Brooke Husic & Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Taking a break from my Friday-night streaming obligations (new GBBO and The Morning Show!) for the puzzle. This 72-worder is anchored by the triple-stacked 15s in the middle, with assorted 10s and 12s around and about.
Fave fill: STORE BRAND (shoutout to “Wal-Dryl”!), the Aardman Animation WERE-RABBIT, a timeless old PROPELLER BEANIE, TAKES FOR GRANTED, STARBUCKS ORDERS (would be better in the singular, though), an ODYSSEY, the PLAZA HOTEL, MERCEDES-BENZ.
Nine more things:
- 21a. [Facebook allows for more than 50], GENDERS. I assume there are still some people who don’t feel represented by the options available, but it’s good that the Evil Empire wants everyone to feel at home as their privacy is sold off to advertisers.
- 24a. [Sharon Olds’s “___ to Dirt”], ODE. I don’t know this one. Here’s another Olds poem, “In What Direction or When.”
- 36a. [Grande and others], STARBUCKS ORDERS. My first thought was singer Ariana Grande and my second was the Rio Grande. Not a coffee drinker!
- 37a. [Actress Susan], DEY. About 50 years ago, she played teenaged Laurie Partridge on The Partridge Family. I recently did a Sporcle quiz where I had to summon up the names of all five Partridge kids. My husband and I completely blanked on the two littlest kids!
- 50a. [Creature whose male incubates the eggs, during which it won’t eat, drink or defecate for 50+ days], EMU. Anyone else feel uncomfortably constipated at the very thought of that?
- 14d. [Amounts from a distillery, maybe], BARRELFULS. Some dictionaries give only this plural, while others allow for barrelsful if you swing that way.
- 23d. [Like Tony-winning plays], ON BROADWAY. Is this properly in-the-language for the NYC theater crowd? I thought it was off-Broadway vs just Broadway.
- 29d. [Disposable shoe liners], PEDS. You know, those little foot-only pantyhose bits in a box at the shoe store? So you can try on dress shoes without throwing off the fit by wearing socks, and without tainting the shoes with your stanky bare feet.
- 34d. [Home of the two deepest canyons in the Americas (each 11,500+ feet)], ANDES. That sounds wild. One of the two is called the Colca Canyon, and it’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Anyone else now thinking of NYT Spelling Bee food word colcannon now?
Four stars from me. Back to the Bake Off!
Lynn Lempel’s USA Today crossword, “The Fall of Man”—Matthew’s write-up
It’s Lynn Lempel, so you know we’re in for a goody.
I didn’t catch the title before my solve, and the theme eluded me until I went back later. Themers are the long downs:
- 3d- (Lip balm brand) CHAPSTICK
- 25d- (Bandleader known as “Mr. New Year’s Eve”) GUY LOMBARDY
- 9d- (Paid post-grad positions) FELLOWSHIPS
- 38d- (Western resort) DUDE RANCH
CHAP, GUY, FELLOW, and DUDE, all running down to fit the title “The Fall of Man”. Elegant.
Feeling uninspired (and jet lagged), so no notes today. Have a great weekend!
Stella Zawistowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This was a trademark Stella Stumper today! It is a rare occasion for me that the LAT Saturday puzzle takes longer than the actual Newsday Saturday Stumper to solve, but this is one of those times! Normally this type of grid pattern doesn’t give me too many fits, because there are no super-long entries in the construction. But I am sure I learned a new term or three whilst solving this one! Solved on my iPad, so I am sure that added to the slower time a little, but rest assured that most of that time was spent just sitting there and not typing anything. Still not as hard as the puzzles on her site, which just recently got to puzzle #50, but this one was a doozy. That I absolutely enjoyed! A solid 5 stars out of 5 from me!
A few notes:
- 17A [Twist expert?] IRONIST – Not a word I normally use. I think the author Saki, who used irony a lot, would be an example of an “IRONIST”.
- 31A [Weight training exercise] DEAD LIFT – Stella would put this in one of her puzzles! This is her thing!
- 35A [Hardly symbiotic] DOG EAT DOG – Best clue in the puzzle, and I think I groaned out loud when I got this. Exceptional!
- 40A [Culinary knife cut producing tiny cubes] BRUNOISE – One of those new words I learned!
- 50A [Julie of the “Before” film trilogy] DELPY – I know this actress, but I am not sure how. I have not seen any of these films. I’ll see if they’re on HBO Max!
- 58A [“How stupid of me!”] “I’M A FOOL!” – I may have said this to myself at least once or twice while solving this very puzzle!
- 1D [More than just questioned] GRILLED – I had DRILLED in here, which also works. It just isn’t correct!
- 21D [Singingly, in music] CANTABILE – Another new word to me. I think this is also a term in Stella’s wheelhouse. But nothing wrong with still learning stuff!
- 43D [Isolated, in a way] ENISLED – Not the best entry, since literally NO ONE speaks like this, but if this is the worst in these fairly wide-open corners, then you’ve done OK!
- 59D [Unenthusiastic review] MEH – And also the exact opposite of what I thought of this puzzle!
Whew! Now off to watch a little college football today. Hopefully my Wolverines can bounce back after last Saturday’s agonizing loss. Have a great day!
Lester Ruff’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Usually the Lester Ruff Stan Newman puzzles (his pseudonym meaning “less rough” than normal) are just that: easier. Not so much for me today. Got through the NW section relatively quickly, and then the solve got a little slower. Yes, that is one error mark down where the cursor is in the grid image. I’ll blame that on a mishit on the iPad! Fun puzzle to solve, even though thorny in a few spots. 4.6 stars from me.
