Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Peter is one of my constructors over at Crosswords With Friends, where he excels at crafting grids with all easy fill. He also shines, of course, over here in Themelessland, where there’s rarely much of anything to critique in his puzzles. CADENT is an uncommon word (but fair game for a Saturday NYT) and DIGICAMS sounds dorky, but nothing else jumped out at me other than the good stuff.
I like the Riesian staggered stack of 11s in the middle—MAJOR LABELS, DARE TO DREAM, and LITTER BOXES are all reasonably zippy, and there’s sparkle in crossings like DART GUN, THE BEEB, and EASY RIDER. Also like VOODOO DOLL, CHI-CHI, THE FEDS (not vexed by two entries starting with THE), and PLINKO. LOAN OUT and SOLD OFF are the sort of [verb + preposition] phrases that are entirely in-the-language as lexical chunks, worlds better than the epidemic of 5- to 7-letter junky phrases that take that structure but that aren’t really lexical chunks. You could ask someone to tell you what “sold off” means or to use it in a sentence, and they wouldn’t hesitate. Ask that person to do the same for something like “nags at” or “lap at” and see how they look at you.
Oh! I also love OOF. Still irks me that you can’t play it in Scrabble-type games. I, for one, use the word plenty. Someday! Someday, its Scrabble time will come.
4.25 stars from me. Good night!
Harold Jones’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Resolutions” — pannonica’s write-up
A more accurate title might be “Reinfusions”, but that wouldn’t tie in with the whole New Year thing.
- 22a. [The boxy Kia Soul, e.g.?] SQUARED CAR (squad car). Or, say, the Nissan Cube? 45d [Kia sedans] RIOS—product placement?
- 24a. [Action to become an emancipated minor?] PARENT SUIT (pantsuit).
- 35a. [Trash generated by proofers’ insertions?] CARET LITTER (cat litter). Insertions, indeed.
- 43a. [Cabin in the woods?] FORESTER HOME (foster home).
- 61a. [Origami class?] CREASE STUDY (case study).
- 69a. [Guild of cargo haulers?] FREIGHT CLUB (Fight Club).
- 84a. [Container for a bishop’s beverage?] PRELATE GLASS (plate glass). Container, indeed.
- 92a. [Well-secured playground equipment] MOORED SWING (mood swing).
- 107a. [Entertainment for those awaiting surgery?] PRE-OP MUSIC (pop music). That’s a thing.
- 109a. [One who wonders where his Wonder went?] BREAD LOSER (bad loser). One-wonders-Wonder, plus all the other Ws. Wow.
Theme feels pedestrian and dry, but they can’t all be stellar wonders.
Not part of the theme: 88a [Events for select customers] PRESALES, 116a [Funnyman Foxx] REDD, 3d [Fixed] NEUTERED, 12d [Hot states] IRES, 32d [Allude] REFER, 44d [Brings up] REARS, 58d [Tract measure] ACRE, 80d [Verb that sounds like a letter] ARE, 85d [Contrite feeling] REMORSE, 88d [Many a LIttle Leaguer] PRETEEN. Sure, it’s a very common letter sequence. Oh, and how could I forget the oh-so apt 21a [About] IN RE.
- 33a [Least loony] SANEST, 28d [Birdbrained] MORONIC. Hello, Saturday.
- Double feature time! 50a/90a [“The Last Jedi” character] LEIA, REY (also not part of theme); 46d [Justin of “This Is Us”] HARTLEY, 114a [Ventimiglia of “This Is Us”] MILO. Oh, the latter’s a television series.
- Trivia! 80a [His 1975 autobiography was edited by Toni Morrison] ALI.
- 66d [Donizetti’s “___ di Lammermoor”] LUCIA.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Maybe my iPad solving today contributed to the slightly slower time for this Stan edition. I did both the LAT challenger and this one on my now 3+ year old tablet. The one issue I have with Apple tablets and phones is that they go obsolete fairly quickly. My MacBook is also about 3+ years old, but I don’t see any drop in performance hardly at all. And Apple looks pretty bad with the news that they were purposely throttling old phones to get people to buy new ones! Good old Capitalism 101!
Anyway, solving on the iPad is a bit more convenient in it’s portability, but you certainly cannot type as fast. “Lester’s” puzzles usually give me 12-15 minutes of fits, but this one seemed just a tad tougher. Once I got a foothold on this one, it didn’t seem as bad. I had an error where you see the cursor in the image; HOME RULE – makes sense now that it is finished, but that phrase is not as familiar to me. A solid 4.4 stars for this one.
