Saturday, May 14, 2022

LAT 3:41 (Stella) 


Newsday 12:33 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:41 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Jim Q) 


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ tk (pannonica) 


Ada Nicolle’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 14 22, no. 0514

That’s two days in a row with fresh, fun NYT themelesses! I wouldn’t object to a sterner challenge in the Saturday puzzle, but I’ll take fun, sure.

Fave fill in this 70-worder: SCREEN CAP(ture), SILLY STRING, “IT IS WHAT IT IS” (I’m old enough to remember when people rarely said that before Britney Spears broke it wide open), HOME GYM, “WE’RE DONE HERE,” OLD EL PASO, LIFE LESSONS, INFINITY POOL, SPACE WESTERN, and “SORRY I ASKED.” Though the clue for that last one feels off target to me: 9d. [“Oh, never mind – you clearly don’t want to talk about it”] feels quite polite, whereas I’m hearing a snippy, dismissive “SORRY I ASKED!”

Five more things:

  • 9a. [Incomplete Wikipedia entry], STUB. I think it was just a day or two ago some other puzzle venue went this cluing route! Still a good clue.
  • 23a. [Prefix with pronoun], NEO. I don’t encounter that. Whether a pronoun is centuries old or relatively new, the category pronoun still covers it without qualification.
  • 48a. [“Was ist ___?”], DAS. Raise your hand if you filled in LOS first (“what’s wrong?” rather than “what is that?”).
  • 12d. [Icy detachment], BERG. Clever clue! Cute, even.
  • 51d. [Stand for something], EASEL. I like that the clue screams “verb phrase” but it’s actually working as a noun.

Four stars from me. This one was much easier for me than Ada’s AVCX+ themeless on Thursday, which had a few whippersnapper references that weren’t in my wheelhouse.

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

Newsday • 5/14/22 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20220514

This distinctive grid, roughly quincunx-shaped, proved not to be so intimidating once I engaged with it.

I puttered and sputtered around at first, but eventually was able to make some inroads in various sections: a longish word here, a cross or two there. Before I knew it, a good half-to-two-thirds was complete, and it was time to start working on the endgame—exploring the remaining glades among the forest of answers.

Fortunately I was able to make short work of those areas too, with some artful guesswork and logic. Final square for me was the crossing of 19a [Take over] RENEW and 5d [Start of a final rite sentence] I NOW. The latter seems to be the final exchange in a wedding ceremony, not one’s last rites before being interred. Not sure I understand the across one.

  • 15a [Puerto Rican mashed plantain dish] MOFONGO. Can never remember which is MENUDOS and which is MOFONGO, never mind TOSTADAS, which we saw the other day.
  • 23a [“Till we saturate time and __”: Whitman] ERAS. Anyone else try TIDE first? Rinse and repeat.
  • 24a [Impromptu] AD LIB.
  • 26a [Southeast Asia starch source] SAGO. Despite the seemingly deliberate alliteration pointing toward an S-word, my first instinct was to try TARO. Oh and look, it’s followed by SAG (27a [Give in to pressure]).
  • 30a [How Timon of Athens originated] TAU. I should’ve seen right through the misdirection in this clue, but I didn’t. Instead I was wondering what might have been Shakespeare’s influences for the tale, and how in heck it could be only three letters long.
  • 44a [Rocker sounding like a rod] AXL. One of my final fills.
  • 48a [Not a long row] SPAT. Have shared this before, but why not again?
  • 50a [Hazards] DARES. Verb, not noun.
  • 13d [Ir doesn’t react very well] RARE GAS. Rare typo in the clue.
  • 21d [Tuna alternatives] BLTS. No hint in the clue that tuna implied ‘sandwich’. One of those deliberately oblique clues that can increase the difficulty for Stumpers.
  • 32d [One of North America’s largest beasts] ELK. This and the crossing 35a [Harmless fun] LARK were my first entries.
  • 37d [Hard to hobnob with] WASPISH. m-w sez: : resembling a wasp in behavior
    especially : SNAPPISH, PETULANT ‖ a waspish temper.
  • 38d [Improper, as some legal conduct] EX PARTE, meaning from a one-sided or partisan point of view.
  • 41d [Junk-removal tactic] TAG SALE. I mostly agree with the sentiment, but nevertheless recognize it’s a disparaging way of describing it.
  • 53d [Call it] ROLL. These declaratory sort of clues always trip me up.

Beth Rubin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/15/22 by Beth Rubin

Los Angeles Times 5/15/22 by Beth Rubin

This puzzle is a little oversized — 16×15 — but also clued harder than any of the previous Patti-regime themelesses. I’ve been clamoring for a Saturday that would take me more than three minutes since her first day, and now that I have one I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this puzzle.

