Saturday, July 1, 2023

LAT 3:06 (Stella) 


Newsday 20:18* (pannonica) 


NYT 3:53 (Amy) 


Universal 4:06 (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


You likely wouldn’t be reading a Saturday post if you didn’t like challenging crosswords, so let me point you towards Patrick Berry’s latest puzzle extravaganza, “Set Design”: It contain 9 sets of mini-puzzles plus a metapuzzle (50 puzzles total), and a supersized Rows Garden as a bonus. Cost is $15. Check out Patrick’s A Frame Games website for more info, more puzzles, and the store page where you can purchase his cruciverbal wares.


Ben Tolkin’s New York Times crossword — Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 7/1/23 – no. 0701

What the what?! Sub-4 is a fast solving time for me on a Friday puzzle. Who scheduled this breeze for a Saturday?

Lots of terrific fill here, particularly in the 11/12/13 stacks in the north and south: “SO I GATHERED,” a DANCE ROUTINE, LETTER TO SANTA, BATS AN EYELASH, Shortzian ENIGMATOLOGY, a DOCTOR’S NOTE, a cozy DOG BED, AUTOPILOT, and Mongolian GERBILs.

I … did not know the Z SNAP formation, that [Sassy, letter-shaped gesture accompanying a retort], was called that.

Corny clue: 7D. [Outer ear?], HUSK. I couldn’t tell you how tall Illinois’s corn is now, but it’s been a dry year so it’s probably lagging. #midwesterner

It’s a little weird to have DROLL and DEAR tied to the addressee of that LETTER TO SANTA when it’s July, innit?

I appreciate the slang vibes of 19D. [Peeved, for short], PO’D, as in PO’d, as in pissed off. Though shouldn’t that be P’dO?

Four stars from me. Enjoy the long holiday weekend, folks!

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

WSJ • 7/1/23 • Sat • Shenk • “Writing Wrongs” • solution • 20230701

Oh, just a collection of homophone substitutions. Standard crossword fare, more or less.

  • 23a. [Lamenting the loss of great splendor?] MOURNING GLORY (morning).
  • 50a. [Polish to make the tin tiles really shine] CEILING WAX (sealing).
  • 52a. [Report of an avoided highway pileup?] BRAKING NEWS (breaking).
  • 68a. [Creating matched cutlery combinations?] PAIRING KNIVES (paring).
  • 86a. [A poodle is probably the best one, if you want a pink dog?] DYEING BREED (dying). People, don’t dye your pets.
  • 90a. [Getting rid of old paneling?] BARING WALL (bearing). I don’t know that I’ve heard it as other than load-bearing wall.
  • 119a. [Preparing the fleet for a coordinated attack?] SYNCHING SHIPS (sinking).

These are fun, fine. In my experience it’s unusual for Shenk not to have significant stacking/overlap of his theme entries, even in the 21×21 grid size.

  • 15d [Barn adornment] HEX SIGN. My feeling is that this is primarily a Pennsylvania and maybe Ohio thing?
  • 66d [More scatterbrained] DITSIER. Ngram here.
  • 70d [Chicago suburb] NILES. Unknown to me, same as 1a [Town that holds annual Truman Day celebrations] LAMAR.
  • 73d [Brainy bunch] NERDS. C’mon, you all put in MENSA here too, right?
  • 27a [“The single most powerful thing I can be,’ per Dwayne Johnson] MYSELF. Seems like a good credo for most people.
  • 66a [IJsselmeer embankments] DIKES. Not a typo.

Nice puzzle. I noticed perhaps more than the usual number of clues that offer up a literal dilemma—two equally strong options of the same letter length. Dilemma etymology: Late Latin, from Late Greek dilēmmat-, dilēmma, probably back-formation from Greek dilēmmatos involving two assumptions, from di– + lēmmat-, lēmma assumption — more at LEMMA. (

Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 7/1/23 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff, Newman • solution • 20230701

The asterisk appearing next to my listed time is to indicate that, in the interest of haste and distraction, I looked up a couple of answers to get the puzzle completed more rapidly. They were personages.

