Saturday, November 18, 2017

LAT 5:39 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:10 (Derek) 


NYT 5:00 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 18 17, no 1118

You might be saying to yourself, “OTTER PUP is a shabby entry, as there are a zillion different animal + word-for-its-young combinations. Clearly this should be OTTER POP, that regional brand name.” (I’ve never seen Otter Pops in a store, though they’re now made in the Chicago suburbs. We are a Fla-Vor-Ice people.) Well! I’ll have you know that just this morning, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo posted pictures of its new otter pups. They are the cutest thing ever to have appeared in a crossword puzzle.

Other likes in the fill include SCOTCH as a verb, PUH-LEASE, uberPOOL, LABOR PARTY, “GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL,” BYGONE DAYS, “YEAH, DUDE,” AVOCADO PIT (you ever stab one with toothpicks and let it sprout?), and P.E. TEACHER (“Who’s this Pete Acher?”).

Six things:

  • Seriously. LOOK AT THE CUTE. These are three otter pup brothers. (

    23a. [Like slapstick comics, often], PIED. That’s as in “the state of having had a pie smashed in one’s face” and not the adjective meaning “having two or more different colors.” (Did the Pied Piper have vitiligo?)
  • 53d. [Reason for saying “Pardon me”], BURP. You can also say that if you accidentally bump into someone. Of course, you get double credit for your “Pardon me” if you burp while bumping into someone.
  • 18a. [Restraint technique in mixed martial arts], ARM BAR. I’m not up on my MMA moves.
  • 4d. [Cheap cigar, slangily], EL ROPO. Meh. Everyone’s gonna want STOGIE here, because that’s a far more common 6-letter term for a cheap cigar.
  • 9d. [Beer-and-lemonade beverage], SHANDY. Leinenkugel brews a number of shandies in the summer. Summer Shandy is with lemonade … and it grieves me to inform you that they also sell grapefruit, watermelon, pomegranate and, in the fall, “harvest patch” pumpkin spice shandy beer.
  • 62a. [Postgrad goal, maybe], M.S. DEGREE. Or, as I prefer, Ms. Degree.

Four stars from me.

Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Just over five minutes for this one. This is the grid style I often mention as being easier to solve, but this one has four 15s interlaced in the grid, bringing the total black square count down to just 25, which is impressive. Other than the 15s, though, I don’t think there is anything longer than 7 letters, which is why the difficulty level is not to horrible. Couple of toughies (at least to me) in this grid, but all in all nothing horrendous. I did have a typo in 19A. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 4.2 stars.

A few more things:

  • 15A [Commiserate] CONDOLE – We often send our “condolences” but who really takes the time to actually “condole”? Not a commonly used form, at least in Northern Indiana.
  • 30A [Large beer mugs] SEIDELS – The other obscure/toughie in the grid. I think this is actually a new word to me.
  • 43A [#4 at Boston Garden] ORR – As in Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins, arguably the most famous sports star in crosswords!
  • 50A [Kricfalusi cartoon canine] REN – From The Ren & Stimpy Show, created by John Kricfalusi. I remember that weird name from the show’s credits!
  • 57A [Winner of the Breaking News Reporting Pulitzer for 2016, briefly] L. A. TIMES – Nice plug for the local paper!
  • 5D [Surgeon general under Reagan] KOOP – Crosses another cabinet member in PANETTA at 20A, but a cabinet member two decades or so later!
  • 7D [A toy piano is often seen in it] PEANUTS – This might be my favorite clue in the puzzle, not in small part to the mental image it evokes. 
  • 18D [Neuwirth of “Cheers”] BEBE – It’s either her or one of the Winans for this answer. I cannot think of any others!
  • 40D [Hillary’s conquest] EVEREST – It would be nice if we were talking about a recent Hillary CLINTON conquest! Although the news would not be nearly as entertaining! ;-)

Michigan has a big game against Wisconsin today! I will be busy starting at noon!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Stan usually gives us a slight respite, and that is how I found this one. Not a cakewalk, but not exasperating either. Perhaps there will be another easy one for the holiday weekend, … or since everyone has a little more time, it could be a beast! Lots of fun stuff in here; this grid is certainly [7D]!I had the most fits in the NE corner, as you can see by the error marks in the grid. 10D gave me the most fits; I tried FOGS and that led to a few fits and starts. But all in all a good time! 4.4 stars.

