Saturday, November 30, 2019

LAT 9:24 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:18 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (pannonica) 


WSJ 21:24 (Jim P) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

NYT • 11/30/19 • Deeney • Sat • 1130 • solution • 20191130

Unusual gyroidal grid here, with 90º symmetry as well as the standard 180º variety. As a result, substantial swaths of white comprise each quadrant while the central node is tethered to those by relatively gossamer transitions.

On top of the impressive construction, I found practically nothing to quibble with among the fill, despite all the heavy stacking.

First, a bit of personal narrative regarding 21-across [Island once called Serendip, source of the word “serendipity”] CEYLON – I was not long ago chatting with another crossword aficionado who in the course of our discussion characterized a sequence of events by deeming them in TOTO (54d) to be ‘serendipity’. In passing and to myself I recalled the relationship to the ancient name Serendip and so forth.

Then I went and solved this puzzle and, lo and behold, 21-across manifested. I reported this to my friend by way of minor coincidence. Then—and this is where the payoff is—she asked if I was blogging the NYT today, to which I quickly responded “nope”. Shortly after, I realized that, yes, I had agreed to cover the Saturday Times crossword. So it was quite a serendipitous chain of events that led me to blogging this puzzle in a relatively timely manner, rather than, no doubt irksomely to many readers, sometime Saturday morning. Ta-da.

  • Got faked out a few times, such as with 30d [“I do” undoer] ANNULMENT entered, I took –––N 37a [Common duel setting ] DAWN to be NOON and –––E– 55a [Part of a staircase] NEWEL rather than RISER. Fortunately these were soon corrected. Another instance: 2d [Eponymous candy man] yielded WONKA before REESE.
  • 11d [ 1975 hit with a classic saxophone solo] BORN TO RUN. Ah, but 1978’s 49d [Renowned London street in literature] BAKER Street has an even more classic saxophone solo, by Raphael Ravenscroft (whose name is even more impressively alliterative than Clarence Clemons’).
  • Favorite clues: 24a [FAQ checker] USER, 19a [It gets pushed in a corner] ESCAPE KEY, 58a [One who might find a pattern in the noise] DATA MINER.
  • Least favorite (but not offensively so) fill: 48d [R.B.’s blockers] O-LINE.
  • 25d [Alternative to Leyden or Boerenkaas] EDAM. Boerenkaas means ‘farmhouse cheese’ while the other two are toponyms. And if you spoonerize ‘Dutch town’ …
  • 13d [Some QB successes] TD PASSES.

And on that note, 16a [“That’s it for me”] I FOLD.

Will Nediger’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Taking Sides”—Jim P’s review

Interesting theme today which took a while to suss out. Each theme entry consists of two words where the first word is contained entirely within the second word. In essence, the first word “took sides” (a letter before and a letter after) to become the second word.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Taking Sides” · Will Nediger · Sat., 11.30.19

  • 23a [Knight after marrying a knight?] LADY GLADYS. I like the misdirection in the clue, but of course, Gladys Knight doesn’t have to gain her title through marriage; she could earn it on her own.
  • 25a [Be a bad Buddhist?] HARM DHARMA. Glad this didn’t go with a reference to the TV show Dharma and Greg but I needed to be reminded of the meaning of “Dharma.” Wikipedia says it means “cosmic law and order.”
  • 36a [Drama school that just churns out graduates?] ACTOR FACTORY. Strong surface sense on this one.
  • 58a [Wandering samurai removing wrinkles from his loincloth?] RONIN IRONING. This was the first entry I got.
  • 81a [Bollywood wrap party?] HINDI SHINDIG. My favorite entry. A lovely find.
  • 97a [Built-up section of a California city?] URBAN BURBANK. Solid.
  • 114a [Tender meat served like steak Diane?] LAMB FLAMBÉ. That works.
  • 116a [Earth, as opposed to Krypton?] LANE PLANET. This one’s kind of a clunker.

Nice theme with mostly very solid entries. I wonder what process Will took to find these. I’m thinking a regex search might produce the best results.


