Brian Thomas & Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What the…? Why did this feel like a Friday puzzle rather than a Saturday? I even spent the first 5 or 10 seconds of the solve time looking to see if this had Brooke’s customary diagonal symmetry or the NYT’s standard rotational (it’s the latter).
Fave fill: AZTEC, “WHAT A TRIP!”, HARDASS (which I filled in off the H but assumed I would have to change—delighted it was actually the answer!!), “LOVED IT,” GESUNDHEIT, “TOP THAT!”, and the great RAPINOE.
Did not know these two things:
- 6d. [Cold War-era group that included Louis Armstrong], JAZZ AMBASSADORS. I thought it was weird to describe a jazz band as a Cold War group, but that is literally what’s going on here! The U.S. asked its best jazz musicians to travel the world as cultural ambassadors, despite Jim Crow laws meaning that these same musicians weren’t treated as full citizens in their own country.
- 25d. “Creature From the Black Lagoon” co-star], JULIE ADAMS. I know some folks who have been binge-watching Murder, She Wrote—on which Ms. Adams had a recurring role!
The crossings were smooth enough that I filled in that 15 and that 10 without a struggle.
Five more things:
- I’m OK with STAYS AT, but LAP AT bugs me because it seems to pop up too often. LAP AT and NIP AT are both overused in grids.
- 34d. [Ice cream shop posting], FLAVORS. Fun clue! Anyone got a lead on decent sugar-free frozen desserts?
- 28a. [Where “Home” might be found], MENU PAGE. I’m not sure what this means. Are there websites with “menu pages”? Is this about food menus, or software command menus?
- 40a. [Relatives of cornets], CLARIONS. Wait. A clarion call means an actual blast from a horn?? I need to look this up. OK, it was a medieval/Renaissance thing.
- 14d. [It’s a blessing], GESUNDHEIT. This really is the best thing to say in response to a sneeze. It’s the German word for health. “Bless you” feels theologically weird (uh, what exactly is assumed to happen when someone sneezes?) as well as wildly inapt when aimed at atheists.
Four stars from me. And yes, I did see the nudge in the 3d clue, [“Five stars from me”]!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
It is official: the “Stumper” is DEFINITELY easier! I got a Brad Wilber puzzle done in under 10 minutes! Brad’s editing for the Boswords puzzles make those quite the challenge, and this was not quite that hard. Perhaps just thorny enough at the beginning, but that is fine; we don’t want it TOO easy! Fun one today once the toehold was gained. This probably means next week will be a doozy! 4.7 stars from me.
A few notes:
- 1A [Roped calf’s protest] BAWL – I thought this might be BLEAT, but that didn’t fit. Does a calf “bawl”?
- 20A [Medieval book of fables] BESTIARY – I had the error here, and LEAR at 6D makes much more sense than the LEAL I had in there!
- 37A [Quarters for sailors] BOATELS – A boat-hotel, I suppose. I don’t think I have ever seen one of these. Unless that is what a cruise ship technically is!
- 47A [”Stay-put” contract stipulation] NO TRADE – Common in sports contracts, but I think they also exist in other venues. I could be wrong.
- 51A [How stalactites form] OVERTIME – I had OVERHEAD, which is also correct! Just not in this puzzle!
- 58A [Takes eight tiles in Scrabble, e.g.] ERRS – Because you only get 7! But I am sure this crowd already knows that!
- 1D [Lifting impediment] BAD BACK – Who are YOU telling? Nearly 30 years of UPS and my back is shot to pieces!
- 13D [W-2 addressees] EARNERS – This is one of those that is easy AFTER you get it. Made little sense before that!
- 39D [Pious, from the Hebrew for ”piety”] HASIDIC – As I often say, there are many Amish around where we live; not many Hasidic Jewish people. But this is a great clue.
- 49D [Creator of Angela’s ”Groove Back” Stella] TERRY – I read this book many years ago and I think I saw the movie, too. I am getting old …
We will stop there. Off to do more puzzles!
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Had fun with this one. Quick write-up today; we are out of town on a biking vacation! I have done a few Craig Stowe puzzles in my days on this blog, so that may have helped wipe this one out fairly easily. I hope! Time was just a hair over 5 minutes. I’ll take it! 4.5 stars from me.
Some high points:
- 1A [Entertainment genre with a French name of uncertain origin] VAUDEVILLE – Interesting clue!
