Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hoo-boy, am I tired! It was a long couple of weeks in the crossword-editing salt mines, gearing up for the launch of Crosswords With Friends. (Smooth and easy pop-culture crosswords constructed by many of the best in the business, co-edited by Trip Payne and me.) I wear a different hat when solving a Saturday NYT, of course. And I wasn’t so sleepy when I solved the puzzle an hour or so ago but now I’m brain dead. So: list time!
Favorite fill: Solid verb phrase WASH DISHES, FROST/NIXON, CRANK CALLER (though the clue escapes me: [One asking for Ahmed Adoudi, say]), the dreaded ANTI-VAXXER (I absolutely take the anti-vaxxer stance as a personal threat), WAFFLES (I know it’s the verb here, but now I’m thinking about maple syrup), hair that’s THIN ON TOP (super-fresh fill), LIL KIM, GAZA STRIP, and Jon STEWART.
Most crosswordesy crossing: BEL meets BANC. These are not words I encounter in my life outside of crosswords.
Who?? 25a. [“Doktor Faust” composer], BUSONI? I assume Bruce and others will defend Busoni’s relevance, but the guy’s name is half vowels and he’s never in crosswords so I’m skeptical.
- 19a. [Partners in many lesbian couples], FEMS. Pretty sure the femmes spelling is far more common. I saw a small billboard in my neighborhood today—a photo of two femmes at a romantic table having drinks, advertising Tampa Bay tourism.
- 27a. [1983 7x platinum Billy Joel album, with “An”], INNOCENT MAN. I loved the album, but this answer is an 11-letter partial.
- 31a. [John in a suit?], DOE. Lawsuit, not menswear. I amused myself envisioning a miniature toilet facility built into a pair of men’s pants. Wouldn’t that come in handy?
- 52a. [With 51-Across, two steps away from AA, informally], THE / BIGS. Meaning the major league and the AA division in baseball, and having nothing to do with Alcoholics Anonymous. Tricksy.
- 62a. [It’s often picked up in bars], SOAP. Joe runs a bar, so that isn’t where I saw this clue going. (Said bar, one star bar in NYC, hosts pub trivia on Saturday nights. If you caught the trivia game at ACPT that was hosted by John Chaneski and Tony Hightower, you’ve seen the people who run trivia at one star.)
- 38d. [Herb of PBS’s “Ciao Italia”], OREGANO. Not a surname of a guy named Herb, I don’t think. Tricksy!
- 43d. [Urban lab transporter, maybe], PET TAXI. That’s a thing??
Four stars from me.
Alan Olschwang’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Not much time to write today; running a half marathon this morning. It is the first of three in the next month! I will then join the Half Fanatics club! Target of about 2:30 for this one; a glorified long training run. Hopefully not too cold and rainy!
Puzzle played fairly easily; didn’t care for ODAS and ARISTO and maybe one or two others, but the ten letter stacks were very good entries (while necessitating the aforementioned less-than-stellar entries!), and having A PASSAGE TO INDIA across the middle is a nice touch. 4.2 stars for this one.
Sorry I don’t have time to add more. Perhaps I will have time for a slight addendum this afternoon. Otherwise, have a great weekend!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not much time to write anything up this weekend, since I am running the Indy Mini Half Marathon Saturday morning! Usually Lester Ruff’s (Stan’s) Stumpers are a little less torturous than normal Saturday offerings, but this one had some teeth. Lots of difficult clues, but I will highlight the best clue in the puzzle. It had me totally fooled, and although I may have seen it before, it has been a while. It uses the devious “pronounce-that-word-differently” trick!
- 48A [Its designed for evening wear] PLANE – Yes, I was thinking, “This is an error!! Oh wait, NOW I get it!
Suffice it to say it was one of the better “a-ha!” moments I have had in a puzzle that isn’t a meta-puzzle. 4.6 stars today!
