Saturday, May 23, 2020

LAT 3:49 (Derek) 


Newsday 21:39 (Derek) 


NYT 5:36 (Amy) 


Universal 4:09 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Wyna Liu & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 23 20, no. 0523

Maybe Wyna and Erik should partner up on all the puzzles. Their joint byline is shorter than Brendan Emmett Quigley’s solo byline! Plus, they each do amazing work individually, and their joint efforts are equally good.


Clue action of note:

  • 8d. [Bound to follow], LEGAL LIMITBound is a noun here, not an adjective.
  • 61a. [Figureheads?], MATHLETES. As in those with a head for numbers.
  • 6d. [___ Lawson, W.N.B.A. star-turned-coach for the Boston Celtics], KARA. I think I missed that news last summer, that this Olympic gold medalist joined the Celtics as an assistant coach.
  • 34d. [Auto correction], TUNEUP. I’ll excuse the overlap with SUIT UP because I really like this clue and that entry.
  • 50d. [It gets a licking], CONE. As in ice cream. If your ice cream cone takes a licking and keeps on ticking, drop it and run.

I didn’t quite know that KALE SALAD was a [Dish often topped with goat cheese and cranberries]. Can I get the cheese and cranberries on some different salad greens, please?

Also did not know that Beyoncé has recorded in Spanish before encountering 7d. [“___ Gitano,” Spanish-language hit for Beyoncé and Alejandro Fernández], AMOR. You can listen to the song here if you like.

Not too keen on RED SEA near USSR with its [Red states, once] clue. Yeah, yeah, we know the NYT editing team doesn’t give a rat’s 26-Across about such overlaps, but it does bother a number of solvers.

4.25 stars from me. Keep ’em coming, Wyna and Erik!

Doug Peterson’s Universal crossword — “Sundae Supplement”

A delicious offering from Doug Peterson today!

THEME: Types of cherries are at the “top” of familiar phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Sundae Supplement” · Doug Peterson · Sat., 5.23.20


  • 3D [*1990 Laura Dern film about love on the run] WILD AT HEART. 
  • 5D [*Fallout from the 1919 World Series] BLACK SOX SCANDAL. 
  • 9D [*Photo seeker’s alternative to Google] BING IMAGE SEARCH. 
  • 26D [Unexpected and welcome bonus, and a hint to the starred answers’ starts] CHERRY ON TOP. 

Can’t expect much more from a universal- a nice, clean grid with an accessible theme. The AHA moment was gentle and pleasant, and it helped me to fill in BING, since BING IMAGE SEARCH is not something I use. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever used BING at all! I can’t picture the page layout.

An enjoyable start to the puzzling day.

3.8 stars.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Where Am I?” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/23/20 • Sat • “Where Am I?” • Ross • solution • 20200523

Pressing question, as I am late for an engagement and won’t have time this morning for a full go.

We’re being very literal when it comes to location:

  • 23a. [Where to find Bono?] CLOSE TO THE EDGE.
  • 32a. [Where to find a church ceiling?] ABOVE THE FOLD.
  • 49a. [Where to find the conductor’s baton?] BY THE SCORE.
  • 67a. [Where to find a camel blanket?] OVER THE HUMP.
  • 82a. [Where to find an offensive tackle?] NEAR THE END.
  • 98a. [Where to find winter on a calendar?] AFTER THE FALL.
  • 113a. [Where to find the Washington Post’s circulation?] BEHIND THE TIMES.
  • 17d. [Where to find Adam and Eve?] IN THE FIRST PLACE.
  • 43d. [Where to find a list of supporting players?] BENEATH THE STARS.

Will try to expand on the write-up this afternoon. Feel free to discuss the crossword.

Sheryl Bartol’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 05/23/2020

This is not a familiar byline to me, but we are evidently on the same wavelength, since I finished this in under 4 minutes! This might be the fastest I have EVER finished an LAT Saturday puzzle! Nothing in here is really tough, but that is fine. I think some people think that a rapid solve is no fun for the solver, but the joy is still there. It just goes quicker sometimes! This is a smooth construction, and I have another setter that I would like to meet! 4.3 stars today.

Some highlights:

  • 1A [Program shutdown of last resort] FORCE QUIT – I have had to do this more than once on my Mac. This is mainly a Mac term, isn’t it?
  • 10A [Like hair needing more rinsing] SUDSY – I had SOAPY in here at first; suds is beer!
  • 20A [“The Office” actress Ellie] KEMPER – I know here more from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. She has unbelievably straight teeth!
  • 41A [Home of the Curve, the Pirates’ Double-A team] ALTOONA – What else would it mbe
  • 44A [“Bye!”] “SEE YA LATER!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 55A [In direct competition] MANO A MANO – Not too tough, even without an indication that it is a Spanish phrase.
  • 58A [Senior’s elaborate ask] PROMPOSAL – This was in a puzzle last Saturday! Don’t remember which one, though. NYT perhaps?

