Saturday, March 14, 2020

LAT 5:44 (Derek) 


Newsday 16:24 (Derek) 


NYT 4:59 (Amy) 


Universal 4:09 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 14 20, no. 0314

This puzzle is both an upper and a downer. It’s a downer because the bulk of the long showpiece entries are Downs. It’s an upper because so many of these long answers are wonderful to encounter in a crossword. On my faves list, we have a KEYCARD, AIR JORDANS, a NERVE BLOCK, CARAMEL CORN!!, the JESUS LIZARD!!!, and “SETTLE DOWN!” as an imperative. Trade names FLICKR and TAZO, “BUG OFF!”, FAKE ID, SPENDY (a term I picked up from a friend who adopted it in Minnesota or Iowa), a pretty DAHLIA, and ASKANCE (not far behind akimbo on the list of “a-” words I love) also please me.

Anyone else initially fill in JANES DOE as the plural at 16a? No? Just me?

In the debit column, I don’t love HAS A SIP, OH I SEE, MR NOBODY (is that a thing?), and some of the short fill. The fun long fill escorted me through the solve, though, and kept the puzzle enjoyable.

Five more things:

  • 20a. [___ justice], DOES. Feels awkward to clue it that way. Also looks weird to have this in the same grid as JANE DOES, though they are distinctly different things.
  • 25a. [Refuse to go there!], DUMP. Took me a while to make sense of the clue. A garbage DUMP is where refuse (the noun, REF-use) goes, but in the clue, “refuse” reads like a verb (ruh-FUZE).
  • 35a. [Final part of a track race], BELL LAP. I did not know this, but my husband’s a runner who watches televised track competitions, and he absolutely knows the term.
  • 48d. [“Independents Day” author Lou], DOBBS. Gah. Remember when he had gray hair, many years ago? Now it’s brown.
  • 54d. [Pat on the back], BURP. So “pat on the back” has the literal/physical meaning, and also the idiomatic “praise” meaning. Next time you want to praise someone, just BURP. They will feel so loved.

4.2 stars from me. Wash your hands!

Wendy L. Brandes and Martha Jones’ Universal crossword, “Pointed Words”—Jim Q’s review

THEME: Things that are spiked


Universal crossword solution · Wendy L. Brandes · Martha Jones · “Pointed Words” · Sat., 03.14.20

  • 17A [What a party host may spike] FRUIT PUNCH. Or, ya’ know, more stereotypically, a kid at prom.
  • 25A [What a barber may spike] SHORT HAIR. 
  • 50A [What an editor may spike] NEWS STORY. 
  • 58A [What an Olympic athlete may spike] VOLLEYBALL. 

Cute, consistent theme. I like it when themes are easy to grok and explain to novice solvers, like this one is. The SW corner really feels like it wants to shine with OPEN ARMS, HOME SOIL, and SLOW PACE, but two of those feel off to me. Namely HOME SOIL clued as a sports advantage. I think HOME TURF. Good luck googling HOME SOIL without finding reference to the name of a Star Trek episode (trying to google it without star trek didn’t help much either). SLOW PACE doesn’t strike me as a stand alone phrase either. I liked the opposite corner better with AIR ITALIA, SALE ITEM, and SWEARS TO. 

Overall, solid. 3.6 Stars.

Debbie Ellerin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 03/14/2020

Smooth solving. And just as I was rounding into ACPT solving shape, the coronavirus has knocked it out! But that is probably a good thing, as this virus is sweeping around the world like wildfire, and there could possibly be long range implications if something isn’t done, so hopefully we can do the ACPT later in the year.

I enjoy Debbie’s puzzles, and ironically I was hoping to meet her at her first ACPT next week! That too will have to wait. In the meantime, I enjoyed this 72-worder. Lots of fun and interesting answers in here. Which is what we want! 4.3 stars today.

