Saturday, April 10, 2021

LAT 4:46 (Derek) 


Newsday 21:38 (Derek) 


NYT 5:30 (Amy) 


Universal 4:28 (Jim Q) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Evans Clinchy’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 10 21, no. 0410

What did I like most in this puzzle? TWADDLE, MEAT AND POTATOES, OCTOBER SURPRISE (still so surprised that the October 2016 surprise of “I just grab them by the p*ssy” had basically no effect), DO LAPS, ROCKS OUT, and “DANNY BOY.” If you haven’t heard the Village People’s Glenn Hughes sing that tune, have a look at the movie clip below. Not sure if OLD ACQUAINTANCE fully rises to the level of “established phrase that works as a crossword entry.”

Eleven more things:

  • 23a. [Actress Ferrell of “White Men Can’t Jump”], TYRA. I didn’t recognize her name but she’s done a lot. Four of her early ’90s movies are classics.
  • 25a. [“Heavens to Murgatroyd!”], “MY GOD!” Hmm. The clue phrase feels quaint, old-fashioned, bowdlerized, whereas MY GOD is none of those.
  • 35a. [Matchmaking targets?], SOCKS. My husband has an incredible talent for losing half a pair of socks. I wonder how many are lingering inside the washing machine but outside the washer’s drum.
  • 44a. [“Träskor” in Sweden and “geta” in Japan, to name two], CLOGS. Get the Drano!
  • 50a. [Letters have them], TENANTS. Meh. Nobody uses “letter” that way.
  • 12d. [Classic ballad set to the tune of “Londonderry Air”], DANNY BOY. Had no idea it rode the coattails of an older song.
  • 13d. [What fennel tastes like], EWW, AWFUL. TERRIBLE. TOO GROSS. A BIG YUCK. Or, if you will, LICORICE. All synonymous to me!
  • 26d. [LE VEL, for one], REBUS. Took me a while to parse this clue. Splitting the word LEVEL into two is a rebus for “split-level.”
  • 43d. [Digs], JABS. We would also have accepted [COVID vaccine injections, familiarly]. Have you been able to get yours yet?
  • 44d. [Cook’s handle, maybe], CAP’N. As in Captain James Cook. If he had not taken his voyages through the Pacific, would Britain have sent someone else in his stead?
  • 47d. [Metà di sei], TRE. I’m guessing this is Italian for “half of six.”

3.75 stars from me.

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Catching Some Z’s” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/10/21 • Larson • Sat • “Catching Some Z’s” • solution • 20210410

For this theme, two-word phrases have been wackified by suffixing the first word with a Z /ˈzē / sound.

  • 21a. [Stiff drink for a loose lady?] FLOOZY SHOT (flu shot). Not a particularly friendly or auspicious way to open the proceedings.
  • 26a. [Overcome by mal de mer?] PITCHING WOOZY (pitching woo). Original phrase seems hopelessly dated. Ngrams, however, suggests that it had a recent upswing in use.
  • 108a. [That one-of-a-kind yeti, say?] MOUNTAIN DOOZY (mountain dew).
  • 116a. [Dress for Donald Duck’s girlfriend?] DAISY SHIFT (day shift).
  • 3d. [Persnickety poodle?] CHOOSY TOY (chew toy). Keeping to the category.
  • 32d. [Repulsive dress] SKEEZY JUMPER (ski jumper). Another dress?
  • 38d. [Author of a dull sports memoir?] PROSY ATHLETE (pro athlete).
  • 53a. [Simple choir part?] EASY HARMONY (E-Harmony).
  • 24a. [Gossip from a busybody?] NOSY ACCOUNT (no-account).
  • 82d. [Offhand comment from a slacker?] LAZY ASIDE (lay aside).

Unusual arrangement of theme entries – eight are linked, two a side, and these form a loose ring around the grid.  Then two additional downs closer to the center area. As for the content, I thought they were all passable but not really exciting.

