Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fake News” — Jim P’s review
Our theme is phrases ending in a word that can also roughly mean “news story.” Clues are wackified accordingly.
- 23a [News report about numismatists and philatelists?] COLLECTOR’S ITEM
- 44a [News report about Ben & Jerry?] ICE CREAM SCOOP
- 60a [Newsmagazine report about Wisconsin?] CHEESE SPREAD
- 71a [Newsmagazine covering wildfires?] BURNING ISSUE. I’m guessing Californian’s suffering from fire fatigue didn’t enjoy this one.
- 89a [News report about an NFL pass defender?] SAFETY FEATURE
- 113a [News report that’s not fake news?] GENUINE ARTICLE
- 16d [News report about a budget authorization bill?] EXPENSE ACCOUNT
- 49d [News piece about the Pentagon?] MILITARY COLUMN. Hmm. I’m not feeling this one. “Military formation,” yes, MILITARY COLUMN, no, at least not to my ear.
I like the wordplay here. It’s good, if not anything groundbreaking.
And despite the high amount of theme material, there’s some good long fill. I liked SERPICO, WATERBEDS, SULLIVAN, IPOD NANO, KID AROUND, GLISTENS, QUIXOTE, AEROPLANE, SOY LATTE, and “DO I DARE?”
However, there were some things that really bothered me, starting with the title which is what Trump and his blind followers yell out knee-jerkily whenever there’s news that doesn’t fit the narratives they spin.
And MIDGET even though it’s clued [Small racing car class] just doesn’t belong in a grid. I’m willing to bet that can be changed to MIDGES without too much trouble in the SE corner. (Yup, change RAW to RAT or RAP and you have STEEDS or SPEEDS at 99d. Done. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was always that easy to remove an offensive word from your grid?)
And then there’s a good bit of stale fill like AUEL, AH ME, EPODE, PPP, EDO, TEC, and SSTS.
I did like a couple clues: [Bald baby] for EAGLET and [Gatwick banker?] for AEROPLANE, but I found [Sides in a perennial battle] for SEXES to be depressing.
Overall, the negatives weighed on me so I can’t muster up more than 2.5 stars for this puzzle despite the decent theme.
Grant Thackray’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Ha! Look at the grid, and consider the central answer, a BUNDT CAKE or [Confection with a hole in the middle]. Just pour a sugary glaze or sprinkle some powdered sugar all over the puzzle and there you go: a gluten-free dessert.
This puzzle played like a Friday puzzle for me. Surprisingly quick solve, even with the awkward-to-piece-together GENIE OF THE LAMP up top.
The top half felt violent, with WORLD BEATERS, ALABAMA SLAMMERS, and MONSTER MASH not actually being violent and RAMS HOME being violent only when literal. And then GASTON has a literal stabbing in his clue.
Four more things:
- 19a. [Food that’s eaten perpendicularly to how it’s usually made] TOAST. I make my toast in a toaster oven, so this one doesn’t ring true in my kitchen.
- 48a. [Short cut that bypasses a canal?], CESAREAN SECTION. Hey, who’s calling that incision “short”? I mean, it’s not as long as you’d think it would be, but it ain’t small. Also, this “canal” reference—is this the closest the NYT crossword has gotten to mentioning the vagina?
- 8d. [Calder Cup org.], AHL? LOL. This is the sort of short crosser you can get with stacked long entries. I looked up the Calder Cup winners, the teams that won the AHL championship. The last three winners are the Toronto Marlies, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Eugene Echidnas. No, I made up that last one. Three seasons back, it was the Lake Erie Monsters who beat the Hershey Bears. There’s also a Syracuse Crunch, and I hope this team’s archrival is Hershey. If you live near one of these teams, you may have heard of it (we have the Chicago Wolves out in the ‘burbs), but if you don’t go to the games, will you know the names of any other teams?
- 34d. [Sites of congestion], SINUSES. My son got a lesson in this today. We give thanks for decongestants!
3.8 stars from me.
Andy Kravis & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Oh boy! A fun puzzle by a couple of Fiend bloggers! We have a 68-word masterpiece for the LAT puzzle today, and this was tons of fun to solve. I have watched both of these two solving on Twitch, and I predict both will be top 5 solvers in Stamford this coming March. There is a definite liveliness to Erik’s grids in general, and to collaborate with a talent like Andy only enhances the finished product. Again, I don’t see anything in here that wouldn’t be commonly known, and that is not easy to do in a wide open grid. A solid 4.8 stars for this gem. Very well done!
