Saturday, June 1, 2019

LAT 14:09 Downs Only (Derek) 


Newsday 12:18 (Derek) 


NYT 14:27 (Jim P) 


WSJ 20:57 (Jim P) 


Universal 5:33 (Jim Q) 


Randolph Ross’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Get the Picture”—Jim P’s review

TIREDEST (45d, [Most overused]) is the fill of the day, though that’s not the theme.

The theme is actual phrases whose first word can be re-interpreted as a way of “getting a picture”, where “getting a picture” might be literal or figurative. But it just feels so inconsistent throughout.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Get the Picture” · Randolph Ross · Sat., 6.1.19

  • 22a [Get pictures at a mall?] PHOTO SHOPS. Whoa. Who uses “photo” as a verb? And the “photo” in PHOTOSHOPS actually refers to photography. I call foul on this one.
  • 24a [Get pictures at an earrings factory?] SHOOT HOOPS. This one works. The meanings of both words in the original phrase are altered completely.
  • 36a [Get pictures at a bar?] SNAP SHOTS. Hmm. Nope again. SNAPSHOTS are actually photographs. “Snap” doesn’t change meaning at all. SNAP BEANS would work better here.
  • 65a [Get pictures at garbage sites?] DOCUMENT DUMPS. Hang on. We went from taking photographs (the first three entries), to…”documenting”? What the. And I’ve never even heard the phrase DOCUMENT DUMPS anyway. What is that?
  • 93a [Get pictures at a bait store?] TAPE WORMS. “Taping” means “getting pictures” now? Oh, I give up.
  • 111a [Get pictures at a hockey locker room?] SKETCH PADS. Okay, now we’re drawing pictures. And…hockey locker room? Why do “pads” indicate hockey locker room? Sure, hockey players wear pads. So do football players.
  • 113 [Get pictures at arenas?] VIDEO GAMES. I guess this makes sense, but it just feels like the 45d.

And if that’s not enough, there’s more in the Down direction.

  • 35d [Get pictures at an apartment building?] FILM STUDIOS. Again, the keyword is too close in meaning from the original phrase to the altered one.
  • 40d [Get pictures at a dentist’s office?] DRAW BRIDGES. This one works. But too little too late.

As you can tell, these mostly missed the mark for me. And there certainly wasn’t enough HUMOR involved to sustain it.

Hmm. Maybe I’m being affected by fill like TIREDEST, ACUTE PAIN, NO DESIRE, LESS THAN, TRODDEN, SORRILY. Yeah, I’d have to say those capture the general vibe of the grid.

ACUTE PAIN, NO DESIRE, and GONE AWOL feel “green painty” to me. Old standbys AMAS, DR NOEERO, IN UP, OPIE, ADLAI, AGHA, SAAR, ODED persist throughout.

But there are some brights spots, certainly. I liked CREEKBED, ARISTIDES (though I needed every crossing), WILLARD Scott, PLAUSIBLE, ORANGEY [Like Trump’s tan], KEROSENE, TARAJI P. Henson, and “MANGIA!” [Order in an Italian restaurant].

Best clue: [Grace period?] for AMEN.

For the most part, this was a slog. I felt the theme needed a major overhaul. Perhaps a reduction in size to a weekday puzzle would have been apt. 2.75 stars.

Ari Richter’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review

Looks like we have a NYT debut here. Congrats to Ari!

NY Times crossword solution, 6 01 19, no. 0601

Pretty lively grid. I especially like the pairing of BLANKET HOG and SLEEP APNEA in the upper left. Other likables: David AXELROD, “NONE FOR ME“, DERANGED (see video below), THIS SECOND, SAD FACE :(, STOLEN CARS, DALMATIANS, MASHED PEAS, AD COUNCIL, DECISIVE, and WEST END.

I was fairly confounded by that northwest corner though. UNARMS doesn’t ever look like a real word to me, and while the clue is clever [Take heat from], that doesn’t change my dislike for the word. And crossing crosswordese ONELS [Some first-years after undergrad] doesn’t improve things. Plus I’m leery of that clue on BURB [Start of many a morning commute, informally]. Does anyone really use that word, even informally? And I really wanted PHONE as the [Means of surveillance] before I figure out DRONE.

Other questionables: [Winner of the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in N.F.L. history (16 total points)] is a PATRIOT. This is phrasing weird. It makes it sound like one person won that game (which was played earlier this year). Also [“___ so” (“Nuh-uh”)] for AIN’T. Not sure I’ve ever heard that without a leading “It”.

