Brian Thomas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Lots of colorful long fill here, with stacked 10s and 13s. Among those I liked most: LET IT SLIDE, SPREAD TOO THIN, CHOO-CHOO TRAIN, LAST SUPPER, pretty GLISSANDO, ALAN ARKIN.
Moving right along to seven more things:
- 31a. [No oldster], SPRING CHICKEN. Usually the term is paired with “no,” as in when the young ER resident informed me “you’re no spring chicken” and was savagely humiliated by an old dame.
- 36a. [Something a toddler might chug?], CHOO-CHOO TRAIN. I wonder if any solvers started from the lower left and greeted this clue with the initial CHO- in place, and thus plunked in CHOCOLATE MILK.
- 42a. [Two-player card game], SPIT. I tried SKAT first. No idea what the card games of skat and spit are like. Speaking of cards, 3d. [Two of hearts] isn’t about playing cards, it’s anatomy: the ATRIA.
- 21d. [Autumnal salad ingredients]. PEPITAS. Pumpkin seeds! High in iron.
- 33d. [Lightweight option for a suit], COTTON TIE. Is this really a thing? Feels off-kilter as a crossword entry.
And wow, this is a dudely crossword. Representing the men’s side, we have: a men’s SHAVING KIT; Horace MANN (could’ve been Aimee); fictional EGGMAN; Tyler, the Creator in the IGOR clue; Edward Snowden; Roots character Kunta KINTE; ALAN ARKIN; biblical David and URIAH; baseball’s NOLAN Arenado (never heard of him before); Mel TORME.
For the women, we have only ALIA Shawkat, biblical Bathsheba, and Sonja HENIE. Now, along with a MANN switch, ESPY could have been clued as the Espy award, via a woman who’s won it, but the fill and clues would still be heavily weighted towards men. #representation matters
3.5 stars from me.
Geoff Brown’s Universal crossword — “In the Wrong Business”
A bunch of themers in this puzzle feature workers who should quit their day jobs!
THEME: Phrases that start with careers unrelated to the rest of the phrase.
- 20A [Make someone’s picture look better, as a retoucher might] DOCTOR A PHOTO.
- 26A [Mess up at open mic night, as a comedian might] BUTCHER A JOKE.
- 46A [Establish peace, as a diplomat might] BROKER A TRUCE.
- 52A [Harbor resentment, as a reality star might] NURSE A GRUDGE.
I feel like Universal has had a few mismatched career themes! However, there’s a certain tightness to this one that makes it feel unique. The CAREER + A+ NOUN WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CAREER makes for a very focused theme.
That being said, NURSE A GRUDGE feels strange. HARBOR A GRUDGE sounds more natural to me. Probably also because I think NURSE A DRINK really, really wants to be in there.
I’m also curious why the clue for AXE thought a var. was necessary. Typically, var. clues are eyeroll inducing because it indicates a wacky, archaic spelling is going to be the result. But tbh, I think AXE looks more familiar than AX. I don’t think of either spelling as deserving of a var. any more than BUSES/BUSSES. Could be just me though.
Enjoy your weekend!
***Looks like this may be a debut! Congrats, Geoff! Well done!
Brian E. Paquin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Another rapid solve for the LAT. It is a good sign for the upcoming rescheduled ACPT, but I am with others in the belief that this still isn’t happening. And if so, I don’t know if DEREK will be there. As much as I love going, I, like many others, have immune system issues, so we shall see. At the very least, I will solve online, as I did for 20 years in the ’90s and ’00s!
Anyway, I digress. Brian has a fun puzzle for this weekend. There is a great wide-open center with stacked entries ranging from 9 to 15 letters. Even though my solve was fast, this gave a little pushback, but I remember having lots of satisfying solves as I worked my way through this one. 4.2 stars today.
A few things I liked:
- 7A [Can really bring it] HAS GAME – A slightly weird partial, but you hear this all the time on ESPN. If you watch ESPN all the time, like I USED to do!
- 14A [Modern book case?] E-READER – This may be the best clue in the bunch! Nicely done!
- 16A [Poirot portrayer in “Death on the Nile”] USTINOV – He’s no David Suchet, but still good. The Agatha Christie movies stories stand the test of time. Something else to watch!
- 20A [Fenders, e.g.] GUITARS – Oh, THOSE Fenders!
