Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Easy for a Saturday, no? I’m surprised the puzzle didn’t take me longer to finish, given the amount of food I have eaten since sundown at a neighborhood iftar. The food was catered by a Kyrgyz restaurant called Jibek Jolu, and I can attest that the chicken Samsy, Tandyr Okorochka, lentil soup, assorted breads, and honey cake were delicious. Ramadan Mubarak to the crossword world’s Muslims!
Back to the Paolo’s 68-worder. When I see his byline, I expect to see plenty of zippy fill. To wit: LAPEL MIC, HAWAIIAN SHIRT, CATE BLANCHETT, MICHELIN GUIDE, GLAD-HAND, an EASY READ, HACKATHON (my company has an annual hackathon and I participated one time despite not being a coder), CHRISTIAN MINGLE, and INEXPERT.
Four clues of note:
- 20a. [Establishments whose products might be described by this answer + H], DELIS. Delish!
- 33a. [Top of a Pacific island chain], HAWAIIAN SHIRT. I really thought we were looking for a term from volcanology here.
- 39a. [A’s, e.g. … or a word following “A”], TEAM. The Oakland Athletics, or A’s, and an A-team.
- 60a. [Push-ups, e.g.], LINGERIE. My first thought was the physical exercise. Then I flashed back to childhood summers eating orange Push-Ups from the ice cream truck. Eventually, the crossings led the way to the answer.
4.25 stars from me. How’d the puzzle treat you?
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Afterwords”—Jim P’s review
In a piece of correspondence, the postscript comes at the end and is indicated by the initialism P.S. Appropriately, PS has been added at the endS of various phrases to come up with today’s wacky theme entries.
- 22a [Dunes?] BEACH BUMPS.
- 24a [Courteous speeds on spaceships?] CIVIL WARPS. Hmm. Not much surface sense to this one.
- 36a [Splendid sound boosters?] GRAND AMPS.
- 57a [Peaks unwilling to host the Winter Olympics?] WEIRD ALPS. This doesn’t make sense to me. Being unwilling to host the Winter Olympics makes one weird?
- 75a [Destinations for Gene Simmons fans?] KISS CAMPS. I like this one.
- 89a [Woods, irons, putters, etc.?] CLUB PROPS.
- 109a [Alerting sounds from a royal figure?] QUEEN BEEPS. The entry has potential, but the clue let it down by being rather drab. How about [Elizabethan sounds while cosplaying R2-D2?]?
- 111a [Avoid the stadium walkways?] DODGE RAMPS.
- 41d [Mischievous government fundraisers?] TAX SCAMPS.
- 45d [Count up bunny moves?] TALLY HOPS.
I’ll be honest. Most of these seemed rather lackluster with nary a chuckle in sight. Ten theme entries is quite a lot. I would much rather see this number pared down if it meant higher quality entries.
Fill looks to be quite good though I admit to being mostly on auto-pilot during the solve. I liked BABY BEAR, ISHMAEL, CICADA, MAE WEST, ANEMONE, BEST MAN, T.S. ELIOT, etc. Did not know SOLHEIM [___ Cup (biennial women’s golf tournament] nor BRADLEE [Editor played by Hanks in “The Post”].
Three stars from me. I’m spending the weekend visiting family, so I’m going to cut this short here. Please have a safe and enjoyable weekend and spare at least a thought for those who made incredible sacrifices in service to our country.
Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I tried this one Downs Only again, like last Saturday, and again I had my soul crushed. Actually, I think I could have gotten this one, but there are deadlines at play here. Solving this totally cold would still have played around the 5 minute mark, even though this is slightly tough. I will say, though, that the Downs Only training is improving my solving quite a bit. The true acid test will be next year in Stamford, but so far I can tell a change. I still cannot solve a NYT Saturday in 4 minutes like some of these people, but it is getting faster.
There are a couple of great across entries in here that are hard to get without the clues, and again I will keep a keen eye out for a Twitch stream of this solve. I will highlight some of these in the notes below, but a great puzzle by Daniel this weekend. A solid 4.4 stars from me.
