Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s been a rough day. Lost a wonderful friend-inside-the-computer today (not to COVID-19 but still a shock), a crossworder and a Cubs fan and an editor. And I’m scared for a close relative who works in a hospital and is taking on serious risks to do her job of keeping sick babies alive. I’m in no mood for blogging, honestly.
Liked most of the fill of 8+ letters, especially STILETTO HEELS, “IT’S RAINING MEN,” PAIN MED (but not the clue, because how many pain meds at the pharmacy are actually “number”s?), PALEOLITHIC DIET, TRAVEL MUG, and RECONNECT. Had to fight my way through 37a. [Native name for the Iroquois Confederacy], HAUDENOSAUNEE. (If this name was new to you, too, it behooves you to at least skim this informational Smithsonian document. Lacrosse! The “three sisters” of corn, squash, and beans!) The S crossing stymied me for a bit; 30d. [Shoe size specification], MEN’S? Pfft. There was also the matter of the final E, where we had 47a and 38d as cross-referenced clues with no hint that they’re both abbreviated (INTerior and EXTerior). Tough crossings for sure.
Also tough: 57a. [Kind of wind across the Aegean], ETESIAN. I thought I knew my interesting wind words but this one eluded me.
re: 1a, I don’t HOP A CAB, I grab a cab, hop in a cab, or hop a bus or train. Does HOP A CAB ring true to you?
3.75 stars from me. Wash your hands and keep your distance!
Martina Waluk’s Universal crossword — “Phone Trouble” — Jim Q’s review
Phone trouble and bad connections. It’s why I can never have a conversation on my cell at my house in UPSTATE New York.
THEME: Theme answers each have a “BAD” connection in that the word BAD is hidden in them.
- 18A [*Doing some underwater exploration] SCUBA DIVING.
- 3D [*Surfing spot?] WEB ADDRESS.
- 28D [*Clean nursery rhyme opening?] RUB A DUB DUB.
- 52A [Telecom company’s concern, or a hint to each starred answer’s hidden word “connection”] DROPPED CALL.
Hmmm. Took me a solid minute to make the connection between the revealer and the rest of the themers post-solve. The actual revealer, DROPPED CALL, seems a bit too far removed from what’s actually happening. The revealer should be BAD CONNECTION. DROPPED CALL makes me think either 1) The word CALL is going south out of the theme answers (but that can’t be the case here since two of the themers are already vertical) or 2) The word CALL is being omitted from a base phrase and wackiness ensues. When the actual revealer is in a (somewhat awkwardly worded) clue, it doesn’t land like it should.
Everything else felt on par though! GOOD SQUAD was fun! Also, I’m never sure how to use the word UPSTATE. Supposedly, I live in UPSTATE New York, but that’s not an accurate descriptor imo. I’m quite far “downstate” on the border of NJ and PA. I don’t think it’s fair that UPSTATE means anything that’s not NYC. But if that’s the worst of my complaints today, then I’m a happy fella.
2.3 stars. Revealer just doesn’t do its job.
Patrick Blindauer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Old MacDonald Had a Cinema” — pannonica’s write-up
Movie titles punned up with animal onomatopoeia.
- 23a. [Movie that features jerseys and cow catchers?] THE BAD MOOS BEARS (The Bad News Bears, a baseball flick). As you can see, the clues will be vying for a Best Supporting Role award.
- 42a. [Movie about dogs that hustle, with “The”?] COLOR RUFF MONEY (The Color of Money, vastly inferior sequel to The Hustler). Crossing RUFF is 32d [Pound sound] ARF—too intrusive of the theme, or welcome bonus content?
- 71a. [Movie musical that floats pigs’ boats?] OINKERS AWAY (Anchors Away! – a naval revue (54d [Introspective study] SELF)).
- 96a. [Movie about horses that’s sure to stirrup some emotions?] THE NEIGH WE WERE (The Way We Were, a nostalgia-ridden tearjerker).
- 121a. [Movie musical with the song “We Welcome Ewe to Munchkinland”?) THE WIZARD OF BAAS (The Wizard of Oz, fun fact: the snow was asbestos flakes).
- 17d. [Movie about a cat fight in Vietnam?] APOCALYPSE MEOW (Apocalypse Now, a war film).
- 49d. [Movie that features Marxist ducks?] ANIMAL QUACKERS (Animal Crackers, an exemplary Marx brothers ANARCHIC (89d) farce. They also made Duck Soup.)
Not super-thrilled with the theme, but it’s solid enough. Some inconsistencies: two of the puns are attributive (OINKERS and QUACKERS), two are plurals (MOOS and BAAS), one title (42a) loses the definite article, which necessitates a “With ‘The'” stipulation in the clue. Whether these are significant enough to affect your solving experience or appreciation of the theme is up to you.
- 1a [Bouillabaisse bit] MUSSEL.
- 21a [Brand name in the freezer section] OTTER POP.
- 25a [“___ a Rainy Night” (Eddie Rabbitt song)] I LOVE.
- 30a [Reddish-brown horses] SORRELS.
- 41a [Atticus Finch’s creator] LEE.
- 94a [Bird in Liberty Mutual ads] EMU.
- 101a [Setting of many schools] SEA.