As for the rest of the grid, I really had to wrangle it into submission. I did not feel like I was on the right wavelength (or maybe it’s just too early on a Saturday). Things like SKYHOOK, REIKI, ABELARD, VEDA, and TALOS needed most of the crossings before they fell. And if you didn’t know TANK GIRL (52d, [1995 cult classic film starring Lori Petty]), which I did thankfully from many a LORI clue in previous puzzles, that initial T crossing TALOS might’ve been a tough one. LET AT (86a, [Unleash upon]) was no fun, especially since I had to change it from the equally un-fun SET AT. And UNFATHOMED (71d, [Not fully explored]) is unusual as an adjective, but at least it was inferable.

On the other hand, there was a good amount of lively entries that I did enjoy: PORTLANDIA, NINEVEH, NO LIMIT, “SAY PLEASE,” TAKE HEAT, COATTAIL, CYLON, “PRONTO!” and “¿CÓMO ESTÁS?”

And that’s all I can muster up for today. An enjoyable, rewarding theme, some good stuff in the fill, but also some challenging entries and clues that threatened to turn the endeavor into a slog. Overall, though, thumbs up. 3.75 stars.

Neville Fogarty’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/30 2019

My good buddy Neville has today’s LAT Saturday puzzle. Maybe that explains why my time was not great! This played a little tougher than normal for some reason; even the smooth Black Ink interface couldn’t save me this time! Neville is a brilliant solver and constructor, and I wish he would get more puzzles posted on his site! They are always a joy to solve, and this one was no exception. 4.5 stars from me.

Some notable entries:

  • 1A [Raccoon in a dumpster, facetiously] TRASH PANDA – Awesome 1-Across entry!
  • 17A [Daniel Radcliffe co-star in eight films] EMMA WATSON – I believe this is Hermione from the Harry Potter movies. I have not seen any of these. I know, shocking.
  • 33A [Roman : Discordia :: Greek : __] ERIS – I can never keep the Greek and Roman gods straight. Slightly obscure one here, but still a nice clue.
  • 39A [1963 folk album, and its title song] WE SHALL OVERCOME – This seems like the hardest possible way to clue this. I think this song is from before the 60s, and I wouldn’t describe it as “folk,” although I think Neville is referencing Joan Baez or Pete Seeger, both folk singers, in this clue.
  • 43A [Numerical pair?] ELEVEN – Clever little clue. I would have used [Stranger Things character].
  • 67A [Float component] SODA – Now I am getting thirsty; a root-beer float sounds really good!
  • 12D [Dummy] NINCOMPOOP – I’ve been called this.
  • 27D [New Orleans Square site] DISNEYLAND – This is the Disney in California, where I have never been. And probably never will be!
  • 46D [Posthumously published Puzo novel] OMERTA – I may have mentioned this before, but I have read this book, and it was really good. I may even read The Godfather book one of these days, although I already know how it ends!
  • 64D [Mo. originally tenth in the Roman calendar] DEC – A recent Merriam Webster quiz featured a question along these same lines – that I still got wrong!

Michigan has  big game today, so I have to go!

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

Newsday 11/30/2019

Another great puzzle by Stan Newman this week. He is still a great talent, and still quite prolific. This fill seems almost effortless. And yes, I did learn a new word in this puzzle, which may or may not be familiar to others, unless they are watchmakers! 4.6 stars.

High points:

  • 1A [Stumpery clue for ”broom”] WITCHCRAFT – This is more “punny” than “stumpery”, which is now a new word!
  • 17A [Vegas VIPs] ODDSMAKERS – They are VIPs here in Indiana, too, now that sports betting is legal here. But I think the actual lines are probably still established in Sin City.
  • 45A [Hippie quest] INNER PEACE – I tried WORLD PEACE here. I am not a hippie!
  • 53A & 3D[Black Hills granite nickname] ABE & TEDDY – As in Mount Rushmore granite. Nice clue tie-in here!
  • 61A [Mechanical part of a pricey watch] TOURBILLON -Here is that new word. I feel smarter now!
  • 13D [What the Remember the Milk app helps with] TO-DO LISTS – I am not a fan of using apps for this. Which may explain why I get nothing done!
  • 31D [Norwegian Cruise Lines’ headquarters] MIAMI-DADE – Most cruise lines have an office in Florida, but the ships are all registered in other countries for tax purposes. Time for another cruise, I think …
  • 33D [Conchs and abalones] SEA SNAILS – These are actually snails??
  • 34D [It gets the goods] STOREROOM – Best clue in the grid!
  • 59D [Lupita Nyong’o, in 2012] ELI – She went to Yale School of Drama. I thought this was a role for a minute! Us is on HBO, and I am still scared to watch it.

