Saturday, February 3, 2018

LAT 6:14 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:45 (Derek) 


NYT 4:59 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Sam Ezersky & Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 3 18, no 0203

I was all set to adore this puzzle because I usually enjoy the themelesses these guys cook up separately, but there was some iffy stuff in the 64-word grid that had me wishing for a higher word count and zippier fill. The empty grid looks cool with the flow of long Down answers from top to bottom, passing through long Acrosses.

Likes: Timely OLIGARCH, PIBB XTRA, NATGEO, KETEL ONE, SHABBAT, KAZAKHS, SPICE RACK (I buy most of my spices from Penzeys, which was just featured in the New Yorker), LGBT RIGHTS, and Donna Summer’s “I FEEL LOVE” (which somehow I do not remember at all, despite being a tween when it was a hit single—and I couldn’t make it through the whole YouTube video because the song’s annoying as heel, but Donna Summer’s still a legend).

On the down side: GAPPY. Junipero SERRA, because of that whole slavery/disease/punishing rape victims thing he oversaw). ATE AT, which is in crosswords far out of proportion to how often anyone actually says or writes this phrase. Contrived PAY A FEE. Iffy COOKED KALE, because we don’t want to open the floodgates to COOKED {insert any produce here} now. Lifeless OCTAD, junky plural abbrev EES, stodgy EWERS. Contrived GO ASK ANYONE (“Just ask anyone!” sounds more plausible to my ear). Oh, and TURN RIPE sounds wrong to me, too; fruit gets ripe or it ripens. And also WEST CORK, which is not a term I’ve ever run into before.

Four more things:

  • 56a. [Front spoiler on a car], AIR DAM. Entirely unfamiliar term to me. How common is this? Do gearheads all know it? My husband doesn’t, and he’s watched more Top Gear than I have.
  • 34a. [Kind of coordination], EYE-HAND. I have always preferred “hand-eye coordination,” sounds better to me. Also, I do not have a ton of it, no matter what order you put the words in.
  • 35d. [Sombrero, e.g.], DRINK. Say what? I’ll guess it has tequila in it, but I’ve never heard of this as a cocktail name. *Googling* Okay, so it’s Kahlua and cream over ice. I always thought that was just called “Kahlua and cream.”
  • 38d. [Ethnic group whose name means “wanderers”], KAZAKHS. Trivia I didn’t know. Hey, this may come up someday on Learned League.

3.3 stars from me. Did you triumph over this puzzle?

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

Got through this one fairly quickly. This was a fairly unique grid pattern, as there are four 14-letter answers in the grid. I will discuss all of them below, but suffice it to say this one was relaxing! I have done several by Pawel, so that helps. How about a solid 4.4 stars for this one!

Let’s dig in to some info about these entries:

  • 19A [Jesse Owens, e.g.] OLYMPIC ATHLETE -Timely, since the Winter Olympics start actually with some events on Wednesday. Opening ceremonies (with the unified Korea marching, which could be interesting) is on Friday.
  • 36A [Hamm from Alabama] MIA – I didn’t know this.
  • 47A [River to the Seine] AUBE – I don’t think I have heard this river’s name in years!
  • 50A [Canine epithet] MAN’S BEST FRIEND – I am not a dog lover still, even after not delivering UPS packages for over a year. I must still be scarred!
  • 5D [Real estate investment strategy] HOUSE FLIPPING – A common theme on many HGTV shows!
  • 10D [Position near the top of some organizational structures] UNDERBOSS – Is this one word or two??
  • 16D [Voting bloc term used by Nixon and Trump] SILENT MAJORITY – Verrry nice. The political climate now in this region makes this relevant, because not EVERYONE is is on Twitter speaking their mind!
  • 30D [Championship ice dancer __ Virtue] TESSA – Also timely: she and her partner Scott Moir are the flag bearers for Friday’s opening ceremonies for Canada.

It is still freezing here!

