Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Quick review, as I’m entertaining the idea of migraining.
Standard Saturday difficulty for me.
Fave fill: THE MOB, DC COMICS ([Flash setting], great clue!), ZAPOTECAN, SANTA HATS, GO BERSERK, SNOWCONE with a W, “GET ON IT” (tried GO AHEAD first), P.E. CLASS, SCAM ARTISTS (it’s an art form!), SHOEHORNING.
Did not know: [Score marking to play higher or lower than written], OTTAVA; [___ Dolohov, one of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter books], ANTONIN; [Novelist Bender], AIMEE; and [Band with the 1974 hit “Come and Get Your Love”], REDBONE. Didn’t know the title or the band name for that song, but I do recognize the tune. Turns out they’re an indigenous American band. (Video below. It rocks.) “Redbone” is also the title of a Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) song from a few years ago.
Worst fill: 38a. [Onetime airer of “Music City Tonight”], TNN. Been a while since you could watch that channel on cable! Tough to stack 11s crossing 9s in the middle of the grid, though, with spacious corners almost as roomy as the midsection. Generally quite a smooth grid for a 60-worder.
Four stars from me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword — “O2” – Jim Q’s Write-up
THEME: Four-letter words whose middle letters are OO have the last letter omitted in common phrases to create wacky phrases.
- 20A [Result of tremors at the La Brea Tar Pits?] GOO VIBRATIONS. My fave of the set.
- 26A [Behaved like a considerate library ghost?] LOWERED THE BOO. Way better behaved than Slimer in the library.
- 44A [Replace a lavatory in London?] GET ANOTHER LOO.
- 53A [Healthy parts of an outback animal’s diet?] ROO VEGETABLES.
Classic theme type here, and one that never really gets old for me. These types of themes are what hooked me in the first place. Love me some corny wordplay.
Nice to start off with RBG in 1D– feels like a callback to a recent Universal.
Been a while since I’ve heard a ZERO MOSTEL reference!
I’ve noticed that for the past couple of weeks, my solve time is getting higher solving the Universal. I’m wondering if that’s just me, or if the clues are getting a bit harder.
I’m a bit confused by the title since it doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with the dropped letter, unless of course I’m reading something wrong.
Thanks for this puzzle, Mr. Wechsler!
Andrea Carla Michaels and Tony Orbach’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Forms of Address” — pannonica’s write-up
It’s an add-some-letters theme. In this case, as the parsed title indicates, we’re adding RESS to phrases.
- 23a. [Siren’s destiny] TEMPTRESS FATE (tempt fate).
- 36a. [Server who had a Buffalo chicken mishap?] WAITRESS IN THE WINGS (wait in the wings).
- 51a. [Structural support in a ship’s bathroom?] HEAD BUTTRESS (headbutt).
- 65a. [Hair extension at a fashion photo shoot?] MODEL TRESS (Model T).
- 67a. [Plaintiff’s compensation in a major case?] BIG REDRESS (Big Red, the chewing gum variety, I presume).
- 80a. [Alarmed shout on spotting a fallen sportswoman?] HUNTRESS DOWN (hunt down).
- 90a. [Take part in an audition for a movie about an uprising] READ THE RIOT ACTRESS (read the riot act). Also, the gloss for the new clue is very awkward.
- 113a. [Fortuneteller’s look-alike?] SEERESS DOUBLE (see double).
Best thing I can say is that the final answer is quite apt. You SEE it, don’t you? The huge flaw in the theme? The majority of these constructions merely feminize a verb, which can be seen as patronizing (not to mention boring): TEMPTRESS, WAITRESS, HUNTRESS, ACTRESS (original was a noun for this one), SEERESS. And DOUBLY damning—they often don’t even substantially alter the phrases’ meanings. Disappointing.
As such, only BUTTRESS, TRESS, and REDRESS have appeal. Note that these three are among the four shortest themers, all located around the middle of the grid. It certainly feels as if this theme would have benefited as a 15×15 grid with just those entries.
- 79a [Where the Tagus flows] IBERIA.
- 19a [Leave foster care, in a way] AGE OUT. You hear a lot of heartbreaking stories about how kids suffer in the process, which also has serious flaws.
- 47a [Dernier __ ] CRI. I nearly always space out and put CRU when I encounter this phrase.
- 49a [Restoration period] is nothing to Charles II; instead it’s a POWER NAP, possibly right after a power broker has had a power lunch while wearing a power tie.
61d [“L’Absinthe” painter] DEGAS.
- 58a [Common vaccine trio] DPT. That’s diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, kids.
- 110a [Affixes, as a peace patch] IRONS ON. Run together in the grid, it looks like a farcical Viking name, or perhaps that of a Dwarf from fantasy literature. (Am thinking of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.)
