Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Very little bad fill, which is surprising for a 64-worder. I found it a bit easier than I was expecting, with my solving time reflecting those two typos I had in place for a while that interfered with my ability to work out some crossings (put an A at the end of 8d, and another A at the start of 13d—d’oh!). Without those typos, definitely a Fridayish solve.
Here are the parts I liked most:
- 1a. [Faces facts], GETS REAL.
- 16a. [Resort town near Piz Bernina], ST. MORITZ. I like it because I stayed at the erstwhile Hotel St. Moritz on my first trip to New York.
- 18a. [“Home Alone” actor], JOE PESCI. My husband and I picked up the vocabulary word “pesci” from a “Wayne’s World” SNL sketch. Mike Myers’ Wayne said that “Pesci” sounded like a word for how your stomach feels when it’s not quite right. I am actually feeling a little pesci right now.
- 31a. [Public face], POSTER CHILD.
- 35a. [Former hit TV show with the theme song “Get Crazy”], JERSEY SHORE.
- 37a. [“Raising Hell” rappers], RUN-D.M.C. Four-consonant pileup.
- 56a. [Mark of affection], LOVE BITE. A.k.a. “hickey.”
- 7d. [Common aspiration?], AITCH. It’s common to aspirate the “h” sound. “Ha!,” for example.
- 15d. [Provider of “!!!”], WOW FACTOR. Not 100% familiar, but I like it.
- 38d. [Beaut], DOOZIE. Also spelled doozy. Eternal affection for it because of Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day: classic movie clip here.
- 40d. [Baby], COSSET. Great word. 500-year-old word from Anglo-Norman French. “Don’t cosset me! I can handle this!”
Great. The pesciness has now focused itself into hiccups. I will be taking the Deb Amlen treatment shortly—a spoonful of sugar. It is a delicious treatment.
Did not know: 8d. [Region of Italy that includes Rome], LAZIO. Also: 45a. [Queenside castle indicator, in chess], OOO. Don’t know chess notation.
Word form I haven’t seen before: 27d. [Like the lifestyle of many a monk], ASCETICAL. I see a couple dictionaries that list ascetic and ascetically, but not this midway point. Also: 13d. Bringing forth fruit, as corn], EARING. I’ve never eared.
Spelling I don’t prefer: 46a. [Zigzag ribbon], RICRAC. I grew up in a rickrack home. Both are valid spellings.
Answer that looks contrived and arbitrary to me (but perhaps you use this all the time): 53a. [Tops], RATED A.
Even more problematic answer: 36a. [Eliza in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” e.g.], MULATTO. Okay, so it’s clued by way of an 1852 book, commensurate with the term’s datedness, but its mere presence in the grid will be jarring to many people. I heard the word on Fresh Air Monday, when Terry Gross interviewed Chris Tomlinson, author of a book about his slaveholding ancestors and the descendants of those slaves (including the NFL’s LaDainian Tomlinson). Chris’s great-great-grandfather’s holdings were documented in the 1860 census. Tomlinson told Gross, “One of the surprises in the 1860 census is that they have an appendix, which is called the slave schedule. And it lists the ages and gender and race of every slave that was held on that property. And out of the 48 slaves that James K. Tomlinson reported on the census, eight of them were mulatto children – and I use that term because that’s – that’s the way they were classified – mixed-race children. So I was a little surprised at how many mixed-race children there were.” The word’s not as incendiary as the N-word, but it’s also not a pleasant inclusion in a crossword.
Four stars overall.
Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Andy’s review
It’s a fun little easter egg that the constructor signed this one with his last name, CHRISTIAN, at 1-Across.
This one has a pretty standard, relatively easy-to-fill grid with a few really nice entries: RUE MORGUE, ONION SALT, VODKA SHOT, O MAGAZINE, NETFLIX. SCUBA DIVE, TOMATO RED, and TURQUOISE all look pretty good to me. It’s very obviously trying to be (and succeeding at being) a pangram. The fill is still pretty good, but you do end up with suboptimal stuff like X’ED and SKAT that probably could have been avoided otherwise.
The sigh-meter blipped a bit at NEN, -ATAT, and TRS, plus NOVUS and TRIUNE aren’t my favorite. Also, RESEE, BEL., and N IS.
That’s all I’ve got. 3.33 stars. Until next week!
Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”
Dang, this puzzle’s a killer! Lots of trivia I didn’t know, lots of angles I wasn’t seeing, and a couple oddball words.
- 10a. [When moose are often active], DUSKS in the plural? That feels unusual. Dawn, dusk, and twilight work much better in the singular, whereas days, mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights feel natural in the plural.
- 17a. [Ship-to-shore message], RADIOGRAM. Not to be confused with a radiograph, which is an X-ray image.
- 58a. [Racing app designer’s calculation], VIEW ANGLE. Not sure I’ve seen that phrase before.
- 23a. [Targets with barbs], ROASTS. The verb, as in giving a celebrity roast on Comedy Central.
