Benji Goldsmith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
A lovely themeless, if a tad on the easy side for a Saturday puzzle. The hourglass grid design lends the look of having lots of long fill, while around half of the entries are actually in the 3- and 4-letter space.
Fave fill: “OK, SHOOT,” AT ONE WITH NATURE (what’s your favorite natural environment to be in?), CREATES A MONSTER (such a great phrase), DIALS IT BACK (also great), SMALL TALK ([It’s sometimes weather-related], true enough–it’s cold in Chicago and snowing in Buffalo, that’s all I know), MOUSEKETEER, MEAT ALTERNATIVE, the great “IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?”, and “THEY SAY…”.
Not at all keen on “OH ME” (it’s marginally better than AH ME, which all you constructors should purge from your wordlists!), and RATLIKE feels maybe weird. TERNS is boring fill, but the clue saves it: [Birds that rarely swim, despite having webbed feet]. They just want to be ready for anything! I don’t think [Quirky old fellas] is apt for GEEZERS; dull and cranky old fellas might also be called geezers, and quirkiness doesn’t enter into it, in my experience. Is Merriam-Webster off base, or am I?
Kate Chin Park and Brooke Husic’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
I don’t have much time to write this one up, but I’ll say that I liked the energy of this grid, between SCREEN TIME, PARTY DRESS (great clue, too), JELLY SHOES, SHEA BUTTER, SMARTPHONE, and STRAPPY as a descriptor for shoes [Like wrap heels]. I also enjoyed the clues of [Pity parties?] for SORE LOSERS and [One doing spit takes?] for WINE TASTER.
TRUST NO ONE also had me thinking of the opening credits of Wie Is de Mol? and the ominous whisper of “Trust nobody!”
Lisa Senzel and Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Doc Work” — pannonica’s write-up
Punny phrases in the form of things medical professionals might say. Tomswiftian stuff.
- 23a. [“My colleagues and I will do some exploratory work on your knee, in a ___,” said the rheumatologist] JOINT VENTURE.
- 31a. [“My role is to ___,” said the OB/GYN] HELP PEOPLE OUT.
- 47a. [“You have to be ___,” said the pediatrician] A LITTLE PATIENT.
- 66a. [“Never fear, I use only ___,” said the surgeon] CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY.
- 84a. [“My procedures should be able to ___,” said the orthopedist] SET YOU STRAIGHT.
- 99a. [“Be warned, I may have to make some ___,” said the dermatologist] RASH DECISIONS.
- 113a. [“Don’t worry, during your corrective procedure, I’ll stay ___,” said the ophthalmologist] LASER-FOCUSED.
Perhaps laughter is the best medicine?
- 35d [One being strung along?] BEAD. My first thought was KITE.
- 38d [Rom-com plot, usually] CUTE STORY. Was thinking LOVE STORY, but there was also 33d [Comedian Love] LONI.
- 43d [Alternative to NYSE] OTC. 44a [Call’s counterpart] PUT. 105a [Vehicles that can roll over, briefly] IRAS. Just in case you’d forgotten it’s the Wall Street Journal.
- Theme-adjacent: 35a [Severe cold, say] BAD CASE.
- 40a [Perennial chicken course?] ROAD. >groan<
- 106a [Spotting 26-Across, say] ON SAFARI; 26a [Nyala or gnu] ANTELOPE. These entries are symmetrically opposite each other, a nice touch.
- 117a [Gradually reveals a scene, to a cinematographer] IRISES IN. Not a technique seen much in contemporary films.
- 122a [Do-it-yourself tool?] SEX TOY. Bit racy, no?
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Mostly smooth sailing on this one, with some turbulence in the lower right as I struggled to complete the grid. In fact, I still don’t fully understand some of the clues there: 65a [Some roots of rock] STRATA? 56a [Turnoff before checking in] RENTAL CAR RETURN? Best guess is that the latter is at the airport, and checking in is for a flight. Not quite sure how STRATA are roots, but there it is.
- 3d [Création volcanique] ÎLE. Spent way to much time thinking about how one might say ‘ash’ in French.
- 7d [Protective layer] HEN. Tricky little clue.
- 22d [Major producer of pomegranates] IRAN. Yes, it’s pomegranate season. The one currently sitting in my basket, which I need to open up, is from the USA.
- 34d [Show servility] GENUFLECT. Anyone else thinking of Tom Lehrer?
