Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Lotsa good stuff here: RITZ BITS, NOOB (which you can spell n00b with zeroes, too), OPIUM DENS, CINDERELLA TEAMS, SLOW START, ZZ TOP (a friend just won tickets to see ZZ Top by answering a Facts of Life trivia question from ex-veejay Martha Quinn, and that is the most peak ’80s parenthetical I’ve ever written), BOOBOISIE, EATS RIGHT, and CANDY CANE (you ever see the movie Joy Ride? “Candy Cane …”).
I’m never keen on seeing POI or TARO in a grid, but when you include both and cross-reference them, I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work nicely. (Your mileage may vary.)
- 39a. [Grammy-winning R. Kelly hit of 1996], I BELIEVE I CAN FLY. Oh, have you read his inspiring life story of sexually assaulting teenage girls? Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis has the stomach-churning details. R. Kelly is right up there with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.
- 63a. [Bat around], BANDY. Despite my love for this answer word, I was still hazy on how the word comes together. Nearly wanted BANTY (which is different, but also delightful).
- 11d. [Quinceañera, for 15-year-old girls], RITE. I like that the clue doesn’t specify any particular 15-year-old girls here. Last year, my son was a chambelan in his friend’s quince, and my husband and I were invited. We didn’t dare dance because our feet have no experience moving that fast, but the homemade food was muy delicioso.
- 21d. [They’re old and tired], USED CARS. The TRICK/KNEES might also have worked here.
- 31d. [Tree-tapping spigot], SPILE. I bet my cousin Kip knows that word since he taps maples here in Chicago and makes his own syrup.
- 35d. [Meeting on the DL], TRYST. Uh, no. When you have the very culturally specific meaning of “on the down-low” referring to purportedly straight men who hook up with other men, TRYST isn’t quite apt. If this TRYST is just some random twosome, not fitting that other definition, then you’d do well to keep “on the DL” out of the clue.
- 48d. [Cut of meat], SLAB. Is this a term of art used by butchers? Can you go to a meat market and request a “slab of beef”?
- 52d. [Baroque artist Guido], RENI. Crosswordese name! My favorite RENI is Seinfeld actor Reni Santoni, who played the minor character Poppie.
4.2 stars from me.
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Sailed through the puzzle quickly this week. Not that it wasn’t difficult, but with the typical smooth LAT fill, this one didn’t have too many roadblocks, other than the impressive stack of 15s in the middle, crossed impressively by another 15 at 7D! The 15s are PEDAL TO THE METAL, PAID A STEEP PRICE, and TROUBLESHOOTERS for the acrosses, while ABSOLUTE SILENCE is the one at 7D. Nice work in a 68-word grid. I don’t remember too many difficulties with Roland’s puzzles in the past; we may be on the same wavelength. (I don’t think this is a pseudonym!) A solid 4.5 stars today.
Just a few notables:
- 17A [Relaxed to the max] MELLOWEST – Ran 9 miles this morning. I am feeling EXTREMELY mellow!
- 19A [Like Orson, on a ’70s-’80s sitcom] ORKAN – I am old enough to remember Mork and Mindy with Robin Williams. I’ll bet a lot of you youngsters only know this from YouTube!
- 23A [Queen of Thorns portrayer on TV] RIGG – Game of Thrones is back this summer!
- 3D [Broadcast genre] TALK RADIO – I remember when I first found sports talk radio. I listened to a lot less music from that point on!
- 15D [Grab, as at a smorgasbord] TONG – I am OK as long as I avoid buffets. I did not follow my own advice this past Tuesday …
- 45D [“Really?”] YOU DO? – Great phrase entry. Only 7 NYT entries. Favorite clue? [“That Thing __!” (Tom Hanks film)]!
It is supposed to be a nice weekend! See you on Tuesday.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Back to a normal week after last weekend’s half marathon. No races planned until the end of the month, but I am doing a one month running streak for May. I have run at least one mile every day so far! I am either going to feel really great or really tired in 2-3 more weeks!
Today’s puzzle is by Matthew Sewell. I usually don’t have as bad a time with his, and my time of around 16 minutes is about right. Challenging, but you can get a toehold a little easier in his. It seems as if I stare at a Longo or Wilbur Stumper for 10 minutes and it is still empty! The most striking part of this puzzle to me is the fill: there doesn’t seem to be one bad entry in it! Some interesting ones, for sure, but nothing I wasn’t totally familiar with. Some of the clues seemed a little obscure, but they all made sense, and that made for an enjoyable Stumper solve. 4.7 for this one.
- 10A [Rubber implements] RASPS – As in “rubbing” against something to smooth it out! Nicely done.
- 19A [Cinematographer’s aid] LOUPE – OK, maybe this was not as familiar as I thought. This is a small magnifying glass you have seen directors and such use. A good word to learn!
- 23A [Fair or fairly] PRETTY – Best clue!
- 37A [Certain cyclist] SPEED COP – Can a cop on a bike catch a speeder? Or am I missing something?
- 43A [Sponsor of “Spamalot”] HORMEL – Hilarious!
- 4D [MD squad] TERPS – As in the Maryland Terrapins, not a group of doctors! Also a very good clue.
- 10D [NFL nickname derived from FDR] ROSEY – As in Rosey Grier, I assume. I would love to know the story behind this clue.
- 30D [Where Fitzgerald and Hendrix got their start] THE APOLLO – This theater is still in use. The crowds there are merciless if you’re not any good!
- 35D [Dairy Queen beverage] MOOLATTE – This sounds really delicious right now…
- 38D [Detectives, in headlines] PROBERS – Yes, I had an errant letter here. The “banks” referred to at 51A are blood banks, and that made this solvable once I figured that out. Not that familiar with the word “probers” in a headline.
I will stop there. There were lots more I could have spoken about! Enjoy your weekend, everyone!
Charles M Deber’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Et Al.” — pannonica’s write-up
Don’t know why, but my brain is strangely befogged this morning. Took an extraordinarily long time to solve the NYT and the Newsday Stumper. Less so for this one, but still.
Hence a short just-the-facts write-up; perhaps I’ll return later in the day to flesh it out.
Theme: extant phrases altered by the insertion of the bigram AL. Seven acrosses, two downs. Two themer intersections.
- 23a. [Hair-raising tale by D.H. Lawrence?] SALONS AND LOVERS (Sons …).
- 33a. [Baseball team with nerves of steel?] NEW YORK METALS (… Mets).
- 49a. [Appease with a bit of seafood?] THROW ABALONE TO (… a bone …).
- 65a. [Spots for mammoth weddings?] ALTAR PITS (tar …).
- 85a. [Steinbeck novel about nasty fellows?] OF MALICE AND MEN (… MIce …).
- 97a. [Cover version of a Tennessee Ernie Ford hit by the Eagles?] SIXTEEN TALONS (… Tons),
- 110a. [Where a tour would take all day?] AT A SNAIL’S PALACE (… pace …).
- 32d. [End-of-term ordeals for a school of fish?] SHARK FINALS (… fins).
- 46d. [Shaq’s appeal for a breather?] O’NEAL MOMENT (one …).
Can’t opine effectively or fairly. Hoping the fuddlement lifts.