Saturday, August 13, 2022

LAT 3:04 (Stella) 


Newsday 24:02 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:33 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


John Westwig’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 13 22, no. 0813

This wasn’t too hard for a Saturday, but there were a number of things that game me pause. Did we all want 4d. [Mean dude?] to be AVERAGE JOE rather than the vague AVERAGE GUY? Are we all a bit unfamiliar with 1a MEGAFAN (which Wiktionary has as “A very large mass of clastic sediment deposited by a laterally mobile river system that fans out from the outlet from a large mountainous drainage” and not “aficionado”)? Are “HMM, I SEE” and “I’M IT” truly idiomatic phrases? (I like the more idiomatic “I’M AFRAID SO,” but that’s three “I” quotes along with song “I LOVE L.A.“) I’m more familiar with APTRONYM than the R-less spelling of APTONYM.

Fave fill: The ALOHA Stadium/IOLANI Palace two-fer, A.P. GERMAN, Yiddish YUTZES, properly idiomatic “GOT A LIGHT?” and “GIMME A SEC,” and MEATHEADS.

Five more things:

  • 61a. [Subordinate clause?], “YES, BOSS.” Eh. If you’ve watched The Bear on Hulu, you might be thinking “Yes, chef” right now.
  • 22a. [Widely awarded Ward], SELA. Widely awarded? A Golden Globe and two Emmys doesn’t feel so “wide.” If she’s short on cash, maybe she can sell awards.
  • 53a. [It used to be yours], THINE. There’s an entertaining series of language videos by a Brit who goes by RobWords. I recently saw the video on thee, thy, thou, ye, you, thine. Enjoy!
  • 42d. [Southern fast-food chain with “Zalads” and “Zappetizers”], ZAXBY’S. I don’t care how much you like the letters Z and X, it’s not a great entry since most Americans won’t have ever been to a Zaxby’s (or heard of it). I checked their location finder for Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC. No Zaxby’s restaurants to be found!
  • 34d. [Like those who refuse to be organized], ANTI-UNION. I feel like the term applies far more to the businesses that fight against unionization and not the workers who’ve been persuaded that unions are somehow bad for them.

3.25 stars from me. Onward to the weekend!

Lewis Rothlein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 8/13/22 by Lewis Rothlein

Los Angeles Times 8/13/22 by Lewis Rothlein

This puzzle took me past the three-minute mark, which hasn’t been true of the last couple of LAT Saturdays, so that’s something to like. That being said, I wasn’t crazy about this one — it seemed lacking to me in that hard-to-pin-down quality of “sparkle.” Although I’m not a huge fan of defining “sparkle” in a themeless to mean “lots of long entries that I’ve never seen before and/or have lots of high-Scrabble-point-tile values,” I do want to see cluing that lifts answers that aren’t “wow” words on their own. I didn’t get enough of that here.

Some notable bits:

  • 15A [Place to get bike wear] is a nice bit of deception for TREAD, with “wear” appearing to mean “clothing” on its surface and actually being used in its “wear and tear” sense.
  • 17A ONER…I’d like this word to enter the museum of crosswordese we don’t use any more.
  • 34A [Outer bank?] is a nice clue for ATM.
  • 46A [CrossFit set] for BURPEES is triggering (although I suppose that does mean it’s evocative).
  • 50A [Cake that traditionally has coconut-pecan icing] for GERMAN CHOCOLATE: I feel like this should have been “Cake type…” — does anybody just say GERMAN CHOCOLATE without the word CAKE on the end, to mean the cake? When I say “I want a GERMAN CHOCOLATE,” I mean “Buy me a Ritter Sport.”
  • 4D [Bridge inspector?] is a good clue for DENTIST.

So: There were some good clues in here, but I wanted even more!

Geoff Brown’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bee Gees Remix” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/13/22 • Sat • “Bee Gees Remix” • Brown • solution • 20220813

The long theme answers are phrases originally beginning with either B or G, and they’ve been exchanged for one another for wacky purposes.

