Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I like the ne*u*a echo of NEBULA and NERUDA. (I’m sure I’m not the only crossworder who picks up on such things.) I also like the echo of recent discussions complaining about food from other cultures being too difficult in terms of vocabulary—BIBIMBAP! AREPAS! BANANA CREAM! (I’ll bet banana cream pie is a weird foreign concoction to much of the world.)
Fave fill: The foods, PETTY TYRANT, a PACKED HOUSE, SNOOKUMS, old Hollywood PRE-CODE, LATKE (more food!), GATEWAY DRUG, PUDDY TAT.
Did not know: 48a. [Russian writer and dissident Limonov], EDUARD. Here’s Wikipedia, if you don’t know the name and would like to read up a bit.
Seven more things:
- 24a. [Crime show extras, for short], PERPS. “Extras”? On Law & Order: SVU, the perp is generally a guest actor who has lines, and not an extra.
- 11d. [Appointed by the court], AD LITEM. As in a guardian ad litem appointed to look out for the rights and well-being of a child when their parent is, say, neglectful.
- 1a. [Birdie of Broadway’s “Bye Bye Birdie”], CONRAD. I learned this for work! I thought I was going to zip through the whole puzzle since 1a was a gimme, but it was merely a respectable Saturday time for me.
- 32a. [Result of selling out], PACKED HOUSE. I read the clue as pertaining to someone who’s sold out, vs. a theatrical venue that’s sold all the tickets for a show.
- 40a. [Live on water, say], FAST. Radio host Joe Madison recently ended a hunger strike after 70-some days, having failed to motivate Congress to secure the voting rights bill.
- 42a. [Sayings attributed to Jesus], LOGIA. I did not know this, but with some crossings in place I somehow knew it.
- 17d. [The right one can produce a smile], PARENTHESIS. As in the emoticon, :-).
4.25 stars from me. Good night, and welcome to the weekend.
Brad Wiegmann’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Turning a Loss Into a Win” — pannonica’s write-up
Simple concept here. Phrases containing a single letter L have that replaced by a W for punny results.
- 22a. [Head-turner handling some housework?] SWEEPING BEAUTY (Sleeping Beauty).
- 27a. [Author Woolf gets some exercise?] VIRGINIA SWIMS (Virginia Slims). (yuck)
- 46a. [Salon worker’s comment to a returning customer?] SIT BACK AND REWAX (sit back and relax).
- 60a. [What you have when your aide faints in the delivery room?] MIDWIFE CRISIS (midlife crisis). I heard that that BBC show was supposed to be good.
- 75a. [Person who convinces Dracula to stop drinking blood?] VAMPIRE SWAYER (vampire slayer).
- 90a. [Tragic moment at a dinner party?] THE END OF THE WINE (the end of the line).
- 102a. [Canine communication?] WAGGING BEHIND (lagging behind). INDICATOR did not fit, obvs.
- 112a. [Part of a Southeast Asian playground?] SINGAPORE SWING (Singapore sling).
These are … okay. It’s a crossword that happily chugs along until it’s completed.
- 10d [Solves word problems?] EDITS. Cute.
- 11d [Number of Grammys won by Katy Perry] NONE. I guess that’s surprising.
- 23d [Coat in the kitchen] BREAD. Tricksy, took me a while to make sense of it. Coat is a verb in the clue.
- 35d [Hersey’s “A Bell for __”] ADANO. Classic crosswordese.
- 40d [Syrup-topped treats] SNO-CONES. That was tough to see.
- 49d [What gerrymanderers do] REDRAW. In the news a lot currently.
- 78d [Yellow subs?] OLEOS. Nothing to do with the Beatles. The jaundiced butter substitute.
- 89d [Drink of the disapproving] HATERADE. Not yet in any major dictionaries.
- 99d [Took advantage of] ABUSED. Was no indication of malfeasance in the clue, but it’s still accurate (if not universally).
102d [Carolina singers] .
- 18a [Lash of old westerns] LARUE. More hoariness.
- 20a [Skippable part of a streamed show] RECAP. Nice little clue.
- 24a [She and Timberlake sang the duet “The Only Promise That Remains”] MCENTIRE. So often we see REBA in a grid, but not her surname.
- 42a [Side-walk artists?] CRABS. Wordplay duly noted. Tried to find some brachyuran street art, but alas.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this one. On to the Stumper!
