Saturday, May 21, 2022

LAT 3:28 (Stella) 


Newsday untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 6:08 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim P AND Jim Q)  


USA Today 2:06 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 5 21 22, no. 0521

I had high expectations for this puzzle since I’ve very much enjoyed past themelesses from the two constructors. I dunno, though. I feel a little let down by some not-quite-idiomatic fill and one of those classic “glaring clue/answer overlap that Shortz doesn’t care about” examples. OREO COOKIE feels a little awkward to me—you bake chocolate chip cookies, but you just buy Oreos and Chips Ahoy at the store, without adding the word “cookie.” Then you jump to the opposite corner of the grid, and STAR-SHAPED is clued [Like some cookie cutters]. Bah! Then there’s MEAT RUB, which I desperately wanted to be DRY RUB. I just googled meat rub and the hits are almost all for dry rub pages. Which is a relief! Because it sounds a tad porny. And I know many of you tried ROCK STAR for 12d. [Many a Rolling Stone cover subject], because ROCK IDOL sounds weird. SET PLAN also rang false to me. Okay! Now that I’ve got that out of my system—


Fave clues:

  • 1d. [They can lead to long sentences], COMMAS. Heck, over at the New Yorker, even a short sentence can be jam-packed with commas. They have weird stylistic choices over there.
  • 1a. [Rolls dough, perhaps?], CAR PAYMENT. Money for a Rolls-Royce, not a task for a baker.
  • 2d. [Nipple ring?], AREOLA. See? Now that’s how you clue AREOLA! Leave the “part of the eye’s iris” angle alone.

3.4 stars from me, for the entries that felt jarring to my solving ear.

Blake Slonecker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hang in There” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/21/22 • Sat • “Hang in There” • Slonecker • solution • 20220521

Today’s vocabulary word is filipendulous – suspended by or strung upon a thread.

Each of the theme answers contains a segment that itself is a word that can be appended after ‘hang’, and that segment travels downward from the entry. As is often the case, quicker to show than explain:

  • 23a. [Frank businesses (and literally, abject)] HOT{DOG}STANDS, where the DOG is part of the crossing
    4d [Back-bending yoga pose] UPDOG and hangdog means ‘abject’.
  • 25a. [Longest term (and literally, do a surfing stunt)] LIFE SEN{TEN}CES,
    16d [Put away] EATEN (hang ten).
  • 48a. [Cher or Lady Gaga, e.g. (and literally, binger’s punishment)] CROSS{OVER} STAR,
    32d [Subject of a kiss-and-tell story] EX-LOVER (hangover). “Punishment” seems a tad judgmental.

    Electric Bonsai Band “Paranoid Ex-Lovers” (1990)

  • 52a. [Dispassionate (and literally, hoopster’s pride]) UNSEN{TIME}NTAL,
    35d [Joplin genre] RAGTIME (hang time).
  • 80a. [Sloooowly (and literally, digital woe)] AT A S{NAIL}‘S PACE,
    65d [Boot sole reinforcer] HOBNAIL (hangnail).
  • 82a. [Early Boy Scouts counterpart (and literally, delay)] CAMP{FIRE} GIRLS,
    69d [Arms malfunction] MISFIRE (hang fire).
  • 108a. [Harlequin offering (and literally, word-guessing game)] RO{MAN}CE NOVEL,
    98d [Exemplar of virility] HE-MAN (hangman).
  • 110a. [Talent show feature (and literally, chill)] DANCE R{OUT}INE,
    102d [Blatantly ignore] FLOUT (hang out).

A rather intricate theme, which I can attest to by how long it took me to type up the theme answer section above.

