Saturday, August 21, 2021

LAT 6:50 (Derek) 


Newsday 14:28 (Derek) 


NYT 4:46 (Amy) 


Universal 3:23 (Jim Q) 


USA Today tk (Nina) 


WSJ tk (pannonica) 


Joseph Greenbaum’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 21 21, no. 0821

Fun puzzle, though a bit easier than I expect for a Saturday NYT. Lots of fresh fill: the BURPEES that CrossFit aficionados like Stella Zawistowski can do, O’REILLY Auto where my friend Laura works, WINGMEN (gendered but I think women can be good wingmen too), LOST ART, ELEVATOR PITCH, FULL OF SURPRISES, the successful entity called THE WAR ON DRUGS (it didn’t combat drug use but it sure as hell promoted mass incarceration of Black and brown people, which is basically what Nixon was going for), THE ROCK, RENEWABLE ENERGY, PIGLET (but no Milne clue, alas!), TURDUCKEN (any food that starts with turd seems like a bad idea), and “THAT HITS THE SPOT.” This puzzle did hit the spot pretty well.

Less keen on EWER, SSRS, B-TEN, URI, and a bunch of the other 3- to 4-letter fill.

Three more things:

  • 5d. [“Patchwork elephant” of children’s literature], ELMER. Who? This is presumably either before or after my time.
  • 50a. [Synthetic material also called frozen smoke], AEROGEL. Frozen smoke? I’m drawing a blank on what this could be.
  • 13d. [Give waves to with a curling iron, once], MARCEL. I learned about marcelling from Toni Morrison’s Jazz, which is set in the 1920s. I think this might actually be the only Morrison novel I’ve read? Maybe next year I will have it in me to read a book. I haven’t been so inclined this entire pandemic. Anyway, I just did a Google image search for marcelled waves, expecting to see lots of old photos of Black women, and was surprised to see a bunch of 1920s white women instead. Who knew?

Four stars from me, even with the clunky short fill. The overall vibe with the longer fill and cluing worked for me.

Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Looking Sharp”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Things that have a point are at the start of common phrases.

Universal crossword solution · “Looking Sharp” · Catherine Cetta · Sat, 8.21.21


  • (revealer) YOU’VE GOT A POINT. 

I feel like Universal has been doing a helluva job with clean grids and accessible themes while still keeping the puzzle enjoyable for solvers at all levels. I’ve been doing a lot of side-by-side solving with newer solvers in the last week, and they consistently enjoy the Universal over many others. This one is no exception. Very light on crosswordese and clean as a whistle.

My only nit is that PIN, as clued, does not refer to anything pointy. It refers to a number. The first word in the other themers by comparison are still referring to that which makes them pointy.

Overall, 3.8 stars.

C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 08/21/2021

It has been a while since I have done a C.C. Burnikel puzzle, so it was quite a delight to see the byline in this Saturday’s puzzle! This was a bit of a challenge as I learned a new term or two, but this grid is full of lively entries that her puzzles are always good for. A total pleasure to solve! 4.7 stars from me. (Keeping it short since Lollapuzzoola is coming up quickly!)

A few notes:

  • 1A [Stamford-based humanitarian relief group] AMERICARES – I am not familiar with this group. That made things tough …
  • 33A [Single-serving coffee units] K-CUP PODS – Look at all of those consonants! We have all used a Keurig at some point; at the very least at a doctor’s office waiting room! Great entry.
  • 45A [Cooking student of Martha] INA – This must be referencing Ina Garten. Vague clue that only makes sense once you get a crossing letter or two.
  • 54A [Rooney __, co-star of the 2015 film “Carol”] MARA – I know a few of her works, but not this one.
  • 60A [“It was fun!”] “WHAT A BLAST!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 63A [Be totally stumped] HAVE NO IDEA – I know this feeling on the tougher Saturday puzzles! (Although I got today’s NYT done in 5:29!)
  • 13D [Took in, say] ALTERED – This clue is used quite a bit, and I fall for it every time!
  • 39D [Buttercup cousin] ANEMONE – These are both flowers, right?
  • 43D [It precedes some puck drops] “O CANADA” – There are 6 or 8 Canadian NHL teams, so it’s played quite a bit at NHL games.
  • 57D [Many a TikTok teen] E-BOY – This is the other new word to me. I am NOT on TikTok, and I don’t see that changing any time soon!

I will stop there! See many of you later this afternoon!

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

Newsday 08/21/2021

Got through most of this rather quickly, but the NE corner did me in on this one. I think I had the other 3/4 of this done in about 8 or 9 minutes, but I was lost on a couple of these clues. I do have two minor errors in the grid. I had NOT SO BAD at 10-Down instead of NOT SO HOT. And 31A [Cord cutters] totally messed me up. I had SAVERS in there, but they are referencing actual cords of wood with the answer SAWERS! Nicely done, Stan! As mentioned in my LAT write-up, I will keep this short because Lollapuzzoola is coming up quickly! See you all there later! 4.6 stars for this puzzle.

A few more observations!

  • 16A [Persuasive salesperson] HUCKSTER – I laughed out loud when I got this, because my father-in-law calls my youngest son this all the time! He can be quite insistent with certain people.
  • 28A [”Go ahead, it’s an __!” (beer slogan)] O’DOULS – What is the point? Just drink a regular beer!
  • 33A [”Puh-leeze!”] “LEAVE ME ALONE!” – Great casual phrase, and also a great tie-in clue with 32-Across!
  • 36A [Redundant-sounding, rather new refreshment] WATERMELON WATER – Never heard of it. It sounds like regular water!
  • 39A [Suite requiring a key] CRYPTO-SYSTEM – This is a computer term, I assume?
  • 42A [Circular seals] O-RINGS – Another great clue.
  • 1D [Unequivocal renouncement] “HECK NO!” – This is an entry I don’t think I have ever seen! Very nice!
  • 6D [”Believe it or not . . .”] “STRANGELY ENOUGH …” – Another great casual phrase!
  • 11D [Ellington partner on a ’63 album] COLTRANE – When you figure out this is an eight letter entry, then your choices diminish. Great clue.
  • 36D [First to publish blues music (1910s)] W.C. HANDY – I don’t know why I had ragtime on my mind instead of blues. Another informative clue.
  • 57D [Exclamation not heard (alas) in ”Hamilton”] BRR – Very nice pun!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

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35 Responses to Saturday, August 21, 2021

  1. pseudonym says:

    Nice anniversary puzzle.