Those promised notes:
- 18A [Baroque chamber work] TRIO SONATA – This is hard. If you’re not into classical music, that is, which I am not. I enjoy some, but I don’t know it as well as I think I should.
- 32A [Sitcom shoe salesman] AL BUNDY – This is another one of those entries that was tough without the clue, but simple once you read it. Odd sequence of letters.
- 43A [The Cranberries vocalist O’Riordan] DOLORES – I did get this one in the early solve attempt, and this is somewhat timely as she just recently passed away prematurely.
- 1D [Online role-playing game involving magical stones] RUNESCAPE – I don’t know this game. Am I too old for these games??
- 3D [Bridge site] CARD TABLE – One of two down entries that, if I could have figured it out, would have broken open large areas.
- 6D [Misjudgment] ERRANCY – I don’t think I have ever seen this word before. I certainly have never used it.
- 33D [Greek island known for emery] NAXOS – I also don’t know this place. One of these days I may be fortunate enough to visit this part of the world.
- 35D [Cooking agent in some Indian cuisine] SESAME OIL – This is the other one. I thought this would end in CURRY, which caused tons of problems.
I will definitely try to get back to a Downs Only next Saturday! Perhaps I should start on it ASAP …
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I thought these were easier on holiday weekends! I struggled mightily with this one. Maybe I am remembering it wrong: maybe the long weekend is thought of as extra time to muse over a toughie! At any rate, this is a nice 70-word grid with 10 letter entries all over the place. Not too many error marks in this grid, which solving-wise went like a hard sudoku puzzle: smooth sailing at first, then I hit a chokepoint, and then more smooth sailing until one last a-ha moment at the end. On a side note, I have been solving more sudoku recently, as I need to hone my logic skills. Watch me STILL get Alzheimer’s anyway. 4.6 stars for another Stumper gem.
Some high points:
- 1A [Quite an accomplishment] NO MEAN FEAT – I feel like I am often saying “this is a great 1-Across entry,” but this IS a great 1-Across entry!
- 11A [Diminutive for Magdalena] MAJA – I learned a new word here! I checked in Google Translate, and I still don’t know what language this is.
- 21A [Last character seen in ”Hamlet”] SMALL T – Man! GREAT clue! Total forehead slapper for me.
- 34A [Post-training cool-down] ICE BATH – I remember taking a cold water bath back when I was marathon-training. I still miss it.
- 55A [Pisa/Mona Lisa rhymer (1934)] COLE – Why was I looking for a word that rhymed with Pisa?? Classic over-thinking here on my part.
- 2D [Buffoons] OXES – Can you pluralize the word “ox” in this way? Yes, I had OXEN in here.
- 12D [Water, vis-à-vis vodka] ADULTERANT – Meaning it makes it worse, I take it?
- 13D [Hook craft] JOLLY ROGER – I don’t know why it took me soooo long to get this.
- 26D [”Outrageous!”] “HOW DARE YOU!” – I love casual phrases. And someone may have said this to me at some time in the past …..
- 46D [Year that’s two ER abbreviations] MDCC – I thought for sure IV would be in this answer!
Enjoy your holiday, everyone!
Gary Larson’s Universal Crossword, “In Name Only”—Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Celebrity names, clued as if they’re not names
- 17A [Estate crafter?] WILL SMITH.
- 39A [Wish that a short hairdo looks good?] BOB HOPE.
- 60A [Windy weather front?] GALE STORM.
- 24D [One searching for yuletide greenery?] HOLLY HUNTER.
- 11D [Known facts about a redbreast?] ROBIN GIVENS.
The first theme answer I found was WILL SMITH, and I was looking forward to the rest since that one was fun to uncover. But yeesh… WILL SMITH was born in 1968, and he’s the youngest of all the themed names. GALE STORM was entirely unfamiliar to me, and both ROBIN GIVENS and HOLLY HUNTER– while notable names- aren’t ones I hear all that often. So the whole thing felt… old.
59D tried to give it a modern feel: [Like an awesome party] LIT. But even that word is now leaving the vernacular, going the way of PHAT in the 90’s.
I typically like Gary Larson puzzles, but I’d call this A DULL one.