Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Tough one, eh? A striking grid to approach when it was blank—all that long fill bumping up against the nine-row diagonal line of blocks.
Fave fill: JUMP FOR JOY, the entirely-new-to-me BIDENOMICS, slangy SITCH(uation), ACTIVE DUTY military, a VASECTOMY clued as a [Form of birth control], CLUE IN, FALL ISSUE ([It’s bound to run in the third quarter], as in the pages are bound into magazine form and the issue may run in the July-August-September period), PUTS ON HOLD (we hate being put on hold), “UP IS DOWN,” JUICE BAR, Andrea DEL SARTO (subject of a Robert Browning poem), OSCAR BID, and Cyndi Lauper’s ode to masturbation, “SHE BOP.”
Five more things:
- 47a. [Some arcade habitués], PINBALLERS. Can’t say I’ve seen this exact word before, but who doesn’t like pinball?
- 34a. [Commanders became part of it in 2022, for short], THE NFL. I entirely forgot the Washington Football Team had finally chosen a new name, and that it was this. “Commanders”? Dudes… Have you never read nor seen on TV The Handmaid’s Tale? You could have chosen a much better name. How about the Washington Monuments?
- 53a. [Someone who can’t stand working?], DESK PERSON. DESKPERSON? No idea. Most dictionaries don’t include this word, but American Heritage Dictionary tells us it’s someone working at a newspaper desk.
- 37d. [Worker who processes wool], FULLER. Dang. That is a deep cut in English vocabulary. I tried FELTER, to no avail. Apparently fulling means “to shrink and thicken (woolen cloth) by moistening, heating, and pressing.” Did more than two readers of this blog already know that word and get it right away?
- 29d. [___ Rhubarb, foil for the Katzenjammer Kids of old comics], ROLLO. Did not know this, as I don’t think my local newspapers ran Katzenjammer Kids on the funny pages. Nobody likes a Rollo, though. He was the spoiled rich kid in the Nancy comic strip, too.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
So do we think C.C.’s being self-referential in starting this puzzle with CCS [Includes, briefly] at 1-Across? I wouldn’t put it past her. Some interesting points and highlights from this puzzle:
- 6A [Bell hooks work whose title comes from a line often attributed to Sojourner Truth] is AIN’T I A WOMAN. A fellow constructor tipped me off a while back that Truth’s famous speech probably ought not be referred to by that name, given that it comes from a transcription of the speech that might not accurately represent Truth’s own speech patterns. This clue neatly honors Sojourner Truth for making a speech about important ideas while referring instead to a work by another writer so as not to imply that AIN’T I A WOMAN is verbatim from Truth.
- 27A [“Born a ___”: Trevor Noah memoir] for CRIME reminds me that I’ve heard excellent things about the book and should get around to reading it at some point.
- 48A [Self-referential] is META — and if C.C. is sneakily referring to the fact that 1-Across refers to herself, that’s, like, mega-META.
- 61A [Problem that often grows with fame] feels fresh as a clue for that old standby, EGO.
- 2D [System with shades of meaning] is a nice clue for COLOR CODE.
My one beef is that it’s a bit too easy for Saturday!
David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Secret Agents” — pannonica’s write-up
They aren’t so secret, these agents, or REPs. In fact, they’re inserted quite openly into original phrases, altering their meanings.
- 21a. [Road crew’s concern?] SURFACE TO REPAIR (surface-to-air).
- 42a. [Parrot back?] REPEAT LIKE A BIRD (eat like a bird).
- 68a. [Disgust Dalí?] REPEL SALVADOR (El Salvador).
- 93a. [Protest songs?] PITCHED REPROOFS (pitched roofs).
- 118a. [Dinosaur statuettes?] CERAMIC REPTILES (ceramic tiles).
- 14d. [Deceptively shouting “I’m up! I’m up!”] REPLYING IN BED (lying in bed, which also works for the clue).
- 54d. [Grievances posted on TikTok?] REPROACH CLIPS (roach clips).
Not a WOW theme, but it gets the job done.
- Favorite clues, back-to-back: 18a [Play around, in a way] TOUR. 19a [Item made to measure] RULER.
- 58a [Game originally called “La Conquête du Monde”] RISK. Novel clue, to me.
- 98a [“Really?”] OH YES. Does not comport. The answer seems like a reply, which is not how crossword clues work.
- 3d [Bug’s kin] WIRETAP. Speaking of secret agents and spydom. 69d Military mind game, for short] PSYOP might also qualify.
- 22d [Snail, quail or whale] ANIMAL. 30d [E or G, e.g.] NOTE. 55a [David and Alfred, e.g.] NAMES; Bywaters is also a name, but not of the same sort.
- 72d [To the back, on a boat] AREAR. Anyone else have ABAFT first?
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
This one bent to my will rather easily, and surprisingly. Time would have been even a bit faster had I not erred at 50d [Renounced, with “off”] by putting in SWORE rather than SWORN. Took a run-through to notice that 62a STEIG wasn’t cartoonist/author William but [Cop op] STING.
