Saturday, March 19, 2022

LAT 3:52 (Stella) 


Newsday 13:03 (pannonica) 


NYT 8:00? (Amy) 


Universal 4:03 (Jim Q) 


USA Today 1:31 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 3 19 22, no. 0319

Aaugh, I don’t care for Across Lite solving on a laptop. I don’t think this was that difficult a puzzle! Heck, I blew 20 seconds resizing the window so I could see more of the wordy John OLIVER clue. (Those software developers never heard of line breaks?)

But did you look at this thing? Seven 9s running Across, enmeshed with seven Down 9s. Gorgeous! So much open space, endless flow. Just a 62-worder, and there isn’t any short junk, nor any long roll-your-own words befouling things. There were three multi-word entries I did not care for, though: IT’S A DUD and I STUNK don’t sound idiomatic enough to be crossword answers, and THE PO hasn’t earned its definite article.

Fave fill: LISSOME, “LOVED IT!,” BUNCHED UP from static cling, LIVES A LIE, TECH NERDS, pretty SAND ART, BARE CHEST, CONCEALER, Count CHOCULA (and yes, I tried DRACULA first).

Ding for the editor more than the constructor: Didn’t care for BIO LAB plus “biologist” in the GENE clue.

Five more things:

  • 41a. [Unwanted autocorrections], TYPOS. Do you know how much cussing the TECH NERDS have created by insisting that our mobile devices not recognize the words “fucking” and “shit”? Because when your phone changes your words to “ducking shot,” you know what words will come out of your mouth next.
  • 48a. [Schoolmaster for the classroom, e.g.], ANAGRAM. @*#! I tried PROGRAM, figuring that Schoolmaster could well be the name of software used by teachers. Unscramble the classroom, though, and …
  • 4d. [Suit cut between “classic” and “slim”], MODERN FIT. I’m not up on my haberdashery code names. So, form-fitting but accommodating more bulk than a slim fit does?
  • 7d. [Along with the anteater, one of two animals in the order Pilosa], SLOTH. I did not know this. I might have known it previously. Pilosa, aka “really wild-looking animals that don’t fit in anywhere else”?
  • The 39a and 32d crossing, ARTILLERY and ENTENTE, puts me in mind of Ukraine. The ’80s teen in me is still astonished every time I hear a 21st-century Republican being pro-Russian and taking the Kremlin’s line of attack against America (and against Ukraine). Reagan would be equally befuddled. Fingers crossed for some sort of face-saving pact that lets Putin withdraw his troops from Ukraine, because we all know he’s so petty and thin-skinned, he needs to save face. Sigh. So terrible.

4.25 stars from me. The three unfave fills knocked this pretty grid down from a 4.5 … but to have a 62-worder with cleaner fill than, say, plenty of 78-word themed puzzles that are blogged here, that’s no mean feat.

John Guzzetta’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/19/22 by John Guzzetta

Los Angeles Times 3/19/22 by John Guzzetta

This puzzle gave me a bit more of a workout than I’ve been getting the last couple of weeks, which I appreciate. The long entries, THERE IS NO PLAN B and BECAUSE REASONS, sure are lively. Some more highlights:

  • 14A ARITHMETIC, clued very cleverly as [It includes the study of roots]. Despite knowing ORIOLE right away at 2D, the deception at this clue is a big reason I needed to fight with the NW corner a little bit. Respect.
  • 56A FINE DINING, also a very nice clue [It features exquisite settings] that succeeded in throwing me off the scent for a bit.
  • 37A [Philippic] is a clue I haven’t seen before, at least not that I can remember, for the ubiquitous entry RANT.
  • 50A [Something to check before picking up] is a wonderfully punny clue for CALLER ID. I’m sorry I didn’t really notice it while solving, since I got it entirely from the Downs or inferring the missing squares.
  • 6D [___ dive] for DEEP is a nice example of judicious use of a fill-in-the-blank to create difficulty, not ease. I bet I’m not the only one who thought SWAN at first.

I liked it! Not gonna say love, but I liked.

Kevin Christian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Talking Smock” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/19/22 • Sat • “Talking Smock” • Christian • solution • 20220319

Phrases containing words ending in -ACK have them altered to -OCK, to wocky effect.

