Saturday, July, 18, 2020

LAT 5:46 (Derek) 


Newsday 12:39 (Derek) 


NYT 4:37 (Amy) 


Universal 3:50 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


John Guzzetta & Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 18 20, no. 0718

Ooh, this is really nice. “YOU HAD TO BE THERE” intersects 11 good entries of 7 to 10 letters, and there are some good 7-9s in the Down direction, too. The crossings for these expanses of long fill are nearly all quite good. ODELET kinda sucks (but it’s gettable, even though I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word) and ERI is fusty crosswordese, but those are the only entries that gave me pause.

Fave fill: DISCO STU promoted to full name status, BOTTOM LINE, MADONNA (early Madonna is my favorite; please enjoy “Holiday” and its very on-point messaging during these dark times), VAMPIRE BAT (dig the clue, [Mammalian hematophage]), ELDER LAW, hockey’s EMPTY NET, a SEA CHANGE, HAM-HANDED, PET DOGS, LOT IN LIFE, and an EVEN TENOR (no relation to the ALTO at 7d).

By the way: Big thanks to Ade and Jim P for covering for me on the Wednesday and Friday puzzles! I had a few sick days but I am feeling back to normal now and my COVID test was negative.

Back to the puzzle: There are very few people in the puzzle, and some reasonable representation among those who are included. NICE ONE, guys.

Clues that caught my eye for various reasons:

  • 15a. [From nothing, as Creation], EX NIHILO. A more scholarly Saturday entry, what with being Latin that’s not in our daily vocabs.
  • 18a. [Good thing to have on hand during winter?], MITTEN. Despite the singular hand, I tried GLOVES first.
  • 27a. [One seeking table scraps, maybe], ANT / 41d. [Ones seeking table scraps, maybe], PET DOGS. If there’s just one ant and more than one dog,  you are doing okay for yourself.
  • 37a. [Something to pay a steep price for?], TEA. Cute clue.
  • 21d. [What’s found on a couple of plates in Italy?], MT. ETNA. Tectonic plates, that is. I am doing a Liberty wooden jigsaw puzzle, a map of the world—and I do believe those wily bastards cut jiggedy-jaggedy edges to delineate the margins of the tectonic plates! And yes, I had to wait about two weeks in the virtual waiting room before they called my number and allowed me 24 hours to buy just one puzzle. Worth the wait!
  • 31d. Red cents?], DEBT. Good clue.
  • 49d. Actor Lane who voiced Mister Ed], ALLAN. Not a name I knew.
  • 36d. Short lyric poem], ODELET. I thought to myself, Self, let’s do a Google search and see what famous odelets pop up, so I can read one or two and share an informative link here. Well, the first page of search results had nine definitions … and one baby name site (“In Greek Baby Names the meaning of the name Odelet is: Little singer.” LOL. Ode does derive from Greek, but meaning “song,” and I’m pretty sure -let is not a Greek diminutive suffix.) When your search results are filled with definition pages, it’s a very bad sign—that is a word that’s hardly ever used.

4.5 stars.

Jim Peredo’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/18/2020

Our blogger buddy Jim has the LAT puzzle this Saturday! We have some 11 stacks in the corners, and as is usually the case in LAT puzzles, I found virtually nothing unfamiliar. Perhaps my perception is different from others, but I still maintain most should be familiar with what is found in this puzzle. Let me know if you disagree. This is a clean grid and was a joy to solve! 4.6 stars.

Some high points:

  • 1A [Early finisher’s luxury] TIME TO SPARE – Great entry for 1-Across!
  • 15A [Paper Mate introduced one in 1979] ERASABLE PEN – The Pilot Frixxion pens are erasable without making a mess due to heat-sensitive ink. Buy one here, on my favorite pen site!
  • 17A [Mock question of literacy] “CAN’T YOU READ?” – A snooty question, but still a great casual phrase!
  • 50A [Boss’s unsettling request] “I’D LIKE A WORD” – Also a great casual phrase, albeit possibly anxiety-inducing.
  • 56A [Thurible go-with] INCENSE BOAT – This is a Catholic thing, right?
  • 38A [“Nobody Listens to __ Poundstone”: comedy podcast] PAULA – I should start a podcast. I don’t have much to say, that is the only problem!
  • 54A [Barcelona star] LIONEL MESSI – Even non-sports fans should know who this is.
  • 5D [Musical family including James and Livingston] TAYLORS – Who is Livingston??
  • 27D [Natural-born quillers?] PORCUPINES – Best clue in the puzzle!
  • 28D [Like Nash poetry] PUNNY – My favorite poet!
  • 51D [“Funky Cold Medina” rapper Tone __] LOC – Ah, this takes me back to my school days …

That is all!

