Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Am I just on Kameron’s wavelength or was this Saturday puzzle actually easier than Friday’s?
In the Fiend comments a week or two ago, Kameron wrote cogently about the importance of various sorts of representation in crosswords, not just women vs men. Today’s “hey, nice representation” roster includes Taye DIGGS, cartoon CRUELLA, the SOUL TRAIN LINE, Tarana Burke and the ME TOO MOVEMENT, and the EMIR Tamerlane. They’re up against really just emperor NERO and LIEV Schreiber. ELMO‘s clue cites Mr. Noodle, and my primary Sesame Street Noodle was “Mr. Noodle’s brother, Mr. Noodle,” as played by Michael Jeter, a gifted silent actor and a gay man.
Fave fill besides those 13s I already mentioned: CROCODILE TEARS, MEATSPACE, HOME GYM, and the word DRAGOON.
Seven more things:
- 12a. [Heaven, sweet heaven], PARADISE FOUND. I feel like this gets a lot less use than Milton’s Paradise Lost.
- 38a. [Digital book file extension], .EPUB. If I knew this before, I forgot it.
- 56a. [Fictional maker of Dehydrated Boulders and Tornado Seeds (“just add water”)], ACME. Clue made me smile.
- 48d. [Doritos ___ Tacos (fast-food offering)], LOCOS. What? No. Make mine the black bean Crunchwrap Supreme, and while you’re at it, explain to me why it is never crunchy.
49d. [Cereal box word whose third and fourth letters are stylized as bits of cereal], FROOT. The second FROOT in three days!
- 58d. [Wall-E’s love in “Wall-E”], EVA? What? No. She’s all-caps EVE, the Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. Wall-E pronounced it “Eva” but that’s not quite the character’s name.
- 59d. [Still at Disney World?], CEL. Are you still at Disney World? You shouldn’t be, Judd Legum says.
Four stars from me.
Andrew J Reis’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Front to Back” — pannonica’s write-up
Didn’t catch on to the theme mechanism until about halfway through, but (a) I hadn’t read the title, and (b) I was multitasking, which is to say I was simultaneously doing a number of things in a subpar manner.
What’s going on is that the first word of each theme clue needs to be read in reverse order for it to make sense.
- 119aR [Attracting attention, and the key to handling the asterisked clues] TURNING HEADS. That is, as I explained, reversing the first part.
- 23a. [*Drawer in an office] JOB PROMOTION (reward in an office)
- 33a. [*Deliver one’s mail] POISON PEN LETTER (reviled …). Unless I’m missing something, this one doesn’t work grammatically.
- 53a. [*Spacer in the papers] NEWS BRIEFS (recaps …)
- 69a. [*Slipup with paints] ART STUDENTS (pupils …). Annnd this is where I apprehended what was going on.
- 87a. [*Repaid bonds] SAFETY PINS (diaper …)
- 104a. [*Stressed during the holiday season] CHRISTMAS COOKIES (dessert). This clue has the best surface sense, to invoke cryptic crossword terminology.
Seeming to complement the theme is 82a [Twist place, perhaps] LAST PAGE. And maybe 51a [Interest for nostalgists] PAST, as nostalgia literally means ‘the pain of returning (home)’.
Let’s take a quick spin through the rest of the fill.
- 20a [Sly cry?] ADRIAN. A reference to so Sylvester (‘Sly’) Stallone in the Rocky movies.
- 27a [Bill featuring Jefferson’s portrait] TWO. I always keep one in my wallet.
- 66a [No walk in the park] HARD. I had ROAD here for a while.
- 74a [Palindromic kitchen gadget brand] OXO. Palindromes can be considered a subcategory of reversals, in which the word (or phrase, or passage) spelled when read backwards is the same as the original. Etymology: Greek palindromos running back again, from palin back, again + dramein to run
- 95a [Makes an attempt] ENDEAVORS. Such a nice-looking word, I’ve always thought.
- 116a [He played Hector in “Troy”] ERIC BANA. And had the best performance in it, as I recall.
- 3d [Market maneuvering] ARBITRAGE. So very Wall Street Journalish.
- 47d [Gas-X competitor] BEANO. Now I’m imagining a tic-tac-toe game.
- 75d [Furry critters] OTTERS. There are well over 5,00o species of mammals (over 6,000 by some counts), the vast majority of which possess fur.
- 85d [“Burr” author] GORE VIDAL. Been on my to-read list for ages. Supposed to be very good, and I’ve enjoyed almost everything of his that I have read.
John-Clark Levin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I sailed through most of this, but I got hung up a bit in the SW corner of the grid. Not sure why. Also, I don’t believe I am familiar at all with this byline today, so that may partially explain it! If I have done a puzzle by John-Clark, it must have been a while ago. Great puzzle; this seemed fun, even with the thorny episode at the end. But definitely a slightly different wavelength for me, but that’s OK! 4.3 stars.
- 15A [2003 disaster movie about a mission to Earth’s center] THE CORE – Another movie to see during isolation!
