Saturday, September 24, 2022

LAT 3:22 (Stella) 


Newsday 21:17 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:52 (Amy) 


Universal 4:08 (norah)  


USA Today untimed (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9 24 22, no. 0924

Nice to see Martin’s byline again! I am 100% okay with this grid not having stacks of 15s. This 66-worder has a good mix of fill lengths.

Fave fill: THREEPEAT, CAT’S CRADLE, SEROTONIN, COUNT BASIE (he’s supervocalic–each vowel used exactly once), SPELUNKS, SCOREBOARDS.

Four clues of note:

  • 41a. [It once earned the nickname “poudre de succession” (“inheritance powder”)], ARSENIC. An entirely new fact for me, and interesting.
  • 33a. [There is one each in French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hawaiian, and Chinook], STATE MOTTO. I absolutely thought the answer would be some alphabetical or grammatical term, but nope.
  • 54a. [Thy’re sen n ths cle], DELETIONS. Well, that’s a fresh sort of clue.
  • 22d. [Big fixtures at parks], SCOREBOARDS. Ballparks, not playgrounds or theme parks.

Could do without an entry like TESTEE, though.

Four stars from me.

Adrian Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 9/24/22 by Adrian Johnson

Los Angeles Times 9/24/22 by Adrian Johnson

For a puzzle that started out pretty easy in the NW corner, this turned out harder than I expected. Some notes:

  • IMPRESARIO and VARIETY ACT stacked on top of each other was a nice touch.
  • 16A [Banks on a runway] I’ve seen this clue for TYRA before, and it feels outdated. She’s far better known now as a TV personality and business mogul than she is as a runway model IMO.
  • 38A [List on a concert T-shirt] is an angle I don’t think I’ve seen before for DATES. Here for it!
  • 58A/58D. Oof, neither geography nor animated films of the aughts is a strong suit of mine, so the crossing of MORONI clued as the capital of Africa’s Comoros Islands and MORT clued as the character from the Madagascar film franchise led to half of a double error for me (RADAR RANGE instead of RADIO RANGE at 60A). I think it would have been a kindness to clue at least one of these easier.
  • 63A ICEE: I’m not sure whether I’m glad I know that this is a [Frozen treat with Mermaid and Baby Narwhal flavors].
  • 64A [Caver’s cry] is a nice misdirect for I SURRENDER.
  • 14D My mom is from Malaysia, so I was pleased to see LAKSA in a grid; I don’t think I have before.
  • 24D [Informal language that includes many abbreviations] Do people really say TEXTESE? I’m asking. I buy TEXTSPEAK, but not necessarily TEXTESE.
  • 36D [Prop for a magic trick] is SAW, which wants to be HAT especially if you’ve dropped the easy crossing LENA Headey at 40A. An appropriate misdirect for Saturday!
  • 55D [Like some emotional speeches] is FIERY. It’s easy to have TEARY in here at first, since the long 64A and 66A crossings were fairly easy gets for me. Recognizing and fixing the error represents, I suspect, a good chunk of my solving time.

Alan DerKazarian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Authorization” — pannonica’s write-up

WSj • 9/24/22 • Sat • “DerKazarian • “Writer’s Block” • solution • 20220924

{Write-up to come later in the day}

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword, “Q2″—Matthew’s recap

Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword solution, “Q2,” 9/24/2022

Our themers are two-word phrases in which each word begins with Q-

  • 17a [Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation] QUEEN QUET
  • 38a [“Hey, lemme ask you something …”] QUICK QUESTION
  • 62a [Spanish for “What do you want?”] QUE QUIERES

I like the theme set. Former linguistics students will likely recognize the Gullah/Geechee Nation, which is a common example for its relative isolation and resulting dialect development. The current chieftess is author Marquetta L. Goodwine – I’m not clear right now if QUEEN QUET comes from a title, or is in reference to her name.

As we often see in the USA Today, three theme entries allows room for fill to shine. Let’s get to notes:

  • 32a [Summer time zone in Beijing] CST. I’ve often wondered, but never actually gone to look up, whether there’s overlap in time zone names. Now I know. Accessible new (to me) cluing angle for a puzzle mainstay.
  • 49a [“The ___ has falled in love with the princess!” (line from “Shrek”)] OGRE. I adore this angle, both offering an alternative to [Fairytale fiend] or what have you, but also because I can hear John Lithgow’s intonation on “OGRE” as I read it.
  • 1d [The L in LCD] LIQUID. As in LIQUID Crystal Display, rather than Lowest Common Denominator, which was my first attempt.
  • 7d [Suffix similar to “-ish”] ESE. I haven’t figured out yet how this works – I can’t think of an example where -ese is used in an -ish way. Crossing a themer, it was the last square I filled in.
  • 9d [“Plastic Off the ____” (Beyonce song)] SOFA. I don’t know the song, which is an indictment on me, but how’s that for imagery in a clue?

