Saturday, March 6, 2021

LAT 7:26 (Derek) 


Newsday 9:34 (Derek) 


NYT 4:48 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


We see a lot of comments along the lines of “I can’t do metas,” and last Sunday’s Washington Post crossword had an easier-than-usual meta that solvers were happy to have cracked. If you want to try a different sort of meta, the WaPo is currently testing out a Mini Meta puzzle format from Pete Muller and Andrew White. (1) Solve the mini crosswords from Monday through Friday. (2) Take one word from each of those grids, in order, for a five-word clue. (3) Solve the Saturday mini and then find the answer (a word or phrase of 5+ letters) by zigzagging up/down/left/right in the Saturday grid. The Post is seeking your feedback on the Mini Meta during this three-month testing period.

Sid Sivakumar’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 6 21, no. 0326

Kinda felt like another Friday puzzle, didn’t it? I was expecting/hoping for more of a challenge!

Lots to like here: TAG-TEAMED (and with a general clue, [Worked on together], rather than referencing pro wrestling), HIDDEN TALENTS, GLOMS, current pop star RITA ORA, THE COLTS, the classic POTATO BATTERY, DELETE KEY, HIGH HORSE, “I’M SUCH A JERK,” ADOBE READER, SNOGS, and (maybe—or is it contrived?) a CORNY JOKE.

What else is lurking here? These seven things, among others:

  • 22a. [Skills that not many people know about], HIDDEN TALENTS. My superpower is coming up with excellent rationales to help people not feel guilty about saying no to something. What’s your hidden talent?
  • 50a. [Barb], JAB. I’m loving how many Americans have adopted the Brits’ “jab” for an injection.
  • 59a. [What “M” and “F” are both short for], DAYS. Yes indeed, Monday and Friday.
  • 5d. [Traditional feature of a Hindu bride], BRAID. Hey, I didn’t know that. Good thing to learn. I also didn’t know that GOAT was 25d. [Main ingredient in the curry dish kosha mangsho], but I never really glance at the meat sections of Indian restaurant menus (and when I do, not that many Chicago restaurants offer goat, I don’t think).
  • 26d. [Curling target], LASH. As in eyelash curlers. Shoot! I was assuming this was the Canadian-friendly sport of curling.
  • 31d. [Like most of Mars], ARID. I heard they named the Perseverance rover’s landing site after sci-fi writer Octavia Butler.
  • I didn’t know this song but it wasn’t too hard to guess the answer. 52d. [Lizzo title lyric repeated three times before “Make a girl go crazy”], BOYS. Enjoy the video!

4.25 stars from me.

Lee Taylor’s Wall Street Journal, “That Bugs Me” — pannonica’s writeup

WSJ • 3/6/21 • Sat • “That Bugs Me” • Taylor • solution • 20210306

Terrestrial arthropods.

  • 25a. [Squad on a pitch] CRICKET TEAM.
  • 27a. [Bargain hunter’s destination] FLEA MARKET.
  • 47a. [Frida Kahlo feature] CATERPILLAR BROWS.
  • 86a. [First-aid kit item] BUTTERFLY BANDAGE.
  • 109a. [Head shop purchases] ROACH CLIPS.
  • 111a. [A vascular surgeon may examine them] SPIDER VEINS.
  • 16d. [Real peach] BEE’S KNEES.
  • 79d. [Slender midsection] WASP WAIST.

  • 11d [Like some colonies] APIAN; 54a [Insect attack] BITE.

Joe Deeney’s’ Universal crossword, “Out of Order” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Words in common phrases are flipped and clued wackily

Universal crossword solution · “Out of Order” · Joe Deeney · Sat., 3.6.21


  • 17A [Change the direction of one’s somersault?] SWITCH A FLIP. Flip a switch. 
  • 32A [What two sculpture gallery curators may do?] MOVE A BUST. Bust a move. 
  • 38A [Doubt some yoga instruction?] QUESTION A POSE. Pose a question. 
  • 45A [Determine the correct coverlet size?] FIT A THROW. Throw a fit. 
  • 62A [Worry about time off?] SWEAT A BREAK. Break a sweat. 

At first I thought there were a couple layers to this puzzle based on the first two themers. Because in SWITCH A FLIP, not only is the answer reversed, but the answer itself is describing what’s happening. That works for MOVE A BUST too, since the word BUST is being moved. But it doesn’t seem to work so well for the others, unless I’m missing something. It seems there are so many phrases one would be able to flip like this and find a way to clue ? style (POSE A STRIKE! [Suggest a union action?]) that I’m wondering if this set has anything more unifying that I’m simply not seeing.

The puzzle is just fine though! This is one that is excellent for newer solvers, and I’m always on the lookout for those since I make it a mission to turn at least two or three high school students into crossworders every year. Easy-to-grok theme and not too laden with crosswordese, though I have a feeling that SW corner would be problematic for many who aren’t familiar with grid-language.

