Sunday, September 27, 2020

LAT 7:25 (Jenni) 


NYT 9:06 (Amy) 


WaPo untimed (Jim Q) 


Universal tk (Jim Q)  


Universal (Sunday) 12:44 (Jim P) 


Alex Eaton-Salners’ New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9 27 20, “Playing With Food”

Just about time for dinner, so quick summation. Theme entries render verbed food in a visual way:

  • 24a. [South American financial institution since 1965], BANK OF GUYANA. Goes with 72a. [Food depicted cryptically at 24-Across], BANANA SPLIT, as the word BAN/ANA is split in the phrase BANk of GuyANA.
  • 31a. [1985 thriller with the tagline “A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode.”], T{O LIVE} AND DIE IN L.A., with a rebused JOHN {OLIVE}R crossing. Goes with 78a. [Food depicted cryptically at 31-Across], STUFFED OLIVE, though a stuffed olive has something stuffed into it rather than being stuffed into something (like this crossword square). Inelegant, that.
  • 49a. [Collectible item with stats], BASEBALL CARD. Goes with 98a. [Food depicted cryptically at 49-Across], CHOPPED SALAD, since S A L A D is spread out in 49a.
  • 59a. [Elements of neighborhood watch programs], FOOT PATROLS. Ugh, now I’m reminded of George Zimmerman appointing himself gun-toting neighborhood watch dude. Goes with 106a. [Food depicted cryptically at 59-Across], MASHED POTATO. Hold up—just the one MASHED POTATO anagrammed in 59a? That’s B.S. We need plural potatoes!

Neat theme idea, but there are some issues with the execution.

Entirely unknown to me: 20d. [State of drunken confusion], FUDDLE. Am I the only one who’s never seen this word before?

3.5 stars from me.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Chorus Lines” – Jim Q’s

I just realized that I have yet to fulfill the challenge from last week that encourages an unlikely marriage of two different types of drink. Gimme one more week! I got this! Anyway… moving on.

THEME: Vocal parts are hidden in five different rows.

Washington Post, September 27, 2020, Evan Birnholz, “Chorus Lines” solution grid


  • ROW 13 JUICE BAR / ITO / NECKWEARBaritone. 
  • 117A [With 119 Across, divisions in a chorus, and a description of how a choral section has been divided across black squares in five rows in this puzzle] VOICE PARTS.


First a little interesting note from Evan:

Something to note about the PDF going forward: Starting this week, the Post has made several updates to the print edition of the puzzle page. The big change is that the solution to the previous week’s puzzle has been permanently moved to another page in the magazine, which means I’ve gotten a fair amount of extra room for the clues. The clue font and the grid have been slightly enlarged (it’s still 21×21 normally, just with bigger squares) and the clue numbers are now written in bold font, which I’m hoping will make things more readable for print solvers. The title looks different in the PDF, too. Most of those things won’t affect you if you solve electronically, but you may notice some occasional longer clues since I have more space to fill out now. Give me a bigger canvas and I’ll use a bigger paintbrush.

Cool! Can’t say I really noticed all that much a difference in the cluing today as far as the length goes, but this is not something I’ll ever complain about! I always look forward to Peter Gordon puzzles as he typically includes one clue that is awkwardly and hysterically long.

Anyway, this puzzle was an atypical WaPo solve for me in that the AHA moment came after I had filled in the grid. I was 90% done when I got to the revealer, and I decided to leave that clue for last to see if I could figure out the theme without the help. Nope! While I’m accustomed to a more synergistic experience with the fill and theme helping one another out, it was still a very enjoyable solve. Just felt more like a fun themeless.