A few notes:
- 1A [Crib successor] CHILD BED – We call these toddler beds here in Northern Indiana.
- 18A [Onetime “Apprentice” boardroom judge] IVANKA – This makes sense once you think about it. Maybe she will run for president next!
- 46A [Word from the French for “stir up”] RATATOUILLE – I guessed this and got a lot of progress immediately afterward. I will have to make this dish soon since it is all veggies!
- 1D [High point of many towns] CHURCH – This is the case in the Netflix series Godless, which takes place in a small western town. Several camera shots take advantage of this geographical feature, and many climactic scenes take place in or near this figurative city center.
- 5D [Grammy-winning name in the “Training Day” cast] DRE – I thought this might be DEF, as in Mos Def. I don’t remember seeing this movie, but I think I actually did some time ago. I certainly don’t remember Dr. Dre being in it.
- 7D [ __ Bucks (Ivy Leaguer’s dining certificates)] ELI – What else would this be? Again, it makes sense once you think about it, which is the sign of a good clue!
- 35D [Common clue for “flea”] PET PEEVE – Ha ha. I think Stan is right; this clue is quite common.
- 49D [Next Literature Nobelist after Winston] ERNEST – I assume this is Ernest Hemingway … ?
There is still over a foot of snow here! Ack!
Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Solving on the iPad again! It does make a prettier image! I am still not as familiar with Daniel Nierenberg’s puzzles, but this was another typical LAT challenger in that it was quite fun to solve. Definitely a unique looking grid, so for esthetic pleasure this one fits the bill, if you’re into that sort of thing! This puzzle has 72 words, so that is on the upper limit of themeless puzzle word count, but that makes for good fill. 4.2 stars.
A few notes:
- 17A [Reactionary ’60s genre] MINIMAL ART – I am not an art aficionado, but I did have a liberal arts class and I did learn some of the concepts on what this was about. It was fairly interesting.
- 41A [Like some observant Jews] HASIDIC – As I have mentioned in this blog before, you would have to hunt high and low to find a Hasidic Jewish person here in northern Indiana. If you would like to see Amish people, though, you’d be in the right place!
- 59A [Trial records] STENO NOTES – I guess the court reporter is technically called a court stenographer, but I always related this phrase more with secretarial dictation. But the office application of shorthand is pretty much obsolete, isn’t it?
- 12D [Seem reasonable] SOUND OKAY – I had SOUND GOOD in here. Naturally, this caused problems …
- 21D [Surprise bad guy] DIRTY COP – I thought this was well done!
- 32D [Controversial technology involving carbon capture and storage] CLEAN COAL – Another great entry, especially since this has been in the political news lately.
- 33D [Part of a fictional six-million repair] BIONIC ARM – I remember this show! The only question was whether the answer ended in ARM, LEG, or EYE!
- 46D [Chihuahua neighbor] SONORA – You mean it wasn’t OAXACA??
That is all for today. Have a great weekend!
A mixed bag for me. Only two somewhat sports-related entries, which normally makes a puzzle harder for me when there are so few, but the three 11-letter words in the center were easy.
Fun puzzle with one exception. I probably should have known Paula Zahn immediately, but I was just guessing between C and Z in the crossing with aZera at the time I solved it.
Man, backing into the southwest was hard, with ?VP? at 50-down. I was stumped. Awesome puzzle though and one of my favorite themelesses – really a delight to struggle through!
NYT: Amy, think you meant to note THE FEDS as the other THE answer. Your post has THE BEEB twice.
The NYT puzzle is an early candidate for Best NYT Puzzle of the Year. Such a delight to solve.
LA TIMES felt like a pre-shortz era NY TIMES crossword. Boring.
Amy! I agree with you! OOF is one of my favorite words, especially when getting up out of a chair!
I was curious to see whether you’d balk at having both THE FEDS and THE BEEB. It bothered me. I also had that problem with the crossing of AZERA and ZAHN. In the SW, I had (with misgivings) DIGITALS (not a noun I know, but at least as idiomatic as DIGICAMS), INTONE, and blanks for Brit and Segal. And then I didn’t know TVPG, POWER LEVEL, and PLINKO, with SPORT in that sense a stretch (and of course _ FLAT could have been lots of things). So not for me one of the favorites of the year by any means.