Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Get the Picture”—Jim P’s review
TIREDEST (45d, [Most overused]) is the fill of the day, though that’s not the theme.
The theme is actual phrases whose first word can be re-interpreted as a way of “getting a picture”, where “getting a picture” might be literal or figurative. But it just feels so inconsistent throughout.
- 22a [Get pictures at a mall?] PHOTO SHOPS. Whoa. Who uses “photo” as a verb? And the “photo” in PHOTOSHOPS actually refers to photography. I call foul on this one.
- 24a [Get pictures at an earrings factory?] SHOOT HOOPS. This one works. The meanings of both words in the original phrase are altered completely.
- 36a [Get pictures at a bar?] SNAP SHOTS. Hmm. Nope again. SNAPSHOTS are actually photographs. “Snap” doesn’t change meaning at all. SNAP BEANS would work better here.
- 65a [Get pictures at garbage sites?] DOCUMENT DUMPS. Hang on. We went from taking photographs (the first three entries), to…”documenting”? What the. And I’ve never even heard the phrase DOCUMENT DUMPS anyway. What is that?
- 93a [Get pictures at a bait store?] TAPE WORMS. “Taping” means “getting pictures” now? Oh, I give up.
- 111a [Get pictures at a hockey locker room?] SKETCH PADS. Okay, now we’re drawing pictures. And…hockey locker room? Why do “pads” indicate hockey locker room? Sure, hockey players wear pads. So do football players.
- 113 [Get pictures at arenas?] VIDEO GAMES. I guess this makes sense, but it just feels like the 45d.
And if that’s not enough, there’s more in the Down direction.
- 35d [Get pictures at an apartment building?] FILM STUDIOS. Again, the keyword is too close in meaning from the original phrase to the altered one.
- 40d [Get pictures at a dentist’s office?] DRAW BRIDGES. This one works. But too little too late.
As you can tell, these mostly missed the mark for me. And there certainly wasn’t enough HUMOR involved to sustain it.
Hmm. Maybe I’m being affected by fill like TIREDEST, ACUTE PAIN, NO DESIRE, LESS THAN, TRODDEN, SORRILY. Yeah, I’d have to say those capture the general vibe of the grid.
ACUTE PAIN, NO DESIRE, and GONE AWOL feel “green painty” to me. Old standbys AMAS, DR NO, EERO, IN UP, OPIE, ADLAI, AGHA, SAAR, ODED persist throughout.
But there are some brights spots, certainly. I liked CREEKBED, ARISTIDES (though I needed every crossing), WILLARD Scott, PLAUSIBLE, ORANGEY [Like Trump’s tan], KEROSENE, TARAJI P. Henson, and “MANGIA!” [Order in an Italian restaurant].
Best clue: [Grace period?] for AMEN.
For the most part, this was a slog. I felt the theme needed a major overhaul. Perhaps a reduction in size to a weekday puzzle would have been apt. 2.75 stars.
Ari Richter’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review
Looks like we have a NYT debut here. Congrats to Ari!
Pretty lively grid. I especially like the pairing of BLANKET HOG and SLEEP APNEA in the upper left. Other likables: David AXELROD, “NONE FOR ME“, DERANGED (see video below), THIS SECOND, SAD FACE :(, STOLEN CARS, DALMATIANS, MASHED PEAS, AD COUNCIL, DECISIVE, and WEST END.
I was fairly confounded by that northwest corner though. UNARMS doesn’t ever look like a real word to me, and while the clue is clever [Take heat from], that doesn’t change my dislike for the word. And crossing crosswordese ONELS [Some first-years after undergrad] doesn’t improve things. Plus I’m leery of that clue on BURB [Start of many a morning commute, informally]. Does anyone really use that word, even informally? And I really wanted PHONE as the [Means of surveillance] before I figure out DRONE.
Other questionables: [Winner of the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in N.F.L. history (16 total points)] is a PATRIOT. This is phrasing weird. It makes it sound like one person won that game (which was played earlier this year). Also [“___ so” (“Nuh-uh”)] for AIN’T. Not sure I’ve ever heard that without a leading “It”.
A couple more things:
- [Go to pot?] is a cute clue for SMOKE, as is [Do business?] for SALON.
- Anyone else put INFIDEL for 12d [Nonbeliever] before correcting it to SKEPTIC?
Despite a couple fiddly bits in the grid, I liked it. 3.75 stars.
And now for something completely different: proper use of the word DERANGED. Warning: some language in the background.
Michael Wiesenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Back to a Downs Only Saturday solve! This was a doozie, and with stacks of long Down entries it was quite a struggle. But once you get a toehold, and hit the check answer a couple of times and see where you’re totally wrong, the puzzle fell. You can see plenty of my error marks in the image here, and although some don’t like checking answers, in this context it works. Yes, I have a NYT streak of nearly a year, and before that I had a 700+ day streak, and for those you cannot check the grid and see what you have incorrect. But I usually don’t get hopelessly stuck on those, and I certainly don’t do many of those with just the Down clues, although I see many are doing that now on Crossword Twitter and the like. But this puzzle is a great 70-word grid with 12, count ’em 12 10-letter entries spread out in all four corners. Sometimes in my Downs Only solving I am left scratching my head as to how some Across entries could possibly be clued, but nothing too obscure going in the Across direction in this one. A solid 4.5 stars for a fun solve!
