Saturday, February 4, 2023

LAT 3:32 (Stella) 


Newsday 17:22 (pannonica) 


NYT 4:56 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today untimed (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Kate Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2 4 23, no. 0204

This puzzle reminds me of Barbara Lin’s Friday NYT—similar solving time and another grid that’s packed with fresh fill.


Three more things:

  • 50a. [Language in which “Dia dhuit!” is “Hello!”], ERSE. Not a fan of dropping ERSE into a grid, as I’m not sure speakers of Irish/Gaelic are out there calling the language Erse. Wiktionary labels the term dated, sometimes offensive. Try to cut this one from your word lists, constructors.
  • 43d. [Chocolate brand with the slogan “Irresistibubble”], AERO. This is a bubble-filled candy bar (you’re buying air!) sold in the UK, Canada, and other places (only as an imported product here in the US).
  • Clue duo: Both HOWEVER and EVEN SO are clued [“Be that as it may …”]. I thought there was another such pair but I’m not seeing it now.

4.25 stars from me.

Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/4/23 by Doug Peterson

Los Angeles Times 2/4/23 by Doug Peterson

I love me some Doug puzzles! This one was a lot of fun, and I suspect many folks found that it played on the hard side. My time was about average for a Saturday, but if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew GRUMPY OLD MEN (a movie I’ve seen way too many times) and LINUS AND LUCY (a piece I learned on the piano as a kid) in the center with no or few crossings, I think I would’ve had a bit more of a struggle. The SW corner in particular has some very devious cluing that it took a while to unravel.


  • 15A [Cape Canaveral’s 321, for one] was AREA CODE. I was not fooled by this clue at all and in fact this is the first entry I dropped, but it’s still clever to allude to NASA countdowns.
  • 20A [Shelter named for a senator] is ROTH IRA. Tax shelter, get it? Pretty sneaky although I’m not sure this is the first time I’ve seen this angle.
  • 45A [They swell with pride] is a brutal and awesome clue for GAY BARS, especially since the crossings can so easily lead one to GAS BAGS.
  • 50A [Nick name in Paris?] is PERE NOEL (please excuse the lack of diacritics, I’m too lazy). This is a reference to St. Nicholas/Santa Claus. Cute!
  • 53A [One MCU character] is UNIVERSE. That is, one “character” in the abbreviation “MCU” stands for UNIVERSE. I had too many crossings to be fooled by this by the time I got to it, but it’s a great clue.
  • 7D [Docs with DOBs, often] is IDS. This did fool me for a little bit into thinking it was a clue about doctors, when in fact it is a clue about documents.
  • 11D [Remote possibility?] is TV CHANNEL. Ha!
  • 27D [Mass performance] is HYMN.
  • 31D [Locks in a barn?] is MANE. Like, locks of a horse’s hair. Awesome.
  • 39D [A little buggy, perhaps] is TOY CAR. That’s some Saturday Stumper-level action right there. Also, see above where the missing crossings in GAY BARS led me astray; this was one of them.

Yeah, OK, there are some entries I could do without (ANSON, ERIS, ENE, ANAT), but overall this puzzle is jam-packed with clues I wish I’d thought of. Loved this puzzle!

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Little R&R” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/4/23 • Sat • Shenk • “A Little R&R” • solution • 20230204

Two-part words and phrases; for each part, the letter R has been inserted and spelling adjusted as necessary.

  • 22a. [Thug’s muscle woe from roughing up people?] BRUTE CRAMP (boot camp).
  • 24a. [Routes for puritanical hikers?] PRIG TRAILS (pigtails).
  • 39a. [Vining plant that’s really awesome?] GREAT CREEPER (gatekeeper).
  • 43a. [Runs made escaping turncoats?] TRAITOR TROTS (tater tots).
  • 65a. [Getting more gratification from horse training?] BREAKING PROUDER (baking powder).
  • 86a. [Tingling feeling while practicing maneuvers?] DRILL PRICKLE (dill pickle).
  • 90a. [Mason’s tool for filling gaps between bricks?] BREACH TROWEL (beach towel).
  • 109a. [Melee at the monastery?] FRIAR BRAWL (fireball).
  • 111a. [Gambling game involving rolling on the lawn?] GRASS CRAPS (gas caps).

OK entertaining enough. Good, flowing grid, et cetera.

