Saturday, April 4, 2020

LAT 4:42 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:35 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Yacob Yonas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 4 20, no. 0404

Okay! I turned off the solving timer because we’re watching RuPaul’s Drag Race here. Perfect accompaniment to the Saturday puzzle, which didn’t feel too, too difficult, just challenging enough.

Highlights: I love a good GAPING MAW any time. That opening corner stack with a BLOW DART and an ALPHA NERD, with rock-solid good crossings, is cool. Actually, all four corner stacks are impressive: I DARESAY, NINTENDO, DATAPLAN; CSI MIAMI, Pluto the ROMAN GOD (not to be confused with Pluto the DWARF planet elsewhere in the grid), and ON SAFARI; plus a READATHON (tell us what book you’re currently reading, if you can focus on a book these days), SET AT EASE (man, would I like to be set at ease), and a Potterverse DEMENTOR. ONE-OFFS, CROP TOP, and much-needed REM SLEEP also appealed.

Did not know: 48a. [Nymph who divulged Jupiter’s affair with Juturna, in Ovid], LARA.

Fave clues:

  • 1d. [They can be everything], BAGELS. Make mine plain. Or (don’t @ me) maybe cranberry.
  • 12d. [Company whose name is said to mean “Leave luck to heaven”], NINTENDO. How have I never heard this trivia?
  • 35d. [Where you might incur charges overseas], ON SAFARI. As in a charging rhino. Watch out!

What else? 38d. [Like mushrooms and shrimp, often], UNEATEN, obviously. Wait, that’s just on my plate. The answer is apparently SAUTEED.

4.2 stars from me. Be well! Take a walk this weekend if you can do so without hitting any crowds.

Brian E. Paquin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 04/04/2020

Jammed through this one. I don’t believe I have ever met Brian, but I have done several of his puzzles over the years, and they are always well done. This one is no exception. The constructor in me thinks this puzzle started with the entries in the middle, but that is a question I would love to ask Brian! 4.5 stars for this one.

A few things:

  • 16A [Online group study] WEBINAR – I’ll bet you’re using FaceTime, Skype and even Zoom much more now! I know I am!
  • 31A [Enthusiastic well-wisher] BACK SLAPPER – Enthusiastic, perhaps even annoying!
  • 35A [Retire] PUT OUT TO PASTURE – This is going to happen to me sometime soon …
  • 37A [Took over in a supervisor’s absence] HELD THE FORT – Another timely entry due to this crisis. In some cases, as in hotels and restaurants, the fort may just fall.
  • 45A [12-time NBA All-Star Olajuwon, as originally spelled] AKEEM – He changed the spelling to Hakeem later in his career. I will leave it to you to look up why. Consider it a quarantine side project!
  • 8D [1957 Marty Robbins hit] “A WHITE SPORT COAT” – I have never heard this song. I did look it up, and I think it is not only before my time, but I also don’t know much country music from that time.
  • 12D [Without thinking] ON AN IMPULSE – I don’t usually do things in this manner, and only moreso especially now!
  • 14D [Hungarian mathematician Paul] ERDOS – I HAVE heard of this guy! In my mind, he is slightly crossword-famous!
  • 22D [“Happy Days” character Ralph] MALPH – Man, I haven’t seen Happy Days in a million years. Another quarantine project!
  • 41D [Just manage] EKE OUT – Sadly, another timely entry, as unemployment is skyrocketing and many will find it difficult to “eke out” their existence.

Keep doing those puzzles! I am including jigsaws, which I have done a couple of during this quarantine. I plan on doing more this weekend.

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 04/04/2020

I can never tell if Stan is going to stop using pseudonyms! He had a recent Stumper with his own byline recently, and I thought that had signaled a change. But I think that he uses his byline quite often. I don’t always have time to do every LAT puzzle, but I have seen him use his byline there many times. (And by byline, I mean “S.N.”) But for Stumpers, maybe the pseudonym has to do with how hard the Stumper is. “Lester Ruff” may denote a slightly easier puzzle, while “Anna Stiga” has a slightly higher degree of difficulty. Perhaps I will ask Stan in person: in September, assuming this madness is over by then! I got this one done in just under 15 minutes after a pretty good start, so I would not class this with the hardest Stumpers, but still quite a challenge. There are a few error marks in the grid image above; they were all stupid errors on my part. I think I need new glasses! 4.3 stars for a solid puzzle.

