Adam Aaronson & Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another Saturday puzzle that played like a Friday—but I had just recently been checking on the spelling of Coach K’s name, so 1-Across didn’t have a chance to Saturday me.
I like the quasi-mini-theme of KRZYZEWSKI ([“Coach K” of N.C.A.A. men’s basketball fame]) and KYRGYZSTAN ([Landlocked land along the Silk Road]). If you get the chance to try Kyrgyz food, enjoy it! We had a Kyrgyz feast when a local Muslim institution invited neighbors to join their iftar one evening during Ramadan, and we ate well. I think (in my limited experience) that Kyrgyz Americans tend to call the country Kyrgyz Republic rather than Kyrgyzstan.
Other fill I dug: “I DIDN’T CATCH THAT” (between the masks and the summertime cicada noise, I’ve been expressing this concept in many ways), “‘SCUSE ME,” PLAY WITHIN A PLAY, a Monopoly CHANCE CARD, RAIN DELAY, NECROMANCY, “I’M HONORED” (which is much better than “I RESIGN“), SMART HOME (hard pass), and HOT SHOWER (except that clue is weird in the summertime—it’s too hot to take a hot shower after working out!). And REDUX! Which I am never confident I’m using right, so I tend to avoid it.
The combo of KNIFE and ESTATE SALE puts me in mind of the movie Knives Out, which we finally watched last week. Most entertaining!
Four more things:
- 10d. [Worshiper of the goddess Mama Quilla (“mother moon”)], INCA. Fresh clue!
- 47a. [Sushi with unagi], EEL ROLL. I don’t eat sushi, but “eel roll” doesn’t ring a bell as the term that shows up on a menu. Sounds like it should be a synchronized swimming move.
- 8d. [Facial joint], SPA. Some joint where you might go to get a facial, vs. a joint in your face like the TMJ.
- 15d. [Top story], ATTIC. If I had an attic, how often would I say, “Our top story tonight … remains the attic”?
Overall vibe for this A.A./P.P. test, four stars.
Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword — “Cracking Wise” – Jim Q’s Write-up
One of my favorite names in cluing and fill is Evan Kalish! Solve this puzzle and you’ll see why.
THEME: The word SAGE is “cracked”- part of it appears at the beginning of a common phrase and part at the end.
- 16A [Golf club for a bunker shot] SAND WEDGE.
- 28A [Koko the gorilla’s communication method] SIGN LANGUAGE.
- 46A [Generic video clips] STOCK FOOTAGE.
- 63A [Stealing tithe money, e.g.] SACRILEGE.
Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, though I must admit I pretty much ignored the theme. It was one of those title-dependent “figure-it-out-after-you’re-done-solving” themes for me, but it honestly didn’t matter. Evan is a master at unique cluing and quality fill, and this grid is chock-full of good stuff:
I like the “hidden-in-this-clue” style like [Music genre found in “home movie”] EMO (even though three letter music genre is EMO 80% of the time I think). Fun trivia like [Country containing Africa’s westernmost point] SENEGAL and [Hoops league with 10-minute quarters] WNBA. HOT YOGA! ZERO STARS! BINGEABLE! (I say “bingeworthy,” but still!).
4 stars from me.
Kevin Salat’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I had most of this done in about 5 minutes, but I had an error somewhere, and it took me a few minutes to find. When solving in Xword, if you check your puzzle, it ruins the grid image I need to screen capture for this blog! My mistake was at 2D, where I had KREME instead of KREWE, which I knew but had a brain cramp. I need to fix these errors when speed solving. I had two errors at Boswords, but I am chalking that up to poor sleep and I am just not as fast on a computer. Not sure why, since I solve on them all the time! A solid 4.4 stars for this one!
Some more interesting stuff:
- 14A [Fast-food option] DRIVE-THRU – I have been through a few of these in the recent months, but I have not eaten at a restaurant since early March.
- 34A [“Nevertheless … “] “BE THAT AS IT MAY …” – Great casual phrase!
- 37A [Dealer’s question] “ARE YOU IN OR OUT?”– Another great phrase!
- 38A [Teaching where to go in England?] HOUSE TRAINING – Is this is British phrase? I don’t understand this clue.
- 63A [Proto-matter of the universe] YLEM – New word to me!
- 8D [17th-century craze involving bulbs] TULIPMANIA – There is a slight uptick in gardening during this pandemic, but I don’t think there is a mania. I will have to look this up to see what this is referring to.
- 9D [Puerto Rico hrs.] AST – So PR is an hour ahead of NYC??
- 30D [Matador’s art] TAUROMACHY – Another new word. But I am not a bull-fighter, so ….
- 34D [“Nebraska” Best Actor nominee] BRUCE DERN – This is actually a movie I have seen. And he was phenomenal in it.
- 37D [Music service pioneer that merged with Slacker in 2017] AOL RADIO – This still existed in 2017????
That is all! Jonesin’ #1,000 is coming up this week! What is in store? We shall see!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Under 10 minutes! I thought this was going to be a toughie after I got really stuck in the central area, but I found my mistake at 5D (NOUN instead of NAME), and then all went fairly smooth. There are some doozies in here, that is for sure, but it all makes sense in the end. I suppose! I cannot make grids this well, so my critiques will always be tempered with a respect for the craft. 4.2 stars this week.
