Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword—Matt’s write-up
Decades of scouring atlases and now Google Earth for fun made 1a. a gimme today. [Capital of Chad] was N’DJAMENA, although I did have to check just now to be sure the apostrophe was in there (not that it mattered for the crossword itself). Rest of the upper-left fell quickly after that, since 15a. [Face-to-face challenge] seemed to be (and was) ORAL EXAM.
But then I had AMB???????????? for the central down, clued as [Leopards and anacondas, e.g.]. Turned out to be AMBUSH PREDATORS, which sounds cool but is a phrase I didn’t know. Makes sense, but doesn’t Google that great so not that thrilled with it. The other grid-spanner was a nice entry, the central across 34a. [“I’ll never tell”], MY LIPS ARE SEALED.
Coasted down through the center, but took a long time to finally see [’70s sitcom title role] from ?RED?AN????. Figured it was Fred and kept trying to think of famous Fred characters of that era, but the “title” part was the last name, (FRED) SANFORD. Great theme song to that show, written by Quincy Jones.
So much fun stuff in the rest of the grid: RICE CAKE, SNACKBAR, ALLIGATORS, SPY CAMERAS, FLUNKY, BIRDIE, MARIA CALLAS, and OAXACA. A person from which is called a oaxaqueño/a, which is just an awesome word.
Clues that tricked me: [Bar assembly] for SALAD, [Ruby and sapphire] yielding not GEMS but HUES, and [Long faces?] for CLIFFS.
And of course we must note Doug’s tribute to this site, [Devotee] for FIEND at 22a.
I liked it. 3.85 stars.
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am used to Greg making Stumpers! Now that I think of it, he may have done one or two other Saturday LAT puzzles that I have blogged. This one wasn’t near as hard as a Stumper, but I’ll bet with some clueing changes it could get much more thornier that it is. I usually am on Greg’s wavelength when he constructs a Stumper, and this puzzle also felt quite smooth during the solve. Word count is 68 on this one, and with practically nothing obscure, that shows great setting skills. Nice job! 4.3 stars.
Some interesting stuff:
- 1A [Measures roughly] PACES OFF –
- 14A [Pots and such] IRONWARE –
- 22A [Container for some baked goods] BREAD BOX –
- 37A [Bald spot] TONSURE –
- 10D [Town hall meeting attendees] CITIZENS –
- 17D [Reason for revenge] SCORE TO SETTLE –
- 32D [Like Alaska’s climate] SUBARCTIC –
- 41D [Cry that’s from hunger?] “LET’S EAT!” –
- 44D [Current drama that ranks third behind “Gunsmoke” and “Lassie” in total original episodes, familiarly] SVU –
- 45D [Japanese industry giant, or the city in which it’s headquartered] TOYOTA – I didn’t know this was an actual town! And I OWN a Toyota!
That is all! My next LAT writeup is on the 9th. See you then!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
This one was tough. As you can see, I readily used the check option on this one, but I wasn’t in a position to really sweat over this one, so I had to see where I was headed in the wrong direction. In reality, I thought there would be a lot MORE error marks in there! If you were looking for a classic Stumper challenge this week, I’m fairly certain you were not disappointed. I am pretty sure I learned a new word or two! Solid puzzle, Brad! 4.4 stars.
Some stuff I found interesting:
- 16A [”Daily __” (L.A. newspaper)] BRUIN – I had BEAST in here, but I think that is online only. This makes sense, if you just think a second, which I didn’t do!
- 18A [Visitor to gorving.com] RV’ER – This seems redundant just a bit; RV is in the clue!
- 19A [Provider of Tour de France coverage] LYCRA – This is tricky, but I got it fairly quickly. I am getting used to Brad’s puzzles! The Tour is another sporting event that may or may not happen this year.
- 20A [Sort of breaker] WHITECAP – This one made me chuckle once I got it. Had no idea what it was at first.
- 40A [Rap rejoinder] “IT’S OPEN” – I was thinking rap music! Tricky!
- 56A [Certain calf brusher] MIDI – See next clue!
- 57A [Not quite a calf brusher] MINI – We are talking dress lengths here, but I had no idea what was going on at first. Nice pair of clues.
- 10D [Dove product] DRY SHAMPOO – I don’t have much hair, so this was a toughie for me!
- 25D [Sch. in the Research Triangle] UNC – I believe Duke and NC State are the other points of the Triangle. I didn’t Google confirm this, so don’t quote me!
