Saturday, September 30, 2017

LAT 6:59 (Derek) 


Newsday 8:00 (Derek) 


NYT 4:20 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 30 17, no 0930

I’ve got company and didn’t line up a sub here, so I’ll be brief.

Really enjoyed the puzzle, though it fell too quickly for a Saturday puzzle. The clues didn’t vex me, the fill was fun, 10/10 would have enjoyed wrangling for a few minutes more.

Fave fill: “I MEAN, REALLY,” MAMA BIRD, BEER BRAT, LAKSHMI, COINSTAR, RIJKSMUSEUM, OBAMA ERA, “I DARESAY,” and KATE MOSS. I imagine several of these are making their xword debuts here.


  • 6a. [7 is in the middle of it], PH SCALE. Trickiest clue for me. I was doubting my crossings when that implausible letter combo appeared.
  • 27a. [Flower whose name is Greek for “flame”], PHLOX. The phlox I’m familiar with aren’t at all fiery, but whatever. The only related word I know is phlogiston, and don’t ask me what it means because I don’t recall.
  • 19d. [Parallel-park, e.g.], EDGE IN. I’m not the best, but my parallel parking skills are solid.
  • The multiple [Reception figures (?)] clues were a cute touch.
  • 14d. [Like many asylum seekers in the 2010s: Abbr.], SYR. And President Trump is working on slashing the number of refugees this country will give harbor to. Shameful.

4.5 stars from me. Keep ’em coming, Mary Lou and Jeff!

Pawel Fludzinski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Jammed through this one pretty good, even though I was on my cellphone! Hey, you solve when you can, right? Usually solving on the phone slows me waaay down, but this one fell in huge chunks. There are huge chunks of white squares in this 66-worder, so maybe that’s why! I have not solved a puzzle by Pawel in a little while, but I do remember his style as being one I enjoy. A solid 4.4 stars for this Saturday challenger.

A few notes (and one minor gripe!):

  • 14A [Planned city in California’s Orange County] IRVINE – I have been to SoCal, but not this particular part. One of our former employees just moved back to Costa Mesa, which is in the same general area. All of this is not too far from Anaheim. Pretty area, I am sure. I am jealous!
  • 30A [Wikipedia is an example of it] CROWDSOURCING – Well done. A lot of people don’t trust Wikipedia, but it seems a lot of puzzle constructors sure do!
  • 45A [“__ oui!”] MAIS – My main gripe with this puzzle: Too many French entries! Along with 6D [His, to Henri] SES and 51D [They, in Tours] ILS, this is a little too many of one language. I am all for foreign entries in a puzzle, but this may be too many from one language. You could make the argument that 12D and 33D are also foreign, but those are words that seem to have made their way into English. In Pawel’s defense, I don’t think there is another way to clue any of these entries without referencing French in some way!
  • 7D [Reunion discovery] LONG LOST FRIENDS – I gambled and put this in after I had ????????FRIENDS, and it was right! Maybe that is why I find Pawel’s puzzles fun!
  • 12D [Bulgar salad] TABOULI – Mentioned this earlier; in my vegan ways I have had this a couple of times. Good stuff!
  • 33D [Pasta pellets in Jewish cuisine] FARFEL – Mentioned this one too; and I have also mentioned earlier that I do not know Jewish dishes well at all!
  • 37D [“Just play along, OK?”] HUMOR ME? – I also love casual phrases!

Off day for the Michigan Wolverines today, so maybe I can get some school work done! Enjoy your Saturday!

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Usually Stan’s (Lester’s!) Saturday Stumpers aren’t quite as thorny as most; this one I found slightly challenging when I first looked at it. The lower left fell fairly quickly, but then I ground to a halt. My time was probably closer to 12-13 minutes, since I started this puzzle on my laptop, put it down, then restarted it on my desktop and quickly filled in what I remembered from the first go-around. Funny how these puzzles seem so hard at first, then once you get a decent toehold, it falls much easier. The NW and SE corners of this don’t offer much of a toehold, though, since they only have one way in! A respectable 4.5 stars for Stan (Lester!) today.

