Grant Thackray’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a pretty grid, sashaying right and left. Almost looks like some sort of curvy racetrack.
Easier than I was expecting, but harder than Friday.
Fave fill: “WHERE DID I PARK?” might be questionable as crossword fill, but it sure is relatable! THE SANDS OF TIME, a beautiful AURORA (the photo below was taken by a Pokémon Go friend up in St. Albert, Alberta. This might be a picture taken from her bedroom window!), LITTLE RASCALS (how does that hold up now? I’m guessing it’s pretty appalling), “WHAT’S NEW?”, DOLLAR SIGN, and ATLANTIS.
Rambling notes from my solve: Not keen on 1a. [Sign of spring] for THE RAM—that is a symbol of the sign Aries, no? And of course, the 6-letter spring zodiac sign starting with T is TAURUS.
This is the Pokémon Go edition of Crossword Fiend, apparently. Because 7a. [Performs repetitive tasks to gain experience points, in gaming slang], FARMS—that’s also a thing in the game. Evolving a bunch of creatures with a low cost for evolution is, e.g., Pidgey farming. I appreciate it helping me with crosswords! (P.S. 17a MEW isn’t just a [Litter whimper], it’s also a Pokémon name!)
- 22a. [Twitter-sphere?] is a cute clue for BIRDCAGE. Not sure that birdcages are often spherical, but in terms of the more metaphorical “sphere,” yeah, it works.
- 43a. [Impertinent sort], SNIP? This is a usage I feel like I see only in crosswords. Do you use it that way?
- 52a. [Compound that becomes a man’s name when its last letter is removed], ETHANE. I appreciate the non-chemistry angle. Much more gettable for the humanities crowd.
- 45d. [Metal that can be drawn into a wire an atom wide], GOLD. Sure did not know this. Bring me such a wire posthaste!
John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle had a little more bite to it than the usual Saturday, which is a good thing. A few notes:
- 22A [Calls a ball a strike, say] for ERRS. With John as the constructor and Patti as the editor, of course there’s going to be at least one baseball-related clue that didn’t have to be. (I don’t actually hate baseball, I just think it’s been overrepresented in puzzles for years.)
- 31A [Put on the line?] is a great clue for AIR-DRY.
- …as is 34A [Fills a flat again] for what would otherwise be an undesirable entry, RELET.
- 47A [Jumps on a scale?] is a clever clue for PAY HIKES. (Get it? Pay scale?)
- 49A [“This is bad, even for you”] is A NEW LOW. Didn’t love this, as it feels like an attempt to make a multi-word partial into a phrase on its own.
- 56A [HS class with a mean teacher?] for AP STATS made me smile.
- 11D [Word game option for Swifties] is TAYLORDLE. Why does this exist? (Don’t answer that.)
- 28D [Toy also called a kangaroo ball] is a HIPPITY-HOP. Huh. TIL that those things that look like giant inflatable kettlebells have a name.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What Did you Sate?” — pannonica’s write-up
Had misapprehensions during the first few theme answers I encountered:
- 21a. [Grime on a submarine porthole?] WINDOW SILT (windowsill).
- 3d. [Fire marshal’s action at an overcrowded rock club?] CONCERT HALT (concert hall).
At this point I thought we were changing phrases ending in -LL to -LT
- 23a. [Underground river that causes tremors?] WATER FAULT (waterfall).
And at this point I thought we were still doing that, but altering the spelling if necessary. Checked the title, but couldn’t really make sense of it.
After seeing a few more themers I understood that what we were in fact doing was suffixing just a -T to the phrases and adjusting the spelling.
- 35a. [Diner order for a big eater?] DOUBLE PLATE (double play).
- 57a. [8.6 pounds per gallon?] MILKY WEIGHT (Milky Way).
- 70a. [Trip to a restaurant for the parents and the kids?] FAMILY TREAT (family tree).
- 92a. [Ventilation pipe that can also be used as a sofa?] SITTING DUCT (sitting duck). That’s just a weird notion.
- 108a. [Basketball spot at a Cupertino headquarters?] APPLE COURT (apple core).
- 110a. [Accessory for a clerical cassock?] CHURCH BELT (church bell).
- 66d. [Ace?] SERVICE FEAT (service fee).
So there are is a lot of theme material, but it isn’t too exciting. They can’t all be winners, you know.
- 20d [Game akin to pelota] JAI ALAI. And pelota—which means ‘ball’—is what the ball is called in JAI ALAI.
- 36d [Cornflower color] BLUE.
- 40a [First resident of the White House] ADAMS. Forgotten bit of trivia.
- 64d [Solitaire unit] CARAT. Yes this about jewelry.
- 67d [Fleshy fruit of Central America] SAPOTE.
- 73d [“The Time Machine” race] ELOI. Have not seen this particular bit of crosswordese in a long while.
- 85d [Not online, online] IRL, ‘in real life’, but I tried AFK (‘away from keyboard’) first. Now that I think about it, it’s quite wrong.
- 17a [Its reeds are made from French cane plants] OBOE. Exclusively?
- 18a [Tributary of the Elbe] SAALE. New one on me.
