Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
We’re heading into a Team Fiend Saturday! Derek and family are coming to the Windy City and we’re meeting up for dinner at Nando’s Peri-Peri. That Nando’s location is close to Anderson Pens (it’s in the Palmer House hotel), which is basically a toy store for people who like nice pens and pencils. It’s where I got a hefty mechanical pencil with a sturdy lead and a crossword design (pictured at left), and where my husband picked up a fine-point fountain pen for drawing. I know Derek will find lots of cool things!
Moving on to the crossword—wow! It evokes or references two different big creeps who wrecked a lot of women’s careers. There’s CHARLIE ROSE, 34a. [Talk show host named in the #MeToo movement]. Hey. He wasn’t “named in the #MeToo movement.” He behaved in inappropriately sexual ways with far too many of the women who worked for him, and he was the top dog so what the hell were they supposed to do besides put up with the abuse or quit, impeding their TV/journalism careers? (See also: Harvey Weinstein.) And then there’s 49d. [Julie ___, host of TV’s “Big Brother”], CHEN. She made a point of signing off on TV just recently as “Julie Chen Moonves,” expressing her solidarity with her creepazoid husband Les, who sandbagged Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s career at CBS, greenlit a crap-ton of male-centric shows while nixing most shows with female leads, and did gross sexual harassment as well.
Anyway, on the editorial front, I’m trying to avoid lending grid respectability to such creeps. LES Misérables, yes. LES Moonves, nope. Imagine having been victimized by one of these dudes and then seeing his name in your escapist crossword.
On the plus side, we’ve got an APPETIZER, HERCULEAN EFFORT, CEDAR RAPIDS (Iowa) with a neat bit of trivia (32a. [Childhood home of Grant Wood and Elijah Wood]—I don’t know if they’re related), THE TIME WARP, a PRESS PASS (yay, journalism!), THE TWILIGHT ZONE, AA MEETINGS, and FOOD PORN.
Four more things:
- 27d. [Hearty entree], MEAT STEW. That … sounds off. Meat stew? “What’s in it?” “Meat.”
- 26a. [Shot contents], SERUM. Public service announcement: ’Tis the season to get your flu shots! The more vulnerable among us rely on herd immunity to keep us safer from influenza and its complications. I’m waiting till my cough is gone to get my flu shot, but my family members got theirs this week.
- 2d. [River from the Appalachians], PEEDEE. Well! If it isn’t my buddy P.D.’s favorite river of crosswords.
- 11d. [What laying a king on its side in chess means], “I CONCEDE.” Is this a contrived entry or is it a legit chess phrase? Matt Gaffney will know.
4.2 stars for most of the puzzle, and –2 stars for CHARLIE ROSE. (I suspect the constructor may have written the puzzle before we found out what Rose’s colleagues already knew about him.)
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drawn With Ease” — Jim’s review
Cruciverbalist Gary Larson may not be cartoonist Gary Larson, but his puzzle today is one that cartoonist Gary Larson would probably like. I sure do.
At heart, it’s an add-a-long-E-sound theme, but it’s tighter in that the newly-created words are all cartoon characters.
- 23a [Scared the daylights out of a wacky cartoon bird?] PETRIFIED WOODY. Petrified wood. I saw that they recently made a 3D Woody Woodpecker movie. It, of course, looks awful.
- 35a [Soul-kiss Nemo’s fishy friend?] FRENCH DORY. French door. Ha! But that is not an image I need in my head.
- 54a [Bathe Popeye’s adopted infant?] CLEAN SWEE’PEA. Clean sweep. Why not clue this with respect to Olive Oyl. We all know who her kid is.
- 81a [Put off making more shows with Scooby’s canine nephew?] TABLE SCRAPPY. Table scrap. Usually that term is pluralized, but I don’t mind. I for one was glad when they left Scrappy-Doo behind.
- 92a [Hold a comedic tribute honoring a stuttering swine?] ROAST PORKY. Roast pork.
- 112a [Used a successful line on a Mexican mouse?] PICKED UP SPEEDY. Picked up speed. Ha! In case you were wondering, he had a girlfriend. Her name was Rosita.