  • Least favorite clue/answer: 31a [@@@@] ATS. Don’t @ me.
  • 92a [Big heart] ACE.
  • 103a [Spurred on] GOOSED, but I had GOADED first.
  • 8d [Where do you get off?] STOP. Not as confrontational as it seemed. 55d [What to do] TASK.
  • 37d [Morales of “NCIS: Los Angeles”] ESAI. **shakes fist**
  • 44d [Columbia catch] TROUT. Am presuming this is the Columbia River of the Pacific Northwest.
  • 57d [Times past] ERAS, though I found plenty of results for both “current era” and “present era”. As a bonus, here’s the Ngram, showing an interesting dynamic between those two phrases:
  • 61d [Jam ingredients] AUTOS. I was wise to this misdirection, having seen it so many times in crosswords. There are three clues in the grid using the word car(s), so good job avoiding a needless dupe with an answer.
  • Factette alert! 108d [Mineral whose name is Latin for “crumb”] MICA.

Stella Zawistowski’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 04/10/2021

My friend Stella has today’s LAT challenge puzzle. I LOVE Stella’s puzzles! I don’t always get to do all of hers, but her site has excellent puzzles. She also has a lively Twitter feed, especially if you enjoy cryptic crosswords. She is @stellaphone on Twitter; follow her!

This was a smooth solve for me, but lots of interesting in the grid, which for me is the hallmark of a Stella puzzle. They’re never boring! 4.5 stars from me.

Just a few comments:

  • 28A [Argument-ending words] “I SAID SO!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 35A [1981 hit known for its drum break] IN THE AIR TONIGHT” – Ah, this takes me back. I think this was also one of the songs used on Miami Vice at least once or twice. I am showing my age!
  • 41A [“The Bathers” artist] RENOIR – I don’t know art, and I didn’t know this. But it’s OK to learn something new every now and then! There aren’t many museums here in northern Indiana, at least not many famous ones.
  • 52A [Current moment] NONCE – Not the most common of words, but I think I cracked a small smile when I figured this one out!
  • 1D [Lorenzo who sponsored Michelangelo] DE MEDICI – I DID learn all about the Medici family in my Social Studies classes from middle school. Adding the “de” before the name is sneaky!
  • 3D [Seasons, in a way] ADDS SALT – This, oddly, is making me hungry …
  • 8D [Manicure layer] BASE COAT – Believe it or not, I HAVE had a manicure or two over the years!
  • 10D [Bent on victory] IN IT TO WIN IT – Best entry!
  • 38D [Pull-out furniture item] HIDE-A-BED – If you have one of these, then you have to have people stay … that might not always be a good idea!
  • 42D [Act stingily] SCRIMP – This, also oddly, is making me hungry too! It sounds like shrimp!!

I am off to do more puzzle! Here is a song to get stuck in your head. Pay attention to that drum solo!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 04/10/2021

This felt like an old Stumper! I had all kinds of issues with this one. The upper third was a killer. Usually the puzzles by Anna Stiga (“Stan again!”) are not too thorny. Is it just me, or did this one fight back more than normal, especially since they are supposed to not fight back as hard anymore? Curious to see your thoughts. Maybe I just need a nap, which I will try to address later today! But a solid puzzle nonetheless: 4.7 stars from me.

Some key comments:

