Brian Thomas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
My son is working on a term paper on an EMINEM album for his Hip Hop Music Production course, so he certainly knew 34d. [Longtime music collaborator with Royce da 5’9″], whereas I had not heard of Royce before. I appreciate learning such things. The video below includes both artists and lots of Detroit sites.
Aside from EMINEM, there’s plenty of Scrabbly fill here. JACUZZIS crossing SEIJI OZAWA, MOJITOS crossing JOE SCHMO, DJING with a great clue, [Turning the tables?]. And lots of sparkle aside from the uncommon letters: EBOLA SCARE, BOO BIRD, THE BAMBINO, “I’M SURE OF IT” (could do without the crossing IN IT and nearby I’M HIT and IT‘S WAR dupes), OL’ MAN RIVER, FATS DOMINO, AFROBEAT, GO BUST, and FOOD DESERT.
On the representation front, we have the MAMAS half of a band, TITO Jackson, Jennifer EGAN, Fela Kuti, SEIJI OZAWA, FATS DOMINO, and Royce da 5’9″ covering a wide spread of musical genres and cultures (plus novelist EGAN). There’s also fictional JED Bartlet (that single T at the end has always bugged me), Babe “THE BAMBINO” Ruth, EMINEM, and Bach in a JESU clue.
Five more things:
- 2d. ___ spider, creature named for its presence around train tracks], HOBO. If you like learning about spiders, here’s a page for you. I didn’t know of this spider, nor the 68a. [“White-fronted” or “chestnut-bellied” birds] called TITS. Regarding that latter clue, BOO BIRD is a glaring overlap.
- Food and drink! Vodka TONIC, MOJITOS with LIME, ALE, MAC JR., tater TOTS … it’s not often that there are three entries relating to cocktails in a single puzzle.
- 50d. [Mass medium], LATIN. As in Catholic mass, which might be recited in Latin at particular churches. Are there Latin masses in the U.S.?
- 12d. [Italian soccer club with three Champions League titles], INTER MILAN. I got this with three crossings in place, thanks to my household sports fans liking European soccer. Inter is short for Internazionale.
- 27a. [Remote hiding spot?], SOFA. This almost doesn’t need that question mark, as the idea of a TV remote sliding behind a couch cushion is so familiar.
4.25 stars from me. An enjoyable themeless crossword.
Beth Rubin and Trent H. Evans’ Universal crossword — “Clued In” – Jim Q’s Write-up
Here’s a hint… read those titles!
THEME: Synonyms for “clue” are “in” common phrases.
- FLASH IN THE PAN
- AN APPLE A DAY
SPROOT! I really thought that was a new word that I was going to learn for 34D [Pull out of the ground]. Sounds fun, right? “SPROOT that potato!” It’s because I was confident that the answer for [Howard’s end] was ESS (as in the ending of Howard’s) instead of EDU, which is the ending of an email address for Howard University. I did think it strange to have two cryptic clues like that with ZEE being the answer to [Part of a fuzzy pair?] but oh well. SPROOT is way more fun to say than UPROOT.
I liked this puzzle! Simple, clean, consistent theme (title-dependent if some solvers were having difficulty picking up on it). I solved the circle version. I haven’t checked the regular web version, but I assume it asks the solver to count letters, which is unfair, not as visual, and takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the solve (whilst being very confusing to new solvers). They’re fixing it, but I hope that fix comes soon. It’s been a hot minute.
11D [One getting depressed by classical music?] was a fun clue for PIANO KEY. It might fall in the “too cute” category for some (I mean, no one really refers to piano keys as being “pressed” I don’t think) but that was a fun AHA reveal.
Solid all around. With just three strong themers, the rest of the grid has room to be playful. This appears to be a debut for Beth Rubin! Congrats!
3.6 Stars with circles.
2.4 Stars without.
Jamey Smith’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am convinced more and more that bylines are important. I don’t believe I know Jamey Smith, and this puzzle took me twice as long as normal for a Saturday LAT challenger puzzle. I had most of the W side of the grid filled in in just a few minutes, but the NE corner really gave me fits. Once a couple of entries finally fell, and once I learned a couple of new/rare answers, the solve finally happened. Great puzzle. I am not sure if the puzzle was just that much harder or if I just had a brain cramp on this one, but it played slightly more difficult to me. How did you get along with this one? 4.6 stars for a slightly toothier LAT Saturday puzzle!
Some stuff I found interesting:
- 1A [What the eyes may have?] LASIK – Great clue for 1-Across!
- 6A [“Nooo! Anything but that!”] “THE HORROR” – I love those casual phrases! This is one I have actually used once or twice!
- 18A [“It does seem likely”] “I RECKON SO!”– Another casual phrase I DO hear a lot here in Indiana.
- 21A [“__ & the Women”: 2000 Altman film] DR. T – This film is crossword famous, and I STILL couldn’t remember it. Maybe I am having a mental slowdown …
- 24A [Yorkshire __, landmark London pub named for a slang word for strong ale] STINGO – This is new to me. I don’t know if I have ever seen this word before. Always good to pick up new terminology!
