Saturday, October 28, 2017

LAT 6:06 (Derek) 


Newsday 19:00 (Derek) 


NYT 5:31 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Roland Huget’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 28 17, no 1028

It’s a funky-looking grid, but I approached it with a sense of mild dread. 5×9 stacked chunks? Highly unlikely to contain much in the way of juicy, entertaining fill. Likely to have an awful lot of the compromises required to get everything to hang together in such wide-open spaces.

Among the entries I rather liked (but didn’t love) are GO IT ALONE, EXCELSIOR, LOSE A STEP, and SUBPLOT. I had reservations about more of the fill. Lots of plurals and verbs ending with S. Four RE- words (blah RELET, super-iffy REBOX, never-encountered REVOICE, and decent REAWAKENS). CWT, ABEAM, BOWER, ELEVE, ESTES, SALTERS, UGO, TAPE LINES, ARILS, ANTAE, ABROGATOR … insert a Lettermanesque “ah-ehhhhh.”

The puzzle is more of a “Let’s see if I can pull this off” stunt than an “I really want to entertain solvers” crossword.

Unfortunate overlap: 13d. [Container for writing materials, such as fancy stationery], PAPETERIE derives from the French papier. The word’s closely related to 33a. [Thin and dry], PAPERY.

Three more things:

  • 11d. [Official with the power to annul laws], ABROGATOR. Is … is this an elected official? Where is this word used?
  • 25d. [When to do crosswords, say], SPARE TIME. I went with QUIET TIME first. When do you do your puzzles?
  • 48d. [Awards for Best Play and others], ESPYS. Great clue. You’re thinking of the Tony Awards rather than sports plays, and boom, it’s not that sort of drama.

2.9 stars from me.

Andy Kravis’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Is this Andy’s debut for a Stumper? Probably not, but in my tenure of blogging these I don’t remember seeing many from him. Our fellow blogger is a future ACPT champ in my opinion, and his puzzles are always top-notch. Some of the clues in this one are really good; others, as is usually the case for a Stumper, are so vague they don’t seem to steer you in the right direction. I’ll mention what I mean in the comments below, but this one fit the bill as enjoyable and not torturous. I count 66 words, and to get great fill with that low of a word count is impressive. 4.7 stars for this one. )As a side note, today’s NYT has an impressive 60 word count!)

Some notes:

  • 20A [Toy dog from the Caribbean] HAVANESE – I don’t have a huge knowledge of dog breeds, so this name is not familiar to me, but the picture looks familiar!
  • 32A [Quarterback on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team] UNITAS – Who else could this be? Possibly Y.A. TITTLE, who died recently, but I think this was the first word I entered into the grid.
  • 39A [U.S. Space Camp setting] ALABAMA – I knew this too, primarily because when I see this, I always think, “Why is this in Alabama??”
  • 51A [Any area code] INTEGER – I think this is because none of them start with zero.
  • 52A [Region bordering Slovakia] MORAVIA – This is the eastern part of the Czech Republic. Fun fact: home of Ivan Lendl!
  • 5D [“Nothing’s stopping us”] “ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO” – This seems to connote a space launch and not an attitude of firm resolve. Is that just me?
  • 10D [Pungent appetizer] JALAPEÑO POPPERS – This also doesn’t seem correct to me. I wouldn’t describe the smell of these as “pungent,” which means “having an intense flavor or odor.” These are just hot! When I hear the word “pungent,” I think of an unpleasant or stinky smell, not heat. Am I still crazy?
  • 24D [Mobile message media] TEES – I didn’t notice this until after I perused the puzzle again, but this may be one of the best clues in the puzzle.
  • 30D [Pacific-based carrier] AIR TAHITI – Is this a real thing? I put AIR ALASKA in at first, but the correct name is Alaska Airlines. It goes without saying, but I have never flown Air Tahiti!

It’s chilly today! Keep warm, fellow Midwesterners!

Daniel Nierenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

This is a 72-worder today, so not quite as low as some other Saturday puzzles today, but plenty of great entries in this one. I got through this one fairly quickly, but I still feel like a learned a factoid or two. After blogging these for quite a while now, I actually wish these were just a “skosh” harder. But maybe the level for these is just as it should be; the NYT is a bit harder, and the Stumper is exponentially more difficult at times! I will stop complaining. 4.3 stars for this one.

