David Liben-Nowell’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What what? A Saturday puzzle that plays like an easy-to-midlevel Friday puzzle? Ripoff! I wanted 20% more challenge, minimum.
Let’s see what we’ve got here. Entries I like: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, PIPSQUEAK, SELF-DRIVING CARS (yeesh), an old-school/obsolete MIMEOGRAPH (never used one, but I have run off copies on a Ditto machine—could’ve done without the connected TAE, Thomas ALVA Edison, though), and CLEAN SLATE.
HIREES is one of those entries I never care for. Who uses this word?? You call those people “new hires” or maybe just “hires.” “I’M A FOOL” has a contrived feeling to it.
Seven more things:
- 18d. [Fricassee relative], RAGOUT. I don’t think I’ve ever had a ragout. Can you make it without red meat?
34a. [Destination of Muhammad in his Night Journey], JERUSALEM. Interesting clue angle.
- 59a. [“M” or “Z”], MOVIE. I feel like I’ve probably seen the clue before (yep, [“M,” “W.” or “Z”], 2010 Ian Livengood NYT) but it’s still good.
- 4d. [“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” pilot], POE Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac.
- 10d. [Lepers], PARIAHS. Can we stop using “lepers”? Especially in a pejorative sense?
- 40d. [Scanned smartphone graphics], QR CODES. I have finally seen a use of QR codes being embraced—you can generate a QR code in Pokémon Go, and another player can scan it with their phone to send you a friend request. These things have existed for years and I never saw a point.
- 55d. [Cousins of garters], ASPS. As in garter snakes. Insofar as you can consider any two disparate snakes to be “cousins,” I guess it works … but I’m not keen on the approach.
Four stars from me.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Past Imperfect” — Jim’s review
Our theme today pairs certain nouns with the past tense version of their homophones.
- 22a [Sunburned prophet?] SEARED SEER
- 24a [Shorebird who’s become a spy for the other side?] TURNED TERN
- 34a [Hydroelectric project from hell?] DAMNED DAM
- 56a [Besmirched chicken?] FOULED FOWL
- 59a [Annoyed French person?] GALLED GAUL
- 72a [Knight in shining armor?] MAILED MALE
- 81a [Success for a podiatrist?] HEALED HEEL
- 96a [Stark-naked stock dumper?] BARED BEAR
- 114a [Fruit served with the right wine?] PAIRED PEAR
- 116a [Result of a naval battle?] SEIZED SEAS
This worked well enough, but I didn’t find anything particularly engaging here. I suppose if you’re someone trying to break into the larger-sized weekend puzzles, this would be a good place to start. The theme is easy to grab on to, allowing you to fill in multiple theme answers with nary a crossing. But if you’re a long-time solver, you’ve seen this type of thing many a time before.
There isn’t much sparkle in the fill either. COMANCHES (39d, [Chief Buffalo Hump’s people]), for sure, is the star here. Its counterpart QUEASIEST (49d, [Greenest around the gills]) isn’t quite as fun in the superlative, but I still like it. Other nice things: MINARET, KARATE, AMOEBA, EOCENE, GOETHE, and ZEPHYR.
I was less excited to see EFT, SDS, partial S IS (due to the fact that the clue [Sisterly] is nearby), ASLOPE, SUER, and ATUL [Surgeon/author Gawande].
Another one that slowed me down was 50a VALSES [Some Ravel works]. This one’s new to me. Is there a subject matter expert out there willing to shed some light on this?
Clues of note:
- 71a [Where the lava-lava is worn]. SAMOA. This is at least the third time a WSJ clue has referred to the lava-lava (a skirt-like article of clothing) when cluing SAMOA. I’m sure the island nation has many other interesting features.
- 93d [Personally leaves with]. HANDS TO. I am at a loss to explain this one. Anyone?
- 105a [Melatonin producer]. PINEAL. I had thought this was only an adjective of the word “gland,” but I guess it’s a noun as well.
- 91a [Do school work]. TEACH. Good clue. I needed four of the crossings for the light bulb to come on, and then it made perfect sense. I love when that happens.
- 21d [Arms in slings?]. STONES. Another good one. Think David and Goliath.
- 73d [Divisive creature]. AMOEBA. Yet another good one. But somehow I got this immediately.
A right-over-the-plate puzzle. 3.3 stars.
