Tom Pepper’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Fun one today! Lots of punchy fill throughout.
Fave entries: The card game OH HELL (not sure if this is the same as the Oh Shit I learned in Wisconsin), yummy BRIOCHE, Alan TURING, old-timey CLAPTRAP, GO WHOLE HOG, DUNK TANKS (not to be confused with drunk tanks), X-RAY TECHS, GOT INTO IT, MAN CAVES, HORCRUX, the SAVANNA, bleh BLOCKCHAINS, and GIMMICK. Not so keen on AGAZE, really.
Two interesting clues:
- 10d. [Word from the Greek for “walking on tiptoe”], ACROBAT. Did not know this!
- 33a. [Apt anagram of “I sew a hole”], ELIAS HOWE, inventor of a sewing machine.
Bettina Elias Siegel and Dan Elias’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Short on time again so I’ll just list a couple of my favorite clues here:
- 15A [Feature of the Bush and Johnson White Houses] is a TEXAS ACCENT. I am hip deep in Robert Caro’s mammoth series on LBJ, so this clue didn’t fool me for a second (especially since 1D, 2D, and 3D were easy gets), but I still think it’s mighty clever.
- 44A [Untimely?] for LATE.
- 6D [Intellectual property?] for CAMPUS.
It looks like this pair might be a debut. Congratulations!
Gary Larson & Amy Ensz’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Features” — pannonica’s write-up
Been a while since I’ve seen a theme of this type. The titles of two one-word film titles comprise the phrases of the theme answers. Their respective dates are listed parentheticallly.
- 22a. [They’re seen by the way (2000, 2002] TRAFFIC SIGNS.
- 24a. [It has lots of sharp teeth (2004, 1998)] SAW BLADE.
- 43a. [Like single-dose medication (2008, 2007)] TAKEN ONCE.
- 47a. [Intrepid individual (2012, 2020)] BRAVE SOUL.
- 69a. [Subject of an NTSB investigation (1980, 2004)] AIRPLANE CRASH. We’ve dispensed with the exclamation point of the former.
- 94a. [Like many a string of old Christmas lights (2010, 2009)] TANGLED UP.
- 97a. [Places for whales to catch their breath (2001, 2003)] BLOWHOLES.
- 119a. [They’re seen in lots of laps (2016, 2006)] RACE CARS. I had forgotten about the 2016 Jesse Owens biopic.
- 123a. [Data transfer rate (1976, 1994)] NETWORK SPEED.
Two thumbs up?
Theme-adjacent: 8d [Movie part] CLIP. 105d [Full-length] UNCUT.
- 23d [Senate shower] CSPAN. 100d [Component of a shower] METEOR.
- 31d [So great] SUCH. This one eluded me for quite some time. It’s a very specific substitution.
- 34d [Eclipses, to primitive people] OMENS. I think I’ll furnish a favorite piece of microfiction (short-short stories) in its entirety:
The Eclipse (Augusto Monterrosso, 1959 – translated by Edith Grossman, 1995)When Brother Bartolomé Arrazola felt that he was lost, he accepted the fact that now nothing could save him. The powerful jungle of Guatemala, implacable and final, had overwhelmed him. In the face of his topographical ignorance he sat down calmly to wait for death. He wanted to die there, without hope, alone, his thoughts fixed on distant Spain, particularly on the Convent of Los Abrojos, where Charles V had once condescended to come down from his eminence to tell him that he trusted the religious zeal of his work of redemption.
When he awoke he found himself surrounded by a group of Indians with impassive faces who were preparing to sacrifice him before an altar, an altar that seemed to Bartolomé the bed on which he would finally rest from his fears, from his destiny, from himself.
Three years in the country had given him a passing knowledge of the native languages. He tried something. He spoke a few words that were understood.
Then there blossomed in him an idea which he considered worthy of his talent and his broad education and his profound knowledge of Aristotle. He remembered that a total eclipse of the sun was to take place that day. And he decided, in the deepest part of his being, to use that knowledge to deceive his oppressors and save his life.
“If you kill me,” he said, “I can make the sun darken on high.”
The Indians stared at him and Bartolomé caught the disbelief in their eyes. He saw them consult with one another and he waited confidently, not without a certain contempt.
