Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s a funky-looking grid, but I approached it with a sense of mild dread. 5×9 stacked chunks? Highly unlikely to contain much in the way of juicy, entertaining fill. Likely to have an awful lot of the compromises required to get everything to hang together in such wide-open spaces.
Among the entries I rather liked (but didn’t love) are GO IT ALONE, EXCELSIOR, LOSE A STEP, and SUBPLOT. I had reservations about more of the fill. Lots of plurals and verbs ending with S. Four RE- words (blah RELET, super-iffy REBOX, never-encountered REVOICE, and decent REAWAKENS). CWT, ABEAM, BOWER, ELEVE, ESTES, SALTERS, UGO, TAPE LINES, ARILS, ANTAE, ABROGATOR … insert a Lettermanesque “ah-ehhhhh.”
The puzzle is more of a “Let’s see if I can pull this off” stunt than an “I really want to entertain solvers” crossword.
Unfortunate overlap: 13d. [Container for writing materials, such as fancy stationery], PAPETERIE derives from the French papier. The word’s closely related to 33a. [Thin and dry], PAPERY.
Three more things:
- 11d. [Official with the power to annul laws], ABROGATOR. Is … is this an elected official? Where is this word used?
- 25d. [When to do crosswords, say], SPARE TIME. I went with QUIET TIME first. When do you do your puzzles?
- 48d. [Awards for Best Play and others], ESPYS. Great clue. You’re thinking of the Tony Awards rather than sports plays, and boom, it’s not that sort of drama.
2.9 stars from me.
Andy Kravis’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Is this Andy’s debut for a Stumper? Probably not, but in my tenure of blogging these I don’t remember seeing many from him. Our fellow blogger is a future ACPT champ in my opinion, and his puzzles are always top-notch. Some of the clues in this one are really good; others, as is usually the case for a Stumper, are so vague they don’t seem to steer you in the right direction. I’ll mention what I mean in the comments below, but this one fit the bill as enjoyable and not torturous. I count 66 words, and to get great fill with that low of a word count is impressive. 4.7 stars for this one. )As a side note, today’s NYT has an impressive 60 word count!)
- 20A [Toy dog from the Caribbean] HAVANESE – I don’t have a huge knowledge of dog breeds, so this name is not familiar to me, but the picture looks familiar!
- 32A [Quarterback on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team] UNITAS – Who else could this be? Possibly Y.A. TITTLE, who died recently, but I think this was the first word I entered into the grid.
- 39A [U.S. Space Camp setting] ALABAMA – I knew this too, primarily because when I see this, I always think, “Why is this in Alabama??”
- 51A [Any area code] INTEGER – I think this is because none of them start with zero.
- 52A [Region bordering Slovakia] MORAVIA – This is the eastern part of the Czech Republic. Fun fact: home of Ivan Lendl!
- 5D [“Nothing’s stopping us”] “ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO” – This seems to connote a space launch and not an attitude of firm resolve. Is that just me?
- 10D [Pungent appetizer] JALAPEÑO POPPERS – This also doesn’t seem correct to me. I wouldn’t describe the smell of these as “pungent,” which means “having an intense flavor or odor.” These are just hot! When I hear the word “pungent,” I think of an unpleasant or stinky smell, not heat. Am I still crazy?
- 24D [Mobile message media] TEES – I didn’t notice this until after I perused the puzzle again, but this may be one of the best clues in the puzzle.
- 30D [Pacific-based carrier] AIR TAHITI – Is this a real thing? I put AIR ALASKA in at first, but the correct name is Alaska Airlines. It goes without saying, but I have never flown Air Tahiti!
It’s chilly today! Keep warm, fellow Midwesterners!
Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is a 72-worder today, so not quite as low as some other Saturday puzzles today, but plenty of great entries in this one. I got through this one fairly quickly, but I still feel like a learned a factoid or two. After blogging these for quite a while now, I actually wish these were just a “skosh” harder. But maybe the level for these is just as it should be; the NYT is a bit harder, and the Stumper is exponentially more difficult at times! I will stop complaining. 4.3 stars for this one.
A few high points:
- 15A [Baked fruit dessert] APPLE TART – This is in today’s NYT as well. I know what I am eating later!
- 16A [Actress Campbell of “Martin”] TISHA – Also in the original House Party movie. Martin Lawrence was the original host of Def Comedy Jam on HBO years ago, and there is a 25th anniversary special on Netflix. Those shows were a bit raunchy, but some of the funniest bits I have ever seen in comedy were on that show.
- 38A [Hopeful] WANNABE – Makes more sense when you treat the clue as a noun and not an adjective. Also, a Spice Girls tune!
- 60A [Insect world raiders] AMAZON ANT – Shouldn’t this be “raider”?
- 11D [Talking Trans Am of classic TV] KITT – This is not classic TV! I remember watching Knight Rider!!
- 34D [Curse deterrent] SWEAR JAR – Great entry! Never used one of these, though, since it would be pretty much empty!
- 35D [Safe haven for cave dwellers?] BAT HOUSE – The punny clue here is likely needed because this is made up!!
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!
Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Why Not?” — pannonica’s write-up
Bye-bye, terminal y.
- 23a. [Mixing tool used by haggis chefs?] SCOTCH WHISK (… whisky).
- 25a. [Expo for dentists?] TOOTH FAIR (… fairy).
- 36a. [Olive or miniature umbrella, perhaps?] COCKTAIL PART (… party).
- 50a. [Kids’ reward for not fighting?] PEACE TREAT (…treaty).
- 59a. [Golf club used as a theater prop?] DRAMATIC IRON (…irony).
- 67a. [Cover for an Omsk ear?] SIBERIAN HUSK (… husky).
- 78a. [Hunky park ranger?] NATURE STUD (… study).
- 90a. [Sun-Maid, in the dried-fruit aisle?] APRICOT BRAND (… brandy).
- 105a. [Expert at arresting?] MASTER COP (… copy).
- 107a. [Section of a buff buff’s digestive tract?] NUDIST COLON (… colony).
And there you have it. Not sure how well the all work as humorous alterations or clue fodder, but there the are.
With nearl a third of the themers involving alcohol, seems apt that 103d TOOT is clued as [Drinking spree]. Almost surprised 86d COSMOS was clued straight-up as [Orderly universe].
- 15a [Cheeky behavior] SASS. How unusual to see this crossword regular crossing the beginnings of other entries; seems to always backstop plurals.
- 49a [Was dishonest] LIED, 74a [Attempted to gain control of] MOVED IN ON, 96a [Odious] VILE, 11d [Coup __ ] D’ÉTAT.
- Favorite clue: 65a [Betrays amusement] GRINS. So simple yet evocative. Runner-up: 69d [Tag line] NOT IT.
- 86a [Saucer occupant] CUP. Does that work? Does a CUP occup a saucer or merel sit atop one? When you sit in a chair you’re certainl occupying it, but this feels off to me, especiall sans question mark.
- 9d [Historic Manhattan ballroom] ROSELAND. Shuttered in 2014, alas.
Couldn’t find a decent clip from the 1977 Merchant–Ivor film (with Christopher Walken), instead stumbled upon this (Watch at your own risk):
- 18d [Sister of Venus] SERENA (tennis, not Roman mytholog), then 24d [Sister of Zeus] HERA; also wife of Zeus. Gives new meaning to ‘sister-wife’.
- 32d [It takes a bow] VIOLIN, 20a [It takes a bow] ARROW (or rather the bow takes the ARROW?).
- 70d [Newspaper feature] COMICS. Stuck with COLUMN for far too long, perhaps even after seeing 53d [Addition column] TENS?
And with that, I’ll be on m wa.