A couple more things:

  • [Go to pot?] is a cute clue for SMOKE, as is [Do business?] for SALON.
  • Anyone else put INFIDEL for 12d [Nonbeliever] before correcting it to SKEPTIC?

Despite a couple fiddly bits in the grid, I liked it. 3.75 stars.

And now for something completely different: proper use of the word DERANGED. Warning: some language in the background.

Michael Wiesenberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 06/01/2019

Back to a Downs Only Saturday solve! This was a doozie, and with stacks of long Down entries it was quite a struggle. But once you get a toehold, and hit the check answer a couple of times and see where you’re totally wrong, the puzzle fell. You can see plenty of my error marks in the image here, and although some don’t like checking answers, in this context it works. Yes, I have a NYT streak of nearly a year, and before that I had a 700+ day streak, and for those you cannot check the grid and see what you have incorrect. But I usually don’t get hopelessly stuck on those, and I certainly don’t do many of those with just the Down clues, although I see many are doing that now on Crossword Twitter and the like. But this puzzle is a great 70-word grid with 12, count ’em 12 10-letter entries spread out in all four corners. Sometimes in my Downs Only solving I am left scratching my head as to how some Across entries could possibly be clued, but nothing too obscure going in the Across direction in this one. A solid 4.5 stars for a fun solve!

Some notes (from the Downs, naturally!)

  • 3D [With 14-Across, “Bro, no!”] “DUDE, YOU WOULDN’T!” – Even solving Downs Only, there was an Across clue hidden in the Downs!
  • 6D [Nepalese money] RUPEES – This is guessable even if you have never died trying to climb Mount Everest, as it seems many have in the last few weeks.
  • 10D [Charlotte Amalie’s island] ST. THOMAS – I knew this was down there somewhere. It is a capital city, so you should know it for Jeopardy!
  • 11D [Phishing, e.g.] CYBERCRIME – This was the answer that opened up the upper right corner. Definitely an “Oh, yeah!” moment with this one, which is great.
  • 24D [It’ll get you in] ACCESS CODE – It isn’t ACCESS PASS? Because that is what I tried at first!
  • 25D [Mall portmanteau] SHOPAHOLIC – Another splendid “a-ha!” moment with this one. Finished my solve in this corner.
  • 36D [Least prudent] RASHEST – You can be fairly certain that this answer ends in -EST, but it could be ZANIEST or INANEST or others.
  • 41D [Guard dog originally bred in Germany, familiarly] DOBIE – I have never seen it clued this way, but I have also never heard a Doberman called this either. I also don’t own a Doberman.
  • 43D [Singer with The Blackhearts] JETT – I remember this song well, so that dates me! To get it stuck in your head, it will be at the end of this post!

That is all for now! It might be a beautiful weekend, so I should go outside and mow my grass!

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

Newsday 06/01/2019

This one wasn’t too bad, but it seemed like it was impossible to start this puzzle. That is why I like crossword puzzles: you put yourself WILLINGLY into a situation that you don’t know how you’re going to finish, and then, piece by agonizing piece, you figure it out and you have a sense of completion and satisfaction, which you cannot always find in this world. (As a side note, I recommend the movie Puzzle, which tackles some of these same feelings that crossworders encounter.) Once some footing was established, this fell without too much difficulty, at least for a Stumper. I am anxiously awaiting to see if anyone solves this Downs Only on Twitch (set yours up for alerts if you want to see this!), which with the Indie 500 happening this weekend either has a much better or much worse chance of happening! Which reminds me: I better purchase the home version of these so I can solve along with everybody there! 4.6 stars for another gem from Stan.

A few highlights:

