Saturday, May 5, 2018

LAT 7:30 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:19 (Derek) 


NYT 4:42 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 5 18, no 0505

Another themeless puzzle from Jooseppi Pannukakku (yes, I looked up “Joseph” and “pancake” in other languages to give you the Finnish for his nom de guerre, Joe Pancake), and on the easy side for a Saturday, I thought.

I love “I SAID ‘GOOD DAY,’ SIR” and “WHY, I OUGHTA…” so much, I’m not at all vexed by the duplication of the first-person pronoun. Other juicy answers: HODGEPODGE, HIGHFALUTIN, GET-UP-AND-GO, GO HALFSIES (again, with that GO repeat but it didn’t bug me), END TIMES (there was supposed to be a Rapture last week—we all still here?), and of course DEEP DISH pizza. There is one slice of Lou Malnati’s deep dish left in my fridge—I had a couple slices of leftovers for lunch today. It’s so damn good, and we will not entertain vapid defenses of floppy New York–style pizza here. (Chicagoans eat more thin-crust than deep-dish pizza, to be honest, but we can appreciate both.)

On the down side, ADOZE ([Catching some Z’s])feels mighty iffy. The Oxford dictionary folks don’t include it online, and neither do your standard American dictionaries. I suspect it’s largely a Briticism, as it pops up in the UK’s Operation Adoze, wherein some homeless people who were “sleeping rough” were deported. ADOZE would have been less irksome if the grid didn’t also have AGAPE (and not clued via the “Christian love” sense).

Crosswordese offense: 28d. [Start of an intermission?], ENTR. As in entr’acte, both parts of which have been used as crosswordese. If you haven’t seen either half, or the combination, well, that clue is going to be perplexing; the answer, mystifying.

55d. [Beginnings of a beard], FUZZ. As in what adolescents sport, rather than the whiskery outgrowth after a shave.

4.2 stars from me. Fun one.

Samuel A. Donaldson & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

Splendid! A tour de force! A puzzle by these two titans could be nothing but! 68 words expertly woven with tons of Scrabbly letters and interesting phrases. This also leads to lively clueing and an all-around exceptional solving experience. LAT puzzles are typically light on dreck, and this is one is not only no exception to that rule, but there isn’t a single entry that shouldn’t be readily familiar to even a fairly novice solver. Then why did this take my 7:30? I must be tired! 4.8 stars for this one!

A few highlights:

    • 1A [“This is so humbling”] “I’M HONORED” – An EXCELLENT  1-Across entry. Just hard enough, but still a conversational phrase.
    • 18A [“Deadwood” actress Jewell] GERI – I didn’t think I knew who this was, but this is the actress from The Facts of Life that had cerebral palsy. Her Wikipedia page says she is the first actress with a disability to be featured in a prime time show. Awesome pop culture reference!
    • 25A [“__ Meenie”: Kingston/Bieber hit] EENIE – I don’t know this song. Or do I … ?

  • 41A [Design that’s just over a foot] ANKLE TAT – Best clue in the puzzle!
  • 63A [What’s often on the following page] NEXT MONTH – Oh, THAT page!
  • 2D [Ball State University city] MUNCIE – Got this immediately! Our company actually does a lot of work in Muncie. Ironically, I have never been to Muncie! It’s not like you go through it to get anywhere; it is a little off the beaten path, shall we say! Famous alumni: David Letterman, Papa John, Stedman Graham, and FS1’s Jason Whitlock.
  • 24D [1950 story collection including “The Evitable Conflict”] I, ROBOT – I have never read this story, but I enjoyed the movie version. I need to read more of his works.
  • 34D [Novel first credited to Currer Bell] JANE EYRE – This is a pen name of Charlotte Brontë. Perhaps due to not being taken seriously as an author with a female name? This novel was published in 1847. It would be nice to know why the pen name was used. (A little research shows that is precisely the case.)
  • 50D [Title for Sidious] DARTH – I have not seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and I haven’t made plans to see Solo: A Star Wars Story later this month. I need to see the Avengers movie first!!

It’s warm now! I have to mow the yard!

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

I love solving this puzzle! I started it, got nothing, stopped for a bit, and then came back and plowed through it once I got a foothold. This puzzle, like other themeless challenges, takes one to a place of concentration and quietude that somehow calms me down and relaxes me. There is also a sense of satisfaction that something is … completed! It seems as if I cannot keep up sometimes in other areas of life. Keep them coming, Stan! 4.3 stars this morning.


