Saturday, June 10, 2023

LAT 3:15 (Stella) 


Newsday 16:36 (pannonica) 


NYT slowish (Amy) 


Universal 4:13 (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


John Hawksley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6 10 23, no. 0610

Wild grid with that four-pointed star in the middle, bulging with Across and Down stagger-stacks of 11s, eh? I found this 62-worder to be on the hard side for an NYT puzzle, and had to use the “check” function to find my error. I had TELESCOPIUS instead of TELESCOPIUM ([Constellation named for the instrument it depicts]), and yes, that did make for a perplexing crossing: [“___ eaten without either mirth or music is ill of digestion”: Sir Walter Scott], SEAT? No, MEAT. Never seen the quote, not big on meat, meh.

Fave fill: “HE STARTED IT!”, MAKEUP GAMES, HALOGEN BULB (that’s banned now??), SETTING FREE.

New to me: 33D. [Certain zen retreat], MOM CAVE. Heard of the man cave and the she-shed, but sure, I’ll take a MOM CAVE. I have some design ideas for it.

Is this legit? 32d. [Quoth the raven?], CAW-CAWED. I don’t know that I’ve seen the doubled call before.

A clue I liked: 13A. [Roast roost], HOT SEAT. As in the person being razzed at a comedy roast is sitting in the HOT SEAT.

Four stars from me.

Universal, “Universal Freestyle 76” by Evan Kalish — norah’s write-up





  • ⭐FIEND 30D [Evil being] (Look, ma! We’re in the puzzle!)
  • ITSASCAM 1A [“You’ll get ripped off”]
  • NAILCARE 15A [Clipping, filing, etc.]
  • SHIFTINGSANDS 32A [Metaphor for constant change]
  • AREWEGOOD 36A [Post-apology question]
  • DONTEVENSTART 37A [“Keep any objections to yourself”]
  • CATLOVER 58A [Persian enthusiast, say?]
  • LIVEWIRE 61A [Energetic sort]
  • IMSOOLD 13D [Reaction to a reunion invitation, perhaps]
  • DOGSHOW 37D [Boxers’ event?]
  • LEO 59D [Constellation with a “mane”]


A ton of great entries in today’s grid from Evan. That middle set of SHIFTINGSANDS, AREWEGOOD, and DONTEVENSTART tell a fun story. The layout allows for nice open corners with what feels like lower than usual word and block counts, though it still clocks in at a normal 72 words and 34 blocks.

I learned about WESSEX 62A [Kingdom prior to English unification].

Thanks Evan and the Universal team!

Amanda Rafkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/10/23 by Amanda Rafkin

Los Angeles Times 6/10/23 by Amanda Rafkin

Apologies for recent unexcused absences from blogging (was traveling for work). This was a nice fresh puzzle to come back to. Highlights:

  • 1A [Rhyming description of one who’s very extra] is DRAMA LLAMA. Getting 1-Across right in a themeless is deceptively hard! It sets the tone of the puzzle, so you might think a constructor would put her seed there, but sometimes your seed doesn’t work well in that position. Some puzzles are better than others at making sure 1A is an attention-getter regardless of whether it was a seed entry; this is one of them.
  • 21A [Oft-used tissue] sounds gross on its surface, but it’s really just SINEW, as in body tissue.
  • 33A [Leaves in tears?] is a very clever clue for WEEPING WILLOW, an entry that could’ve been fine but not that interesting on its own.
  • The SE stack of SEEMS LEGIT, UPSET ALERT, and ETSY STORES: See? You can have a lot of fun with a 30-square area that doesn’t have a single high-Scrabble-point-value letter in it. Love the clue [Creative outlets?] for ETSY STORES.
  • 11D [City that a bubbly person might enjoy] is a nice clue for that old chestnut, ASTI.

