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!