- 37A [“Chinatown” screenwriter Robert] TOWNE – I think I have seen this name once or twice before, but if I have, I don’t recall it at all.
- 48A [Buttinskies] MEDDLERS – I had REAR ENDS in here at first! That is not what this clue means here in the Midwest!
- 5D [Hybrid instrument played by Prince and Lady Gaga] KEYTAR – I would throw Teddy Riley from Guy in here as well, but he is a little more obscure. Well known if you’re into ’90s R&B; not so much if you are not.
- 8D [First female athlete to host Saturday Night Live] EVERT – Nice piece of trivia. SNL has started back up, albeit with all types of controversy. I will try to stay up at least for the cold open.
- 32D [Belgian painter James] ENSOR – Just lie 37A, I may have seen this name before, but it isn’t ringing any bells.
- 44D [Digestive enzyme] AMYLASE – Another new word. Or at least one I only see in puzzles since I am not a scientist.
I could go on, but I will stop there. Hope you enjoyed this puzzle as much as I did.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I found the LAT puzzle hard this week, so it should be no surprise that I didn’t even think I would FINISH this week’s Stumper. Look at all those error marks! The NE corner fell first, and by first I mean after the initial blank stare and then pausing the solve and coming back after a while! Lots of thorny spots throughout this puzzle, and I am surprised my time was ONLY 20 minutes. I figured it would be close to the 45 minute mark, which I have been on Stumpers I have blogged on this site previously. Another great Stumper, Matthew, and I hope to one day meet you in person and discuss your craftwork! 4.5 stars from me.
A few things:
- 1A [Revolutionary, stationary group] SPIN CLASS – Tricky clue for 1-Across. This one elicited a smile once I got it. Nicely done.
- 17A [Land from the water] STEP ASHORE – I suppose there technically is a FIRST step when you get off a boat, but I had all kinds of other verbs in mind here. SWAM and CAME were two I tried here.
- 39A [Mercenary] IN IT FOR THE MONEY – This is using the clue as an adjective and not a noun. Once you figure that out it starts to make sense!
- 42A [Powerful brick] AC ADAPTER – This is timely, since the new iPhone coming out next week will allegedly not include one of these. Interesting stance for Apple to take, if true, and we will see how this plays out.
- 43A [Where you could once see Montessori and Marconi] LIRE – I don’t think I understand this clue at all. Someone please explain!
- 60A [Carnival crewperson] ROUSTABOUT – We (meaning me and my friends while growing up) called fair and carnival workers by a much meaner term that I won’t write here. Having said that, I don’t know this term, but perhaps I will start using it!
- 1D [It had 300+ campus chapters in ’69] SDS – I filled this in, then removed it, and then it turned out to be right!
- 15D [He called Cubism ”more difficult than painting”] DEGAS – Great clue.
- 34D [Negotiator of the first video-game royalty agreement (1993)] AFTRA – I don’t know this group at all.
- 35D [Many makers of 11 Down] THAIS – As in a “Made in Thailand” tag on said HAREM PANTS? This almost sounds like it is giving the connotation of a sweat shop full of
- 40D [Capital not far from the Rockies] EDMONTON – I figured we were talking a non-American capital, and here we are talking a capital of a Canadian province. Clever!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend! I am off to do Puzzle Boat 7 at pandamagazine.com!
Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Short Stories” — pannonica’s write-up
Each of the theme answers—originally book titles—is shorted one letter, to wackified results. I figured on manually rounding up the missing characters, but that turned out to be unnecessary, as the revealer handles the process.
- 122aR [Shortened, and the letters missing from the starred answers] ABRIDGED. In order, of course.
- 23a. [*Parenting guide laying out the dangers of corporal punishment?] ON THE ROD (On the Road). Proper framing. Also: 32d [Went easy on] SPARED.
- 27a. [*Memoir recalling complaints from kids at camp?] THE OYS OF SUMMER (The Boys of Summer).
- 38a. [*Volume IV in a series on astrology?] TOPIC OF CANCER (Tropic of Cancer).
- 59a. [*How-to book for metalworkers?] THE GOOD SOLDER (The Good Soldier).
- 68a. [*Novel about a servant in imperial China?] THE HAN MAID’S TALE (The Handmaid’s Tale). Modified spacing in this one.
- 83a. [*Essay collection from a family reunion?] ALL THE KINSMEN (All the King‘s Men). This one too. Incidentally, I appreciate how the types of books described by the clues try to be as varied as possible.
- 102a. [*Revealing bio of Apple’s CEO?] A WRINKLE IN TIM (A Wrinkle in Time).
- 112a. [*Sports anthology about athletes who have one career victory?] GONE WITH THE WIN (Gone with the Wind).
Frustrated by not having to do any work to uncover the meta aspect, I turned to the authors’ names to try to find something worth anagramming from their initials, but had dismal luck. Regardless, this is a well-constructed theme and a fun solve.
