Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hello there! It’s 11:00 Friday night, so let’s get right to it.
68-worder with two Across 14s each anchoring a pair of quadrants, and then there are Down 9s that connect to the central 7 that’s the doorway between halves of the grid, GAY PORN. Hey, if you can have PORN and PORNO in the crossword and in the Spelling Bee, GAY PORN is fair game. How would you clue it besides [Homoerotic viewing]?
The other showy entries include MEGACHURCH, a BRONZER PALETTE, WENT OUT ON A LIMB, ICEBREAKER, MOM BLOGS (I guess they evolved from mommy blogs as the kids outgrew saying “mommy”?), AMAZON PAY, TROLL ARMY, NUMETAL (man oh man, I needed so many crossings because [Genre popularized by Limp Bizkit and Korn] is just not for me, and I think maybe it needs an umlaut?), and MEATBAGS (if your own particular meatbag isn’t giving you much trouble, do remember to thank it for carrying you around).
Wasn’t wild about the shorter fill, which included IN RE, AGAR, and a bunch of abbrevs. The price you pay, typically, for getting those wide-open chunks in the grid. Also furrowed my brow at GOT SORE and LIBATE.
Seven more things:
- 20d. [150-year-old org. that filed for bankruptcy in 2021], NRA. “Hah hah!”, said in the mockingest tone you can muster. Note: In his notes at Wordplay, Ryan says he’s since removed NRA from his word list, and he apologizes for any offense caused by its appearance here.
- 29a. [Poetic contraction], ‘TIL. Please tell me your favorite poem that includes this word.
- LMAO at TMI being the answer immediately following GAY PORN.
- 40a. [Upgrade for a train passenger], PARLOR CAR. Not a term I knew. Maybe Amtrak Joe knows it. But! Here in Chicago, the newly designated Pullman National Monument opened to the public on Labor Day. The Pullman company made “palace cars” for trains, and also established a company town and screwed over the workers, including Black porters on the trains, leading to a massive labor strike.
- 3d. [Tragic downfall?], TEARDROP. Great clue!
- 39d. [Like some sleeping problems], APNEAL. What? I don’t think so. Dr. Jenni, can we get a ruling on this? Does APNEAL have legit uses, or should this be APNEIC?
- 12d. [Riz ___, Emmy winner for 2016’s “The Night Of”], AHMED. He also starred in a recent movie called Sound of Metal, which I watched with great interest as his character loses his hearing. I don’t know that I really identified much with him, though. Have not yet seen Coda, which is about a young woman who’s the only hearing member of her family; Marlee Matlin costars, as do other deaf/Deaf actors.
Four stars from me.
Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Chart Toppers”—Matthew’s write-up
It took me a minute post solve as well as a close look at the title to find the theme, but it’s a great set:
- 3d- (Rhyming hippie slogan) FLOWER POWER
- 24d- (Initial business expense) START UP COSTS
- 8d- (“No problem at all!”) PIECE OF CAKE
- 26d- (Smallest possible amount) BARE MINIMUM
The first word of each themer has a hidden word at the beginning: FLOW, STAR, PIE, and BAR are all types of charts, as hinted by the title. Really elegant theme set in its consistency. Pseudo-themers BULLET LIST (18a- Formatted series of points) and FIRST OF ALL (56a- “Before I say anything else…”) are assets to the fill, as well.
- 29a- (Destroyed, in gaming) REKT. I was never in a gaming community or group that used this term, but it’s grown pretty widespread. Fun to see it here.
- 36a- (Apple music device) IPOD. The iPod Touch is the only model still in production with the rise of smartphones, though with streaming music most of my storage space is used on pet photos now.
- 40a- (Like the beef in kitfo) RAW. Kitfo is an Ethiopian dish that can be quite spicy. I’ve always opted for veggie platters myself.
- 31d- (“Exile and Pride” author Clare) ELI. I believe this is a debut cluing angle for the well-trodden ELI! And of course, an addition to my lifelong reading list.
Matthew Sewell’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Long time Stumper creator Matthew Sewell has today’s LAT Saturday challenge puzzle. Not quite as tough as a Stumper, that’s for sure. I usually move my cursor to 1-Across for the grid image, but you can see where I finished this puzzle: right where I started! Yes, I start at the beginning, but I noticed on one of the Boswords live solves that one solver purposely started in the lower left corner, with the assumption that the constructor would have been more constrained to fill that part since there are likely seed entries in the upper half of the grid. Interesting theory; maybe I will try it someday. (if I remember!) But for now, my old tried and true method still functioned. 4.5 stars from me.
A few more comments:
- 1A [Dispute over intellectual property] PATENT WAR – I had 7D as PITS, so this is why I finished here. See 7-Down for more.
