Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Aaugh, I don’t care for Across Lite solving on a laptop. I don’t think this was that difficult a puzzle! Heck, I blew 20 seconds resizing the window so I could see more of the wordy John OLIVER clue. (Those software developers never heard of line breaks?)
But did you look at this thing? Seven 9s running Across, enmeshed with seven Down 9s. Gorgeous! So much open space, endless flow. Just a 62-worder, and there isn’t any short junk, nor any long roll-your-own words befouling things. There were three multi-word entries I did not care for, though: IT’S A DUD and I STUNK don’t sound idiomatic enough to be crossword answers, and THE PO hasn’t earned its definite article.
Fave fill: LISSOME, “LOVED IT!,” BUNCHED UP from static cling, LIVES A LIE, TECH NERDS, pretty SAND ART, BARE CHEST, CONCEALER, Count CHOCULA (and yes, I tried DRACULA first).
Ding for the editor more than the constructor: Didn’t care for BIO LAB plus “biologist” in the GENE clue.
Five more things:
- 41a. [Unwanted autocorrections], TYPOS. Do you know how much cussing the TECH NERDS have created by insisting that our mobile devices not recognize the words “fucking” and “shit”? Because when your phone changes your words to “ducking shot,” you know what words will come out of your mouth next.
- 48a. [Schoolmaster for the classroom, e.g.], ANAGRAM. @*#! I tried PROGRAM, figuring that Schoolmaster could well be the name of software used by teachers. Unscramble the classroom, though, and …
- 4d. [Suit cut between “classic” and “slim”], MODERN FIT. I’m not up on my haberdashery code names. So, form-fitting but accommodating more bulk than a slim fit does?
- 7d. [Along with the anteater, one of two animals in the order Pilosa], SLOTH. I did not know this. I might have known it previously. Pilosa, aka “really wild-looking animals that don’t fit in anywhere else”?
- The 39a and 32d crossing, ARTILLERY and ENTENTE, puts me in mind of Ukraine. The ’80s teen in me is still astonished every time I hear a 21st-century Republican being pro-Russian and taking the Kremlin’s line of attack against America (and against Ukraine). Reagan would be equally befuddled. Fingers crossed for some sort of face-saving pact that lets Putin withdraw his troops from Ukraine, because we all know he’s so petty and thin-skinned, he needs to save face. Sigh. So terrible.
4.25 stars from me. The three unfave fills knocked this pretty grid down from a 4.5 … but to have a 62-worder with cleaner fill than, say, plenty of 78-word themed puzzles that are blogged here, that’s no mean feat.
John Guzzetta’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle gave me a bit more of a workout than I’ve been getting the last couple of weeks, which I appreciate. The long entries, THERE IS NO PLAN B and BECAUSE REASONS, sure are lively. Some more highlights:
- 14A ARITHMETIC, clued very cleverly as [It includes the study of roots]. Despite knowing ORIOLE right away at 2D, the deception at this clue is a big reason I needed to fight with the NW corner a little bit. Respect.
- 56A FINE DINING, also a very nice clue [It features exquisite settings] that succeeded in throwing me off the scent for a bit.
- 37A [Philippic] is a clue I haven’t seen before, at least not that I can remember, for the ubiquitous entry RANT.
- 50A [Something to check before picking up] is a wonderfully punny clue for CALLER ID. I’m sorry I didn’t really notice it while solving, since I got it entirely from the Downs or inferring the missing squares.
- 6D [___ dive] for DEEP is a nice example of judicious use of a fill-in-the-blank to create difficulty, not ease. I bet I’m not the only one who thought SWAN at first.
I liked it! Not gonna say love, but I liked.
Kevin Christian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Talking Smock” — pannonica’s write-up
Phrases containing words ending in -ACK have them altered to -OCK, to wocky effect.
- 23a. [Lego expert in Lipetsk?] BLOCK RUSSIAN (black Russian). Has a different implication these days.
- 29a. [No longer listening to loud music?] OFF THE ROCK (off-the-rack). Better clue, perhaps: [Escaped from Alcatraz?]
- 46a. [Howard Stern specialty?] RADIO SHOCK (Radio Shack). What was it about business names back when? Radio Shack, Pizza Hut? They sound so awshucksy. Maybe it was just that it was a different time. But I can now imagine a Waffle Lean-to.
- 63a. [Athlete’s mansion?] THE HOUSE THAT JOCK BUILT (The House That Jack Built). Definitely echoes of ‘The House That Ruth Built’, said of the New York Yankees.
- 81a. [Shine on a tress of hair?] LOCK LUSTER (lackluster).
- 100a. [Slow cooker humor?] CROCK JOKES (crack jokes).
- 107a. [Make fun of a poorly made shiv?] MOCK THE KNIFE (Mack the Knife).
I’d call this theme serviceable but not inspiring. The difficulty level of fill and cluing for the crossword as a whole was very accessible; I had no missteps whatsoever, just the occasional pause and redirection.
annnddd … as I started to review the fill, I realize almost right away that I did in fact have a misstep: 7d [In need of stimulus], for which my first attempt was SLUMPING instead of SLUGGISH.
