Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I really enjoyed Mary Lou’s puzzle!
Fave fill: CLAPTRAP, “HE’S A REBEL,” STACEY ABRAMS (love her!), SCROOGE, “CONTEXT IS KEY,” PENTAGRAM, a timely figure skating CAMEL SPIN, OPERATICS, LAY IT ON, and BOOK DEALS.
A couple food spelling variants here: PIROGI (the English spelling of Eastern European dumplings more broadly is pierogi) and SATE SAUCE (I usually see satay). Both are delicious!
LAO again, this time clued as 22a. [People with a language of the same name]. I feel like I’ve seen the entry three times this week and I don’t do that many puzzles anymore. Do we have any Laotian solvers in the Fiend community?
Three more things:
- 57a. [Two-time Grammy winner Bryson], PEABO. The king of the R&B duet in the ’80s, no?
- 45a. [Group whose logo is a mirror ambigram], ABBA. The A’s have mirror symmetry so you get a backwards B in the mix, with the first B flipped to rub its belly on the A. More about the logo here.
- 41d. [Fast-food chain with the slogan “UnFreshing Believable”], DEL TACO. I still have never seen a Del Taco in the wild. Apparently I’d need to go to Michigan or Ohio to find one of the 13 Midwestern locations. Whereas there are about twenty Taco Bells within 10 miles of me. Time for a Crunchwrap Supreme even though it is not crunchy? YES.
Chase Dittrich and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
First of all, apologies for the lack of a time stamp on this one. No, I did not solve it untimed. (I almost never do that!) I just forgot to put it in the title of my draft of this post when I solved the puzzle more than a week ago, and I don’t remember how long it took, although I’m guessing from what I wrote later in the post that it was under 3 minutes.
Not everybody starts solving at 1-Across (and in fact starting there is often not the best strategy if you’re a casual solver), but I do, and I like when someone has put a great entry or great clue there because it sets the tone for the rest of the puzzle. I would say [Gets debriefed?] for STRIPS, which made me smile, qualifies.
On the whole, though, this puzzle felt too easy for Saturday. There were some clues that were intended to be tricky that didn’t fool me even for a second — for example, I think it might be time for a moratorium on using the word “canine” as a way to be tricky about things involving TOOTH or TEETH, as is done at 2D. 35A is also really easy if you know who Magnus Carlsen is, so one can unlock that big central entry with just one or two crossings. And I thought there were an awful lot of very straightforward clues for a Saturday!
I adored the clue at 17A [Like one who can’t even hit an easy pitch] for TONE DEAF, although I arrived at it too late to be tricked by it at all since the NE corner was the last part of the puzzle I got to. Also enjoyed the reference to “SHE’S a Bad Mama Jama” at 47A. I wish 46D had referred to the actual AKITA, Hachiko, the extremely good boy whose true story inspired a Japanese movie that in turn led to the Richard Gere film referenced in the clue [Breed in “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”], because just try to think about Hachiko and not have your heart turn into a giant puddle.
The fill is pretty good overall — I just would’ve liked the clues to give me more of a workout.
Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Alternate Plans” — pannonica’s write-up
In the top half of the grid, the long theme answers have a string of alternating squares circled. In the lower half of the grid, the circled letters are extracted to form parts of phrases with apt modifiers.
- 23a. [Bluegrass instruments] BASS FIDDLES.
78a. [Feature of 23-Across] STEPPING ASIDE.
- 28a. [Goes toe-to-toe] DOES BATTLE.
90a. [ … ] STAGGERING DEBT.
- 40a. [What many try to find in Hollywood] FAME AND FORTUNE.
104a. HOPPING MAD.
- 55a. [Common cult leader delusion] SAVIOR COMPLEX. I can think of at least one large-scale cult whose leader has a destroyer complex.
110a. SKIPPED ROPE.
Nifty theme. I appreciate how the order is preserved in the parallel sets. The ‘plans’ of the title? I’m going to interpret that as the scheme of the puzzle itself.
- 7d [Spectral indication of a receding galaxy] RED SHIFT. This is the Doppler effect.
16d [Curly-haired girl of old comics] LITTLE LULU.
- 29d [Raymond’s condition in “Rain Man”] AUTISM. Is it recommended to call it a condition? I don’t know, but I know people have opinions.
- 30d [Starts to celebrate and creases?] SOFT-CS. Weird. First, because it’s pluralized, which we don’t often see for this sort of clue/entry. Second, because the two example words don’t have a superficial relationship for, y’know, misdirection.
- 42d [Approximately] OR SO. 114a [About] IN RE.
