Saturday, August 26, 2017

LAT 5:47 (Derek) 


Newsday 22:20 (Derek) 


NYT 8:25 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 26 17, no 0826

Long week, short attention span. I felt distracted and unfocused throughout the solve. Puzzle’s probably not really about twice as hard as yesterday’s, no matter what my solving time suggests.

This is a 70-worder, and yet there’s more fill that I’m not so keen on than I was expecting in one of Peter’s grids. I do love IN CAHOOTS, “YES, AND,” BODY MAN (despite its genderedness—remember Obama’s body man, Reggie Love? Just Googled to see who’s in the White House now—it’s a very pretty boy named John McEntee who played football), Casey KASEM (you can listen to classic ’70s and ’80s Top 40 shows online 24/7), THE BIG BANG, COME ALIVE, JAY GATSBY, and BIRD DOG. And GAH! I both say and type that one.

On the dryer side, we have ASLAN, EPEE, NO BID, iffy DIET TIP, SET ON, dull KNEE HOLES, plural CYANS, ADD IN, and I GIVE. And HONEY WINE? Do people say that?

Clues of note:

  • 46a. [PIN point], ATM. Nice play on pinpoint.
  • 7d. [N.C.A.A.’s St. ___ Oles], OLAF. A gimme for anyone who went to college in Northfield, Minnesota. Given that Ole (rhymes with “holy”) is derived from or closely related to OLAF, though, doesn’t the answer overlap with the clue?
  • 45d. [Exotic salad ingredient], POMELO. I filled in PAPAYA and was scowled at the ethnocentricity of the clue … and then it turned out to be POMELO. I don’t know who puts that in a salad.

3.5 stars from me. How’d you enjoy it?

Mike Buckley’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I think I have done one or two Mike Buckley puzzles before, but his is not a name I readily recognize. But we have a theme in this themeless puzzle! A quote nonetheless:

  • 38A [She said “It’s better to be 19-Across than 55-Across] MAE WEST

Some may say there are repeated words in this puzzle, but I think it makes for a great, humorous theme. 72 words in this one allow for a nice variety, and only a word or two that I would call hard, but this is a hard puzzle, so a few of those are expected at this level. I found this one fun. 4.4 stars.

A few more notes:

  • 47A [Shelley dedicated an ode to one of them] SKYLARKS – A tough way to clue this, especially since the entry is plural. How about [Former Buick models].
  • 63A [Antlion relative] LACEWING – Both are bugs. There evidently is a antlion lacewing!



  • 7D [“Jeopardy!” first name] MERV – Admit it: you put in ALEX too!
  • 9D [Shining example of mirror-writing] REDRUM – A reference to The Shining, another movie I have yet to see. Clever clue, but perhaps a little to vague?
  • 58D [Mahler’s earth] ERDE – I assume this is “earth” in German. I checked and I was right. This is a tad tough; most foreign language entries are simpler terms, like numbers.

See you for Tuesday’s LAT. Enjoy your weekend!

Erik Agard’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Erik Agard’s puzzles are rapidly becoming some of my favorites. This kid seems to possess a brilliant mind, and brings a fresh, vibrant talent to the crossword making world. I had the upper left portion filled out pretty quickly, mainly because I was able to get 1-Across immediately, as I will discuss in a sec. But the rest was typical Stumper difficult level, at least to me, and the 20 minute time limit was not what I originally expected after a quick start. I stress again: there is virtually nothing obscure in this 70-worder. A solid 4.8 stars this morning!

