Adrian Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Sorry I gotta rush through this writeup and just point out a couple of things: One, that this puzzle could’ve been a lot harder, as my under-3-minute time attests. (Or maybe it’s just that I was in a hurry solving it and somehow made myself faster!) Two, that that UTES/RUSS crossing should’ve been clued in a way that allowed solvers who don’t know the trivia to rule out UTEP/RUSP as an answer. I guess the “Pac” in “Pac-12” should’ve pointed me in that direction, but to me it wasn’t out of the question and it’s pretty frustrating when trivia crossing trivia is what keeps you from a perfect solve.
- 33A [Dine expectantly?] is a great clue for EAT FOR TWO.
- 12D [Uncovered subject] is also a good clue for NUDE MODEL, although I had enough crossings in when I got there that it didn’t fool me for a second.
Nice puzzle that could’ve been even better with a few harder clues and at least one easier clue at that crossing.
Oh yeah: STAMFORD!!!!!! SO EXCITED!!!!
Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Sophia’s write-up
Oof, this was the hardest Saturday puzzle for me in a long time. It actually didn’t start out too badly – The northwest and southeast corners of the puzzle fell quickly for me – 2d [Met someone?] for OPERA GOER and 33d [Acts of will?] for ESTATE LAW were neat misdirects, but ones that I understood quickly. However, I had almost nothing in the center/southwest/northeast corners for the majority of my solve, and just had to look at PLACENTA and LEARNED and think “hm, I hope that I figure out some of these answers eventually!”
There were a couple reasons I struggled so much with this puzzle. First off, there were several answers I had never heard of before, most notably SPREZZATURA and ISFAHAN. These two answers in particular made it really hard to break into the corners. There were also some classically-tricky Saturday clues, either by being sneaky misdirects – I was certain [Short hooking pitch] was about baseball, but it was actually TEASER AD – or by being incredibly vague, like [Match] for SEE. Saturday speed is all about being able to get enough footholds to figure out the thorny clues, and today I just wasn’t on the puzzle’s wavelength when it comes to the references it makes Actually, there are very few proper nouns here, which might have actually slowed me down since there were so few clues that had obvious answers right off the bat.
- I finished with an error – “Get a date/Igfahan” instead of SET A DATE/ISFAHAN. I had earlier put in “get a ring”, and so I didn’t think to change the first letter. Curious if other folks had that mistake.
- My favorite fun fact about Veronica ROTH – she attended the college I went to (Carleton) for a year before transferring, and rumor has it that she based the villainous faction in the Divergent series on the school. We love to see it!
I’m only attending the ACPT IN SPIRIT this year, but I hope all attendees are having a wonderful weekend!
Mark Valdez’s USA Today crossword, “Time to Pay Up!” — Matthew’s write-up
Lovely little theme today from Mark Valdez. We’ve got themers in the down clues:
- 27d [Express interest on Tinder] SWIPE RIGHT
- 16d [Disney’s Rescue Rangers] CHIP AND DALE
- 9d [Performance that makes clicking sounds] TAP DANCING
Taking into account the in-the-language phrase serving as the title, we’ve got three methods of payment here. I didn’t see this midsolve, but it turns out I was misreading the title, which says “Pay,” not “Play.” Once I refocused, the theme is right there. I’m very pleased with how many transactions nowadays can be done with the chip. It was a long time coming. Tap payments, on the other hand, are absolute black magic to my brain, and I’m flabbergasted every time my wife pays for something by tapping her watch at the register.
- I can’t type for anything today.
- 12a [Frozen coffee treat] FRAPPE. I don’t associate this word solely with coffee drinks — it’s also another word for “milkshake,” no? Perhaps that’s a regionalism I picked up.
- 31a [State where you can visit the world’s largest popcorn ball] IOWA. Unfortunately the World’s Largest Popcorn Ball is “temporarily closed,” per Google. But it also looks like it’s just an enclosed gazebo, so what’s stopping you? Being in Sac City, Iowa, I suppose.
