Saturday, August 22, 2020

LAT 5:26 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:24 (Derek) 


NYT 4:13 (Amy) 


Universal 6:02 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 22 20, no. 0822

Well, I flew right through this like it was a Friday puzzle on the easier end of the spectrum. I bet a big part of that is that I have good recall for names and pop culture. If you don’t, well, you might have felt beaten down by the gauntlet of proper names: SHAMU KEEBLERELF RIPA PRYOR MAUS SIAM BARNEYSTINSON JAGS LAURA ERIK HENRI HEYYA MEARA UNIONJACK GARIBALDI BASSALE GRETA, that’s 17. You have my permission to grouse about that—I like names in a crossword because they make it easy for me, but I’m not going to expect everyone to know the How I Met Your Mother character name BARNEY STINSON. (I saw part of one episode one time.)

On the plus side, the propers bring us four notable women, legendary Black comedian Richard PRYOR, and hip-hop dup OutKast’s “HEY YA,” outnumbering the white male contingent here.


Just three more things, because it’s late:

  • 18a. [Pole position?], AXIS. I think this is getting at the North Pole and the South Pole being on the same axis of Earth.
  • 37a. [Herb of the parsley family], ANISE. How can it be related to parsley, when parsley is fine but anise is the Antichrist?
  • 59a. [Doesn’t take any cards, say], STAYS. My first thoughts were credit cards and greeting cards, but the clue’s about playing cards in, say, blackjack.

3.75 stars from me. Good night!

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

LAT 08/22/2020

Beautiful puzzle today! Look at all of those 10-letter entries! There are EIGHTEEN of them! Very nicely done, with very little obscure info. Not too difficult to fill, but still quite a fun solve. Is there only 30 black squares? This is quite a feat of construction. Kudos to Joe, whose puzzles I am really starting to enjoy. 4.6 stars for this one!

Some highlights:

  • 1A [NASCAR stat] MPH – NASCAR is still going through this pandemic; the Indy 500 is this Sunday. That will be weird with no fans in the stands!
  • 14A [Asia’s __-Kum Desert] KARA – This is most of Turkmenistan. I had to look that up!
  • 31A [Starbucks selection] CAFFE MOCHA – My favorite drink there! Add some raspberry syrup for even more fun!
  • 35A [Where the action in Chicago’s County General Hospital took place] ON E.R. – Haven’t seen this entry in forever. Perhaps because the show hasn’t been on in years! Is it even in syndication or on Netflix somewhere? Maybe it is on the new Peacock service! I will check that out this weekend …
  • 44A [“The Red House Mystery” author] MILNE – I think this is not his most famous work!
  • 47A & 48A [“Truly!”] HONEST & “I CANNOT LIE!” – Well done!
  • 1D [Rhyming cocktail] MANGO TANGO – MAI TAI didn’t fit. Both sound good right about now!
  • 7D [H.S. instructors who show you the ropes?] P.E .TEACHERS – It isn’t PET EACHERS?! Seriously, this is a great clue!
  • 10D [Muppet who refers to himself in the third person] ELMO – I never did like that Elmo, and he is NOT on the new Muppets Now show on Disney Plus. That is a good thing!
  • 48D [Olympic swimmers Crocker and Thorpe] IANS – Who knew there were so many good Olympian swimmers named Ian!

That is all!

Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturn-day Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 08/22/2020

We have a them for this week’s Stumpers! Note the clever title! Stan warned me this one was a bit different, and he wasn’t wrong. Note the thematic entries:

  • 17A [Two of Saturn’s ”solar system” kids] PLUTO AND JUPITER
  • 28A [Saturn’s growing concern] AGRICULTURE
  • 43A [Saturn’s decaying concern] DISSOLUTION 
  • 55A [Two of Saturn’s ”solar system” kids] CERES AND NEPTUNE

I believe this has to do with the god Saturn and not the planet, even though “solar system” appears in a couple of clues. In this Wikipedia article, Saturn is described as the god of agriculture and dissolution, and lists all 6 of his children, including the four mentioned in the grid. Clever! Hard in some areas, but the theme gets you extra toeholds in a puzzle that you might not normally have. My time was just over 14 minutes, and that is solving on an iPad this week due to a slightly different schedule! Only a couple of minor errors, which you can see in the grid image if you look really closely! 4.5 stars for this one.

A few more things:

  • 5A [Pointy poker] AWL – This one is for you, Amy!
  • 19A [Be an agent for] SPEED – I am not sure how this works …
  • 41A [Inapt outdoor sculptures] PLOP ART – I had POOP ART in here at first! I am so immature!
  • 49A & 54A [Many a Hubble sighting] NEBULA & COMET – Nicely done!
  • 2D [Portrait canvas of a sort] OILPAPER – I assume this is one word. Never heard of this term.
  • 5D [”The Chairside Instructor” publisher] ADA – Great clue! Nice “a-ha!” moment.
  • 11D [”The Mikado” setting] TITIPU – I had to look this up later to confirm. I am so uncultured it isn’t even funny anymore!
  • 25D [Apply thickly] SLAB ON – SLAP ON sounds better!
  • 36D [Toughed (out)] BRAZENED – I have not used this word (brazen) as a verb; I usually see it as an adjective. I thought I had spelled something wrong!
  • 57D [Heady real estate investment] ALE – I don’t get this at all. Somebody explain!
  • 58D [Contributor to some yogurts] EWE – For the milk, I suppose. Not quite as committed as a pig is in making bacon!