  • 12d [Femur setting] LEG. 60a [Radius setting] ARM.
  • 20d [Lot divisions] SPACES. More like a parking lot rather than a real estate lot or an auction lot.
  • 25d [Pull down] RAZE. Had EARN first.
  • 85d [Like a diamond in a deck] RHOMBIC. Not a word one sees every day.
  • 88d [Limited support?] RAILS. Some express trains are designated ‘limited’.
  • 10a [Beverage flavored with vanilla, cinnamon and citrus] COLA. That does sound good, doesn’t it?
  • 27a [Carbureted hydrogen, more familiarly] METHANE. Much more familiarly. Carbureted is a new word for me.
  • 59a [Free-range fowl] HEN. I haven’t complained in a while about the cynical euphemisms swirling around in terms like free-range. Let this be a marker.
  • 97a [Darken, poetically] BEDIM. Did a quick Ngram search. Early on, at least, the preferred context was tears that BEDIM one’s sight. 34a [Demonstrate despondency] SOB.

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

Newsday • 2/4/23 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20230204

Not too rigorous today. Toughest section for me was the upper right, despite early on having 18a [Craft presaged by da Vinci] DIRIGIBLES (not HELICOPTER) and the second part of 9d [Traditional rite] WHITE WEDDING. Eventually, after some tentative fiddling, it all thankfully fell into place.

On the heels of that last: 32d [Marriage metaphor] KNOT, 54d [Something to take seriously] VOW, and perhaps even 13d [Date ender, perhaps] KISS.

  • 22a [Not in harmony] AT ODDS. It’s good that I had AULD locked in for 11d [The __ Country (Scots’ ancestral land)], otherwise I would certainly have been tempted by ATOnal.
  • 24a [“Captain America” exhortation] OOF. That’s just quasi-random.
  • 33a [Domelike dispenser] SCOOP. That’s just deliberately obtuse.
  • 34a [Guy a la mode] DAPPER DAN. Not entirely sure how this clue works, but I did get the answer without too much trouble.
  • 35a [Alaskan capital before Juneau] SITKA. Mindlessly filled in SIMKA here.
  • 37a [Get the 411, once] DIAL O. Quite literally.
  • 38a [Ear or eye] ATTENTION. Quite metaphorically.
  • 42a [Nickname on a singer’s ’72 40 Across album] MISS M, Bette Midler. 40a is of course DÉBUT.
  • 44a [It was just behind ATL and DFW in ’21 traffic] DEN. See, unless you’re some kind of aviation nerd, that’s just a very obfuscatory way to clue simple fill. This is the stuff of Saturday Stumpers—but, I hasten to add, not exclusively.
  • 57a [Never again?] ONCE. Nice little clue.
  • 58a [Product of 250+ US companies in 1908] AUTO. Looks as if it was a real free-for-all back then, before shutterings and consolidations.
  • 1d [Green’s enemy] WASTE. “Enemy” doesn’t seem like the right word. Bane would be closer.
  • I really liked the two long pairs of stacked vertical entries: 2d [“Fighting fuel” of WWII] ANTHRACITE / 3d [Forbidden City roofing material] TERRA COTTA, 30d [Over and over and over and …] AD ABSURDUM / 31d [Trash-talk] CALUMNIATE. Had a wee bit of trouble figuring out the appropriate suffix for that last one.
  • 7d [Bowl parts, briefly] QTRS. (1) again, deliberately opaque/oblique, (2) this is right next to 6d [Fleeting] BRIEF. See what happens when you try to be too clever?
  • 12d [Rep, rather recently] CRED. m-w indicates the coinage as dating to 1981. I’m really rather surprised it’s such a recent word form. Seems to me writers of earlier ERAs (23a)—especially epistolarians—would have seized on such a convenient shortening.
  • 21d [Common midday duo] SOUP AND SALAD. Getting this long answer early on, facilitated by completing the lower left section for the SALAD component, really helped move my solve along.
  • 22d [Parts of a vegan crunchy sandwich] BAC-OS. I had no idea they were not made from bacon.
  • 29d [Cracker toppers] BRIES, not PÂTÉS. That misfill stymied my progress for a time.
  • 33d [Korean dish with lettuce wraps] SSAM. Whoa.
  • 48d [Sweet brand trademarked in 1912] OREO. ‘Sweet’ isn’t the first descriptor one would turn to for this, but I think many crossword solvers have a reflexive OREO response to ‘1912’.
  • 52d [Power source of little power] AAAA. First manufactured in 1989. Younger even than CRED.

How did this one treat you?

