Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Terminus”—Jenni’s review
This is a fun theme! The title can be parsed as “ter minus” and indeed each theme answer is minus a “ter” at the end.
- 22a [Hard-to-describe suffering?] is ABSTRACT PAIN (painter).
- 24a [Elite parachutist?] is JUMP STAR (starter).
- 37a [Jeers for Houston hoopsters?] are ROCKET BOOS (booster).
- 45a [Area man?] is a LOCAL CHAP (chapter).
- 68a [“No gifts, please,” e.g.?] is a FRIENDLY BAN (banter).
- 90a [Transport for Denver footballers?] is a BRONCO BUS (buster). This may be my favorite.
- 97a [Revealing skirts for Amazon shoppers?] are PRIME MINIS (ministers). This one is pretty funny, too.
- 115a [Welcome site at a law firm?] is a LEGAL MAT (matter).
- 118a [Vehicle that can withstand any tropical storm?] is a HURRICANE CAR (carter). Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a boxer who was convicted of murder and spent almost 20 years in prison. His conviction was overturned twice.
I like this theme. It was fun to solve, though not difficult, and all the base phrases are solidly in the language. This is no surprise; I’m a big fan of Zhouqin’s work.
A few other things:
- 5d [They may be hard to get off your chest] are TATTOOS.
- 34d [Numbers on Black Friday] have nothing to do with sales, except that they’re played in the stores. It’s NOELS. As far as I’m concerned, Christmas music should only be played between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’d be willing to stretch it to New Year’s, but that’s as far as I’ll go.
- 51d [Stout’s stout sleuth] is Nero WOLFE. I read all the Nero Wolfe mysteries when I was a kid and loved them. I tried to go back to them a few years ago and could not deal with the misogyny. See also: John D McDonald’s Travis McGee books and most of Kurt Vonnegut, both of which were teenage favorites of mine.
- 62d [Yuval Noah Harari bestseller subtitled “A Brief History of Humankind”] is SAPIENS. I am currently listening to the audiobook and I highly recommend it, whether you read it or listen to it. It’s well-written, engaging, and incredibly informative.
- 110a [1970 hit for the Kinks] is LOLA. I’ve been catching up on Fosse/Verdon while I’m laid up, so it’s not the Kinks song that’s in my head but the number from “Damn Yankees.”
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Sophia LOREN won an Oscar for “Two Women.” And now “Cabaret” is in my head….
Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I confess I didn’t really enjoy this crossword. I always hope to relish the Saturday puzzle, but sometimes it doesn’t pan out. I struggled to fill in the southwest quadrant, but there were things that bugged me throughout the grid. Long entries I wasn’t wild about include SOMETIMES Y, HAS A BALL (that present tense feels weird), “I SAY NO” (feels a bit contrived), STATS GEEK (is that a thing?), lifeless POLO MALLET, and dated EMERIL LIVE (the show ended in 2010, who cares about it now?). Shorter fill that irked: tiresome ADMEN, STET, ALFA, HIRES clued as HI-RES (Where are my Google Ngram experts? I’d love to see the numbers for hi-res vs high-res), AGENAS (!), and “I DIG” (which nobody says).
In the plus column, we have PET NAMES (though I’m not wild about the clue, [Handles with care?]), TIP O’NEILL, “OVER AND OUT” (which was just in Stella Zawistowski’s Inkubator themeless a day ago), WHILES AWAY, PRILOSEC, and the delightful MAMA BEARS.
Did not know: 37d. [Sci-fi author Simmons with the 1989 Hugo-winning novel “Hyperion”], DAN. Also didn’t know 24d. [Operatic song-speech], RECITATIVE.
Five more things:
- 10a. [Prime spot for a tat], PEC. That … doesn’t seem true. I put in ARM first. If you do a Google image search for chest tattoo, there are some on a single pec, but it’s really not any kind of “oh, yeah, everyone gets a pec tattoo” thing.
- 32a. [What 100-proof alcohol has], KICK. There are beers that are 5% alcohol by volume and they also have a kick. Wine, 12%, also a kick. This clue is weird. 80-proof tequila that’s 40% alcohol, also kick.
- 36a. [Paris is found in it], ILIAD. Paris the dude, not the city. Tricky clue.
- 1d. [Stack at a music store], CDS. This clue is for middle-aged solvers who have had the experience of flipping through CDs at Best Buy or a record store. Best Buy stopped selling CDs in stores a year ago, and I bet bricks-and-mortar music stores focus more on vinyl than CDs these days.