- 32a [Italian city on the Adriatic] BRINDISI. Wonder how far it is from Trieste? Oh! It’s quite far—didn’t realize how southern BRINDISI is.
- 95a [Dried berry with flavors of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon] ALLSPICE.
- 98a [Gag reflex?] LAUGH. Cute.
- 105a [Highest state capital] SANTA FE. Trivia I did not know.
- 115a [He debated Pence in 2016] KAINE. Several lifetimes ago.
- 113a [Pegs for Palmer] TEES. Not theme-related.
Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 38” — norah’s write-up
- GOOFFSCRIPT 32A [Ad-lib]
- BOOTLEGCOPY 52A [Unofficial recording]
- TINFOILHATS 37A [Pieces of headwear that might protect against mind reading (but probably not)]
- SOL 40A [Manzanita ___ (apple-flavored soft drink)]
- EMOJI 41A [Pictogram that helps fill in emotional cues]
While Guilherme’s grid is solid, clean, and well-built with a nice center stairstack, the highlights of this solving experience are found in the clues. With specific references for entries like TIARA (47 [Papal ___ (image on the Vatican flag)]), NDA (20A [Doc often signed by reality show participants]), LOGIC (24D [Sudoku solver’s skill]), and those listed above, I would have liked to see a similar style of clue for BACONGREASE (maybe something about breakfast gravy or cornbread or roasted potatoes, yum). This puzzle was a little harder than the average Universal themeless for me, but all in all still a fun solve. Thank you Guilherme!
Steve Mossberg’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Wow. At no point did I feel like I was making significant progress with this crossword. Continually I was abandoning paltrily filled sections in search of more fertile pastures, and continually I was stymied. And yet, in under fifteen minutes, it was done. I have no idea how that happened.
- 1a [Film with the most AFI top 100 quotes (6)] CASABLANCA. My immediate instinct was that this was the film, but somehow I miscounted the letters, believed it didn’t fit. So this ended up being filled in rather late.
- 15a [Set aside] OVERRIDDEN. One of many deliberately oblique clues. I’ll tag some others as I go along.
- 17a [Get on in the future] BEAM ABOARD. This needs a question mark. I think it’s been determined (or perhaps just speculated) that teleportation would involve death (and duplication).
- I see in the comments below that RunawayPancake has already observed that several clues give no indication that their answers involve initialisms or abbrevs. 18-across [Ranger employer] USDI is the first of these.
- 19a [Frost line] BRR, 20a [Frost lines] VERSE.
- 23a [Decidedly] ALL THAT. <code>oblique</code>
- 30a [Goes on further] ELABORATES. Liked this one.
- 37a [Driver’s detour] SLICE. Golf. I knew this was constructed as a misdirection, but still couldn’t see where I should go. Similar, even more pointed, experience with 22d [One concerned with approach, take-off and landing] POLEVAULTER.
- 38a [Words that add depth to a video game character] FLAVORTEXT. I. Do. Not. Like. that coinage.
- 42a [Word from the French for “rogue”] MARAUD. I would’ve thought that rogue is itself of French derivation but m-w suggests that it’s of obscure origin. Interesting.
- 47a [Pair in space before John Glenn] APES. oof
- 49a [Product of culinary cranks] PASTA. One of the longer entries I was able to get with zero crossings. 11d [Emeril makes them with yogurt and coconut] FRUIT SALADS was not another like that.
- 55a [Big Apple’s Pastrami Queen, e.g.] KOSHER DELI. Got this one with just the L, which I in turn got from 52d [Mag with Style Points and Glam Room sections] ELLE, which itself in turn drew from 51a [Individually] PER. Concatenation!
- 60a [Overpays] GETS SOAKED. <code>oblique</code>
- 1d [Brown Derby owner who gave his name to a green course] COBB. >shakes head at clue<
- 9d [Morning reading for many] CEREAL BOX. Still, in these days of smartphones and tablets?
- 10d [S-so insertion] AND. My very first bit of fill.
- 12d [Taste of philosophy] AESTHETICS. Just now perceiving the correct sense of taste here. I had thought the idea was that it’s an introductory aspect of philosophy. Duh.
- 13d [Slavic female name that’s an Irish male name reversed] NADIA. This is one of those clues that are annoying except in retrospect, whereupon they become interesting and you can appreciate them.
- 21d [Puts down] SLURS. <code>oblique</code> 16a [Bring up] REAR.
- 27d [Brown sugar] CARAMELIZE. Brown is a verb here. Tricky.
How did this one treat you?
Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “Last to Leave”—Matthew’s write-up
Our themers end with words that suggest “leaving,” thus the title “Last to Leave”:
- 15a [Fruit-based ice cream parlor order] BANANA SPLIT
- 34a [Two-person trampoline trick] DOUBLE BOUNCE
- 55a [Snack combo often served in two nesting bowls] CHIPS AND DIP
I smiled all over the place moving through the fill today. I know PAI gow as a domino game, but I see there’s a card game of a similar name. Solved this puzzle hungry, and PANEER, TUNA, SATAY, BANANA SPLIT, CHIPS AND DIP, TACQUERIA all have me thinking about dinner this evening. And, you know, who doesn’t love a good case of the ZOOMIES? [32d Pet’s burst of energy].
Have a great weekend!