  • 23a. [Lego expert in Lipetsk?] BLOCK RUSSIAN (black Russian). Has a different implication these days.
  • 29a. [No longer listening to loud music?] OFF THE ROCK (off-the-rack). Better clue, perhaps: [Escaped from Alcatraz?]
  • 46a. [Howard Stern specialty?] RADIO SHOCK (Radio Shack). What was it about business names back when? Radio Shack, Pizza Hut? They sound so awshucksy. Maybe it was just that it was a different time. But I can  now imagine a Waffle Lean-to.
  • 63a. [Athlete’s mansion?] THE HOUSE THAT JOCK BUILT (The House That Jack Built). Definitely echoes of ‘The House That Ruth Built’, said of the New York Yankees.
  • 81a. [Shine on a tress of hair?] LOCK LUSTER (lackluster).
  • 100a. [Slow cooker humor?] CROCK JOKES (crack jokes).
  • 107a. [Make fun of a poorly made shiv?] MOCK THE KNIFE (Mack the Knife).

I’d call this theme serviceable but not inspiring. The difficulty level of fill and cluing for the crossword as a whole was very accessible; I had no missteps whatsoever, just the occasional pause and redirection.

  • Rachel Fabi’s USA Today crossword solution, “Inside Joke” 3/19/2022

    annnddd … as I started to review the fill, I realize almost right away that I did in fact have a misstep: 7d [In need of stimulus], for which my first attempt was SLUMPING instead of SLUGGISH.

  • 9d [Person in front of a train] BRIDE. 88a [Sites for rites] ALTARS.
  • 12d [Toy originally advertised with the suggestion “Throw it indoors] NERF BALL. Ad wizardry, I tell you.
  • 14d [It might be well-made] WISH. It could be both well-made and poorly made!
  • 47d [Nanakuli nicety] ALOHA. I’m supposing the locale has some personal significance to the author or editor.
  • 54d [Printer’s units] REAMS, 55d [Printer’s unit] PICA. Quantity, size.
  • 78d [Après-ski quaff] HOT TODDY. Not COCOA for once.
  • 97d [Donizetti opera title character] LUCIA de Lamermoor.
  • 19a [Like some fiber] OPTICAL. DIETARY would also fit, but I was circumspect.
  • 52a [Dream ender] ALARM. That’s just rude.
  • 85a [Humphrey’s wife and four-time co-star] LAUREN. That’s kind of rude too; no need to diminish the very accomplished Ms Bacall by cluing her exclusively as a consort to Bogart.

So here’s some music I found. First impression is that it’s rather insipid, but perhaps it works better in the film, which I have yet to see.

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 3/19/22 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff, Newman • solution • 202203119

This one seemed a bit more arduous than the ‘less rough’ designation would indicate, but it was more pliant than a standard-issue Stumper, so that suggests that I don’t know quite where the line of demarcation lies.

Anyway, bilateral symmetry in this one.

Last area to fall was the upper left, but it was gettable with a little elbow grease. I think the most dubious answer in the area is actually 1-across [Had a blast] WENT OFF, and it isn’t even that much of a stretch. Oh wait, scratch that—I still don’t understand how 15a works [OK to be moved] IN ORDER.

  • 18a [Copyright law concept] FAIR USE. If you dare:
  • 26a [Sticks on your feet] SKIS. Wow that was tough.
  • 27a [M*A*S*H extras] RNS? GIS? MPS.
  • 31a [Word related to “feud”] FOE. Needed to initiate a letter run to get the E, and then it was obvious.
  • 44a [ proprietor] NEA. Implied duplication of ‘arts’, which dissuaded me from filling this one in sooner.
  • 52a [What a craft should be called] SHE. “Should”? That’s just convention. Perhaps that’s tantamount to “should”?
  • 53a [What might get you a premium bargain] GAS WAR. Lot going on with this clue.
  • 63a [Publisher’s semi-strong selections] MIDLIST. Is this terminology well-known outside the industry?
  • 7d [Sauteuse, for instance] FRY PAN. From Wikipedia: “A versatile pan that combines the best of both the sauté pan and the frying pan has higher, sloping sides that are often slightly curved. This pan is called a sauteuse (literally a sauté pan in the female gender), an evasée (denoting a pan with sloping sides), or a fait-tout (literally ‘does everything’).”
  • 8d [Stuffed souvenir of Iceland] PUFFIN. Really hoping this refers to a plush toy and not a taxidermied specimen.
  • 9d [Org. that publishes “What Would Florence Do?”] ANA, American Nurses Association.
  • 12d [They’re under hoods] TRUNKS. Not engines? Follows 11d [They’re under bonnets and boots] TIRES. Not TYRES?
  • 33d [Action initiator] SUER, not CUER.
  • 35d [It’s more than a Strong Breeze] NEAR GALE. Kind of want these to be cocktails.
  • 42d [Imitation indicator] -ETTE. Trying to think of examples, at a loss.
  • 24a [Overpowering feeling] PANIC. 65a [Overpowering feeling] ECSTASY. Mid-solve versus end-of-solve?

