Saturday, December 11, 2021

LAT 7:45 (Derek) 


Newsday 8:41 (Derek) 


NYT 4:46 (Amy) 


Universal 4:58 (Jim Q) 


USA Today 2:16 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Hal Moore’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 11 21, no. 1211

Anyone else find the Saturday puzzle easier than the Friday?

Gonna open with a gripe. Why would you clue HATERS with 16a. [“Rumors are carried by ___, spread by fools and accepted by idiots” (old saying)] when RUMOR MILL is just four rows below it? It’s one thing to say you don’t mind repeating entry words within other clues, but a sparkly 5-letter word this close by? It’s just too noticeable.

The showiest bit of this grid is the three Q’s in a diagonal row, in rows 2, 3, and 4. REQUIRED READING, TAQUERIA, QUESADILLA, and PREQUELS are qqquite nice. Also liked RUMOR MILL, PENCIL SHARPENER (10d. [One making good points in the classroom?]), EUROZONE, Tupac SHAKUR, BACKSEAT, MELATONIN, and HI-TOP FADES ([Cousins of crew cuts]). My son had grown out his curls during the pandemic but just got a hi-top fade and it’s super cute.

Five things:

  • 16a. [“Rumors are carried by ___, spread by fools and accepted by idiots” (old saying)], HATERS. I beg your pardon? The internet tells me the quote is from investment banker Ziad Abdelnour’s book, Economic Warfare. How on earth is this an “old saying”? When anything that’s an “old saying” was coined, I’m pretty sure nobody was using the word HATERS.
  • 62a. [Where some unsolicited advice comes from], BACKSEAT. I’ll have you know I am an excellent backseat driver.
  • 24d. [Tender union?], EUROZONE. As in legal tender, money, the countries where the euro is the basic currency.
  • 49d. [Actress Alexander of “Get Out”], ERIKA. She had a very small part there. She’s best known for her role as lawyer Maxine Shaw on Living Single, which did the 1990s Friends concept with a Black cast before Friends existed. Check it out! It’s streaming on Hulu and in syndication on BET.
  • 53d. [Card games are played in it], MLB. As in St. Louis Cardinals games, hidden capital C.

3.75 stars from me.

Jack Murtagh’s Universal Crossword, “Sandwiched In”— Jim Q’s write-up

Anyone else think they opened the wrong puzzle today by accident?

THEME: Oreo art!

Universal crossword solution · “Sandwiched In” · Jack Murtagh · Sat., 12.11.21


  • (revealer) [Stackable snacks depicted in this puzzle’s grid … and whose middle layer is spelled by the grid’s uncrossed letters]  OREO COOKIES

And the layers spell out CREME FILLING

Very cool grid! Not often Universal goes out on a limb and publishes something quirky and asymmetrical. I was looking forward to getting down to the southern portion and figuring out what was going on down there for the first half of the solve.

The payoff is just fine. The entries that were uncrossed still included a strong nudge from the clue for OREO COOKIES. Otherwise, I’m not sure I would’ve gotten COTILLION, which is a gutsy entry to include without any crosses. That bottom right corner in general slowed me down. Thank goodness for the extra anagram hint in NEY. Also, pretty sure the ESSAY is still on the SAT (if my recent proctoring is any indication), just optional now, so I don’t think calling it “former” is totally fair.

I really like the audacity of the construction here. And a very cute tribute to Crossworld’s favorite cookie.

4 stars.

Kate Hawkins’ USA Today crossword, “Outer Layer”—Matthew’s write-up

Kate Hawkins USA Today crossword solution, “Outer Layer”, 12/21/2021

Familiar theme style from Kate this Saturday, but it’s rare to see it with a five-letter word.

The title points straightforward to the theme, as the letters of “LAYER” bracket each themer:

  • 20a- (Professional who might represent a union) LABOR LAWYER
  • 36a- (Waiting period between flights) LAYOVER
  • 50a- (Madonna hit that starts with the lyric “Life is a mystery”) LIKE A PRAYER

And of course, each themer breaks up LAYER in a different way.

I’m sure others have said this, but I quite like USA Today’s willingness to run three themers. There’s been something of an arms race over the last 5-10 years in the Times to fit more theme content, even into early-week grids, but of course that puts more constraint on fill. And we can see that tradeoff in this grid, with entries like PLEASE GO ON, URGENT CARE, I CAN DO THAT, MULTIMEDIA, and GO GETTER.

No notes from me today. Have a great weekend!

