Brandon Koppy’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s recap
Played like a Saturday puzzle. What a coincidence! It’s the Saturday crossword.
Fave fill: NURSING BRA, MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE (which seems to be barely a thing anymore on network TV, though basic cable runs a zillion of them—and it bears noting that streaming movies that get only a cursory theatrical release are eligible for Oscars), Carlos SANTANA, “I FEEL SILLY,” a STREET TEAM for promoting a product (handing out freebies? yes, please), EASTER EGGS, GAME WARDEN, BLATHER, TIRE SWING, “I’LL BITE.”
I’ll dispute that CAESAR DRESSING is a [Ranch alternative]. If you order a house salad, are they offering Caesar as a dressing? I feel like Caesar is largely limited to Caesar salads, which would never have ranch.
New to me: 11D. [Italian football coach ___ Pioli], STEFANO and 10D. [___ Lincoln Harris, early Black economist], ABRAM. Here’s a bio of Harris.
Flattest fill: ORE CART and ROAMERS.
Kathy Bloomer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Artistic License” — pannonica’s write-up
Today we have words and phrases that contain in sequence—but not all together—the surnames of famous artists. The clues tenuously (in my opinion) link said phrases to famous pieces by them, so there’s a lot of artistic license being employed.
- 22a. [“The Luncheon on the Grass” (1863) depiction, perhaps?] ROMANTIC SETTING (Manet).
- 31a. [“The Persistence of Memory” (1931) feature, perhaps?] INDIVIDUALITY (Dalí).
- 64a. [Circumstance seen in “The Shipwreck” (1805), perhaps?] TURN FOR THE WORSE (Turner).
- 99a. [What might be donned by “Woman Drying Herself” (c. 1868), perhaps] UNDERGARMENTS (Degas).
- 111a. [What MoMA’s “Water Lilies” (1914–26) display provides for some, perhaps?] EMOTIONAL MOMENT (Monet).
- 15d. [“American Gothic” (1930) subjects, perhaps?] TWO OF A KIND (Wood).
- 70d. [“Perfecting “The Kiss” (1882), perhaps?] REMODELING (Rodin). Without looking at the date, I assumed this would be Klimt, but instead of yet another (male) painter we get a (male) sculptor, the only artist here who isn’t a painter. At least the containing word is relevant to the medium!
The profusion of 3- and 4-letter entries made this a bit of a slog to complete. Had the level of difficulty been greater, I could always have desultorily put the artist’s name into the circled squares to overcome an impasse. But there was never a need to plug into that dimension of the solve.
- 3d [Art class supply] ELMER’S GLUE. Mostly for kiddies.
- 17d [Painter’s base] GESSO. That’s more apt.
- 14d [Wearer of little clothing] DOLL. Cute.
- 19d [Outshine] ECLIPSE, followed by 20d [Make less bright] BEDIM.
- 33d [Possible perp on “Criminal Minds”] UNSUB. I have no idea what this means. Oh, the googles tell me it’s short for ‘unknown subject’.
- 48d [Pointillism feature] DOTS. Another painting reference.
- 51d [Superficial amount] SMATTER. Versus smattering? Ngram here.
- 84d [Like some passes and thinking] LATERAL. 118a [Like some grins and victories] LOPSIDED. Liked both of these, and they cross!
- 89d [Most dangerous animal on Earth, many think] HUMAN. No argument from me.
- 112d [Bygone M&M color] TAN. I’m still not over it. Replaced by that blue, jeez.
- 1a [Apparel for a tailgate party, maybe] BEER HAT. Is this the thing with the dual holsters and straws? Yikes.
- 38a [Ancestral primate] APEMAN. *sigh*
- 59a [Sauce originating in Genoa] PESTO. Quite possibly I’ll be having pasta e pesto tonight!
- 93a [Sharp] ASTUTE.
- 97a [Corkage, e.g.] FEE. 52d [Sommelier’s prefix] OENO-.
Next up, the Stumper!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
For a crossword that seemed recalcitrant and stingy at first, I’m surprised by how fast it succumbed!
- Let’s start with the most memorable—but not in a good way—clue: 42a [What a thesaurus ain’t] DINO. I mean … really?! This is a real clue in a published puzzle. It truly requires the solver to be on an idiosyncratic wavelength. And on top of that, I guess the “ain’t” is supposed to serve as indication that the answer will be an informal abridgment? Talk about leaps.
- 15a [Place for cast offs?] QUAY. Note that cast off is neither one word nor hyphenated. That’s helpful in parsing the clue correctly.
- 16a [What a column is named for] IONIA. It was either this or DORIS, as CORINTH and COMPOSITIA are too long.
- 17a [Make whole] REIMBURSE. Definitely a tough way to clue that.
- 23a [Grist for a mill] HEARSAY. That would be a rumor mill.