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s placeholder

Newsday • 6/10/23 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff, Newman • solution • 20230610


Sam Acker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Picky Eaters” — pannonica’s placeholder

WSJ • 6/10/23 • Sat • Acker • “Picky Eaters” • solution • 20230610


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25 Responses to Saturday, June 10, 2023

  1. GlennG says:

    Is there a good way to get the Newsday puzzle now? I’m finding that very difficult the last couple of weeks…

      • David L says:

        I use that link to print out the Stumper. With Chrome on a PC, it doesn’t allow me to solve onscreen — the page just comes up blank.

    • Seth Cohen says:

      I do the Newsday puzzle on the Shortyz app (on an Android phone). I download the puzzle using the app and solve it there.

    • On a Mac, Safari can no longer scroll the Newsday page and open the puzzle. But the Brave browser (Chromium-based) works. I assume that Chrome, which I don’t use, would work too.

      • GlennG says:

        FWIW this has been the issue for about a couple of months. Scrolling does not work, so the puzzle can not be solved online – half a puzzle shows up (and barely be printed as a sliver of that button shows up – and I got away with that for a while until they put the big Newman 35th anniversary thing).
        Firefox does not work, and Edge (Chromium-based) does not work either.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Excellent Saturday workout.
    The corners were relatively easy for me, but that center expanse was hard to get into. I threw in some guesses that turned out to be wrong– for example FOOD instead of MEAT, or CARVE (time) instead of GETTO. Nibbled at the edges long enough for some ideas to emerge, and then it all came together.
    I wasn’t wild about HIRER and PASSER. But very cool to learn about CINCINNATUS and TELESCOPIUM, and clever clue for CARBON DATES.

    • Dallas says:

      The NE corner was first for me, and NW corner last to go. Growing up in Cincinnati, I knew *all about* CINCINNATUS, though I wonder how much that’s regional knowledge. Took me twice as long as my average Saturday, and several wrong turns (I had RATIO and then OILY instead of SCALE and EELY, but SAWYER helped set me right…). I also originally threw in INCANDESCENT for HALOGEN BULB early, as well as BODYBUILDER before POWER LIFTER, and FOOD instead of MEAT too… lots of ways to go wrong this morning :-)

    • David L says:

      I blanked for a distressingly long time on both SAWYER and EVERLY — a double senior moment!

      I don’t get the zen retreat clue for MOMCAVE, and the ‘choice at a dry cleaner’ clue made me laugh. “Would you like your shirts on HANGERs or should I just crumple them up and stuff them in a bag?”

      • Eric H says:

        Think of “zen” in a more general sense as simply “peaceful” or “serene.”

        It’s been 30 years since I’ve taken my dress shirts to the cleaners, but I think they usually offer the option of getting them folded (and possibly boxed).

    • Eric H says:

      It felt fairly challenging while I was solving it, so I was surprised to come in three or four minutes below my Saturday average.

      The clue for CARBON DATES is my favorite.

      Any puzzle with the EVERLY Brothers is fine with me.

      • marciem says:

        “Any puzzle with the EVERLY Brothers is fine with me.”
        +10 :) . (Them and Irma Thomas references will win me every time, even if the rest is a slog I’ll love it :D . This one wasn’t a slog, but a nice challenge)

        It was a perfect Saturday for me… a challenging work-out but bit by bit it gave way, SW being first to fall. I didn’t know about Cincinnatus but now I do :) .

        • Eric H says:

          I knew CINCINNATUS. But I misread the clue and thought it was asking for the city, which I then misspelled with an extra T.

    • DougC says:

      I certainly agree that it was a workout. But I thought it was rather uneven, with some decidedly “iffy” clues, particularly in that SW corner, which has several problems. SAWYER, EVERLY and REDEYE went right in, but then, yikes! I was stuck with a bunch of blank squares for a very long time.

      For starters, PASSER is not a thing in poker as far as I know. 2:1 is a ratio, but not a SCALE, since scale ratios, to the best of my knowledge, always begin with 1, comparing one map or model unit to a corresponding number of ground or full-size units, e.g., 1:10,000 or 1:24,000. MOMCAVE and CAWCAWED seem entirely made up.