Beth Rubin & Brad Wilber’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 12/11/2021

This was a little tough! This one almost took longer than today’s Stumper for me to solve! I don’t think I know Beth at all, but this is a great puzzle, whatever your contribution to it was. Interesting entries, wide-open areas, the whole bit. I like having this puzzle be a little more difficult. Yes, I even made an error in this grid! I wanted 58A to end with TALENT; my brain was playing tricks on me! Again, great puzzle, you two! 4.6 stars from me.

Some more stuff:

  • 15A [Purveyor of fraudulent credentials] DIPLOMA MILL – Depending on how your job search goes, ALL colleges might be diploma mills!
  • 24A [Wouldn’t share] BOGARTED – I love this word! I have siblings, so we said something like this all the time!
  • 34A [Official who sings in Hebrew] CANTOR – Once again, my lack of knowledge of Jewish customs comes into play.
  • 43A [Zoom frustrations] TIME LAGS – We are ALL used to Zoom or some equivalent at this point; and I don’t think it is going away any time soon!
  • 48A [Love of collectibles] VIRTU – Is this a word??
  • 54A [’90s-’00s HBO series with lots of therapy sessions] THE SOPRANOS – Never watched the whole thing; perhaps a project when I break a leg or something!
  • 9D [Common starting hr.] NINE A.M. – Who starts this late??
  • 10D [“I Am Jazz” cable channel] TLC – No idea what this show is, but it might actually be interesting. Let’s just say my YouTubeTV doesn’t often suggest anything on TLC for me!
  • 26D [Premise in many John Grisham novels] LAWSUIT – Yes, yes it is!
  • 39D [Crime novelist Carl] HIAASEN – Didn’t know how to spell his name! I thought I had made a mistake when I saw the two I’s in a row! I thought there might be two S’s instead.

Today’s goal: a nap … ! See you all later!

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

Newsday 12/11/2021

Under 10 minutes! Actually under NINE minutes! Flew very smoothly on this one, for once in a Stumper. Nothing too thorny, but perhaps the wide-open areas are made easier with a plethora of three-letter words. Who knows? I’ll take it anyway. A solid 4.5 stars from me.

A few other things:

  • 21A [”The Haj” author] URIS – This is slightly dated. I still have never read it.
  • 29A [Yukon Quest and La Grande Odyssée] SLED DOG RACES – Never heard of either of them, but still a nice informative clue. I learned something!
  • 49A [James River tributary] APPOMATTOX – I don’t have great knowledge of Virginia geography. I have been to Virginia, though. It’s just been a while!
  • 56A [Jersey’s edge] STATE LINE – This might sneakily be the best clue in the bunch. We are talking NEW Jersey here, not a sport shirt. I liked it!
  • 61A [Onetime Universal Studios owner] PANASONIC – I wanted this to be Paramount. It wasn’t.
  • 9D [Henry V, per the Bard] HAL – I also don’t know Shakespeare much at all. Is he called Hal in this play?
  • 13D [Blunder] FOOZLE – This isn’t a word!
  • 35D [Personal-care brand name since 1872] VASELINE – Slightly surprising that this has been around this long. Another informative clue!
  • 43D [Caesar’s voice] VOX – Also a site that has cool crosswords now! I think Ade is one of the regulars there as well!
  • 58D [”Is that __?”] A NO – There is no great way to clue this; this is at least not bad! Closest thing in this puzzle to a casual phrase.

Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!

Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Off of Work” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/11/21 • Sat • Larson • “Off of Work” • solution • 20211211

Okay, here it is. Three-word phrases in the format “x OF y” where the OF is changed to OFF, to humorous effect.

  • 24a. [Support staff for a daredevil?] SHOW OFF HANDS. I guess that could be SHOWOFF HANDS.
  • 38a. [Fill the tank on a rust bucket?] TOP OFF THE HEAP.
  • 65a. [Repeal the tax on consumer goods?] CALL OFF DUTY.
  • 98a. [Find matches for everybody in a New York borough?] PAIR OFF QUEENS. Wonder if this had a different clue originally.
  • 111a. [Humiliation of the pitcher who gives up the game winner in the bottom of the ninth?] WALK OFF SHAME.
  • 20d. [“Right Lane Exit Only,” e.g.?] TURN OFF PHRASE. And this one would be TURNOFF PHRASE.
  • 53d. [Put the country out of work?] LAY OFF THE LAND.

I feel it’s a cohesive theme. Off course, your mileage may vary.

