakens”] POE DAMERON – I saw this movie! It was this guy:
- 20A [Pubs not reviewed much] ‘ZINES – As in “publications”. Do we call publications “pubs”? You don’t hear that much in Indiana. (Insert stereotypical joke here!) Still my favorite clue!
- 34A [1998 Asian Games hosts] THAIS – This is also actually also a name. I had a music teacher with this name. And yes, the Games were in Bangkok.
- 43A [Math term from the Latin for “curve”] SINE – Why did this seem so easy AFTER I solved it?
- 45A [Radcliffe’s neighbor at Grauman’s] GRINT – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is where the celebs have the cement handprints. Rupert Grint of course played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.
- 51A [Ten+-year tabloid topic] BRANGELINA – Unique clue with consecutive mathematical symbols. I am ashamed I got this immediately.
- 5D [Greeks’ Trojan War opponents] AMAZONS – Familiar with the Trojan Horse, of course, but I didn’t remember who the war was between!
- 7D [Rod Laver, in Melbourne] ARENA – Perhaps a little more in this clue, like [Rod Laver has his name on one, in Melbourne] or something similar? Rod Laver Arena is where the Australian Open championships are decided.
- 11D [“You’re pushing it”] DON’T GET CUTE – Favorite entry!
- 22D [Cosmetics customer concern] KISSABILITY – Another great long entry!
- 31D [Milton’s “residue of design”] LUCK – I don’t believe in luck, so I like this quote!
- 43D [Non-American with the most PGA T0ur wins] SINGH – This would be Vijay Singh of Fiji.
I said more than I thought I would! Back to moving ……..