Royce Ferguson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This was easier than the Friday puzzle for me. How about you?
The grid’s got triple stacks of 15s at the top and bottom, and they’re latticed together with another pair of 15s. ALL ALONG THE LINE feels sort of unfamiliar to me, but the other seven 15s are all quite good. The stacks’ short crossings were pretty solid, too. The two that are probably the least known by solvers, AGNI and ENES, bring multi-culti cred, and the latter makes 58d. [Spanish 101 word with a tilde], AÑO feel like it’s part of today’s Spanish lesson with 14d. [Spanish letters with (or without) tildes], ENES (EÑES) echoing it.
If VICTORIA’S SECRET had been clued by way of that “fashion show,” it would have been icky. But instead we have 1a. [Retailer that hired its first openly transgender model in 2019], and I like it.
Not wild about UNEDGED, and ALTAI and RIA have a crosswordese tinge to them, but overall there was much to like here. Seven things:
- 41a. [Was on eggshells?], BROODED. Like a hen, not someone walking on figurative eggshells.
- 43a. [Cry upon spotting a new package delivery], “IT’S HERE!” omg, this was totally me yesterday. My refill bottles of Dial pear foaming hand soap, which I’ve been trying to get for two months, finally arrived! I know that scrubbing with plain soap for 20 seconds is adequate, but dammit, I feel better with the antibacterial and I like the gently fruity fragrance.
- 61a. [Like opportunities that might be hard to decline], ONCE IN A LIFETIME. Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. You could clue this via the 1980s Talking Heads hit, but TALKS IN A WHISPER is in the grid.
- 9d. [One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Roman Catholicism], ST. VITUS. I have never heard of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, but I’ve been to the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague so I had a go-to five-letter V saint.
- 32d. [Introducer of the math symbol “e”], EULER. Imagine if Edmonton’s NHL team adjusted its name to the Edmonton Eulers.
- 49d. [Speakers of Quechua], INCA … and also millions of Peruvians and others in Andean countries, and a smattering of immigrants elsewhere. A tidbit from Wikipedia: A number of Quechua words have entered English and French via Spanish, including coca, condor, guano, jerky, llama, pampa, poncho, puma, quinine, quinoa, vicuña (vigogne in French), and, possibly, gaucho. The word lagniappe comes from the Quechuan word yapay “to increase, to add.” The word first came into Spanish then Louisiana French, with the French or Spanish article la in front of it, la ñapa in Louisiana French or Creole, or la yapa in Spanish.
- 54d. [Part of who you are?], HOMO sapiens.
4.2 stars from me.
Joe Deeney’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This one wasn’t too difficult, but still a fun puzzle. I have done a few of Joe Deeney’s at this point, and I like his style. There are a couple of tough entries in here, including one I have never heard of (see below!), but the crosswordese is kept to a minimum and we have some wide-open corners in the grid with some lively entries. Just because I don’t know something is certainly not a reason to include something in a puzzle, but I’ll bet you didn’t know the answer in question either (again, see below!!). Keep the puzzles coming, Joe! 4.4 stars.
Those promised comments, which weigh heavily towards the longer answers:
- 15A [Agree to take the long way there?] ORDER A LIMO – I do this all the time …
- 34A [Like some agreements] PREMARITAL – Like Melania’s? Just a small political joke there … !
- 39A [Towels, e.g., aptly] SHOWER GIFT – Great clue here. Nice little play on words!
- 45A [Oscar-winning foreign language film based on a Fugard novel] TSOTSI – THIS IS THAT ANSWER! This is HARD! Have YOU seen this movie? Yeah, I didn’t think so!
- 58A [Pierre’s polite lead-in] “EXCUSEZ MOI” – Know your basic French! Most of us have actually said this at some point, so as far as French entries go, this might actually be one of the easier ones, if you can grok out the spelling!
- 3D [Lic. figure] ID NO. – Could this have been clued as [ “__ no idea!”] ?
- 13D [Honshu city] OSAKA, JAPAN – Easy to get with a few crosses. I think I would LOVE to visit Japan. One of these days!
- 25D [Only Super Bowl the Eagles won] LII – They have come close a few times. Their QB now is on the Bears, so maybe it is Chicago’s turn! (if they ever play football this year!)
- 26D [Victoria-Tasmania divider] BASS STRAIT – This is tough. At least to me.
- 31D [Angsty lament] “I’M A FAILURE!” – You know I love casual phrases, even if this one is slightly depressing.
That is all! See some of you at Boswords tomorrow!
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I was pretty Stumped today! Lots of tough stuff in here. The slightly wider open NE and SW were actually a tad easier, but the NW and SE (where I finally finished!) I found brutal. This one wasn’t anger-inducing hard, but I definitely aged a bit during solving! There were looong periods of staring at wide swaths of white squares in this solve. Funny how it still looks a lot easier AFTER the solve is done! Another great puzzle, Greg! 4.5 stars from me.
Some of the thorny bits:
- 1A & 1D [Play with puddles] & [Gaudy entrance] SLOSH & SPLASH – Nice duo in the corner. Do you have to use the bathroom yet?
- 6A [Posts behind another user’s back] SUBTWEETS – I don’t tweet much, but I think I understand what this is!
- 16A [Backup device] SPARE PART – I had SPARE TIRE in here at first. Not sure why …
- 23A [With 46 Across, modern “Pay attention!”] “STOP STARING AT YOUR PHONE!” – MARVELOUS casual phrase! And quite a sign of our times!
- 52A [Concerns for investors and orchardists] YIELDS – One of the better clues in the puzzle, although not that hard. Helped me bust open that lower right corner.
