Saturday, May 20, 2017

LAT 6:25 (Derek) 


Newsday 22:05 (Derek) 


NYT 4:59 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Paolo Pasco and David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 20 17, no 0520

Did this one put up less of a fight than the Friday NYT? I thought it did. Lots of stuff I liked in the grid. There’s the top stack with SILICON CHIP, AVOCADO ROLL, and ZONE DEFENSE (the Celtics don’t have such a thing tonight, do they?) crossing a SAZERAC (which is not remotely a cocktail I’d order, but a cool-looking name) and HONKED AT. The smaller stack to the right, with VERIZON, JOY RIDE, and SNEEZED crossing AZIZ Ansari. The opposite corner’s DIREWOLF crossing POOCH and “I SURE DO.” And the bottom stack, with ALICE WALKER (Saturday-grade clue omitting The Color Purple) and the BECHDEL TEST (my very favorite entry in this puzzle—here’s the Bechdel test movies site) crossing THE DUKE John Wayne and comic-strip character RATBERT (whose creator is a loon).

Five things:

  • 31a. [Reading block?], CODE. Encoded text impedes reading. I first tried TOME, as in a chunky block of pages.
  • 58a. [Celebratory move popularized by Cam Newton], DAB. If you’re not a sports fan, a hip-hop fan, or a parent of school-aged kids anywhere in the world, you can learn about the dab here.
  • 60a. [Sloppy joe ingredient], TOMATO SAUCE. Let us parse the clue as a joe ingredient that is sloppy, and question who puts tomato sauce in their coffee.
  • 22d. [Snapchat feature that alters one’s features], FACE SWAP. Here, check out the BuzzFeed feature, “The 35 Most Disturbing Face Swaps Of All Time.”
  • 37d. [Amplifier for stage actors], FLOOR MIC. Not something I knew existed, or had this name.

4.25 stars from me. Fun puzzle!

Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This guy was my roomie at the ACPT, so I got to know him a little bit. There is a lot of buzz recently about him in the crossword stuff I read, including a write-up on this very blog. All of it is merited, especially when you realize this kid is only, what, 21? 22? He could be my son! He does have a brilliant mind, and his puzzles are top-notch. The puzzle today is no exception. I solved it in just over 6 minutes, but that’s because there is nothing unfamiliar in this entire grid, and yet it is a 66 word themeless! A solid 4.8 stars for this one. I am jealous of this kid’s talent!

Some faves:

  • 1A [Canine cleaners] TOOTHBRUSHES – Yes, THOSE canines.
  • 13A [Canine fixers] ORTHODONTISTS – A nice touch with two semi-related entries right off the bat. Awesome.
  • 15A [Brown nemesis?] KITE-EATING TREE – Too good. Charlie Brown’s nemesis!
  • 30A [Idris of “Zootopia”] ELBA – Always a welcome alternative to the Mediterranean island. I actually SAW Zootopia, and I don’t see anything, but I don’t remember which character he was. (He was the police chief!)
  • 53A [Violinist Mintz mentored by Isaac Stern] SHLOMO – This is a little tough. I don’t know a single individual personally with this name!
  • 58A [Winner of the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era] SERENA WILLIAMS – She won’t win any more this year! She recently announced her pregnancy, opening up the possibility she was very pregnant when she won the Aussie Open in late January. Amazing.
  • 62A [Company known for programming languages] ROSETTA STONE – Also well done. Yes, I am highlighting the long entries, but they are all so well done!
  • 22D [High-end fashion accessory, briefly] YSL BAG – This is where the genius comes in. I would NEVER think of using this. Small shout out to B-DAYS at 6D which helps make the stack possible. Needless to say, these have never appeared in a NYT daily (although B-DAY in the singular has). I am tipping my cap.

It’s still cold here! in the 40s this morning. But I hear it is snowing in Colorado, so I won’t complain!

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Frank got me good this time. I was not able to find my quiet place to solve this one, but it may not have made much difference. Having said this, I found this solve to be another case of joyful agony. There is a high feeling of angst when you get about 1/3 in and you are hopelessly stuck, but then it slowly comes. I think us crossword solvers are actually fairly well equipped to handle life’s challenges; if you’re a Stumper solver, I cannot imagine you quickly giving up on ANYTHING!

Anyway, another Longo gem. On the sports channels, I hear a lot about how we should enjoy watching LeBron James now, because we will be saying to our grandchildren how good he was. Same with Frank. I think I have known him now for about 20 years, and he just keeps getting better and better. A 70-worder today, but with two 15-letter stacks to ramp up the construction difficulty. Shoot, it ramps up the SOLVING difficulty as well! A solid 4.6 stars today.

