Saturday, January 26, 2019

LAT 6:08 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:47 (Derek) 


NYT 4:00 (Amy) 


WSJ 18:40 (Jim P.) 


Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fake News” — Jim P’s review

Our theme is phrases ending in a word that can also roughly mean “news story.” Clues are wackified accordingly.

WSJ – Sat, 1.16.19 – “Fake News” by Randolph Ross

  • 23a [News report about numismatists and philatelists?] COLLECTOR’S ITEM
  • 44a [News report about Ben & Jerry?] ICE CREAM SCOOP
  • 60a [Newsmagazine report about Wisconsin?] CHEESE SPREAD
  • 71a [Newsmagazine covering wildfires?] BURNING ISSUE. I’m guessing Californian’s suffering from fire fatigue didn’t enjoy this one.
  • 89a [News report about an NFL pass defender?] SAFETY FEATURE
  • 113a [News report that’s not fake news?] GENUINE ARTICLE
  • 16d [News report about a budget authorization bill?] EXPENSE ACCOUNT
  • 49d [News piece about the Pentagon?] MILITARY COLUMN. Hmm. I’m not feeling this one. “Military formation,” yes, MILITARY COLUMN, no, at least not to my ear.

I like the wordplay here. It’s good, if not anything groundbreaking.

And despite the high amount of theme material, there’s some good long fill. I liked SERPICO, WATERBEDS, SULLIVAN, IPOD NANO, KID AROUND, GLISTENS, QUIXOTE, AEROPLANE, SOY LATTE, and “DO I DARE?”

However, there were some things that really bothered me, starting with the title which is what Trump and his blind followers yell out knee-jerkily whenever there’s news that doesn’t fit the narratives they spin.

And MIDGET even though it’s clued [Small racing car class] just doesn’t belong in a grid. I’m willing to bet that can be changed to MIDGES without too much trouble in the SE corner. (Yup, change RAW to RAT or RAP and you have STEEDS or SPEEDS at 99d. Done. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was always that easy to remove an offensive word from your grid?)

And then there’s a good bit of stale fill like AUEL, AH ME, EPODE, PPP, EDO, TEC, and SSTS.

I did like a couple clues: [Bald baby] for EAGLET and [Gatwick banker?] for AEROPLANE, but I found [Sides in a perennial battle] for SEXES to be depressing.

Overall, the negatives weighed on me so I can’t muster up more than 2.5 stars for this puzzle despite the decent theme.

Grant Thackray’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 26 19, no 0126

Ha! Look at the grid, and consider the central answer, a BUNDT CAKE or [Confection with a hole in the middle]. Just pour a sugary glaze or sprinkle some powdered sugar all over the puzzle and there you go: a gluten-free dessert.

This puzzle played like a Friday puzzle for me. Surprisingly quick solve, even with the awkward-to-piece-together GENIE OF THE LAMP up top.

The top half felt violent, with WORLD BEATERS, ALABAMA SLAMMERS, and MONSTER MASH not actually being violent and RAMS HOME being violent only when literal. And then GASTON has a literal stabbing in his clue.

Four more things:

  • 19a. [Food that’s eaten perpendicularly to how it’s usually made] TOAST. I make my toast in a toaster oven, so this one doesn’t ring true in my kitchen.
  • 48a. [Short cut that bypasses a canal?], CESAREAN SECTION. Hey, who’s calling that incision “short”? I mean, it’s not as long as you’d think it would be, but it ain’t small. Also, this “canal” reference—is this the closest the NYT crossword has gotten to mentioning the vagina?
  • 8d. [Calder Cup org.], AHL? LOL. This is the sort of short crosser you can get with stacked long entries. I looked up the Calder Cup winners, the teams that won the AHL championship. The last three winners are the Toronto Marlies, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Eugene Echidnas. No, I made up that last one. Three seasons back, it was the Lake Erie Monsters who beat the Hershey Bears. There’s also a Syracuse Crunch, and I hope this team’s archrival is Hershey. If you live near one of these teams, you may have heard of it (we have the Chicago Wolves out in the ‘burbs), but if you don’t go to the games, will you know the names of any other teams?
  • 34d. [Sites of congestion], SINUSES. My son got a lesson in this today. We give thanks for decongestants!

3.8 stars from me.

