Saturday, June 4, 2022

LAT 2:19 (Stella) 


Newsday untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:44 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q)  


USA Today 2:50 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Scott Earl’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 6 4 22, no. 0604



Five more things:

  • 40a. [Source of oils used in wellness] clues ALOE here, and TEA TREE at 38a. Beg pardon, there is aloe oil? I have never seen such a thing. Per this Amazon listing, Whole Foods’ aloe vera oil is aloe vera extract in soybean oil. *ahem* Who fact-checked this one?
  • 43a. [___ chem (101-level course, familiarly)], GEN. This is not remotely the terminology used at my college or my son’s college. Intro to Chemistry, sure. I wonder where Gen Chem is a thing.
  • 33a. [Mentor to a queen], DRAG MOTHER. Nobody spoil this week’s Drag Race All Stars! I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. If this term is new to you, I can explain: Many drag queens join a “family” and may take the (stage-name) surname of the drag mother who initiated the chain of “related” queens. For example, both season 12’s winner Jaida Essence Hall and past contestant Kahmora Hall are the offspring of Tajma Hall (get it? Taj Mahal—the drag world is full of puns!).
  • 57a. [L.G.B.T. rights activist Windsor] EDIE. She’s the Windsor in United States v. Windsor. Along with the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling, Edie’s case dismantled the Defense of Marriage Act. Know your Pride month history!
  • 15d. [Popular half-hour sketch comedy of the 1970s-’80s, with “The”], MUPPET SHOW. Would you believe I never thought of this as a sketch comedy show despite watching pretty much the whole run of the series?

The short fill felt maybe a bit more clunky than I like, somewhat offsetting the juicy long fill. But then the Pride vibes gave me the warm fuzzies, offsetting the negatives. Four stars from me.

Annemarie Brethauer’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/4/22 by Annemarie Brethauer

Los Angeles Times 6/4/22 by Annemarie Brethauer

Not gonna lie, I’m feeling a little cheated of a challenge here. 2:19 is a time I’d more typically post up on a Tuesday or Wednesday, not Saturday. This is not to say that it’s a bad grid — there were some nice entries to like. But it was clued such that I think it would’ve made more sense as a Universal Freestyle.

I did say there are some nice entries to like, such as:

  • 39A OFF-LEASH (reminds me of the delightful puppers of Prospect Park when they’re having a good time at the dog beach)
  • 9D [Say when?] is a great clue for SET A DATE, even if it didn’t slow me down.

Taking a second look, I wouldn’t say the ease of completing this is entirely about how the puzzle was clued. There are a total of 54 4- and 5-letter words (compare with last Saturday’s, which had 30; granted, there were a ton of 3s in that puzzle and not in this one). That meant that around the periphery of the puzzle, I didn’t need to look at the clues at all for much of the solve because there were more areas where 4s and 5s were crossing each other. At least the 3s in last Saturday’s grid were more frequently crossing longer stacked entries, where the 3s are needed as toeholds and you have to pay a bit more attention to the clues. This was too easy!

Not a bad puzzle, just not right for the venue IMO.

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “OK 2 Eat”—Matthew’s write-up

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword solution, “OK 2 Eat”, 6/4/2022

Erik has found food-related words with two instances of the letters “OK” to pair with the phrase “OK 2 Eat”:

  • 18a [Stir-fried rice cake dish] TTEOKBOKKI. This is a Korean dish with so many varieties listed on Wikipedia that I’m not sure what’s typical other than the rice cakes.
  • 35a [Chefs’ publications] COOKBOOKS
  • 55a [Dessert whose name means “heartbeat”] TIBOK-TIBOK. This is a simmered and set milk and rice Filipino dish — the “heartbeat” element refers to the behavior of the remaining bubbles as the dish is nearly set and cooked.

The fill is gently clued IMO, helped by a high word count and offsetting the unfamiliarity of the themers — though hopefully they won’t be unfamiliar for long, as each looks delicious — so not a lot is jumping out at me. I did have a fun challenge early on navigating the TTE- letter pattern of TTEOKBOKKI and BII- of BI ICON [21d Loki, for example].

David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Changing Clothes” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/4/22 • Sat • Bywaters • “Changing Clothes ” • solution • 20220604

Rather than try to articulate what’s going on with the theme answers, I’ll first let the relationship to the original phrases make themselves evident.

