Saturday, April 15, 2023

LAT 2:28 (Stella) 


Newsday 16:26 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:45 (Amy) 


Universal 6:03 (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4 15 23, no. 0415

Ah! Yesterday I had anticipated a Saturday puzzle that would feel like a Friday, but we lucked out and got a KAC puzzle, which invariably hits right in the Saturday zone.

I’ve always been partial to themeless grids of this variety, with a stack of good stuff in the 9- to 11-letter range in each quadrant. Fave fill: CARICATURE (thank you, [Sketchy Boardwalk offering?], for getting me started), UFOLOGISTS, a TECH STARTUP, SIEMENS (they make some good hearing aids, yo), “MEANING WHAT?”, the GOING RATES, STEM CELL, SCARE AWAY, LAURA DERN, BUSH HOG (not that I knew this [Land-clearing tractor attachment]), “I CAN’T EVEN,” and “DO YOU MIND?”

Three clues:

  • 35d. [Phone number?], RINGTONE. As in a ringtone that’s a song, a song being a musical number. Tricky! I knew it couldn’t mean a local anesthetic for a phone, but the song angle didn’t strike me for a bit.
  • Maybe faintly familiar to me? 44a. [Frank ___, Progressive-era novelist who wrote “The Octopus” and “McTeague], NORRIS. Have you read anything by him?
  • 54a. [Millions of Ghanaians, ethnically], EWES. Always good to have a break from the female sheep. Here’s a bit about the Ewe people.

4.25 stars from me.

C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/15/23 by C.C. Burnikel

Los Angeles Times 4/15/23 by C.C. Burnikel

You know what I’m going to say, right? Too easy! If the ACPT were ever to go all-themeless, this would be a great Puzzle 1. As it is, I had to notice most of the best clues after the fact, which is an experience I prefer more on a weekday than on Saturday. Some notable clues and entries:

  • 8A [Art form also known as “kado,” or “way of flowers”] is IKEBANA (the Japanese art of flower arranging). Nice to see this entry.
  • 39A [Pin cushion?] is a cute clue for MAT — that is, a place that might cushion you if you are pinned while wrestling.
  • 49A [Destination for the last flight?] is really clever for ATTIC.
  • 4A [Paper product?] is NEWS.
  • 8A [“Ms. Marvel” star Vellani] is IMAN. As much as I adore the supermodel, it’s nice to see another cluing angle for that name.
  • 13A [Like the traditional Maori greeting known as the Hongi] is NOSE TO NOSE. This was easy to fill in even though I didn’t know the fact coming in, and it was nice to learn it afterward.
  • 21A [Senior’s big ask] is a nice clue for PROMPOSAL.

I think this puzzle was so easy because a lot of the tricky wordplay was happening in the shorter entries, leaving lots of mid-length and longer answers clued straightforwardly and thus easy to get. It’s a nice construction, but I would’ve liked it clued A LOT harder.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pushing Back” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/15/23 • Sat • “Pushing Back” • Shenk • 20230415

The two-word phrases in this theme have had some light editing. To wit, the -ING suffix has been relocated from the first word to the second word. In the process, that second word changes from a regular noun to a gerund.

  • 22a. [Pre-departure doings at the Puget ferry terminal?] SOUND BOARDING (sounding board).
  • 27a. [Title on a symposium flyer?] TALK HEADING (talking head).
  • 45a. [Indication at an intersection, if your signals don’t work?] TURN POINTING (turning point). Of course there are manual signals that every driver should still learn; some may involve pointing.
  • 68a. [Job at a pinniped beauty parlor?] SEAL WAXING (sealing wax).
  • 71a. [Leaf-peeping trip?] FALL OUTING (falling out, falling-out?). That’s actually a common phrase.
  • 97a. [Park designer’s forte?] LAND CRAFTING (landing craft).
  • 115a. [Sizing skill for an Amazon Warehouse worker?] BOX MATCHING (boxing match). In my experience feel that some could do a better job on that, but I suspect that they are extremely pressed for time in their work.
  • 123a. [Prelude to getting food at the state fair?] STAND ORDERING (standing order).

