Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Love that clue for CHINA SHOP: 6a. [No bull market?]. As in “bull in a china shop.” Although are there actual things called china shops these days??
Top fill: KATEY SAGAL, LIT CRIT, KONA COAST, LOVE BOAT, YES INDEEDY and HI Y’ALL, DO-OVER, ROGAINE.
In the Did Not Know category, we’ve got a few things:
- 36d. [Paintbrushes for applying spots and blotches], MOTTLERS. This is an actual thing.
- 34d. [Rhyming nickname for wrestling Hall-of-Famer Okerlund], MEAN GENE. Never heard of him.
- 6d. [Know-it-all, in Britspeak], CLEVER DICK. The Oxford folks define it as “a person who is irritatingly and ostentatiously knowledgeable or intelligent.” Oh! I know some people like that.
- Also did not know that EPICISTS was a word. It’s certainly uncommon.
In the “Hmm, I’m not so sure” category:
- 31d. [Pre-cell?], ROTARY. This leapfrogs right over touchtone phones and then cordless landline phones. The number of people who progressed straight from a rotary dial phone to a cell phone must be vanishingly small.
- 19a. [Concern of “three strikes” laws], RECIDIVISM. Hmm. Not so sure that was the actual concern, vs. “How can we get a lot of black and brown people locked up?” I mean, come on. “My gosh, this person has been convicted of shoplifting or smoking pot several times. Clearly it makes sense to incarcerate them for decades.” If you’ve not watched the Ava DuVernay documentary 13th, please do so before you attempt to argue with me on this. I promise the movie is well worth your time.
- 56a. [FedEx Office competitor], SIR SPEEDY. Yes, you can have stuff printed at both, but I suspect Sir Speedy is used much more by businesses than by the regular folks who may use FedEx Office.
Neat bit of trivia: 14d. [Coin whose name means “small weight”], PESETA. So a peso is a weight?
4 stars from me for this 64-worder.
Debbie Ellerin & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
As mentioned in my Newsday Stumper write-up, this was solved in an American Airlines 737 at 7:30 in the morning, so while the time is a tad slower than I normally achieve, I am exhausted from a travel day. Maybe I am getting too old for this? Nah! I enjoy traveling to see all of the other people that enjoy my weird obsession with crossword puzzles! It still amazes me that all of the people that I esteem and admire for their skills know who I am! And make no mistake: I have never had and never will have a desire for fame. But there does seem to be a kindred spirit here in this extremely varied and eclectic group that is palpable. Hope everyone who is in Stamford with me has a great time!
This collab by my friend Jeff Chen and Debbie Ellerin is quite good. I hope to ask Jeff in person (if he’s here!) or Debbie (if I get a chance to meet her!) who did what in this joint effort. The quick word count method yields … 70 words? Not too many difficult words here, although my time may or may not have been interrupted by stewards getting my free beverage and that crazy biscuit for breakfast! A robust 4.4 stars for this one.
A few more things:
- 18A [It has a climbing route called “The Nose”] EL CAPITAN – Never been here. And I am not a climber. And I am too old to start now!
- 23A [League of Women Voters co-founder] CATT – As in Carrie Chapman Catt, a famous women’s suffragist. I will admit, I didn’t readily know her as well as Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or others. But I have heard her story before.
- 40A [Brain in many an Asimov story] MAINFRAME – I’ll say! I still like the I, Robot movie from a few years ago. Are we entering this robot age with these self-driving cars and clerk-less stores?
- 53A [1995 AFI Life Achievement Award recipient] SPIELBERG – I do want to see Ready Player One, which I believe opens next week. His movies are still top-notch. Except for those Jurassic Park reboots, which seem like the same story over and over again: big corp breeds dinos, underestimates them, then chaos ensues. I could write the next sequel!
- 55A [Spidey sense, basically] ALARM BELL – Nicely done. Looking forward to the new Avengers movie, which will have Tom Holland in it as Spider-Man once again.
- 58A [Skateboard leap] OLLIE – I only know this because of my boys. Otherwise I would have no clue.
- 1D [Scientific name involving a repeated word] TAUTONYM – This was in an HQ Trivia game from the other day. Yes, it was in a question I got wrong!
- 6D [Modern-day eruption] TWEET STORM – From the Oval Office porcelain throne at 3 am!
- 28D [Rides with wing-shaped tailfins] BATMOBILES – These still look cool 50 years later!!
- 34D [Race against the clock] TIME TRIAL – As in a stage or two of a bike tour, like the Tour de France, which oddly is just around the corner. As is the World Cup! Time sure flies when you get old …
- 52D [Be a looky-loo] GAWP – I had GAWK, but when I figured our PRESS PASS this all of a sudden became clearer!
I said there was fun stuff! If you have never met me and you’re at the ACPT, look for the guy in the Michigan hat! Have a great weekend!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Normally Anna’s (Stan’s!) Stumpers are a tad more … accessible, but it is ACPT weekend, so I am a little frazzled with all of the travel. I am writing this from Stamford on Friday, and I solved the puzzles I need to blog on the flight to LaGuardia. On my laptop, which I couldn’t open all the way because the jack-wagon in the seat in front of me “had” to recline his seat into my lap. I should’ve paid for the first class seat; it was only $35 more!! Wait until that flight home!
