Saturday, February 29, 2020

LAT 5:00 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:12 (Derek) 


NYT 5:38 (Amy) 


Universal 5:26 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Andrew Ries’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 2 29 20, no. 0229

Lots to like in this not-too-hard Saturday puzzle. The opening corner stacks up a RADISH rose, the marvelous ARETHA, and GO STAG. JAMESON Irish whiskey, CAROLINA barbecue, GIG ECONOMY, PREEMIE (raise your hand if you were a preemie or have been a preemie parent), the LPGA TOUR (fun clue, [Skort circuit?]), Chef BOYARDEE (who on earth came up with that bastardized spelling?), a DESSERT MENU, JANELLE MONAE, and poor endangered KOALAS.

It’s getting late, so five things:

  • 7d. [Grammy-nominated singer who made her on-screen film debut in “Moonlight”], JANELLE MONAE. Did you see her opening number at the Oscars this month? You might also like her song “Make Me Feel,” which embodies Prince’s sexy funk vibes.
  • 21a. [Easter activities], EGG ROLLS. I suspect the vast majority of people have never engaged in an Easter egg roll (as opposed to hunting for hidden Easter eggs, or not marking Easter at all). So it’s a weird clue, when the rather ubiquitous (at Chinese and Thai and Filipino restaurants, anyway) EGG ROLL is a popular appetizer.

    These aren’t Cap’n Crunch, but they are twin cereals whose manufacturers have ripped off the key feature of the other cereal’s core identity, and they both said “purple, gotta have a purple box.”

  • 45a. [Former home of the Seattle SuperSonics], KEYARENA. Blurgh. We’re supposed to know the names of an arena that a relocated team left over a decade ago? (Psst, Shea Stadium: You should go away, too. We have shea butter and you’re not needed.)
  • 9d. [Title whose name comes from the Greek for “alone”], MONK. Etymology trivia! Did not know this.
  • 10d. [Something Cap’n Crunch has], ELISION. In the word Cap’n, elided from Captain.

Overall vibe, four stars.

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

LAT 02/29/2020

I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of blogging on Leap Day, so here goes! Wide open grid in this week’s Saturday LAT challenger, but not a tough grid at all. Took me 5 minutes exactly to finish, and I think I had to hunt for a minor typo at that. Not that is wasn’t a fun puzzle, because it was! I am not too familiar with Michael’s puzzles, but evidently we must be on similar wavelengths. 4.4 stars from me today.

Some interesting stuff:

  • 1A [Baseball warm-up word] SHAG – This could have been clued in a much less palatable way! Nicely done!
  • 22A [One of two sts. admitted to the Union 11/2/1889] N. DAK. – I assume the other one is S. Dak.? Ugly abbreviations!
  • 23A [Elder of an ’80s-’90s country duo] NAOMI JUDD
  • 28A [Perceived Cold War weapons disparity] MISSILE GAP – Is this still a thing? Does Russia still have close to what the US has? I have no idea, but I seem to remember that the US might have waaaaay more.
  • 44A [Singer for whom Bernie wrote lyrics] ELTON – Recent Oscar winner Elton John, that is!
  • 54A [Pak of the LPGA] SE RI – I talk all the time about the dominance of Asian golfers on the LPGA. This is one of them.
  • 5D [Parachutist using low-altitude starting points] BASE JUMPER – No thank you.
  • 12D [Early Wikipedia competitor] ENCARTA – Am I showing my age in the fact that I remember this encyclopedia on CD?
  • 32D [Like Hollywood films before censorship guidelines were introduced] PRECODE – I am not familiar with this term. It seems like I should be.
  • 33D [LeBron, since Jul. 2018] LA LAKER – I am not a Laker fan, but I would like to see them win it all this year; partly for LeBron’s legacy, and partly due to the untimely death of Kobe Bryant. I’ll bet I am not alone in this sentiment.

I will stop there! Next LAT review from me is Tuesday.

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

Newsday 02/29/2020

Not to easy on this Stumper from Stan, or “Lester Ruff” as we know him. My time clocked in at over 15 minutes, which is still not bad for a Stumper and far from my worst, but I still found this to be just a tad thorny. Probably because I had some wrong answers in there that caused all kinds of issues. I had several wrong letters in 38A (see below), even though I kind of thought I knew what the correct answer might be. Once those long answers in the middle fell, that was the hardest part, but it took a while. 4.5 stars for Stan today.

A few more things:

  • 1A [Toon king in ”Madagascar”] LEMUR – I wanted to squeeze JULIEN in here, but that would have been too specific!
  • 32A [Foreign expanse patrolled by Italian police] ST. PETER’S SQUARE – So, then, what does the Swiss Guard do?
  • 38A [Second album with ”All My Loving”] MEET THE BEATLES – As mentioned above, I thought this might be right. I certainly appreciate the Beatles, but I was never a rabid fan, and they have been broken up for FIFTY YEARS now.
  • 56A [Pub game with pegs] CRIBBAGE – I played this when I was 10! I should re-learn it and teach it to my kids.
  • 62A [Caruso’s hometown] NAPLES – Not many options here, so a guess would probably work, as it did in my case!
  • 3D & 4D[Fighter since the ’40s] [Fighters since the ’40s] USAF & MIG – Nice dual clue.
  • 8D [Whom Sam calls ”Miss”] ILSA – This is a reference to Casablanca, but I had no idea while solving. Only noticed this on the review!
  • 28D [What WD-40 can get off your car] ROAD TAR – Good to know!
  • 33D [Batman’s mad Egyptologist adversary] TUT – Was this in the comics, or is this just a villain from that campy TV show?
  • 35D [George I’s predecessor] QUEEN ANNE – I don’t know my British royalty like I should, which hurts me on Jeopardy! tests. My main issue is I don’t care!
  • 38D [What primaquine cures] MALARIA – This SOUNDS like quinine, so I went with that theory and it worked!

