Sunday, April 25, 2021

LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q)  


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Jim P) 


WaPo untimed (Jim Q) 


Jeremy Newton’s New York Times crossword, “Stretching Exercises”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 25 21, “Stretching Exercises”

I solved this one untimed because after doing six ACPT puzzles on the clock today, I have ceased to care about speed. I know I’m not alone in that!

Theme is muscle stretching exercises, with the shorthand names of various muscles “stretched” to two squares. I solved via the .puz format, which used a pair of circled squares in lieu of stretched-out squares, so the solution grid is from the web version.

The theme entries are a PEC stretched between PECORINO CHEESE and P.E. CLASS, a QUAD in AQUADUCK (wildly unfamiliar to me!) and ELITE SQUAD, AB (just one! not the other ABs) in ABIDE and ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY, a GLUTE in GLUTEN-FREE and double-dipper ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY (excellent find!), a TRAPezius in BEST RAP PERFORMANCE and THIRST TRAP (if you don’t know that term, it’s just what the clue say: [Racy selfie posted for likes on social media, in modern lingo]), LAT in LATE PAPERS (which feels awfully green-paintish to me) and ROLL A TWO (ditto), and finally, a DELT in BENICIO DEL TORO and MODEL TANK (also green-painty).

SO YEAH” and “HI Y’ALL” are a bit of a stretch as well, and nobody says NO-CAL, do they?

That’s all from me for today, am puzzled out! 3.75 stars, maybe?

David Alfred Bywaters’ Universal crossword, “Refined Ore” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Homophones with the “ORE” sound.

Universal crossword solution · “Refined Ore ” · David Alfred Bywaters · Sun., 4.25.21


  • 17A [Dutch South African orchard product?] BOER FRUIT. Bore fruit. 
  • 24D [Like a moderately large public restroom?] FOUR STALLED. Forestalled. 
  • 10D [Eagle wing parts?] SOAR MUSCLES. Soar muscles. 
  • 62A [Repository of discarded uniforms, mess kits, etc.?] CORPS DUMP. Core dump. 

Not my finest moments, solving this. I hadn’t realized that the long down themers were actually themers (I don’t know why… A.M. grogginess?), and I thought that FOUR STALLED and SOAR MUSCLES were trying to be passed off as actual things. I wasn’t 100% on how to pronounce BOER (“Bore” I thought… but perhaps “Bear?”) so I couldn’t quite grasp the theme there since Bore Fruit and Bear Fruit would both work as base phrases.I had never heard of a Core Dump, so that last themer had me scratching my head as I’d forgotten the last name of [Chrissy of “This Is Us”] METZ and could not summon the word DAM for [One may make a lake].

So yea… I really screwed that up.

I didn’t quite chuckle at my mistakes, so in the long run the altered answers didn’t hit the funny bone. Everything just fine in the fill department. Nothing longer than 6 letters, and there often are some splashy downs in the Universal fill (see yesterday’s puzzle), which is probably why I thought FOUR STALLED was initially part of the fill.

2.9 stars from me. Enjoy Sunday!

Joe Deeney’s LA Times crossword, “Director’s Cut” – Jenni’s write-up

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with this theme. The Oscars are tonight and the title tells me we’re in the world of film. I looked for director’s names in each theme answer – nope. I looked for letters to remove to create names – nope. In desperation, I scrolled through the list of clues to see if there was a revealer I’d missed, and that’s when Ir realized the theme answers are all sequential. I looked at the combination and finally saw the names “cut” by a black square. Phew.

Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2021, Joe Deeney, “Director’s Cut,” solution grid

  • 21a [*Marvel hero with a red-white-and-blue costume] and 23a [*Soviet newspaper] give us CAPTAIN AMERICA/PRAVDA and there’s CAPRA.
  • 34a [*Hunk] and 36a [*Take only the best] are STUD MUFFIN/CHERRYPICK. David FINCHER is new to me. Wikipedia tells me that if I’d been paying attention, I would have heard of him.
  • 48a [*Instrument played with mallets] and 59a [*Citrus used to flavor tea] are GLOCKENSPIEL/BERGAMOT – SPIELBERG.
  • 71a [*Turkey’s area] and 72a [*Symbol of worthlessness] are NEAR EAST/WOODEN NICKEL – EASTWOOD.
  • 86a [*Camper’s knot] and 89a [*Ridiculous, as an excuse] is CLOVE HITCH/COCKAMAMIE so we have a cameo by HITCHCOCK.
  • 103a [*”Walk This Way” rap trio] and 104a [*Oscar-winning role for Judi Dench] are RUN DMC/QUEEN ELIZABETH. There’s MCQUEEN and even I know that’s the British director, not the American actor my mother adored.