Highlights (I cannot possibly list them all!):

  • 1A [2012 award for 6’4″ Tina Charles] WNBA MVP – I know who Tina Charles is, so this was easy for me to figure out. Phenomenal entry and clue. The height hint is supposed to nudge you in the right direction!
  • 8A [Dominican dance style] BACHATA – On the other hand, this is totally unfamiliar to me, but I feel I should know it.
  • 16A [Vitamin D producer] UV LIGHT – I knew this is from sunlight, but I didn’t think of a suntan lamp until I had the V in. Nice!
  • 62A [Renaissance pole weapon] HALBERD – I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner than I did; it is always in the hidden puzzle games I play!
  • 10D [Jeremy, in “Reversal of Fortune”] CLAUS – As in Claus von Bulow. Another movie I have never seen.
  • 12D [Crime writer’s award] AGATHA – I don’t know this either, but it makes perfect sense. Us crossworders probably see the EDGAR award in grids a little more often, which must be similar to the AGATHA.
  • 35D [Product of Navajo dough] FRYBREAD – It looks delicious!
  • 44D [Name ate the cover of “Women Who Work” (2012)] IVANKA – I tried ANGELA before stumbling onto this. No doubt a polarizing grid entry!!

I said I could go on, because there is a ton of good stuff in here. Great puzzle, Erik! Everyone have a great weekend!

Lexa Etona-Slnersa’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Taken Aback” — pnnonnicaa’s write-up

WSJ • 8/26/17 • “Taken Aback” • Eaton-Salners • solution

Gimmick here is that an A in one of the theme answer words is shifted to the end of that word, altering the meaning of the phrase.

  • 22a. [What made Gershwin’s hair so silky?] IRA CONDITIONER (air …).
  • 32a. [Part of an Italian fire-breather’s hoard?] DRAGON’S LIRA (… lair). Obsolete unit in Italy—replaced by the EURO (73d [Latvian currency]) but still used in Turkey. As you can see, the A in DRAGON is not relocated. This is true for some other themers as well.
  • 57a. [Piece of wood from a historic vessel?] PINTA CHIP (paint …).
  • 67a. [“Let’s balance the budget,” say?] CONGRESSIONAL IDEA (… aide).
  • 81a. [One who digs for old Coke bottles?] COLA MINER (coal …).
  • 103a. [Missive from Macao?] CHINA LETTER (chain …).
  • 119a. [Uplifting group?] BRA ASSOCIATION (bar …).

So that’s an okay theme, nothing awe-inspiring, but solid.

  • Trivia! 8a [Cartoonist who popularized the term “double whammy”] AL CAPP crossed by 11d [Best-known character of 8-Across] ABNER.
  • More trivia! 21a [Its first hotel was in Flagstaff] RAMADA.
  • 96a [Pleistocene and Holocene, for two] EPOCHS, 102a [Cenozoic, for one] ERA.
  • 109a [Homer output] EPICS, 42d [Homer outcry] D’OH.
  • 35d [One might work a concert] NARC, 37d [One might attend a concert] FAN.
  • 54a [Way off] AFAR, 71d [Way off base, say] AWOL.
  • Strangely tricky: 80d [Is advised] OUGHT.
  • Not-so strangely tricky:78a [Round container] GUN, 126a [Jersey features] UDDERS.
  • 27a [Like a new coat, perhaps] WET. I have been doing some painting lately. Not the expressive artistic sort. And there’s more to do. *sigh*
  • 28a [Stylish person] COOL CAT.

Meow, ciao!

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31 Responses to Saturday, August 26, 2017

  1. dook says:

    pomelo salad! Absolutely delish! Found Saturday easier than yesterday.

  2. John says:

    So I had _A__AT___ in the southwest corner and confidently filled in “Mad Hatter” for the clue “Storied Party Host.” Boy, that one took me a while to get around. Kinda love when that happens, though.

  3. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Also liked SLAVE AWAY. Apparently BOYLE’S LAW isn’t too obscure but cluing to the favorite band of my adolescence, the CLASH, is, which is fairly distressing.

  4. David L says:

    Maybe this just indicates a gap in my knowledge, but I was totally baffled by ORALPHASE and kept running the alphabet on the crosses to see if I could produce something that made sense. Having googled it, I see that it’s a real thing, but is it honestly well known? It seems like a bit of antique Freudian theory and I wonder if there is any validity to the idea.

    Apart from that the puzzle was mostly straightforward, although for me it was significantly tougher than yesterday’s. A lot of the cluing was not on my wavelength. E.g., why are AVATARS “forum icons” — is this a reference to some sort of online forum?

