Daniel Nierenberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Did this 70-worder play like a Friday puzzle to you, too? Easier than I was expecting it to be.
Lots to like here. You’ve got your EROTIC NOVEL, a little GENE THERAPY, “OH, STOP IT!”, GAY MARRIAGE, “SEE ATTACHED,” SHADOWBOX (too bad it was clued as the boxing verb rather than as the noun—if you don’t know what the shadow box noun refers to, have a look at Etsy), and BUBBLE TEA as the highlights.
Seven more things:
- 21d. [Dada, to its critics], NON-ART. That’s a thing? Huh.
- 54a. [Passage between life and death], GREAT DIVIDE. That’s a thing? Huh.
- 24d. [N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Carter], CRIS. Definitely my favorite Cris C. from football. Cris Collinsworth, the ex-player who does football commentary for NBC? Hate him.
- 8d. [Teacher of lip-reading to the deaf], ORALIST. Controversial among the big-D Deaf community, I think. But I have a Facebook friend, Henry Kisor, who became deaf as a preschool kid, and his ORALIST education did facilitate his career as the books editor at a Chicago newspaper. You might appreciate his deafness memoir, What’s That Pig Outdoors?
- 47d. [Pistons great Thomas], ISIAH. It amuses me that there’s a current NBA player named Isaiah Thomas. You know how many people are seeing Isaiah’s name and thinking someone’s simply misspelled the name of the legendary Isiah?
- 20a. [What people rarely do with shoes on], LIE IN BED. LIE IN BED? That’s a great idea. My shoes are off since I’m in the house, so there’s nothing standing in my way besides this post.
- 46a. [Attire that’s often checkered], KILT. I don’t know that I’d call a tartan plaid “checkered,” which to me (and at least one reputable dictionary) connotes a grid of squares. Tartans have an awful lot of rectangles, not so much in the way of squares.
Some of the shorter fill is dull but on the whole, not bad. Four stars from me.
Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Fun! Daniel has a double today, with today’s LAT appearing on the same day as his NYT puzzle. That one was much harder than this one, but I still had a bit more of a LAT struggle with this than normal. Yes, I am now shooting for 5-6 minutes on these, so anything longer means I either a) had trouble, or b) forgot about the timer! This is actually a very well made 70-word puzzle with very little dreck. Although challenging, this one has a high fun factor. 4.6 rating from me.
Some of that fun:
- 1A [Classic dramatic device] FATAL FLAW – Nice one for 1-Across. I would like to try an Escape Room later today for the first time, and I hope that it doesn’t have one of these!
- 17A [Updated “What a shame!”] “THAT BITES!” – Great entry! Unsurprisingly, no NYT hits!
- 35A [Uris WWII novel] BATTLE CRY – I know Leon Uris primarily through puzzles. I don’t believe I have ever read one of his novels. Perhaps this one … someday?
- 49A [Fate of Peter’s father, in kiddie lit] RABBIT PIE – My gosh, I had no idea! This sounds gruesome!!
- 10D [Sinestro and Professor Zoom, in their respective universes] NEMESES – Sinestro is a foe of Green Lantern, and Professor Zoom is against the Flash. Aren’t these technically the SAME universe? (Both are DC, not Marvel.)
- 22D [Child-raising technique?] BOOSTER SEAT – No, this has nothing to do with discipline!
- 36D [Matisse work featuring hand-holding] LA DANSE – I don’t think I have ever seen this work of art before. But I am uncultured.
- 42D [Abu Simbel’s region] NUBIA – This clue refers to some famed rock temples in Southern Egypt. These are very striking, like a lot of work from years ago. There is a school of thought that the people back then were not as smart as we are today, but many ancient cultures did great things. And without smartphones!
I could go on, but I believe I actually have some yard work to do today! Finally!!
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Today’s Stumper was a classic example of being uncomfortable with a constructor I don’t immediately recognize. Is there a database somewhere that tracks how many Stumpers people have constructed? I am sure Stan has a list, but perhaps I should start one. xwordinfo.com shows that he has made 5 NYTs, so I am sure that I have solved his puzzles before. Perhaps with a name that has the same type of recognition that “John Smith” would have is the reason that his name is not standing out.
