Saturday, February 22, 2020

LAT 4:29 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:36 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 4:31 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 22 20, no. 0222

This is sort of a stunt puzzle, in that the constructor seeded the grid with pairs of 13s and 14s that include a Q: a QUIZZICAL LOOK, QUOTATION MARKS, a FROZEN DAIQUIRI, and a DEN OF INIQUITY. Along with those entries are these other bright spots: TRAIPSE, PAGEBOY, LES PAUL, FOR SHAME, APPLIQUE, and TOKYO BAY. On the down side, DIPOLES does nothing for me (your mileage may vary), and neither does MOA, but overall the fill’s quite solid.

Seven things:

  • 36a. [Imagist poet Doolittle], HILDA. I wasn’t familiar with her work, so I read several of her poems. I liked “The Garden” best. “Priapus” is also good.
  • 30d. [New Deal org.], NRA. Ah, yes. The nonterrible NRA! National Recovery Administration.
  • 42d. [Virginia’s ___ & Henry College], EMORY. Never heard of it! (Named for the same John Emory as Emory University, apparently.) Anyone else thinking of Emily and Henry, the Cox/Rathvon power duo of crosswords and such?
  • 28a. [“Lido Shuffle” singer Boz], SCAGGS. Enjoy the song!
  • 46a. [To the nth degree], ROYALLY. Sort of a slangy usage. “I’m royally confused.”
  • 4d. [The F.D.A. approved it in 1987], AZT. In the ’90s, AZT was followed by various antiretroviral drug cocktails, which have helped Magic Johnson and many others live for decades with HIV.
  • 9d. [“Bad, bad, bad!”], “FOR SHAME!” Okay, I cannot envision anyone exclaiming “Bad, bad, bad!” Can you?

4.25 stars from me.

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 02/22/2020

I think I have seen more of C.C.’s puzzles on Saturdays recently instead of Tuesday! This is one of the themeless grids that is slightly easier to fill, but with the removal of a few center blocks, there are some interlocking 11-letter answers in the middle, which is nice. The remaining fill around that is solid, as you would expect from a C.C. Burnikel puzzle. Extremely well done, as always! 4.5 stars.

Some stuff that caught my eye:

  • 13A [Dessert for one, maybe] MINI-PIE – Why am I thinking of the Indie 500 all of a sudden? And isn’t this called a tart?
  • 31A [Light lunch choices] VEGGIEWRAPS – I should have more of these for lunch.
  • 36A [“That could work”] “NOT A BAD IDEA!” – There are a few awesome casual phrases in this puzzle, which I love to see!
  • 58A [About 25% of California] DESERT – I knew California had a lot of desert, but not this much. I’d still move there, even after all of the raging fires, if I could afford it!
  • 59A [Sent revealing messages] SEXTED – This may not pass the breakfast table test!
  • 1D [“Maybe”] “I MIGHT” – Another one of those casual phrases. Actually, in a technical sense, this could be described as a complete sentence! It has a subject and a verb, right?
  • 2D [City for which a creed is named] NICAEA – I never know hot to spell this.
  • 10D [Sellers of some beauty products] AVON REPS – Should there be an indication of an abbreviation here, or is REP a word now? Just curious; still easily gettable. More of an editing question.
  • 30D [According to the poet’s oldest son, it was written “by a window looking down a wooded hill”] TREES – Now THAT’S a clue! A long way to go for a fresh clue for what I assume is the Joyce Kilmer poem, but I fell smarter!
  • 36D [“Impressive!”] “NICE ONE!” – Another great casual phrase.

That’s all for now!

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 02/22/2020

Definitely a Stumper this week. I surely learned a couple of words, which I will try to highlight below. I thought my time would be worse than it was, but after getting a decent toehold in the grid, progress was slightly faster. Matthew Sewell is up there, if not already, in Longo territory. Speaking of Frank: haven’t seen one of his in a while! We will keep our eyes posted. In the meantime, 4.6 stars for this themeless gem.

Some highlights, including a new word or two for you!

    • 1A [Little Havana dance style] MIAMI SALSA – Now I am going to have “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine in my head all day! Now you will to! Let’s pretend it’s 1985 again!

