Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The constructor has stretched the grid to a 16-square width to accommodate a staggered triple-stack of 14s with no short (3-4 letters) crossings and some nice corner stacks. The center of the grid’s pretty, with the undulating wave of white squares.
Fave fill: STICKY RICE, BOTOX INJECTION, FITNESS CENTERS, BROGRAMMER, AIRPORT BAR, BATMOBILE, INK BLOT TEST, and the new-to-me OMEGA DOG.
- 34a. [Ibizan inn], POSADA. I wondered if they speak Spain’s standard Spanish in/on Ibiza. Apparently they speak Catalan rather than mainland Castilian—but Google Translate tells me inn = posada in Catalan.
- 38a. [Activity involving a leader and a follower], PARTNER DANCING. I kinda thought that was pretty much just called “dancing.” Just me?
- 1d. [“E lucevan le stelle” source], TOSCA. Guessed it with the O and maybe the S in place. The thought process was “Italian phrase? Must be an opera thing. Five letters, second letter is O? Could be TOSCA. Or maybe NORMA, is that an opera or a character?”
- 6d. [England’s Isle of ___], ELY. This is more or less a desperation entry, isn’t it? “It’s clueable, though mighty obscure to Americans.”
- 26d. [Golfer’s approach, often], IRON SHOT. Golfers, is this a common term, an actual thing rather than a green-paint answer? Chip shot, I know. IRON SHOT, utterly unfamiliar to me.
- Head games: 19a. [High as a kite], BAKED / 36a. [Head shot], BOTOX INJECTION / 42a. [Derby head], LOO / 29d. [People with great head shots?], SOCCER STARS / 39d. [Was blue], FELT SAD / 52d. [Parts of some neuro exams], MRIS.
- 59d. [Mean in school, for short], GPA. Ah! Arithmetic mean rather than prone to bullying. Good misdirect.
4.25 stars from me. How’d the puzzle treat you?
Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Housework” — Jim P’s review
Our theme is existing phrases re-imagined with respect to home ownership.
- 23a [Exciting news about paperwork on a house purchase?] THE DEED IS DONE. Good one. A strong start.
- 37a [Conflict about house ownership?] TITLE FIGHT. I have had to fight with a particular title company in the past, mostly because their ineptitude kept introducing errors into the process.
- 47a [Finds somewhere to build one’s new house?] LIKES A LOT. This feels a bit roll-your-owny.
- 66a [Bad investments for house traders?] FLIP FLOPS. I like this one best. The house two doors down was flipped within the past year. Previously, it was our neighborhood haunted house; now it’s very nice.
- 79a [House broker who doesn’t charge?] FREE AGENT
- 92a [House near the Alabama coast?] MOBILE HOME. Meh.
- 109a [Final price for one’s new house?] CLOSING NUMBER
- 16d [Choice location for an author’s house?] WRITER’S BLOCK
- 59d [One of a billionaire’s houses?] FOURTH ESTATE
Fairly solid entries. There’s some inconsistency regarding which word changes meaning, whether it be the home-related word, the other word, or both. The better ones have the home-related word changing meaning (DEED, TITLE, BLOCK, FLIP, etc.). The one I liked least, MOBILE HOME, changes the non-home-related word, leaving the other meaning intact.
There’s so much theme material that there’s little room for long non-theme fill. I do like BOER WAR, FARM TEAM, ANTELOPE, CHRONOS, ANTES UP, and PODIATRY. I’m not so sure if BOHR ATOM [Model used in physics class] is a legit phrase. I’ve had physics classes, but I’m no physicist, and I don’t recall what makes a BOHR ATOM more notable than just a plain old run-of-the-mill atom. Physicists, what say you?
There’s a good bit of crosswordese: ANO, OTO, ALIS, AT AN, etc., and the roll-your-own duo of OPTER and LACER. Plural PSSTS is just plain ridiculous.
