Kristian House & Mike Dockins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hey, it’s ACPT weekend! The whole thing is online this year, and I’ve only done a handful of Monday puzzles over the last year so it can’t be said that I have trained. (I can race respectably on the Boswords themelesses, but alas, at ACPT your speed on themelesses only matters for the nine divisional finalists.) Maybe I’ll see you in one of the “rooms” tomorrow evening!
Fave fill: DIM BULB, AWAY TEAM, HARRY STYLES, POINT OF VIEW, “I WIN! I WIN!” (who will be saying that this Sunday afternoon??), MERMEN ([Some males in tales]), LADY FRIENDS, and THE USUAL. Oh! And MRS. POTTS, too.
Ten more things:
- 13a. [Rockies you won’t find in Colorado?], AWAY TEAM. The the MLB’s Colorado Rockies fly out of state for away games.
- 16a. [Word that comes from the Dutch for “soothsayer” and, despite appearances, has no relation to a unit of measurement], WISEACRE. Neat etymology.
- 23a. [Clean again, perhaps], REMOP. This is a terrible entry. Folks, if you have this in your word list, you might want to chop it or at least score it as “use only if truly desperate.”
- 33a. [Co-star of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show”], ANISTON. Along with Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, and Billy Crudup. I’m waiting for season 2 to drop. Been waiting over a year already!
- 49a. [Coverage of the royal family?], TIARA. What wouldn’t we give to see Prince Charles (will he become king before age 80?) sporting a sparkly tiara?
- 60a. [Journalist Parker with a 2018 Pulitzer Prize], ASHLEY. Didn’t know the name. She worked on the Washington Post’s team covering Russian interference in the 2016 election.
- 63a. [Made a bee line for?], SPELLED. Hot news from Ben Zimmer: The next Scripps National Spelling Bee will include rounds where the contestants have to answer multiple-choice questions about words’ meanings.
- 9d. [Some boos], LADY FRIENDS. Your boo is your sweetheart, and some people might have a special LADY FRIEND who’s their boo. The romantic sense of boo is at play in the R&B song below. I wish Ella Mai all the success in her musical career, because constructors can always use another ELLA or MAI clue angle.
- 34d. [When?], NOT IF. Okay, how does this clue work? In “it’s not if, it’s when,” I’m not sure that NOT IF can fly solo as an entry. Sure, a FITB clue would be far too easy for a Saturday puzzle, but just having [When?] as the clue feels off to me.
- 46d. [Gets just so], PRIMPS. Grr, GET SET is up above with a repeat of that get.
4.2 stars from me. There was definitely a REMOP demerit!
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s Raining” — pannonica’s write-up
That’s a distinctly 101d [Simple and straightforward] NO-FUSS title.
CATS and DOGS have dropped from some idiom cloud above into various phrases in the crossword, wackifying them.
- 23a. [Plagiarist?] COPYCAT WRITER (copywriter).
- 32a. [“Protect” or “guard”?] WATCHDOG WORD (watchword).
- 48a. [Queue at a ballpark?] HOT DOG LINE (hotline).
- 57a. [Voyage for Lotharios?] TOMCAT CRUISE (Tom Cruise).
- 80a. [Skunk moves?] POLECAT DANCE (pole dance). Colloquially, polecats can be synonymous with skunks, but I prefer matters to be less confusing.
- 88a. [Court action for a gazillionaire?] FATCAT SUIT (fat suit).
- 106a. [What a head honcho doesn’t want you to know?] TOP DOG SECRET (top secret).
- 118a. [One who bets on a likely loser?] UNDERDOG TAKER (undertaker).
- 17d. [Sales spiel for the University of Kentucky?] WILDCAT PITCH (wild pitch).
- 62d. [Student sleeping through a Yale class?] BULLDOG DOZER (bulldozer).
And to seal the deal, the central across is 70a [Time for a shower?] APRIL, showing up in the proper month.
I’m reminded of the time that my then-s.o. and I dropped in to Cipriani off Grand Army Plaza, equally to seek shelter from the pouring rain as to slum with the rich and famous. We remarked to the barman and the maître d’ that it was raining cats and dogs, to which they were (or charmingly acted as if they were) nonplussed. Speculative discussion ensued, and one of them wondered why it was those particular animals. Why not “chickens and RABBITS?” (21a [Warren residents]), he asked, which we found (of course) hilarious. To this day, I have no idea if it was genuine or a routine, but it’s stuck with me all these years.
- Not part of the theme: 3d [Attacked, puppy-style] NIPPED AT.
- 11d [Nail holder] TOE. Have seen this exact clue a few times very recently.
- 39d [Knee-slapper] HOOT. Tried the very literal HAND first.
- 59d [Italian counterpart to BBC] RAI. RAI – “Radiotelevisione italiana, commercially styled as Rai since 2000; known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane is the national public broadcasting company of Italy, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.” (Wikipedia)
- Least favorite clues/answers: 71d [Start of a Tony Bennet classic] I LEFT (My Heart in San Francisco) is still an icky partial; 96d [@@@@@] ATS.
- 25a [Scandinavian spirits] ABSOLUT. Was not expecting a brand name rather than a more generic term such as AQUAVIT.
- 27a [Los Estados Unidos, por ejemplo] PAÍS. Unusual Spanish vocabulary for crossword fill.
