Sunday, April 5, 2020

LAT 10:02 (Jenni) 


NYT 10:10 (Amy) 


WaPo 15:38 (Jim Q) 


Universal 3:19 (Jim Q) 


Universal (Sunday) 11:55 (Jim P) 


Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword, “Double Talk”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 5 20, “Double Talk”

Hey, hey! It’s Team Fiend’s own Jim Peredo! For his theme, Jim takes phrases that connote some sort of remarks, and interprets them in a literal fashion as something one might say:

  • 22a. [Run-on sentence?], GO AHEAD WITHOUT ME. “You run on ahead.”
  • 36a. [Passing comment?], THE AYES HAVE IT. When a vote passes.
  • 44a. [Single quote?], I WANT TO BE ALONE.
  • 66a. [Just saying?], TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY. Justice = fair play. I assume every cryptic crossword constructor and NPL member has noticed the F + AIRPLAY = FAIR PLAY thing … which slowed me down because I had the AIRPLAY part filled in and couldn’t imagine what sort of spoken “just saying” might end with that word.
  • 87a. [Stock phrase?], HOW NOW, BROWN COW? Cattle = a rancher’s stock.
  • 94a. [Self expression?], COGITO ERGO SUM. I think, therefore I (myself) am.
  • 115a. [Old saw?], AGE IS JUST A NUMBER. Saved the best one for last … and also started with a good one.

Interesting theme, and the entries Jim chose are all excellent fill unto themselves. The title is aptly chosen as well.

I won’t take much time on the rest of the puzzle since it’s so late. Flagged a few things while solving:

  • 9d. [Makeup holder], KIT. Great clue! Inclusive of women, drag queens, and everyone else who wears makeup.
  • 36d. [Word with tippy or twinkle], TOES. Fun clue!
  • 52d. [Lower extremity affliction], SCIATICA. Not exactly. The pain originates from the sciatic nerve, typically being irritated in the back or a butt muscle. The pain can radiate down the leg, but I sure wouldn’t call it a leg affliction.
  • 68d. [Another name for the moonfish], OPAH. I would tag this as crosswordese, except there is a decent chance that this is a familiar fish in Guam (where Jim’s lived) and that he comes by OPAH honestly.
  • 106a. [Magical powder], STARDUST. Stardust! A precious commodity in Pokémon Go. Where my Pokémon Goers at?

Likes in the fill: SAPPHO, MR CUB, SCRUBBED UP (though surgical teams scrub IN rather than UP, no?), the aforementioned STARDUST and SCIATICA, CASTRO clued via Julián.

Dislikes: ASHPAN, variant CUTEY, ST LEO I (are Roman numerals used with saint names? can’t help feeling the answer is no, that all the Pope Leos who were beatified just joined the ranks of Saint Leos).

3.8 stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Continuing Education” – Jim Q’s writeup

A very classy offering from Evan today.

THEME: Academic courses are given an extra letter, and clued wackily.

Washington Post, April 5, 2020, Evan Birnholz, “Continuing Eductation” solution grid


  • 22A [Course on the architectural style invented by former NFL coach Ewbank?] WEEB DESIGN. Web Design. 
  • 24A [Course on the moral choices faced by a bovine that’s attracted to both male and female bovines?] BI OX ETHICS. Bioethics. 
  • 29A [Course on the development of small fruit pies over the centuries?] TART HISTORY. Art History. 
  • 40A [Course on how to be sophisticated?] URBANE STUDIES. Urban Studies. 
  • 60A [Course on actor Cage and TV show writer Pizzolatto’s lives as students?] CLASS NICS. Classics. 
  • 72A [Course on tallying up anatomical pouches?] SAC COUNTING. Accounting. 
  • 95A [Course on the peculiarities of a bottled spirit?] GENIE TICS. Genetics. 
  • 97A [Course on the science of Vincent van Gogh’s brother?] THEO-OLOGY. Theology. 
  • 106A [Course on motion and energy as taught by college basketball coach Auriemma?] GENO PHYSICS. Geophysics. 
  • 120A [Extra period of time to complete a school assignment … and what’s spelled out by the extra letters in this puzzle’s courses] EXTENSION.