Michael Ashley’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Is this the same Michael Ashley that has made “Double Cross,” or acrostic puzzle, in Games Magazine for years? I think I vaguely remember solving a puzzle or two of his in the NYT (xwordinfo.com says he has had 11!), so this must be the same person. I don’t believe I have ever met him, but he has provided me literally dozens of hours of solving fun, including this puzzle! A nice 72-worder with plenty of fun entries, including three interlocking 15s, which I will be sure to mention. Very well done. After I write this, I will print his acrostic from the 2018 Games World of Puzzles. (I print from the zinio.com website, where I subscribe to Games now! Just a tip …) A solid 4.5 stars from me today.
- 17A [Pop music feature] TOP TEN LIST – Also, these days, a clickbait website feature.
- 38A [Second film with Craig as James Bond] QUANTUM OF SOLACE – This was actually quite easy, if you are a James Bond fan, and who isn’t?
- 45A [“Avatar” actress Saldana] ZOE – I think it was a LearnedLeague question that explained how she has been in 2 of the top 4 grossing movies EVER (Avatar and Avengers:Infinity War).
- 65A [Film with cues] THE HUSTLER – EVERY movie has cues … oh wait, THOSE cues!
- 3D [Hot] IN POPULAR DEMAND – Extremely vague clue. Excellent.
- 5D [Midge __, co-organizer of the Live Aid benefit concert] URE – I remember these, but I only remember Bob Geldof. She could, and perhaps should, be crossword famous with a name like this!
- 8D [“__ Comin'”: Laura Nyro song] ELI’S – I don’t have any idea of who this is or what this song is about. You tell me:
- 12D [Brass] UNMITIGATED GALL – Fabulous! Do you get images in your head of people that irk you after solving this entry?
- 45D [1997 Grammy Lifetime Achievement awardee] ZAPPA – Frank Zappa died before this award was bestowed, and his music was slightly before my time. I am more familiar with his kids with the eclectic names Dweezil and Moon Unit.
I have a 5k to run this morning! My first 5k in quite a while; so my time will likely be horrific. Have a great weekend!
Andrew Bell Lewis’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Matthew Sewell and Brad Wilber, the two behind this pseudonym, have cooked up a doozy of a Stumper for this weekend. I think I have caught most of the Twitch solving streams, an I believe there is another one on deck for this weekend, perhaps on Sunday night. Watch your Twitter feed, if you have one and follow the correct people! I found this one extremely difficult to obtain a toehold in, but once you get a little progress, it wasn’t terribly awful. I would classify this one as hard, but not frustrating. This is one of those Stumpers that when they DO solve with Downs Only, they will probably still finish faster than I did with all of the clues! 4.4 stars today.
- 8A [Where St. Paul wrote an Epistle] GALATIA – I think it would be more correct to say that “to whom” Paul wrote. Unless he wrote another book of the Bible in Galatia.
- 19A [Master of the familiar] CAPTAIN OBVIOUS – Great entry! This character from the hotels.com commercials is really funny. We used to call my oldest son MOTO, which stands for Master Of The Obvious. There are stories!
- 32A [Shelter posting] BUS ROUTE – Have I mentioned that I don’t ride buses? Like ever?
- 37A [Book with reminiscences of Heinlein and Clarke] I, ASIMOV – I see what he did there! This is Isaac Asimov’s autobiography, and a play on words of likely his most famous work, I, Robot. Very clever, albeit slightly obscure. Unless you’re a sci-fi nut!
- 63A [Bobolink cousins] ORIOLES – When I see a clue like this, you know it’s going to be a common bird type. I am learning!
- 1D [The March equinox occurs in it] PISCES – I figured, when beginning the puzzle, that is was a zodiac sign, but which one? GEMINI? CANCER? I don’t know these well enough to know which one is when. I know a few, but not many. I don’t read horoscopes.
- 12D [Keats’ “cyder-press” ode] TO AUTUMN – The full poem is here. I am not a poetry maven, so this was hard. It does mention a “cyder-press,” though.
- 28D [ __ axel (figure skating coup)] QUAD – I don’t know how these skaters do this.
- 44D [Evert employer since 2011] ESPN – She is on there all the time, although they talk too much on ESPN sometimes instead of showing actual tennis.
- 58D [The answer is blowin’ in the wind] VANE – Dylan! This might be the best clue in the puzzle!
There is a new Panda Magazine issue coming out today, so there goes MY weekend. Enjoy yours as well!
Ragouts can even be vegetarian.
NYT Cooking also has a nice recipe for a mushroom ragout – great over pasta.
