Saturday, October 30, 2021

LAT 6:14 (Derek) 


Newsday 13:14 (Derek) 


NYT 5:05 (Amy) 


Universal 5:00 (Jim Q) 


USA Today 2:36 (Matthew) 


WSJ undead (pannonica) 


Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 10 30 21, no. 1030

Straight to the rundown—

Fave fill: VOCAB, SEAT-FILLER, HEARTED (as in a Twitter or FB “react”), LUMPFISH (I don’t know this fish but its name is as charming as the blobfish’s), LA LIGA, EDGAR AWARD, HULLABALOO, the movie (which I’ve not had an interest in seeing) LADY BIRD, GIRL TALK, “DON’T WAIT UP,” and DATE NIGHTS.

Unfave fill: -ASE, ALB, AMAHL.

Three more things before I turn to the Great British Bake Off:

  • 24d. [Overseas rate: Abbr.], KPH. I did a Google image search and KPH appears on plenty of speedometers. So does km/h, but I feel like one or both of these get clued as if they’re on all the speed limit signs outside the US, and I think they aren’t the norm.
  • 6d. [Grammatical mistake], SOLECISM. This is one of those VOCAB words I never remember the precise meaning of. Thank the ancient Athenians for the word, which, I gotta say, seems fairly useless. “Grammatical mistake” will suffice, no?
  • 23d. [One of 768 in a 35-Across: Abbr.], TSP. 35a is GAL, short for gallon. If you’d like to double-check this clue, please pour out a gallon on teaspoonful at a time, and count how many it takes.

Four stars from me. Onward into the weekend!

Jess Shulman and Brian Thomas’ Universal crossword, “Core Curriculum”— Jim Q’s write-up

A puzzle that is reminding me that it’s time to shed some Covid pounds…

THEME: Common phrases that have ab workouts in them, clued as if part of a curriculum and Joe Six-Pack is the teacher.

Universal crossword solution · “Core Curriculum” · Jess Shulman · Brian Thomas · Sat., 10.30.21


  • 16A [First, in Psychology, Joe Six-Pack learned that students who do best ___] SIT UP FRONT. 
  • 26A [Then, in Civil Engineering, Joe and his workout buddies teamed up to ___] BUILD A BRIDGE. 
  • 43A [Later, in Naval History, Joe heard about traitorous sailors who had to ___] WALK THE PLANK. 
  • 57A [Finally, in Statistics, Joe was taught several ways to ___] CRUNCH DATA. 

I don’t know what school this is, but rest assured Joe Six-Pack ain’t teaching at my high school where I teach. It’s Dad Bod all around (congrats on your official “new-word” status, Dad Bod!)

Fun idea! The cluing took an otherwise common theme to a unique level. At times, it reminded me of Evan Birnholz’s recurring character Captain Obvious.

I assume a BRIDGE is a core exercise? Any fitness gurus out there cringing that I have no clue? The other ones are pretty easy… SIT UP, PLANK, and CRUNCH. Regarding that last one, I dunno if I’ve heard the phrase CRUNCH DATA. I know it as CRUNCH NUMBERS.

Enjoyed this collab. Nothing much else to say!

3.5 stars.

Nate Cardin’s USA Today crossword—Matthew’s write-up

Nate Cardin’s USA Today Crossword solution – “Double Time” 10/30/2021

Little bit of deja vu working through the themers from Nate Cardin. The title is “Double Time”, and we’ve got repetition:

  • 16a- SUCH AND SUCH (Placeholder phrase)
  • 23a- OVER AND OVER (Repeatedly)
  • 49a- NECK AND NECK (Like an extremely tight race)
  • 61a- HALF AND HALF (Milk-cream mix in a coffee shop)

Four in-the-language phrases, and you can’t say it’s not a consistent set. VICE VERSA (10d- The other way around) and DOS (25d- Uno mas uno) are not part of the theme, but they felt like fun easter eggs to me.

