Saturday, July 25, 2020

LAT 5:04 (Derek) 


Newsday 18:37 (Derek) 


NYT 4:43 (Amy) 


Universal 4:38 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Royce Ferguson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

This was easier than the Friday puzzle for me. How about you?

NY Times crossword solution, 7 25 20, no. 0725

The grid’s got triple stacks of 15s at the top and bottom, and they’re latticed together with another pair of 15s. ALL ALONG THE LINE feels sort of unfamiliar to me, but the other seven 15s are all quite good. The stacks’ short crossings were pretty solid, too. The two that are probably the least known by solvers, AGNI and ENES, bring multi-culti cred, and the latter makes 58d. [Spanish 101 word with a tilde], AÑO feel like it’s part of today’s Spanish lesson with 14d. [Spanish letters with (or without) tildes], ENES (EÑES) echoing it.

If VICTORIA’S SECRET had been clued by way of that “fashion show,” it would have been icky. But instead we have 1a. [Retailer that hired its first openly transgender model in 2019], and I like it.

Not wild about UNEDGED, and ALTAI and RIA have a crosswordese tinge to them, but overall there was much to like here. Seven things:

  • 41a. [Was on eggshells?], BROODED. Like a hen, not someone walking on figurative eggshells.
  • 43a. [Cry upon spotting a new package delivery], “IT’S HERE!” omg, this was totally me yesterday. My refill bottles of Dial pear foaming hand soap, which I’ve been trying to get for two months, finally arrived! I know that scrubbing with plain soap for 20 seconds is adequate, but dammit, I feel better with the antibacterial and I like the gently fruity fragrance.
  • 61a. [Like opportunities that might be hard to decline], ONCE IN A LIFETIME. Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. You could clue this via the 1980s Talking Heads hit, but TALKS IN A WHISPER is in the grid.
  • 9d. [One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Roman Catholicism], ST. VITUS. I have never heard of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, but I’ve been to the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague so I had a go-to five-letter V saint.
  • 32d. [Introducer of the math symbol “e”], EULER. Imagine if Edmonton’s NHL team adjusted its name to the Edmonton Eulers.
  • 49d. [Speakers of Quechua], INCA … and also millions of Peruvians and others in Andean countries, and a smattering of immigrants elsewhere. A tidbit from Wikipedia: A number of Quechua words have entered English and French via Spanish, including coca, condor, guano, jerky, llama, pampa, poncho, puma, quinine, quinoa, vicuña (vigogne in French), and, possibly, gaucho. The word lagniappe comes from the Quechuan word yapay “to increase, to add.” The word first came into Spanish then Louisiana French, with the French or Spanish article la in front of it, la ñapa in Louisiana French or Creole, or la yapa in Spanish.
  • 54d. [Part of who you are?], HOMO sapiens.

4.2 stars from me.

Joe Deeney’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/25/2020

This one wasn’t too difficult, but still a fun puzzle. I have done a few of Joe Deeney’s at this point, and I like his style. There are a couple of tough entries in here, including one I have never heard of (see below!), but the crosswordese is kept to a minimum and we have some wide-open corners in the grid with some lively entries. Just because I don’t know something is certainly not a reason to include something in a puzzle, but I’ll bet you didn’t know the answer in question either (again, see below!!). Keep the puzzles coming, Joe! 4.4 stars.

Those promised comments, which weigh heavily towards the longer answers:

  • 15A [Agree to take the long way there?] ORDER A LIMO – I do this all the time …
  • 34A [Like some agreements] PREMARITAL – Like Melania’s? Just a small political joke there … !
  • 39A [Towels, e.g., aptly] SHOWER GIFT – Great clue here. Nice little play on words!
  • 45A [Oscar-winning foreign language film based on a Fugard novel] TSOTSI – THIS IS THAT ANSWER! This is HARD! Have YOU seen this movie? Yeah, I didn’t think so!
  • 58A [Pierre’s polite lead-in] “EXCUSEZ MOI” – Know your basic French! Most of us have actually said this at some point, so as far as French entries go, this might actually be one of the easier ones, if you can grok out the spelling!