Andy Kravis & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up


Oh boy! A fun puzzle by a couple of Fiend bloggers! We have a 68-word masterpiece for the LAT puzzle today, and this was tons of fun to solve. I have watched both of these two solving on Twitch, and I predict both will be top 5 solvers in Stamford this coming March. There is a definite liveliness to Erik’s grids in general, and to collaborate with a talent like Andy only enhances the finished product. Again, I don’t see anything in here that wouldn’t be commonly known, and that is not easy to do in a wide open grid. A solid 4.8 stars for this gem. Very well done!

High points in the grid:

  • 1A [Selection process including the Sky and the Sun] WNBA DRAFT – I get the feeling Erik is a big WNBA fan. I wonder what gave me that impression? Perhaps because he wore a Washington Mystics jersey for last years ACPT finals?
  • 17A [Bingo center square] FREE SPACE – I have never officially played this for money, but we had a bingo board game when I was a kid. I am sure there are several apps now for Bingo. But somehow it seems as if it is not as popular as it used to be.
  • 58A [2017 hit comedy about a women’s weekend getaway] GIRLS TRIP – This movie is really funny. It pushes the envelope, that’s for sure. This movie will surely be remembered for making Tiffany Haddish a household name.
  • 63A [Where I-35 and I-80 intersect] DES MOINES – I believe you. I’ve driven through Des Moines on the way to Denver. I don’t remember stopping!
  • 3D [CBer’s opening word] BREAKER – This is also something that seems not nearly as popular as it was years ago. Ham radio enthusiasts still exist, and truckers still use CB radio (I think!), but I don’t know anyone who does this now.
  • 11D [In contrast with] AS OPPOSED TO – I don’t think this entry is in my word list. It is a long phrase, possibly considered a partial, but I like it. You hear this all the time.
  • 14D [Winter Paralympians’ equipment] SIT SKIS – Awesome. I think I would rather ski like this!
  • 24D [Jersey Shore rockers since the ’70s] E STREET BAND – This is always a great entry. These guys are all old now (Bruce Springsteen is nearly 70!), but this music has and will continue to pass the test of time.
  • 26D [Visored military cap] SHAKO – Remember when I said there was nothing that wasn’t commonly known? I forgot about this entry. This IS something you might know or certainly have seen, but I didn’t know the name. I still like it.
  • 39D [Lang. test for top students] AP LATIN – This is a weird looking letter pattern until you realize how it is spaced. I took some Latin in grammar school, but I cannot imagine what the practical uses of learning Latin are today. Even if you are a doctor or a lawyer. I suppose if you should learn it if you want to read ancient literature!
  • 41D [Cajun confection] PRALINE – These are delicious. And I am now hungry.

Enjoy your weekend!

Brad Wilber’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 01/26/2019

Not too bad this week. I will take 15 minutes for a Brad Wilber Stumper. 72 words in this grid, and nothing over 10 letters. That explains the good fill. A lot of bloggers seem perturbed often at the fill in puzzles. I don’t feel that way. Yes, there are words in here that I either didn’t know, didn’t think I knew, or didn’t remember. But if a puzzle recalls something I knew a long time ago, that is perfectly fine, and if I learn something new, well that is a good thing, isn’t it? I am in the National Puzzlers League, and I think I learn a new word each and every time I solve some of those puzzles. I also realize how hard these are to make, so kudos to the constructors for the fun they provide for all of us, including these difficult Stumpers! 4.6 stars for Brad’s gem today.

Ten things:

  • 19A [Metroplex moniker] BIG D – Oh, THAT metroplex. This sounded like it would be more of a generic term, not the nickname for Dallas, TX.
  • 20A [Refuge for daytime sleepers] OWLERY – This is definitely one of those words I didn’t know (or remember?), but an owl would definitely be a daytime sleeper.
  • 36A [Deadlocked situation] SPLIT VOTE – A not-so-rare occurrence now in current politics. That makes it feel more timely.
  • 38A [Plum cousin] CLARET RED – This was a little confusing. Is a claret red a fruit, or is plum a type of wine?
  • 57A [“Don Quixote” descriptor] MOCK-HEROIC – I guess this is the stereotypical “mock hero” in literature. I should read this book someday …
  • 61A [Dexterous] ABLE – I wrote SPRY in here. It could be either, but when the easiest clue in a corner is this different, it is easy to go down a rabbit hole.
  • 11D [City that sounds like a shoe stat] TRIPOLI – If you wear triple E, or EEE, shoes, you may have super wide feet. My condolences!
  • 22D [Venerable Milwaukee brewer] PABST – Like 61A, I put STROH in here at first. I am not sure if they are based in Milwaukee or not. (I looked. It isn’t. But they are owned by Pabst!)
  • 41D [Straightens out, in a way] UNCOILS – This could have been UNFURLS, UNFOLDS, or possibly other answers. Another toughie in this corner. As you can see in the grid image, I finished up down here.
  • 54D [Mot dans les noms de bistro] CHEZ – This clue translates to “word in bistro names.” CHEZ roughly means “in” in French. I think. But is well known, even in cartoonish representations of fancy restaurants.

