Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tenders”—Jim P’s review
Re-parse the title as “T Enders” and you have the theme. Certain well-known phrases have a T tacked on at the end.
- 21a [Earth, with its axial tilt, e.g.?] INCLINED PLANET. …plane.
- 25a [Musical performance on a seesaw?] BALANCED DUET. …due.
- 40a [Indication of a last-minute candidate on an early ballot?] PRIMARY CARET. …care.
- 60a [Bantam?] CHICKEN RUNT. …run. A Bantam is a small chicken? I probably should have known this, but I did not.
- 68a [Secondary factory in case the main one is shut down?] BACKUP PLANT. …plan.
- 86a [Part of a pair of denim jeans?] DEEP BLUE SEAT. …sea.
- 100a [Knocked-over beer bottle, perhaps?] ROLLING PINT. …pin.
- 107a [Comment from a real brushstroke appreciator?] “I FEEL YOUR PAINT“. …pain. I enjoyed this one.
Nothing terribly exciting here, but it all works well enough. The last one gave me a chuckle as well.
Fill felt really smooth, it seemed to me. I didn’t have any real problem areas or hiccups. Best in show are HAIR PIECES, ADULT TEETH, BAIL OUT, MUMBLE, COCKPIT, and HIMALAYA, which we learned is [Sanskrit for “abode of snow”]. Oh, and also the dreaded NO-SEE-UM, the worst part about my time living in Mississippi.
Clues felt pretty straightforward, but there are a few worth noting:
- 52a [Pandowdy kin]. I only just realized this said “kin” and not “kid.” It wouldn’t have helped since I didn’t know a pandowdy was a kind of spiced apple PIE.
- 115a [Feathered flyer]. Not a bird but an ARROW. Good misdirection.
- 50d [2017 title role that earned Margot a Best Actress nomination]. I could only think of Margot Kidder, not Margot Robbie, who played TONYA Harding.
- 61d [Target for toro]. I sure wanted the Spanish word for “CAPE” here, but since I didn’t know it, I went with English and got it right.
- 108d [Aloha shirt accessory]. LEI. Not sure about this. There are multiple occasions where you might wear one without the other.
A fairly straight-down-the-middle puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Andrew J. Ries’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review
That was good, eh?
Jim P here sitting in for Amy who is otherwise engaged.
And I get another lovely Saturday themeless to dig into, this one brought to you by Andrew Ries.
So much to like here…where do I start? Check out: WORKING VACATION, DEVELOPMENT HELL, MANSPLAINED, COSTUME SHOP, DANCE LESSON, SCAGAWEA DOLLAR, UNION REP, CABLE CAR, NO CONTEST, DYNAMO, “I KID“, and GRASS SEED. And about the only thing that I wrinkled my nose at was old crosswordese standby EELPOT. Oh, and ODED, too. But what a great signal-to-noise ratio!
Speaking of DEVELOPMENT HELL [Long gestation for a film, informally], I was in Target just yesterday and I saw a DVD of the film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam. I knew this film was long in production (29 years!) and the last I heard it had been stalled, yet again. Little did I know the film actually got made (starring Adam Driver of Star Wars fame) and came out in 2018. I’ll have to check it out. The Wikipedia article for the film actually refers to it as “an infamous example of DEVELOPMENT HELL.”
- 25a [Sleepy still?]. CEL. Great clue.
- 29a [Stick in the dugout]. Got me. I was not aware that a canoe could be called a dugout, so I put in BAT, not OAR.
- 37a [Step-by-step instructions?]. DANCE LESSON. Very nice.
- 54a [Coinage of 2000]. SACAGAWEA DOLLAR. Holy cow, I thought those were much older than that. That still seems so recent, but it was almost 20 years ago, now. And yet you don’t ever see these in circulation.
- 34d [Rabbit’s favorite chain restaurant?]. IHOP. Ha! I love the playfulness in this clue (but shouldn’t it be “restaurant chain” not “chain restaurant”?).
Not much else to say about this grid because it was just so darned good. 4.5 stars from me.
Brian E. Paquin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
No time to wrangle the Downs Only for this one. I gave it a mini shot, but there are, as is usual for a Saturday challenge puzzle, a few Across entries that I surely needed the clues for. I don’t think I have ever met Brian, but he makes great puzzles. This one wasn’t too tough, but not too easy either. 4.1 stars today.
Some high points:
- 1A [“Yikes!”] “OH, NO!” – Isn’t this the last name of the speed skater as well?
- 22A [Season ticket holders, usually] HUGE FANS – Like the huge Toronto Raptors fans that are going to go crazy if the Raptors win the NBA Finals next week.
- 32A [Make a bad situation worse] FEED THE FIRE – This was one of the main across answers that I had issues with on the Downs Only attempt. I know the phrase, but I personally don’t use it often. I would more likely say “stoke the fire.”
