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!
BIBIMBAP was one of the very few words I have missed after very long strings of QBABM Another was NEPENTHE, so it has not been limited to foods. My objection is that such words are impossible to intuit or even guess–much like many names. Unlike names, which are always tough for me, foods, pure vocabulary, and even fabrics are easy for me to remember. BIBIMBAP and AREPAS were gimmes today. I wonder if there is a word in the Korean or Spanish language that makes BIBIMBAP or AREPAS a gimme or are such words you know them or you don’t?
Careful, q, you’re skating on thin ice around these parts with comments like this
Sanfran, you don’t *have* to try to stir up trouble, you know.
WST – yes a simple theme, but I laughed out loud at the SIT BACK AND REWAX and MIDWIFE CRISIS answers.
Agreed. And I loved THE END OF THE WINE and WAGGING BEHIND as well.
NYT: DNF today because of the CORY/RYDERS crossing. I had ‘I’ instead. I should have known it was CORY Booker and not CORI Bush but I couldn’t see it.
Rather bizarrely, Mr Parker says this doesn’t count as a Natick because Cory Booker is too well known. Whereas NC Wyeth is not? Seems kind of arbitrary, but entirely consistent with Parker’s belief that his judgments of what’s obscure or not are universal, or should be.
I completely agree with you that it is arbitrary – the growth of the crossword community in the last few years, and the growth in what’s represented in fill has me more closely considering any reaction to a puzzle that leans on how well-known something is to me and the arbitrariness of who knows what.
That said, a bugaboo for me is that “Natick” has veered from its original meaning to any one of “a tough crossing,” “a crossing of two proper nouns,” “a crossing of two things I didn’t know”, etc etc.
In the original, the N of N.C. WYETH was *completely* uninferrable to those who didn’t know either the name or the town. I would argue that a question of “I” vs “Y” in COR_ is inferrable even if it *could* be disambiguated further. After all, ambiguity is part of what makes puzzles puzzling!
Why do you think I vs Y is inferrable? Both names exist, and if you don’t know the politician or the song title you’re sunk.
My thinking is that two choices is a reasonable amount of ambiguity – not ideal for the stuck solver, but reasonable. Whereas there were far more plausible letters in the _ATICK/_CWYETH crossing.
I acknowledge I’m more forgiving of crossings like this than many.
Gotcha. I misunderstood what you meant (ambiguity!)
Cory Booker has been a US senator for 9 years! He ran for president in 2020! He’s in (or was in) a relationship with a movie star! He’s certainly fair game for solvers of tough NYT crosswords. Plus, if you’re just not sure what his spelling is, Cory is typically a male spelling and Cori female. Booker is pretty bald (though so is Rep. Ayanna Pressley).
CORY was a gimme for me, but then I do follow politics and the news. It probably doesn’t hurt either that New Jersey politics is close enough to make the Times. RYDER also seemed an appealing spelling, since Ruff was already phonetic rather than literal and since the pun on trucking felt obvious.
Rather, the SW was the killer for me. I was never close to finishing.
I would argue that 17A in the Universal is inaccurate. A “typo” is an error – but this was definitely done on purpose. At best it is an accurate inaccuracy. In the same puzzle, I have never heard of “Hoverhand”. Very descriptive; I knew what it was as soon as I filled it in, but I’ve never heard of it.
Re: NYT 14-D – I’ve heard the opposite proposed – that marijuana is NOT a “gateway drug”, because those who enjoy it have no need to experiment with stronger stuff. It’s those who are dissatisfied with its effects who move on – in the same way that someone might eschew a convenience store for a supermarket.
Re: Universal The “intentional misspelling” is a pretty common clue for TYPO. Easy-puzzle trickery/humor.
WSJ: Nice coincidence that ILLINI as “Hoosiers’ rivals” appears on a day when they play each other (in men’s basketball).
Overlooking the fact that “Hoosiers'” implied the answer was a nickname, I spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong with a couple of crosses that didn’t work with “Purdue.” Oops!
Re: Newsday – I’m not from the Northeast, but does anyone refer to the color Yale Blue as “Eli Blue”? I figured this was going to be the answer (with Ivy capitalized) as it turned out, but when I went back to check, I couldn’t find any hits on Google for Eli Blue referring to a color.
I found the Saturday LAT puzzle by Stella Zawistowski to be a particularly challenging solve, in an especially enjoyable way, and so ultimately a particularly satisfying solve.