David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What is this nonsense? Another easy themeless? I’m tired of this nonsense! Bring on the challenge where challenge is expected.
This is a 66-word puzzle. The quick way to count is to see how many squares begin both an Across and Down answer—what I call northwest-corner squares. Here, there are 10 (the squares containing the numbers 1, 5, 28, 31, 33, 37, 39, 41, 43, 44). Take the clue number for the last Across answer (56 here), and add that northwest-corner count. 56 + 10 = 66. I once struggled to convey this to a guy who was certain that you’d just add that 56 and the last Down clue number, making this a 107-worder. Nope.
Favorite entries: PLASTIC BAG (that’ll cost you a 7¢ tax in Chicago—whether plastic or paper, each store-provided bag is 7¢), “LISTEN HERE,” “I THINK I CAN” (not clued via The Little Engine That Could, perhaps because of a CAN/Could relation?), Mr. SMITHERS, TRASH-TALKS, SALT LICK, CHINATOWN, and “YEAH, SURE.”
Not so keen on UTES AGRI- COSET MADERA SAES INKA. Never heard of AEROLOGY. And 20a. [Becomes well known], EARNS A NAME—that doesn’t work for me. You can “make a name for yourself,” but EARNS A NAME does not sound familiar.
Favorite clue, a literary quote: 43a. [“A ___ should not mean / But be”: Archibald MacLeish], POEM.
Nothing else is jumping out at me here. 3.3 stars from me.
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I don’t believe I am familiar with Greg Johnson as a constructor, but this puzzle is awesome. Only 64 words, and stellar entries for such wide open spaces. Not too tough, but strapped on the old headphones and worked hard on this one. Slightly stumped in a few areas, but for the most part a smooth but highly enjoyable solve. This guy needs to make more of these Saturday themelesses! 4.7 stars for this one.
A few favorites:
- 1A [Annual July 1 celebration marking the 1867 signing of the British North America Act] CANADA DAY – Talk about timely! I have a feeling this puzzle was made quite a while ago and saved for today!
- 24A [Australian Stock Horses, perhaps] POLO PONIES – Not a popular sport here in the US, but with a few crossings and some thought this wasn’t to
- 31A [Like home, say] FOUR-LETTER – There are a myriad of, shall we say, off-color clues for this entry! This one is much better, and arguably the best clue in the puzzle.
- 50A [Legacy Hartsfield-Jackson tenant] DELTA AIRLINES – You have to know this is the name of Atlanta’s airport, one of the world’s busiest, and then you have to have flown Delta and been stuck there to make this easy! Not that I am talking from experience or anything …
- 1D [Beardie, for one] COLLIE – I suppose there is a Bearded Collie breed, but usually when you hear the word “beard” you think of a human beard. So yes, I was a little fooled!
- 16D [Imaging company once big in film] AGFA – It has been a while since I have seen this company name, but it sure did work in this corner. He could have used E. LEE and DDD instead at 23A and 28A, but this is better. At least I think so!
- 26D [CBer’s punctuation] OVER – I suppose it IS like a period!
- 33D [Sentence ender] PAROLE – Another good clue, also in consideration for the best one, even though I’m pretty sure I have seen a similar one before.
- 35D [It helps you focus] LENS – I need my glasses now more than ever. I cannot survive without them. The FIRST thing I do in the morning is get my glasses on! This old age is the worst …
I hope you have a long weekend too! I don’t work again until Wednesday. Have a safe holiday!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Stan is usually a bit merciful, and this one is no exception. I have had a decent week, so I was able to approach this one a bit fresh, but maybe it was just that easy. This has 72 words, so it is not that wide-open, but still some stumpers. I think my practice is paying off, because I thought I would finally break 10 minutes on this one. I believe my Stumper record since I have been blogging is around 10:30 or so. I had a large portion of this puzzle done in about eight minutes, but then the last bit (the SW) slowed me down, and you can see the three errors I had when the grid was totally filled. I had FLAP instead of SLAT, ODES instead of OLÉS, and I don’t know what HOTE is! Make no mistake, this is still a toughie, and I am very pleased with a great sub 12 minute time. 4.5 stars.
A few mentions:
- 15A [What some colas once contained] COCA – Ah, the good old days …
- 17A [Do-it-yourself learner] AUTODIDACT – Actual dictionary definition says “a self-taught person.” This took a bit to come back to the “old grey cells,” as Poirot would say, and the NW corner was the second-to-last section that I finished.
