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Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Sam makes space for the 12s, 13s, and 14s that usually won’t fit into a standard themeless grid. CALL THE SHOTS, MUSEUM EXHIBIT, “LET IT GO ALREADY,” NATIONAL ANTHEM, “AT EASE, SOLDIER,” and CORNISH PASTY (tell me the best vegetarian varieties) are crossed by an upright OBAMA SUPPORTER and MERRIAM-WEBSTER. These are all good entries, no?
Did not know: 7d. [Like a deaccessioned book, for short], EXLIB. EX-LIB? EX LIB? Short for ex libris or something else? Librarians, fill me in!
Also hadn’t heard of 22a. [Small hybrid instrument with six strings], GUITALELE. That’s one ungainly portmanteau.
Seven more things:
- 15a. [One of the knights of the Round Table], GARETH. My apologies to Team Fiend’s Gareth, but I tried GAWAIN here first.
- 13a. [Remains to be seen, say], MUSEUM EXHIBIT. What a gross clue. “Oh, instead of remains as a verb, it means dead bodies of, I dunno, animals or people?”
- Worst fill holding all these long answers together: plural APRS and AGS, MER-, Latin plural URSI, AFR., AREEL. Oh, and 43d. Historic town NW of London where some of the Harry Potter series was filmed], BUSHEY. If more than 1% of solvers have heard of it, I’d be surprised. The town has paleolithic roots and Roman history, though!
- 24a. [Layperson?], MASON. My mom is a bricklayer’s daughter, so I love this clue/answer combo.
- 8d. [ Slangy psychedelic], SHROOM. I’ve never psychedelled. Is the singular SHROOM legit, or is it generally used in the plural?
- 3d. [Bad way to be poisoned], LETHALLY. I’d argue that being poisoned sub-lethally is also not a good thing.
- 13d. [Company at which business always comes before pleasure?], MERRIAM-WEBSTER. This clue is the CUTEST.
3.8 stars from me.
Peter A. Collins’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My good friend Peter Collins has this week’s Saturday LAT challenger puzzle. Nicely done! Not too difficult, and I used to have a supervisor that told me to 32-Across! I got started oddly enough in the SW corner of this grid after tackling the NW area. Then just sort of wound around and ended up in the upper central part. Not sure why. A fun solve, though. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. 4.4 stars.
- 1A [“__ Secretary”] MADAM – This is a show I have never seen even one nano-second of. Something else to binge-watch during lockdown!
- 14A [Durance who plays Lois on “Smallville”] ERICA – I don’t think I knew her real name. I watched a fair amount of this show, but I think it first came out when I started working full time or had kids; something happened where I couldn’t watch a ton of TV anymore!
- 18A [Removes with a putty knife] STRIPS OFF – Very accurately clued!
- 36A [442 or 88, e.g.] OLDS – Ah, this brings back memories! I am surprised Peter didn’t reference the old [Deuce and a quarter, e.g.] that my grandfather used to have!
- 37A [Guideline when something is dropped from one’s diet?] FIVE-SECOND RULE – I am good with this rule. I have children. I have seen things. Nothing has killed me yet!
- 7D [“A Cook’s Tour” host] ANTHONY BOURDAIN – His passing was tragic. I enjoyed his cooking shows, though.
- 26D [Lincoln wore them] STOVEPIPES – Aren’t they “stovepipe hats”? Do they call them this for short? Wouldn’t surprise me if that is true.
- 27D [Window with a crank, often] CASEMENT – I have construction experience, so this was a gimme.
- 30D [Köln closing] ENDE – I haven’t seen this one in a while. My German is terrible anyways.
- 47D [John/Rice musical] AIDA – I have never seen this musical. I think there are movie versions somewhere. Hopefully in English! After the success of Hamilton, hopefully there are more instances of plays being filmed so more people can enjoy them.
That is all! Back to the MIT Mystery Hunt ….
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
Well, we have week two of the slightly easier “Themeless Saturday” puzzle. This one wasn’t too awfully hard again, but I did find it fairly difficult. Finished right at 10 minutes, which for me is still a great Stumper time. It didn’t seem that way while solving, though. I distinctly remember, when finishing, thinking, “It has only been 10 minutes??” What I am trying to say, is, this was a good puzzle! I simply got lost in it somehow. As Paolo Pasco would day, I was “vibing!” (Just not as fast as he does it!) Nice puzzle, Stan! I learned a word or two! 4.6 stars.
- 7A [Certain camera support] UNIPOD – This seems like it wouldn’t stand up!
- 16A [Where Juneau is] ALASKA PANHANDLE – I would have thought it was the AlaskaN Panhandle, but I could be wrong. And I probably am!
- 36A [Pro conditioners] STRENGTH COACHES – These are common in football circles. I may need to hire one if I get any more flabby!