I can’t believe how long it took me to see the theme. I really needed that revealer- which isn’t a bad thing at all, as it provided the AHA moment AND it helped me figure out some areas of fill that I was having trouble with. That’s what I like most in a puzzle- when the theme aids in determining the fill.

It’s a theme idea we’ve seen before from Evan- I daresay it feels like a theme that belongs to Evan: Added/Missing letters make ridiculous theme answers and those letters later spell the revealer. But I always like them. I especially enjoy the absurdity of the cluing. My favorite of this bunch being the bisexual ox. Yes, some of the theme relies a bit too heavily on unfamiliar names imo, and the clue for CLASS NICS is struggling to make the answer coherent, but again, once the theme is grokked, it’s easy to see both the classes and to determine the extra letter that may be missing from names like THEO, GENO, and WEEB. You can’t cry “Natick!” at LAWSON/WEEB because eventually, you’ll figure out WE(e)B DESIGN.

And either my brain started to give up, or the bottom half was significantly harder than the top half. Anyone else experience that?

Anyway, great start to the Sunday solves!


Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword — “Linking Word” — Jim Q’s review

It wasn’t until about halfway through the puzzle that I looked up at the byline. Then I thought “Oh… that’s why.” That was in response to my so thoroughly enjoying the cluing and fill of this puzzle, and Evan’s attention to these details is always impressive.

THEME: The word VERB is hidden in common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Linking Word” · Evan Kalish · Sun., 4.5.20


  • 20A [Magical solution to a huge problem] SILVER BULLET. 
  • 36A [Floating casino sites] RIVER BOATS. 
  • 43A [Levitating transport for Marty McFly] HOVER BOARD. I believe that’s specifically referring to Back to the Future: Part II (the best of them all for sure!). 
  • 57A [Like a movie filled with exciting scenes, or a hint to the word hidden in 20-, 36- and 43-Across] ACTION PACKED. 

First off, the revealer in this is great. It was fun to go back and see what I missed- that each of the themers is indeed “action packed.” Dad joke for sure, but a good one!

But really, I just had a grand ol’ time filling this with clues like:

  • 19A [Like Abraham Lincoln’s physique] LANKY. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t know I’d be checking out Abe’s bod in my mind’s eye.
  • 39A [Book group holder?] SHELF. Good one.
  • 48A [Has samosa chaat, e.g.] EATS. So enjoyably specific. I don’t even know what that is!
  • 71A [Unlikely change for a ten] TWOS. Very accurate clue!
  • 9D [What wombs and tombs have in common?] SILENT B. If you have a “SILENT [insert letter here]” clue, it better be clever! And this one is a winner.

Thanks for this one, Evan. And great title too!

4.3 Stars.

Enjoy this John Mulaney bit (start at about 3:20):


Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword, “The Other Half” – Jenni’s write-up

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with this theme. There’s no revealer unless you count the title. Each theme answer is a common phrase with one word changed to be the other part of a well-known pair.

It makes more sense when you see it.

Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2020, Paul Coulter, “”The Other Half,” solution grid

  • 23a [Pasta on the barbie?] is GRILLED MACARONI. Macaroni and cheese —–> grilled cheese. See? It’s hard to explain, but not hard to understand once you look at it.
  • 32a [Like the club that Sinatra, Zappa and Capra belonged to?] is FULL OF FRANKS. Franks and beans—-> full of beans.
  • 51a [“Don’t forget we’re having omelets”?] is BRING HOME THE EGGS. Eggs and bacon —-> bring home the bacon. This is where the penny dropped.
  • 68a [Town group that decides what kinds of lawns are allowed?] is the TURF BOARD. Surf and turf—-> surfboard. This was the last one I filled in – it was where I finished the puzzle – because I kept thinking “room and board” and couldn’t figure it out. Plus I didn’t know FINO, clued as Dry Spanish sherry].
  • 88a [Unexpected eccentric skydiver?] is a A NUT OUT OF THE BLUE. Nuts and bolts—-> a bolt out of the blue. This one doesn’t quite work, because “nut and bolt” is not a thing.
  • 101a [Lucky one at the dairy raffle?] is the BUTTER WINNER. Bread and butter—-> breadwinner.
  • 118a [Sniffing the jalapeños?] is SMELLING PEPPERS. Salt and pepper—-> smelling salts. Again, the answer is plural but “salts and peppers” is not in widespread. use. Or in use at all

