David P. Williams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
An untimed solve because I was also watching TV. (That’s right—I do have a television.) I was not clicking with the constructor’s wavelength so there were an awful lot of clues that left me blank for so long.
Fave fill: DECREPIT, TAGINE, WALKS THE DOG with a yo-yo, “DON’T SWEAT IT,” SMOKE POT, EVIL EYE, FIDGET, LIFE IS SWEET, “IT’S THAT TIME.”
New to me: 3d. [Blackjack starter], UP CARD. I’ve played blackjack but hadn’t encountered the term.
Clue that mystified me, and now that I understand it, I have disdain for the entry: 40d.
[Line after “On a cold winter’s night that was so deep”?], NOELS. So the line in the clue is a lyric from “The First Noel,” and it’s followed by “Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,” which become your set of NOELS. Nah.
Didn’t know it but it’s guessable and I like it: 34a. [___ deux vins (tipsy: Fr.)], ENTRE. “Between two wines.”
Daniel Okulitch & Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle is slightly oversized (16×15), so if you felt like you were taking a little longer than usual, blame the size. I can’t quite decide how I feel about the puzzle as a whole: I enjoyed entries like COME AT ME BRO, SURGE PRICING, PASTRAMI, MONOGAMY (great clue of [Faithful practice]!), and OPERA MAN, but wasn’t as jazzed by LAST TO ARRIVE, TWICE REMOVED, and the grid-spanning OBJECT PERMANENCE. I also thought there was a bit too much glue like BPOE, NEH, DARE I, SOC, FRISE.
Paul Hunsberger’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Guessing Game” — pannonica’s write-up
The letters -GUE are appended to words in the theme answers, altering the original phrases. Spelling modified as necessary. The title isn’t so great, but you’d be hard-pressed to come up with anything better.
- 24a. [“The coroner will address only general details of the case at this time”?] NO MORGUE QUESTIONS (no more questions).
- 35a. [Campus scoundrel who fills the kegs with near beer?] FRATERNITY ROGUE (fraternity row).
- 69a. [Society of leather shoe collectors?] BROGUE CULTURE (bro culture).
- 96a. [Fellow customs agent?] BORDER COLLEAGUE (border collie).
- 115a. [Get wind of a stinky cloud of locusts?] SUSPECT FOUL PLAGUE (suspect foul play).
- 3d. [Johann Sebastian Bach’s long-lost lyricist?] MAN OF FUGUE WORDS (man of few words). Not quite sure what the long-lost is doing there. Is it to indicate that the fugues are in fact wordless?
- 46d. [Making an International Court of Justice visit?] HITTING THE HAGUE (hitting the hay).
These are pretty fun.
- 26d [Fluid transitions] SEGUES. Visually—but crucially not phonetically—impedes on the theme.
- 38d [Primeval giant of Norse mythology] YMIR. Have not seen this in a crossword before. Might be a tough crossing with baseball player Hideo NOMO?
- 61d [Response to “I have some bad news”] YOU DO.
- 69d [Drinker’s staggering balance?] BAR TAB. This clue might have benefitted from a ‘perhaps’ in addition to the question mark, which would nevertheless be quite unusual.
- 22a [They recorded data with knotted strings] INCA. Called quipu, which we sometimes see in clues, but hardly in grids.
- 33a [Big name in golf clubs] PING. Unsurprisingly, I did not know this.
- 66a [Source for cords] WOOD LOT. Not a term I’ve encountered, but it’s certainly inferrable.
- 120a [Moon units?] REARS. Took me a sec to understand this one. Good place to end.
Steve Mossberg’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Quite surprised at how fast my solve time was, because this one seemed as if it was going to be impossible to complete.
The final stages of my solving sequence were: lower right corner, upper right corner, corrections top center (PUTT/URES/TALBERD → PATH/ARES/HALBERD).
Certain bits of knowledge really bailed me out at various points in the grid. Stuff like knowing that the anatomical name for big toe is HALLUX (41d), that there’s a section of the brain called BROCA’S AREA (14a), that COOK visited Easter Island in the 18th century (26d), and a few others.
Time to highlight some questionable/extra-tough clues:
- 17a [Fall plant] BANANA PEEL.
- 47a [A bit seedy?] OVULAR.
- 57a [Serving in the Vatican] MINESTRONE.
- 15d [Make for after-dinner] SARAN.
- 24d [Runs not very fast] BUNNY SLOPES.
- 35d [Manual art] DIAGRAMS (art?).
All right, what else?
- 21a [First Cuban dance with worldwide popularity] BOLERO. Not to be confused with the Spanish dance of the same name.
- 40a [Call for caution] WHOA EASY THERE. With the H from HALLUX in place, I guessed at WHOA, which enabled me to complete 27d UNLAWFULLY, which really helped with the lower left corner.
- 3d [What mountains form over] EONS. I saw the trick right away, considered TIME but figured EONS was more appropriate.
- 5d [Steamed bun from China] MANTOU. Was initially after a two-word phrase ending in bao. Also, MANTOU is not to be confused with manitou.
- 6d [Japanese restaurant decor] PAPER CRANES, not SHOJI SCREEN.
- 9d [Swiss Guard weapons] HALBERDS. Initially tried BAYONETS.
- 11d [Okay to put away] COMESTIBLE. Can’t not think of Monty Python’s cheese shop sketch when I encounter this word.
- 22d [Where Ivory Soap was born] OHIO. This is quite trivial.
- 42d [Offgrid Dwellings offering] YURTS. Should be ‘offerings’, no? Anyway, I wouldn’t mind relocating to a tiny home somewhere. Not necessarily from this outfit, though.
- 45d [Verb from the Latin for “conquer”] EVICT. Makes sense.
- 50d [Work done in bars] SONG. Structure, not location.
Very tough one today.
Universal Freestyle 97 by Matthew Stock, norah’s review; 3:45
- ⭐ WINECRITIC 59A [One who might hail a cab?]
- IMONFIRE 48A [“Nothing can stop me!”]
- SIRI 1D [Portable speaker?]
- ACORN 47D [
Nut that Scrat chased in the “Ice Age” films]
New solver today – shown is the Crossweird Puzzles solver, a mod of Alex Boisvert’s Crossword Nexus Solver. Thanks to Dob and Alex for their great work.
This grid has one of my new favorite block structures – the V with tail. They’re so cute! More importantly, functional in separating the middle of this grid from the sides and bottoms, allowing for super clean stacks of 10s in the top and bottom, and 9s in the left and right sides of the grid. BRAVO 40A [“Stupendous work!”], Matthew. :)
So much for my run of super fast times lately – this one was clued just a bit on the harder side and I found myself moving back and forth through the grid to catch everything on a second pass.
I don’t understand what about a WNBA HOODIE makes it signature orange – can someone please explain in the comments?
LATINOUSA 34D [Radio show hosted by Maria Hinojosa]
PUTH 38D [“Light Switch” singer Charlie]
Thanks Matthew and the Universal team!