Saturday, November 20, 2021

LAT 5:05 (Derek) 


Newsday 15:04 (Derek) 


NYT 5:16 (Amy) 


Universal 5:28 (Jim Q) 


USA Today untimed (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Mary Lou Guizzo & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 11 20 21, no. 1120

Hello! Moving right along to my fave fill in this 70-worder, because it’s late and I should hit the sack because I was up till 4:15 am last night (blame the moon): SAKE BOMB, KAMALA HARRIS (who officially held presidential powers for however long Biden was sedated for his colonoscopy), TOLKIEN (fresh-to-me clue: 35a. [Author who referred to his works as a “legendarium”]), “YOU’VE GOT THIS” (I’m happy to drop the ’ve), A LA MAISON, the EXTRA MILE, REEBOKS, OMBRES, NIGHT OWLS (hello!).

Six more things:

  • 14a. [Meredith’s half sister on “Grey’s Anatomy”], LEXIE. All crossings for me here. I saw part of one episode over a decade ago, so not my wheelhouse. Show’s been on for 18 seasons, though! LEXIE apparently was in seasons 3-8 and 17.
  • 31a. [“Intolerable Cruelty” director, 2003], COEN. Joel Coen, that is. Coming to Apple TV+ in January is Joel’s first-ever movie made without his brother Ethan—The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and (Coen’s spouse) Frances McDormand. Gonna have to watch that one! Two brilliant actors in their 60s tackling Shakespeare with style.
  • 49a. [Gumshoe], TEC. Short for deTECtive, and it’s crusty crosswordese.
  • 8d. [Metric speed meas.], KPH. Eww. People don’t like that and have asked for everyone to use km/h instead.
  • 44d. [Secretive things?], GLANDS. “Shh, don’t tell anyone. I’m releasing some hormones.”
  • 51d. [Tennis star of the 2000s, familiarly], RAFA. Hey! “The 2000s” connotes 2000-2009 rather than the century or millennium, no? And not also the 2010s decade? Rafael Nadal had more Grand Slam titles in the 2010s than in the decade prior.

3.9 stars from me. Happy Saturday!

Patrick Blindauer’s USA Today crossword, “Retaining Cats and Dogs”—Matthew’s write-up

Patrick Blindauer’s USA Today crossword solution, “Retaining Cats and Dogs”, 11/20/2021

Short review today as I’m about to herd dogs into the car for an 11-hour drive.

I didn’t see the theme until a post-solve consult of the title: each themer has “CAT” or “DOG” hidden inside it, bridging a word boundary.

  • 22a- (She played Ninny Threadgoode in “Fried Green Tomatoes”) JESSICA TANDY
  • 33a- (Rhyming Tetris-like game in which blocks and ghosts are cleared) PAC ATTACK
  • 39a- (Naive philanthropists) DO GOODERS
  • 46a- (Animal Crossing or Metroid, e.g.) NINTENDO GAME

Daniel Sweren-Becker Universal Crossword, “Getting a Raise”— Jim Q’s write-up

I wish the title were “Needing a Raise,” because in order to understand the theme, the raise has not yet been given.

THEME: The word FACE has been removed from four entries, and can be found underneath the four black squares where it should be.

Universal crossword solution · “Getting a Raise”· Daniel Sweren-Becker Coulter · Sat., 11.20.21


  • (revealer) [FACE] LIFT

Outstanding idea and very well pulled off. Really, my only nit being the title. Just as the revealer’s clue is carefully worded (otherwise it looks like FACE has been dropped from the answers… the opposite of a FACELIFT), the title should be too (that’s what led me to believe FACE was being dropped, since the other parts looked like they had gotten a “Raise” already). FACE needs a LIFT.

Puzzle is well-filled (with fairly standard fill). No easy task since there are more theme entries than it may seem, so a lot of strain on the grid.

New for me:

NAN Goldin. And… what are CHADS? Oh yeah. I vaguely recall hearing about them.

Thanks for this one!

