Saturday, July 24, 2021

LAT 5:35 (Derek) 


Newsday 10:40 (Derek) 


NYT 6:04 (Amy) 


Universal 4:17 (Jim Q) 


USA Today 5:15 (Nina) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Adam Aaronson & Ricky Cruz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

(Lemme get the blog up now. Haven’t done the puzzle yet, was watching the Olympics opening ceremonies.)

NY Times crossword solution, 7 24 21, no. 0724

Okay, here we go. This 70-worder is maybe on the tough side but/and full of fun stuff. Fave fill: WHITE CLAW, HOME PHONE, NBA PLAYER (because it’s not NBAER!), BIG TOE (because this was my first answer in the grid, [Hallux, less formally]—know your anatomy/medical terminology!), TIME SINKS, OVER/UNDER, MARIO KART, FEMINIST, TESSERACTS, GLITTER, THE ESPYS, and COINKY-DINK.

Five more things:

  • 55a. [Sellers of product lines like Joxtorp and Knorrig], IKEAS. My son just gave me the Skurup lamp for my jigsaw puzzling location.
  • 1d. [Fancy cars, in modern slang], WHIPS. How fancy are we talking? Can a Toyota with all the bells and whistles be a whip, or would I need a Lambo?
  • 2d. [Auto pioneer Soichiro], HONDA. Did not know the first name at all, so I plunked in MAZDA based on the -DA. Cost myself some time and momentum.
  • 11d. [Stuff that’s hard to get off your chest?], TATTOO INK / 31d. [Garment that might not be worn around the house], BRASSIERE. I was thinking that chest tattoos are a dude thing and not liking the “your” in that clue, but women do have some lovely chest tats. As for the bra, comedian Kev on Stage knows where it’s at.
  • 44d. [Supermodel Holliday], TESS. Not a name I knew. Here’s her Instagram. She’s a plus-size model, I see, and I appreciate that the clue didn’t append a reference to her size. And hey! She’s got a chest tattoo of some terrifyingly good-sized scorpions.

Four stars from me.

Jake Houston’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 07/24/2021

Yet another byline I am not familiar with today. This is becoming a trend! Nice puzzle, though. Not too difficult, and a nice 11-letter stack in the center. A few timely entries, as you will see below. I don’t believe I have solved a Jake Houston puzzle before, but I like what I see. Keep ’em coming! 4.5 stars from me.

A few highlights:

  • 20A [Former capital of Myanmar] RANGOON – I think it is technically Yangon now. And I think most Burmese don’t care for the new spellings. I’ve been reading Futureface by Alex Wagner, who has Burmese heritage. Interesting read.
  • 31A [Hubbard movement] SCIENTOLOGY – There is a great documentary on HBO about this group. But as the last few years have shown, people will literally believe ANYTHING.
  • 36A [Illustrations on some old maps] SEA MONSTERS – I had SEA SERPENTS in here at first. All are scary!
  • 43A [Emergency building section] FIRE AREA – This seems forced; isn’t the area you want to be in OUTSIDE of the building? Or is that what this is talking about?
  • 49A [Multitalented Jessel of vaudeville] GEORGIE – Not many famous people with this name. This seems like it would be tough to clue.
  • 7D [Title woman in an André Breton novel] NADJA – Never heard of it. This book is nearly 100 years old. I should read more …
  • 36D [Got hitched] SAID I DO – I have seen this or SAYS I DO or SAY I DO quite a few times recently in puzzles. I am checking my word list!
  • 37D [Xanax maker] PFIZER – One of those “timely” entries! Certainly in the news as one of the vaccine makers.
  • 46D [Rapper __ Def] MOS – I think he is better known as actor these days!

That’s all for now. Boswords is tomorrow! Might see some of you there (in the chat, of course!)

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 07/24/2021

This one gave me fits when I first started, but once the toehold was gained, it then fell fairly easily. I don’t remember much agony at the end, but it did take a while to find some traction. I have done a few Matthew Sewell puzzles at this point, so I think I am getting used to his style. And yes, this one is easier than an old-time Stumper for sure. But I’ll take it! 4.6 stars today.

