Saturday, January 21, 2023

LAT 5:24 (Stella) 


Newsday 13:09 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:34 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today 1:58 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


David Distenfeld’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 1 21 23, no. 0123

After that themed Friday the 13th puzzle deprived us of our expected themeless, now we’re getting Friday themelesses in place of Saturday ones. Bring us a tough Saturday puzzle!

Fave fill: old-timey TINSELTOWN, “SHABBAT SHALOM” (thank you for making that one super-easy, Jenni!), PEOPLE-WATCHES, NOT DOING SO HOT, WINE SAUCE, POSTDOCS, SETH ROGEN, EXTRA POINT in football (I wanted an END ZONE DANCE here), BEST OF SEVEN playoffs (the Grim Reaper in one of the Bill & Ted movies kept losing to the teens and changing the targets—I think he maxed out at “Best five out of nine?”), and my fave CHEERIOS (have not used them as GF bread crumbs).

Wasn’t wild about plurals like OLES ETAS CDS INTS as entries, but none was challenging. The 1a/4d AGRA/APSE crossing had a bit of a crosswordese vibe. Lots of crisp long fill to offset the shorter drawbacks, though.

Surprising to see: 42d. [Natural gas emission?], BELCH.

3.75 stars from me.

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword, “Chill Out” —Matthew’s recap

Matthew Stock’s USA Today crossword solution, “Chill Out,” 1/21/2023

Themers are bracketed by the letters of the word “CHILL”:

  • 18a [Windy City basketball player] CHICAGO BULL
  • 38a [Porcelain plaything] CHINA DOLL
  • 53a [Spherical Malaysian dish based on a Hainanese dish] CHICKEN RICE BALL


  • 1a [Designed, as a contract] DREW UP. I like that the addition of “contract” to the clue nicely pins it down, though [Designed] for DREW UP is a fair enough clue in a harder puzzle, too.
  • 57a [“Today” co-host Kotb] HODA. Did you catch Inkubator co-founder and Wordle editor Tracy Bennett on Today last week? It was a nice segment.

Rich Norris’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 1/21/23 by Rich Norris

Los Angeles Times 1/21/23 by Rich Norris

WOW, OKAY. So I’ve been saying about quite a few LAT Saturdays lately that they’re a bit easier than I like. Well, this one was harder than some Saturday Stumpers, at least for me! (I also spent longer on this one than on both of this week’s NYT themelesses put together.)

About two-thirds of the way through my solve, I finally looked at the byline in the spirit of “WHO’S DOING THIS TO ME?!” and should not have been the least surprised to see Rich Norris’s name there. Between references to football (8D RICE) and golf (17A FLAT STICK and 64A HOLE IN ONE, although I would say only the former requires actual familiarity with golf), and geography (18A SOCAL, 41A YALU, 55D MALI), the knowledge base in this puzzle certainly did not hit my strong points, and some very tough cluing on entries like ELM ST, TAOIST, ARGO, SKI LESSON, TAT, ODORLESS (I was a chem major, and helium has lots of other qualities I think of before I think of odorlessness!), WET VAC, ANGLO-SAXON

This is all to say: Challenges are good. If you found this one markedly harder than most, you’re not alone.

Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “When the Chips are Down” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/21/23 • Sat • Coulter • “When the Chips are Down” • solution • 20230121

This one has a clever theme, but needs the title for its raison. For each of the starred across entries, there is a segment that extends downward, and that word can precede ‘chip’.

  • 26a. [*Seeker of courage] {COW}ARDLY LION.
    26d. [Bully] COW (cow chip).
  • 28a. [Graduation robes] ACADE{MIC RO}BES.
    29d. [Extremely small] MICRO (microchip).
  • 56a. [*Cousin of Speedy Gonzales in Looney Tunes cartoons] SLOW{POKE R}ODRIGUEZ.
    57d. [Fireplace tool] POKER (poker chip).
  • 82a. [*Gains a monopoly] {CORN}ERS THE MARKET.
    82d. [Hokey humor] CORN (corn chip).
  • 110a. [*”Bring the Noise” hip-hop group] PUBL{IC E}NEMY.
    111d. [Diamonds, slangily] ICE (ice chip). ‘Ice chip’ rarely seen in the singular, I feel.
  • 113a. [*Military polish] S{PIT A}ND SHINE.
    114d. [Falafel bread] PITA (pita chip).

