Mark Diehl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I solved this one while watching an episode of Silicon Valley and still finished in under 11 minutes, so probably it’s not too hard as Saturday puzzles go. There were two things unknown to me, though:
- 17a. [Corona with tequila and fruit juice, e.g.], BEERGARITA. Why the hell would you wreck a perfectly serviceable margarita by putting lager in it? I resent this puzzle for bringing this abomination to my attention.
- 43a. [Spin like a gyroscope], PRECESS. Straightforward physics sort of word that I don’t think I’ve seen before.
On the zippy side in the fill, we’ve got COFFEEMATE, an ONION BAGEL, TANZANIA, a LOST DOG, RUB RAW, NBA DRAFT, “I’M NO EXPERT,” ZENO’S PARADOX, and MENU PAGES, which is also a website indexing restaurants in eight U.S. cities so it feels more like a “thing” to me and less like a bogus entry.
Five more things:
23a. [Big rigs], TANDEMS. No idea if this is about bikes or trucks or something else.
- 37a. [Article of apparel not originating where its name would suggest], PANAMA. As in a Panama hat, which is from Ecuador.
- 39a. [“The Ship” composer, 2016], ENO. As Brian Eno himself says, who cares?
- 46d. [“Hundo”], C-NOTE. Not sure I’ve seen the slang “hundo” make it into a crossword before.
- Lowlights: Crosswordese NEWEL and ONE-A, roll-your-own word HEWER, making me ponder TUNA MELTs.
Four stars from me, over and out.
Claire Muscat’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I didn’t get to meet this budding constructor at the ACPT a couple of weeks ago. I believe her NYT debut was just on 3/29 according to xwordinfo.com. That puzzle was pretty clever, if you haven’t seen it. I won’t spoil it for you here! This is a challenging 72-worder, but only because there are a couple of rare terms in here. I didn’t plow through this ridiculously fast, but tackled it in under 7 minutes. After only solving a couple of her puzzles, I like her style! Keep ’em coming! 4.3 stars for this one today.
Some points to mention:
- 16A [They’re hidden annually] EASTER EGGS – Timely!
- 19A [Xi preceders] NUS – Only question here was whether it was MU or NU. I don’t know the Greek alphabet in order. Primarily because I am not Greek.
- 26A [Ruled by thieves] KLEPTOCRATIC – I had the KLEPTO- part early, and this word makes sense, but still a new one on me. Well done.
- 37A [“It’s Raining __”: The Weather Girls hit] MEN – You know I have to get this tune in your head!
- 48A [“Camptown Races” refrain syllables] DOO DAH – The way this clue is worded, you would think it would be a plural. Tricky!
- 57A [Best Actress between Jennifer and Julianne] CATE – As in Cate Blanchett. Tough clue if you haven’t memorized all of the Oscar winners in order; slightly easier if you at least know WHO has won!
- 12D [Laker great, familiarly] KOBE – You mean it isn’t SHAQ?
- 28D [__ jure: by the law itself] IPSO – This one is also really hard, and harder still if you aren’t a lawyer. IPSO facto is more commonly seen/used.
- 50D [Arab Spring city] TUNIS – After getting a letter or two this one was easy, but I am not familiar with what all this was. I should read this.
- 60D [Han and Leia’s son Kylo __] REN – This was too easy, because who doesn’t know Star Wars? I still have not seen the newest one, though!
See you on Tuesday for another LAT writeup!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not as much angst anymore when I see Frank’s byline! OK, maybe a little. His are still some of the toughest of these Stumpers. Depending on the week, though, I suppose they are ALL thorny to some degree. A couple of errors in this one, but all in all I was happy with my effort on this one, and it is one of my better times for a Longo Special. My job is killing me recently with hours, but I find that the puzzles are a major part of what keeps me sane. Maybe it is the quiet needed to concentrate, but I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t do puzzles. Probably chain smoke or binge drink! I will happily call solving my drug. Thanks for the fix, Frank! 4.4 stars today.
- 15A [“Bonnie” one of a Scottish song] ANNIE LAURIE – Never heard of this. Almost timely for St. Patty’s day a couple of weeks ago.
- 18A [Where Grisham got his BS degree] MSU – This is Mississippi State, not Michigan State. Times are tough now for Sparty; MSU and Penn State from the Big Ten both now have heavily soiled reputations. I think Michigan State’s is now much worse.
- 31A [Manatee habitat] EVERGLADE – I don’t think I have ever encountered this word in the singular form. It IS an actual environment type!
- 42A [Nancy Reagan in “The Butler” (2013)] JANE FONDA – This is a movie I ACTUALLY SAW! Still don’t remember Hanoi Jane in this. I wonder how long her screen time was? The main character was a butler for several presidents, including Reagan.
- 59A [Much-visited place] TOURIST AREA – I put TOURIST TRAP, because that is where I usually end up!
- 9D [#2 Mideast nation in area] IRAN – Second to Saudi Arabia, no doubt. With a little thought, this actually isn’t that hard, I and I put in IRA? immediately.
- 12D [Kin of a faux château] MCMANSION – Nicely done! Both are terms for gaudy houses.
- 34D [Put back, as weights in a gym] RERACK – I need to go to a gym …
- 52D [“Fiddler of Dooney” poet (1899)] YEATS – I don’t know poetry, but after I had an ending “S”, it was just a question of KEATS or YEATS!
It is still winter here! Have a nice weekend!
Pancho Harrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Chewing the Scenery” — Jim’s review
The Theatah! Pancho Harrison celebrates the stage with phrases whose final word could be re-cast with a theatrical meaning. The first part of the phrase may also change meaning.
- 22a [The mischievous actor winked at the audience and delivered an ___] ALL-KIDDING ASIDE. This one’s pretty wacky. I like it.
- 32a [The actor starred as twins in the ___] DOUBLE PLAY. Double as in doppelgänger.
- 39a [The semiretired actor was appearing on his ___] FINAL STAGES
- 58a [The actors in the fast-moving drama used ___] TURBO PROPS. My favorite entry.
- 77a [The actors with insignificant roles complained about their ___] SPARE PARTS. Not spare as in extra, but spare meaning minimal.
- 89a [The actor in the wartime drama had a lot of ___] BATTLE LINES
- 96a [The actors portraying pro athletes made up the ___] SPORTS CAST
- 112a [The actor portraying a lowly GI made a ___] PRIVATE ENTRANCE
Most of these work well enough, and a couple were chuckle-worthy, so I approve.
Eight theme entries is a fair amount for a 21x grid, but it leaves plenty of room for nice fill. Highlights include: FAIRY TALE, TAKE SHAPE, MAD RUSH, SPARROW, EAR TO EAR, REGIMENT, GINSENG, “GLAD TO,” and DYNAMO.
Did not know: STABILE (52a, [Alexander Calder creation]). Google tells me a STABILE is “a freestanding abstract sculpture or structure, typically of wire or sheet metal, in the style of a mobile but rigid and stationary.” Oh, I get it. Not a mobile, but a STABILE. The picture shows Calder’s “Flamingo” in Federal Plaza in Chicago.
Lowlights: ORANG and SDS and some other standard crosswordese like ELIA, GESSO, UNS, etc.
Most of the clues felt fairly straightforward, but I did like [It comes from the heart]. I knew what it was after immediately, but AORTA didn’t fit. It took a few crossings to get the more general ARTERY. I also liked the pairing of [Setting setting] and [Rising setting] for WEST and EAST respectively.
Overall, a standard, but solid play-on-words theme. I’ll say 3.4 stars.