A few notes:

  • 15A [Disapproved of] ILLICIT – This seemed a tad off, but it is an accurate description. I perceive it as being more synonymous with illegal.
  • 19A [They’re spotted in taquerias] PINTOS – Spotted as in “seen!”
  • 29A [NFL team named for a Triple Crown event] THE COLTS – I’ll bet there is a wonderful story here! The Colts, of course, were originally the Baltimore Colts, where the Preakness Stakes is held.
  • 10D [Sports news of Oct. 2016] NLCS – This is pretty much sports news in ANY year, but I put CUBS in here at first! The Cubbies are primed for another World Series run!!
  • 11D [Madre de tu primo] TIA – Translation: “mother of your cousin.”
  • 32D [Many Yale SOM grads] MBAS – SOM is School of Management. Actually had to look that up; I don’t personally know anyone who went to Yale. Unless there are some Yale alums at the ACPT!
  • 45D [How Uncle Henry greets Miss Gulch in “The Wizard of Oz”] HOWDY! – I had this ending in -Y, so I assumed it ended in -LY. There was an Oz-related question in Learned League this week as well. Almost makes me want to watch the movie again, but after last week I need to watch West Side Story!

That is all for today! Go Cubbies!

Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pick-Me-Ups” — pannonica’s write-me-up

WSJ • 9/30/17 • “Pick-Me-Ups” • Sat • Arbesfeld • solution

No fancy northbound elements; merely a bigram insertion: M-E.

  • 23a. [Students going after a degree in riot control?] MELEE MAJORS (Lee Majors).
  • 25a. [Motto f indoor stadium advocates?]  DOME OR DIE (do or die).
  • 38a. [British-American coin] PRINCESS DIME (Princess Di).
  • 48a. [Hodgepodge shared by Tandy and Chastain?] JESSICA MELANGE (Jessica Lange). All three are in the acting biz.
  • 66a. [Tell-all about philandering physicists?] MESONS AND LOVERS (Sons and Lovers).
  • 86a. [Went on a waterslide?] CAUGHT THE FLUME (caught the flu). Meh original phrase.
  • 94a. [Steakhouse?] WHERE IT’S MEAT (where it’s at).
  • 113a. [Admonition to a naughty granny?] SHAME, NANA (Sha-Na-Na).
  • 115a. [“It’s easy pal, just keep track of the shell with the pea,” perhaps?] CON GAME LINE (conga line).

  • 89a [Ticker tape letters?] ECG. Cute, though maybe a little off the mark, and anachronistic?
  • Was, appropriately enough, STYMIEd (105a) in the lower left corner. But as it turned out only because I made a typo/mistake at 71-down and didn’t notice for quite a while. RAGEDY ANNE indeed,
  • 104a [It may be between here and there] NOR. Really liked this glib clue. Inspired a little philosophic meandering.
  • Also liked 76d [“I call ’em like I ___”] SEE ’EM, which looks a bit nutso in-grid with that triple-E.
  • MEs-in-grid, not of the theme: 2d AMEN, 24d METRIC, 75d AIMEE, 84d AMÉLIE, 95d RIMMED, 32a NEMEA. Of these, only NEMEA and AMÉLIE manage to have crossworthy currency.
  • 8d [By __ (narrowly)] A NOSE, 42d [Barely beat] EDGE.
  • 26d [Resolves he will] OPTS TO. What’s with the pronoun?
  • 52d [Tire shop work] ALINING. Whoa, whoa, whoa, we need a var. qualifier here.
  • 57d [1972 Derby winner __ Ridge] RIVA. Everybody knows this one, right? *cough, cough*
  • 97d [Copenhagen attraction] TIVOLI. Selections from Wikipedia’s disambiguation page: Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park in Copenhagen, named after the Parisian garden  Jardin de Tivoli, Paris, a garden and park open between 1766 and 1842, built to resemble the gardens of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy  Tivoli Japan, a Japanese version, in Kurashiki, Okayama, based on the park in Copenhagen; closed in 2008. Oh and there are more.

    How about “Tivoli Club, 19th century Denver, Colorado gambling saloon owned by infamous badman Soapy Smith”?

  • 34a [Portrayer of Hughes, Hoover, and Gatsby] DICAPRIO. Roughly contemporary figures, in the films?
  • 73a [When they divide they multiply] AMOEBAS. Keep in mind that although amoebae are excellent at multiplication and division, they struggle with relatively simple arithmetic such as addition and subtraction. Use this knowledge wisely! p.s. Have you ever seen an amoeba try to work an ABACUS (96d)? Okay, maybe one like this. Perhaps.
  • 22a [“The ___ Gave My Heart To” (Aaliyah hit)] ONE I, 35d [Beginning of a Tony Bennett classic] I LEFT.
  • QUAFFITUDE. 37d [Hoppy pub quaff] IPA (see also 5d [Pub fixture] ALE TAP), 39d [Eggy quaffs] NOGS, 78a [Throat-soothing quaff] LEMON TEA.