Have a good weekend!

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

Newsday • 9/24/22 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20220924

{write-up to come later in the day}








Rafael Musa’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 39” — norah’s write-up



Universal, R. Musa, 9-24-2022

Universal, R. Musa, 9-24-2022

    • GENIUS IDEA 12A [Brilliant thought]
    • PUPUSAS 36A [Thick Salvadoran tortillas]
    • DONT SASS ME 40A [“Watch your tone!”]
    • JEDIMASTER 57A [Yoda or Qui-Gon Jinn, e.g.]
    • TUBETOPS 4D [Sleeveless, strapless garments]
    • LIFELESSONS 5D [They’re often learned outside the classroom]
    • GINORMOUS 9D [Hu-u-uge]
    • SUSHIBARS 33D [Restaurants you can go to for your own sake?]

Another fun and breezy solve from Rafa today. With LETSBEFAIR, ISUPPOSESO, ISHOULD, LIFELESSONS, DONTSASSME, and HASITCOMING, this puzzle feels like it’s having an internal dialogue with itself. Super cute!

I found the most joy in today’s puzzle in the clues for the shorter entries, which is a hallmark of Rafa’s work: GIF [9A: Image file whose pronunciation is contentious] and ELMO [45D: Beloved red monster] are highlights. Best clue of the puzzle goes to SUSHIBARS 33D [Restaurants you can go to for your own sake?] 👏

I learned about KOREA (26A: [Joseon Dynasty’s peninsula]). The Joseon was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea, lasting from 1392 until the beginning of the Korean Empire in 1897. Seoul (then known as Hanseong) was founded as the capital of Korea in 1394, in the very early ears of the Josoen Dynasty.

Thank you Rafa!




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32 Responses to Saturday, September 24, 2022

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Martin Ashwood-Smith must have been hanging around my house when he created this puzzle.

    EMERALD is the birthstone for May. The only reason I know that is because I was born in May.

    I have read Kurt Vonnegut’s CAT’S CRADLE several times; it’s probably still up in my attic. (If you haven’t read it, a central character repeatedly refers to the children’s string game.)

    TITO’S Handmade Vodka is distilled less than 15 miles from where I am sitting.

    Deputy DAWG was one of my favorite childhood cartoons. And whenever my great-aunt visited, she’d watch “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

    Here’s the kicker: In 60+ years, I have owned only one article of professional sports apparel: A jersey from the team that won the 2010 World Cup. (It’s a little frayed in places, and fits a bit tighter than when it was new, but I still have it.)

    Fun puzzle that flowed nicely. Stuff I didn’t know like PALOMA and THREEPEAT (as clued) were easy to get with a cross or two.

    Even a few mistakes (Eubie Blake has the same number of letters as COUNT BASIE; Wail before WEEP) didn’t slow me down much.

    I have to agree with Amy on TESTEE. Those -EE words (and a lot of the -er ones) seem to exist only in crosswords and legalese.

    • dh says:

      I also put in “Eubie Blake” at first, despite having grown up one town over from Red Bank, NJ, and having spent many evenings at the eponymous 38-A Theater. I attended an all-boys prep school, and can still hear the teenage tittering from when one of my teachers announced that we would have a number of “quizzies” and a few of their longer-form counterparts.

      For anyone who may be interested, today is the Finger Lakes Crossword Competition, held virtually with the proceeds going to support Adult Literacy (

  2. Philip says:

    Apt NYT for me, here in Nova SCOTIA, what with GALE and STORMCENTER, while Hurricane Fiona blows through.

  3. John Malcolm says:

    WSJ has multiple authors’ names omitted across AND down at intersections eg Rand, Verne, Mann, Wilde, Poe, etc.

    • John Malcolm says:

      Puzzle name is AUTHORIZATION. Complete list of authors = Rand, Verne, Stowe, Wilde, Poe, Mann.

      • Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

        and PAZ.
        Great theme. Horrible fill. YMMV

        • John Malcolm says:

          You are correct about Paz being omitted from my list; so sorry!

          But what was horrible about the fill?