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

Newsday 07/18/2020

Once again I think I am handling Brad’s puzzles a little better. After like four years of practice! Maybe after another 40 years I will be as good a solver as Agard, Zawistowski, and others! I had a rough time in the NE corner of this one. Most everything else fell without too much of a battle, but that upper right corner had me in stitches for a spell. All in all, not as thorny as some other recent ones, so the break is welcome! 4.5 stars for this one.

Some of that tougher stuff, and other things:

  • 6A [St. Thomas, compared to the other US Virgin Islands] WEST-MOST – Fun fact!
  • 16A [”Immortal” bloom in ”Paradise Lost”] AMARANTH – This is tough. Especially for someone like me who is not a big flower aficionado.
  • 36A [Lucrative subject of an page] STUD FEE – I would think about owning a horse if it could make me rich, but I would be broke just buying the first horse!
  • 62A [Third-class ancestor] STEERAGE – Is this where you could travel across the ocean in the cargo area with the luggage? Probably not a bad deal if you had several weeks to do so!
  • 65A [Voyages of the ”USS Enterprise”] LT. YRS. – This is a tough abbreviation indicator, but gettable. There is a Star Trek cartoon coming up on CBS All Access soon. That my family will likely be watching!
  • 7D [Singer once known as MC Double M] EMINEM – I tried HAMMER in here at first, but this answer makes more sense!
  • 10D [Arty friend of Zola] MANET – I believe you!
  • 21D [”More or less” symbol in math] TILDE – There are tons of symbols in math, which I think is why math is so intimidating to so many.
  • 37D [Convince of] TALK INTO – How many things have you been talked into that you regret?
  • 61D [Tennessee Aquarium dweller that powers its own Twitter posts] EEL – I will have to look this up!

Everyone stay safe and healthy!

Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Asking for Trouble” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/18/20 • “Asking for Trouble” • Coulter • Sat • solution • 20200718

Punnishly apt concerns for professionals of various stripes. After intuiting the theme, one might ask, “Why isn’t this puzzle called ‘Occupational Hazards’?” and that’d be because it was the title for at least two previous crosswords (WSJ 2 Feb ’19 and Reagle 12 Feb ’12) – and I can’t imagine there haven’t been others over the years. That said, the answers here repeat none from those two other puzzles in the DOACF archives.

  • 22a. [The harried cooper was ___ ] OVER A BARREL.
  • 24a. [The harried tow truck driver was ___ ] FLAT BROKE. Seems this would be rather a condition for the motorist attended to by the tow truck driver.
  • 38a. [The harried circus pyro-performer was ___ ] PLAYING WITH FIRE. This one certainly required some awkward phraseology!

*** What’s with everybody being harried?? ***

  • 57a. [The harried canoeist was ___ ] UP THE CREEK.
  • 64a. [The harried tea blender was ___ ] IN HOT WATER.
  • 68a. [The harried mountain climber was ___ ] ON THE ROPES. From one steep situation to another.
  • 77a. [The harried tree surgeon was ___ ] OUT ON A LIMB.
  • 98a. [The harrier barn painter was ___ ] CAUGHT RED-HANDED.
  • 116a. [The harried chef was ___ ] IN THE SOUP.
  • 120a. [The harried cider producer was ___ ] HARD-PRESSED. Ending with my favorite of the lot, as it has the strongest double-entendre element.

So, a solid—if familiar—offering this week.

