Trenton Charlson & David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Sure, a SKI PASS is an ordinary thing for anyone equipped to go skiing, but when you smush the words together in the grid, I just keep seeing SKIP ASS. (See also: whenever the partial AT IT is in a grid.)
Top fill: The dreaded COMIC SANS font, OPENLY GAY (hello, out friends!), the classic PEACE SIGN, a tasty li’l HUSHPUPPY (although to be honest, I always find them a little disappointing—too oniony too often), “SURPRISE ME,” the “THANKS OBAMA” meme, the scientifically-a-crock-of-shit DETOX DIET, pretty STEEL BLUE, the movie MEAN GIRLS (sent up, sort of, in Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” video), the L.A. SPARKS, the wild and crazy SARGASSO Sea, and a CHILL PILL.
I’m not wild about OONA CHAPLIN getting the full-name treatment, because she’s not a household name in the US (maybe in Spain and the UK?). She’ll be in the Avatar sequels, but there’s a good chance she’ll be voicing (and/or motion-capturing) a CGI character. Also not keen on PG-13 having its numeral spelled out in PG THIRTEEN.
Five more things:
- 29a. [Really clicks with a partner, say?], TAP-DANCES. Cute clue.
- 6d. [Post masters?], SYSOPS. Shout-out to Team Fiend’s webmaster, Dave!
- 8d. [Plague], NAG AT. This is not a good entry, nor a good clue for it.
- 49d. [He said “I learned to be a movie critic by reading Mad magazine”], EBERT. I miss Roger Ebert’s genial and smart writing.
- 52d. [2012 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, informally], THE E.U. Dang, with TH*EU in place, I first tried THIEU, wondering who this Vietnamese Nobelist was. With Dien Bien PHU crossing this entry, you can’t blame my mind for going there.
Four stars from me.
Harold Jones’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Going Postal” — Jim P’s review
The title should be re-parsed as “Going Post-AL.” In other words, we’re adding AL to the ends of phrases. My first thought was, “What does Alabama have to do with this?” The answer is “nothing.” Postal abbreviations have nothing to do with it; it’s just a reparsing of the word “postal.”
- 21a [Wild canine prowling a coastal city of California?] MONTEREY JACKAL. Monterey Jack. I’m not going to keep listing the base phrases below; I think you can figure them out.
- 28a [Stage direction in “The French Flutist”?] EXIT RAMPAL. I don’t get this one. Anyone with knowledge care to elucidate?
- 46a [Door on a soap opera set?] SERIAL PORTAL. The extra -AL was distracting.
- 65a [Part of a prof’s potpourri?] TEACHERS PETAL
- 87a [Waterway polluted by dumpers?] GARBAGE CANAL
- 102a [Fancy ball with no admission fee?] FREE FORMAL
- 112a [VIP in the South Dakota diocese?] PIERRE CARDINAL. I liked this one best because it was quite a surprising find.
- 38d [Preference between two of the chef’s entrails dishes?] BETTER OFFAL. Blecch. The entry is fine, but…blecch.
Very standard add-some-letters theme. Minus the French one, which I found inscrutable, and the Pierre Cardin one, which I found exceptional, these didn’t excite me much but neither did they make me scowl.
There’s plenty of interesting fill to look at. What did you think of BETACAM [Videorecorder from Sony]? That’s some old tech, if I’m not mistaken, unless they still call it that. More modernly, I loved the entries ANIMOJI [Talking unicorn, on an iPhone X] and LISTICLE [“7 Essential Leadership Lessons from Santa Claus,” e.g.] even though both clues were tough to get through.
HOT PASTRAMI [Katz’s Deli specialty] is fun and was easy for me since I believe I had it as fill in one of my own puzzles once. CAMARADERIE [Workplace boon] is also a fun word. Other goodies include: POP STAR, OPENED UP, “I HAD TO,” “STOW IT.”
Some might Natick at the Z in ZELIG [1983 title role for Woody Allen] and ZAC [Country music’s ___ Brown Band]. I almost Naticked at the D in LEMOND [Three-time Tour de France champion Greg] and SEADOG [Tar]. I did Natick at the V in VIREO [Greenish songbird] and VENN [“Symbolic Logic” author John]. Don’t think I’ve heard of that bird, and I presume it was John VENN who gave us the diagram that sports his name. But I certainly didn’t figure that out until after the solve.