    • 15A [“___ ___ Baby” (hit for Vanilla ___)] Ha!
    • 20A [Jazz singer Cassidy] EVA. I’ve never seen her referenced in a puzzle before. She is an INCREDIBLE performer who unfortunately achieved most of her fame post-mortem. She died very young, and I’m all but certain she would have reached Adele’s level of fame had cancer not taken her from us. One of my favorite songs is her interpretation of Over the Rainbow. 
    • 95A [Necromancer’s haunt] CRYPT. “Necromancer” is a new word for me, though inferable… it strikes me as somewhat icky!
    • 7D [Shape whose number of sides is equal to this answer’s clue number] HEPTAGON. I had SEPTAGON, and for 4A [“Why not ___?”] I wrote in BOSS… because it sounds like something Pinky says to Brain in that 90s cartoon. That turned into a hot mess for me.
    • 13D [Safe, as crackers]. Quite possible my favorite mistake ever… I entered IN A BOX having only the B from BRACES, which, ya know… is true sorta.
    • 65D [Notice about a snow day cancellation, e.g.] ALERT. Snow days are a thing of the past for this teacher! Now they’re remote learning days!
    • 120D [Explorer Hendrickson for whom the Field Museum’s Tyrannosaurus rex is named] SUE. Might this be one of the long clues that Evan mentioned?

Nothing much to grumble about. SWEETSOP was new for me, and the SOP part was in the area where I was having trouble with the aforementioned SEPTAGON / BOSS issue. HEM IN is not a phrase I’ve heard before, but all in all a pleasant solve, even if the AHA came a little too late.

Enjoy this (incredible) virtual performance of the choir with which Evan regularly performs (not in this video though):

Paul Coulter’s Los Angeles Times puzzle, “Pet Flicks” — Jenni’s write-up

As the title suggests, the theme is movie titles changed to sound like they’re about pets.

Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2020, Paul Coulter, “Pet Flicks,” solution grid

  • 22a [Film with a feline baseball ace?] is PITCH PURRFECT. Pitch Perfect.
  • 32a [Biopic about Frank from “Men in Black”?] is A PUGS LIFE. A Bug’s Life.
  • 48a [Comedy about a lost mutt?] is DUDE WHERES MY CUR. Dude, Where’s My Car?
  • 67a [Film about a composing pooch?] is THE HOUND OF MUSIC. The Sound of Music.
  • 87a [Drama about organized disobedience at obedience school?] is THE CANINE MUTINY. The Caine Mutiny. Which dog ate the strawberries?
  • 102a [Film romance starring Puss?] is KISS ME CAT. Kiss Me Kate.
  • 119a [Film in which Fido wins a place at the Round Table?] is THE BARK NIGHT. The Dark Night.

It’s a solid and consistent theme – all cats and dogs, all well-known movies of different eras and genres. It was a smidgen too easy for me, and that’s me being very very picky. Well done.

A few other things:

  • 20a [University staying power?] is TENURE. We’ll see if that protects faculty from the higher-ed bloodbath that is coming from the pandemic.
  • Took me a while to get STIFLE for [Put the kibosh on]. No idea why. Maybe I need more coffee.
  • I’m grateful there was no cross-reference for UVULA and STREP throat.
  • Sometimes I go too quickly. I dropped in EDAM at 86d once I had the first two letters. Wrong. The clue is [Ancient Dead Sea kingdom] and it’s EDOM. Bible, not cheese.
  • 123a [Pump part] is INSOLE. Shoes, not machines.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Roy Rogers’ birth name was SLYE. Leonard Franklin Slye, to be exact.

