You likely wouldn’t be reading a Saturday post if you didn’t like challenging crosswords, so let me point you towards Patrick Berry’s latest puzzle extravaganza, “Set Design”: It contain 9 sets of mini-puzzles plus a metapuzzle (50 puzzles total), and a supersized Rows Garden as a bonus. Cost is $15. Check out Patrick’s A Frame Games website for more info, more puzzles, and the store page where you can purchase his cruciverbal wares.
Ben Tolkin’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s recap
What the what?! Sub-4 is a fast solving time for me on a Friday puzzle. Who scheduled this breeze for a Saturday?
Lots of terrific fill here, particularly in the 11/12/13 stacks in the north and south: “SO I GATHERED,” a DANCE ROUTINE, LETTER TO SANTA, BATS AN EYELASH, Shortzian ENIGMATOLOGY, a DOCTOR’S NOTE, a cozy DOG BED, AUTOPILOT, and Mongolian GERBILs.
I … did not know the Z SNAP formation, that [Sassy, letter-shaped gesture accompanying a retort], was called that.
Corny clue: 7D. [Outer ear?], HUSK. I couldn’t tell you how tall Illinois’s corn is now, but it’s been a dry year so it’s probably lagging. #midwesterner
It’s a little weird to have DROLL and DEAR tied to the addressee of that LETTER TO SANTA when it’s July, innit?
I appreciate the slang vibes of 19D. [Peeved, for short], PO’D, as in PO’d, as in pissed off. Though shouldn’t that be P’dO?
Four stars from me. Enjoy the long holiday weekend, folks!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Writing Wrongs” — pannonica’s write-up
Oh, just a collection of homophone substitutions. Standard crossword fare, more or less.
- 23a. [Lamenting the loss of great splendor?] MOURNING GLORY (morning).
- 50a. [Polish to make the tin tiles really shine] CEILING WAX (sealing).
- 52a. [Report of an avoided highway pileup?] BRAKING NEWS (breaking).
- 68a. [Creating matched cutlery combinations?] PAIRING KNIVES (paring).
- 86a. [A poodle is probably the best one, if you want a pink dog?] DYEING BREED (dying). People, don’t dye your pets.
- 90a. [Getting rid of old paneling?] BARING WALL (bearing). I don’t know that I’ve heard it as other than load-bearing wall.
- 119a. [Preparing the fleet for a coordinated attack?] SYNCHING SHIPS (sinking).
These are fun, fine. In my experience it’s unusual for Shenk not to have significant stacking/overlap of his theme entries, even in the 21×21 grid size.
- 15d [Barn adornment] HEX SIGN. My feeling is that this is primarily a Pennsylvania and maybe Ohio thing?
- 66d [More scatterbrained] DITSIER. Ngram here.
- 70d [Chicago suburb] NILES. Unknown to me, same as 1a [Town that holds annual Truman Day celebrations] LAMAR.
- 73d [Brainy bunch] NERDS. C’mon, you all put in MENSA here too, right?
- 27a [“The single most powerful thing I can be,’ per Dwayne Johnson] MYSELF. Seems like a good credo for most people.
- 66a [IJsselmeer embankments] DIKES. Not a typo.
Nice puzzle. I noticed perhaps more than the usual number of clues that offer up a literal dilemma—two equally strong options of the same letter length. Dilemma etymology: Late Latin, from Late Greek dilēmmat-, dilēmma, probably back-formation from Greek dilēmmatos involving two assumptions, from di– + lēmmat-, lēmma assumption — more at LEMMA. (m-w.com)
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
The asterisk appearing next to my listed time is to indicate that, in the interest of haste and distraction, I looked up a couple of answers to get the puzzle completed more rapidly. They were personages.
This did not feel like a “less rough” offering to me. I estimate that had I not cheated, my time would’ve been somewhere in the vicinity of 28 minutes.
- 1a [Treatment you won’t take lying down] STAND-UP MRI. Oof, that ending letter sequence made it tricky! I get that the clue is being clever, but an MRI is not a treatment, it’s a diagnostic tool.
- 16a [Abbr. atop some newspaper pages] ADVT. Really? I believe it’s typically spelled out, no? Not reading too many paper newspapers these days, so I’ll defer to those with more applicable experience.
- 17a [Broadly speaking] IN THE LARGE. Hmm. Ngram here, but I suspect that many or most of the appearances of “in the large” are parts of longer phrases (e.g., “in the large Cadillac” or somesuch).
- 18a [Two-footer seen by Darwin] RHEA. During his journeys in South America.