- 17d [Pull a prank on Bullwinkle’s pal?] PUNK ROCKY. Punk rock. Ha! I was not expecting that more modern use of the word “punk.”
- 79d [Outdo Barney Rubble’s brunette bride?] BEST BETTY. Best bet. Odd clue. Why does it need the word “brunette”? Possible alternative clue: [Winner of a Rubble vs Boop contest?].
As someone who never wanted to grow up (I remember one time as a kid when someone asked me if I could pick an age to be for the rest of my life, and where other kids would all pick some grown-up age, I picked four), this puzzle was right up my alley. There’s a lot of fun in this theme and it’s nicely tight and consistent. Bravo!
After solving this puzzle I immediately got in the car for a 5-hour road trip. While driving, I was thinking of other possible theme answers that might fit. Can you come up with some? Here’s what I got:
- TWEETY STORM [Fury produced by an angry bird?]
- HIGH HOLY DAISY [Donald Duck’s girlfriend smoking pot in church?]
- ROPE A DOPEY [Tie up a dwarf?]
If the theme didn’t float your boat, there’s great fill here, too. I like STARGAZE, ALTER EGO, ROADSTER, TIDE OVER, LA BOHEME, “I TOLD YOU,” SCIMITAR, ATTA GIRL, LAND GRAB, ASTAIRE & ROGERS, OLD PRO, BISCAY, “GO ON IN,” LAW FIRM, TRIESTE, and OCEANUS. Oh yeah, and there’s STONER, BEDPAN, CT SCANS, and FLORETS. Wow. Quite a lot of good stuff in there.
I did not know TREADLES [Features of some sewing machines], despite my using a sewing machine once a year to hem up my daughter’s school uniform pants. What’s a treadle?
I recall the cluing felt fresh and fun, too. I’d point some out, but it’s late on Friday and I’m tired after the drive. How about if you let us know which ones stuck out to you?
Fun and fresh puzzle. Four stars from me.
Brian E. Paquin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A nice, smooth 72-word grid from Brian E. Paquin is our LAT challenger puzzle this Saturday. I may have mentioned it before, but I don’t believe I know Brian, and I don’t think it’s a pseudonym for anyone. Not too difficult, but lots of interesting stuff in here. At least I didn’t find it hard; that sometimes is a subjective opinion! A solid 4.4 stars for a stellar puzzle.
Some of that interesting stuff:
- 1A [Pickup artist?] NEAT FREAK – I hate it when, right after you put something down, like a dirty dish in a sink, someone comes right behind you to pick it up. There is a story here. That’s all I am saying!
- 27A [Motor-assisted two-wheelers] E-BIKES – These would be great for a commute, if I didn’t have the feeling I would get killed here where we live. I need to just ride my regular bike to work and get in shape!
- 35A [Like a home-cooked meal] MADE FROM SCRATCH – There are quite a few Amish restaurants within an hour of my house. Some are quite large, and their meals are usually synonymous with “made-from-scratch” cooking. Getting hungry again …
- 44A [Checked at the airport] WANDED – I wish that was all they did!
- 9D [Country singer Pickler] KELLIE – I remember her from American Idol back when I used to watch it. Many moons ago! I don’t listen to country music that often, but she is arguably one of the ten most famous contestants from Idol, isn’t she?
- 11D [Stringless strings?] AIR GUITAR – Best clue in the puzzle! And not in small part due to the mental images it evokes!
- 29D [Segway PT inventor Dean] KAMEN – This guy SHOULD be crossword famous, but a lot of grids may have put PRADO in at 33A and then you would be clueing breast cancer activist Susan G. KOMEN.
- 33D [Artist’s drawing choice] PEN AND INK – I am still slowly sliding down the rabbit hole of fountain pens, so this entry is hitting home! I still don’t see how anyone can spend $1,000 on a pen!
- 60D [Longtime coke product] TAB – My mom used to drink this stuff. Do they still sell it? I don’t drink much soda at all, so I don’t know what is in the pop grocery aisle!
