Finn Vigeland’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This themeless is a skosh wider than the standard to accommodate that center stack of 16s. The whole enterprise feels very Finn—he’s a massive LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA/Hamilton fanboy, so it makes perfect sense that he’d include that [Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama]. The upper left corner also felt Finn-ish—Sarah KOENIG of the Serial podcast, a little foodie ANCHO (cutely crossing SANCHO, and no, that is not the sort of overlap that’s against the rules), internationalist NI HAO ([Greeting in Guangzhou]), literary GENET, font nerd FUTURA. (Solvers who don’t know these things, please don’t complain that they’re “trivia.” These are all things that a well-rounded American can know.)
Now, ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE was my favorite thing in this grid. Worth the price of admission.
What I didn’t know: 15d. [British writing award], GOLDEN PEN. I don’t know if PREOPS works as a plural noun for preop areas in a hospital. Perhaps the physicians on Team Fiend will weigh in here.
Six more things:
- 23a. [Went to bat (for)], STOOD UP. Interesting clue choice. More positive than the more common “stood up,” in which one party’s a no-show for a date.
- Foreign language/literature content: SANCHO Panza, ASADA, ETRE, Latin RARA AVIS (though the term’s in English), Jean GENET, NI HAO. Doesn’t feel excessive for a Saturday puzzle.
- 37d. [House call?], AYE. Cute clue.
- 43d. [“Manners require time, as nothing is more vulgar than ___”: Ralph Waldo Emerson], HASTE. Listen, crossword solving is not about manners, and speed solving is not vulgar.
- Zippy entries not in the center stack or the northwest corner include WHAT A TRIP, SWIFFER, SOLO CUP (with LIBATIONS crossing!), MLB DRAFT, and D-LIST.
- 2d. [Mounts with a little white on top?], ROANS. Blah crosswordese answer, with a clue that … is sort of pretending to be racy? Pass. … Oh, wait. Mounts = mountains, snow-capped. Not a verb. My bad.
4.5 stars from me. A most enjoyable crossword.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I consider it a triumph on this Longo puzzle that I finished in less than 30 minutes! I will also allow myself a few minutes handicap for iPad solving, and it is a good day! I count 70 words in this one, and I had plenty of errors in the SW corner. Had the whole right side done “fairly” quickly, by Stumper standards, but the other half was quite a struggle. But I would call it a joyful struggle, as there is nothing else to do on a Saturday morning when you are snowed in! Yes, we got almost a foot of snow yesterday, and there was already 6-8 inches on the ground, so we sorely need some warmer weather here. On the bright side, I have finished all of the contest puzzles this weekend! I’m sure I can find more puzzles to do while the Olympics are one! 4.5 stars for Frank today.
A few notes:
- 5A [Winter blanket produced before the fall?] SHEET OF ICE – Excellent clue. I used to fall on the ice every year when I was younger and always in a hurry. I did get stuck yesterday in the snow, though!
- 18A [It won’t click beyond a circle] INSIDE JOKE – This may be the best clue in the puzzle, and that is saying something because there are quite a few good ones. My mind had pictures of clicking a mouse on a computer screen!
- 35A [Prominent white beam] CHESHIRE CAT GRIN – That it is! I said there were lots of good clues!
- 45A [Craft names a UNESCO Masterpiece] BATIK – Oh, THAT craft …
- 53A [Slinky in “Toy Story”] SAUSAGE DOG – I was thinking of some type of dog breed. I actually don’t think I am too familiar with this term. I assume this is slang for a dachshund?
- 5D [“We Need a Little Christmas” instrument] SPINET – I am Googling this now … OK, a spinet is mentioned in the lyrics. I don’t know this song. Evidently is is from Mame?
- 9D [Suess, to his pale] TED – First clue I filled in. Dr. Seuss is the pen name for Theodor Geisel.
- 29D [Chapter I of his best-known book is “The Cyclone”] L. FRANK BAUM – This is of course referring to the initial chapter in The Wizard of Oz. Too easy, perhaps?
- 50D [Complete fragments, perhaps] EDIT – This was hard because it sounds like an incomplete sentence until you realize “complete” is a verb here!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Now THAT is a Xmas song I know! If there is no snow where you are, I am jealous of you and probably a little angry at you! ;-) Have a great weekend!
Michael Wiesenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A solid 70-worder today, but there are a couple of entries in here that are not my favorite. I suppose for a harder Saturday challenge puzzle, the solver should be skilled enough to know some of the more heavily used “crosswordese” entries, but it seems as if, especially in the LAT, there is an effort to NOT use these. Still a solid puzzle, and not too hard. 3.9 stars from me.
Things to mention:
- 1A [Empathetic words] I CAN RELATE – Not bad for 1-Across!
- 11A [RSVP part] SIL – One of the not my favorites, but how else is there to clue this?
- 28A [Maternally related] ENATE – My least favorite. I literally have NEVER encountered this word except in puzzles.
- 34A [Supar suffix] OSE – Another not-my-favorite. At least a newer solver to tough puzzles would likely be able to figure this out if they didn’t know it already.
- 40A [Rocky of song] RACCOON – There’s a song? (Googling …) Oh yeah, the Beatles!
- 41A [Munich title] HERR – This is one of several foreign words and places in this puzzle. I don’t normally notice, so maybe this isn’t more than normal, but it seems like a lot.
- 48A [Ecstatic] BLISSED OUT – No one in Indiana talks like this!
- 49D [Airport in Peru’s cap.] LIM – On the other hand, I like this one. It seems like a new idea!
Have a happy weekend!
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fish Stories”—Amy’s recap
The puzzle title can be parsed as “F” Is “H” Stories, with each theme answer made by changing a familiar phrase’s initial F into an H, and cluing the resulting made-up phrase accordingly. The puzzle’s got nine of these theme entries, and the fill is on the rough side. Crosswordese bits like OENO, ISSEI, UCAL, and IRAE don’t see as much action these days as they used to, fortunately, but here they are. RTEI is awfully bogus as well—this country doesn’t use Roman numerals for highway numbers. BOOK DEAL and QUIXOTE are great fill, though. 2.7 stars from me.