David Phillips’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Well, that explains why Friday’s puzzle felt a little tougher than expected—because the Friday and Saturday slots were flipped and the easier (for me) puzzle is labeled as Saturday’s.
Fave fill: PEACE SIGN, “YEAH, I KNOW,” HAWKMAN, EAR DOCTOR, SPEED-READ, PET SOUNDS, HAS-BEENS, ANAIS NIN, MIXTAPE, and APP STORE. Worst fill: There isn’t much junk, actually. Foreign abbrev SRA, suffix –URE, meh.
The single-least-familiar answer for American solvers has got to be 26a PANTO—and the clue is flat-out wrong. [Silent dramatic performance, to Brits]?? No. PANTO is not a pantomimed performance. It’s broad comedy, performed in the Christmas season, and it’s anything but silent. Apparently the constructor or the editors didn’t look up any PANTO videos, or this clue wouldn’t have been published. Here’s what PANTO is like. (And the only reason I know the slightest thing about panto is that a friend married an Englishman and the wedding reception was full of boisterous people who did panto with the groom. There were videos and photos on a big screen that were highly amusing to those who were in them … which scarcely included the bride. Anyway, it’s not remotely good fill in an American crossword, because it’s not an art form that has crossed the Atlantic.)
You know what? I don’t feel called to say anything more about this puzzle. Four stars, minus a half star for that PANTO thing.
Peter A. Collins’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My buddy Peter Collins has the puzzle this Saturday! I was flying through this one until I got to the SE corner, then progress ground to a halt. I don’t know what happened; it doesn’t appear in hindsight to be that much more difficult than the rest of the puzzle. I will discuss a few of my trip-ups in the comments below, but this puzzle was another fun one. I have done quite a few of Peter’s puzzles over the past few years, and I like how he thinks! 4.4 stars.
Let’s examine the colorful longer entries:
- 17A [Layoff order?] DON’T START IN ON ME! – Awesome. I am sure this hasn’t appeared in many puzzles before. One NYT hit at xwordinfo.com; by Peter Collins again!
- 31A [ADHD drug] DEXEDRINE – A new one on me. I know a few people afflicted with this, but I know of Adderall and Ritalin, not this one.
- 36A [Like throwbacks] OLD SCHOOL – I am old enough now that most of my thinking and methods are “old school!”
- 51A [Words shouted out an open window] LEARN HOW TO DRIVE! – Two sassy 15-letter entries in this one! I wonder if Peter constructed this one after a bad day!
- 55A [Compilation publication since 1984] UTNE READER – Part of the problem with the SE corner. I don’t think I have ever actually read this staple of crossword fame!
- 7D [Giving up the ball after a fake punt, say, in football lingo] TURNOVER ON DOWNS – Yes, football season is nigh! Hall of Fame preseason game was this past Thursday, and real football (on the college level) will recommence the Thursday before Labor Day. Go Blue!
- 11D [Acura MDX relative] HONDA PILOT – Both are SUVs, and Acura is a division of Honda. Nice clue.
- 12D [Elite military member] ARMY RANGER – Not NAVY SEAL! I wonder which has more “eliteness.”
- 13D [Sees only one person] GOES STEADY – Talk about an “old school” phrase!
- 25D [Head rest?] TOILET SEAT – Best clue in the puzzle!
A little tougher than normal for an LAT Saturday, but lots of fun. See you on Tuesday!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Yes, a full 30 minutes. I learned several new words with this one! If you want tough, this one is tough. I don’t think I am too tired, I feel fine, I don’t think I have too much abnormal stress; I just got stumped by this one. Look at all of those error marks!! Good puzzle by Brad, but I’m exhausted after this one! A solid 4.2 stars for a true Stumper!
A few of the many clues that whipped me good:
- 16A [Stubborn pair in a Seuss story] THE ZAX – It has been forever since I read this story. I think it is in the book The Sneetches or something.
- 23A [__ money] PIN – I am not familiar with this term. Or I am simply missing something obvious. I’ll ask Jennifer!
- 34A [Billy Graham, by birth] TAR HEEL – Mean, simply mean. Yes, he was born in North Carolina. Who knew?
- 49A [“The English Patient” nurse] HANA – Another movie I have never seen. I do remember the tennis player Hana Mandlikova, so I appreciate a different clue for this name.
