Sam Donaldson & Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
There’s some cool stuff in this puzzle, but there were also scattered bits that left me cold. First up, the goodies: Huda’s beloved hometown, DAMASCUS. Cartoonist HILARY B. Price, who once replied to an fan email I sent her. HOSTESS TWINKIES, which, it turns out, are surprisingly terrible (and probably always were? I mean, I loved Space Food Sticks but discovered in adulthood that I’d been nostalgic for utter grossness). MR. MAGOO and COACH K, a sensible pairing if you think about it. WOBBLY, M.C. ESCHER, ROGUE ONE, the great COSMIC JOKE, and ZIMBABWEAN with its unusual-in-English BW combo, also good.
I can’t say I’ve encountered the term SET MENU in restaurants, however. IMARETS, OMSK, and LAPP are things I’ve encountered in crosswords at least 99% of the times I’ve seen them anywhere. IN A TIE feels awkward as clued, with [Knotted]. SEGNO is one of those musical terms (less familiar than D SHARP) I know only from crosswords (but I assume Brad knows all the musical terminology thanks to his opera fandom). 55a. [Sext symbols] are HOT PEPPER EMOJIS?? I only know of the eggplant emoji standing in for a penis. I just texted my husband three hot pepper emojis and … it just looks like the notation beside a really spicy dish on the menu at an Indian restaurant. Plural ELENAS and NAES … meh. Not sure about this [Shared vow], WE DO—have you been to weddings where this is the couple’s approach? I haven’t been to any weddings in years, so maybe this is a thing now.
Five more things:
- 15a. [Open, one-seated horse-drawn carriage], STANHOPE. Who doesn’t love horse-drawn carriage names? *raises hand* I wonder if Brad and Sam initially had comic Doug Stanhope in mind for the clue. I don’t think I’d enjoy his material much, based on this interview. You know what comedian I like, though? Kumail Nanjiani, who hosted SNL last weekend, Nanjiani also cowrote and starred in the story of how he and his now-wife got together, The Big Sick. Just watched it on-demand tonight and man, was it good.
- 43a. [Display of glee], JIG. Have you … have you ever literally done a jig because you were so pleased? If so, please provide details and, if available, video.
- With 46a being SUNNI Islam, I wonder if 48a ARAB was originally clued in relation to the Arab peoples rather than [Steed noted for its stamina].
- 60a. [Put in another light], RECAST. To an editor, recasting is rejiggering a sentence so that it works better.
- 9d. [Add water to, say], THIN. Dang it, I drink a ton of water and yet I’m not getting any thinner.
3.6 stars from me. I usually enjoy both Brad’s and Sam’s work more than this particular puzzle, and will look forward to seeing their next collabo.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Yes, I made a couple of errors, as you can see in the grid. I don’t remember what I had instead of AIR VENT at 17A, but whatever it was I am sure made a whole lot less sense than the correct answer! I will mention it again, but this style of grid is a bit easier to solve, especially since there are no answers in the grid longer than 7 letters! Oddly enough, there also isn’t a single 6-letter entry in this grid, but fully half of the entries are 7-letters! Nice fun puzzle; not too tough, which is OK by me! 4.4 stars.
A few notes:
- 18A [Creamy rice dish] RISOTTO – I would love to go to one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants and try his version. On Hell’s Kitchen it looks delicious!
- 20A [California region named for a literary hero] TARZANA – Is this really where the name came from? That seems … weird.
- 55A [Please, please …”] I BEG YOU – One of my favorite entries in the grid!
- 59A [Asphalt] BITUMEN – I first learned this word in the Bible. Noah used it to coat the ark. I picture him covered in tar from head to toe!
- 4D [Bloke’s address] GUV – Not sure why British people use this term, but still a nice clue.
- 14D [Like the wind] ERODENT – I had EROSIVE, since ERODENT is a lot rarer. Perhaps a tad high on the difficulty level.
- 39D [Hog’s call?] ALL MINE! – Another great phrase used as a entry. Pretty good pun as well!
- 43D [Source of some annoying online messages] NAGWARE – Is this two words? I have no idea. I had to ask my son about this one. another new term to me. These are those annoying boxes that pop up and you have to actually do something to close them. Nice entry!
I actually broke my diet to eat this:
Not the greatest picture, but this is a venison sandwich from Arby’s! For the record, I only ate half of it. Not bad! Deer season is a big thing in this part of the country; they are all over the place. Back to my vegan ways now! Have a nice weekend!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
OK, I actually have a gripe with this one! While solving, when I got to 57A, I of course had no idea what this answer was early on, but as I progressed, I saw the first word was CHOICE, and I immediately thought I must have had something wrong, because the word “choice” appears in the clue for 58D. I’m not totally sure, but isn’t it highly preferred, if not an outright convention, to not have an answer word appear in a clue in the same puzzle? Obviously minor articles or “THE” may have to make repeat appearances in the final product, but this seems easily avoidable. Other than that, I found this a typical stellar Stumper. The 72-word count makes for a slightly more robust vocabulary, and this has some really good entries. But that repeat word really bothers me. 3.5 stars for this one.
- 19A [Activity in Showtime’s “Billions”] INSIDER TRADING – I have not seen this show, primarily because I don’t have Showtime, but usually the shows on HBO and Showtime seem to be much better made than other network offerings. Maybe after I finish my masters classes I will have time!
- 25A [He directed Celeste and Marlon to Oscars] ELIA – As in Elia Kazan. This was a point of entry for me into the puzzle. I seemed to remember he directed On the Waterfront. I remember the protest against him at the Oscars when he received a lifetime award, but a lot of the stuff concerning why he was hated was a little before my time.
- 47A [Chess tactic, briefly] SAC – A SACrifice is the only thing this could be that is three letters. I think. Matt Gaffney, are there other possibilities for this answer?
- 62A [French form of “Steve”] ETIENNE – Not sure if this has an accent anywhere in it, but this was also an entry point for me due to taking French classes in middle school!
- 2D [Certain spinet] PIANOLA – This was a new word to me. I played for years, and my father was/still is obsessed with piano playing, but I have never heard of one of these.
- 12D [Paleozoic supercontinent] PANGAEA – You had me at “supercontinent!”
- 28D [Chain testing solar-panel packages] IKEA – This sounds intriguing. I wonder what they are selling? I know some of their lamps in their stores are solar powered, if I remember correctly.
- 40D [Steel-center euro coin] ONE CENT – I think this is an excellent clue! I have never held a Euro in my hand because the European countries I have visited didn’t use this currency. Very clever!
- 55D [Ride for Elmo] TRIKE – I never did like that Elmo …
Michigan has a big game today, and they likely will get stomped. Yikes! Have a good Saturday!
Joe DiPietro’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Quiet Time” — pannonica’s write-up
Variations on a—um, in a? of a?—theme.
- 22a. [Remark meant to silence … a chiropractor?] NO MORE BACK TALK.
- 36a. [… a Del Monte employee?] CAN IT ALREADY.
- 67a. [… an FBI agent?] STOP BUGGING ME.
- 99a. [… a careless plumber?] SHUT YOUR TRAP.
- 116a. [… a bad writer?] NOT ANOTHER WORD.
- 15d. [… a washing machine repairman?] PUT A SOCK IN IT.
- 62d. [… a pushy waiter?] I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
Interesting how it was decided that some apparently need to have disparaging qualifiers.
Theme works, crossword does the job.