Saturday, January 7, 2023

LAT N/A (Stella) 


Newsday 11:31 (pannonica) 


NYT 7:27 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today untimed (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Adam Aaronson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution,1 7 23, no. 0107

I’m watching the circus now (the one on C-SPAN), so this is distracted blogging right here.

Fave fill: “GOSHDARNIT,” OUT OF TOUCH, ON A PLATTER, a touch of Italo Calvino with ITALIAN LIT, a real STAND-UP GUY (if you’ve got HBO Max or HBO, check out Atsuko Okatsuka’s comedy special—she’s funny!), SHROOMS, ’round THESE PARTS, SUNDRESSES, IN THE LOOP, SCARE AWAY not far below SCREAM, “DID YOU HEAR?”, and Ken JENNINGS.

Two perplexing bits for me:

  • 43d. [Human-shaped board game piece], MEEPLE. Never heard of it! Background here. Basically, it’s my + people.
  • 11d. [Bit of casino restaurant fare?], BAKED CLAM. Can you have just a solitary BAKED CLAM outside of having just one of your baked clams left on the plate? Reminds me of Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development saying “Here’s some money. Go see a Star War.”

Overall, a fun puzzle. Four stars from me.

Los Angeles Times crossword — no new puzzle today

For reasons I am not privy to, today’s Los Angeles Times crossword is a rerun, not a new puzzle. Carry on!

Lars G Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 1/7/23 • Saturday Stumper • Doubleday • solution • 20230107

Decidedly easier than most Stumpers, including I think even the ‘Lester Ruff’-penned offerings.

No cryptic-style clue this time, nor is there a what-someone-wasn’t-called entry. But there were a few where the obscuration/difficulty dial was definitely turned way up:

  • 33a [End of a Tolstoy title]] MIR (no indication of original language needed). 59a [Organic orb] PEA. 2d [“Café” ingredient] AGUA.

All right, perhaps in retrospect not as many as I thought.

  • 16a [“Bohemian Rhapsody” feature] GUITAR SOLO. 28a [Short solo] ARIETTE.
  • 34a [Fictional fantasizer] MITTY. My first entry, and right in the center. That boded well.
  • 39a [Stock tip] -ADE. 57a [Cultural leader] AGRI-.
  • 45a [Second governor of New York] JOHN JAY. This seems as if it would be difficult for non-locals.
  • 47a [She was billed above Bogart in “High Sierra”] LUPINO.
  • 49a [ __ dash] MAD. Considered MRS, but noted the lower case ‘dash’.
  • 52a [Hebrew word for “delight”] EDEN. Did not know this, but it puts Bosch’s famous painting in a more recognizable light.
  • 3d [French “wood” in oboe’s etymology] BOIS. As in hautbois, ‘high wood’.
  • 11d [Tagline for a ’30s star’s first sound film] GARBO TALKS. I knew this from something referencing in my childhood. Maybe Mad Magazine or a Looney Tunes cartoon? Thee film in question is Anna Christie (1930).
  • 25d [“I am an __ of things accomplished”: Whitman] ACME, though I kind of like my first attempt, which was ACRE. Any case, this sure sounds as if it comes from “Song of Myself”.
  • 27d [Where to see shooting stars] HORSE OPERA. Cute clue.
  • 34d [’20s fad just before the crossword puzzle] MAH-JONGG. I’m telling you, that double-G looked so impossible for a while.
  • 41d [Code component] LAW. Have to thank today’s NYT (54-down) for priming me on this one.
  • 44d [Meat rich in zinc] OYSTER. I knew it was rich in zinc, but calling it ‘meat’ gave me pause, though of course it certainly is fleshy animal protein.
  • 49d [Focus of a Barcelona museum] MIRÓ.

In truth, I’m somewhat relieved that it was on the easy side today. Allows me to get my day started that much sooner!

Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 54” by Evan Mulvhill — norah’s write-up

Edited to add: Anyone having trouble getting .puz files from our Today’s Puzzle page can access them at Universal and the WSJ. The Crossword Scraper extension for Chrome works on both. 



