Saturday, November 17, 2018

LAT 5:30 (Derek) 


Newsday 21:14 (Derek) 


NYT 4:45 (Amy) 


WSJ untiimed (Jim P.) 


Doug Peterson & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 17 18, no 1117

I am a big fan of both of these gentlemen, separately and as a constructing duo. Super-nice guys and whizzes when it comes to filling grids, writing clues. Highlights in this puzzle: TRACEE ELLIS ROSS (I blanked on which order the post-TRACEE names came in, filled them in wrong, had 13d ISOLATED to correct my path), THE BOOK OF MORMON, WORLD SERIES RING (I recently saw a picture on Facebook of a friend wearing a Cubs WS ring! I’m not sure whose ring it was …), TWEEZES, CABOCHON, ERIKA Alexander (Maxine Shaw forever), “MI AMOR,” HONDA FIT, and POLAROID.

Fill that stuck out like a sore thumb: none, if you ask me.

Ten more things:

  • 47d. [Catlike Pokémon with an onomatopoeic name], MEW. It’s smaller than the Mewtwo, of course. Now, Doug and I, we are Best Friends in Pokémon Go, so I figure this was his clue and I like it. (Pokémon also has a kitty called Meowth.)
  • 18a. [Couple on the road?], AXLES. Now, I’m no mechanic, but if your car’s axles are literally on the road, you may need a new ride.
  • 23a. [Part of Q.E.F.], ERAT. Q.E.D., I know. Q.E.F., I wanted to assume, had to do with “yo, hey, somebody farted,” but apparently the Latin word for that starts with a B, not an F.
  • 43a. [Foal : horse :: cria : ___], LLAMA. Alas, in the NYT’s Spelling Bee puzzle, you can never play CRIA. That game’s dictionary thinks it’s a Spanish word that hasn’t broken into English. But people here raise llamas! Which have babies! And they are crias.
  • 44a. [Word from the Italian for “crush”], PESTO / 33d. [Spanish term of endearment], MI AMOR. I kinda wish the 33d clue were [Spanish term for one’s crush], because I absolutely read the 44a clue as referring to the romantic term rather than the smashing-to-bits verb.
  • 6d. [Die on one side of Italy?], SEI. Help. I don’t get this clue. Is this about dice, one side of a die sometimes has six pips and SEI is Italian for 6? If so, the wording of the clue is terrifically awkward and I don’t think it works. What am I missing, friends?
  • 9d. [“It has one syllable” and “Its fourth letter is T”], HINTS. Ha!
  • 14d. [End of some affluent community names], ESTATES. In the U.K., I think the word’s connotation is quite different.
  • 27d. [World capital that’s an anagram of Azerbaijan’s capital + L], KABUL. Baku + L, mix it up.
  • 38d. [Summer slip-ons], THONGS. Heh. Back in the day, before the butt-floss underwear came to prominence, “thongs” just meant flip-flops. I just did a Google image search for man in thong to find an illustration for the blog but … we will leave that as an exercise for the interested reader.

Four stars from me.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Misplaced Modifiers” — Jim P’s review

Cute wordplay going on this theme in which a noun acting as an adjective (what a grammarian would call a noun adjunct) swaps places with the verb which is actually the homonym of a noun and which had been gerundized into a different noun. Got all that? Much easier to see in action than to explain, especially since I’m not even sure if I explained it correctly.

WSJ – Sat, 11.17.18 – “Misplaced Modifiers” by David Alfred Bywaters

  • 22a [Part of an agreement among aquatic theme parks?SHARK LOANING. Loan sharking. This one doesn’t work as well as the others to my ear because, while a “loan shark” is definitely a thing, “loan sharking” feels much less common.
  • 32a [Billboard owner’s intent?SIGN BOOKING. Book signing. That’s better. The base phrase, with the gerund, is definitely “in the language.”
  • 43a [Circus mover’s task?BEAR LOADING. Load-bearing.
  • 68a [Bringing up a football player?] END REARING. Rear-ending. Ha! Cute.
  • 74a [Taking out one’s aggressions on packages?BOX KICKING. Kickboxing. Another good one. If only this was all that “going postal” meant.
  • 100a [Scenic road driver’s duty?BEND MINDING. Mind-bending. Another good one. The poor driver doesn’t get to enjoy the sights.
  • 109a [Job for an intern at a brokerage?SHARE FILING. File sharing.
  • 125a [Rookie vampire slayer’s mistake?COUNT BEANING. Bean counting. I like the entry, but the clue…not as much. Nobody who’s training to be a vampire slayer would resort to “beaning” ol’ Drac on the head.

