Saturday, November 28, 2020

LAT 9:00 (Derek) 


Newsday 22:44 (Derek) 


NYT 4:28 (Amy) 


Universal 5:14 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Nam Jin Yoon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 28 20, no. 1128

Smooth 70-worder, and easier than I was expecting for a Saturday puzzle.

My fave fill in this one is mostly the sort of entries that have probably cropped up before, not just shiny, new things. But I appreciate the four corner stacks with solid crossings. Among the bits I liked best: TIME TRAVEL, “FAIR’S FAIR,” PITY PARTY, study CARRELS, PINA COLADA atop a rum-free TEETOTALER, the slow TORTOISE beside the RUSHERS, SMART MONEY, and a FROG PRINCE.

Five more things:

  • 1a. [Move to a later date, say], TIME-TRAVEL. Of course RESCHEDULE has the same number of letters, and it fits the clue a bit more literally.
  • 19a. [Originator of parody ads for 5-hour Empathy and Tylenol BM, in brief], SNL. I remember the more recent 5-hour Empathy but not Tylenol BM, which is as crude as you might expect.
  • 45a. [Mo. that the Anglo-Saxons called Winterfylleth], OCT. I was guessing NOV, DEC, or JAN. Really liked this clue, especially for a Saturday.
  • 26d. [Ones who watch sports for a living?], SCOUTS. Bypassed the plural and tried SCORER, which sort of works, too.
  • 44d. [Boob, on the Tube], PRAT. This one took me a while to suss out. Boob, as in idiot. On the Tube, London’s Underground. A bloody PRAT.

Four stars from me. How’d it treat you?

Chuck Deodene’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/28/2020

Tough LAT this week! It has been a while since I have done one of Chuck’s puzzles, so maybe the wavelength isn’t connecting from the rust. This is my longest LAT Saturday time in quite a while. I don’t track these types of things, mainly because I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. But my time is usually around 5-7 minutes, so this isn’t a lot longer, but I was sitting there staring at blank spots for a while. Almost like doing a Stumper! Maybe I am just tired. I have a few days off, so I will try for a nap! 4.5 stars for a stellar puzzle.

Some highlights:

  • 14A [Get sucked into, in a way] HATE-WATCH – I don’t have too much time to watch something just to see how bad it is. I would rather do a puzzle!
  • 17A [Certain charger] AC ADAPTER – The item that is NOT included with the newest iPhone, interestingly.
  • 22A [Curiosity shop stock] EXOTICA – If that exotica includes things like wooden puzzle games, I’m all in!
  • 38A [Aussie agreement] “OK, MATE!” – I have never been to Australia. I couldn’t go now even if I wanted to!
  • 55A [“Terrible idea”] “I THINK NOT!” – Maybe said formally. But I do say this on occasion, and I am anything but formal.
  • 4D [The ’70s, in a Tom Wolfe essay] ME DECADE – It has been a while since I have heard this term. He just recently died; I wonder what he would say about the selfishness that is rampant now!
  • 8D [Term trademarked by Lakers’ coach Pat Riley, even though the team never achieved one under his leadership] THREEPEAT – Yes, I believe this was done under Phil Jackson. But Riley was cocky enough to dare to day they would go for it, so I will give him credit for that!
  • 12D [Pleasurable diversions, informally] MIND CANDY – Another new term to me, but I love it, especially in a clever puzzle sense. Best entry in the grid!
  • 23D [Like the 1972 film “Fritz the Cat,” originally] X-RATED – Fun fact: This is on Amazon Prime! Unrated version, of course!
  • 30D [Oil spills, e.g.] ECO-CRISES – Another fairly new term to me. I have heard it maybe once or twice, but another great entry.

That is all! Off to solve this month’s Panda Magazine!

1A [Growth profession] ICANCHANGE –

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 11/28/2020

So usually, on these holiday weeks, the Stumper is a little easier. At least that is what I have found over the years. But this year, Stan must have heard me. Or maybe more people are staying home instead of traveling and the assumption is that they have more time. Whatever the case, this puzzle was a killer, at least for me. The end finally came, but I was lost “at sea” (crossword term!) for quite a while. I had to actually talk that last NE corner out lout to get it. But on the plus side: no error marks! I fought through this one to the bitter end without succumbing to checking how well (or poorly!) I was doing. Great Stumper puzzle, Matt! 4.8 stars for a real doozy.