This is an amazing construction. Six sets of theme answers, each combining to make the name of an Oscar-nominated director, each pair precisely 20 letters long in combination so they span the grid once the intervening block is added. And for once it’s an amazing construction that was fun to solve with a satisfying “aha!” moment. There may have been one or two things in the fill that I’d usually quibble about and I don’t even remember them.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: David FINCHER. I also didn’t know that STEWIE from “Family Guy” has a football-shaped head.

Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “E-Trade” – Jim Q’s (more like Jenni’s) Write-up

This puzzle is a repeat, as Evan is on vacation. It was new to me, however. I would’ve remembered solving this I’m sure, and Jenni is the team fiendster who originally wrote about it.

I’d write my own take, but there doesn’t seem much reason to as Jenni really nailed it the first time. I’m going to copy/paste her original post below and follow up with a couple things.

Jenni’s original write-up from June 19, 2016. 

I am in New Haven at a conference and I can tell you that everything you’ve heard about New Haven pizza is true. Yum. There were also drinks. There was dessert. There was lively chatter. I tell you this to explain my slightly slow (and every so palindromic) time on this puzzle.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 8.54.48 PM

WaPo 6/19/2016 and 4/25/2021

crossword solution grid

“E-trade” is an internet-based investment company. You may have seen one of their ads during the Super Bowl. In Evan’s hands, “E-trade” is a double-barreled clue to the theme. Each theme answer is an odd phrase made up of two words that when flipped (or traded) turn into the name of a company with an app (an e-trade.) I like this theme. It’s accessible and interestingly layered all at the same time. Mmm. Layers. Cake. No, I already had cake….OK, I’m back. Here are the theme answers:

  • 23a [Enumerate people like comedians Kilborn, Ferguson, Robinson, etc?] = LIST CRAIGS (Craigslist.)
  • 25a [Zipper?] = FLY SHUTTER (Shutterfly.) I hadn’t figured out the theme yet and I spent a long time trying to make this “fly swatter,” which was – disturbing.
  • 39a [Where you can major in funny business?] = HUMOR COLLEGE (Collegehumor. Sophomoric. Hah.)
  • 55a [Unhip astronaut, say?] = Space square (Squarespace.)
  • 68a [Construction work?] = BUILDER CAREER (Career builder.)
  • 79a [Cabinet member’s excursion?] = ADVISOR TRIP (Tripadvisor.)
  • 91a [Chess expert’s requirement for attending a chess tournament?] = MASTER TICKET (Ticketmaster.)
  • 111a [What a high-tech spy experiences each day?] = HACKER LIFE (Lifehacker.)
  • 114a [Thunder, eg] = CLOUD SOUND (Soundcloud.) This is the only app on the list that I own and thus it’s when I figured out the theme, finally.

A few other things:

  • 5a [Completely lost….unless you’re a pirate, and if so, carry on] = AT SEA. It was a gimme, and it was a gimme that made me laugh. Nice.
  • 47d [“Ignore all of my orders,” e.g.] = PARADOX. Another laugh.
  • We get Ouagadougou in the clue list by dint of cross-referencing BURKINA and FASO. I’m glad Ouagadougou was in the clues and not in the grid.
  • Blast from the past at 117a: [Kid list writer Blyton] is ENID.
  • I saw [Judd of note] at 42a and figured it was one of the singing Judds. “Of note.” Nope. It’s Judd HIRSCH. Good misdirection. Then I saw [Judd of note] at 104d and this time it was NAOMI. I enjoyed that.

I enjoyed this whole puzzle. I enjoyed the dinner and the drinks and the dessert that preceded it and now I will enjoy my last night in the hotel bed before I head home.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was a movie called “Hot Fuzz” and that it was directed by EDGAR Wright.

Jim Q Back:

It seems like Jenni took her time on this one as did I. The theme really helped me with the fill, which is the best sort of puzzle for me. In that sense, it was truly a puzzle. Lots of sussing out, inferring, and decoding of theme clues.

I’d be interested to know which clues were updated to brush any five-year-old dust off. Could it be that Evan made some clues longer since he has the space now? Like the fantastic clue to 27A [Retort that one might imagine C-3PO saying as a young droid on the playground] ARETOO. I dunno.

New for me PRESQUE Isle State Park. Needed every cross!

Thanks (again) for this one, Evan!