Okay, these are all fine and entertaining. And clever.

  • 7d [Cut down to size] CHASTEN. 19a [Chao who preceded Pete Buttigieg at Transportation] ELAINE.

    21d [Bagel spread] SCHMEAR. I just saw a news item about ‘cream-cheese-stuffed bagels’ and my response is a resounding no, and “wrong, wrong, wrong”.

  • 41d [About-face from SSW] NNE. 9d [Direction opposite nord] SUD.
  • 47d [Ring quartet] OPERA. This is Wagner’s Ring Cycle, of the Nibelungenlied. 70d [“Parsifal” prop] GRAIL.
  • 54d [Trivial lie] TARADIDDLE. Not to be confused with a paradiddle, which is a rapid percussion sequence.
  • 82d [Sushi wrapping] NORI. 83d [Rust, essentially] IRON OXIDE. I liked the parallel placement of the NORI/IRON reversal.
  • 90d [Siren’s victim] SEDUCEE. Tied for least favorite fill with 132a [Particularly tall] TOWERY. 55a [Least fake] REALEST, I can live with.
  • 125d [Dress in] DON. I recently learned via the Haggard Hawks twitter account that the origin of the word is a contraction of ‘do on’ and its complement ‘doff’ similarly derived. (81d [Whacks, mob-style] OFFS.)
  • 36a [Ian Thorpe’s nation, in Olympic country codes] AUS, for Australia, whereas Austria’s is AUT. Seems to me the former should be AUL to avoid unnecessary confusion. Why does it enjoy AUS primacy, especially as it’s a younger nation?
  • 81d [Held in reserve] ON ICE. I recently had a sashimi lunch and the restaurant served the fish on bowl of ice. That’s no good. It shouldn’t be quite so cold, or you won’t get enough of the flavors. Needless to say I won’t be returning there.
  • 91a [Brought into being] SIRED. Well, that’s kind of half the story, isn’t it? But of course the clue is correct in the idiomatic sense.
  • 103a [Full of ups and downs] HILLY. 102d [With 63-Across, elevator pioneer] ELISHA | 63a OTIS.

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

Newsday • 4/15/23 • Saturday Stumper • Mossberg • solution • 20230415

Were it not for eventually dredging up 1-across GREMOLATA from my memory I might not have completed this crossword at all. [Green sauce for osso buco]

There were a few particularly obscure clues in this otherwise standard-toughness Stumper. Most notably: 51d [I as in “vin”] NASAL, 10a [Bud with brunch bagels] CAPER, 16a [Show with projectors] OPERA (especially as it’s proximate to the 9-down cinema quote), 32a [Memorable count] STAT, 54a [Not a full-length fantasy] RPG (role-playing game), 

  • 20a [Apt rhyme for “retrace”] PACE. Not so apt, in my opinion.
  • 39d [What tigers and king cobras share] ASIA. Can’t quite believe that I got this with only the S from the crossing EASE (28d [Great facility]) in place. Seemed to general an answer.
  • 40a [Request to keep playing] HIT ME. 5d [Request to keep playing] ONE MORE.
  • 62d [Potential power under the hood] SOLAR ROAD. Viable technology is still in early stages, I believe.
  • 3d [Word with “eat” in its etymology] ETCH. Makes sense, as the acid ‘eats’ the substrate. I had NOSH here for a while.
  • 4d [Common name in County Mayo] MORAN. {An Irish name goes here} clue, whutever.
  • The long down answers are cross-referenced: 6d [When miniskirts were in again] LATE EIGHTIES, 21d [Frequent player in the 6 Down] CASSETTE TAPE.
  • 9d [“Twice __” (what Goldwyn said a wide screen made a poor film)] AS BAD. Liked the clue, especially since it was rather easy to guess and thus make some early headway.
  • 10d [Apt to sway] COGENT. 24d [Aid in arguments] LOGIC.
  • 13d [Going-off] ERROR. Really?
  • 26d [Ball game] CATCH. So simple it’s tricky.
  • 49d [Attempt] CRACK. My first crack was WHACK.
  • 50d [Kitchen wrap] APRON. Fooled me on this one. Of course I said SARAN.