Nothing else is jumping out. Say hi if you’re at ACPT and we haven’t met already!
Bill Pipal’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Take the El” — pannonica’s write-up
For this crossword, the theme answers drop the second letter, which in each case is an L, to wacky effect.
- 23a. [Piece of art in a Wells Fargo?] BANK CANVAS (blank canvas).
- 28a. [Tender in Tartarus?] CASH OF THE TITANS (Clash of the Titans).
- 40a. [Marsh media?] BOG POSTS (blog posts). This was the first theme answer I encountered as being fillable, and without understanding what the theme would entail, put in BOG PRESS, which seemed like it could be a thing.
- 43a. [Caution to a zealous gambler?] PACE YOUR BETS (place …).
- 68a. [Little mix-up at the ophthalmologist?] SIGHT MISUNDERSTANDING (slight …). I feel that the “little” in the clue is superfluous, as it references the original meaning, which the other theme clues do not do.
- 93a. [Jeans company honchos?] PANT MANAGERS (plant …).
- 97a. [Celebrity feuds?] FAME WARS (flame …). They can be both!
- 111a. [Piece of cleaning equipment at a basketball gym?] BACKBOARD ERASER (blackboard …).
- 119a. [Steal at a farmers’ market?] PEA BARGAIN (plea …).
Yep, it’s a theme, and it works.
- 1d [The Who’s “__ O’Riley”] BABA. Named in part as tribute to Terry Riley, whose “In C” was inspirational to the song’s distinct sound.
- 7d [Stellar flare-ups] NOVAS. Maybe the look like flare-ups from a distant observer, but they are of course mega-explosions.
- 17d [Olympus offerings] SLRS. Cameras, but I’ll confess to being thrown off by the crossing themer 28-across.
- 60d [“The Fifer” artist] MANET. It’s a famous painting and I feel like seeing it today, so here it is.
- 65d [Mouth features] DELTAS. I swear, it’s so confusing that rivers can have DELTAS at both ends.
- 30d [1999 Anthony Hopkins film based on a Shakespeare play] TITUS. It’s been on my to-watch list for a while, but it sure doesn’t seem like 23 years, jeez.
- 36d [Day divider] NOON. There’s more than one way to divide a day!
- 55d [Autumn color] OCHRE. The one time I decide not to hold back and just fill in OCHER …
- 18a [Contents of el Golfo de México] AGUA. 88a [Ancient element] WATER.
- 21a [“Vous __” (“You are,” in Arles)] ÊTES. Conjugation!
- 57a [Person who sits in a lot of laps?] RACER. I get the wordplay, but I don’t really care for the clue. Too cute?
- 77a [Pays for hand delivery] ANTES. And why doesn’t this one have a question mark?
- 34a [Determined response] I WILL SO. 66a [“You have my full commitment”] I’M ALL IN. 74a [A bit close to home] TOO REAL. Colloquialisms!
Adrian Johnson’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 14″— Jim Q’s write-up
- FIVE W’S. Looks funky in the grid- but totally in-language and fun to uncover.
- CUE BALL. With a solid clue to open the puzzle in 1A.
- PIE HOLE. :)
- UNIBROW. Clued via Frida Kahlo!
- EPIC WIN. I’m more accustomed to the term EPIC FAIL. It’s nice to see the flip side of that coin.
- BEER ME! An entry after my heart.
LEROY Neiman was new for me. Tawaf (which I’m assuming is akin to quinceanera?) was also new. Let me look that up… looks like I’m quite wrong. From pilgrim.co:
The term ‘Tawaf’ is derived from the Arabic verb ‘Taafa’, which means ‘to encircle something’ or ‘to walk around something’. In the Islamic context, Tawaf refers to taking rounds or encircling the Holy Ka’abah seven times in an anti-clockwise direction as part of Umrah or Hajj, starting from Hajr-al-Aswad (the black stone). It’s among the most significant obligations of both Hajj and Umrah, without which the greater and minor pilgrimage would be incomplete. When performing Tawaf, pilgrims recite Takbir and various other supplications based on the Sunnah of the Prophet s.