- 20A [Bit of Latin, or Greek, or Hawaiian, etc.] STATE MOTTO – Awesome clue, although the Hawaiian ref kinda gives it away.
- 38A [Blu-ray’s former rival] HD-DVD – Who rents DVDs anymore? I cannot tell you the last time I did. My DVD player is sitting here, but it isn’t hooked up!
- 54A [Will Smith client in “Hitch”] KEVIN JAMES – I am a big fan of his after he was on The King of Queens, but I am not a fan of any Grown Ups or Mall Cop movie! A little too silly for me.
- 61A [Snapple or Pepsi product] ORANGE SODA – Snapple owns the Sunkist brand, so that made this tricky. Pepsi makes Orange Crush, and Coca-Cola owns Fanta.
- 6D [It’s developed in the film “The Founder”] McDONALD’S – I want to see this movie. I hear it is pretty good.
- 10D [Ready for takeoff, perhaps] STRAPPED IN – This is the phrase we used when our kids were in car seats. “Is everybody strapped in?” Man, I have said that a thousand times!
- 27D [He swore in JFK] EARL WARREN – I read this as [He swore in “JFK”]. According to imdb.com, the real Jim Garrison (or a namesake!) actually played Earl Warren in Oliver Stone’s excellent film. I was wondering if he uttered a curse word!
- 28D [Editorial references] STYLE BOOKS – Or a style sheet, which you need to submit a crossword to the editors!
- 46D [Indiana University campus] KOKOMO – A local answer for me! This town is about 90 minutes away. The have a McDiner there, or at least they used to.
Everyone have a safe holiday!
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Puzzle 1000” — pamnnonica’s write-up
Nothing fancy here, just inserting the letter M into theme entries. It works surprisingly well, and the results are rather lively.
- 23a. [Foe in the NCAA basketball tourney?] MARCH RIVAL (archrival).
- 25a. [Committee in charge of plas to fight Gargamel?] SMURF BOARD (surfboard).
- 37a. [Plane seat part for use only by passport holders?] CITIZEN ARMREST (… arrest).
- 47a. [Diapers printed with jokes?] FUNNY PAMPERS (… papers).
- 64a. [Fishing in Falmouth and trainspotting in Truro?] CORNISH PASTIMES (… pasties).
- 84a. [Sockeye that’s a knockout?] BEAUTY SALMON (… salon).
- 92a. [Miniature albino citrus fruit?] LITTLE WHITE LIME (… lie).
- 109a. [Highlight of a zoo’s Instagram page?] CHIMP SHOT (chip …).
- 111a. [Troubadour by the side of a highway exit?] RAMP SINGER (rap …).
See? These are pretty good. Ms aren’t excluded from the rest of the grid, so there isn’t an artificial constraint compromising the fill.
This was a quick, smooth solve. Had a small hiccup at 103a [Sad news] because I was reading the squares as the (obsolete?) single word ashame rather than A SHAME. Oh, and perhaps relatedly 4d [Put-down artist] was abuser before ABASER; 6d was notably not ucidic, [Sharp, in a way].
Favorite clues: 10d [Keep house?] CASTLE. The also punny 53d [Debunked?] AROSE tries a bit too hard, in my opinion. Oh, and 70d [Purpose of a pet post] SCRATCHING succeeded in its misdirection because the crossing theme clue referencing animals and Instagram.
79d [Mighty bit] ATOM.
Both Friday and Saturday this week have been too easy, more like Wednesday puzzles.
The Saturday Stumper was “easy” as far as my skill too (the LAT took longer).
Les Ruff says, “You’re welcome”
Feel free to thank him for being exceedingly, out of the ordinary, generous then.
For “Mini maker, originally” I put in MORRIS, which is not quite right (Morris was then part of BMC, British Motor Corporation). But I don’t see how COOPER can be right. Cooper was a designer who came up with a racing version of the Mini, but he was not a car maker and certainly not the original Mini maker.
Ben Stein is an interesting public figure. On the plus side, he has advocated for increasing taxes on the wealthy. But the negatives far outweigh the positives. He also is virulently “pro-life” (and would outlaw most abortions) and a casuistic advocate of outlandish “creationist science.”
Nice to see Lita Ford in the puzzle. She was doing some serious shredding back in the late 70s, when there weren’t too many female hard-rock lead guitars.