Steve Mossberg’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Let’s Split Dessert”—Jim P’s review

I, too, am puzzled out after participating in ACPT, but let’s see what we’ve got here.

The title says it all. The circled letters spell out types of desserts that are split between the ends of some entries and the beginnings of others. We have:

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Let’s Split Dessert” · Steve Mossberg · 4.25.21

  • BONBON in BLUE RIBBON / BON APPETITI’m not always a fan of this type of theme because it’s so wide open. After all, you can get MOUSSE from just FAMOUS and SEA. But I have to say I do like the choices here. The entries are almost all fun (SEATAC being the most staid), and I especially liked the international flair in the desserts (babka, mochi, and bonbon, e.g.). So I was pleasantly surprised here.

In the fill, I felt like I was being seen after Puzzle 5 of the ACPT with entries like OH MAN, IRRITATED, FAR BEHIND, and NOT SURE. But fun entries include WHITE BELT, ENIGMAS, and “ATTA BOY!” The rest of the fill is impressively clean.

Clues of note:

  • 53a. [Motown founder Berry]. GORDY. I never noticed this about his name: His first name is usually a last name and his last name is usually a first name. Is there anyone else you can say this about?
  • 85a. [Colorful chip brand]. TERRA. Never heard of this brand of chips. Looks more up-scale than a bag of Lay’s.
  • 16d. [Word said to a coffee server]. WHEN. After being told to “Say ‘when,'” presumably.

A lot of thought and time went into this grid, and it paid off. 3.8 stars.

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22 Responses to Sunday, April 25, 2021

  1. cyberdiva says:

    Would someone please explain what the expression “green paintish” or “green painty” means? I’ve seen it used here from time to time, and I always thought it meant something like “artificial” or “contrived.” However, Amy uses it today to talk about LATE PAPERS in the NYT puzzle. As a former professor, I’m very familiar with late papers, which, as the clue says, “often come to professors with excuses.” The expression LATE PAPERS is neither artificial nor contrived, so I clearly haven’t understood what “green paintish” means.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      It means something that exists but isn’t really a common phrase per se. So WET PAINT is not green-painty. It comes from an appearance of GREEN PAINT as an answer in a crossword a few years ago. I don’t think LATE PAPERS is green-painty. I agree with Amy about MODEL TANK, although my model-building husband might argue with both of us.

      “Roll-your-own” is a word that’s contrived or made up – usually one of those with a prefix or suffix added that is never seen in the wild.

      • Billy Boy says:

        How is roll your own contrived or made up?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          “Roll-your-own” isn’t contrived, but “roll-your-own words” (this is my coinage) are. For example, if a puzzle had REAMUSED, [Made laugh again], that’s a roll-your-own word because someone’s just added affixes and made a word that isn’t actually in use.

          • Billy Boy says:

            Thanks, boss, I was confused. I rarely do Sundays, but I do check in.


            aside: Green Paint is a continuum

  2. David Stone says:

    Green paint answers, as you surmise, are those that strikes us as somewhat contrived. While papers are often late, “late paper” isn’t a super common phrase – it’s just two words that are often connected. Contrast that with “term paper” or “late edition”.

    • huda says:

      Really good explanation! It’s the difference between a concept (eg. late paper, green paint which do exist) and an expression which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny as a real phrase.

  3. PJ says:

    Could olive oil be considered green paint?

  4. cyberdiva says:

    Thanks, David and Huda, for your helpful explanations. In my experience, however, “late papers” is very much a real phrase as well as a concept. If I say, “Late papers will be penalized,” or “he doesn’t accept late papers,” that doesn’t seem to me just a concept. I never hear someone say, “do you accept papers that come in after the due date?” And when I was doing the puzzle and saw the clue “They often come to professors with excuses,” I immediately wrote in “late papers” even without any crossings.

  5. VB says:

    The “green paint” question has always struck me as a matter of taste, but the idea, IMO, is that, while green paint is undoubtedly a thing, the phrase has no meaning beyond that of paint that happens to be green, and there would be no reason for anyone to put it in a dictionary since the meanings of “green” and “paint” are completely sufficient to define it. “Elite squad” might face the same criticism. In contrast, “Hit squad” has a very specific meaning – one would not describe a group of outstanding songwriters or baseball players as a “hit squad” except with humorous intent. Ironically, “green paint” is an individual entry in MW,

    “the dirty blue-green deposit on wave-dashed rocks at the water’s edge caused by certain blue-green algae (especially of the genera Coelosphaerium and Microcystis),”

    but that of course is not the point. If I google “elite squad definition,” I get nothing useful. If I google “hit squad” definition, I get the group of assassins (although not in MW). “Late paper” is clearly nothing more than a paper that is late. A professor might define a late paper (e.g., one turned in after the start vs. the end of lecture on the due date), but that’s really just defining late. Similarly, “Hit squad” has Wikipedia entry, but “green paint” and “late paper” do not, and “Elite Squad” has one only because it is the English name of a Brazilian crime film.

