Saturday, July 17, 2021

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


Newsday 17:40 (Derek) 


NYT 5:58 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today tk (Nina) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 7 17 21, no. 0717

Hey, the Boswords Summer Tournament is coming up on Sunday, July 25, and I do encourage you to sign up. It’s online, and there’s a Twitch livestream that makes it feel a bit less virtual and more real—though the folks who aren’t featured in the video stream can only interact in the (typed) chat window. It’s a fun lineup of constructors, including Malaika Handa, one of the new Fiend bloggers. Why am I mentioning this here, int he NYT write-up? Because I hadn’t had a good sense of Ryan McCarty’s style until I did one of his puzzles in the Boswords Spring Themeless League and got to hear Ryan talk about his puzzlemaking. Have been a big fan ever since! This wild NYT pinwheel grid with a super-chunky midsection (staggered 13s crossing staggered 11s, how is this even possible) has a bunch of zippy, fresh fill and I’m calling it 4.5 stars. Those of you who get disgruntled at names in the fill may be cranky, but I appreciated that the first four entries I filled in were all names! (AMELIA crossing TYLER URIS SIA).


Toughest square for me: where 22a. [Pull (out)], BOW meets1d. [Whirlpools], SPA TUBS. I was thinking of whirlpools found in nature, wasn’t parsing SPATU*S as two words, and had a hard time seeing past TOW. Oof!

Didn’t know the term WAGE LABORERS, 33a. [Ones exploited in a capitalist system, per Marx]. Also new to me: 18d. [High-flying picnic game], BLANKET TOSS. Googling … oh! I was picturing a blanket being tossed, but it’s a person being tossed, trampoline-style,  on a blanket whose edges are held by a group of people. And Google is showing me that this is traditionally part of Iñupiat whaling festivals, rather than lower-48 picnics.

Three more things:

  • 17a. [Pea piercers], TINES. Well! Not the usual clue for fork tines. It does take some skill to spear a single pea or kernel of corn.
  • 21a. [Bagel variety], PLAIN. Yes! It is the best.
  • 29d. [Lent feature], EAR. As in a bodily feature you might “lend.”

Good night, friendo!

Mollie Cowger’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 7/17/21 • Cowger • Sat • solution • 20210717

Two answers span the grid: 20a [It may require some heavy lifting] EXERCISE REGIMEN and 52a [“Caste” author who was the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism] ISABEL WILKERSON—that happened as late as 1994! And one of her notable antecedents is nearby: 49a [Lincoln biographer] Ida TARBELL.

  • 5a [Word from the Aramaic for “father”] ABBOT. New information to me, and it makes easy sense retrospectively.
  • 19a [Fermented seasoning] MISO. What’s your preference: shiro, aka, awase?
  • 23a [Leaves spots?] TEAPOTS. I was reluctant to fill this in because I felt that the clue’s ‘spots’ was too blatantly evocative of POTS. Plus, I’m now noticing that just below that is 25a [Checks at the bar?] ESTOPS!
  • 24a [Coastal hazard] TSUNAMI. 55a [Having ups and downs, in a way] TIDAL. It’s a misnomer to call the former TIDAL waves, as they are caused by different phenomena. TSUNAMI are caused by abrupt displacement of water mass (e.g., seismic activity, landslides); when the huge energy reaches shallow coastal areas, what had been expressed as speed changes to height and a towering “harbor wave” (the literal translation of TSUNAMI) forms. Tides, of course are caused by the gravitational forces of the moon and sun. Waves generated by changing tides are called bores and are not nearly as dramatic, but are fascinating in their own way.
  • 28a [“Sunflower Seeds” artist Ai with an echoic name] WEI WEI. The work was installed at 32a {London’s TATE Modern} in 2010.
  • Oh, oh, and now I’m seeing 40a [Old-style writing need] INKPOT. Not so good, considering our TEAPOTS adventure, above.
  • 43a [Well’s opposite] RARE. Yep, fooled me.
  • 58a [Where a 1980 “miracle” occurred] ON ICE. Silly me, I leapfrogged over the obvious answer and was trying to figure out how to fit LAKE PLACID into 5 squares.
  • Not the Methuselah

    39d [The oldest known one is Methuselah] TREE. Direct from Wikipedia: “Methuselah is a 4,852-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) tree growing high in the White Mountains of Inyo County in eastern California. It is recognized as the non-clonal tree with the greatest confirmed age in the world … Its exact location … is a secret protected by the United States Forest Service “

  • 59a [String some words together?] SLUR, 60a [Lick, maybe] SEAL, 51a [Get] PROCURE. Clues such as these three are representative of the trickiness throughout the crossword that I mentioned in the introduction.
  • 31d [Contest with hogs] MOTOCROSS. Not sure about this one. Aren’t ‘hogs’ exclusively Harley-Davidson BIKEs (7d)? And they don’t manufacture motocross motorcycles.
  • 53d [“It was me”] I DID.

