Saturday, July 4, 2020

LAT 4:45 (Derek) 


Newsday 18:26 (Derek) 


NYT 6:40 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


No WSJ today due to the holiday.

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

NY Times crossword solution, 7 4 20, no. 0704

It’s hard to focus on blogging when the hiccups have possessed you. Please send help.

Tough puzzle compared to yesterday’s, but not too hard on the Saturday spectrum.

Is it possible I’ve never encountered this term before? I had to work the crossings for ROCK-RIBBED (19a. [Unwavering]). Just me?

Fave fill includes P.F. CHANG’S, though one might note the inauthenticity of the “Great Wall of Chocolate” dessert in the clue. First off, chocolate isn’t traditionally Chinese (though it’s absolutely a global delight). Second, I Googled it and that is a slice of six-layer cake. It ain’t shaped anything like a wall, much less the Great Wall.

My list of faves got off course there. Also good: RICE MILK (as fill, I don’t wanna drink it), WU SHU, summer SWELTERS, END OF DAYS, and CLICKHOLE. Journalistic LEDE also pleases me.

Not so keen on CLASS A, ANODE, plural SKYES and YEOWS.

Seven more things:

  • 36d & 10d. [With 10-Down, gender identity words separated by a slash], SHE/HER. As in when someone tells you what their pronouns are. I’m also a she/her. I know he/him and they/them individuals, too.
  • 57a. [Call overseas?], AHOY, MATE. First I went with G’DAY, MATE, since Australia’s across the ocean from here. Oops.
  • 1a. [Bookmaking frame that produces paper with rough edges], DECKLE. I never knew how deckled edges were made! I still don’t know how it’s done for a book with a big press run, but there are ways to use a picture frame and screen to make single pages with rough edges, and you can also tear cut edges to give a deckled effect. I do love a book with deckled edges, wonderfully soft.
  • 23a. [Like fireflies], AGLOW. It’s lightning bug season now. And yes, in the entire Eastern half of the country where the bugs are common, we do mostly call them lightning bugs rather than fireflies.
  • [Free] does double duty for 7d PRO BONO and 44a LET OUT.
  • 8d. [Like some complex intersections], FIVE-WAY. I wonder if Peter originally clued this via Cincinnati five-way chili, which has chili topped with  kidney beans, raw onions, and shredded cheese, on a bed of spaghetti. That said, five-way intersections are a real thing. In Chicago, there’s one where Clark and Broadway diverge at Diversey. Lotta “no left turn” signs and arrow signals in the traffic lights there.
  • 40d. [Bush campaign manager of 1988], ATWATER. Gross. I don’t much care that he apologized for his racist politicking at the end of his life—the damage was already done.

3.75 stars from me.

Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/04/2020

Not too thorny this week; perhaps a puzzle made slightly easier for the holiday? Yeah, I doubt it. I am liking using Xword; the grid image is from there. I will get daring and mess with changing the color scheme someday! I have done a few puzzles by Julian Lim, and I enjoy his work. This one was well made with almost nothing overly obscure, and with a few great phrases as well. 4.4 stars this week. Bravo!

A few notes:

  • 1A [Reward for giving, perhaps] TOTEBAG – These must be REALLY cheap to make!
  • 18A [“The Meyerowitz Stories” co-star] SANDLER – An obscure reference, for sure, but this name screams Jewish, and a lot of Sandler’s humor has a Jewish flavor.
  • 33A [“Looks to be the case”] “SO IT SEEMS” – Great casual phrase!
  • 35A [Safari, say] IPHONE APP – I still use Safari, but I should move Chrome down to the dock. I think I will do that today!
  • 52A [Like some dramatic refueling] MID-AIR – I assume they still do this, as the technology has been around a while, but perhaps the planes get better mileage these days?
  • 57A [2010s TV series that explores hacktivism] MR. ROBOT – I watched some of this years ago, but it never caught on with me. This stars Rami Malek, who went on to Oscar fame playing Freddy Mercury.
  • 12D [Minnesota Wild, for one] NHL TEAM – Is the NHL coming back? Are any sports??
  • 21D [Deferentially] HAT IN HAND – Another high-quality entry.
  • 24D [Dancer’s boss, informally] ST. NICK – This, even though not too difficult, is a great clue. This brought about a smile!
  • 42D [__ Spíritus: Cuban city meaning “Holy Spirit”] SANCTI – This is DEFINITELY obscure. Never heard of it! Also, never been to Cuba!

That is all!

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

Newsday 07/04/2020

Tough one this week. Lots of good stuff in here, but quite challenging. Once again, the SW corner is where most of my issues were, and I plain didn’t know the crossing at 49A and 50D. If you look closely at the grid image, you will see that is my only error mark. See comments below! Once again, Greg’s puzzles are stellar and enjoyable. Keep them coming! 4.3 stars this week.

Those promised comments:

  • 18A [Beer mugs, e.g.] STONEWARE – Maybe at Medieval Times! Most beer mugs are glass, are they not? A little misleading, but this IS a Stumper …
  • 20A [Two-Oscar actor who wrote ”My Russia”] USTINOV – I got this rather quickly, but I am old enough to remember him playing Poirot in a movie or two 40 years ago.
  • 35A [Big name in Haitian rap] WYCLEF – I had this in, then removed it, then put it back in when it was clearly the only correct option. You may think you don’t know who this is, but I am sure you do!
  • 40A [It might go with a miniskirt] MODESTY – Best clue in the puzzle. This, I am pretty sure has been used before, but still great clue.
  • 49A [Laurel Weaver, in ”Men in Black”] AGENT L – I saw this movie! and I couldn’t think of what this would be. Maybe the first initial should have been the giveaway!
  • 58A [Touchy subject] HOT POTATO – Speaking of touchy subjects, one theory on the Washington football team (jokingly, I am sure!), is to just change the logo to a potato! Think about it …
  • 2D [Treat shaped like toes] BEAR CLAW – These are delicious.
  • 6D [Out too late] PAST CURFEW – Also a timely entry. Many cities have installed these recently for a few reasons. This year is weird.
  • 30D [Plan A’s antithesis] LAST RESORT – Also a great clue. It was slightly off-putting to wonder what could fit here that was ten full letters!
  • 50D [Start to go] LET IT – OK, in retrospect, it seems simple. This is a tricky clue!!