4.75 Stars


David Distenfeld’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/20/2021

I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but I am seeing another byline that I don’t recognize. One that is already in the constructor database on this blog, as well! But a great puzzle by David, albeit not too difficult. A 5-minute time for one of these Saturday LAT puzzles is great for me; I think my record is probably just a shade under 5 minutes. (There is no way I would crack 4; I cannot read or type that fast!) If we ever get back to in-person tournaments, add this name to the long list of people I would like to meet that I haven’t already! 4.4 stars from me.

A few notes:

  • 12A [Barbara Eden and Barbara Walters] NONAGENARIANS – Great fact! Nearly 40 years older than me as well, and I feel old. I can only imagine how THEY feel!
  • 31A [“Tuck me in” garb] JAMMIES – PAJAMAS also fit, but we use JAMMIES probably more. We have a 9-year-old!
  • 35A [Love-spoofing ’30s-’40s film genre] SCREWBALL COMEDY – I would say they still make these! Have you not seen Dodgeball??
  • 51A [Reacted to a depression?] SAID, “AH” – I haven’t had this done to me in ages. Do they still do it??
  • 53A [Aggressive demand] “LEMME AT ‘EM!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 1D [__ Moss, Portia Doubleday’s “Mr. Robot” role] ANGELA – All I remember about this show is that it was the first show I remember Rami Malek being in. Just saw the new James Bond movie, and he is in that as well. I also remember I didn’t care for Mr. Robot that much.
  • 6D [Harris, pre-VP] SEN. – It seems like forever ago, but Kamala Harris was a senator less than two years ago!
  • 8D [Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, e.g.] ARENA – According to Wikipedia, this place only seats just under 10,000. Seems “smallish” for an arena. But that might just be perception on my part.
  • 22D [Latin for “clouds”] NIMBI – Of course it is!
  • 45D [Bahrain’s capital] MANAMA – Know your world capitals!

Only two more college football Saturdays are left! Off to enjoy the penultimate one!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 11/20/2021

Not too bad of a time for me; also not great. Just over 15 minutes, but I wasn’t necessarily speed-solving this one. Got “stumped” by quite a few things in this puzzle, had a few things wrong, but in the end a clean solve. No error marks! Speaking of clean solving, if I can navigate one more Boswords themeless on Monday, that will give me a clean set of entries, which I don’t think I have done before. But a great Stumper here, as usual, from Stan. 4.5 stars.

A few highlights:

  • 1A [What Astaire (at 78) fell off, breaking his wrist] SKATEBOARD – What a great clue and entry for 1-Across! Also quite a mental image of the graceful Fred Astaire wiping out!
  • 17A [Sustaining, as with supper] ALIMENTING – So, your alimentary canal is also a name for your digestive system, so this makes sense. Also a word that no one uses, unless maybe you’re a gastroenterologist!
  • 23A [Reclusive National Book Award novelist] PYNCHON – I need to read more, but I still know who Thomas Pynchon is. He is still kicking at 84.
  • 41A [Asian Official Partner of FIFA] QATAR AIRWAYS – I think I had JAPAN in here at first, but I think it is JAL (Japan Airlines) that is one of their companies.
  • 54A [Marching band debut, c. 1906] SOUSAPHONE – It’s that old??
  • 61A [American pen name] ERASER-MATE – Nice tie-in to 45-Across, which has a Japanese pen name (UNIBALL). Neither is a pen-name in the sense of a pseudonym!
  • 10D [European Union’s busiest airport] DE GAULLE – I would have guessed HEATHROW, but they aren’t in the EU anymore!
  • 29D [”The Raven” conclusion] END QUOTES – Tricky, since NEVERMORE fits!
  • 36D [__ Zirconia (pop legend impersonator)] NEIL – Who???
  • 48D [Dogmatic stance] TENET – Also a terrific movie! But most Christopher Nolan movies are!

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Lee Taylor’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s a Mad World” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/20/21 • Sat • Taylor • “It’s a Mad World” • solution • 20211120

Idioms about being angry, presented more literally.

