Saturday, September 17, 2022

LAT 3:43 (Stella) 


Newsday 14:37 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:11 (Amy) 


Universal 8:19 (norah)  


USA Today 1:58 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Grant Thackray’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 9 17 22, no. 0917

What a pretty grid, sashaying right and left. Almost looks like some sort of curvy racetrack.

Easier than I was expecting, but harder than Friday.

Fave fill: “WHERE DID I PARK?” might be questionable as crossword fill, but it sure is relatable! THE SANDS OF TIME, a beautiful AURORA (the photo below was taken by a Pokémon Go friend up in St. Albert, Alberta. This might be a picture taken from her bedroom window!), LITTLE RASCALS (how does that hold up now? I’m guessing it’s pretty appalling), “WHAT’S NEW?”, DOLLAR SIGN, and ATLANTIS.

Northern lights (aurora borealis), St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

Rambling notes from my solve: Not keen on 1a. [Sign of spring] for THE RAM—that is a symbol of the sign Aries, no? And of course, the 6-letter spring zodiac sign starting with T is TAURUS.

This is the Pokémon Go edition of Crossword Fiend, apparently. Because 7a. [Performs repetitive tasks to gain experience points, in gaming slang], FARMS—that’s also a thing in the game. Evolving a bunch of creatures with a low cost for evolution is, e.g., Pidgey farming. I appreciate it helping me with crosswords! (P.S. 17a MEW isn’t just a [Litter whimper], it’s also a Pokémon name!)

  • 22a. [Twitter-sphere?] is a cute clue for BIRDCAGE. Not sure that birdcages are often spherical, but in terms of the more metaphorical “sphere,” yeah, it works.
  • 43a. [Impertinent sort], SNIP? This is a usage I feel like I see only in crosswords. Do you use it that way?
  • 52a. [Compound that becomes a man’s name when its last letter is removed], ETHANE. I appreciate the non-chemistry angle. Much more gettable for the humanities crowd.
  • 45d. [Metal that can be drawn into a wire an atom wide], GOLD. Sure did not know this. Bring me such a wire posthaste!

Four stars from me.

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

Los Angeles Times 9/17/22 by John Lieb

Los Angeles Times 9/17/22 by John Lieb

This puzzle had a little more bite to it than the usual Saturday, which is a good thing. A few notes:

  • 22A [Calls a ball a strike, say] for ERRS. With John as the constructor and Patti as the editor, of course there’s going to be at least one baseball-related clue that didn’t have to be. (I don’t actually hate baseball, I just think it’s been overrepresented in puzzles for years.)
  • 31A [Put on the line?] is a great clue for AIR-DRY.
  • …as is 34A [Fills a flat again] for what would otherwise be an undesirable entry, RELET.
  • 47A [Jumps on a scale?] is a clever clue for PAY HIKES. (Get it? Pay scale?)
  • 49A [“This is bad, even for you”] is A NEW LOW. Didn’t love this, as it feels like an attempt to make a multi-word partial into a phrase on its own.
  • 56A [HS class with a mean teacher?] for AP STATS made me smile.
  • 11D [Word game option for Swifties] is TAYLORDLE. Why does this exist? (Don’t answer that.)
  • 28D [Toy also called a kangaroo ball] is a HIPPITY-HOP. Huh. TIL that those things that look like giant inflatable kettlebells have a name.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What Did you Sate?” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/17/22 • Sat • Shenk • “What Did You Sate?” • solution • 20220917

Had misapprehensions during the first few theme answers I encountered:

  • 21a. [Grime on a submarine porthole?] WINDOW SILT (windowsill).
  • 3d. [Fire marshal’s action at an overcrowded rock club?] CONCERT HALT (concert hall).

At this point I thought we were changing phrases ending in -LL to -LT

  • 23a. [Underground river that causes tremors?] WATER FAULT (waterfall).

And at this point I thought we were still doing that, but altering the spelling if necessary. Checked the title, but couldn’t really make sense of it.

After seeing a few more themers I understood that what we were in fact doing was suffixing just a -T to the phrases and adjusting the spelling.

