Saturday, July 20, 2019

LAT 4:53 (Derek) 


Newsday 16:57 (Derek) 


NYT 5:29 (Amy) 


WSJ 22:54 (Jim P.) 


Universal 5:41 (Vic) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Irregular Plurals”—Jim P’s review

Slow going for me today, mainly in the SW, and mainly due to challenging cluing, not to any unfairness in the puzzle, MITA crossing TITUSS notwithstanding.

The theme is nice! Take a well-known two-word phrase where the second word is a singular noun. Pluralize that noun and replace it with a homophone to create wackiness.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Irregular Plurals” · Mike Shenk · Sat., 7.20.19

  • 22a [Trip aboard the Flying Dutchman?] SKELETON CRUISE. Crew. Nice start!
  • 27a [Pretense of being pugnacious?] TOUGH GUISE. Guy. Another good one.
  • 44a [Ginormous bump at the poker table?] COSMIC RAISE. Ray.
  • 57a [Contents of a Borg biography?] TENNIS PROSE. Pro. My only question is…why Borg? Is it to distract Trekkers into considering the Star Trek villains as an option? That seems unlikely. Then why not reference any of today’s current tennis stars?
  • 69a [Ornate architectural band?] FANCY FRIEZE. Free. I like this entry a lot, but it’s inconsistent with the others. The “free” in the original phrase is not a noun, therefore can’t be pluralized.
  • 81a [Cat on a “Have you seen…” poster?] MISSING LYNX. Link. Also, a 2008 animated movie out of Spain. Produced by Antonio Banderas himself!
  • 98a [Result of bumping into a coffee table?] HOME BRUISE. Brew. Good one.
  • 106a [Product of different varieties of salmon?] COMBINATION LOX. Lock.

A strong set—maybe not HAHA-funny, but definitely crossword-worthy.


Names to know:

  • ANNIKA [Sorenstam with 72 LPGA Tour wins]. Is it one N or two? A C or a K?
  • MORANE [Last name of French aviation pioneers Robert and Leon]. Needed every cross. I expected it to be something I recognized as an eponym, but…nuh uh. Maybe if I was up on my 1930s French fighter aircraft.
  • EDNA BEST [Mrs. Robinson’s portrayer in 1940’s “Swiss Family Robinson”]. This is digging too deep if you ask me. I hope I won’t have to know her in the future.
  • TITUSS [Burgess of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”]. This name, at least, has currency and is crossword-worthy. I just wish I knew it and the spelling.
  • MARON [Comedian Marc]. He appeared more than 40 times on CONAN O’Brien’s old show, more than any other comic.
  • FRANCO [Self-proclaimed caudillo of Spain], where “caudillo” means “A leader or chief, especially a military dictator.”

Clues of note:

  • 86a [The big house?]. SENATE. The House is bigger than the SENATE, so how does this clue make sense?
  • 103a [Dated letter opener]. SIRS. Now this is a good clue. At first you think it might be referring to an old-time physical object used for slicing open the mail. But then you realize it’s putting this salutation in its place: in the past as an antiquated relic from a more sexist era. (Not that we’re where we need to be yet, but this is on the right path.)
  • 105a [1965 Nobel Peace Prize recipient]. UNICEF. Tough for me to see at first because I put in UNESCO and didn’t want to change it. I also briefly considered UNISOM and UNOCAL (but thought better of it).
  • 112a [Department nicknamed “Foggy Bottom”]. STATE. Love that evocative nickname and the clue.
  • 34d [Jake Arrieta’s alma mater]. TCU. Who? I question why I should have to know this. Especially when, as an initialism, there are so many possibilities.
  • 52d [___ tea (preference)]. CUP OF. I so wanted this to be CUPPA, as in, “Fancy a CUPPA?”
  • 86d [Is on the board, in a way]. SURFS. Favorite clue. Of course I wanted SCORES there, but this was funner.
  • 90d [Beyond beefy]. OBESE. Hmm. “Beefy” to me means muscular. “Beyond beefy” to me would mean “overly muscular”. And the jocular nature of this clue is not appealing. Probably my least favorite one.