Overall, no major gripes. I do feel like I may be missing something though…

3 Stars from me.


Jamey Smith’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 03/06/2021

This is, I believe, a new byline that I have not seen before. If I have, I don’t seem to remember it, so at the very least it seems new! As I have mentioned before, I cannot possibly solve every puzzle, so this may or may not be a debut, but whatever the case this is a quite fine puzzle, and I am anxious to solve more with this byline! This one took me a tad longer than normal, indicating that the LAT may actually be trying to be a little tougher on Saturdays, as opposed to the “Stumper” puzzle, which is now trying to be a little easier. Or maybe I am just getting a little slower! But we are still having fun! 4.3 stars.

A few notes:

  • 18A [Law enforcement tool that may be triggered by a siren] BODY CAMERA – Why can’t they just stay on all the time? We would have a lot of video of cops buying doughnuts, perhaps!
  • 31A [Yani __, youngest golfer to win five majors] TSENG – Another crossword clue referencing the sheer dominance of Asian women in professional golf. It really is quite something.
  • 53A [Barista’s concoction] CAFFE MOCHA – Now I want Starbucks …
  • 59A [Reference for budding meteorologists] CLOUD ATLAS
  • 3D [Citrus liqueur] LIMONCELLO – I thought this second letter was an E. I don’t drink this!
  • 4D [“Truth is … “] “TO BE HONEST …” – Great casual phrase!
  • 27D [Prime spot for stargazing?] OSCAR PARTY – I like this clue. Possibly my favorite of the puzzle!
  • 37D [Jazz group guy] SIDEMAN – I like jazz, but I am not as up on it as I would like to be. I am not totally familiar with this term.
  • 45D [Artist Modigliani] AMEDEO – Who??
  • 49D [Big name in apple products] MOTTS – This was also tricky. Notice the uncapitalized letter A, though!
  • 51D [“The Girl Who Played With Fire” author Larsson] STIEG – Never seen this movie or read the book. But it is on Netflix, I think!

That is all for now!

Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 03/06/2021

Is Stan going to ditch the pseudonyms? They have pretty much gone away, unless there is a collaboration puzzle, and even then the Newsday is the only regular gig I know of that still uses them. Perhaps things are changing? We shall see. Normally Stan’s puzzles are a shade easier than normal, and this one played about as tough as I would have imagined. A little thorny, but all fair in the end. I used Across Lite on this one, and you can see a few error marks in my final grid. One is a typo, but the others were brain-dead errors that I am going to blame on the vast amount of driving I did today! 4.5 stars from me.

Some observations:

  • 11A [School of whales] GAM – I thought it was a POD of whales? Maybe it’s both!
  • 20A [Compliment on a comeback] TOUCHÉ – I thought this was “YOU ???”, but only near the very end did I get this changed!
  • 24A [Choice words] EITHER OR – I must check to make sure this is IN my word list! (I checked, and it is!) Great entry.
  • 36A [Travel assistance at airports] MOVING SIDEWALKS – I had some sort of shuttle in mind, and I totally blanked on these gizmos. Maybe because I haven’t been in an airport in many months!
  • 62A [’90s toon Manx] STIMPY – Can you say “wheelhouse”?
  • 5D [Dendrochronology study] TREE RINGS – I tried TREE ROOTS here at first, but this makes much more sense. It is also way more interesting!
  • 12D [Defensive weapon descriptor] ANTI-TANK – This is one that made perfect sense only AFTER it was solved. I had no clue for a bit on this one.
  • 13D [Focus of Euro spring festivals] MAYPOLES – I tried TADPOLES. I am so stupid sometimes!
  • 26D [Makes a tailoring update] RELINES – This was tough. It is technically correct, as a tailor might do this to a suit, perhaps. I tried RESIZES in here, even with the ugly Z since it made more sense.
  • 43D [Electrician/politician/Nobelist] WALESA – How did I not know he was an electrician?

Everyone have a safe and healthy week!

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22 Responses to Saturday, March 6, 2021

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks for the mention Amy…

    Andrew and I are excited about these puzzles!


    • David L says:

      I just did the puzzles for the first week of this month. The minis were very easy, and it didn’t take me long to figure out the meta answer (I am not an experienced meta solver).

      But either there’s a problem with the software or the instructions, or I am doing something wrong. The instructions say to click on each letter of the meta answer in the Saturday puzzle, and they will appear in the solution box at the top. But when I do that, the letters appear one at a time–that is, I click on the first letter, it appears in the box, but when I click on the second letter, the first letter disappears and is replaced by the second. So I wasn’t able to fill in the full answer and verify that I had it right.