Some mentions:

  • 1A [Book with Solomon’s ascension] I KINGS – Or perhaps 1 Kings, depending on your Bible. Looks odd in the grid, which makes it ideal for a 1-Across entry.
  • 7A [Shell station illustrations] FANTAILS – Due to my error, I had FANFOILS, which makes no sense in retrospect …
  • 30A [$7.5+ -billion franchise] STAR WARS – I tried Starbucks at first, but I believe they may actually be worth much more!
  • 38A [What some scientists classify with birds] REPTILES – Makes sense: that scary T-Rex is just a big chicken!
  • 7D [Pleasantly unpredictable] FULL OF SURPRISES – Splendid!
  • 12D [Element named for the rainbow] IRIDIUM – Nice fun fact. Or at least something I never thought of before.
  • 36D [Dagwood’s “Yikes!”] OMIGOSH – See panel two!
  • 37D [Western Mediterranean resort] MENORCA – I though it was Minorca??
  • 39D [Chicago’s Wall Street] LASALLE – This took too long for this Chicago native to figure out!

Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth C Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bakery Fakery” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/18/17 • “Bakery Fakery” • Sat • Gorski • solution

Something was obviously hinky among the longer downs and I TWIGged (97d) to the reversal element fairly early on, but made an incorrect assessment about the rationale, which retarded my rise to success.

  • 3d [Michelangelo’s “David,” e.g.] ELBRAM SCULPTURE. Which is to say, a MARBLE creation.

Aha, I thought. Marble (rye) bread, but because it’s yeasted that element is moving upward! Haha!


Here’s the revealer:

  • 50d. [You’ll flip over these desserts (and a hint to seven answers in this puzzle) UPSIDE-DOWN CAKES. Not yeast breads but cakes. Also, note the clever wordplay in the clue here: “flip over” isn’t reflexive, as it appears to be—if you’re making such a cake, you’re flipping it over.

Onward to the rest:

  • 7d. [Pianist’s reading material] TEEHS MUSIC (sheet cake).
  • 9d [2015 film that won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay] THE BIG TROHS (shortcake).
  • 12d. [1998 Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore rom-com] THE GNIDDEW SINGER (wedding cake).
  • 40d. [Do some job-hunting] DNUOP THE PAVEMENT (pound cake).
  • 71d. [Hospital cleanups] EGNOPS BATHS (sponge cake).
  • 78d. [Blocker of ultraviolet radiation] OZONE REYAL (layer cake).

Not part of the theme: 17a [Bagel feature] HOLE, 21a [Hamburger’s bread?] EURO, 26a [Real dough] HARD CASH, 53a [Bear up?] URSA, 78a [Lena of “Chocolat”] OLIN, 11d [Do a bakery chore] ICE, 59d [Crumpet accompanier] TEA, 117d [Cookie holders] TINS.

  • 1d [Pahlavi Crown wearer] SHAH, 104d [Catherine Palace residents] TSARS, 106d [Nijo Castle setting] KYOTO.
  • 35a [1977 hit “Heard ___ Love Song”] IT IN A. The Marshall Tucker Band. A change from the more typical (and non-partial) approach referencing Tina Turner’s 1986 autobiography.
  • 52a [Rumor killer] FACT. Would be nice if that were always true. Alas.
  • 5a [ __ Boy (gin cocktail)] ATTA. Not one I’d ever heard of. Seems to be a martini with a grenadine splash. Oh and an orange twist as garnish.
  • 82a [Outlet insert] PLUG. Really liked this laconic clue. 62d [Acting loopy?] COILING was cute.
  • 46d [Circling, in a way] ORBITAL. Also, as a noun, a part of the frontal bone in skulls.
  • 101d [“The Dynasts” author] HARDY, 126a [Dark time] NIGHT.