Have a great weekend!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This week’s Stumper didn’t give me any fits at all. It was TRULY “Less Rough!” I normally would be quite proud, but this only means when they try to solve this with downs-only on Twitch in the next week or two, they will be done in 3 minutes! My time was under 7 minutes, which I am sure is a record for me. Anything under 10 minutes on a Stumper is rare for me, so this was quite a nice surprise! The caveat is, as always, look out next week! 4.3 stars for a wide open 70-worder from Stan with virtually ALL easy answers. Great!
- 15A [Place for a camera, often] EYE LEVEL – I had the EYE part, but it took me a minute to figure out the rest. This is a classic example of the answer being super simple once you know it!
- 18A [Track + slots] RACINO – This is a new term for me. Pretty sure there are no “racinos” within several miles of me. There are just now regular casinos in this area.
- 37A [18+ points, to librarians] LARGE PRINT – Laura, is this true? Do librarians pay this much attention to font sizes? I am kind of serious, here, since I am rapidly heading towards the “hand-me-the-large-print-clues” at the ACPT!
- 45A [18-time NBA All-Star] BRYANT – And recent Oscar winner!
- 3D [Calvin Coolidge, by birth] VERMONTER – Is that what they call folks from Vermont? Growing up in Michigan, I learned of Michiganders (also Yoopers, if from the Upper Peninsula!). I am from Illinois originally, so Illinoisian? People from Indiana are uniquely Hoosiers!
- 25D [Southwestern souvenir] KACHINA – I remember making a papier mâché Kachina mask in the second grade! I think my mom might still have it. Ick!
- 31D [Subject of a 2012 Supreme Court decision] OBAMACARE – One day they will figure this out.
- 42D [“About-face!” source] SARGE – I was never in the Armed Forces, but I can hear a sergeant yelling this!
- 43D [About-face] U-TURN – I see what you did here! Clever!
I could go on and on, but I am off to Chicago today to see some sights and meet up with Amy Reynaldo! It should be a great day!
I’m not an expert on chess terminology, but from what I know, to concede a game is to “resign.” “I resign” might be a better answer for the clue.
I tend to give puzzles plenty of latitude on content, and I’d bet Sam had this done before some of the #MeToo revelations. But this whole week has been ugly, ugly, ugly, which sums up too many weeks in our recent history, and we need to brace for even worse next week. A David Roberts tweet captured the moment, I think: “how do women not die of rage aneurysms every single day.” Men, time’s up, gotta get our act together. This crap has got to stop. Meanwhile, vote for women in November, esp. ones with a D after their name. That won’t fix everything but it’s a start.
Thanks for the Rocky Horror earworm, Sam!
The Sunday Times Magazine tomorrow has its puzzles on pink paper. Really annoying: I’m going to need to view it in strong light to solve it, owing to reduced contrast with the type. Nice to have puns and anagrams as the second puzzle, but that just means two like this to solve.
There is more to it than pink paper. Page 2 of the Sunday Front Section explains.
I’m aware that there was an extra puzzle with audio clues, which I didn’t care to bother with. Still, the usual two puzzle pages were on pink, too.
A treadle is a foot pedal that you rock back and forth to run the machine. I think there were a lot of machines run this way pre-electricity. I doubt there are any treadle sewing machines still in use – unless one is “living off the grid,” I guess.
Thanks! Ours has the foot pedal, but it’s definitely electric.
I actually have a buddy who collects, uses, and restores old sewing machines.
He says, “This is a treadle set-up. You use a foot to rock the treadle on the bottom. That rotates a crank mechanism, which turns the large wheel on the right side of the base. That action then turns a narrow leather belt which is fed up and around the hand wheel on the machine. I don’t have one yet. I do have two non-electric machines that are operated by hand crank. One of them is circa 1920, the other is from England 1953. They weren’t commonly sold in the US.”
Good to hear of someone caring for old machines. The quality is so much greater than today’s. I bought my daughter an old heavy, sturdy Singer when she was a teenager and she still has it and loves it. My Mother used a Singer converted treadle all her life and it always ran so smoothly.