Some high points (there actually were some!):

  • 1A [Growth profession] “I CAN CHANGE!” – Best clue in the puzzle right off the bat!
  • 20A [Places for purses and pots] RACINOS – This corner was hard because I don’t know this term. This is like an OTB betting place, I assume? I don’t gamble at all, so educate me!
  • 64A [Rumble in the Jungle pairing] ALI/FOREMAN – Boxing is definitely not like it was back then. Maybe because people don’t want to end up like Ali did in the end, hobbled by Parkinson’s disease.
  • 66A [”Quit the snark!”] “DON’T SASS ME!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 4D [Dollar stores] NEST EGGS – Another phenomenal clue. I was totally fooled.
  • 10D [Augustus collected them] ESTATE TAXES – Is this referring to the Roman emperor, and this was the first instance of this? Educate me again. I thought this actually might have been a reference to the Willy Wonka movie!
  • 11D [Aegean peninsula] ATTICA – I tried ITHACA, ITASCA, and everything else but the correct answer!
  • 13D [Bird that eats oranges (!)] ORIOLE – Fun fact, especially since this bird has orange accents!
  • 21D [Candlelit performance] CAROL – Another great clue, even thought slightly timely. Fooled again.
  • 23D [Surged successfully] PULLED AHEAD – I tried FORGED AHEAD in here at first, but the easy SW corner convinced me that at least the second word was correct.
  • 42D [What Rihanna has worn in videos] BOB – A hairstyle and not a crazy outfit. Tricky1
  • 46D [They’ve got a lot on their plate] DO-ALLS – Similar to a know-it-all? Yeah, maybe not.

Have a safe and healthy weekend!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sir, Yes Sir!” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/28/20 • “Sir, Yes Sir!” • Sat • Shenk • solution • 20201128

Despite not being a particularly inspired theme concept, the execution is really stellar in its variety. Briefly, a “sir” syllable is suffixed to familiar phrases. What’s really interesting is the range of the spelling transformations.

  • 21a. [Swift seahorse?] MARINE COURSER (Marine Corps). I associate coursing specifically with running, which is what your standard (101d) TERREstrial horse does—hippocampines, not so much. However, this first themer echoes the puzzle’s title excellently.
  • 25a. [The always stylish Fred Astaire, for one?] DAPPER DANCER (Dapper Dan).
  • 40a. [Pilot of a fast spaceship?] COSMIC RACER (cosmic ray).
  • 63a. [King decreeing everyone must waltz?] BALL FORCER (ball four).
  • 67a. [State that demands money from hitchhikers?] THUMB TAXER (thumb tack(s)).
  • 92a. [What might follow “Is this just fantasy?” in “Bohemian Rhapsody?”] QUEEN ANSWER (Queen Anne).
  • 105a. [Investigator of a theft at the feta factory?] CHEESE TRACER (cheese tray).
  • 112a. [Vendor of preternatural produce?] MIRACLE GROCER (Miracle-Gro).

Now for a circuit around the rest of the grid:

  • Bunch of clues with product names: 29a [Seller of Glimmersticks eyeliner] AVON; 60a [Seller of Novablast running shoes] ASICS; 69d [Seller of Longlast filters] BRITA. Sponsorshippy vibe.
  • 1a [Site of the governor’s residence known as Cedar Crest] TOPEKA. No way I was getting this without a few letters in place.
  • 7a [Ornamental flourish on a printed character] SWASH. So glad this wasn’t SERIF. Sometimes serifs are integral to a glyph’s design and is necessary for clarity.
  • 20a [Source of butter used in moisturizers] SHEA NUT, which looks like it rhymes with peanut when it’s written without a space.
  • 31a [Abercrombie & Fitch logo] MOOSE. I swear I saw this clue just the other day.
  • 51a [Warning of reckless driving?] FORE. Yeah, golf.
  • 53a [Swell] TOFF. Not accepted in today’s NYT Spelling Bee.
  • 78a [Blackout, e.g.] SKIT. Ernie Kovacs was a master of the form.
  • 82a [Quipu feature] KNOTQuipu: “a device made of a main cord with smaller varicolored cords attached and knotted and used by the ancient Peruvians (as for calculating)” (
  • 119a [Junior high student, informally] TEENER. eesh
  • 5d [Prized coffee variety] KONA. Am currently enjoying some non-Kona Hawaiian coffee.
  • 15d [Have ___ up one’s sleeve] AN ACE; 27d [ ___ Triomphe] ARC DE. These don’t actually have anything to do with each other, but to me there’s some sort of kinship.
  • 44d [Musicologist who discovered Lead Belly] Alan LOMAX. Né Huddie Ledbetter.
  • 51d [Lab coat problems] FLEAS. The ol’ lab-rador-ratory trick.
  • 65d [Train pullers, for short] LOCOS. Really? hmm
  • Geographical trivia, crossing edition: 72d [Its national anthem is “Mawtini”] IRAQ, 85a [Plain of Jars setting] LAOS.

