Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
CUBS FAN! Hello. I see the Cubs have started the season with a losing record. This is annoying. They are letting the neighborhood down. Again.
Other fave fill: MICRO USB, FREESTYLE swimming and raps, “COULD IT BE…?”, BAD ACTOR, soccer RED CARDS, the utterly bonkers entry DOT CO DOT UK (better known as .co.uk), SLOBBER (though babies drool rather than slobber—dogs slobber), CUP OF TEA, and MASH NOTES. I would like plural MythBusters but singular MYTHBUSTER feels weird and wrong.
Five more things, or maybe three, because I’m tired:
- 24a. [Patriarch on “Game of Thrones”], NED Stark. Spoiler alert: He sure as heck isn’t making it to the final season. Or the penultimate one, or the antepenultimate season, or probably the season or two before that.
- 30a and 42a. [“Red” or “white” tree] clues both ASH and OAK. I like!
- 59a. [Hank who voices Moe Szyslak], AZARIA. Hank Azaria also voices Apu, and he’s said that he based the characterization on a Peter Sellers character … Sellers being a white Englishman who did that character in brownface. (Azaria is not of Indian descent.) Comedian and commentator Hari Kondabolu’s documentary, The Problem With Apu, airs again this Sunday evening on truTV (it’s also available via the channel’s app). Seems that a great many South Asians have never been keen on the Apu character, and the Simpsons show runner is fairly dismissive of their concerns.
Not so keen on OCTILE, B CHORD, ALETAP, ENTO.
3.9 stars from me, over and out. Thoughts?
Timothy Polin’s & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Disorderly Conduct” — Laura’s review
We’ve got phrases that hint at anagrams, then anagrams of the words hinted at, crossing those phrases, such that we reinterpret the phrases as alternate clues for the crossing words. Get it? Like so:
- [23a: See 2-Down]: MIXED BLESSING; [2d: Smooth talker’s
- [32a: See 17-Down]: DISLOCATED ELBOW]; [17d: Submerged]: BELOW
- [54a: See 45-Down]: GARBLED SPEECH]; [45d: Sounds on some Easter commercials]: CHEEPS
- [64a: See 68-Down]: PROCESSED MEAT]; [68d: Bunch of players]: TEAM
- [75a: See 59-Down]: TWISTED SISTER]; [59d: Stand up to]: RESIST
- [97a: See 93-Down]: SCRAMBLED SIGNAL]; [93d: Evens things up]: ALIGNS
- [110a: See 95-Down]: ALTERED STATES]; [95d: Personal preferences]: TASTES
These are some nice finds! “RESIST, SISTER” is my new anagrammatic feminist rallying cry (I’m disappointed that it isn’t a palindrome). It took some skilled gridwork to get all those crossings in there, and the fill didn’t really seem to suffer. Well, ok, there were more airport codes than one expects, and I’m not fully convinced that SHAHDOM [57d: Persia, once] is a term that actual historians use, and ATOM MAN [83a: Villain in a 1950 Superman serial] is somewhat obscure even for a person with some knowledge of midcentury popular culture, comics, and the like. Also? [90a: “When You Wish Upon a Star” lyricist Washington] is by no means a commonly known NED. He’s like the ninth-most commonly known NED, actual or fictional, after Beatty, Kelly, Flanders, Stark, Yost, Nickerson, Schneebly, and Ryerson. I sense that this is a theme-type that’s been done before, but that’s no reason to ding it, and a well-executed theme-type is perfectly cromulent.
I’ll leave you with an appropriate tune from [56d: River near Balmoral Castle]: DEE Snider, lead singer of [75a: See 59-Down]:
Robyn Weintraub’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I don’t think I know Robyn personally, but I do enjoy her puzzles. I have solved enough of her’s to remember some elements of her constructing style, or “vibe” if you will, and we seem to be on similar wavelengths, since I jammed through this one rather quickly. Crosswords are extremely difficult to make, and themeless puzzles with lively entries and very little obscurity is even harder. This 68-worder is well done. I sometimes wish these Saturday LAT puzzles were just a wee bit harder, but then I tackle the NYT and the Stumper, and I am grateful for the respite! A grateful 4.3 stars today!
- 42A [Many an Egyptian Pharaoh] RAMSES – Weren’t there like 15 of them? If they even have the names right, since a lot of these were literally thousands of years ago? (Wikipedia says there were eleven, with the first being over 3,000 years ago!)
- 57A [Waze forerunner] ROAD ATLAS – Do they even still sell these? I remember the good old days of having to fight one of these things whenever you went more than 30 minutes from home!
- 8D [Like a comment that may elicit “Oh, snap!”] SNARKY – Well done, even if I don’t hear this phrase as often these days. But I am notoriously unhip, so that could be why!
- 9D [“I’m good, thanks”] “NONE FOR ME” – This has never appeared in a NYT. Nice one, Robyn!
- 14D [Brat’s place] DELI – Yes, even though I don’t eat red meat much anymore, I still actually miss a good brat. NPL convention this year is in Milwaukee, which is KNOWN for them … !
- 37D [Viking accessory] OVEN RACK – Oh, THOSE Vikings!
- 43D [Ellery Queen and Raven awards, e.g.] EDGARS – I guess I had no idea these Edgars are like the Oscars: there are several categories! Check it out here, and note that this year’s awards are presented on the 26th of this month!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not too bad! 66 words in this striking grid, and Stan once again shows he is one of the masters of this field. I know it is not just me who appreciates the visual appeal of a wide open grid, not to mention the feeling that it MUST BE FILLED IN as soon as possible! My timer messed up, so the 16-17 minute time is an approximation, but it is pretty close. If I ever finish one of these in less than 10 minutes, I will rejoice! I will have to start tracking my times, since I don’t use a spreadsheet or anything, but I understand many do. Maybe I will start one this week! 4.4 stars for “Anna” today.
- 1A [Redundancy, from the Greek] PLEONASM – Let’s learn a new word!
- 14A [Early internet radio format] REAL AUDIO – I remember using this service. Does Spotify do it better or have the times changed that much? And it iTunes and the iPod really the reason for the change to mainstream acceptance?
- 19A [Only male-lead Emmy actor for comedy and drama] O’CONNOR – Excellent clue. I thought for sure this was Ed Asner, but I’ll bet Carroll O’Connor has won for All in the Family and In the Heat of the Night. I should check this, but I am being lazy on this rainy Saturday morning! (I checked after all, and I was correct!)
- 33A [Source of a nasal congestion remedy] SINUSES – Or you can flush everything with a neti pot! I am scared to do this!! Doesn’t it feel like you’re drowning?
- 50A [“Smart Fiesta” kit seller] OLD EL PASO – This is a bit obscure, IMHO. Is this even a national brand? We certainly have these here in Indiana.
- 56A [Unguarded sporting situation] EMPTY NET – The NHL playoffs started quietly this past Wednesday. The Blackhawks aren’t in it this year, but playoff hockey is some of the best sports drama there is.
- 7D [Headmaster address] SIR – The tie-ins with 9A PASHA and 42D SEÑOR are clever!
- 26D [Combat-zone engineers] SAPPERS – Let’s learn ANOTHER new word!
- 30D [Large symbol of Basque nationalism] GUERNICA – Is this referring to the Picasso painting? Or something else?
Have a nice weekend!