Saturday, November 27, 2021

LAT 5:58 (Derek) 


Newsday 13:37 (Derek) 


NYT 4:24 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 1:37 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 11 27 21, no. 1127

Another quick write-up so we can tend to our streaming-TV entertainment needs.

The little gimmick here is that the three central entries, staggered 11s, start with X-Y-Z: XERISCAPING, YELLOW PAGES, ZOOPLANKTON. T-U-V represents with THE COAST IS CLEAR, UNDERCOVER AGENT, and VALKYRIES, but there’s no entry starting with W.


Educational and interesting clue: 41a. [People credited with discovering mechanoluminescence, using quartz crystals to generate light], UTE. Neat!

Surprised there’s no question mark in this clue: 27a. [Draft letters], IPA. Letters for some draft beer, not military draft abbreviations/codes.

Four stars from me.

Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Synonymous Anagrams”— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: Title says it all. Synonymous Anagrams.

Universal crossword solution · “Synonymous Anagrams”· Paul Coulter · Sat., 11.27.21



I’m not the biggest anagram fan, especially when they’re super straightforward like they are here, so this one wasn’t calling my name. Of the set, I found the top and bottom pair the most interesting.

Highlights for me were a couple of the clues:

55A [Its initial three letters spell an apt dessert] PIECE. How have I never noticed that?

65A [Mario’s middle name?] ARI. The name ARI is in the middle of mARIo.

Both of those are unofficial Universal trademark clues, but I love ’em.

Oh and [One may sit on your keyboard] CAT. How true! In more than one sense for me.

3 stars from me.

Carl Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Table Scraps” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/27/21 • Sat • Larson • “Table Scraps” • solution • 20211127

  • 119aR [Radical members of a group, and a hint to the circled letters] FRINGE ELEMENTS. The letters on either end of the theme answers, taken together, spell the names of chemical elements. Not sure if any of the elements can actually be radicals, though. It’s been a very long time since I had to think about chemistry at that level.
  • 22a. [Juror while the trial is in session, e.g.] SILENT OBSERVER (silver).
  • 32a. [Home of the Rams and Chargers] SOFI STADIUM (sodium), which is not named after the upscale international hotel chain, but a web company.
  • 51a. [Korea’s DMZ, e.g.] BORDER REGION (boron). This entry is also kind of meta, as the elements occupy such areas. 14d [Extremity] END.
  • 65a. [Good thing to have in an emergency] LEVEL HEAD (lead). I feel as if the noun is much less common than the adjectival levelheaded … Yep:
  • 69a. [Something to look forward to after bingeing] NEW SEASON (neon).
  • 87a. [Losing all restraint] GOING HOG-WILD (gold).
  • 102a. [It’s fed from trays] COPIER PAPER (copper).

Pretty good theme, excellent revealer. The title is a bit iffy, even though I do see where it’s going with the periodic table and pieces therefrom.

  • 1d [Well-spoken desire?] WISH. Cute.
  • 3d [Mattress choice] FULL. Rather a few choices without adequate crossings: TWIN, FIRM, KING, SOFT, and even LONG.
  • 6d [Off the table, perhaps] EATEN. Superficially seeming related to the puzzle’s title.
  • 21d [Al who performed the theme for “The Green Hornet”] HIRT. New-to-me clue for this crusty crosswordese.
  • The happy couple

    49a [Muppet who’s in love with Camilla the Chicken] GONZO.

  • 71d [Rose] STOOD, aptly crossing 81a [Wedding guests give them] TOASTS.
  • 61a [Penn or Pitt] ACTOR. Have seen this clue before, but I still appreciate the clever misdirection.
  • 64a [Chew the greenery] GRAZE, crossing 15d [Points of view?] SCENIC AREAS.
  • 95a [Wood for a tee] DRIVER. Help me out here?
  • 123a [Spoiler on the front of a car] AIR DAM. Okay, makes sense, I guess.

Solid puzzle. Oh, and gas too. But no liquid!

Steve Mossberg’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 11/27/2021

A fun puzzle today! Steve’s puzzles are always lively. Check out his site for more great content. No real snags during my solve, but I did learn a thing or two in this puzzle. Nothing wrong with that! Keeping this short today, since Mich-OSU is today! 4.6 stars from me.

A few more things:

  • 15A [Suggestive comment to a nearby lover] “I’M ALONE” – Pretty risqué for a crossword puzzle!
  • 16A [Overseas play area?] THEATRE – Best clue in the bunch, in my opinion. Nice misdirection!
  • 38A [Aptly named subsidiary of American Eagle Outfitters] AERIE – No idea about this store, since I am not a shopper. But it makes sense, that’s for sure!
  • 40A [Common sense approach to determining authenticity] SMELL TEST – Especially from the fridge!
  • 47A [Adoption site] CAT SHELTER – Our cat came from a cat shelter, via PetSmart, about a year and a half ago. It has been quite interesting watching an extremely skittish cat finally loosen up and realize no one is going to abuse her. Something did happen to this cat earlier since she can barely meow.
  • 53A [Least common hit] TRIPLE – Rare for many reasons, but I got the baseball reference immediately. Perhaps others might not.
  • 12D [“No telling”] “IT’S A SECRET!” – Great casual phrase!
  • 13D [Multi-instrumentalist McKeown] ERIN – I’m sorry, who is this??
  • 26D [Hog lover] BIKER – Hog as in Harley-Davidson. Another good clue, but we have tons of bikers in our area. Even this time of year!
  • 38D [Leia’s home planet] ALDERAAN – I am embarrassed that I knew this almost immediately. It helped that you know you need 8 letters.

Off to watch football!

Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Newsday 11/27/2021

I will take a time under 15 minutes for this one. All kinds of issues in the central eastern section. as you can see by the error marks. Somehow my brain wasn’t working correctly while in that area. Can I blame it on old age? My themeless solving has gotten pretty good in the last few years, but every once in a while nothing works. I DID, however, finish Boswords clean in the fall league! I’ll take it! Greg, I think you got me on this one. Wait until next time! 4.7 stars from me.

A few notes:

  • 17A [”Clean it up, roomie!”] “I’M NOT YOUR MOTHER!” – One of two great 15-letter entries in the grid. Also a fantastic casual phrase!
  • 27A [Professional barrel racers, usually] GALS – Can someone explain this clue? What are we even talking about here?
  • 36A [Directed incorrectly] MISSENT – This seems like it isn’t a word. My spell check doesn’t even like it!
  • 57A [An instant] ONE MOMENT IN TIME – Wasn’t this the name of the Whitney Houston song she did for the Olympics?
  • 6D [Small Amish-made wooden product] TOY TRAIN – Yes, they make stuff like this. They also sell stuff that is falsely labeled “Amish” and people jump all over it. Weird.
  • 11D [Driven on frequently] ARTERIAL – As a main road. Great clue.
  • 25D [”You just hold on a minute!”] “HEY, NOW!” – Great casual phrase
  • 28D [”__ form of despair” (”Devil’s Dictionary” on patience)] “A MINOR … – At least a different way of clueing this instead of naming a musical key. Although I don’t know this quote at ALL!
  • 29D [Kid-lit quadruped since 1940] LASSIE – I had no clue who this was. Note more error marks here!
  • 39D [Bitter nature] ASPERITY – Fill in a word that you may not use that often! This one stumped me. You see the word aspersion more often, I think.

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword—Matthew’s recap

Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword solution, 11/27/2021

Quick puzzle from Stella with a fun theme set today. Each themer is two words beginning with A and V:

18a- (Process for mailing in a ballot from out of state) ABSENTEE VOTING.
34a- (Purple flower native to Tanzania) AFRICAN VIOLET. I *adore* African violets. I wish I could keep any plants alive / trusted myself to try.
53a- (Swedish actress who played Lara Croft) ALICIA VIKANDER. I’ve never been much interested in the Tomb Raider universe but I quite liked Vikander in The Green Knight.

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22 Responses to Saturday, November 27, 2021

  1. Eric H says:

    I would not have guessed Bangkok for the most-visited city, but when I think of how many people live within a short flying distance (a few hours or less), it makes sense.

    XERISCAPING was a gimme. The City of Austin (which operates our water system) has been urging people to adopt such practices for 30 years or more.

    I originally had “sneer” for 1A, which would have given me an excuse to share a fine Eliza Gilkyson song. Even though my first guess was wrong, I’m going to link it anyway. It’s too good not to.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    Pretty easy & unremarkable Friday NYT.

    Oh wait, it’s Saturday. Decent if easy, I liked the dog clue/answer pair. Bangkok also a surprise to me. New York seemed very likely for a moment

    • Eric H says:

      Yeah, I tried “New York” first, until it became unworkable with the crosses.

      Blame it on my European/American bias. Or my lack of interest in sex tourism.

  3. Barbara Calhoun says:

    A driver is a golf club that used to be made of wood, as opposed to irons, clubs made of metal.

  4. Rob says:

    NYT: Everybody but me thought that this was an easy Saturday puzzle. Sigh.

    • David L says:

      I found it tougher than usual. It went fairly well once I got going, but it took me a while to make some toeholds. Not sure why, in retrospect.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni: What’s up with all the Paul Coulter puzzles published by Universal lately? This makes 7 of the last 14! This isn’t a complaint, mind you, as I generally enjoy PC’s work. I’m just wondering if there’s an explanation.

    • Paul J Coulter says:

      David accepted an unusually high number of my themes over the last six months, so I think he’s clearing the queue for this calendar year. Sorry if folks are getting sick of seeing my name. It should slow down soon.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        Thanks for chiming in, Paul. It’s all good. As I said, your puzzles are almost always well above average in my opinion.

  6. Jim says:

    NYT: OOZIER? Really?

  7. Pilgrim says:

    Newsday: Re 27A – Barrel racing is an event in a rodeo. Three barrels are arranged in a triangle and you have to ride your horse in a loop around each barrel and race back to the starting line in the shortest amount of time. It’s usually a women-only event.

    • marciem says:

      Somebody (Derek) hasn’t been watching “Yellowstone”, with it’s pair of barrel-racing “gals” LOL! Or if you like really nice Canadian shows, “Heartland”. Lots of barrel-racing and rodeo stuff on that.

  8. Michael in Chelsea says:

    I’ve done three crosswords this week containing EASYA after not encountering that entry since I can remember. (I think it was a NYT, the WSJ contest puzzle, and the Stumper.)

  9. Teedmn says:

    Great clue for TOE in the Stumper, “Once-over ender”. Took me until now to get it.

    I had joyER a long time as a surname for track events – that’s joynER, duh.

    Is it fair that “Dark fiction” is NOIRS, plural?

    • Michael in Chelsea says:

      Could you please explain the TOE clue?

      • marciem says:

        If someone gives you the “once over”, it is usually from “head to TOE”. At least that is my take on it. It took me a while to get it, and I could still be wrong.

  10. Amy L says:

    LAT: I had a Natick with the PRANA AKIRA crossing. I only know the Simpsons characters who turn up in crosswords. Akira isn’t as common as Apu, Otto, or Moe who have often appeared in puzzles.

    NYT: I don’t like “tutee” or “mentee” either, but we started to have regular “mentor/mentee” meetings in my office, so I’m getting used to it. I can’t think of a better name for these meetings.

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