  • 1A [All-at-once, as a series release] BINGEABLE – Ah, TV habits have changed drastically since I was younger. People literally sit all day or all weekend and devour entire seasons. Amazing.
  • 20A [Focus (on)] ZERO IN – Could have been HONE IN, so slightly tough.
  • 23A [Capital, since 1974] NHL-ER – These types of clues always fool me, even as a sports fan. This might even be the best clue in the puzzle.
  • 36A [Home holder of 275 gallons] OIL TANK – Not sure what this is talking about; you can purchase one at Lowe’s, though! I have never lived in a house that used one of these.
  • 41A [Most important] PIVOTAL – An answer that seems to indicate that it would in in -EST, but does not!
  • 11D [Hummus scoop, at times] NAN – I guess the Indian bread is naan or nan. I finally had some of this a few months ago, and it is delicious!
  • 12D [Metaphors for damage] PRICE TAGS – Also an excellent clue.
  • 31D [Venice waterbus] VAPORETTO – Never heard of this! Evidently it is simple a waterbus.
  • 33D [Indoor surfing venues] WAVE POOLS – I think this is what they call a pool you can swim in without moving as well. I think Michael Phelps endorses one in a commercial.
  • 35D [Retro restaurants] MALT SHOPS – I had SODA SHOPS. A tad before my time!
  • 48D [Ernie, in ”It’s a Wonderful Life”] CABBIE – I have never seen this movie, believe it or not, so this was a little tough for me!

Maybe I should start on next Saturday’s Stumper today …

Tina Lippman’s Universal Crossword, “Give Me A T!”—Jim Q’s writeup

Tina Lippman’s Universal Crossword, “Give Me a T!”–6/1/19, solution

Title says it all!

THEME: “T” is added to well-known names. Clued wackily.


  • 17A [Defeat a “Golden Girls” actress in a game?] BEAT ARTHUR.
  • 10D [Hoodwink the secretary of energy?] TRICK PERRY.
  • 27D [Express gratitude to baseball’s “Hammer”?] THANK AARON.
  • 58A [Help a “Godfather” actor with a crime?] ABET VIGODA.

Standard “Add a Letter” theme, using names only. Nothing wrong with that- the consistency of all the T’s being added to the first name only, and the resulting clue still pointing to the person being altered was appreciated. Also nice that the down themers added a letter before the first names while the across themers take on a T at the end of the first names.

Fill felt a bit crunchy at times and proper noun heavy. Especially troublesome for me was the CATT/CACHET cross amid AGRO, CHAO, and the variation of a Turkish title (AGHA?). COLE, REEVE, BAHAI, PEARY, ELEA, OMAR, RAGNAROK… it seemed like everywhere I turned a proper Somebody or Something or Someplace was waving hello.

BIT BY BIT and AIRBRUSH were fun in the fill.

3 Stars.

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19 Responses to Saturday, June 1, 2019

  1. Lise says:

    NYT: I had “curb” for BURB, figuring that the curb is where one would wait for their carpool. That corner was last up for me, but BONDS made a little more sense than “Conds”.

    DERANGED reminded me of Hercule Poirot, who was fond of saying “Do not derange yourself.”. CLAVES was a new word for me – thanks.

    Nice debut! I hope to see more from Ari Richter.

    Oh, also: I am a big ole BLANKET HOG. We had to get a one-size-larger blanket so my husband would actually have a reasonable portion.

  2. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Put me down for one INFIDEL. But yes, “disarms” is really the word. A person may be “unarmed” (like almost all of us, all the time), but that means to not arm yourself, as opposed to having the weapon taken away.

  3. roger says:

    I think it would have to be “takeS heat from” if answer is “unarms”

  4. Stephen B Manion says:

    It took me a while to appreciate why several clues were spot on, most notably SWIMMER for Pool Party. I did not initially get that a party could be an individual.

    Simone Biles was ESPN’s most dominant athlete of 2018. She is by far the greatest gymnast of all time.
    And here is a link to why DALMATIANS are associated with fire stations:

    Excellent puzzle.


  5. Dedie says:

    What’s with the clue “word before bait or buzz”…..Oscar? Have l lived abroad too long?

  6. scrivener says:

    Loved the NYT.

  7. DD says:

    General: Can someone tell me at what time the downloadable Across Lite puzzles become unavailable? It’s about 6:30pm EST on Sat 6-1-19, and I can’t access the WSJ or Universal puzzles for Sat 6-1-19. (I also can’t yet access the Universal for Sun 6-2-19, though the WaPo Sunday is available.)

    Also, is the “unavailable” time later during the week (because Sunday puzzles might become available earlier on a Saturday)?

    Thanks for your help, and if this information is available elsewhere, sorry — I looked for a FAQ section but didn’t see one. And thanks for this great site.

    • Martin says:

      They come on line at different times, per their publishers. The WSJ puzzles are generally available by 4:10 PM the previous day, except for the Monday puzzle, which is usually there around 10 minutes after midnight on Monday morning. (All times are Eastern).

      The daily UC’s (including a Sunday 15×15) are available at midnight. The extra Sunday 21×21 is available at 11:00 PM Saturday night.

