Saturday, June 17, 2023

LAT 4:09 (Stella) 


Newsday 15:18 (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 3:37 (norah)  


USA Today 1:43 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/17/23, no. 0617

Rough day, short write-up.

New to me: HOYEON Jung of Squid Game.

Fave fill: ON STRIKE, AUTOCOMPLETE, TADPOLE, BULL SESSIONS, COPY/PASTE, RAY OF LIGHT, and my beloved UBE with a clue that’s spot on! Scowl-o-meter got its hackles up at HORSEFLESH.

Four stars from me. Tell us what stood out for you!


Universal, “Universal Freestyle 77” by Dob Olino — norah’s write-up





  • ⭐ADOPTIVERSARIES 13A [Annual days to celebrate a pet’s Gotcha Day]
  • SOWHATELSEISNEW 17A [“And how is this surprising?”]
  • THINKAGAIN 27D [“That’s where you’re wrong”]
  • BINGEREADS 11D [Enjoys a book for hours and hours]
  • PITYLIKES 5D [Reactions for posts that haven’t gotten much love]
  • ASYOUWISH 32D [“Sure, will do”]


A very happy print debut day to Dob Olino of CrossweirdTV! 🎉🫔

This sort of grid structure – stacked spanners in the top and bottom halves – is rare among the Universal themeless puzzles, and I’m very happy to see it. ADOPTIVERSARIES is such a great seed entry! I believe this is the first time it’s appeared in any puzzle, mainstream or indie. Placing those spanners in the second and third (and 13th and 14th) rows is a bit of a risky move as it requires a total of 30 down entries to pass through two of them. And here the risk pays off – not only are the more open sections in the NW and SE squeaky clean, the chosen entries allow for a ton of personality. At 3:37, this ties my Universal pr on the year (last week’s from Rafa that I solved back to back with this one!) and that’s due to the smooth cluing all over. It’s a tough balance to squeeze in long, fun, and/or evocative clues such as those found for the shorter entries DALI 21A [“The Persistence of Memory” artist Salvador], IKEA 31A [Swedish furniture and meatball chain], NDAS 40A [Things that leave you speechless?], and HAIRS 28D [A baby’s first few may be saved in an album] while sticking to the overall character limit, and this one even clears that bar by a fair amount. Lovely work.

Thanks Dob and the Universal team!
See you again tomorrow for another great one. 👀

Christopher Bolduc and Matthew Sewell’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/17/23 by Christopher Bolduc and Matthew Sewell

Los Angeles Times 6/17/23 by Christopher Bolduc and Matthew Sewell

You won’t be surprised that I liked this puzzle — I don’t usually go over the four-minute mark on LAT, and I enjoyed the extra challenge without that challenge coming from Naticks. I felt pretty smug when I knew the trivia referenced at 1A [Focus of a Stockholm museum whose slogan is “Walk in. Dance out.”] — it’s ABBA — but quite a few answers that I put in just as confidently later turned out to need to be reworked.

Whether they did so intentionally or not, the constructors lay a couple of traps where more than one answer is totally plausible for a clue, and those two answers share some letter placements in common. 19A [Foot part] is ARCH, but could just as easily be INCH. Although FUR shares no letters with PAS, which one are you going to put at 25D [Faux ___] if you have no crossings? If, as I did, you had ??I?E going into 54A [Bellyache], you might, like I did, put in GRIPE instead of the correct WHINE. This is not okay on Monday but perfectly acceptable, even desirable, on Saturday.

Other things I enjoyed: [Impromptu screwdriver] as a clue for DIME (I have a wireless trackpad instead of a mouse, so I do this every time the batteries die); the current-yet-not-already-on-its-way-out RING CAMERA; cluing CHAIR in the musician’s sense of [Orchestra position]; quite a few clever question-mark clues like [Drinks with steep prices?] for TEAS.

Ben Howe & Owen Travis’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Show Business” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/17/23 • Sat • Howe, Travis • “Show Business” • solution • 20230617

The theme entries here are fictional commercial entities from television programs. Not exactly my strong suit, but I managed ok.