  • 22a. [Yoga on a hot day?] PANTING STRETCHES (stretch pants).
  • 39a. [Behaviour likely to lead to some time in gaol?] SOCKING BOBBIES (bobby socks).
  • 47a. [Challenge for owners of finicky pets?] SUITING CATS (cat suits). To be consistent with the other themers, ‘suiting’ here indicates conforming rather than something like ‘suiting up’.
  • 67a. [Basketball avoidance?] SKIRTING HOOPS (hoop skirts).
  • 84a. [Wedding officiant’s authority?] TYING POWERS (power ties). TYING the knot. Kind of looks like the actor Tyrone Power there, right?
  • 94a. [Human resources head’s chore on a downsizing ranch?] BOOTING COWBOYS (cowboy boots). 47d [Given a pink slip] SACKED. To wear?
  • 112a. [Tiresome disputes?] FATIGUING COMBATS (combat fatigues).

As you can see, there’s a sort of transposition going on. “X Ys” becomes “Ying Xes” (with any necessary spelling adjustments made. While not quite a spoonerism (71d [Cleric noted for verbal gaffes] SPOONER), which involves morphemes, these are a type of metathesis in which larger components of words are switched around.

  • 15d [“O, woe is me to have seen what I have seen” speaker] OPHELIA. Yesterday the artist in the puzzle I wrote about was Millet, whom I cautioned not to confuse with Millais, who notably portrayed Ophelia.
  • 17d [Pushy people] URGERS. Pushing one to act.
  • 21d [Some medieval monks] SCRIBES. Were I stuck in medieval times, this is a job I think I would have been good at and even found enjoyable. Especially the marginalia.
  • 24d [Mammal with a flexible proboscis] TAPIR. These clues are often tougher for me because—due to my pervious studies and work—I am cursed with an excess of knowledge as compared to the average solver.
  • 81d [Cooker in a British country house] AGA. New to me. … consults internet … oh that, the brand name. I’ve kind of lusted after one of these.
  • Not part of theme, with a very staid clue: 96d [Upper external garment] BLOUSE. And there’s also 117d [Upper internal garment] BRA, which somehow makes it worse.
  • 19a [Poi need] TARO. I enjoy Terra Chips taro variety, but they’re crazy expensive.
  • 43a [Fly balls hit just beyond the infield] LOOPERS. According to sportspundit dot com, this is synonymous with blooper.
  • 45a [Sitarist’s piece] RAGA. Has there ever been a Victor Borge-type performer from India? They could be a satirist sitarist.
  • 46a [Enjoy London, say] READ. Sneaky. Jack London, I would say then.
  • 125a [Puts into words] STATES. Seems an appropriate conclusion to the crossword.
  • Derek Bowman’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 23” — Jim Q’s write-up

    THEME: Women of note in the LGBTQ community.

    Universal crossword solution · “Universal Freestyle 23” · Derek Bowman · Saturday. 06.04.22



    I know this says “Freestyle,” which is synonymous with “Themeless,” but there is definitely a theme here! Flowed like.a themeless for me, and jam-packed with excellent entries. In addition to the main themers we also have a diet theme of sorts: If you start your meal with VEGGIE BALLS, follow it up with a KALE CAESAR, you need not feel guilty before indulging in that BACON SUNDAE! Loved all of those entries.

    Nods to women in general throughout, including CHAIRWOMAN (odd that we feel the need to use “certain” in those types of clues… [Certain committee head]… clues do that whenever not referring to “the accepted norm.” I think we can safely move past using that word. CHAIRWOMAN doesn’t need the extra qualifier imo). Melissa Etheridge and Sojourner Truth made an appearance in the clues. [Queen of the hill] for ANT.

    FDR and Young MC are the only references to males not in the LGBTQ community as far as I can tell (George Takei is mentioned in one of the clues). I have a feeling if BUSTA and FDR weren’t absolutely necessary in the fill, they’d be nixed.


    • [Upgrade, like a bathroom floor] is weird for RETILE. The main part of the clue is “Upgrade,” and RETILE is hardly synonymous with that, even with the extra part of the clue. I’ve never heard anyone say “I’m gonna upgrade the tile floor” and mean they’re going to tile it again.
    • [“___ a double rainbow!”] for IT’S? That’s a reference to a pretty old viral video, but IT’S is not the catchy part of the phrase. I think because the winning quote of the video is actually “Double rainbow, all the way!”
    • [“Mark my word…”] for “I TELL YA!” Where I’m from, “I TELL YA!” is the same as saying “Yeesh!” with a disappointed head shake. “I’m telling you…” means “Mark my word…”

    Overall, really nice puzzle today. 4.75 stars.