  • 1d [Regrettable situation, so to speak] A SHAME.
  • 8d [Sens. King and Sanders] INDS. I’d thought Sanders switched to the Democratic Party for the presidential campaigns, but the affiliation section of his Wikipedia article seems to indicate that he’s currently an Independent once again.
  • 10d [Tchaikovsky specialty] BALLET MUSIC. 104a [Handel’s “Orlando,” for one] OPERA SERIA.
  • 43d [Residents between the Aegean, Black and Mediterranean seas] ANATOLIANS. Got to think that they’re historically a seafaring people.
  • 45d [Safe from drifting] AT ANCHOR.
  • 73d [Cook Rombauer] IRMA. A gaffe for me, as I spelled it ERMA, which in turn made the unfamiliar 72a [YA author Harrison] LESI rather than LISI.
  • 28a [In Canada, Santa’s is H0H 0H0] POSTAL CODE. Oho. (incidentally, I definitely typed zeros there, but the typeface here makes them seem like lowercase o: 0o)
  • 34a [Fashion column fodder] TRENDS. 101a [Losing streaks?] DIET FADS.
  • 39a [“Out with it!”] DO SAY. I believe this wants to be do tell.
  • 68a [Punish by fining] AMERCE. 19a [Painful reprimand] SLAP. What’s with all the retribution in the clues??
  • 112a [It may be written on a tablet] EMAIL. Favorite clue of the puzzle.

Impressive constructing feat, but ultimately I found the solve to be wearying and too humorless.

Jeff Chen and Christina Iverson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/21/22 by Jeff Chen and Christina Iverson

Los Angeles Times 5/21/22 by Jeff Chen and Christina Iverson

Apologies for terseness again today — just going to call out some highlights from this grid (and also say thank you to Patti Varol if this second week in a row of slightly harder puzzles than the first three Saturdays on which she was the byline editor is an indicator of how things will be going forward).

  • 8A [Pair sharing a <3 necklace, probably] is a fresh clue for BFFS.
  • 15A [“I don’t mind __ / Except as meals. / And the way they feels”: Nash] for EELS. Note to anyone who wants a good review from me: Reference Ogden Nash in your puzzle.
  • 22A [“Wrong hand, silly!”] is YOUR OTHER RIGHT. Heh.
  • 35A [Place to get high and pass out?] is a very funny clue for TOP BUNK.
  • 58A [Dessert with a high point] is SOFT SERVE, which is extremely underrated and I wish more of the bougie ice cream parlors we have all over Brooklyn would do it.
  • 17D [Make dough or bread] is a nice clue for the ubiquitous EARN.
  • 45D [“Mine! Mine! Mine” criers in “Finding Nemo”]…well, if that’s not an evocative clue for GULLS, I don’t know what is.

S.N.’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 5/21/22 • Saturday Stumper • S.N., Newman • solution • 20220521

Don’t have much gas left in the tank (charge left in the battery?) for this one, as it’s a busy day ahead of me, so you folks are going to get just the solution grid and maybe a few highlighted entries.

Toughest part of this crossword was figuring out which clues were the simple ones and which ones were devious. I eventually made it through alive, and the southwest region was the last for me to complete.

  • Being able to recall a couple of world leaders really helped me establish beachheads in the grid. 1a [Angela Merkel’s successor[ OLAF SCHOLZ. 12d [Gorbachev predecessor] Konstantin CHERNENKO.
  • 30a [Carry-ons regulated by the FAA] E-READERS. Did not know this.
  • 46a [Toothpaste extrusion assistant] SQUEEZER. Bah.
  • 54d [“Monument to Balzac” creator] RODIN
  • Favorite clue: 53a [Something to rest on or reel in] PERCH.
  • 57a [Like diamonds] RED. Playing cards. 6d [Top suits] CEOS. 42a [it may suit you] WORSTED.
  • 34d [Of hiking, biking, etc.] GERUNDIAL. Puh-lease. No wonder this section took me so long, despite the ultimately straightforward 33d [A way with words] ELOQUENCE.
  • 36d [Promotional device to walk through] MODEL HOME. “Device” is working hard to conceal here.
  • 55d [Peppery addition to mango salad] CRESS. Had I thought of this (in retrospect easy) answer earlier, my solve time would have been significantly faster.