Have a safe and healthy weekend!


Jacki Evans and Matthew Stock’s  Universal crossword — “Colorado Couples” – Jim Q’s Write-up

Looks like a debut from Jacki Evans! Excellent!

THEME: The letters CO- appear twice in common phrases

Universal crossword solution · “Colorado Couples” · Jacki Evans · Matthew Stock · Kevin Christian · Sun., 8.16.20


  • 17A [*Popular soda] COCA COLA.
  • 21A [*Widely used educational standards] COMMON CORE. 
  • 39A [*”SportsCenter” specialty] COLOR COMMENTARY. 
  • 61A [*Chicago’s region] COOK COUNTY. 
  • 66A [Fans of a certain redheaded host, or a hint to the starred entries] TEAM COCO. 

Excellent set of theme answers! I especially enjoyed the grid-spanning COLOR COMMENTARY, but they were all fun to figure out, especially after I grokked the theme at COMMON CORE (with the help of the title) and had that edge for the rest of the puzzle.

I thought it odd that there were, in a sense, two unrelated revealers: the title, and 66A. I thought the title was pretty darn good as a revealer, especially since it both follows the same CO- pattern and uses the abbreviation for Colorado twice. I was very surprised then to uncover TEAM COCO as another revealer, but it works just as well and it’s a great entry.

Lots of new stuff for me, including (of course) KOTO (you know it’s likely to be a new entry for a lot of people when it gives you an anagram hint in the clue). PCP (as clued), EVA Green, MALAWI was on tip of tongue but never quite surfaced, “Silento” in the clue for 8DHMU (which I’m assuming means “Hit Me Up”), and YASS. Seems like quite a bit of funky stuff for the Universal, and I think it may induce some side-eye from regular solvers, but I liked it in general.

Enjoy the weekend! Great work, Jacki!

4.1 Stars.

Johanna Fenimore and Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Coaching Advice From Captain Obvious” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/22/20 • “Coaching Advice From Captain Obvious” • Sat • Fenimore, Chen • solution • 20200822

Enlighten me, someone – is the Captain Obvious genre public domain in crosswordom? I know E Birnholz over at the Washington Post has been issuing them on a relatively frequent basis of late. Who originated the trope in this context?

Regardless, this time the good Captain proffers trademark literalisms for the realm of sports:

  • 23a. [Wry words of wisdom … from a hurdles coach] GO ABOVE AND BEYOND.
  • 32a. [ … from a crew coach] DON’T ROCK THE BOAT. Ancillary content at 54a [Crew needs] OARS. I prefer a crossword to not have loose edges like that.
  • 42a. [ … from a sport climbing coach] HANG IN THERE.
  • 66a/71a [ … from a soccer coach] VISUALIZE | YOUR GOALS.
  • 95a. [ … from a pole vault coach] RAISE THE BAR.
  • 105a. [ … from a hammer throw coach] YOU GOTTA LET IT GO.
  • 116a. [ … from a water polo coach] HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH.

Par for the course, really. If you caught yourself muttering “well, duh” at least once, then this theme has served its purpose.

Let’s move on to the clumping section of the write-up.

  • 61a [It became a state in 1890] IDAHO, 110a [It became a state in 1864] NEVADA, 127a [It became a state in 1845] TEXAS.
  • 10a/109a [Flight segment] STAIR, LEG.
  • 26a [Beehive State tribe] UTES, 125a [Platte river people] OTOE.
  • 28a [Org. for seniors] AARP, 41a [Or. for retirees] SSA.
  • 73a [Muscat native] OMANI, 60d [Riyadh resident] SAUDI.

Moving on.

  • 1a [Bird sacred to Thoth] IBIS. If you had the head of an ibis, I’m sure you’d consider them sacred too.
  • 11d [Scotland’s longest river] TAY. So do you all know of “The Tay Bridge Disaster“, by William McGonagall? He’s considered by many to be the worst poet in history, and it is his masterpiece. Go ahead, read it. I dare you. Or you can hear it read.
  • 100d [Mena of “American Beauty”] SUVARI. 101a [At some point in the future] ONE DAY I will learn the difference between her and Mira Sorvino. I have a similar but less acute problem with 64a John SECADA and Peter Cetera.
  • 114d [James of the “Divergent” films] THEO. Theo James? James Theo? >flips coin< Theo James! >looks it up< …YEsssssss! More specifically, Theodore Peter James Kinnaird Taptiklis.
  • 19a [Girl’s name meaning “ninth”] NONA. Only NONAs I know are Hendryx and Gaye.
  • 39a [Happy housemate] DOC. Seven dwarves in the house.
  • 104a [“Spirited Away” genre] ANIME, 34d [Comic-Con dress-up] COSPLAY.