  • 17A [Turn biomass to fuel, e.g.] DEOXYGENATE – I am sure this is not a new word to me, but it might as well be, as often as it is that I DON’T use it!
  • 20A [Samuel L. Jackson presented his first competitive Oscar (2019)] SPIKE LEE – Just saw him at the Oscars, even though he has probably been shafted by the Academy for decades now.
  • 22A [Prone to disorder] ENTROPIC – This is clued accurately. A tough word, for sure.
  • 33A [Wicca category] NEOPAGANISM – This makes sense when you think about it, but also not a common everyday subject. Again: I live in Indiana!
  • 39A [Corkscrew-shaped Aquarius formation] HELIX NEBULA – This is also well clued, but also not a commone term.
  • 56A [Parting phrase] “¡ADIOS AMIGOS!” – You all know I like casual phrases, even ones stolen from Spanish!
  • 60A [All-sports wire pioneer (1945)] UPI – Fun fact here. One of the journalistic precursors to today’s live scoring in real time and live streaming of virtually everything!
  • 11D [Drawing rooms] GALLERIES – I would be shocked if this clue wasn’t used before, but I still like it!
  • 23D [Coming right up] ON NEXT – This seems like an awkward phrase, but I suppose I might even say this myself!
  • 31D [Uneasy feeling] THE CREEPS – This DOES have a NYT hit, but only one. This is a great entry, and one of the rare times the word THE makes the entry work.
  • 32D [Certain sausage purveyor] SALUMERIA – This is certainly something I have never heard of, nor do we have in northern Indiana. This is basically an Italian deli.

Everyone have a great weekend!

John Lampkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Quick-Witted” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/22/20 • Sat • “Quick-Witted” • Lampkin • solution • 20200222

Spoken phrases urging haste, applied to punningly appropriate professions. They’re all fill-in-the-blank style.

  • 23a. GET CRACKING, cryptologist!
  • 25a. SHAKE A LEG, chicken plucker!
  • 45a. KEEP MOVING, chess player!
  • 47a. STEP ON IT, exterminator!
  • 67a. GET THE LEAD OUT, you solver with pencil!
  • 91a. CHOP CHOP, lumberjack!
  • 94a. MAKE IT SNAPPY, quarterback!
  • 116a. LOOK ALIVE, zombie hunter!
  • 118a. ON THE DOUBLE, stunt performer!

These are on the whole quite good, with only a couple seeming overly contrived. And one of those is the central crossword one, which is readily forgiven.

Fast theme, fast solve, fast write-up!

Samuel A. Donaldson’s Universal crossword, “Name-Dropping”—Jim Q’s review

I feel like there was a missed opportunity for Sam to drop his own name from the puzzle! Something like, say, [Result of quality trip to the beach for NPR host Shapiro] GOOD ARI TAN. Heck, if you pluralize it you can even fit it symmetrically into the grid!

THEME: Common names are dropped from common phrases, which are then clued wackily.

Universal crossword solution · Samuel A. Donaldson · Name-Dropping · Sat., 02.22.20


  • 17A [Chimney sweep’s memoir? (Ella)] CINDER STORY. “Ella” is dropped
    from CINDERella STORY. 
  • 23A [Motto for a Boston subway lover? (Ruth)] NOTHING BUT THE T. Truth.
  • 52A [Stylish sirloin? (Ken)] CHIC FRIED STEAK. Chicken. 
  • 60A [Get in touch with a spam generator? (Tom)] REACH THE BOTBottom. 

Great idea and perfectly titled. Funny enough, I didn’t notice the extra hint at the end of the clue (the names that are dropped) until post-solve. I don’t think they’re necessary in the clues themselves. It’s more fun to figure out the name that is being dropped on your own imo.

The only themer that didn’t land for me as solidly as the rest was NOTHING BUT THE T. THE T (or any lone letter like that) feels too weak/cheap to be part of a theme answer and it also feels closer to regional knowledge (I only vaguely knew the Boston subway was referred to as THE T).

Smooth grid that seemed slightly tougher than usual. PCPS was the last thing I filled in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that as a plural!

3.8 Stars.


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26 Responses to Saturday, February 22, 2020

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: OMG, even for a Saturday, this was hard. Ultimately satisfying, but I had to work for it. In the end, it was a good kind of sweat. I learned some things, which is one of the many reasons I love crosswords. Fortunately I do know that Q is almost always followed by U, which is almost always followed by a vowel. Who else saw “Doolittle” and had the “A” filled in as the last letter and reflexively entered “Eliza” without actually reading the clue? And who else saw “Indian flatbread” (four letters) and reflexively entered “naan” without having any clue what a 12-foot extinct bird is called?

