Saturday, July 16, 2022

LAT 3:21 (Stella) 


Newsday 12:33 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:40 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 16 22, no. 0716

Either I’m in Kameron’s wheelhouse or this 62(!)-word puzzle is rather easy for a Saturday NYT.

Fave fill: The METHUSELAH/DEAR OLD DAD combo, CALAMARI, HOT COMB, HYPERBOLIC, BATPHONE, NEURAL NETS, TORPOR (does anyone know why horror/torpor/stupor all have -id adjectives but terror’s adjective isn’t terrid?), DOG SLOBBER, “DREAM LOVER,” and ART FILMS.

Did not know: 44a. [Brightness or darkness, in musical terms], TONE COLOR. Pretty much everything I know about musical terminology, I learned from crosswords. Also had not seen 49a. [World Wide ___, nickname of an N.B.A. power broker], WES. Here’s his Wikipedia page.

Five more things:

  • 15a. [Result of tails, perhaps], “I LOSE.” As in a somewhat familiar phrase, “heads you win, tails I lose” (or the opposite), also the title of a 1982 YA novel I read as a teenager.
  • 27a. [Google search strings useful to linguists and literary historians], NGRAMS. These yield graphs that show you the usage of a term over time, often comparing more than one term. If you’ve ever thought, “I wonder when people stopped saying X and started saying Y,” an Ngram search can show you. Pannonica and some of our readers understand better than I how to use this most DEFTly.
  • 5d. [Putting greens in these courses might be expected], SALADS. I had a salad for dinner tonight but I still thought of golf first.
  • 27d. [Its participants are always tired], NASCAR. As in car tires, not weariness. Motor sports make me weary, though!
  • 31d. [California city in the Mojave Desert], BARSTOW. Somehow I associate this place with Six Feet Under. Something to do with Lauren Ambrose’s character Claire and her boyfriend.

Four stars from me.

David Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Two of Diamonds” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/16/22 • Sat • Steinberg • “Two of Diamonds” • solution • 20220716

  • 115aR [Stadium marathon, or what the eight answers with circles gained individually, and what they gained collectively] DOUBLEHEADER. Whew, that clue is a mouthful, but it’s actually a succinct explanation of the conceit. Each of those two-word entries has the same letter prefixed to its components —individual doubleheader—and when those paired first letters are extracted they spell out (twice) BALLGAME—collective doubleheader.
  • 23a. [Flashy bracelet?] BRIGHT BANGLE (right angle).
  • 27a. [Whispered comment that earns top marks at drama school?] A-PLUS ASIDE (plus side).
  • 41a. [Uncouth apartment manager?] LEASING LOUT (easing out).
  • 59a. [Shoestrings in a sneaker thief’s hideout?] LAIR LACES (air aces).
  • 67a. [Lacquer applied to parts of bowling alleys?] GUTTER GLOSS (utter loss).
  • 77a. [Mimicked the firing process?] APED AXING (Ped Xing – pedestrian crossing).
  • 92a. [Member of a top-secret relocation crew] MASKED MOVER (asked over).
  • 107a. [Grand home that’s up for auction online?] EBAY ESTATE (Bay State, aka Massachusetts).

Sure, those entries are rather tortured, but they’re corralled into making sense, so mission accomplished.

The overall solve was congenial, without tough or rough spots to impede progress.

  • 83d [Brainstorming gem] NOVEL IDEA. I like how there’s no qualifier on the merit of such a gem. Some novel ideas are terrible, their originality notwithstanding.
  • 99d [Mop brand] O-CEDAR. This might be tough for some solvers.
  • 101d [Photographer Beaton] CECIL. Going no farther than a simple image search, he seems to have been a prolific celebrity photographer, primarily if not exclusively in black-and-white.
  • 25a [Window in a dating app?] AGE RANGE. Cute.
  • 30a [It’s players are mayors] SIM CITY. Did not know this.
  • 125a [Location of the tallest peak known to man] MARS. I’m going to guess that it’s Olympus Mons. Yep. Clue could have better invoked ‘humankind’.