  • 35a. [Diner order for a big eater?] DOUBLE PLATE (double play).
  • 57a. [8.6 pounds per gallon?] MILKY WEIGHT (Milky Way).
  • 70a. [Trip to a restaurant for the parents and the kids?] FAMILY TREAT (family tree).
  • 92a. [Ventilation pipe that can also be used as a sofa?] SITTING DUCT (sitting duck). That’s just a weird notion.
  • 108a. [Basketball spot at a Cupertino headquarters?] APPLE COURT (apple core).
  • 110a. [Accessory for a clerical cassock?] CHURCH BELT (church bell).
  • 66d. [Ace?] SERVICE FEAT (service fee).

So there are is a lot of theme material, but it isn’t too exciting. They can’t all be winners, you know.

  • 20d [Game akin to pelota] JAI ALAI. And pelota—which means ‘ball’—is what the ball is called in JAI ALAI.
  • 36d [Cornflower color] BLUE.
  • 40a [First resident of the White House] ADAMS. Forgotten bit of trivia.
  • 64d [Solitaire unit] CARAT. Yes this about jewelry.
  • 67d [Fleshy fruit of Central America] SAPOTE.
  • 73d [“The Time Machine” race] ELOI. Have not seen this particular bit of crosswordese in a long while.
  • 85d [Not online, online] IRL, ‘in real life’, but I tried AFK (‘away from keyboard’) first. Now that I think about it, it’s quite wrong.
  • 17a [Its reeds are made from French cane plants] OBOE. Exclusively?
  • 18a [Tributary of the Elbe] SAALE. New one on me.
  • 32a [Italian city on the Adriatic] BRINDISI. Wonder how far it is from Trieste? Oh! It’s quite far—didn’t realize how southern BRINDISI is.
  • 95a [Dried berry with flavors of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon] ALLSPICE.
  • 98a [Gag reflex?] LAUGH. Cute.
  • 105a [Highest state capital] SANTA FE. Trivia I did not know.
  • 115a [He debated Pence in 2016] KAINE. Several lifetimes ago.
  • 113a [Pegs for Palmer] TEES. Not theme-related.

Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 38” — norah’s write-up



Universal, G. Gilioli, 9-17-2022

    • GOOFFSCRIPT 32A [Ad-lib]
    • BOOTLEGCOPY 52A [Unofficial recording]
    • TINFOILHATS 37A [Pieces of headwear that might protect against mind reading (but probably not)]
    • SOL 40A [Manzanita ___ (apple-flavored soft drink)]
    • EMOJI 41A [Pictogram that helps fill in emotional cues]

While Guilherme’s grid is solid, clean, and well-built with a nice center stairstack, the highlights of this solving experience are found in the clues. With specific references for entries like TIARA (47 [Papal ___ (image on the Vatican flag)]), NDA (20A [Doc often signed by reality show participants]), LOGIC (24D [Sudoku solver’s skill]), and those listed above, I would have liked to see a similar style of clue for BACONGREASE (maybe something about breakfast gravy or cornbread or roasted potatoes, yum). This puzzle was a little harder than the average Universal themeless for me, but all in all still a fun solve. Thank you Guilherme!

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

Newsday • 9/17/22 • Saturday Stumper • Mossberg • solution • 20220917

Wow. At no point did I feel like I was making significant progress with this crossword. Continually I was abandoning paltrily filled sections in search of more fertile pastures, and continually I was stymied. And yet, in under fifteen minutes, it was done. I have no idea how that happened.