Where possible, the down clues have been clued as something other than the chip context. This was not possible for PITA and MICRO. It’s a good theme and, as can be seen, a tough one to pull off flawlessly.

I noticed a fair amount of fill that is uncommon in crosswords, including the Britishy 22a [Brit’s Christmas theatre show] PANTO, 118a [Pound sterling, informally] QUID, 7d [Plot] CONNIVE. Also, there were some inflected forms of words that, by their length, would naturally be rarely seen in grids: ALIENATOR, ONEROUSLY, TENDERLY, and the like. (14d, 79d, 45a)

  • 38d [What Leander did, ultimately] DROWNED. Is this in agreement with the clue? Seems to me it wants DROWN.
  • 59d [Prepare to 108-Down] UNBAR gives needed context to its referent: 108a [Throw wide] OPEN.
  • 78d [Cradle-to-grave stretches] LIFESPANS. I had LIFETIMES for a while.
  • 83d [Nanny’s call] MAA. By convention, goats say maa and sheep say baa.
  • 5a [Mineral that adds shimmer to auto paint] MICA. Would that be MICA chips?
  • 21a [Apiece, in scores] ALL. Seems counterintuitive, but I’m illiterate when it comes to musical notation.
  • 45a [One way to embrace] TENDERLY, 98d [Watched over] TENDED. These seem to have sufficiently divergent etymologies.
  • 54a [Take in again] RESEE. Least-favorite fill.
  • 74a [Denarius depiction] CAESAR.

Fun crossword!

Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 1/21/23 • Saturday Stumper • Stiga, Newman • solution • 20230121

Another one that turned out to be easier than the norm.

Biggest issue was falling into the trap at 11-across: [Son of Marge and Homer] was not BART, but MATT Groening and those are the names of his real-life parents. As it was just a four-letter entry, it wasn’t much of a hindrance to the overall solve.

  • 1a [Brown-orbed breakfast] COCOA PUFFS. I was thinking of a single item, not multitudes.
  • Some timeliness: 15a [Newly-coined (9/20/22) name in the news] CHARLES III; 37d [She first met 15 across last September 9th] LIZ TRUSS; under his previous title? How do we know she had not met him before? Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September. I don’t know, maybe it’s the idiosyncrasies of royal succession.
  • 17a [Didn’t go] LINGERED ON.
  • 22a [Long divisions] FEUDS. Nice misdirection.
  • 25a [About a third of 1/2] SLASH MARK. >shakes fist<
  • 30a [“Most recognized female video game character,” per Guinness] LARA Croft. I call foul, not qualifying in the clue that it’s just her first name.
  • 32a [March with no nickname] AMY. We’re still doing this?
  • 40a [Start of a Genesis 4 question] AM I … my brother’s keeper? (I think.)
  • 41a [Staple of Canadian music education] UKE. Wonder why that should be.
  • 42a [Where many Georgians live] ASIA. It’s often considered a transcontinental nation.
  • 43a [Clamshell, for Neanderthals] RAZOR. Ouch? Also, I recall learning that some Pacific islanders would use clamshells as tweezers for plucking hairs.
  • 60a [Small space in big cities] PIED-À-TERRE. One of the first longish entries that I got. Would the clue be better written as [Small space in a big city]?
  • 23d [My dream world is complete Hieronymous Bosch and __”: Lennon] DALÍ. Okay, if you say so, John.
  • 31d [Term in baseball, golf and tennis] ACE. Callback to last Saturday’s clue at 30d ([Position in baseball, golf, or tennis] OPEN STANCE).
  • 57d [French Sudan, today] MALI. Tried CHAD first.
  • 61d [It’s usually the same day as Chinese New Year] TET. Timely!
  • 62d [What may be found between two dogs] EAT. As in dog-eat-dog.