Some interesting things:

  • 8A [Anarchist in the news (1920)] SACCO – If my memory serves me right, this is referring to the Sacco from Sacco & Vanzetti, and their story is explained in detail here.
  • 21A [Judge on BBC’s ”Strictly Come Dancing” (2004-2016)] LEN – I assume this is referring to LEN Goodman of DWTS fame?
  • 32A [Cyrano, by birth] PARISIAN – Don’t know why I wrote SICILIAN in here at first. Perhaps I need to re-watch this movie!
  • 57A [Integrated] ONE-PIECE – Nice clue. This entry makes me think of a swimsuit, but that isn’t necessarily the same sense that the clue is getting at. Trickery!
  • 7D [[NO CLUE NEEDED]] SELF-EXPLANATORY – Also nicely done.
  • 9D [”__ Honest Words” (biography for kids)] ABE’S – I don’t remember reading this book in elementary school. I don’t remember much from elementary school, though, but since this book was published in 2008, that could be why!
  • 15D [”Brush your breath” sloganeer (c. 1980)] DENTYNE – I DO remember these commercials. I am old!
  • 23D [Closest gal or guy] BEST PAL – I wrote BEST BUD in here at first. My mind is weird.
  • 31D [Manufacturer of tiny bricks] PEZ – I tried to cram LEGO in here. Perhaps a big Lego project is another idea of something to do during this extended shut-in time!
  • 42D [Gershwin’s first hit song] SWANEE – I don’t know this song. If only I had time to look it up … oh wait, I do!

Everyone have a great weekend and continue to stay safe and healthy!

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Feel for the Job” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/4/20 • “A Feel for the Job” • Sat • Larson • solution • 20200404

55d [Any of this puzzle’s theme answers] PUN. Of the occupational variety.

  • 20a. [Free-spirited football players?] LOOSE ENDS.
  • 21a. [Thoroughly exhausted telemarketers?] DEAD RINGERS. I suppose you could call them that.
  • 40a. [Reliable comedians?] SOUND CARDS.
  • 61a. [Self-assured waitstaff?] SECURE SERVERS. Second technology item (referring to the original phrase) in a row.
  • 83a. [Unsettled manual laborers?] SHOOK HANDS.
  • 104a. [Thin-skinned police officers?] PRICKLY HEAT.
  • 106a. [Inflexible prison guards?] SET SCREWS. Two judicial enforcement types (punned subject) in a row.
  • 1d. [Impassive dealers in hot goods] WOODEN FENCES. Can’t recall the last time I saw a long theme answer at 1-down.
  • 57d. [Compassionate assassins?] TENDERS OFFERS. And two from the other side of the law.

Aside from some seemingly random commonalities I don’t see a deeper tie among all the themers beyond the jobs thing—not that one is by any means required.

  • 69a [Home of one of the world’s oldest rainforests] BORNEO. Tacitly meaning ‘continuously surviving rainforest’. According to many accounts, second only to Australia’s Daintree. Like that habitat (and many others) it is imminently vulnerable to existential threats from climate change.
  • 8d [Inspiration for many a technophobe] NED LUDD. Eponym of luddites and neo-luddites.
  • 25d [Play start] SCENE ONE. We more often see SCENE I or ACT I.
  • 29d [Poignant instrument] OBOE. That’s an interesting way to clue it. Mainstream crosswords don’t typically strike an editorial tone in this way.
  • 62d [Simple sack] COT. Sack as in ‘sack out’ or ‘hit the sack’.
  • 76d [Chopin piece] NOCTURNE.
  • Ugliest clue/answer combo: 98a [Govt. mtge. insurer] FHA.
  • 36d [Small sailing ship] LUGGER. New to me. M-W helpfully defines it as “a small fishing or coasting boat that carries one or more lugsails”. And a lugsail is “a 4-sided sail bent to an obliquely hanging yard that is hoisted and lowered with the sail”.
  • 53d [Boeing rival] AIRBUS. 48a [Collected works] OMNIBUS. Hmm.
  • 52a [Tartarus has two] TAUS. Was worried it was going to be TARS. 91d [Cries of relief] WHEWS.
  • 77d [Like many summer movies] ESCAPIST. And this one happened to be released on 20 June (2008). I was pleasantly surprised how good it was, despite some minor plot holes. Plus, it turned out to be an unexpected version of an older story—something I realized quite a bit later on in the film than I should have. See it before the Hollywood remake with Liam Neeson.
  • 95d [Urbane] SUAVE. I sometimes like to pronounce this with a long a, to show how sophisticated I am.
  • 23a [Dudley Moore’s obsession in “10”] BO DEREK, 102a [“Mean Girls ” writer”] TINA FEY. In addition to being symmetrical partners, these for some reason today reminded me of other names (with just a bit of jumbling), to wit Broderick and Tiffany. Strange.