  • 23a. [False name used on a Vegas toot?] BENDER IDENTITY (gender identity).
  • 28a. [Spillage from a skid row bottle?] GUTTER SCOTCH (butterscotch).
  • 41a. [Lost a family portrait in a poker game?] BET THE PICTURE (get the picture).
  • 64a. [Reason for a strict diet and exercise regimen?] GIRTH CONTROL (birth control).
  • 72a. [Opening a burger restaurant called Mac Donald’s?] BRAND LARCENY (grand larceny).
  • 94a. [Result of a faulty Elmer’s dispenser?] GLUE IN THE FACE (blue in the face).
  • 109a. [Fearless investigative reporters?] BRAVE DIGGERS (grave diggers). I guess this one is my favorite of the bunch.
  • 118a. [Therapy session for somebody suffering a loss?] GRIEF ENCOUNTER (brief encounter).

In a nice touch, the Bs and Gs alternate regularly.

  • 34d [“Barry” carrier] HBO. I’ve heard good things.
  • 40d [Lover’s song] SERENADE.
  • 44d [Bears, to Brutus] URSI. It’s possible that I’ve never seen this in a crossword before.
  • 56d [Best buds] GOOD PALS. Same initials as ‘green paint’.
  • 60d [Springy?] VERNAL. I like it.
  • 61d [Like a Van Gogh painting] STARRY. Oh, they mean a particular Van Gogh painting.
  • 78d [Jazz label since 1918] OKEH. Yep!
  • 1a [Hoffman of the Chicago Seven] ABBIE. Is this too close to 82d [“__ Irish Rose”] ABIE’S?
  • 19a [Ocean, informally] BRINY. 58a [Tar] SEA DOG. 87a [Sails force?] NAVY. I initially had WIND for that last.
  • 27a [Ninth grade course, often] ALGEBRA I. 32d [Campus in Houston, TX] RICE U. 96a [Aperture number] F STOP.
  • 31a [A snow bridge may conceal it] CREVASSE. I like that word.
  • 37a [Weapon wielded by ninja turtle Raphael] SAI. Did not know this. According to Wikipedia, it means ‘hairpin’ in Japanese.
  • 70a [Last three letters of a farmer song refrain] EIO. Wow, that’s kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel.
  • 98a [Jargon suffix] -ESE. Jargonese! As you know, I will never not make that joke.
  • 103a [Iraq’s area] NEAR EAST.
  • 108a [Bossy outburst] MOO. Underneath GLUE IN THE FACE, ha!
  • 124a [Truman and Myerson, for two] BESSES, 97d [Lee and Fleming, for two] PEGGYS.

Okay, I was going to share Sneakers’ radio commercial for B&G Pies, but it isn’t on the web, and frankly it isn’t worth converting to mp3 and uploading. Instead here’s “House of Pies” by a totally different band.

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20220813

Typically Stumpery recondite cluing today. Sewell’s offerings always give me a tough time.

The experience for this one was: almost nothing at first, then slow, slow progress for the entirety. No real bursts or torrents of solving.

  • 11a [Letters with 1980 Summer Olympics stamps] CCCP. My first-filled entry, which I then removed and later filled in again.
  • 16a [Word seen twice on the UN roster] ARAB. That’d be for United ARAB Emirates and Syrian ARAB Republic (had to look up the latter).
  • 17a [Mold-made French dessert with milk and almonds] BLANCMANGE. I should have gotten this one easily, but it just wasn’t coming to me and I had to wait for a few crosses. Had I been on point with this, the overall solve would have been significantly faster.
  • 18a [Lens holders] RIMS. Oh, I see now. Eyeglasses.
  • 26a [Boss or subordinate of a millennium ago] LIEGE. Another one I filled, unfilled, refilled.
  • 33a [Big name in “Artistic Licence Renewed” magazine] IAN. Must be Jamesbondian.
  • 34a [“__ de génie” (brainstorm)] IDÉE. Another isolated bit of early fill.
  • 39a [Light-colored letters on MLB caps] SOX. Why “light-colored”?
  • 61a [The earliest quarters] EDEN. Had the right idea, but tried WOMB first.
  • 62a [Professor’s preservative] DO NOT ERASE. Wow, no question mark or anything.
  • 4d [John Muir’s “magic wand in Nature’s hand”] PINE TREE. Tough one.
  • 6d [Frequent fryer] TOM. Huh?
  • 25d [Grafted plant with red and white edibles] POMATO. Potato/tomato? Internet says “yes”. How about 43d [Felid hybrid] TIGLON? I know LIGER and TIGON but not that. Maybe it’s the same as TIGON? Again, internet say “yes”, and offers a third version: TION.
  • 54d [Its grade depends on concentration] ORE. Was almost fooled into thinking it was GRE.