Have a great weekend!

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16 Responses to Saturday, November 30, 2019

  1. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I have always thought of serendipity as something like you are looking for gold and you find uranium. I don’t think I have ever thought about the wide range of happy or fortuitous events it actually encompasses until reading today’s blog. Serendipitous in a new way for me.

    Top was easy, bottom was tough for me. I have always liked four-puzzles-in-one grids,


  2. Pseudonym says:

    not Lester for me

    • R Cook says:

      Me, either. Some of the clues felt too much like “guess what number I’m thinking of”. I also don’t get some of the SE clues (e.g., GUY FROM JERICHO).

      • pannonica says:

        That’s another cryptic-style clue smuggled in. J(ERIC)HO. Seems lately that there’s an allotment of one per Stumper.

    • Paul Coulter says:

      Yeah, I didn’t find this one at all non-rough, either. In fact, I had my second longest Stumper time on it. As a side note, the inclusion of BRETT, clued as it was, was grating for me. In my opinion, people like him (also the a-hole who inflicted him on the country for a generation) should not be normalized.

  3. Lise says:

    The .pdf of the Stumper is missing the end of the clue to 58D, and the entire clue to 59D. I looked at it in IE and Edge, both the same. There is no page 2, or anything like that. The web version is fine – I just prefer to do them on paper.

    58D is “What to call some sisters” and 59D is “Lupita Nyong’o, in 2012”, in case anyone else has the same problem.

    The puzzle is kind of stumpy, but it’s a fair challenge.

    • David L says:

      I figured out those unclued words from the crossings — TOURBILLON was vaguely familiar.

      I don’t understand TAE for ‘letters associated with ticker tape.’ Some kind of stockmarket abbreviation? I wasn’t totally convinced that STEER was right — seems like only a vague connection to ‘overseer’ — but nothing else made better sense.

      I thought the puzzle was medium ruff at least.

      • pannonica says:

        My guess:

        “One of the earliest practical stock ticker machines, the Universal Stock Ticker developed by Thomas Edison in 1869, used alphanumeric characters with a printing speed of approximately one character per second.” (Wikipedia)

        Thomas Alva Edison

      • Dwayne says:

        Took me a while, but I got it. TAE = Thomas Alva Edison, who must have invented the ticker tape machine.

        • pannonica says:

          “Ticker tape stock price telegraphs were invented in 1867 by Edward A. Calahan, an employee of the American Telegraph Company.” Linked article above.

      • David L says:

        Thank you both. Pretty obscure!

    • Ellen Nichols says:

      I used to have that problem with the PDF for the Stumper, so I just get it off Newman’s
      site now:

  4. Brenda Rose says:

    In reference to omissions of last clues in Stumpers:
    I mentioned this to you years ago because I too like to solve Stumpers on paper. I always check after I print the puzzle JIC.

  5. C. Y. Hollander says:

    In the Saturday Stumper, can anyone explain the clue “Blower, briefly”, for TEL? I didn’t understand that one.

    Separately, I feel compelled to note that STEER does not rhyme with OVERSEER any more than avocado rhymes with mistletoe. Rhymes have to match from the vowel of the last stressed syllable, which, in the case of overseer, is the first syllable of the word.

    • RunawayPancake says:

      Blower is old time slang for a telephone and may date back to a ship’s blower, basically a low tech tube that allowed the bridge to communicate with the engine room. Each end of the tube was plugged with a stopper equipped with a whistle. One would get the other’s attention by removing the stopper on one end and blowing into the tube, which would activate the whistle on the other end. The stopper on that end was then removed and the parties could talk through the tube. Blower was later applied slangily to telephones.

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