Saturday, December 19, 2020

LAT 5:14 (Derek) 


Newsday 4:39 (Derek) 


NYT 4:36 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Caitlin Reid & Andrew Ries’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 19 20, no. 1219

Another Saturday NYT constructor duo, another fun (but not quite Saturday-tough) puzzle.

Fave fill: “fine, BE LIKE THAT,” TREASURE TROVES, the ABOUT THE AUTHOR blurb (Andrew’s at Amazon starts, “Crossword writer Andrew J. Ries is on the cutting edge of the growing indie puzzle scene, where topics and language aren’t limited and artistic freedom reigns”), ONE-MAN ARMY, “I’LL BITE,” the great ELIZABETH WARREN, and HOT TAKE.

Fave clues:

  • 35a. [Common material for a jacket], ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Not a fabric used to make jackets. I definitely looked in that direction first.
  • 50a. [Creature whose name comes from the Tswana language], TSETSE. Not wild about the entry, but I like the shout-out to the Tswana language. I would not be surprised to learn that Team Fiend’s Gareth speaks a little Tswana.
  • 58a. [Not again!], just the ONCE.
  • 6d. [R&B artist with the Grammy-winning 2017 hit “Best Part”], H.E.R. Lotta ways to clue HER, and I appreciate the ink for H.E.R., who’s a Black Filipino American artist. Here’s a newer song, “Damage,” on YouTube. (Do not come at me about “names are trivia, yuck,” these crossings give you every letter and maybe, just maybe, the people behind the names are worth knowing about.) Cute that the HER clue is followed by “she” set apart in the ELIZABETH WARREN clue. Pronoun games continue with THEIR clued as a [Nonbinary possessive], and I love it.
  • 28d. [Dark period for Monet], NUIT. I thought this was about artistic phases rather than basic French vocab.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Bee Gees documentary on HBO, so here’s a 34a. [First track on a soundtrack album, often], MAIN THEME, “Stayin’ Alive” over the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever. (Thumbs up for the woman who just dodges street harasser Tony Manero.) I should really watch the film again. So much of it was lost on 11-year-old me.

4.25 stars from me. Catch you tomorrow, folks!

Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Present Company Included” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/19/20 • Eaton-Salners • Sat • “Present Company Included” • solution • 20201219

  • 120aR [Capital-raising vehicles, or what the circled letters represent] CORPORATE BONDS. The letters, spanning words in the theme answers, spell out a famous company name.
  • 23a. [Potato pest] COLORADO BEETLE (Adobe).
  • 28a. [Erasmus of Formia, more commonly] SAINT ELMO (Intel).
  • 43a. [“Killing Me Softly With His Song” singer] ROBERTA FLACK (Aflac).
  • 46a. [Two, for eight] CUBE ROOT (Uber).
  • 67a. [Best supporting actor nominee for “Lawrence of Arabia”] OMAR SHARIF (Mars).
  • 71a. [Arc’teryx offering] SKI APPAREL (Kia). Strange that the clue invokes the name of a company. By the way, in case you were wondering, the name is indeed a quirky elision of Archaeopteryx.
  • 96a. [Upward-facing dog, say] YOGA POSE (Gap).
  • 98a. [Waste time] FIDDLE AROUND (Lear).
  • 111a. [Roy Orbison song popularized by Linda Ronstadt] BLUE BAYOU (eBay).

Decent mix of company types. Solid original theme phrases. Not a wow-amazing theme, but it gets the job done, furnishes the product, or whatever corporate-speak formulation works here.

  • 1d [Finn on the Mississippi] HUCK, 2d [Missouri River tribe] OTOE … hmm, I thought this puzzle also had Idaho’s TETON River in the grid, but that must have been the NYT, which I solved just prior. This one does, however, have the distinction of including UTES (113d [Shoshone speakers]) as well as OTOE.
  • 9d [Words of honor] ODE. I appreciated this subtle rework of such a standard crossword clue, which made it trickier.
  • 13d [Sword-on-armor sound] CLANK. Thought this should be CLANG, whereas I feel CLANK represents the sound of one moving about in armor. That is, the sound of armor-on-armor. Strange! Had no idea until now that I possessed any sort of taxonomy for this.
  • 31d [Maker of VersaLink printers] XEROX. Non-thematic company name. Would have been preferable to avoid such toe-stepping.
  • 42d [“Over my dead body!”] NO SIREE, though NOT EVER was my first attempt.
  • 44d/117d [Byproduct of baking] AROMA, ODOR. Always like to approvingly point out when ODOR is clued non-pejoratively.
  • 40a [Possess] OWN, 57D [Possesses] HAS.
  • 69d [Put on one’s birthday suit] STRIP. This should have a question mark, or at least quotes around put on, to acknowledge the oxymoronic element of taking things off to put something on. 89d [Bacon piece] ESSAY.
  • 94d [End for serpent or elephant] -INE.