I also didn’t know “The Dream” was Hakeem Olajuwon’s MONIKER, but my knowledge of sports anything is quite limited.
Thanks for this one, Adrian!
Hope the ACPT weekend is a fun one :)
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
YEP (35d), this one was super-tough. With three main sections bottlenecked at two nexuses (nexera?) it was difficult to link up the areas I’d made minimal progress in. It was definitely a struggle from beginning to end this time.
And my last fill was one of the trickiest clues of all: 14d [Even now] REDRESSED; as in, we’re all even now. Was very difficult to disabuse myself of the notion that it was along the lines of AS WE SPEAK or UP TO TODAY.
So many tough clues. Just crossing 14-down is stuff like 16a [It may end a turn] STILE, 18a [Going on, in brief] CONT’D, and even 10a [Dove’s desire], which could have been PEACE as well as NO WAR.
In the northwest, 17a ART DEALER [Theo van Gogh’s occupation] was a gimme, but I was clueless about 15a LA CIENEGA, [Beverly Hills’ Restaurant Row]. Again, and as was the case throughout the crossword, so many of the short crossings were devilishly clued.
Just really tough all around. SUGAR APPLES? Okay, I guess I kind of knew that from somewhere. 59a [“Yesterday,” as first performed] TENOR SOLO—not sure I get this. Are we talking about the Beatles song? Is there common knowledge about it beyond the original nonsense “Scrambled Eggs” title?
I’m kind of wiped out (still), so I’ll call it quits here and springboard from 41a [15-hour flight from LAX] SYD:
Really enjoyed your Saturday NYT, Kyle! And clearly the NYT editorial team loved it as well—they like to show off a particularly fine puzzle for the ACPT crowd in Stamford, where early Saturday morning the hotel lobby will be filled with people picking up a copy and sitting down to tackle it, a nice warm-up for the day’s competition.
That’s interesting, and I hadn’t thought about that connection between ACPT weekend and what Will Shortz chooses to publish then. I agree with Sophia’s writeup that this was a well-done puzzle, but it was significantly harder than a typical Saturday. I found it a bit mentally draining, and it didn’t really psych me up for the tournament. Is the ACPT Saturday puzzle usually such a hard one?
I also really appreciated Sophia’s insight that the location within the puzzle of SPREZZATURA and ISFAHAN (and I would add OMAKASE) makes it difficult to get into those corners if those terms are unfamiliar. Thank you Sophia for a great writeup!
I’m not confident enough to say “usually,” but the 2019 ACPT weekend had a particularly tough Saturday
No copies in the lobby this morning! I was disappointed. Solved on my computer and wow. Very difficult for me. If I have to stare at any of the competition grids that long, it does not bode well for the rest of the day.
Thanks Amy! And thank you Sophia for the review.
How fascinating to be a fly on the wall at the Stamford Marriott this morning…
I agree with Sophia. One of the toughest Saturdays in recent memory. A fun challenge, though.
yes, it was tough
and i found the LAT harder than normal, maybe my dimentia is around the corner :sigh:
Stumper/Newsday – not able to download the puzzle from any of the links at my disposal. They are all blocked by a request to subscribe. Help.
Subscribe (free) to Daily Crossword links email. It works on that.
Did you try this?
Works for me.
This is what I use:
That works – thanks!
NYT: One of the toughest Saturday puzzles in many months.
Thanks, Sophia, for noting the lack of property names. Crossword blogs are full of complaints about “too many” proper names in puzzles, but we forget that many times, a proper name might be the only answer we’re sure about, and might be the only toehold in a challenging puzzle.
Very true. If they’re not balanced in terms of time, place, and field, that’s not good, but a handful can be the difference between finishing and not. Personally, I’ll take a half dozen obscure proper names over ARUM any day.