Universal, E. Mulvihill, 1-7-23

Universal, E. Mulvihill, 1-7-23

  • PASTAFARIAN 33A [Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster follower]
  • AVENUE 53A [“___ Q” (musical with puppets)]
  • SANSKRIT 55A [Source of nirvana?]
  • TREE 58A [One might be sappy]
  • HOWONEARTH 4D [“Surely that can’t be possible?!”]
  • NATIONALFORESTS 7D [They contain branches of the government]
  • NIGIRI 42D [Type of sushi whose name translates to “two fingers”]


I ADORED 41D [Really loved] today’s puzzle! The center stack is fantastic, and what a lovely little easter egg to have NOODLE at 2D to accompany PASTAFARIAN. :) Enough stuff that’s a little more on the tricky side than usual with the grid spanning NATIONALFORESTS given a misdirecty clue without the ? in [They contain branches of the government] and a few things that are a little nichey, like AVENUE Q clued without much help if you aren’t familiar. In that same corner, I hesitated on BONIVER because while that was my first gut reaction, for some reason I thought they were a group rather than a single “musician”, and originally wanted MANIcure at 36D. I also like FREEPASSES clued succinctly as [Comps]. [One might be sappy] (again, without a ?) is so funny for TREE. To be clear, this is all a good thing! Just a little bit of resistance makes for a nice solve.

Thanks Evan!

Tony Orbach’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Loaded Language” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/7/23 • Sat • “Loaded Language” • Orbach • solution • 20230107

Since there are so many colorful synonyms for being intoxicated, it’s a rich furrow for crosswords. This is far from the first time we’ve seen a theme like this, nor will it be the last.

  • 22a. [Wrecked New Year’s promise?] HIGH RESOLUTION.
  • 38a. [Pixilated pub quiz, perhaps?] STIFF COMPETITION.
  • 51a. [Numb noggin?] WET NOODLE.
  • 62a. [Besotted boyfriend?] TIGHT SQUEEZE.
  • 69a. [Sloshed sourpusses] STEWED PRUNES.
  • 87a. [Plastered plug?] BLIND SPOT.
  • 94a. [Intoxicated interpretation?] LOOSE TRANSLATION.
  • 118a. [Oiled Rembrandt?] FLYING DUTCHMAN.

For funsies, most of these have alliterative clues—the exceptions are the first and last entries.

Quick run-through, as I have some obligations to fulfill today:

  • 2d [Pound, e.g.] UNIT. 3d [Pound’s kin] DOG SHELTER.
  • 8d [Render speechless] STUPEFY. For some reason I tried the obsolete word STUPEND.
  • 14d [Get the most efficiency from] OPTIMIZE. Brain was misfiring again, tried MAXIMIZE.
  • Another sequential double: 41d [Washington from Chestnut Grove, Virginia] MARTHA. 42d [Sound of Washington] PUGET.
  • Favorite clue: 45d [Long time follower?] NO SEE.
  • 62d [Pitched places] TENTS. As in, places to stay, I guess.
  • 75d [Boiling] HOPPING MAD crossed by 74a [Boil] SEETHE.
  • 96d [Astronomical alignment] SYZYGY. I once played this word in Lexulous (a Scrabble knock-off). It wasn’t the most points I could have made on that turn, but I wanted to be able to say that I played it.
  • 120d [Chu __ (Chinese philosopher)] HSI. Also known as Zhu Xi.
  • 50a [Rider of a black horse named Tornado] ZORRO. If I ever knew this (which I probably did), I’d forgotten it.
  • 59a [“Sprechen __ Deutsch?”] SIEKennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?
  • 60a [Puts in the mail?] ARMORS. Oof. 40d [Stocking stuffers] FEET.
  • 93a [Overly sentimental] SOPPY. Hands up, everyone, for SAPPY.

I’m buzzed.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “All Star Cast”—Matthew’s recap

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword solution, “All Star Cast,” 1/7/2023

I have borked this post twice trying to get my recap in here today — thanks to whatever Fiend colleague fixed things. Short and sweet – themers are actresses whose names end in -ALL; an “all star cast”

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48 Responses to Saturday, January 7, 2023

  1. Dan says:

    There’s a dish called Clams Casino. Never heard of it but it’s a classic. Kinda like the Rat Pack at the Dunes on the Vegas strip.

  2. Robin Flaherty says:

    I haven’t been able to open the WWJ crossword for three days. Any solution? I have played it everyday for years!

    • Paul+J+Coulter says:

      Uni and WSJ haven’t been available at Cruciverb, either. Martin, do you know what’s going on?

    • GlennP says:

      Martin said earlier in the week that he had been affected by the West Coast storms and had no power.

      • Martin says:

        Power is back on and I just got the network all back together, so we should be good again. This area was quite a mess and the power company worked through the night removing downed trees and restringing cable. We checked into a hotel for a couple of days.

        There are three more storms on the way, so I’ve got my fingers crossed but it could be a rough week.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Thanks for the service you provide, Martin. I hope you make it through the upcoming storms with minimal disruption to your life. It’s sure been yet another bizarre winter weather-wise. For the most part, it’s been crazy warm here in NE Ohio with the exception of that insane deep freeze over Christmas weekend. Once again, I say thank goodness there’s no such thing as climate change. There’s nothing to see here, right?