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “Keep Quiet”—Matthew’s write-up

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword solution, “Keep Quiet,” 5/21/2022

Breezy theme for our weekends today from Matthew — we’ve got -SHH- in each themer. The sequence consistently spans word breaks between the two Hs–understandably so given the lack of HH- as a word start.

  • 16a [Trafficky time to drive] RUSH HOUR
  • 27a [New York neighborhood also called “El Barrio”] SPANISH HARLEM
  • 45a [Jewish New Year] ROSH HASHANAH
  • 61a [Chart-topper] SMASH HIT


  • 15a [The “Duke of Bootleg” in “Zootopia,” e.g.] WEASEL. I don’t remember this character, but I enjoyed the film — the design creativity to account for the size differences between animal species felt like an endless string of easter eggs.
  • 20a [Number of Olympic gold medals for Tamika Catchings] FOUR. Catchings is one of the greatest basketball players ever. The four gold medals demonstrate her longevity, but she also remains the WNBA all-time steals leader despite retiring in 2016.
  • 5d [“Feliz ___ novo!”] ANO. If we use Portuguese, we avoid the tilde issue!
  • 38d [Yogurt in lassi] DAHI. This word is new to me, and it’s pretty much what’s in the clue — a dairy product used in Indian cuisine.

Jared Goudsmit’s Universal crossword, “Universal Freestyle 21”—Jim P’s review

Jim P. here sitting in for Jim Q. This is my first time blogging (and therefore solving) the Universal Saturday. Is it always a themeless? Shows you how much I pay attention.

Universal crossword solution · “Universal Freestyle 21” · Jared Goudsmit · Sat., 5.21.22

Anyway, this is a wonderfully smooth grid with a ton of fun fill to like. Top offerings include JOLLY ROGER, MOBILE HOME, ICE MACHINE, LAST CHANCE, ROTTEN APPLE, PIÑA COLADA, ANTS ON A LOG, ROCKET SHIP, BARED IT ALL, a sarcastic “THANKS A LOT,” and a menacing “YOU’RE TOAST.” I would include “I’M JUST SAYIN‘” in there as well, but it feels like the abbreviated “Just sayin'” is a lot more common. Just sayin’.

Clues of note:

  • 18a. [Frightening flag at sea]. JOLLY ROGER. The clue makes it sound like this would be a modern-day occurrence, but I can’t imagine today’s pirates openly displaying that flag. They don’t, do they?
  • 44a. [“Landslide” or “Hurt”]. SAD SONG. They say so much. I didn’t recognize the titles, but I did recognize them once I heard them. The former is by Fleetwood Mac, and the latter is a Nine Inch Nails song heartbreakingly covered by Johnny Cash. I can’t not embed the video (see below).
  • 33d. [“Are there more wheels or ___ in the world?” (viral question)]. DOORS. Ha! The consensus seems to be wheels.
  • 41d. [Interest-free?]. BORED. Nice clue.
  • 47d. [“Stranger Things” actor Schnapp]. NOAH. Didn’t recognize the name at all but he plays the central figure of Will Byers himself. I’m very much looking forward to the new season next week.
  • 53d. [Person in costume?]. STU. Ha! There it is–>coSTUme.

Beautiful grid with outstanding fill and fun clues. 4.25 stars.

Jared Goudsmit’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 21”— Jim Q’s write-up

Freestyle #21 on day 21 of May!

*Just saw that Jim P wrote this one up! Whelp… here’s a bonus take! It’s already written, so why not? Don’t mind your Jim P’s and your Jim Q’s

THEME: None!

Universal crossword solution · “Universal Freestyle 21” · Jared Goudsmit · Saturday . 05.22.22



Most of this puzzle was clued very straightforwardly, which is great for a speedsolve. I didn’t glance the time (rarely do anymore), but I feel liked this was my fastest themeless solve perhaps ever. There was almost no resistance. I mean, what else could possibly be a [Hotel fixture that fills buckets] or a [Final opportunity]. Those two, ICE MACHINE and LAST CHANCE, needed no crosses. Even cuter clues like [Residence that’s going, going, gone!] were pretty obvious… though I’m not sure about that clue now that I think about it. What makes it gone? Isn’t that a matter of perspective? Also, why am I overthinking this?

