Joseph Greenbaum’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This 68-worder is anchored by a triple-stack of 15s in the middle, crossed by eight long Downs. Highlights in the fill include a PAPER TRAIL, TRAVELED IN STYLE, LIVE IN THE MOMENT, WATER SLIDE, MARVEL OVER, RAVE REVIEWS, CRASH TESTS, TALENT SHOWS, and JOHN DRYDEN.
Favorite clue: 17a. [It’s often found on bow ties], PASTA SAUCE. At first I was thinking how strange this was. First off, bow ties are mostly gendered to the male side, and I’ve never worn one. Second, wouldn’t a long necktie or a shirt get far more food spilled on it than a bow tie? … Then I remembered farfalle, or bow tie pasta. Oops.
Five more things:
- 5a. [Relative of mustard], OCHRE. The color mustard, not the plant or condiment. Not at all keen on the British spelling being used without any signal of such.
- 43a. [Things sometimes named after scientists], LAWS. Nice clue. Muphry’s Law is a good example of this.
- 52a. [Low joint], DIVE. Yep, I tried KNEE first. Raise your hand if you did, too.
- 56a. [Company that uses about 1% of the world’s wood supply annually], IKEA. I recently skimmed a New Yorker article about Norwegians building office towers out of timber (technically, out of glulam, laminated wood glued together). Did you know: “A 2018 report by Chatham House, a British think tank, estimated that the four billion tons of cement that are produced annually worldwide account for 8% of emissions; carbon is released into the atmosphere by the combustion required for the manufacture of cement, and by the chemical processes involved. (By contrast, the aviation industry contributes just under 2% of emissions.)”
- 48d. [Where zardozi embroidery is prevalent], IRAN. Didn’t know the term. Apparently zardozi has been big in India for thousands of years as well.
Four stars from me. Didn’t love everything in the grid, but hey, there were some tricky clues and lots of juicy long answers to distract from that.
Karen Steinberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Lots of fun stuff in today’s themeless, including some lovely clues of the question-mark variety. Makes me feel like I’ll have to up my game the next time I submit one to LAT!
- 25A [Drew on?] is a great clue for TATTOOED.
- 29A [Domingo, e.g.] is a nice deception-introducing clue for a throwaway entry like DIA.
- 43A [Dessert that can be microwaved in a mug] is LAVA CAKE. Entire cookbooks have been written about mug cakes. I received one as a gift once, and promptly got rid of it. I really don’t need to be able to make cake in minutes any time I want.
- 55A [Making a booty call?] for BUTT DIALING. You’ll be seeing a similar approach from me somewhere soon; I swear that my editor and I arrived at it independently, and obviously I think it’s a good pun!
- 5D [Attractive words?] Another nice QM clue for COME HERE.
I wasn’t so crazy about A SURE BET at 48A — the A makes an eight-letter entry feel very forced. I also have seen some variation of [Leaves for lunch] as a clue for SALAD enough times now that I’d like to see that angle retired, at least for harder puzzles. But overall, an enjoyable solve!
Warren Houck & Mark Pedersen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Vegetable Platter” — pannonica’s write-up
Today on the menu: wordplay hijinks with culinary vegetable anatomy.
- 27a. [Attachés for your lettuce?] HEAD CASES.
- 29a. [Rhubarb piece offered as a gift for shock jock Howard?] STEM TO STERN.
- 41a. [Implicate some asparagus?] FINGER TIPS (fingertips). Was first looking for something with SPEARS.
- 54a. [Thespian peas?] POD CAST (podcast).
- 66a. [Trendy farmer’s bamboo delivery?] SHOOT FROM THE HIP.
- 84a. [A few words in favor of corn?] EAR PLUG (earplug).
- 92a. [Expose yourself to garlic?] FLASH BULBS (flashbulbs).
- 107a. [Boringly conventional parsnips?] SQUARE ROOTS.
- 109a. [Kale with questionable morals?] LOOSE LEAF.
A lot of these were rather amusing, and the cluing was spot-on, so kudos!
- 11d [Santa’s reindeer, e.g.] OCTET. Sans Rudolph? I guess he’s a latter-day—even more commercial— addition.
- 42d [Traffic report source] RADIO. Thought this was going to be RADAR and was planning on having Something To Say.
- 43d [Attaches] TIES ON. Not to be confused with attachés (see above).
- 72d [Natural do] AFRO. Is this particular clue (not the answer) growing stale, or is it just me?
- 77d [Czar’s edict] UKASE. Haven’t seen that one in a while. Fun word, but a bit on the crosswordese side.
- 99d [Coastal city of Jordan] AQABA. Of course I plopped in AMMAN first, oops.
- 23a [River into which the infant Achilles was dipped] STYX. Held by the heels.