Hopefully I survive the race! See you next Saturday!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cut and Try” — pannonica’s write-up
Phonetic substitution theme. Step One: replace voiced alveolar stop /d/ with unvoiced alveolar stop /t/. Step Two: adjust spelling to homophone (if necessary).
- 23a. [Site of many drug dens?] CRACKTOWN (crackdown).
- 25a. [Waterbird that delivers Amazon orders?] PACKAGE TEAL (package deal).
- 44a. [Subject of a seat belt tryout?] CRASH TEST TUMMY (crash test dummy).
- 66a. [Specialist in fixing escalators?] FLIGHT TECH (flight deck).
- 68a. [Formalwear designed to look good at the table?] SITTING TUX (sitting ducks).
- 86a. [Product that works in every copier?] UNIVERSAL TONER (universal donor).
- 109a. [The Cogressional Record?] CAPITOL TOME (Capitol Dome).
- 113a. [Last remaining bit of a gingerbread man?] COOKIE TOE (cookie dough).
Cute enough, I guess. Half of the entries have spelling changes, half don’t.
- 6a [Rub the wrong way] IRK, 75a/112d [Rubbed the wrong way] ROILED, MAD. 41d/120a [Winter Olympics racers] LUGES, SLEDS.
- 49a [Aardwolf’s cousin] HYENA. Same taxonomic family (Hyaenidae), but a different subfamily. Close cousins.
- 77d [Weather formation over a mountain] CLOUD CAP, 39d [Feature of rough seas] CHOP. 79a [Player in plaid] BAGPIPER, 93a [Highlander, e.g.] GAEL.
- 84a [NPR’s Hansen] LIANE, though she’s been retired from there since 2011.
- Favorite clues: 12d [Minimalist stargazing tool] NAKED EYE, 102d [Seek an opening?] KNOCK; opportunity!
- 21a [Newly weaned pig] SHOAT, 37d [Oinker enclosure] STY. 22a [Country south of Sicily] MALTA, 17d [Lingua di Livorno] ITALIANO. 42a [The Big Apple] GOTHAM, 72a [Name in a Big Apple borough] STATEN. 10d [Puzzler’s cry] AHA, 72d [Work out] SOLVE.
Solid puzzle, but kind of tull.
Allow Bart Simpson to explain the “Ahmed Adoudi” clue.
“Hey does anyone here know Ahmed Adoudi?”
“Ha-ha. Wow Moe, you’re getting to be a big boy now.”
Okay, who on earth pronounces Ahmed like “I made”?
…apparently people who like ridiculous, and in this case, juvenile puns and those of the crossword community.
I had the same reaction. There is still an “h” in Ahmad, right?
Mileage on the “med” may vary, but not everyone pronounces the “h” in Ahmed in their name. I know a few Ahmeds, who mostly pronounce the “h,” but not all do.
I just got the silly joke when I read Amy’s review and saw that she never heard of this guy. I then figured it out. I didn’t have the answer to the clue, either.
I’m a gay man. My first reaction to FEM was that it plays to unfortunate stereotypes of lesbian couples in which partners play out hetero roles and I didn’t like it. As a friend of mine says, “Asking which partner in a lesbian couple is the man is like asking which chopstick is the fork.” Having said that, I know several butch/femme lesbian couples and even femme/femme couples. But my gut says it doesn’t belong in the NY Times Crossword. My gay male friend strongly disagrees and says it’s just great that gay relationships are normalized in the crossword puzzle. I’d be interested in other people’s thoughts.
I’m a gay man too, and that clue/answer didn’t sit well with me either.
I’m a lesbian. Like many of my friends, I do not identify as butch or femme. I’m not offended by the clue or answer in the least except for the spelling of “femme,” and I would have preferred “some” instead of “many.” I’m happy our relationships are recognized even in the crossword puzzle. I do, however, agree with Peedee: don’t ask me which of us is the man. I (thankfully) have not been asked that in years.