- 13d [Crier’s cry] HEAR YE, 14d [Once, once] ERST.
- There are some good clever clues in the puzzle but 37d [Hoop skirt?] for AIRBALL tries a little too hard.
- Nifty how 69d [Going a-courting?] SUING intersects the REDRESS themer about the plaintiff’s case. Good clue, too.
- We also get the evocative crossing of 78d [Timber wolf] LOBO and 78a [Solitary] LONE.
- 7d [Heed the “lefty-loosey” rule] UNSCREW. Hmph, top-biased.
- Favorite clue not yet mentioned: 43d [Muscular jerk?] SPASM.
So as I conclude, I reiterate my skepticism of the whole premise of this as a 21×21 crossword. It falls so flat for me.
Peter Wentz’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Are you all puzzled out yet? Yeah, me neither! It hasn’t happened in 40 years, so I doubt it is coming soon! Great puzzle by Peter Wentz today, who is a great themeless constructor. I have enjoyed his puzzles for years in the NYT, and this one fits right in that mold, albeit a little easier. For an LAT Saturday, it might be a tad tough, but compared to the Saturday Times or the Stumper, quite a bit easier. Lots of great stuff in here, and that made for quite an enjoyable solve. Which I have come to expect from Pete! 4.5 stars.
Some interesting stuff:
- 14A [Hawaiian senator in six decades] INOUYE – Is this senator crossword famous? I would say so!
- 21A [“Wayne’s World” rejoinder] WAY – I wrote in NOT at first. Understandably, this caused problems!
- 43A [Goat cheese] CHÉVRE – I am not a huge fan of cheese, but it is delicious. One of these days I am going to Europe and eat my face off.
- 59A [Former Sears Holdings holdings] K-MARTS – Are these all gone now? The Amazon/Walmart age has changed shopping as we know it; a lot of mainstays from decades ago are all but gone.
- 64A [Whirlpools] EDDIES – Just north of where I live, and near my hometown of Cassopolis, MI, is the town of Edwardsburg, MI. Their school teams are the Eddies! So that is what I think of when I see this word. Probably not fodder for a good clue, though!
- 1D [Cardinal fan, say?] BIRD WATCHER – A sneakily good clue! Baseball season is winding down after an arduous six weeks of play!
- 3D [Spirited midday meal?] BOOZY BRUNCH – This sounds like a great idea. Let’s go!
- 9D [Delicate chip, e.g.] FINESSE SHOT – Also a sneakily good clue!
- 26D [Lou Brock’s 938] STOLEN BASES – Super timely. Lou Brock just passed away within the last week. He was a little before my time, but I saw clips of him play. This number was the standard until Rickey Henderson came along and stole several bases a game, or so it seemed.
- 49D [Locks that are picked] AFROS – I have never had an afro; I’ve never had that type of hair. Now I basically don’t have ANY type of hair!
I will stop there! There is a new Panda Magazine coming out today, so I have things to do!
Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Stan has his own byline for this puzzle as opposed to a pseudonym. Usually Stan’s are a tad bit easier, but I have not found that to be the case as of late. This one I found quite tough, not in small part due to the extremely wide open areas that are not easy to get a foothold in. But another great puzzle by Stan, and I am a little worn out from this one! 4.6 stars this week.
- 8A [Nine-time debater, 2015-16] JEB BUSH – Those debates in 2016 were something else, and the ones earlier this year were also notable for the large scale. Buckle up for 2024 and get ready for 50 people debating per party!
- 15A [Penn State campus] ALTOONA – If it says this clue and the answer is 7 letters, it is almost always ALTOONA!
- 31A [Multiscreen routine] TELEMEETING – I had ZOOM MEETING, which would have been an extraordinarily timely entry! This is still pertinent for these odd times!
- 35A [16-hour flight from LAX] MEL – Pretty sure this is the code for Melbourne, Australia. See 52A below.
- 36A [Paul Allen’s ”self-titled” memoir] IDEA MAN – Haven’t read it. Perhaps I should?
- 3D [Italian erupter] STROMBOLI – I had MOUNT ETNA in here at first. This caused issues! I didn’t know this was another volcano; I only know the sandwich!
- 31D [He split from Stalin around ’48] TITO – My European WWII history is not as good as it should be.
- 33D [Tobacco plant genus (unsurprisingly)] NICOTIANA – Usually genus clues are impossible, but this one is actually interesting!
- 39D [LG introduction of 2011] SMART TV – They are less than 10 years old? It seems like they have been around longer. We have 4 of them in our house!
- 49D [A Pharaonic capital] GIZA – It’s not OSLO?
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!