    Dinah Manoff

  • 7D [Michigan’s __ Peninsula] UPPER – They speak funny up there, but this is about a 5-6 hour drive from my house. The air is unbelievably clear up there. This is a vacation destination that might be possible even in this pandemic.
  • 26D [Work on hooves] RESHOE – Don’t they do rubber ones now? I don’t know horses.
  • 30D [Mayonnaise and salad dressing] EMULSIONS – This is all mayos, but I don’t think all salad dressings are this. Still easily gettable.
  • 36D [“Empty Nest” actress Manoff] DINAH – I don’t know who this is off hand, but I remember this show, and she was evidently in Grease with Travolta and Newton-John back in the ’70s!

That is all! Next LAT writeup for me will be on Tuesday!

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 05/23/2020

This was a Stumper! Well over twenty minutes on this solve. Some of these clues seem quite vague, maybe almost a stretch, but in the end, that is what a Stumper is supposed to be! Yes, I learned a new word or two, and there are a couple of really great entries in here that made me smile. I have never met Matt, but I am hoping to someday at one of these crossword tournaments. The ACPT is in September, but will we be back to normal by then? Hard to say. I hope so, but in my heart I doubt it. I miss all of you! 4.6 stars for this super toughie.

Lots to discuss:

  • 1A [Expression of ancestor worship worldwide] TRIBAL MASK – Worldwide? This clue seems vague. It doesn’t seem that rampant to me, but what do I know?
  • 17A [Frequent ”TV Guide” advertiser of old] RECORD CLUB – I was in the Columbia club back in the day! And yes, the ads were in the TV Guide quite a bit. I ordered tapes in the early ’80s; now it is all Spotify or whatever these days!
  • 23A [”Rubbish!”] “MY EYE!” – I thought it might be CROCK or PSHAW at first look, but this is much better
  • 28A [Meals-on-wheels service] UBER EATS – DOOR DASH fits! POSTMATES doesn’t, and GRUBHUB is too short. Did I miss any? ;-)
  • 57A [Mixed up] NOT IN ORDER – I had OUT OF ORDER in here, which caused problems!
  • 10D [Red state operative] KGB AGENT – Look at all of those consonants!
  • 26D [SAT, on baggage tags] SAN ANTONIO – Believe it or not, this was the first thing I filled in!
  • 27D [Three-movement work for three instruments] TRIO SONATA – We own a Sonata! Not that we drive anywhere these days!!
  • 35D [Characters lacking depth] CARTOONS – I had AIRHEADS in here. It still works!
  • 42D [What two triangles can symbolize] REWIND – This is a great clue. Tough at first, then it was like “Oh yeah!”
  • 45D [Visited casually] RAN IN – This is another one of those that seems vague. They don’t say this in the Midwest. You STOP BY or RUN BY, you RUN IN criminals!

Have a safe and healthy holiday weekend!

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42 Responses to Saturday, May 23, 2020

  1. davey says:

    NYT: enjoyed the puzzle but on PUGET/ESTE i resorted to cycling through the alphabet. nice casual fill overall though!

  2. Howard B says:

    Can someone explain the clue in the NYT for SUE at 39-Across? I’m thinking it’s a phrase I’ve just never encountered, but I was stumped by it. Thanks!

    • Christopher Smith says:

      “Sue for peace” is a phrase used during a conflict when one party, often a third party, reaches out for a diplomatic solution.

      • Howard B says:

        Thanks, that confirms my suspicion that it was just a hole in my knowledge. Never seen that one anywhere before! (Hole is now patched up).

  3. Luke says:

    Hey Howard

    Sue for peace has military origins—Usually initiated by the losing side that wants to cut losses rather than suffer complete catastrophe. The winning side may oblige when it has accomplished its primary military objectives. Germans used this tact in WWI leading to armistice day.

  4. JohnH says:

    Not so many months ago, a redesign of the Sunday NYT Magazine in print added space for introductory text to the puzzle. It normally has bio info on the setter. Last week, it had something like instructions, and some app solvers were upset that either they didn’t see that text or didn’t know to look for it. So let me offer a note to watch out tomorrow, in a puzzle called “The Mystery of McGuffin Manor.” (FWIW, Alfred Hitchcock coined the term “McGuffin” for something that sets the plot in motion, such as a stolen item or dead body, but in practice means more to the characters than to him or to the viewer, who can then concentrate on the director’s wizardry and the fate of the characters.)

