Saturday, March 13, 2021

LAT 5:12 (Derek) 


Newsday 7:15 (Derek) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 4:16 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 13 21, no. 0313

Good thing I inadvertently had the timer off, because it took me awhile to make headway in this grid!

New to me: 51a. [Product of tissue engineering, such as artificial skin], BIOTEXTILE. Textile sounds so inorganic.

Fave fill: PLATO’S CAVE, “I MEAN, COME ON,” Jake TAPPER (didn’t know he had a cartooning background), “I NEED A HAND,” “NOT IF, BUT WHEN” inevitability, BENTO BOXES, RACE BIB (my husband’s a marathoner, those bibs and safety pins are a regular sight here), OPEN BOOK EXAM (my son had one last week for physiology), CAREER BEST, and ANGORA CATS. Lots of nice stuff here.

Did not know: 35a. [Cheyenne, e.g.: Abbr.], MTN. Not in Wyoming but Colorado, near Colorado Springs. I have more Vail family connections myself.

Seven more things:

  • 15a. [___ Addams, first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize], JANE. My neighborhood used to have a Jane Addams Hull House Center, but the building is now a gym with rock climbing walls. Jane Addams is always welcome in my crossword.
  • 38a. [Forces (upon)], FOISTS. I like that word.
  • 1d. [Locale of the Chair of Saint Peter in Saint Peter’s Basilica], APSE. There’s an old chair? A wooden throne, later encased in gilt bronze. This is the basilica in Vatican City.
  • 24d. [Dingy kitchen items?], OVEN TIMERS. They go ding, rather than being encased in dinge … but grease spatter would certainly bring on the dinginess. If you’re a procrastinator who could use a little help being motivated to focus on your work, there’s a method named for a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro technique. The basics: Focus on work for 25 minutes straight, no dawdling and distractions, and then you can have a short break if you want to before the next 25-minute churn. I haven’t used this lately, but I have indeed found the Forest app helpful for staying focused when I’m distractable. You plant a virtual tree and it grows while you work!
  • 32d. [Place of drudgery], SALT MINE. A Facebook friend of mine teaches philosophy at a Cleveland-area community college. He’s had at least one student who literally works at the salt mine! There is a big mine in Ohio that actually extends beneath Lake Erie.
  • 38d. [Like bootleg pants], FLARED. I just got some bootcut jeans without trying them on because my sister bought them and recommended them to me. Skinny legs and a not particularly curve hip zone, but not teeny in the waist? Most cuts of jeans don’t cater to our build. It is nice to have a personal jeans shopper in the family!
  • 48d. [It has coronoid and styloid processes], ULNA. I had BRO instead of BUB for the crossing and had to backtrack. My son’s also taking anatomy this semester. He would have known this answer!

Such a family-and-friends vibe in this puzzle for me! Not the usual experience. Four stars from me.

Mary Lou Guizzo’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 03/13/2021

My Facebook acquaintance Mary Lou has this Saturday’s LAT challenge puzzle. The wide open center is the highlight of this grid, with the timely GRETA THUNBERG right in the middle. Not too difficult of a puzzle, but that is OK! I have a busy weekend to get to. Let me get straight to the comments! 4.3 stars for this puzzle.

Those notes:

  • 1A [Wrap up] SWATHE – SWADDLE wouldn’t fit!
  • 7A [Game-watching, maybe] ON SAFARI – This is on my bucket list. I would love to visit Africa and see some elephants or giraffes in the wild. Lions, not so much!
  • 15A [“Y Is for Yesterday” sleuth Millhone] KINSEY – I read many of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series years ago. Loved them. I should re-read them. I think she passed away before she could get to Z.
  • 32A [Legal show for 40 years, with “The”] PEOPLE’S COURT – This show is still on? I think the original Judge Wapner has also passed away a few years back. (I checked – he died in 2017.)
  • 61A [Throw that anticipates the receiver’s timely arrival] SPOT PASS – This is where the QB passes the ball before the receiver turns around. Very difficult to do well.
  • 2D [Jets’ home] WINNIPEG – Got this quickly! But I am a sports nut.
  • 8D [2015 best-selling 20-Across] NOTORIOUS RBG – What a great nickname!
  • 27D [Listed in Liverpool?] LEANT – This is a Britishism??
  • 30D [NFL coach Meyer] URBAN – He is the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, I believe. We will see how well he does. The NFL is nothing like college football.
  • 38D [Modern-day checking suggestion] “GOOGLE IT!” – Yes, Google IS a verb!
  • 42D [“C’mon, I’m not that good!”] “OH STOP!” – Another great casual phrase!