- 28a [Hirsute cousin of 1960s TV] ITT. Felix Silla, who had the role, died just a few days ago.
- Favorite clue: 110a [Sporting footwear] SHOD.
Good puzzle, despite a vague sense of a tad too many short initialisms, some awkward word constructions, and possibly an excess of proper names.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a smooth solve for me, albeit not quite quickly. Not a good sign since the online ACPT tournament puzzles start TODAY! But those will be a lot harder than this one, and I will have plenty of time to stare at a blank grid for Puzzle 5 this afternoon! I wonder if there will be less stress for that since I will be comfy in my own home after (hopefully!) a great night’s sleep in my own bed? Probably not! But I digress! Ed, keep these fun puzzles coming. Love the stack in the middle! (See below.) A joyous 4.5 stars from me.
A few notes:
- 17A [Comic-Con attendees] NERDS – Watch it! This entry may offend literally EVERY SOLVER OF THIS PUZZLE!!
- 18A [Happy] ALL SMILES – People describe me like this all the time!
- 33A [Residential cliché] HOME SWEET HOME – This was a good clue. Didn’t fool me, though!
- 37A [How a close race may go] DOWN TO THE WIRE – Like the tournament final on Sunday, perhaps?
- 38A [It gets last licks] POPSICLE STICK – Now I am getting hungry …
- 54A [It helps a mouse communicate] USB PORT – Unless it’s Bluetooth!
- 4D [Sneaky currents] UNDERTOWS – This is why I don’t swim in the ocean. Or Lake Michigan, which has frightening riptide currents.
- 5D [Computer game title island] MYST – I should replay this game, now that it should run smoothly on virtually any computer. Probably is playable on your iPad these days!
- 11D [Piece of silver] SALAD FORK – A not very valuable piece of silver, unless it is a really nice set of silverware! (I don’t have this problem!)
- 25D [Like landlines, nowadays] LOW TECH – I laughed at this one! Who has a land line anymore??
- 36D [Slightly malfunctioned] HICCUPPED – I didn’t see this answer until I had the puzzle finished, but I like it!
- 48D [Evacuee’s emergency kit] GO BAG – I have one ready! Do you? Disasters can happen to any of us.
That is all! Off to solve the ACPT puzzles!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
I am not ready for today’s ACPT! My times on these “Stumpers” have not been great at all recently. This one is no exception. Granted, I was solving this with loud music playing and with family milling around, but once I got to the “zone” of this puzzle, everything fell fairly decently. 1-Across, as usual, stumped me the worst. I finished out in that upper left corner. I LOVED the clues in this one; I am not a great clue writer. I think that is where a lot of the creativity of a constructor can shine, and I am not the most creative person. At least I don’t think so. But after getting stumped on this one, I did in the end enjoy it quite a lot. Good puzzle, Matthew! I am finally getting used to his style after several years! 4.6 stars from me.
A few notes:
- 1A [Latter-day quackery] JUNK SCIENCE – I tried BUNK at first! I know this phrase, but it just wasn’t coming quickly enough for whatever reason.
- 20A [Treatment in oils] BODY WRAP – I have never had one of these. Should I?
- 30A [First Muslim with an acting Oscar (2017)] ALI – Mahershala Ali has won for Moonlight and Green Book, I believe. That is off the top of my head. I haven’t seen the former, loved the latter.
- 39A [”Rubbish!”] “MY HAT!” – No one says this, but it’s gettable!
- 47A [Megalopolis renamed in 1995] BOMBAY – This is Mumbai now. Similar thing happened to Chinese cities around the same time.
- 59A [SpaceX propellant] LOX – Someone explain this!
- 3D [Marc Antony descendant] NERO – I did not know this. Great-grandson, perhaps? Or closer?
- 9D [Actor whom Obama called ”big-eared and level-headed”] NIMOY – This is funny, accurate, and mean all at the same time!
- 12D [Where Nauru is] MICRONESIA – I have some friends who lived out this way. I am jealous of them! I’ll bet it’s beautiful!
- 14D [Inclination] SLOPE – It wasn’t SLANT??
- 24D [Its logo represents a motor cross-section] TESLA – I might literally buy one of these. They aren’t as horribly expensive as I thought. I need a garage to park it in, though …
- 38D [”Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” scheme] AABB – I figured this out without any crossings!! It was a miracle!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Steve Mossberg’s Universal crossword, “Chicken Choices” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Cuts of chicken are found in common phrases.
- TENDER HEARTED
- STRIP MALL
- FINGER WAG
- NUGGET OF TRUTH
Great puzzle. Excellent entries all around. In addition to the delightful themers, the longer answers all shined. PRIDE FLAG! EAU DE GAGA!! INNER NERD!!! MAIL TRAIN!
I mean, EAU DE GAGA for the win. Never knew that was a thing, but so cool to see it in a puzzle (and very inferable).
I was caught off-guard by the clue for TEA denoting the phrase “Spill the TEA” as being Black vernacular. It’s such a common phrase in these parts amongst all the cultures (in a public school setting anyway). It was a bit of a deeper dive to look into it, but sure enough, it seems to have started in Black culture, and more specifically, Black drag culture.
I wondered for quite a while how ASHES were [Workout reminders?], then I realized I made my recurring mistake where I mix up ACER and ASIC, so the second letter as entered was initially wrong.
Great puzzle today. 4.25 stars.