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!
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!