A few notes:

  • 1A [Hard to read at the table] POKER-FACED – I actually filled this in right off the bat! That is rare in a Newsday Saturday. I breezed through this corner, then hit the wall shortly thereafter.
  • 16A [Winter Olympics venue before the Helsinki Summer Games (1952)] OSLO – This entry is in the LAT puzzle today as well. Can a city be crossword-famous? Absolutely!
  • 26A [”Título después del matrimonio”: Abbr.] SRA. – Know your Spanish!
  • 49A [Rickshaw family member] PEDICAB – Both of these are wheeled carts pulled by people. Sounds uncomfortable!
  • 65A [Court arbiter] NBA REFEREE – I just heard someone talk about how a judge just “calls balls and strikes,” but when you say that, those are all technically judgement calls. It is similar with a basketball ref with charging or flagrant fouls. Yes, there are rules governing how to call it, but in the end it is a gut call. Something to think about …
  • 3D [Course with what Martha Stewart calls a ”powerhouse vegetable”] KALESALAD – Sounds healthy. And not yummy!
  • 11D [Content provider?] GOOD MOOD – Best clue in the puzzle!
  • 31D [Paleoanthropological paradise] AFRICA – One of these days I am going there!
  • 35D [It’s carried out] TO-GO ORDER – I have had tons of these types of orders during the last year and a half.
  • 62D [Time for many an MGM premiere] FRI. – I wondered what this was talking about! I haven’t been to a movie theater in FOREVER!!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Jesse Maddox’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Summer Fauxlympics” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 7/24/21 • “The Summer Fauxlympcis” • Maddox • Sat • solution • 20210724

What is the Fauxlympics, you may ask? 86-across is here to helpfully explain that that’s a PUN. For the puzzle’s theme, various events are referenced via unrelated common phrases.

  • 23a. [Fauxlympics event for couch potatoes?] CHANNEL SURFING. SURFING is a new event in the current Olympics, just started in Japan.
  • 39a. [Fauxlympics event for Klingons?] ALIEN RACE. Just a … RACE? That’s hardly specific enough.
  • 52a. [Fauxlympics event for Federation captians?] TRACTOR BEAM. More Star Trek? The {balance} BEAM is an event in women’s gymnastics.
  • 74a. [Fauxlympics event for chefs?] FRUIT MEDLEY. I believe MEDLEYs are unique to swimming events, at least as far as the Olympics are concerned.
  • 91a. [Fauxlympics event for tellers?] BANK VAULT. The VAULT is featured in both men’s and women’s gymnastics.
  • 107a. [Fauxlympics event for freegans?] DUMPSTER DIVING.
  • 16a. [Fauxlympics event for defendants?] LEGAL HURDLES. In track and field.
  • 58a. [Fauxlympics event for brides and grooms?] WEDDING RINGS. That’s in men’s gymnastics.

I don’t know what to say. This is a ramshackle affair, much as the 2020 (2021) Tokyo Games are turning out to be. Some of the “events” are whole categories, some are very specific, one is incredibly generalized. Then there’s a pair of clues forming their own mini-theme, there seem to theme-adjacent entries littering the grid randomly—which serves only to further distract rather than enhance—and I’m also annoyed that I had to think of, let alone type, Fauxlympics so many times.

Theme-adjacent stuff: 62a [Zigzagging winter event] SLALOM; 79a [Track division] LANE; 89a [Event that’s longer than a marathon, familiarly] ULTRA; 36d [Sprinted] SPED; 40d [Track event] RELAY. Beyond these, there are some others which could conceivably be related to the theme: 10a [Berlin-to-Athens dir.] SSE, 116a [Tokyo honorific] SAN, 31d [Winning margin, perhaps] NOSE, et al.

