Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Man oh man, I am tired. I was more chipper 45 minutes ago when I solved the puzzle, but my brain’s on the wane. Let’s do this thing.
Easier than the Friday puzzle.
Bright bits: ESCAPE POD, WHAT’S MORE, OFFICEMAX, NUDE SCENE, “SAY, SAY, SAY,” CHEEZ WHIZ, LAZYBONES, and “EXCUSE YOU.”
- 1a. [Display, as an image, using only a small number of different tones], POSTERIZE. Excuse you, but TONE is 37-Down, even using the same sense of that multifarious word, and it really jumped out at me. POSTERIZE is also a basketball slang thing, wherein one player dunks on another one in such splashy fashion that the feat is worthy of being memorialized in a poster. (I did not know that. Have heard the term, didn’t know the while meaning. That was Damon’s original clue angle, too.)
- 19a. [Ron ___, nine-time All-Star from the 1960s-’70s Cubs], SANTO. My friend Jodi got to spend a few hours with Ron in Arizona a few years before he died. He was utterly delightful. (He lost both legs below the knee to diabetes. Awful disease, that.)
- 27d. [Men’s grooming brand], AFTA. Worst entry in the puzzle, if you ask me.
- 8d. [Novelist ___ Neale Hurston], ZORA. Her latest book isn’t fiction: Barracoon comes out this May. Yes, she died 58 years ago, but she’s still publishing. (I have an eternal soft spot for Their Eyes Were Watching God.)
- Too tired for #5.
Four stars from me.
Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Negatives” — Jim’s review
If Jan Brady was reviewing this puzzle, she might complain, “Partial, partial, partial!”
Each theme entry is essentially a very long partial that isn’t not missing the leading “Not.” But fear not! There are plenty of nots in the clues (and one in the grid in an unthematic entry).
- 22a [Not apt not to have many years to live?] LONG FOR THIS WORLD
- 33a [Not what I don’t prefer?] MY CUP OF TEA
- 46a [Not someone who isn’t enjoying himself?] A HAPPY CAMPER
- 66a [Not not bad?] TOO SHABBY. This was the first entry I grokked. Ok. If it’s “not bad,” then it’s good, right? So if it’s not “not bad,” then it must be bad. If it’s not “not too shabby,” then it must be TOO SHABBY.
- 80a [Not not near this neighborhood?] IN MY BACKYARD. This entry started to turn me around into not objecting to this theme.
- 100a [Not having no value?] WORTH A DARN. Could’ve been …DAMN, but the crossing BOHM would not have worked.
- 110a [Not someone who isn’t very smart?] THE BRIGHTEST BULB. This feels like a partial of a partial. Internet searches show “not the brightest bulb in the box” as much more common.
- 16d [Not not particularly attractive?] MUCH TO LOOK AT
- 60d [Not something that’s not new to me?] MY FIRST RODEO. This and the “backyard” entry were the most fun for me to uncover.
I wasn’t sure I was going to like this puzzle at the start with its confusing clues, but once I cottoned on (i.e. that these are just “not” phrases without the “not”), and then found the entries to be mostly lively and in-the-language, I felt won over.
I do wish NOT ONCE was not an entry right there at 20a [Never]. This felt distracting, what with all the nots in every thematic clue.
Things that did not elate:
- More partials! GOT FUN, TO LOVE, ON RICE (though not clued as a partial [How chicken a la king is often served], it feels like it should be clued [Like white ___]).
- Icky fill: ENISLE, MYO, BWI, RIS
- Televangelist OSTEEN. Remember this guy? He was the one who wouldn’t open up his church as a shelter during Hurricane Harvey. Why people give money to shysters like this is beyond me.
- Speaking of which…astrologer Sydney OMARR. This entry comes up on occasion when I’m trying to fill a grid. I inevitably skip right past it.
Things that did not irk:
- Fun long fill: “YOUR MOVE,” SPIT CURL (which we’ve seen in the WSJ before), “IT HURTS,” PAYDIRT
- 59d DARPA. I’m a fan of DARPA since its research led to the Internet. But DARPA stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which dupes not one, but two words in the clue [Defense agcy. that launched the Cyber Grand Challenge]. That’s not good.
- 117a NORWICH [City of East Anglia]. East Anglia is comprised of the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire in England. And speaking of NORWICH, did you know its favorite son, Alan Partridge, is returning to the telly? That’s right, filming began just last week on a new series seeing comedian Steve Coogan reprise his role as the over-stuffed, insensitive, yet insecure prat that is Alan Partridge. It’s coming at just the right time, too, as Alan no doubt voted for Brexit. Here’s hoping the show makes its way to our shores. Can. Not. Wait.