So…mostly good, eh? Despite catching on to the theme early on, I was still looking forward to what was coming next. That’s the sign of an enjoyable theme.

It feels like you could go on and on with this theme, but I did a quick search at on the string “* *ing” and found the pickings slim on the first page of results. Take, for example, “carbon dating.” This results in DATE CARBONING, which obviously doesn’t work. If the first noun can’t be made into a verb (or if the verb can’t equate to a noun) then it’s a dud.


Toughies include: ALENCON [Lace town of Normandy], MEGRIM [Quaint caprice] crossing SAURIAN [Lizardlike] (it helped to think of dinosaurs), and KARNAK [Luxor neighbor] crossing abbreviation BKS [Vols.] It also took me a while to untangle that lower left corner, what with ACH, ASTOR, and CHOLER. But I’m not complaining; it’s all fair game, and for the most part, I felt the fill was really quite good.

Clues of note:

  • 19a [Monitor of net income?]. GOALIE. Much like! Great clue!
  • 132a [Rustlers’ prey]. STEERS. Is the plural of “steer” STEERS? Or is it jus “steer”?
  • 36d [Miller’s product]. BEER. I wanted FLOUR, but it’s referring to the company. Nice misdirection.
  • 70d [Thin mint product]. DIME. Another goody. Nothing to do with Girl Scout cookies.

Good grid. 3.75 stars.

Derek Bowman’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

If nothing else, this constructor has the coolest name EVER! Zipped through this one fairly quickly, which was nice and stress-free, unlike today’s Stumper. There are 5 15-letter entries interwoven nicely in this grid, and the 72-word count makes for pretty good fill; I don’t see much obscurity at all in this grid. I still think this clueing needs to be just a smidge tougher. 4.7 stars for this one.

Some faves, including all of the 15s:

  • 14A [Head scratcher] NOOGIE – When I got these in school, and I got them a lot, it wasn’t really a scratch, but more like a hard rub by someones knuckles!
  • 20A [John/Rice musical] AIDA – Did you see this commercial about Sir Elton? Try not to cry:
  • 31A [Sex appeal] ANIMAL MAGNETISM – Nice!
  • 37A [A lot] SOMETHING FIERCE – They don’t say this in Indiana!
  • 38A [Therapy appointment, say] ONE ON ONE SESSION – Excellent as well.
  • 42A [Garlicky dish] SCAMPI – Boy, does some shrimp scampi sound delicious …
  • 54A [Sylvia Plath title woman] LADY LAZARUS – This is evidently a poem by her that I am unfamiliar with. But I am uncultured!
  • 58A [Dolores Haze, to Humbert] LOLITA – I have never read this book, but it is listed as one of the greatest of the 20th century. The subject matter seems a little creepy, but I still may read it just to see how good it is. Any comments from anyone who has read it?
  • 6D [America has ten of them] FEDERAL HOLIDAYS – Let’s see: New Year’s, MLK, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas? Oh yeah: Veterans Day, which was just this past Monday!
  • 9D [Walk on air] FEEL TEN FEET TALL – Tremendous!
  • 22D [Mots __: perfect words] JUSTES – This is tough, and this puzzle needed some toughness.
  • 29D [Snooze] CATNAP – I need a nap.
  • 32D [“Geez Louise”] ME OH MY – I liked this one a lot. They DO say this in Indiana.
  • 50D [Two-time NHL Norris Trophy winner Karlsson] ERIK – A missed chance to clue [ACPT champion Agard]!

Wow. That was too many! Maybe there is more good in this grid than I thought!