Rachel Fabi’s USA Today crossword, “Inside Joke”—Matthew’s write-up

Rachel Fabi’s USA Today crossword solution, “Inside Joke” 3/19/2022

It’s a comedy chow from Rachel Fabi today. Each of our themers have a type of joke embedded within:

  • 17a [Queen’s title] HER MAJESTY
  • 37a [Crash the party] SHOW UP UNINVITED
  • 58a [“Bzzt! Still not right!”] WRONG AGAIN

Fun theme set! JEST is awful tough to split across a word break, but nice that the others do.


  • 23a [FedEx competitor] UPS. It occurred to me after having to delete “DHL” that I haven’t seen DHL in the real world in some time.
  • 48a [Treats, like an icy road] SALTS. If you ask me, it’s too late once the road is icy, and you just have to wait at that point. Put the salt down first!

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 12″— Jim Q’s write-up

THEME: None!

Universal crossword solution · Universal Freestyle 12 · Enrique Henestroza Anguiano · Sat., 03.19.22



Solid themeless. Really admire the the NW and SE corners with those triple stacked 9’s- All solid entries that didn’t result in any crud, particularly in the SE which is clean as a whistle.

SEA SHANTY reminded me of that short-lived trend, maybe a year ago now? When everybody had “Wellermen” stuck in their heads for a week or so.

Never heard of SHRIMP and grits. Does anything not go with grits? I’ve only had grits once or twice in my life.

4.5 stars today. Thanks!

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23 Responses to Saturday, March 19, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Friday’s puzzle, as good as it was, left me feeling like I STUNK. By comparison, today’s was easy-peasy.

    Loved the clue for BARE CHEST. Or maybe I just loved the image it left in my mind.

    Also not a fan of having ARTILLERY in my puzzles, and not just when there’s a hot war going on somewhere. (OK, so there probably hasn’t been a time in my life when someone wasn’t shooting at or dropping bombs on someone else.)

    • Gary R says:

      It’s always kind of interesting to hear how clues/answers in a crossword evoke different reactions. The image BARE CHEST brought to my mind was Vlad on horseback – ugh!

      On the other hand, I didn’t mind seeing ARTILLERY, but I thought the clue was off. In my mind, ARTILLERY is the equipment that does the launching, it’s not what gets launched – “artillery shells” are launched, but not “artillery.”

      Agree with Amy on THE PO, and I’m curious if anyone here has every spoken or written the word GRIPPE outside of a crossword.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Very lovely puzzle. Had to cheat to get DAVE CLARK– had noooo idea. And PUNISHERS? But some areas fell so neatly and made me chuckle. Loved the OLIVER clue. And good to know about SLOTH…

  3. John F. Ervin says:

    WSJ, re 29A , Monday morning QBing, why not say “alternative” rather than “better”?
    85A, I don;t see anything RUDE about the cluing, a little sensitive maybe?
    Enough kvetching, 104A UNPC, no capeesh.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    NYT a well constructed puzzle, yes, but several answers were not that easy to make a good clue and in my eye were oddly clued. Lazy or wavelength? Probably the latter …

    I had easily more than Amy’s three nits, lol


    I am sometimes amazed that words being in puzzles (artillery)* appear to upset people enough to mention it (artillery is hardly the tool of war at work in Ukraine) and no one …

    – know that I am a life long supporter of abortion rights and equality in sexuality and marriage

    … commented on Rachel’s <3 <3 (very well intentioned) which truly made me cringe in light of the cynical and sinister "heartbeat," bills being passed. I didn't know what to say yesterday

    I was surprised to still see it today. Were she my friend I'd surely have texted her about it.