And that’ll do it. These Captain Obvious puzzles are never superlative one way or the other.

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21 Responses to Saturday, August 22, 2020

  1. marciem says:

    NYT: I had to laugh right out loud @ Amy’s “anise is the antichrist”!! I thought I was the only one who felt that way, along with that devil’s spawn, fennel. ptui! :)

  2. pannonica says:

    Stumper: “57D [Heady real estate investment] ALE – I don’t get this at all. Somebody explain!”

    This is the allotted hidden-word cryptic style clue.

  3. Tina says: is unavailable. Looks like the domain name is messed up. Anyone else notice this?

    • Martin says:

      Yes, the domain registration expired a couple of days ago and was not renewed.

    • Seahedges says:

      Been trying for nine hours to reach the site. An email to Kevin bounced. Very frustrating. I’m beginning to suffer crossword withdrawal. Somebody help, please.

      • GlennG says:

        Trying to get the LAT, I guess? I was the one posting scripts on the forum over there and could arrange something if that’s an issue.

        • Tina says:

          This seems like a pretty major problem. Does anyone know what happened? It’s reassuring it’s not something wrong with my devices.

          • GlennG says:

            I just stepped in as a forum poster when the LAT process stopped working over there and started posting ACL scripts. Honestly, I don’t know anything about the site. Just was offering in case someone wanted a PUZ off of script like I did over there.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Argh … I sure feel like a dupe for sending them money for access to their database. Live and learn. It’s a great crossword resource and I thought it was well worth the money. But if you’re going to take money from people, you should at least have the integrity to keep the site alive until all of your subscriptions expire and not accept any new subscriptions. Yeesh!

  4. Billy Boy says:

    BASS ALE is a Beer? (Is that OK?, whatever)

    The Rabbit Hole that kept me on this past my mug of Nespresso. Other than that (Even with not having watched that N. Patrick Harris show) This was the easiest Fri + Sat in Ages. Either CV-19 has been good for my puzzling skills or maybe it was just a wavelength thing.

    Rooting for PSG today.


    • JohnH says:

      I’ve always thought of ale as a kind of beer, and indeed the Wiki article on ale begins “Ale is a type of beer.” What you don’t want is to confuse ale and lager.

  5. Lise says:

    Derek, thanks for explaining ONER in the LAT. I got that ER was Emergency Room but didn’t understand the ON.

    The Red House Mystery, written in 1922, before When We Were Very Young, is Milne’s one try at writing a detective story. It reads like a game of Clue, and his wonderful style is evident throughout. I read it recently, and then looked up Clue to see which came first. It turns out that Clue (Cluedo) was created in England in 1943 and inspired by the Murder In The Country House trope of the 1920s and 1930s. I was thrilled to see this work by Milne in the LAT. Kudos!

  6. TOBY SCHEEL says:

    Also frustrated by website failing. Also gave money to support. People might be able to access some puzzles at LAT and WSJ and Newsday sites. I was able to.

  7. Brenda Rose says:

    Had the same prob with & I second Tina’s relief it wasn’t our devices. My first thought was the fires here in Sonoma County was the cause…last year gas & electric was out for 6 days. The smoke is oppressive. The sites I couldn’t access were the Universals (either on Google or Crosswordfiend) & Agard’s USA. Gilda Radner was right “it’s always something.”

  8. Seth says:

    Yeah can anyone explain why “Be an agent for” is SPEED? I have absolutely no idea. At some point, some of these Stumper clues could just be “Randomly pick a 5-letter word that fits the letters you have so far, and hope you guess right. If not, pick again.”

    • Bob says:

      E.g., as in “be an agent for” change. A quote I ran across: “Be an agent for change, not a speed bump.”

      • Seth says:

        That’s…pretty absurd. First of all, if this is right, the clue should be “Be an agent for change.” It should also include “in a saying” at the end. I know Stumpers are supposed to be hard, but to clue a word in reference to one very specific quote that’s not even particularly famous, and do it incompletely, is too much.

        But hey, the rest of the puzzle was easier than normal, so that made me feel good!

      • pannonica says:

        I think the missing link here is ‘catalyst’.

  9. Seth says:

    Explanation of “Heady real estate development” for ALE: Stumpers usually include one or two cryptic-style clues; this is one of them. The word ALE appears inside reAL Estate, so it’s “developed” inside the phrase, and ALE is heady (like foam on beer).

  10. Theresa Horan says:

    Stumper owie’s: At 7D, GhanDI, oops, totally misspelled. crOPART (the clue did say “outdoors” after all). vEnuSANDNEPTUNE. xanadU before the rest of the NE filled in. Somehow I fought off all of that. Hardest Stan puzzle I can remember.

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