- 79d [Toasted sandwich] PANINI. ⚡pedantry trigger warning⚡
- 91d [Prerequisite for merging in traffic] GAP. For most people.
- Favorite clue: [Who’s there?] FIRST. This is alluding to the Abbott & Costello bit.
- 19a [Casual denial] UNH-UNH. This is a legitimate spelling.
- 87a [Trendy 1980s Manhattan nightclub] NELL’S. Never heard of it.
- 102a [Studio fee] RENT. Simple but effective misdirection.
- 106a [Warrior with two swords] SAMURAI. “Chokutō, swords from the Nara period, featured a straight blade. By 900, curved tachi appeared, and ultimately the katana. Smaller commonly known companion swords are the wakizashi and the tantō. Wearing a long sword (katana or tachi) together with a smaller sword became the symbol of the samurai, and this combination of swords is referred to as a daishō (literally ‘big and small’). During the Edo period only samurai were allowed to wear a daisho. A longer blade known as the nodachi was also used in the fourteenth century, though primarily used by samurai on the ground.” (Wikipedia)
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
This one seems to have been quite the workout, and my longer time reflects that. On the other hand, I was listening to some absorbing music and not exactly racing through the solve.
Let’s start with the biggest holdups, aside from the regular starting deficit, where I try to find some decent inroads.
- 58d [“Time is but a stream I __-fishing in”: Thoreau] GO A-. My entry for quite some time was AM A-.
- 50a [Solar hieroglyph] EYE OF RA. I believe the EYE OF HORUS is more familiar, but that obviously doesn’t fit. In my semi-distracted state, I wasn’t positive if RA was the Egyptian sun god.
- 38a [Verb that sounds like storage] BEEN. With –EEN in place I did an alphabet run not once, not twice, but three times to no avail. Wasn’t until I had all the crossing letters in 38d [Lion’s share] BEST PART that I got BEEN, in the process disabusing myself of the idea that it was a long-E sound.
- 59a [Goddess whom a month was named for] MAIA. With –AIA in place I automatically (1d [Mindless practice] ROTE) plunked in G for GAIA. Maia is the daughter of Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione, and is the oldest of the seven Pleiades. She is the mother of Hermes.
So my major problem areas were the swath cutting from the lower left to the right flank. As for the rest, it was the typical mix of inspiration and grunt work required for a Stumper solve.
- The northwest gives us triple-stacked tens ROBOTIC DOG, OPERA SCORE, and TANDEM SEAT, while the complement in the southeast are the L- and T-heavy LIVING A LIE, AMELIORATE, and TALL LATTES.
- 19a [Up to 12] is not about time of day, but schooling. EL-HI.
- 28a [Popular college course] is not about schooling, but eating. RAMEN.
- And speaking of time there’s 51d [Precisely, in time] FLAT (as in ’30 seconds, flat’). And then 47a [Outdoes in history] PREDATES, which I do not comprehend.
- 23d [Early TV mainstay] is not about history, but time of day. GMA.
- 22a [It’s not spoken in church] SUNG MASS. Tricksy but obvious in retrospect.
- Favorite clue: 30a [Didn’t sound off] RANG TRUE. Extra tricky, as it follows JESUIT, clued as 29a [One of “The Almighty’s Marines”], which might have been intentionally calculated to induce one to think of a military marching chant with “sound off” in a different interpretation.
- 42a [Saw or felt] SENSED. Those are not nouns.
- 3d [’50s production on the Vatican’s “Important Films” list] BEN-HUR. Despite the acknowledged (by some) gay subtext.
- 4d [Pedestrian] ORDINARY. EVERYDAY also fit there, but I was quickly corrected on that.
- 5d [GE cofounder] TAE. Needed just one crossing to confirm that this was going to be the initialed form of Thomas Alva Edison.
- 8d [Live wires] DOERS. Too much of a stretch?
- 9d [Viva voces, at Oxford] ORALS. A little reasoning, a little leaping-of-faith to get this one.
- 14d [What web pages pick for you] ADS. Don’t feel that’s strictly accurate. Embedded cookies and trackers and advertising suppliers serve that function.
- 24d [No longer teary?] MENDED. >groan< Next, try unflushing.
- 29d [Handled like some art shows] JURIED, not JUDGED.
- 31d [Circled Rs] TMS. ® and ™ mean different things.
- 34d [It’s under a Hagia Sophia mosaic ceiling] APSE.
- 54d [Specialty Code List publisher] AMA. The American Medical Association. I found a list if you want to see all of them.
- 48d [Get matted] RAVEL. 49d [Package purchase] SUITE.
And that’s it. No way for me to ascertain whether this was more difficult than other Stumpers.