  • 51d [Roy Rogers part] COLA. Very tricky. It’s the mocktail for children, which is akin to a Shirley Temple. This entry crossed another toughie: 51a [Ready for the cobbler] CORED—we’re talking apples here, not shoes.
  • 63d [Meal starter?] OAT-; 32a [Back for buck] -AROO.
  • 74d [Don’t even get a D] FLUNK. >oof<
  • 20a [Break a game rule?] POACH. While I appreciate the cleverness of the clue, I’d honestly like to see the idea of hunting animals as a ‘game’ for sport or amusement pass from general usage.
  • 21a [Its secy. is 13th in the presidential line of succession] HUD. This, to me, is uninteresting trivia.
  • 34a [Badgers, say] HASSLES.

    (d. 26 Jun 2021)
  • 15d [Passing notes?] OBITS.
  • 61a [Cacophonous] NOISY. These pandemic-era Olympics are far from that; I’ve heard that the opening ceremonies were 113a EERIE in their relative silence.
  • 73a [Beaver creation] DAM. “How the Eager Beaver Helps Protect the Planet
  • I don’t mean to 117a [Discourage] DETER someone who’s apparently a fledgling constructor, but this crossword in my estimation didn’t quite make it to the podium.
  • Final entry: 118a [Left] WENT.

Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “Full Names”— Jim Q’s write-up

Make sure you don’t call today’s constructor “Jeff” after this puzzle.

Universal crossword solution · “Full Names” · Jeffrey Wechsler​ · Sat, 7.24.21

THEME: Common phrases with “nicknames” are replaced with their formal names.

  • MODERN ARTHUR. Modern Art. 
  • CHARLES STEAK. Chuck Steak.
  • TERENCE CLOTH. Terrycloth. 
  • OXFORD DONALD. Oxford Don. 

I liked this! It had a layer of trickiness in it as the nicknames weren’t clued at all, so it led to a nice little AHA. Seems like there’s likely a lot of names you can do this with. Heck, my own is easy enough (anyone care for a SLIM JAMES?), so I’m a bit surprised that the spelling of TERENCE made the cut (I’m only familiar with TERRENCE).

Anyone else plunk in CALL ME instead of TEXT ME? The latter is definitely much more apropos now.

Thanks for this one.

3.5 stars

Brooke Husic’s USA Today puzzle, “On End” –– Nina’s Writeup

USA Today puzzle, 07/24/2021

Very solid gridwork today from Brooke Husic, with the type of smooth answers I’ve come to expect from the USA Today puzzle. Some really nice bonuses with SLOW BURN and TALK SHOW.

The theme today, as cemented by its title “On End,” consists of three spanners: DREW A CONCLUSI(ON), JOINT RESOLUTI(ON), and END OF DISCUSSI(ON). All of these quite literally end with “on.”  In order to narrow down the considerably large entry pool this theme generates, all of the answers ending in “on” are themselves a type of ending. I don’t love that “end” is both in the title and in 50a, and I wish that DISCUSSION was more solid in terms of its ending association (as compared to the stronger CONCLUSION and RESOLUTION), but it’s possible that there weren’t many other options for that slot.

Onto the fill!

1a. [Automated video game opponents] –– NPCS? MOBS? No, BOTS. Who knew there were so many three letter words for a digital foe? Great opening entry.

15a. [Bell-bottom jeans feature] –– Gone are the days of skinny jeans: pants with a FLARE are rapidly coming back into style, as evidenced by my shopping sprees as of late and the party I recently attended with the theme: “Future Nostalgia / Camp / Maximalist Disco Chic.”

22a. [Bassist DeTiger] –– BLU frequently pops up on my TikTok for you page, and I’ve been listening to her music for a while. She also went to my high school! Super fun to see her name in the puzzle today.

59a. [___ bag (rhyming collection of goodies)] –– My loose interpretation of “rhyming” led me to believe this was GRAB bag, but SWAG bag makes much more sense.

6d. [Name for a black-and-white cat] –– This was a pleasant, refreshing clue for the ubiquitous OREO.

Really clean puzzle, and a nice start to my Saturday.

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20 Responses to Saturday, July 24, 2021

  1. PJ says:

    LAT Day Check – Today is Saturday.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: I did a cursory search on that WHIPS thing. It seems that it originally referred specifically to Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Rationale is that the logo resembles a steering wheel, and apparently in the early days of motorcars the name of the device used to steer the vehicle was carried over from the horse-and-buggy days—the whip! So this relatively newfangled slang is actually really crusty.