- 38A [Many a “Twister” character] STORM CHASER – Ah, one of my favorite corny movies of all time!
- 45A [Rascals, old-style] VARLETS – They definitely don’t say this in Indiana. Varmints, maybe!
- 60A [Kind of calendar] JULIAN – I can never remember whether we use this or the Gregorian. I believe the calendar as we know it is Gregorian, since the monks fixed everything in the Middle Ages.
- 9D [Emulate Time and Warner] MERGE – I overthought this one!
- 10D [Ford who championed the Model A] EDSEL – If it is a Ford and it isn’t Henry, who else would it be??
- 34D [Singing like Pentatonix, e.g.] IN HARMONY – I put A CAPPELLA in here, which is also 9 letters. This group is quite talented.
- 42D [Did a laundry job] IRONED – Or SORTED; or FOLDED; there are lots of parts to doing laundry!
- 47D [Art of jazz] TATUM – I blanked on this name. I know this musician, but the name didn’t come to me easily.
It’s a great weekend! Hope you can enjoy it wherever you are!
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
A great time for a Longo! I stared at a blank grid for a good 2 minutes, but then an answer or two fell in the NW corner, of all places, since it seems like that is where I usually finish. The stack in the middle doesn’t have anything too obscure, and I did have one error once the grid was it was totally filled. This Longo puzzle was an absolute joy to solve. 4.8 stars
Some faves, including a new word or two I learned:
- 1A [Recent Grammy recipient] RAPPER – Yes, I believe I saw some criticism over the performances at the Grammys this past year. The charts are DOMINATED by rap songs, and by certain rappers in particular (Travis Scott, Cardi B), but they are not usually asked to perform. Yes, the lyrics are usually filthy, and that doesn’t help, but a lot of these artists aren’t “just rappers.” I think it was this past year’s show that I was surprised to see Post Malone playing the guitar!
- 7A [It may tell you to exit] GPS – I usually turn the voice off. It gets annoying!
- 22A [Being remedied] IN THERAPY – I read this as IN THE ???? at first, but there isn’t a phrase that fits that way!
- 26A [Home of the Olde Peninsula brewpub] KALAMAZOO – I should have gotten this immediately! I have been to Kalamazoo a zillion times; it’s only an hour or so away from me. And no other state would have an implied two peninsulas!
- 33A [What Doyle called ”ear-flapped”] DEERSTALKER – I incorrectly had DEER SKIN CAP in her at first, but that’s Davy Crockett, not Sherlock Holmes! (Or did he have a coonskin cap? This dementia …)
- 52A [Many nicknamed eras] DECENNIA – This is plural for ten year periods, or decades. Great entry, albeit unfamiliar likely to many.
- 8D [What many people slip on] PENNY LOAFERS -Terrific clue here. But I think I wasn’t fooled for long!
- 20D [Sees] MAKES CERTAIN – The syntax here seems slightly off, but in a Stumper that is on purpose. I suppose it works, but not sure how.
- 32D [Name from Old Norse] ERIC – This didn’t end in a K, which surprised me!
- 35D & 36D [Snobbish][”We are not amused”] LA-DI-DA, HA HA HA – These seem similar in some weird way, which I think helped the solve in the bottom half of the grid.
- 42D [Tongue depressor?] LACER – GREAT clue. Wonderful “a-ha!” moment on this one!
I’m ready for next week’s Stumper!
Victor Fleming’s Universal Crossword, “Night Light”—Jim Q’s writeup
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…
THEME: Moon phases begin each of the theme answers.
- 20A [*Where Romans can still be found?] NEW TESTAMENT. Nice clue.
- 27A [*Final moments of a game] WANING SECONDS.
- 45A [*Tenured one, typically] FULL PROFESSOR.
- 51A [*Rhapsodizing] WAXING POETIC.
- 37D [Orb suggested by the starred answers’ starts] MOON.
A nice open grid from the judge today. With 74 words, it yields some lively longer answers like PSYCH UP, TOENAIL, OLD GOLD (appreciate the hint that the brand rhymes…), AVOCADO, etc.
Solid theme idea with NEW, WANING, FULL, and WAXING. Two of the themers were hard for me to see: FULL PROFESSOR and WANING SECONDS. As I don’t watch a lot of sports, the latter of those may be more familiar to others. And in retrospect, I feel like I’ve heard the term FULL PROFESSOR before, but mid solve I had ?ULL PROFESSOR and I started to run the alphabet (didn’t have to go too far thankfully!).
The little 3-word stepladder in the middle is the only passageway connecting the top and bottom of the grid, making it feel like two puzzles in a sense. But both were fun solves, the south taking me considerably longer than the north.
Sorry for the late write up. I can almost hear Vic saying DO IT NOW! (9D [Advice to a procrastinator]).
3.8 Stars from me.