  • 6A [Big name in guitar making] DOBRO – No idea who or what this is. Evidently it is a guitar that has a steel resonator on it. I have seen these before. Isn’t Google wonderful?
  • 25A [They’re paid to strike] PRO BOWLERS – This is one of a few entries in the upper areas of the grid that I should have known because I watch a TON of bowling! I had ???BOWLERS, but an erroneous guess at 1D of ITHINK instead of COGITO caused a lot of problems.
  • 30A [Expedient but imperfect] QUICK AND DIRTY – I don’t think I have ever said this, but it is a great entry for the middle. Just rare enough to make it slightly difficult. What I mean is, I don’t hear this often in Indiana!
  • 53A [Cruise companion, once] NICOLE – No, no and no. Cruise is a last name; Nicole is a first name. What is going on here? I am going to cry foul here. This is unfairly clued. Gettable, but unfairly clued.
  • 6D [Smooth out some rough spots] DEBURR – It’s always weird when a word ends in two R’s. I thought I had something wrong!
  • 7D [”13” preceder] OCEANS – This is ANOTHER entry that I should have gotten quicker; I just saw all of these movies within the last few months!
  • 19D [Elizabeth’s grandmum] QUEEN MARY – Timely with the passing of Prince Philip on Friday. I don’t know anything about the royal family; I had to look up who this was.
  • 30D [Muslim holy city] QOM, IRAN – I believe you.
  • 31D [Irreversible?] UNPOETIC – EXCELLENT clue! Very clever!
  • 32D [Box-set pastime] DOMINOES – Best clue in the puzzle. I was totally fooled!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Evan Kalish’s Universal crossword, “In the Fold” — Jim Q’s write-up

Peep that title for the revealer :)

THEME: Common phrases that start/end with the letters in FOLD.

Universal crossword solution · “In the Fold” · Evan Kalish · Sat., 4.10.21


  • 16A [Invisible protection in sci-fi] FORCE FIELD.
  • 26A [Below zero, perhaps] FREEZING COLD.
  • 42A [“Do what I do”] FOLLOW MY LEAD
  • 58A [Be a good example?] FIT THE MOLD

Evan Kalish is one of my favorite constructors to surface in the past few years. His grids are painstakingly clean and always freshly clued. Colorful fill abounds. And usually the theme is quite clever. Themewise, this one is over-the-plate and a bit more “run of the mill” than what I’ve come to expect of his work, but that’s fine. It works, and all of the other Kalish qualities are intact.

I forgot whether it was Simone BILES or Simone MILES and since both ABC and AMC are networks, that turned into a Natick for me (due to my own ignorance… not the puzzle’s fault). I guessed wrong first. Mr. Happy Pencil didn’t come to the party. Then I got it right, and he was fashionably late.

Never heard of CAPOEIRA, but it’s awesome! Wow. Check this out:

It’s symmetrical partner, SEED BANK, was new for me too.

Plenty to appreciate in this puzzle even if the theme was a tad on the “meh” side.

3.5 stars.

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33 Responses to Saturday, April 10, 2021

  1. Lise says:

    NYT: I don’t like LICORICE either, but I love fennel. I don’t see how this makes sense, but there it is.

    Nice puzzle! I especially liked the clue for DNA (11D: Cellular data plan?)

  2. Steve Manion says:

    Bottom was hard for me; top was pretty easy. I didn’t mind the phrase OLD ACQUAINTANCE, but I think of an acquaintance as something less than a friend.

    • huda says:

      Exact same experience.
      My response to OLD ACQUAINTANCE was colored by these lyrics:
      “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” which made it more of a classic phrase and a little less distant-sounding. But I agree that an acquaintance is not necessarily a friend.

    • marciem says:

      Most times saying someone is an “acquaintance” is used to differentiate from a “friend”. A mere acquaintance as opposed to an actual friend. So yah, the clue was a bit off to me.

      But still a good puzzle, and I got the answer to that one relatively quickly so I didn’t hate it.

      I actually liked the “letters” clue even though no, nobody actually uses it.

      Fennel or anise or licorice…. PTUI!!!

    • janie says:

      fans of old films may also be familiar w/ this bette davis/miriam hopkins chestnut:

      i once worked at an office where the movie poster was prominently on display…

      it’s based on the john van druten play of the same name (he was also a contributing screenwriter), and was remade in 1981 w/ jacqueline bisset and candice bergen as rich and famous.


      (fennel- and anise-lover…)

  3. Patrick M says:

    Random side note: I like everything about the “Halloweeny” header art that displayed atop the blog for me today (with the close-up of the fiendish grid in the center).

  4. ROBYN J FRANKE says:

    Would someone explain the tenants and letters cluing? I googled the terms but just got legalities about renters. Thanks everyone!

