Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Mostly a nice 66-worder here, with highlights like that Canadian COWTOWN, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, the S.S. MINNOW, WHIPSAWED, THE TERMINATOR (there’s a new Terminator movie coming up starring Linda Hamilton, picking up where she left off several movies back), a DEVIL DOG, and the interesting but new-to-me A.A. ONLINE.
There were also some blah bits, like SIT AT, I SEE, TSARS, incomplete-without-“because” I SAID SO (the second “I” phrase), plural OPIUMS, and Mount OSSA.
Five more things:
- 16a. [Where Sevastopol is], CRIMEA. Friend of mine did her Peace Corps stint in Sevastopol. She’d learned the Ukrainian language before going in country, and then it turned out that the people there mainly spoke Russian! She has since made her whole career in the Peace Corps, and spent years in Turkmenistan and Macedonia before bouncing back to Ukraine.
- 30a. [It’s filled with energy], POWER STATION. Also the name of an ’80s supergroup with a couple Duran Duran members in it!
- 35a. [Celebrated the birth of a child, perhaps], SMOKED CIGARS. This entry feels a bit green-painty to me. Is this any better than, say, ATE A BANANA? I know that there’s that (disgusting) tradition of dudes smoking cigars with the new papa, but it feels more “verb + object” than “solid lexical chunk.”
- 1d. [Private practice?], COMBAT. Clever clue, relating to Army privates, but a tad dismal, no?
- 31d. [Boarding points at amusement parks], TRAM STOPS. Oh! I was envisioning the loading platform for a roller coaster rather than the tram stops in the parking expanse.
3.5 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Escape Clause”—Jim P’s review
Quick write-up this time, my apologies. Lots of family activities going on this weekend.
Our theme is hobbies that have been slightly re-defined.
- 22a [The paparazzo’s favorite hobby was ___] STAR GAZING
- 38a [The boxing promoter’s favorite hobby was ___] SCRAP BOOKING
- 49a [The civil engineering department lawyer’s favorite hobby was ___] CONTRACT BRIDGE. I don’t know this phrase. Apparently it’s the same as the card game Bridge.
- 64a [The AWOL soldier’s favorite hobby was ___] BASE JUMPING
- 83a [The blackjack dealer’s favorite hobby was ___] CARD COLLECTING
- 92a [The Boston Celtics fan’s favorite hobby was ___] BIRD WATCHING. Larry Bird.
- 115a [The telenovela director’s favorite hobby was ___] SOAP MAKING
Nice theme. These all worked for me except the bridge one, and I’ll just put that down to the self-enforced bridge gap in my knowledge base. Plus the fact that it’s a non-gerund, unlike the others, makes it an outlier.
Highlights in the fill: TRAFALGAR, MINI-SKIRTS, SLAM-BANG, LETTERMAN, RAREBIT, RAIDERS, PERSIA, ZODIAC.
There were the usual kludgy bits, particularly MMMCC, TENO, and EDER, but I mostly worked around these, and it turned out fine.
Good puzzle. 3.8 stars.
Evan Kalish’s Universal Crossword, “Cashboxes”—Judge Vic’s write-up
ATM is … well, look at the reveal:
60a “You can get $$$ here” sign, and a hint to 17-, 25-, 36- and 51-Across ATM INSIDE
And, now, look at what is inside the other theme entries (what could it be?):
- 17a Fictional vehicle with an ejection seat BAT MOBILE
- 25a Place to buy cuts and chops MEAT MARKET
- 36a It might make you invincible in a video game CHEAT MODE
- 51a Tiny, crispy candy KIT KAT MINI
Clever. Entertaining. And, with five theme entries using just 47 letters, this should yield some nice stuff elsewhere. Let’s have a look:
- 28a Curly plant strand TENDRIL
- 49a Home of Angel Stadium ANAHEIM
- 1d Experiment runners? LAB RATS
- 2d Amazon is a massive one E-TAILER
- 3d Scores 95 on the test, say GETS AN A
- 11d Not abandon STICK BY
- 12d Ray of charged particles ION BEAM
- 13d Railway bridge TRESTLE
- 39d “Hit me with your questions!” ASK AWAY
- 40d Take advantage of UTILIZE
- 44d Walking on two feet BIPEDAL
- 45d “Personally …” I MYSELF
Nice going, Evan! 4 stars.
Kyle Dolan’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a rapid solve for me; I have done several Kyle Dolan puzzles in the last year or two, so his style seems comfy to me at this point. I count 72 words, and while there is a one or two toughies in there, most were in my wheelhouse. Some of these entries brought a literal smile to my face! 4.5 stars from me.
