Saturday, April 9, 2022

LAT  2:55 (Stella) 


Newsday 17:08 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:41 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


USA Today 2:12 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 4 9 22, no. 0409

So I thought I had slowed waaaay down based on my solving time yesterday, but some other folks also found Caitlin’s Fri NYT to be tough. Then comes Sam Buchbinder’s Saturday puzzle and … I finish in a distinctly Fridayish amount of time. Anyone else feeling that “oops, Friday and Saturday should have traded places” vibe?

Got off to a delighted start with “MUST BE NICE…” right there at 1-Across. Other fave fill: NEW ZEALAND,  CUT A DEAL, RAT PACK and CLAMBAKES (these two feel like they belong together—the Clam Pack and ratbakes?), BOBA TEA, TV REPORTER, “NEXT, PLEASE,” DIRT BIKE, AUTOCLAVES (always nice when my history as a dental editor helps with a puzzle), CENSUS DATA (btw, amateur genealogists, the 1950 US Census records are now publicly available), PHONE TAG, and BAD TASTE.

Six more things:

  • 15a. [First winning presidential ticket to alternate vowels and consonants], OBAMA/BIDEN. How salutary for crossword constructors!
  • 31a. [Huffing and puffing, e.g.], GERUNDS. Great clue!
  • 52a. [Rear guard?], TALC. No. Don’t put talcum powder on your nether parts or your baby’s nether parts. A cornstarch baby powder is safer, as there are some reasons to suspect talc is linked to ovarian cancer. Do not “guard” your butt-crack with talc.
  • 3d. [Carpenters, at times], SAWERS. Can anyone ask a carpenter if people in the trade ever use this -ER word? I do know there are still sawyers out there, since a friend was just hiring one for some fallen trees. I hadn’t known the job title still existed!
  • 34d. [Take the money and run, say], ROB A BANK. Anyone else flash back to seeing Rabobank-sponsored teams in the Tour de France, with ROBABANK losing its spaces in the grid? The menswear company Jos. A. Bank would fit this slot too, if JID were a familiar enough thing.
  • 56d. [Grow out of something, say], MOLT. I just saw a YouTube video of a lobster molting. Leon was purchased in the seafood department of a grocery store and is now a beloved aquarium pet. Those old rubber-band scars on the claws? Gone post-molt!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Tee For Too” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/9/22 • Sat • “Tee For Too” • Shenk • solution • 20220409

The theme answers substitute EE for OO, so the title needs to be taken as merely an example rather than an instruction.

  • 25a. [Small river’s indignant assertion?] I AM NOT A CREEK (“I am not a crook”). Reader, he was.
  • 39a. [Tool for giving roosters boosters?] CHICKEN NEEDLE (chicken noodle {soup}). Check that out, three sets of OO in the clue.
  • 56a. [Entree accompaniers at an all-dairy diner?] CHEESE SIDES (choose sides).
  • 82a. [Linen item in an Istanbul inn?] TURKEY SHEET (turkey shoot). Crossword brain sparked up and prepared me for IMARET.
  • 98a. [Part of a forest-themed carousel?] REVOLVING DEER (revolving door).
  • 114a. [Trash from a banana eater on the bay?] SWIMMING PEEL (swimming pool). I feel ‘swimming’ suggests too much agency here.
  • 3d. [Sculpture in an avian-themed art installation?] STEEL PIGEON (stool pigeon). There’s a large one that was put on display in 2020 at Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.
  • 71d. [Warning of high pollen levels?] SNEEZE ALARM (snooze alarm).
  • 16d. [Polo, for the aristocracy?] PEER SPORT (poor sport).
  • 80d. [Running track?] MEET POINT (moot point).

This strikes me as a treading-water theme. It isn’t all that inspired or interesting, but gets the job done. Kind of analogous to the crossword ‘glue’ we sometimes describe as holding together an individual grid, except at the scale of a series of crosswords. And not as ugly as that stuff can be.