- 33a [Cambridge unit selling through Amazon] UNIVERSITY PRESS. What a strange clue. At least it wasn’t difficult to get.
- 37a [Claw at] RAKE. The crossing of this with 30d [Walks all over] HIKES was my final square to fill.
- 40a [Warranted] AVERRED. Again, tough choice of synonym for the clue.
- 45a [Dashes or pinches] AMOUNTS. I believe this was the first answer I filled in. The lower right was definitely the first section I completed.
- 49a [Rat tail] ATAT, as in rat-a-tat. 20d [Elevated opening] AER-.
- 55a [Common counsel] ADAGE. Oof.
- 57a [Send up] TREE. Wow.
- 58a [Fruit that’s an anagram of a fruit] MELON. Part of that section I completed first. Was able to get this easily because the L from 46d Zora NEALE Hurston was in place.
- 3d [AFI’s #6 Male Screen Legend] FONDA. 42d [Jane’s boss (1980) and fiancé (1981)] DABNEY.
- 4d [Bestie’s milestone] FRIENDAVERSARY. Was held up momentarily by spelling it –IVERSARY.
- 8d [Category for “Dracula”] IRISH LIT. Not the first one you’d consider. 32a [March march slogan starter] ERIN.
- 9d [Happen without much help] COME EASY.
- 51d [Organic pot scrubber] COB. Unexpected and different clue. Useful even, perhaps.
- 52d [Volume 1 of many a reference] ABC. I disbelieve that. Wouldn’t A–C be far more common a format?
Okay, all done. How did this one strike you?
Jamey Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
First of all, EXTREME APOLOGIES to anyone who saw the review of the wrong puzzle before I wised up to my error and fixed it.
This grid is so evocative in fun ways that I’m not even mad at it for being — you guessed it — too easy:
- 14A [Grand Canal conveyance] is VAPORETTO — that is, the boats that travel Venice’s Grand Canal. My last pre-COVID vacation included a few days in Venice, and this entry makes me chuckle at my own ignorance at the time thinking we’d be able to Uber from the train station to our hotel. There are no cars in Venice! There are only your feet and boats such as the VAPORETTO. Pack light!
- 16A [Crime fiction by Jo Nesbo, e.g.] is NORDIC NOIR. That and SAS at 60D feel very appropriate to my location as I write this post (on a train from Gothenburg to Stockholm in Sweden).
- 17A [Sushi order with avocado “scales”] is a DRAGON ROLL. Not a particularly hard clue, but nicely evocative.
- 53A [Salsa verde base] is TOMATILLOS. Hungry yet?
- 57A [Bird that appears on the Australian $20 banknote] is KOOKABURRA, which is just a fun word to say and also reminds me of the kids’ song, which I learned in elementary school music class.
- 62A [Mar liquid] is AGUA — that is, “Mar” meaning “sea” in Spanish. There aren’t too many tricks in this puzzle, but this one is nice.
- 2D [Cole Porter song whose lyrics mention the Kinsey report] is TOO DARN HOT. I don’t know the words well enough to have gotten that one with no crossings, but I do know the tune well enough to hear it in my head when solving. This is definitely a feature and not a bug.
- 28D [Structure for some Indigenous spiritual ceremonies] is a SWEAT LODGE.
Jared Goudsmit’s USA Today crossword, “Pulling Strings (freestyle)” — Matthew’s recap
Pleasing rotational aspect to this themeless, with double-tens in each corner, and an open 5×5 in the middle, brackets by long radial entries.
Each of those longs is a highlight for my money, particularly SLOW NEWS DAY, GOT A SECOND, PINA COLADA, UP IN THE AIR, and DO ME A SOLID.
Clues generally straightforward. I liked [Fictional bear who said, “A hug is always the right size”], as well as the casual (and lumped together) TOTES and SMELT in the center area.
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 80” by Taylor Johnson — norah’s write-up; 4:30
- SMARTASSES 17A [Real wise guys]. Ok so SMARTASSES has never been in a mainstream as far as I can tell. SMARTASS has appeared in two WaPos and one NYT. I absolutely love seeing it here. 👍
- TAKEMEASIAM 29A [Plea for total acceptance] Just puts Rent in my head!
- LETSDOLUNCH 34A [“We should grab a bite!”] (Taylor, let’s get lunch!)
- OUTDOORCAT 49A [Feline that may be feral]
- ELLIOTPAGE 53A [Viktor Hargreeves portrayer in “The Umbrella Academy”] Viktor is one of forty-three children born on the first day of October 1989 to mothers without any previous signs of pregnancy.
- HUSTLEANDBUSTLE 7D [Ado]. I’m a huge fan of short clues for long entries, and I guess it doesn’t get any shorter vs longer than this!
Sorry for the late addition to this post and the corresponding relatively short up. Enjoyed this one very much.
Thanks Taylor and the Universal team!