          I normally use symbols like @#$%^&*()_ or the Greek alphabet to assist with themes that require several letters in one space.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      One word describes my experience in solving this puzzle … ARGH!!! Seven completely random writers/authors, one of which I’ve not heard of in my 63+ years of life? Again, I say, ARGH!!!

      The early ’70s is pretty close to my sweet spot pop-culture-wise, but (1) WUSA (103D [1970 film with Paul Newman as a talk radio host]) and UN[MANN]ERLY (93D [Boorish]) crossing NO WO[MAN N]O CRY (101A [1974 Bob Marley song]) did me in in the SW. Now that I’ve listened to it, I know the Marley song, but the title just didn’t occur to me from the letter sequence I had and though I think I’m very familiar with Paul Newman’s work, I don’t recognize “WUSA” at all. Crossing 50-year-old pop culture references with a random author name rebus in the mix? Come on!

      The NE also stymied me. The culprits there were (1) not knowing if it was going to be ‘TEN of TWO’ or TEN TO TWO (19A [1:50]) (I think I always use the former), (2) PERDU (13D [Lost, to Proust]) and (especially) (3) CREE[PAZ]OID (25A [Sleazebucket]) (really?) crossing TO[PAZ] LAKE (16D [Reservoir on the Nevada-California border named for a gem]). That last one just seems like an unfair cross to me. I lived in San Francisco for 23 years and know geographic names in California pretty well (I’m a bit of a geography nerd), but have never heard of TOPAZ LAKE. Plus, I don’t know of PAZ as the name of an author/writer. I’m just glad that DILLARD’s has a presence in the area of Ohio in which I was born and raised and currently live or I wouldn’t have known DILLARD (28A: [Department store founder William T.]) either. The other places I’ve lived (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington DC area and San Francisco) doesn’t have these stores.

      Thanks for providing me with a place to vent. I feel better now.

      • marciem says:

        +1 all that you said. I loved the idea (at first) when I recognized some/most authors names… but the rest got me down. I only know Dillard’s (west coaster here) from on-line friends shopping talks (thought of Macy but know that’s W.H. and didn’t fit, so that bugged me), never heard of Paz the author, never heard of Topaz Lake. I did know Perdu from French 101 back in the day and No woman no cry was gettable but never heard of WUSA so that needed all the crosses . Thought the Lost Boys lived in Neverland but that only ALMOST fit, so it took a while to get the double.

        Very inconsistently uneven solving experience here. I really did try to love it… but PAZ? Nope. That really killed it for me.

      • GlennG says:

        This pretty much covers all the issues I had with the WSJ today. It was nice to have an effort hit above my typical solving average for these (about 25 minutes over). But there was just so much junky fill in it that I either pulled a “well okay whatever” when the crosses seemed reasonable or just fired off guesses when they didn’t. MESABI/IERI should particularly be called out in addition to these. I just didn’t feel like it was fairly difficult and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth when I got done with it.

        • Martin says:

          BTW, thanks to Glenn for reconverting the WSJ .puz by hand to include the rebus elements. The online version doesn’t support rebus puzzles very well so my convertor doesn’t show them. It’s a service that Glenn provides.

          • marciem says:

            Man thanks to Glenn and to you, Martin. Your consistent hard word is very much appreciated!!

          • Howard says:

            Thanks for t his comment. I have figured out how to enter multiple letters in NYT using “rebus” command, but I wasted time looking for something similar once I realized that was what was going on.

      • JohnH says:

        Agreed with everything, too. What a strange author list. Poetry in translation isn’t read much at all, so I can easily see not recognizing PAZ, and crossings just made things worse. VERNE is familiar enough to most people, even if almost no one reads him any more, and to me RAND appears in puzzles only because she (and AYN) fits.

        I could see that “topaz” was going to relate to the reservoir name, but just where in those squares would it fall, and then what? DILLARD looked a tad better than other options as a name, but what in heck is that? (Google for “dillards NYC” and you’re taken to one in Manhattan, but as in Manhattan, KS.) I had CREEPOID for CREEPAZOID, as a guess, but neither one is in my vocabulary. And I still can’t make sense of the crossing of a firestarter and the Indian legislature.

        Agreed with the comment, too, singling out WUSA. But weird stuff all over, like a Minnesota range and Italian (or, for all one knows from the clue, Latin) for “yesterday.” Did help me to sound it out and compare it to “hier” in French. Let’s say an author theme and a rebus for me rescues a puzzle from a 1 rating, but not by much.