With a theme like this, it can be easier for the solver to breeze through chunks of the puzzle, but I loved a ton of the fill in here. On to the notes:

  • 14a- (In a taste test by Epicurious, it lost out the Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookie) OREO. USA Today is the vanguard of “new ways to clue OREO”, and this is my favorite yet.
  • 18a- (Animal with an udder) COW. Hopefully she has several more!
  • 34a- (Deodorant type) SPRAY. No thank you. Every time I’ve used spray deodorant, it’s far too cold.
  • 38a- (Dulce de ____) LECHE. Mouth-watering. I bet I can get some this weekend…
  • 66a- (Settings for medical dramas) ERS. They even named a whole show after it!
  • 21d- (Color of Elle’s courtroom dress in “Legally Blonde”) HOTPINK. YESSSS! YES! One: I love hot pink. I don’t care that I’m 31 and maybe we don’t need to have favorite colors any more. Pink is my favorite color. Two: I am HERE for any and all Legally Blonde references. At risk of offending the many theater experts in the crossword community, I can’t get enough of the Legally Blonde musical. It is fantastic and far more to my taste than Mean Girls, which I saw when it opened in DC a few years ago and is now running ads in all my Youtube videos.
  • 31d- (Actress Randle) THERESA. New to me, because I have seen exactly one movie that Ms. Randle was in, and it’s Space Jam. Feel free to judge me for that.

Thanks, Nate!

John Scott Marrone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Graveyard Shift” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/30/21 • Sat • “Graveyard Shift” • Marrone • solution • 20211030

Rebus time on this eve-of eve day. The final across entry isn’t an explicit revealer, but it more or less functions as one, and also as a metacommentary on the crossword: 129a [In the graveyard] AT REST. Requiescat in pace, or ‘rest in peace’, commonly abbreviated as RIP and seen on tombstones, appears in both the theme answers and where they cross.

  • 23a. [A Halloween mask might limit it] PE🪦HERAL VISION.
    8d. Remove one’s costume] ST🪦.
  • 37a. [Franchise with 29 “Odditoriums”] 🪦LEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT.
    2d. [“Control yourself!”] GET A G🪦.
  • 57a. [Contributes to the slush pile] SUBMITS A MANUSC🪦T. Almost like crypt.
    63d. [They’re pulled in the fall] 🪦 CORDS.
  • 81a. [Draft letter] CONSC🪦TION NOTICE.
    82d. [Effect that spreads] 🪦PLE.
  • 97a. [Cut a rug] T🪦 THE LIGHT FANTASTIC.
    89d. [Moves like hot fudge on a sundae] D🪦S DOWN.
  • 117a. [The Band’s first Top 40 hit] UP ON C🪦PLE CREEK. Aha, you won’t indulge me so easily!
    111d. [Strong drink request] T🪦LE. Am now imagining what a triple zombie would look like.

Cute and timely Halloween theme. There’s a bit of false promise at the outset, with the two clues invoking the holiday, but it’d be unfeasible to sustain. Nevertheless, well done.

However, there are enough ancillary clues and entries to put the solver in a macabre mood. 6d [51, for one] AREA, 10d [Burns’ “Halloween,” e.g.] POEM, 40d [Wilson, of “The Haunting”] OWEN, 61d [Comics hero from Hell] SPAWN, 77d [Pendulum’s counterpart] PIT (21a [“The Black Cat” writer] POE), 94d [Ravens’ org.] AFC, 100d [Howling wind] GALE, 102d [Targets of vampire attacks] NECKS, 76a [Six before Oct.] APR, and a few others if you care to be even more indulgent.

Here’s some Rotary Connection, featuring Minnie Riperton:

Time to go from door-to-door.