I’m not lesbian, and I was not familiar with the “femme” spelling of the old “fem” before reading about it now. I’m familiar with the English mispronunciation of the French “femme” in “cherchez la femme,” and now I see that the French pronunciation is FINISHED in English.
Outside of the odd spelling (honestly, why?!), I too paused. I think it was the “many” in the clue. If the clue said “some” instead, I’d have been inclined to agree with your friend. (Brought to you by a lesbian in a relationship that is not butch/femme.)
I get that Bovarism refers to Madame Bovary, and I understand the reference, but I *really* wanted the answer to be MOO. Especially because that last O was correct.
The NYT was challenging. I didn’t realize that AA referred to baseball. Never heard of FROSTNIXON. As a show, I mean. It was a wonderful puzzle that took me a long time. Thanks for tying my brain into knots. I love a workout.
I am still laughing about “Ahmed Adoudi”. I probably won’t outgrow that.
Good puzzle. I started out with PALESTINE and PREP school in the NE, which almost worked. SW was the toughest for me. Eventually I put in PRANKCALLER, which again was almost right.
Just to show that musical knowledge differs, I knew BUSONI but not INNOCENTMAN.
PETTAXI is a brand of carrier, I think, not an Uber-like service.
There’s a photo of a PET TAXI on the NYT Wordplay site.
Sorry to say I didn’t like the LAT nearly as well as Derek. The cluing and answers all seemed so dated that I was quite surprised when I got to the “Two Broke Girls” and “Peaky Blinders” clues. ATRI ETE CIE ERE ERSE ORO EEN CRTS ODAS SAGO ABEAM HIES seemed like a lot of crosswordese for one puzzle. I did like APASSAGETOINDIA even though it’s from 1924. And I admit I wanted to fill in ELEVEN for 1D.
I also started with ELEVEN in 1D and really didn’t like the fill.
Feruccio Busoni was a pianist-composer whose principal claim to fame is that he made transcriptions for the modern piano of many Bach keyboard works. Fortunately the transcriptions are quite literal insofar as the basic melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal structure is concerned. The textures are romanticized, and some notes are doubled but since he didn’t mess too much with Bach’s music, many musicians, including me, often find the results beautiful and satisfying.
Some people rail against performances of Bach on modern pianos, but I have always believed strongly that if Bach could come back to life and hear a good piano performance of e.g. the Goldberg Variations. his reaction would be “You have this incredible instrument at your disposal, yet some of you doggedly insist on playing my music on that *other* instrument from my era. What’s the matter with you people? Of course many disagree with my view.
In answer to Amy’s question, I think BUSONI is a good clue for a Saturday puzzle. I like music, but I’m far from Bruce’s level. To me, this was a pleasurable clue. It’s not esoteric. Of course, not everyone will know it, but I don’t know their stuff.
Sometimes this blog bewilders me when it comes to women’s issues. It’ll go wild on a largely debatable perceived slight, tagged with the “Will & co. never learn” mantra, yet when what I see as a huge win for pushing a hot, devisive topic into the mainstream — today’s “fem” clue and answer — it receives a ho-hum, “well they used an alternate spelling” response, and that’s it.
I’m glad to see a dialog opened up in the comments, and though by the above statement I obviously disagree that it’s offensive, or perhaps its recognition in a normally straight laced male-oriented mainstream format outweighs its minor offensiveness, but come on, please give some credit back when it’s due. (Sorry if this sounds like I’m discounting your feelings; I AM sorry that it offends you, it just doesn’t offend me.)
Thanks Will & co.!!
This one was painful for me. It seemed that every other clue was either an unfamiliar proper name (yeah, including the Bart Simpson reference) or an idiom I’d never used (and yeah, I’d never seen FEM before either, although I guessed in due course that it was just an odd spelling). I never did fill the crossing of the golfer and rapper (J? G? K?), but the SW was the hardest for me. I almost didn’t come close to finishing. Glad it’s over.