Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I approached this grid with great trepidation—not because it looked hard to solve, but because it looked like it would hold a lot of junky fill gluing together the eight 15s and the wide-open center. It was perhaps markedly less terrible than I’d feared, but still had its share of woeful entries.
LAST THE DISTANCE sounds unfamiliar and wrong to me. I think it may be a British version of go the distance.
Lots of affixes and plurals, with SALUTER being the clunkiest. There’s a plural abbrev I’ve never seen: 11d. [Residents: Abbr.], CITS. Eww.
The best entries include RESULTS-ORIENTED, SUPERGLUE, cool BIOLUMINESCENCE, common-letter-packed-but-not-stale TESTED THE WATERS, COHABIT, the BATPOLE, and ASKANCE. I also dig 19a. [Viking poet], SKALD—those English words with Norse roots are always cool.
Assorted foreign fill: Spanish OYE, German ACH, French ICI et ETE. All reasonably common words in their languages.
- 45d. [Pianist Jorge], BOLET. Never heard of this Cuban-born musician, who died in 1990. From his Wikipedia page, this unexpected tale: “In 1937, he won the Naumburg Competition and gave his debut recital. In 1942, Bolet joined the US Army. He was sent to Japan as part of the Army of Occupation. While there, he conducted the Japanese premiere of The Mikado.” War is hell?
- 29d. [Popular author most of whose work is written in anapestic tetrameter], SEUSS. That’s four da-da-DUM anapests in a row. Have you got a favorite Dr. Seuss line?
- 28d. [Zaftig], PLUMP. Any reason to use a female-specific clue when PLUMP can also refer to men, babies, and edible produce?
3.8 stars, I think? What’s your take on the puzzle?
Judith Seretto’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Urban Renewal” — Jim’s review
Like the byline, theme entries include an anagram. Unlike the byline the base phrase (in each case, a U.S. city) is listed first. (The byline’s base phrase is “Just the Editor.”)
- 23a [Territories controlled by a Wisconsin city?] MADISON DOMAINS
- 28a [Offerings at a Massachusetts city diner?] SALEM MEALS
- 34a [Grueling test in a Texas city?] LAREDO ORDEAL
- 54a [Cuban immigrants in a Georgia city?] SAVANNAH HAVANANS
- 78a [Recoveries of wrecks in a Nevada city?] LAS VEGAS SALVAGES
- 96a [Censuses conducted in an Arizona city?] TUCSON COUNTS
- 101a [Herd of cattle in a Delaware city?] DOVER DROVE
- 113a [Salon goo in a North Carolina city?] RALEIGH HAIR GEL
Most of these work pretty well, and I found the theme to be pleasant. SAVANNAH HAVANANS is fun to say, and RALEIGH HAIR GEL is a nice find. But SALVAGES as a noun doesn’t strike me as very common, and I wanted the TUCSON entry to be about vampires (although the census slant makes more sense). One American city (LARAMIE) and one state (OREGON) make it into the grid without being thematic.
The rest of the grid felt solid, smooth, and very clean. I felt like I progressed from start to finish without any major tie-ups.
But I’m struggling to find anything very flashy in the fill. I like TEEN BEAT, “YES, LET’S,” LIVE ACT, ONE-SHOT, ARAPAHO, SAUCY, and FLOTUS although, truth to tell, my initial thought on the clue on that last one [Melania designation] was that “Melania” was some kind of disease, I guess because it’s only a couple letters away from “melanoma.”
While there aren’t any long marquee non-theme entries, everything still felt solid and interesting. I found some intriguing pairings in COMEY and COMMIE, APEMAN and MERMAN, LIVE ACT and ENCORES.
Some more things;
- 93a [Professional offer?]. ASSASSIN. Love this clue!
- 21a [Female character of old TV played by a series of male performers]. LASSIE. Ain’t that just the way?
- 69a [Mother board?: Abbr.]. PTA. While I could claim this is sexist, as a stay-at-home dad for all three of my kids, I actively tried to avoid being heavily involved in such organizations (though I didn’t always succeed).
- 121a [Veto on movie night]. “SEEN IT.” I could not imagine what this answer would be, but once it became clear, it made perfect sense.
- 122a [Social services]. TEA SETS. Clever.
- 9d [Merlin Olsen, for his whole NFL career]. RAM. You young ‘uns probably didn’t know Merlin Olsen, but he was also a cast member on Little House on the Prairie. What’s that ya say? “Little House on the whatsits?”