        • Robin Flaherty says:

          THANK YOU!

  3. Martha says:

    Please get us back Across Lite for WWJ and Universal!

  4. Dallas says:

    Pretty fun Saturday; TIL that Cookie Monster’s name is “Sid.”

    On a separate note: since the Super Mega contest ends today, is there going to be a post about it later today?

  5. Mary says:

    Puzzled here too…none of the .puz files that I go to can be downloaded as well.
    This is not good….

  6. Mutman says:

    NYT: had MANUAL WORK at the bottom instead of MENIAL. Explains why I thought SUD was a weird name for Cookie Monster.

    Still don’t get BAKED CLAM. I’ve heard is casino losers called FISH and WHALES. If it is actually referring to CLAMS CASINO, the BAKED really makes no sense.

    Any other thoughts??

    • Gary R says:

      BAKED CLAM made no sense to me until I came here and saw mention of “clams casino.” Looked at some recipes on line, and it seems to be raw clams on the half-shell topped with a tasty-sounding sauce and bread crumbs, and BAKED in a fairly hot oven for a short time. So, I think it works.

  7. PJ says:

    From Friday’s comments:

    The issue is with; Martin Herbach’s server does the .PUZ conversions, but it got a bad case of snowstorm-powerfail a couple of days ago. We’re all waiting for the power in his server’s neighborhood to be restored. Please continue to twiddle thumbs…

  8. marciem says:

    NYT: Loved the clue for ItalianLit… took me a beat (or five) to get it :D .

    Not crazy about “gosh darn it” crossing “nuts” but ok.

    Overall a fun puzzle that took a few passes, but pretty smooth.

    • PJ says:

      Not crazy about “gosh darn it” crossing “nuts” but ok.

      Same here. I was looking for different meanings of Shoot!

    • Eric H says:

      It took me a bit to get the ITALIAN LIT clue, too, even though I have been doing a lot of archived NYT puzzles and seem to run into Umberto Eco all the time.

    • JohnH says:

      Took me a while to understand the clue for ITALIAN LIT, too. Very nice deception.

      My last to fall was the SE. I guess I just didn’t expect that of Guy Fawkes Day, not that I’d know, and HERO’S journey isn’t a phrase that comes naturally to me. But really all totally fair and interesting.

  9. Dennis Jones says:

    I haven’t been able to download a puzzle from here for the past 3 days. The connection times out.
    Is there anything I can do?

  10. Lena says:

    Great LAT puzzle! Great clue [Back on the job?] at 1-Across, and more fun cluing throughout. Loved this one!

  11. Seth says:

    Stumper: hilariously impossible for me with all the crossing proper nouns I would never ever know. In the NW, ZABAGLIONE crossing BOIS crossing SAS is just a mess of Naticks. In the NE, GTO crossing OTBS, ew. ALKYD above OCASEY? SE was never gonna happen: never heard of NINE TO FIVE, MIRO, AVEO, ILO, and NUB is a silly answer for Gist (rUB, anyone?). JOHN JAY over LUPINO crossing TNN…this puzzle was just never going to happen for me.

    Side note, I was surprised to learn that MAHJONGG has only been around since the 19th century. I’d assumed it was much older.

    • Twangster says:

      I did pretty well on this one but needed to google “Nine to Five” to open up the bottom right corner. Also had LUPITO and ACRE before coming here.

      On the Bohemian Rhapsody clue, I thought it was notable that a million rock songs have guitar solos, but very few include opera, which ended up coming up in another answer (HORSE OPERA).

    • Eric H says:

      I solved everything but the SE before I started checking my answers. Biggest mistakes were seeing “Banff” (48A) but thinking “Acadia” (which is in Maine, not Alberta) and having “Dali” for 49D. I needed lots of crosses to see NINE TO FIVE. Dolly Parton’s song from that lives in my head, but I don’t remember much about the movie itself.

      Still. I did better than last Saturday, when I abandoned the Stumper after getting nowhere with it.

      (Does anyone else solve the Stumper on the “Stan’s Daily Crossword” site? Both today and last week, that site has not worked well for me. It won’t let me select a clue or a slot in the grid, or if it does, I get the wrong one. I’ve had to close my browser tab and relaunch the site. It’s weird and a bit annoying.)

  12. David L says:

    NYT was much harder than yesterday’s for me. Two things:

    MEEPLE: Huh? I assumed it must be wrong but the crosses looked good and it turned out to be right.