    It does have a sentence introducing Andrew Chaikin as “a musician and game inventor in San Franciso,” and then “This crossword contains a whodunnit. — W.W.” Then the following appears as a separate paragraph in italics. “Thank you for coming, Inspector,” Lady McGuffin said. “The famed McGuffin Diamond has been stolen from my study! The eight members of the staff had a costume party tonight — it has to be one of them: the butler, driver, cook, baker, page, porter, barber or carpenter.” Can you determine who stole the diamond — and where it is now?”

    Within the puzzle, where we often encounter a handful of shaded or circled squares, print solvers are in for quite a surprise: nine large blocks (most of the puzzle, really) are shaded yellow. They amount to the center and the eight compass points. I don’t know what you’ll see in the app. I’m sure you’ll see the same eight clues giving a “Suspect No.” only and four more with narrative sentences including a blank for a missing word. In print, they’re in italics, and I don’t know if you’ll see that, an asterisk, or some other indicator.

    • Bryan says:

      Thanks for the heads-up, John. This sounds like it will either be really fun or exasperating. Hoping for the former. I solve in the app, so I’m curious to see how this will translate to app form.

  5. Karen says:

    Some time ago, I asked here why constructors who were no longer updating their sites with new puzzles remained in the daily listing. What prompted my question was repeatedly visiting The Grid Kid, hoping for a new offering by Sam Ezersky, only to be disappointed. The explanation was that a site would remain in the list until the constructor indicated it was no longer active.

    Ever hopeful, I continued trying. At first, clicking on the link took me to a site written in Chinese and now I get a 404 not found message. Although I would much prefer to see Sam’s work again, isn’t it time to remove the link?

  6. Ethan says:

    NYT: MADE IT WEIRD and IT’S NOT A RACE are A+ answers. A BIT STRANGE is one I’m not quite sold on. Does it have any more resonance for people than A BIT ODD or A TAD STRANGE? I think it’s green paint-y, myself. Only answer that bugged me.

  7. Tom says:

    Todays LAT, Rewards = deserts?

    I guess according to LAT, Moses wandered the desserts too.

  8. Twangster says:

    This was a rare weekend where I was able to solve the Stumper without cheating but needed a wee bit of help (googled to get one answer) to finish off the NYT. The Stumper was a brutal battle where much of what I initially had turned out to be wrong (SPOCK, STUDY, OUTOFORDER, GIST, AMIGO, FILM, ROTARYCLUB) and I thought I was a goner at several points but somehow it all came together. Never heard of MAZE for MAIZE but it makes sense. Whew.

    • snappysammy says:

      yeah, i had a lot of bad guesses at first, too, but it made it really that much more satisfying to finish the stumper with no errors :)

    • Hector says:

      MAZE as in an actual maze constructed in a cornfield.

  9. A says:

    Is anyone else unable to download/print the NYT?

  10. Billy Boy says:

    DIA DE LOS MUERTOS being a write-it-in made NYT quicker for me, but I still am at that level where Saturday and sometimes Friday are me jumping around the puzzle for 25-60 minutes, lots of entertainment. Sticking to some wrong answers added to it for me (RURAL for RHODE, trying QUIET for CHECK) near the bottom today but it’s not at all the puzzle’s fault, it was overall rather nice.

    Only one complaint: KALE(really?) SALAD with cranberries (Sugary and dried, DOH) and Goat Cheese (non-VEGAN, therefore unholy) surely seems an oxymoron.


    (will return if something in Universal is truly noteworthy, & Sunday should I decide to do WSJ)

    • Billy Boy says:

      OMG do I love cherries

    • pseudonym says:

      “but I still am at that level where Saturday and sometimes Friday are me jumping around the puzzle for 25-60 minutes”

      Been there. Keep on doing them and they’ll get easier.

  11. David L says:

    I didn’t care for the NYT. Maybe that’s a sign I am firmly a member of geezerdom. But starting off with a preciously obscure clue for ACCRA wasn’t promising, and then there’s a random SALAD next, crossing with a KARA I haven’t heard of, next to a guessable (eventually) AMOR. MADEITWEIRD must be a young people expression, whereas ABITSTRANGE is a ‘green paint’ expression.

    I don’t know what kind of MILL is a machine-shop essential.