Steve Mossberg’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 6/4/22 • Saturday Stumper • Mossberg • solution • 20220604

Whew, I don’t know how I managed to solve this one so quickly. It was a bear. Many a time I felt I’d 51a [Couldn’t go on] HIT A WALL.

First place I was able to start was in the lower left, with 47d [Cartomancy set] TAROT and then the rhyming 56a [Telenovela fellas] SEÑORES. Then 41d [Pains of a person] ACHES, but then I {51a} even though I didn’t yet know what that was.

So I moved on to the upper left, where I was able to gamble on 1-down ending in -ING, thence 21a [Curling equipment] IRONS and 24a [The point of anything] NIB. In short order I was able to piece together nearly the entire section, but then—stuck again.

Each time I needed a bridge to a new area of the grid, there was seemingly an unfair clue, even by Stumper standards. In this category I put 32a [Vocal arrangement] REMIX, 23a [Go slow] TREK, 27a [Sight] SPY, 44a [Aiming to annoy] EDGILY, 49a [Howler] BLOOP, 3d [Whopping wind] BASS OBOE, 52d [Hard to take in] WARY, and 55d [Not a navy vessel] WOK. Quite a lot.

I still don’t even understand this one: 57a [The buck stops here] OAK TREE. Just a complete mystery. addendum: Okay I think I’ve got it (memory kicking in). This was a quote by Harry S Truman—I knew that—but now I’m recalling or at least convincing myself that one of his nicknames was the Oak Tree, so that’s what I’m going with, no internet searching to confirm.

In the top right, I was able to get a solid start with 9d [’50s free verse] BEAT POETRY. So I thought 8a [The absolute worst] had to be ABYSAL, and 10d [Sci-fi word Merriam-Webster is watching (but “No robes required”) YODA; this decided for me whether 11d [Give a seat to] was STAND or ELECT (i.e., that it was the former). Needless to say, that all turned out to be a failure, for 8-across was actually ABJECT and 10-down JEDI, with 11-down the other possibility. Sheez.

  • 28a [Snarky greeting comeback] GOOD TO BE SEEN. I guess? I mean, okay, I’ll take the puzzle’s word on that.
  • 37d [Unassuming] EGOLESS. Had ARTLESS there for quite a while.
  • 38d [Pain of a person] PILL as a metaphor for an actual personality type. Meant to go with 41-down (above). Ditto 48a [Howler] WOLF, which immediately precedes 49-across.
  • 14a [Figured with deduction?] CLAIMED. This is about filing taxes.
  • 22a [Pat on the back, perhaps] BURP. Fortunate to my solve was that I’d just encountered a similar clue in another crossword this morning, either the NYT of the WSJ.
  • 25a [Words of wit] BON MOT, literally, ‘good word’ but it refers to a saying or phrase. The plural—meaning more than one remark—is bons mots.
  • 59a [Middle Eastern diet] KNESSET. I just knew this was going to be a tricksy clue. Was waiting for one crossing, any crossing, to confirm that it would be the most obvious one, the Israeli legislature. Since both 34d and 50d looked to be plurals, it was rather easy, and my big break for that lower right section.

Returning to 32-across, I recommend the Everything is a Remix video essay series if you haven’t seen it.

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20 Responses to Saturday, June 4, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Whenever the Friday puzzle kicks my butt, it’s nice to get a smooth, quick Saturday that still offers a bit of a challenge.

    INOUYE and NECCO were gimmes that got me off to a good start.

    Having EDIE Windsor in the puzzle is a nice touch for Pride Month, though I wasn’t entirely sure Edith Windsor had gone by that name. (My husband and I got married a year after the US v. Windsor decision.)

    The short fill didn’t strike me as any clunkier than the usual three-letter fill. For some reason, I’m less bothered by having CIA in a grid than having NRA.

  2. NYT: Back when I was a chem major, we called the first-year course GEN Chem. Then Orgo for organic chemistry and P. Chem for Physical Chemistry. I’m convinced that Orgo had an impact on my later crossword life since I always thought of it like putting together a puzzle.

    • Gary R says:

      When I was a chemistry major, it was a two-course sequence (CHEM 101 and CHEM 102): General Chemistry I and General Chemistry II, but for some reason, we never called them Gen Chem. Orgo had an impact on me at the time – convinced me I didn’t want to be a chemistry major (still not sure if it was the material or the prof.). So I never made it to P. Chem.