  • 3d [Raiders’ org.] DEA. Not football.
  • 14d [Goddess of wisdom] ATHENA. How come we never see ATHENE in crosswords? Am I going to have to make my own crossword or something?
  • 62d [Army’s equivalent of Navy’s CPO] SFC. If you say so. I can figure out that the first one is Chief Petty Officer.
  • 63d [Barrel plank] STAVE.
  • 73d [Masculine German article] DER; 80d [Neuter German article] DAS. No time to die.
  • 93d [Milk source] GOAT; 118d [Milk source] EWE. Female goats are called does.
  • 101d [Measure of popularity] Q SCORE. How popular is this measure of popularity? I’ve not heard of it. (Wikipedia tells me it dates back to 1963.)
  • 115d [Jargon suffix] -ESE. Ah, good old jargonese. (I will make this joke every time.)
  • Similar subtle misdirects in 8a [They cast no votes] ANTIS, and 91d [Passes on presents] REGIFTS.
  • 46a [Feature of the flags of Kazakhstan, Kurdistan and Kyrgyzstan] SUN. Good to know, I guess. 64a [Ukr., once] SSR.
  • 106a [Institute focus] SCIENCE. Often, but not always.

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17 Responses to Saturday, December 11, 2021

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yeah, I too wondered about HATERS being part of an old saying and given that RUMORS winds up being used as a clue and as an entry, this whole clue needed to be rethought… I liked the bouquet of Q’s, the clue for SUSHI, and many of the long entries…

  2. Billy Boy says:

    NYT was a real hunt and peck affair that fell reasonably, although I’d never name any dog OREO maybe ban Oreo? Oh that poor dog.

    Apropos yesterday’s word trashing, HATER needs to go; no way it’s part of an old saying unless old is now term years or more. But … it’s so dismissive with a nearly non-existent threshold to marginalize one not in lockstep. It literally throws people away.

    This word isn’t even one that’s different in context than standing alone in its evolution.

    Retard is a word that’s good for engineers and orthopedists as to retard a chemical reaction, or in discussing factors in retarded bone growth. Stand alone as a noun it’s mean spirited and immature, but not reason enough to ban its use.

    Yesterday was a beat down of the cancellation of exotic.

    I’d keep retard and exotic and ban HATER

  3. Cynthia says:

    Universal: Wow, wow, wow! Jack Murtagh, you did what I thought was impossible – you made a tired piece of crossword fill fun again!

  4. marciem says:

    NYT: Agree with Amy’s comment about ‘rumors’ and esp. “haters”… I don’t think of haters being in an “old saying” … the quote sounds like a quote people post on social media, which really isn’t that “old”.

    Loved the misdirect clues for moles and cards… kept me thinking in wrong directions for a while, which was the point :) . Spies? rodents? … no idea on three letter card joints until MLB showed up :) .

    Agree that this was easier than yesterday’s… but still a good puzzler for me.

    • Eric H says:

      Moles aren’t rodents, but that clue was nicely misdirecting (as was the MLB clue).

      • marciem says:

        Thanks! I had put moles in the same class as gophers in my mind (and never looked it up)… they both wreck my yard in places. I did think they were also rodents. :)

  5. Ben Bass says:

    Yes, Sat NYT way easier than Friday. I too was under 5 min. today which is quite rare, and I thought the NE corner yesterday was the hardest NYT section in months.

  6. marciem says:

    wsj: “62d [Army’s equivalent of Navy’s CPO] AFC. If you say so. I can figure out that the first one is Chief Petty Officer.”

    Actual answer is SFC, Sergeant First Class.

    LAT: Nine A.M. You’re too young to remember the movie and song “Nine to five”, which was their workday according to film and song. It must’ve changed :D :D

  7. Teedmn says:

    I agree with Derek on the Stumper – FOOZLE isn’t a word. I wanted FOibLE but SNOObE isn’t a word either.

  8. Michael Zierdt says:

    WSJ 62d not your “AFC” – should be “SFC” Sergeant First Class

  9. Eric H says:

    Universal: Kind of a fun theme. Unlike Jim Q, my sticking point was COME FOR until I realized what the “unchecked” squares spell out.

    I’m pretty sure I have never seen DISSOCIATE in a crossword puzzle before.

  10. Twangster says:

    Stumper was no cakewalk for me but I did manage to solve it. I initially had DIP instead of DIM at 30-Down, so it was looking 38-Across was going to be something like PAID ENVELOPE, which sort of made sense.

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