    Tsotsi movie poster

  • 3D [Lic. figure] ID NO. – Could this have been clued as [ “__ no idea!”] ?
  • 13D [Honshu city] OSAKA, JAPAN – Easy to get with a few crosses. I think I would LOVE to visit Japan. One of these days!
  • 25D [Only Super Bowl the Eagles won] LII – They have come close a few times. Their QB now is on the Bears, so maybe it is Chicago’s turn! (if they ever play football this year!)
  • 26D [Victoria-Tasmania divider] BASS STRAIT – This is tough. At least to me.
  • 31D [Angsty lament] “I’M A FAILURE!” – You know I love casual phrases, even if this one is slightly depressing.

That is all! See some of you at Boswords tomorrow!

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

Newsday 07/25/2020

I was pretty Stumped today! Lots of tough stuff in here. The slightly wider open NE and SW were actually a tad easier, but the NW and SE (where I finally finished!) I found brutal. This one wasn’t anger-inducing hard, but I definitely aged a bit during solving! There were looong periods of staring at wide swaths of white squares in this solve. Funny how it still looks a lot easier AFTER the solve is done! Another great puzzle, Greg! 4.5 stars from me.

Some of the thorny bits:

  • 1A & 1D [Play with puddles] & [Gaudy entrance] SLOSH & SPLASH – Nice duo in the corner. Do you have to use the bathroom yet?
  • 6A [Posts behind another user’s back] SUBTWEETS – I don’t tweet much, but I think I understand what this is!
  • 16A [Backup device] SPARE PART – I had SPARE TIRE in here at first. Not sure why …
  • 23A [With 46 Across, modern “Pay attention!”] “STOP STARING AT YOUR PHONE!” – MARVELOUS casual phrase! And quite a sign of our times!
  • 52A [Concerns for investors and orchardists] YIELDS – One of the better clues in the puzzle, although not that hard. Helped me bust open that lower right corner.
  • 58A [Kin to “capric”] OVINE – This is just plain hard. Who knows this??
  • 2D [Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams”] LIOTTA – I made this harder than it was. Who hasn’t seen this movie??
  • 5D [Mozart wrote concertos for them] HORNS – This could have been anything: OBOES, WINDS, HARPS …(!)
  • 7D [Stumped, rather fittingly] UP A TREE – Also an excellent clue. My vote for the best in the grid.
  • 32D [Be gentler than a wring] PAT DRY – This is not a common phrase, but it works quite well. Am I finally gettin go Greg’s wavelength after all these months?

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Emily Carroll’s Universal crossword — “Garbled Messages”

I really want that title to be “Mixed Messages,” don’t you? Must mean the word “mixed” is already being employed in the grid…

Universal crossword solution · “Garbled Messages” · Emily Carroll · Sun., 7.25.20

THEME: A word that can precede “signal” is scrambled in common phrases.


  • 19A [*Kind of toy robot that punches] ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM. Smoke. 
  • 33A [*Face-to-face attraction?] MOUNT RUSHMORE. Turn.
  • 41A [*Carey Mulligan played her in 2013’s “The Great Gatsby”] DAISY BUCHANAN. Busy. 
  • 55A [Source of dating frustration, or a hint to the starred answers’ scrambled words] MIXED SIGNALS. 

Clue of the year for MOUNT RUSHMORE! Great aha moment on that one. I never really felt a flow while solving this, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Both the fill and the cluing were unique, despite it feeling crosswordy at times. KANJI was new to me [Japanese writing system], but I like it! And NANOOK is back again! I wonder how a movie theater would fare if they showed a NANOOK of the North marathon. Not well, I would suppose.

Some odd stuff / crosswordy stuff in AGEE, IDOS, NOES (yuck!), RET, but interesting clues peppered throughout like [It’s now usually classified as a bear] PANDA (I never knew at as anything other than a bear!) kept it fun.

Of course, there is the persistent Universal problem (no fault of the constructor) that those who solve the puzzle downloaded from this site have a different solving experience than the masses because there are circles appropriately placed in the grid. Universal doesn’t circle letters in its regular publication and asks the solvers to count letters instead, which I don’t think is fair to the solver, especially novice solvers who could really benefit from the visual.

Still, as hidden / mixed word concepts goes, this one was well done!

3.6 stars with circles / 2.6 stars without circles.

Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Catchy Wordies” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/25/20 • Sat • Ross • “Catchy Wordies” • solution • 20200725

The title evokes the old Wacky Wordies visual puns from Games Magazine, but something different is going on here. Two-part entries—whether they’re phrases, compound, or affixed words—are separated. The first part receives a -y suffix while the second gets an -ie. Spelling is tweaked where necessary.