    • JohnH says:

      I edited a few general chemistry texts, which involves not just talking about them every day with colleagues and the authors, but also getting feedback from profs all over the country. I never heard the course called gen chem. (GChem was common.) But whatever. It felt plausible enough that, with three letters to fill, I guessed it right away.

      Otherwise, sure, hard enough for a Saturday, but good.

  3. Jim S. says:

    Never heard of a COOTIE SHOT. That, combined with the xref clues for LOCK/KEY, a name I never heard of (FOY), and ? clues for 55D and 59D made that middle bottom area a disaster for me. Rest of the puzzle was fun, though.

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: 47a [ __ & Roll (punny name for a sushi bar)] WOK.

    I’ve only seen it as Chinese cuisine establishments, not even pan-Asian restaurants. But my experience is not exhaustive.

    • Gary R says:

      Our next door neighbors own a restaurant called Wok & Roll. The menu (like the neighbors) is Chinese, and the “Roll” refers to eggrolls and spring rolls.

      But woks are used in Japanese cooking, too (I think the design is a little different), so Wok & (sushi) Roll seems like a plausible name for a restaurant.

  5. PJ says:

    Stumper – 57a [The buck stops here] OAK TREE. Deer like oak trees. The acorns have high fat and carb content. They also eat oak leaves and twigs.

    Truman’s sign sat on the Resolute Desk which is made of oak but I don’t think the connection is strong enough.

    Deer also like many of my plants but that’s another story.

    • Papa John says:

      When we first moved to our current rural location, we were bothered by deer eating our hosta plants. On a whim, I sprayed them with watered down Tabasco. That was more than forty years ago and the deer have never touched them since then.

  6. Seth says:

    Stumper: that is the dumbest definition of diet ever. It was invented only to make crosswords annoyingly difficult.

    And wow, your explanation of OAK TREE is something I never ever would have known ever. I just thought it was a really really bad Stumper clue for the fact that…deer…stop…next to oak trees sometimes? I really hope it’s your explanation, because if it’s mine…oof.

    That said, I liked this one! I think some of your unfair clues are ok. If you sight something, you spy it. Whopping means big. A wok is definitely a vessel (though that certainly has classic Stumper extra-words to screw with us).

    • DJ says:

      Actually, I think your first hunch about OAK TREE is right. Google doesn’t seem to recognize any “Oak Tree” nickname for Truman, and it would be a worse clue if it did in fact refer to Truman (the clue would be indirectly referencing a president’s nickname, unannounced, “here” isn’t a valid way to refer to a human being, and it’s far too literal to be misdirecting). I definitely think the deer angle is what was intended. As you said, it’s a horrible clue, but then again, we’re talking about a Stan Newman-branded puzzle, so any bar regarding expectations of quality should be set super low.

    • DJ says:

      Actually, I think your first hunch about OAK TREE is right. Googling doesn’t seem to recognize any “Oak Tree” nickname for Truman, and it would be a worse clue if it did in fact refer to Truman (the clue would be indirectly referencing a president’s nickname, unannounced, “here” isn’t a valid way to refer to a human being, and it’s far too literal to be misdirecting). I definitely think the deer angle is what was intended. As you said, it’s a horrible clue, but then again, we’re talking about a Stan Newman-branded puzzle, so any bar regarding expectations of quality should be set super low.

  7. Gotta carp, as I had an impossible time with the Stumper: JEDI *was* being watched; It was added to M-W in January 2021. And BOXEDWATER is hardly green, hardly environmentally sound.

    • marciem says:

      Boxed Water brand states: “92% plant-based packaging that’s 100% recyclable. The most renewable package in the aisle.” So greener than most.

      Re: Jedi : Blurb at the beginning of the Newsday puzzle page says that these puzzles are from 2012, updated. It appears he missed one on that score for updating.

  8. Carly Romeo says:

    NYT – Overall loved the pride month vibes too! But feels like we should celebrate 59D’s ~hilarious~ “Hoes starting rows” bit 😝

  9. Wally Walters says:

    Universal Freestyle means “no theme”. This one clearly has one: gay day all the way. With a side of feminism.

    Please don’t.

    • Amy+Reynaldo says:

      Wow, somebody is hypersensitive. So if the three longest entries were straight men, you’d complain that the theme was “straight day all the way, with a side of machismo”?

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