Ada Nicolle’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
That’s two days in a row with fresh, fun NYT themelesses! I wouldn’t object to a sterner challenge in the Saturday puzzle, but I’ll take fun, sure.
Fave fill in this 70-worder: SCREEN CAP(ture), SILLY STRING, “IT IS WHAT IT IS” (I’m old enough to remember when people rarely said that before Britney Spears broke it wide open), HOME GYM, “WE’RE DONE HERE,” OLD EL PASO, LIFE LESSONS, INFINITY POOL, SPACE WESTERN, and “SORRY I ASKED.” Though the clue for that last one feels off target to me: 9d. [“Oh, never mind – you clearly don’t want to talk about it”] feels quite polite, whereas I’m hearing a snippy, dismissive “SORRY I ASKED!”
Five more things:
- 9a. [Incomplete Wikipedia entry], STUB. I think it was just a day or two ago some other puzzle venue went this cluing route! Still a good clue.
- 23a. [Prefix with pronoun], NEO. I don’t encounter that. Whether a pronoun is centuries old or relatively new, the category pronoun still covers it without qualification.
- 48a. [“Was ist ___?”], DAS. Raise your hand if you filled in LOS first (“what’s wrong?” rather than “what is that?”).
- 12d. [Icy detachment], BERG. Clever clue! Cute, even.
- 51d. [Stand for something], EASEL. I like that the clue screams “verb phrase” but it’s actually working as a noun.
Four stars from me. This one was much easier for me than Ada’s AVCX+ themeless on Thursday, which had a few whippersnapper references that weren’t in my wheelhouse.
Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
This distinctive grid, roughly quincunx-shaped, proved not to be so intimidating once I engaged with it.
I puttered and sputtered around at first, but eventually was able to make some inroads in various sections: a longish word here, a cross or two there. Before I knew it, a good half-to-two-thirds was complete, and it was time to start working on the endgame—exploring the remaining glades among the forest of answers.
Fortunately I was able to make short work of those areas too, with some artful guesswork and logic. Final square for me was the crossing of 19a [Take over] RENEW and 5d [Start of a final rite sentence] I NOW. The latter seems to be the final exchange in a wedding ceremony, not one’s last rites before being interred. Not sure I understand the across one.
- 15a [Puerto Rican mashed plantain dish] MOFONGO. Can never remember which is MENUDOS and which is MOFONGO, never mind TOSTADAS, which we saw the other day.
- 23a [“Till we saturate time and __”: Whitman] ERAS. Anyone else try TIDE first? Rinse and repeat.
- 24a [Impromptu] AD LIB.
- 26a [Southeast Asia starch source] SAGO. Despite the seemingly deliberate alliteration pointing toward an S-word, my first instinct was to try TARO. Oh and look, it’s followed by SAG (27a [Give in to pressure]).
- 30a [How Timon of Athens originated] TAU. I should’ve seen right through the misdirection in this clue, but I didn’t. Instead I was wondering what might have been Shakespeare’s influences for the tale, and how in heck it could be only three letters long.
- 44a [Rocker sounding like a rod] AXL. One of my final fills.
- 48a [Not a long row] SPAT. Have shared this before, but why not again?
- 50a [Hazards] DARES. Verb, not noun.
- 13d [Ir doesn’t react very well] RARE GAS. Rare typo in the clue.
- 21d [Tuna alternatives] BLTS. No hint in the clue that tuna implied ‘sandwich’. One of those deliberately oblique clues that can increase the difficulty for Stumpers.
- 32d [One of North America’s largest beasts] ELK. This and the crossing 35a [Harmless fun] LARK were my first entries.
- 37d [Hard to hobnob with] WASPISH. m-w sez: : resembling a wasp in behavior
especially : SNAPPISH, PETULANT ‖ a waspish temper.
- 38d [Improper, as some legal conduct] EX PARTE, meaning from a one-sided or partisan point of view.
- 41d [Junk-removal tactic] TAG SALE. I mostly agree with the sentiment, but nevertheless recognize it’s a disparaging way of describing it.
- 53d [Call it] ROLL. These declaratory sort of clues always trip me up.
Beth Rubin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle is a little oversized — 16×15 — but also clued harder than any of the previous Patti-regime themelesses. I’ve been clamoring for a Saturday that would take me more than three minutes since her first day, and now that I have one I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this puzzle.
Let’s start with entries I liked: BANANA SEAT, SLANG TERMS, SKIP A GRADE, DELT, CODON (always nice to see some STEM in a puzzle).
I wasn’t crazy about RETOSS and the cluing of a few entries with trivia references that could’ve been wordplay, like [Laurel and Hardy producer] for ROACH, [“Succession” sibling] for ROMAN, and do we get to call OH SANTA a “hit” if its peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 was…100? But, and yes, this makes me feel like a cranky old lady, I felt like a TikTok segment (UNDER THE DESK NEWS) was more something I’d feature as a central entry in a themeless for an indie outlet, not a mainstream market. At least the clue, [Current events TikTok segment that V Spehar broadcasts from their office floor] provides plenty of confirmation to the solver that you’ve got it right.