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: