Adam Fromm’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oh, hey. The Friday puzzle was a little harder than I expected, so of course the Saturday one’s 15% easier, plays like a Friday.
It won me over right away with 4d RICK SPRINGFIELD, whose concert was one of the first I saw in high school. JUICE BOX, JACKASS: THE MOVIE, “ROXANNE,” A RAISIN IN THE SUN, ATALANTA, “BITE ME,” and EDIE FALCO. Bonus disco-era nostalgia points for Leo SAYER; my mom ordered one of his albums from the record club.
Int eh fill’s debit column are plural AWS, ECCLES., the somewhat iffy RED DRESS, the who-actually-uses-that-term MINICAR, and boring ILEA and ENOS.
Seven more things:
- 1a. [Skye, the Small Isles, etc.], HEBRIDES. Geography right off the bat. Fiend-approved!
- 15a. [Eaglelike], AQUILINE / 16a. [Armpit, to a doctor], AXILLA. If only there were a constellation called Axilla, the celestial armpit.
- 29d. [Its logo is based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign], CBS. For real? Not a trivia bit I knew.
- 41d. [Coastline features], CAPES. Do you know this word as a verb, too? It means “to defend someone you oughtn’t be defending,” basically. If you hated this puzzle but I tell you I liked it, you may say I’m caping for Adam Fromm.
- 3d. [Riviera, e.g.], BUICK. Anyone else think this clue was about the French Riviera rather than a car make?
- 9d. [Achievements in large-scale topiary], MAZE. I want Achievement in Large-Scale Topiary to be an awards category somewhere.
- 12d. [Reducing to splinters], SLIVERING. Do people sliver wood, or just almonds?
Four stars from me.
Elizabeth C Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tie Game” — pannonica’s write-up
Busy day for me today, so just a skeletal report here.
Bunch of asterisked clues.
- 23a. [*Glowing brightly] WHITE HOT.
- 35a. [*It begins in the heart of Munchkin City] YELLOW BRICK ROAD.
- 44a. [*Annual event held in Hard Rock Stadium] ORANGE BOWL.
- 54a. [*Marvel supervillain who throws pumpkin bombs] GREEN GOBLIN.
- 54a. [*3M or Microsoft, e.g.] BLUE CHIP STOCK.
- 83a. [*Schmaltzy writing] PURPLE PROSE.
- 90a. [*Bring a sandwich from home] BROWN BAG IT.
- 97a. [*1968 coming-of-age novel by Richard Bradford] RED SKY AT MORNING.
- 116a. [*Cruise locale bordered by six countries] BLACK SEA.
So we obviously have phrases beginning with colors, but I’m not perceiving the sequence. Certainly it begins with WHITE and ends with BLACK. In between there are primaries, secondaries, and even a tertiary, but they aren’t arranged by wavelength frequency so a rainbow (-bow, ‘tie’ of the title … no, that doesn’t go anywhere) is out.
Oh wait! Stop the presses! Revealer that I completely missed as the last across entry: 124a [Sport whose belt levels, from beginning to advanced, appear in the starred answers] KARATE. Nifty. And nary an OBI in the grid.
All right, must fly.
Debbie Ellerin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I was able to plow through this one pretty quickly. I think I was in a good mood! If you are not a fast solver, perhaps you think how a challenging puzzle can be solved in under 7 minutes. Well trust me: I wonder the same thing about how people like Dan Feyer or Erick Agard or Andy Kravis (just to name a few) can solve one of these in around 4 or 5 minutes. And if you add in solving on the computer, their time may be even faster. I have been solving crosswords for the majority of my existence on this earth, and I continue to marvel at the genius of those top solvers. I suppose it is similar to watching a sport on TV that you actually play. I am watching tennis right now as I type, and after playing lots of tennis when I was younger, I suppose I know how hard that sport really is, so it is enjoyable to watch what they can accomplish on the court. That is what makes the ACPT so much fun: you can compete on the same level playing field as everyone else. You can also run the same marathon course as the pros do; just not as fast!
Wow I am rambling! Great puzzle by Debbie Ellerin today. Other than a couple of relatively obscure words in the middle section of the grid, I thought this had smooth fill throughout. But in reality, you WANT a couple of harder words. How else do we learn new words? 4.4 stars for this gem.
A few notes (including those two obscure words!):
- 16A [Shout from Speedy] ARRIBA! – You should know this. Speedy Gonzalez was always shouting ARRIBA and ANDALÉ. Yes, my use of accent marks is probably very wrong!
- 22A [Rotten Tomatoes caution] SPOILER ALERT – I actually don’t see this much at Rotten Tomatoes, but I do trust their scores, especially if they are over 90 or under 15!
- 35A [Thatcher of Blair, e.g.] OXONIAN – This refers to someone who has attended Oxford. I may have run across it before, but I cannot recall. Toughie!
- 37A [Smirks] SIMPERS – This is the other obscure-ish word. Not generally used in the conversations I am in!
- 45A [2008 financial crisis mantra] TOO BIG TO FAIL – Best entry in the puzzle by far. This was in the news A LOT around the financial crunch ten years ago or so.
- 1D [Still-life subjects] PEARS – Not VASES? EWERS?? I was totally fooled by this one!
- 3D [One who shuns shaking] GERMOPHOBE – Great clue, but not my favorite (that one is coming up). Matt Lauer of The Today Show is a noted germophobe.
- 36D [Problem addressed by counters] INSOMNIA – THIS one is my favorite clue! Great misdirection!
- 45D [Word in pregame instructions] TAILS – No, not board game instructions! Imagine a referee before a football game explaining the coin toss rules. Nicely crafted clue!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Another toughie by Frank this week. I am always amazed at how, while solving his puzzles, I am totally stumped. But then when I examine the grid at the end, virtually the entire puzzle is comprised of common words and phrases! The clueing is definitely the key, and Frank is a master at this type of puzzle. Still one of my favorite constructors! I envision an easy Stumper next week! 4.5 stars for this masterpiece.
A few comments:
- 16A [Its notes have Arabic and Kurdish text] IRAQI DINAR – Once you realize the “notes” are money, this makes perfect sense. Great clue.
- 24A [“Puh-leeze!”] HAH! – Is it HAH or HUH in these cases? Similar to AHA or OHO for a statement of realization. And the crosser at 5d [JIGSAWING] was not easy!
- 26A [Vests with laces] BODICES – I had CORSETS in there, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t working well!
- 58A [Maître d’s voice in “Beauty and the Beast”] ORBACH – As in the late Jerry Orbach of Law and Order fame. I knew this, but it took me a minute to remember his name!
- 66A [Up-and-comer’s dream] STAR STATUS – Had an error in here. Wasn’t thinking clearly! Maybe because I have absolutely ZERO aspirations to attain “star status!”
- 9D [African bull or cow] HIPPO – I was on the right track when I tried RHINO!
- 20D [Penguins play there] NHL – The Penguins are still alive in the playoffs, unlike my hometown Blackhawks, who were embarrassed in the first round!
- 40D [Croquette of a sort] FISH CAKE – This does not sound appetizing!
- 47D [Abdul-Jabbar, notably] SCORER – Accurate, seeing as he is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history!
Looks like a nice weekend! Enjoy!