Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I confess I am distracted. Yes, it’s true. I’m looking at social media and reading some news and playing Words With Friends and generally just not writing about this puzzle.Been almost two hours since I solved the puzzle, and this is as far as I’ve gotten. (Raise your hand if you have also been much distracted this week.)
Likes: Colloquial “SO I WAS LIKE ….” all-too-common CHARLATANS, DELTA BURKE, MEDGAR EVERS, PEANUT SAUCE for satay (mmm, yes, we’ll order dinner from Joy’s Noodles, a local Thai joint, in a few days), “YES INDEED” (which is a song by Lil Baby feat. Drake) and “PURPLE HAZE,” PALINDROME, and the ol’ SWITCHEROO. Always nice to be reminded of Zora NEALE Hurston, too.
- 55a. [Big Apple?], IMAC. Yep, my iMac is a big honker.
- 62a. [Way to watch shows beginning in 1999], TIVO. We gave up on TiVo eons ago, and don’t miss it since the cable company’s DVR works well. I wonder how many new TiVo customers have signed on in the past year or two.
- 6d. [Ash, e.g.], SHADE TREE. Too many ash trees in America have succumbed to the emerald ash borer. A pretty bug, but a mean one.
- 29d. [Like a lamb], OVINE. This is how March will go out, utterly ovine.
- I think St. PAUL, ELO, and the Beatles in a clue are the only white men in this puzzle, with marquee space given over to women and people of color. Nice!
4.2 stars from me.
Joe Deeney’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have a wide-open 68 word grid this Saturday, but I found this one not too difficult at all. I flew through this in just over five minutes, and I don’t remember encountering anything too confusing. Which is a good thing; I am not complaining! Lots of fun in here, even if it could be just a tad tougher. Kudos to Joe for a great themeless grid with virtually no dreck! 4.6 stars from me.
Some of that fun stuff:
- 15A [Some drag racers] ROCKET CARS – I remember reading a Darwin Award story about someone who strapped a rocket to the top of a car and flew straight into the side of a mountain. At least that is what I thought of here! One of these days I will go to the Top Fuel Nationals in Indianapolis. If we ever have live sports again!
- 30A [Words that contradict what preceded them] “SAID NO ONE EVER!” – Great entry! My favorite of the grid.
- 34A [Perpetual loser] CELLAR DWELLER – Speaking of no live sports, I haven’t heard this term in a while. ESPN is floundering, and they are doing ESPN The Ocho on Sunday on ESPN2. Get ready for cornhole and marble racing!
- 35A [Game time?] HUNTING SEASON – If this pandemic keeps up, I may turn into a squirrel hunter!
- 41A [Vegas summer hrs.] PDT – Why did I think Vegas was on Mountain time? I should fly out there and check it out: tickets on Spirit are under $20 now during this shutdown! I could fly there, check my phone’s time, and then fly straight back! It would at least be something to do!
- 45A [“Baywatch” actor] EFRON – We are talking about the movie, not the TV show. Both are extremely campy.
- 5D [Sideshow __ of “The Simpsons”] MEL – Isn’t there a Sideshow Bob, too? Because that is what I wrote in here at first! I don’t watch The Simpsons, in case you couldn’t tell!
- 10D [I-9 ID] SSN – I started a new job on Monday, believe it or not, and I have done some work in HR in the last few years, and I learned that every job requires an I-9 filled out. I don’t remember ever filling one out in all my years of working, though! I was looking for it this time, though, and sure enough, I did fill one out. Just in time to work from home!
- 25D [Welk intro words] “A-ONE AND A-TWO..” – I still like Lawrence Welk’s TV show. It is still on, usually on Saturdays, just like old times, even though he has been dead for years.
- 34D [Coffee, in diner slang] CUP OF MUD – I had CUP OF JOE in at first. That’s what they say in Indiana!
My next LAT write-up is Tuesday. See you then, and stay safe during this unprecedented isolation time.
Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Usually the Stumpers that Stan constructs are under the pseudonym “Lester Ruff”, which is a play on the phrase “less rough”. Today, we simply have Stan’s initials, which may can mean two things: 1) Stan is not using pseudonyms anymore, or 2) this puzzle IS rough! My thought is on the latter, because I found this one brutal. The upper right and lower left weren’t too horrible, but the NW and SE corners stymied me for far too long. I used Across Lite for my solve, and you can clearly see all of the error marks I had. I haven’t felt frustrated during a Stumper in quite a long time, but this one got me worked up. But it is over now, and as is usually the case, everything seems quite fair after a second look. Great puzzle if you like your Stumpers difficult! 4.6 stars for this one.