- 9d [Person in front of a train] BRIDE. 88a [Sites for rites] ALTARS.
- 12d [Toy originally advertised with the suggestion “Throw it indoors] NERF BALL. Ad wizardry, I tell you.
- 14d [It might be well-made] WISH. It could be both well-made and poorly made!
- 47d [Nanakuli nicety] ALOHA. I’m supposing the locale has some personal significance to the author or editor.
- 54d [Printer’s units] REAMS, 55d [Printer’s unit] PICA. Quantity, size.
- 78d [Après-ski quaff] HOT TODDY. Not COCOA for once.
- 97d [Donizetti opera title character] LUCIA de Lamermoor.
- 19a [Like some fiber] OPTICAL. DIETARY would also fit, but I was circumspect.
- 52a [Dream ender] ALARM. That’s just rude.
- 85a [Humphrey’s wife and four-time co-star] LAUREN. That’s kind of rude too; no need to diminish the very accomplished Ms Bacall by cluing her exclusively as a consort to Bogart.
So here’s some music I found. First impression is that it’s rather insipid, but perhaps it works better in the film, which I have yet to see.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
This one seemed a bit more arduous than the ‘less rough’ designation would indicate, but it was more pliant than a standard-issue Stumper, so that suggests that I don’t know quite where the line of demarcation lies.
Anyway, bilateral symmetry in this one.
Last area to fall was the upper left, but it was gettable with a little elbow grease. I think the most dubious answer in the area is actually 1-across [Had a blast] WENT OFF, and it isn’t even that much of a stretch. Oh wait, scratch that—I still don’t understand how 15a works [OK to be moved] IN ORDER.
- 18a [Copyright law concept] FAIR USE. If you dare:
- 26a [Sticks on your feet] SKIS. Wow that was tough.
- 27a [M*A*S*H extras] RNS? GIS? MPS.
- 31a [Word related to “feud”] FOE. Needed to initiate a letter run to get the E, and then it was obvious.
- 44a [Arts.gov proprietor] NEA. Implied duplication of ‘arts’, which dissuaded me from filling this one in sooner.
- 52a [What a craft should be called] SHE. “Should”? That’s just convention. Perhaps that’s tantamount to “should”?
- 53a [What might get you a premium bargain] GAS WAR. Lot going on with this clue.
- 63a [Publisher’s semi-strong selections] MIDLIST. Is this terminology well-known outside the industry?
- 7d [Sauteuse, for instance] FRY PAN. From Wikipedia: “A versatile pan that combines the best of both the sauté pan and the frying pan has higher, sloping sides that are often slightly curved. This pan is called a sauteuse (literally a sauté pan in the female gender), an evasée (denoting a pan with sloping sides), or a fait-tout (literally ‘does everything’).”
- 8d [Stuffed souvenir of Iceland] PUFFIN. Really hoping this refers to a plush toy and not a taxidermied specimen.
- 9d [Org. that publishes “What Would Florence Do?”] ANA, American Nurses Association.
- 12d [They’re under hoods] TRUNKS. Not engines? Follows 11d [They’re under bonnets and boots] TIRES. Not TYRES?
- 33d [Action initiator] SUER, not CUER.
- 35d [It’s more than a Strong Breeze] NEAR GALE. Kind of want these to be cocktails.
- 42d [Imitation indicator] -ETTE. Trying to think of examples, at a loss.
- 24a [Overpowering feeling] PANIC. 65a [Overpowering feeling] ECSTASY. Mid-solve versus end-of-solve?
Rachel Fabi’s USA Today crossword, “Inside Joke”—Matthew’s write-up
It’s a comedy chow from Rachel Fabi today. Each of our themers have a type of joke embedded within:
- 17a [Queen’s title] HER MAJESTY
- 37a [Crash the party] SHOW UP UNINVITED
- 58a [“Bzzt! Still not right!”] WRONG AGAIN
Fun theme set! JEST is awful tough to split across a word break, but nice that the others do.
- 23a [FedEx competitor] UPS. It occurred to me after having to delete “DHL” that I haven’t seen DHL in the real world in some time.
- 48a [Treats, like an icy road] SALTS. If you ask me, it’s too late once the road is icy, and you just have to wait at that point. Put the salt down first!
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 12″— Jim Q’s write-up
- AGREE TO DISAGREE
- SEA SHANTY
- EVEN BETTER
- AERIAL YOGA
Solid themeless. Really admire the the NW and SE corners with those triple stacked 9’s- All solid entries that didn’t result in any crud, particularly in the SE which is clean as a whistle.
SEA SHANTY reminded me of that short-lived trend, maybe a year ago now? When everybody had “Wellermen” stuck in their heads for a week or so.
Never heard of SHRIMP and grits. Does anything not go with grits? I’ve only had grits once or twice in my life.
4.5 stars today. Thanks!