Didn’t mean to end on a down note there because I quite liked this grid. 3.8 stars from me.

Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 20 19, no. 0720

Yep, feels like a Trabucco grid, with fresh and zippy fill. You’ve got your SPAMBOTS, “OH, I GET IT!”, SGT. PEPPER, “AH, THIS IS THE LIFE!” (if only there were also an “Uh…” phrase in the grid!), CAT TREATS (casual, in the language, yet not remotely a common crossword answer—though the singular popped up last month in a Haight), TOP FORTY, mosquitoesque ATE ALIVE (mosquitoes don’t bother me or my mother), “BEER ME,” NERDFEST on the same weekend as the big Comic-Con in San Diego, PHONE CASE, MEGADETH, SETTLERS OF CATAN (good game), LONE WOLF, and MADE A STINK. Good stuff.

Seven things:

  • 15a. [Fix without doctoring], HOME CURE. Is that a thing? Home treatment, sure. HOME CURE doesn’t ring a bell to me. Maybe for curing meats?
  • 42a. [Of very poor quality, in modern slang], JANK. Wait! I don’t know this one. Janky, sure. Do I need to update my slang?
  • 25a. [Go with the wind?], SAIL. Well, SHART didn’t fit.
  • 45a. [Blues group?: Abbr.], DNC. Democratic National Committee, as in blue states.
  • 5d. [Dating letters], BCE. Before Common Era, not bisexual Christian eunuch on a dating site.
  • 7d. [Class in which kids may learn about sin?], TRIG. Ha!
  • 13d. [Kir and Campari, for two], APERITIFS. I have never quite understood what an aperitif is, and when I was a kid, I assumed it related to appetizers somehow.
  • 31d. [Mobile home?], PHONE CASE. Ah! Good clue. Welcome to the consumer service portion of this post. You can’t beat a Spigen brand phone case with the shock-resistant border. I’ve had one for nearly three years, and I’ve dropped my phone plenty but have had nary a crack in the screen.

That was eight. You’re welcome.

4.25 stars from me.

Robert E. Lee Morris’s Universal Crossword, “Shore Thing”—Judge Vic’s write-up

Robert E. Lee Morris’s Universal Crossword, “Shore Thing,” July 20, 2019, solution

WHAT I LEARNED: That band shell and camper shell are in-the-language things.

THEME: 39a [Beachcomber’s display that’s unlikely to include the ends of 17-, 24-, 48- and 62-Across] SHELL COLLECTION. No? Yes, the four other long answers are a collection that the beachcomber doesn’t have.

  • 17a [Fellow handling multiple instruments] ONE-MAN BAND
  • 24a [Contented sort] HAPPY CAMPER
  • 48a [Occupy the passenger side] RIDE SHOTGUN
  • 62a [Jeweled Russian treasure] FABERGE EGG

10-11-15-11-10. That’s a dense theme. Other stuff to note:

  • 11d [Squad with shields] RIOT POLICE
  • 26d [Leave in a hurry] PEEL OUT
  • 30d [Hearty, flambeed entree] STEAK DIANE

Good fill. Density of theme, though, will lead to

  • OOP
  • TRE
  • ANI
  • EOS
  • MBAS
  • AERO
  • NEA
  • OCD
  • RNA
  • UAR
  • TLC
  • TGIF
  • OGLE

Of this quality fill, we’d hope for only 3-4 units.

2.7 stars.

Paolo Pasco & Erik Agard’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAt 07/20/2019

Fun puzzle! With Paolo and Erik’s names in the byline, though, I would expect nothing less. For a Saturday challenger with only a 68 word count, this one solved quite easily. That mainly means that there is almost nothing difficult or crosswordese-y in the grid, which is what made it fun. I did learn a thing or two solving this, as I will mention below, but this was an enjoyable experience. I don’t know how many times these two have collaborated before, but they can certainly continue! 4.6 stars from me.

