Natan Last’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Untimed, because it’s been a long week with misbehaving nerves and sleep debt. Felt like a Saturday puzzle.
Never heard of: 25a. [Strategy to prevent a runner from stealing a base], PITCH OUT. Good gravy, the World Series goes into November? I thought baseball was almost done.
Fave fill: CROWD-SURFS, GERTRUDE STEIN, POSE NUDE, SHOOED AWAY, BABY FAT, BLUE’S CLUES, OCEAN VUONG, LIVES A LIE. Not sure about B.S. METER; bullshit detector feels more familiar to me but I’m sure there’s lots of variance in what you use. YEMENI takes me back to a Brooklyn ACPT when Tony Orbach and his daughter Sko led a bunch of us to a Yemeni restaurant for lunch, and everything was delicious.
Love [Final four?] as the clue for the four HORSEMEN of the Apocalypse.
I’ll close with a link to one of Natan’s poems, “The Runners.” Greek myth’s “Atalanta zoned for wildness” is a lovely bit, Natan.
Matthew Stock and Pravan Chakravarthy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
First, a few notes on individual entries:
- 19A [Oscar-nominated biopic about a Supreme Court justice] is RBG. I remember reading a review of On the Basis of Sex, the film starring Felicity Jones as RBG, that said it was a shame that the character’s portrayal in the fictionalized movie was a bit flat, given that the lady herself evinced her big personality so much in the documentary. This clue reminded me that one of these days I need to watch the doc.
- 26A [Pt. of VAT] is VALUE. I don’t get why this clue abbreviates “part” when the answer isn’t an abbreviation (and even if it were, the abbreviation VAT itself would be enough of an abbreviation indicator).
- 29A [Cocktails flavored with orgeat syrup] is MAI TAIS. BRB, gotta add ORGEAT to my word list.
- 31A [Actor Millen of “Orphan Black”] is ARI. This seems like a pretty deep cut to get at a new angle for this rather useful set of three letters. (And I’m saying this as someone who watched the first three seasons of Orphan Black.)
- 34A [Small wing nut] is a LEPIDOPTERIST. Loved this wordplay. (That’s someone who studies butterflies and moths, if you weren’t aware.)
- 4D [Meryl Sheep of Sesame Street, for one] is EWE. Now this is a deep cut I like, because the answer provides confirmation even if you’ve never heard of the character.
- 9D [French course final?] is a cute clue for ENTREMET, a type of dessert I’d never have heard of without GBBO.
- 36D [Treat with DJ Tropicool and Louie-Bloo Raspberry flavors] is an OTTER POP. Debatable whether an OTTER POP is a “treat,” but a nice evocative answer.
This all adds up to…I wanted to like this puzzle more than I do. I wish there were more stuff of interest in those top and bottom 10-stacks; the top one felt like it was missing the elusive “sparkle” and the bottom one felt almost like ads found their way into my puzzle with two different 10-letter websites with paywalled content (EPICURIOUS and SPARKNOTES).
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You Really Get Me” — pannonica’s write-up
Insertion of the bigram MY in familiar phrases, always at the end of the first word—or first part of a compound word—creating new adjectival phrases. What I didn’t perceive initially is that it’s homophonic, so spelling can change—but that wasn’t the case for the first one.
- 23a. [Disreputable ragamuffins?] SEAMY URCHINS (sea urchins).
- 25a. [Salon tint with a minty scent?] THYMY DYE (tie-dye).
- 41a. [Residence of a family known for their angry outbursts?] STORMY HOUSE (storehouse).
- 45a. [Promontory marked by pleasant warm days?] BALMY POINT (ballpoint).
- 67a. [Really small detective, while shadowing a suspect?] PIGMY TAIL (pigtail).
- 92a. [Result of trudging through the mud?] SLIMY BOOTS (slyboots).
- 95a. [Bit of wood from a dark, depressing forest?] GLOOMY STICK (glue stick).
- 112a. [Single picture from a Poehler movie scene?] AMY FRAME (A-frame).
- 114a. [Ghosts that rise from fertile soil?] LOAMY SPIRITS (low spirits).
So those all work, and some of the clues end up being rather poetic.
The puzzle played a little tougher than I’m used to from the Saturday WSJs, but I fortunately seemed to know a lot of the trivia-like answers and was able to get through it without too much hassle. Biggest impasse was figuring out which one letter was off at the very end. Turned out to be the crossing of 34a [One of FDR’s most popular New Deal programs] CCC—which I did not know—and 35d [Antepenultimate letter] CHI, for which I’d hastily put in PHI.
- 3d [Like Seuss’s elitist sneetches] STAR-BELLIED. I knew it was either the ones with or without, and fortunately only one designation had the right length.
- 8d [“I can’t believe this,” in a text] SMH. Shaking my head, but which I long ago thought stood for so much hate.