- 17A [“__ is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom”: Dylan] A HERO – An awkward partial, for sure, but the quote saves it.
- 27A [Catch on] START A TREND –
- 41A [Slant given to a reality TV antagonist] VILLAIN EDIT – I thought this was VILLAINED IT, and I thought I had made an error! Maybe it’s because I don’t watch much reality TV!
- 50A [Winning four consecutive majors over a two-year span, as named for the first to do it] TIGER SLAM – Winning a Grand Slam is hard in any sport. Golf is easily the hardest, and if you just manage to win all four just ONCE you have accomplished something. Tennis is difficult, too: just ask Novak Djokovic, who came up just short a week ago!
- 56A [“Is that all?”] “ARE WE DONE?” – Great casual phrase!
- 7D [Roasters, say] WITS – As in a comedy roast. Tricky clue, and likely the best in the puzzle!
- 28D [Body of water often defined as above the tree line] ALPINE LAKE – Sounds like a great vacation spot, albeit in the summer!
- 37D [Big __] DATA – Is this what Google or Amazon would be?
- 44D [Donatella’s designer brother] GIANNI – Wasn’t there a miniseries about this designer family? Particularly about the one who was murdered? Something else to watch ….
- 51D [City at the intersection of I-90 and I-79] ERIE – It helps if you have been there before! I was there once.
It is still nice weather, so I think I will go for a bike ride! Keep puzzling!
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I do have access to these puzzles early, for blogging purposes. So I often try them in an evening, and I started this puzzle late on Friday night, and was a little stumped. Once I slept a bit and looked at it fresh, it fell fairly easily. Perhaps I should tackle these during the week in the morning! Nice puzzle by Greg this week, though. Nothing too difficult, but still enough misdirection to give anybody fits. I have one small nit to pick: the clue for 1-Down contains the word “dramatists,” and the answer for 15-Across contains the word DRAMA. I thought that was what it might be, but I kinda thought it would NOT be since it is basically a repeated word, albeit in a slightly different form. Am I being too nitpicky? I hope not. That is my only negative comment regarding a stellar puzzle. Still a solid 4.4 stars from me.
Some more comments:
- 16A [”Rudolph . . .” rhyme for ”history”] GLEE – I filled this in first! (After some quick singing in my head!)
- 19A [”The greatest,” per FIFA] PELÉ – See next comment!
- 33A [”The greatest,” per himself] ALI – Nice tie-in here! Both were great in their time, and would have been even bigger had better video and social media existed in their day!
- 34A [Difference between oo and OO] CASE – As in upper and lower case. Odd looking clue, but quite straightforward.
- 58A [Touristy spot between Italy and France] MONTE CARLO – Never been here. I don’t think I am rich enough!
- 63A [Remark re roughness] “IT’S NOT EASY!” – Great casual phrase!
- 14D [Exemplar of awesomeness, a century ago] BEE’S KNEES – This isn’t that old; I STILL say it!
- 36D [Small pleasure boat] RUNABOUT – I don’t own a boat. No desire. But this still sounds like fun. Perhaps you can rent one? Nah, I’m not doing that either!
- 44D [Home of Dover AFB] DEL. – Is it me or is this too obvious?
- 58D [It’s seen at the end of ”A Beautiful Mind”] MMI – Clever way to clue a Roman numeral, here! This movie was copyrighted in 2001, and thus you WOULD see this at the end credits. Nicely done! It’s not nearly as annoying as a math equation!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
David Distenfeld’s Universal crossword, “The Enemy Within” — Jim Q’s write-up
A decidedly wonderful groaner of a title/revealer.
THEME: The letter strain NME can be found within common phrases.
- LEIGHTON MEESTER
- LINCOLN MEMORIAL
- EASTERN MEDICINE
- IN PERSON MEETING
I was looking for FOE or something of that nature to be hidden within the phrases, based on the title. When the first theme clue asked solvers to notice three letters within each of the starred entries all I noticed post-solve was that they had NME in common, which spells… MEN? That doesn’t make sense. I had a good chuckle in spite of myself when I figured out that… duh… NME is the EN-EM-Y within.
Needed every cross for LEIGHTON MEESTER, but fun enough and fair enough to uncover. MELANGE was an interesting word in there. Not sure if that was in my vocabulary somewhere or not prior to this puzzle. My only NIT is the odd clue for AUNT… [Mother’s sister, say]. Is the “say” part necessary? Oh wait, I see… it’s just to differentiate from the clue for NUNS [Mothers or sisters]. Nah. I still don’t think the “say” part was necessary. I like to save the “,say” “,perhaps” and “,maybe”s in clues for when they’re absolutely necessary.
Clever puzzle, even though I didn’t see the theme until very late.
3.8 stars from me.