His puzzle constructions, though, DO stand out. Today’s is no exception. SE corner was where I started, then the SW, then the NE, then the brutal NW corner, where I learned new terms and got thoroughly bewildered. Yes, there is a fair amount of angst in trying to get the puzzle done and the blog post up by, say, at worst noon on Saturday, and that doesn’t help the stress when you’re staring at a sea of white squares for a seeming eternity. But this brutality is what makes the Stumper the Stumper! 4.5 stars today.
Let’s discuss those new words!
- 17A [Battery side?] ONION RINGS – Nominee for Best Clue. I was totally fooled.
- 19A [Black-eyed pea’s Asian cousin] ADZUKI BEAN – Oh, yes, my favorite. They do kind of look like black eyed peas. Learning is fun!
- 20A [Narragansett and Chesapeake, to geologists] RIAS – A clever way to clue a tough, perhaps even crossword-y, word. Who knew there was so much information about rias?
- 44A [“Game of Games” name (2018)] ELLEN – I knew this sounded familiar. Ellen DeGeneres hosts this game show that I don’t watch.
- 2D [Vacay] R AND R – I need either/both.
- 6D [Simple elegance, in Japanese art] SHIBUI – Some may be irritated with use of this word, but perhaps an art aficionado would be familiar with it. Of someone with Japanese heritage. I look at it as a learning experience, albeit pain in admitting there is something I don’t know.
- 12D [Subway line selection] TUNA SALAD – The other nominee for Best Clue. I don’t know why I tried CHEF SALAD at first!
- 31D [Wall fixture] TOWEL RACK – So simple once it is solved, but so vague. The tough crossings at 29A, 35A and 38A didn’t help.
- 43D [Ice-into-glass by-product] TINKLE – So many hyphens!!
- 48D [What IBM first called Sonoran Sans Serif] ARIAL – A great bit of trivia here, especially for something that is used quite a bit.
- 53D [End of Beethoven’s Eighth] CODA – This is clued like it might be the actual ending note or chord! Again, another clever clue for a common answer.
It is warming up! (I think.)
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Baseball” — Jim’s review
Theme entries hide singular forms of MLB team members.
- 23a [Neurotoxin for an Atlanta player] COBRA VENOM
- 25a [Sci-fi odyssey for a New York player] TIME TRAVEL
- 35a [Analytical psychology for a San Francisco player] JUNGIAN THEORY
- 57a [Port for a Minnesota player] DESSERT WINE
- 67a [1960s film doctor for an L.A. player] STRANGELOVE
- 91a [Guesthouse area for a Houston player] BREAKFAST ROOM
- 105a [Drink garnish for a Texas player] ORANGE RIND
- 107a [WWII stance for a Detroit player] ANTI-GERMAN
This was probably great fun for a baseball fan. I am not such a person (I don’t mind it; I may watch the World Series on occasion, but I don’t follow it closely), so this puzzle wasn’t really for me.
The theme was fine, though. I certainly didn’t mind it and I liked some (though not all) of the entries. But if the theme kept itself limited to the theme entries, I’d be cool with that. It’s when it encroached on the myriad other entries that I started to get irked. For example, [Member of a farm team] clues ASS. [Stadium conveniences] clues ATMS. [Batter] clues RAM. Etc., etc., etc. I found this approach tiresome, and it just wore me down.
The second thing that irked me was the cluing for the theme entries. [1960s film doctor for an L.A. player]. Who would say such a thing? Why not turn it around and say [L.A. player’s favorite film doctor?]? That makes more sense to me. [Port for a Minnesota player] seems more intuitive as [Minnesota player’s favorite drink?]. However, I don’t know what you do with ANTI-GERMAN; replace it, preferably.
The third thing that irked doesn’t really have to do with the puzzle, per se, but the solving experience. I used the WSJ’s online applet on my iPad. I don’t know if that’s slower than using a computer, but it was pretty awful. I’m no speed solver; but it was still a frustrating experience. There’s no way anyone who is trying to solve for time could use that applet.