Let’s start with entries I liked: BANANA SEAT, SLANG TERMS, SKIP A GRADE, DELT, CODON (always nice to see some STEM in a puzzle).

I wasn’t crazy about RETOSS and the cluing of a few entries with trivia references that could’ve been wordplay, like [Laurel and Hardy producer] for ROACH, [“Succession” sibling] for ROMAN, and do we get to call OH SANTA a “hit” if its peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 was…100? But, and yes, this makes me feel like a cranky old lady, I felt like a TikTok segment (UNDER THE DESK NEWS) was more something I’d feature as a central entry in a themeless for an indie outlet, not a mainstream market. At least the clue, [Current events TikTok segment that V Spehar broadcasts from their office floor] provides plenty of confirmation to the solver that you’ve got it right.

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29 Responses to Saturday, May 14, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fun puzzle. Faster than Friday’s.

    The clue “Inadequate Wikipedia entry” for STUB was in the Friday LAT puzzle.

  2. Ethan says:

    The transliteration on the clue for 59A is very bizarre to me. Is that supposed to represent Moroccan dialect? I think they most often say “Bessalama”, although I will happily defer to any Moroccan speakers lurking.

    • R says:

      A strict Modern Standard Arabic transliteration would be “Ma’a alsalama,” though you occasionally see ‘e’ for ‘ayn. In MSA, it’s pronounced closer to “massalama” due to standard assimilation rules in Arabic, and other dialects move even farther afield from the standard. Using this transliteration is akin to clueing the English translation as “God Be With You” even though nobody has said it that way in centuries.

  3. A says:

    anyone else having trouble with the puz links for WSJ and UC?

  4. Seth says:

    Stumper: SW was much harder than the rest for me. WESKIT needed every cross, but WASPISH I definitely don’t know, EX PARTE never heard (ew, please banish all Latin legal terms forever), and a SLACKER is not a goof-off. To me, a goof-off is someone who is actively goofing around, whereas a SLACKER is someone who passively doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do. You can slack off, and you can goof off, but they don’t mean the same thing.

    Also, I hate clues like “Call it” for ROLL. They violate rules of crossword clues! If the clue is a verb, like this one, the answer better be a verb. Even the most obscure or opaquely difficult clues still follow the rules. These clues feel like they’re written by someone who’s never done a crossword and doesn’t know how they work.

    • steve says:

      SW got me, too
      i usually don’t, but i threw in the towel for this on :(

    • Martin says:

      There is another rule that clues ending in “it” might call for an action. “Beat it” for DRUM, for instance. Often they end with an exclamation point, but not invariably.

      There are a few clue conventions in American crosswords. “Kind of” is another. “Kind of anemone” could clue SEA. By convention “kind of” means “word that can precede.” In general, American crosswords are light on clue conventions, but not completely so.

  5. Gary R says:

    Newsday: pannonica, I’m sure you’re correct about 5-D, but it seems to me that that sentence usually begins “By the authority vested in me…” In that same vein, I guess the clue for RENEW could work in the context of renewing one’s vows – “take them over.”

    It took nearly all the crosses to get RARE GAS. I took the typo at face value and thought it was the chemical symbol for Iridium, about which I know very little, except it’s not a gas in its natural state.

    My knowledge of MOFONGO is limited to having seen it prepared on a rerun of “Beat Bobby Flay” recently. Unfortunately that knowledge didn’t include the proper spelling, so I went with MuLE RAT at 2-D – oops!

    • PJ says:

      Same here for iridium and MOFONGO.
      I interpreted RENEW as renewing a subscription. Somewhere in my past I’ve heard take a subscription. I think take out a subscription is more common but I do seem to recall hearing it sans out.

    • pannonica says:

      Yep, in the write-up I linked to iridium’s wikipedia page.

  6. David Steere says:

    Universal: Sorry if I’m being dim and missed some notification. What has happened to the Cruciverb links to the Universal puzzles? They seem to have disappeared. They were there last night but just producing error messages when clicked. Now the links are gone completely. Thanks. David

  7. Elise says:

    There are no acrosslite links on “Today’s Puzzles” page here except for LA Times.
    Cruciverb links to Universal and Wall Street Journal don’t work either.

    Puzzle Scraper worked for WSJ but won’t convert Universal puzzles.

  8. marciem says:

    LAT: I don’t understand 45d: “Bell hooks, for one” = Writer…

    explanation please?

  9. Vega says:

    Funny: in my head, I’m hearing “Oh, never MIND — you CLEARLY don’t want to talk about it” as equally snippy.

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