S.N.’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Once again, a puzzle that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish. More than other Stumpers since I’ve started recapping them for FiendCo, this one seemed especially resistant to even grant toeholds at the outset.
Slowly I made some inroads in the southwest and then the northeast, such that I was able to guess at the answer to the spanning central entry, whose identity came as a surprise to me. 33a [Best female character of all time, per a “Hollywood Reporter” poll (2016)] HERMIONE GRANGER. On the other hand, it is a poll and subject to, among other things, a recency bias.
I kept cracking at the shell of this thing until it finally revealed all its fruits. The southeast was next to fall, and finally I powered through the northwest. Despite the one 15-letter entry linking things up, it really felt like five separate puzzles to conquer.
- 1a [Step-saving route] CROSSCUT. Surely I wasn’t the only one to plunk in SHORTCUT here. I had to abandon it, but kept eying the correct-seeming down entries for those three final letters. Nevertheless, I deleted them and only later came back to the idea that at least that part was okay.
- 9a [Word from the Greek for “panting”] ASTHMA. I appreciate the trivia clues that you can reason your way through.
- 16a [DuPont’s countertop brand] CORIAN. Was able to dredge it from memory with, oh, four letters in place.
- 19a [Puts up] RISKS, 59a [Puts up] ERECTS.
- 20a [Fate of some rats] EXILE. Metaphorical human ones.
- 30a [One with a big food bill] IBIS. Don’t feel that that’s accurate. It’s more long than big in my opinion, but of course the wordplay wouldn’t work for that … You know what? I did some looking at images and have revised my assessment.
- 32a [“Back” or “front” group] NINE. This is golf.
- 38a [“New World Symphony” soloist] OBOE. This is Dvořák.
- 39a [Ice cream scoop] DISHER. Had DIPPER for a while.
- 46a [Shut down] END, 54d [Taboo] BAN.
- 48a [Stall starter] FORE-. 51a [Stall sound] SNORT. 53d [Certain foal] ASS.
- 58a [Guard duty] ALERTING. That was strangely elusive.
- 60a [It started as a playing-card seller (1889)] NINTENDO. Trivia I vaguely knew.
- There’s another explicitly dated clue: 22a [Doubleday’s post, early 1861] SUMTER.
- 4d [Minimalist furniture maker of old] SHAKER. There’s a real aesthetic quality to the simplicity of their creations: furniture, baskets, etc. Wikipedia informs me that the total population of Shakers stands at 2.
- 7d [Exploit] USE, 9d [Exploit] ACT.
- 23d [What the moons Ariel and Oberon are] URANIAN. This one was so straightforward I overlooked the obvious for the longest time.
- 29d [ __ blue (Ivy hue)] ELI. Missed the capitalized I for a long while.
- Favorite clue: 43d [Attended or adopted] TOOK IN.
- 56d [School teaching self-restraint] ZEN.
Have a listen to my favorite shakuhachi album, if you like, for a meditative Saturday morning.
Christina Iverson’s USA Today crossword, “In a Nutshell”—Matthew’s write-up
Our theme answers all feature the letters of the word “nut” bracketing the rest of the entry – a nut-shell:
- 17a [Had a passionate discussion about numbers, e.g.] NERDED OUT
- 28a [Place for a vacation in the buff] NUDIST RESORT
- 49a [Chart-topper] NUMBER ONE HIT
- 64a [“Well said!”] NICELY PUT
Fun theme set for my money. The first and fourth themers break the key letters N-UT, while the middle two break them NU-T, which is nice. In general, there are far far fewer new-to-me entries in this one. Small bummer
- 67a [Contraction that rhymes with “sour”] HOW’RE. This is fair and absolutely used in my speech, but I don’t love contractions like this as puzzle entries. A theoretical “HOW ARE” would be an iffy-at-best partial. Is it markedly different from IT’D at 5D or IT’LL at 51? I don’t know, though I’ll note that those fill-in-the-blank clues are more palatable the more colorful the clued phrase is. Your mileage on all of this may vary, of course.
- 22d [____ Jean Covey (role for Lana Condor)] LARA. I haven’t yet seen To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but it is very much on my list, and has been long enough that I knew this answer anyway.
- 55d [TiVo remote button] PAUSE. TiVo apparently still exists!