Saturday, September 10, 2022

LAT 2:52 (Stella) 


Newsday 12:54 (pannonica) 


NYT 7:37 (Amy) 


Universal 3:43 (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 10 22, no. 0910

When you see the KAC byline on a Saturday, you know you’re in for a challenge. He excels at impressive grids and tricksy clues. Bring it!


New to me:

  • 20d. [Case made for significant change?], MINT COIN SET. An expensive purchase for a collector, I gather from the clue?
  • 35a. [Blues singer ___ Monica Parker], SISTA. I’d never heard of her, but who can object to a singer known as the Blues Lioness? Video below.
  • 17a. [Jukebox crooner with the 1965 hit “1-2-3”], LEN BARRY. My husband also was not familiar with the singer.
  • 10d. [PV = nRT], IDEAL GAS LAW. Can there be a better gas law than this? Or can there be better gases to have a law about?

Seven more things:

  • 15a. [One of five official languages of Ethiopia], SOMALI. Hadn’t known that, but the two countries share a border so it’s not surprising.
  • 59a. [In descending order: Mount Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, ___], LHOTSE. I recently did a trivia quiz on the tallest mountains, so LHOTSE came to mind quickly. You folks who complain about puzzles with “trivia”—you don’t seem to object to geographical notables, but that’s trivia too! And I like it.
  • 30a. [Tea brand with Wild Sweet Orange and Refresh Mint flavors], TAZO. Not the same kind of mint as in 20d.
  • 36a. [Espresso foam], CREMA. It’s not just an Italian word—it’s also Spanish, and you could do worse than to buy some V&V Supremo crema for topping your Mexican food.
  • 40a. [Co-host of the 1970s program “People Are Talking”], OPRAH. A deep cut from Winfrey’s long career.
  • 48a. [Writer’s block?], PRESS BOX. Team Fiend’s Adesina Koiki has been working at the US Open tennis tournament. Here’s his Wednesday story about Frances Tiafoe, who is currently battling in a five-set semifinal.
  • 18d. [Yellow slippers?], BANANA PEELS. Cute clue, but I saw right through it. :-)

Four stars from me.

Christina Iverson and Taylor Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 9/10/22 by Christina Iverson and Taylor Johnson

Los Angeles Times 9/10/22 by Christina Iverson and Taylor Johnson

Most of the time my theory about themelesses is that I don’t give a crap about grid fireworks; if, for example, a 64-word grid or a quad-stack of 15s comes at the cost of boring obscurities in the crossings, I’m not impressed. And if a 72-word themeless that doesn’t have a ton of entries that “sparkle” on their own is clued with brilliance, I am here for it.

This grid, however, feels like it was meant for a themed puzzle, and the 14s at 19A, 28A, and 48A don’t make me go “wow” enough to justify seeding a themeless around them, much less a themeless with this many 3s, 4s, and 5s (47 in total). I did very much like the clue [24-hour post] for INSTAGRAM STORY at 34A, which is a nice misdirect that had me thinking in terms of short-term jobs before I had enough crossings to realize what was actually going on.

I did enjoy these bits:

  • 44A [Some spooky stories] for ATTICS.
  • 52A [Sub standard?] is a fun punny way to clue SONAR.
  • 4D [“Only Happy When It Rains” rock band] for GARBAGE takes me right back to high school.
  • 29D [Opposite of a speaking fee?] for HUSH MONEY made me laugh.

Joe Deeney’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Animal Crackers” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/10/22 • Sat • “Animal Crackers” • Deeney • solution • 20220910

During the solve I strongly suspected what the extra layer would be, so I was a little disappointed to see it made explicit in the final across answer, which is a revealer. On the other hand, it provides more context so that the hidden bit makes sense.

  • 124aR [Plush items that might utter the phrase spelled by the letters between the pairs of circles] I’M STUFFED, which is an idiom with a different meaning in the UK.
  • 21a. [Needing little provocation to become furious] HAIR-TRIGGER (hart, I).
  • 29a. [Soda fountain treat] CHOCOLATE MALT (teal, M).
  • 39a. [They usually include olives, anchovies and hard-boiled eggs] NIÇOISE SALADS (seal, S).
  • 53a. [What’s left] ALL THAT REMAINS (hare, T).
  • 64a. [Occasions with open mics] AMATEUR NIGHTS (tern, U).
  • 76a. [Best of the best] CREAM OF THE CROP (moth, F).
  • 90a. [Having an inflated ego] FULL OF ONESELF (loon, F).
  • 101a. [Dinner table request] MAY I BE EXCUSED (ibex, E).
  • 116a. [Pot winner’s exclamation] COME TO DADDY (toad, D).

These phrases are all very good. It’s a well-put-together theme.