Nice enough crossword, but nothing special.

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18 Responses to Saturday, September 30, 2017

  1. Shteyman says:

    Great puzzle! I find it noteworthy that only 5-10 years ago the demand for dazzling pangrams and grids full of Js, Qs, Zs and Xs was very high and those puzzles were received and rated very highly. Fast-forward to now and it’s obvious the scrabbly-friendly crossworld climate has cooled down considerably. The criteria for what a quality puzzle should be have shifted away from the flashy Xs and Zs and much more toward squeaky-clean fill, tolerance (or even preference) for cheater squares and inclusion of a high percentage of conversational and/or topical phrases. Mary Lou and Jeff’s puzzle is a perfect example of the latter, and I think we as a community did well to get ourselves here. I do disagree sometimes when I see certain trendy entries without much staying power, but I know that, too, will come and go. Btw, the puzzle was on the easy side for a Saturday and thought 6A was one of the easier clues/answers in the grid (like 2D, I got that one without any crossings).

    • AV says:

      Good observation – yes, love this flavor of Saturdays a lot more than record-setting scrabbly pangrams.

      As a wine-lover of Indian origin with a science background, 5 gimmes (1D+3D, 32A and 6A + 56A) led to a personal best for a Saturday! Thanks Mary Lou + Jeff.

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    Enjoyed the consonant pileup in the NYT NE (PH SCALE, G MAJOR). Also liked seeing KOMODO since I was recently there & got to see the dragons up close. Little easy for a Saturday but will make that trade every time for interesting fill.

  3. pannonica says:

    Stumper: “19A [They’re spotted in taquerias] PINTOS – Spotted as in ‘seen!'”

    I suspect you were joking.

  4. Rob says:

    Liked the puzzle, but agree that it seemed to fall too easily. Or maybe I’m on the same wavelength as Guizo/Chen.

    • Lise says:

      When a Friday or Saturday seems easy to me, I like to think that I’m getting better (it’s about time!) or that I am on the constructor’s wavelength. It could be, though, that they really are easier, but I much prefer today’s fresh, sparkly fill to the bygone era of words seen only in crosswords.

      And I suspect that the reviews are more fun to write, this way. I certainly enjoy reading them. Thank you, Fiends!

  5. David L says:

    The Stumper was a real struggle for me today. I thought Yale SOM must be school of medicine, guessed at TIA despite wondering what “mother of your first” meant, had TRUELOVE before ONEILOVE. I think of SETTEE as an ordinary piece of furniture, so don’t understand the connection to bowling center. No idea about CHAS (I googled later — CHAS Addams…)

    A couple of the clues seem incorrect to me. TEMPORAL means either ‘relating to time’ or worldly as opposed to spiritual; it’s not a synonym for temporary. COP doesn’t mean ‘pilfer’ in my vocabulary. And I don’t see how “named for a Triple Crown event” gets you to THECOLTS.

  6. Norm says:

    NYT was hard for me at the top [thank goodness for AKIMBO] but pretty easy on the bottom [give me San Luis OBISPO and Pt. REYES in the same quadrant, and I’m good] and very enjoyable. Liked LAT and WSJ as well. Some of the WSJ theme entries were groaners, and I have to take issue with ALINING rather than ALIGNING, but that’s a small nit, and there’s undoubtedly a source somewhere to support it. Maybe it’s English usage, and it should have been “Tyre shop work”?

    • Lise says:

      After looking up ALINING, it seems that one could make a case for it but that doesn’t make me like it.

      That general area was a little awkward, I thought; perhaps there wasn’t a better way to fill it.

  7. golfballman says:

    What is wrong with the LAT site? I have not been able to download a puzzle all week. I normally go to Amy’s blog site and down load from her todays puzzle site . Help please. 10Q

  8. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Aha — I do know what “phlogiston” means, but never made the connection with 27A:PHLOX because I didn’t know that the word was Greek for “flame”. Now it all makes sense. (Before the discovery of oxygen it was thought that the common thread of burning, rusting, and respiration was the release of phlogiston, for which air had a limited capacity; now we know that “fully phlogisticated” air is actually devoid of oxygen.) We know that Greek -x can become -g- as in phalanx:phalanges (see also rex:regal, lex:legal).


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