    Of course, one may or may not care. I remember someone defining a legitimate entry as anything that could answer a question you could write, or, more generally, anything you can write a clue for. To me, “Picasso used a lot of it from 1901 to 1904” would be a fine clue for BLUEPAINT, for example, or “Trademark for Richard Petty” for BLUECAR. The latter is particularly appealing in that it is not just any blue car.

    I sense that there has been a movement in favor of green paint over the last decade or two because the answers allow the use of common words, thus sacrificing the perceived elegance of using only phrases with distinctive meaning for greater accessibility. I think that most people would be happier to see GREENPAINT clued as “Monet used it to make water lilies” or even “Necessity for a Hulk mural” than as the algal deposit, even if the purists would scoff. A lot of decisions that the constructor / editor has to make are audience-dependent. I suspect that the readers of this blog tend towards much higher content standards than the typical solver.

    Sorry to run on so long. I wish everyone good health.

    • pannonica says:

      I found the discursion interesting—especially the minor irony that green paint has a very specific definition—so thanks!

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Thanks for the discourse, Victor.

      Now, “Law & Order: SVU” fans know ELITE SQUAD from the narration at the start of the show: “In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.”

  6. Gary R says:

    Lest Mr. Newton’s efforts get lost behind a coat of green paint, I’d like to thank him for an enjoyable Sunday solve. I probably only bother to finish about one Sunday puzzle in four these days, as they so often become a slog. This one, I enjoyed all the way through. I picked up on the theme fairly early, even though I solved in AcrossLite and didn’t look at the note.

    ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY was fun, and reminded me of a college friend who had a library of similar, but more R-rated exclamations he employed frequently. I was pleased that Mr. Shortz and company published this PG-13 version.

    I hung onto PECORINOromano for too long at 23-A.

    Liked the clue for 84-D, ASTERISK, but I had enough crosses at that point that it didn’t throw me off for very long.

    77-A, THIRST TRAP required all the crosses, and I still wasn’t sure until I googled it. One of those internet phenomena I was just as happy not to know about.

    On green paint, MODEL TANK and ROLL A TWO struck me more that way than LATE PAPERS – but I’m a retired professor, so I guess context matters. Seems like maybe this has come up before in regards to various poker hands. Regardless, I’m not particularly offended by green paint answers, as long as they work with their clues.

  7. placematfan says:

    My take on Green Paint: Back in the day I got many an LAT rejection email wherein Rich Norris would explain that a certain entry was Not In The Language [my caps]. And, for me, the dichotomy of “in the language” and “not in the language” is very succinct. It’s a usage thing. Is the entry something that people use? Does the entry exist in parlance, or is it something that appeared in three books and one blog over a span of 50 years or whatever (i.e., many arbitrary concepts)? Google is the best identifier of Green Painthood; if it gets a lot of hits, it’s probably not Green Paint.

    • R says:

      Google’s not a great measure as “green paint” gets tons of hits. What it doesn’t get is tons of hits *in comparison to* “red paint” or “blue paint” or “painted green.”

  8. damefox says:

    Another way to think about “green paint” is whether you can replace one or more of the words in the phrase with a related word and end up with a different phrase that is no more or less legitimate. GREEN PAINT is no more or less valid a crossword entry than RED PAINT or BLUE PAINT. On the other hand, WET PAINT is a very common phrase to see on signage, and changing it to DRY PAINT does not make a phrase that would be considered just as valid. In the NYT today, LATE PAPERS did not immediately strike me as green paint-ish (although I can see why some might think it is), but ROLL A TWO (replace TWO with any other number 1-6) and MODEL TANK (replace TANK with any other military vehicle) definitely did.

  9. cyberdiva says:

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion about “green paint.” What surprised me is that my initial question now is followed by responses from Jenni, Billy Boy, Amy, and Billy Boy, even though these responses weren’t added until this morning, whereas David Stone, huda, and PJ posted replies last night. Those were the only replies I saw last night when I sent my second message. I’m not sure why the replies that were sent this morning appear ahead of those posted last night. Normally, I wouldn’t care, but I just want to make it clear that my second message thanks people whose responses I saw last night.

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