  • 49a [Distressed] SHOOK UP. Not part of the theme, but it has the look of being so.
  • 83a [Pound divisions] CAGES, 77d [Pound division] OUNCE.
  • 48a [Specialized angler] EELER, 106a [Squirmy types] WRITHERS.
  • 45a [Bye word] ADIEU, 122a [“See ya!”] CIAO.
  • 82d [Irritate] BOTHER, 91d [Irritated state] SNIT, 16d [Tick off] IRK.
  • This concludes the “associated things” portion of the write-up.
  • 6d [Historian Thomas who called economics “the dismal science”] CARLYLE. I feel calling it a science at all is generous.
  • 7d [Plot portion] ACRE.
  • 12d [2013 product debut offering “the power of lightness”] IPAD AIR. Oh.
  • 25d [Astronomer Tycho] BRAHE. He of the brass nose.
  • 41d [Didn’t bring a date] WENT STAG. In-grid, it looks like corrupted German for Wednesday. (Who’s Ingrid?)
  • 60d [Focus on wheels, say] – When I first saw this, I had no idea, but thought it would make a clever clue for the too-long FORD. My smugness bubble was burst when I came back to it after a cross or two and saw that it was in fact CAR. Not so remarkably clever was I.
  • Good duplication-avoidance (I like to point these out when I notice them): 28a [Not as close, in children’s games] COLDER, 69d [Closed in on] NEARED.
  • Your geographic trivia of the day: 79d [Lisbon is located at its mouth] TAGUS. “The river’s Latin name Tagus [ˈtaɡʊs] is believed to derive from the Vulgar Latin verb taliāre, ‘to cut through’, due to the way the river ‘cuts through’ the Iberian terrain; the Italian tagliare (“to cut”) is from the same root. In the languages of Iberia.” (from Wikipedia)
  • 84d [Pendant pair] EARDROPS. Huh? Are these supposed to be drop earrings? The lobes of the ears? Certainly it isn’t the medicine, which is the only thing I would call “eardrops”.
  • (Goes to dictionary)
  • Whoops, well lookie there. “Definition of eardrop : EARRING; especially : one with a pendant; First Known Use of eardrop : 1720, in the meaning defined above”
  • … (looks around guiltily)
  • 129a [Yellow-flowered medicinal plant] TANSY.

Well, I guess this is a good place to wrap things up. Stay safe!

Richard D. Allen’s Universal crossword — “Extra Base”

Took me a good half a minute to get the theme, but nice little AHA click came eventually!

**I think this is a debut puzzle! Congrats, Richard!**

THEME: Synonyms for “steal” are the second word in each of the common phrases (hence, STEAL SECOND).

Universal crossword solution · “Extra Base” · Richard D. Allen · Sat., 7.18.20


  • 16A [*One might hold your wallet] PATCH POCKET. That’s what those things are called?!
  • 23A [*Be cost-conscious] PENNY PINCH. 
  • 43A [*Surgery that removes a bag] EYELID LIFT. 
  • 54A [Make a first move? … or a clue to the starred entries] STEAL SECOND. 

I liked this! But I always find it a bit odd when the revealer uses a cryptic style clue that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the theme. With the title, the revealer, and the revealer’s clue, I certainly thought I was looking for a baseball theme. Nope! No harm done though.

Another thing that’s weird to me is there seems to be an awful large part of the grid in the center where there are no themers and just fill.

Also RED STAR yeast is back on grocery store shelves, finally. Yeast was a hotter item than toilet paper, paper towels, and antibacterial hand soap over the last few months. At least where I live!


3.2 stars.

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37 Responses to Saturday, July, 18, 2020

  1. pseudonym says:

    PICARDY/ERI/DECA/CALF/ALLAN is laziness imo

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      There is not a damn thing wrong with CALF!

      • pseudonym says:

        It’s uncommon enough to be problematic wedged inside the rest imo.

        • Billy Boy says:

          Rather hard due to FLOE and BERG, legit for SAT.

          I definitely had wavelength woes in the proverbial SE; all the sports I’ve seen in my days RAINDATE over EMPTYNET really resisted my charms or lack thereof.

          Saturday-ish …

          stops and starts on WSJ, I may never get to it


      • Gary R says:

        I’m much more accustomed to seeing the verb “calve” in connection with glaciers and icebergs than the noun “calf.” But it’s a fairly straightforward connection to make. That said, I started with “floe,” until some of the crosses came in.

  2. pseudonym says:

    nice puzzle, JP

  3. Evad says:

    Never noticed (until now) that BEYONCÉ and MADONNA share those middle two letters. Set me back for a while!

  4. Huda says:

    Amy, re your comment yesterday (which I saw late):
    You are correct- In neuroscience, a “prediction error” could go in either direction. The brain is in the business of predicting the future in an ongoing way. If a situation over-performs the expected outcome, it leads to the release of dopamine in a specific neural circuit, which is rewarding. If it under-performs, it’s associated with the inhibition of dopamine release.
    So, it’s all about managing expectations…

  5. Crotchety Doug says:

    Stumper – Worked through the whole grid (slowly) managing to keep mostly tied in. Very satisfying. Re: 46D I resisted VILIFY because I had only heard depreciate used in the financial sense. I wanted the clue to be deprecate. So after finishing I looked up both words in M-W and learned a few things. That is always good.