WSJ: You are so right, Jim. A delightful Saturday puzzle–full of fun. I hooted a bit when I realized “Roast Porky” is crossed with “Oinked.” Not a vegetarian puzzle, I guess. “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks!”
LAT: Yes, you can still buy Tab, and I still drink it. (You have to keep some vices.). It has a slightly bitter taste without the cloying sweetness of Diet Coke. I’ve come to enjoy when grocery store checkers say they’ve never heard of it or their mothers (or grandmothers) drank it. I’m one of the few Tab drinkers who never smoked. In college a Tab and a cigarette seemed to be an acceptable lunch.
NYT: Yeah, some unhappy references, direct or indirect, to some creepy people– but I too imagine this was done before it all went down, especially the CHEN bit.
But hey… APPETIZER, PEA, MEAT STEW, and FOOD PORN! Ready for some stress eating as we go through this TIME WARP to THE TWILIGHT ZONE ?
“Where is everybody”, indeed…
Amy, I’m putting your pen on my Christmas wish list. I got that mug with the crosswords that you linked us to– NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED- it seems even more apt these days.
Maybe the combination of coffee in that mug and that pencil of yours will make me smarter/faster.
I want that pencil too, and I *know* that it will make us smarter, Huda. ;) I need a crossword mug and it doesn’t look as though I’ll ever win the WSJ so I might have to order the one that you have.
I had SYRUP for SERUM as I was confusing pumps of syrup with shots of serum (I used to work in a bookstore with a café). Anyway, it made there be PEAT STEW which, eww. Also the PEEDEE River was therefore spelled PEEDEY but I thought maybe it was like the Swannee which seems to have several spellings.
I don’t know what meat is in the stew, but it has to be better than peat.
Can’t go wrong with this mug, too, which comes with additional puzzles.
That URL lands me at a Fiend page which indicates that the requested page cannot be found. I thought you might want to know.
I googled the philosophers guild and found this one:
I assume this was the right one. It comes with a pencil (no eraser, ha ha) and clues on the box. I might have to have this.
That’s a great web site, too. Check out the “Proper Mug Utilization For the Home and Workplace” video. It’s very instructional.
PSA: Fixed Jim’s link.
Lise, this is the one I meant. Not sure whether you can still get it. I kept one and gave a couple to young women in my family.
Huda, it *is* still available! Thank you!
The I CONCEDE clue is a bit odd but not wrong. You either say “I resign” or more commonly say nothing while extending your hand for a handshake since your opponent understands that you’ve resigned without you saying it, but there could be some wag out there who says “I concede” and that word is Used sometimes in chess writing, like if the author doesn’t want to repeat the word resign for a third or fourth time.
When I was a young lawyer, I had a habit of finding synonyms for legal terms. The partner overseeing my work said that waxing literary was not appropriate and that legal writing should be precise at all times even if it seemed repetitive.
I have never heard “concede.” Most of the time, as you mention, nothing is said. “Resign” seems like the correct choice for those who want to say something,
Right — in a book of chess rules, you’d always see “resign” or “resignation” since that is the precise legal term for the act. But in chess books or blogs or articles, you will occasionally see “concede” (or “give up” or “call it quits” or whatever) used as a synonym for “resign,” and I could see someone being cute or quirky saying “I concede” instead of “I resign” at the end of a game. It would be weird, but I think there’s enough wiggle room there to consider the clue “not wrong.”
“Way to get around writer’s block?” is a great clue. Enjoyed the puzzle.
I’m going to miss Stan’s cluing.
Lots of evil people show up in crosswords. Idi Amin is in there all the time, and I’ve never seen an objection. Would you object to Hitler? Kim Jong Un? Trump?
Would someone please explain 28. down in the Sat. Stumper – G7 attendees last June = Macrons. I get that Macron is French Prime Minister, but why the plural clue and answer?
His wife was there too.
Stumper: I hated this puzzle because it filled me full of DAVE RAGE!!!
Just kidding, it was a good one. And after a long while I finally parsed 1A correctly.