Tracy Gray & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m enchanted by some of the crunchy new fill here. I do use CRAZY BUSY, absolutely, and I love it as a 1-Across. Basketball DRIBBLES are good, and Daenerys’s DRAGON FIRE is fierce. Not sure I’ve seen a CAT CARRIER in a crossword before, but that’s another great entry. BLIND SPOTS are unfortunate things to have (we’ve all got ’em), but I’m not blind to the coolness of “RUMOR HAS IT.” Then there’s WAKANDA, and the Wakanda “W” salute is a solid alternative to shaking hands.
Five more things:
- 35a. [Aristocrat, in British slang], NOB. Short for noble? Nope, Oxford says: Late 17th century (originally Scots as knab): of unknown origin. And then hobnob is apparently unrelated. Who knew?
- 14a. [Look down on something?], AERIAL VIEW. Nice clue.
- 42d. [Substitute teacher?], ROGET. As in the guy who compiled the classic thesaurus to teach us about words that can substitute for others. Took me a while to grasp what the clue was doing.
- 28a. [One watching the kids?], GOATHERD. Do you love hoppy baby goats? I do. Turn your sound down (because the music is annoying) and enjoy the bebe goats below.
- 39d. [Like one’s eyes after a poor night’s sleep], BLEARY. If you aren’t BLEARY at least a couple days a week during this wild period of history, what’s your secret?
4.25 stars from me. The corner stacks of 9s and 10s brought a lot of oomph to the enterprise, and I liked it.
Brendan Emmett Quigley and Victor Barocas’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Roadblocks” — pannonica’s write-up
This one proved to be just the right amount of challenge. The theme mechanism caught me every time I encountered it, and I couldn’t deduce the rationale for it until encountering the revealer down at the bottom.
- 121aR [Searches that 23-, 33-, 52-, 73-, 90- and 109-Across experience] TRAFFIC STOPS. I’d of course cottoned on to the way the long theme fill continued after an interposing black square—completed by an entry that was itself also a stand-alone—but hadn’t noticed that the incomplete first parts ended with a vehicle one might find on the road.
- 23a. [Officer awarded the rank of General of the Army, in December 1944] DOUGLAS MACCAR|THUR (25a [Cal. column] THUR)].
- 33a. [Florbunda plants] ROSEBUS|HES (37a [“__ So Fine”] HE’S).
- 52a. [Important wires on bicycles] BRAKE CAB|LES (54a [“__ Misérables] LES).
- 73a. [Gryffindor’s Minerva McGonagall, e.g.] HOUSE MI|STRESS (76a [Cause for failure] STRESS).
- 90a. [Roaming about] GALLIVAN|TING (92a [Bell sound] TING).
- 109a. [Co-star of the film “American Beauty” and TV show “American Woman”] MENA SUV|ARI (111a [Radio anchor Shapiro] ARI).
And TRAFFIC STOPS are accurately described as searches, but of course little searching has to be done by the solver to uncover what’s going on.
Was struck during the solve by a large number of slightly tricky and very good clues; let’s see if I can locate them all. 27a [It runs down your leg] INSEAM, 39a [Small but important chambers] ATRIA (heart), 45a [Future reporter] SEER, 77a [Off the table, perhaps] EATEN, 98a [Drops by the ocean] MIST, 114a [Puma feature] TREAD (shoes), 38d [Amateurs don’t get it] SALARY, 106a [Class that’s for the birds] AVES (taxonomy), 110d [Inner burning] ULCER, 113d [Blow] COKE, 117a [Attack pointedly] STAB, 124d [Rocks in a sling] ICE (cocktail). These all could conceivably have taken a question mark or a perhaps/maybe, yet only one of them does.
I didn’t include 94a [Split to join] ELOPE in the list above because it’s been done so many times. Nor 127a [High competition] AIR RACE, because it’s too weird to be misleading. As for clues explicitly giving a heads-up with a question mark, there’s just 43a [Sabbath celebrator?] METALHEAD (Black Sabbath, the heavy metal band). I’d say the lesson here is that if you want an easy way to increase the difficulty of your crossword, be abstemious with question marks, maybe.
ASIDE: Going to share an interesting usage discussion I encountered when deciding to use ‘interpose’ above. This is from m-w.com.