    As you should suspect, that isn’t how it works

    Nor is this

  • 102d [Bird-based moisturizer] EMU OIL. In-grid, without spaces it looks like a horrible misspelling of email.
  • 121d [Retrovirus component] RNA. I’m betting more people are aware of this nowadays, in the Covid-19 (and newly-introduced vaccine) times.
  • 123d [Frequently] OFTsans ‘poetically’ modifier.
  • 52a [Bad thing to get at work] THE AX.
  • 53a [Grp. concerned with SIGINT] NSA. That’s signal intelligence, as opposed to, say, HUMINT (human intelligence) or others.
  • 60a [Wyo. neighbor] NEB, 33d [Terr. split in 1889] DAK. Ugh. Triumvirate averted by 65a [James Dean’s “East of Eden” role] CAL.
  • 115a [Forbidding] GRIM. Having recently screened Henry Fool, I am now more or less obligated to seek out Fay Grim.
  • 6d [White Russian, e.g.] TSARIST. But good luck ordering it that way in a bar.
  • 7a [Horseshoe holders] HOOVES. Are they, really? All by themselves?

Okay but not a thrilling crossword.


Brian E. Paquin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 12/19/2020

It actually took me less time to do today’s Stumper! This is a not too thorny, but it was a fun solve. I loved the stack in the middle (see below)! I always enjoy Brian’s puzzles, and this is no exception. A solid 4.4 stars.

Some highlights:

  • 13A [Not a brick-and-mortar operation] E-SHOP – They are the ones making money during this pandemic. I don’t set foot in a store unless I absolutely have to.
  • 33A [Assets of KFC and Coca-Cola, e.g.] SECRET RECIPES – The internet is full of people trying to imitate popular foods; it’s cheaper to just buy the pop, though!
  • 37A [Classic ’60s hit that mentions a roller coaster] PALISADES PARK – I don’t remember this song well enough to know this lyric. Slightly before my time!
  • 51A [Upper arm muscle] TRICEPS – The choices here are low; there are only two, and only one this length!
  • 5D [“I couldn’t agree more”] “AMEN TO THAT” – Great casual phrase!
  • 8D [Court org.] USTA – Tennis has taken a hit from COVID, that’s for sure. And my YouTube TV subscription just dropped my favorite channel, The Tennis Channel! It is not an issue now since there IS no tennis until about a month from now, but I may just pay for it independently. We shall see!
  • 12D [Like bisque] CREAMY – I haven’t had bisque in years. I am not sure if I even like it!
  • 38D [Comment from one hurrying in] “AM I LATE?” – Great casual phrase!
  • 39D [Floral cake decoration] ROSETTE – Now I am in the mood for cake!
  • 40D [Fish that measure up] KEEPERS – I also haven’t been fishing in years.

That is all!

Now you need a song stuck in your head:

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 12/19/2020

You saw that time correctly! I got this one done in under 5 minutes, which is likely a record for me! Lester Ruff’s puzzle, at least for me, was DEFINITELY “less rough!” This only means that next week will likely be murder, but I will enjoy a quick solve while I can! This shape of grid is usually easier because there are no long words: I think the longest entry in this puzzle is 7-letters long! (There are 36 of them, though! Exactly half the entries are 7-letter words!) Again, just wait until next week! But today, 4.4 stars from me.

Some stuff I liked:

  • 1A [Snow job] PLOWING – This will start where I live soon. If you live in the northeast, you’re already living it!
  • 18A [Giant of the classical guitar] SEGOVIA – I have no idea how I knew this. I don’t listen to classical guitar.
  • 24A [Astronaut’s outfit] G-SUIT – I have no desire to be an astronaut. I don’t even like roller coasters!
  • 37A [Most assuredly] NO DOUBT – I am surprised this isn’t referring to the pop group. That may have been slightly easier, probably!
  • 53A [Wolf down] SNARF – I still don’t think this is an actual word.
  • 62A [Amazon, e.g.] E-TAILER – I think Amazon isn’t the most ethical, but they are convenient. As long as they don’t put UPS out of business and harm my pension, but I still think it is possible.
  • 7D [’60s TV superstar] GLEASON – A tad before my time, but I used to watch The Honeymooners in syndication years ago. Quite a funny show!
  • 25D [Certain sci-fi fan] TREKKER – I thought they were called “Trekkies?”
  • 38D [Calixa Lavallée’s best-known tune] “O CANADA” – I have no idea what this is referring to Does she have a famous version?
  • 40D [Pac-12 team] TROJANS – This also seemed easy. I suppose there are a few other 7 -letter options: BEAVERS or COUGARS would fit!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