  5. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Today’s “Saturday Stumper” by Erik Agard is up there with the Thursday NYT as my two favorite puzzles this week. It’s a classically Agardian themeless and I gave it a 5-star rating.

    You can solve it online here:

  6. Jenni says:

    Also loved the Stumper! And yes, people do say “honey wine.” I do whenever I have to explain to people what mead is, which happens more often than you might think (we have a really good meadery here in Allentown and we love their products).

  7. huda says:

    NYT: I liked it and found it relatively easy (for me, on a Saturday). Maybe I was on the same wave length as the constructor. I actually knew a NORM(AN) married to a NORMA. I always wondered whether that shared name helped seal the deal between them.

    Nice juxtaposition between POMELO and BASIL, liked SUBROSA, and for some reason, I love the expression IN CAHOOTS… I have no idea where it comes from (I know, I know…) but it suggests surreptitious whispering.

    And thank you Zulema for the comment the other day, which I only saw recently. I know Bob Sapolsky and have been meaning to get his latest book, Behave. You reminded me to buy it, which I just did. I know he’s a wonderful writer, communicator and imaginative scientist.

  8. Steve Manion. says:

    My daughter and I shop regularly at the local Ranch market (is that national?), an Asian food grocery store. We have bought almost every fruit at one time or another except Durian, which, at $36 was too outrageously expensive for something we simply wanted to try. We have put some of them in salads, although never a pomelo.
    I made a lot of small mistakes in this one, although none of them were insurmountable. I had to read the comments to understand AVATAR,
    Slightly above average difficulty for me, as was yesterday’s.


    • Paul Coulter says:

      Steve, you didn’t miss much with that durian. I also love trying different fruits, and quite a few years back, I saw durians at a Chinese greengrocer’s shop in Philly. Intrigued by its spiked cannonball appearance, I bought one for about a buck. When I cut it open at home, it smelled like rotten meat. And not just a trace, like you sometimes get with overripe mangos. This stunk up the house for days, though I took it out to the trash immediately. I wasn’t brave enough to taste it, but when I looked it up, some say it’s very good. Others compare it to rancid onions, with the smell of either sewage or skunk.

      • Papa John says:

        “Bizarre Food” Andrew Zimmerman spit it out.

      • scrivener says:

        There are towns in the Philippines where it’s illegal to cut into a durian because its smell is so offensive.

        At a Chinese smoothie shop in Honolulu’s Chinatown, I once tried to order a durian smoothie. The proprieter refused to sell me one. “I know you won’t like it,” she said. “I promise I won’t ask for a refund if I don’t,” I countered. “How about this. I’ll make you something else, and if you like it, I’ll make you a durian smoothie. If you don’t, then no.”

        I was game. She made me a jackfruit smoothie. And it was quaffable but I didn’t care much for it. So no durian smoothie for me.

  9. Margaret says:

    The clue for REDRUM in the LAT was my favorite, and not too obscure as far as I’m concerned, but I didn’t find the mini-theme as amusing as all that. If only there were other choices besides being looked over and overlooked…

  10. Papa John says:

    The Mae Wast quote I’m fond of is, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Believe me, rich is better.”

  11. scrivener says:

    I was pleased to see SANSEI in the LAT, a first for me. However, I don’t like the cluing. It’s kind of like cluing HAWAII with “State.”

  12. Art Shapiro says:

    We have the timing but not the writeup for the WSJ.


    • pannonica says:

      Apologies. I accidentally patched in only the last bit of the write-up. It’s completely there now.

  13. For 43A in the NYT [clue: Advice for a wannabe loser], I had D _ _ TT _ _ and filled in DON’T TRY, which I like even better than DIET TIP.

  14. JohnH says:

    For the NYT, I can’t really like a puzzle that caught me with KASE_ crossing _ULAN. I am also not at all a fan of the universal expectation that, if a clue mentions “literature,” it’ll be sci-fi that literate people will never read. Aren’t crossword mavens smarter than that, like actually read books?

    I never did understand “oven” as WOMB.

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