    • 1A [Site for Sea Hunter and Sunseeker sales] BOAT SHOW – I had SHOP. I don’t own a boat!
    • 18A [Former name for the flu] GRIPPE – I believe you.
    • 20A [Easy undertaking] MILK RUN – Another phrase that is not too familiar to me, but I have heard it. I think.
    • 35A [Modest explanation for achievement] JUST LUCKY I GUESS – Great 15-letter crossing entry. I will mention the long down entry later on.
    • 44A [Rhythm in Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture”] RUMBA – Is this a “rhythm” or a “genre”? I’ll let you search the song yourself; it is kind of long.
    • 58A [Talk Like a Pirage Day intro] AHOY, MATE! – Wrong! This answer should be AAARGGHH!
    • 8D [Succeeds nicely] WORKS LIKE A CHARM – I said we would get to it! Well done!
    • 9D [Biggest song for Motown’s first female star] MY GUY – This song was an obvious follow up to “My Girl” by the Temptations. And this is short enough to post!

  • 11D [Initialism since 1939] WWI – Which was of course called The Great War until this point.
  • 24D [Cubby-like] SLOTTED – I had ALCOVEY. Admit it: it’s original!
  • 35D [Fiddled with] JIGGERED – Be careful muttering this word under your breath! (Depending on your company!!)
  • 38D [1.5 Roman feet] CUBIT – Also a famous ark dimensional unit.

I could go on, but I have a packed weekend! See you on Tuesday for the Jonesin’ and LAT puzzles.

Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tennis, Anyone?” — Jim’s review

Theme: Tennis terms re-imagined.

WSJ – Sat, 5.5.18 – “Tennis, Anyone?” by Nancy Cole Stuart (Mike Shenk)

  • 23a [Shore leave?] SERVICE BREAK
  • 28a [Where moderates are prosecuted?] CENTER COURT
  • 50a [Collections of strong poker hands?] STRAIGHT SETS
  • 55a [Loud closing of a piano’s keyboard cover?] GRAND SLAM
  • 77a [Casting director, during auditions?] LINE JUDGE
  • 83a [Job for a bartender?] PASSING SHOTS
  • 104a [Technician for a John Wayne movie?] WESTERN GRIP
  • 111a [Extra-large cocktails?] MIXED DOUBLES

These all seemed fine, but nothing really tickled my funny bone. GRAND SLAM comes closest, and MIXED DOUBLES sound good right about now (it’s Friday night as I write this, not Saturday morning). I never heard the term WESTERN GRIP. I thought you just held the racket in the way that was most comfortable to you. Apparently, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

There’s other tennis stuff in the grid like AGASSI and a bunch of tennis clues that aren’t really about tennis once you suss it out, as well as some that are.

Highlights for me: TAX RETURN with its clue [Form of despair?] because that was us this year, the graphic BLEEDER with its medical clue [Target of a surgeon’s clamp], The EGO/SEX combo with the clues [Freud topic] and [Kinsey topic], and URSULA [George of the Jungle’s mate] because that was one of my favorite shows as a kid. But I must admit I was always confused by the whole “Fella”/”URSULA” thing. I thought they were two separate people, but I just learned that George refers to URSULA as “Fella” because he seems to lack the ability to distinguish genders.

Lowlights for me: YAP AT, BEWAIL instead of BEMOAN, [Tough plant fiber] RAMIE, MYRA [Steve Urkel’s pursuer] because who wants to be reminded of that show, and the MUS/SSR/ALIA combo all in the opening corner.

All in all, not a bad theme, but I just didn’t feel that zing. YMMV, of course. 3.2 stars.

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22 Responses to Saturday, May 5, 2018

  1. Andy says:

    MUIR for FUZZ and PATIO for MATZO gets rid of ADOZE, but it loses those oh-so-Scrabbly Zs. Choices, choices…

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Yes and there’s something enjoyably perverse about having DEEP DISH & MATZO in the same puzzle.

      I’m more used to seeing HIGHFALUTIN without the gh but that’s just quibbling with a good puzzle.

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks, Amy, for your reply about GO QUIETLY last Saturday. If you happen to communicate with Stan again maybe you can ask him what he specifically had in mind or maybe he could respond here. Enjoyed his puzzle today.

  3. DH says:

    I consider myself somewhat an expert on the subject of napping, and I have never said anything like “I shall be adoze this afternoon”. Perhaps in a different context we might say that the building demolition site next door is adoze in preparation for the new construction?

    I am in agreement with the reviews of the NYT and LAT; without even identifying any specific clues, each puzzle had a fresh, fun “feel” to it.

    Last night’s “Jeopardy” had a Bronte category – interesting reference to Branwell Bronte, the brother of the literary sisters.

  4. Steve Manion. says:

    I found Saturday’s puzzle to be easier than Friday’s. Both were fun.

    I have an amazing story about this year’s Kentucky Derby. On Jan.1 in what is called the winter book, a friend of one of my poker friends bet $500 to win on Justify, who will probably be the favorite to win. At that time, Justify had never raced. Since that time, he has raced three times, won all three and has the best speed numbers of all the horses in the race. Here is the kicker: because he had never raced, his odds were 500-1, so if Justify wins, my friend’s friend will win $150,000.