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

The upper left corner of this filled in easily for me, with 1-Across being a gimme. (See comments below) But after that, progress ground to a halt, and I struggled to finish this in just over 21 minutes. Still not sure where I would rank Matthew Sewell as far as Stumper difficulty level; not quite Longo or Wilber, but harder that Stan for sure. Yes, I have several error marks in this one, and I will explain some of that below, but suffice it to say some of these terms are new to me! 4.3 stars this Saturday morning.

Those promised comments:

    • 1A [David Lee Roth’s Van Halen successor] SAMMY HAGAR – This is the first gimme at 1-Across I have seen in a while. This occurred during my MTV music sweet spot in the mid to late 80s.
    • 15A [Methuselah ancestor] ENOS – This grandson of Adam and Eve is certainly crossword famous, although some Bibles spell his name ending in an H. I still think of the sitcom that was a spinoff of The Dukes of Hazzard.
    • 25A [What many “Survivor” contestants wear] BEARDS – Because there is no way for them to shave?? They are all alone on that island … with Jeff Probst and an ENTIRE CAMERA CREW.
    • 40A [Odin’s heroic son] TYR – I believe this is an alternate spelling of THOR, which is much more familiar to Americans.
    • 45A [Prom icebreaker, maybe] DAD JOKE – Because a “dad” is a chaperone, perhaps? I think I know where this clue is going, but I don’t quite see the connection. I had BAD JOKE in here, which makes a lot more sense even though it is wrong. [Corny witticism from your father] would be another clue that is still tough but explains it better. I don’t remember any “dad jokes” at the prom I went to!
    • 62A [Pleads poverty] POOR MOUTHS – Never heard this phrase before. Is it one word or two?
    • 63A [Name atop the list of most Best Comedy Actor Emmy nominations (12, 1983 to 2018)] TED – As in Ted Danson, who recently went somewhat viral with this video of him trying to floss!

  • 5D [“I asked for so little!”] “YOU HAD ONE JOB!” – Best entry in the grid.
  • 12D [Destined] INEVITABLE – I thought this was a two word phrase for far too long.
  • 22D [“Ask me anything”] “I’M AN OPEN BOOK” – Is this, in essence, what people on Reddit who do their AMA session are saying?
  • 55D [Inspiration for a field geologists kit] MOHS – I suppose. “Inspiration” seems like a stretch here, but I’m tired. I need a few days off, which are coming this week!

Enjoy your weekend!

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25 Responses to Saturday, November 17, 2018

  1. Matthew G. says:

    I think your guess about a die lying on one side as a six must be the correct meaning of the SEI clue. That clue really threw me off because “die” means “the” in German, and Switzerland (where German is spoken) is on one side of Italy, so I thought we were looking for an article, not a number.

    • Christopher Smith says:

      I don’t get this either, which seems worthy of a demerit. Wasn’t a fan of this puzzle. There were several of the “e.g.” “say” “in a way” type clues that seem like a collective shrug from the constructors & editor. ERROR was particularly mystifying.

      • Karen says:

        A baseball reference, I think. A catcher who drops the ball misses the chance to get an out and is charged with an error.

        • Christopher Smith says:

          I get it but, I mean, no one in baseball would ever say this. “Miss” always refers to a batter swinging & missing a pitch. Then again, no one refers to the ARI Cardinals as the “Cards.” The baseball team, sure. In fact, when both were (inconveniently) located in St Louis I believe “Cards” was a way to delineate it was the baseball team you were talking about. (The football team they’d call Big Red.)

          Everyone seems to love these guys so maybe I’m just in the wrong here. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

      • I count four of those kinds of clues overall, which doesn’t feel like that many. More to the point, I don’t see why a few “e.g.” or “say” or “in a way” clues are a problem (in this puzzle or otherwise).

    • Martin says:

      The misdirection that Matthew notes is the point of the “awkward” wording. (The possibility that “die” is a verb makes it even more ambiguous.)

      I think it’s kosher. One side of a die of Italy is SEI. Juggle the words and it still means the same thing. It’s Saturday :).

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Who on earth would say “die on one side” to refer to one side of the cube, though? It’s awkward as hell and I don’t think it makes for a good clue at all. This is like those Saturday Stumper clues that just go too far afield of sense.