    There was some good stuff, to be sure, but overall the puzzle seemed to be veering into Stumper territory, with strained cluing and various obscurities. Not my cup of tea, in short.

    • Hector says:

      MILL is another name for a milling machine, which is a rotary-cutting metal-working machine, rather like a an overarm router in woodworking.

      • David L says:

        Thanks. I’m not familiar with that term — it seemed pretty generic to me. Any good machine shop should also have a coffee mill, IMO.

    • pseudonym says:

      EA can make a tough puzzle, though they sometimes suffer from too much trivia and lingo imo.

  12. Me says:

    For the second Saturday in a row, the LA Times puzzle includes PROMPOSAL, a pretty lengthy and distinctive answer. I guess this is (was…) prom season, but I wonder if there was any consideration given to spacing the puzzles out a bit more.

    Does Will Shortz pay attention to that issue, or do answers appear in puzzles that are published close to each other? I don’t do the NY Times puzzle on a regular basis, so I don’t know from my own experience. Do other editors look at this?

  13. AV says:

    Amy: Is it the NYT editorial staff’s official position that they don’t care about (short) grid answers appearing in another clue?

    That would be a bummer because I mentally reject answers in the grid if I have seen the word in a clue. (Or, I will need to rewire the brain!)

    I agree with the editors that a repeat like TUNEUP/SUITUP is fine .. doesn’t bother me anymore. But it would be nice if they watched answers appearing in the clues.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Again and again, they’ve indicated that’s the case. And not just short blah words like “in.” You won’t see “red” in an NYT clue for and answer that includes RED, but you sure might see it in a clue for a different answer. Keep an eye out for ’em and these will jump out and annoy you.

  14. Lise says:

    Also in today’s LAT: The clue for LAVA LAMPS (32D) seems to me to be singular. “Illumination with a blob”? How is that plural? I know that “illumination” can refer to something in the plural, but then wouldn’t it be “Illumination with blobs”?

    Sorry to nitpick, especially if I’m wrong. The Saturday LAT is a fabulous puzzle in general, and this one was excellent. I love how many women constructors are published on Saturday, too. Kudos!

  15. Big blooper in the (otherwise excellent) Saturday Stumper, “Three-movement work for three instruments.” A trio sonata is for four instruments. The continuo part is played by two of them. Wikipedia will verify.

    I was pleased with myself for getting this answer straight off. But then I told my spouse, who’s a musician and composer and played for years in a trio-sonata ensemble. I had been so pleased with myself that I had forgotten that the ensemble had four musicians.

    On another musical note, I was happy to see Sun Ra in the Stumper. Very timely: his Earth Arrival Day was May 22, 1914.

  16. WSJ: I was surprised, and not in a good way, that they allowed TERRORIST to remain as an answer. That put me in a sad mood.

  17. Gale G Davis says:

    Not seeing the word does not make them go away. In fact FBI is working on a terrorist attack in Corpus Christi TX that occurred this week.

    • That doesn’t mean you have to include it in a puzzle, in the same way you don’t have to include racist or sexist slurs as answers — those won’t go away by avoiding them in puzzles either, but we still avoid them.

      Separately, I don’t like seeing TERRORIST in a puzzle because it’s a term that’s routinely abused in U.S. discourse by loading it with assumptions (often Islamophobic in nature) about who can be considered one.

      • Billy Boy says:

        Now I’m going to have to do that puzzle for context. I will reserve opinion for now, but this is coming from a guy whose job had no good equivalent for RETARDED which I know sets off migranes in some people.

      • John Malcolm says:

        Love your puzzles but let’s not lose useful words because some people are confused about their meanings. Most of us recognize the Oklahoma City Bomber as a terrorist. It’s ugly, but I think we need words for ugly acts. For example, when did rioters become “demonstrators”?

  18. WSJ: Can someone explain these hints to me?

    53 across Dad’s rival – Hires
    96 across Frigid finish – Aire

    I’m so confused. Please help!

    -A confused puzzler

  19. John Malcolm says:

    In WSJ clue 42 D “Square, in slang” the answer appears to be LSEVEN — I guess I am one because I DON’T GET IT!

    • pannonica says:

      Old slang. With the thumb and index fingers of each hand at right angles, you can approximate the shape of a square. One part is the L and the other is the 7.

    • WhiskyBill says:

      Take an L and abut a right-angled 7 next to it so that endpoints connect: the two symbols together form a square. Without googling, I’m under the impression that this was 1950s hepcat slang.

  20. John Malcolm says:


    I was alive back then but nobody around me was that hep!

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