Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I often feel ripped off when a Saturday NYT turns out to be themed, but this one played like a themeless aside from the revealer, 60a. [Part of the George W. Bush era … or a hint to part of 18-, 26-, 38- and 46-Across], MID-AUGHTS. Those themers are MARZIPANS, PANZEROTTI, EASTERN ILLINOIS, and GEENA DAVIS, each with an “aught” synonym in the exact middle. I actually enjoyed the surprise of that extra layer.
Fave fill: KOALA, PIZZA HUT (mansard roof!), the never-tried-’em PANZEROTTI (like small calzones), EASTERN ILLINOIS (mind you, Eastern Illinois University is about 40 miles south of U of I, but comparably east of center), the great GEENA DAVIS, hit THE SAUCE, EYE BLEACH, NBA DYNASTY (Chicago in the ’90s? Yep, I was here for all six Bulls titles), BUZZKILL, BIRD CALLS, and GOOD VS. EVIL. Could’ve done without REGAUGED, and I’m not convinced that a singular GOONIE and plural MARZIPANS are legit.
- Fresh clue for SOS: 33d. [Adoption of the International Radiotelegraph Convention in 1906].
- 36d. [Live tweets?], BIRD CALLS. Fun clue! Apparently there are no longer any non-bird tweets, just, uh, X posts.
- 61d. [With 65-Across, “Born to Hand Jive” group], SHA / NA NA. Those of us who were 1970s kids remember Sha Na Na. Heck, they had a variety show on TV! Who didn’t? Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie, country singer Mac Davis, mime duo Shields and Yarnell … the format largely vanished by the 1980s.
4.25 stars from me.
David P Wiliiams’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Baseball” — pannonica’s write-up
Yes it’s another baseball-themed crossword. This one features phrases associated with the pastime and interprets them elsewise.
- 23a. [Part of a flirt’s eyelash routine?] BATTING PRACTICE.
- 34a. [Where a daring bullfighter hangs out?] AROUND THE HORN. I’m going to guess that the baseball—no, I just paused to look it up and it isn’t what I suspected. It’s descriptive of a throw from the third baseman to second base and another throw to first. Of course the baseball phrase is borrowed from seafaring.
- 50a. [Military recruiter’s goal] BASES LOADED.
- 54a. [Curses?] FOUL LINES.
- 67a. [“The Comedy of Errors” or “Twelfth Night”?] DOUBLE PLAY, referring to characters disguised as other characters.
- 69a. [Where scabs appear?] STRIKE ZONE.
- 81a. [Oxen?] FARM TEAMS.
- 85a. [Outlandish proposals?] WILD PITCHES.
- 101a. [Cautionary tales set to music?] WARNING TRACKS.
- 116a. [Hulk or Shrek?] THE GREEN MONSTER.
Hard for me to get excited about yet another baseball theme, but here we are.
Theme-adjacent: 35d [Worker at home] UMP, 50d [Moves like a curveball] BENDS, 61d [Reliever Orosco with a record 1,252 career game appearances] JESSE, 70d [Color on Diamondback home uniforms] TEAL, 106d [Group available for pinch-running] BENCH, 21a [First full month of the Major League season] APRIL, 58a [Fast balls or cars might go down it] PIKE, 126a [They’re stretched in the seventh-inning stretch] LEGS, and arguably 56d [Extend an unfortunate streak, say] LOSE.
- 22d [Queen of the jungle] LIONESS. Would’ve preferred a question mark or perhaps quotes in the clue.
- 40d [You might put your drink on it at a bar] THE TAB. COASTER and BEER MAT are both too long.
- 82d [Land down under?] ATLANTIS. Nice clue.
- 98d [Trunks in trunks] AORTAS. Cute and slightly tough clue.
- 14a [Collection of courses] MEAL. Influenced by a similar clue in today’s NYT, I reflexively put in MENU here.
- 32a [Unit of butter] TUB. 105a [Unit of butter] DAB. Forced.
- 61a [Tuesday in Tijuana] JUEVES. Not your typical Spanish-language fill in a crossword.
- 122a [Like a condemned house, perhaps] BOARDED UP.
On to the Stumper!
Lars G Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Quite a toughie today. Staccato solve, with nearly the entire bottom quarter a holdout. However, I made some headway in the lower left and finally—finally!—with a few headlong guesses, the lower right.
- 1a [Financially independent guy] MADE MAN. I resisted putting in the ‘made’ part because the phrase for me has underworld associations rather than monetary ones.
- 16a [Sundae bar selection] COCONUT. Not a particularly helpful clue.
- 18a [Vain] USELESS.
- 19a [Focus of a pioneering Western film] TRAIN ROBBERY. This would be The Great Train Robbery (1903), which notoriously finished with an isolated shot of one of the robbers firing a gun directly at the audience, which according to legend was visceral and frightful to contemporary audiences. 15a [Visceral] EMOTIVE.
- 23a [French Sudan, today] MALI. I, uh, put in CHAD first.
- 37a [“Wolves of the sea”] ORCAS. Primarily because of their pack behavior.
- 39a [Short race] HOBBITS. Tricky.
- 44a [Quartet in Mississippi] AREA CODES. And who here wasn’t preoccupied by the four esses in the name?
- 46a [Committed] ARDENT. For some time I had IN DEEP here.
- 53a [Santa, in Moore’s poem] ELF. I believe was my first fill in the solve.
- 55a [Resumption after an interruption] NOW WHERE WAS I. My suspicion was this as the answer, but what few crossings I had were for a long time not cooperating.
- 68a [Back down?] STOOPED. Oof. Needed a real guess to complete ST––PED, and that finally helped clinch the solve.
- 20d [Literally, “Children of the Covenant”] B’NAI BRITH. So that’s what that means.
- 24d [It’s covered for strollers] ARCADE. Not baby carriages.
- 28d [Mexican cowboy] CHARRO. Vaquero was definitely not fitting. I didn’t know this word.
- 35d [So it seems] THEN. Think “if so, then …”
- 40d [Become hard to get rid of] TAKE ROOT. Provisionally having TAKE HOLD also contributed to my difficulty finishing up.
- 52d [Bug hunt] SWEEP. Listening devices.
- 54d [Allowed to run] LET GO, right next to 45d [Road trip starter] OFF WE GO, and both crossing 66a [Confounded] DOGGONE. Hmm.
- 59d [Together] SANE. Tough, laconic clue.
Kyle Dolan & Jennifer Marra’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Wish I had time to do more than point out my favorite clues here — there’s a lot of really good ones in this puzzle!
- 42A [Number of players needed to play Klondike] for ONE.
- 44A [Paragraph opener] for TAB.
- 61A [Heated contest?] for MEET. As in, a meet has heats.
- 62A [Local number, at times] is incredibly clever for ANESTHESIA. Number, a thing that numbs.
- 4D [Go to commercial, say] is REZONE. It’s very hard to pull one over on me with this type of clue for as long as this one did — I got the final crossing with the N and still had to look at it for a little longer to realize: Oh. You can REZONE an area from residential to commercial, for example.
- 13D [Makes the team?] is YOKES.
- 38D [High chairs?] is BAR SEATS, which even if you get what’s going on early on (I did), you might mistakenly put CAR SEATS, which adds a little extra difficulty. Ask me how I know.