Have a great weekend!

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In the Mood” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/29/20 • Sat • “In the Mood” • Larson • solution • 20200229

Lot on my plate today, so only time for a skeletal write-up.

  • 113aR [Repressed feelings, and a hint to the circled letters] HIDDEN EMOTIONS, which seems bit contrived as a phrase but googles moderately well.
  • 21a. [John James Audubon, for one] WILDLIFE  ARTIST.
  • 35a. [British-made SUVRANGE ROVER.
  • 43a. [Atlas alternative] GOOGLE EARTH.
  • 68a. [Saint Patrick’s Day celebrant, often] IRISH-AMERICAN.
  • 86a. [Argue about] QUARREL OVER. Nicely subversive of the containing phrase.
  • 94a. [Orange, e.g.] CITRUS TREE.
  • 16d. [First woman nominated for a directing Oscar] LINA WERTMÜLLER.
  • 47d. [Record store section] CLASSICAL MUSIC.

In each case, the hidden word spans both elements of the two-word (or hyphenated) phrase of the entry.

Even though I’m in a hurry and there are plenty of positive things to say about the crossword, I feel compelled to mention the »clang« I got from 18a [Old riddle question] WHAT AM I and 99a {Conclusion for Descartes] I AM.

Fred Piscop’s Universal crossword, “Gluttony”—Jim Q’s review

Now I’m hungry.

THEME: Foods that come from the pig.

Universal crossword solution · Fred Piscop · “Gluttony” · Sat., 02.29.20


  • 16A [Slow-cooked sandwich meat] PULLED PORK. 
  • 26A [Meat served at a “joint”] BARBECUED RIBS. 
  • 45A [Meat in an Egg McMuffin] CANADIAN BACON. 
  • 59A [Meat sold in cans] DEVILED HAM. 
  • 34A [With 39-Across, eat lots of 16-, 26-, 45- and 59-Across?] PIG OUT. 

I’ve never heard of DEVILED HAM. Is that like Spam? Or is it a regional thing? We have Taylor Ham in the northeast, and I never realized it was a regional thing until I traveled and tried to find it on supermarket shelves elsewhere.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed this puzzle. Especially as an omnivore and a bacon lover. If you’re the same, there’s a fun restaurant in NYC that I highly recommend called BarBacon. Yum. The puzzle in general played a touch harder for me than most Universals, but that could be since it was the first thing I did after opening my eyes this morning. I did like SHALL I GO ON and BIG AND BOLD. Perhaps the latter isn’t as much in-language, but it’s fun to say.

I wonder how ROAST [Honor with insults] got away without being clued as a bonus answer of sorts!

4 stars.


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21 Responses to Saturday, February 29, 2020

  1. Bryan says:

    NYT: I take issue with the clue for 15A. I live in North Carolina where there are two distinctive types of barbecue: Eastern style (vinegar-based) and Western style (tomato-based). This is a good article explaining it all:

  2. Lise says:

    Stumper: I loved the clues for 19A (“What may fly in fury”) and 24D (“She’s repurposed heaters”).

    For 1A I had TITUS then TIMON then finally LEMUR. I should probably watch the movie.

    Great puzzle!

    • David L says:

      I put in SIMBA, which gave me the M for MIG but messed up everything else in that corner until I realized it must be wrong. There are too many of these cartoon African animal movies and I haven’t seen any of them, so I only know random names from crosswords.

  3. MattF says:

    Got caught on the arena— and on LINDE/LYNDE. Hmmph.

  4. gaconnel says:

    As for the deviled ham in the Universal, I grew up in the northeast, and it was well known. The brand was Underwood, and the label included a red devil. Very small can. And it’s still out there.

    • M483 says:

      I’m from the northeast also. My Mother made what she called deviled ham, which was basically ham salad. I just looked it up and the Deviled ham sold in cans is ham salad with diced ham, mayo, seasonings, etc. It is used as a spread.

  5. Twangster says:

    Well I solved the Stumper, which suggests it wasn’t too rough.

    Can someone please explain why repurposed heaters = THERESA or THE RESA? Something to do with guns or Theresa May I’m guessing?

  6. pseudonym says:

    Disappointing Stumper with all its trivia.

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    In a New York Times crossword, Shea Stadium seems completely appropriate, as would a reference to Ebbets Field.

  8. R says:

    KEY ARENA still stands and is currently being renovated to be the home of the new, still un-mascoted, NHL team starting next year. It was also the home of the WNBA Seattle Storm until this renovation started a couple years ago. It won’t be totally irrelevant for too much longer!

  9. david says:

    What’s up with the Newsday website? I get a 404 error trying to load the Stumper.

  10. Seth says:

    Stumper: is there some more specific reason DESSERTS is the answer for “Trifles with wine”? It just seems so generic for such a specific clue. Actually, it seems backwards: a clue of “Desserts with wine” would give TRIFLES, but not the other way around.

  11. Ethan Young says:

    Re: WSJ Saturday. Isn’t the correct spelling of the rock band in 91 down not “Cream”? Am I missing something?

Comments are closed.