- 20A [Johnny Cash’s “At Folsom Prison” was recorded in one] STATE PEN – Isn’t this redundant?
- 28A [Emmy-winning journalist O’Donnell] NORAH – I have been watching more of the CBS evening news since it is on right before Wheel of Fortune, but all network news is unbearable to watch.
- 37A [Longtime Italian coffee brand] LAVAZZA – My bike is a Trek, and the Trek pro bike team is also sponsored by Segafredo, which is ANOTHER Italian coffee brand. I’ll bet they’re both fantastic. One of these days I am going to Rome …..
- 63A [“You betcha!”] “YES INDEEDY!” – Wonderful casual phrase!
- 4D [“The Pit and the Pendulum” setting] DUNGEON – I haven’t read this in ages. I should dig out some of his old stories and re-read them. Off to fine my online library app …
- 47D [Meryl’s “Mary Poppins Returns” role] TOPSY – I this the new movie with Emily Blunt that I have never seen?
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!
Billy Bratton’s Universal crossword, “Particle Emissions”— Jim Q’s write-up
This appears to be a debut for Billy Bratton! Congratulations!
THEME: The word BETA gradually goes away at the beginning of common phrases.
- (revealer) BETA DECAY.
- BET THE FARM.
- BE YOURSELF.
- B POSITIVE.
Excellent grid today. Lots of enjoyable fill, to the point that I really didn’t see (or care about) what the theme was. I missed the clue for BETA DECAY entirely, and wasn’t expecting a revealer in that position so had to hunt around once I’d finished the solve. No harm done.
THINGS OF NOTE:
- TENOR SAX– nice nod to Sonny Rollins in the clue!
- B POSITIVE– never heard of the TV Show. What’s it about? Ah- looks like something to do with a kidney transplant.
- Feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen TAYE Diggs! Welcome back!
- LAYETTE is new for me. I guess I’m not up on baby outfits. Need to go to more showers I suppose.
- Just saw the clue for TP-ED [Rolled up?]. The clue makes up for the crosswordy entry.
4 stars today! Again, super impressive open grid with lots of interesting fill.
Alan DerKazarian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Beam Us Down, Scotty” — pannonica’s write-up
I like the visual setup of this one. It has to do with the Star Trek technology of transporter beams.
- 39dR [“Star Trek” device sending the six circled characters from the 43-Across to an 85-Across] TRANSPORTER. The crew members (I would have eschewed the ambiguous term ‘characters’—as we are dealing with letters and orthography here) are relocated from the orbiting ENTERPRISE (43a) to the surface of an ALIEN PLANET (85a) below.
- 56d. [With 60-Down, what the 39-Down is sending the characters through] the interstitial OUTER | SPACE. (The ambiguity of ‘characters’ works perfectly here.)
Anyway, we’ve got six crew members from the original series whose first parts appear in the upper section of the grid … and conclude in bottom section, in the same column. And this is where the conceit breaks down a bit. The technology (which itself is philosophically problematic—more on this later) is meant to transport people and things wholesale by disaggregating and reintegrating their very molecules. So it’s jarring to see them split in two, all disjunct. On the other hand, I concede that there’s no good way to visually represent the process, so this is probably as good if not better than any other.
- Pavel CHEKOV is divided between APACHE and KOVACS (didn’t I just invoke him yesterday?). (1d, 87d)
- Leonard MCCOY from TMC and COY. (27d, 90d)
- James KIRK via ENOKI and RKO. (7d, 112d)
- Nyota UHURA through DUH and URALS. (11d, 102d)
- Hikaru SULU by LSU and LUC (as in [Captain Jean-__ Picard] —this ‘bonus’ is distracting). (31d, 94d)
- Vanderbilt SPOCK from THE ASP and OCKHAM. (17d, 97d)
Visually these six more-or-less evenly spaced columns evoke the visual style of the transporter room. Another plus.
Now, I happened to swipe that image from an ars technica article about the philosophical conundrum I alluded to above. Convenient, because I wasn’t sure which link I was going to provide to explain it, which I’d first encountered years ago in some book or other. As I’m already writing this post on the late side, I haven’t read the article, but a it seems extensive and I’m confident it covers the bases adequately.
No time to write about the rest of the fill, which was, ermm, solid?