- 10d [Famed San Francisco restaurant featured in “Vertigo”] ERNIE’S. The film is regularly among the top-scoring in AFI and other lists, but I feel it’s vastly overrated. SMH.
- 14d [Rogers Centre players, familiarly] JAYS. I should have twigged to the anglicised spelling of centre, but I didn’t and guessed JAGS.
- 42d [World War I battle site of West Flanders] YPRES. There was a bit of crosswordy geography: 27a [Scottish town on the Firth of Clyde] AYR, 118a [View from Sugarloaf Mountain] RIO, 12a [Cabo location] BAJA. Okay, perhaps not as much as I thought.
- 45d [Footing] BASIS. There were a few clues that were oblique in this laconic way. 66d [Predominant] SUPREME is another.
- 52d [How successful people and space probes go] VERY FAR. Really? We’re going with that? 89a [Suede and gremlins shouldn’t do it] GET WET.
- 58d [Monsoon season trademark] RAINS. Get used to seeing ever worse ones.
- 64d [Female parts of a flower] CARPELS, 96d [Male part of a flower] STAMEN.
- 68d [Small mountain lakes] TARNS. Old-school crosswordese.
- 91d [Test subject?] STUDENT. Had a brief flashback to Student’s t-Test.
- 6a [Pickup artist of old] MASHER. I’d thought that was a term for a sexual assailant, but perhaps that’s the intended connotation of “pickup artist” in the clue. Haven’t looked up the formal definition of MASHER, so I leave it to you if you want to.
- 49a [Ready to drop] POOPED. I really, really wanted ZONKED this morning. 50a [Out] ASLEEP.
- 59a [NC State’s Lee Hall, as of 1970] COED DORM. That’s rather specific. I suppose there’s either a personal reason or a historic one for that?
- 75a [Travesties] FARCES.
- 78a [Unhesitating turndown, informally] FAST PASS. Hadn’t heard it, but it was immanently guessable.
- 98a [Watches covertly] SPIES ON. Just finished watching all three seasons of Berlin Station.
- 100a [Ones in a class of their own] TUTEES. Clue goes a long way in mitigating a word that just looks weird to me.
- 119d [Hansel’s heading] OVEN. That’s dark.
- 111a [Maternal muntjac] DOE.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
True to the byline, this one fell rather quickly, but that northeast section gave me solid resistance. The biggest impediments were filling in RTE at 37-across for [GPS reading] NNE and being stymied by 19a [Amazon’s origin] PERU, thinking only of the ANDES. This despite 27a [South American “Historical Capital”] CUZCO being right there. Incidentally, for that one I left the third square blank until I figured out if we were spelling it with a Z or C; the crossing 11d [Take it slow] for SPEED ZONE was a tricky imperative.
- 6a [Nautical prefix] AERO-. Not a prefix denoting naval stuff, but one for -nautical.
- 14a [Detective’s alternative to dusting] LASER. Not sure how that works, but I haven’t watched shows like CSI, so am probably ignorant here.
- 15a [It falls in Genesis 7] RAIN. Yeh, I’d say that one’s tricky too.
- 18a [Small handful] BRAT. Another misdirection.
- 45a [Highs and lows] WEATHER SYSTEMS. Simple, yet somehow also tricky.
- 57a [One leaving in the spring] TREE. >groan<
- 1d [What some collars keep off] FLEAS. My first fill, and how I recognized the crossword wouldn’t be too arduous.
- 5d [Lone Ranger’s grand-nephew] GREEN HORNET. I had no idea there was a connection.
- 7d [Worldly] EARTHEN. Is that right? Does that work?
- 13d [Travel around] TOUR. 40d [Travels around] CIRCLES.
- 24d [Rounds of some pro sports?] DOMES. >moue<
- 33d [Rousseau’s “source of all the false ideas of society”] MONEY. He had some stuff to say, for sure. Oh, also 30d [Font of creativity] IDEA WOMAN.
- 46d [Its first fleet was Model Ts] HERTZ. Makes sense.
- 47d [First name on the first Literature Nobel nominations list. ÉMILE Zola.
- 48d [“Where brilliance belongs”] MENSA. >looks askance<
- 49d [Go quietly] SNEAK.
Garrett Chalfin’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 40” — norah’s write-up
- BEERPONG 53A [Drinking game involving shots?]
- SKINCARE 34D [Kind of routine that may use oatmeal masks]
- DEALER 59A [Representative of the house?]
- EMOPOP 15A [Panic! at the Disco genre]
NICEWORK (16A [“Well done!”]) today from Garrett Chalfin in putting together a really clean grid that lends itself to plenty of fun wordplay throughout.
I learned about HOGANS 12A [Navajo dwellings]. Hogans are structures made of combinations of stone, timber, and packed earth.
The paired long entries of YOGARETREATS and NASCARTRACKS are begging for identical tricky clues (if in a trickier puzzle). Maybe something like [Places with long stretches?] ? Give me something better in the comments. :)
Thank you Garrett!