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22 Responses to Saturday, November 18, 2017

  1. Ethan says:

    I’m not sure I buy YEAH DUDE as a crossword-worthy phrase. Sure, you can say it, but at the end of the day it’s just yeah with dude after it. What makes it an idiomatic expression?

    But for the sake of the sanity of all the bloggers, I am glad that it turned out to be UBER POOL and not E-CARPOOL.

  2. Penguins says:

    How much quicker I’d complete these puzzles if I knew more stuff

    • huda says:

      Haha, exactly.
      …but even when I know everything (e.g. on a Monday) I can’t come anywhere near the speeds that Amy posts. I’d say there is some highly efficient synaptic coupler that’s only at work in a few rare brains.

      • Papa John says:

        >>>highly efficient synaptic coupler<<<

        Is that hi-tech talk for having a knack?

        • Huda says:

          It maybe a high tech term but I’m using it loosely not literally… to indicate that in people with such a knack, thinking seems faster, which has to have a biological reason and is truly fascinating to me. It’s more than knowing a lot, or being generally intelligent. Speed of processing is not something we understand well, is only tested under certain conditions, but I wonder how it works and how else it plays out in other facets of life…

          Aren’t you glad you asked?

          • Papa John says:

            Oh, yeah! I’m glad you ignored my facetiousness. I was kind of joshing with you.

            Although not on your level, I, too, have a fascination with how our brain works. I’ve just recently finished reading Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden; speculation on the evolution of human intelligence”. Trippy shit!

      • Penguins says:

        I remember reading about a study where top Scrabble players exhibited greater activity in some area of the brain.

      • Pat says:

        I think my theory is that the more crosswords you do the faster you can recall things you know. Plus the faster you can type the answers without error the better your time. Plus you need to concentrate on remembering everything you learn from previous puzzles. Good luck to us – ha,ha!

        • Steve Manion. says:

          I started tutoring kids for the SAT and other standardized tests 20 years ago. When I started, the math sections were 30 minutes long and it took me about 25-26 minutes to complete them. I actually take the tests and by the time I completed 20 tests, I was down to 14 minutes for the same section without trying to be a showoff. This pattern repeated itself across all standardized tests, including the bar exam.

          Quickness is to some extent inherent in my opinion, but it can be improved in any area by practicing.


  3. Lise says:


  4. Christopher Smith says:

    No idea what otter pop is so I’m glad they didn’t use that. Enjoyable puzzle though I relied heavily on the crosses for some trivia. Also didn’t love YEAH DUDE.

  5. Steve Manion. says:

    Both weekend puzzles were easy for me.

    I am normally a National League fan, but I found myself cheering for Houston this year because I find Jose Altuve (5’6″ tall) to be the most exciting player I have seen maybe ever.

    Anyway, this brings me to CHASE UTLEY, who was a GREAT baseball player when he was with the Phillies, but is now a shell of his former self. He went hitless in this year’s World Series, but he managed for the 173rd time in his career to get hit by a pitch that sparked the Dodgers’ win in game 6. All-time greats seem to have the ability to do what it takes.


  6. Pat says:

    How about Bebe Rebozo?

  7. Rick Narad says:

    I was frustrated with the weird letter combinations that kept coming up in the WSJ despite the title. The revealer was gratefully accepted.

    A nit to pick for Derek–the Surgeon General isn’t a cabinet officer. SG heads the Public Health Service which is under the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

    Condole? Couldn’t console crossed with CSS as a type of website coding?

  8. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Just did the Saturday Stumper. The fill includes NOPE, NOES, and NONOS? To this triple dupe, I say “nah.”

  9. dp says:

    Not so bad a puzzle….totally support the Cleveland Zoo otter pups!

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