    No ad hominem attacks on this old white guy, please,

    * and e.g. calls for NRA banning when clued as not the gun group?

  5. David L says:

    Newsday: I went to this website,, to get the puzzle, but when I click for the online version I get nothing — a blank page. The FAQ suggests this happens because I don’t have Java installed, but I checked to make sure Java is fully updated and that Javascript is activated in Chrome. Everything looks correct.

    Any suggestions? (I can print the puzzle pdf successfully)

    • David L says:

      Having done the puzzle the old-fashioned way I am also baffled by the clue for INORDER, and TIRES is indeed wrong since the clue uses funny British words.

      • GG says:

        Puzzled also. I enjoyed Pannonica’s write up a lot more than the puzzle. And ardently hope that the puffins are in fact toys.
        Wondering if the 15A OK TO BE MOVED has to do with parliamentary procedure – maybe.

      • Gene says:

        Regarding INORDER, think of Robert’s Rules.

      • Seth says:

        I thought of IN ORDER like “packed up or organized neatly,” like before someone moves to a new house. If their stuff is IN ORDER, it’s ready to be moved elsewhere.

  6. Newsday, 35-D, “It’s more than a Strong Breeze.” I too thought of cocktails. Strong Breeze and Near Gale are designations in the Beaufort Scale. (Something I learned about from reading Lydia Davis.)

    • R Cook says:

      Is that why they’re capitalized? I was confused because I was looking for a proper noun or product name.

  7. steve says:

    as for TECH NERDS and fucking, my phone must have different nerds in charge

    as soon as i get close to an f in a text, there is fuck or fucking on the screen
    there have been times i have not even hit the damn thing yet and fuck is up there, i like it but it is a little scary

  8. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: “Because reasons”? Huh? Is this something people actually say? It seems that the more puzzles I do into my late-middle-age, the more I realize how out of touch I am with how my native tongue is evolving. The entire NE section of this grid was a struggle for me between not being able to figure out what went with REASONS, YETIS (I know the brand name but not what they call their product lines) and WILD SIDE (I’m very familiar with the Lou Reed song, but not the novel).

    I’m not complaining, mind you. I like crosswords that offer some resistance as long as everything is fairly crossed (it was here, but just barely in the NE) and I also like learning things. I gave this one a Medium-Challenging relative difficulty rating using my solve time-based algorithm.

    • Lise says:

      LAT: “Because reasons” is ubiquitous in my house and in the wild (or my wild, at least) (and I’m 65). It saves a lot of time and unnecessary explanation.

      I take issue with GASPAR as “creche figure” (1D). I’ve seen only Caspar and Kaspar (in German). I did Google it to make sure. Googling “Gaspar” took me to “Caspar.”

      So that left me with COB for “chunk” at 1A which I thought was oddly specific. 😁

      I thought the NYT was lovely, although, as others mentioned, easier than Friday. When that happens, I just figure I’m on the constructor’s wavelength that day.

      And I finished the Stumper over lunch, so I will give a thumbs-up to it being “Lester Ruff.” I agree if one goes to all the trouble to use British terms in a clue, the answer should be the British spelling, but that would really have messed with that corner, so I understand. Because reasons.

  9. rtaus says:

    Gary – GRIPPE appears prominently in “Adelaide’s Lament,” a highlight of “Guys and Dolls.”

  10. Mick Brown says:

    Agree “tires” should’ve been “tyres” per the clueing in the SS.

    Sorry Amy, but I have many Republican friends and read a lot of the right wing “non-fake” news, and I have yet to hear or to read ANY pro-Russia/anti-Ukrain arguments.

  11. RichardZ says:

    I’d agree with those who found 42D in the Stumper (ETTE, with clue “Imitation indicator”) to be dubious. I’ve seen “ette” is used as a diminutive suffix (e.g., kitchenette, dinette) or a feminizing suffix (e.g., majorette, suffragette), but I can’t think of an example of its use as an imitation indicator.

  12. Barry says:

    Well-made refers to wishing well, no?

Comments are closed.