Saturday, March 7, 2020

LAT 6:47 (Derek) 


Newsday 19:17 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 4:26 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 7 20, no. 0307

It’s late, let’s get right into it.


There’s a lot of terrific long fill, but some of the short stuff isn’t pulling its weight. AGUE, ISAO, SYN., -ENE, I’m looking at you.

Is the concept of CSA shares, community-supported agriculture, getting subscription boxes of fresh produce, really too obscure for the NYT crossword and other newspaper puzzles? Cruciverb tells me that only Matt Jones of Jonesin’ has alluded to the vegetable-oriented CSA. Whereas the NYT sticks with 34d. [Civil War inits.], for the pro-slavery side.

10d. [What the Copacabana becomes at the end of “Copacabana”], DISCO. Hey! The first 20 seconds or so of the lyrics would be good for your 20-second hand-washing soundtrack. “Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl / With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there / She would merengue and do the cha-cha / And while she tried to be a star Tony always tended bar/ Across the crowded floor, they worked from eight til four / They were young and they had each other / Who could ask for more? / At the Copa, Copacabana …” You can even shimmy while washing your hands to “Copacabana.” I mean, how could you not?

Three more things:

  • 26a. [One of four on Pluto], PAW. That’s the Disney dog Pluto and not the dwarf planet.
  • 23a. [Appreciates], SEES. Here’s a substitution” “I see / I appreciate what you’ve done here with this 68-worder, Robyn.”
  • 33d. [Obsolescent means of communication], PAYPHONE. I get excited when I see a payphone now, but they never seem to be functional. I wonder how many coins you’d need for a local call if you could find a payphone. Can anyone check in NYC before the last ones are removed?

Four stars from me.

Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 03/07/2020

Not too bad of a time this week, but a very fun puzzle. The stacked tens are all great, and there is even a minor whisper of a theme (see below). I count 12 10-letter entries all together, but other than that nothing longer than 7. Interesting, but the fill seems to be fairly smooth. All in all, I’ll take it! 4.2 stars today.

Some more fun stuff:

  • 1A [Island top] ALOHA SHIRT – I used to own a few of these. My wife hated them, thus I now don’t own any. At least not yet …
  • 16A [Short race, briefly] ONE K – This really is a kids race, isn’t it?
  • 45A [Early philosophical hot spot] ELEA – I believe it was Zeno of Elea, right?
  • 61A [United Nations goal] WORLD PEACE – Isn’t this everybody’s goal??
  • 65A [Obsolescent media] AUDIO TAPES – These aren’t obsolete, are they? Don’t they still exist somewhere? They still have vinyl LPs!
  • 67A [Island bottom] GRASS SKIRT – Nice tie-in with 1A. I do NOT own any of these, and I never will!
  • 10D [Beaux Arts __: longtime chamber music group] TRIO – This clue is worded like I know what this is about. I do not.
  • 14D [Stops pumping momentarily?] SKIPS A BEAT – This more describes somebody whose heart is aflutter with emotion.  At least that is how I normally see this used.
  • 26D [One flying without a plane?] SPEED DEMON – Nice clue! One of the best in the grid.
  • 42D [Org. that runs the FedEx Cup Playoffs] PGA TOUR – The PGA season has just started, but it seems like the playoffs, which start around September, are just around the corner! This is how life is when you are old!

I will stop there! My next LAT review is Tuesday. Until then!

Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 03/07/2020

Tough Stumper this week, but I have struggled mightily in the past with Greg Johnson puzzles, but this one wasn’t quite as bad. I am happy with a 19+ minute solve time is what I am trying to say! This was a beast at times, but I think Greg may be one of the best at clueing these Stumpers. I know Stan has a lot to say about the final versions, but you can definitely tell different styles that the constructors have. It may not be readily evident, but this puzzle is chock full of 10-letter words. They are interlaced all over the grid instead of in stacks, as you might usually see that many in a themeless grid. Great job of construction, but Greg is one of the good ones! 4.4 stars for this one.

