Daniel Okulitch’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Such a pretty grid, you can zoom around through the curves, encountering all sorts of zippy fill. You have to do some MENTAL GYMNASTICS, and did you notice that phrase is 16 letters long, so the puzzle has loosened its waistband for comfort.
Fave fill: HORCRUX, producer Eva LONGORIA, MOLTO BENE, SLUSHIE (would’ve been nice not to have “icy” in the clue with ICE CREAM crossing this—”frozen” is right there waiting), PLOT TWIST, THE G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time), HOT COMB, POUR-OVER coffee, BARCELONA with the largest football stadium, trivia, TIMOTHEE Chalamet, VALENTINE, and EGO BOOST.
Five more things:
- 35a. [Words read with feeling], BRAILLE. Literally.
12a. [Thanksgiving and Pride both have one], PARADE. Wildly easy clue for a Saturday puzzle, but I’m always happy with a Pride Parade reference. Man, I hope we get back to a life someday where it’s not medically dangerous for a transplant recipient to go to fun, crowded events. (Remember 2020? I’m still living that 2020 vibe.)
- 41a. [Scissors Palace, Anita Haircut or Do or Dye (all real places!)], SALON. It took me a minute to find the Caesars Palace pun there. Love it!
- 9d. [Danish tourist attraction with multiple play areas], LEGO HOUSE. I know of LegoLand, had not known there was a House.
- 25d. [/ or \], SLASH. People. I beg of you: the regular one, that’s probably grouped with other punctuation on your keyboard, is just a slash. That backslash is for coding. The other one? You don’t need to append forward to it. Its name is slash.
Enjoy your weekend, folks! 4.2 stars from me.
David Karp’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Field of Dreams” — pannonica’s write-up
Soo, reinterpretations of familiar phrases so that they apply to sporting venues.
- 23a. [Uplifting place for soccer?] ELEVATOR PITCH.
- 32a. [Violent place for a marathon?] CRASH COURSE.
- 49a. [Tough-to-find place for golf?] MISSING LINKS.
- 72a. [Hilarious place for Nascar?] LAUGH TRACK.
- 75a. [Tidy place for boxing?] NAPKIN RING. This one is the biggest stretch among the themers, and it isn’t so extreme.
- 93a. [Windy place for bowling?] TORNADO ALLEY.
- 112a. [Sanguine place for baseball?] HOPE DIAMOND.
- 125a. [Hopping place for basketball?] KANGAROO COURT.
Amusing, entertaining, satisfying.
- 1d [Shelf rattler] TREMOR. Was picturing something physically on a shelf.
- 6d [Oar pin] THOLE. (psst, play Spelling Bee yet today?)
- 8d [Mentalist’s skill] ESP. I’d say ‘guile’, but hey.
- Longdowns are situated toward the middle of the grid: 31d [Washington wheeler-dealers] POLITICOS, 60d [Barbra Streisand’s “What’s Up, Doc?” co-star] RYAN O’NEAL. Oh! There’s also EYESHADOW and HAPHAZARD closer to the edges (13d, 83d)
- 67d [Toothpaste promoted by Bucky Beaver] IPANA. This is like crossword royalty or something.
- 69d [Medium that outsold CDs in 2020 for the first time since the 1980s] VINYL. It’s been heading that way for a while. Retro hipster cachet. I certainly can appreciate the appeal, though.
- 109d [Bulbous] ROTUND.
- 6a [Fan’s stand-up routine?] THE WAVE. Theme-adjacent? Seems so to me.
- 16a [Candy known more for its packaging than its taste] PEZ. Hey, you leave Pez alone!
- 19a [Up] RISEN.
- 29a [“…thunder, lighting __ rain?”: “Macbeth”] OR IN. Anyone seen the Joel Coen-directed Macbeth? It’s gotten mostly good reviews, but I tried to watch it and was stymied by Apple’s layered inanity and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Regarding the film itself: from what I’ve seen I’m reminded of Carl Th. Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928), a personal favorite.
- 40a [ __ spell (rest)] SIT A.
- 91a [Booze with a lot of buzz around it?] MEAD. Because it’s made of honey. I tend to refer only to spirits—so-called hard liquor— as ‘booze’, but perhaps that’s idiosynctratic.
- 127a [Full-groan man?] PUNSTER. Oh man.
Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword: Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
(apologies for the stray artifact at the right upper border of the grid)
Once again, when I was about halfway through the solve, I wondered if I’d be able to finish it at all, let alone in a reasonable time. And once again, it cracked here and there, incrementally revealing itself until it was all done but for a final two crossings of 25d [Certain DNA test] AMNIO, and soon enough that fell too.
This is in my opinion exactly how a Stumper should play out.
- 5a [Safari wear] SUN HELMETS. Had the –ME– in place early on, so I was confident it would be plural HELMETS, but PITH frustratingly would not fit.
- Northeast and southwest have triple-stacked tens and—along with the grid-spanner in the center row—they comprise the marquee elements of the grid. SUN HELMETS/ANYONE ELSE/FIELD TRIAL and FRUIT TARTS/FINGER ROLL/TAKES A KNEE. For these, the clues are typically fair but a tad oblique. My favorite of the bunch is for the last: 61a [Refuses to stand for it].
