Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This is sort of a stunt puzzle, in that the constructor seeded the grid with pairs of 13s and 14s that include a Q: a QUIZZICAL LOOK, QUOTATION MARKS, a FROZEN DAIQUIRI, and a DEN OF INIQUITY. Along with those entries are these other bright spots: TRAIPSE, PAGEBOY, LES PAUL, FOR SHAME, APPLIQUE, and TOKYO BAY. On the down side, DIPOLES does nothing for me (your mileage may vary), and neither does MOA, but overall the fill’s quite solid.
- 36a. [Imagist poet Doolittle], HILDA. I wasn’t familiar with her work, so I read several of her poems. I liked “The Garden” best. “Priapus” is also good.
- 30d. [New Deal org.], NRA. Ah, yes. The nonterrible NRA! National Recovery Administration.
- 42d. [Virginia’s ___ & Henry College], EMORY. Never heard of it! (Named for the same John Emory as Emory University, apparently.) Anyone else thinking of Emily and Henry, the Cox/Rathvon power duo of crosswords and such?
- 28a. [“Lido Shuffle” singer Boz], SCAGGS. Enjoy the song!
- 46a. [To the nth degree], ROYALLY. Sort of a slangy usage. “I’m royally confused.”
- 4d. [The F.D.A. approved it in 1987], AZT. In the ’90s, AZT was followed by various antiretroviral drug cocktails, which have helped Magic Johnson and many others live for decades with HIV.
- 9d. [“Bad, bad, bad!”], “FOR SHAME!” Okay, I cannot envision anyone exclaiming “Bad, bad, bad!” Can you?
4.25 stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I think I have seen more of C.C.’s puzzles on Saturdays recently instead of Tuesday! This is one of the themeless grids that is slightly easier to fill, but with the removal of a few center blocks, there are some interlocking 11-letter answers in the middle, which is nice. The remaining fill around that is solid, as you would expect from a C.C. Burnikel puzzle. Extremely well done, as always! 4.5 stars.
Some stuff that caught my eye:
- 13A [Dessert for one, maybe] MINI-PIE – Why am I thinking of the Indie 500 all of a sudden? And isn’t this called a tart?
- 31A [Light lunch choices] VEGGIEWRAPS – I should have more of these for lunch.
- 36A [“That could work”] “NOT A BAD IDEA!” – There are a few awesome casual phrases in this puzzle, which I love to see!
- 58A [About 25% of California] DESERT – I knew California had a lot of desert, but not this much. I’d still move there, even after all of the raging fires, if I could afford it!
- 59A [Sent revealing messages] SEXTED – This may not pass the breakfast table test!
- 1D [“Maybe”] “I MIGHT” – Another one of those casual phrases. Actually, in a technical sense, this could be described as a complete sentence! It has a subject and a verb, right?
- 2D [City for which a creed is named] NICAEA – I never know hot to spell this.
- 10D [Sellers of some beauty products] AVON REPS – Should there be an indication of an abbreviation here, or is REP a word now? Just curious; still easily gettable. More of an editing question.
- 30D [According to the poet’s oldest son, it was written “by a window looking down a wooded hill”] TREES – Now THAT’S a clue! A long way to go for a fresh clue for what I assume is the Joyce Kilmer poem, but I fell smarter!
- 36D [“Impressive!”] “NICE ONE!” – Another great casual phrase.
That’s all for now!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Definitely a Stumper this week. I surely learned a couple of words, which I will try to highlight below. I thought my time would be worse than it was, but after getting a decent toehold in the grid, progress was slightly faster. Matthew Sewell is up there, if not already, in Longo territory. Speaking of Frank: haven’t seen one of his in a while! We will keep our eyes posted. In the meantime, 4.6 stars for this themeless gem.
Some highlights, including a new word or two for you!
- 1A [Little Havana dance style] MIAMI SALSA – Now I am going to have “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine in my head all day! Now you will to! Let’s pretend it’s 1985 again!