- 21a [Name associated with a painted apron and pitchfork] GRANT Wood, the artist famous for “American Gothic”. I was fortunate to get this from only the G in GENERIC: 21d [Unbranded].
- 26a [They may be writing] DESKS. Don’t like the phrasing of this clue.
- 42a [Tool’s cutting edge] LIP. Did not know this.
- 52a [Panelist’s cry?] ACK. What am I missing here?
- 54a [Frightful, for starters] DINO-. I believe dinosaur is typically translated as ‘terrible lizard’.
- 59a [Rowling’s flock-creating spell] AVIS. I knew this would be some obvious Latin, but I went with OVIS, which honestly is a lot more entertaining as an image.
- 63a [Recyclable energy source] ATOMIC PILE. It is?
- 65a [“The Last Man on the Moon” author] GENE CERNAN. That distinction will become inaccurate once the Artemis mission(s?) have taken place.
- 3d [Treacle tart, to its orderers] AFTERS. I’d have appreciated the clue to be a bit more explicit/fair: [Treacle tart, say, to its orderers].
- 8d [What got Welles on Page One] MARTIAN INVASION. Had trouble convincing myself this was correct because of that pesky PMRI sequence in 1-across.
- 10d [Ox tail] -IDE. No helpful question mark here. Much trickier than, say, 40a [Plus preceder] NON-.
- 13d [Anagram of LEAVINGS] SVENGALI. That’s pretty good.
- 35d [Complete a floor exercise?] ROLL OVER. It doesn’t quite make sense, does it?
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 79” by Kelsey Dixon — norah’s write-up; 4:06
- CHICAGODOG 14A [Windy City food served without ketchup]. A Chicago dog: mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle spear(s), peppers, and celery salt. No ketchup!
- NINETOFIVE 17A [Dolly Parton song about workplace injustice]
- MOCKTAIL 28A [Phony negroni] I think I want a comma-say here, but otherwise this is a fun clue.
- TINYHOMES 36A [Downsized living spaces]
- DOORTODOOR 51A [Like some Girl Scout cookie campaigns] I still have (mumbles) some number of Girl Scout cookies in my house from this spring. I guess if you’re looking for a summertime re-up lmk???
- LOVESONGS 8D [“As” and “For Once in My Life”]
- ITSNOTFAIR 27D [“The odds are against me!”]
- SELA 6A [“Sisters” star ___ Ward]. There was a time in my adolescence when I watched this show religiously and I wanted to be just like the free-spirited Teddy when I grew up.
Beautiful gridwork from Kelsey here. She starts us off with a CHICAGODOG (Hey if you haven’t yet done Kelsey’s latest independent puzzle, please stop reading this right now and go do it especially if you’re a fan of a certain Chicago-based Hulu comedy drama), ends with an OREOSUNDAE, and treats us to a MOCKTAIL and SNOCONES in between.
I want to compliment the super complementary stacks of CHICAGODOG-NINETOFIVE and OREOSUNDAE-DOORTODOOR, but that would overlook all of the other great long entries that appear all over this grid. MOCKTAIL, LOVESONGS, TINYHOMES .. all great stuff that creates a lovely open solving flow to this puzzle.
Thanks Kelsey and the Universal team!
Annemarie Brethauer and Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
You can really lose some time on this solve if you try to start at 1-Across, since there’s some deliberate trickery going on with cluing both 1A LIST and 1D LANK as [Lean]. Not only are those two different meanings of the word “lean” that each have four letters, but also if you’ve got that I crossing in 1A you could still put TILT in there and think yourself right. Good call on Saturday.
Other things I enjoyed:
- 19A KEYBOARD SMASHES is a fun entry.
- 58A [Catering production?] is a lovely clue for OSCAR BAIT, although I quibble with the fact that CATER is also in the puzzle at 36A. The clue is good enough that I think it would’ve been worth trying to revise that entry out of the grid.
- 62A [Catherine who is one of the six in Broadway’s “Six”] is PARR. This clue requires one to know that the “Six” here refers to the wives of Henry VIII. I think this slightly oblique approach to cluing a factual-knowledge answer has fallen out of favor in the last few years, much to my dismay. So I like seeing a clue like this!
- 2D [Brand with Blue Lemonade and Blue Vanilla flavors] is ICEE. It feels like a fresh clue for a much-seen entry, and on the other hand…I don’t want to know what Blue Vanilla tastes liks.
- 24D [Show one’s face, maybe] is a tricky and lovely clue for SHAVE.
- 27D [Jane Lynch series] — nice to see GLEE clued with reference to her. What a great comic actress!