- 58A [Kin to “capric”] OVINE – This is just plain hard. Who knows this??
- 2D [Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams”] LIOTTA – I made this harder than it was. Who hasn’t seen this movie??
- 5D [Mozart wrote concertos for them] HORNS – This could have been anything: OBOES, WINDS, HARPS …(!)
- 7D [Stumped, rather fittingly] UP A TREE – Also an excellent clue. My vote for the best in the grid.
- 32D [Be gentler than a wring] PAT DRY – This is not a common phrase, but it works quite well. Am I finally gettin go Greg’s wavelength after all these months?
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Emily Carroll’s Universal crossword — “Garbled Messages”
I really want that title to be “Mixed Messages,” don’t you? Must mean the word “mixed” is already being employed in the grid…
THEME: A word that can precede “signal” is scrambled in common phrases.
- 19A [*Kind of toy robot that punches] ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM. Smoke.
- 33A [*Face-to-face attraction?] MOUNT RUSHMORE. Turn.
- 41A [*Carey Mulligan played her in 2013’s “The Great Gatsby”] DAISY BUCHANAN. Busy.
- 55A [Source of dating frustration, or a hint to the starred answers’ scrambled words] MIXED SIGNALS.
Clue of the year for MOUNT RUSHMORE! Great aha moment on that one. I never really felt a flow while solving this, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Both the fill and the cluing were unique, despite it feeling crosswordy at times. KANJI was new to me [Japanese writing system], but I like it! And NANOOK is back again! I wonder how a movie theater would fare if they showed a NANOOK of the North marathon. Not well, I would suppose.
Some odd stuff / crosswordy stuff in AGEE, IDOS, NOES (yuck!), RET, but interesting clues peppered throughout like [It’s now usually classified as a bear] PANDA (I never knew at as anything other than a bear!) kept it fun.
Of course, there is the persistent Universal problem (no fault of the constructor) that those who solve the puzzle downloaded from this site have a different solving experience than the masses because there are circles appropriately placed in the grid. Universal doesn’t circle letters in its regular publication and asks the solvers to count letters instead, which I don’t think is fair to the solver, especially novice solvers who could really benefit from the visual.
Still, as hidden / mixed word concepts goes, this one was well done!
3.6 stars with circles / 2.6 stars without circles.
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Catchy Wordies” — pannonica’s write-up
The title evokes the old Wacky Wordies visual puns from Games Magazine, but something different is going on here. Two-part entries—whether they’re phrases, compound, or affixed words—are separated. The first part receives a -y suffix while the second gets an -ie. Spelling is tweaked where necessary.
For example, catchword becomes catchy wordies.
This is how I jokingly pronounce quaintisms such as Olde Shoppe and Towne Pointe.
- 23a. [Sleepwear for a Navy woman?] MIDDY NIGHTIE (midnight). MIDDY is short for midship(wo)man.
- 28a. [Gossip-loving gourmet?] CATTY FOODIE (cat food). Tried pet/petty first, which cause some consternation.
- 48a. [Fashionable cap?] SNAPPY BEANIE (snap bean).
- 66a. [Bet taker who’s not to be trusted?] SKETCHY BOOKIE (sketchbook).
- 86a. [Lowbrow film of the early 1930s?] TRASHY TALKIE (trash talk).
- 104a. [Tour worker who needs a bath?] DIRTY ROADIE (dirt road).
- 114a. [Sycophant who sings?] TOADY STOOLIE (toadstool).
- 36d. [One whose addiction leads to being out of touch with reality?] SPACY JUNKIE (space junk).
- 41a. [Chan impersonator?] PHONY JACKIE (phone jack).
Clever and entertaining enough while not being laugh-out-loud funny or anything like that.
- 1a [Available for playing at home] ON DVD, crossing 4d [Obsolete rental] VIDEO TAPE. 73d [Becoming dull and predictable] GOING STALE, crossed by 120a [Not as played out] FRESHER.
- 19a [Run over] REAIR. Clue tricked me. Have probably encountered it before, but seems fresh. Conversely 3d [Hires competition] for DAD’S root beer was immediately transparent.
- 25a [One watching the kids?] GOATHERD. Cute. Also, young goats are cute and are all over YouTube and probably TikTok.
- 45a [Vibrant ecosystem] REEF. Presuming acidification and rising temperatures have not yet impacted it.
- 119a [“Hey! Yeah, you!”] PSSST. I guess that’s the more forceful cousin of crossword-common PSST.
- 11d [Iron production] STEAM. My PETTY error (see above) led me to enter STEEL here.
- 12d [Mediterranean orchard sights] FIG TREES. Have been getting some good figs this season.
- 44d [Home, figuratively] HEARTH. Home is where the HEARTH is.
- 53d [Most crimped] WAVIEST. I was going to question whether crimp evokes wavy, but a quick consult with dictionaries seems to bear it out.
- 63d [Joined the bulls] BOUGHT. Oh, right, Wall Street Journal.
- 66d [Translating challenge] SLANG. I’m conditioned to fill in IDIOM for this. Similarly, for 18d [Last name in spydom] was a reflexive James BOND rather than Mata HARI.
- 68d [Last name of London criminal twins Ronnie and Reggie] KRAY.
- 77d [Start of this centvry] MMI. I liked the spelling change as indication for Roman numerals.
- 108d [Secret-protecting documents: Abbr.] NDAS. I’M OF the opinion (105d) that on balance non-disclosure agreements are a bad thing, especially considering Individual One’s over-reliance on them.
- 107d [Enough, for some] ONCE.