Some of that zaniness:
- 6A [Individual in authority] ALPHA DOG – I think I remember reading somewhere that this concept is false, but I don’t remember where!
- 15A [Pac-12 school] U. ARIZONA – I don’t know if this is a legit entry. I understand what it is denoting, but I don’t think anyone says this. I also have not been to Arizona in 30+ years, so I could be wrong!
- 16A [IRA identifier] ACCT. NO – This you DO see. Although I have no idea what my IRA account number is!
- 37A [Home of Heartland of America Pk.] OMAHA, NE – These are always slightly tough, but these types of partials are seen all the time in addresses. Tricky to clue, but this IS a Stumper!
- 49A [Its first color series was ”The Jetsons”] ABC – I did not know this! Only watched this show in syndication.
- 53A [Newspaper in La Paz and Nueva York] EL DIARIO – I am not from NY, and certainly not a Spanish speaker, so this was a new one to me.
- 1D [KO, in the DJIA] COCA-COLA – I looked up their stock price, and their symbol IS this. Not sure why …
- 14D [Tool for artifact analysis] CAT SCAN – On a slightly dark note, I believe this technology was used to scan for mass graves in Tulsa, OK. Look it up.
- 28D [Element #117, named for a state] TENNESSINE – This is an element? It evidently is the newest one discovered, having been around since 2010.
- 34D [Fan of a top-five Twitter idol] BELIEBER – This entry is slightly dated. He is still famous, but not like 10 years ago. But this clue proves me wrong if he is that popular on social media. I must just be old … !
Have a safe and healthy weekend!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Slurred Speech” — pannonica’s write-up
Phrases ending in synonyms of insults are clued as if they were in fact specific, contextual insults.
I get that insults are slurs, but nevertheless there’s something about the title that doesn’t entirely sit right with me. In truth I’m only speculating on this because I need to extend the text below so that when I insert a video for 46-across I want to make sure it’s well below the grid at right, so there’s no interference and funny formatting.
- 23a. [Insult from a train conductor?] ENGINE KNOCK.
- 25a. [Insult from a concert pianist?] GRAND SLAM,
- 42a. [Insult from a print journalist?] PAPER CUT.
- 46a. [Insult from an interior decorator?] SPACE NEEDLE. See? Plenty of room now.
- 66a. [Insult from a Ph.D.?] THIRD DEGREE BURN. This has got to be the seed entry. It’s so good, it’s in the marquee position, it’s the longest. Got to be.
- 90a. [Insult from a team supporter?] BOOSTER SHOT.
- 94a. [Insult from a bowler?] SPARE RIB.
- 114a. [Insult from a political bigwig?] WHIP CRACK.
- 116a. [Insult from a spiritualist?] MEDIUM ROAST.
This isn’t the most original type of theme, but it’s clever and well done.
- 1d [Universal donor’s blood designation, for short] O-NEG, O negative. Sometimes constructors change things up and parse the single letter at the end, forming ONE-G, or one unit of gravitational acceleration, the standard on Earth (at sea level?). I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never see it clued via this Celestial guy. ⇒
- 2d [Homo, for humans] GENUS. There was recently some flak for the entry HOMO in a different crossword, but I see no insult and no problem with the way it’s used in the clue here.
- Conversely, 37d LAPP is considered an insulting term for the nomadic Sámi people of upper Northern latitudes. [Reindeer herder]
- 13d/50d [Ready to drop] WEARY/TIRED.
16d/24d [Effrontery] GALL/NERVE.
- 44d [Chief Winnemucca’s people] PAIUTES. Whoa, toughie.
Paiute (/ˈpaɪjuːt/; also Piute) refers to three non-contiguous groups of indigenous peoples of the Great Basin. Although their languages are related within the Numic group of Uto-Aztecan languages, these three groups do not form a single set. The term “Paiute” does not refer to a single, unique, unified group of Great Basin tribes, but is a historical label comprising:
• Northern Paiute of northeastern California, northwestern Nevada, eastern Oregon, and southern Idaho
• Southern Paiute of northern Arizona, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah
• Mono people of east central California, divided into Owens Valley Paiute (Eastern Mono) and Western Mono (Monache) – Wikipedia
In biological systematics, we might call that a polyphyletic group. Anyway, Winnemucca (ca. 1820–1882) belonged to the Northern Paiute.
- 75d [Polynesian figure] TIKI. This framing is ok, but kitschy tiki bars and other associated accoutrement are considered insulting cultural appropriation. As long as we’re addressing the crossword’s theme, you understand.
- 104d [Saxony seaport] EMDEN. Uh, ok. Oh, and 36a [Capital of East Timor] is DILI, which, though new to me, seems both prominent enough and incredibly useful for crosswords.
- 5a [Tubular food] SALAMI. Wow, that sure makes it unappetizing. Yet similar crosswordy characterizations for ziti, penne, and rigatoni are fine. But now I’m wondering why this wasn’t clued as the place in Iran.
- 52a [Stubborn Dr. Seuss character] ZAX. In the Maleska era, this probably would have been clued as [Roofing slate tool].
- 60a [User’s reading] MANUAL. Sure.