The clue/entry that made me smile the most is 33d [“Are there more wheels or ___ in the world?” (viral question)]. I couldn’t wrap my head around the stupidity of that question the first time I heard it. It feels like the alpha of all stoner questions. I only know it because I teach high school students, and it was a viral question for a day or two. This clue made it just in time for it to feel fresh. Also, the answer is clearly wheels. Change my mind.

Liked [Person in costume?] for STU. Those types of clues are hit or miss in Universal puzzles. This one landed.

Two nits:

  • [All the rage] HIP. There should be some reference to the dated nature of the word HIP in the clue imo. I guess “all the rage” is somewhat dated, but not nearly as dusty as HIP.

[Bad influence] ROTTEN APPLE. I know it as BAD APPLE. I’d prefer [Rotten influence] BAD APPLE. 

Enjoyed the grid a lot! Cluing was as vanilla as I can remember seeing for a themeless though.

3.5 stars.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Saturday, May 21, 2022

  1. Mark says:

    NYT – a complete breeze aside from running the alphabet at the Hedda / Twihards crossing. Not sure that’s such a fair cross. I even read the Twilight books and had to look this up afterwards.

    • Evad says:

      Same trouble but with TWIHARDS and ITO. Thanks for the tip on the Twilight books though, as I’ve never read them.

  2. Leah says:

    NYT: I was surprised by the mod/modish almost-crossing, even though mod was clued differently. I kept thinking one of those had to be different. Did that feel like a dupe to others?

    But once I figured that out, I really enjoyed that NW corner: Che Guevara as a MED STUDENT, the Rolls dough? clue, POSIT, YOU HEARD ME, and NINJA TURTLE made for a fun solving experience.

  3. FKD says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable Saturday NYT puzzle.
    Couple of notes:
    A Rolls buyer is unlikely to have a car loan.
    Oreos come in other colors (check out the Lady Gaga special edition Oreos).
    Plus, extra credit for not using Judge Lance at 41 across.

  4. Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

    Thought the WSJ was marvelous, fun, and funny. Actually enjoyed having to look for where the hanging down part would come.

  5. dh says:

    I’ve never been in this position myself so I can’t speak with authority but I cannot imagine anyone who owns a Rolls having a car payment. Perhaps I live a sheltered life with my Honda.

    The NE corner of the NYT had a fun crossing – if a crew chief in the Deep South were to be generally critical of the work ethic of his team, might he say, “All in all, all y’all just loll”?

    • anon says:

      “[…] I cannot imagine anyone who owns a Rolls having a car payment.”

      Anyone who buys a car makes at least one payment, no?

      • Gary R says:

        “Anyone who buys a car makes at least one payment, no?”

        Yes – but idiomatically, that’s not known as a “car payment.”

    • JohnH says:

      Didn’t bother me. Just because one can afford to pay up front doesn’t necessarily mean one will. One might think one has better things to do with one’s money, whether bigger returns or personal spending.

      Mortgages aren’t only for those just making do either, although a wealthy foreigner picking up a trophy home rarely to be used might not want one in order not to disclose more about finances than necessary. Come to think of it, I know of one person who cheated on an estate by using all that remained to purchase a house and car up front. That way, other heirs couldn’t sue for their share without turning him out of house and home.

  6. Then again... says:

    It’s not an Oreo ravioli or an Oreo soup. It’s an Oreo cookie, as distinguished from e.g. a butterscotch cookie. Who creates it is irrelevant. Seems fine to me.

    Nabisco itself has regularly used the phrase “Oreo cookie” in TV commercials:

  7. marciem says:

    LAT: With very sincerest apologies to my favorite Mr. Nash:

    “The one L stela is a stone or a game
    Our two L Stella, she’s not lame
    I would be a happy fella
    If you could show me a three l Stella!”

Comments are closed.