  • 22a. [“Looney Tunes”] ACME CORPORATION.
  • 38a. [“The Office”] DUNDER MIFFLIN.
  • 48a. [“Scooby Doo, Where Are You!”] MYSTERY INC.
  • 65a. [“Breaking Bad”] LOS POLLOS HERMANOS.
  • 83a. [“The Simpsons”] MOE’S TAVERN.
  • 93a. [“SpongeBob SquarePants”] THE KRUSTY KRAB.
  • b [“Iron Man: Armored Adventures] b.

There they are.

  • 3d. [Bowlful for a boxer] IAMS. 20a [Bowlful for a boxer] ALPO. I thought one of those would have a different sort of answer. But what could it have been? TALC?
  • 13d [Belief in the oneness of reality]  MONISM. Not often seen.
  • 36d [Bean from which some milk is made] b. 72a [Japanese bean pastes] MISOS.
  • 65d [Hail Marys, e.g.] b, nicely paired symmetrically opposite 15d [1969 Series champs] MIRACLE METS.
  • 79d [Neutral colour] b. Note British spelling of colour.
  • 82d [Unlikely occurrence] FLUKE.
  • 87d [Like elbows after skateboarding accidents, maybe] SKINNED. Had SHINNED first, then SCRAPED (crossed with ‘CRUSTY’), before finally fixing it and thus completing the puzzle.
  • 21a [AL-Azher Park location] CAIRO. Plunked in DUBAI out of habit.
  • 28a [Remove from one’s home] DISPLANT. Not a word I’ve seen before, to my recollection.
  • 86a [Any of seven in each foot] TARSAL. Human feet, of course. Cuboid, medial cuneiform, intermediate cuneiform, lateral cuneiform, navicular, talus, and calcaneus.
  • 98a [Poseidon’s kingdom] SEA. 60d [Letters that look like tridents] b.
  • 121a [Runners carry it] SLED. Nifty clue.

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

Newsday • 6/17/23 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20230617

I guess about average stumperiness? Lower right corner was the last to complete, because I’d followed the lead of 45d [Clobber] CRUSH over at 48d [Clobber] and written in SMASH. This in turn prevented me from having a proper toehold to remember how to say “look!” in Spanish (59a [“Look, Luisa”] MIRÁ; 48-down turned out to be STOMP.

Finally decided to take a flyer on 40a [Darn it] and put in SEW, which—combined with MIRÁ—allowed me to finally relinquish any attachment to AÇAÍ or PALM for 41d [They grow purple berries] ELDERS. Whew!

  • 14a [Player from 18 Down] HIFI. 18d [Tumultuous time remembered by many] THE SIXTIES.
  • 23a [Beat] PULSED. Those terse clues can be so ambiguous!
  • 25a [Does as well as others] DEER. As commenter Seth has already mentioned, a great clue.
  • 27a [Where Buzz got his Sc.D.] MIT. 1d [40 Project Mercury trainees] CHIMPS. Was for a long time convinced that that had to be AIRMEN.
  • 29a [Hardly sugary] SEC. Referring to dryness/sweetness in alcohol.
  • 31a [Unknown] NOBODY. Was held up a while on this one due to having SMARTS rather than SMARTY for 13d [Brain].
  • 36a [It’s lexicon includes “banner” and “standard”] VEXILLOLOGY. Had I not known this and entered it with barely any letters in place, the crossword would have taken far longer to complete—it was a pivotal entry. The term I always strive to remember is that a y-shaped element is called a pall.
  • 44a [“Toy Story” character with knobs and a screen] ETCH. Guessable.
  • 49a [Cans of Worcestershire] GAOLS. Fooled me only inasmuch as I was looking for a variation of LAVS or LOOS that could fit.
  • 53a [Deep thinking] STUDY crossing 40d [Set spot] STUDIO??
  • 57a [Final word of Twain’s “Eve’s Diary”] EDEN. Also guessable.
  • 2d [Shaded oneself] HID OUT. Not buying this one.
  • 22d [You and mean, essentially] PROTOPLASM. Rather open-ended clue. I was definitely mislead along the lines of PROnouns.
  • 32d [What often precedes the question] BEGS. Elevated to stumperdom by the omission of quotation marks for “the question”.
  • 33d [Half a harmonious school] FENG, as in feng-shui (‘wind-water’).
  • 38d [They have currency] VOGUES. 55a [One on many covers] SUPERMODEL.
  • 55d [ __ wagon (vehicle that follows bike racers)] SAG. Did not know this at all.