Some highlights, slightly skewed toward some of the longer answers:

  • 17A [What some bylaws include] AGE RESTRICTIONS – This is waaay too vague. How about [Guidelines found on some toys or board games]?
  • 20A [Mast on the move] CAR ANTENNA – Is an antenna really a mast? This seems off for some reason.
  • 40A [Common ”Jeopardy!” responses] PRESIDENTS – I need to brush up on my presidential trivia for Jeopardy! And also my Shakespeare, along with tons of other topics!
  • 58A [Cause of a rock group breakup] HEAVY EXPLOSIVES – This might be the best clue in the grid. I think I snickered when I got it!
  • 2D [Hub at Harborside Drive, 02128] LOGAN – Let’s see: a five letter entry with an east coast zip code that is some sort of airport – you can figure this out with a little thought! Nice clue.
  • 27D [Bush 43-era threat] AXIS OF EVIL – Wow, haven’t heard this phrase in a while.
  • 28D [Dining table container] SALT CELLAR – I learned a new word here!
  • 29D [Shunned] IN DISFAVOR – This seems a tad contrived, but that’s probably because I never use this word!
  • 31D [You’re reading it now] THIS – I wrote CLUE in here at first. Tricky!
  • 32D [What some relays are made of] LAPS – Another great clue. I was watching some swimming on Friday, ironically!

That is all!

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Copperheads” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/7/20 • “Copperheads” • Sat • Burnikel • solution • 20200307

In the time-honored tradition of adding letters for wackiness, the abbreviation for the element copper—CU—is appended to the beginnings of phrases. Cu is of course from the Latin cuprum, but I’ve only just learned (or perhaps relearned) that it derives from Greek cyprium, meaning literally “metal from Cyprus”.

  • 23a. [Expansion-minded parish priest?] CURATE OF GROWTH (rate of growth).
  • 34a. [Most adorable piece of luggage?] CUTEST CASE (test case).
  • 49a. [Salted fish?] CURED HERRING (red herring).
  • 69a. [Pâté that’s been diced up?] CUBED SPREAD (bedspread).
  • 86a. [Exclamation from a china collector?] CUPS, I LOVE YOU (p.s. I love you). 27a [Fab Four drummer] STARR.
  • 99a. [Kudos to a knickknack] CURIO BRAVO (Rio Bravo).
  • 115a. [Toiletry item from Havana?] CUBAN DEODORANT (Ban deodorant).

The North American copperhead is Agkistrodon contortrix (Greek ancistro “hooked” + odon “tooth” and Latin contortus “twisted”). Surely it can’t be coincidental that the longest downs—spanning the center—are ARROWHEAD and SNAKEEYES? 39d [One given the shaft?], 52d [Loser in a casino]

Not part of the theme: 36d [Annoy a fellow motorist, perhaps] CUT IN (tin). I would have preferred that this distracting entry had been avoided.

  • 7d [Like a neglected cat] UNFED. Hey! That’s gratuitous.
  • 94d [Dressing sites] CRUETS. Thought I was so clever when I filled in SALADS. 13d [Dressing sites] SORES.
  • 24d [Birthplace of the steel drum] TRINIDAD.

    (If you’re intrigued, there are more familiar covers on the full album.)
  • 63d [Summer hrs.] DST. Yep, that’s this overnight. Don’t forget!
  • 66a [Gobbled down] ATE. 85d [Gobble (down)] SNARF, 90d [Gobbles down] DEVOURS. Conjugation!
  • 97a [Strip in the snow] SKI, 103d [Strip in the kitchen] STEAK. Hmm.
  • 43a [Alcohol-based punches, maybe] BAR FIGHT. Well! 62a [ ___ it out (engaged in fisticuffs)] DUKED.
  • 73a [Dinner in a bowl] CHILI.
  • 60a [Pound’s kin] KENNEL. 107a [Canine’s home] MOUTH.
  • 33d [Entitlement] RIGHT. Yes, this. Stuff your politics.
  • 35d [Checks-and-balances worker?] TELLER. Cute clue.
  • 34d [World’s deepest river] CONGO. Depends on your definitions and how you parse, eh?

And so I’ll perversely end on that low note, despite this being a solid, fine crossword.

Rachel Fabi’s Universal crossword, “Dairy Section”—Jim Q’s review

Some might say this puzzle is cheesy. I’d have to agree.

THEME: Words/phrases that begin with a type of cheese.


  • 17A [*Antlered rabbits of myth] JACKALOPES. I’m 95% sure I knew these

    Universal crossword solution · Rachel Fabi · “Dairy Section” · Sat., 03.07.20

    creatures were mythical before reading this clue. But there’s 5% of me that thinks I thought they were real. Anyway, “Jack” cheese. 