Two hours later the heart of Brother Bartolomé Arrazola spurted out its passionate blood on the sacrificing stone (brilliant in the opaque light of the eclipsed sun) while one of the Indians recited tonelessly, slowly, one by one, the infinite list of dates when solar and lunar eclipses would take place, which the astronomers of the Mayan community had predicted and registered in their codices without the estimable help of Aristotle.
- 19a [Martial art that means “way of adapting the spirit”] AIKIDO, from Japan. This came up in conversation I had not long ago. Recency/frequency illusion! Not to be confused with the Korean form HAPKIDO, meaning “the way of coordinating energy”, “the way of coordinated power”, or “the way of harmony”.
- 108a [Japanese dog] AKITA. Still apparently the only breed from that country known to crosswords.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Another beast of a crossword.
Filling sequence: center right, lower right, lower left, center left, top left, top right. Generally speaking.
Final fill was by far the loosest clue: 13d [Not in a long time] ANON. Attending to something ANON indicates that one won’t be taking a long time.
Another toughie: 51d [Fit to finish] A TEE. As in the phrase “fit to A TEE”.
- 10a [Home worker’s activity] AT-BAT. At one point I had DECOR here. That’s how divergent my solve was.
- 15a [TV debut of ’75] ATARI GAME. Awkward. Reflexively I was of course thinking of SNL but got nowhere with that. After filling in GAME with crossings I experimented with MATCH GAME—turns out that that débuted in 1962. 57d [Series of sketches] SNL.
- Just below that, 17a [When the going rate’s reduced] LOW SEASON made more sense as OFF SEASON. Lots to revise during my solve!
- 28a [Presentation for Performance] OBIE AWARD. Was stuck on the 1970 Nicolas ROEG film Performance, but I should never have made that assumption, as it’s only capitalized, not in quotes or italicized.
- 34a [Robert the Bruce recaptured it in 1312] DUNDEE. Basically, this was name a place in Scotland that fits.
- 38a [John Deere House locale] MOLINE. Needed many crossings.
- 39a [Intolerably] TOO. Classic Stumperiana.
- 40a [Accident report of a sort] I’M OK. Not BOOM. Also not BOOM: 50d [Impact report] BANG.
- 48a [A little (not necessarily night) music] ONE BAR. The parenthetical makes the clue even harder.
- 51a [Publisher of Specialty Codes] AMA. Just the old American Medical Association.
- 3d [Manicure candidate] LAWN. Why are lawns never described as being pedicured?
- 9d [High point of the National Park Service] DENALI. One of my first long entries.
- 12d [Most-played artist on Canadian radio in the 2010s] BRYAN ADAMS. Fun fact: CÉLINE DION fits here, and also works with DECOR and DUNDEE (see comments above).
- 14d [Event to be found on active.com] TEN K. I did mention that this was the most difficult section of the grid, yes?
- 23d [One of many on Central Park’s eastern border] AMERICAN ELM. Was stumped trying variations on ART MUSEUM, ART GALLERY, GALLERIES, et cetera.
- 32d [Goose] SIMP. 44a [Pigeon] PATSY.
- 45d [Yogurty side dish of India] RAITA. Another narrowly defined and helpful entry.
Just really, really difficult.
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 63” by Taylor Johnson — norah’s write-up
- ARE WE ALONE 14A [“Is it just you and me here?”]
- HAND SIGNAL 58A [Gesture for a turning cyclist]
- ⭐IN THE WEEDS 8D [Bogged down by details]
- IRON THRONE 11D [Seat of power created by George R. R. Martin]
- TABLE GAMES 28D [Roulette and craps, in a casino]
- EPIC WIN 23D [Overwhelmingly exciting victory]
- SNAILS PACE 29D [Slow rate]
Really nice grid from Taylor today! Impeccably clean with well done stacks in each corner. In addition, a ton of fun and evocative references in the cluing for common and short fill that really pumps up the fun factor: HAT [Place for a busker’s tips, maybe], KNEE [Joint for playing spoons], SCAM [___ Likely (phone warning)], KNIGHT [Only chess piece with a face], SHROOMS [Hallucinogenic fungi, familiarly], WETNAPS [Convenient cleaning items at barbecue restaurants], NETS [Pickleball barrier], AGER [Super-___ (remarkably healthy senior)], and TENT [What gets pitched on a field?] are all great.
Taylor coordinates Lemonade Disco , a free monthly pack of crosswords submitted in response to a prompt. The next suite of eight puzzles, “Secret, Secret” drops in a few days on March 17.
Thanks Taylor and the Universal team!