Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This 66-worder played like a smooth Friday puzzle, no? So much good stuff in it, too. Here’s my top 10:
- 7a. [Dieter’s time of indulgence], CHEAT DAY. I don’t really approve of overlaying this moralizing on eating, but it’s a lively phrase.
- 29a. [Lead actress in 2017’s “The Big Sick”], ZOE KAZAN. Opposite Kumail Nanjiani, who cowrote the screenplay with his wife Emily Gordon, based on their experiences—Kazan plays a gently fictionalized Gordon.
- 41a. [Collaborative principle in improv comedy], “YES, AND …” Good in other situations, too.
- 56a. [Nissan crossover named for an Italian city], MURANO. I love Murano glass! One of my Facebook friends just visited Murano. It’s not a city, though. It’s a group of islands that are part of Venice.
- 59a. [Try out, as a game], PLAY-TEST. I know people who’ve done some play-testing. The only play-testing I’ve done turned into … a full-time job in crossword editing.
- 30d. [World’s most-followed Twitter user, as of 2018], KATY PERRY. Yes, but how many of those followers are bots?
- DISHED OUT, HOLE UP, and TOP OUT are all zippy verb phrases (these are bullet items 7, 8, and 9), though two of them include OUT. (BLEW APART‘s decent, but WENT TO IT and CRAWL IN feel weird.)
- 1a. [Rhimes who created “Grey’s Anatomy”], SHONDA. This was a lovely name to encounter at 1-Across!
Stealing Nate’s #includemorewomen tag (which he uses in his LA Times crossword write-up each Monday), we see ALI Krieger, Jennifer EGAN, AUNT Princess Anne, and ANDIE MacDowell in addition to SHONDA Rhimes, ZOE KAZAN, and KATY PERRY. That’s 7 women to 5 men: ALAN ALDA, Arthur ASHE, W. B. YEATS, René MAGRITTE, and the never-heard-of-him-before 38a. [Composer Arcangelo who inspired a set of Rachmaninoff variations], CORELLI.
4.25 stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Are You Kidding?” — Jim’s review
I’m afraid this will have to be brief, so my apologies. I’m traveling this weekend and it’s already very late on a Friday night.
This appears to be a straightforward change-a-letter theme, from R to U, hence the title which I’m interpreting as “jokes related to an R-to-U alteration.”
- 23a [Playing tag?] PASSING THE TOUCH. …torch.
- 34a [Grand grand?] THE MIGHTY THOU. …Thor. I only just understood this. I was thinking “thou” as in the archaic form of “you.” And then I was thinking it was somehow related to “The royal ‘we'”. But no, it’s “thou” as in short for “thousand.”
- 51a [“Fly, you filly!” and the like?] JOCKEY SHOUTS. …shorts.
- 70a [Model homes?] HOBBY HOUSES. …horses.
- 88a [Regal collection?] A TON OF BUICKS. …bricks.
- 104a [Features of Monstro and Moby Dick?] FANTASY SPOUTS. …sports. Hmm. No one would ever refer to these in this way.
- 121a [Double trouble on a double date?] THE BAD NEWS BEAUS. …bears. This one’s cute. I was just listening to a recent episode of Radiolab in which bears and to a degree, The Bad News Bears, inspires each of the 10-minute stories. I haven’t finished yet, but it’s interesting.
None of these tickled me too much, but there’s nothing too bad either. And if I missed some extra layer of the theme, I apologize. It’s late.
Likes: RACE FAN, BONOBOS, NICE GUY, EASY ONE, ROAD HOG, DR SEUSS, LEFT JAB, CIUDAD, TWO-FACE, and especially B. DALTON. Nice to come across that name again. That and Waldenbooks were the two big mall bookstores back in the day. For you young pups, see, they used to have these stores, whole stores(!), where you could walk in and buy books…Amazing!
Okay, that’s all from me. Nothing too thrilling, but it all works as advertised. 3.5 stars.