A few faves:

  • 1A [“__ is the moon and bright”: Keats] ORBED – This is hard, especially if poetry is not your forte. ( I am raising my hand now!)
  • 20A [Crop dusting, for instance] GENERAL AVIATION – I actually delivered to a crop-dusting operation while at UPS. A fascinating field, and it looks almost like a really fun job.
  • 23A [Crying indicator] EXCLAMATION MARK – I almost thought this would be TRACKS OF MY TEARS. I have been told I use a lot of exclamation marks!!
  • 35A [Soon to have a turned-up nose] READY FOR TAKE-OFF – Best clue in the puzzle! I actually laughed out loud when I finally got it. Extremely well done!
  • 10D [Measure of flight capacity] SEAT MILES – I am not familiar with this term, but it is used to calculate revenue for the airline. Very nice.
  • 13D [“If I Only Had a Brain” verb] THINK – Verrrrry hard clue. This is an old song. I actually had to listen to it later on Spotify to confirm! It does make sense though, considering the title.
  • 29D [Certain lodge member] ODDFELLOW – Another unfamiliar term. I am not a member of one of these lodges!
  • 30D [Host of “World’s Craziest Fools”] MR. T – On the BBC, no less, which explains why I have never heard of this show!
  • 47D [Impresario who brought the Bolshoi to America] HUROK – When you see the word “impresario,” the answer is ALWAYS Hurok. Remember that!
  • 51D [ __ Harper Lee] NELLE – I had to look this up to verify too. Great piece of trivia, and who else has this name??

Time for a nap! Enjoy your weekend!

Ed Sessa’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Funny Money” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/20/17 • “Funny Money” • Sat • Sessa • solution

Punny. It’s an occupational hazard.

  • 23a. [The successful semiconductor manufacturer was ___ ] IN THE CHIPS.
  • 29a. [The successful dumpster diver was ___ ] FILTHY RICH.
  • 43a. [The successful rodeo cowboy was ___ ] MAKING BIG BUCKS.
  • 68a. [The successful crystal gazer was ___ ] WORTH A FORTUNE.
  • 74a. [The successful artist’s model was ___ ] SITTING PRETTY.
  • 97a. [The successful baker was ___ ] ROLLING IN DOUGH.
  • 115a. [The successful landscaper was ___ ] RAKING IT IN.
  • 124a. [The successful cobbler was ___ ] WELL-HEELED.

So much success! I’m tired of winning.

Actually, TRUTH (61d) is, speaking of occupational hazards, I’m preoccupied today, so this will indeed remain a minimal write-up. Hope you’ll understand.

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13 Responses to Saturday, May 20, 2017

  1. Chopster says:


    Anyone explain?

  2. PJ Ward says:

    The stem is the most forward part of a boat. I don’t think I’ve seen it used beyond the phrase, “From stem to stern.”

  3. Steve Manion. says:

    I did not know that there was something called an AVOCADO ROLL. Our local grocery store has a sushi section and we buy a CATERPILLAR ROLL all the time (the avocado strip is on the top).

    Also did not know STEM as a synonym for PROW. I knew Cam’s touchdown dance, but did not know it was called a DAB.

    Excellent write-up today for a tough puzzle. For me, Dilbert is on a par with Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. Why “a loon”?


    • Martin says:

      Scott Adams generally keeps his politics out of his work, but recently he had a strip making fun of global warning.

      You may in fact know stem from the phrase “stem to stern.”

  4. Jenni Levy says:

    Shoutout to one of my favorite constructors and commenters, our own e a, for today’s fabulous LAT. 15a is Hall-of-Fame worthy.

  5. Pamela Kelly says:

    Longo’s Stumper was great! Soon to have a turned-up nose = stellar!

  6. Donald J. says:

    9:35 Nine Hrs and 35 Mns….Great puzzle! Not a winning time!

  7. JohnH says:

    I found the top half of the NYT easy enough but the bottom half nearly impossible, with DIRE WOLF and the clustering of FLOOR MIC, HORUS, BAHIA, DAB, WALKER, RATBERT, and BECHDEL. (I do overcome political objections enough to read “Dilbert” most days, although that’s a rare character indeed, and I did read “The Color Purple” when it came out and thought it was a little, well, middlebrow and didn’t recognize either either book in the clue. I do recognize HORUS, although not knowing quite his role, and BAHIA once I have them, and I do know THE DUKE but of course couldn’t enter it among Western names without a lot of crossings. Ditto with OLE as opposed to “rah.”) I wouldn’t call that corner fun.

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