- 31a [Antelope with Arabian and scimitar varieties] ORYX. Oryx leucoryx and O. dammah, respectively.
- 35a [What sleep may do to an insomniac] ELUDE. The answer itself eluded me for quite a bit. Kind of tricky.
- 65a [Goes for] COSTS. 102a [Went after] CHASED.
- 115a [Language expert of 1960s TV] UHURA. Ya, I was thinking CHOMSKY or someone such.
- 122a [Like the original Greek gymnasts] NAKED, gymno- meaning ‘naked’.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Unlike many Stumpers, there was no point at which this crossword felt impenetrable. I had some inroads early and consistently was able to seep my cruciverbal tentacles across (and down) the grid.
Even so, it did take significantly longer to solve than a typical 15×15 puzzle, which in my book qualifies it for Stumperdom.
- 1d [Disney character inspired by Bambi] SIMBA. With the –MB– in place, I feared there was a glaring error and the answer was also going to be BAMBI—that the clue was supposed to have an entirely different name in it. So I guess The Lion King is equal parts Hamlet and Bambi or something?
- 8d [“Macbeth” excerpt] ARIA. Yes, it’s an opera too.
- 5d [Non-driver, in sign language] PEDestrian. Didn’t fool me for a second.
- 7d [Dose folks] DEM. Ditto.
- 20d [Champions Tour newcomer of 2020] ELS. I was going to proffer that this must be an Els fils but then I realized that the Champions Tour is something for veteran golfers.
- 22d [Poor substitute for “Sorry”] OOPS. I don’t feel it’s soo inferior.
- 27d [Word from Arabic for “friend”] SAHIB.
- 30d [Bell, by birth] SCOT. Alexander Graham.
- 32d [Asteroid impact (fortunately)] RARE EVENT. Quasi-editorializing, but it’s essential for the clue to work, so I don’t know quite how to characterize it.
- 57d [Irish __ ] SEA. Was really hoping it would be ELK. Megaloceros giganteus was quite the impressive animal.
- 15a [State Fair datum] SIRE. I gather that that’s the name of a racehorse? … No, it just seems to be a reference to quadrupedal participants of such expositions.
- 16a [South Africa now tops Hawaii in their production] MACADAMIAS. New trivia to me, and the clue typifies how this Stumper is pitched more gently than most.
- 13a [Woolgathering] IN A REVERIE.
- 25a [Stateless?] SILENT. This, on the other hand, is a recondite clue for which I seem to have gotten purely via crossings.
- 40a [Hot dipping sauce] CHILI PASTE. Are you a fan of sriracha? Even better, in my opinion, is the chili-garlic paste from the same original company.
- 45a [Collider bit] BOSON. Had MESON on the brain.
- 48a [Descriptor for depreciation] NONCASH. I’ll take the clue’s word for it, economics not being my strong suit.
- 54a [Minimizer in music] -ETTA. As in, sinfonietta.
- 61a [Call for pick-up] ORDER A RIDE. The vehicle will no doubt be painted green.
- 63a [Packing slip reviewers] TSA AGENTS. Do they also investigate shipped items, or do airline passengers have packing slips for some of their luggage?
Anyway, a gentler but still satisfying Stumper workout this morning.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Triple-Double”—Matthew’s write-up
The theme is pretty clear from the title. Each themer has three pairs of doubled letters:
- 19a [Producer who boycotted the 1989 Grammys alongside the Fresh Prince] DJ JAZZY JEFF. Salt-N-Pepa, Russell Simmons, and LL Cool J also boycotted the show that year in protest against rap awards not being televised.
- 33a [Rice paper-wrapped appetizer] SUMMER ROLL
- 42a [Affinity for sugary foods] SWEET TOOTH
- 58a [In an positive emotional state] FEELING GOOD.
Brooke often uses basketball terms and angles in her grids, and while Triple-Double evokes the game, I notice a number of entries that aren’t clued from that direction – RIMS, DREAM TEAM, HORNETS, SLAM, LSU.
Two bits I learned today:
Founded in 1837, Philadelphia’s Cheyney University (45a) is the country’s oldest HBCU. Journalists Ed Bradley and Jim Vance are notable alumni.
Tunisian designer Azzedine ALAIA is not someone I’ve learned from Stella Zawistowski’s puzzles, but skimming his Wikipedia, I’m sure I’ve seen his work.
Taylor Johnson’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 32” — Jim Q’s write-up
- IT’S USELESS
This one was odd for me. Nearly all of the longer entries didn’t strike me as in-language phrases or there was something that felt off. Perhaps some regionalism? I’m not sure, but here are some entries that didn’t sit right with my ear: WHAT A SHOCK! (“I’M SHOCKED!” is what I hear), I AM SO THERE (I’M SO THERE is what I hear), ACTION POSE (new to me), ZIP IT UP (ZIP IT! Is what I hear), GO CUP (new to me… I know “TO GO CUPS”), SABERED (huh?), and both LEMON TORTE and CLOSED AREA felt green-paintish. TAMAGOTCHI has some dust one it, but I will say it was fun to try to figure out which vowels went where.