- 17d [Crib call]. MAMA. In my experience, no one called anyone by name from the crib. It was usually just “WAAAAAAAH!”
- 43d [10 on the pain scale]. AGONY. We would also have accepted DALI for this clue. (See picture.)
Solid puzzle with some fun wordplay. 3.6 stars from me.
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I think the last Greg Johnson LAT Saturday puzzle I solved also gave me fits. Again, I don’t track my times like a lot of you; I tried, but after years and years of solving, I know how long certain puzzles should take me, and I am not overly concerned with my “fastest time ever” on a certain puzzle. Having said all that, this puzzle took me nearly ten minutes, and normally for these my time is 5-7 minutes. I have stated before that Greg’s puzzles give me fits, and this one fits that bill. This is also a feat of construction: the triple stack of 13s in the middle is crossed by 9 and 10 letter entries. All packed in a 72 word grid. Extremely well done, Greg! 4.5 stars today.
Highlights, including those 13-letter entries:
- 5A [Foolish] DIPPY – I have only heard my wife use this term. I won’t say who she uses this adjective to describe! ;-)
- 18A [Unlikely to become a decorator] COLOR BLIND – Another adjective my wife has used to describe a certain someone!
- 35A [Part of a gift that needs to be returned] CASSEROLE DISH – Slightly misleading clue, but that is the goal isn’t it? Nowadays, if someone makes a dish for someone as a gift, don’t they use disposable aluminum foil cookware?
- 39A [“I figured as much”] WHAT A SURPRISE – Excellent.
- 40A [Skeptical words] THIS I GOTTA SEE! – Also stellar.
- 65A [Noticeably bored] YAWNY – Is this really a word??
- 31D [PGA Tour Champions golfer Jay] HAAS – There is a Tommy HAAS that played/plays pro tennis, but he is 25 years younger! There needs to be another famous person with this surname, but for now, golfer Jay is certainly crossword famous!
- 40D [“Silent Sunday Nights” network] TCM – I did not know this! Perhaps I will pay attention tomorrow. While Westworld is not on, that is!
As always, I feel like I could go on and on! Great puzzle all around. Have a great weekend!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Twenty minutes with no error correction marks in a Frank Longo Stumper. I’ll take it! Maybe I am getting better at these after 20 years of solving them! It has been a while since one of these has made me overly frustrated. Perhaps it’s the warm weather that is finally now here! I thought I saw a typo, but there are 10 9-letter entries in this grid. And it is quite hard. I will be anxiously scanning the comments later today to see how tough others found this one. Frank is still a master. 4.6 stars for this gem.
- 17A [Gazebo amenity] PARK BENCH – I suppose that gazebos ARE in parks, but I think of them more in backyards. This misdirection cost me a lot of time!
- 20A [Common court symbol] NIKE SWOOSH – This was omnipresent during the recently concluded NBA Finals, and it is also on the tennis court during the French Open women’s final that I am watching as I type this up!
- 22A [James Bond type] MAN’S MAN – This is obviously a term, and the clue is fine, but something here seems a bit off; not every man aspires to be James Bond I suppose is my thought. But I am no snowflake!
- 32A [Anthony Hopkins’ birthplace] WALES – This star of Westworld is back for Season 2! If that is a spoiler for you, too bad! At least I won’t tell you how!!
- 54A [Northern terminus of the Reunification Express] HANOI – I still highly recommend the Vietnam War docuseries by Ken Burns that recently aired. It was excellent; I am just young enough to not remember most of these events. OK, I don’t remember this much at all!
- 3D [Aldo’s alternative to “amata”] CARA – These are Italian terms of endearment? Google says “amata” is “loved,”, while “cara” is “dear.”
- 12D [Cruise’s ex in “War of the Worlds”] OTTO – As in Miranda Otto. This seems really hard. I am not a rabid movie buff, but I am also fairly aware of who this is. According to imdb.com, this is her most famous role after her Lord of the Rings work.
- 31D [Lead actor in “Silk Stalking”] ESTES – This is referring to Rob Estes, and this is even harder than the Miranda Otto reference. It is a Stumper, though!
- 33D [One use for a school bus] FIELD TRIP – They are always hurting for school bus drivers around here. Who WANTS to drive those little hoodlums around?! ;-)
- 45D [1997 Emmy sitcom for comedy writing] ELLEN – I guessed this, since there isn’t any other sitcom that I could think of in that time period that was five letters long!
Time for a nap! Enjoy your Saturday everyone.