Andrew Ries’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Ah, here’s the Friday puzzle we were missing yesterday. With fun fill and clues, and a more pliable level of difficulty. Weirdly, the opening corner is what stymied me the most, but backing into that section after the rest was filled in, it all worked out.
Fave fill: SATELLITE TV, JUKEBOX MUSICALS, TIGER MOTHER, CAPTAIN KANGAROO, RHETT BUTLER, STAIRMASTER, WWJD. Oh! And CINCINNATI CHILI. Still mad/sad that Chili Mac’s Five-Way Chili went out of business in my neighborhood. I wasn’t keen on the spaghetti noodles “way,” nor raw onions, so I always went with a three-way chili with kidney beans and shredded cheese. So damn good.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Relief pitcher of old], ROLAIDS. Heartburn relief, not baseball.
- 20a. [One may be packed for a trip to the mountains], ASS. Beast of burden (poor thing).
- 21a. [Silver, for one], NATE. The statistician and writer, Nate Silver.
- 25a. [Text massage], EDIT. Nice! Message/massage switch.
- 54a. [Erasmus of Formia, by another name], ST. ELMO. Well, that’s not the usual clue angle for this entry.
- 2d. [Met demand, maybe], ARIA. The Metropolitan Opera House rather than the past tense verb.
- 16d. [Flight simulator?], STAIRMASTER. Great clue.
- 40d. [Like dates that lack a heart], PITTED. How about that? An uninteresting word that’s super-literal, and still Andrew found a tricky clue to mislead us.
Really an excellent set of clues. Almost Agardian in the clever freshness.
Your soundtrack for the puzzle is 35a. [Spotify’s most-streamed artist of the 2010s], DRAKE. The video for his latest hit, complete with COVID masking, is below.
I didn’t love all of the fill (two Italian musical terms, T-SLOT crossing CPO, MOL, OREL) but liked the puzzle overall. 4.1 stars from me.
Joe DiPietro’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Eyeholes” — pannonica’s write-up
Rebus time. Each circled square hosts a four-letter sequence spelling a word that can follow “eye”.
- 27a. [Sci-fi gangster] JABBA THE HUTT / 4d [Soldier’s “brain bucket”] COMBAT HELMET. Eye bath.
- 29a. [Inflexible instructor’s ultimatum] DO THIS OR ELSE / 15d [Gillette razor blade brand] SENSOR EXCEL. Eyesore.
- 68a. [Quickly-cooked fare] MINUTE STEAKS / 33d [Fellows, maybe] GRADUATE STUDENTS. Eye test.
- 104a. [Home of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1967 to to 2010] CIVIC ARENA / 80d [It’s seriously souped up] RACECAR ENGINE. Eye care.
- 111a. [They may be taken with grains of salt] TEQUILA SHOTS / 101d [Debarking announcement] ALL ASHORE. Eyelash.
Quite a lot of theme material. All of the compressed words span two host words, which is a nice bit of consistency. Their locations are symmetrically approximate, which is as much as you could ask for. Not the most exciting theme, but well beyond serviceable.
- 5a [Forehead obscurer] BANGS. In Brit-speak it’s ‘fringe’. 39a [Labourites’ opponents] TORIES.
- 20a [Hunting partner of Artemis] ORION, 21a [Pay public respect to] HONOR. In some versions of the mythos, ORION was accidentally slain by Artemis and to HONOR him, she elevated him to the heavens in the form of the familiar constellation.
- 36a [French mathematician/astronomer] Pierre-Simon LAPLACE.
- 58a [Off-season air fare] RERUN. Cute clue. I should mention some others here, as there a bunch in the crossword. If I have time I’ll come back and add them.
- 60a [“The Premature Burial” writer] POE. I mean, of course.
- 76a [Participant in the Serengeti’s “great migration”] GNU.
- 94a [It’s bad to the bone] BREAK. Ouch.
- 115a [Their columns are slanted] OP-ED PAGES. Some more than others. >ahem<
- 11d [Felix Salten’s Bambi, e.g.] ROE DEER. OK bear with me. In the grid it looks a lot like ROEDERER, which made me think of champagne, so I found this blast from the past (from a different winemaker):
- 18d [Bender with a cap] KNEE. That was a mystifying clue until after it was filled in with crossings.
- 36d [Tool in photo apps] LASSO. Used for selecting objects, colors, etc. Comes in magic and magnetic flavors as well.