  • 1a [Film with the most AFI top 100 quotes (6)] CASABLANCA. My immediate instinct was that this was the film, but somehow I miscounted the letters, believed it didn’t fit. So this ended up being filled in rather late.
  • 15a [Set aside] OVERRIDDEN. One of many deliberately oblique clues. I’ll tag some others as I go along.
  • 17a [Get on in the future] BEAM ABOARD. This needs a question mark. I think it’s been determined (or perhaps just speculated) that teleportation would involve death (and duplication).
  • I see in the comments below that RunawayPancake has already observed that several clues give no indication that their answers involve initialisms or abbrevs. 18-across [Ranger employer] USDI is the first of these.
  • 19a [Frost line] BRR, 20a [Frost lines] VERSE.
  • 23a [Decidedly] ALL THAT. <code>oblique</code>
  • 30a [Goes on further] ELABORATES. Liked this one.
  • 37a [Driver’s detour] SLICE. Golf. I knew this was constructed as a misdirection, but still couldn’t see where I should go. Similar, even more pointed, experience with 22d [One concerned with approach, take-off and landing] POLEVAULTER.
  • 38a [Words that add depth to a video game character] FLAVORTEXT. I. Do. Not. Like. that coinage.
  • 42a [Word from the French for “rogue”] MARAUD. I would’ve thought that rogue is itself of French derivation but m-w suggests that it’s of obscure origin. Interesting.
  • 47a [Pair in space before John Glenn] APES. oof
  • 49a [Product of culinary cranks] PASTA. One of the longer entries I was able to get with zero crossings. 11d [Emeril makes them with yogurt and coconut] FRUIT SALADS was not another like that.
  • 55a [Big Apple’s Pastrami Queen, e.g.] KOSHER DELI. Got this one with just the L, which I in turn got from 52d [Mag with Style Points and Glam Room sections] ELLE, which itself in turn drew from 51a [Individually] PER. Concatenation!
  • 60a [Overpays] GETS SOAKED. <code>oblique</code>
  • 1d [Brown Derby owner who gave his name to a green course] COBB. >shakes head at clue<
  • 9d [Morning reading for many] CEREAL BOX. Still, in these days of smartphones and tablets?
  • 10d [S-so insertion] AND. My very first bit of fill.
  • 12d [Taste of philosophy] AESTHETICS. Just now perceiving the correct sense of taste here. I had thought the idea was that it’s an introductory aspect of philosophy. Duh.
  • 13d [Slavic female name that’s an Irish male name reversed] NADIA. This is one of those clues that are annoying except in retrospect, whereupon they become interesting and you can appreciate them.
  • 21d [Puts down] SLURS. <code>oblique</code> 16a [Bring up] REAR.
  • 27d [Brown sugar] CARAMELIZE. Brown is a verb here. Tricky.

How did this one treat you?

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “Last to Leave”—Matthew’s write-up

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword solution, “Last to Leave,” 9/17/2022

Our themers end with words that suggest “leaving,” thus the title “Last to Leave”:

  • 15a [Fruit-based ice cream parlor order] BANANA SPLIT
  • 34a [Two-person trampoline trick] DOUBLE BOUNCE
  • 55a [Snack combo often served in two nesting bowls] CHIPS AND DIP

I smiled all over the place moving through the fill today. I know PAI gow as a domino game, but I see there’s a card game of a similar name. Solved this puzzle hungry, and PANEER, TUNA, SATAY, BANANA SPLIT, CHIPS AND DIP, TACQUERIA all have me thinking about dinner this evening. And, you know, who doesn’t love a good case of the ZOOMIES? [32d Pet’s burst of energy].

Have a great weekend!

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29 Responses to Saturday, September 17, 2022

  1. RunawayPancake says:

    Newsday/Stumper – I noticed three clues where the correct answer is an abbreviation or initialism, but there’s nothing in the clue indicating as much (8D, 18A, and 50D). Doesn’t this violate some kind of crossword convention? Just curious.

  2. gyrovague says:

    LAT: A wonderfully chewy challenge from a masterful constructor. Bravo and encore!

    • Eric H says:

      That did have some fun stuff, a lot of which I got from the crosses (which is fine with me).

      The YA novel crossing the ALSATIA almost did me in. Alsace is still recognized as a governmental region of France, though the name ALSATIA might be “ancient.”

      • gyrovague says:

        Yeah, I wasn’t overjoyed by the imagery of a toothless hockey player (or for that matter the thought of someone who would be excited about TAYLORDLE) but entries like READ THE ROOM and TELL ME WHY (Bronski Beat!) and the nostalgia-inducing HIPPITY HOP were more than worth the price of admission.