  • 24a. [Become angry building an igloo?] HAVE A MELTDOWN.
  • 30a. [Become angry brushing a wig?] FLIP YOUR LID.
  • 59a. [Become angry taking a sauna?] GET STEAMED. Can one ‘take a sauna’ as one takes a bath or a shower? I understand that it’s for consistent phrasing in the clues—not that that’s necessary—but it feels off here.
  • 78a. [Become angry doing biceps curls?] BE UP IN ARMS.
  • 107a. [Become angry waiting for the vet?] HAVE KITTENS.
  • 114a. [Become angry uncorking the champagne?] HIT THE CEILING.
  • 26d. [Become angry sunbathing?] DO A SLOW BURN. My favorite of these.
  • 58d. [Become angry driving uphill?] BLOW A GASKET.

Perhaps ironically, a smooth and serene solve.

  • Looking at the downs first, as I usually do when the theme is primarily or exclusively in the acrosses, I see that the opening salvo of DRS, REQ, and EAU is … maybe a little off-putting?
  • 5d [Pound hound] STRAY DOG. I know how to say this in Japanese! Nora inu.
  • 10d [Like a lot] PAVED. Best clue in the crossword.
  • 18d [The big house?] SENATE. 87d [The big house] STATE PEN, which I notice can be made from the letters of SENATE plus TP.
  • 14d [Ben Jonson play] VOLPONE, which draws strongly from the folklore of Reynard the Fox. Which in turn makes me think of Reynardine.
  • 61d [It’s exhausting] TAILPIPE. Quite literally.
  • 90d [Some are answered] PRAYERS. Less literally?
  • 12a [Borobudur Temple setting] JAVA. It’s quite impressive, and no single photograph seems to do it justice, so feel free to browse a variety of them.
  • 27a [Metallica drummer Ulrich] LARS. 118d [ __ mater (brain membrane] PIA. Am currently watching Borgen and two of the minor characters are LARS Hesselboe and PIA Munk.
  • 28a [Takes the measure of] EYES UP dupes 21a [In the know about] UP ON. Not a significant duplication, but notable as the entries are so proximate to each other.
  • 74a [It might wind up in a tie] COLLAR. Interestingly, a tie could at the same time be inside a collar!
  • 104a [“Funeral Blues” poet] AUDEN. Say, have you heard of him?
  • 109a [Cantankerous] ORNERY. Is this the world’s most ornery crossword?

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11 Responses to Saturday, November 20, 2021

  1. pseudonym says:

    “The highest form of flattery?” for the win.

  2. Paul J Coulter says:

    Universal – That was a fresh, well-executed puzzle today. I haven’t seen this trick before.
    Congrats to the Uni for doing some more challenging themes lately, while keeping them accessible to less experienced solvers.

  3. David L says:

    Stumper: I had it finished except for one square, the crossing of TE_/ALI_ENTING. Couldn’t come up with anything that made sense. I suppose I should have gone with ALIMENTING, ludicrous though it seems, but how does TEM mean a short time? The only TEM I know is transmission electron microscope, and Google is not finding anything else that seems appropriate.

  4. marciem says:

    LAT: I appreciate that AGE crossed NONAGENARIANS in the NW, right at the AGE. This is different than NEED crossing NEED yesterday in the NYT, since the “age” in nonagenarians isn’t a word in itself. At least I don’t think so.

  5. marciem says:

    WSJ: Loved the clues “Like a lot” and “Its exhausting” :) . Nice twisties.

    Themers: I thought the champagne cork clue was too literal for “Hit the ceiling” maybe since it actually does (you don’t literally have kittens at the vets office) and I don’t understand why you have to be driving UPHILL to blow a gasket.

  6. Billy Boy says:

    I’M HUMBLED = I’m full of my self, but thanks

    love this phrase, hardly gracious

    Decent puzzle for sure

  7. David Glasser says:

    Stumper: Neil Zirconia is presumably a parody of Neil Diamond.

Comments are closed.