  • 4d [Very close colleague at the office] WORK SPOUSE. A gender-neutral version of work wife, which I’ve seen more often.
  • 8d [Beth’s preceder] ALEPHpsst, it’s in the Spelling Bee today.
  • 26d [Fish with spiky scales] SCAD. Have not heard of these. I wonder if those spikes are called denticles, as they are in elasmobranchs.
  • 93d [Silky beers] NITROS. Pretty sure I want to know nothing about this.
  • 104d [In order that, in Germany] DAMIT. Bit advanced for crossword German vocabulary.
  • 113d [“The Swiss Family Robinson” author] WYSS. Had a moment of hesitation for the square where this crosses 120a [“__ Newt” (1990s animated show)] NED’S.
  • 109a [Pan’s counterpart] RAVE REVIEW. Momentarily forgetting 34d [“The Raven” feature] OCTAMETER, I thought this was going to be something like RAVEN TRICKSTER but shorter.

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 9/10/22 • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20220910

This one played slightly differently for me than recent Stumpers. From the start, I was able to complete nearly all of the top left section, so it looked to be a pushover. But then there was trouble gaining footholds anywhere else, so my revised opinion was “uh-oh-tough!”

But somehow I kept finding a solvable  entry just when hope seemed lost. Every time I needed one, it was there. As a result, the whole grid was done in relatively short order.

There were a couple of extra-tricksy clues down on the bottom, but since I had so much filled in, they proved to be easily surmountable: 58d [Audible crack] MOT, 53d [Made like some bee products] SEWN.

  • Favorite clue: 28a [What may precede Q & A] LGBT. Somehow thought this was going to be an abbreviated LECT or LESS.
  • 12d [One in a recital trio] PIANO PEDAL. Little tricky on the back end there.
  • 26d [Alchemist’s “little person” statue] HOMUNCULUS. Knowing this with only a U crossing (I forget which one) was instrumental in hastening my solve.
  • 34d [“Oppozitsiya” pronouncement] NYET. Educated guess gave me this one with zero crossings.
  • 52d [Body language] LAWS. Not certain I understand this one. Is that an implied reference to a legal body?
  • Symmetrical: 56a [40-time “Sports Illustrated” cover subject (1963–2016)] ALI; 18a [Where 56 Across wouldn’t go] NAM.
  • I made this a couple of months ago

    23a [Letter written by Tolkien] RUNE.

  • 32d [Speak for] REP. “I REP the trees!” 54d [ __ farm] TREE.
  • 41a [What you must provide for a kid’s cable car kit] TIN CAN. Is this a common thing? I suppose I can visualize it, but it seems kind of … unusual?
  • 42a [Read Across America sponsor] NEA, the National Education Association. Tried PTA first.
  • 45a [Playwright source for Shakespeare’s “King John”] PEELE. Bit of a deep cut there.
  • 24a [Didn’t release] SAT ON. 48a [Didn’t give up] HELD. 50a [Gave up] PUNTED.
  • 64a [Had an inspiration with stretched eardrums] YAWNED. Funny clue, but not funny ha-ha.

Rafael Musa’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 37” — norah’s write-up

THEME: None!


Universal crossword solution, R. Musa, 9-10-2022

    • DISCO BALLS 15A [Flashy party decorations?]
    • RAD 22A [“Cool beans!”]
    • ALF 37A [Sitcom character who came from Melmac]
    • DANK 38A [Like some cellars and memes]
    • WE’RE SAVED 52A [“Help is here!”]
    • ANITA 2D [Lawyer and educator Hill]
    • PLOTLINES 10D [Horror stories’ skeletons]
    • SAL 7D [___ y pimienta (Spanish condiments)]
    • DEMOTAPES 32D [Aspiring musician’s recordings]
    • POP 55D [Balloon artist’s dreaded sound]

Super breezy puzzle from Rafa today that is right on my wavelength. So much fun and personality in the clues; just the way I like my themeless puzzles. The diagonal symmetry here is gorgeous, and allows for all of the long pairs to intersect each other: ITSABOUTTIME x RIODEJANEIROLOANDBEHOLD x LOOPDELOOPS ; DISCOBALLS x INSIDEINFO.  I learned that Maracana Stadium in RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (41A) has a capacity of over 78,000! and has hosted the World Cup, the Olympics, the Backstreet Boys, and one pope.  The sole sticking point for me was MANU but I’m sure lots of folks are happy to see that one!

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31 Responses to Saturday, September 10, 2022

  1. Greg says:

    Wow, Collins’s Times puzzle was tough —particularly the western bit — but fair. A great Saturday challenge.

  2. pannonica says:

    NYT: “20d. [Case made for significant change?], MINT COIN SET. An expensive purchase for a collector, I gather from the clue?”

    Not necessarily. ‘Significant’ can also be interpreted as ‘notable’ here.

  3. Jim G says:

    NYT: Can someone explain for me why the answer to “Taken care of business?” is ERRANDS?

    • Ethan Friedman says:

      I assume because you “take care of” errands.

      “I’ve gotta take care of a few errands then I’m free to hang out.”

      • dh says:

        I get it, but I still have a hard time with the tense here. I kept going back to the present – “Takin’ care of business”, but I finally settled on “Business that is (or has been) taken care of”.

        • marciem says:

          That’s the only sense I could make of it too, dh. Had to twist my brain around it :D .

          One nit with the NYT (which was tough but doable… my favorite kind of Sat!) : 17a: Len Barry was in no way a crooner … Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Al Martino — all crooners. Len Barry — not.

