John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Good thing I inadvertently had the timer off, because it took me awhile to make headway in this grid!
New to me: 51a. [Product of tissue engineering, such as artificial skin], BIOTEXTILE. Textile sounds so inorganic.
Fave fill: PLATO’S CAVE, “I MEAN, COME ON,” Jake TAPPER (didn’t know he had a cartooning background), “I NEED A HAND,” “NOT IF, BUT WHEN” inevitability, BENTO BOXES, RACE BIB (my husband’s a marathoner, those bibs and safety pins are a regular sight here), OPEN BOOK EXAM (my son had one last week for physiology), CAREER BEST, and ANGORA CATS. Lots of nice stuff here.
Did not know: 35a. [Cheyenne, e.g.: Abbr.], MTN. Not in Wyoming but Colorado, near Colorado Springs. I have more Vail family connections myself.
Seven more things:
- 15a. [___ Addams, first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize], JANE. My neighborhood used to have a Jane Addams Hull House Center, but the building is now a gym with rock climbing walls. Jane Addams is always welcome in my crossword.
- 38a. [Forces (upon)], FOISTS. I like that word.
- 1d. [Locale of the Chair of Saint Peter in Saint Peter’s Basilica], APSE. There’s an old chair? A wooden throne, later encased in gilt bronze. This is the basilica in Vatican City.
- 24d. [Dingy kitchen items?], OVEN TIMERS. They go ding, rather than being encased in dinge … but grease spatter would certainly bring on the dinginess. If you’re a procrastinator who could use a little help being motivated to focus on your work, there’s a method named for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro technique. The basics: Focus on work for 25 minutes straight, no dawdling and distractions, and then you can have a short break if you want to before the next 25-minute churn. I haven’t used this lately, but I have indeed found the Forest app helpful for staying focused when I’m distractable. You plant a virtual tree and it grows while you work!
- 32d. [Place of drudgery], SALT MINE. A Facebook friend of mine teaches philosophy at a Cleveland-area community college. He’s had at least one student who literally works at the salt mine! There is a big mine in Ohio that actually extends beneath Lake Erie.
- 38d. [Like bootleg pants], FLARED. I just got some bootcut jeans without trying them on because my sister bought them and recommended them to me. Skinny legs and a not particularly curve hip zone, but not teeny in the waist? Most cuts of jeans don’t cater to our build. It is nice to have a personal jeans shopper in the family!
- 48d. [It has coronoid and styloid processes], ULNA. I had BRO instead of BUB for the crossing and had to backtrack. My son’s also taking anatomy this semester. He would have known this answer!
Such a family-and-friends vibe in this puzzle for me! Not the usual experience. Four stars from me.
Mary Lou Guizzo’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
My Facebook acquaintance Mary Lou has this Saturday’s LAT challenge puzzle. The wide open center is the highlight of this grid, with the timely GRETA THUNBERG right in the middle. Not too difficult of a puzzle, but that is OK! I have a busy weekend to get to. Let me get straight to the comments! 4.3 stars for this puzzle.
- 1A [Wrap up] SWATHE – SWADDLE wouldn’t fit!
- 7A [Game-watching, maybe] ON SAFARI – This is on my bucket list. I would love to visit Africa and see some elephants or giraffes in the wild. Lions, not so much!
- 15A [“Y Is for Yesterday” sleuth Millhone] KINSEY – I read many of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series years ago. Loved them. I should re-read them. I think she passed away before she could get to Z.
- 32A [Legal show for 40 years, with “The”] PEOPLE’S COURT – This show is still on? I think the original Judge Wapner has also passed away a few years back. (I checked – he died in 2017.)
- 61A [Throw that anticipates the receiver’s timely arrival] SPOT PASS – This is where the QB passes the ball before the receiver turns around. Very difficult to do well.
- 2D [Jets’ home] WINNIPEG – Got this quickly! But I am a sports nut.
- 8D [2015 best-selling 20-Across] NOTORIOUS RBG – What a great nickname!
- 27D [Listed in Liverpool?] LEANT – This is a Britishism??
- 30D [NFL coach Meyer] URBAN – He is the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, I believe. We will see how well he does. The NFL is nothing like college football.
- 38D [Modern-day checking suggestion] “GOOGLE IT!” – Yes, Google IS a verb!
- 42D [“C’mon, I’m not that good!”] “OH STOP!” – Another great casual phrase!
That is all! Off to solve more puzzles!
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
I have decided that the key for me, and one of the joys of puzzle-solving in general, is having peace and quiet. No interruptions. No distractions. If nothing else, that means that nothing was crowding out my thoughts for 10 minutes or so. That was the case this week. Great time, no major issues, but this is not that easy of a puzzle. Easier than they have been? Yes. Too easy? Not really. I think that is one of the allures for those of us that solve crosswords; we are perfectly content in our thoughts, while some people struggle with the solitude of brain twisting. The blogging/social media aspect of crosswords has changed this world quite a bit, but it is still primarily a solitary activity, and if you’re like me, you are at your most content during such times. I hope you found this puzzle as relaxingly pleasing as I did!
This one had a mini-theme with the interlocking 15-letter answers of GO ASK YOUR MOTHER and GO ASK YOUR FATHER in the middle, which I actually had a little chuckle once that was solved. All the more to add to the solving enjoyment! 4.4 stars today.
Some other stuff I found interesting:
- 15A [Guinea pig resembler] AGOUTI – I don’t know how this came up from my brain. Haven’t seen this word in quite a while.