That is all! Off to solve more puzzles!

Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 03/13/2021

I have decided that the key for me, and one of the joys of puzzle-solving in general, is having peace and quiet. No interruptions. No distractions. If nothing else, that means that nothing was crowding out my thoughts for 10 minutes or so. That was the case this week. Great time, no major issues, but this is not that easy of a puzzle. Easier than they have been? Yes. Too easy? Not really. I think that is one of the allures for those of us that solve crosswords; we are perfectly content in our thoughts, while some people struggle with the solitude of brain twisting. The blogging/social media aspect of crosswords has changed this world quite a bit, but it is still primarily a solitary activity, and if you’re like me, you are at your most content during such times. I hope you found this puzzle as relaxingly pleasing as I did!

This one had a mini-theme with the interlocking 15-letter answers of GO ASK YOUR MOTHER and GO ASK YOUR FATHER in the middle, which I actually had a little chuckle once that was solved. All the more to add to the solving enjoyment! 4.4 stars today.

Some other stuff I found interesting:

  • 15A [Guinea pig resembler] AGOUTI – I don’t know how this came up from my brain. Haven’t seen this word in quite a while.
  • 18A [They honk when trouble’s near] GUARD GEESE – This is hilarious! I am picturing some geese guarding someone’s house, but in fact geese that have youngsters nearby (goslings!) can be quite nasty. We have tons of Canadian geese near where we live since there is a river nearby.
  • 53A [Report of nonsuccess] “I TRIED TO” – Great casual phrase!
  • 55A [Much of a breakfast scramble] EGGS AND HAM – At least they aren’t GREEN, like the type that has been in the news recently!
  • 64A [Distance between landings at Heathrow] STOREY – Oh, THOSE types of landings! Best clue in the puzzle!
  • 6D [Unenthusiastic endorsement] “I GUESS SO” – I have said this thousands of times. This better be in my word list!
  • 12D [Cellist at JFK’s White House] CASALS – I thought YO-YO MA for a bit, but this is before his time!
  • 21D [Homemade Philly sandwich slice] STEAKUMM – This seems like a cheap alternative way to make a Philly, but I have no idea. These are available here, but they aren’t a “thing” like out on the west coast.
  • 29D [Portrayer of Phoebe the witch (1998-2006)] ALYSSA – I believe this is a reference to her work on Charmed.
  • 38D [”Look here”] “EYES ON ME” – Lots of great phrases in this one!
  • 51D [”__ a good one!” (playwright pun)] ODETS – This is quite a pun!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend. This pandemic is almost over!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I See Right Through You” — pannona’s write-up

WSJ • 3/13/21 • Sat • Shenk • “I See Right Through You” • solution • 20210313

Bigram insertion time! I promise it won’t hurt too much.

  • 23a. [Subject discussed on “Today,” say?] TOPIC OF THE MORNING (top of the morning).
  • 40a. [Party hat designer?] CONIC ARTIST (con artist).
  • 42a. [One of those people who play with their food?] ANTIC EATER (anteater). Fun clue, and my favorite of the bunch.
  • 70a. [Window cover made from transparent plastic?] IRONIC CURTAIN (Iron Curtain).
  • 97a. [Room on a Vulcan starship?] LOGIC CABIN (log cabin). >moue<
  • 99a. [Material for un sculpteur?] GALLIC STONE (gall stone). Or une sculpteuse.
  • 117a. [Meddling while carving some ancient inscriptions?] RUNIC INTERFERENCE (run interference).

The ICs appear at the ends of the first parts of the original phrases. With the exception of anteater they’re all separate words.