- 12d. [Practices cleromancy], CASTS LOTS. One of those rare things where filling in the answer from the crossings doesn’t tell you what the clue means. What is cleromancy? What is casting lots? I knew neither of these things before tonight, and I still don’t know them.
2.9 stars from me.
Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I didn’t even try the Downs Only on this week’s LAT Saturday; perhaps I should have, since I flew through this one! I found this one a lot of fun, but I think that is usually the case with a Julian Lim puzzle. I have seen his byline quite a few times, and his puzzles always seem to be interesting. A few of these entries made me smile or even chuckle out loud for a moment, so that feeling is always nice. A solid 4.6 stars from me.
Some of those funny spots, and other things:
- 15A [Afford a view of] OPEN OUT TO – This is an odd partial, but it is a phrase that is used, especially in describing real estate features. Needless to say this has never appeared in a NYT puzzle.
- 29A [LeRoy Foster, for one] MURALIST – I believe you.
- 31A [Robin’s rhyming call?] HOLY GUACAMOLE! – Yes, this brought back memories of the campy TV show from the’ 60s that I used to watch all the time!
- 36A [China quality] FINENESS – Yes, THAT China. Great misdirection. And no one says “fineness” in Indiana, but it is an actual word!
- 45A [Radcliffe grads] ALUMNAE – At the school I went to until 8th grade, they still have an Alumni Day, which is also a plural of alumnus, but not quite as fancy, I suppose.
- 4D [Upshot] END RESULT – This seems off; the “end result” of something is not necessarily positive, as this clue suggests.
- 5D [Seasoning for lamb] ROSEMARY – This clue is making me hungry …
- 13D [What “never runs smooth,” in a 1963 Gene Pitney hit] TRUE LOVE – I don’t know this song, but this phrase makes me think of The Princess Bride movie and the marriage scene!
- 31D [Hair-of-the-dog target] HANGOVER – The host on ESPN Radio this morning was talking about his hangover after celebrating with the Vanderbilt baseball team late in Omaha at the College World Series. They play the Wolverines in the Championship series starting Monday night. Which is probably why they could party on Friday night!
- 33D [Filo pastry dessert] BAKLAVA – This is also making me hungry …
I’ll be back for another LAT puzzle on Tuesday.
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Consider me truly Stumped on this one. I found this quite difficult. A lot of solving these difficult puzzles, at least for me, is getting into a quiet zone where I can actually think, and that wasn’t really the case here, but I don’t think it would have mattered for this one. Here is hoping next week is a LOT easier! But Matthew, whom I would LOVE to meet, makes great puzzles, and this one is no exception. Lots of toughies in this one, but if you’re a Stumper solver, then you anxiously await the agony this one will provide. You can see all of the error marks in my screenshot. Ouch. 4.5 stars, though!
- 26A [Romcom first encounter] MEET-CUTE – I thought for sure this ended in -DATE, but I have seen this word before. I am not a big romcom fan, although I have certainly seen enough of them.
- 39A [Crayfish and prawns] DECAPODS – Totally new word to me. Had to look up what it meant!
- 44A [Uncoordinated treatment] PAWING – This is vague, but I suppose it works. Maybe a tad too vague?
- 57A & 30D [Confederate] MELD & BAND – I don’t think I knew this word meant EITHER of these meanings!
- 3D [”Jeopardy!” champ, perforce] INFOMANIAC – I tried to get a phrase starting with TRIVIA, like TRIVIA BUFF, but obviously that didn’t work at all.
- 6D [One may use it with reservations] YELP – Best clue in the bunch. I still cannot believe how apps have changed our society. Yelp reviews can make or break a restaurant these days, much more than Zagat ratings ever seemed to. Or is it just me?
- 9D [Columnist’s constraint] NUM LOCK – Someone please explain this clue to me. How does this computer key “restrain” a column??
- 28D [Encouragement for a homer hitter] TOUCH ‘EM ALL – Great entry here. A common home run call in baseball, although I haven’t watched an entire baseball game yet this year.
- 37D [They’re often examined on ”Antiques Roadshow”] PATINAS – I am still looking for something expensive lurking in my attic. It hasn’t happened yet.
- 46D [Drag through the mud, maybe] WADE – I also barely get this one. “Drag” as in “walk slowly” through some mud? If you’re wading, it may or may not be muddy beneath you, hence the “maybe” in the clue, I guess. This one made no sense to me.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal Crossword, “Unforeseen Challenges”—Jim Q’s write-up
The competitive side of you might like this one today.
THEME: Common phrases reimagined as if they’re competitions
- 17A [Competition between defensive backs?] SAFETY MATCH.
- 30A [Competition between earthlings?] HUMAN RACE.