  6. Stephen B. Manion says:

    Unlike the Spelling Bee, which is very tough today, the NYT was very easy for me. Pop culture keeps me from being a faster solver, but I knew MADONNA and DISCO STU and I was on the right wavelength for the misdirection clues.

    Excellent puzzle.


    • KarenS says:

      The Spelling Bee took much longer than usual this morning. I finally got the panagram after I took a break and looked again.

      • Stephen B. Manion says:

        I just got the QB. 40 in a row and this was the toughest in my streak.

        • Lise says:

          OMG 40
          I have a streak of 2, which will be broken today.

          • Stephen B. Manion says:

            I missed NAMETAPE on June 8. before that it was BIBIMBAP and COLCANNON. I am obsessed with vocabulary. I lack pop culture knowledge and dexterity to be super fast at crosswords. I am also obsessive enough to never give up until I get the QB.


        • Art Shapiro says:

          I’ve never gotten more than three in a row – 40 is jawdroppingly remarkable. They keep throwing in weird Indonesian stews and the like while not accepting perfectly non-obscure words.

      • Gary R says:

        Always kind of interesting to see what jumps out at me, and what takes time to uncover. This morning, the pangram was the first word in. Yesterday, I never did spot cufflink. I only get the Queen Bee about once a week – sometimes I’m missing words I just don’t know, and sometimes I just get tired of looking.

  7. R Cook says:

    Stumper: Can someone explain the clue for RHEA?

    • pannonica says:

      It’s the designated cryptic-style clue for this week’s Stumper. Typically it’s a hidden word type.

      I find the practice a weird affectation.

      • Confused says:

        I still don’t get it. What does Rhea have to do with essential? Wasn’t she the mother of the Titans?

      • R Cook says:

        I often miss these cryptic-style clues, which makes sense as I cannot stand cryptic-style puzzles.

  8. Norm says:

    LAT: “[M]ost should be familiar with” 12D? I think not. The crosses were fair, however, so I’m not complaining — just disagreeing.

  9. MinorThreat says:

    NYT–It took me a while to sort out the SE. EMPTYNET eluded me and I’ve never heard of PICARDY. I wanted floe, berg, cube before CALF.

    Stumper–I liked this one. The biggest problem was asphodel for AMARANTH; they would be the same lenghth (sigh).

  10. Luther says:

    Jim P
    Ominous looking at first, but what a FUN solve it was!
    Rappers always stump me, and first entry was wrong. Somewhere in my head came the right answer. Took some time to finish, but was definitely not a slog. Cluing was right on.

  11. David Steere says:

    LAT: Nice puzzle, Jim. I feel quite stupid asking this, but… Could you or Derek explain “BOLO target” and “perp?” Searching Google for definitions of “BOLO” and “perp” confused me more.

    • WhiskyBill says:

      I’m neither Jim nor Derek, but I’ll take a stab at it:

      BOLO: Be On the Look Out.

      PERP: PERPetrator of a crime.

      “perp” is certainly used in “perp walk.” BOLO is fairly recent (to me, at least), and is the new APB.

  12. GlennG says:

    Thought I would to be sure Jim Peredo’s puzzle gets the proper props. Thank you for showing people that it doesn’t take a load of proper nouns or other nonsense to make a puzzle challenging, entertaining, or worthwhile. One of the best I’ve done in that venue in a very long time!

  13. Theresa Horan says:

    A very smooth Stumper until I hit the NE, so I was on Derek’s wavelength. I missed the cryptic (quasi, as @pannonica said) so arEA was the only thing I came up with, making 39A WARrior. It wasn’t until I realized that “is” was in the clue for 6D that I got rid of “is all IN” but then I was able to justify THE EARTH as the backdrop for moonwalks. But I dug myself out of that hole and finished. Woohoo!

  14. placematfan says:

    Good to see an LAT puzzle get some love. Mr. Norris gets some due flak for old-era wages, and sometimes it just seems like the LAT reviews here are mere obligation or whatever. But he does not suck at his job. And if you construct, sometimes you can’t get an editor to see the beauty that you see in your puzzle; so you siphon it down the market, and try to sell it the next-lower bidder. Often, the end of the road is LAT. But it gets published, and like at here (?) you get some validation on your original vision. Talk to Rich once (via email or whatever) and you’ll know he’s not the lesser that his pay-scale denotes. Good to see this, is all.

  15. JohnH says:

    I didn’t finish RZA crossing ZITS in the WSJ and wasn’t too fond of that. (I didn’t know, say, ORA or TAGUS either, but they were gettable, so fine.) I’ve seen “Kill Bill,” but even so.

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