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

Newsday 07/17/2021

As a general rule, as I have less issues with Stan’s puzzles. This week, that does not seem to be the case. This is also where I am going to say it’s been an exhausting week and work has been a little stressful … no, that won’t fly here. This is just a good, tricky puzzle! Impressive 14 stacks don’t help either, and the clues are vague enough to where you need lots of crossings to get them. Especially for 14-Across! (See below!) I had fun, and that’s all that matters! 4.6 stars from me.

A few comments:

  • 14A [Indy, more formally] DR. HENRY JONES, JR – I couldn’t remember what Indiana Jones’ real name was at first, but this is a great clue and entry!
  • 27A [Onetime anchor job for Seacrest] E-NEWS – This is going WAY back! He has come a long way since then. Now I know him primarily as Dick Clark’s sub on New Year’s Eve! Fun fact: he is now 46 years old. I thought he was older than me, but I guess not. (I am getting old … !)
  • 42A [“Annum” fraction] DIEM – Annum is year in Latin, diem is day. Know your Latin!
  • 68A [Good reason] SANITY – Sometimes I question my own … !
  • 2D [Fudgelike food] PRALINE – I have had these shipped to my house straight from Louisiana, and they are delicious!
  • 12D [What gets an ace into space] EJECTOR – This is the best clue in the puzzle. Great word picture in your mind, if nothing else!
  • 15D [Francis is the first pope to be one] JESUIT – I am not sure what the difference is (from standard Catholic), but I have heard this fact once or twice.
  • 34D [Teen troublemaker since 1876] FINN – Very clever clue here. I was totally fooled!
  • 41D [Word from a Brazilian language for “tooth fish”] PIRANHA – I made this harder than it actually is. This should have been a gimme. Now you see why this puzzle took me so long!
  • 48D [Savings banks, to Wall Streeters] THRIFTS – I don’t know this term. Interesting …

Everyone have a safe and healthy week! (And thanks to pannonica for writing up today’s LAT for me!)

Katie Hale & Christina Iverson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Name of the Game” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/17/21 • “The Name of the Game” • Hale, Iverson • Sat • solution • 20210717

Some speculative career determinism—all in fun, of course. The first word of each game’s name relates to a profession.

  • 25a. [Stunt performer’s favorite childhood game?] DOUBLE DUTCH.
  • 33a. [Political strategist’s favorite childhood game?] SPIN THE BOTTLE.
  • 53a. [Window installer’s favorite childhood game] BLIND MAN’S BLUFF. Blinds aren’t really the province of a window installer, that’s more of a decorator’s thing. But to my knowledge there aren’t window designer specialists as a distinct profession. Those who set up the displays for store windows, that’s something else entirely, and would typically not involve blinds. Bottom line: this clue/entry is an unsatisfactory compromise.
  • 65a. [Social media influencer’s favorite childhood game?] FOLLOW THE LEADER. Influencers are interested in garnering follow(er)s, not so much in following per se. Unless this entry is meant to be taken as a whole phrase, which would make it distinct from the other themers; it is after all in the central spot, unpaired, so perhaps that’s a partial rationale?
  • 84a. [Photographer’s favorite childhood game?] CAPTURE THE FLAG.
  • 102a. [Broadway star’s favorite childhood game?] MUSICAL CHAIRS.
  • 112a. [Tanner’s favorite childhood game?] HIDE AND SEEK.

It’s a cute theme idea, but to my thinking the execution is mildly problematic.