- 49A [Competition between naysayers?] NO CONTEST.
- 65A [Competition between servers?] WAITING GAME.
Four solid entries in a tight theme. Can’t ask for more than that! Except, of course, you can… by asking for fun fill. Zhouqin’s grid succeeds big time there too (did you expect anything less?).
RATS NEST, DANA CARVEY (nice throw-backy entry without feeling dated), BAHAMA MAMA, NITWIT, ESCARGOT. Not much SHIITE in this grid at all.
Enjoy your Saturday- speaking of competitions, I have to drive my nephew to his all-star little league baseball game.
dat was a hard Stumper!
My streak of finishing the Stumper was broken with today’s puzzle. That was a doozy.
Yes. Google got quite a few visits from my brower this afternoon…
I’ll second this. I can’t believe PILGRIM was the last word I filled in. D’oh.
NYT: had PENNAMES at 24d for the longest time and couldn’t find my error for the life of me! RECInATIVE seemed like a reasonable answer to this opera-ignorant solver. oops!
The SW was tough: I was using an old-fashioned wood pencil with its own eraser and now I have an old-fashioned wood pencil with no eraser. RECITATIVE took a while to appear, as I had “stops” instead of WRAPS and “rants” instead of RAVES, and “It’s a no” instead of I SAY NO.
Also, I did not know MORT Zuckerman; I briefly conflated him with Mark Zuckerberg, which may have been the constructor’s EVIL intent – ha! you got me. Seeing “big” used as a noun in the clue was fun.
I liked that I had to work hard for this puzzle, which I agree with Amy had its ups and downs. Anyway, thanks for the Saturday workout.
definitely harder than usual but a very good puzzle me thought
Lise, Oh, yes, I had Mark instead of Mort, too. I didn’t realize why, though, until I read your post. Thanks for that.
I love reading commenters who had to go through the same thought process I did. I actually loved the puzzle!
That was one of my favorite puzzles penned by Zhouqin. Seeing the many possibilities created by removing TER from the end in the language phrases is what amazes me. The parsing of TERMINUS was also great.
Jenni, I must disagree with you about Rex Stout or the characters in the Nero Wolfe pantheon being misogynistic. They admire and revere women. Wolfe is afraid of the power women have, and there strength and independence. There are so many great female characters such as Lily Rowan, Phoebe Gunther, Theodolinda Bonner, Sue Dondero none of whom depends on men to survive. Even some of his most awful but skillful and difficult to catch murderers were women. For books written in the 30s, 40s, and 50s they were ahead of their time.
Um, OK, so I’ll just ignore the flat-out demeaning statements and the fact that Wolfe’s fear of women’s power and independence *is* misogyny, kind of by definition. Sure. Whatever.
Please cite some “flat-out demeaning statements>”
Misogyny refers specifically to a hatred of women.
12 Ways to Spot a Misogynist
Men who hate women may not consciously realize it. But their acts reveal them.
The misogynists. You may have heard of them. But what you may not realize is that they can be anywhere around you. They are notoriously hard to spot. They do not come with a label attached, and they may even come across as pro-woman.
In most cases, misogynists do not even know that they hate women. Misogyny is typically an unconscious hatred that men form early in life, often as a result of a trauma involving a female figure they trusted. An abusive or negligent mother, sister, teacher or girlfriend can plant a seed deep down in their brain’s subcortical matter.
Once planted, this seed will germinate and begin to grow, the tiny root working its way into the fear processing and memory areas of the brain as its tiny stem works its way into frontal areas of the brain, affecting emotion and rational decision-making.
The first signs of misogyny are barely noticeable, but with additional exposure to neglect, abuse, or lack of treatment, this behavioral seeding will grow larger and more prominent. But even when the misogyny reaches maturity and the tendency toward acting with hatred toward women can no longer be controlled, the misogynist and the women around him will often fail to notice the condition until it’s too late.
The following traits are typical of the misogynist:
He will zero in on a woman and choose her as his target. Her natural defenses may be down because he’s flirtatious, exciting, fun, and charismatic at first.
As time goes on, he begins to reveal a Jekyll & Hyde personality. He may change quickly from irresistible to rude, and from rude back to irresistible.
He will make promises to women and often fail to keep them. With men, on the other hand, he will almost always keep his word.
He will be late for appointments and dates with women, but be quite punctual with men.
His behavior toward women, in general, is grandiose, cocky, controlling, and self-centered.
He is extremely competitive, especially with women. If a woman does better than him socially or professionally, he feels terrible. If a man does better, he may have mixed feelings about it but he is able to look at the situation objectively.
