Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s not every day you see your employer as a crossword answer. Here’s 18a. [Company that launched the game FarmVille], ZYNGA. Trip Payne and I are co-editors of Zynga’s Crosswords With Friends, of course. (I love my job!)
This being a Saturday NYT puzzle, there are all sorts of entries that never appear in Crosswords With Friends’ easy puzzles. HEME, TUN, PAWL, POMACE … they’re workable in a tough puzzle (if not especially welcome), though. There are also some longer answers that feel a little off to me. TRASHMOUTH instead of pottymouth? Never encountered it. THINK YOUNG doesn’t ring a bell. STEADY DIET feels awkward, and BEAN PLANTS is, well, I guess that’s a thing but it’s not exciting. The standard demonym for the people of Bhutan is Bhutanese, not BHUTANI, so I’m not keen on that answer, either (see also: IRANI in far too many crosswords out there).
- 13a. [First two-time Nobelist], MARIE CURIE. She remains the only person ever to win the Nobel in two different sciences, doesn’t she?
- 16a. [Slice, e.g.], ORANGE SODA / 33a. [Ingredient in a Caesar cocktail], CLAM JUICE. Okay, we’re going to concoct a new cocktail that includes clam juice and orange pop. What else should be in this drink? (Other than an anti-emetic.) But not beer, nobody needs that BEER GUT.
- 7d. [The bird in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”], CROW. This is inaccurate and weird. “The bird”?? There were lots of crows, some gulls, and assorted other birds. I don’t know why the clue is worded this way. [Kind of bird in the school scenes of “The Birds”]—is that better?
- 23d. [Coconuts, to a maroon on an island, maybe], STEADY DIET. Putting aside the legitimacy of the entry, this clue is terrible. “A maroon”? You know what noun sense of maroon referring to a person is more common than “person who has been marooned”? The sense that refers to escaped slaves in the Caribbean in the 1600s and 1700s, or their descendants. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered maroon as a noun the way it’s used in this clue—and when there is that other meaning, why why why would you put this word in a clue? Especially when basically all of the West Indies consists of islands.
- 36d. [Witty Garofalo], JANEANE. I always liked her comedy, and I miss it. I looked on YouTube for a good video to show you, but a half-hour video is a weird addition to a blog post, and the shorter clips didn’t grab me.
- 55a. [Curling and rugby, but not boxing, in the Olympics], TEAM EVENTS. I feel like those are team sports rather than team events. What’s the lingo in Olympics circles?
Three stars from me. Would’ve been 3.25 but I had to deduct points for the “maroon” issue.
Martin Leechman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Jeez!”
A yoked pair of Gs inserted into phrases yields giggles.
- 23a. [Panhandling penguin, perhaps?] POLAR BEGGAR (polar bear). 6a [lake Pend Oreille is in its panhandle] IDAHO.
- 29a. [Condition of some 1990s hip-hop pants?] BAGGY STATE (Bay State). 95d [Raises, as saggy slacks] HIKES UP.
- 40a. [Amish transportation with a driving force?] IMPULSE BUGGY (impulse buy).
- 62a. [Title for an expert at side-to-side motions?] PRINCE OF WAGGLES (Prince of Wales). 95d [Makes side-to-side motions] HULAS.
- 87a. [Quakers living in quagmires?] BOGGY FRIENDS (boyfriends). Amish and Quakers, symmetrified!
- 101a. [Gravy that’s too watery?] SOGGY SAUCE (soy sauce).
- 108a. [Any but the Hogwarts Express?] MUGGLE TRAIN (mule train). 68d [Old parade sights] BANDWAGONS.
- 61d [Raucous squawk] BLAT.
- 65d [Staff leaders?] G CLEFS. Gs!
- 20a [Lunch spot] DINER, 54d [Lunch spots] CAFÉS.
- 11a [Match makeup] SETS, 81a [Stunning serve] ACE, 98a [Veus’s sister] SERENA.
- 75a [Pamplona runners] TOROS, 88d [Pamplona cry] OLÉ, 109d [Quaint cheer] RAH.
