Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Huh, easier than the Friday puzzle, for me. You too?
This pretty grid’s a 62-worder, and while there are two “huh, really?” entries (OVERBORE, LICTORS—both legitimate words, but not in common use), the rest is surprisingly smooth and zippy for a 62.
- 15a. [Grammy-winning group whose name is an homage to the Monkees], GORILLAZ. Did not know that bit of trivia. Gorillaz consists of artist Jamie Hewlett (my son’s girlfriend’s favorite artist) and musician Damon Albarn, but I don’t know that I have ever heard any of their stuff.
- 18a. [Best man for a wedding?], MR. RIGHT. Cute!
- 24d. [Deliberate], MUSE. Deliberate the verb, not the adjective.
Fave fill: PEP BANDS, GORILLAZ, PUT ON A CLINIC (which was new to me), “I’M SPEECHLESS” (which should only be written), THE ESPYS, “I COULDN’T,” BRITPOP, DRAMA COACHES, MIRACLE ON ICE (boo on the ICE GIANT overlap of ICE), MS. PAC-MAN.
Short answer you might bitch about, but I like it: 14d. [“Seinfeld” nickname], JER.
Medium answer you might have been perplexed by: 16a. [___ Reader’s Encyclopedia (classic literary reference)], BENET’S. My librarian grandma gave me the 3rd edition (1987 pub) for a college graduation gift. The most recent is the 5th edition (2008 pub). I admit that I seldom pull it off the shelf, since the Internet answers so many questions, but when I reorganized my bookshelves and purged a bunch of books, Benet’s moved right onto my new reference shelf.
4.25 stars from me.
Gabriel Stone’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Goal Mining” — Jim P’s review
Starting Cs become Gs in this letter-changing theme. Spelling changes are made as needed.
- 17a [Centerpiece of King Midas’s Thanksgiving feast?] GOLD TURKEY. Cold turkey.
- 24a [Purplish stationery?] GRAPE PAPER. Crepe paper.
- 38a [Colt in a canyon?] GAP PISTOL. Cap pistol. I normally hear “cap gun,” so this didn’t ring true to me.
- 40a [Superior, compared to Ontario?] GREATER LAKE. Crater Lake.
- 56a [Doctor’s listing of serious wounds?] GASH REGISTER. Cash register.
- 61a [Irksome flyers?] GALLING BIRDS. Calling birds. I think “calling cards” makes a better base phrase. Oh wait, but it’s second word also starts with a hard C, so maybe not.
- 80a [Puts one’s chowder in the pot?] GAMBLES SOUP. Campbell’s Soup.
- 85a [Survey of the kids?] GOAT CHECK. Coat check. I’m sure Evad liked this one since he probably checks on his goats every day.
- 101a [Features of Ziggy Stardust’s Easter eggs?] GLAM SHELLS. Clam shells.
- 103a [Challenge for a cleaning woman?] GRIME SCENE. Crime scene. Coming this fall to CBS: GSI: Grime Scene Infestation.
Pretty standard change-a-letter theme. There isn’t much here that piqued my interest except for maybe GAMBLES SOUP. I think it would be more interesting if, in these change-a-letter themes, the words in question were all at least two syllables long. COAT to GOAT, COLD to GOLD, CAP to GAP, etc. are pretty obvious. And I’m not counting CALLING to GALLING since that’s just the gerund form of a one-syllable word. CAMPBELL’S to GAMBLES is more unexpected and therefore more interesting.
Favorite fill: HIGH HORSE, HIBACHI, CAVEATS, SILVER PINE. RAP METAL, EYE HOLES, and ULYSSES. There aren’t many scowlables and weirdities to speak of.
I did have to guess at the N at the crossing of HAGEN [Golf legend Walter] and FATONE [Joey of *NSYNC]. If you’re going to cross proper names and one of them is HAGEN, why not clue with respect to Uta who is going to be known to more solvers than golfer Walter (who, interestingly enough, died on the day I was born: Oct 6, 1969)? Also, if your name is FATONE, how many FAT ONE jokes do you have to put up with?
Clues of note:
- 20a [Suffer public humiliation]. EAT IT. To me, this answer usually means to wipe out. The clue fits EAT DIRT or EAT CROW better.
- 87a [Investigate]. SEE INTO. Similarly, that clue better fits LOOK INTO. Nobody says “SEE INTO.” “See to” yes, but not “SEE INTO.”
- 74a [“Galatea of the Spheres” artist]. DALI. See picture.
- 6d [Respectful salutation]. SIRS. We saw this entry the other day in the NYT with different clues depending on where you solved it. Here, I wish there was some indication that it’s an outdated salutation.
- 23d [Ed Norton’s wife]. TRIXIE. Not the actor Ed Norton. His wife’s name is Shauna.
A fairly clean grid but a rather run-of-the-mill theme. Three stars from me.
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Still a minor issue with my timer. Those of you who have Across Lite for Mac: does your timer automatically shut off when the puzzle is completed? Mine does not. In messing with settings, I inadvertently turned it off, apparently. I also wasn’t rushing, but I would say this was done in 5-7 minutes or so. This grid only has 66 words! Very well done. An extremely fun solve: 4.5 stars.
10 things I liked:
- 19A [Word reportedly coined in Seuss’ “If I Ran the Zoo”] NERD – I think I vaguely remember hearing this long ago. I am certain we had a copy of this book when I was young. I need to work on getting these for my son!
- 34A [It doesn’t require a long answer] QUICK QUESTION – Lots of Qs! Remarkable for such a wide open grid.