- 85d UNIT RULE [Political convention voting convention]. The rule in which an entire delegation to a conventions casts its vote as a single unit.
- 73d MADRAS [Material for multicolored shirts]. I only know this word in relation to the curry sauce.
Despite my misgivings at the start, I didn’t end up not hating this puzzle. Not!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
“Lester’s” (Stan’s) Stumpers are usually a tad less agonizing than normal, and that is the case with this one, but not quite so much. I finally gutted it out to get a filled grid, and as you can see in the grid image, I had a couple of errors, so I need to clean these errors up before the end of the month! A solid 4.5 stars today.
- 17A [Chuck E. Cheese’s, in part] PIZZERIA – I think I actually have to go here today! Chase did well at school as is due a reward, so yikes!
- 23A [“I [heart] INSURANCE” button wearer] FLO – Great clue! I had to think for a second!
- 36A [Procrastinator’s justification] IT’S NEVER TOO LATE – Sometimes, sadly, it IS too late. Nice 15-letter entry, though!
- 43A [College exam that includes Integrated Reasoning] GMAT – This stands for Graduate Management Admission Test, and is administered to get into an MBA program, which is why I’ve never heard the term! I am almost done with my Masters in Accounting, though!
- 60A [Raccoon cousin] RED PANDA – I can see it:
- 6D [Where Dell Computer got started] DORM – I know the founder, Michael Dell I believe, is from Texas, so I put WACO in here at first. Sometimes your guesses work, sometimes they don’t!
- 8D [Some DVD set starters] SEASON PREMIERES – Nice clue, although I don’t know how many people still use DVDs. I haven’t rented one in months. I don’t even have a player connected to my TV! I will happily pay $4-5 to instantly stream something when I want to watch it. No late fees that way! Isn’t it amazing how TV consumption has changed in the last 15-20 years.
- 12D [Hotel Maitai Polynesia locale] BORA BORA – At eight letters, it was either this or PAGO PAGO
- 25D [Kindling material] E-BOOK – I think this is the best clue of the bunch! And it also reminded me that I cannot find my Kindle ….
- 38D [Saw “… Kimmy Schmidt”] STREAMED – I am not sure why the Unbreakable was left off the title here, because I don’t think it makes this clue any easier or harder. This is a Netflix show, and going along with my comments for 8D, this company, along with perhaps Hulu and Amazon, have changed drastically how we consume entertainment. I used to roll my eyebrows when I heard of someone “binge-watching” a whole season of a show in a weekend, and now shows are DESIGNED for people to do just that. Amazing.
- That is all! Have a great weekend!
Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one seemed a little tougher than normal. It has been a slightly rough week, but nothing too out of the ordinary. For context, I have been solving these in the 5-7 minute range for the most part. I am going to blame this on slight fatigue. I need a vacation!
Gail has a great puzzle regardless. This one felt like a good trivia game, and I was digging deep to remember some things. I had a couple of errors in this one after filling the grid, mainly because I screwed up 21A. (More below.) But a fun Saturday puzzle. 4.4 stars.
- 1A [Steve McQueen’s co-star in “The Getaway”] ALI MACGRAW – She is usually clued in reference to Love Story, so this one was a bit tough. Also, a bit before my time. (1972!)
- 15A [It doesn’t include overtime] BASE SALARY – Been messing around with computer coding, and in one YouTube video, he says coders in Silicon Valley START at $100,000+! Why am I not a software engineer? I know a lot of crossword solvers do this, because the precision needed in both disciplines are the same, as well as making sense of a series of characters.
- 21A [Some edible plant parts] STALKS – I don’t remember what ridiculousness I had in here that was wrong; it had something to do with having FOOTSIES at 22D!
- 37A [“On the Road” narrator] SAL – I don’t think I have ever read this book, but it was the subject of a trivia question I heard Friday on a trivia podcast. The question was where was the starting and ending points of the trip in the book? I think it was Minnesota to California. Unless I heard the question wrong!
- 61A [Amy’s “Sister’s” co-star] TINA – As in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They are really funny. It is amazing to go back and watch an episode of SNL from 10 years ago and see all of the superstars that are on that show!
- 12D [Portmanteau for workout clothing worn socially] ATHLEISURE – Never heard this term. So I learned a new word!
- 29D [Passion caused by strips] BACONMANIA – Best clue in the puzzle! And also what my son Chase suffers from!
- 32D [Cantina fare] TAPAS – There is a restaurant around here that has a tapas bar every weekend. I think I may go there soon!
- 48D [Online reminders] E-NOTES – I have been using an app called Trello for exactly this. Now if I only had time to tackle the items ON the list!
Have a great weekend!