- 42d [They often have busy hands] is a good clue for SHIPS. 84a [Like much chatter] IDLE, 16d [Much-loved star] IDOL.
- A bit too much on the marginal phrases for my liking, so I’ll point some out: GO AT IT, LIE IN BED, GET IN A JAM, and of course the themer DO THIS OR ELSE. In this company, even EASE UP TO suffers by association.
- 116d [Pharmacy concern] DOSE, 83a [Rocks] ICE.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
The prolific C.C. is back with a Saturday puzzle, and it is another smooth puzzle from her! It has been a bit since I have blogged one of her puzzles, and I am still gaining respect for her clean grids. This one was not too difficult at all, so perhaps if someone is intimidated by themeless puzzles, this is one to cut your teeth on. But it is easier, not so much from the clueing, but because there isn’t too much in here that you wouldn’t know. But I could be wrong! 4.6 stars from me.
Lots to talk about!
- 1A [“Stop kidding yourself”] “LET’S BE REAL” – Great casual phrase at 1-Across! There are more in the grid …
- 23A [“Are you comin’?”] “WANNA GO?” – … like this one!
- 25A [“Patrick Melrose” network, briefly] SHO – This show, or miniseries or whatever it is, stars Benedict Cumberbatch. Something to watch during self-isolation!
- 58A [Most prevalent grape in Chianti] SANGIOVESE – I believe you!
- 2D [Cuthbert of “24”] ELISHA – This show is 20 years old!! I feel old again …
- 3D [River through Iraq] TIGRIS – This river is mentioned in Genesis in chapter 2, I believe. One of the many reasons why civilization is believed to have started in that area of the world. But who really knows for sure? Nobody was around!
- 9D [Colombian cornmeal cake] AREPA – This sounds delicious!
- 13D [Carrier with a Chengdu hub] AIR CHINA – I am going to admit ignorance here: I don’t think I have ever heard of this airline. I have never flown to China!
- 32D [“Oops, slipped my mind”] “OH, I FORGOT” – Another casual phrase!
- 34D [Unauthorized photos of yet-to-be-released cars] SPY SHOTS – I see more of these types of pictures leaking cell phone prototypes than cars. Maybe that is just what I usually read or watch on YouTube!
- 38D [“I Love Rock ‘n Roll” singer] JETT – This seems TOO easy. Or maybe I am just that old!
- 50D [Bingo relative] BEANO – Never heard of it. Isn’t this gas medicine??
I could go on, but I will stop here! I have a jigsaw puzzle to get to!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I flew through about 25% of this puzzle, then the Stumperness of this puzzle settled in like a cloud. The joyful torture of these puzzles is hard to describe to someone who doesn’t do puzzles; most people’s reaction is “I can’t do those!” Joshua Kosman wrote a series of articles describing how people are actually rediscovering puzzles during this quarantine. The links are here, here, and here. I know I have revisited jigsaw puzzles in recent weeks, in addition to becoming adept at Zoom!
Yes, I have several errors in this grid, but that’s OK! It doesn’t bother me that you know I struggle with these, and I also learned a new thing or two in this puzzle. But at under 20 minutes, this is a decent time for me on a Wilber Stumper. I’ll take it! 4.5 stars this week.
Some high points:
- 35A [Got ready to leave] GAVE NOTICE – Oh, like leaving a JOB. Now it makes sense!
- 41A [Attired, as circus chimps] DIAPER-CLAD – This also makes sense when you think about it, but it didn’t come immediately.
- 45A [Diligent] SEDULOUS – Look it up!
- 64A [Explore caves, say] SKIN DIVE – I wrote SPELUNKS in here immediatlye. At least the first S was correct!
- 3D [Magical niece of Circe] MEDEA – Are you thinking of Tyler Perry movies instead of Greek mythology?
- 11D [Efficient clamps] CANINE TEETH – One of the better clues in the puzzle. Great “a-ha!” moment with this one.
- 14D [Forest*A*__ (online woods management guide)] SYST – This is also new to me. I don’t camp, though, so maybe that’s why!
- 24D [British dessert] SUET PUDDING – Never heard of it, and this sounds terrible. Isn’t suet birdseed??
- 28D [Velodrome setup] OVALS – Why is this plural?
- 42D [Bambi, in the book] ROE DEER – I think I have seen this exact clue before. No idea if this is the type of deer we have crawling all over northern Indiana and southwest Michigan.
Everyone have a great weekend and stay safe and healthy!