- 17A [Turn biomass to fuel, e.g.] DEOXYGENATE – I am sure this is not a new word to me, but it might as well be, as often as it is that I DON’T use it!
- 20A [Samuel L. Jackson presented his first competitive Oscar (2019)] SPIKE LEE – Just saw him at the Oscars, even though he has probably been shafted by the Academy for decades now.
- 22A [Prone to disorder] ENTROPIC – This is clued accurately. A tough word, for sure.
- 33A [Wicca category] NEOPAGANISM – This makes sense when you think about it, but also not a common everyday subject. Again: I live in Indiana!
- 39A [Corkscrew-shaped Aquarius formation] HELIX NEBULA – This is also well clued, but also not a commone term.
- 56A [Parting phrase] “¡ADIOS AMIGOS!” – You all know I like casual phrases, even ones stolen from Spanish!
- 60A [All-sports wire pioneer (1945)] UPI – Fun fact here. One of the journalistic precursors to today’s live scoring in real time and live streaming of virtually everything!
- 11D [Drawing rooms] GALLERIES – I would be shocked if this clue wasn’t used before, but I still like it!
- 23D [Coming right up] ON NEXT – This seems like an awkward phrase, but I suppose I might even say this myself!
- 31D [Uneasy feeling] THE CREEPS – This DOES have a NYT hit, but only one. This is a great entry, and one of the rare times the word THE makes the entry work.
- 32D [Certain sausage purveyor] SALUMERIA – This is certainly something I have never heard of, nor do we have in northern Indiana. This is basically an Italian deli.
Everyone have a great weekend!
John Lampkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Quick-Witted” — pannonica’s write-up
Spoken phrases urging haste, applied to punningly appropriate professions. They’re all fill-in-the-blank style.
- 23a. GET CRACKING, cryptologist!
- 25a. SHAKE A LEG, chicken plucker!
- 45a. KEEP MOVING, chess player!
- 47a. STEP ON IT, exterminator!
- 67a. GET THE LEAD OUT, you solver with pencil!
- 91a. CHOP CHOP, lumberjack!
- 94a. MAKE IT SNAPPY, quarterback!
- 116a. LOOK ALIVE, zombie hunter!
- 118a. ON THE DOUBLE, stunt performer!
These are on the whole quite good, with only a couple seeming overly contrived. And one of those is the central crossword one, which is readily forgiven.
Fast theme, fast solve, fast write-up!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Universal crossword, “Name-Dropping”—Jim Q’s review
I feel like there was a missed opportunity for Sam to drop his own name from the puzzle! Something like, say, [Result of quality trip to the beach for NPR host Shapiro] = GOOD ARI TAN. Heck, if you pluralize it you can even fit it symmetrically into the grid!
THEME: Common names are dropped from common phrases, which are then clued wackily.THEME ANSWERS:
- 17A [Chimney sweep’s memoir? (Ella)] CINDER STORY. “Ella” is dropped
from CINDERella STORY.
- 23A [Motto for a Boston subway lover? (Ruth)] NOTHING BUT THE T. Truth.
- 52A [Stylish sirloin? (Ken)] CHIC FRIED STEAK. Chicken.
- 60A [Get in touch with a spam generator? (Tom)] REACH THE BOT. Bottom.
Great idea and perfectly titled. Funny enough, I didn’t notice the extra hint at the end of the clue (the names that are dropped) until post-solve. I don’t think they’re necessary in the clues themselves. It’s more fun to figure out the name that is being dropped on your own imo.
The only themer that didn’t land for me as solidly as the rest was NOTHING BUT THE T. THE T (or any lone letter like that) feels too weak/cheap to be part of a theme answer and it also feels closer to regional knowledge (I only vaguely knew the Boston subway was referred to as THE T).
Smooth grid that seemed slightly tougher than usual. PCPS was the last thing I filled in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that as a plural!