Some of that fun stuff:

  • 1A [Hardly a routine favor] BIG ASK – Great entry, that surprisingly has no NYT hits!
  • 16A [“And how!”] “IS IT EVER!” – Awesome casual phrase here.
  • 36A [Galleria degli Uffizi city] FIRENZE – Italy has certainly been in the news, and if things here get like they are there, we may be in for a wild ride. Also, this is Florence in English!
  • 37A [Range in which 7 is neutral] PH SCALE – Remember how you would test something in science class with a strip? That coronavirus test needs to be this easy!
  • 57A [Rule that keeps you from spelling weirdly?] I BEFORE E – I love this entry, and I realize it is maddening in English trying to deal with this rule, since it has tons of exceptions, like the word “weirdly” in the clue!
  • 23D [1994 co-Nobelist with Yasser and Shimon] YITZHAK – This would be Rabin, along with Arafat and Peres. And there still is unrest over there.
  • 24D [Fluffy toy] SHIH TZU – Oh, a toy dog!
  • 27D [“Anaconda” rapper Nicki] MINAJ – I know some people don’t know rap, but I think she is famous enough to have broad enough appeal. But otherwise, learn your rap music! And your classical, and your jazz, and your country …
  • 33D [Enclave in Italy] SAN MARINO – Meaning surrounded country, basically. Isn’t the Vatican one of these as well?
  • 52D [“Big Brother” host Julie __ Moonves] CHEN – I do not watch this show. But there was some controversy with her hubby in the height of the #MeToo movement. Not sure what came of that; I will leave you, the reader, to Google it.

I guess I will have to find some puzzles to occupy me while I am holed up on weekends since everything is cancelled and there are virtually no sports on! Other than the lack of sports, sounds like a great excuse to do puzzles!

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

Newsday 03/14/2020

Definitely stumped this week. I found this wildly difficult. Even when I thought I had a toehold somewhere, I still hit roadblocks. I am finding that I need TOTAL concentration to finish one of these puzzles anymore; that is why I mention noise-cancelling headphones every so often. They help a lot! (Drooling over some Skullcandy ANC Crushers at the moment; but they are $300+!) Anyway, Brad has made yet another stellar puzzle, and it was a blast to solve. I will miss seeing him next week! 4.5 stars this week.

Lots to discuss:

  • 12A [Pathway on old sailing ships] ROPE WALK – I had the WALK part, but this did not come easily to me. It does make me want to finish playing Return of the Obra Dinn, which I started a while ago. Maybe this is another in-house activity to pursue!
  • 16A [Fashion effect aka ”manscara”] GUYLINER – GREAT entry! Best in the bunch! I thought of the lead singer of Green Day when I solved this!

    Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day

  • 29A [World leader with a judo DVD] PUTIN – I’ll bet this is a hoot!
  • 34A [Many an outboard] V-SIX – Also many cars!
  • 54A [”Don’t argue!”] “I INSIST!” – Great casual phrase here.
  • 3D [It’s busted in Hitchcock’s ”Topaz”] SPY RING – I have never seen this movie, so now I will have to look it up. As mentioned above, there may be a need for self-entertainment, but that has NEVER been a problem for me, so here is another activity to pursue!
  • 14D [Sea terror of Norse legend] KRAKEN – Also the name of a fine rum!
  • 31D [School with a sci-fi society] MIT – It figures these nerds would have a Trekkie club. I say that with love, since if I lived out east I would likely be IN this club! I am not a Trekkie, but I am a nerd of galactic proportions!
  • 37D [Olds was the first to offer them to the public (1972)] AIRBAGS – I didn’t realize they were this old. Nice bit of trivia!
  • 38D [Chesapeake bait] CRAB POT – This entry is making me hungry …
  • 47D [Address for L.A.’s Laugh Factory] SUNSET – I suppose they do say that something or other is “on Sunset,” but this seems a tad vague. If something is “on Sunset,” I suppose if you’re in LA that narrows it down enough. Is this like if something is in Vegas on “the Strip”?

There is a new Panda Magazine coming out today, so I will be busy. Have a great weekend, even if you’re holed up inside!

Kevin Salat’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fabricated” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/14/20 • “Fabricated” • Sat • Salat • solution • 20200314

Brief, tardy write-up. These things are not unrelated.

Theme is types of fabric appearing sequentially but not entirely contiguously within longer phrases.

  • 27a. [Asks for help on a particular matter, say] PRAYS ON IT (rayon).
  • 46a. [Exhortation during intense exercise] FEEL THE BURN! (felt).
  • 69a. [Exception to a “no pets” policy] GUIDE ANIMAL (denim).
  • 88a. [Primates named after friars] CAPUCHIN MONKEYS (chino). Only themer to contain a singleton letter as part of the hidden word.
  • 108a. [Upstage] STEAL A SCENE (lace).