  5. LtKije says:

    Didn’t love the clue on MEAT AND POTATOES. Yes, both clue and answer are about essential things, but the “bare” in the clue implies that essential thing is meager, while the answer is (metaphorically) about an essential thing that’s big and hearty, or a lot to deal with. If you say “that’s the meat and potatoes of the matter” it means the big, central idea, not something that’s been stripped down to a minimum.

    • huda says:

      I agree that “bare” is not a great choice. But my sense of “MEAT AND POTATOES” is more akin to a basic, regular meal with no pretense at being fancy. So, unadorned…

    • R says:

      That’s not the meaning that I use it for, nor is that supported by dictionaries. MEAT AND POTATOES generally means “basic, essential, fundamental,” and a quick look at its use in some news articles also implies “no frills” or “nothing fancy.” “Bare” might feel like a slight exaggeration for you, but it’s well within the normal range of definitions for the term.

  6. e.a. says:

    a loose lady? wtf?

  7. Tim in Queens says:

    My theory about socks is that sometimes the spin cycle goes so fast a sock will enter a wormhole and get transported to the planet Xyjxaxk 30 million light years from Earth.

  8. huda says:

    I mostly came here to thank all of you yesterday who gave me your perspective on the use of the word “deity” as including God even in monotheistic religions.
    So thank you!
    (I also wanted to say I liked the NYT puzzle)

  9. marciem says:

    Newsday: Was really as close to an old stumper as I’ve seen lately. U enjoyed the workout.

    I had to downgrade my opinion because of that “cruise = nicole” botch. Not fair and not good cluing IMO. My first try was for kidman (which obviously didn’t work) There are other Nicoles if you can’t get it with Tom.

    I do not get “irreversible = unpoetic” . Explain please?

    • Pilgrim says:

      I was also going to ask about what seemed to me to be a “cruise = nicole” mis-match.

      Regarding “irreversible,” I read this as a play on “verse” since there was a “?” in the clue: “verse” -> “poem”; “irreversible (?)” -> “unpoetic”

      • marciem says:

        That makes sense…I guess :) . I tried thinking of plays on “verse” and just couldn’t get there.

  10. Crotchety Doug says:

    Newsday – Second Derek with finding this puzzle reminiscent of the old Stumpers, and from Anna Stiga too! Loved learning about OOBLECK. Was familiar with Dobro guitars, but didn’t know where the name came from – DOpyera BROthers (John, Rudy, and Ed). Good puzzle. That is all!

  11. Every bunny wants to rule the world says:

    Newsday: “Cruise companion, once” – I also assumed that the answer would be a last name, and what made it more difficult for me was that all three of Tom Cruise’s ex-wives have last names with six letters (Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes).

  12. Gene says:

    Regarding Newsday, agree about the mismatch with NICOLE. Also cry foul on “irre” meaning “not”. That’s irrefair.

  13. RM Camp says:

    Is it even possible to say “heavens to murgatroyd” without using Snagglepuss’s voice?

  14. JohnH says:

    For the NYT, I didn’t know the crossing of JONAS and BONET, and it didn’t help in that sector that DO LAPS could just as well have been DO REPS.

    Other than that, a strong puzzle, tough indeed to get a foothold on.

  15. Brenda Rose says:

    Wondered why NYT wasn’t called out on its Wed. easiness since early weekdays are always called out for their hardness.
    Italians steam finocchio (fennel) & we dip it into aioli as an appetizer for many feasts. Delicious…one girl’s meat is another’s veggie. Want more cringe? I declare cilantro is the best herb after basil. It’s the zest that makes cerviche what it is.

  16. Lois says:

    With regard to NYT, 17a OLD ACQUAINTANCE for “Friend from way back”: Regardless of how we all usually differentiate friends and acquaintances, in “Auld Lang Syne,” such an old sentimental, emotional favorite, “old acquaintances” are clearly people we used to know that we do care about very much and hope to think about with feeling from time to time. The word is not being used in the song about a very casual relationship that would hardly be brought to mind!

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