Nothing super-exciting but it gets the job done. A more challenging construction would be to eliminate stray ICs from the rest of the grid, but why bother, really? I’m not exactly distracted by inclusions such as 47a [Yellow] CHICKEN. On the other hand, I find 71d [Public perception of an event, politically] OPTICS somewhat more problematic—it ends up with the same kind of suffix as the theme entries, in that context it echoes 29d [Chooses] OPTS FOR, and it serves to provide less-than-stellar optics regarding the theme (if one is looking for trouble, as I clearly am).

  • 126a [It consists of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka] ORION’S BELT. Had no idea what this was going to turn out to be. Always nice to learn something from a crossword!
  • 114a [“Invasion had come to the town of __” (opening words of a 1944 novel)] ADANO. A further step removed from the typical clues for this crossword staple.
  • 112a [Chopsticks source] PIANO. “The Celebrated Chop Waltz
  • 81a [Florist’s bunches] SPRAYS. Went for POSEYS first.
  • 67a [Sweethearts] DEARIES. That’s just a creepy word. Maybe I associate it with fairy tale witches or something. Not particularly a fan of jazz singer BLOSSOM (10d [Open up]) Dearie, either. Surprisingly, that’s her real name (although her full name is Margarethe Blossom Dearie).
  • 55a [“In the Magic Mirror” painter] KLEE. I found this:

  • 10a [Eclipses] BESTS; 12d [Eclipse participant] SUN.
  • 1d [Saturn’s largest moon] TITAN.

    Sunlight illuminating the halo formed by the thick, hazy atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon, Titan. Enceladus can be seen at the lower right, and the backlit rings slice through the middle of the image. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

  • 1a [Account that might ear interest] TALE. My favorite clue in the puzzle, and Shenk’s opening gambit.
  • 3d [Surname of an animated skunk] LE PEW. In the news lately. Based on Maurice Chevalier.
  • 8d [Foxtrot preceder] ECHO. In the NATO alphabet.
  • 17d [Porcupine or prairie dog] RODENTS. Representing two of the three largest suborders.
  • 24d [German luxury auto, informally] MERC. I, uh, thought this was short for Mercury, while BENZ would be short for the Mercedes?
  • 94d [Carnival rides] LINERS. Referring to the ocean cruise company. 53d [Away from shore] ASEA.

120d [“__ been real!”] IT’S.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword, “Wrong at the Start” — Jim Q’s write-up

This puzzle is asking for mistakes!

THEME: MIS” is added to the start of common phrases, thereby creating wackiness.

Universal crossword solution · “Wrong at the Start” · Zhouqin Burnikel · Sat., 3.13.21


  • 17A [Workplace antics?] MISCHIEF OF STAFF. Chief of Staff. 
  • 26A [Chain of Japanese restaurants in Ottawa’s country?] MISO CANADA. O’ Canada!
  • 47A [Tightfisted surgery aide?] MISER NURSE. E.R. Nurse. 
  • 57A [Longing for B.B. King’s performances?] MISSING THE BLUES. Sing the Blues. But aren’t we all missing B.B. King’s performances? This one is much more true than punny!

Classic theme crafted well. My favorite themer is MISO CANADA because of it’s over-the-top nature.

But can we talk about BOSSY the cow down there in the SE? Is that a common cow name?? I thought BESSY perhaps (as a variation on BESSIE). Or ELSIE. That works too. BOSSY? Ima google dat. Well, I’ll be. Seems like plenty of cows named Bossy, including one whose statue was vandalized.

Also there’s a muppet. 

There’s those two anyway. Are cows typically named? That seems like a lot of work.

Anywho, this was fun,

4 stars.

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26 Responses to Saturday, March 13, 2021

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I liked the chatty tone– I NEED A HAND, I MEAN COME ON, NOT IF BUT WHEN…
    It felt easier to me than yesterday.
    BIOTEXTILES can indeed be artificial textiles as long as they are compatible with and stable in a biological context. I think of them as distinct from what is produced by tissue engineering and regenerative medicine which can use artificial materials, often as scaffolding, but depends on the body’s ability to grow and heal to repair damage. Some really cool stuff being developed!

  2. Steve Manion says:

    I really enjoyed the E. The W was hard for me.

  3. Uri Coen says:

    WSJ – Mike Shenk’s puzzle could have been done 50 years ago – very outdated.
    Plus lots of crosswordese and a below average theme.