- 36D [Part of a canopy] TREETOP – I had ????TOP early, but couldn’t figure out what kind of -TOP we were talking about here. I might be tired!
- 41D [Like rays] PISCINE – This was hard, but is totally works. My mind was all over the place here, from possibly FRACTAL to SUNBORN to God knows whatever else. Great Stumper clue!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, Just Sway the Word” — pannonica’s write-up
① Take a two-word phrase beginning with an S-sound. ② Add a W after the S. ③ Adjust homophonic spelling as necessary. ④ Clue new wacky phrase. ⑤ Profit!
- 23a. [Cry to a lifeguard?] SWIMMER DOWN (simmer down).
- 25a. [“Q-tips Through the Years,” say?] SWAB STORY (sob …).
- 40a. [“Oink, oink, oink”?] SWINE LANGUAGE (sign …).
- 58a. [What an out-of-control mule pulls?] SWERVING CART (serving …).
- 74a. [Mailing from Volvo or IKEA?] SWEDE CATALOG (seed …).
- 87a. [Pimple?] SWELLING POINT (selling …).
- 107a. [Shot of raspberry liquor?] SWEET BELT (seat …).
- 109a. [Utensils for exaggeratedly plunging into the cereal?] SWOOP SPOONS (soup …). My favorite of the bunch.
- 39d. [Bead of perspiration?] SWEAT PIECE (set …).
- 47d. [Where buccaneers take their booty?] SWAG HARBOR (Sag Harbor).
Not much time this morning, so I’ll be PITHIER (66a [Less long-winded]) than usual and perform a quick run-through to see what jumps out:
- 20a [Steinfeld who plays Emily Dickinson on “Dickinson”] HAILEE. Only thing I knew here is who Emily Dickinson is. Not the actress, nor that there was such a show.
- ’TUDE crossing ÉTUDES, cute. (26d, 30a)
- 51a [Ready for the cobbler] CORED. Apples.
- 55a [Man at first] WHO. The Abbot & Costello comedy routine.
- 92a [Stellar bear] URSA. 76d [Stellar dog] CANIS.
- 121a/16d [Battery component] TEST / ANODE.
- 5d [Reaction to a traumatic experience] SHELL SHOCK. What we now of course call PTSD, and it’s much more prevalent than was once thought.
- 8d [U.N.’s social justice agency] ILO. International Labour Organization.
- 38d [Skin feature] PORE. Right alongside the SWEAT themer.
- 42d [Sira Fortress site] ADEN. Haven’t seen that clue before for this common crosswordese locale.
- 59d [Jubilant holler] WAHOO.
- 72d [Argon and neon, e.g.] INERT GASES. Hardly ever see the full phrase. Much more common to see INERT or GAS[ES]. Or NEON or ARGON, for that matter.
- 105d [Travel stops] INNS. And this is where I stop.
Chase Dittrich’s Universal crossword — “All Mixed Up”—Derek’s write-up
The fun for this one is in the clues!
THEME: Common phrases having to do with “switching” are literally depicted in the clues.
- 20A [AAOG and GOPL?] STOCK EXCHANGE. This one took me the longest to interpret, but instead fo AAPL (Apple) and GOOG (Google), it’s AAOG and GOPL. Their stock symbols have been “exchanged.”
- 34A [Wake Young and Brigham Forest?] TRADE SCHOOLS. Ha! Not Brigham Young and Wake Forest!
- 41A [Cargo top and tube shorts?] CLOTHING SWAP. Not sure what a CLOTHING SWAP actually is, but in the clue cargo shorts and tube top swapped.
- 56A [Mike Mantle and Mickey Trout?] SWITCH HITTER. Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle, of course.
This one was fun! I really like it when the clues play a more active role in the theme solve. It makes for a synergy that often feels unique. If I had me druthers, I would’ve swapped the first and last theme answers’ position in the grid since, for me, the first was the hardest of the bunch to interpret.
Just fine on the fill! Has anyone actually seen ISHTAR? If so, is it really as bad as they say? Never knew that “Come on EILEEN” was by the band Dexys Midnight Runners! Never even heard of them, but of course that song is an earworm right now!
Great clue on 11D [Org. hidden in “airport safety”] TSA. Universal likes to sneak in about one of these style of clues per puzzle on average! I always enjoy them.
Can anyone explain 34A (one in a sure-to-sue scenario) in the Sat. stumper?
I think it refers to the Indian actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao, who had a penchant for filing frivolous lawsuits against critics who gave him bad reviews.
