Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Okay, so this is Will Shortz Charity Weekend, and he’s serving up themeless puzzles that are way easier than usual? Is that the deal? Because I did the Friday puzzle in a Tuesday amount of time and the Saturday in a Friday time. The Saturday offering’s a MAS puzzle but it has nary a 15! And no stacks! What this 68-worder does have, though, is sprawling center with intersecting stairsteps of 12s and 13s. Lots of nice fill, too.
Favorite entries: MEA CULPA (nice clue: [Fault line?]), DILLY-DALLIES, SOUNDING BOARD (this is my #1 fave), GEORGE SMILEY (anyone else tend to get him mixed up with Muppet Guy Smiley?), SHEESH, MARILYN MONROE (yes, I filled in CAMPBELL’S SOUP off the A for [Famed Pop Art subject]), and DEAD GIVEAWAY (my #2).
- 13a. [Hannibal’s men], THE A-TEAM. Not the Hannibal who crossed the Alps, and not Hannibal Lecter.
- 53a. [Hooter’s location], OWL’S NEST. This feels arbitrary/contrived. Eagle’s nest feels like a thing, as does generic bird’s nest, but I’m not sure other birds’ nests do.
- 7d. [Title of politeness], SAN. This one, I don’t understand. I thought it was just a Spanish form of “Saint.” Is this SAN from another language?
- 51a. [Capital for King Zog], TIRANA. Yes, Albania had a King Zog! Likely the best royal name ever, no?
Could do without fill like BELG., and some of the other shortish fill was a bit blah, but overall, it was a smooth solve. 4.2 stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Weather Update” — Jim’s review
Jim P. here, sitting in for pannonica. Today we’re treated to weather puns!
- 23a [South American weather forecast?] SANTIAGO CHILLY. Santiago, Chile.
- 31a [Absence of messy winter weather in the Northwest?] SLEETLESS IN SEATTLE. Sleepless in Seattle.
- 50a [Frightening weather?] RAIN OF TERROR. Reign of terror.
- 71a [Causes pain, as some bad weather might?] HURTS LIKE HAIL. Hurts like hell.
- 87a [Unusual Mexican weather forecast?] ACAPULCO COLD. Not sure—Acapulco Gold maybe?
- 106a [Prediction of impending arctic weather?] CHANGE FOR THE BITTER. Change for the better.
- 120a [Forecast for improving winter weather?] SNOW END IN SIGHT. No end in sight.
- 39d [Weather report about a blizzard?] FLAKE NEWS. Fake news.
- 54d [Wet weather report in Egypt?] ASWAN DAMP. Aswan Dam.
Can’t say I enjoyed these puns too much. I would have liked it better if they were more consistent, like if each one was about a specific city. I did like the timeliness of FLAKE NEWS, but for the most part, these didn’t feel all that fresh.
And when you throw in that pile-up in the north of NOI, ALLES, LILLI, and DOYENS crossing ELEA…that’s hard to overcome.
There are some good things like ODDBALL, ROPE-A-DOPE, SPRAY CANS and ‘SCUSE ME, but LEVELER couldn’t be saved by a too-cute clue [Evening person?]. On the whole, there just wasn’t too much excitement going on here.
Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I must be exhausted. This puzzle took me forever! Excellent construction by Gail, and some great clues that really fooled me. I start work now at 7:00 am, so I am not used to these early mornings yet. I feel groggy constantly! I will have to adjust my go-to-sleep time to even earlier, like 7:30!! But I had fun with this puzzle nonetheless, and I give it a solid 4.4 stars.
A few mentionables:
- 17A [Childhood playmate, perhaps] IMAGINARY FRIEND – Verrry nice!
- 22A [First AFL-CIO president] MEANY – As in George Meany, a name I feel I should have remembered better. But slightly before my time!
- 26A [One of the Visayan Islands] LEYTE – This is difficult. These islands are in the Philippines. I believe this is also a beach from the Normandy invasion.
- 42A [It was founded to build engines for The Bull Tractor Company] TORO – This is a great clue. I was able to figure it out, but very entertaining.
- 46A [Fine another way] ALTER ONE’S COURSE – I had ALTERNATE COURSE in here. Tricky!
- 7D [Result of poor ventilation] STALE AIR – I had STILL AIR in here. Fooled again!
- 25D [The Home Depot rival] LOWE’S – Don’t forget Menard’s! We have all three of these home improvement stores in our area now; The Home Depot was the last to come.
- 39D [Frank] HONEST – Did you write HOT DOG in there like I did?!
Another cool weekend, but it’s almost May. It will warm up soon!!
Lars G. Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Brad and Doug made a toughie this time! As mentioned in my LAT post, it seems as if I have been constantly sleepy all week, and after getting a good night’s sleep and running a 5k Saturday morning, the puzzle fell much easier. I started it on Friday night, and that was a mistake. I was asleep well before the Bulls NBA season ended last night unceremoniously! (Who knew Rondo was so critical??) I wonder what I should try next year at the ACPT to ensure some decent sleep? Skip the wine and cheese reception? Skip Friday night altogether? Arrive on Saturday? A solid, albeit quite hard, puzzle from these two this weekend; 4.5 stars for this one.
A few notes:
- 7A [Furors] RUMPUSES – Why is this not RUCKUSES??
- 22A [1938 “Time” cover subject at 23] WELLES – Here is the cover. Not what I expected from a 23 year old!
- 43A [“Sweetest one” in “Jambalaya”] YVONNE – This is a song. I found a version I liked by Fats Domino. Waaaay before my time!
- 49A [Yogi Berra 15-time acquisition] WORLD SERIES RING – This seemed like a lot, but he managed the Yankees for several years too. Amazing!
- 4D [Comic strip with “four basic guilt groups”] CATHY – I had the final “Y” early on, but couldn’t think of this soon enough. One of my favorite comic strips while growing up!
- 14D [Galley supply] STEW POTS – My only less than favorite entry in the puzzle. This is the only bad I could find, and it isn’t really bad!
- 38D [Basis for many a Pokémon] RODENT – But of course. They’re all rats to me! (No, I do not do Pokémon Go. Someday maybe …
- 52D [Users of the HEART Pathway app] ERS – Great clue. Able to figure this out by the clue, which makes it fun, especially since I have never heard of this app!
That is all for today. Off to take a nap!