Nevertheless, there were enough clues that were straightforward *enough* to verify crossings and get things rolling—and continuing—rather easily.
- 15a [Verb used in codes] ABET. Is this as in penal codes?
- Related, possibly: 42d [Battery, for example] TORT.
- 18a [What Germans call “Weissburgunder”] PINOT BLANC. Despite the German name being a direct COGNATE (41a) of white burgundy, I believe it’s a different varietal. If I’m not mistaken, white burgundies are still pinot noir grapes.
- 20a [French president’s term] QUINQUENNIAL. Took a while for me to get there.
- Least favorite entry: 30a [Hershiser in ’88, Pujols in ’04] NLCS MVP.
- 44a [Charades category] GAG. Huh?
- 52a [One wearing a “horsy” helmet] BRONCO. Was briefly wondering if there was a variant spelling of BRONY. Ooh, I’ve just found the throwback helmet and it’s magnificent.
- 58a [Fair pair] TENS. Huh?
- 1d [Unsuccessful] MANQUÉ. In English it’s practically a bound morpheme, appearing in the phrase poet manqué.
- 6d [Annual theater company grant] OBIE. Bestowal would have been a more accurate choice, but would have somewhat ruined the misdirection.
- 12d [Know how] CAN. Note that it isn’t knowhow.
- 19d [America’s #4 most-consumed seafood] TILAPIA. Preceded by shrimp, canned tuna, and salmon; followed in the top ten by Alaska pollock, cod, crab, catfish, pangasius, and scallops.
- 31d [Loud buzzers] CICADAS. I still use the adjective crepitant to describe it since first encountering it in a novel many years ago. I know I’ve mentioned it in these pages previously.
- 32d [Weather-related anagram of STORM + GALE] SMOG ALERT. Needed many crossings here.
- 34d [One concerned with your points of view] EYE DOCTOR. Ouch.
- 47d [One of four in “Romeo and Juliet”] SCENE V. Oof.
- Coming to 55d [B&B facilities] RMS, I realize that there are a lot of acronyms and initialisms in this crossword. Okay, maybe not a lot, but a lot.
Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Room at the Bottom”—Matthew’s write-up
Three grid-spanning, down-running themers, each ending with a type of room:
- 3d [Salad condiment with oil and vinegar] ITALIAN DRESSING
- 5d [Gets passed from generation to generation] RUNS IN THE FAMILY
- 8d [Mixture used in Chinese cuisine] FIVE SPICE POWDER
Squeezing this in today so have to stop here. Cheers!
Argh! I meant to give Byron Walden’s NYT puzzle 4.5 stars, not 3.
Fun puzzle. It felt like I got off to a quick start — Peter Fonda = ULEE, at least in the NYT archives, the L of ULEE gave me ALPACA, Derek BOK came to mind as if he’d been a Harvard big shot just yesterday, and knowing my southwest geography, SONORA was a gimme — but then things slowed down a bit. Then, I made a few lucky guesses (BIDENOMICS and SITCH) and I was done.
NYT: Loved this one overall. Amy, the term BIDENOMICS was new to me also, but lo and behold, a Google search turns up lots of hits. I guess the portmanteau of (president’s surname)+nomics will always be a thing, like (scandal name)+gate. Loved the debut of VASECTOMY.
I raised an eyebrow at DESKPERSON. To my ear, “desk worker” is more in the language. But back to Google, and “desk person” gets lots of hits. This is inspiring me to snarkily change my LinkedIn profile job description to “Desk person.” Ha! I do indeed sit at a desk all day (and that doesn’t make me JUMPFORJOY).
The term I’ve seen—if not heard—the most is probably DESK JOCKEY.
That one felt off to me for two reasons. First, it felt a little green paintish but that could be me. Second, standing desks have gotten to be common.
Count me as not a fan of today’s NYT. It had too many “huh?” words that felt too much like the old trivia-laden slogs of the 80s. DESKPERSON and FULLER aside, there’s also YAWP, which I’ve never seen used outside of a dictionary.
FULLER was extremely annoying. He couldn’t give us something gustatory or even good old Buckminster? Add in ROLLO and the unnecessarily obscure clue for EDSELS, and that entire sector dragged down my overall opinion of the puzzle, which I otherwise enjoyed.
From Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”:
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.
I struggled a bit in that corner, but more because I had a bilingual (and nonsensical) “Calle d’Or” rather than PALME d’Or.
I wasn’t too crazy about ROLLO. Don’t old comic strips have expiration dates?
I waited to see if would be PomME or PalME.
I don’t know why PALME never occurred to me until the crosses made it obvious. I used to pay attention to Cannes until COVID upended my movie-going habits.
I knew ROLLO of the Nancy comic strips; Katzenjammer Kids is a classic, I guess, but it stopped before I was born [and I am no spring chicken].
I recalled YAWP from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who. Despite the fact that Seuss spells it differently (YOPP), it helped me fill in that entry.