Another workout, and I’m very glad it’s over. Brunchtime!

Tracy Gray’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 33” — Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: None!

Universal crossword solution · Universal Freestyle 33 · Tracy Gray · Saturday. 08.13.22



Lots to like in this Tracy Gray themeless! Felt like a very smooth ride, but Universal themelesses tend to play heavily on the easy side, so I find they feel mostly smooth no matter what.

Not a lot of 3-letter entries here! And lots of fresh stuff to boot. I really liked DOT BOMBS, though I’ve never heard of them before: [Failed internet ventures]. How’d I A) Never hear that before or B) Not come up with it myself?

I really wanted BEER BONG to be BEER PONG no matter how little sense the clue made with the latter entry.

Two nits:

E-CIG. I wish we would take all the CIGS out of the puzzles. Crosswords typically try to keep out stuff that should not in any way be celebrated, right? I was addicted to regular CIGS for about 25 years, in large part because of how “cool” movies made it look when I first got hooked in the 90s. The clue [Vaping device] does little to emphasize just how damaging these things can be. Four students in my school last year had to be taken out in an ambulance after vaping with E-CIGS.

Other nit is LON being clued as [Name hidden in “colonel”]Universal does these types of clues frequently, and when they’re apt, they’re great. But sometimes I’m just left scratching my head. Why “colonel”? Is there a Colonel Lon I’m unfamiliar with? There’s so so so many words with LON in them. Why that one?

Anyway, those really aren’t major nits. Please don’t read too deep into them. Really good puzzle.

4.5 stars.

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23 Responses to Saturday, August 13, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: There are two Zaxby locations within 20 miles of my house, but I had never heard of it. On the other hand, given the cutesy menu items mentioned in the clue, the name almost had to start with a Z.

    Sela Ward has also won a CableAce Award, a CinemaCon award, two Online Film & Television Association Awards, and a Viewers for Quality Television award. Where in the clue does it refer to awards anyone has actually heard of?

    • PJ says:

      Travelers along southern interstate highways have encountered many Zaxby’s locations. And from the traffic I see on the interstates near me on Saturdays in late spring and summer, many people from the midwest are exposed to the brand. Zaxby’s also advertises on SEC football broadcasts. I understand a few people watch those, too.

      Sela Ward also has a college football connection. She was a a cheerleader at Alabama when I enrolled in 1976.

  2. marciem says:

    NYT: Amy… iswydt “If she’s short on cash, maybe she can sell awards.”


  3. Twangster says:

    Stumper: The experience for this one was: almost nothing at first, then slow, slow progress for a little bit, then give up and look at the answers.

  4. Dh says:

    I became anti-union precisely because of what they did to me and my career. No one had to convince me.

  5. John says:

    NYT: “What runs about a meter?” for TAXI CAB doesn’t work for me. How does a taxi run “about” a meter? Cabs run, and have meters, and meters run… but I don’t see how a cab runs “about” a meter in either the “planets revolve about the sun” sense, or the “this book is about medieval history” sense, or the “my house is about 1000 square feet” sense.

    • Bryan says:

      Good point. Maybe a better clue would have been something like: “What measures by the meter?” Still a Saturday level of wordplay and vagueness — and more grammatically accurate.

    • Seth says:

      My thought was that the meter is inside the cab, so the cab is “about” the meter in the sense that it’s surrounding the meter.