- 62A [Device much used in “Huckleberry Finn”] SATIRE – Toughest of the tough. Also just plain mean!
- 2D [“Orbital battleship” video game] FLOTILLA – I am not familiar with this either! I thought it might be a rather old game, but this video is just from 2010. Great clue, and it looks like a great game.
- 31D [Obsolescence] DESUETUDE – Get your dictionary out. This is a word …
- 39D [Venerable beer brewer] TRAPPIST – Keep the dictionary open …
- 43D [Hardboiled novel stock character] SHAMUS – Flip back to the S section …
- 44D [Logical gap] LACUNA – Now back to the L section …
- 51D [Obstetric aid] DOULA – I actually know this word! I believe it is like a midwife. Took a minute to dig it out of the old brain!
Make no mistake: this was fun! Have a great Saturday!
Elizabeth C Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Carry On!” — pannonica’s write-up
This crossword has a lot of baggage, but keep calm.
- 23a. [Loyalty slogan for a metrosexual accessory company?] STAND BY YOUR MAN-BAG.
- 37a. [Get stuck, via bequest, with a big talker?] INHERIT THE WINDBAG.
- 66a. [Selfish hoarders of flood-prevention units?] SANDBAG HOGS.
- 88a. [Food Network show hosted by a loudmouth?] COOKING WITH GASBAG.
- 107a. [Makeup artist’s advice for glamorous campers?] SLEEPING BAG BEAUTY. Glamping is a thing. According to some people.
- 16d. [Comeback bid for squishy seating?] BEANBAG COUNTER.
- 47d. [Arrests made in flophouses?] FLEABAG COLLARS.
Pretty standard theme, but well-executed and sufficiently entertaining.
- 113a/53d/92d [Capture] ENTRAP, ENSNARE, SNAG.
- 6d [Yank’s foe] REB, 17d [Yanks’ foes] BOSOX.
- 96a [“Look at me, __ helpless …” (“Misty” start)] I’M AS, 90d [Diamond’s “__ Said”] I AM I.
- Herewith the cute/clever clues: 24d [Present period?] YULE, 40d [Charlotte setting] WEB, 52d [Cross pieces] PENS, 85d [Discover things?] CHARGES, 10a [Opportunity to swing] AT BAT, 29a [Ant.’s ant.] SYN, 35a [Talking point?] SOAPBOX, 86a [Hard-rock bridge] AS A.
- Eh, I guess the question-marked 52a [Quiet partner?] PEACE should be on that list too.
Wasn’t excited by this one, but it passed the time well enough. Got to run!
loved the nyt, but also did a double-take w/ the PANTO clue. while it may not be “good fill in an american xword,” i think it’s totally fair game for a saturday. and there are a lotta theatre-loving xword solvers who will have encountered the term, even if they haven’t seen one live. or on youtube.
additionally, even if an authentic british panto hasn’t crossed the atlantic, pantos are written/produced/performed here. or in philadelphia, at any rate!
but [Old stars]=HAS-BEENS? mean…
As a Brit I am dumbfounded and insulted at the PANTO clue. Panto is a very raucous form of theater, which often breaks the fourth wall and involves a lot of audience participation. They have Panto here in Seattle, and many other American cities too, I’m sure. Check it out this Christmas!
For the record, my original clue for PANTO was [Bit of Christmas theatre, briefly]. My definition of PANTO is based upon this Christmas special of the Weakest Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNFaARBmc0o
Squee! It’s Professor Flitwick!
Puzzles shouldn’t be a test of knowledge which I found enough of the Stumper to be.
Hoping the LAT becomes available again in AcrossLite at Cruciverb. I really dislike their page.
How is it that all puzzles aren’t a test of knowledge? I seem to notice that all these puzzles involve that, not just the Stumper.
What is it with all these … words everywhere? Words, words, words, sound and fury.
I agree with you about the LAT page, Hans. I find the Washington Post site/app much less annoying. At least it doesn’t require me to reload after I go refill my coffee cup. Not up to AcrossLite standards; much better than LAT.
I think he’s talking about trivia and I agree there’s enough in that puzzle to be problematic.
Facts I don’t know = trivia.
I found the Stumper to be difficult because of the cluing, which is as it should be. None of the information was out of line. I actually knew all the words Derek had to look up, although I dredged DESUETUDE out of the depths of somewhere in my brain. Good puzzle!