  • 19a [“The larger crimes are ___ be the simpler”: Sherlock Holmes] APT TO. True today. And the largest ones seemingly can’t be prosecuted.
  • 66a [Its mascot is Stella the Owl] TEMPLE, but see also 96d [First-rate] STELLAR.
  • 109a [Crash investigator] TECH, not the NTSB for once.
  • 110a [Venice beach site] LIDO. The original Venice, and it’s also a genericized term.
  • 126a [What a whitesmith works with] TIN, as it’s a lighter-colored metal.
  • 128a [Polish language] EDIT. Disguised verb.
  • 11d [And others, in other words] ET ALII, 70d [Comprehensive abbr.] ETC.
  • 62d [H+ or Na+] CATION. Positive ions, as opposed to anions.
  • 116d [Punch ingredient?] FIST. ow

Adrian Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 10/30/2021

Look at all of those 15-letter entries in this grid! They all seem to be extremely lively. I will highlight most every one in the commentary below, but this was a fun puzzle. It seemed to put up a slight bit of resistance, but I was not racing like I should be doing. One of these days I will submit my OWN themeless to the LAT! Perhaps this winter I will have time to make one, but in the meantime, nice puzzle, Adrian! 4.4 stars from me.

Those promised comments:

  • 15A [“No more kidding around!”] “THIS TIME I MEAN IT!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 17A [Hobby] OUTSIDE INTEREST – Or main interest if you’re retired!
  • 24A [“Turning Tables” singer] ADELE – She has a new album coming out soon, and I am sure her new single “Easy on Me” has already invaded your local radio listening.
  • 35A [Start thinking about old unpleasantness] DREDGE UP THE PAST – Never a good idea to do this!
  • 54A [2019 culmination of a 22-film story] AVENGERS: ENDGAME – They have started somewhat of a new story arc of interlaced movie plots; Black Widow was one of the first in this series, I think. Google it! Some people have watched all 22 of these films in the correct order, and there IS one! Google that too!
  • 58A [Thrift store merchandise] VINTAGE CLOTHING – Not my thing, but a great entry nonetheless!
  • 6D [Libya’s Gulf of __] SIDRA – This one was difficult, especially if you’re not from Libya or not a great geography buff.
  • 11D [Canopus’ constellation] CARINA – This one also slightly tough, unless you’re an astronomer!
  • 12D [Short promotion] ONE DAY SALE – Like Black Friday? Which has spilled into a nearly weeklong odyssey!
  • 57D [Letters next to a 4] GHI – Who dials numbers anymore? We have to use area codes for all numbers here now; I am sure a lot of you already have had that requirement for a while. Am I right?

I could go on, but I will stop there! Michigan has a big game today, so I have to go! Enjoy some Adele!

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

Newsday 10/30/2021

Got through this one without too many scars. I found the NW corner almost impossible to get a toehold in. The lower half was finished first; I need to start solving down there going forward! One of the live Boswords solvers mentioned that he always started the themeless puzzles in the SW corner. I need to try that! But nice puzzle today. I am keeping this short, as Michigan has a big game at noon today! 4.5 stars.

A few comments:

  • 14A [Nonspeaking part in ”My Fair Lady”] RACEHORSE – I haven’t seen this movie in forever. Been working back through some old Hitchcock movies recently. Perhaps I will mix this one in.
  • 17A [Pancake purveyors] CREPERIES – If you say so!
  • 32A [Shenandoah Valley city] ROANOKE – It had to be somewhere over there. I had an error at 28-Down that caused me some worry for this answer.
  • 36A [Kids’ stairs alternative] BANISTER – This doesn’t sound safe!
  • 50A [Sunbeam product] MIXMASTER – I think this is a mixer for the kitchen. We have a KitchenAid stand mixer, and they are the BEST.
  • 2D [Stuntwoman’s gig] CAR CHASE – Good choice to reference a female here – kudos!
  • 3D [Ducks glide there] ICE RINKS – As in the Anaheim Ducks! I still can’t believe they named this team after a movie!
  • 5D [Fast-moving sport since 1950] FORMULA ONE – This sport is gaining some traction here in the US, and that is by design. They had a race in Indy years ago, and some of the fans were booing them! But there is a Netflix series, as well as races on ESPN2 on Sundays. We shall see!
  • 9D [”Star Wars” honorific] LORD VADER – Sure, it’s easy now! I couldn’t fit PADAWAN in here! I originally thought it might be BEN KENOBI, but that really isn’t a title, which “honorific” is alluding to.
  • 28D [Lists all offenders] TAKES NAMES – I wrote in NAMES NAMES almost immediately, so now you can understand why this puzzle took nearly 15 minutes!
  • 33D [For whom RFK Stadium was home (1996-2017)] D.C. UNITED – REDSKINS fit here! But they were long gone from RFK by 2017. NATIONALS is too long! MLS is also getting more popular as we go. It takes a generation or two to really gain traction.
  • 36D [”Detective Comics” debut of ’67] BATGIRL – Great clue! All you know from the clue is that it is a character from the DC Comics, as DC literally stands for “Detective Comics”, one of their first titles. Know your comic books!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

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24 Responses to Saturday, October 30, 2021

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I liked. Parts of it felt quite easy for a Saturday (e.g. NE)- I entered ANTE and DATE NIGHT followed from there.
    In spite of having spent decades in academia, IVORY TOWER took a while to bubble up. Maybe because the bean counters are now in charge of the ivory…
    Got photos of my 5 yo grandson in his costume and I’m now in the spirit. Happy Halloween weekend!

    • Rob says:

      I agree! I really enjoyed this puzzle. No complaints from me for this being easier than the typical NYT Saturday.

  2. pseudonym says:

    Easiest Stumper ever?

    • Twangster says:

      Not for me but I did manage to solve it. It was looking like the bottom left would be my undoing but switching from NAMELESS to FACELESS opened that up. Pretty dumb in retrospect since I had TAKES NAMES elsewhere.

      RELIVE THE PAST instead of DREDGE UP THE PAST held me up a bit with the LAT.

  3. Alan D. says:

    How are people accessing the Newsday Stumper these days? The link I have been using (amuselabs) is now redirecting to the Newsday pay wall.

  4. R Cook says:

    Stumper nitpick: The first Batgirl (Betty Kane) was introduced in 1961. Barbara Gordon took over the name in 1967.

  5. Gene says:

    What is wrong with AMAHL???

    • cyberdiva says:

      I wondered the same thing.

    • cyberdiva says:

      I wondered the same thing. AMAHL and the clue seemed fine to me.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It’s always struck me as “opera name I only ever see in crosswords,” vs. titles like The Magic Flute, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La boheme, etc. Although googling shows me some holiday-season performances around the country. Who knew?

      A review tells me “a Baby Boomer holiday favorite which was first broadcast live on NBC on Christmas Eve 1951 to millions of viewers and was broadcast consecutively on the network every Christmas Eve through 1966.” This explains why it’s not so familiar to the 55-and-under crowd. We’re not boomers!

      • Billy Boy says:

        A cr*p opera to this 70 y.o. opera lover, went to Iphigenie en Tauride last month, Gluck, now that’s an opera

        GAL & TSP, give me metric to avoid such nonsense

  6. Seth says:

    Stumper: exact opposite experience. Got the NW quickly, but the SW stopped me cold. Too many proper nouns that I either had never heard of, or clued in a way that I could not see. And having nAmELESS instead of FACELESS didn’t help.

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    USA Today (@Matthew) … FYI … A cow’s udder is a single organ comprising multiple mammary glands (usually two or four).

  8. Jack Lechner says:

    Amy, do yourself a favor and watch “Lady Bird!” It’s a truly excellent movie.

  9. JohnH says:

    WSJ: How does 51, for one, work out to AREA? Thanks. (Three letters apiece in such long entries didn’t seen like much of a theme payoff, but I guess it’s holiday time.)

Comments are closed.