  • 6d [Awkward situation] HOW-DE-DO, but I tried HOWDY-DO first.
  • 12d [The planets, e.g.] ORBS, but 36a [Planet’s shape in a book series by Terry Pratchett] DISC.
  • 43d [Deduce] INFER. Grates on me when I hear someone say INFER when they mean insinuate.
  • 51d [“You nailed it!”] PERFECTO, 83a [“Ain’t happening!”] NO DICE.
  • I liked the four longest down entries: ONE-TIME USE, ACTS CASUAL, ROPE LADDER, and TIN FOIL HAT, but preferred the latter two as being more unusual appearances in a crossword.
  • Ok fine, I’ll make some pairings. Usually I prefer to have threesomes or more, but since there are so many pairs in this puzzle, I’ll STIR some of them IN (30d) here. 64d [Mexican mister] SEÑOR, 69d [Spanish gentleman] DON. 67d [Accompanying] WITH, 19a [Unaccompanied] LONE. 76d [Fruit from a palm] AÇAÍ, 60a [Fruit from a palm] DATE.
  • 80a [Early computer for hobbyists] ALTAIR. Wow, that 8800 looks pretty retro-spiffy with that clear casing (I don’t believe that was standard issue). I’m sure its computing power is a microfraction of a typical current smartphone. That’s an 8-inch floppy drive, by the way.
  • 59a [Visual precursors to migraine headaches] AURAE. The neurologist Oliver Sacks, among others, speculated that abbess Hildegard von Bingen’s visions were caused by migraines.
  • 106d [Classical element] FIRE.
  • 123a [Extended operatic solo] SCENA. Didn’t really know this, but it was inferable after a few crossings.
  • 56a [Be revolting] RISE UP. I’ve been trying to remember a blues song from the 1950s that mentioned poor people rising up, but have been stymied. Could’ve sworn it was JB Lenoir. Instead, how about this simmering anthem from the late 1980s?

Richard D. Allen’s Universal crossword, “Initial Direction”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Two word phrases where the first word starts with U and the second with P.

Universal crossword solution · “Initial Direction” · Richard D. Allen​ · Sat, 7.17.21


  • USB PORT. 
  • (revealer) UPSTART.

Fun looking grid. Caught my eye instantly. It does make it somewhat tricky for the themers to pop out (they very well could be the spots occupied by UNAMUSED, LIPREADING, etc.) The 7/13-Letter themer stacks were a surprise for me.

I don’t quite get the theme with respect to the revealer. None of the phrases begins with UP at all. I thought, after glancing the title and the first themer I uncovered (UNDER PRESSURE), that it would be UNDER/OVER preposition related. I guess if you read it as U.P. START, then it works better, but the clue doesn’t direct us to parse it as such. So not really a big fan of this theme.

Nice longer fill on this one- almost had a themeless feel to it (which I had fingers crossed would happen again today).

When’s the last time you used your CD Changer? I’m guessing you’ve probably used CD-ROM more recently.

2 star theme in a 4 star grid. 3 stars.


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33 Responses to Saturday, July 17, 2021

  1. Harry says:

    NYT: I’ve worked full-time with data for over 50 years and have never heard anyone say they would “slice and dice” the data.

    • Bernie Haas says:“slice and dice” “data science”

    • Christopher Smith says:

      It’s a phrase used by people who work with data scientists. Seems like if derives from “data cut” (which is another phrase I’m not sure if actual data scientists use).

    • huda says:

      To me, it can mean reducing dimensionality and focusing down on some aspect of the data. But it can imply that one is straining to extract something meaningful out of a body of data that doesn’t seem to be yielding much at first glance.

    • Gary R says:

      I used to have a side gig doing customer perception surveys for local companies. Part of the planning process was always a discussion with the client about how we would slice and dice the data (break it down – usually using responses to demographic questions) to generate useful insights for the client.

  2. Ch says:

    Even for a Saturday, oof was this hard.

  3. FKD says:

    NYT: That’s what a Saturday should be. Nothing really arcane, just stuff to make you think out of the Box. Never heard of a couple of the answers, but if you don’t pick up some new trivia during the solve what’s the point of doing the puzzle?

  4. Me says:

    NYT: I’m wondering what people think of having the answer of “the STONES,” meaning the Rolling Stones, without any kind of signal in the clue that this is an informal or abbreviated form of the band’s name. Is this okay only because it’s Saturday, okay pretty much any day of the week, or generally not okay? I have mixed feelings about it.

    • pannonica says:

      I feel it should have had some sort of indicator, even on a Saturday.

    • Twangster says:

      I may be biased as a big fan, but it seems pretty in the language to me. It’s more common to refer to the band as the Stones than the Rolling Stones. “Are the Stones going to tour this year?”, “What’s your favorite Stones album?”, etc.