- 48A [What many bowling pins are made of] MAPLE – I didn’t know this. I go bowling quite often, but not this year. Hopefully soon, once these vaccines get rolled out to more people.
- 62A [Rush job] NEXT DAY DELIVERY – This was my life for nearly 30 years! It took me waaaay to long to get this answer!
- 1D [California’s ”Garlic Capital of the World”] GILROY – Anybody know this off the bat? Anyone ever HEARD of Gilroy, CA? This was new to me, but gettable with the crossings, thankfully!
- 5D [Roy Lichtenstein ”impactful” pop-art painting] “WHAAM” – He is the artist that paints like a comic book artist. Which fits right into my level of art history knowledge! I am so uncultured …
- 9D [Co-ruler with Peter the Great] IVAN V – This was a mild history lesson for me. My Russian history is spotty at best.
- 11D [Where ”leprechauns” came from] OLD IRISH – We hear this word a lot in Notre Dame country. Probably too much!
- 17D [Oldest moon walker (at 47)] ALAN SHEPARD – This is gettable by the length, but a great piece of trivia. I wonder if they will go back to the moon now that China is messing around up there.
- 32D [Lloyd Webber attainment of 2019] EGOT –
- 36D [Papal, in Michelangelo’s day] SISTINE – I had LEONINE in here. This refers to Sixtus, right? I am too lazy to look it up!
- 45D [Closest one] BESTIE – This is a fairly new word, and a brilliant example of how language morphs as you go along.
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Interaction” — pannonica’s write-up
The ACTION alluded to in the title is putting IN the letters TER. Phrases are thus wackified.
- 22a. [Eave-repair task?] GUTTER WRENCHING (gut-wrenching).
- 36a. [Tight hatband] BOATER CONSTRICTOR (boa constrictor).
- 48a. [Sycophant’s metric] FLATTER RATE (flat rate).
- 63a. [Specialized dog groomer?] SETTER DECORATOR (set decorator). Very specialized, it would seem.
- 84a. [Conflicts between beginners?] STARTER WARS (Star Wars).
- 92a. [Gallery owner’s challenge?] PAINTER MANAGEMENT (pain management).
- 110a. [Really slather it on?] BUTTER SERIOUSLY (but seriously).
These are … kind of dry, but serviceable.
- 38d [Japanese Olympics site] NAGANO. That would be the 1998 winter games. The other time Japan hosted was Tokyo (1964, summer). The 2020 Tokyo games are at the time of this writing postponed to 2021, but I understand that they will retain the 2020 designation, for historical consistency—presuming they aren’t cancelled altogether due to the pandemic.
- 39d [Sinister signs] OMENS. This is really a peeve of mine. Why are so many things tacitly taken to be negative and clued as such in crosswords? An OMEN is neutral. Another frequent offender (so to speak) is ODOR.
- 64d [Like doubtful tales or difficult orders] TALL. That’s quasi-poetic.
- 66d [Her assistance is required in a Beach Boys song] RHONDA. Makes it sound as if she has to deal with a spill in Aisle 7 or something.
- 85d [Urban pest] RAT. Again with the negative framing. There are hundreds and hundreds of species of rats, the vast majority which are not ‘pests’.
- 57d/99d [Beasts] ANIMALS / FAUNA.
- 77a [Favors] IS FOR, 98a [Favoring] PRO.
- 102d [Her assistance is requested in a Derek and the Dominos song] LAYLA. Her too?
- 19a [Home of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center] ERIE. That’s a new way to clue this crossword staple. Tom Ridge is an ex-governor of Pennsylvania.
- 29d [Messenger god] HERMES.
Mike Duran’s Universal crossword, “Even Splits” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: The first part of a word means “half” and the second part of the word can be halved to find another word. That seemed difficult to explain.
- 17A [Vat, e.g., for this answer’s last six letters?] DEMI LOVATO (Half of LOVATO is VAT)
- 10D [For, e.g., for this answer’s last six letters?] SEMI-FORMAL.
- 59A [Her, e.g., for this answer’s last six letters?] HEMISPHERE.
- 27D [All, e.g., for this answer’s last six letters?] HALF GALLON.
Really liked everything about this puzzle. Excellent and clever idea. You know it’s a unique idea when it’s difficult to replicate with other themers. I’m impressed at the finds.
Filled quite nicely too. HIP FLASK, GOOD EYE!, SPARE RIBS, MY LORD make up for the ETUI and ECLAT that I never see outside of crosswords.
Found out that OHIO is the seventh most populous state. I found that surprising. Also, there’s a five-letter POTUS whose name begins with T who besides the current one nicknamed “His Accidency.” Excellent name.
Great puzzle, Mike!