If Brooke and Sid’s NYT puzzle (or their various indie/blog puzzles) leave you hankering for more of their creations, you are in luck! Next weekend—1 to 7 pm (Eastern) on Saturday, August 15—the online Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament will include puzzles from Sid and Brooke, along with other delightful constructors (Robyn Weintraub! Plus Team Fiend’s Joon Pahk, Stella Zawistowski, and Rachel Fabi!). Registration is $20, with some of the proceeds going to good causes. Details here.
Brooke Husic & Sid Sivakumar’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a fun and fresh themeless! It played like a rather breezy Friday puzzle for me. It helped that 1a. [Seat of Hillsborough County, with a population of 400,000+] was a gimme for me—a TAMPA friend of mine is a teacher for the Hillsborough public schools, and that is the only reason I knew this. Thanks, Jenna!
So much cool fill here. We’ve got the “MODEL MINORITY” trope, a POT DISPENSARY (not sure if the clue is accurate—[Joint that sells joints]? Do they sell rolled cigarettes, or just a bag of loose herb?), a PAY TOILET, BEER RUNS, quaint HUMDINGER, SOFT-PEDAL, CATDOG, and PARTY-HOPS.
There is absolutely no woeful fill in this grid. It’s a treat!
Did not know: 5d. [___ Petry, first female African-American writer with a million-selling novel (“The Street”)], ANN. Here’s an article about her from the Harvard Magazine.
Five more things:
- 17a. [Ring highlights?], GEMSTONES. Glad it wasn’t about boxing.
- 40a. [What was originally used as a yellow dye before its best-known property was discovered], TNT. Interesting trivia! Did … did they find that out the hard way when using it as a dye?
- 57a. [Common recyclable], EMPTY. As in empty cans, empty bottles. Excellent clue for the less common noun sense of EMPTY.
- 52d. [Daughter of Tethys in Greek mythology], STYX. Hang on a second. Did I really not know that STYX was a goddess rather than a god? I must have known that when we read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology in 9th grade.
- 54d. [Infinitive verb suffix in Italian], -ERE. Had no idea.
4.5 stars from me.
Peter A. Collins’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My good buddy Peter Collins has today’s LAT themeless challenger! I found this a tad tougher than normal Saturday LAT puzzles, but I think my brain is broken this week. I am gunning for a nap today!
- 14A [Renaissance painter Guido] RENI – This is slightly difficult. I don’t know art very well at all, even crossword-y names like this.
- 20A [Making a noticeable difference] MOVING THE NEEDLE – This is clued just hard enough to make you think, but not too tough.
- 32A [Harry’s love] GINNY – This is a Harry Potter reference. I had to look it up! I must be the only person in crosswords that knows nothing about any of these books or movies!
- 40A [Hall of Fame third baseman who spent 14 seasons with the Cubs] RON SANTO – A Cubs reference! This weekend the Cubs-Cardinal series is cancelled due to COVID-19 issues. This sports year is going to go down in history as a fiasco.
- 44A [En __: on a streak, in slang] FUEGO – Also a catch phrase by Dan Patrick on Sportscenter many moons ago. When I was on Sports Jeopardy! this was one of the categories, and I loved it!
- 46A [Not staying connected, in a way] GOING OFF THE GRID – Similar to 20A, just hard enough. Well done!
- 56A [Big name in streaming players] ROKU – I think we own 4 of these!
- 11D [Innocent response] “I DIDN’T DO IT!” –
- 13D [“The Sweetest Taboo” singer] SADE – This is from my music heyday. Still a classic!
- 24D & 30D[Blazer or Cav] CAGER & NBA’ER– I liked this tie-in quite well. Some don’t like the 30D answer, because no one ever says that, but it is gettable and has tons of great letters, so it isn’t going away!
- 26D [8-Down feature] SEVEN HILLS – 8D is ROME. There are a couple of these tie-ins in this puzzle. I am not a fan of these types of clues, because it disrupts the flow when you have to go hunting in the clue list or the grid. And there are two of these in this puzzle (See 35A). But neither is overly hard. This puzzle does NOT contain my all-time pet peeve: difficult Roman numeral math!
- 36D [2019 Tom Hanks role] MR. ROGERS – I need to see this movie. Yes, I will probably bawl like a baby!
That is all for now! Enjoy this song that will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day!
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
So maybe I am tired. It has been a busy week, and I just learned that it’s going to be crazy busy for the next two months as my job is undergoing a major procedural change. All of these excuses are to try and explain why it took me nearly an hour to finish this puzzle! I had my wife helping me, had the dictionary open, you name it. I was not frustrated or angry, as I may or may not have been for previous Stumpers, but this one was brutally hard. Usually after solving all of the clues make sense; there are a few in here I still don’t understand. I will plead for help in the comments, and I will for sure be checking this spot later today for some explanations! 4.8 stars for one of the hardest Stumpers I have done in a while!
Wearily, some comments:
- 1A [Recipient of a moving tribute] TRAIN ROBBER – This is either a really confusing or a stellar clue. I can’t figure out which!
- 12A [Qualifier for a silly statement] “SAID NO ONE EVER!” – Great casual phrase!
- 17A [Name on eaux de parfum] OLEG – This could literally be any designer. I had SERA for 7D instead of O-NEG, and that caused more issues.
- 24A [Circinate shapes] TORI – This is hard. I had to look this up, and I thought it meant rolled, not necessarily donut-shaped.
