John Westwig’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The second straight Saturday NYT that felt like a Friday to me. Toughen up these clues, folks!
In the “Shortz’s team doesn’t care but it bugs me” category: EASY CHAIR crossing RESTING with an [At ease] clue. Also: Why don’t I have an easy chair?
Fave fill: FIELD DAYS (though the singular would be better), MAILBAG (great clue, [This clue’s answer might contain more than seven letters]), CRAPPY (what? it’s a word that many of us use), SECRETIVE PRIVATE EYES, literary METONYM, timely MOB RULE (too many tales from friends voting in red states feeling daunted by “poll watchers” who might be packing heat), HIDE AND GO SEEK (I actually forgot the GO was in there!), “RAP GOD,” MAGNETO, and “YAY, TEAM!”
Not 100% sure what WEB ART is. Is this still a term of art? IOS APP also rang hollow to me—the vast majority of apps available for iOS are not Apple products at all, not sure what this term is supposed to mean. Apple’s own built-in apps on the iOS platform, like FaceTime? Didn’t know THE CATCH because baseball has never really been my thing, especially not baseball trivia from before I was born. Sounds like it should be the title of a reality dating show, doesn’t it?
15a. [Many a Zoroastrian], IRANI. This … might be correct? The Iranis of India descend from the Zoroastrians who migrated there from Persia. I think for once an IRANI clue isn’t being used to mean “Iranian”! It’s still probably far afield of most American solvers’ vocabularies so perhaps it shouldn’t pop up terribly often, but at least it’s not pretending that we can use specific demonyms regardless of actual meaning.
12d. [Dole Plantation, e.g.], PINERY. That’s the word for pineapple farms? Huh. Have never seen the word before. “Plantation” is an ugly word but Dole in Hawaii was absolutely about colonizing, so….
3.5 stars from me. The ADMIT IT / IT IS dupe also popped out at me.
Evan Mulvihill and Adam Simpson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This feels like a nice puzzle in the wrong place. I learned a few interesting facts while solving it, but a) there were too many things I already knew in there (the overall balance of cluing in the puzzle was more trivia than wordplay) and b) there weren’t enough tricky wordplay clues to slow me down. I think this puzzle would’ve been more appropriate for Universal Freestyle. But, some things I learned:
- 1A [Tree whose leaves are ground and dried to make filé powder] is SASSAFRAS. I knew that filé powder was an ingredient in gumbo-making, but not what it was made of.
- 49A [“This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey From Refugee to Congresswoman” writer] is Ilhan OMAR. It was very easy to figure out who was meant here, but I did learn the title of her book from this clue.
- ABBA is still out there making albums? What? Sure! I learned this from 31D [Quartet with the 2021 album “Voyage”].
I did like [Multiparty merger statement?] for 50A WE DO, [Bear markets?] as the clue for 57A TOY STORES, and especially [Downside of some self-cleaning] for 12D HAIRBALLS. But for this venue I would’ve liked a bit more of that trickery!
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today crossword, “Is That OK With U?—Matthew’s recap
Themers contain the letter string “OKU”, which puts “OK With U” from the title. Back later with notes after my town’s Veterans’ Day parade.
Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 45” by Zhouqin Burnikel — norah’s write-up
- BABYBUMPS 1A [Indicators of buns in the oven]
- TIP 30A [Money left on the table]
- WINDOW 45A [You can see through it]
- PASTABARS 64A [They may display bow ties]
- BLUECRAB 10D [Chesapeake Bay catch]
- GIVEITATRY 26D [“C’mon, take a bite!”]
- MINDSET 41D [“Fixed” or “growth” attitude]
- KOALA 49D [“Bear” that eats eucalyptus leaves]
I flew through this one, plonking BABYBUMPS right off the bat and never slowed down. The grid is super smooth and the cluing offers little resistance or too-tricky wordplay.
While I think there are fun clues to be had on Amazon’s ALEXA (this one is fine if basic (15A [Amazon Echo voice])), I would still like to see ALEXA clued more often as a real person.