And to wrap up, several clues which I surmise must have been good, because they seemed oblique yet still guessable/gettable: 67a [Plumbers often work on them] KNEES, 58d [Japan’s third-largest port city] KOBE (that it was four letters helped greatly), 59d [“The South’s Homepage”] Y’ALL, 18a [They’ll need to be shifted] GEARS, 23a [Present time] NOEL, 30a [Display of brilliance] RIOT (as in colors), 36a [Occasional sportscast coverage] TARP (although ‘sportscast’ is stretching it).

A nice workout. Now can I go make coffee?


Universal, “Universal Freestyle 68” by Karen Steinberg — norah’s write-up

THEME: None!


  • ⭐⭐KARENS 41D [Entitled female complainers, slangily]
  • SLEEPDIVORCE 21A [Marital arrangement involving separate bedrooms]
  • COASTALELITES 13D [Educated professionals in New York City and Los Angeles, e.g.]
  • IMNOTGONNALIE 15D [“To be honest …”]
  • PAPERMARIO 9D [Nintendo franchise whose villains include an origami king]
  • END IN TEARS 58A [Finish unhappily for everyone]


Hello Karen Steinberg, who playfully offers up KARENS in 41D. I love this so much.

The NW of this grid was strangely difficult for me!  I’ve not yet internalized LENDL as a crossword sporps I need to remember, UMBYE looked like not a word, I couldn’t make sense of the sequence I had in 13D – something like —-TALELIT– at first, and I couldn’t put MARCH together easily. SLEEP DIVORCE is new to me too, giving me a longer than average solve time of 6:03. And to be clear, I enjoy when it puts up a bit of a challenge.

I learned about: ISAAC Singer 10D [Yiddish Singer?] , famous for founding the Singer Sewing Machine Company, and apparently also for fathering 26 (!?) children.

Thanks KAREN and the Universal team!


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25 Responses to Saturday, April 15, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: KAC is probably my favorite constructor who’s working now. His interests and sense of humor seem much in line with mine. This puzzle lived up to my expectations. (If I could make a themeless puzzle that was half as good as one of KAC’s, I’d be overjoyed.)

    I’ve never read anything by Frank NORRIS, but I knew of “McTeague” because Erich von Stroheim adapted it for “Greed,” which I saw 20 years ago. I needed a few crosses to get NORRIS’s name.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      He’s also one of my favorite constructors among the new(ish) wave of constructors, but his puzzles are usually nowhere near my wheelhouse and this was no exception. I was happy to get as much of this one as I did. In the end, I had too many wrong entries and too few footholds to fill the NW corner. So, a relatively rare DNF for me. It’s my second NYT Saturday DNF in a row. You’d be hard-pressed to put two tougher constructors for me back-to-back than Sid Sivakumar and KAC.

      • Eric H says:

        Sid Sivakumar and I seem to be on much different wavelengths.

        I enjoyed one of KAC’s puzzles enough that I went into the archives and did every puzzle he’s had in the NYT. With one exception, I solved each in what for me is a decent Saturday time.

    • David Steere says:

      NYT: Lovely puzzle by KAC. One mistake at 8D–thought “Bushhoe” was a thing. I’ll ask again if anyone knows if KAC’s work no longer will appear in the New Yorker. It’s been quite a while. I love his tough puzzles.

      UNIVERSAL: norah, don’t you think Karen Steinberg is referring to the Yiddish author, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and not the inventor of the sewing machine? David

  2. Seth Cohen says:

    Really psyched to finish the Stumper without checking anything! I had so many wrong answers at various points but I somehow stayed patient enough to take them out and see the right ones. Nosh before ETCH, con before COP, poppy before CAPER, tankers and trace before CANTEEN and CRACK (my answers were bad, I know), leap before LSAT (like…you leap sideways? I don’t know), lotto and bocce and match before CATCH, poem before POSY, Ian and loo before LAV, solar roof before ROAD, nothing to it before TO DO.