    “John who was a pioneer in set theory” VENN: No he wasn’t, not in the least. Venn diagrams were adapted for use in set theory, but set theory is is generally credited to Cantor and Dedekind. Venn made no theoretical contributions to it. He was a probability/statistics guy. Will Shortz really needs to find someone who can vet science/math clues. (I’m still peeved about AERATE from a couple of days ago).

  13. MaryS says:

    LAT: The write-up that says the crossword is a rerun, not a new puzzle. My local newspaper had one by Brian Rom that I think is new. Is there some problem with the reviewer’s source for the puzzle?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I keep track of all the puzzles I solve in a spreadsheet, including the names of the constructors. I’ve got all of the LAT puzzles back to February 2010 and this is the first time I’ve recorded this constructor’s name, so I’m pretty confident that it’s not a rerun.

      It was a very weird solving experience for me. The cluing seemed pretty off my wavelength in a lot of places (e.g., STOLE A BASE clued as “Got home safely, perhaps” and SUCK IN clued as “”Deep breath so I can zip you up!””) and there were a bunch of names that I don’t know, but I still managed to roll through the grid in a quick solve time. I was 24% below my 6-month median LAT Saturday solve time, which is exceptionally fast for me.

  14. David L says:

    Stumper: Mainly easyish, by Stumper standards, but I couldn’t finish the very last across entry. I had NUT instead of NUB, and though I figured 56D had to be FFF, GOT A RE-FOOT was not remotely plausible, and I couldn’t find my error.

    • Seth says:

      I mean, “got a re-foot” could be perfectly reasonable slang for “got your nails done”. And NUt is a much better answer than NUB there, so I’d call it a win for you!

  15. GlennG says:

    LA Times: Something weird must be going on today with pre-distribution or something that only reviewers get? The one I find on all the distro sites is a puzzle by one “Brian Rom” as edited by Patti Varol and dated today? So not a re-run by any stretch.

    Admittedly, I thought this one was a little more challenging than the Saturday NYT, though these days, my assessments of difficulty seem to not be straight on for whatever reasons they are.

    So don’t let the reviewers calling this a “re-run” dissuade you. A current run puzzle does exist for today.

  16. Martin says:

    My network is back up so the puzzles should be available again — at least for now. So many downed trees, which took down power lines, meant the power company took two days to get things back. It looks like a war zone around here. Three more storms backed up over the Pacific, so everybody keep your fingers crossed. What a way to end a drought.

    • Paul+J+Coulter says:

      Thanks for all you do, Martin. I should have guessed about the storms. I have a sister who lives out your way

    • LM says:

      Echoing others: just a thanks for the effort on making these puzzles available to us all. Hugely appreciated.

    • Eric H says:

      Thanks for making all these puzzles so readily accessible. I hope the next storms aren’t so bad.

  17. Teedmn says:

    In the Stumper, I considered “I am an AChE of things accomplished”. When I finally saw MIR, well, duh.

    GO t_REFOOT was my penultimate aha (I had already replaced NUB with NUt so going back to NUB wasn’t so hard) thus allowing me to finally nail down exactly what time zone Banff was in with META.

  18. marciem says:

    Martin… THANK you for all you do, and I’m so glad you are coming out from under this atmospheric river and bomb cyclone weather we’ve had out here! It’s been a mess, but so needed water-wise. But take care and prepare for the upcoming Pineapple Express I heard about :P .

    WSJ: Welcome, my old friend SYZYGY who I only know from crosswords, have never heard in conversation and will never be able to pronounce correctly if for some reason I’m asked in person what that alignment is called :D . Good to see you!

    I didn’t remember Zorro’s horse being Tornado, for some reason I thought it was Diablo, but that turns out to be the Cisco Kid’s horse per google. (but we did learn about Tornado the other day in another puzzle so I remembered it this time.)

  19. David L says:

    It occurs to me, very belatedly, to object the NYT cluing for MASKS as having something to do with Guy Fawkes Day. As far as I can remember, I first encountered the masked Guy Fawkes figure in the movie V for Vendetta, which evidently is adapted from a comic by Alan Moore. Subsequently, the masked figure has been adopted by an odd assortment of protest groups.

    But there is no historical truth to this. When I was young we celebrated Guy Fawkes by setting off fireworks and setting other things on fire, but no masks were involved.

  20. AlanW says:

    Note that Jeff Davidson’s Crossword Scraper (the developer deserves our thanks and to be credited by name), which is essential for downloading many puzzles in .puz format (or .jpz or .pdf, if that’s your preference), is also available for Firefox at

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