A few high points:

  • 15A [Baked fruit dessert] APPLE TART – This is in today’s NYT as well. I know what I am eating later!
  • 16A [Actress Campbell of “Martin”] TISHA – Also in the original House Party movie. Martin Lawrence was the original host of Def Comedy Jam on HBO years ago, and there is a 25th anniversary special on Netflix. Those shows were a bit raunchy, but some of the funniest bits I have ever seen in comedy were on that show.
  • 38A [Hopeful] WANNABE – Makes more sense when you treat the clue as a noun and not an adjective. Also, a Spice Girls tune!
  • 60A [Insect world raiders] AMAZON ANT – Shouldn’t this be “raider”?
  • 11D [Talking Trans Am of classic TV] KITT – This is not classic TV! I remember watching Knight Rider!!
  • 34D [Curse deterrent] SWEAR JAR – Great entry! Never used one of these, though, since it would be pretty much empty!
  • 35D [Safe haven for cave dwellers?] BAT HOUSE – The punny clue here is likely needed because this is made up!!

That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Why Not?” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/28/17 • “Why Not?” • Sat • Hamm, Shenk • solution

Bye-bye, terminal y.

  • 23a. [Mixing tool used by haggis chefs?] SCOTCH WHISK (… whisky).
  • 25a. [Expo for dentists?] TOOTH FAIR (… fairy).
  • 36a. [Olive or miniature umbrella, perhaps?] COCKTAIL PART (… party).
  • 50a. [Kids’ reward for not fighting?] PEACE TREAT (…treaty).
  • 59a. [Golf club used as a theater prop?] DRAMATIC IRON (…irony).
  • 67a. [Cover for an Omsk ear?] SIBERIAN HUSK (… husky).
  • 78a. [Hunky park ranger?] NATURE STUD (… study).
  • 90a. [Sun-Maid, in the dried-fruit aisle?] APRICOT BRAND (… brandy).
  • 105a. [Expert at arresting?] MASTER COP (… copy).
  • 107a. [Section of a buff buff’s digestive tract?] NUDIST COLON (… colony).

And there you have it. Not sure how well the all work as humorous alterations or clue fodder, but there the are.

With nearl a third of the themers involving alcohol, seems apt that 103d TOOT is clued as [Drinking spree]. Almost surprised 86d COSMOS was clued straight-up as [Orderly universe].


  • 15a [Cheeky behavior] SASS. How unusual to see this crossword regular crossing the beginnings of other entries; seems to always backstop plurals.
  • 49a [Was dishonest] LIED, 74a [Attempted to gain control of] MOVED IN ON, 96a [Odious] VILE, 11d [Coup __ ] D’ÉTAT.
  • Favorite clue: 65a [Betrays amusement] GRINS. So simple yet evocative. Runner-up: 69d [Tag line] NOT IT.
  • 86a [Saucer occupant] CUP. Does that work? Does a CUP occup a saucer or merel sit atop one? When you sit in a chair you’re certainl occupying it, but this feels off to me, especiall sans question mark.
  • 9d [Historic Manhattan ballroom] ROSELAND. Shuttered in 2014, alas.

    circa 1940: The exterior of Roseland, a famous ballroom in Times Square, New York. (Photo by Weegee (Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photograph/Gett Images)

    Couldn’t find a decent clip from the 1977 Merchant–Ivor film (with Christopher Walken), instead stumbled upon this (Watch at your own risk):

  • 18d [Sister of Venus] SERENA (tennis, not Roman mytholog), then 24d [Sister of Zeus] HERA; also wife of Zeus. Gives new meaning to ‘sister-wife’.
  • 32d [It takes a bow] VIOLIN, 20a [It takes a bow] ARROW (or rather the bow takes the ARROW?).
  • 70d [Newspaper feature] COMICS. Stuck with COLUMN for far too long, perhaps even after seeing 53d [Addition column] TENS?

And with that, I’ll be on m wa.

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20 Responses to Saturday, October 28, 2017

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: COURSED & COARSEN seem repetitive as well. And “Just A MO” is a thing, I guess? Never heard of this. Also “Better informed” for WISER seems weird.
    Really struggled with this puzzle (while watching baseball) but thought it was pretty good overall.

  2. All Penguins Are Go says:

    The 4 block puzzles in 1 design can be tough but I didn’t find this NYT too difficult. Good LAT and Stumper.

  3. artlvr says:

    Trump is the ultimate ABROGATOR: dashing hopes of Dreamers, killing climate controls, opening nature preserves to commercial use, enacting bans on visas… The latest of visa bans targeted “Venezuela, North Korea, and Chad”! That last one was a slap to the best fighters of terrorists in neighboring Niger and Mali — and led to their immediate withdrawal from combat to home territory in Chad, which is why U.S. soldiers were able to be ambushed in Niger. Ignorance of Chad’s status as our ally was inexcusable!