Anyway, I shot through the lower part in good time, wrapped around and did the NE corner next, the the NW, and finished where you see the errors in 33A and 39A. I will discuss my silliness below. 72 words? That’s what I count. Lots of fun stuff in this puzzle, which helped make up for the bad screen angle at 35,000 feet! 4.4 stars.
Those promised comments:
- 6A [Aquarium favorite] ANGELFISH – Isn’t this what Nemo is? Or was he a clown fish?
- 33A [Source of fog] STRATUS – As in a stratus cloud, I assume? This one stumped my. I had STRA??S and couldn’t get past seeing STRAINS.
- 35A [Antenna, in the ’50s?] TUBE TOP – I take exception to this clue; I had rabbit ears in my day, and I was born at the tail end of the 60s! Also, I have an antenna on my TV TODAY: We cut the cable channels in favor of YouTubeTV, and we spent $16 on an antenna for even more local channels. I highly recommend!
- 39A [Latter day “Drat!”] DOH! – I figured that is what this was, but I had 27D wrong. (See further down.)
- 45A [Locks that might need picking] MANES – This clue, along with 35A, are the best of the bunch. I have a niece that has a “mane”; my sister used to always talk about the chore of doing her hair!
- 58A [Play with the song “Notice Me, Horton”] SEUSSICAL – I had the SEUSS part early, but couldn’t quite remember the rest. I had another error at 49A that was causing me fits as well. I think I thought SISAL was similar to mint!
- 6D [Ones in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd] AGE MATES – Is that an Oxford comma in there?? This is ANOTHER sterling clue. We are talking grades here!
- 27D [“That’s a negative”] UH-UH – I had UM, NO here. The clue seems like that is what should be here, or maybe that is how I would say it!
- 28D [ __ quiz] PUB – I put POP in here. Tell me I am not the only one! We don’t seem to have very many trivia bar events where I am. Maybe I just don’t know about them!
- 36D [Voice of Buzz Lightyear] TIM ALLEN – In case you were wondering, I have a brother named Tim! Always fun to see his name in a puzzle!
- 43D [Person born in the Disco Era] GEN XER – I got this quickly, since this is technically me, although, as mentioned earlier, my birth year is 1969.
I literally could go on for awhile with this one! Hope everyone has a great tournament!
Agnes Davidson and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Counter Parts” — Jim’s review
Jim P. here again, filling in while much of the gang is out partying at Stamford.
Pretty nifty theme from this duo who have collaborated numerous times in the past. This time they found matching pairs of phrases that included body parts and opposite adjectives. Observe:
- 21a [Obstinate…] STIFF-NECKED paired with 30a […Like basset hounds] DROOPY-EARED. It’s unfortunate that this was the pair to start things off, because they have the most tenuous connection of the lot. To me, the opposite of “stiff” would be “limp.” The opposite of “droopy” would be, I dunno, “perky”?
- 38a [Like a sultry-eyed temptress…] HEAVY-LIDDED paired with 63a […Gone platinum?] LIGHT-HAIRED. Better, but these phrases aren’t so strong in and of themselves. I thought HEAVY-LIDDED meant “sleepy,” and I wanted LIGHT-HEADED to be the answer for the second one.
- 70a [Slow on the uptake…] THICK-HEADED paired with 68a […Easily offended] THIN-SKINNED. Now we’re talking. A perfect match-up.
- 99a [Hardly discreet…] LOOSE-LIPPED paired with 114a […Miserly] TIGHT-FISTED. Another good pairing.
For most of the solve I wasn’t getting it. I wanted the clues to be fanciful (like […Gone platinum?] leading to LIGHT-HEADED), but they were pretty straight-forward. And I couldn’t understand the use of ellipses in the clues. Normally, ellipses indicate a continuation of a clue, but that didn’t seem to work here. Further, some clues had the ellipses at the beginning and some at the end.
Once I realized that the entries were to be paired off, then the light bulb went off and I enjoyed the theme. The ellipses are used just to show the pairing of one to the other. I wish a different bit of punctuation could have been used (maybe an em dash?), but oh well. It made sense in the end.
Beautiful fill throughout. Some minor gluey bits, but for a 23x grid, this thing is impressively clean. Favorites include: SPICED TEA, ANTIPASTO, TERRAPINS, DEADPAN, TIFFANY, CANNOLI, POPPIES, RANKLES, THE OMEN, INTEGER, IRONIES, “O CANADA“, “OOH LA LA,” and BIG TOE.
But I loved seeing SANTORINI in the grid! A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to take the family there for a vacation. The beaches were not ideal (mostly volcanic black sand), but it was oh so beautiful. Typically when you see blue-domed, white-washed buildings in pictures of Greece, they’re really just of Santorini. We stayed at this place which we cannot recommend enough. It’s off the beaten path, but it was wonderful. Hey, how often do you get to lay claim to your own windmill?
A couple more things:
- I don’t recall seeing RFID in a grid before (48d, [Tracking chip]), but it seems crossworthy to me.
- On the other hand, EWEN (53d, [Bremner of “Wonder Woman”]) could be very helpful to crossword constructors, but I don’t know that he’s quite risen to the “crossworthy” level.
I haven’t typically been in the practice of rating puzzles, but maybe I’ll start. I’d put this one at about 3.6.
Okay, all you ACPTers, knock ’em dead today. May your wits be quick and your pencils ever sharp.