    • JohnH says:

      I just took it to be a bit of a joke and didn’t worry about it. Maybe even clever. There were more obscure things to worry abut, such as JOON crossing IOOLANI and the dreaded southern chain. Like Amy, I too searched for it “near me” and got “no results.”

  6. gyrovague says:

    NYT: Perhaps a few too many tortured, trying-too-hard clues? GIMME A SEC … HMM, I SEE several, so yes, I’M AFRAID SO.

    LAT: A STRIKING achievement in contrast to the above; more than enough ZESTY entries to TURN HEADS.

  7. Bryan says:

    NYT: I live in the Southeast, so ZAXBYS was a gimme for me. I see them everywhere. Fair criticism that many solvers won’t be familiar with it. That said, though, because of where I live, I’ve never been to an In-N-Out burger restaurant (California and Southwest chain), but I’ve certainly heard about it.

  8. Seth says:

    Stumper: can someone please explain all these clues like “Name related to Aidan” for EDNA? I hate these types of clues so much. Related how? Can’t be language origin, because Aidan is from Irish mythology and Edna is Hebrew. Can’t be meaning. So related like…kinda has the same consonants? I really hope that’s not it.

    • marciem says:

      Same question, along with panonnica’s “why TOM” and “Why light colored letters for SOX”? Three letters none of which seemed to want to fill in. I wanted Hen for the fryer, as in chicken. I don’t think anybody fries Tomcats, so maybe tom turkeys?

      Really really tough. DNF tough for me. No idea on Tiglon or Pomato. Just when I thought I’d cracked a section, got stuck with things like that. Didn’t know the Jamesbondian one either.

      • Seth says:

        I think you’re right about a TOM turkey, which is a thing. And the caps of the White Sox have the word “SOX” in white.

        Regarding my name question…could a clue for ESTHER be “Name akin to Seth” because both have STH? That would be really silly.

  9. Me says:

    NYT: Maybe I grew up playing the wrong games, but is there a tag-like game where people routinely say, “I’M IT”? I think of it usually as people saying, “Not it!” or “You’re it!” rather than “I’m it.” In the games I played, nobody wanted to be “it.”

    Stumper: I’m also stumped how AIDAN and EDNA are related. They clearly come from completely unrelated etymologies, despite having so many shared letters.

    • Seth says:

      Totally agree with you about I’M IT, every time I see it in a puzzle. No one ever really says that in a game.

    • JohnH says:

      Fair point. Maybe “tag, you’re it” from the point of view of a self-involved solver.

  10. pannonica says:

    Stumper: per Wikipedia, “Edna may also be an Anglicized form of the Irish and Scottish name Eithne” which is “a female personal name … meaning ‘kernel’ or ‘grain'” and “[o]ther spellings [of Eithne] and earlier forms include Ethnea, Ethlend, Ethnen, Ethlenn, Ethnenn, Eithene, Ethne, Aithne, Enya, Ena, Edna, Etney, Eithnenn, Eithlenn, Eithna, Ethni, Edlend, Edlenn.”

    But none of that gets us closer, as Aidan “is derived from the name Aodhán, which is a pet form of Aodh. The personal name Aodh means ‘fiery’ and/or ‘bringer of fire’ and was the name of a Celtic sun god (see Aed).”

  11. Teedmn says:

    The Stumper took me *forever* today and I still had two errors with POtATO and, well, I’m too embarrassed to say. Suffice it to say that I took “peacock” in the 31A clue literally and was thinking it was a biology-related word which allowed me to assume my two errors created a scientific word I was heretofore ignorant of, sigh.

    When the light bulb finally went off, I really appreciated 10D’s clue for DYED.

    Matthew Sewell rules again!

  12. David L says:

    Today’s Stumper is a good example of why I am not a fan of this puzzle. Three 3-letter names, all clued inscrutably so that the only solution is to think, hey, that’s a name, and it fits, so maybe it’s right.

    Also, why is a shaggy dog story an example of ANTICOMEDY? I give you, for example, Norm Macdonald’s famous moth joke.

  13. Rock Hill says:

    Stumper – After a while – FT.

Comments are closed.