Everyone have a great weekend and stay safe and healthy!

Fred Ohles’s Universal crossword — “Forge Your Own Path”

THEME: The first six letters of each theme answer are one letter away from the word “COURSE”

Universal crossword solution · “Forge Your Own Path” · Fred Ohles · Sat., 7.4.20


  • 17A [*Crude jokes] COARSE HUMOR. 
  • 30A [*Annual quartet] FOUR SEASONS. 
  • 36A [*Attorneys] COUNSELORS AT LAW. 
  • 44A [*Loaner from a garage] COURTESY CAR. 
  • 60A [Stray, or what the first six letters of the starred answers do (each by one letter)?] GO OFF COURSE. 

Well this was… strange. Interesting idea with an execution that had me scratching my head. I think the first themer, since it uses the word COARSE, which is a homophone for the COURSE in the revealer really THREW me. Then, we have FOUR SEasons where the “change in course” bridges two words. And COUNSElors where the first letters don’t sound anywhere close to COURSE.

So… weird.

Liked EXIT POLL in the fill. Not a big fan of the partial DROP A abutting the partial USE TO.

Fill was a bit trickier than usual overall. Had no idea ARROYO was an [Often-dry gulch]. I just thought it was a recurring surname of at least two students of mine per year.

Happy 4th!

2.9 Stars.

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23 Responses to Saturday, July 4, 2020

  1. Stephen B. Manion says:

    I had the opposite experience of the past few weeks. Bottom was pretty easy and the top, particularly the SW, was very tough.

    I was unfamiliar with LEDE and DECKLE.

    MAORI was one of my few gimmes on the top. New Zealand’s superb rugby team, the All Blacks, does the HAKA before every match. If ever two great sports were opposite in mentality of the players, they are soccer and rugby. The slightest touch in soccer is a career ending injury (from which the injured player somehow miraculously recovers an instant later), while a true career ending injury in rugby is just a ding. New Zealand and South Africa are the two best teams in recent years,

    Here is the HAKA as performed by the amiable New Zealanders:


  2. Jonesy says:

    I think there’s no WSJ today (Saturday) due to July 4 holiday

  3. MattF says:

    Pretty tough NYT, but doable. Slow work, several entries had previously-unknown or unexpected answers especially in the NW. And… Talenti Double Dark Chocolate gelato is back in my supermarket, so life is measurably less bad.

    • Norm says:

      My wife prefers the Coffee Chocolate Chip but agrees with you that Talenti makes life better. Peace and happiness this 4th of July.

  4. JohnH says:

    Funny, but I’d have said that there is no WSJ today because of the 4th, so no WSJ puzzle. There’s certainly none on the WSJ puzzle page online. Yet someone has rated it 5 stars.

  5. LtKije says:

    Lightning bug may be common in the northeast overall, but in Boston it’s firefly!

    SKYES was in the New York Times puzzle two days in a row. An editor should be keen to that even if the individual puzzle makers would never know.

  6. Twangster says:

    I finished the Stumper without any help for the first time in a while. I wouldn’t say it was easy but at least it was solvable. Top right was the hardest … had HIVEBEE, ANTIHEROS and ZEROES for a while.

    Funny clue for MODESTY.

  7. Hi says:

    I think I’ve seen microphone shortened to MIKE three times this week and that just immediately takes me out of a puzzle. It’s MIC. Clue your Mikes as the proper nouns that they are.

  8. David L says:

    That is a touchy subject:

    I am old school and prefer ‘mike’ but I am on the losing side.

    • Hi says:

      Interesting. I grew up playing in bands and spent a decade with a recording studio as my sole means of income and have only ever seen mic.

    • Crotchety Doug says:

      I started playing music in 1964. Only ever saw “mike” to mean the device you sang into or recorded drums in a studio. In my experience,”mic” came into common use in the mid-1970’s. Either one is OK by me. Thanks for the mental floss article link. Looks like the writing is on the wall :)

  9. Brenda Rose says:

    I grew up in New York & we called them lightening bugs. I love seeing them when visiting my fam since moving to California & I miss their delight. Nature sure has a way to give us a saner way to be awed by lights in the sky on a 4th of July than those polluting loud things called fireworks. Years ago someone told me lightening bugs don’t live in the West because they can’t fly over the Rockies. Anybody out there with a more scientific reason?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The other day, I read that they prefer warm, humid weather and once you get west of Kansas (not counting the Pacific Northwest), the air gets awfully dry.

  10. C. Y. Hollander says:

    The Stumper crossing at 49 and 50 was certainly difficult, but I think it was fair. For the Down clue, if you go through all the possibilities, I think LET IT is the best fit for “Start to go” (albeit the clue is a tricky one, so it may be rather hard to spot that). As for the Across clue, if you remember the rather more famous Agents J. and K. (played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively), I think L. becomes the [marginally] likeliest candidate for another agent introduced by that film. You also seem to be on the money about the initial being related (J. and K. were apparently named James and Kevin), although that wouldn’t have occurred to me.

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