- 18A [They honk when trouble’s near] GUARD GEESE – This is hilarious! I am picturing some geese guarding someone’s house, but in fact geese that have youngsters nearby (goslings!) can be quite nasty. We have tons of Canadian geese near where we live since there is a river nearby.
- 53A [Report of nonsuccess] “I TRIED TO” – Great casual phrase!
- 55A [Much of a breakfast scramble] EGGS AND HAM – At least they aren’t GREEN, like the type that has been in the news recently!
- 64A [Distance between landings at Heathrow] STOREY – Oh, THOSE types of landings! Best clue in the puzzle!
- 6D [Unenthusiastic endorsement] “I GUESS SO” – I have said this thousands of times. This better be in my word list!
- 12D [Cellist at JFK’s White House] CASALS – I thought YO-YO MA for a bit, but this is before his time!
- 21D [Homemade Philly sandwich slice] STEAKUMM – This seems like a cheap alternative way to make a Philly, but I have no idea. These are available here, but they aren’t a “thing” like out on the west coast.
- 29D [Portrayer of Phoebe the witch (1998-2006)] ALYSSA – I believe this is a reference to her work on Charmed.
- 38D [”Look here”] “EYES ON ME” – Lots of great phrases in this one!
- 51D [”__ a good one!” (playwright pun)] ODETS – This is quite a pun!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I See Right Through You” — pannona’s write-up
Bigram insertion time! I promise it won’t hurt too much.
- 23a. [Subject discussed on “Today,” say?] TOPIC OF THE MORNING (top of the morning).
- 40a. [Party hat designer?] CONIC ARTIST (con artist).
- 42a. [One of those people who play with their food?] ANTIC EATER (anteater). Fun clue, and my favorite of the bunch.
- 70a. [Window cover made from transparent plastic?] IRONIC CURTAIN (Iron Curtain).
- 97a. [Room on a Vulcan starship?] LOGIC CABIN (log cabin). >moue<
- 99a. [Material for un sculpteur?] GALLIC STONE (gall stone). Or une sculpteuse.
- 117a. [Meddling while carving some ancient inscriptions?] RUNIC INTERFERENCE (run interference).
The ICs appear at the ends of the first parts of the original phrases. With the exception of anteater they’re all separate words.
Nothing super-exciting but it gets the job done. A more challenging construction would be to eliminate stray ICs from the rest of the grid, but why bother, really? I’m not exactly distracted by inclusions such as 47a [Yellow] CHICKEN. On the other hand, I find 71d [Public perception of an event, politically] OPTICS somewhat more problematic—it ends up with the same kind of suffix as the theme entries, in that context it echoes 29d [Chooses] OPTS FOR, and it serves to provide less-than-stellar optics regarding the theme (if one is looking for trouble, as I clearly am).
- 126a [It consists of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka] ORION’S BELT. Had no idea what this was going to turn out to be. Always nice to learn something from a crossword!
- 114a [“Invasion had come to the town of __” (opening words of a 1944 novel)] ADANO. A further step removed from the typical clues for this crossword staple.
- 112a [Chopsticks source] PIANO. “The Celebrated Chop Waltz“
- 81a [Florist’s bunches] SPRAYS. Went for POSEYS first.
- 67a [Sweethearts] DEARIES. That’s just a creepy word. Maybe I associate it with fairy tale witches or something. Not particularly a fan of jazz singer BLOSSOM (10d [Open up]) Dearie, either. Surprisingly, that’s her real name (although her full name is Margarethe Blossom Dearie).
- 55a [“In the Magic Mirror” painter] KLEE. I found this:
- 10a [Eclipses] BESTS; 12d [Eclipse participant] SUN.
- 1d [Saturn’s largest moon] TITAN.
- 1a [Account that might ear interest] TALE. My favorite clue in the puzzle, and Shenk’s opening gambit.
- 3d [Surname of an animated skunk] LE PEW. In the news lately. Based on Maurice Chevalier.
- 8d [Foxtrot preceder] ECHO. In the NATO alphabet.
- 17d [Porcupine or prairie dog] RODENTS. Representing two of the three largest suborders.
- 24d [German luxury auto, informally] MERC. I, uh, thought this was short for Mercury, while BENZ would be short for the Mercedes?
- 94d [Carnival rides] LINERS. Referring to the ocean cruise company. 53d [Away from shore] ASEA.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword, “Wrong at the Start” — Jim Q’s write-up
This puzzle is asking for mistakes!
THEME: “MIS” is added to the start of common phrases, thereby creating wackiness.
- 17A [Workplace antics?] MISCHIEF OF STAFF. Chief of Staff.
- 26A [Chain of Japanese restaurants in Ottawa’s country?] MISO CANADA. O’ Canada!
- 47A [Tightfisted surgery aide?] MISER NURSE. E.R. Nurse.
- 57A [Longing for B.B. King’s performances?] MISSING THE BLUES. Sing the Blues. But aren’t we all missing B.B. King’s performances? This one is much more true than punny!
Classic theme crafted well. My favorite themer is MISO CANADA because of it’s over-the-top nature.
But can we talk about BOSSY the cow down there in the SE? Is that a common cow name?? I thought BESSY perhaps (as a variation on BESSIE). Or ELSIE. That works too. BOSSY? Ima google dat. Well, I’ll be. Seems like plenty of cows named Bossy, including one whose statue was vandalized.
There’s those two anyway. Are cows typically named? That seems like a lot of work.
Anywho, this was fun,