It is bitterly cold here in the Midwest. Everyone please be safe in the cold!

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28 Responses to Saturday, January 26, 2019

  1. Steve Manion says:

    I used to play racquetball in a league in Buffalo that had one former NHL player and two players who played in the AHL for the Rochester Americans. The AHL players never made it to the NHL, which only had six teams when they started. We also had two original Buffalo Bills. I always thought that it was funny that all of them had second jobs throughout their careers.

    This puzzle started out impossible for me, but as soon as I got ALABAMA SLAMMERS, it fell very quickly. I liked the clue for TOAST.


  2. Twangster says:

    Canal is likely a reference to the birth canal.

    • LauraB says:

      And would that be part of the vagina, in your experience?

      • Sara N says:

        Nah, you’re thinking of the vulva, Laura.

        (Note: this is sarcasm, I am very well acquainted with that particular anatomy.)

      • Twangster says:

        It’s the other way around … the birth canal is not part of the vagina; it
        includes the cervix, the vagina, and the vulva.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          News flash: Much of the length of the birth canal is the vagina.

          Mansplaining vaginas to women, that’s a new one for me.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            It’s also entirely irrelevant to what I said in my post! “Also, this ‘canal’ reference—is this the closest the NYT crossword has gotten to mentioning the vagina?” You’re the guy shouting “the birth canal also includes the cervix and vulva,” as if crossword clues allude to *those* parts all the time, just not the vagina. When we live in an era where male crossword editors shy away from PMS as anything other than a plural abbreviation …

          • Martin says:

            Clearly Twangster’s explanation is redundant, but the news flash seems so too — he was merely stating that the vagina is part of the birth canal and not the other way around, which any editor should appreciate.

            The birth canal finally joins the ear and alimentary canals as NYT clue fodder.

            • Jenni Levy says:

              It’s not “redundant.” It’s condescending at best and flat-out insulting at worst. Amy never said the birth canal was part of the vagina; there was nothing about her post that required explanation. She certainly didn’t need to be told what “canal” referred to; it’s obvious that she knew. So this is, as she said, mansplaining female pelvic anatomy *to a woman.* COME ON.

          • ethan says:

            while i agree 100% with everything you said, I’ll just note that nowhere is Twangster identified as male … I suspect that they are, in fact, male since the comment comes off that way, and I find it difficult to imagine a woman writing it — but not impossible. Anyway, just a comment not to leap to assumptions online.

            But yes assuming they are male then as a guy I’d say holy shit dude what were you thinking with that comment.

            • Ch says:

              Has it occurred to all jumping all over this commenter – nowhere identified BTW as man or woman – that explaining something that someone already may know shouldn’t be offensive? And even if it WAS a man clarifying the actual components of the birth canal, WTH is wrong with that? Good grief, I hope none of you women ever see a male doctor, he might mansplain at you.

  3. M.Gritz says:

    I didn’t look at the constructor line before struggling through the LA Times. 1A should have come quicker anyway, but would have been a gimme and set a very different tone had I noticed Andy and Erik’s names first.

  4. Huda says:

    NYT: Fits and starts- Was stuck for a while and then DEMOCRATICALLY opened up the logjam… I had MOMS in lieu of DOMS for a while.
    Yes, the puzzle would be Gluten-Free and BUNDT CAKE could be if using the right flour. I’ve been amazed, and very grateful, for all the advances in ingredients that are GF over the last 10-15 years — from the time my husband and daughter (and now grandkids) were diagnosed with celiac disease.
    But the very best cake (GF or otherwise) is a rice flour orange cake that my mother-in-law figured out for herself decades ago when she was struggling with that disease and no one out there was paying attention. No gluten or dairy and simply delicious.