- 27a. [Chargers’ restraints], HEADRESTS. Dodge Charger cars, not cavalry horses.
- 35a. [Name that is a past participle], RENEE. “Reborn.” Clue has no hint that it’s a French past participle. Is that unfair?
- 51a. [CD recording], INT. Interest paid on a certificate of deposit, not music.
- 55a. [Two-wheeled tool], CAN OPENER. Boy, including “kitchen” in the clue would have made this much easier. I was picturing plows and wheelbarrows.
- 4d. [Exercise-outfit accessory], OBI. Very specific sort of exercise. Looked at the Wikipedia entries for sumo and karate and see nothing about OBIs.
- 8d. [Short skirt?], ET AL. What? No. A curtailment of a list is not a “skirt.” Please.
- 10d. [Mint-condition spoilers]. DOGEARS. Nothing at all suggesting the clue refers to books, tons of other non-dogearable things that are more valuable in mint condition.
- 14d. [Picked up], SEEN. Feels rather tenuous to me. Hearing things and learning things seem more like “picking up” than seeing. Started with TIDY here.
- 21d. [The bulk of speeches], BODIES. The bulk of a speech is the body of the speech, twixt the intro and conclusion. I read the clue as meaning “most speeches.”
- 23d. [Metaphor for an urgent need], RACE. This also seems tenuous to me.
- 52d. [Lenore nickname], NELL. I guess that flies. “Lenore” is an odd choice, though, given that the name’s popularity peaked in the 1920s, when the name was the 325th most popular.
Lots of trivia I didn’t know, as well:
- 18a. [Iowa’s state rock], GEODE. That’s not even a specific mineral! Iowa has geodes, but the other states have all chosen specific minerals (or petrified things, or coal) for their state rock. Get with the program, Iowa.
- 59a. [Goddess on New Jersey’s seal], CERES.
- 12d. [Valley of the Sun city], SCOTTSDALE.
- 25d. [One of two women with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame], DINAH SHORE. And yet she is really not much of a Hollywood legend now, is she?
- 31d. [Traditional Jamaican music maker], GRATER. Had no idea.
- 36d. [Cry from Sesame Street’s Sherlock Hemlock], EGAD. Watched the show as a kid, but have no recollection of this.
- 49d. [“Capitalize on it” sloganeer], CNBC. Never watch the channel. Would’ve helped me out a lot in that corner if the clue had specified that it was a TV channel.
- 53a. [War underdog], TREY. The three, when playing the card game War.
- 28d. [“The only horrible thing in the world is __”: Wilde], ENNUI. Oh, Oscar. #firstworldproblems
Looking past the solving struggles, how was this puzzle? Well, the fill is good. Four pained stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Passing the Buck”—Ade’s write-up
Hope everyone is having a great start to the weekend. You might have heard by now that the cable channel FXX will air each and every episode of The Simpsons (25 seasons worth) in chronological order, starting August 21. It will be the marathon to end all marathons! In today’s puzzle, put together by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, we have a small tribute to our favorite power plant-owning, hound-releasing billionaire, Charles Montgomery Burns. All it is really is a quote uttered by Mr. Burns, which you can catch on one of the over 500 episodes that will be run during this marathon. You know what Mr. Burns would say about this marathon, and the chance to see him in every single episode he’s been featured on? “Eeexxcellllent.”
- I CAN’T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT MY GOONS WERE ORDERED TO DO: (17A: [Start of a quote from “The Simpsons” by Mr. Burns]…quote continues at 24-, 38-, 48-, and 59-Across])
This puzzle wasn’t as sinister as Mr. Burns personality, but ARPEGGIOS definitely is in the sinister category, in terms of answers (32D: [Broken chords]). Thank goodness that ITASCA has been appearing in a good number of crosswords over the past couple of years, because just seeing the words makes me do a double take in terms of confirming its veracity (5A: [Lake ______ (Mississippi’s source)]). Almost all the crosswordese was located on the right side, with DRS (11A: [ER personnel]), OVA (19A: [Fertilization targets]) and ORES (64A: [Loads from lodes]). And no better way to settle RIVALRIES (12D: [Siblings may engage in them]) than with the use of TOMMY GUNS to rid yourself of said rivals, right (31A: [Weapons for Capone])??
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CROSS (53D: [Vampire hunter’s protection])– With football season ready to be ushered in very shortly, my sports take for today focuses on a pioneer in sports television. Irv Cross played in the National Football League from 1961 to 1969 as a cornerback, playing for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams. After his playing career, Cross was hired by CBS Sports to be a sports analyst, becoming the first African-American to work full-time as a sports analyst on national television. Cross was a part of the pioneering pre-game show The NFL Today, hosted by Brent Musburger. Cross was a studio analyst on the groundbreaking show, and was joined on it by former Miss America Phyllis George and sports bookmaker Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.
See you all for the Sunday Challenge!