Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This swirly 68-worder brings us the [Informal name for Vespa mandarinia], MURDER HORNET. A prototypical piece of 2020 news, that murder hornets story. Please let 2021 break free from the 2020 vibe!
The other pinwheeled 12s here are MOTHER NATURE, lovely, along with GEORGE SMILEY and QUARTER RESTS. The four outer quadrants feature stacks of 7s and 9s crossing 6s. Each corner has two answers feeding into it, providing decent flow. Did you find the puzzle easier than expected? I did, and the flow probably helped with that (as is knowing Brendan’s puzzle style for 15 years).
Other good fill: SLIM JIM, “LINE ’EM UP,” UPS STORE (dropped an Amazon return there today, unboxed, super easy), SWOOP, “I LIKED IT” (“… but didn’t love it”), BARBEQUE, LUNESTA, JITTERS, a DULL PAIN (mostly better than a sharp pain, no?), and who doesn’t appreciate a GOODIE?
Did notice the duplication of OUT in LIP OUT and TIRE OUT.
- 56a. [Diabolical], DEVILISH. Before I read the clue, I had the first 2 and last 3 letters filled in from the Downs, and I was about to enter DEEP-DISH pizza. And now I want to order from Lou Malnati’s for Sunday dinner.
- 29d. [Relative of molto, in music], TANTO / 39a. [Tenor part in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”], ERNESTO. I don’t know TANTO at all, and I also don’t know the characters in Don Pasquale. The Italian -o made sense but there was some hesitation there since both were unknown to me.
- 20a. [Temple offering: Abbr.], DEG. The clue perplexed me for a moment. Temple University, not a religious temple.
- 43a. [Nickname for a man whose name means “merciful”], CLEM. Now envisioning all popes being called nicknames of their papal name. The current guy is Frank. His predecessor was Benny. John Paul II is J.P. but his predecessor John Paul I went by Jack. Before Jack was Paulie Walnuts, aka Paul VI. The last CLEM was in the 1700s. Who’s your favorite casual pope?
- 47a. [Stuff in a den, once], OPIUM. We’re modern now, and the OPIUM is found in the man-cave or she-shed.
Four stars from me.
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am getting used to Roland Huget’s puzzles at this point. I have done quite a few of them over the years. This was a smooth solve, and there are a TON of fun entries in the grid, highlighted by TRAIN WRECKS and COLOR WHEELS crossing right in the middle. There is a lot of good ones to talk about, so I will keep the blurb short! 4.6 stars from me.
- 15A [French president after Hollande] MACRON – Isn’t Macron the president now? Why don’t I remember this dude?
- 16A [One can hold about 500 hours of HD video] TERABYTE – It seems like a lot now, but remember a 4 megabyte computer was all the rage 40 years ago!
- 29A [Motivation in “The Manchurian Candidate”] MIND CONTROL – I have seen both of these movies now, finally. I saw the Denzel Washington one first, but I still think it is better. Angela Lansbury is excellent in the first one, though!
- 34A [Begged off formally] SENT REGRETS – As in “Sorry, I can’t make it!” or something like that. This is weird because I rarely do this. I also rarely get invited to things!
- 50A [Leftovers] ODDMENTS – Is this really a word??
- 10D [Homer, in baseball jargon] GO YARD – I wonder who coined this originally? Baseball struggled through a half season; we shall see what happens next year. Sports seems a lot more … trivial, now, during this pandemic.
- 14D [Motto attributed to Horace] “SEIZE THE DAY” – Or carpe diem in Latin, I believe.
- 19D [Reason for a Champagne shortage, maybe] IMPORT QUOTA – A very, shall we say, timely clue, given current events?
- 22D [Snowboard relative] MONO-SKI – My son is a snowboarder, but I don’t know this term. I also don’t play outside myself if it is cold!
- 33D [Deliberately weak argument metaphor] STRAW MAN – Excellent clue and entry. Well done!
That is all!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Finally, a fairly easy Stumper! Stan (“Anna Stiga” = Stan again!) has a nicely wide open grid, and it did stump me for a little bit. But I had a nice quiet and calm 6-7 minutes, and the puzzle was just about filled in. Full disclosure: the timer on Across Lite stops when the grid is filled, not when it is correct. So tack on another 10-15 seconds to fix those two errors in 49D! Still a great time, and far from a mood altering normal Stumper. Or maybe I just got enough sleep for once! 4.3 stars this week.