Additionally there are two long downs which function as revealers:

  • 19d [Completely false, or what the letters between the circles are?] CUT FROM WHOLE CLOTH. Referring to the non-circled letters is kind of a tortured way to explain the mechanism. But hey I guess you have to work with the metaphors you’ve got.
  • 22d [Overflowing, or what the letters in the circles are?] BURSTING AT THE SEAMS. I’m not sure I can parse this as revealer at all. But again, it’s a textile metaphor and it has the right length.

Might have been better to just include those phrases without trying to shoehorn them into the role of revealer.

Biological obscuriana: 76d [Flower cluster with a flat top] CORYMB. 90d [Waxy area on a raptor’s beak] CERE.

Pattern in the grid’s left–right symmetry looks to me a bit like a spider, which would be apt, as Arachne (their namesake) was a weaver in Greek myth.

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16 Responses to Saturday, March 14, 2020

  1. Evad says:

    Came here looking for a POD = peeved explanation. [/showing my age]

  2. Billy Boy says:

    17A is a little bit demeaning and random, no one (implied) ‘signs up’ to be JV, I wanted AY for AYSO –
    3D is not really a remedy, more what is expected.
    Re: Evad & MattF
    56D, that stumped me for a while with 55A being so literal and 59A being so rural

    I still enjoyed the puzzle.

    • Gary R says:

      Re: 17-A: When I was in high school (many years ago), junior varsity football, basketball, tennis, etc. was what you “went out for” if you were a freshman or sophomore. “For kicks” (and I get the soccer reference) might seem to imply that JV sports were not competitive, which was far from the truth.

      Re: 56-D: I think of it more as “P.O.-ed.” I suppose PO’D is legit, but, why bother when there’s a straightforward way to clue POD?

    • Seth says:

      I don’t get the qualms about 17-A. First of all, tons of kids sign up for JV sports, because they know they won’t make varsity but still want to play (I’m a high school teacher). But why bring up “signing up” at all? That’s not at all part of the clue. And how is it demeaning? “For kicks” isn’t being used in a way to imply that JV sports aren’t competitive. It’s just a pun on the word “kicks” because…soccer. That’s why the question mark is there. And why is it random? JV SOCCER is an extremely common thing that basically every high school with sports has.

  3. MattF says:

    As noted, a lot of good stuff in the NYT, and really nothing to complain about. POD was the last entry I filled in, JESUSLIZARD was my fave entry.

  4. David L says:

    I found today’s Stumper easier than usual. The hardest part was the middle south: VOGUE (I thought VOWEL at first); DOGSIT (not a phrase I’m familiar with, unless in the form DOG SIT); NOS (‘mailed regrets’ — why mailed?); TEATOWEL (I use them to dry cutlery, not carry cutlery around); YEASTY (I had FEISTY at first).

    • Paul Coulter says:

      I liked Brad’s grid. My time came in a bit below my average for a Stumper. I also question the definition used for TEATOWEL. It didn’t slow me down, since I had most of the letters filled in when I came to it. I also noticed that DOGS IT could be DOGSIT. In my part of the country, the former is in common use.

    • pseudonym says:

      I had trouble in the SE. Among other things, I didn’t know TOWEL, YEASTY or SUNSET. Rest of the puzzle was of standard difficulty I thought.

  5. RichardZ says:

    Re 45D in today’s Stumper – at least in several famous Bach compositions (the Cello Suites, the English Suites), a prelude doesn’t precede a SUITE, but is the opening movement of a suite. A prelude might precede an act in an opera, but the clue as written seems incorrect.

    • David L says:

      I wondered about that. My first thought was OPERA but clearly SUITE was intended. But my musical knowledge is not that great.

  6. AmyS says:

    Newsday 12A: Isn’t this definition wrong? I understood ropewalks to be primarily, if not exclusively, found on land, and while they can be described as a “pathway” I don’t think that’s a good explanation of their purpose.

    • RunawayPancake says:

      Agreed. But what’s a Stumper without a few “iffy” clues? And sometimes more than a few. I think half the fun of the Stumper is seeing how far the constructor can push the envelope.

  7. Alex R says:

    @pannonica, I think 22D in the WSJ crossword refers to how the letter that’s in between the circled letters spells out S-E-A-M-S

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