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

I was FLYING through this one easily … until I got to the lower right corner. Then I ground to a halt for about 5 of my 16 minutes of solve time! I will mention several of the answers in that region below, but suffice it to say this one was a tad tougher than a normal “Les Ruff” puzzle. Maybe I relaxed a little when I saw the byline! I will surely not make that same mistake again! Stan is still a master, and this 70-worder seems like it was smoothly constructed. I am still jealous of talent like this. A solid 4.6 stars for this one.

Some specifics:

  • 33A [Response to a braggart] EASY FOR YOU TO SAY! – Awesome! Only one 15 in the grid, and 2 10s, but 12 8-letter words. This could have been only a 66 word count if a couple of black squares were removed, but that would have made the fill exponentially more difficult, I presume.
  • 57A [Drifter in the Rock Hall of Fame] BEN E. KING – This is a tad before my time, but I see he was in the group The Drifters! No wonder this clue gave me fits!
  • 59A [Third word of many Kirk lead-ins] STARDATE – I tried FRONTIER, but this is talking about the actual opening dialogue. “Captain’s Log: STARDATE …” is how virtually every show opened. Nice clue!
  • 9D [He advised Nye, “Focus on pure science”] SAGAN – Interesting piece of trivia. One of those clues that makes sense after you solve it, not because you know it.
  • 13D [Elon Musk’s birthplace] PRETORIA – I forgot he was South African. For some reason I had him pegged as European!
  • 28D [Is gaining] GETS CLOSER – I was thinking this was a three word phrase. This entry was the main reason I couldn’t get a toehold in this corner!
  • 43D [Region due east of Rhode Island] IBERIA – This is just not fair!

Until next week’s Stumper!

Ethan Erickson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Think on Your Feat” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/3/18 • “Think on Your Feat” • Sat • Erickson • solution

Homophone fun. Phrases featuring a word with a long-E sound have their spellings changed from EE to EA.

  • 23a. [Lead-in to “Please stop following me everywhere”?] DEAR STALKER (deerstalker).
  • 25a. [Serious surfers?] BEACH NUTS (beech nuts).
  • 42a. [Tetley workers doing inventory?] TEA TOTALERS (teetotalers).
  • 53a. [Festival for feeble folks?] DAY OF THE WEAK (day of the week).
  • 62a. [Sound of a carrot-colored 77-Down?] ORANGE PEAL. (77d [Ringer] BELL.)
  • 69a. [Headline about director Lee’s recovery from an injury?] SPIKE HEALS (spike heels).
  • 75a. [Output of some Cambridge DJs?] HARVARD BEATS (Harvard beets, which I’ve never heard of. Apparently a dish and not a variety).
  • 86a. [Cause of some panicked bleating?] SHEAR TERROR (sheer terror). 109d [Bleating sound] BAA, 104a [Grazing expanse] LEA, 38a Raucous note] BLAT.
  • 105a. [What steak shippers do?] TRACK MEAT (track meet).
  • 109a. [Sound from a decrepit catapult?] BATTLE CREAK (Battle Creek (Michigan)).

These long-E EAs (and EEs, not to mention other spellings) aren’t exclusive to the theme, put the associated punny element is. 20a [Needle] TEASE, 57a [Snoopy’s strip] PEANUTS, 17d [Visibly distraught] IN TEARS, 87d [PLay group] TEAM, 92d [Musical set at Rydell High] GREASE, 95d [Auditions] READS.

  • 111a [Historic riveter] ROSIE. One of the inspirations very recently died.
  • 61a [Salt shakers] WAVES. Either I don’t understand this clue, or it’s a very bad clue. Also: 34a [Filled with more profanity] SALTIER.
  • 13d [Truck drivers’ contest] ROADEO. Similar wordplay to the theme’s.
  • 36d [Screen gangster Pepe] LE MOKO. Played by Jean Gabin.
  • 49d [Skull socket] EYE PIT. A term I’ve never before encountered. Confession: Haven’t read Spenser’s The Faerie Queen.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Saturday, February 3, 2018

  1. Martin says:


    Many “sporty” cars have air dams now, and their owners learn what they’re called the first time they crack it on one of those cement blocks at the front of a parking spot. As in “Replace air dam and repaint: $3,500.”