Lucy Howard & Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Blockbuster Films” — pannonica’s write-up
Top moneymaking movies from various years. When entered in the grid, they plow through a black square, sometimes called a ‘block’. The second part is clued separately.
- 24a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1970] LOVE ■
25a. [High-rise unit] STORY.
- 36a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1956 (with “The”] TEN ■
38a. [They must be obeyed] COMMANDMENTS.
- 69a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1977] STAR ■
71a. [Major problems?] WARS.
- 102a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1996] INDEPENDENCE ■
106a. [Sandra __ O’Connor] DAY.
- 118a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1922] ROBIN ■
119a. [Parka part] HOOD.
- 4d. [Highest-grossing movie of 1987] FATAL ■
43d. [Magnetic force] ATTRACTION.
- 50d. [Highest-grossing movie of 1986] TOP ■
77d. [Rev] GUN.
- 41a. [Highest-grossing movie of 1965] THE SOUND OF ■
111d. [Scoring result?] MUSIC.
The most impressive aspect of this puzzle is finding two-part entries that break evenly to be placed symmetrically. Certainly, the list of top-grossing films by year comprises more than a hundred, but to pair them, get them in the crossword, and still have a smooth grid?
- 7d [What Beyoncé, Bono and Björk each use] ONE NAME. Among these Bs, only Bono’s is a pseudonym. Beyoncé Knowles, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Paul David Hewson.
- 14d [Mother with a Peace Prize] TERESA. Speaking of which, I was doubly thrown by 81d [What the canonized earn] being SAINTSHIP rather than SAINTHOOD, but which is crossed by 119a HOOD (part of a theme answer).
- 18d [“Lady at the Tea Table” painter] CASSATT.
- 48d [Makes it?] TAGS. Clever and succinct clue.
- 54d [Wife of Saturn] OPS. We don’t usually see this clued via the Roman goddess, correlate of Rhea.
- 72d [Ride an inner tube?] SURF. >narrows eyes<
- 74d [El-operating agcy.] CTA. The crossing of this and 80a [Minuscule amounts] TITTLES was my final square. I just wasn’t seeing “el” for what it was supposed to be, and wasn’t sure if the across entry was LITTLES or something else weird. Possibly 88d [Eensy-weensy] ITTY was corrupting my thoughts as well.
- 91a [It’s just for openers] KNOB. Well, not solely for them, but a fun clue nevertheless.
- 124a [Considers] MULLS, but I had RULES for a while.
Not exactly pc; of its time.
WSJ eighty one down.
Admit it, you were speed solving and entered SAINTHOOD right? Messed up my whole game.
Guilty as charged — and it took me forever to parse 83D …
Last letter of NUMETAL crossing the last letter of TIL… I had ‘S’, which seemed very plausible. Otherwise I was able to plow through the NYT. I’m OK with new-to-me words in a puzzle, but the crossings should be fair.
It doesn’t seem too out there to recognize METAL as part of a music genre name.
Yes, but finding the error in a puzzle is harder when you know there’s an error somewhere but everything you’ve entered looks plausible.
I thought this puzzle was exceedingly difficult, starting with the had to be right Grand JURY after I had the J.
I thought the clue for GAY PORN was fine. I wonder if a clue referencing something more specific like TWINK for example would raise even more eyebrows and be deemed too disconcerting.
Hm! Now I’m wondering if TWINK would even be allowed with that definition? Pre-Shortz eras clued it as [Sparkle], [Flash], the like, which made me giggle, to be honest.
NYT: I was thrown off by the clue for 17a with the word “our,” but then the answer is the abbreviation for “laughing *my*…” And also, because LMAO is an abbreviation, shouldn’t the clue have indicated the abbreviation? In addition, I’ve more commonly seen the term “mommy blogs” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mommyblogs). However, Google does have more hits for “mom blogs.” Anyway, that LMAO and MOMBLOGS crossing gave me trouble for those reasons. Those were slight nits, though, in an otherwise fantastic Saturday puzzle.
I think because LMAO, in usage, is a term unto itself — it’s an acronym, but really it’s a colloquialism — the cluing convention doesn’t require signaling the abbreviation. I’ve seen it signaled before, though. But there’s also the Saturday aspect in this case, wherein conventions like these are sometimes ignored.
Stumper: RAVEL means unravel?? What a country!
(Bonus points for anyone who gets the reference.)
Stumper: how is “Taking for granite” STONY? I mean, I get that granite is a type of stone, but I can’t parse the clue to be equivalent to the answer. If something is STONY, it could be takEN for granite, but not takING.
‘Take’ seems to be used (loosely) in the noun sense here
NYT: I am not a fan of the GAY PORN clue—not the “gay” part but the “porn” part. The old-school feminist in me bristles at the notion of legitimizing an industry that exploits people, regardless of sexual preference.