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!
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.