For example, catchword becomes catchy wordies.

This is how I jokingly pronounce quaintisms such as Olde Shoppe and Towne Pointe.

  • 23a. [Sleepwear for a Navy woman?] MIDDY NIGHTIE (midnight). MIDDY is short for midship(wo)man.
  • 28a. [Gossip-loving gourmet?] CATTY FOODIE (cat food). Tried pet/petty first, which cause some consternation.
  • 48a. [Fashionable cap?] SNAPPY BEANIE (snap bean).
  • 66a. [Bet taker who’s not to be trusted?] SKETCHY BOOKIE (sketchbook).
  • 86a. [Lowbrow film of the early 1930s?] TRASHY TALKIE (trash talk).
  • 104a. [Tour worker who needs a bath?] DIRTY ROADIE (dirt road).
  • 114a. [Sycophant who sings?] TOADY STOOLIE (toadstool).
  • 36d. [One whose addiction leads to being out of touch with reality?] SPACY JUNKIE (space junk).
  • 41a. [Chan impersonator?] PHONY JACKIE (phone jack).

Clever and entertaining enough while not being laugh-out-loud funny or anything like that.

  • 1a [Available for playing at home] ON DVD, crossing 4d [Obsolete rental] VIDEO TAPE. 73d [Becoming dull and predictable] GOING STALE, crossed by 120a [Not as played out] FRESHER.
  • 19a [Run over] REAIR. Clue tricked me. Have probably encountered it before, but seems fresh. Conversely 3d [Hires competition] for DAD’S root beer was immediately transparent.
  • 25a [One watching the kids?] GOATHERD. Cute. Also, young goats are cute and are all over YouTube and probably TikTok.
  • 45a [Vibrant ecosystem] REEF. Presuming acidification and rising temperatures have not yet impacted it.
  • 119a [“Hey! Yeah, you!”] PSSST. I guess that’s the more forceful cousin of crossword-common PSST.
  • 11d [Iron production] STEAM. My PETTY error (see above) led me to enter STEEL here.
  • 12d [Mediterranean orchard sights] FIG TREES. Have been getting some good figs this season.
  • 44d [Home, figuratively] HEARTH. Home is where the HEARTH is.
  • 53d [Most crimped] WAVIEST. I was going to question whether crimp evokes wavy, but a quick consult with dictionaries seems to bear it out.
  • 63d [Joined the bulls] BOUGHT. Oh, right, Wall Street Journal.
  • 66d [Translating challenge] SLANG. I’m conditioned to fill in IDIOM for this. Similarly, for 18d [Last name in spydom] was a reflexive James BOND rather than Mata HARI.
  • 68d [Last name of London criminal twins Ronnie and Reggie] KRAY.

    Compelling photographic portrait.
    ©David Bailey

  • 77d [Start of this centvry] MMI. I liked the spelling change as indication for Roman numerals.
  • 108d [Secret-protecting documents: Abbr.] NDAS. I’M OF the opinion (105d) that on balance non-disclosure agreements are a bad thing, especially considering Individual One’s over-reliance on them.
  • 107d [Enough, for some] ONCE.

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27 Responses to Saturday, July 25, 2020

  1. Pamela Kelly says:

    The Edmonton Eulers! Love it! I’ll think of them as the Eulers from now on.

  2. Stephen B. Manion says:

    Much harder for me than Friday’s. I laughed when I finally got for PETE’S sake. I did not see it.

    Valentina Sanpaio is also the first transgender model to be featured in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She is definitely cover worthy. Maybe next year.


  3. F Grant says:

    Re homo, I’m gay and I’d rather not have the extra credit for what is generally a slur.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    If one knows VICTORIAS SECRET cold, then it is easier than yesterday. I tried Abercro … no, the the duh moment.

    I, too stuck at PETE’S since AL_AI was literally a blank to me.

    Trifecta/WIN PLACE SHOW was also a gimme. Mathematicians are always EULER just as ERIE has 2, 487 PA clues. All in all pretty solid, except TIE WRAP seems green paint as does UN EDGED.

    WSJ, my usual with a 21×21 I lost interest 85% finished had to push and push to finish, I’d gotten all the cutesy stuff. Decent, though.