I have made a ragout with beans, but by the time I got through adapting whatever recipe I was looking at, it probably was nothing like a real ragout. Good, though.
Can you get a mushroom ragout over pasta at an osteria?
Re: WSJ 93D:
As in delivering something.
He personally leaves the papers with her.
He hands the papers to her.
Ah, I gotcha. I could not get the image of handing something to someone else and then that person leaving with said thing. Didn’t make sense. Thanks!
Got sidetracked with 1 + x = 0 and went down the rathole of reviewing the formal derivation of the Natural numbers. Thought it was a very good puzzle, though a slight natick for me with the 28A/29D name crossings.
Can someone explain GRIP for the clue PURCHASE?
A ragout is a stew in which the meat (or other primary ingredient) is floured before browning. After browning, liquid is added for a slow braise. The flour allows the sauce to thicken as the stew cooks. In other stews, you would thicken the sauce at the end by adding a roux or other method.
Re: GRIP –
From American Heritage Dictionary listing for purchase (n):
A hold or position that allows the application of power, as in moving something: got a purchase for her foot and climbed up.
I’ve heard it used this way. Don’t know how common it is.
As in, at first I had difficulty getting purchase in the NYT, but after a few entries it was smooth climbing (literally, as I solved from the bottom up).
Used very elegantly in “Raising Arizona”, 1987 – spoken by Nic Cage:
Exactly what I thought of when I saw how “purchase” was used. Love that clip. Thanks for posting.
“Purchase” is widely used in the Navy with the use of block and tackle or capstans.
WSJ: There are a number of works by Maurice Ravel that are valses (waltzes in French), including the suite titled “Valses nobles etc sentimentales” (originally for piano, later orchestrated by Ravel), “La Valse” and the Valse in D for piano.
NYT: I did not find it easy to scale, but the finished product has some really good material. You’d not mistake it for an oldie with SAME SEX MARRIAGE and SELF-DRIVING CARS as banner entries.
But not sure anyone hands out CAMPUS MAPS any longer…
I discovered that frEsh StArt fits perfectly where CLEAN SLATE was meant to go, with 3 letters in the right position…
I also had FRESH START.
The SE was tough for me; the rest about average difficulty.
We frequently ate goulash when I was young and seemed to alternate calling it goulash
Came here to get confirmation that I am not getting smarter, but rather that today’s (and Friday’s) NYT was too easy. Was not disappointed
This comment should go on this site’s Comments Hall of Fame. (The one above, not this particular one that you’re reading now.)
Re: LAT write-up. Midge Ure is a man and was the singer for Ultravox.
I can’t seem to bring up the Sunday WaPo; I tried both the Fiend link and the WP site. It’s usually up by now, and I see that it has been reviewed already. Do I have to do something different, to get it?
Fiend link worked for me.
Thanks. I am finding that sometimes, pages will not load properly in Edge, and links either don’t appear (like the one to buy the Lollapuzzoola puzzles) or don’t go to whatever site.
I used IE and it worked. I’ll remember to try different browsers next time.
The puzzle looks great!
Would you please explain how “M” or “Z” = MOVIE? Thanks in advance.
Those are both titles of old movies.
M starred Peter Lorre. I have never seen it.
Z was a great movie about a revolution or political uprising in Greece that I have long since forgotten. I will never forget the story behind the night I saw it. I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY. Just over the border, the Canadian accent is in absolute full bloom. My college roommate was from Regina, Saskatchewan and had almost no Canadian accent. The year Z came out was ’68 or ’69 and one Friday we were planning to go to the movies and talking about what movie to see. My roommate said “Let’s go to see ZED.” We never let him forget it.
Have seen M and Z—both are brilliant—but not W. What’s with the straight-line letters? Are they more dramatic?
* have not seen $
**IMDB has a list of such films; I recommend sorting by popularity.
LA Times: Late to add this but I feel obligated, Derek. Laura Nyro was one of the greatest voices of the sixties and early 70’s and a unique, quirky singer/songwriter with a fabulous voice whose work spawned hits for many other performers. Her takes on her own songs were inevitably the best versions. She died way too young at 49 of ovarian cancer–just like her mother at the same age–in 1997. Try NEW YORK TENDABERRY and GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE (with LaBelle). Such a sad loss to remember–just as Eva Cassidy’s early death was. Both were unique.
Seconded on L Nyro. A variation of this sentiment is often voiced here after she’s made a crossword appearance.