    • Norm says:

      And … MERC? No no no. BENZ maybe; not MERC — unless you’re talking about the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

      • Martin says:

        I hear it all the time.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I agree and was really peeved by that answer, but given Martin’s and Greg’s replies, I wonder if it’s a generational (or maybe regional or cultural?) difference in terminology since Ford dumped the Mercury brand name after 2011? In any case, I only ever recall hearing Mercedes-Benz shortened to either Mercedes or Benz, never MERC. I’m guessing that’s pronounced with a soft-C since that’s the way Mercedes is pronounced? That pronunciation definitely doesn’t trip off my tongue, but that’s probably because I’m accustomed to the hard-C of the abbreviation for Mercury.

        • greg johnson says:

          Merc Coupe was I think used by LAPD in the game LA Noire. A 50s car model said over the radio.

          Mercury Coupe

          Any PGA 2K21 players? I designed the course Kennsington OH (L) and a dozen others.

        • Martin says:

          It’s a hard-C, same as Mercury. As a Mercedes driver for almost 40 years, I can add a few additional notes. In the UK, it’s more common since there was no “Mercury” to make it ambiguous. But I’ve heard it forever over here as well, generally when context would make it clear the speaker wasn’t talking about the Mercury.

          Also, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an owner use the term. “Benz,” yes, but not Merc. I no longer cringe but I don’t think any Mercedes driver (or even general carnut) likes the term.

          I’ve heard it used on both coasts, by young and old, and the frequency of usage hasn’t seemed to change in the 50-or-so years I’ve heard it.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Thanks for the additional details folks. Live and learn.

  4. zevonfan says:

    What was the answer to your trivia question yesterday?

    Agree with you on Saturday’s puzzle. Nice puzzle – but was rather hard to make headway without many proper noun clues to start around. I’ve never used the timer feature in my near 20 years of solving with AcrossLite – but I’m sure it was my slowest Sat. NYT of the year.

  5. Robert Alden says:

    Uni: I have a real problem in the SE corner with “Bossie” the cow. I started with Elsie, then moved to Bessie as I got more fill, but couldn’t understand how either answer would work with “loo.” I guess Bossie can work, but I wouldn’t say it was a classic cow name. Otherwise, a decent, if average, puzzle.

  6. pannonica says:

    Universal: Regarding the name Bossy – it derives from the Greek bos, which in combination with Latin provides the species name for cattle, Bos taurus. So that’s some pretty classic underpinning.

  7. Heads-up about tomorrow’s WaPo Magazine crossword: Although there is an Across Lite file, I strongly recommend that you print out the PDF and solve it on paper (available tonight at 6 pm ET at this link and at midnight ET on the Post’s website). Solving in Across Lite or in your browser just won’t work as well. You have been warned.

    • Martin says:

      And a reminder: the Today’s Puzzles page now has a permanent link to the Sunday WaPo pdf.

      • Evad says:

        Thanks Martin. That said, I have noticed that the NYT AcrossLite links on that same page (which were becoming problematic in Chrome recently) are now in a completely new (and impenetrable by me at this point) sequence. Hopefully we’ll figure that one out.

  8. STEVEN says:

    ….. but it is still primarily a solitary activity, and if you’re like me, you are at your most content during such times. I hope you found this puzzle as relaxingly pleasing as I did!

    yes, well said, i quite agree

    on a side note, i live in mexico and was able to get my government issued vaccine while avoiding the chaos and mad rush by waiting a couple of days for the madness to subside and a little help from my friends

  9. J says:

    For NYT 47A: Is “Mac” a common thing? I looked up definitions and found one that seems to make sense (a form of address for a man whose name is unknown to the speaker) for how you get Bub. But I’ve literally never heard someone use mac that way.

    • Evad says:

      It is familiar to me, but I grew up in the Boston area where most everyone I knew had Irish or Scottish roots.

  10. P says:

    WSJ 78d. How does “Unqualified” = “total”? I don’t get it.

  11. Tim Rueger says:

    Re: NYT OVEN TIMERS – I thing “dingy” is to be (sneakily) read as something that dings. Cue Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine: one ringy-dingy, two ring-dingy…

Comments are closed.