Randolph Ross’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This 66-worder has a nice center with 9s, 11s, and 13s intersecting, but also a couple 11s that spin out into corners with lots of crossing 7s, and I’m less fond of the latter. Interrupting MID-SENTENCE, BUDGET CUT, CONAN O’BRIEN, the TIGRIS RIVER, a NOTHINGBURGER, and a CONTORTIONIST are zippy.
World watch: We’ve got the GAMBIA, the SCOTS language (21a. [Language with a trilled “r”]), Japanese MISO, HAN Chinese, Brazilian PELE, Italian PRADA, the TIGRIS, and a SLOVENE.
Could’ve done without: sort of contrived IT’S A ZOO, plural OLES, prefix SERIO, APERY, TALENTS clued as [Money in the Bible], MISDOES, dated NES, partials ME DO and WILE E.
Did not know 1d. [Secretary of war to Taft, Roosevelt and Truman], STIMSON. Henry? Yes.
That’s all I’ve got. 3.5 stars from me. How’d it treat you?
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Greg Johnson made one of the recent Newsday Stumpers that gave me all kinds of fits. This one is mercifully much easier. Still a bit of a challenge, but done in under 10 minutes. I am sure some of you out there could jam through this in 5 or 6 minutes. A great, wide-open 70-word grid for this one, and I recently found Greg Johnson’s web site for more of his puzzles. (Click here for his site) I had one little error, and I will fully explain why below. 4.6 stars for this one.
- 1A [Reality show whose Dutch version was called “Now or Neverland”] FEAR FACTOR – I haven’t seen this show in years, so this took a second. Some of that stuff I would never do!
- 35A [Source of suds] BREWPUB – I had BREWERY for a while, which caused a few fits
- 40A [Label on some foreign goods] MADE IN CHINA – Was the first word that jumped into your mind “tariff?!”
- 51A [Drama set in ’60s Manhattan] MAD MEN – I never did finish watching this show. I think near the end it bleeds into the 70s.
- 55A [“Your turn”] “OK, GO!” – This could have referred to the band that makes the awesome music videos! Like this one:
- 22D [51-Across bigwig] AD EXEC – Nice tie-in. Hopefully this won’t ruin the show for you! ;-)
- 24D [Rags or bags lead-in] GLAD – Glad rags? And it’s Glad TRASH bags, isn’t it?
- 43D [Cosmic energy, in Hinduism] SHAKTI – And, here is what I had wrong. Not very fluent in Hinduism!
- 44D [Tiny Tootsie Roll] MIDGEE – I had no idea. And I have eaten literally hundreds of these!
Have a great weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not a bad time for me on a Brad Wilber puzzle! Maybe I am getting better at these! Or maybe Stan has eased it up a smidge for the holiday weekend! We all need time to solve Mark Halpin’s Labor Intensive puzzles that are coming out this weekend! I am out of town this weekend, and if you watch my Facebook you may learn where I am! 4.5 stars today for this 70-worder.
A few high points:
- 15A [Aptly named country singer of “Like Jesus Does”] ERIC CHURCH – I had GRACE????. I don’t listen to country much. I have heard of this guy, though.
- 27A [Status symbol in many Elizabeth I portaits] ERMINE – Is this really so? I wonder how this clue came about. Somebody find a pic! I am traveling and I don’t have much time!
- 35A [One of the last stops for the 2016 Olympic torch] SUGARLOAF – I figured this was something near Rio, obviously, but it took me too long to come up with this.
- 38A [Many a hybrid] BUS – I suppose in bigger cities these would be hybrid, since they run all day, but I honestly cannot tell you the last time I rode a city bus. I was like 8!
- 41A [Fifth wheel’s offer] “I’LL GO” – I like this clue. Sort of vague, but still gettable.
- 63A [Opposite of “wispy”] LARGE-BONED – I am getting “large-boned” as I grow older! I need to run more …
- 8D [Sch. with a “Think Big” motto] URI – A great motto for the University of Rhode Island, a school in the smallest state!
- 14D [VMI team] KEYDETS – I did not know this! What is a “keydet?”
- 40D [Whom Spielberg made his directing debut with] SERLING – I solved this corner so fast that I never realized this awesome answer until going back through the puzzle. Cool fact!
- 43D [Venerable rock revival group] SHA NA NA – Don’t these guys still tour? I would pay to see them, since I remember watching their show when I was a kid!U
- 51D [Sources of spores] FUNGI – I saw the “F” and I was sure this was FERNS!
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Martin Leechman’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Split Peas” — Jim’s review
This theme threw me for a few DO LOOPs before I sorted it out. Let’s look at the theme answers first.
- 23a [Graphical representation of a bounding gait?] LOPE PROFILE. Low profile. I have trouble making much sense of this clue.
- 25a [Koi ponds?] CARP POOLS. Carpools.
- 40a [Dessert with a full rounded shape?] PLUMP PUDDING. Plum pudding.
- 44a [Brittle wood?] CRISP PINE. Chris Pine.
- 57a [Head of the buckle company?] CLASP PRESIDENT. Class President.
- 67a [Puppy photographed for posterity?] WHELP PRESERVED. Well-preserved. I’m glad the clue uses “photographed” instead of “stuffed.” That would’ve been creepy.
- 86a [Flower holders on small porches?] STOOP POTS. Stew pots.
- 88a [Microwave sound primed and ready to go?] BEEP PREPARED. “Be Prepared.” Another one where I thought the clue could use some help. How about [Like a honk-happy driver?]?
- 104a [Alternative to a kick in the butt?] RUMP PUNCH. Rum punch. This is the only one that actually made me laugh.
- 108a [Con game?] DUPE PROCESS. Due process.
At first I thought this was just a P-doubling theme since the first two answers I uncovered were CARP POOLS and PLUMP PUDDING. Eventually I realized it’s not just adding a letter P, it’s adding the P sound to the end of the first word.
Most of the entries felt workmanlike and lacking in pizzazz, with the notable exception of RUMP PUNCH. Hmm, I wonder if the theme could be extended to add a T to the beginning of the phrase…
There were some goodies in the fill: NOWHERE MAN, TAPHOUSE, LAPEL PIN, ELIXIRS, NOSECONE, SUNRISE, APROPOS, NEVADA. FLOORING IT would be much stronger in the imperative and not as a gerund.
There were also some stand-out oddities: HANG IN [Persevere] which looks weird without a concluding “there,” HABIB [Reagan’s special envoy to the Mideast Philip], and especially ORAD [Toward the mouth]. Ouch. That’s the crosswordesiest bit of crosswordese I’ve seen in quite some time.
In the new-to-me department is SPIRACLE [Whale’s nostril]. The Wikipedia article doesn’t even mention whales though. It highlights some fish and insects.
Cluing felt more thorny than usual, so at times I felt like I was just slogging it out. But luckily for me, RUMP PUNCH was waiting for me at the end, so I finished on a high note. Overall, though, I’d put this in the 3.2-stars range.