I didn’t much care for the IN A TIE / IN A MOOD combo, ANS clued as [Years, to Yves], nor the entry TEENER.
Clues of note:
- 51a [Crime reporter]. VICTIM. A rather grim clue, but it’s good misdirection.
- 111a [Bookworms, e.g.]. LARVAS. I did not know there was an actual critter called a “bookworm.” Wikipedia says this is more of a generic term for insects that might bore through wood and paper.
- 78d [All alternative]. NONE. Got me. I was looking for laundry detergents the whole way.
Solid, standard puzzle. 3.4 stars.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another awesome puzzle by the prolific C.C. Burnikel. This 72-worder has tons of great fill, a couple of 11-letter stacks, and virtually no dreck. I solved this one fairly quickly, but it was a fun one. I still hope to meet this puzzle constructor some day! A solid 4.5 stars for this Saturday themeless.
Some of my favorites:
- 9A [Fictional brother with a green hat] LUIGI – Of course he does!
- 20A [Org. whose employees may have to lift 70-lb. bags] TSA – I thought this was referring to UPS for a second! Then I remembered that UPS’s weight limit is 150!!
- 30A [Raymond James Stadium pro] BUC – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at this site, which has hosted and I believe will host another Super Bowl.
- 48A [Frequent Robert De Niro co-star] JOE PESCI – His full name is rarely seen as an entry, but we all know who this is! A terrific actor who doesn’t work much anymore, at least according to imdb.com, but he is well into his 70s now.
- 59A [Subarus named for a NYC area] TRIBECAS – These cars, ironically, are best suited for hilly terrain, not flat city driving.
- 2D [Jake Tapper’s channel] CNN – I can only watch so much news; life was simpler when there weren’t 24 hour news channels.
- 4D [Camp nurse’s item] EPI PEN – This was one of my favorite clues. Very vague, then a great “Oh, yeah!” moment at the end.
- 11D [Marketing limitation] IN STORE ONLY – Great entry. Especially in this country taken over by e-tail purchasing.
- 22D [“Seriously?!”] “I MEAN REALLY?!” – Hands down the best entry in the grid. Great casual phrase.
- 28D [Maddux, in Cooperstown] GREG – Go Cubbies!!
- 37D [Lake in four states and Canada] ERIE – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario all border this huge lake.
That is all for now!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Wow. I did much better than I thought. I found some quiet time and most of the puzzle fell rather easily. I had a brain cramp at 5A (see below) but other than that this is one of the best times I have ever had for a Longo puzzle. I may actually be ready for the ACPT, which amazingly is not that far away!! Every time I get excited after one of my Stumper times, the next week is torture, so next week should be hideous. In the meantime, 4.6 stars for another Longo gem.
- 5A [Common daycare container] APPLE JUICE – This is the one I froze on. My son drinks these little drink boxes all the time.
- 38A [Pollutant in engine exhaust] NITROGEN DIOXIDE – Great 15-letter entry
- 61A [Advocate-in-chief] PRIME MOVER – This is not a phrase I hear often. When I hear the word “prime” now, sadly, all I think of is Amazon!
- 63A [Eurasia, in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”] SUPERSTATE – This was a book I actually read. I thought the title was officially “1984,” not this all written out.
- 1D [Onetime producer of plastic paddles] ATARI – Those controllers with knobs that you used to play Pong were called paddles.
- 4D [Setting ending in “The Artist”] SILENT ERA – This clue has “ending” as a verb, so it reads tough. This was an excellent movie. I should watch it again!
- 7D [About 13, for NFL interiors] PSI – I don’t understand this clue. Is this talking about the interior of the actual ball? Meh.
- 11D [Name of at least eight track stars] UNSER – There are that many of them? If you had said Andretti, I would believe you. I only know of about 4 Unsers.
- 59D [Alma mater for RFK and Tina Fey] U VA. – And Sam Ezersky!
Everyone enjoy your weekend!