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Ship Out”—Matthew’s recap

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword solution, “Ship Out,” 2/4/2023

Our themers are bracketed by the letters of the word “BOAT”:

  • 14a [Warmth from cuddling] BODY HEAT
  • 25a [Rhythm named after a rock-and-roll legend] BO DIDDLEY BEAT
  • 45a [Safety device for a child traveling by car] BOOSTER SEAT
  • 58a [Nonhuman “employee” in a New York City corner store] BODEGA CAT

Really great set of themers, if you ask me. And of course, consistent in how BO-AT is broken up. The asymmetrical grid allows for colorful long bonus answers BEDROOM POP and NEVER CHANGE, as well.

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16 Responses to Saturday, February 4, 2023

  1. crowsword says:

    Clue duo: Both HOWEVER and EVEN SO are clued [“Be that as it may …”]. I thought there was another such pair but I’m not seeing it now.

    The other clue duo I think you’re thinking of is “Booty” for 2d and 12d :)

  2. non says:

    NYT: feels like this week’s Fri/Sat should have been swapped

    • David L says:

      Not for me. Today was two minutes slower than yesterday. Liked them both.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      My solve times suggest the same. I was 2-1/2 minutes faster today, but I was really only held up by the NW corner of yesterday’s puzzle. 80% of that puzzle played Easy/Easy-Medium for me also. NYT themeless puzzles sure seem to be getting a lot easier lately.

  3. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: really hard, but eventually got through it, but with a completely unfillable square and a wrong letter. Unfillable: SSAM and SITKA?? That S could have been any consonant. And S would have been literally the last one I guessed. Wrong letter: I thought it was DAPPER DoN, and CoLUMNIATE looked correct, as far as words-I’ve-never-seen go. Not to mention that MISS M could have been literally any letter too.

    NW and NE were hardest for me. Green’s enemy for WASTE…oof, that is a rough Stumper clue. And I had WHirl before WHACK, which really made the NE hard.

    • David L says:

      I seem to be ATODDS with other solvers today. I didn’t think the Stumper was that tough by Stumper standards. WATT was a gimme, so WASTE wasn’t hard to see. I don’t understand the clue for DAPPERDAN but like pannonica I filled it in pretty quickly. I had CRACK before WHACK, but WHITEWEDDING set me straight.

      No idea about SSAM but I knew SITKA as a town and as the eponym of the Sitka spruce. I wanted ADNAUSEAM at 30D, except for the inconvenience of it being a letter short.

      • marciem says:

        All I know about Dapper Dan is that he is a Harlem fashion designer/icon, so that must be where the clue is going. He is “à la mode” (fashionable) as the French might say. Otherwise dapper don is more idiomatic (IMO) .

        • David L says:

          The only Dapper Dan that came to my mind was from the Coen Bros movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” There’s a scene where George Clooney’s character wants to buy some hair pomade, and is offered a brand he doesn’t care for. No thanks, he says, I’m a Dapper Dan man, that being his preference.

          I’m pretty sure that had nothing to do with the clue!

          ETA: Wikipedia references a variety of Dapper Dans, including a horse.

        • AlanW says:

          A Dapper Dan is “a man who dresses and is groomed in a fancy, elegant, or fastidious manner.”

          One source says that the term “comes from a 1921 song of that name written by Lew Brown and Albert Von Tilzer, who also wrote ‘The Girl in the Gilded Cage’ and ‘I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad.’ ”

    • PJ says:

      Stumper wasn’t as tough as some for me but still a good workout.

      I paused at DIALO at 37a for two reasons – back in the day I dialed 411 for local information. I see from Wikipedia that 411 was used as far back as 1930 in large cities. Also, you dialed 0 for the operator, not O. Of course it’s possible I’m missing some history here.

    • GlennG says:

      Stumper was a pretty good run for me. Though I have to say the LAT was a harder go, primarily for all the obscurities shoveled in the upper right (Google absolutely required!).

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Fair point from Amy on “erse” which is not a word I’ve heard any actual Irish person use.

  5. Steve Tice says:

    LAT: Objection to clue for ASTA, who was a Schnauzer (in the book) and a Wire Haired Terrier (in the movies), not a hound, a hunting dog which tracks by scent.

  6. AlanW says:

    NYT 31A [Parent’s command when something almost gets broken by roughhousing siblings] GO OUTSIDE
    Universal 22A [“Stop clowning around outside!”] GET IN HERE

    Make up your mind!

  7. Pilgrim says:

    Stumper: “Houstonite”?? I guess they wanted to give an example of last week’s SHIBBOLETH.

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