    • Cindy says:

      That’s a very sweet story ?

    • Lise says:

      I am impressed that your mother-in-law figured out how to eat, at a time when there might not even have been a name for celiac disease. I’m glad for all of the advances that have been made in that area.

      Orange cake sounds yummy!

  5. Lise says:

    NYT: I loved the puzzle, but I had a lot of trouble with 1A. I didn’t know 3D, and was thinking 5D was a metaphorical whip, so I had the same answer as did Huda there, and I had NHL. I know about the Stanley Cup, but I thought there could be two Cups…

    I was not aware that A and P had hung on as long as 2015. When I was in sixth grade, a lot of years ago, all of the students in our town went to the same school, just for that year, while restructuring was being done. There weren’t school buses for that school, so my mom dropped me off in the morning before work and gave me City Bus fare for the way home. I would pocket the bus fare and walk home; my route took me past our A and P, where I would spend my bus fare on snacks, thus undoing any health benefits of walking, but I felt very grown-up.

    Our A and P disappeared decades ago, but I remember those times fondly.

  6. David L says:

    Not so easy for me. I finished the bottom stack and worked my way up, but not knowing ALABAMASLAMMERS or GASTON or ELMOS or ETS made it slow going. I’ve never lived in an area that had A&P supermarkets, so that’s a piece of crosswordese for me.

    I’m puzzled by the clue for SCRIPS. Isn’t a scrip what the doc writes for you, so you drop it off at the pharmacy in order to pick up your meds later?

  7. ranman says:

    This is always a great entry. These guys are all old now (Bruce Springsteen is nearly 70!), but this music has and will continue to pass the test of time.

    While the comment starts with a positive, the subsequent “guys are all old now” is way too harsh IMO (even if you consider 70 = “old” factual). I’m 57 and I consider it less factual than I did 20 years ago!
    The ESB has been around for a long time for sure but “old” just kinda hurt!
    PS: Bruce is actually not a member of the ESB. It’s BS and the ESB.

    • Huda says:

      It can be good to be old. Truly. You can be old in the sense of having been around for many years without negative connotations. It might just mean that you’re experienced, that by now you know enough to keep striving—to be kinder, wiser, more generous and courageous. Or to invent, create and discover. I’m for the “old and striving” school of thought.
      I feel that there is an unconscious bias against old people in the West. And as is the case for most biases, seeing an occasional clear exception doesn’t necessarily change people’s mind, it only makes them think the person is more exceptional than they really are. So, we need to help people change their minds by having enough connections and real relationships across age barriers so that boundaries really stretch and perceptions change. I’m grateful that in science I get to work with people from all ages, as well as all other types of backgrounds.

      • ahimsa says:

        Lovely comment, Huda! Thank you.

        If only we could try to see folks as individuals rather than treat them as part of a stereotype. I’m in my late 50s, disabled, and a woman. If I go into a store to buy some computer part I often get treated as if I know nothing even though I got my CS degree before many of the store employees were even born (1982).

        I’m not angry at these employees but I do try to gently correct their assumptions. And, like you said, I know that I have my own implicit biases, too. We’re all works in progress.

      • Derek Allen says:

        In this context, my aim was only to equate age with longevity, which to me is a compliment. I am nearly 50 and I remember his music when I was really young; Born to Run used to play on the radio on my elementary school bus!

        I don’t think “old” = “harsh”. My desire is to acquire more and more “oldness”.

  8. sandirhodes says:

    plum and claret red must be colors.

    my triple eees arent burdens and require no condolences.

    • Derek Allen says:

      Condolences only in the context of being able to find shoes. My perception is this is not always easy. Like a man that has to shop at the Big and Tall shop because he is 6’10”. Am I mistaken?

  9. paul coulter says:

    I had an amusing mistake in the Stumper today. I confidently wrote in PHL for Philly’s abbr. Having lived in the area for thirty years, I can tell you it’s a lot more common than PHI (it’s our airport code, etc.) This made Abigail’s advice to John Adams, “Don’t forget the ladles” in stead of ladies, which I thought odd, but plausible.

  10. Art Shapiro says:

    Do we have any info as to the absence of the LAT Across Lite all week? I miss it!

Comments are closed.