- 37A [Makes big bucks] RAKES IN THE MONEY – This is not describing me. At all.
- 6D [Two-time 1990s French Open champ __ Bruguera] SERGI – This was a gimme for me, but I watch tennis all the time. At least I USED to!
- 10D [Infomercial kitchen brand] GINSU – You don’t see these infomercials for these knives much anymore. But I am not up at 3 in the morning that much, either!
- 15D [Inaccuracies usually considered acceptable] ROUNDING ERRORS – As an accountant, I am in Excel all the time, and these are common. Annoying, but common.
- 23D [Side in a decades-long war] PEPSI – I don’t drink this OR Coke that much! Unless we have some Captain Morgan to add to it …..
- 46D [Barrels or bolts] SPEEDS – Another good, albeit simple, clue.
- 55D [Taylor of “Six Feet Under”] LILI – We need another famous LILI!
See you next month! (That’s a mini-joke!)
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This wasn’t too bad! I have said that for the past few Greg Johnson Stumpers, so maybe I am getting used to how he constructs. The left half of the grid was filled in rather quickly, then I slowed down for quite a bit, with the SE corner being the last to fall. Nothing too difficult, but there is some usual Stumper vagueness and a stretch or two. In the all, it is all fair. A solid 4.4 stars for this one.
Some high points:
- 1A [Flaky food-truck fare] FISH TACO – These are bigger on the West coast, I think, than they are in the Midwest. We don’t have as much fresh fish here in Indiana! I am getting hungry now …
- 9A [Site for funny eCards and videos] JIBJAB – Is this site still a thing? I don’t use it much.
- 36A [Homer] HIT ONE – Homer is a verb, here. Tricky!
- 38A [Rodeo entertainment] ROPE TRICK – This is another pandemic casualty that isn’t on TV anymore. I would take even watching a rodeo at this point! I am desperately waiting for the Marble Racing season on YouTube!!
- 45A [Brainless] AMENTAL – Nobody says this in Indiana, but I can think of a few people that this describes!
- 4D [Macon breakfast] HOMINY GRITS – I grew up on grits. I love grits. I may go make some grits right now!
- 27D [Annual event starting at South Orange Grove Boulevard] ROSE PARADE – This is gettable once you think a second. I am in favor of a college football playoff, and if this goes bye-bye I won’t be sad. The New Year’s Day tradition of a zillion bowl games is already pretty much done. The parades can go too!
- 34D [Nickname on the memoir ”Moon Shot”] DEKE – I think this is referencing Deke Slayton, the astronaut?
- 40D [Striking suit of a sort] PINK TUX – Oh my! I wouldn’t be caught dead in this!
- 56D [Chinese collaborator on Google phones] HTC – Isn’t this the company that Trump was arguing with a while back?
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend! See you next month!
David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Post-It Notes”—Jim P’s recap
Quick recap today since I’m so late to the scene. Our theme entries are phrases that have a single added letter A-G in order. Going by the title, these are musical notes and they all follow the letters IT in the phrase.
- 22a [Managers of Greek sandwich shops?] PITA BOSSES. Pit bosses.
- 33a [Musical groups’ heydays?] HIT BAND RUNS. Hit-and-runs.
- 48a [Ghost-hunting tools?] SPIRIT CLAMPS. Spirit lamps. Don’t know that I’m familiar with this base phrase, but it’s definitely legit.
- 67a [Celebratory performance after changing one’s will?] DISINHERIT DANCE. Disinheritance.
- 89a [Exceedingly hot?] QUITE SMOKING. Quit smoking.
- 104a [Dogs, owls, gardeners and the like?] RABBIT FEARS. Rabbit ears.
- 119a [Stage direction in a multigenerational drama?] EXIT GRAMPS. Exit ramps.
Really tight constraints on this theme and impressive execution. Nothing feels overly forced, and while I didn’t lol, there’s certainly humor here. And the title gives a perfect explanation for the mechanism. Nice job.
Fill highlights: CURMUDGEON, MARRIEDS (as a noun), DAILY BREAD, SQUIRRELS, BEELINE, RICOTTA, OCTOBER, DREXEL. My only trouble spot was the crossing of S_ATTER [Paint à la Pollock] and RE_INED [Fretted]. I wanted SCATTER at first and then SMATTER (for some reason). Having never heard of REPINED didn’t help matters.
Tightly executed theme and strong fill. Four stars from me.