  2. Dook says:

    Gosh you were rough on today’s NYT! I wasn’t pleased with GAPPY or COOKED, but otherwise really enjoyed this puzzle.

  3. Boston Bob says:

    Add vodka to that Sombrero and you’ve got a Caucasian,

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    Didn’t love NYT, although I need to point out that WEST CORK is definitely a Thing & I FEEL LOVE was one of the most influential songs of the 70’s (even though that’s about as relevant today as ALICE FAYE is).

    I wonder if SON OF ADAM could have been clued as “male foal” or “male puppy” but they didn’t want to do the twin DAM thing.

  5. Penguins says:

    NYT was too heavy on the trivia imo but still a good puzzle

    Enjoyed the LAT and Stumper

  6. Richard says:

    I had “NONET” for “The Planets, for one” for an embarrassingly long time. Made me feel old!

    • Evad says:

      There was no indication in the clue that it was our Solar System, so you most likely would be correct somewhere in the universe!

  7. Amy L says:

    I was working a crossword puzzle probably about 25 years ago and the clue was JUNIPERO. I asked my brother for help. We finally got the answer SERRA but only from all the crossings. We still had no idea what it meant. (Was is some kind of tree?) Neither of us had ever been to California then.

    Funny how crosswords keep in your mind. I learned who he was, eventually, but didn’t know much. The article Amy links him to is quite interesting. I think historical figures belong in crosswords, no matter what their records are. I should have known about this person long ago.

  8. Steve Manion. says:

    HAND-EYE is all I ever heard for most of my life and is my preference. Have heard EYE-HAND with some frequency in the past five years.

    I enjoyed the puzzle but thought there were several non-idiomatic phrases. I agree that PAY A FEE is contrived. I didn’t know enough about COOKED KALE to know if it was an idiomatic phrase or, as noted, a roll your own add-on to COOKED.

    I did not know Junipero Serra and found the link to be enlightening.

    A friend of mine who worked with me on a project 20 years ago, left the project to work on a commercial law code for Kazakhstan. I am not sure how it came out.


  9. gg says:

    Sometimes the reviews are more fun than the puzzles……………… “Okay, so it’s Kahlua and cream over ice. I always thought that was just called ‘Kahlua and cream.’ ” shout out to Amy

  10. Lise says:

    WSJ: Could “Salt” in the clue for 61A refer to sailors? Then the WAVES would shake them… iffy connection, if so.

  11. Brenda Rose says:

    Absolutely correct Amy. It is Hand-Eye. This is one of the skill sets needed to apply & get hired for production work in all facets of art-related jobs & manufacture. Everyone has an eye but not all have the deft hand ergo the hand dominates.

  12. Zulema says:

    About the LAT, why would STD’s be a concern for the EPA? Did you mean the CDC, perhaps? It would have made more sense.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Oh, newspaper crosswords are far too stodgy to use STDs to mean sexually transmitted diseases (and I think STI, sexually transmitted infection, has largely taken over in medical circles). It must be an abbreviation for “standards” here.

      See also: PMS clued as a plural abbreviation, prime ministers, rather than premenstrual syndrome. (See also also: TAMPON hardly ever shows up in crosswords.)

  13. Zulema says:

    Amy, you may be right, but EPA concerned with “standards” is totally vague and doesn’t work for me either, but I’ll be happy to forget about the whole thing. MANS BEST FRIEND made up for a lot.

  14. Ernie Limperis says:

    About the very nice WSJ puzzle: I’ve been a member of the organization at 41 down for thirty years now. After some fame in the 1990s, we’ve become fairly obscure. I’m wondering how Ethan Erickson settled on that clue and answer, and whether he was also a member at some point.

  15. Bill A. says:

    Just wondering why 42 across had a ? mark. TEA TOTALERS is the normal expression. Changing the EA to EE as with the others, makes no sense.

  16. Bill A. says:

    @ pannonica Thank you. I stand corrected. Something of which I was not aware.

Comments are closed.