  5. e.a. says:

    Cowger in the LAT! talk about 4-down

  6. Bryan says:

    NYT: One of the toughest Saturday puzzles in a while. But I loved it. Easily a 5-star grid in my book, with 10d (HIATAL) being the only somewhat ugly bit. I knew it would be a long solve when I got through all the clues and was still staring at a mostly empty grid. So I’m not ashamed to say I turned on autocheck (I solve in the NYT crossword app) and kept myself from going insane.

    That’s my advice to anyone stumbling upon this puzzle who’s fairly new to solving Saturday grids (or any day’s grids, for that matter): Turn on autocheck. You’re not a lesser solver because you need it. It’s a function in the app for a reason. Use it! It’s *your* puzzle, and don’t let any purist tell you that you’re only allowed to solve the print puzzle in ink to be a “real” solver. As you get more experienced, you will find that you need the autocheck less and less. But again, it’s in the app for a reason. And for a grid like today’s, thank goodness for that!

  7. marciem says:

    NYT: 1a: I had trouble getting past TOW (via LOW) to BOW for spatutas to spatulas onward also (once at spatulas could not see two words) & was also looking for a natural place of whirlpools/eddys.

    Until I read here had no idea how EAR worked with LENT :D… thanks, Amy!
    18a: Bog turtle was new to me, fortunately running the alphabet showed it up quickly once Log and Dog didn’t work.

    I do think that the Stones clue should have given some indication this was an abbreviated or casual form of their name, even on a Saturday. Lots of bands are “the…” so that was no real hint at all to me.

  8. MattF says:

    NYT quite tough. That intersection of BOW and SPATUBS was my last fill. But I got it, so I’m happy.

  9. Billy Boy says:

    so, is SPA TUBS like green paint? WhoTF says that?

    NYT tough today because of tangential, arguably incomplete cluing. Most of the fill was relatively to rather good.

    I liked the clue for Laila Ali – I know some have problems remembering the correct spelling for the lay-luhz, this ends that forever in my book. Plus it went in without hesitation at one-third the speed of an elite time solver!

    BOGturtle, BLANKETTOSS?, GOSH, NO! OWOW (Oh wait, that was the other day ….)

    What I found entertaining today Rex the king had trouble with exactly what was easy for me, happens all the time depends on what you now, what you’ve knee-jerked, CWP are like that – yeah, they ARE!

  10. pseudonym says:

    Too much trivia in the NYT, where most of its difficulty came from.

  11. marciem says:

    WSJ: Not understanding 4d: House relative = techno. Is this a musical mix thing?

    • pannonica says:

      Yes. House and techno are both types of electronic dance music (EDM).

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Yup. You’ve got it, marciem. That was one of several annoying snags for me in this one. IMHO, it definitely wasn’t as fun a challenge as both the LAT and NYT puzzles today. I haven’t yet figured out what differentiates annoying snags from fun challenges for me.

    • Trey says:

      I really look forward to the WSJ Friday puzzle but found today’s very frustrating. House Music was way beyond my reach. Most of the other obtuse clues were solvable. Still greatly enjoy doing remotely with my son Tim I’m Cleveland.

  12. Brenda Rose says:

    Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen spelling) Finally a Saturday NYT & Stumper for people who have to suffer through the MTWT dumb downs. Mollie Cowger did a terrific job in LAT despite nitpicking pots & spots.
    BTW The Stones made international news playing Cuba. This was a gimme even for people who aren’t their fans.

  13. RichardZ says:

    Can someone explain the answer (BRRR) to 57A (“Early-year beef”) in the Saturday Stumper? I can’t seem to make sense of it. Thanks …

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Your beef (complaint) early in the year, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere in a place where January is cold. Didn’t care for the clue, because nobody says “early-year.”

      • RichardZ says:

        Okay – thanks! Agreed it’s an awkward clue, but at least it’s no longer totally mystifying. I’ll use the excuse that I live in Los Angeles, where January (or any month, for that matter) isn’t particularly cold.

  14. Michael says:

    NYT 32D: DACA in the clue (first “A” standing for “Action”) and ACT in the answer?

  15. Tina says:

    Can someone explain the answer to the wapo puzzle, awkward situation, howdedo? I can’t even google this one.

  16. John Malcolm says:

    Newsday fought our household to a dead stop!

Comments are closed.