Joseph Greenbaum’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fun puzzle, though a bit easier than I expect for a Saturday NYT. Lots of fresh fill: the BURPEES that CrossFit aficionados like Stella Zawistowski can do, O’REILLY Auto where my friend Laura works, WINGMEN (gendered but I think women can be good wingmen too), LOST ART, ELEVATOR PITCH, FULL OF SURPRISES, the successful entity called THE WAR ON DRUGS (it didn’t combat drug use but it sure as hell promoted mass incarceration of Black and brown people, which is basically what Nixon was going for), THE ROCK, RENEWABLE ENERGY, PIGLET (but no Milne clue, alas!), TURDUCKEN (any food that starts with turd seems like a bad idea), and “THAT HITS THE SPOT.” This puzzle did hit the spot pretty well.
Less keen on EWER, SSRS, B-TEN, URI, and a bunch of the other 3- to 4-letter fill.
Three more things:
- 5d. [“Patchwork elephant” of children’s literature], ELMER. Who? This is presumably either before or after my time.
- 50a. [Synthetic material also called frozen smoke], AEROGEL. Frozen smoke? I’m drawing a blank on what this could be.
- 13d. [Give waves to with a curling iron, once], MARCEL. I learned about marcelling from Toni Morrison’s Jazz, which is set in the 1920s. I think this might actually be the only Morrison novel I’ve read? Maybe next year I will have it in me to read a book. I haven’t been so inclined this entire pandemic. Anyway, I just did a Google image search for marcelled waves, expecting to see lots of old photos of Black women, and was surprised to see a bunch of 1920s white women instead. Who knew?
Four stars from me, even with the clunky short fill. The overall vibe with the longer fill and cluing worked for me.
Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Looking Sharp”— Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Things that have a point are at the start of common phrases.
- PENCIL MUSTACHE.
- ARROW KEYS.
- PIN NUMBER.
- (revealer) YOU’VE GOT A POINT.
I feel like Universal has been doing a helluva job with clean grids and accessible themes while still keeping the puzzle enjoyable for solvers at all levels. I’ve been doing a lot of side-by-side solving with newer solvers in the last week, and they consistently enjoy the Universal over many others. This one is no exception. Very light on crosswordese and clean as a whistle.
My only nit is that PIN, as clued, does not refer to anything pointy. It refers to a number. The first word in the other themers by comparison are still referring to that which makes them pointy.
Overall, 3.8 stars.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
It has been a while since I have done a C.C. Burnikel puzzle, so it was quite a delight to see the byline in this Saturday’s puzzle! This was a bit of a challenge as I learned a new term or two, but this grid is full of lively entries that her puzzles are always good for. A total pleasure to solve! 4.7 stars from me. (Keeping it short since Lollapuzzoola is coming up quickly!)
A few notes:
- 1A [Stamford-based humanitarian relief group] AMERICARES – I am not familiar with this group. That made things tough …
- 33A [Single-serving coffee units] K-CUP PODS – Look at all of those consonants! We have all used a Keurig at some point; at the very least at a doctor’s office waiting room! Great entry.
- 45A [Cooking student of Martha] INA – This must be referencing Ina Garten. Vague clue that only makes sense once you get a crossing letter or two.
- 54A [Rooney __, co-star of the 2015 film “Carol”] MARA – I know a few of her works, but not this one.
- 60A [“It was fun!”] “WHAT A BLAST!” – Great casual phrase!
- 63A [Be totally stumped] HAVE NO IDEA – I know this feeling on the tougher Saturday puzzles! (Although I got today’s NYT done in 5:29!)
- 13D [Took in, say] ALTERED – This clue is used quite a bit, and I fall for it every time!
- 39D [Buttercup cousin] ANEMONE – These are both flowers, right?
- 43D [It precedes some puck drops] “O CANADA” – There are 6 or 8 Canadian NHL teams, so it’s played quite a bit at NHL games.
- 57D [Many a TikTok teen] E-BOY – This is the other new word to me. I am NOT on TikTok, and I don’t see that changing any time soon!
I will stop there! See many of you later this afternoon!
Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
Got through most of this rather quickly, but the NE corner did me in on this one. I think I had the other 3/4 of this done in about 8 or 9 minutes, but I was lost on a couple of these clues. I do have two minor errors in the grid. I had NOT SO BAD at 10-Down instead of NOT SO HOT. And 31A [Cord cutters] totally messed me up. I had SAVERS in there, but they are referencing actual cords of wood with the answer SAWERS! Nicely done, Stan! As mentioned in my LAT write-up, I will keep this short because Lollapuzzoola is coming up quickly! See you all there later! 4.6 stars for this puzzle.
A few more observations!
- 16A [Persuasive salesperson] HUCKSTER – I laughed out loud when I got this, because my father-in-law calls my youngest son this all the time! He can be quite insistent with certain people.
- 28A [”Go ahead, it’s an __!” (beer slogan)] O’DOULS – What is the point? Just drink a regular beer!
- 33A [”Puh-leeze!”] “LEAVE ME ALONE!” – Great casual phrase, and also a great tie-in clue with 32-Across!
- 36A [Redundant-sounding, rather new refreshment] WATERMELON WATER – Never heard of it. It sounds like regular water!
- 39A [Suite requiring a key] CRYPTO-SYSTEM – This is a computer term, I assume?
- 42A [Circular seals] O-RINGS – Another great clue.
- 1D [Unequivocal renouncement] “HECK NO!” – This is an entry I don’t think I have ever seen! Very nice!
- 6D [”Believe it or not . . .”] “STRANGELY ENOUGH …” – Another great casual phrase!
- 11D [Ellington partner on a ’63 album] COLTRANE – When you figure out this is an eight letter entry, then your choices diminish. Great clue.
- 36D [First to publish blues music (1910s)] W.C. HANDY – I don’t know why I had ragtime on my mind instead of blues. Another informative clue.
- 57D [Exclamation not heard (alas) in ”Hamilton”] BRR – Very nice pun!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!