        Add in YAKUZA and a reference to Tig Notaro and you’re singin’ my tune. Where’s the love, people?

  3. Reid says:

    struggled with WHEREDIDIPARK because of the clue. No one asks that question in a car. If I’m in my car, I know where I parked!

    • Gary R says:

      It’s wordplay. The questioner isn’t in a car – he/she is in a (parking) lot of cars. (Where I often find myself asking that question.)

    • AmyL says:

      Exactly. The clue is wrong. First I had WHERE DO WE PARK, then I corrected it to WHERE CAN I PARK. That’s what you say in a car!

      • pannonica says:

        You’ve parked. You’ve gone to and are now returning from wherever you’ve been. You are standing in a lot (full of) cars. You exclaim, WHERE DID I PARK?

        • AmyL says:

          Right. You are in a parking lot. You are not in a car.

          • sanfranman59 says:

            I think you’ve been fooled by the wording of the clue. There’s nothing in the clue or the answer that requires that the person is sitting in a car when they ask “WHERE DID I PARK?”. As pannonica says, you’ve parked your car (“in a lot of cars”), you’ve gone shopping, caught a movie, had a meal and stopped for some ice cream. Now you return to the parking lot a four hours later, where you parked along with a bunch of other cars and you ask, “WHERE DID I PARK?”

            • Eric H says:

              Exactly. It’s clever misdirection.

              The clue seemed to perplex many Wordplay commenters.

              I backed into the answer and explanation, as it were, with crosses getting me PARK before I had spent much time pondering the clue.

            • AmyL says:

              I have been fooled. I just reread the clue. Now I get it. Doh!

            • JohnH says:

              The punny “lot of cars” fooled me too. The clue’s all the better for it. I liked this puzzle much more than the ratings.

    • Reid says:

      damn, that’s a good clue

  4. Seth says:

    Stumper: how is “Set aside” OVERRIDDEN? Like if you override a veto, you set it aside in a sense? That’s kind of ridiculous. To set something aside is to not really decide or act on it at all, but to override something is to very decidedly act on it.

  5. Twangster says:

    I had a similar experience with the Stumper but managed to finish without cheating … a lot of getting one or two letters at a time. Had the toughest time in the bottom left, even after getting POLEVAULTER. Figured “brown sugar” was going to be an Italian term of endearment, like CARA MIA, until CARAMELIZE finally dawned on me.

    Had JEWISHDELI at first but far fewer writeovers than usual.

    • steve says:

      stumper was a good challenge
      took a bit longer than usual, but i kept plodding and finally got it

      with no cheating, FTW

      it was a lot like the write-up:

      Continually I was abandoning paltrily filled sections in search of more fertile pastures, and continually I was stymied. And yet, in under fifteen minutes, it was done. I have no idea how that happened.

      i could never put it quite so well, so thanks

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: PAI (“___ gow (card game)”) crossing ZOOMIES (“Pet’s burst of energy”)? I suppose ‘I’ is about the only letter that makes sense at that cross, but oof!

  7. haari says:

    NYT 40D In which Nunavut means “our land”… Yes, many Inuit live there, but I’m thinking the correct answer would be the language spoken by the Inuit, which is Inuktitut.

  8. Seth says:

    pannonica, why don’t you like FLAVOR TEXT?

    • pannonica says:

      It’s just creepy and icky, somehow.

      • Eric H says:

        Interesting. I got this from the Wikipedia entry for FLAVOR TEXT (a new term for me):

        “A common and well-known occurrence of flavor text in the context of puzzles is the title of crosswords. Most crosswords have a theme, and the title often hints at what the theme is. The puzzle can be solved without figuring out the theme, but knowing the theme often expedites the solving process.”

      • R says:

        I always have fond memories of it from Magic The Gathering.

  9. Jim says:

    NYT 12A — I went with ARE WE THERE YET for much too long

  10. Pilgrim says:

    Re Stumper 6D “Person defending their writing”: I had to look this up, but it’s interesting that LIBELEE and LIBELER apparently refer to the same person.

Comments are closed.