      I sent a note to the feedback address explaining the issue.

      • Pete Muller says:

        Thanks David

        Try clicking on the first letter and tracing the answer with your mouse

        That worked in the test environment…

        Thanks for sending in the feedback-I’ll make sure it Is fixed so you can click too!

        • David L says:

          Yes, that works, thank you.

          So you have to click and drag, not click separately. But that’s not what the instructions in the attached pdf say.

    • Me says:

      Loved the mini-meta! I just sent in feedback on this: is it possible to get some kind of hint for the meta? Either reveal of one of the words that is used in the meta, or a reveal of the length of the M-F words or the Sat answer?

      Also, in the instructions, I was going to write something about the “(or words – 5 letters)” part, but I see it got changed already! Much clearer now!

      In the instructions for Step 2, I found the graphic confusing. Maybe use a different color for the Saturday answer than the M-F answers? And maybe make a big red circle around the Saturday grid because that’s the one you want us to look at. The big arrows are kind of confusing because they don’t all mean the same thing; sometimes, they point to where the cursor would be and sometimes they don’t. I’m having trouble thinking about the best way to make it better, though.

      • Andrew White says:

        Thanks for the feedback! We’re currently developing hint functionality for the puzzles. And I’ll look into your instructions comment. I hope you continue to enjoy the puzzles!

  2. davey says:

    NYT: agreed that it felt more like a friday, difficulty-wise. but loved the fill! didn’t notice an iota of crosswordese.

  3. JohnH says:

    I don’t know if anyone else does the second WSJ puzzle, the variety puzzle, but for “Man of Many Words” I have ROGUE. Can that be right?

    • marciem says:

      I don’t do the puzzle so I don’t know the grid, but I’d guess that the Rogue of many words is actually Roget of the thesaurus.

      • JohnH says:

        Thanks. Now I have to debug.Oh, I see. I couldn’t read my own handwriting or miscounted, so somehow the alternate letters in GUEST landed wrongly on GUE rather than GET.

  4. Teedmn says:

    The NYT was Friday-easy and the Newsday Themeless was NYT Saturday “easy” so I’m on a roll today.

    I had @Derek’s REsIzES momentarily, but that Z… I think there’s a PASeo car, oops. And there was a SEEDED bun loafing in the cafeteria.

    I just finally got how CANDLES are wicked, not wickéd, nice one!

  5. Crotchety Doug says:

    Newsday – So sad the Saturday Stumper is gone. Do not RIP – bring it back!

    This one was so easy I just walked through it keeping everything connected like a Wednesday puzzle. However, thanks to the internet, there are several indie constructors that make Stumper-level puzzles, or maybe even harder. I’d like to mention (again) Tim Croce’s Club 72, Paolo Pasco’s Grids These Days, and my latest find, Mollie Cowger’s Crosswords From Outer Space. I have them all bookmarked and visit them on a regular basis.

    • marciem says:

      Don’t forget Stella’s “Tough As Nails” in your bookmarks. They’re great too~ I’m not familiar with two that you mentioned, but the Club 72s are a nice replacement for the Saturday Stumpers.

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: I’ve got one other Jamey Smith LAT puzzle in my solving database (Saturday, 10/10/2020), two NYT puzzles and a WSJ puzzle. The spelling of LIMONCELLO also did me in on this one.

  7. Bryan says:

    NYT: Loved this puzzle. I had the same experience as yesterday. I start with the acrosses, like most people probably do. I went through all the acrosses and only filled in a few answers. I got to the downs and started filling in a lot, and then I was off to the races. I love when that happens, when I think a puzzle is impossible until I get to the downs. (Maybe I should start with the downs.)

    “Bedizen” stymied me. I thought it was some sort of modern portmanteau of bed and citizen, meaning a person who lives in their bed (which, I mean, kind of fits the whole past Covid year). Learn something new every day. Now I know it means “adorn.”

    Great puzzle, Sid.

    • Bryan says:

      I just now read the NYT Wordplay column and laughed about Caitlin Lovinger having the same thought about “bedizen” that I had. And Sid, I wholeheartedly agree with your note at the end of the Wordplay column.

    • Bryan says:

      One more thing… 57A: At first I put in “blood bank,” which fit and made sense. Great clue for DELETE KEY.

  8. Alan D. says:

    Sorry, Derek. Jamey Smith did the Saturday, October 10, 2020 LAT…and you reviewed it!

  9. marciem says:

    LAT: 29 d: SSN = IDNO. social security NUMBER = id NUMBER… fair dupe?

    grates on me a bit.

  10. Dave says:

    LAT: 31A/22D – Didn’t know Yani Tseng or Bob Jones. Killed by golf. ?

  11. JohnH says:

    I found the NYT hard as usual. To each their own. But I liked the workout.

Comments are closed.