—— I can keep this up for a while, you know ——
- 26a [“…__ comes to that”] IF IT, 53d [Dealing with the situation] ON IT, 59d [Words of approximation] OR SO.
- 24d [Sources of annoyance] BANES, 39d [Chronic complainers] NAGS, 113a [Bother] EAT AT.
—— But perhaps I shouldn’t——
In fact, I should probably sign off for now.
Andy Kravis’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Well, this was certainly a lot less nerve-wracking than Andy’s Stumper from last week! A tad more challenging, perhaps, than a usual LAT Saturday, but certainly not torturous at all. I see the mini-theme with 1-Across starting with ABC and 53-Across starting with XYZ, and yes, this 70-worder is pangrammatic! That means lots of high-scoring Scrabble words! A solid 4.7 stars for this one.
- 24A [“Cool, dude!”] GNARLY! – This speech, whether is it “Valley Girl” or “Surfer Dude” English, was quite popular back in the 80s. Yes, I’m old.
- 35A [They’re matched by foundations] SKIN TONES – I hear the singer Rihanna has a new line of makeup out, and it is quite popular because of its variety of tones for women of all colors.
- 44A [Big Ten sch. that competes for the Paul Bunyan Trophy] MSU – Michigan State University is certainly in the news of late, and for all the wrong reasons. I know a lot of Sparty fans in this area, and they aren’t happy at all. Is this Penn State bad, or worse?
- 1D [“Honey, I’m Good” singer Grammer] ANDY – This song was on the radio quite a lot.
- 22D [Britt Reid’s alter ego] GREEN HORNET – I liked this show a lot; it was quite similar to the Batman series of the late 60s.
- 33D [1980s-’90s Notre Dame football coach Lou] HOLTZ – This guy is legendary in my neck of the woods, so this was a gimme!
- 46D [“Miracle on Ice” loser] USSR – This could easily have been tied in to 1-Across and 26-Down, which are already connected, instead of just repeating the “Miracle on Ice” phrase. Just my opinion!
Apologies for the late post, but there was a major emergency at my job and it is now 6:30 pm on Saturday and I just got home!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I am getting better at Matthew’s puzzles. By better, I mean they don’t take the entire 30 minutes! This one was tough, but not head-smashing-into-the-wall tough, so that was nice. Had a rough day today with work, and this post is going up at almost 7 pm. I apologize for the long delay, and maybe you’ll catch this review on Sunday morning! This was actually a fun puzzle, which means we are in for a doozy soon. 4.4 stars.
- 17A [Razor Vacs, for example] DIRT DEVILS – Never heard of it, but I don’t vacuum much. We have hardwood floors!
- 23A [Early-fall sports news topic] PENNANT RACE – I figured this was baseball, and I started to write in WORLD SERIES, but I am glad I didn’t!
- 28A [One will get you about 110 JPY] USD – One US dollar is equal to 110 Japanese Yen. Great clue!
- 50A [Choice words] I’LL TAKE THAT – This was also one of my favorites. Another excellent misdirectional clue.
- 52A [SCOTUS topics] RTS – Is this an abbreviation for rights, as in human rights?
- 63A [2011 droll autobiography best-seller] BOSSY PANTS – This is the Tina Fey book. I think she is really funny, so maybe I will try and read this someday.
- 4D [They’re attached to dorsal vertebrae] LATS – As in your latissimus dorsi muscles, which are under your arms. Somehow this clue gave me a connotation of something fish-related!
- 7D [NBA slam-dunking great] ERVING – Didn’t think of him, because he is usually in puzzles as DR. J!
- 37D [Elizabeth Barrett called it “a sensation”] THE RAVEN – Most people are not avid poetry readers (as least it doesn’t seem that way), but back before there were several other forms of media, this surely was one. But even today, it still seems that way, and that is the indication of true writing excellence. Go read it again today!
Again, this has been a rough day. I’m going to find some beer and go to bed. Maybe I will wake up in time to see Roger Federer!