But there’s one even worse offense (IMHO): IPS [Tape measure: Abbr.]. I’m still not even sure what this is after. Instructions Per Second? Inches Per Second? Something else? It didn’t help that it crossed the very uncommon IMITABLE [Qualifying as a role model] (which I wanted to be INIMITABLE). Making matters more difficult for me was that I had LET LIE at 68d [Drop, as an argument] which I never went back and questioned because I was sure it was right. This made 82a [Cough syrup ingredient] look like COLE_NE. I’m not too up on my cough syrup ingredients, so I just assumed this was something I didn’t know. In the end, I finished with three errors in that section. I should have been able to get CODEINE; that’s on me. But IMITABLE crossing IPS is rough and warrants a re-tooling of that section as I see it.
In the end, my view of the grid is colored by those distasteful elements. The theme is good as is much of the fill, but I feel some of those questionable entries should have been excised. 2.9 stars.
Frederick J. Healy’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
A tad tough! Frederick J. Healy is a new byline to me, or at the very least a constructor I am not familiar with, so this one took a tick longer than normal, but still cracked in just about 8 minutes. Kudos for the stacked 11s criss-crossing in the middle of the grid. This is a stellar 66-word grid that was a blast to solve. A solid 4.8 stars from me today.
Some high points:
- 19A [Novak Djokovic’s org.] ATP – A gimme for me!
- 34A [Scrooge types] CHEAPSKATES – This one prompted a grin once solved.
- 35A [Fruity treat] BANANA SPLIT – One of my all-time favorite foods, but I am trying to lose weight.
- 52A [Traditional Dixie dessert] PECAN PIE – This is not my favorite dessert, but I am not from the South, either.
- 1D [Award-winning ESPN writer/reporter Jeremy] SCHAAP – I remember is father Dick Schaap as well, who was also excellent as an investigative sports reporter. If you’ve never seen a piece from either of these men, you are missing out.
- 5D [Old Ritz rival] HI HO – They don’t sell these anymore? I am not a crazy fan of Ritz either, but I remember Hi Ho crackers from when I was younger.
- 14D [Stage makeup staple] GREASE PAINT – Another one of the stellar 11-letter entries in the middle.
- 17D [Programmer’s problem] ENDLESS LOOP – I consider myself trying to learn programming, but I am not good at it. I do understand that if your statements aren’t constructed well, you will end up with one of these, which will crash your program!
- 24D [Gulf of __: Baltic Sea arm] BOTHNIA – This is over between Finland and Sweden. Here is a map:
- 34D [Use a certain two-handed signal] CALL TIME – Actually called a “T” for the signal made with the hands. Best clue in the puzzle.
- 53D [Some Windows systems] NTS – Does this still exist??
Enjoy your weekend!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I thought I had this one quickly. I raced through about 80% of this puzzle in like 6 minutes, but that NW corner absolutely killed me. 1-Across did not come very quickly, and it was nearly the very last entry I filled in. What started as a possible 8 minute solve turned into a nearly 20-minute slog. As is usually the case, everything is fair, but suffice it to say I learned a new word or two, which I will be sure and mention below. Battered and bruised by a Stumper that, at least in one corner, was anything but “Les Ruff!” 4.4 stars today.
That promised list of highlights (and lowlights!)
- 15A, 28A, & 67A [With 15 or 28 Across, oater farewell] ADIOS AMIGO/SEÑORA – A lot of work for a not-too-difficult answer, but still cleverly tied together.
- 20A [Churchill was born in one] PALACE – I believe you!
- 31A [Toon first called Stinky] PEPE LE PEW – I am sure there may need to be accent marks in this name somewhere! Great clue.
- 35A [They make money from misspelled URLs] TYPE SQUATTERS – Remember those new words I said I learned? This is one of them. Totally new to me.
- 44A [Its entrance has a Jackie Robinson Rotunda] CITI FIELD – I have been to about a dozen or so different MLB parks, but not this one. Road trip! I bet it is beautiful since it is still a fairly new park.
- 63A & 64A [Bag for chefs] KNIFE ROLL – An iconic scene of Top Chef is when a contestant is kicked off and is told to “pack your knives and go.” I have seen them roll up their knives in this very case.
- 2D [Cousteau, for instance] OCEANAUT – This is definitely that other new word. Wow.
- 10D & 11D [Slotted for service] IN-LINE/COIN-OP – Another clever tie-in.
- 21D [“Bachelor of the Year” co-awarder] COSMO – I am mildly curious as to who the other “co-awarder” is. Getting this answer was a key to cracking that devilish NW corner.
I need a nap now!