  • 26A [*1613-1917 Russian dynasty] ROMANOV. “Roma” cheese. 
  • 39A [*Ultrasounds, for example] FETAL MONITORS. Feta. 
  • 52A [*Soybean appetizer] EDAMAME. Edam. 
  • 63A [Green Bay Packers fan, or a hint to the starred answers’ starts] CHEESE HEAD. 

Loved the revealer on this one. Unfortunately I jumped to the bottom early, and I got the revealer too quickly, so I immediately knew what I’d be looking for. I think I would’ve enjoyed an aha moment more by going through north to south. Doubt I would’ve seen the connection between the themers.

My favorite theme answer was FETAL MONITORS simply because FETA is’t heard and is buried within another word. It’s also the only two-word phrase of the bunch, which I think makes for snappier theme answers anyway.

I didn’t know ROMA was a type of cheese. Is that short for ROMAno? JACK also seems a bit slangy in comparison with FETA and EDAM.

As a side note, I think I can live off of cheese platters and be a happy fella.

3.5 stars.

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15 Responses to Saturday, March 7, 2020

  1. Roybn Weintraub says:

    I belong to a CSA, I love my CSA, and my original clue was definitely about community supported agriculture. Looking forward to the day when the default for that acronym is about food, not war.

    And thanks for the Barry video!


  2. Ethan F says:

    Great NYt! Absolutely loved it.

    As for CSA—I get weekly boxes of produce in season from a local farm, which is what I assume this is—and I’ve never, ever, ever heard the term.

    Here’s hoping it becomes widely enough used for more crossword appearances.

    • snappysammy says:

      seemed more like a friday, my time was too fast for a great saturday

      • Chip says:

        Had a good time for me but still kept thinking I was totally absolutely completely stopped … only to have something unexpectedly open up. Cleverly clued … not esoteric … which I like.

  3. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. I thought it was easy.

    I have always thought that FLOTSAM and JETSAM were limited to when the debris was actually in the water. If it reached the shore the debris was called something else, such as beach litter or beach wrack, although wrack may be limited to organic debris. If the debris sinks it is called LAGAN or DERELICT according to Wikipedia.

    When I was in law school, we studied briefly the laws related to treasure trove and flotsam and jetsam. I don’t know if it is still the law, but at one time, if you found jetsam, you owned it because it was thrown overboard deliberately (i.e. it was abandoned), while with flotsam the true owner had some period in which he could claim ownership.


  4. Paul Coulter says:

    LAT – I got a chuckle when I came to GRASSSKIRT – “Island bottom” at the bottom of Roland’s grid. The puzzle began with ALOHASHIRT – “Island top” at the top.

  5. Rachel Fabi says:

    Re: universal
    Jim— it’s not ROMA that’s buried in ROMANOV— it’s ROMANO!! Very, very cheesy :)

    • pannonica says:

      “I didn’t know ROMA was a type of cheese. Is that short for ROMAno? JACK also seems a bit slangy in comparison with FETA and EDAM.” — Jim Q

      Additionally, that would make for 4-letter consistency across the themers.

    • Gary R says:

      I have had a cheese called “Cacio di Roma.” It’s very nice – milder and softer than Peccorino Romano, so, good for slicing to serve with crackers or bread. I’ve never seen it called just “Roma,” but it seems reasonable that it might be. And, as pannonica suggests, that would maintain the consistency of having all the cheeses four letters.

  6. David L says:

    I couldn’t puzzle out the NW corner of the Stumper. I had CARANTENNA but USERESTRICTIONS at 17A, along with TERA at 4D. Although I’ve been in and out of LOGAN quite a few times, I didn’t recognize the address or zipcode, and OVERTENDER at 3D seems made up.

    I don’t see how AGERESTRICTIONS would be associated with bylaws especially. There are plenty of regular laws that involved age restrictions.

    • Greg Johnson says:

      Regarding AGE RESTRICTIONS – if you think of groups like Youth Baseball. Players are grouped according to age (per the bylaws).
      Vague, yes but definitely valid.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I’m envisioning age restrictions in the bylaws for, say, 55+ communities.

      Agree that OVERTENDER is nothing anyone would ever use. INTERLOPED is also a weird thing—wouldn’t we be more likely to say “he was an interloper” than “he interloped”?

  7. Brenda Rose says:

    RAILS in the LAT: Is that supposed to relate to Sleeper Cars in trains?

Comments are closed.