  3. Mr. Grumpy says:

    FIRE AREA in the LAT was a new one for me too. In our [old historic] building [retrofitted after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake], it’s called a safe area. At least one space on each of the six floors, it has walls with a six-hour [I think] fire resistance, forced air supply, and a connection to the emergency communication system, and is a haven where people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility can wait to be rescued. FIRE AREA worked, but it wasn’t intuitively obvious.

  4. pannonica says:

    Newsday: 17a [Hitting the nail on the head] WELL-STATED precluded me from filling in 21d [Crush something] NAIL IT for a long while.

    • e.a. says:

      hypothetically, how many times would something like this have to happen before you decided it wasn’t useful for you as a solver to assume no words could be duplicated? do we know explicitly from any of the editors that it’s a rule they adhere to?

      • pannonica says:

        Good question. If it occurred consistently (and acutely) in a particular venue, then I’d be obligated to try to remember that that particular editor has no qualms about such duplications. But I would obviously still be reluctant to apply it more universally, so I’d be in an addled limbo, attempting to keep straight which editors are lax on the issue.

        As for where the so-called tipping point would be for me to abandon consideration of salient word duplications as a general solving strategy, there’s the rub. Still too hypothetical. But resistance is high; it’d take quite a lot.

        • Pilgrim says:

          The July 10 Newsday Themeless Saturday had ACEJACK for “Blackjack winner.” I am kind of thinking this is not a “rule” the Themeless Saturday follows.

        • Sam Trabucco says:

          Which outlets *do* follow this rule? I think I have seen it broken is at least almost all venues, the prevalence of the idea that it’s a common “rule” has actually always confused me.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            At Crosswords With Friends, we do try to avoid clue/entry overlaps that might be noticeable. IN in an entry, probably fine in other clues, though if it’s an adjacent/crossing entry’s clue, I might change it. “Basketball” in a clue when NFL (football) is in the grid, fine; when BALL is in the grid, we’ll do our best to change something. Watching out for “use(d)” in clues when USE is in the grid is one of my work hobbies.

  5. marciem says:

    NYT: 29d (coinkydink) next to 11d (tattooink)… the oink in 29d (a gimme) prevented me from separating the oink in 11d into two word parts for quite a while :)

  6. JohnH says:

    In case anyone who’d be interested might otherwise miss it, along with its two weekend puzzles the WSJ has posted a primer on contest puzzles, in four parts plus a brief introduction by Matt Gaffney. Each part consists of a puzzle and a proposed thought process for coming to an answer. Should you not want to bother working the puzzle (or fear you’ve solved it once before), you can skip right ahead to an image of the fill.

    Not that I’m likely now to come up with answers on more than the rarest of occasions, but I’m sure you’ll do better!

  7. MattF says:

    HALLUX is a fine word. And lots of other good stuff. A crunchy puzzle.

  8. Bryan says:

    NYT: Loved this one! Thankfully I had assistance from my wife (who has a medical degree) on HALLUX and from my teenage car-enthusiast sons on WHIPS and HONDA. I had fun figuring out the rest (deduced the Curry/NBA wordplay right away, which also helped). And got one of my fastest Saturday solve times. I’m not a speed solver, but I’m always impressed with myself when I can finish a Saturday puzzle in around the same time I do a Wednesday one.

  9. Jesse M says:

    Author of WSJ puzzle here. The theme wasn’t perfect in that some “events” were categories/specific/generalized, but frankly a good puzzle with all of those in harmony wasn’t possible. So you either get a kind of fun and semi-loose theme that is topical, or you don’t.

    I’m just a “fledgling” constructor. I hope people enjoyed it. I knew about the imperfectness of the theme but accepted it because there weren’t alternatives other than throwing out the theme. Something is better than nothing.


  10. Empower13 says:

    Loved the WSJ puzzle; much improved over the declination I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks/months. Especially liked the “Break a game rule?” clue. Getting it led to many other solutions.
    Keep it up.

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