Seriously, I have no idea but would love to find out. None of the acronyms that come up on google seem relevant.
BTW, today’s Stumper put a hard stop to my two-week streak of solving the puzzle without any googling. Oh well.
“An R”? Makes as much sense as anything.
Wow … that must be it!
Sure-to-sue refers to the word changing from SURE to SUE. An R is the difference of the two.
Just solved the puzzle and that’s my take.
Until someone asks the constructor to explain the right answer I’m going with your take.
Came to this entry in the hopes it would be explained. Brad’s great, but good LORD do I hate that clue. How do you not at least put a question mark on it? Furthermore, why not just make it ARR? ANR is contrived as hell even with a fair clue. Feels like it’s designed to make solvers fail rather than challenge them in a rewarding fashion.
Got beaten to a pulp by the NYT. Should have thought of JAVA, but never heard of AMBUSHPREDATORS and the clue for TOMTHUMB struck me as grisly rather than cute, so I was entirely at sea in that area of the puzzle. Ended my current streak.
I found the word before AMBUSH and the rest of the NW (with the obscure geography and fiendish clue for Tom Thumb) just plain impossible. Still not convinced by “Mark down” for NOTE. An exam as a challenge? I guess.
“Mark it/that down” = “make a note of it/that”
“mark (that) down” = “note (that)”
“mark down’ = “note”
“Mark my words.”
I did understand what they were getting at. I guess I just don’t ever say “mark that down” and the like myself. I’m a little more sympathetic to MARK alone for NOTE, but of course Martin would never say “Mark down my words.”
Incidentally, in the WSJ, it’s a clue they’ve run before, but I have trouble seeing an ETA as “resembling” an H. It is an H. Otherwise, isn’t that like saying that the eighth letter in our alphabet “resembles” an H?
NYT: I really wanted to put in POKÉMON GAMES or similar for [Ruby and sapphire] but of course it’s nowhere close to fitting. (And thinking back on it now, it would have to be clued with a capital Sapphire for that to make sense.)
NYT: A great Saturday puzzle—clever but no overly so, challenging but not impossible, smart but not esoteric.
Did not enjoy today’s NYT. When 1a is [Capital of Chad], I expect the rest of the puzzle to be unpleasant, and I wasn’t disappointed. Challenging Saturday puzzles are usually fun, but this one was way over the line of too challenging to be enjoyable.
after ten minutes i had nothing
little by little and finally the “n” in embanks and a no error stumper
quite pleasing to finish this one!!!
A first for me today: I finished the Stumper but not the NYT. I had UNDERVALUE and REEFDIVER in the NE corner, and couldn’t figure my way out of it. I don’t understand why MARIACALLAS is a ‘tony soprano.’ Making a silly pun but making the clue meaningless in the process is a poor trade-off.
EMBANKS/ANR didn’t make any sense to me, but it seemed like the only possibility. I realize only now that ‘sound’ in the clue for EMBANKS refers to a waterway.
David, “tony” has several related meanings: elegant, classy, stylish, posh. Several of those words could easily describe the image projected by soprano Maria Callas.
well, yes, but quite a few other sopranos too
Yes, you’re right. But the crossings only work for Maria Callas.
Maria Callas was the archetypal aristocratic prima donna of the 2oth century. As much an actress as a singer and always a diva, I would say that the label “tony” is eminently suitable for her. I suspect if you ask 100 opera lovers to name the soprano with the most aristocratic bearing of their lifetimes, 90 would name Maria Callas.
from Wikipedia: “The press exulted in publicizing Callas’s temperamental behavior”
That’s not what I understand by ‘tony’
I thought I’d see if I could solve the Stumper faster than the NYT – ‘fraid not. I fell into a few of the traps: gATE before LATE caused a slow-up, as did pliabLE at 11D. But Milano in for MANTUA made for an inelastic solve. CIRCA and VACANT saved me. At least I was error-free, unlike the NYT’s ApE swingers. And I know OAXACA, rats.
I did the same thing with APE / OAPACA. I figured it was a Mexican state so for me it could be anything. It only looked familiar once I had it corrected — after ending my streak.
Stumper kicked me in the butt today. May have looked up one entry – don’t remember.
But! Can anyone explain how ANR answers the clue for 34A?
People can and have. Right on this page, in fact.
You’re right. I missed the above comments. Sometimes I’m an idiot.
That’s not crotchety at all!
I love coming to this blog after solving some puzzles. Makes me feel not so alone these days. Thank you all!!!