I liked this theme a lot, with the two minor exceptions noted. I enjoy themes that are consistent without being repetitive, and it was nice to have the replacement word move from the end to the beginning and back again.

A few other things:

  • Did not like BORT at 2d. Ok, it’s [Diamond used as an abrasive]. Really? I’m not a constructor and I realize there’s a theme entry in this corner, so reworking it would have been difficult or maybe impossible. Fill like that is just bad and it’s especially bad in the NW corner where it sours my whole experience of the puzzle. Feh.
  • 8d [Doc bloc] is the best definition I’ve seen for AMA. The American Medical Association was founded in the 19th century to protect the interests of MDs against the intrusions of homeopaths and osteopaths, and it continues to put the financial interests of physicians ahead of everything else, including public health. Angry that Medicare was not expanded to cover everyone, as initially planned? Wondering why it took an additional 20 years to get Medicare enacted when it was part of the blueprint for the New Deal, along with Social Security? Peeved that we have a byzantine, top-heavy, profit-driven insurance industry making medical decisions? Blame the AMA. My grandfather resigned from the AMA in the 1950s; neither my father nor I ever joined./end rant
  • SUNBURNING is the correct part of speech for 38d, [Getting too many rays], but it’s a roll-your-own. “Tanning,” yes. SUNBURNING, no.
  • We have [Like Stout’s Wolfe] in a clue and NERO in the fill and they’re not connected. I’m not a huge cross-reference fan, but I wouldn’t have minded that one.
  • French classical music! “Gaspard de la ____” NUIT and Debussy’s REVE.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: FINO. I also didn’t know that the Beatles influenced JPOP.

Debbie Ellerin & Sheryl Bartol’s Universal crossword, “Buried Treasure”—Jim P’s review

This perfectly-titled puzzle hints that we should be looking for something valuable in the theme answers, and indeed, each entry hides a form of world currency. We get a bonus revealer at 119a [Digital asset, or a theme hint]: CRYPTOCURRENCY. I’m going to interpret that loosely as “puzzling currency.” Works for me!

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Buried Treasure” · Debbie Ellerin & Sheryl Bartol · Sun., 4.5.20

  • 22a [401(k) cousin] TRADITIONAL IRA. Lira. I like that the entry itself is financial.
  • 33a [“Strange as it may be …”] ODDLY ENOUGH. Yen.
  • 50a [Naomi Bennett’s portrayer in “Private Practice”] AUDRA MCDONALD. Dram. This was tough all the way around. I don’t think I know of the word “dram” outside of whisky measurements. Is it short for drachma? Nope, it’s the currency in Armenia. The more you know… And I didn’t know the actor’s name. I started with MCDOWELL and MCDONELL. This was the very last section of the grid for me.
  • 63a [Islamic legal code] SHARIA LAW. Rial. Not a fun entry, but maybe there’s some solace in the serendipity that the rial is used in Iran which practices this type of law. Maybe? I’m grasping at straws here.
  • 74a [Bubbly purple drink] GRAPE SODA. Peso. That’s better. This is a lot more fun.
  • 87a [On the level] FAIR AND SQUARE. Rand.
  • 103a [Line up] STAND IN A ROW. Dinar. Spanning all four words! Nice!


Nice, solid theme. I did the puzzle using the .puz version. Does anyone know if the printed version has the circles in it?