Some stuff I liked:
- 18A [J’s ”Men in Black” partner] AGENT L – I couldn’t remember what letter it was! But J was Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones was K. AGENT L was Linda Fiorentino’s character, so maybe that was why I couldn’t remember. Tricky!!
- 19A [Something drawn to scale] ALP – Scale as in “climb”! Very nicely done. There are a few great clues in here for simple three-letter
- 34A [Optimistic sentiment] “I’D LIKE TO THINK SO” – Great casual phrase, and a 15-letter one at that!
- 48A [Litter pickup point] NAPE – Litter as in a puppy or a kitten. I liked this one, although I may have seen similar clues to it before. Maybe it hit home because our cat was right next to me as I solved this one!
- 60A [In a different direction, with force] HARD AWAY –
- 8D [”That’ll do”] “SEEMS ABOUT RIGHT” – Both of the long entries cross in the middle and are casual conversation phrases that mean almost the same thing. Love it!
- 34D [Circle look-alike] ICOSAGON – New word to me! I had the -AGON part, and just threw letters at the rest.
- 53D [Abbr. for a word also with abbrs. by its first four or first five letters] THU – Another clever clue for a common entry.
- 55D & 56D [It sounds like it’s done] OAR & ORE – I had O’ER in here, and thus the error. You know, like a poet might say to cheat a two-syllable word into one! BOTH answers are homophones of said O’ER. Yes, I was fooled!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Katherine Baicker and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword, “Recliner Set”— Jim Q’s write-up
Looks like a debut for Katherine Baicker! Congrats! Hope you’re kickin’ your feet up and enjoying the day.
THEME: Situations where one would lie down.
- BUBBLE BATH
- AFTERNOON NAP
- PILATES CLASS
- SLEEPER CAR
- (revealer) TAKE IT LYING DOWN
A relaxing puzzle, which is completely apt. Very enjoyable. Simple theme and mostly consistent. While they all definitely work with the revealer, I did feel AFTERNOON NAP was a bit of an outlier, only because it’s not really a “place” per se, as the others are. No big deal though. Still works with the revealer, as one would definitely take an AFTERNOON NAP lying down. I try to take one for about 10 minutes every day. Very difficult to do with two Great Danes who are very happy that you just came home. Ouch.
Favorite mistake: 47D [“Goodfellas” co-star Ray]. I entered ROMANO. That would be a hilarious version of that movie.
New for me: Rebecca LOBO.
I believe it’s my first time seeing PPE in a grid. Was that a common-knowledge term prior to the pandemic as it is now?
Thanks, Katherine! Looking forward to more from you!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Resounding Success” — pannonica’s write-up
In which we see a before-and-after theme where the second parts are ablaut reduplicatives. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s certainly easy enough to grasp intuitively.
- 22a. [Foley sound effect in a spaghetti western?] FILM CLIP-CLOP. Don’t see why the ‘spaghetti’ is necessary in the clue.
- 28a. [Fun-size candy bar?] STARTER KIT-KAT.
- 44a. [Slalom maneuver on fresh snow?] POWDERED WIG-WAG.
- 67a. [Statue of Liberty souvenir?] NEW YORK KNICKKNACK.
- 96a. [Lowbrow pickers] GUITAR RIFFRAFF.
- 109a. [Phone your foolish friend?] RING-A-DING-DONG. The first part of this one is also a reduplicative, but a rhyming one.
- 119a. [Conceive an original name for a sandal?] COIN FLIP-FLOP.
No need to dillydally—this was a fun theme and I found it to be well-done.
Theme-adjacent: 37d [Short video service] TIKTOK. Slightly less theme-adjacent: 50a [Wisconsin city named for a Menominee chief] OSHKOSH.
- 3d [“The Optimist’s Daughter” author] WELTY. I didn’t realize she wrote that, nor that it was as early as 1969/1972. Is this the progenitor of all these latter-day “The So-and-So’s Daughter” titles?
- Some good ambiguous cluing throughout, such as 16d [Exploit] GEST and 5a [Packing] ARMED.
- 19d [Classic noir movie] DOA.
- 23d [Break off, as a glacier chunk] CALVE. We’ll be seeing more of that in the coming years, yay. 91a [Leave in a hurry RUSH OFF.
- 40d [Campaign leader] AD EXEC. Great clue.
- 55a [The very beginning] DAY ONE. “If I were creating the world I wouldn’t mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o’clock, Day One!” —Evil, Time Bandits (1981)
- 104d [Mil. officer] ADC. Thought for sure this was ADMiral, but the crossing didn’t work. Aha, it’s short for aide-de-camp. I’ve never seen the abbrev. before.
- 114d [Rock’s Lofgren] NILS. I decree we shall have three NILS videos here today!
- 34a [Tea whose name means “black dragon”] OOLONG. If I knew it, I forgot it, so am glad to have [re]learned it.
- 73a [Spot for a hot pot] STOVE. More rhyming!
- 118a [Like some wells] ARTESIAN. PSA: People, please don’t confuse your artisans and artesians. Thank you.
- 124a [Exploit] PLAY ON. Callback to 16-down.
- 126a [Tolkien’s tree herders] ENTS. Wait, are they trees that herd, or are they just creatures that look like trees and … herd trees?