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18 Responses to Saturday, December 19, 2020

  1. pseudonym says:

    Went to do the Stumper, ended up doing the Pushover

    Stan and crew still rule of course

    • Twangster says:

      Wow, that was bizarrely easy – more like a Friday NYT. Kept expecting to hit a rough patch that never happened. Had only 1 write-over … WEWON for WOWEE.

      Usually when I finish a Stumper (on paper), I fill it on line to see if I’ve really got it all correct, and often I don’t. In this case I didn’t even bother.

      Kind of have mixed feelings … it’s like the Saints beating the Broncos with a fifth-string QB.

    • STEVEN says:

      yeah, not too ruff

      myt was not much of a saturday either

      and the daily “hard puzzle” used to be hard, but alas

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Drinking coffee in my crossword mug with the ELIZABETH WARREN clue. That definitely opened up the entire grid. Excellent puzzle, on the easy side for Saturday, which is just fine by me.

  3. Frank says:

    Snarf is a fictional character featured in the ThunderCats franchise.

    Calixa Lavallée is the man who wrote the Canadian national anthem.

  4. Teedmn says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever do a Stumper in under 5 minutes but this was definitely the fastest I’ve succeeded with one. A few write-overs, the most embarrassing being 55A. _AM, I thought might be nAM as “Spot of trouble”. Talk about understatements!!

    Thanks, @Frank, on the Calix Lavallée explanation.

  5. Pilgrim says:

    Stumper: re Trekker vs Trekkie, I have always heard Trekkie as well, but the always reliable says that the fans prefer to refer to themselves as “Trekkers,” with “Trekkie” being the condescending term folks in the media use.

  6. Dan Felsenheld says:

    I came here to say I probably had my fastest Stumper time ever too ~15 minutes can someone explain why 23A was NINE? Was that a cryptic style clue?

  7. KarenS says:

    NYT: Amy, Saturday Night Fever was the first R-rated movie I saw; I was 14 at the time. (We all knew which theater on Colorado Boulevard in Denver didn’t card.). About ten years ago, I re-watched the movie because I couldn’t remember why it upset me when I first saw it. I came across this piece recently discussing the disturbing parts of the movie.

    P.S. On a positive note, thank you for your recommendation months ago of Liberty Puzzles. My partner just finished one and loved it. And, of course, thank you for this wonderful forum to discuss puzzles and learn.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I was 11, my sister was 12. Our mom was in her early 30s and got carded as if she were a 16-year-old sneaking in the littles. Not sure how my sister knew enough to explain the blow-job-under-the-table scene to me.

      Thanks for the essay link, Karen. I had only a vague memory of the backseat gang rape, and no memory of Tony’s rape.

      My next Liberty puzzle might arrive before the end of the month!

  8. Z says:

    Error in the NYTX – Bruce Lee was in Fist of Fury. There is a Fists of Fury from 2016, but it is obviously not a Bruce Lee movie.

  9. Re: Stumper:

    In case people missed it, the note above the puzzle on Newsday’s website says that Stan is on vacation until January 2, and today’s was a rerun from 2010. I haven’t been solving the Stumper consistently for that long (I think only since 2016), and I know Lester Ruff is the pseudonym for a gentler Stumper, but maybe this puzzle was before Stan decided to turn the difficulty dial for Stumpers up to 11.

    • Hector says:

      Ah, that has to be it; thanks. This is like the “hard” puzzles from his archives — much easier than contemporary Stumpers.

      • C. Y. Hollander says:

        When Stan launched the syndication of “hard” puzzles from his archives, they were exclusively Stumpers and I can’t say that I found them much easier than contemporary Stumpers, by and large. However, several months ago, he began including puzzles from other days of the week in the syndicated “hard” puzzles, which naturally were and are much easier than Stumpers of any vintage.

  10. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, thanks for your explanation yesterday, I am just getting used to having two authors listed for the LAT! I will take your word that the online one is correct, and hope that my paper get thing right eventually!

  11. Chris Wooding says:

    “Palisades Park” was a lively but not complex song. One Harvard student put it on a loop, locked his door and left for the weekend. Those who couldn’t get away found it excruciating.

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