- 39A [Crunchy cantina fare] HARD TACO – I prefer soft tacos, but all are delicious!
- 42A [Rockford’s home] ILLINOIS – This was a gimme: this is not too far from where I live.
- 45A [Court rival of Roger] RAFAEL – I miss tennis! There is some play on, but it is not the same. The US Open is still on (so far!) for next month, but I doubt it happens.
- 50A [Broadway’s Burrows] ABE – Why don’t I know who this is?
- 1D [Tinder notice] “IT’S A MATCH” – I am SO glad I am not dating in the Tinder era. This sound terrifying to me!
- 3D [Fix for an injured knee] ACL REPAIR – This seems a tad contrived. It is true, but I don’t necessarily hear this phrase much, and I watch a lot of ESPN where they discuss ACL injuries constantly.
- 33D [Consequence of too much sweetness?] SUGAR RUSH – I had SUGAR HIGH, which is basically the same thing. I have had several of both!
- 35D [Focus of a former Florida museum that featured a Hug Club] TEDDY BEAR – Nice fun fact. I’ll bet I never go to this place!
- 45D [Abandoned party] RAGER – This is what caused me issues in that SW corner, along with 50A that I didn’t know. Toughie!
That is all! I have to get ready for the NPL online convention today!
Andrew Bell Lewis’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Stumped today. I nearly was banging my head against the wall! The main problem area was the upper right, or NE corner of the grid. You can plainly see all of the error marks! The remaining 75% of the grid was hard, yet gettable, and may have even garnered some smiles. It took me waaaay too long to get 16A, which I think mainly contributed to a lot of the woes in that area. What also contributed to those woes? Stuff I plain just DIDN’T KNOW! This puzzle lived up to the Stumper experience, that’s for sure, and the completion feeling was quite satisfying (after nearly 30 minutes!). Brad and Matt: bravo on a really challenging test. 4.6 stars.
- 16A [Andean condor prey] ALPACA – I had LLAMAS and VICUNA in my head. I forgot about this other South American camelid!
- 25A [Drop-off spot] MATTRESS – Great clue. I was totally fooled.
- 42A [Yeats contemporary] SYNGE – John Millington Synge is … someone I don’t know! Here is who we are talking about.
- 43A [Sainted early follower of Francis] CLARE – Got this from the crossings alone. This may have been buried in my subconscious somewhere, but this isn’t ringing many bells.
- 59A [Pawn’s purpose] FAST CASH – Another fantastic clue. My mind went straight to chess, and from there it was off the rails until I got enough crossing letters. Great clueing.
- 4D [Bonneville Salt Flats events] SPEED TRIALS – I forget what I had at first here, but it wasn’t this. This place is flat for miles, which is why they go a million miles an hour there.
- 9D [Role for a mole] SABOTEUR – I had the spy vibe, just not this particular word!
- 12D [Symbol of simple living] WALDEN POND – Sure, this makes sense now! A literary reference to Thoreau here. Very well done.
- 14D [Uses explosive charges] RANTS – Vague, but kind of correct. Tricky!
- 21D [Viscous oil source] TAR SAND – I work for an asphalt company now, and I still didn’t get this. Why have I never heard this term before??
- 54D [What some coffee menus list as ”misto”] LAIT – We are talking about milk here. I know LAIT, which is French; not so much misto.
Everyone have a great weekend and stay safe and healthy!
Pancho Harrison’s Universal crossword — “Opera Boxes”
Anyone remember Opera Man from Saturday Night Live? I recently re-watched some of those Adam Sandler appearances. I loved them at the time, but now… yeesh. Cringe!
THEME: Well known operas can be found hidden in familiar phrases.
- 17A [Where conventioneers often congregate] HOTEL LOBBY.
- 26A [Like many a model ship] BUILT TO SCALE.
- 43A [1999 biopic about Andy Kaufman] MAN ON THE MOON.
- 58A [Dropped by] PAID A VISIT.
I will admit that I cringed when I opened up the puzzle and saw circled squares: I frequently gripe that Universal’s widely published grids in newspapers and online refuse to adapt to the common practice of circling squares for… well, I have no clue why. But I don’t think this one would suffer all that much from squares going uncircled. Actually, I might have enjoyed the challenge of uncovering the opera titles myself sans circles even more! Nonetheless, I’m not going to gripe about it with respect to this grid.
This is very well done! All of the phrases are extremely familiar, the operas well-known (MANON may be a new title for some), and they are all well-hidden in each of the phrases. In “hidden word” themes, I think it’s crucial to nail all three of those standards, and this certainly does. Good fill to boot! IN A TRANCE, GOT EVEN, and SELLOUT were all very nice.
Can anyone help me with a mnemonic to help remember the difference between AXLE and AXEL? I always stumble there! Also, while I know NANOOK of the North is considered a classic, has anyone made it all the way through an entire viewing of it? I tried. Failed.
4 stars today! With or without circles.