  • 1d [Where some people kick back] DOJO. Not the relaxing kind! 52d [Relaxing sort] IDLER.
  • 5d [Baseball, informally] HORSEHIDE. Have not heard this, though I’m familiar with football being called ‘pigskin’. Are there similarly gruesome equivalents for other major sports?
  • 26d [Rum mixer] COKE. 32d [Margarita makers squeeze them] LIMES. Heyyy I’m starting to warm to this crossword.
  • 44d [Soccer’s “Black Pearl”] PELÉ. That guy has so many nicknames.
  • 48d [Candelabra with nine branches] MENORAHS. Is this a typo, or is the plural of candelabra not candelabras?
  • 68d [Short-billed auk] SEA DOVE. Not a name I was familiar with. The internet informs me that this is the little auk, aka dovekie. Scientific binomial is the tautonym Alle alle.
  • 84d [Silvery metallic element] YTTERBIUM. Not only did I anticipate this, based on the YT start, but I was able to spell it correctly on the first try. Other elements named for the Swedish village of Ytterby are yttrium, erbium, and terbium.
  • 87d [Course at Gallaudet Univ.] ASL. I would have thought that nearly everyone there is already well-versed in it, but perhaps it’s equivalent to something like English at another university?
  • 93d [Analyze in detail] DISSECT. Do not let me catch you mispronouncing this word. Huge pet peeve.
  • 103d [“Seven Days __” (1964 Burt Lancaster/Kirk Douglas movie)] IN MAY. Oh sure, let’s think about nuclear weapons deployment. Nothing fraught there, eh?

I kind of went all-in on the downs, and a survey of the non-theme acrosses didn’t arouse my interest much, so I’ll leave it here.

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

Los Angeles Times 4/9/22 by John Hawksley

Los Angeles Times 4/9/22 by John Hawksley

Another sub-3-minute time. Patti Varol’s new LAT submission guidelines are up, and they state that Saturday themelesses should present a “gentle challenge.” I’m hoping by this she means puzzles that aren’t quite THIS gentle on the regular. You know those “Keep Austin Weird” signs and shirts? I need to have a “Keep Saturdays Hard” shirt made.

That being said — not a knock on the constructor, who has made a really lovely grid with lots of wide-open spaces and no slop. That’s quite an achievement! Highlights:

  • 14A [Ricotta-stuffed pastry] is CANNOLI.
  • Those 11s down the middle: INTERNET LAW, HORROR MOVIE, DIET SEVEN-UP.
  • 54A [Serviceman?] is a great clue for PARSON. In general I think this puzzle could have benefited from changing several straightforward clues (such as the one for CANNOLI) to something more playful.
  • 6D [Northern frontiers?] elevates ENS, an entry that could’ve felt like “glue.”
  • 14A [“Bring it on, dude!”] is COME AT ME BRO. As someone who put DO YOU EVEN LIFT BRO through the middle of a themeless (Boswords themeless tournament, fall 2021) once, I wholeheartedly approve.
  • 34A [Daily newspaper entertainment], PUZZLES, is a fabulous entry that is absolutely crying out for a punny clue.

So: I wish there were more zest to the clues, but awesome grid.

Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 4/9/22 • Zawistowski • Saturday Stumper • solution • 20220409

Phew, another workout from Stella.

This one was relatively smooth sailing—sure there a few stumbling blocks and hiccups—but the lower left section was a real bear.

Piecing that part together was tough. ERRANT? No, ERRING. ENSHRINE? No, ENTHRONE. (But could it have been something else altogether and was INGE really AGEE?)

And who could recall that there was a network merger in 2006 that created THE CW? What could be “loud on cabaret stages”? Wow, BOAS—needed many crossings.

In retrospect, I think the key was getting 29d [Well-manicured, in a way] NEW-MOWN. That more or less literally opened the door to the southwest.

Heavy stacks in all the corners: triple-tens in the northwest and southeast, vertical triple-eights to complement. And then a pair of 12-letter across entries flanking the midsection.

  • 41a [Old-timey chair protector] ANTIMACASSAR. This was to protect furniture from macassar oil, a hair product worn by men of yore. Macassar is eponymous to the port of Makassar in the southwest of the Indonesian island Sulawesi, once called Celebes.
  • 17a [Lure of little interest] TEASER RATE. Tricksy clue, and far from the only one in this puzzle.
  • 28a [One with a suit to press] SWAIN. Wasn’t sure about that one at all; the N was my last letter entered. 38a [Go after] WOO.
  • 35a [No moniker for an original Methodist] WES. I get that that’s a reference to Wesleyan, but am unsure how to parse the “no” in the clue. Not a nickname that he used (how do we know)? Or does it signify something else?
  • 51a [Understated-sounding shape-shifter] LOKI (‘low-key’).
  • 54a [One leaving] TREE >groan<  Crossed by 44d [Arborist’s anathema] ROT.
  • 57a [Scission] RENT. Went with RIFT at first.
  • 3d [Where the Cajuns came from] ACADIA.
  • 4d [Tall Caucasians, for short] MTS. The Caucasus mountains.
  • 7d [Morsel or cancel] SCRAP. Nice clue. Is it undermined or enhanced by 9d [Meal morsel] OAT?
  • 62d [1½ millennia before “Adaptation”] DII. Kind of random, selecting a 2002 film for this type of clue. Maybe it’s a personal favorite of the author?
  • 56d [Brass, but not bronze] GALL. Toughie.

Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword, “Frame of Reference”—Matthew’s write-up

Rebecca Goldstein’s USA Today crossword solution, “Frame Of Reference”, 4/9/2022

The letters of CITE “frame” each themer:

  • 20a [Candidate likely to win in a landslide] CLEAR FAVORITE
  • 38a [Meandering route] CIRCUITOUS ROUTE
  • 54a [Cluster of orange trees, say] CITRUS GROVE

Some fun long downs as well, in MORE TO COME, FREELANCE, SEMICOLON, and COUNT ME OUT. Gotta run otherwise. See you Monday with the BEQ!

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23 Responses to Saturday, April 9, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: For me, Friday’s was significantly faster than Saturday’s. I made pretty good progress with today’s, but got hung up at the end where YAM and YETI came together.

    • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

      I’d rate the two about equal. Both were medium difficulty with one difficult sector that took me longer to get through. Yesterday it was the SE; to day NE and finding my through that center section. RAT PACK was very dated, but agree that the clue for GERUNDS was excellent.

      • Eric H says:

        Yeah, when I figured out the Bishop clue, I felt a bit of pity for younger solvers.

        The Rat Pack seemed dated when I was a kid. And that was a long time ago.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      10:12 solve time for me yesterday vs 14:53 today. I rated them both as Medium-Challenging in relative difficulty. I too got hung up in the NE, where I was comfortable with ‘psaS’ instead of APBS {11A: Some radio announcements, in brief}. I suppose that I should have realized that with “announcements” in the clue, the answer couldn’t very well be ‘psaS’, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. I just about fell out of my chair when I saw Amy’s 4:41 solve time for today’s puzzle. Amazing!

  2. dh says:

    Re WSJ: I don’t understand the comment “Reader, he was”. Who, Nixon? I don’t get it. Before I knew what the exact theme was, I wanted to put “Chicken Shot” for the Rooster Booster clue. As crossword content goes and what it makes me think of, I was less triggered by
    “Seven Days in May” than I was by the vowel/consonant alternating presidential ticket. Interesting wordplay trivia, though. Not a chemist, I, but I was pretty certain of “Yttrium” until it didn’t fit; was not familiar with “Ytturbium”, but wasn’t that on Jeopardy the other day?

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: Wait, AVEENO {41A: Skin care brand} and AVEDA {53D: Brand with “Be Curly” products} are both personal care product brand names? No wonder I can’t keep them straight. I think I’ve made the mistake of entering stuff like ‘Aveedo’, ‘Aveena’, ‘Aveno’ and/or ‘Avedo’ in puzzles before. You’d think that they’d want to have more distinguishable names unless one is trying to capitalize on the success of the other.

  4. Charles Stevens says:

    Stumper: loved it. Tough but fair. Nice little aspect – 4 great long across entries with misleading double letters: TEAMMASCOT, ARCTICCHAR, TEASERRATE, MESSENGERRNA. Had no idea what ANTIMACASSAR was, but I feel like I learned something today.

  5. Jeff says:

    I am a sawyer, not a sawer. Nobody in the business would use the latter.

  6. KarenS says:

    Stumper: 52D – one of the few times in my personal life when it has paid to be an ERISA attorney. I was even a participant in a Keogh plan. Many younger practitioners assumed Keogh was an acronym.

  7. Chris says:

    NYT– someone please explain “silento” and amoebas for me?

  8. marciem says:

    NYT: Amy…. Leon was AMAZING to watch!! Thank you for sharing that!! :) :)

    The videos, pics and music shared here are as entertaining as the puzles :) . I don’t know if you all get enough praises for those. :) I especially also love that Steel Pigeon from pannonica today!

  9. David L says:

    Stumper: ‘where the Cajuns come from” — ACADIA. Is that legit? Because the word Cajun derives directly from Acadian by dropping the initial vowel.

    • Pilgrim says:

      I think it’s referring to the ancestors of the present-day Cajuns being expelled from and/or emigrating from Acadia.

      • David L says:

        Yes, I know. What I mean is that the words are the same — cluing Acadia with respect to the Cajuns is like cluing Germany as the country where Germans live.

        • pannonica says:

          I’m familiar with the derivation of Cajun from Acadian, but I felt the corruption was significant enough that they didn’t constitute a duplication.

          But now that I think about it, I might cry foul if—to pick a not-quite-random example—crawdad were clued by crayfish. So, hmm.

  10. Crotchety Doug says:

    WSJ – Possibly this late at night I am too easily amused, but I roared at Panonnica’s included pic of a merry-go=round reindeer and a mall steel pigeon.

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