So. A solid if not thrilling offering.

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21 Responses to Saturday, April 4, 2020

  1. pseudonym says:

    Stumper felt a little triviaish but still fun. NYT and LAT were enjoyable as well.

  2. maxine nerdström says:

    NYT— really enjoyed it with a snag in the lower right corner. I’m ignorant of music terminology and “LunA” seemed like a likely goddess name. I had “ruSHAT” for 42d and just couldn’t figure out that 42a clue. I need to get more familiar with music vocab. I feel like those words and French roots are always my puzzle Achilles heel.

    • Gary R says:

      Same problem in the SE. I went with chocolate “rub.” Who knows? They do all kinds of strange things with chocolate these days.

      Had to come here to understand 15-D. Got it from crosses, and last night I could only come up with Sneezy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey and Doc – so I just accepted that Pluto was one of the two I couldn’t remember.

      • Nina says:

        I got stuck here too. Chocolate ___ was a terrible clue. Chocolate Lab is not a common phrase.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          It’s not uncommon—think of brown Labrador retrievers, not laboratories.

          • Gary R says:

            Agree – I have a friend who has a chocolate Lab (a “sweet” pup) – so I should have seen it. I just got stuck on “rush at.”

            You know, I’ll bet Nestle and Mars and Hershey all have chocolate laboratories, too!

  3. Anne says:


    35d. [Where you might incur charges overseas], ON SAFARI. As in a charging rhino.

    Of course. Using Safari on your device has nothing to do with any charges overseas.

  4. Stephen B. Manion says:

    W was very easy. SE was tough and featured an either/or crossing that I thought was marginal even though I guessed right: DEMENTe/oR and ARIOSe/o. Name spellings are always tough and ariose and arioso both mean melodic. Ariose is an adjective and the clue called for a noun, but still.


    • David L says:

      I had ARIOSA/DEMENTAR at first. Not familiar with either.

    • Zulema says:

      I found the NYT to be the easiest Saturday ever, not that it took me less time to solve, but that it was, again for these circumstances, much less gnarly. Thank you.

  5. Lise says:

    Stumper, 2D: I don’t get how HERE AT means “because of this”. Am I parsing it wrong? If someone could show how to use the answer in a sentence to mean the clue, that would be great.

    Otherwise, great Stumper. I liked the clue for 52D (“It’s far from Aristotelean”).

  6. snappysammy says:

    two stumpers in a row without checking and error free, a first for me :)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yeah, this one was surprisingly easy, despite being an Anna Stiga (“Stan again”) rather than a Lester Ruff (“less rough,” by Stan). (Not sure if I did last week’s Stumper. I often end up seeing too many Fiend comments on the puzzle before I solve it!)

  7. Phil says:

    I enjoyed all the WSJ puns, but WELCHED? Really?

  8. Gale G Davis says:

    What is ugly about FHA?

    • pannonica says:

      No slight to the agency per se. The abbrev.-heavy clue plus a less-common initialism was an unlovely combo for me.

  9. David Steere says:

    NYT: I’m surprised nobody here commented on “moron” and “idiot” in the same puzzle (and in the same corner). Rachel Fabi (subbing for Rex) pointed out these two unpleasant terms and proposed a way not to include them in this puzzle. Good idea, Rachel. LARA crossing LATEN was also a rather bad crossing.

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