LAT: Chewy and eminently rewarding, with hardly a drop of glue. I don’t agree that it was too easy, though several recent Saturdays have been. Appreciated C.C.’s playful echoing of PEDAL/PEDDLE and the side-by-side TRAIL RACE/RUNNER RUG.
NYT: As a knitter for over sixty years FULLER and ALPACA came easily. The rest, not so much.
My wife and I had a conversation about “Bidenomics”. I cannot say that I have ever seen this in print or heard it spoken before, but based on the “president+economics” portmanteau, it seems inherently familiar to me, and I didn’t question it at all. My wife was of the other persuasion.
In fact, I just Googled every president back to JFK with the word “-nomics” appended to each name, and got a hit every time.
Too many of my colleagues work at standing desks to make “desk-person” make any sense in that context anymore (one, in fact, has a treadmill at his desk). To me, “Desk-Person” and “Desk Jockey” are more about the kind of work being done – office work, e.g., as opposed to one who engages in more physical work. Having done some plumbing and electrical work myself, I would number plumbers and electricians among those who can’t stand working – often being relegated to basements with low ceilings, crawl-spaces, or under-sink cabinets where contortionism is as valuable a skill as engineering.
Never heard of a “fuller”. I wanted to put “carder” in there. Millard Fillmore worked as a wool carder in upstate NY when he was a teenager.
NYT was significantly easier for me than yesterday’s. Probably on account of my age. DESKPERSON is bad, as others have said.
Stumper: pannonica, I think TENS are a fair pair in poker. Okay, but not a promised winner. That’s my take on what was meant.
I finished the Stumper over breakfast. This has never happened before. I enjoyed it except for SCENEV (oof) and the vowel-poor NLCSMVP. I longed for some vowel relief there. I have no idea what the CS stands for, but I gave it the side-eye and moved on.
I thought Weiss meant “wheat”, like a wheat beer whose name might start with “weiss”, so I spent quite a while noodling over what word could follow “pinot”. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I know little about beer. I just hear things.
Loved the BRONCO throwback helmet!
Aha, that poker explanation makes sense. CS is Championship Series. Was going to write about wheat and white beers, but it’s easier to just copy and paste from Wikipedia:
Thanks, that all makes sense. And now I have some knowledge under my belt to use when my husband and his beer friends (well, all of his friends) talk about this and that beer.
There’s gotta be a better exclamation for TENS than a pair in poker. “Fair pair” is not a poker saying. I know Stumper clues can be silly at times, but it can’t just add a random adjective in front of a word that has absolutely no affect on the answer. There has to be another meaning for this answer. Anyone?
I’m surprised that puzzlers far more capable than me thought that today’s NYT’s puzzle was particularly challenging. For me, it was one of the easiest in quite a while. FULLER came to me quickly, perhaps because I have read and taught so many 19th. century novels. I have never seen PINBALLERS, but it was not a hard deduction to make. My favorite clue: “University stores”—ENDOWMENTS. How do those elite universities spend all that money? I wonder how many of my students were not accepted at well-endowed colleges because their families had not “contributed” to a school’s coffers.
Stumper – white Burgundy is made from Chardonnay. Red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir.
And the Pinot Blanc grape is called “Weißburgunder” in German. All true statements.
Martin, that is in agreement with the cluing. Thanks for the clarification, PJ.
I could be wrong, but I thought that PJ was calling the clue an error. As he stated, (almost) all reds in Burgundy are made from Pinot Noir and whites from Chardonnay. So one would expect a grape called “Burgundy white” in German to be Chardonnay. But it’s not. Just an odd trap.
Btw, Pinot Noir is not called Rotburgunder (“Burgundy red”) but Spätburgunder (“late Burgundy”) because German.
I was trying to remind pannonica that white Burgundy is made with Chardonnay, not Pinot Noir as she said in her review.
On-screen solvers who feel taken aback when something appears in instructions may want to know that tomorrow’s NYT is another in which the print magazine’s Sunday opening bio may cast light on the puzzle.
Indeed, warning: it could be seen as a spoiler, although I doubt it’s either all that helpful or essential. But just in case it matters, here goes: “The example at 118-Across, at the bottom of the puzzle [well, toward the bottom, but anyway], is a little different from the others, like a kicker or a joke.” It goes on to add without using the term that the puzzle is a pangram. It means both aspects as a compliment, the first as part of its “many different ‘hah’ moments.” Does it live up to all that? Your call! I haven’t solved it yet.
NYT: Pleasantly chewy. Didn’t know the OPERA HOUSE in S.F. is a war memorial, and had never heard of BIDENOMICS, but both were easy enough to see with some crosses.
Stumper: Started fast in the NW corner, then struggled to get a foothold elsewhere. But a few things fell here and there, and it all came together fairly quickly. But I finished with an error at the crossing of 20-A and 21-D – my knowledge of French is minimal (to put it charitably).
NYT: The other thing that makes DESKPERSON bad is that…you absolutely can stand at a desk for work. Lots of people do. It’s a common thing. The clue says “can’t stand,” which makes the answer literally wrong. The answer to that clue needs to be someone who never stands while working, like an organ player or bus driver.