Malaika Handa’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 7/16/22 by Malaika Handa

Los Angeles Times 7/16/22 by Malaika Handa

Some highlights from this moderately challenging themeless:

  • 13A [Got credit, in a way?] is a nice clue for OPENED A TAB.
  • 20A [Event that might be called “morp”] Today I learned that a GAY PROM might be a “morp.”
  • 33A [Element of 1990s fashion] is HAMMER PANTS, which is quite an evocative entry for those of us of a certain age.
  • 48A [Celebration where many are out on the streets?] I feel like I’ve now seen PRIDE PARADE in puzzles enough times that it’s no longer fresh (that letter pattern sure does lend itself to being a non-seed long-slot entry), but this clue is a fun way to go at it.
  • The 4D/5D pairing of [Flair] and [___ flare] (for KNACK and LENS, respectively), is cute.

I will argue that although a GIN AND TONIC should be a [Simple cocktail], as clued, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered one in a NYC bar and gotten a drink with flat tonic. I now drink them only at home (or at certain tapas bars; the Spanish know how to do these right) so that I can open a tiny can with just enough tonic for one drink instead of fuming about how a bar is charging me $15 for a lousy G&T.

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 7/16/22 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff • solution • 20220716

As advertised, a less rough offering. My solve was relatively smooth. Anytime I got stuck, there was always another spot where I could chip away just a bit more. So it took a number of iterations, revisiting the same clues with just a new letter or two to help things along. Precisely the way a challenging crossword is supposed to work.

  • 1a [Former members of the OfficeMax family] K-MARTS. I was thinking people, not stores. Plus, it’s often tricky when there are two  or more incongruous consonants together—one will have doubts. See also 49d [They’re often up against the wall] TV SETS.
  • 7a [Highly attuned to others] SELFLESS. I’m not convinced about the accuracy there. The clue is reused at 41-across for EMPATH, which definitely seems right.
  • 22a [Sleep-Eazy, on “The Simpsons”] MOTEL. The joke here is that it’s a sleazy establishment.
  • 23a [Dated “dude”] OLD BEAN, which additionally seems like a Briticism to me. I can definitely see Alec Guinness or Noël Coward saying it.
  • 26a [Western union] OAS.  Nice little clue.
  • 29a [“Nouveau” antonym] VIEUX. Dredging up this bit of French vocabulary certainly helped to open up more of the grid. A similar phenomenon with 52a [Frequent Poirot portrayer] USTINOV, which occupies a roughly symmetrical position.
  • 37a [Sales promotion phrase] YOUR CART IS EMPTY. Clue seems off, but I’m at a loss for how to improve it. [E-tail status message]?
  • 4d [Joey of fiction] ROO. Fooled me; I was anticipating maybe PAL. 30a [Young buck] FAWN.
  • Least favorite clue: [Bird __ ] SONG. It’s just so open-ended and generic.
  • 10d [Takes in] FLAMS. I don’t know that this is an acceptable abridgement for flimflams. At least, m-w doesn’t seem to support it.
  • 32d [Mid-’60s name in the news] GEMINI. As in the Gemini space missions. Despite knowing that it dates from 1940s I was still inclined to put BIKINI.
  • 38d [Sloth or skunk] OMNIVORE. It’s just the two-toed sloths, Choloepus, that are omnivorous. Three-toed sloths, Bradypus, are herbivores. There are two species in the former genus and four in the latter.
  • 47d [Escarole alias] ENDIVE. I somehow did not know this.
  • 53d [The origin of civilization] At only five letters long and with a seemingly controversial assertion in the clue, I should have realized it was going to be something more clinical. SOFT C. See also my observation earlier about incongruous consonants. In this case it worked to my advantage!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Saturday, July 16, 2022

  1. gyrovague says:

    LAT: The gorgeous yin-yang grid predisposed me to like this puzzle, but blah entries like DESK LAMP (Really? That’s your 1-Across?) and nonsensical clues like “Sticks in windows” for BARBER POLES quickly had me yearning for an ESCAPE. Sorry to be HARSH, but this one just never SANG.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: It never feels quite right when the first word I put in the grid is an athlete’s name. Actually, I got METHUSELAH before ODELL, but I spelled METHUSELAH wrong, leaving me with an empty square, so I took it out for a long while.

    After my slow start, it was kind of a hit or-miss stumble through this one. TORPOR came all too easily, given the 100°+ weather we’ve been having. I made lots of semi-educated guesses like the Mariah Carey song and HAYLEY Atwell, while initially missing seeing gimmes like the BARNES and CSNY. Ended up a bit over my Saturday average, but nothing like last week’s workout.