  5. Greg Johnson says:

    Derek: Even I had to look up CAPRIC (goats) I think Stan made this one extra Stumpy today because of the split entry. And for Jessica I was thinking “Top Gear” (been on a Brit TV binge lately). Love 8OO10’s Countdown.

  6. Gary R says:

    Derek: PAT DRY is a familiar enough phrase, but I don’t know that it works that well with the clue. When I think of wringing something dry, it’s going to be a rag or a piece of clothing – and the gentler alternative might be spin dry or line dry or dry flat.

    PAT DRY comes up in a cooking context, where you might be instructed to rinse a chicken and PAT DRY before adding seasoning. Also, in a grooming context, where you might be instructed to use a facial cleanser, rinse and PAT DRY. But “wringing” wouldn’t be an alternative in either of these cases.

    • pannonica says:

      One might PAT DRY a bra after hand-washing it.

    • Greg Johnson says:

      Both methods involve the removal of liquid. Wringing certainly is the more aggressive way to accomplish that. That’s all it means.

      alexashortbushdotnet for free puzz

      • Gary R says:

        I agree that both methods involve the removal of liquid. But for the clue to “work,” in my opinion, there needs to be the possibility that either method might be used in some situation. “Bailing” is a way of removing liquid from the bottom of a boat or a flooded basement, but to clue PAT DRY as “gentler than bailing,” or in any way as an alternative method to bailing, makes no sense to me.

        As pannonica correctly points out, there are some articles of clothing that manufacturers recommend you PAT DRY, when you might actually consider wringing them out – so the clue works. Laundering of those articles of clothing is outside my bailiwick – so bad on me.

  7. MinorThreat says:

    Stumper: I had airdry before PATDRY. The middle-west section was pretty dicey for awhile. OXEN, VALE, JAPANS and VANYA were difficult to see. I’m not understanding 37a. bento box lacquerware: JAPANS.

  8. Garnet says:

    In the Stumper, how is “ejection seat” a clue for ATM?

    • David Glasser says:

      I’m curious about that too.

      Am I the only person whose thoughts for 14D started with Silence of the Lambs?

    • RichardZ says:

      My guess is that an ATM is an “ejection seat” in the sense that it ejects bills, and so is a source (or seat, in a sense) for them.

      • R Cook says:

        I thought of seat as a synonym for “prefix” and then linked it to atmosphere. Both interpretations are wild stretches and feel more like a game of “what number am I thinking of”.

      • C. Y. Hollander says:

        This was my best guess as well, but I was not satisfied by it.

  9. Jennie says:

    I must be especially thick-headed today because I can’t for the life of me figure out NYT 19 Across “Top of a face” is “XII”. Anyone?

  10. Jennie says:

    Doh!!!!!! Thank you, sanfranman59!

  11. RichardZ says:

    Re today’s Stumper – I was reluctant to let go of “veil” (at 31A), and only figured out VALE when 7D (UP A TREE) came to me.

    The mention of “capric” (in 58A) didn’t ring any bells at first, but I finally recalled the astrological sign Capricorn, whose representation is a sea goat. After that, I remembered a bunch of words – caprice, capricious, capriccio, capriole – with that root, all related to frolicking or frisking like a goat.

  12. Brenda Rose says:

    F Grant,
    LGBTQ+ whomever, we are all HOMO sapiens. This clue is not male specific. Amy addressed the *sexual* suffix although the clue was straightforward biology. Have you ever heard of Hetero Sapiens?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Brenda, you’ve entirely missed his point. I had written in my post that gay folks get double credit for the prefix. F Grant wasn’t willing to look past the decades of use of “homo” as a slur, and nor should they. The snark about “Hetero Sapiens” is misguided. F Grant wasn’t saying anything about H. sapiens.

      And actually, it would probably make sense to disallow that entry in crosswords, or at least to never play cutesy with the clue. Use a direct fill-in-the-blank with ___ sapiens, or don’t use the entry at all. You can clue BITCH as a female dog, but it would still be jarring to see the word staring at you from the grid.

      • Royce Ferguson says:

        Good feedback re: HOMO, should have thought that one through a bit more. My apologies! Duly noted for the future.

  13. Theresa Horan says:

    Late to the Stumper this week: Unlike @Derek, I found the NE to be the hardest part with LAriat in place of LAWMAN causing much grief. But ON vieW in the NW and civeTS for STOATS all played their parts. Great puzzle, Greg Johnson, love your work!

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