    • Gary R says:

      Hand up for “naan.” That definitely slowed things down!

      Also mistakenly thought SCAGGS was spelled with a “k” – another speed bump.

      Amy – “Bad, bad, bad!” sounds like something I would say to my dog. But I don’t think I’d say FOR SHAME to him (he has been proven to have no shame).

    • Martin says:

      The LAT had roti’s other name, CHAPATI, today. These things happen.

      In some places, “roti” can refer to any unleavened flatbread, including parathas and even fried breads like puris and bhaturas. Western style bread in India is sometimes called “double-roti,” probably because it was used by the English for sandwiches.

      • M483 says:

        “These things happen.” ( Part two)
        LA Times has cotton farm threat: “Weevils.”
        And NYT has Weevils’ targets: “Bolls.”

  2. Norm says:

    Was a bit taken aback to see “sheets” in the clue for 38A and SHEET in the grid at 45D. It’s not as though there aren’t other ways to clue LINEN. A nice puzzle otherwise, and a bit of a respite after the NYT. Thank God for Boz Scaggs or I might never have gotten started on that one.

  3. Twangster says:

    On the Stumper, how does “Middle of a mountaineering explanation” = ITS? Is it: “It’s too cold to go mountaineering”?

      • Twangster says:

        Thank you. One more: Why is EEK shouted in coffee klatches, as opposed to anything else? Are we assuming there are a lot of mice around?

        • Martin says:

          It’s a crypticish clue. “It’s shouted in coffEE Klatches.” It’s shouted when you see a mouse and it’s embedded in “coffee klatches.”

          • Twangster says:

            Wow, I never would have thought of that. Thank you.

          • Dan says:

            This was my first Saturday Stumper — what a workout! — and I was puzzled by that answer as well. (Does Stanley Newman typically use cryptic clues, or is this an exception?)

            Also: I wondered about the spelling of “klatches” in the clue. Last time I checked (ages ago) the standard spelling was “klatsches”. But sure enough, that is now deemed a variant and the standard spelling now omits the (first) S.

        • Dan says:

          I wondered about the spelling of “klatches” in the clue. Last time I checked (ages ago) the standard spelling was “klatsches”. But sure enough, that is now deemed a variant and the standard spelling now omits the (first) S.

  4. David L says:

    Stumper: I don’t understand “Not together” = PER. Anyone?

    • Martin says:

      A dinner plate is priced for all dishes together. A la carte is priced per dish. Hey, it’s the Stumper.

      • David L says:

        Oh, right. As in, I sell flour at $3.50 not together pound.

        • Martin says:

          A good Saturday clue doesn’t substitute for the entry in most contexts. If only one (“admission is $20 together or $10 per”) works and a bunch don’t, it’s an ideal clue.

  5. MattF says:

    Nice NYT puzzle. Hard to get a foothold, but managed finally in the SW. Then a matter of creeping around CCW to get back to the NW, finishing up in pretty good time. Knew about Hilda Doolittle, IOMOTH is ancient crosswordese.

  6. golfballman says:

    Derek, you want to move to Ca? With all the fruits and nuts?

    • Crotchety Doug says:


    • sanfranman59 says:

      Hey! I resemble that remark! However, I won’t be a Californian for much longer. It’s way too expensive here for my retirement funds. OTOH, Ohio (my original stomping grounds) is not. Much culture shock is anticipated.

  7. Crotchety Doug says:

    Stumper – Learned a couple words, which is usually a good thing. the long entries were mostly “of course” once I figured it out. Especially the SE corner, except I resisted filling in IDOL at 052D. Ideal sure, but idol, not so much. Unless someone can justify. I did check with M-W to make sure.

  8. Joan Macon says:

    Well, Derek, I love California and if you ever move here I will congratulate you!

  9. JohnH says:

    I liked the challenge of the NYT, got a decent foothold toward the bottom and with Boz SCAGGS, and was embarrassed at how long it took me to work out the top few rows. For starters, I tried the other spelling of CZARINA, with TS, and confused PARLEYS with “parlays.” Took a while to get over those!

    Then, too, I was sure I knew who wrote “Faith of My Fathers” but just could not call him to mind. Similarly, I was sure I knew about “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (although I haven’t read it), but could not get out of my head, even though I knew it wasn’t relevant, another famously sentimental fiction of a little girl, Nell in Dickens. I just kept repeating to myself the great line from Oscar Wilde: “one must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.”

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