- 106a [Mischievous moppet] URCHIN.
- 1d [Pound picks] MUTTS.
- 36d [Divine cowherd of Hinduism] KRISHNA.
- 67d [Updated one’s followers, perhaps] TWEETED. Non-theme onomatopoeia.
- 79d [ __ Benson Miller of CBS’s “The Unicorn”] OMAR.
- 108d [Gathering of moles?] INTEL.
With so many, some obviously gratuitous, I can’t help but think it was an intentional effort on the part of the constructor and/or editor. But why oh why then did they go with Siddhartha for the Herman HESSE clue (107d) when Steppenwolf is equally well-known?
- 51a [Perform on the streets] BUSK. Merriam-Webster suggests it derives Spanish buscar, to seek.
- 75a [Wife, in Wiesbaden] FRAU. Ya know, it’s also German for ‘woman’.
- 69d [Mold on the beach] PAIL. Having persistent trouble not parsing this in an ICKIER (35a) way.
- 73d [Assuage] SOOTHE. First tried SOLACE, then SOFTEN.
- 93d [Service station, of a sort] TEA TABLE. Great clue.
- 60d [Half an infamous duo] CLYDE.
Doug Peterson & Brad Wilber’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This puzzle could have been a Stumper, I suppose, with harder clueing, but everything in here is so smooth that it functions just fine as an LAT Saturday puzzle. I am curious, as is usually the case, as to who did what on these themeless puzzles. Whoever did what, they did a great job! This was a fun puzzle, even though I found it not too challenging. There was plenty of interesting stuff in here to amuse the solver! 4.3 stars today.
Some of that interesting stuff:
- 1A [“Play it cool”] “ACT NATURAL” – Great casual phrase.
- 10D [Sharp-sighted] LYNX-EYED – New word to me! I have never been called that, so that might say something about me …
- 15A [One of a set of faddish toys that at its peak made up 10% of all eBay sales] BEANIE BABY – I was a UPS driver during this craze. It was terrible. I was literally getting chased down in my truck! Are there any millionaires out there from the Beanie Baby fad?
- 32A [Honeycomb holder] CEREAL BOX – One of the three great clues I found in this puzzle. I’ve been watching The Food That Built America (on the History Channel), and part of it deals with Kellogg and Post cereals. Honeycomb is a Post cereal, I believe.
- 39A [Swiss city with suburbs in Germany and France] BASEL – It is right there on the border of all three countries. I was going to post a map here, but it was too confusing. Look it up yourself!
- 58A [Aids in coping with pressure?] SPACE SUITS – This is great clue #2. Nicely done!
- 4D [Peoria-to-Green Bay dir.] NNE – I live near here, and I still didn’t know this answer. I have been to both cities!
- 11D [Lily family flower] TULIP – I did not know this!
- 12D [Theft not involving money or merchandise] STOLEN BASE – This is great clue #3, and since it is sports related I might like it the best! Baseball should have started by now. Agony!
- 27D [“Summertime Sadness” hitmaker] LANA DEL REY – I am embarrassed that I filled this in with no crossings.
- 49D [Liverpudlian, e.g.] BRIT – This describes someone from Liverpool, which was heading for the Premier League title this year, but who knows what will happen now.
I’ll stop there. I have jigsaw puzzles to do!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Sorry for the slight delay today, but I had to update my macOS, which took longer than I expected. I finally got a decent time on a Sewell puzzle! I actually thought I might break 10 minutes, but it got a a little tough in the last little bit, which ironically was the NW corner. But I am still wildly happy with this time. Maybe the self-isolation is helping my solving! 4.4 stars for this puzzle.
Some interesting stuff:
- 17A [Flaubert protg] MAUPASSANT – This clue should read [Flaubert protégé]. I checked this on the Newsday site today, and it says the same thing. This is either an error or a new word that I don’t know!
- 20A [What Mexicans call ”tigres”] JAGUARS – So in Mexico sports do they speak of the Jacksonville Tigres? Will we ever have sports again? The Indy 500 is the latest to be postponed; Indianapolis has a huge breakout and are under a travel warning, meaning only essential travel is allowed.
- 37A [Guard duty] WATCHES – This entry is a noun, although it feels like it should be a verb.
- 45A [Call routing system] PHONE TREE – I had the TREE part, but I struggled with the obvious part of this answer!
- 62A [Plays for time] TEMPORIZES – Similar to the word extemporaneous, but not quite the same. Both based on the Latin word for time, but slightly different applications.
- 5D [Agcy. with a globe-and-wing seal] FAA – Yup, that’s what it is!
- 23D [IMAX screen illumination] ARC LIGHT – I haven’t been to an IMAX theater in quite a while. That streak is going to continue for a little bit …
- 29D [Target alternative] KOHL’S – I am also not going to Kohl’s anytime soon! I can dress like a slob in my own house! At least until it is time to FaceTime or Zoom, then I have to clean up!
- 33D [Baby monitor brand with a big-eyed logo] OWLET – I have had three children, but I don’t know this brand. Never used these devices much; our children were always too close to us!
- 53D [USDA drink category] ADES – Is this for real? This is a real thing??
Everyone have a great weekend, stay safe and healthy, and hang in there!