Pam Klawitter’s Universal crossword, “Funny Business”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Well-known phrases of the form x AND y are re-imagined as business names except one of the words becomes a homophone.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Funny Business” · Pam Klawitter · 9.27.20

  • 22a. [Apt name for a quilt/soundproofing solutions business?] PIECE AND QUIET. I don’t know enough about quilting to recognize that “piece” is used in that line of work. I associate that word more readily with musical composition…or guns.
  • 50a. [… car part/locksmith business?] BRAKE AND ENTER. Hmm. I think I’ve only exclusively heard “breaking and entering,” not “break and enter.”
  • 65a. [… petite clothing/hotel business?] SHORT AND SUITE. That’s better. I balked at SHORT meaning “petite” at first but then I realized it’s sort of the opposite of “big and tall.”
  • 80a. [… hairstyling/book business?] HEADS AND TALES. Another “hmm.” It’s usually “heads or tails.”
  • 112a. [… racing boat/orthopedic surgery business?] SCULL AND BONES. Good.
  • 34d. [… cardiology/cobbler business?] HEART AND SOLE. Another good one.
  • 38d. [… deli breads/shoe polishing?] RYES AND SHINE. Best for last.

I recently saw a number of these service (ahem) stations while we were driving through Wyoming.

Despite my nits above, I love this kind of playful theme. And there are certainly plenty of business out there with punny names, so some of these almost feel real. (Just google “funniest business names” to find list upon list of them.)

In the fill I’m liking JETSKI, COOL CAT, PILATES, and especially CATALINA [California’s Santa ___ Island]. When I was a young lieutenant stationed at L.A. Air Force Station, my buddies and I decided to take up scuba diving. One of our training classes was a trip to CATALINA where we got to dive amongst the kelp forests and sea lions. Good times.

I had to look askance at TEA TABLE [Spot for an afternoon spread], but a quick google shows me it’s a real thing. But why not clue it [Spot for a spot]?

Clues of note:

  • 91d. [Reindeer with an agile-sounding name]. I went with DASHER first before realizing it was DANCER. Anyone else?
  • 95d. [Brown in the kitchen]. I’m so used to tricky clues, I was wracking my brain trying to think of celebrity chefs named Brown. There’s ALTON, of course, but it didn’t fit with my crossings. I needed nearly every cross before I realized this was a straightforward clue asking for SAUTE. Duh!

Fun theme and strong fill. 3.8 stars.

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33 Responses to Sunday, September 27, 2020

  1. pseudonym says:

    meh like most Sunday puzzles, but STUFFED OLIVE was worth it

  2. David Steere says:

    WaPo: Simply superb. I often don’t know many of the musical references in your puzzles. Too old school, I guess. But, “chancing” upon an old favorite, Eva Cassidy, brought back such nice memories of her takes on FIELDS OF GOLD and OVER THE RAINBOW. Peerless. Thanks for the lovely ear worms, Evan, and for another great puzzle.

    • pseudonym says:

      Jim Q should post Cassidy’s insanely beautiful live performance of Over the Rainbow.

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      Ha! Saw this comment after the post went up and I had already embedded “Over the Rainbow”! Glad we’re on the same page.

      • David Steere says:

        So nice that Jim Q and several others highlighted the lovely Eva Cassidy after my comment late last night. If you want to forget for five minutes what’s happening in the world and in the news and in comments like “Charles Schumer’s” [is this an example of a troll?; I don’t know since I’m not on social media]–listen and watch Michelle Kwan’s skate to Eva’s FIELDS OF GOLD from 2002 in Salt Lake City six years after Eva died. Beauty + beauty and almost too much to take without shedding several tears. The link is

    • marciem says:

      WP: As always, Evan amazes. Not to mention that the voice parts show up in the puzzle in order of high to low…

  3. Bryan says:

    NYT: As a fan of martinis garnished with stuffed olives, I concur with Amy’s nit about the stuffed olive. The olive is stuffed with stuff, rather than being stuffed into itself, as it were. (Writing that last sentence kind of blew my mind.) In general, I thought this whole theme was a clever concept. I like puzzles within puzzles. And now I’m hungry. Eat on, Salners! ;-)

  4. huda says:

    NYT: During the top half of the solve, I was getting annoyed by the seemingly random execution of the theme. Then I realized the intended visual depiction of the food and thought it was fun. I guessed that the inversion of “stuffed olive” was tongue in cheek.