Malaika Handa’s USA today crossword—Matthew’s recap

Malaika Handa’s USA Today crossword solution, “3 CM,” 6/17/2023

Three themers are phrases of the form C???? M????:

  • 16a [Symbol on a completed to-do list] CHECK MARK
  • 37a [Tangy seasoning blend] CHAAT MASALA
  • 59a [Break room cup] COFFEE MUG

Simple, clean theme. Interesting trip through the grid, with the arrangement of black squares in the middle. I think I solved it roughly as three distinct areas; the top, the middle and lower left, and then the lower right. I wonder if it would have felt more connected to me if it were rotated so that the themers ran downwards. I’m fully aware of how nitpicky this point is.


  • 15a [Reward enjoyed after a great day] TREAT. Or in the middle of a bad day, or whenever I feel like it?
  • 39a [“Crying in H Mart,” for one] MEMOIR. Here’s something I learned from crosswords — I think specifically the New Yorker — that is now high high up on my to-read list, as I’ve learned more about it. If only I had less crossword work to do!
  • 10d [Monday, on Tuesday] YESTERDAY. This cluing angle brought a smile to my face. Just matter-of-fact and a little cheeky. I’m sure it’s been used before, for both YESTERDAY and TOMORROW, but it struck a chord with me today.
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29 Responses to Saturday, June 17, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: OH PUHLEezE and my inability to remember what “obrigado” means made this more challenging than it otherwise would have been. And my high school French was a long time ago; I’d forgotten that À BIENTÔT has that silent T at the, so I pulled it out when it didn’t seem to have enough letters.

    I’d have been a bit annoyed if my guess of SNAPE hadn’t worked. I’d be perfectly happy to never see another Harry Potter reference in a puzzle. (I gather SNAPE is one of the good guys, which strikes me as odd — the name is so close to “Snake” that I would expect him to be one of Harry’s foes.)

    But a few letters here and there and eventually the grid was filled. I didn’t get really stuck for long, which is never fun.

    I liked AUTO-COMPLETE and its clever clue, but I originally had AUTO-COrrect, which of course didn’t fit.

    • Dan says:

      It just hit me that the Portugese “obrigado” looks a lot like the Japanese “arigato”, the word for “thank you”.

      Accident, or coincidence?

      • Eric H says:

        That occurred to me, too. My few minutes of Googling tells me that “obrigado/obrigada” literally means “I am grateful” or “I am obligated.”

        I’d expect the Portuguese “thank you” to be closer to “gracias”

  2. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: “Does as well as others” for DEER is one the best clues I’ve ever seen.

  3. AmandaB says:

    NYT – I had ASKME instead of USEME for the longest time which made that corner take forever.

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: Being unfamiliar with ESTERC, wanting DEADSEA instead of ARALSEA, and not knowing ARES was smote by Athena (which I thought was forbidden in Greek myth) made the NW corner hell.

    • huda says:

      I wanted the DEAD SEA as well! I went there as a kid and it’s the weirdest feeling– you float so much more than in any other body of water. You can hardly sink if you tried. But water in the eyes really stings.
      There were many corners of this puzzle that I found challenging, sometimes because I had no clue what the answer was (HOYEON), but often because I couldn’t work out entries that seemed to have several options as clued– like USE ME, LEAVE ME, IN HERE (the combo tells a story :)…
      A BIENTOT was very helpful to me in that corner, and I like that expression. It feels hopeful.

    • MattF says:

      Me too. I ran aground in that NW corner. The map in my head put the Caspian further west, the ARAL SEA no longer exists, and ESTERC is obscure. I do realize that goddesses can be tempermental.

    • DougC says:

      To say the ARAL SEA is “known for its high salinity” is like saying the Donner Party was known for its weight-loss regimen. That struck me as one of the most tone-deaf clues in recent memory.

      Sure, the Aral Sea got saltier before it mostly disappeared, but what it’s “known for” is being one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet, the extinction of most of its aquatic life, and the high toxicity of both its remaining waters and the dust from the desert that is the exposed lake bed. A fate, BTW, that also threatens UTAH as domestic and agricultural water use along the Wasatch Front causes the Great Salt Lake to shrink.