      So, as lovely as that center stack is, I’m finding it hard to like this puzzle.

      • Gary R says:

        I think the rule on scales is that the first number is the units on the drawing or model and the second is the “real-life” units. So a 2:1 scale would apply if the drawing is an enlargement of the real-life object (like an engineering drawing of a small manufactured part).

    • Gary R says:

      I surprised myself by solving this in about 80% of a normal Saturday time. It was challenging, but there wasn’t anyplace where I really felt “stuck.”

      I’m with @huda on HIRER and PASSER – both legit, I’m sure, but not pleasing to the ear. (PASSER would be fine in a sports context.)

  3. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: BUMPPO/PIKER was a hopeless Natick for me. And BOSSES could have been hOSSES, so two Naticks for the price of one!

    Can someone explain where LAP is in a metaphor for magnificence?

    • David L says:

      As in the LAP of luxury…

      I didn’t know the BUMPPO reference in 1A — something to do with Last of the Mohicans? — but I got the crosses correctly.

      I thought the puzzle was tougher than the usual Lester Ruff offering.

      • Twangster says:

        Got everything but the top left corner, which is better than usual but still disappointing. Didn’t know BUMPPO and was looking for a specific drug instead of a class for 15-across.

      • Eric H says:

        Yes, Hawkeye Pierce’s nickname comes from the character Natty BUMPPO from “The Last of the Mohicans.” In the novel (which I read 40+ years ago), I think he tells another character that “The Last of the Mohicans” was the only book his father ever read.

        Even knowing all that, I struggled with the NW corner and ended up checking several answers. PRE instead of ERE and my inability to remember ST. LUKE messed me up. It also didn’t help that I don’t think I have ever seen PIKER used to mean a “cautious gambler,” which is how my dictionary defines it. And it also didn’t help that I have never seen “House,” much as I’ve liked Hugh Laurie in other things.

  4. Scott says:

    Agree that the NYT was tougher than usual. An embarrassing 38 minute solve for me.

  5. JohnH says:

    The WSJ has a poor excuse for a theme. As far as I can tell, there are no themers at all, including long entries, apart from the revealer. All you get is a handful of circled squares to justify a large puzzle. The theme itself comes off as forced, perhaps because the revealer’s clue doesn’t mention how to use the WORM theme and the revealer itself has a somewhat lame connection to it, requiring ignoring most of it, including a whole other species, “bird.”

    Some unwelcoming or unfair sections of fill, too, such as ETYPE, PELEE, and REES (not far at that from IVE as a name. I rated the puzzle well before finishing it and I wish I’d waited. I’d have downrated it considerably.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I can’t understand why anyone would rate a puzzle they haven’t finished.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Also, the birds in the grid aren’t circled and those entries are crossing worm entries. The CROW, SWALLOW, DOVE , LOON, and TIT didn’t jump out at you? Haven’t done the puzzle myself, but looking at the grid I see that each bird’s last letter is the beak pulling up the WORM words. Because the long entries begin with birds, you have “early birds.”

      • Sam Acker says:

        Thank you, Amy, for clarifying the theme, especially for catching that the birds are “early” in their respective entries. In my draft sent to the WSJ, I had grayed out the birds to make this aspect of the theme clearer. The grayed-out feature isn’t supported by the WSJ, so I understand how the birds could be lost on solvers.

        Admittedly, this isn’t my best puzzle; I could have guessed it was going to score poorly here. It was one of my earliest constructions and, looking at it now, there are many ways I could have improved it. As a perfectionist, I’m always looking for a version of my work to take more pride in. But as a creator, I’m happy to be sharing my work at all.

        I come to this site for inspiration and motivation. Thank you, JohnH, for some seeds of motivation. I will strive to improve ugly fill because, yeesh, this puzzle has plenty. It was my first published 21×21, so there’s more fill than I’m used to. But please take Amy’s words of advice, and mine here: leave the theme-based critiques, especially the rude ones, for people who at least know what they’re looking at.

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