  5. Oh my F’ing God… Is there NOWHERE one can escape the never-ending push push push of politics? Apparently not. Not even in the crossword puzzle arena. To wit: Washington state’s (surprise!) favorite resident idiot, Dumbo Jimbo says: “I did know my senator, Patty MURRAY, whose resistance against this administration I’m proud to note.” Congratulations on knowing one of your senators, Jimbo. No one cares. Here’s my dollar donation, now go be a good little circus monkey and solve my puzzle for me. And leave the political snark out of it. Idiot.

    • Jim Quinlan says:

      It’s fine that you think that, but at least he doesn’t hide behind fake handles and fake email addresses. I find it very, very strange that you are willing to continuously set up fake email accounts to anonymously troll the contributors to a crossword blog. How do you keep track of all the passwords?

    • Bryan says:

      Politics will stop mattering when the human race is dead — which, given the latest news about climate change, may be sooner rather than later.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Clearly you’re behind the times, as those comments were from Thursday. Try to keep up.

  6. Martin says:

    Oddly, “mashed potatoes” is as odd to British ears as “mashed potato” is to American. But the American mashed potato is definitely in the language.

    • marciem says:

      Thank you for posting that video link…. That’s the first place my mind went when I saw the comment re mashed potato vs. potatoes. Thank goodness for DeeDee Sharp, and the commenter who noted that only the blonde was doing it correctly. Made my day :)

  7. Jenni Levy says:

    I’ve never seen “fuddle” but I am very familiar with “befuddled.” Didn’t realize it specifically referred to drunkenness.

    • Kelly Clark says:

      It’s in the dictionary.

      As a verb: confuse or stupefy (someone), especially with alcohol: “my head was aching and my brain seemed fuddled.”

      As a noun: a state of confusion or intoxication: “through the fuddle of wine he heard some of the conversation.”

  8. David L says:

    A couple of odd flaws in the otherwise enjoyable LAT puz: 1D is IMPS and the clue for 13A, RASCAL, is ‘imp.’ And at 79A there’s SETI crossing ETS.

  9. Tim in Queens says:

    I’ve never heard the word FUDDLE, but it’s in the OED as an obsolete word for booze, then later as a state of drunkenness. Pretty obscure, but I wouldn’t get my gruntle bent out of shape over it.

  10. Tim in Queens says:

    Thanks for the words about Eva Cassidy. Yes, she was a wonderful singer.

  11. Laura Swanson says:

    How was the word “olive” keyed in? I feel dumb asking this, but I could only type one letter per square.

    • Bryan says:

      It’s what’s called a rebus, which is where you enter more than one letter in a square. If you solve in the NYT crossword app, you can tap the “More” key on the keyboard to find the Rebus key. Using the Rebus key will make the square kind of “pop out” and you can then type multiple letters in the square.

  12. Christopher Heckman says:

    First comment here, and actually not for this crossword. (But comments are closed on that page.)

    Thanks for posting this blog! A couple of times already it’s cleared up some confusion I’ve had about a crossword puzzle I was working on.

    The way that I get the NYT puzzle is via the Lincoln Journal-Star (which delays them two weeks — “Craft Show” showed up August 23, not August 9), and Mom sends them to me here in Arizona when she send mail once a month or so.

    Short version: This comment is about the 6-week old puzzle “Craft Show.” This was particularly confusing for me, because the “italicized clues” were not in italics, but in the regular font. (Gee, thanks, LJS!) I could see a vague boat shape but couldn’t see how the circled letters related to each other. Of course it’s obvious, once you draw the lines in (as it should be).

  13. Lee says:

    Why is 5D in NYT “pwn”? Shouldn’t it be “own”?

  14. Lauren says:

    I appreciate Amy’s review. I am finally a person who can put down a book that I don’t think is worth finishing, but I still can’t put down a crossword until it’s done. NYT this week was almost my first. The theme was groaner after groaner.

Comments are closed.