ANNA 38D [___ May Wong (first Chinese-American movie star)]. Anna May Wong is also the first Asian American to appear on a US coin. While she was considered a strong acting talent, her career suffered due to anti-miscegenation laws.
Thank you Zhouqin!
Adam Simpson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It All Works Out in the End” — pannonica’s write-up
It was easy to see that the starred theme entries each ended in a type of fitness routine, but then there was a slight switcheroo at the revealer.
- 110aR [Vote, say, and a clue to one side of the asterisked answers] EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT. So here we find out that the ‘ends’ are now called ‘rights’. Both terms are accurate, but define the elements in question differently.
111d [Marks a box] XES.
- 23a. [*First Amendment protection] FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.
- 33a. [*Hair feature of the Victorian Era] SAUSAGE CURL. The section around SAUSAGE was the last part of the grid that I filled in.
- 37a. [*Put on a robe, perhaps] TAKE THE BENCH.
- 60a. [*”Have room in your car?”] CAN I GET A LIFT.
- 72a. [*Manipulate data] NUMBER CRUNCH. Not necessarily as nefarious as the clue sounds.
- 96a. [*Unfortunate way to leave a ship] WALK THE PLANK.
- 100a. [Taqueria app] CHIPS AND DIP.
Press, curl, bench, lift, crunch, plank, dip. All good. Bench I understand to be a bench press, so I gather that there are other types of presses?
- 15d [“Imagine it…”] PICTURE THIS.
- 24d [Moonfish] OPAH. Not to be confused with the ocean sunfish, or MOLA.
- 30d [Classic Pontiac muscle car] GTO. Why yes, I recently rewatched Two-Lane Blacktop, one of the most purely cinematic and existential films I know.
- 35d [Bit of goop] GLOB. Thought it might be BLOB.
- 99d [Dish that may be swabbed] PETRI. One of those clues that seems nonsensical until you get the answer.
- 101d [Engraver Albrecht DÜRER. He was also an accomplished oil painter and watercolorist.
- 43a [Word that replaced the original draft’s “world history” in an FDR speech] INFAMY. Didn’t know this but it was quite gettable; they scan nearly the same and infamy is so salient.
- 58a [Its three largest cities all start with C] OHIO.
- 78a [Peg in quoits] HOB. Natch (this is in English, right?)
- 90a [Pillow covers] SHAMS.
- 103a [Long-fingered lemurs] AYE-AYES (Daubentonia madagascarensis). Most notably the third digit on their hands, which is nearly fleshless. They use their rodentlike incisors to make holes in tree trunks, into which they can then insert this specially adapted digit and retrieve LARVA (18a) and grubs, a favored food.
It did indeed all work out in the end!
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
My solving time for this one wouldn’t have been nearly as fast were it not for two key entries:
- 31a [Mystic contemplation of one’s navel] OMPHALOSKEPSIS, which is a word I just happen to know.
- 16a [Work for yourself?] EXERCISE, by virtue of having just completed and written about today’s Wall Street Journal crossword, which featured something similar as the theme.
Which is not to say that it was smooth sailing throughout! The final section for me was the northwest. Took a while for me to relinquish the idea of printers, especially INKJETS, for 28a [The Epson HX-20s (1980) were the first of them] LAPTOPS. For 6d [Inspiration for Wagner’s Ring Cycle] EDDA. I first thought SAGA, but dropped in the D based on the past-tense cluing of 15a (which turned out to be VEERED) and then had to wait to see if it was ODIN or EDDA, and I was really leaning toward the former.
- 17a [Was in circulation] EDDIED. Quite literally.
- 18a [Bierce’s “despair, disguised as a virtue”] PATIENCE. This from his arch The Devil’s Dictionary.
- 20a [Target area] AISLE. The retail giant.
- 22a [Much, with “of”] SEAS. LOTS here slowed stymied my progress.
- 30a [Serious profession] VOW. Tough little clue.
- 37a [One standing by the conductor] SOLOIST. I was thinking of steam locomotives.