  • 88d [Fed. property overseer] GSA. More notorious of late for a different function, or lack thereof. But don’t forget, for example, this.
  • And finally, some art. 4d [Expressionist Nolde] EMIL, symmetrically paired with 110d [Home of Rousseau’s “The Dream,” for short] MOMA. Nolde’s watercolor Amaryllis und Anemone, below, is also in their collection.

Steve Mossberg’s Universal crossword, “Forging Alliances” — Jim Q’s write-up

A nifty little theme with grid art to boot.

THEME: -LY is added to common phrases, and wackiness ensues.

Universal crossword solution · “Forging Alliances” · Steve Mossberg ·  Sat., 11.28.20


  • 19A [Sort of mention, sort of snub?] PARTIALLY CREDIT.
  • 24A [Start to fray in a noticeable way?] FORMALLY WEAR. 
  • 43A [Make apps with friends?] SOCIALLY CODE.
  • 51A [Get even closer with a sister city?] MUNICIPALLY BOND. 

Nice consistency with each of the second words in the phrases changing to a verb from a noun. For the most part, the definition of the second word is altered too, with the exception of CREDIT, I suppose.

The + / – in the grid’s black squares was a very pleasant addition, since it has to do with alliances. Were the minus symbols intentional too? I guess that would have to do with BONDs in a sense.

Probably the biggest thing I learned was at 13A [Palindromic flour used in naan] ATTA. It isn’t always a “lead in to ‘girl’ or ‘boy'”!

Good puzzle. 3. 7 stars.

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17 Responses to Saturday, November 28, 2020

  1. Steve Manion says:

    Fri. and Sat. puzzles were excellent and easy.

    My only very minor nit is FAIR’S FAIR. FAIR IS FAIR has 1,980,000 hits and Fair’s Fair has 126,000. Over 100,000 hits puts Fair’s fair in the language, but the fact that it only has two syllables gives a sense of abruptness that does not jibe with the greater emphasis communicated and intended when three syllables are used.


    • Evad says:

      I think I agree, Steve–ALL’S FAIR… may have given rise to FAIR’S FAIR. Enjoyed this one a lot, very smooth. My small nit was “letters” for “grades”–when does someone refer to letters on their report card?

      • PJ says:

        I took the clue as referring to a system where all grades with the same letter receive the same value. No plus or minus adjustment. There the GPAs represent four years (traditionally) of letter grades.

    • pannonica says:

      Opposite for me. While I can see using both, would be more inclined to utter the terser “FAIR’S FAIR”. Perhaps echoing the contracted “ALL’S FAIR in love and war”? (as Evad posits)

    • Lois says:

      Interesting about the number of hits. I agree with Pannonica; “Fair’s fair” is more familiar to me. Since it has only a twentieth of the hits of “Fair is fair,” it might be an age thing for me, but the constructor seems to be quite young.

  2. MattF says:

    NYT was relatively easy once I got past 1 Across. Good puzzle.

  3. R Cook says:

    The Stumper has a blunder in the clue for 31A. This person got a Grammy Trustees Award, not a Lifetime Achievement Award. While they are both for achievements over the life of an individual, they are not the same award.

    • Pilgrim says:

      since the clue was “. . . lifetime achievement Grammy . . . ” (lower case), this seems to cover the Trustees Award.

      • R Cook says:

        That brings up another point. Much of this puzzle felt like trivia that was beyond obscure (a complaint I also had about the last Sewell puzzle). Misdirection is fine, but this just feels unfair and wasn’t fun at all.

  4. Twangster says:

    Bravo, Matthew Sewell for this wonderful Stumper. I was ultimately tripped up by the SPORE/TEABOX crossing but got the rest. Lots of fun misdirections, beginning with 1-Across. Other constructors, take note: It is so helpful to have a couple of easy ones to get started (ALIFOREMAN, PULLEDAHEAD).

  5. Crotchety Doug says:

    WSJ – I’m puzzled by 53A. I looked up TOFF and SWELL in standard dictionary and urban dictionary. I entered tuff, as I remember from my youth that tuff was a synonym for great, or swell. I don’t see any sense where they’re equivalent. Anyone?

  6. marciem says:

    Stumper help please!

    I don’t understand 6 d : What to call your monitor = HER … ???

    thanks! Again, had to chip away at the marble, but the art showed itself finally :) . (I loved that metaphore, I think pannonica used it the other day? )

  7. snappysammy says:

    derek, racino is combo racetrack and casino, have seen them in florida

Comments are closed.