Lots of fun fill to enjoy as well, like PRISON BREAK (a show I enjoyed, especially in its early seasons), OPINION POLL, WAYLAYS, “YES, BUT…”, NO HOPE, NAGANO, FERVOR, DRY ROT, and QUASAR. I even like IRONS ON because it looks like IRON SON, the presumed child of Iron Man and Pepper Potts.

Clues of note:

  • 38a. [Lead-in to X, Y or Z]. GEN. The clue is nicely misleading, providing for a mini-aha moment.
  • 56a. [Shoofly dessert]. PIE. I have never heard of shoofly pie, but here’s a NYT recipe.
  • 58a. [Gala who was a surrealist’s muse]. DALI. Another tough one for me, especially since it’s stacked under MACDONALD. But the “surrealist” in the clue sure pointed to DALI. Gala was Salvador’s wife.
  • 95a. [They may follow booms]. BUSTS. They certainly may, as we are attesting to now.
  • 98a. [Merlot and Barolo]. REDS. We had a Barolo fairly recently. We weren’t too impressed with it, but maybe it was because we got it from Costco.
  • 29d. [“I said ‘no, no, no,'” e.g., in 19-Across]. LYRIC. Once I realized what the cross-reference was, I couldn’t not sing the LYRIC. Nice clue.
  • 55d. [“Ingrid” would be a good one for a crossword solver]. ALIAS. Ha! Clever.

Solidly fun puzzle. 3.75 stars.

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13 Responses to Sunday, April 5, 2020

  1. Martin says:


    I was also curious about the title for sainted popes. Apparently there is some leeway allowed but the preferred form is Pope St. Leo I. So the clue seemed ok.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    We stayed at the Mauna Lani Hotel 25+ years ago (When a Thursday NYT was impossible to me) and one of the tastiest things on the menu at the Outrigger Restaurant was the OPAH fingers, a kid’s dinner. So I remember Opah (Also the cry in a Greek Restaurant when they set the Saganaki afire!).


    • Jim Peredo says:

      This was actually my original clue: [Fish that sounds like a Greek exclamation].

      • Gary R says:

        I think I like your clue better. Like Billy Boy, I recall eating OPAH while vacationing in Hawaii several years back, but I know the word mostly from crosswords.

        IIRC, “sounds like” would be right – the Greek exclamation is “Opa!” no?

    • Martin says:

      I remember correcting a clue for OPAH (not in the Times) that referred to it as a colorful aquarium denizen. An opah is not like a neon tetra. An opah is a deep-water fish that can weigh 600 pounds. It’s not something you’re likely to find in any aquarium, either municipal or living-room. I also like Jim’s clue.

      Catch the sound of smashing plates in the audience(4)

  3. Billy Boy says:

    Yes it is according to Goooogle translate – Opa!

    Fun little (Big) puzzle, Jim. Bigger puzzles often lose me, interest wise, but this one because I could guess at the long (I sometimes call them concocted) answers was quicker and fun.

    I liked (atop)

  4. RichardZ says:

    I really enjoyed today’s LAT puzzle – the theme entries were so clever. Two standout clues:

    – 89D (“A brief warning about the links?”). I was about to enter “FORE” until I noticed the question mark.

    – 20D (“Walk clumsily, like the Jabberwock slayer”). I’m not sure if GALUMPH qualifies as an example of onomatopoeia, but it’s the perfect word to describe a certain way of walking.

    • Martin says:

      “Galumph” is a portmanteau word, one of the few that Lewis Carroll used to explain his new coinage. Jabberwocky not only introduces a number of portmanteau words, including two that have stuck (galumph and chortle), but invents the term “portmanteau word” at the same time.

      Galumph is a portmanteau of gallop and triumph.

      • RichardZ says:

        Martin – thanks for the explanation. Somewhere in my library I have a copy of “The Annotated Alice” with notes by Martin Gardner. I’m guessing it’ll confirm your explanation, which seems quite plausible (and was perhaps the source).

  5. Scott says:

    Please help me understand 43A Busy Bee for short. Answer is SAM. ???

  6. Mike says:

    LA Times clue for 62D=LA Times answer for 72D. Not good.

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