  2. Pg costa says:

    You are right one face of a dice is six , in Italian sei

  3. David L says:

    I came to grief in the SE corner of the Stumper (didn’t help that the clue for 60D was missing). I had everything but POORMOUTH, which I know only as a verb meaning ‘to disparage.’ I know the MOHS hardness scale, but as clued it was ungettable for me.

    ETA: Also, cluing PALOMA with reference to a type of horse (PALOMINO?) is strange, when the name is Spanish for ‘dove.’

  4. TammyB says:

    WSJ: 71D. I don’t understand the answer of “ins” for the clue of “November winners”

    Can someone please enlighten me? Thanks!

  5. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    @ TammyB,12:19PM – With most elections held in November, the winners are those who will be *in* office soon (if they ever get done with recounts!)

  6. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Stumper clue: [First to circumnavigate New Zealand], James COOK. No, no, no. He was the first European to document doing so, but does anyone think that the Polynesians who’d been on the islands for 400 years (arriving in canoes) had never gotten around to traveling all the way around the North and South Islands?

    • Martin says:

      Maybe not three nos. Since Cook was the first to use the name “New Zealand,” it can be argued that no one could have previously circumnavigated it.

      There doesn’t seem to be a Maori name for what we call New Zealand prior to Cook. They had names for South Island and North Island, but the current name for the entire country, “Aotearoa,” is a recent coinage.

  7. AV says:

    Interesting NYT solving experience today – if you drew a line through the diagonal blocks, my bottom right section was filled amazingly fast. Loved the clues for the WORLDSERIESRING, got BOOKOFMORMON .. etc, then bombed on TRACEEELLISROSS (who? I am not watching the right series), and then ERIKA (really, who?) .. but then I did not remember KAINE (holy smokes, my brain wants to erase all memories of the 2016 election)!! But KABUL came easy and I muddled through the rest of the puzzle.

    I docked these two amazing gentlemen a whole bunch of points in the ratings because “I” forgot KAINE, so there! I feel better now.

  8. Ethan says:

    Fun fact: SEI is also the tu conjugation of the verb essere (to be), so in Italian textspeak “tu 6” is like saying “u r”

  9. Judge Vic says:

    I waltzed in rather confidently and placed CONCAVE at 1a (“Going in”) and DREDGES at 50a (“Removes roots and all”). Half an hour later, I was really hurting, so I erased all and restarted with the assumptions that neither of the above was a possibility. Thirty minutes later, I was done. Learned a new word in CABOCHON. Enjoyed BASE TWO, RADIO ERA, TELEVISION PILOT, LES MIZ, WORLD SERIES RING, & THE BOOK OF MORMON! Kudos, Erik and Doug!
    P.S. — Also liked AT FIRST, TEST RUNS and ON A TEAR

  10. Brenda says:

    Has anyone experienced problems with the Puzzle Society page this week? I can’t bring it up here or elsewhere on the web.
    PS: My mother used to say “poor mouth” all the time back in the 1950’s. Us kids thought it was funny.

    • WhiskyBill says:

      Had the same trouble; seemingly it’s the type of ad. My old computer, running old software, can’t get the ad to play, so I can never get past the ad to the puzzle.

      Conversely, on a computer that’s about two years old running an operating system that’s more up-to-date, I get a banner at the bottom. If I click that, sometimes in several places, I can get the ad to run, then get beyond it.

      Quite annoying! I wish you the best of luck with the browser/operating system/computer you’re using!

    • pannonica says:

      Flann O’Brien’s An Béal Bocht (“The Poor Mouth”) is a parody of Irish peasant novels. Despite not being able to read it in the original Gaelic nor being conversant with the genre being mocked, I found it quite entertaining. But then I’m a fan of the author.

      As expressed therein, [one understands] “that good Gaelic is difficult but that the best Gaelic of all is well-nigh unintelligible.”

  11. Gene says:

    On the Stumper, I had the OKE at the end of 45A, and then had KARAOKE for a long time ?

  12. JohnH says:

    I’m with those for whom the NYT didn’t work (and was supremely difficult). Say, with the controversial ERROR clue, it just seemed the wrong part of speech to me, and I wanted to enter ERRED. And SEIS at the very least made me want to have the side of a dice IN rather than OF Spain.

    The WSJ theme entries had me smiling, though.

Comments are closed.