Some of those “smile-inducing” entries:
- 1A [“The Howdy Doody Show” cry adopted by ’60s California surfers] COWABUNGA – You mean Bart Simpson didn’t come up with this?! Just kidding. Great 1-Across entry. Perhaps this was a seed entry … ?
- 24A [Ancient provincial governor] SATRAP – I just saw this in another puzzle, but this is a word I know. Some others may find this harder.
- 34A [British breakfast dish with an onomatopoeic name] BUBBLE AND SQUEAK – I have never had this, but I was certainly grinning once I solved it. I don’t think we had this dish when we were in London several years ago.
- 52A [__ Unido: United Kingdom, in Spain] REINO – When I first glanced at this, I thought of Estados Unidos, which is the Spanish name for the US. The Spanish term for the UK is a new term for me, but my rudimentary Spanish got me through it!
- 53A [“Darn!”] “HANG IT ALL!” – No one says this in Indiana that I know. Kyle is not too far away from me (I believe he is still in the Chicago area), but they sometimes talk quite differently there.
- 56A [Pittsburgh Steelers’ founder] ART ROONEY – As a sports fan, this was a gimme for me. Again, others might find it tougher.
- 5D [It has paths for runners] BASEBALL DIAMOND – Another smile here. One of the best clues in the puzzle.
- 10D [Proposes] POPS THE QUESTION – Straightforward, but this and the clue mentioned previously are great 15-letter entries that open this grid up.
- 25D [Home of Queen Beatrix International Airport] ARUBA – Someday. This is one of my dream destinations.
- 32D [Jay Gatsby’s love] DAISY – I have never read The Great Gatsby or seen the recent movie starring DiCaprio. I think it is on Netflix now …
I could go on, but I will stop. Great puzzle, Kyle!
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I thought I might get a record time at first on this one. I don’t remember exactly what it is; I think I solved one of these Stumpers in around 8 1/2 minutes once. I will have to check the archives and find out! But this one fell in under 12, so I will take it. I definitely learned a new term or two, but a few of these answers were easy for me. The NW corner was the hardest, while everything else didn’t seem too bad. A solid 4.3 stars for Stan’s puzzle this week, and with an easier one here, it bodes for a torturous one next week. I better start on it now!
A few highlights for me:
- 17A [World’s highest-paid actress in 2017] EMMA STONE – I guessed this, even though I didn’t think it would be her, but why not? According to imdb, La La Land was a ’16 movie, but between it and Battle of the Sexes, those two made a bunch in ’17, so it makes sense.
- 28A [Billionaires, collectively] THREE COMMA CLUB – This was a new term for me. Why don’t I remember hearing this term before??
- 38A [VIP at the George W. Bush Library opening] ROSALYNN CARTER – This clue seems to run a long way around for a relatively simple answer. It also seems to have little to do with Mrs. Carter, but this is a Stumper!
- 47A [Keaton, in a 2016 biopic] KROC – This movie (The Founder) IS on free options to watch, and I do want to see it.
- 50A [La Città Eterna] ROMA – This is a Netflix movie, so it should be there quite a while. I have not seen it yet, but it was highly touted in the Oscar awards season.
- 54A [”The Sporting Life” airer] ESPN RADIO – This is hosted by Jeremy Schaap, the son of the late Dick Schaap, and they both produce sports story documentaries that have very little to do with sports sometimes but more about humanity. I love his work, and I listen to this radio show a lot when I am running in the morning.
- 2D [Certain Bluetooth device] CAR STEREO – This answer took waaay to long to get. My phone is attached to the radio in MY car by Bluetooth!
- 12D [p as in Portsmouth or Plymouth] PENCE – Best clue in the bunch. We are talking pence as in money, not the Vice President!
- 13D [Shipbuilding facilities of yore] SAWPITS – I didn’t know this term either.
- 19D [Sprite, e.g.] NON-COLA – 7-Up is the “uncola”, but both are “non-colas”. If that is a word …
- 33D [Mediterranean Diet fare] BEET SALAD – I have found I love Mediterranean food. I hadn’t had falafel until just a few years ago, and it is now one of my favorites. Those of you on the coasts are probably cringing, but in northern Indiana, there weren’t many places to get it until maybe the last couple of decades. It is a different world here.
- 47D [Butlers have a stand for it] KNIFE – I don’t get this clue. I’ll have my wife explain it to me!
Have a great weekend!