  2. stephen manion says:

    Elmer the Elephant was a multi-colored elephant in a grey tribe. In a series of children’s books, He was revered rather than rejected for his uniqueness.

  3. Anne says:

    NYT: On Thursday I was totally bewildered by THE ROCK as the world’s highest paid actor in 2021. Wikipedia shone no light on who this actually is. Then today, he/she/they is there again, as an actor in a franchise that I’m unaware of. Wikipedia still does not enlighten me as to who this person is. I’m curious, who is this?

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Love the clue for SYNAPSES…
    I aced this puzzle… Grateful for my synapses being in decent working order… made my day (so far :)

    • huda says:

      When custom license plates first became a thing, we had SYNAPSE on our VW bus in California… Can’t tell you how many conversations that started.

    • steve says:

      the saturday NYT and stumper keep me informed, at my rather advanced age, as to whether or not the mental decline is accelerating

      so far so good, thanks in part, i believe, to my crossword endeav0rs

      as they say: use it or lose it!!

  5. jack says:

    I find it very hard to believe Dwayne Johnson is the worlds highest paid actor.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Econ 101 Lesson

      Huge X Any = very huge

      My ex-partner’s family made all those Star Wars action figures from day one

      Lots of whatever currency in whichever you count

    • Eric S says:

      Somebody in the NYT Wordplay comments linked an article that said Daniel Craig was actually the highest-paid actor in 2021, but that The Rock was second on the list.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Dwayne Johnson was #1 in 2020. Apparently Daniel Craig picked up $100 million from Netflix to take over #1 for 2021. The Rock’s movies have grossed over $12 billion worldwide, so why should it be hard to believe he’s been the top-paid? He’s charismatic and funny, he looks good, he works hard.

        • Stephen Manion says:

          Totally agree about the Rock and I am not a particular fan of the Fast and Furious series and some of his other movies. He has one of the highest Q ratings and is totally appealing. I think that Daniel Craig got so much money because Netflix is buying the Knives Out franchise. Knives Out and Parasite were the two most enjoyable movies I have seen in the past few years And Netflix knows it is buying a can’t miss franchise if it delivers anything as enjoyable as the first Knives Out

  6. Martin says:


    Since the beginning of August, these have been titled “Saturday Stumper” again, not “Themeless Saturday.” I’m not sure I see an obvious difference in difficulty (which was the theoretical reason for the name change). We do seem to have fewer clues in the “so oblique as to be unfair” category than previously but I’m not sure.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      They might be reprints from years past, retaining the Stumper titles of yore.

      I feel like the “too oblique” clues weren’t so present in Stumpers from 5+ years ago, that it’s just the last few years that the puzzles irked me more than entertaining me.

  7. Kelly says:

    Click on this to hear Billie Holiday singing the answer to one of the clues of the NYT puzzle:

  8. marciem says:

    Newsday: (Again, labeled Saturday Stumper). I thought there might be a mini-theme or ladder gram of some sort going with 5d crossing 25a crossing 26a (due to, open to, on to).

    Still a satisfying level of difficulty for me :) .

    Amy… thanks for the lead on the scraper, it works great on other puzzles (including The New Yorker which I was about to let lapse) and I think I’ll re-up on my NYT games subscription now :) .

    • steve says:

      i don’t get it, NYT still opens in acrosslite right here on this site???

      • marciem says:

        I didn’t know that, but someone a few days ago said that NYT’s were submitted in weekly packets, so maybe there were several weekly packets in the queue before they shut down the .puz files?

        That’s just a guess.

        Not everybody at NYT knows what anybody else is doing. When I cancelled, I was told that my cancellation was effective on my renewal date in December. Two days later, *Poof* no account. I went to help, and the chat person said no, Game subscriptions cancel immediately. I go to the site, and it says that when you cancel a Game subscription, it will end on your renewal date. So there ya go. I did get a refund of several months prorate, so I can’t complain too loudly. Just seems like ummm… “Right hand, meet left!” :)

  9. KarenS says:

    Newsday: 35D — I cannot figure out the answer LAMIT for “blow.” Any help? Thank you.

  10. Keith S says:

    No WSJ puzzle answer posted here?

  11. Thomas Gavin says:

    @derekwriteups Pin definitley refers to something pointy you dumbass. Stop being a nitpicking little bitch. youre wrong anyway 45. across, dumbass — answer @derekwriteups

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      How not to rebut a crossword blogger:

      1) Holler at an uninvolved person. The pointy PIN NUMBER was in a puzzle Jim Q reviewed, not Derek.

      2) Call names, as if you’re an unimaginative 12-year-old.

      3) Include some inherent misogyny (calling a man a “little bitch”).

      4) Misspell a word, and fail to use punctuation at least half the places it’s indicated.

      5) Utterly fail to grasp the blogger’s point, which is that a personal identification number is NOT pointy, whereas an arrow and a pencil both are. The PIN in PIN number doesn’t refer to a pointy little metal thing.

      @Thomas Gavin, get off my blog until you’ve learned how to behave.

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