Some notes:

  • 1A [Title toon toy-fixer with a magic stethoscope] DOC MCSTUFFINS – I have never seen this show. But, then again, it is on Disney …
  • 20A [Texas art patron __ Hogg] IMA – This is a real person, but I always think of Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard when I see her name!
  • 31A [Pakistani prime minister __ Khan] IMRAN – This is totally new to me, but the crossings are not too bad.
  • 41A [Jewish youth org.] YMHA – Young Mens Hebrew Association? I think that is what this stands for. If I have heard of this before, I don’t remember it. They don’t have this in Indiana, at least that I know of.
  • 54A [Track star?] RECORDING ARTIST – Might be the best clue in the puzzle.
  • 58A [Action movie cry] “BATTLE STATIONS!” – Also very nice. Evokes quite a mental picture.
  • 59A [Audio feedback?] “I LOVE THIS SONG!” – All three of these entries along the bottom are great. I wonder if that is where the grid fill started?
  • 1D [Moves in for a short time?] DANCE CRAZE – This also is one of the best, if not THE best, clue in the puzzle.
  • 5D [Salad choice] CAESAR – This is easier than it seems: what other salad type is 6 letters?
  • 8D [Prosperous times] UPS – I read this as the shipping company, of course, and they are in the news for not having AC in the trucks, and thus putting some drivers in peril. Here in 2019, it seems silly that they don’t, but even just a better vent system would help!
  • 28D [Omniscient] ALL-KNOWING – For some reason, it stands out in my mind when I learned this word in grade school many years ago, along with other words with the OMNI- prefix, like omnivore and omnipotent. Not sure why, but this hit a nerve with me!

That is all for now!

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

Newsday 07/20/2019

I started out great on this one, with over half of the grid filled in about 6 or 7 minutes, and then ground to a near stop. The upper right and lower left gave me almost no resistance, and I was feeling good! Then reality set in, and I really had to hunker down. I succumbed to a grid check, since I had to finish this puzzle before it was too late to blog it, and that was eye-opening. I thought I knew 26A (see below), but it I went down a wrong path, and it turns out my initial hunch WAS correct. I was dead wrong on my guess of 40A (also see below), but the actual answer does make more sense! (Of course it would!) Brad has made another stellar puzzle, and while this was quite challenging, I enjoyed it immensely. 4.6 stars.

A few highlights:

  • 16A [The Marilyn Monroe of the ’20s] CLARA BOW – I think I first read about her when I was in grade school, when I would flip through almanacs all the time on the school bus.
  • 26A [Org. cofounded by Addams and Keller] ACLU – As mentioned above, I knew this, but I put in SPCA for some reason. Always trust your instincts!
  • 32A [Flu, formerly] GRIPPE – I don’t know this word. It does exist, though!
  • 40A [Buoyant] CHEERFUL – I put CAREFREE in here at first. It almost works!
  • 47A [iPhone feature] LONG I – I was totally stumped by this one.
  • 52A [Of Cornwall, e.g.] DUCAL – You mean DUCHY isn’t correct? Oh, it’s this word I have never seen before? In Indiana, we would say “Duke-y!”
  • 1D [Blandishments] SMARM – This is tough because I immediately wrote an S in the last spot. Whoops!
  • 2D [America’s Cup participant] CATAMARAN – Haven’t followed this since Ted Turner was sailing around in the ’80s, but I have no idea what type of boats these are.
  • 6D [One traveling via water jets] OCTOPUS – Best clue in the puzzle. It was in the easier part, so I wasn’t fooled for long, but great clue.
  • 40D [Word from the French for ”small hook”] CROCHET – I actually KNEW this!!
  • 42D [Dunderheads] CLUCKS – I had ??UCKS, and I so wanted it to be SCHMUCKS.
  • 45D [34-time Grand Slam singles finalist] EVERT – She won 18, which means she lost 16 finals. Still an impressive record, and she is a great commentator on ESPN. I wonder how she would have done in her era with modern equipment; I think she played mostly with small wooden racquets!