Some random thoughts:
- 1A [Squealing stoppers] GAG LAWS – This one took me forever to figure out. The word “squealing” had me thinking of mice or something. Great clue, but I think there is one even better. Read on …
- 19A [Insensitive, informally] TONE DEAF – I had ????DEAD in here, which naturally caused problems. See 20D below!
- 33A [Offers things you can do without] THREATENS – I think THIS is the best clue in the puzzle. The surface reading is quite vague, if not confusing, but then it makes total sense in the end. Well done!
- 36A [”Just like that . . .”] BAM – I hear Emeril for some reason … !
- 53A [Cocktail garnish] PARASOL – Oh, you mean THAT garnish! It’s not PARsley? See why this corner was hard?
- 1D [Holistic notion] GESTALT – I will show the actual dictionary def here for the German word that I never use!
- 20D [Nietzsche, e.g.] FRIEDRICH – This is stupidly simple upon review. Totally flummoxed anyway, especially with an incorrect D at the beginning. I actually thought it might be DRIED RICE, in a similar vein to 34A FRIED RICE!
- 34D [$2000 appliance, circa 1983] FAX – These were that expensive then?? I was in the 8th grade in ’83! Meaning, I certainly wasn’t in the market for one at that age!
- 36D [Jazz band nickname] BARISAX – Totally fooled here also. Is this even one word??
- 40D [Grenada neighbor] TOBAGO – Also really tough. I have not been this far south ever, although one of these days I am going to Aruba, which is also in the south Caribbean, just a bit further west. Tobago is also rarely seen by itself, and is usually clued in a puzzle as [Trinidad & __ ]. Or it could just be me!
Gotta wrap this up: there is a crossword tournament later today! Gotta get my couch ready!! Hope to “see” some of you later at the Crossword Tournament from you Couch! (Details here.) Have a great weekend and stay safe during this pandemic.
Ezra Brauner’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Left, Right and Center” — pannnicao’s write-up
Here’s my interpretation of the title: for each theme answer, the word on the left has its center letter moved to its end—that is, the right. Thus the original phrases become wackified.
If anyone has a better parsing, please feel free to share it in the comments.
- 22a. [Cheesy line from Tony’s wife on “The Sopranos”?] CARMELA CORN (caramel).
- 33a. [Description of a Canadian clod pushing a stroller?] HOSER AND BUGGY (horse).
- 48a. [Alternative to a beer belly?] LAGER INTESTINE (large). The clue’s framing really makes this one a winner.
- 66a. [Response from President Xi?] CHINA REACTION (chain).
- 81a. [Beautifiers of a prince of Troy’s dinner] PLATERS OF PARIS (plaster). This one, on the other hand, is quite strained.
- 98a. [Bookkeeping for the smartest 2%?] MENSA BUSINESS (means). Original phrase seems weird without a subject.
- 112a. [Plan to fix an infestation of cobras?] SNAKE ATTACK (sneak).
Not a wildly exciting theme, but it gets the job done.
METHUSELAAH, TEMPTS FATE, POLO SHIRT, and SET THEORY comprise the longest non-theme fill. Straightforward clues for all, with POLO SHIRT’s [Top choice] engaging in a bit of wordplay; it’s repeated for 69a TEE. (13d, 71d, 63a, 70a)
- 54a [Unit Wikipedia defines as about the amount of work of a push-up by a housefly] ERG. Uhm, good to know?
- 105a [It may be retrograde or anterograde] AMNESIA. “Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a particular date, usually the date of an accident or operation. In some cases the memory loss can extend back decades, while in others the person may lose only a few months of memory. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to transfer new information from the short-term store into the long-term store. People with anterograde amnesia cannot remember things for long periods of time. These two types are not mutually exclusive; both can occur simultaneously.” (from Wikipedia)
- 111a [Language of New Mexico] TAOS. Not just an art colony or ski resort!
- Not thrilled with the side-by-side similarity of I CAN and I KID down in the southeast.
- 44a [Phone screen border] BEZEL. Nice contextual update.
- Best clue? 77d [Layers of rocks?] MASONS.