Michael Shteyman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Aw, man. Saturday is for hard themeless puzzles, and Thursday is for the 72-word themed NYT. Here we’ve got four 15-letter answers, three of which have the letters T, R, U, T, H spread out in them: THROUGH THE YEARS, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, and DON’T ARGUE WITH ME. Then there’s the revealer, 54a. [Exaggerate … or a hint to five nonconsecutive letters in 20-Across, 36-Across and 7-Down], STRETCH THE TRUTH. I kinda think this might have played better as a hidden Easter egg and a straightforward 54a clue with no hint of what’s hidden. Just a puzzle note saying that there’s another layer if you want to pursue it.
Of course, when you’ve got four 15-letter theme answers locking down big swaths of the grid, the rest of the fill has to make allowances for it. You’ve got your crosswordese name crossing of POLA and AMAHL, which mired at least one solver reporting on Twitter. RCPT ANET STN OLIN UPONE ERSE? Meh.
Entirely new to me: 11d. [Alternative to Twinings], AHMAD TEA. Apparently it’s a British company.
Five more things:
- 32a. [Island on which Mount Obama is the highest point], ANTIGUA. What an awesome little trivia tidbit! It was called Boggy Peak until the prime minister renamed it on Barack Obama’s birthday in 2009.
- 43a. [Annual music and film festival founded in 1987, briefly], SXSW. That’s shorthand for South by Southwest, the big event in Austin, Texas. If the abbreviated version is unfamiliar to you, get used to it—it’s not going anywhere. We’re 30 years in now.
- 44a. [“___ is about finding your own space”: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar], ISLAM. Great quote.
- 1d. [Strong Chinese liquor], MAOTAI. I’ve faintly heard of this, but leaned on the crossings to gather the letters.
- 45d. [Disreputable], LOUCHE. I love that word but I never use it.
I’d have enjoyed the puzzle more with crisper and zingier fill throughout. 3.4 stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
C.C. has another fine themeless entry this Saturday. A tad tough, but still not too bad. I have a couple of quibbles with clues in this one, but again, for someone who is not a native English speaker, some of the entries in here are remarkable: ONE DAY ONLY, THAT DOES IT!, INDIEGOGO, and CHEAP DATE, among others, are all quite lively. The type of word that brings a wry smile to your face while solving. Awesome! 4.2 stars overall for this 70-worder.
A few notes:
- 1A [It features remotely controlled utilities] SMART HOME – I tried APPLE HOME, which I think is just the app, but still fits!
- 14A [One who fits perfectly] MALE MODEL – I thought this was a tad off, but I think this is “fits” in terms of how clothes fit. This is probably here to trick me anyway, but I had ROLE MODEL in here.
- 36A [Online place for handmade goods] ETSY STORE – I am not into this website, but this is my major gripe. Isn’t the site just called “Etsy?”
- 46A [Rabbit danglers] DEWLAPS – Aww! Soooo cute!
- 53A [Crowdfunding site] INDIEGOGO – Kickstarter and GoFundMe didn’t fit, and I am not as familiar with this site. Very well done! Zero NYT occurences for this!
- 9D [Animated queen of Arendelle] ELSA – Disney. Ugh.
- 10D [Laura’s classic cry on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”] “OH, ROB!” – This is a tad before my time, but I have seen this show in syndication years ago. Is it on TVLand still? Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore played Rob and Laura Petrie. She passed away earlier this year; he is still kicking in his 90s!
- 23D [Facebook co-founder Saverin] EDUARDO – Another movie I have yet to see is The Social Network. This was Andrew Garfield’s character/
- 28D [Palindromic supermodel] EMME – I wrote ELLE as in Elle MacPherson. This is Emme is a famous plus-sized model I am not familiar with. She seems inspiring!
See you on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
A welcome breather this week! Not my fastest time, but it isn’t 30 minutes, so it’s a winner! The word count here crept up to 72, so that usually makes for a little easier entry into the grid. Only one 15-letter entry in the puzzle, but rafts of 8s and a couple of 10s. Stan (“Lester”) makes it look easy; I am jealous of his talent. I had some fits in the lower right, as you can see by the correction marks in the image, but I will explain why in the comments below. I had fun with this one, and not in small part because it wasn’t as torturous as usual! That usually means look out next week! 4.3 stars today.
- 29A [Unhelpful advice re adversity] DEAL WITH IT! – I had ROLL WITH IT in here at first. One of my favorite phrases!
- 35A [Unconfident preface] IF I’M NOT MISTAKEN – This seems tougher to me because it’s not always easy to visualize apostrophes in crossword puzzles. Still a great entry though.
- 51A [Former ESPN owner] ABC – I thought they still did? Or are they all now just under the parent company Disney? (Ugh.)
- 58A [Page One leaker of 1973] ELLSBERG – As in Daniel Ellsberg, who was a major player in the Watergate scandal. Just a tad before my time; I turned 4 in ’73]
- 1D [Not innovative] COPIED – I tried REPEAT at first. As you might surmise, this calls all sorts of complications!
- 6D [Cannoneer’s calculation] ARC – I did write this in immediately, and thank goodness it was correct. I have never fired a cannon, so I will suppose this is true! I figured they just aimed!
- 25D [Top “SportsCentury” track star] OWENS – Also wrote this in quickly. What other track star could it be, other than Carl LEWIS?
- 46D [Certain “Divine Comedy” sinner] USURER – Dan Brown’s Origin was not good, other than the vivid references to art and architecture. In Inferno, he mentions a lot of facts about Dante’s master work, including the fact that it basically shapes the modern view of what hell is like. I still haven’t seen the movie treatment of this. Maybe this weekend!
- 47D [“For life’s sore spots” sloganeer] BEN-GAY – I had the B, and for some reason I thought this was BOUNTY, which we all know is “The quicker picker upper!” (I do seem to remember something in a commercial similar to “For all of life’s messes” or whatever. It’s all a bit murky!)
Michigan has a night game. It’s not looking good for the Maize and Blue this year! Have a great Saturday.