- 41d [Juvenile jellyfish] LARVAE. Other life stages: polyp, medusa.
- 43d [Growths of grass] SWARDS. Had BLADES for a time. Etymology: Middle English, from Old English sweard, swearth skin, rind; akin to Middle High German swart skin, hide (m-w)
- 53d [Sound of billowing sails] SLAP. Considered SLAP also; this hampered my progress on seeing/completing that long entry RENTAL CAR RETURN.
- 7a [What you may get out of your refrigerator] HUM. Kind of a ridiculous clue. Fortunately, the crosses—while not super-easy—were more easily gettable.
- 20a [Word from Malay for “sheath”] SARONG. Makes sense. 45a [Word associated with parties and dresses] WRAP.
- 21a [Capital by the Red Sea] DINAR. Yes, this one fooled me today. With the A in place I was considering AMMAN.
- 37a [A name of Eliot’s] STEARNS. The S of T.S.
Not my favorite Stumper solve of late, but a good workout. Despite pinwheeling long entries to bind things together, it somehow felt incohesive. On the other hand it’s quite plausible that I’m just projecting my mental state onto the grid. Time for coffee!
Mikkel Snyder & Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword—Matthew’s recap
Nothing to see here – USA hasn’t posted today’s yet, and I reviewed yesterday’s.
NYT: Since you asked, Amy, my favorite natural environment is the red rock country of the Colorado Plateau — mostly Utah. The colors can be fantastic, and the rock formations other-worldly.
The puzzle was fun. I wouldn’t call it super-easy, but I had some incorrect entries in the top that made the two spanners hard to see.
Interesting point about the grid design leaving a lot of three- and four-letter answers (34 out of 66, by my count). Usually, seeing that many short answers bugs me, but I didn’t really notice them today. Maybe it’s because with a few letters in place, the longer answers were all pretty obvious.
Some of the WSJ themers made me laugh out loud. There really is some serious Vinn overlap between Cruciverbalist and Joke Writer.
NYT: I had OCHER for OTTER (huh?) which held me up for quite a while but otherwise it was fairly straightforward. I agree that the clue for GEEZER doesn’t square with my understanding of the word.
Stumper: Couldn’t finish because the last two down clues were missing from the print version, and STRATA for ‘roots of rock’ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Dictionary definition of STRATA is “a layer or a series of layers of rock in the ground.” I figured [Roots of rock] was just a play on a strata just being a layer of rock occurring in the ground versus rock in an amorphous quantity, i.e. unmined or mined.
As for the puzzle, 4.5*. Clean fun experience. And yeah there were a few this week that were harder, and maybe it’s a weird complaint but was kinda disappointed it wasn’t harder.
Stumper: I assume that STRATA is a play on the Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed the Strat? But not a rock solid clue.
That seriously makes more sense than trying for a straight up definition! I vote Aye for your explanation.
I dunno. I wouldn’t think your average rock guitarist would pluralize ‘Strat’ as ‘Strata”!
TBH I don’t think either of the explanations for the clue works well. I have come to expect that the Stumper often has one or two clues that torture meaning so much they become nonsensical.
I agree, neither really works.
But AHA, there is a music label called Root Strata. They apparently have some rock artists. Based in the UK.
Probably another weak stretch.
Wrong grid shown for Saturday, 11/119 LAT
Yeah, that grid is a holdover from Mon 11/14. I found the actual Saturday puzzle a perfectly fine diversion, as reflected in Stella’s mini-review above, and certainly more deserving than the 2.80 it currently has.
Apparently at least a few folks trashed it out of frustration at not seeing the answers here. Which is a shame. FWI the answer key is easily found at Crossword Corner and at the more streamlined laxcrossword.com.
Given that we’re in the NYT’s Baby’s First Crossword era, I’ll always enjoy the workout Stumpers give you. I really enjoyed today’s, even if it was slightly (only slightly) easier than usual. Now bring back the random cryptic clue!
What do you mean by “Baby’s First Crossword era”? Just wondering …
Newsday: 36D: Rihanna is not Bahamian; she is from Barbados.
Good catch. I couldn’t come up with any famous Bahamian musicians but eventually plonked in RiRi without looking at the clue again.
I solved the Stumper with a friend today, two heads are definitely better than one! We were both relieved when we realized that what you may get out of you refrigerator was not HaM.