Wow, that was a hard Stumper. Most of what I put in turned out to be wrong – DIRT for DOPE, EVERT for GOAPE, HITSINGLE for HOTSELLER, LACANTINA for LACIENEGA, DIRNDL for WIMPLE – so I couldn’t get any traction and ended up giving up.
Can someone explain TENOR SOLO for “Yesterday, as first performed”? All I could think of what the scrambled eggs story …
I think the Yesterday clue is referring to the fact that in the Beatles’ version, Paul McCartney sings it as a tenor. The “as first performed” part alludes to the fact that it has been performed in many different ways by many different artists (it is listed in Guinness as the most covered song ever).
If so, I feel that’s both a poor clue and a poor answer.
stumper was rough, but at least i kept at it an got to the finish with no cheating, whew, a real slog
NYT: As long as we’re discussing Isfahan, I’ll share this performance from Duke Ellington featuring one of his loveliest melodies. I’ve posted it in my write-ups before, and perhaps featuring it here will help people to remember the locale.
WSJ: Quite an unfortunate coincidence to have [Celebrity feuds?] and Mrs. Pinkett Smith in the same puzzle, considering recent events. A coincidence, I’m sure, as the puzzle must be constructed long time ago, but an unfortunate one indeed.
USAT … I agree with Matthew that FRAPPE has a questionable clue, at least according to the online dictionaries I’ve consulted. None of them say anything about FRAPPEs being coffee drinks, though by one definition, it looks like it can be used to refer to any kind of frozen drink. Also, if I just Google frappe, it returns a few hits that specifically mention coffee. Hmm.
In my personal experience, the concoction by that name has nothing to do with coffee. It’s an extra thick milkshake (though, I suppose it could be made with coffee-flavored ice cream). When I lived in New England forty years ago, it was just another name that some folks used for a milkshake, especially in the Boston area. I remember one place in particular next to a golf driving range in the Beverly area that had really, really yummy ones. I know that Starbucks has drinks with coffee in them that they have brand named Frappuccinos. Have they now also coopted the word frappe?
That would match with my wondering if it’s regional — I went to school in Boston
The thing is that none of the (free) online dictionaries I’ve checked says anything about coffee. It seems to me that the clue is either misleading (semi-defensible in a crossword puzzle, I suppose) or it’s just plain wrong.
Not making the case for or against the inclusion of frappe, but just want to note that it is super-common in Greece in the summer. A few years ago, a couple of Greek guys told the owner of a cafe I was in here in Nova Scotia that he should make frappe, and when they explained to him what it was (Nescafe, evaporated milk, sugar, water, ice), he was horrified. Turn your nose up at frappe if you will, but it is a delightful drink. I look forward to sitting on my deck when the weather gets warmer and drinking (decaf) frappe.
NYT: I loved learning SPREZZATURA! What a wonderful word, what a great concept. When I googled it, I wondered why it only applied to men’s fashions… Why not to women’s styles, why not to a great dinner party, a barn wedding, a beach barbecue? It’s probably historical but I’m for spreading the idea.
LAT: Like Stella, I found this puzzle to be relatively easy for an LAT Saturday, but I sure came nowhere near a 2:46 solve time (mine was 8:44 vs my current LAT Sat 6-month average of 9:16). Wow! Good luck to you in Stamford this weekend, Stella. With solve times like that, you’ve got to be one of the contenders.
Anyone else notice that CANNONADE was a NYT answer,and “Cannonade, e.g.” was a Newsday clue?
Yes, that jumped at me, doing the puzzles one after the other. I don’t recall seeing ‘cannonade’ in a puzzle before.
conspiracy, I tell ya :D :D ;p .
Stumper: not sure a cat is ever described as wearing its own fur, but otherwise, a delightfully difficult puzzle for today.
In a weird coincidence, sprezzatura (which I hadn’t heard of before) appeared in the book that I am reading. How bizarre.
I did find this to be a pretty difficult Saturday puzzle.
Always keep in mind the possibility that the recency illusion may be occurring. Similar is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also called the frequency illusion.