INTRODUCE, INSERT, INSINUATE, INTERPOLATE, INTERCALATE, INTERPOSE, INTERJECT mean to put between or among others. INTRODUCE is a general term for bringing or placing a thing or person into a group or body already in existence. introduced a new topic into the conversation // INSERT implies putting into a fixed or open space between or among. inserted a clause in the contract // INSINUATE implies introducing gradually or by gentle pressure. insinuated himself into the group // INTERPOLATE applies to the inserting of something extraneous or spurious. interpolated her own comments into the report // INTERCALATE suggests an intrusive inserting of something in an existing series or sequence. new chapters intercalated with the old // INTERPOSE suggests inserting an obstruction or cause of delay. interpose barriers to communication // INTERJECT implies an abrupt or forced introduction. interjected a question
- 1a [Little rascals] IMPS followed by 5a [Not at all like little rascals] ANGELIC.
- 35d/41d [Geologist’s time unit] EON, ERA.
- 75d [Occurring last month] ULTIMO. The analogue for next month is, as you might imagine, proximo. But without looking it up, can you guess what the corresponding word for occurring this month is?
- 21a [Home of the highest and lowest points on land] ASIA. Himalayas, Dead Sea. 53d [Ancient region south of the Dead Sea] EDOM.
- 43d [Defiant response to an order] MAKE ME, 64d [Prone to back talk] SASSY.
55d [Stretch out] EXTEND.
Erik Agard & Leslie Rogers’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one took me a few beats longer than normal, and I am not sure why. Likely because Erik’s fingerprints are all over this one! Slightly tough for a Saturday LAT, but still accessible. Tons of great entries in here, per usual for the LAT AND Erik Agard puzzles. I am not familiar with Leslie Rogers, but that name was in the database here on the site, so this is likely not a debut, but what do I know? A solid 4.6 stars today.
- 18A [Houston, for one] OIL TOWN – I have never been to Texas!
- 35A [1521 Magellan landing site] PHILIPPINES – Isn’t this where he died? My history is fuzzy here, and I am too tired to look it up!
- 41A [“All the Stars” one-named singer with Kendrick Lamar] SZA – This was on the Black Panther soundtrack.
- 57A [Sign of Broadway success] LONG RUN – As soon as we see a clue like this, us crossworders immediately think SRO! That doesn’t fit here at all!
- 61A [Equipment company named for a cycling group] PELOTON – Have you purchased your $2,500.00 bike yet? Yeah, me neither.
- 2D [Biblical flows?] RUNNETH – As in “My cup runneth over” from Psalm 23, no doubt!
- 8D [Relating to knowledge] EPISTEMIC – Here is a word you don’t use every day! Or ever!!
- 9D [Hannukah reward] GELT – I keep saying I am unfamiliar with Jewish traditions here in northern Indiana. This applies here as well.
- 21D [School dance invite portmanteau] PROMPOSAL – Great entry! Also timely, since there are no proms this year.
- 36D [Toast words?] “I’M A GONER!” – Supposedly someone would say this during, say, a game of Fortnite. That makes it a little less dark and morbid!
- 42D [Striped equine hybrid] ZEDONK – This must be half zebra-half donkey. Nicely done!
That is all!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Usually Stan’s are a tad easier, but this one gave me fits. I had a decent start, but the NW corner gave me all kinds of issues. The entry at 7D was DEFINITELY a new word to me! (See below!) But a fun Stumper nonetheless, as quite a few entries had me smiling. 4.4 stars today.
Some of that fun stuff:
- 1A [Certain CIA missions] SPY SWAPS – This sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel plot line. But I don’t think I know this term!
- 9A [Popular Japanese imports] AKITAS – You mean it wasn’t MIATAS??
- 16A [Common typeface in upscale magazines] BODONI – I’ll take your word for it!
- 33A [NFL retirees] ALUMNI – They do call ex-players this. Especially when they are referring to all the concussion lawsuits!
- 34A [British ”Vogue” guest editor (2019)] DUCHESS OF SUSSEX – This is a Meghan Markle reference, and a side benefit of the coronavirus is that they are out of the news!
- 60A [Sue Grafton Awards, e.g.] EDGARS – I believe she passed away recently. I got all the way to G or H the first time I went through her alphabet series. I need to start these again!
- 7D [Trans-Neptunian dwarf planets] PLUTOIDS – Really?? There’s more than one planet we are arguing over?
- 10D [Name on $200 tote bags] KORS – Not in my house!
- 26D [French word for ”foams”] MOUSSES – It was either this or SOUFFLES! It is all making me hungry …
- 41D [”__: The Owner’s Manual” (Dr. Oz book)] YOU – Not in a hurry to buy this …
- 43D [NASA status-check choices] GO, NO GO – Might be the best entry in the puzzle. It makes perfect sense, but it took a minute to get. Great solving experience!
- 55D [. . . LBJ, HHH, __, GRF, NAR, . . .] STA – This is a list of initials of Vice Presidents of the late ’60s and early ’70s. STA is Spiro T. Agnew.
Have a safe and healthy weekend!