Have a great weekend!

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16 Responses to Saturday, July 20, 2019

  1. Cici Si says:

    blues group felt an artificial miss

  2. Evad says:

    I loved the NYT clue “Ghost buster, of a sort” for PAC-MAN, but wonder how long people played that after the “Ms.” version came out? It sent me on a search for the differences between the two games.

  3. anon says:

    NYT review: “25a. [Go with the wind?], SAIL. Well, SHART didn’t fit.”

    *unironic slow clap* Well done! I can see this coming soon to an AVX or a BEQ.

  4. Cole says:

    Since when is Tirana spelled Tirane?

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Right I’ve never seen that spelling. This was a mostly challenging but fair puzzle but that was JANK.

    • Rebecca F says:

      I also had that question. It appears that it is sometimes spelled Tiranë in certain linguistic contexts, but not when being used to pick out the city itself. I found that to be a sketchy clue.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: “APERITIFS. I have never quite understood what an aperitif is, and when I was a kid, I assumed it related to appetizers somehow.”
    Amy, you were obviously a smart kid. Although aperitifs are meant to be appetizing, less aggressive in taste, keeping the palate ready for the meal, some of them confound me. Like ouzo or arak, which I find very strong.
    Even though I grew up in the Middle East where alcohol was supposed to be frowned upon, there was a lot more talk about aperitifs and digestifs than I hear in the US. I usually put out a set of liqueurs after meals for guests, but the proportion of people who indulge seems to be small. I find that the most likely choice here is a coffee liqueur. Once in while, someone will get excited about a cognac. Maybe others could suggest before or after drinks that seem to be favorites for their guests?

      • huda says:

        haha– I do serve that too :)

        • Lise says:

          I didn’t mean to be sarcastic or dismissive, only funny, and glad that you took it that way (I hope). My husband and his friends are into craft beers, and small breweries are thick on the ground here in the Charlottesville area (one of them grows its own hops).

          Our guests like to do samples of various beers, which is an experience that may be similar to sipping a liqueur (and can use similar glassware), both before and after dinner. One bottle can serve several people, and they never seem to run out of new beers to try.

          Some of them seem weird to me, like the salted caramel beer from a recent tasting. They have really interesting labels, too. Anyway, that’s the long explanation ;)

    • pannonica says:

      When I was a kid I conflated aperitif and après-ski; both were outside my experience.

      Huda, have you ever tried Cynar? By far my favorite way to have artichoke.

      • huda says:

        pannonica- I have not tried it! Now I have to!
        Lise, I did think it was funny, and definitely more appealing to people these days to try various beers. I need to educate myself more…

  6. Lise says:

    I *loved* the Stumper. I got stumped in a few places: LONG o for LONG I, smile/frown for SCOWL (well, ours usually smiled, until my Hokie husband began carving a big VT, in reverse, so that the light would shine the VT on the side of our house; now, instead of carving, we disguise the pumpkin with glasses and a hat) (but I digress), Padua for PARMA, ONE minute/ONE moment for ONE SECOND, ocelot for BOBCAT.

    Things I liked: BOBCAT, OCTOPUS, TIME ZONE (really? fun to learn), the awesome Chris EVERT, YARMULKE, the clue for DALI (big fan), CATAMARAN, and BEETS. Beets rock.

    There was just enough stumping to make this a very satisfying puzzle for me. I’m all pumped up and ready to be humiliated by next Saturday’s.

  7. Hector says:

    Hard enough Stumper that I thought I might not finish. Rewarding solve.

  8. Billy Boy says:

    Most aperitifs are taste stimulators (pre-meal) with a hint of bitterness, not the super sweet or ultra bitter of digistifs (post meal).

  9. Tim in NYC says:

    Amy, you were correct about aperitifs. The word refers primarily to drinks that are supposed to stimulate the appetite, and by extension to the morsels that would be served with the drinks. Olives, mini-sandwiches, tapas, stuff like that.

Comments are closed.