    The negative kicker is that no horse has won the Derby since 1882 if that horse did not race as a 2-year-old. The other horse that is highly touted is Mendelssohn, who is coming in from the United Arab Emirates. No horse has ever shipped in from there to win.

    I am bucking history by picking Justify, who looks like a special horse. I haven’t finalized my trifectas but will probably pick Justify on top with Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro (named after Usain Bolt) and Audible for second and third.
    Good luck if you bet.


    • Papa John says:

      Thanks for the low-down on the derby, Steve. How much will Uncle Sam take if your buddy’s buddy wins the $150K?

    • janie says:

      looks like your buddy’s buddy made a bundle. and presumably you’ll pick up a little piece of change yerself? well, that’s the hope anyway!


    • Steve Manion. says:

      I missed the trifecta, so no cheese for me. It was great fun though. I was with two poker friends and we all agree that Justify could prove to be a truly GREAT racehorse.

      He ran the first half mile in 45, which if you have ever seen Secretariat’s magical, mythical Belmont, he also ran. Everyone thought that the fast time would be too much for Justify to hold up and when he did, we knew we had seen something special. Imagine a miler running the first quarter in 45 seconds.

      As to John’s question, the track will withhold something in the neighborhood of 28%.

      Paying taxes on gambling winnings is tricky, because the losses can only be offset up to the amount you win–and they have to be set out on Schedule A. This can be problematic. As problematic as it might be, I still would like to have my friend’s friend’s problem today.


  5. Greg says:

    The Times was one of my favorite Saturdays ever. All the long fill was good, but “Why, I oughta…” and “I said ‘good day,’ sir,” were laugh-out-loud funny.

    • Lise says:

      Yes. Fabulous puzzle. In addition to the above, the clue for ENDLESS LOOP (“Code violation requiring an emergency exit?”) was very apt. Been there :)

      The ratings were all over the place, so I’m guessing mileages varied.

    • janie says:



  6. Lise says:

    WSJ: “Form of despair” for TAX RETURN was just perfect. Overall, I liked the puzzle. I like repurposing sports expressions; sports themselves are metaphors for so many other things we do.

    My low spot was the answer FOX HUNT. It’s possible that I’m in the minority here, but I think fox hunting (ubiquitous here in Virginia) is cruel and inhumane.

    Although I’m not a hunter, I’m not opposed to hunting in general. There are many good reasons to do so, and many humane ways to kill an animal. But there’s nothing humane about chasing a fox, who I feel must be terrified, until the dogs are able to kill it or it finally finds shelter.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t find that particular answer in a crossword. And it’s certainly not as high on the objection meter as a racist answer. But it made me a little sad, nonetheless.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Lise, I’m with you on FOX HUNTS. I thought about calling it out, but didn’t have the energy. I think for the most part they are things of the past. I remember the issue being hotly debated during our time in England where it was banned in 2005. It would have been nice if the clue referred to this controversy rather than simply accepting it neutrally [Events for masters of hounds].

      • Lise says:

        Right, I agree, thank you. And I’m glad they’re a thing of the past, where you are. Here, there was one just this past December.

        We have some issues here that are more pressing, but I would like to see fox hunting banned someday.

    • Papa John says:

      In some places, the traditional fox hunt has been replaced by a “Drag Hunt”, where a scented cloth is dragged across the field and hidden until the dogs discover it. Seems to me that should satisfy the vestiges of our hunting past without the distress on the prey animal. The downsize to banning the hunts would mean that a great many hounds would be put down.

      I attended a fox hunt as a guest in the early ’60s. It seemed to me it was more an excuse for a weekend-long party and flaunting one’s wealth than it was for catching the fox — a formal dinner on Friday night, a casual breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by the women equestrians showing off their riding skill and a wild, drunken bash that evening. The next morning — early! — the hunt commenced. No animal was killed but the poor fox must have been traumatized. After the hunt and trophies had been distributed, people slowly went their own ways.

      • Lise says:

        I love the drag hunt idea! Also, if fox hunts were banned, perhaps breeders would breed fewer fox hounds. It’s a business, after all.

        Your experience sounds very tiring, although I would enjoy watching equestrian skills.

        Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jim Peredo says:

    The Stumper and LAT were fantastic, but I loved the NYT most of all.

    I especially liked seeing WHY I OUGHTA. For you geocachers, I used Y. I. Otta as a character in a “Cartalk”-style geocache puzzle. Even if you’re not a geocacher, you can still solve my silly puzzle to get the coordinates for the cache.

  8. golfballman says:

    I believe the code is lax at 38 across in todays LAT. Poor editing

  9. Ed says:

    Another of those weeks when Saturday was easier than Friday.

Comments are closed.