I can hit a 90 mph fastball and no doubt you can’t. Does that mean a 90 mph isn’t be problematic in a certain arena? Muumuu, doula, tileaves, betawave, lille, henbit, to name just a few entries, are estoerica to most and problematic imo.
I’m glad you dredged up desuetude; most of us never heard of it.
Now would you like to try and hit my curve ball, doctor?
I’m, uh, guessing that people who like to play baseball at a moderate skill level can hit a 90 mph fastball fairly around 30 percent of the time.
This has precisely what to do with one of the proclaimed toughest weekly crossword puzzles?
30% of the time? Could you show me your math?
At any rate, the essential point is about trivia in crosswords: What kind and in what measure is fair. People will disagree though top solvers seem to be trivia buffs of a sort (I’m sure they’d put it as having a deep well of knowledge) so for them it must be the more the merrier.
I could go on but I’ve got to binge watch the first 20 seasons of Jeopardy! to prepare for next Saturday’s Stumper.
I liked the NYT in general but thought that this would be a good time to ask about suffixes. Is URE really a suffix for CULT, as the clue “Cult follower” would seem to imply? CULT and CULTURE share a Latin root, to be sure, and -URA is undoubtedly a fine Latin suffix, but this feels like a bit of a push given that the two words are not used similarly in English (at least not by me). It’s not like, for example, “Portrait finisher.” Would you take “It’s after ten for some professors” as a clue for URE? or “Expos follower?”? “One might see leis before it” or “It may be led by reins”? I guess my question is whether the word segment should be clued in a way that is consistent with it being added to the thing before it. I would not object at all, by the way, to “Cult- follower,” but of course that’s not as funny.
I am not trying to suggest a right or wrong on this, but I would be interested to read what people think.
It’s a good a clue as the hard or soft letter clue that makes an appearance frequently or the 30% of ESSENTIALS from today. In the word CULTURE, URE follows CULT. I don’t see a need for a linguistic connection. FWIW, I love your “after ten for some professors” as a clue! That’s very, very clever and cute at the same time.
I read the clue at 26A, saw that it was 5 letters, and thought, uh-oh, I bet they want PANTO.
My guess is that someone went to an online dictionary, such as this, saw that ‘pantomime’ has a general meaning (noun and verb) referring to silent performance, knew that British English has an abbreviation ‘panto,’ and voila. But the abbreviation ‘panto’ only applies to sense 5 in the list of cited definitions.
Other than that, I liked the puzzle. Didn’t know HAWKMAN or ANA Ortiz, and had CONGO for NIGER, but once I sorted that out the corner resolved itself without much trouble.
I watched the Manson special this week, but still did not think Beach Boys for the album. I was trying to remember Beatles and Rolling Stones albums. Here is Rolling Stone magazine on that seminal album:
I agree with Janie that HAS BEEN seems mean, especially for someone who is merely old. I would have preferred something along the lines of “one who can no longer cut it.” Maybe that’s not Saturday enough. I am always reminded of has been boxers (who usually are older). When a boxer is young and sees an opening, he instinctively and instantly reacts with a punch. When he is older and slower, he thinks “there’s an opening.” Too late. Especially mean when you think of the dominating athletes today who are thought to be past their prime: Tom Brady, Roger Federer, Venus and Serena, et al.
I thought this was an excellent puzzle. Unlike Friday’s for me, this one was tough. I did not know PANTO and this blog is at its best when such terms are explained.
NYT: I love PANTO as fill, but agree the edited clue is absolutely wrong. PANTOs are a wonderful British tradition, and I hope to see more of them produced here in the States. They get families and school kids away from screens and out to the theater for an evening of raucous, interactive fun.
A few years ago, my daughter’s primary school began putting on their own PANTO to raise money. They did such a good job of it (you wouldn’t know they were school teachers by day) that they garnered a fair amount of local press and continue the new tradition every year.
BTW, the rest of the puzzle was very enjoyable as well.
I wonder if the editing of the clue for PANTO, which was new vocabulary to me, didn’t come about from RHUD. (I have it only in a software version, which perhaps could introduce an error, although I doubt it.) It calls the term short for definition 2 of “pantomime,” for mute gestures, rather than the perhaps intended definition 5, the Christmas show. MW11C has it correct, judging from you and the commenters.
Re the Newsday, I have not seen any remarks about SWOP at 55A (Trade in the “Daily Mail”).
What the heck is SWOP?