    • Eric H says:

      It’s tough for me to fairly rate the WSJ puzzle. I solved it with the free version of AcrossLite, which doesn’t handle rebuses. I had to hold them all in my head, which slowed me down a bit. I’d probably have enjoyed it more if I had been able to see the rebuses.

      I’m a bit surprised that no one seems to have heard of Octavio PAZ. As near as I can tell, he was the first Mexican to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1990). I’ll confess that I’ve never read any of his work, but I don’t read much poetry.

      I agree there’s some obscure fill. WUSA? LUSTRUM?

      • marciem says:

        Eric H: *” I solved it with the free version of AcrossLite, which doesn’t handle rebuses. I had to hold them all in my head, which slowed me down a bit.”*

        AL (I don’t know of a “paid version”) certainly handles rebuses. You can opt for it to show that it is a rebus puzzle (a red symbol a the bottom of the puzzle appears) . If you don’t want to do that, it will still hold Rebus answers. When you come to a square you think is a rebus, hit your “insert” key, and you can type the letters.

        The above is using Chrome browser on a PC. I’m not sure how other devices or browsers handle it.

        p.s. I’m happy to learn about PAZ, and don’t wish to discredit learning something new. But not good was as the Rebus answer crossing of two relatively obscure answers. :)

  4. Me says:

    NYT: The DELETIONS clue was a bit confusing for me because the missing letters are NOT seen. I was also hoping the missing letters would spell something interesting, but alas, not the case.

    I found the puzzle very enjoyable but I had a hard time with it in most of the western half. I think it came together for others more quickly.

  5. Harry says:

    Interesting timing with NOVA SCOTIA and STORM CENTER.

  6. A problem in today’s (quite challenging) Stumper: 4-A, five letters, “Holes in your head.” I think this clue is a dud. The word as applied to human beings is marked obsolete in the OED (most recent citation: 1620). The word is now used (if it is ever used) with reference to hawks. Thus not holes in your head or mine.

    • David L says:

      Numerous online dictionaries define the word relation to animals in general, with no indication of it being obsolete.

      I don’t understand 6D and 10D, assuming I’ve got them right.

      • I don’t doubt that online dictionaries give other possibilities, but I’d trust the OED. Its definition was updated in 2003.

        6-D: Enhanced-definition TV.

        10-D: Oligopoly, as opposed to monopoly.

  7. Twangster says:

    My successful streak ran out today with today’s Stumper. Got most of it but ran aground in the bottom right corner. I figured the Virginia clue had to be OCTAD or OCTET so I had SCOUT ON instead of SCOUTED. Could not come up with the PARTY after ENGAGEMENT and totally blanked on DOUGlas MacArthur and STAGY.

  8. Mary+A says:

    I’m not the fastest puzzle solver, but I found today’s NYT crossword, dare I say it, quite easy. Yesterday’s took me forever. That in itself is puzzling to me. 😉

  9. rtaus says:

    I didn’t do the Stumper–but if you’re discussing 4-D, NARES, I assure you it’s in everyday usage at hospitals.

    • I looked in a corpus — you’re right. It’s in medical journals. Still though for me a pretty dubious word.

      • Me says:

        NARES is extremely common medical usage. It’s probably part of the standard note template for many ENT doctors, and it’s used by primary care providers and dermatologists also. I would think anyone in those three fields knows the term. People do NOT routinely use “nare,” though, which may be why there’s no recent OED usage if that’s what you’re looking up. The singular is “naris,” although I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it as anything but NARES.

        It’s super-specialized terminology, though, so some might think it’s too obscure for that reason (I think that’s okay for the Stumper but some might not).

    • GlennG says:

      FWIW, I knew the word NARES, don’t ask me from where, probably another crossword somewhere. Anyway, 4.5* on the Stumper. Nice good clean (albeit soft for me – should I admit that?) challenge that was an enjoyable solve, though fraught with my usual mental stamina issues. 59A is definitely a favorite for me and wonder how it was determined a word should be coined for throwing (someone or something) out a window. Maybe happened enough back in the olden times…

  10. Pat says:

    L.A. Times 29 down Why is “soldier ant” the answer to “colonial protector?”

  11. Seth says:

    Stumper: so hard, took me poking at it on and off all day, but finally got it! So satisfying.

    Saw a funny thing about DEFENESTRATES the other day: it’s amazing that English has a word for that utterly rare thing, but doesn’t have a word for the very useful “day after tomorrow.”

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