A little tougher next time, please?

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Saturday, January 21, 2023

  1. GlennG says:

    Newsday was nice but 11A irked a bit. Evidently the Simpsons characters minus Bart (an anagram of Brat) were named after Matt Groening’s own family. So in the real sense, Homer and Marge’s son is Matt. (In case anyone wanted an explanation for that.)

    As for difficulty, generally easier than the last 3 weeks.

  2. Tony says:

    Yeah, today’s NYT was probably the easiest one I’ve done in a while. Usually I get stuck on a number of the clues.

    As for the Newsday, I didn’t like the clue for Cancun. Cancun is not a resort. It’s a city with several resorts.

    Loved the WSJ today. Not difficult once you understand what’s going on.

  3. RCook says:

    STUMPER: Can someone explain EAT as what’s between two dogs?

    • marciem says:

      the idiom “dog eat dog”

      • David L says:

        I was puzzled by your question until I realized that’s the final down clue, which was missing in the version I printed out!

        • Teedmn says:

          I often am missing a final clue on my printed-out Stumpers and I need all the help I can get! Though I don’t think the 62D clue would have helped all that much today.

          I know they aren’t orbs, they’re ovate, but I messed up my solve right off the bat with SCOTCH EGGS at 1A. I thought the Neanderthals may have used clamshells as spoons for a long time.

          Tough one for me today, even for a Stumper.

  4. Philip says:

    NYT: I thought CAB was CAF, and was rather surprised with the resulting answer for 42D. Not something I would have expected to see in the Times. But it turned out to just be my mistake.

  5. Twangster says:

    I did well on the Stumper by my standards but wasn’t able to get the top left without googling. Did not help that I had HOTOATMEAL for COCOAPUFFS, and they share several letters.

  6. Lester says:

    WSJ: pannonica, in 21a, I believe “scores” refers to the number of points in sports, rather than musical notation. A tie score might be “7-all” (7 apiece).

  7. I liked seeing Cleo Laine in the Stumper.

    But oboe music is written in the G clef. Viola would be unambiguous for the C clef.

  8. huda says:

    NYT: Fun Saturday!
    Loved seeing POSTDOCS in the puzzle. They really are pivotal for biomedical research, bringing a combination of talent and youthful energy. The unsung heroes of science. Thank you postdocs!

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … yikes … Another drubbing for me with an LAT Saturday in the Patti Varol era. I actually moved through about two-thirds of this grid fairly easily, but I simply couldn’t get a foothold in the NE and finally cheated to get through it. I really shot myself in the foot with being certain of ‘seine’ where TRAWL belonged. I don’t think I knew that TRAWL is what a TRAWLers net is called, but I really should have been able to infer that. Bad solving on my part there. I feel a little better about my solving ability after reading Stella’s review. If she struggled with it, I know it was tough. Plus, Rich is consistently one of my toughest constructors. I’ve had a DNF on about 30 of his 190 puzzles in my solving database. That’s an exceedingly high percentage compared to other constructors.

    • steve says:

      did not read that stella struggled with it

      wow, if this were a stella puzzle, it would have been at the extremely easy end of her spectrum

  10. Seth says:

    Stumper: SLASH MARK is exactly a third of 1/2. It’s one of three characters. What’s with this “about” nonsense? The clue could have been “A third of 1/2” and it would have been just as hard.

    Re the Marge and Homer clue: I KNEW it couldn’t been be Bart, because this is a Stumper. That would have been way way too easy. Odd how sometimes knowing how hard the puzzle is supposed to be can actually help you.

  11. Pilgrim says:

    Re: Stumper – can someone explain 58a – “Don’t just look” = ARE? Thanks!

Comments are closed.