There are definitely some good things in the grid, my favorite being “YO, ADRIAN!” But they didn’t make up for the annoyances (especially the applet).
Some pretty iffy stuff in the NYT: The GREAT DIVIDE is best known as a variation on the Continental Divide; don’t know what the clue here is on about. NONART is a roll-your-own. THEMED may be technically correct, but topical typically equates to timely. It was all challenging enough just seemed a little forced.
To me, the GREAT DIVIDE means exactly what is clued, so I don’t see any problem with it. Multiple online dictionaries back that up. It’s a perfectly valid clue and entry. Actually, it’s better than that; it’s a really lovely entry.
A few days ago we ran across Dada as “Anti-art”, yet no one blinked.
Dada is often defined, especially by its adherents, as anti or non- art. (Of course, like all things Dada, that notion is absurd.)
I may have related this tale in previous posts but here goes, anyway. I once answered an essay question. “What is Dada?” with the terse reply “Dada is not” and received full credit for it. It is, by no means, a roll-your-own.
PJ – I like!
The NYT played hard for me today. It took most of the morning, what with errands and life and all. Things I liked: the clue for GREAT DIVIDE – lovely, is right!; NEHI (didn’t know that factette); SHADOWBOX; GAY MARRIAGE; well, all the long entries, really. I didn’t mind that ESTATE SALES and SOLD were both answers; they seem differently oriented: one concrete, one abstract. I had SURE before SOLD.
Congratulations on your twofer, Mr. Nierenberg! Nice work.
GREAT DIVIDE as clued was new to me too. The first page of Google results turns up the Continental Divide, a brewery and a bicycle trail.
I know of BUBBLE TEA only through crosswords. I have never seen it in the wild. But then I don’t hang out in trendy tea rooms. It sounds kind of nasty, TBH. Tea with lumps?
I’ve never heard of the Great Divide in this sense (as opposed to a song by the Band), and I initially had “not art,” as in “That’s not art!” But, while I agree with Amy that it was easier than usual, I liked the puzzle.
The GREAT BEYOND seemed like the obvious choice for 54A.
NYT: Mr. Nierenberg also did today’s LAT? Nice!
11D could have been clued as “Platonic Dialogue”….
I enjoyed the NYT overall (and neat to see the same constructor get the LAT byline too), but it felt odd to encounter both ESTATE SALES and SOLD in the same grid. I’m guessing most solvers won’t care too much, and it could be that I only noticed it because it’s a pairing I’ve repeatedly built into my own puzzles only to realize it after I was done. I don’t think most puzzle software would flag some combo of SALE/SELL/SOLD.
The Stumper was two crosswords for me. I breezed through the whole of the eastern half, then took forever to get into the other side. CAPRI before IBIZA didn’t help. SHIBUI and ADZUKI BEAN are new to me, and my unfamiliarity with TV hosts made the SW corner the toughest. POPMUSIC before NEWMUSIC caused problems.
Good puzzle, though. Some clever cluing with nothing incomprehensible (not always the case with the Stumper).
I got Stumped on ADZUKI?EAN crossing SHI?UI. It didn’t help that for some reason I thought the food was one word. Brutal.
WSJ : My favorite Saturday WSJ puzzle in a long time, and I generally save their puzzle for last anyway. Unlike Jim, I love when the theme influences many of the other clues in the puzzle, even when I’m not much into the theme. It makes for a *whole* puzzle, integral, not two unintegrated ones, which generally bothers me no matter what the theme is. Those puzzles just seem lacking in…. play. Cleverness. Imagination. And why do puzzles, except as a form of sophisticated play?
The word play in this one tickled me. “It may involve steals and tags” (YARDSALE) made me laugh out loud, but I didn’t guess it until I had 5 or 6 letters.
Yes, I am a baseball fan, too, although not very dedicated. Still. Sounds to me like Jim was not having a happy day, and I’m sorry the puzzle wasn’t reviewed by someone who appreciated it. I came here looking for all the theme-tangent clues and answers that I didn’t notice at first, and looks like I’m not going to get that here.
Thank you, Dan Fisher!