- 58A [Family guys] GRANDDADS – This is term that I don’t think people use much here in Indiana. It is used, certainly, but not as much as Grandpa and other derivations.
- 3D [“Scary Movie” actress Cheri] OTERI – I keep forgetting she has been in some stuff. Just nothing I have seen!
- 4D [Correspond, in a way] SEND E-MAIL – Why do I still picture writing an actual letter when I hear the term correspondence? Because I am old??
- 5D [TY may follow it] PLS – Ah, textspeak! I am not a fan, but the constructor in me likes it!
- 9D [Like many American workplaces] SMOKE-FREE – I don’t understand smoking. At all.
- 13D [The Italians call it Mongibello] MOUNT ETNA – Great piece of trivia, and also nice to not see “mountain” abbreviated.
- 33D [Magician’s directive] PICK A CARD – You will hear this phrase if you ever watch Brain Games (on Netflix!), where the illusionist Apollo Robbins is in many episodes, sometimes saying this very phrase. Great entry!
- 43D [Some Gen Z-ers] TEENS – I cannot keep track. My parents are Baby Boomers, I think I am Gen-X, then there are Millennials, and Gen-Y is in there somewhere. Aaarrgggh!
We will stop there. Have a great weekend!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I thought I had finally beaten the Stumper. I get the puzzles early for blogging purposes, so I was embarking on the Stumper earlier this week and I got it solved in under 6 minutes! I was overjoyed until I realized … I had solved the Friday Newsday and not the Stumper! Upon opening the CORRECT puzzle, reality quickly set in, and there was no relief. This is a typical Longo toughie, and I agonized over it for nearly 30 minutes. This is another stellar 72-word grid by one of the greats of our time, IMO. 4.6 stars.
Ten things I found interesting:
- 15A [Goodyear Airdock locale] AKRON – Where else would this be? Perhaps familiar to me because it isn’t far from where I live, and I watch a lot of sports that feature blimp shots. This caused issues because the clue at 6D doesn’t appear, at first, to have a K in the second spot. (6D [Intact] OKAY)
- 20A [“Big blue”] OPEN SKY – It’s not IBM??
- 37A [Dean’s scene] CAMPUS LIFE – I thought for sure the word COLLEGE would be in here somewhere. Great entry, though!
- 43A [Water in Florida’s state song] SWANEE – This sometimes is spelled SUWANEE, I believe. I watched a lot of Parks and Recreation a while back, so I kept seeing PAWNEE when all I had was ???NEE. I am also not at all familiar with this song!
- 49A [Send elsewhere, in a way] CROSS-INDEX – This, I think, is by far the hardest get in the puzzle. I would say “cross-reference” in this case.
- 5D [Senior in Williams’ English class (1989)] HAWKE – This is a reference to a movie starring Robin Williams that I never saw: Dead Poets Society, in which Ethan Hawke portrayed a student. Perhaps a rental for later today?
- 9D [Spinning center] ENS – A cryptic clue! Some may not care for these, but I love them.
- 25D [Wash as a prospector might] PAN OFF – This also is verbiage I am not familiar with. I have never panned for gold. Is this what they are technically doing, panning off the sediment? My wife wants to do one of those tourist-trappy activity where you “pan” for hidden gems in some muck. I have absolutely no interest in doing this. Am I missing some grand fun?
- 41D [A.A. Milne served in it] WWI – My first thought was RAF. This is where my only grid error is. I had ?WI and still couldn’t get it!
- 43D [“Boléro” trio] SAXES – Is this a specific reference to the score for this piece?
Enjoy your Saturday!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword “The Theme” —Jenni’s write-up
Peter’s given us a bonus Fireball! It’s not blazingly hard, which was OK with me. I’m in a NYC hotel taking a break from shopping with my kid before we got to theater this evening. Hey, this parenting stuff is hard work, but someone’s got to do it.
“The Theme” is the pattern: each theme answer has a three-letter repeat.
- 18a [Second manager of the New York Mets] was WES WESTRUM, which gets “What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle” out of the way early. Baseball Reference tells me he was a catcher who played his entire career for the New York Giants. He succeeded Casey Stengel and managed the Mets for three seasons.
- 20a [Trucks that deliver inventory to dealerships] are CAR CARRIERS.
- 26a [Inserts into Trivial Pursuit tokens] are PIE PIECES. Anyone used or heard that particular phrase while playing?
- 34a [Man cave’s female counterpart] is the SHE SHED, featured in an infamous State Farm commercial.
- 44a [How double-occupancy rooms are priced] is PER PERSON.
- 51a [“This Modern World” cartoonist] is TOM TOMORROW. His real, non-thematic, name is Dan Perkins.
- 55a [Song in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” whose title completes the lyric “All we see is sky ___.”] is FOR FOREVER.
A few other things:
- 17a [Author of “My People: The Story of the Jews”] was the first answer I entered. I own my grandparents’ copy of Abba EBAN‘s book.
- Money clues! Leke are spent in ALBANIA and hryvnia are spent in UKRAINE.
- 30a [Card rival] is NINER because we’re talking football. I tried DBACK for the baseball Cards.
- 36d [Company that names an annual Color of the Year] is PANTONE. 2019 is Living Coral. We have a dwindling amount of actual living coral because of rising sea temperatures from that climate change thing that isn’t happening.
- 56d [Feature of marbling] confused me, because I was thinking marbling in rocks. It’s actually marbling in meat; the answer is FAT.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: WES WESTRUM. I also did not know that the men’s room on film shoot trailers is called the DESI.
I leave you with “For Forever,” if you haven’t heard it.