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one killed me. I am not sure why, but this one seemed much harder than a normal Saturday LAT puzzle. This is a 68-word grid, so with a word count that low it is bound to be quite wide open, and has 14 words 9 letters or longer. That also adds to the difficulty. I have said before that I don’t know Craig Stowe’s style that well, but that shouldn’t make this that hard. Maybe I just didn’t “have it” for this puzzle. Maybe I am tired. Maybe I need a vacation! Still a GREAT puzzle, with lots of fun stuff in it. I still give this 4.6 stars. Joyful agony!
Some of that fun stuff:
- 1A [N.A. boundary river] ST. LAWRENCE – What else could it be? It isn’t the Rio Grande!
- 27A [“The Quiet American” novelist] GRAHAM GREENE – I didn’t know this without several crossing letters, but I have heard of this dude. I have never read any of his books. I should change that …
- 43A [“For what it’s worth”] “JUST A THOUGHT” – A great casual phrase, which I love to see in puzzles.
- 50A [WTO predecessor] GATT – What in the world?? I don’t know this. The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs was replaced by the WTO in 1995.
- 5D [Crybaby] WHINER – I have a six-year-old, so this hits home!
- 7D [“Errare humanum __”] EST – “To err is human” in Latin. My Latin is terrible, but I think this is the translation!
- 13D [Cesar Chavez, by birth] ARIZONIAN – Yes, I though he was from a Spanish-speaking country. But he was an American activist for primarily farm workers. Fascinating story on him here.
- 24D [Rustic roofing] THATCH – This is REALLY rustic!
- 30D [Do a tense recitation?] CONJUGATE – I think this is the best clue in the entire puzzle. I think this at the very least elicited a groan when I solved it!
- 48D [Ritzy Twin Cities suburb] EDINA – Is it that ritzy? I’ve never been there, but I know it well from crosswords!
Enjoy this lovely fall weekend!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Sixteen minutes for a Longo Stumper. I will take it! This is a 68-worder this week, and I found, by far the SE corner to be a bear. I had a super slow start, got a decent toehold in the upper left, and cruised through a good portion of the puzzle in about 11 minutes, according to the timer. But then that lower corner; ouch. I will mention of few of those thorny clues in the commentary below, but suffice to say that I felt sufficiently “stumped” this week! 4.5 stars for Frank.
High points to me:
- 30A [Twitter and Craiglist, when founded] SIDE PROJECTS – Great clue. And remarkable too. Without looking it up, my guess is these are side projects of Google employees!
- 36A [Its traffic clears bridges] SEA LANE – Not sure how to read this; does travel in the sea lane clear the bridge of cars?? I still got the gist, and I think I grinned a little when I figured it out!
- 41A [There are more than 100 ways to drape it] SARI – Of course! I made this harder than it is. I remember seeing a bunch of these on an episode of The Amazing Race, and I believe they are long and rectangular when unfolded.
- 49A [Name that means “faith”] VERA – OK! I had no idea. I though HERA was a better guess. Part of my problem, I suppose!
- 51A [Jazz and such] PRO TEAMS – Super hard. I had NBA TEAMS in here, and I was CERTAIN this was correct! I was so happy that I had figured it out, until I did an answer check when I got helplessly stuck! This clue is extremely vague, but technically correct.
- 56A [The mental nerve supplies it] LOWER LIP – I had the ?????LIP part fairly early on, but thought “There’s no way!” This is evidently true, though!
- 2D [Body part with no blood vessels] CORNEA – How does it get nourished, then?
- 15D [They’re often forced in photography] SMILES – I thought this was a very good clue in a puzzle full of good clues!
- 34D [Ford Focus competitor] KIA FORTE – I had KIA RONDO, since I think my brother owned one of these many moons ago. I think they are both small.
- 47D [David : Milhous :: Delano : __ ] NANCE – These are middle names of Eisenhower : Nixon :: FDR : John Nance Garner, a couple of president/vice president pairs.
- 50D [Its “T” stands for “Tvelyegrafnoye”] TASS – I believe you!
Have a great day!