  4. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I liked the puzzle much better than Amy, and I found it straightforward, and borderline easy for a Sat. though I didn’t understand “amo.” Re wiser — better informed, there’s an English barrister story that distinguishes between the two in an amusing way. The judge says to the barrister “I have read your briefs and I am none the wiser for it”. The barrister responds “I’m sure that’s true, your Lordship, but you are much better informed.

  5. Beth says:

    LAT: there are BAT HOUSES. They are used to attract bats to areas that don’t have caves.

    • Papa John says:

      My wife has many BAT_HOUSES she made hanging around the house, but the little devils still prefer snuggling up under the cedar shingles.

      Before our jerk neighbor blew up the nearby beaver dams, we had a huge number of bats in the vicinity. While we were building our house, some made residence in the attic. Sadly, I had to seal up their egress during the day and many of them must have become trapped. I’ve never ventured up there (it’s more of a craw space than a proper attic), but there must be a slew of tiny bones scattered about. Some did manage to gnaw a hole in the sheet rock and escape into the house. We were able to catch and release those dozen, or so, lucky souls.

      • huda says:

        Wow, a dozen was a small fraction of the bats that were in your attic? They must have been microbats?

        We had one the size of a rat fly in when we were first building our house (in a wooded area), we had a one-year-old kid and it was rather scary to have that critter flying around until we coaxed it out.

        Though I’d rather not co-habit with them, they’re fascinating creatures. There’s a lot of interest in using molecular tools to understand how they evolved some of their unique characteristics such as echolocation. Amazingly, the same primary gene (Prestin) along with dozens of other relevant genes mutated in similar ways in bats and dolphins and enabled echolocation in these very different animals… a great example of so-called convergent evolution.

        • Papa John says:

          While on the wing, bats appear much larger than they really are. The ones around here, sans wings, are about the size of field mice. I’m not sure if that qualifies them as microbats. I’ve read one bat can eat as many as 600 insects per hour. Personally, I kinda like ’em.

        • pannonica says:

          There are no megachiropterans in the so-called New World; they’re all microbats here.

          Don’t know why you felt obligated to qualify ‘convergent evolution’ with ‘so-called’, huda. As you can see, though, I feel it’s apt for ‘New World’, above.

          • Martin says:

            It’s clear that Huda meant something like, “a great example of ‘convergent evolution’ ” and was not implying it’s a hoax.

            We’ve got little brown bats. Elaine left a door to a rear deck open and we got an LBB in the house. He loved the high, open ceiling in the living room and I had a heck of a time coaxing him to the nearest door. It took about a half hour. As long as they stay outside, I’m happy to host them.

            • Papa John says:

              About the only way I was able to catch our little intruders was to keep at them until they ran out of breath. Then it was merely a matter of gingerly picking them up. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to see them up close. They have exquisitely delicate features, especially their tiny, jet black eyes. When my grandson was a small boy, in the middle of the night, we would enjoy watching them flit under the canopy over our back porch, catching bugs drawn to the porch lights.

              Dammit! Why can’t we talk to animals?!?!

      • Steve Manion. says:

        When I was in Little League baseball, our team went to Painted Post, New York to play in the NYS championship (we were three games from Williamsport). We slept in the gymnasium at what I think was Painted Post High School. Anyway, there was a tower-like structure at the end of the gym that was riddled with bats. As 12-year-olds acting our age, we were daring each other to climb into the tower. Most of us rose to the challenge, but I have been afraid of bats ever since.

        Very easy puzzle for me. Both puzzles this weekend were easy and I enjoyed them both. I did not consider the fill to be dreck and I thought there were a lot of fun entries.


    • pannonica says:

      PSA time:

      Bats are incredibly important parts of most terrestrial ecosystems. For more information (including about buying, constructing, placing bat houses) consider visiting the website of Bat Conservation Interational

  6. jim hale says:

    Didn’t care for the puzzle at all.
    Papeterie, abrogator, bower (from Euchre) put it in uninteresting natick territory for me.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I can’t be the only one who sees BATHOUSE and thinks it looks like a typo for BATHHOUSE.

  8. roger says:

    Alternative clue for ABROGATOR–should be “In the Everglades, what does one need on a Saturday night.”

  9. Barry says:

    STUMPER: Can someone please explain the clue Mobile message media: TEES?

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