      • Dallas says:

        Agreed; I really did not care for the ARAL SEA clue either, nor did HORSE FLESH work very well for me either. A much slower than average Saturday… here’s hoping the Father’s Day puzzle tomorrow treats me better :-)

        • DougC says:

          Just too many problematic clues for this puzzle to work for me. “Equines, collectively” is one of those. Zebras are equines, but nobody would refer to them as HORSEFLESH. I’m with you in hoping for something better tomorrow!

  5. Boston+Bob says:

    Stumper: Figured bicyclists had to bring along their stuff, which they put into suitcases that were transported in the BAG wagon.

  6. Gary R says:

    NYT: Not being familiar with the actress or the series, I got hung up thinking “Jung” was a Germanic name and couldn’t come up with the “Y.” Decided to go with “C” to make “ace” for 9-D, as in passing a test. Didn’t figure out how AYE worked until it hit me about an hour after I finished the puzzle.

    • JohnH says:

      No question a bad crossing. I also thought, aside from the letters suggested in other comments, of AVE in Latin, where the name coming across could have been almost anything. And so close to yet another instance of Shortz’s obsession with Harry Potter.

      For all the reasons cited in comments, too, the NW was rough. I’ll just add that it has USE ME on top of LEAVE ME elsewhere. Still, a lot of creative fill and cluing elsewhere. I’d call the puzzle above average.

  7. Twangster says:

    Stumper: For me the lower left corner was the toughest and ended up having to google to get Miranda to finish, so not bad.

    How does “finishes what’s started” = LASTS?

  8. marciem says:

    LAT: More false starts for me: ADM. for CDR, AURA for FEEL, then in the SW there were ROMA for CODA (I don’t keep track of winners vs. nominees, nor the years, once the season is past :) )… and OURS for ONES… All that after getting snookered into putting UKE for LEI in the NYT…

    Enjoyed the puzzles, nice Saturday fare. Haven’t finished my daily ration but those are my favorite Sat puzzles.

    • Milo says:

      Yes! I too love all those little “trap” entries, especially on a Saturday. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I enjoy being at least a little puzzled when solving puzzles. I guess those who in their frustration pollute the ratings with their reflexive one-star reviews just don’t share our enthusiasm.


    • Margaret says:

      I confidently put in SpendINGSPREE, mEH and PEACEtalk! Good puzzle.

      • marciem says:

        And there ya go, I did the same with MEH for FEH (not a very common syllable!) and had PEACEPACT at first in place of PLAN. This one was full of good fun puzzlers, I’m not mad at all about that! :) .

  9. David L says:

    NYT was tough for me. Knowing ABIENTOT was a big help, but USEME seems like something nobody said ever, ditto SOLI, in my experience anyway. I don’t know COPYPASTE as a two-in-one command. It’s two distinct steps for me, but then my computer is old.

    I object to TAM clued as a Glasgow souvenir. It would be like cluing ‘Stetson’ as a Boston souvenir.

    Stumper: East side pretty easy, west side pretty hard. VEXILLOLOGY was the key entry, as with pannonica. SW corner was a struggle. I had ARSES* for a long time, until eventually I guessed MIRANDA and was able to puzzle out the rest.

    *GAOL is basically extinct in British English these days. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary describes it as ‘old-fashioned.’

  10. teedmn says:

    Stumper: arseS instead of GAOLS hung me up for a while in the SW and gave me eoNs for 50D but 26D showed me the error of my ways and confirmed SANG was what 60A was looking for. At least, with eoNs in place, EDEN was easy to guess for 57A.

    trOMP (and considering whOMP) before STOMP in the SE was a hold-up for seeing EAST LA.

    I’ve been studying Spanish using Duolingo so ALTA was a gimme but we haven’t gotten to MIRA yet.

    Nice one, Stella!

  11. Philip says:

    NYT: Years of listening to bad radio with all kinds of supplement ads was the only way I got ESTERC.

  12. Gene says:

    Surely one says a person’s AGE in writing about their passing? And HOGEON seemed as likely as HOYEON. 😒

  13. Karen says:

    Stumper: Even though it’s late to write a comment, (West coast) I must call out 5D: the clue is wrong. Clued as “toutes-jours” connector. It’s “tous les jours” because “jours” in French is masculine, therefore tous. “Toutes”is the feminine form of the adjective. Does not, however, affect the fill.

  14. JohnH says:

    Do I really have to have watched that much TV? The WSJ is just plain awful.

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