      That said, the one link at Today’s Puzzles for each puzzle advances on its own schedule and you might be getting messages that Sunday is not yet available. You can always go the the archives of these puzzles to select a specific date:

  8. DD says:

    WSJ: SASHED — “Like windows and geishas” — are you frikkin kidding me?

    Shenk and Ross, it’s 2019. The US still hasn’t had a female president; it doesn’t have adequate maternity leave and prenatal care; its maternal mortality rate is 46th internationally (worse than Saudi Arabia’s); the ERA fell by the wayside; and women still earn about 80% of what men earn (I’m not even going to talk about rape, domestic violence, and the fact that more than 40% of all murdered women are killed by the men who purport to love them). D’ya think — d’ya maybe just think — that the way women are depicted every-frikkin-where plays into the ongoing discrimination and violence against them?

    D’ya think that maybe, just maybe, you could stop depicting us in crossword puzzles as objects for sex/motherhood/weddings, and nothing else? (Yes, not all geishas are or were prostitutes, but enough were to make it a problematic word.) Male constructors: Please delete this from your wordlists; male editors, please ask for a re-do when a puzzle contains it, and for frik’s sake, don’t gratuitously insert it.

    Shame on you, Shenk and Ross.

    • Kelly Clark says:

      I liked the clue. (Except the the Western pluralization “geishas”…geisha works singularly and in the plural.)

      GEISHA are not the Eastern equivalent of prostitutes. That’s a Western misconception. I have no idea where you get that “enough were” prostitutes.

      Geisha do wear obis. Obis are sashes. Nothing wrong with that. And nothing wrong with what they do, either.

      They perform (from the Japanese “gei” — “performing arts.”) They are people (from the Japanese “sha” — “person.”)

      • Martin says:

        Actually, the sexual connotation is strong enough that “geisha” is considered an impolite term. They are referred to as “geiko-san” in polite company today.

      • DD says:

        Kelly Clark —
        1. Please respond to what I wrote, not what you think I wrote. I didn’t write that geisha are the “Eastern equivalent of prostitutes,” nor do I believe that. I wrote: “Yes, not all geishas are or were prostitutes, but enough were to make it a problematic word.”
        —–> From a synopsis of “Memoirs of a Geisha”: They arrange for Sayuri’s mizuage (水揚げ) (portrayed as a deflowering “ceremony” for maiko as a step to becoming full-fledged geisha) to be bidden [sic] upon by several influential men …
        —–> From the Wikipedia article on Geisha, which explains among other things that there was some blurring of the lines over the centuries: There were many different classifications and ranks of geisha. Some women would have sex with their male customers, whereas others would entertain strictly with their art forms. Prostitution in Japan was legal up until 1908, so it was practiced throughout Japan.

        2. Men also wear kimonos with obis, but in crosswords, obis are typically clued feminine. Why? Because American men assume that robe-like attire is inherently feminine (it isn’t), so they don’t bother to check?

        3. This isn’t Shenk’s first lapse. Almost daily he clues something in an objectionable way, or allows such clues to stand. He isn’t alone: Shenk and Steinberg do, too. Interestingly, Rich Norris (LAT) seldom does.

        4. For at least 4 years, articles have appeared in Slate and other publications about how tone-deaf these male editors and constructors are. They know that they need to do better, but Shortz and Shenk aren’t (at least Steinberg makes an effort to include more puzzles by women). Why aren’t they doing better? The solution is pretty easy: Hire women to provide feedback on the puzzles before publishing them, and take that feedback seriously. Their failure, or refusal, to do so is disturbing.

        5. A lot of people find this disturbing, including bloggers on this site. Some men find it disturbing (yay, Jim P.). And, as I understand it, The Inkubator was started in part so that solvers can tackle puzzles that avoid this disturbing tone-deafness.

      • Kelly Clark says:

        Thanks for the link, Matthew. Arthur Golden…wasn’t he the man who also wrote that, uh…”historical” novel about Cleopatra? :-)

        Thanks again.

  9. DD says:

    Universal: Jim Q., I think you’re being a little unfair re: the proper nouns. Keep in mind that
    * the four theme answers are propers, which makes them feel more dominant than they are;
    * “zeppelin” might have made you think of the band, and “fra” is a common noun in Italian but was clued as part of a name;
    * and three words that needn’t be propers — filch, civic, eden — were clued as propers; the editor should’ve avoided that.

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