- 44a [Guy of verse “whose beard with age is hoar”] MARINER. Was hung up on ‘guy’ in the clue, thinking it was a name. I’m guessing this is the title character in the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” so let’s see …YEP. It’s from the penultimate verse.
- 50a [Shade from the Latin for “mole”] TAUPE. I more than once have made this very observation in my write-ups, so it’s nice to see it manifest in a clue.
- 60a [What many MD offices require] PHOTO IDS. “Doctor, I have a bad case of photoids. Ya gotta help me!”
- 61a [Early entrant into the game console business] COLECO, which started out as the Connecticut Leather Company.
- 2d [They’re fit for kings and queens] BEDFRAMES. Nice clue.
- 7d [Potable associate of Rice-A-Roni] PEPSI. Corporate associate.
- 10d [Meter leader] TRI-. A trimeter is “a line of verse consisting of three dipodies or three metrical feet”. (m-w)
- 29d [Fall over in elation] PLOTZ. Tried SWOON first.
- 32d [Green stuff for greens] SOD. I thought for sure the clue was in part referencing money, but no.
- 46d [It has the most acreage of Forest Service land] IDAHO. “The United States Forest Service holds about 38% of Idaho’s land, the highest proportion of any state.” That quote (which has a reference) from Wikipedia shows that the clue is inaccurate. As one would suspect, Alaska (and California, by a smidgen) has a greater amount of Forest Service land.
Unlike recent Stumpers, there is no cryptic-style clue to be found in this crossword. We’ll see in the coming weeks whether it’s a trend.
Amy writes, “ HIDE AND GO SEEK (I actually forgot the GO was in there!).”
Perhaps it’s regional. I spent my elementary school years in Burlington, Vermont. We called the game “Hide and Seek.”
Fun puzzle, if more than a bit on the easy side for Saturday.
Stumper wasn’t too bad! Two clues I don’t get: “PD data” for MOS, and “Competitive pair that finally got together in NW Utah” for RRS.
Criminal’s modus operandi, frequently shortened to MO, which would be of interest to a police department.
For RRS, read this:
But why competitive? Seems like the railroads wouldn’t have been competing at all — quite the opposite, in fact.
Stumper was quite a battle for me.
It was funny that the PDF doesn’t include the clues for the last 3 downs – now that’s hard! (I found them elsewhere.)
Top left fell super easy. Then ground to a halt for a while. SORESPOT got the ball rolling again and I almost got it all it but sputtered in the top right. Had to google to get one clue (the Bierce quote) and was able to wrap it up from there.
That’s not the first time that has happened with the PDF. I’ve found the best source for the Stumper to be the Washington Post website. It carries Stan’s Daily Crossword.
The PDF writer on BrainsOnly (pzzl.com I believe) has a bug where it won’t write clues if the total amount of them exceed a certain length – this affects the Seattle NYT Times site as well.
For the Stumper there are alternative sources.
https://www.newsday.com/entertainment/crossword-puzzle (seems to be working again)
I notice the Post site mentioned before loads off the Arkadium one.
WSJ: Different shaped grid today.
Having Blob for Glob and not sure if auras might be aurae, the memory wouldn’t bring up the Sausage even when I had the curl.
Thanks for the pic of that lemur… how interesting! I love lemurs. I don’t know how to post a pic here, but here is my favorite picture of what at first sight looks like a tarantula (but with nine legs), but isn’t https://www.pinterest.com/pin/33777065931779290/
Here it is:
So cool, both illustration and photo…
The Stumper was the Stumper this week, overwhelmingly. I definitely can feel somewhat on some of the difficulty comments that have been made today and other days because it’s hard to say I disagree. For instance, TNY puzzles were all at Friday NYT for me this week, but it’s not a very favorable comparison given what the Friday NYT was for me this week (or Saturday NYT). And today’s LAT? Less said the better. Maybe it’s some irregularity on how I do these puzzles, but I do have to say it seems clean hard cluing is becoming a lost art. (If I enumerated what I thought *were* the hardest ones this week, I’m sure people would blow some gaskets, though.)