  3. David L says:

    I had to cheat to finish the NYT. In the NW, I had STITCH, ARTISTES, and RESET, and I thought 1D/23A might be ACUTE/EEL, but I couldn’t come up with any of the long answers. Eventually I googled “Nightmare Alley” and found Willem DAFOE; that gave me UFOLOGISTS and I finished the rest.

    Stumper: I got the left-hand side done without too much trouble but had blank space in the NE and SE. After much pondering I finished the SE (putting in SOLARROAD with great reluctance because WTF) but I gave up on the NE. I had PEACETALKS and RASPS but couldn’t get the rest. OPERA is particularly obscure — because opera singers project their voices? — and I don’t understand COP for ‘rip off.’ Not part of my vocabulary.

    • pannonica says:

      Yes on projection of voices, and a slangy verb sense for cop is ‘to steal or swipe’.

      • Seth Cohen says:

        My interpretation of projecting in OPERA was when they project the lyrics on the wall, if it’s in a foreign language. But your interpretation is almost definitely the one the constructor intended.

        • Eric H says:

          OPERA was one of the few answers I got on my own. It makes sense that the clue writer would be referring to opera singers’ ability to project their voices, in contrast to contemporary Broadway singers who usually use mics.

          BTW, congratulations on your successful completion of the puzzle. I was nowhere near done when I abandoned it, and probably a third of my answers were wrong.

    • JohnH says:

      I too admired the NYT and yet got defeated by the NW. I had “staff” for taking (musical) notes and “mensch” for a funny person, and they were hard to give up. BUSH HOG is new to me.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: The NYT is excellent, and it killed me.

  5. Eric H says:

    Stumper: Too hard for me. I did like the clues for KNEES and AS BAD. Kinda wish I had been able to finish it. TCHOTCHKES is a favorite word and I don’t remember what the clue for it was.

  6. Eric H says:

    WSJ: I don’t have anything to add to Pannonica’s spot-on review, except to say that I was glad to notice that the grid was 21×21, because it seemed to be taking longer than it should have given how smooth most of the fill was. (I don’t usually do the Saturday WSJ; I’m guessing they’re always this size.)

    • marciem says:

      Yes, the Saturday WSJ is always “Sunday Size” and themed, probably/maybe because they don’t publish on Sundays. It’s an early treat for me :) .

      I finally gave up on the Stumper and quit my subscription. I wasn’t getting paid enough to work that hard for so little reward (having to look up (google)so much and still not getting footholds)… things like that. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

      • Eric H says:


      • Seattle DB says:

        I agree with you about the Stumper. Stan said he was going to make it more accessible, but it’s still a waste of time for me so I gave it up one year ago. His only puzzle worth doing is Friday’s.

  7. Rock says:

    Hi, I know y’all are busy people but will anyone review the New Yorker ? I’m so lost.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Which day?

    • marciem says:

      If you’re talking about Friday’s New Yorker (there is no Saturday), I can try to help.

      The theme is really different. The theme clues have a flame emoji dividing two halves… each half answers the part of the clue before/after the flame, and the grid answers are full word(s) that don’t seem to have to do with the clues in any sort of way.
      The letters placed where the flame would describe the revealer or vice versa.
      Does that help?

      • Rock says:

        Sorry I should have said Friday’s😐

        Thanks for that explanation. But mine doesn’t have emojis

        I’ll go back and look and try again

        Many thanks

        • marciem says:

          Across Lite and the online app both have the emojis. Look at the game at their website to see where the emojis fall. Where they fall is pretty critical to getting the whole thing put together. :) . Best of luck!

  8. martha neumann says:

    I really love Pannonica’s comments about the WSJ puzzles. They are just great. I love her little videos too! Thanks so much!

    Y’all are really smart on this website. It is thrilling!

    My husband and I work through the weekend WSJ puzzle all week during breaks and we love it. My only complaint these days is there are too many proper names from our celebrity culture. BOO popular culture. (We are old timers.)

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