    16A brought back memories of seeing my nephew Adam dance the Mouse King in Dallas around 25 years ago. (Adam stuck with ballet and is the principal choreographer for the Louisville Ballet and the resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Ballet.)

  3. Gary R says:

    NYT: Wow! Totally different experience than Amy’s – this kicked my butt! Even with METHUSELAH, DEAR OLD DAD, A-TEST, RPM and TONE COLOR in place, I just gave up on the west side of the puzzle. I don’t remember the last time I surrendered with that much of a grid blank.

    Looking at the solution, I don’t see anything unreasonable/unfair – guess my brain just took an unscheduled holiday. Probably not a good day to try the Stumper!

    • steve says:

      i dunno, seemed like a hard puzzle but a lot of lucky guesses on things i didn’t know made it not so hard

      i think i somehow “got in his wheelhouse” like amy did

  4. e.a. says:

    one of the best all-around puzzle days i can remember! everything reviewed here, plus will nediger’s vox puzzle, was excellent; NYT, LAT, and WSJ were among the best of the year from their respective venues. i feel bad for the voters here who somehow had 1-star experiences on 5-star puzzles 😭

  5. The Stumper: endive/escarole was new to me too. As a graduate student, “escarole” to me meant “cheaper than lettuce.” I’ve always thought that endive was something far fancier.

    Coming from a family with Brooklyn Italian ancestry, I’ve always called it “shkuhroll.”

  6. Dan says:

    I was mildly uncomfortable with the clue [“I got this!”] for LEMME.
    In my experience, the informal “lemme” is always followed by a verb phrase, and is not used all by itself as a standalone.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: See? It really is possible for USAT to publish a puzzle that isn’t 70% 3-and 4-letter answers with 50+ blocks in the grid. Fun solve, even with a goodly number of references I didn’t recognize.

  8. Eric H says:

    LAT: Pretty smooth sailing except for the NW corner, where ANA de Armas was the only answer I was certain of. I knew 2D would be a Native American tribe, but neither “Lakota” nor “Dakota” worked well with EPIPEN (which I had about 80% confidence in).

    I really wanted to finish without looking anything up, but I also wanted to finish. After figuring BIAS might be the answer to 14D, I looked it up to confirm it was right. I never studied statistics, and trying to read the Wikipedia entry for “bias-variance tradeoff” made my head hurt. But that B got me OPENED A TAB, and the rest was easy-peasy.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      If it’s any consolation, I’m a retired statistician and don’t recall ever learning the phrase “BIAS-variance tradeoff”, though I understand what it is.

      • Eric H says:

        Thanks. I didn’t read far enough into the Wikipedia entry to figure out when the term came into use.

        I get why a constructor would want to find a fresh clue for a word that’s probably been in hundreds of puzzles. I think this might’ve been a bit too far.

        • malaika says:

          fun to read these comments! i made this puzzle, and i studied statistics in college, and i briefly worked as a data scientist. i learned about the bias / variance trade off in at least three of my classes– we proved it mathematically, and i had many test questions about it. (mathematical or long answer.)

          to me, this cluing angle is not fresh at all…. it is literally the first thing that comes to mind when i hear the word “bias.”

  9. gyrovague says:

    WSJ: Enjoyable throughout, and an apt lead-in to tonight’s Mets-Cubs matchup. I got stymied for a while in the upper SE corner, wanting 92-A to be MARKET MOVER, which of course made no sense with the Ms removed. Thank you, David. This one’s yet another feather in your (baseball) cap.

  10. JohnH says:

    I know that online solvers may easily miss info left to the instructions and feel burned by that (fairly or not). So it’s only fair to warn Sunday NYT solvers that it’s likely an instance. There’s a note in the version in the Sunday print magazine up where the Sunday puzzle otherwise reserves space for a bio (which appears as well).

    It explains Texas hold ’em and says that knowing this will be useful. It was unfamiliar to me. Of course, this is the discussion of the Saturday puzzle, but once a review of the Sunday puzzle appears in Crossword Field, you’ll have the information within the review. So I thought you might want a heads-up.

  11. F Grant Whittle says:

    We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

Comments are closed.