- Noticed what seemed like a higher-than-normal percentage of clever/misdirection type clues throughout the crossword. A sampling: 13d [Informal business] BEESWAX, 17d [Bye at the French Open?] ADIEU, 18d [Partner of live] LEARN (sneaky homonym), 70d [Screwdriver part] ICE, 87d [Blanket material] SNOW, 115d [Play around?] TOUR, 126d [Raiders’ grp.] DEA, 22a [Company whose ads include stock footage?] ETRADE, 36a [Make the cut] SAW, 55a [Help for catching some waves] RADIO, 121a [Dragging tool] MOUSE.
- 6d [Sleeping] IN REPOSE, followed by 7d [Morpheus follower] NEO.
- 12d [Some flights] SOLOS. Today is Monk Day.
- 16d [Victory symbols] PALM FRONDS. Interesting factette.
- 40d [Co., in Calais] CIE. Simply an abbreviated—abridged, if you will—form of Compagnie. There’s also a lot of French stuff in this crossword, but I’ll refrain from listing them all.
- 76d [Strauss subject] BLUE DANUBE. Here you go:
Oops. Can’t imagine how that happened. Well, you know. One river is pretty much the same as any other.
- Heraclitus? Never heard of HIM (60d).
- 108d [Jamal of jazz] AHMAD. Oh, look.
- 25a [And other things, long ago] ET ALIA crossing 14d [Legendary rebuke] ET TU. >side-eye<
- 53a [“The Wedding Feast at Cana” painter] VERONESE. Here it is:
- Favorite clue: 79a [Made digital music?] SNAPPED.
- 129a [Peak demarcation] TREE LINE. Quite a bit to know about the concept. The Wikipedia page serves as an adequate overview.
That’s going to have to be it, as breakfast is calling to me.
NYT: 33a [It goes around in circles] PLANET. Johannes Kepler might have something to say about that.
I suppose one could argue that the clue was being loosely metaphorical or something. bah.
Agree, although maybe, obscurely, referring to rotation about a planetary axis.
Derek, (Stumper question) The images of both Maria Montessori and Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi have appeared on Italian money. Marconi on a 100 Lire coin and Montessori on a 1000 Lire Banknote.
I was thrown off by the TRIPLE HARP in the Stumper because most instruments of this type have ~90 strings. I can’t find an example with 98.
NYT: Not much of a Saturday, only the messy NW to slow it down, but I’ve addressed that nit this week.
I’m not sure if I understand Green Paint well enough to address it, but I believe there was a bit.
I was surprised by MAMAS crossing MAAM in the NYT. Otherwise a nice puzzle.
They’re not etymological cousins, so why should it matter that the two entries both appear?
I know you have this fixation with etymology, but personally I think it spoils a crossword when two similar words with similar meanings appear together. I find it inelegant.
I thought the Universal crossword had quite a few non-theme entries that were short casual phrases: ITSANO, AWCOMEON, TOOCOOL, HOLDIT, IMOK, YEAHSURE . These are all legit entries, and they were all well-clued and fairly crossed, so they didn’t bother me, but I was struck by the number of them.
The entire puzzle was well-clued and fairly crossed, and it was a lot of fun to solve. A nice way to spend Saturday morning!
nice lat saturday, they have been better lately
stumper fell in place nicely for a change
Agreed. I think the NYT is getting so many themeless entries these days that the LAT is benefiting from the rejections!
whatever it takes
OTOH, the hard crossword used to be better
been a while since they had one on stumper level
LAT Saturdays much harder lately, found this one quite difficult but not in the OZAWA vicinity.
Why not just go with CHET/CHAP at 1A/1D? I know Saturdays are trying to increase the difficulty, but you can do that with the clues and at least chap is an actual word.
NYT: Crossing of SEIJI OZAWA and JED Bartlet naticked me. If you don’t know your Japanese names or 20 year old TV shows, that cross could be a J, N, or T.
seiji ozawa is not natick material, esp on a saturday
For those of you who enjoy working Newsday’s crosswords and downloading them from their web site, there has been a recent trend to have you subscribe to their paper by having a window pup up that you CANNOT close. I have complained to them twice. Each time they appeared to have eliminated the problem only to have it recur a few days later. I am fed up with trying to have them fix this annoyance. Has anyone else had this issue with Newsday?
Luckily, Crossword Fiend has a link to the PDF, but you have to wait until midnight to access it.
I had trouble with this on my computer in Safari, but switching browsers—or to my phone—solved the problem. Of course, the phone interface is beset with many other inconveniences, but I am willing to endure a lot for the Stumper, my favorite puzzle of the week.
Using Google Chrome on Saturday mornings, I haven’t had this problem. But I tried it just now and see what you mean. I figured out a work-around, but you need to have quick fingers on the mouse. As soon as a Newsday page loads, right-click on the link you want, then select “open in new tab.” Eventually, you can get to the crossword page without the annoying pop-up that can’t be closed. If the pop-up appears, right click and select “reload” to start that page over.
Re the Stumper: in what realm of fashion are harem pants worn with pleated skirts? Even my husband, a clothing designer, was thrown by this clue/answer.
If you believe Wikipedia, “Harem pants are commonly worn with a pleated skirt—a short skirt that covers the top portion of the harem pants.”
Huh. Thank you for the explanation!