He will unknowingly treat women differently from men in the workplace and social settings, allowing men various liberties for which he will criticize female colleagues or friends.
He will be prepared (unconsciously) to use anything within his power to make women feel miserable. He may demand sex or withhold sex in his relationships, make jokes about women or put them down in public, “borrow” their ideas in professional contexts without giving them credit or borrow money from them without paying them back.
On a date, he will treat a woman the opposite of how she prefers. If she is an old-style lady who prefers a “gentleman” who holds the door for her, orders for both and pays for the meal, he will treat her like one of his male buddies, order for himself, and let her pay for the whole meal if she offers (and sometimes even if she doesn’t). If she is a more independent type who prefers to order her own meal and pay for herself, he will rudely order for both and pay the check while she goes to the bathroom.
Sexually, he likes to control women and gives little or no attention to their sexual pleasure. Foreplay, if it occurs at all, is only a necessary means to an end. He likes oral sex but only as a recipient. His favorite positions enable him to avoid looking at the woman in her eyes.
He will cheat on women he is dating or in a relationship with. Monogamy is the last thing he feels he owes a woman.
He may suddenly disappear from a relationship without ending it but may come back three months later with an explanation designed to lure the woman back in.
Only rarely will a misogynist possess every one of these traits, which makes it harder to identify them. Their ability to lure women in with their charm and charisma adds to the difficulty of spotting the early-warning signs.
Women haters (unconsciously) get off on treating women badly. Every time they can put down a woman or hurt her feelings, they unconsciously feel good because deep down in their hidden brain, their bad behavior is rewarded with a dose of the pleasure chemical dopamine—which makes them want to repeat the behavior again and again.
I know the Stumper is supposed to be hard but it seems like there’s a point where it crosses over into ridiculousness. But I did enjoy looking up the answers.
The solving experience with puzzles like the Stumper is so dependent on knowing one or two entries. DECAPODS was a gimme for this biogeek, for instance, and this puzzle fell a tad quicker than normally.
NUMLOCK is not a constraint on the column but is a constraint on the keyboard that someone entering columns of numbers will use.
I didn’t find the Stumper too tough this week either. NEAPOLITAN was a big help.
I had the same thought about the NUMLOCK clue but it’s a stretch, even by Stumper standards. In the clues for BAND and MELD I assume ‘confederate’ is meant as a verb — but even then it ought to be ‘band together’ or something similar. ‘Band’ is what you do to birds to track them.
Two things re the LAT:
1- alumnae is the correct plural for Radcliffe grads, who are presumably all women. A single one is an alumna. Alumni is the plural of alumnus.
2- is nobody but me bothered by “smoothens”???
I’m with you on SMOOTHENS. It’s easy to find written examples, but they always seem awkward, and it’s rarely used in conversation, in my experience. Would you say “smoothen that out” or “smooth that out”? An unfortunate bottom line to an otherwise entertaining puzzle.
Me. I am bothered by SMOOTHENS. Very much so. I finished the puzzle, didn’t get Mr Happy Pencil, and assumed that was the mistake. (It was a typo elsewhere).
My university used to have only male alumni. It now has both male and female alumni, and we are still alumni when referred to as a group. When it’s women-only, we call ourselves alumnae – at least my friends and I do.
One formerly women’s college that now admits both men and women refers to its grads as “alumnae/i” — the college honors its roots by not using the male plural as a generic plural for a group of women and men. Good solution, I think.
The explanations of ALUMNAE are enlightening; there very few all-female colleges around where I live (Holy Cross by Notre Dame is the only one), so this term is rarely used. At least I have never seen it. That explains the Radcliffe reference. I feel smarter now!
Radcliffe ceased to exist as a separate institution in 1999. This culminated a merger process that began in the early ’60s. When I was a student (’67-’71), Harvard students were permitted to live in Radcliffe yard. Female students received Harvard-Radcliffe degrees for some years in the ’60s and ’70s and today receive only Harvard degrees. The clue is not wrong because if you received a Radcliffe degree, you were indeed an alumna. It seems weird though that a no longer extant school would be the subject of the clue.
Much easier puzzle for me than for some.
I was bothered by it smoothens but it is a legitimate word.
About 36a–just finished The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker’s latest (she of the Booker winning Regeneration Trilogy), the telling of the Iliad from a woman’s perspective. Highly recommended!
The Stumper was super-hard for me as well, and I can’t shake the feeling that the PROM clue isn’t right. The Enchantment Under the Sea dance in “Back to the Future” took place on November 12, 1955, not the end of the school year, and the characters never referred to the dance as a prom.
Ohhh, that’s how to parse TOUCHEMALL!