- 28A [Cultural center?] BIOLAB – This is the last entry I filled in. I had BIOGAS at first. Actually, at first, I had no clue!
- 52A [Spotify no-share activities] PRIVATE SESSIONS –
- 4D [What noobs won’t get] IN JOKE – This seems slightly contrived, but I kept trying to shove in THE JOKE, so at least I understand it!
- 12D [Show of smoothness] SUAVITY – This word is made up!
- 21D [Guy from Charlottesville] ARLO – Please explain! What does this mean?
- 29D [Marriage of convenience] BLOC – This is really vague. Is there an easy explanation of this?
- 33D [Important decade in analysis] INK BLOTS – This also makes no sense. Help!
Andrea Carla Michaels and Tony Orbach’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “B-listers” — pannonica’s write-up
Just a simple add-a-letter theme. In this instance, it’s a B added to the beginning of a word in a familiar phrase, for suitably wacky results.
- 22a. [Matchmaker’s prattling about “being made for each other”?] CHEMISTRY BLAB (… lab).
- 32a. [Proud motto of a spice a food restaurant?] NEVER NEVER BLAND (… Land). Cute, I like this one.
- 42a. [Poorly hit fly ball at Wrigley Field?] CHICAGO BLOOP (… Loop).
- 58a. [Radar operator’s duty?] BLIP SERVICE (lip …).
- 67a. [Officiant at Boris and Natasha’s wedding?] BLESSER OF TWO EVILS (lesser …). Another very good one, and the marquee, center-spot entry. Seems like this must have been the seed.
- 75a. [Oil stain under the car?] PARKING BLOT. Feels natural, this one. The phrasing, not the situation.
- 92a. [Training session for would-be online posters?] BLOGGING CAMP (logging …).
- 99a. [Collection of paint swatches?] BLENDING LIBRARY. You know, between this and 98a [Paint can direction] STIR, and 124a [Rubbery substances] LATEXES. I feel as if I’m being not-so-subtly reminded that my main task today is to finish repainting the bathroom. So apologies if this turns out to be a briefer-than-usual write-up.
- 115a. [Graffiti?] BLIGHT READING. Hoo boy, this could be controversial. Many museums and municipalities are recognizing the aesthetic qualities and important symbolism of graffiti (though there is still plenty of bad/slapdash stuff around. Feels as if this clue needs a second question mark, to denote the implicit judgment of the clue in addition to the wackiness indicator.
Note also that the added Bs are the only instances of those letters in the theme answers, though there are a number of them in the ballast fill.
- 21a [Singer’s quavery effect] TREMOLO. You bet I tried VIBRATO first.
- 40a [Golden Crispers! brand] ORE-IDA. Just including this one so I can add yet another hyphen to my already-hyphen-laden write-up.
- 50a [Copacabana Beach setting] RIO.
- 66a [Creaks, squeaks and shrieks] NOISES. All rhyming. Are they all onomatopoeic? I suspect so.
- 77a [“Is it just __ …”] ME OR. Ouch.
- 105a [Like some bills and hills] STEEP. Ouch. Oh, and more rhymes.
- 1d [Rash description, perhaps] ITCHY. My first instinct was NASTY.
- 5d [Singer with the 2015 #1 hit “Cheerleader”] OMI. This turns out to be Jamaican singer Omar Samuel Pasley and his stage name is in ALL CAPS. I don’t really include #1-type songs in my write-ups, so if you want to hear this one, hit this link.
- 34d [Figure taking a bow?] EROS. Little bit of homonymic misdirection there.
- 37d [Underwear initials] BVD. “The brand was founded in 1876 and named after the three founders of the New York City firm Bradley, Voorhees & Day.” The things you learn from Wikipedia and the internets!
- 39d [Accepts, as terms] AGREES ON. Had to fight against TO as the preposition here. Ngrams agrees to me on this:
- Yes, I know.
- But that’s different.
- 48d [Candidate’s focus] RACE. Hmmm.
- 70d [Modern-day hieroglyphic] EMOJI. Yup, that’s essentially what they are, though they are far from sacred, as the Greek root hiero suggests. But we know languages evolve and stray from their orthodox meanings. Right?
- 114d [Disease preventer, in slang] VAX. Most commonly seen in the negative, inflected as anti-vaxxer.
And on that cheerful note, I’ll close the book on this one.
Jeff Stillman’s Universal crossword — “Lead-In” – Jim Q’s Write-up
THEME: Synonyms for “Leader” are at the heads of common phrases.
- 17A [*Ride up?] CHAIR LIFT. Did this need the ?
- 28A [*Rat Pack member dubbed “The King of Cool”] DEAN MARTIN.
- 47A [*Superior wine classification] PREMIER CRU.
- 62A [Advantage in a race, or what each starred answer has?] HEAD START.
Enjoyable offering from Mr. Stillman today! Right over-the-plate type of theme. In this type, I think it’s important for the words to have a completely separate meaning than the word the revealer points to, and for CHAIR and DEAN it certainly does that. PREMIER in both senses feels like it’s akin to something “important.” No big deal though.
I think the clue for 42A [Short kind of note in music] is inelegant or just plain wrong. Eighth notes may be short, but it’s all relative. There are plenty of second movements in Beethoven sonatas where the eight note is not at all fast.
Enjoyed the SAD SACK / ASS crossing. Poor guy. A little trickiness in the NE with IONIA and MOTTO (I thought “Eureka” was referring to the Californian city) that’s the area I filled in last.
3 stars. Enjoy the weekend!