Some notes (from the Downs, naturally!)
- 3D [With 14-Across, “Bro, no!”] “DUDE, YOU WOULDN’T!” – Even solving Downs Only, there was an Across clue hidden in the Downs!
- 6D [Nepalese money] RUPEES – This is guessable even if you have never died trying to climb Mount Everest, as it seems many have in the last few weeks.
- 10D [Charlotte Amalie’s island] ST. THOMAS – I knew this was down there somewhere. It is a capital city, so you should know it for Jeopardy!
- 11D [Phishing, e.g.] CYBERCRIME – This was the answer that opened up the upper right corner. Definitely an “Oh, yeah!” moment with this one, which is great.
- 24D [It’ll get you in] ACCESS CODE – It isn’t ACCESS PASS? Because that is what I tried at first!
- 25D [Mall portmanteau] SHOPAHOLIC – Another splendid “a-ha!” moment with this one. Finished my solve in this corner.
- 36D [Least prudent] RASHEST – You can be fairly certain that this answer ends in -EST, but it could be ZANIEST or INANEST or others.
- 41D [Guard dog originally bred in Germany, familiarly] DOBIE – I have never seen it clued this way, but I have also never heard a Doberman called this either. I also don’t own a Doberman.
- 43D [Singer with The Blackhearts] JETT – I remember this song well, so that dates me! To get it stuck in your head, it will be at the end of this post!
That is all for now! It might be a beautiful weekend, so I should go outside and mow my grass!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This one wasn’t too bad, but it seemed like it was impossible to start this puzzle. That is why I like crossword puzzles: you put yourself WILLINGLY into a situation that you don’t know how you’re going to finish, and then, piece by agonizing piece, you figure it out and you have a sense of completion and satisfaction, which you cannot always find in this world. (As a side note, I recommend the movie Puzzle, which tackles some of these same feelings that crossworders encounter.) Once some footing was established, this fell without too much difficulty, at least for a Stumper. I am anxiously awaiting to see if anyone solves this Downs Only on Twitch (set yours up for alerts if you want to see this!), which with the Indie 500 happening this weekend either has a much better or much worse chance of happening! Which reminds me: I better purchase the home version of these so I can solve along with everybody there! 4.6 stars for another gem from Stan.
A few highlights:
- 1A [All-at-once, as a series release] BINGEABLE – Ah, TV habits have changed drastically since I was younger. People literally sit all day or all weekend and devour entire seasons. Amazing.
- 20A [Focus (on)] ZERO IN – Could have been HONE IN, so slightly tough.
- 23A [Capital, since 1974] NHL-ER – These types of clues always fool me, even as a sports fan. This might even be the best clue in the puzzle.
- 36A [Home holder of 275 gallons] OIL TANK – Not sure what this is talking about; you can purchase one at Lowe’s, though! I have never lived in a house that used one of these.
- 41A [Most important] PIVOTAL – An answer that seems to indicate that it would in in -EST, but does not!
- 11D [Hummus scoop, at times] NAN – I guess the Indian bread is naan or nan. I finally had some of this a few months ago, and it is delicious!
- 12D [Metaphors for damage] PRICE TAGS – Also an excellent clue.
- 31D [Venice waterbus] VAPORETTO – Never heard of this! Evidently it is simple a waterbus.
- 33D [Indoor surfing venues] WAVE POOLS – I think this is what they call a pool you can swim in without moving as well. I think Michael Phelps endorses one in a commercial.
- 35D [Retro restaurants] MALT SHOPS – I had SODA SHOPS. A tad before my time!
- 48D [Ernie, in ”It’s a Wonderful Life”] CABBIE – I have never seen this movie, believe it or not, so this was a little tough for me!
Maybe I should start on next Saturday’s Stumper today …
Tina Lippman’s Universal Crossword, “Give Me A T!”—Jim Q’s writeup
Title says it all!
THEME: “T” is added to well-known names. Clued wackily.
- 17A [Defeat a “Golden Girls” actress in a game?] BEAT ARTHUR.
- 10D [Hoodwink the secretary of energy?] TRICK PERRY.
- 27D [Express gratitude to baseball’s “Hammer”?] THANK AARON.
- 58A [Help a “Godfather” actor with a crime?] ABET VIGODA.
Standard “Add a Letter” theme, using names only. Nothing wrong with that- the consistency of all the T’s being added to the first name only, and the resulting clue still pointing to the person being altered was appreciated. Also nice that the down themers added a letter before the first names while the across themers take on a T at the end of the first names.
Fill felt a bit crunchy at times and proper noun heavy. Especially troublesome for me was the CATT/CACHET cross amid AGRO, CHAO, and the variation of a Turkish title (AGHA?). COLE, REEVE, BAHAI, PEARY, ELEA, OMAR, RAGNAROK… it seemed like everywhere I turned a proper Somebody or Something or Someplace was waving hello.
BIT BY BIT and AIRBRUSH were fun in the fill.