- Aforementioned longest entry: 36a [Still very much with us] ALIVE AND KICKING.
- 21a [Protection from winding] SCARF. Unless I’m missing something, this clue is either a very bad pun or just doesn’t work.
- 24a [Favored specialties] BAGS. My last piece of fill. This is meant as in, “oh! that’s my bag”, like “that’s my jam”.
- 27a [Catania cathedral] DUOMO. Another one I wasn’t quite sure of, but played the odds on.
- 29a [GSUSA divisions] TPS. Not looking this up, so it remains an utter mystery to me.
- 34a [“Absolument pas!”] NON!
- 41a [“Kapeesh!”] OH I SEE. Another one of those crossings that helped to stymie me on AMNIO. I must have subconsciously taken the exclamation point for a question mark, thus imagining the wrong speaker. To be fair, the word is probably more common in the interrogative.
- 43a [Hairstyling enhancements] BEADS, 45a [Hairstyling device] IRON, 20d [Hairstyling substance] GELÉE.
- 53a [Contemporary of Ravel] SATIE.
- Double-stacked tens in the opposite corners from the horizontal stacks: PARTICULAR/GREEN OLIVE and THIS OR THAT/PINE NEEDLE. Good stuff.
- 5d [Not so touchy] SAFER. Unsure about how this one works also. Touchy rather than touch-and-go? Or of a person, like a touchy person is not so safe to be around? Weird.
- 8d [Guru Granth Sahib, for Sikhs] HOLY BOOK. From a very cursory look, it seems the traditional style is to have wide pages with relatively narrow margins, which is a bit unsettling to me.
- 12d [Marlon’s three-time director] ELIA. Brando, Kazan.
- 13d [Bridegroom in a Rimsky-Korsakov opera] TSAR. Not familiar with The Tsar’s Bride (1899). It seems that the titular TSAR, Ivan IV, does not physically appear in the story? 51d [Big number to render] ARIA.
- 23d [Ignore a “Simpsons” suggestion] CALVE. Ugh.
- 33d [Rolls for repairs] TAPES. One of the more oblique clues here.
- 37d [Couples-cruise venue] NOAH’S ARK. No question mark here? Stumpery, I guess.
- 46d [Originally, the color of undyed wool] BEIGE. “Borrowed from French, going back to Middle French baige, noun derivative of Old French bege ‘uncolored, having the color of natural wool,’ of uncertain origin” (m-w)
- 48d [What many gloves are made of] LATEX? LINEN? LISLE!
- And a parting bit of trivia: 58d [Only 50-state network] PBS.
Billy Bratton’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
That’s three sub-3-minute Saturdays in a row. I could use a little more of a challenge, please.
Things I like about this grid: COCO CRISP (I have always been amused by the similarity of his name to the cereal as pointed out in the clue), TITICACA (as the Animaniacs said, “Lake Titicaca, why do we sing of its fame? … ‘Cause we really like saying its name!”) TEXAS TOAST, the clue for AIR MATTRESSES, how there was still potential for misdirection in 2D even as I was never fooled into thinking the clue had anything to do with truth-telling. (I just put SAT UP in there at first instead of the correct STOOD.) Also, I’m shocked that Chopin wrote only three PIANO SONATAS, and enjoyed learning that from the puzzle.
What I didn’t like so much: I would love to retire AOLER forever, and the clue for LEARN, [Teach improperly?] really rubbed me the wrong way. I hadn’t thought about this much until recently, when I learned that at least one major puzzle venue avoids cluing words as “slangy” because slang to some might be standard language to another. I’m not sure I will never again use the word “slang” in a clue, but “improperly” here sure feels like an unnecessary value judgment.
Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today crossword, “Wise Cracks”—Matthew’s recap
Theme: Each themer is bracketed by the letters of the word “WISE”, which is “cracked” into WI- and -SE pieces.
- 19a [Popular soiree pairing[ WINE AND CHEESE
- 37a [Wrapping up] WINDING TO A CLOSE
- 54a [Cord-free computer accessory] WIRELESS MOUSE
Fave fill: I DON’T WANNA [3d- “You can’t make me”], CHARMERS, and CROWDSURFS.
Something I learned: Fashion designer ALEXA Chung. Usually I learn fashion names from Stella’s Tough As Nails puzzles, but not today. Ms. Chung is also a writer and model for Elle, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Hannah Slovut’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 4″— Jim Q’s write-up
- I SEE IT NOW!
- SOURCE CODE
- EARTH TONES
- IN A MOMENT
- BAD DREAM at BED TIME!
Of the four freestyle puzzles we’ve seen this year, this one took me the longest to solve (just under 5:00), so maybe they’re getting a bit harder?
Really nice corners in this one with some colorful entries. I wasn’t confident with the phrase LAST GASP (though I’m sure I’ve heard it), and- ironically- I needed nearly every cross of I SEE IT NOW! so I was off to a rough start.
New for me:
ILANA Glazer. Also, I can never remember how to spell BEIGNETS! They are delicious, however.
Enjoyed the meta-clues for EASE [Word that sounds like its first and last vowel] and TEA [Drink that sounds like its first letter], although they were similar in nature.
Enjoyable, as always! Thanks, Hannah.