Adrian Johnson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Fun Saturday puzzle, none too hard.
Fave fill: ACT THE PART, “BABA O’RILEY,” CRAMPING UP, GOES GAGA, TO NAME A FEW, FAKE SMILES, FRESH START, SOUSAPHONE, HELLRAISER, ERITREA, LOVE LETTER, SPARE TIRES.
Did not know: 39d. [Language spoken in Middle-earth], GNOMISH. Uh … this is super-obscure, no? Not something you’d have heard of from reading (or watching) The Lord of the Rings, which lacks gnome characters though apparently the earliest LOTR timeline includes a race of elves that Tolkien previously called gnomes in some other writing? Here’s a wiki about it. If you struggled with this answer, don’t blame yourself. It’s an inflected dictionary word, so it didn’t have to be clued in the Tolkien arcana way.
A few notes:
- I would like the [See star?] clue for PONTIFF better if the entry weren’t two squares over from I SEE IT NOW.
- 30a. [Model Boyd of London’s “Swinging Sixties” era], PATTIE. Not many other options for cluing the name spelt this way. She’s the Pattie who married George Harrison, and later Eric Clapton.
- 23a. [Deceive so as to deflect], SHINE ON. Is this a regionally, generationally, or culturally specific phrase? I can’t use it naturally in a sentence.
Hoang-Kim Vu’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This was a lighthearted romp from Hoang-Kim Vu (but Patti, please, that’s three sub-3-minute Saturdays in a row, can we have a harder one next week?). Lots of fun stuff in this grid:
- 14A [Ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac] is MONKEY. I’m embarrassed that I needed three crossings to get this, as I am half Chinese.
- 20A [“Come on already!”] is I DON’T HAVE ALL DAY, which is evocative in an emotional way.
- 36A [Bit of beach house decor] is a SHELL. Does everyone do this? If I had a beach house I think I would try very hard not to have a single SHELL in it, simply because whenever we stay at an Airbnb or guest house on the Jersey Shore, we are surrounded by them.
- 52A [Source of comfort for those expecting] is a PREGNANCY PILLOW. Between that and 1D AMNIO, clued as [Midterm exam, familiarly?], is this a mini-theme?
- 2D [Porter classic] is TOO DARN HOT, the song from Kiss Me Kate. Very evocative if you know the tune!
- 8D I liked seeing LOVE clued with respect to LOVE languages.
- 26D [Finest of Lovely Lady Liberty’s recipes, per a “Schoolhouse Rock” song] is MELTING POT. I don’t know the song, but now I want to!
- 31D [Othello and Hamlet] is TITLE ROLES, with the lack of quotation marks the subtlest of hints that the plays are not what’s being referred to.
- 42D SEXPERT feels fresh and fun.
Jonny DiLallo’s Wall Street Journal puzzle “Cutting a Figure” – Kyle’s write-up
Kyle here, filling in for pannonica on this week’s Saturday WSJ.
This appears to be the publication debut of Jonny DiLallo. Congratulations Jonny! And thanks for today’s puzzle. Hope to see more from you soon.
It took me a few minutes to get the theme mechanism. Once it clicked, most of the theme answers were fairly easy to fill in.
We’re given a theme revealer in the middle of the grid at 69A [Restrictions on some social media posts, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] CHARACTER LIMITS. Each of the theme entries is a fictional character missing its final letter and re-clued to wacky effect:
- 23A [Festival featuring Christmas treats?] SUGAR PLUM FAIR (Y)
- 33A [Another name for a choirboy?] THE CHURCH LAD (Y)
- 45A [Accessory for Hawaii’s Ka’iulani?] PRINCESS LEI (A)
- 51A [Confirmation at a synagogue?] “ROGER, RABBI” (T). This was the first themer I filled in, and my favorite of the set.
- 91A [Officer’s cry on solving a crime?] “CAPTAIN, AHA!” (B). I feel like it would sound more natural as “Aha, captain!”
- 94A [Where you might find cheap copies of “The Big Sleep” in a bookstore?] CHANDLER BIN (G)
- 105A [Last appliance left after a blowout sale?] THE LONE RANGE (R)
- 122A [Attention-getter in a lecture hall?] PROFESSOR SNAP (E)
Overall, the results are pretty amusing, and using all fictional characters for the theme treatment adds a layer of tightness. Personally, I’d have enjoyed the theme a bit more if the dropped letters spelled out a meta-answer of some kind, as opposed to simply having eight(!) examples.
The rest of the puzzle played out fine. The fill isn’t the flashiest but it gets the job done and there aren’t any bad crossings that I saw. Some of the plural entries seem iffy, like NAHS and NTHS and especially SIGNORAS, which is a blatant Anglicization (the correct Italian plural is signore). It also felt like there were a lot of proper names in this puzzle. The clues were also fairly workmanlike. In sum, a puzzle where the entertainment is largely derived from figuring out the theme answers.
Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”–Amy’s recap
Here’s Stan’s latest targeted-at-being-less-rough Stumper. Back in the day, Les Ruffs might take me 4-5 minutes. 10 minutes is more pliable than many other Stumpers, but I wouldn’t call it an easier themeless by any stretch of the imagination.
Face fill: “YOU AND ME BOTH,” SLIDE SHOW, BEDDY-BYE, “ONE DOWN …”, POPSICLE, DA BOMB (only because of the Hot Ones hot sauce called Da Bomb Beyond Insanity).
The USSF abbreviation for the United States Space Force was new to me.
3.5 stars from me.