High points in the grid:
- 1A [Selection process including the Sky and the Sun] WNBA DRAFT – I get the feeling Erik is a big WNBA fan. I wonder what gave me that impression? Perhaps because he wore a Washington Mystics jersey for last years ACPT finals?
- 17A [Bingo center square] FREE SPACE – I have never officially played this for money, but we had a bingo board game when I was a kid. I am sure there are several apps now for Bingo. But somehow it seems as if it is not as popular as it used to be.
- 58A [2017 hit comedy about a women’s weekend getaway] GIRLS TRIP – This movie is really funny. It pushes the envelope, that’s for sure. This movie will surely be remembered for making Tiffany Haddish a household name.
- 63A [Where I-35 and I-80 intersect] DES MOINES – I believe you. I’ve driven through Des Moines on the way to Denver. I don’t remember stopping!
- 3D [CBer’s opening word] BREAKER – This is also something that seems not nearly as popular as it was years ago. Ham radio enthusiasts still exist, and truckers still use CB radio (I think!), but I don’t know anyone who does this now.
- 11D [In contrast with] AS OPPOSED TO – I don’t think this entry is in my word list. It is a long phrase, possibly considered a partial, but I like it. You hear this all the time.
- 14D [Winter Paralympians’ equipment] SIT SKIS – Awesome. I think I would rather ski like this!
- 24D [Jersey Shore rockers since the ’70s] E STREET BAND – This is always a great entry. These guys are all old now (Bruce Springsteen is nearly 70!), but this music has and will continue to pass the test of time.
- 26D [Visored military cap] SHAKO – Remember when I said there was nothing that wasn’t commonly known? I forgot about this entry. This IS something you might know or certainly have seen, but I didn’t know the name. I still like it.
- 39D [Lang. test for top students] AP LATIN – This is a weird looking letter pattern until you realize how it is spaced. I took some Latin in grammar school, but I cannot imagine what the practical uses of learning Latin are today. Even if you are a doctor or a lawyer. I suppose if you should learn it if you want to read ancient literature!
- 41D [Cajun confection] PRALINE – These are delicious. And I am now hungry.
Enjoy your weekend!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Not too bad this week. I will take 15 minutes for a Brad Wilber Stumper. 72 words in this grid, and nothing over 10 letters. That explains the good fill. A lot of bloggers seem perturbed often at the fill in puzzles. I don’t feel that way. Yes, there are words in here that I either didn’t know, didn’t think I knew, or didn’t remember. But if a puzzle recalls something I knew a long time ago, that is perfectly fine, and if I learn something new, well that is a good thing, isn’t it? I am in the National Puzzlers League, and I think I learn a new word each and every time I solve some of those puzzles. I also realize how hard these are to make, so kudos to the constructors for the fun they provide for all of us, including these difficult Stumpers! 4.6 stars for Brad’s gem today.
- 19A [Metroplex moniker] BIG D – Oh, THAT metroplex. This sounded like it would be more of a generic term, not the nickname for Dallas, TX.
- 20A [Refuge for daytime sleepers] OWLERY – This is definitely one of those words I didn’t know (or remember?), but an owl would definitely be a daytime sleeper.
- 36A [Deadlocked situation] SPLIT VOTE – A not-so-rare occurrence now in current politics. That makes it feel more timely.
- 38A [Plum cousin] CLARET RED – This was a little confusing. Is a claret red a fruit, or is plum a type of wine?
- 57A [“Don Quixote” descriptor] MOCK-HEROIC – I guess this is the stereotypical “mock hero” in literature. I should read this book someday …
- 61A [Dexterous] ABLE – I wrote SPRY in here. It could be either, but when the easiest clue in a corner is this different, it is easy to go down a rabbit hole.
- 11D [City that sounds like a shoe stat] TRIPOLI – If you wear triple E, or EEE, shoes, you may have super wide feet. My condolences!
- 22D [Venerable Milwaukee brewer] PABST – Like 61A, I put STROH in here at first. I am not sure if they are based in Milwaukee or not. (I looked. It isn’t. But they are owned by Pabst!)
- 41D [Straightens out, in a way] UNCOILS – This could have been UNFURLS, UNFOLDS, or possibly other answers. Another toughie in this corner. As you can see in the grid image, I finished up down here.
- 54D [Mot dans les noms de bistro] CHEZ – This clue translates to “word in bistro names.” CHEZ roughly means “in” in French. I think. But is well known, even in cartoonish representations of fancy restaurants.
It is bitterly cold here in the Midwest. Everyone please be safe in the cold!