A few things:
- 9A [View from Armenia’s capital] MOUNT ARARAT – Yerevan is the capital mentioned, I think? Know your world capitals!
- 28A [New homeowners, usually] LIENEES – I had LIENORS in here at first. I forget sometimes who is who!
- 34A [Another name for the ”world’s lowest point”] SALT SEA – I think the Dead Sea goes by this less dark name as well. I think that is partly why it is so salty!
- 45A [It’s right at Little Havana] DERECHO – Great entry! This is a word that is now on the Weather Channel quite a bit. It refers to a type of thunderstorm. I wish the clue had referred to that instead.
- 47A [Where to relax in Pasadena] DEN – A cryptic-like hidden word clue! I like it, but I like cryptics, so I am slightly biased.
- 51A [They’re not serious] DILETTANTES – Part of my error was the I in this. I had LEG at 49D, which also caused issues.
- 53A [Pope of the Medici family] LEO X – I had the X in here from 50D, and there are no other three letter Popes, are there? I supposed it could have be TY IX, or AL IX, but I don’t think there have been Popes with that name before!
- 11D [Youngsters’ support group] TEACHERS AIDES – Truly part of the “essential worker” class! My wife is a teacher, so I am witnessing how educators, including aides, are viewed here in Indiana. It isn’t great.
- 14D [Staple of Polish vegetable salads] FETA – Isn’t this Greek cheese??
- 27D [Seller of Bike USA, KitchenHQ, etc.] HSN – Stan, did you watch hours and hours of HSN for research to this clue? If so, you have my sympathies!
- 32D [”Puss in Boots” villain] OGRE – As in Shrek, of course!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rising Expectations” — pannonica’s WRITE-UP
We’re treated to a collection of phrases where the first word is a verb and the second is the preposition up. Together they’re deliberately misconstrued by the clues to be a single noun.
- 23a. [Outfit for a Nascar driver?] GETUP TO SPEED.
- 29a. [Matchmaking group?] SETUP CAMP.
- 44a. [Jester’s performance?] STANDUP IN COURT.
- 67a. [Robbery caught on security cameras?] HOLDUP UNDER SCRUTINY.
- 93a. [Ditties for cowpokes?] ROUNDUP NUMBERS.
- 104a. [With 117-Across, concealer to hide scars?] MAKEUP FOR PAST MISTAKES.
This is a good, strong theme. Much more cohesive than I first realized. Have to thank the obligation of writing about it for helping me to see.
- 24d [You might pick up a few pointers here] POUND. Cute clue.
- 35d [Down] CHUG. Including this simply to help balance the scales against all the UPs.
- 40d [Worker for free, often] INTERN. Ya, this is both exploitative and contributes to structural income inequality.
- 43d [In seventh heaven] ECSTATIC. Reliably good music to be found at the annual ECSTATIC Music Festival.
- 45d [Where loonies and toonies are spent] CANADA, and not on the Warner Bros. lot.
- 77d [Goalie’s bane] SCORER. >squint-wince< Seems rather generic, no?
- 94d [North Dakota city] MINOT. That’s one we don’t see too often. Is the author Susan more well-known?
- 114d [D-Day crafts] LSTS. Looked this up, it’s Landing Ship, Tanks.
- 51a [It’s danced in Argentina] THE TANGO. Not too keen on the definite article inclusion.
- 85a [Barometer variety] ANEROID. The name means, literally, “without liquid”. Etymology: French anéroïde, from Greek a- + Late Greek nēron water, from Greek, neuter of nearos, nēros fresh; akin to Greek neos new — more at NEW
- More French etymology! 98a [Rolled in flour and sautéed in butter, as sole] MEUNIÈRE. (à la) meunière, literally, in the manner of a miller’s wife.
- 20a [Embassy worker] ATTACHÉ. Fun fact: attaché cases, and hence their namesake bearers, are called so because of the handcuffs often attached to the handle and wrist, further securing documents containing, for instance, state secrets.
*NOT A TRUE FACT