I would’ve loved SIDE HUSTLE but it was mangled with a cringy navel gazer of a clue [Selling crosswords for publication, maybe]. I wish they would stop those meta clues. Universal does those often. However,[Crossword construction, for one] being the clue for ART is still the granddaddy of all cringe meta clues I’ve seen. I don’t know why they feel a need to wink at the hardcore crossword community.
Anyway, not a lot of positive stuff I’m saying, I realize. This one just wasn’t for me.
2.25 stars from me
NYT: Fun puzzle.
I’m surprised that some of the debuts haven’t appeared before. PASTASAUCE? WATERSLIDE? TALENTSHOWS? (Great clue for the last one.)
It took me too many crosses to get ELEPHANTMAN. “Raging Bull” seemed the right era; it actually *was* released in 1980 and was also nominated for Best Picture. I should be glad it didn’t fit, or I might still be trying to dig myself out of that hole.
(Bonus Oscar trivia: The other Best Picture nominees that year were “Tess,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and “Ordinary People,” which one. Pretty impressive slate.)
OCHRE is an accepted variant in American English.
NYT: I don’t understand the American RE/ER thing. Certain words, such as theatre/theater and centre/center, are always spelled with an ER as opposed to the British spelling. Other words, such as ogre, are always spelled with the RE. And now I hear that ochre is an acceptable variant in US English. Is there a rationale for this that has eluded me?
In stamp collecting, fine art (paints) and home decorating I have in the USA seen OCHRE since I was a wee lad of maybe 7 before there was written history (Ochre in stamp collecting and similar relatively exotic but specific colours like Carmine)
Seems to me that theater and theatre are about equally common in the States. In a Wikipedia list of Broadway venues, nearly all are named “Theatre” (maybe just New Yorkers being pretentious). And I see “ochre” far more often than “ocher.”
Is “oger” an acceptable spelling of “ogre?” Don’t think I’ve ever seen it .
Rationale? In *this* language? Ha! “I before E except after C,” but species and science have CIE. “Or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh,” but keister and deity and foreign and Leigh have EI without a long A sound. Why don’t height and weight rhyme?!
I before E, except when your weird foreign neighbor Keith receives eight counterfeit beige sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters.
NYT: Felt quite easy for a Saturday. That center trio that involves traveling in style, arriving on the dot and living in the moment seemed to tell a story of a luxurious yet responsible life… And there was this admiring vibe with marvel over and worship. But the PASTA SAUCE was the best (I put PESTO first, for whatever reason).
Really enjoyed the solving experience.
PS. It made me smile that in Amy’s commentary, Murphy’s Law was misspelled Muphry. Perfect :).
I’d venture that it was (in part?) intentional.
PPS Murphy wasn’t a scientist, he was an engineer.
Alas, not knowing my math geniuses I erred with MAO and WINEMASTER. Grump.
I also thought WINEMASTER was a thing, but I was probably just remembering the epic “Corkmaster” battle from Frasier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJagAyCGZbg
I thought the clue for TAO was horrible, and I would consider a WINE MASTER [they are certified, like chess masters] to be far more of an “authority” than a TASTER — and MAO is a perfectly good family name. They couldn’t have used “The ___ of Pooh [of Physics]” as a clue for those of us who do not follow mathematics academic awards? Sheesh. Unforgivable.
Stumper: Glad you explained SIRE, but even after hearing the explanation…ugh. Are horses an iconic part of state fairs? When? Where?
Had DRS for “Dose folks” for a while. And shouldn’t the asteroid clue have a “for example” or something at the end?
I very much associate livestock and all sorts of animals with state fairs, and when show horses are registered for events and with the governing bodies their sire and dam are absolutely relevant and recorded information.
NYT: 54-D, Chi-Town airport code . . . . NOBODY who lives, or has lived, in Chicago, ever uses the expression “Chi-Town”. (Would be fun to see clued as “Orchard Field, in short”, or would the “OR” be revealing too much of the answer?)
I’ll join forces with you if you agree to ban any reference to Frisco. :)
Ditto re: the Big Apple and a New York Minute
@Mr. [Not] Grumpy … and “San Fran” … that one really irritates me ;^)
Here’s some history of the origin of Chi-Town for anyone who’s interested (and still reading this page 24 hours later) … https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/chi-town/#:~:text=Where does Chi-town come,even earlier, in the 1890s.