    • Dan says:

      It makes sense to me if it’s read as “business taken care of”.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: Really good Saturday. I got stuck from the get go with ADVERBS, and it was SOMALI that opened things up for me. I put ASS tentatively, but that did the trick in the NW.
    Some of it flowed easier than expected, especially in the West, thanks to AMOUR PROPRE- self-love. It can mean self-esteem as clued. It can also mean too much pride and sensitivity–being hurt easily because you care a lot about image, a touch of narcissism.
    Had BORED TO dEAth until there was no defending it.
    All in all, a very pleasant solve.

  5. David L says:

    I agree, hard but satisfying NYT. I put in IDEALGASLAW immediately, so that section filled out quickly, but then it was tough to get from one part of the puzzle to another. I was fooled by ‘now or never’ — I had ANYDAY for too long. Eventually I came up with AMOURPROPRE, which let me complete that section.

    One question: how does ‘among others’ mean ETAL? Doesn’t it mean ‘and others’? I’m not seeing the connection.

    • Doug says:

      Re the meaning of “et. al.” You are correct, and the clue is not. Among others is “inter alia.” It’s a somewhat academic distinction, I guess, but if you’re going to use such terminology, it should be used correctly, IMO.

    • Seth says:

      “Among others” could mean “and others” in certain senses. For example: “I like lots of fruits: apples, peaches, plums, among others.”

  6. PJ says:

    Stumper dupe at 43a

  7. Tony says:

    FYI Oprah’s “People Are Talking” was a Baltimore-based talk show. After it ended she moved to Chucago. I think you all know the rest of the story:)

  8. Twangster says:

    Wow, the Stumper took me a half hour plus and I was very close to googling but managed to solve it. Had a lot of half-correct partials at first: PEOPLEPOWER, SENATESEAT, IFYOUWANT, DOUBLEIPA.

  9. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: For 50d, would have been nice if the clue had been about the seminal ska band. I understand that we Gen X’ers are culturally irrelevant (unlike the generation that would know LEN BARRY). But it would have been nice.

    • marciem says:

      Boomer here (ok boomer) (haven’t heard a dismissive x-er phrase yet)… I do not see a 50d in today’s (Sat. 9/10) NYT puzzle, so I’m lost on your reference.

      I’m also lost on PJ’s Stumper dupe above, if anybody can help with that.

      • marciem says:

        nevermind on the stumper… as often happens, once I asked the question I actually found the answer… or DIDN’T :D .

      • Gary R says:

        After some googling, I think Christopher is referring to 50-A: SPECIALS. They appear to have been pretty successful in the UK in the very late 70s and early 80s. Not so much on this side of the pond.

  10. steve says:

    i love stella’s puzzles but have to disagree with her write-up

    the cluing for the LAT puzzle, taken as a group, were amazingly good
    too many to point them all out

    kudos on this puzzle!!

  11. Dan says:

    Enjoyed this tough (for me) LAT puzzle a lot.

    But find it hard to understand how the completely not-in-the-language phrase “no worries if not” found its way into the grid, and even harder to understand why this is clued by “But I can probably manage on my own”.

    Other than this sore thumb, it’s a fine puzzle.

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Surprised by the Stumper clue, 44d. [Part of five European country’s borders]. Not “countries’ borders”??

  13. Seth says:

    NYT flowed until the SW, where I stopped dead. Had the bottom three acrosses, and NONE, and couldn’t move an inch. A set of coins doesn’t seem like a case, but rather a thing that goes into a case — I was trying to think of something that could hold coins, not the coins themselves. AMOUR PROPRE was a complete mystery — every letter might as well have been random. Don’t know cars, so RANGE ROVER was never gonna fall. Having two calendar abbr. in the same section is cruel — could be MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI, SAT, SUN, JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, DEC. Thought the qualified yes might have been “UM OK” or something like that. “Smooth” could mean a million things. The OPRAH clue might as well have been “Famous person.” YEOMAN…no idea.

    So I googled Velar car and got RANGE ROVER. And I was done 30 seconds later.

    • Nina says:

      Good thing I actually knew amour propre from high school French 50 years ago!
      Was bogged down in lower right, though.

  14. Gene says:


  15. JohnH says:

    Those who complain about trivia don’t about geography? No fair! First, people have often complained to the point that it’s become a saying that a puzzle filled with it is too Maleska like, which Shortz is supposed to have reformed.

    Second, I hate to keep repeating this over and over and over, but when I complain about trivia, all I want is fair crossings and not an undue density of such so that it’s a crossword and not trivia night out. Really. It’s Amy who ranks clues as faves based on what she knows. Last, must admit that while the crossings for LHOTSE in the NYT were fair, this one puzzled me so that I was slow to fill it and had to look it up. The clue didn’t sound like it wanted the fourth in the sequence, and I didn’t know the fact anyhow.

    The IDEAL GAS LAW and AMOUR-PROPRE were gimmes for me, guiltily so given their length, but then things got really hard. Tough puzzle, especially in the SW.

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