This did not feel like a “less rough” offering to me. I estimate that had I not cheated, my time would’ve been somewhere in the vicinity of 28 minutes.

  • 1a [Treatment you won’t take lying down] STAND-UP MRI. Oof, that ending letter sequence made it tricky! I get that the clue is being clever, but an MRI is not a treatment, it’s a diagnostic tool.
  • 16a [Abbr. atop some newspaper pages] ADVT. Really? I believe it’s typically spelled out, no? Not reading too many paper newspapers these days, so I’ll defer to those with more applicable experience.
  • 17a [Broadly speaking] IN THE LARGE. Hmm. Ngram here, but I suspect that many or most of the appearances of “in the large” are parts of longer phrases (e.g., “in the large Cadillac” or somesuch).
  • 18a [Two-footer seen by Darwin] RHEA. During his journeys in South America.
  • 21a [Name associated with a painted apron and pitchfork] GRANT Wood, the artist famous for “American Gothic”. I was fortunate to get this from only the G in GENERIC: 21d [Unbranded].
  • 26a [They may be writing] DESKS. Don’t like the phrasing of this clue.
  • 42a [Tool’s cutting edge] LIP. Did not know this.
  • 52a [Panelist’s cry?] ACK. What am I missing here?
  • 54a [Frightful, for starters] DINO-. I believe dinosaur is typically translated as ‘terrible lizard’.
  • 59a [Rowling’s flock-creating spell] AVIS. I knew this would be some obvious Latin, but I went with OVIS, which honestly is a lot more entertaining as an image.
  • 63a [Recyclable energy source] ATOMIC PILE. It is?
  • 65a [“The Last Man on the Moon” author] GENE CERNAN. That distinction will become inaccurate once the Artemis mission(s?) have taken place.
  • 3d [Treacle tart, to its orderers] AFTERS. I’d have appreciated the clue to be a bit more explicit/fair: [Treacle tart, say, to its orderers].
  • 8d [What got Welles on Page One] MARTIAN INVASION. Had trouble convincing myself this was correct because of that pesky PMRI sequence in 1-across.
  • 10d [Ox tail] -IDE. No helpful question mark here. Much trickier than, say, 40a [Plus preceder] NON-.
  • 13d [Anagram of LEAVINGS] SVENGALI. That’s pretty good.
  • 35d [Complete a floor exercise?] ROLL OVER. It doesn’t quite make sense, does it?



Universal, “Universal Freestyle 79” by Kelsey Dixon — norah’s write-up; 4:06



2023-07-01- dixon

2023-07-01- dixon

  • CHICAGODOG 14A [Windy City food served without ketchup]. A Chicago dog: mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle spear(s), peppers, and celery salt. No ketchup!
  • NINETOFIVE 17A [Dolly Parton song about workplace injustice]
  • MOCKTAIL 28A [Phony negroni] I think I want a comma-say here, but otherwise this is a fun clue.
  • TINYHOMES 36A [Downsized living spaces]
  • DOORTODOOR 51A [Like some Girl Scout cookie campaigns] I still have (mumbles) some number of Girl Scout cookies in my house from this spring. I guess if you’re looking for a summertime re-up lmk???
  • LOVESONGS 8D [“As” and “For Once in My Life”]
  • ITSNOTFAIR 27D [“The odds are against me!”]
  • SELA 6A [“Sisters” star ___ Ward]. There was a time in my adolescence when I watched this show religiously and I wanted to be just like the free-spirited Teddy when I grew up.


Beautiful gridwork from Kelsey here. She starts us off with a CHICAGODOG (Hey if you haven’t yet done Kelsey’s latest independent puzzle, please stop reading this right now and go do it especially if you’re a fan of a certain Chicago-based Hulu comedy drama), ends with an OREOSUNDAE, and treats us to a MOCKTAIL and SNOCONES in between.

I want to compliment the super complementary stacks of CHICAGODOG-NINETOFIVE and OREOSUNDAE-DOORTODOOR, but that would overlook all of the other great long entries that appear all over this grid. MOCKTAIL, LOVESONGS, TINYHOMES .. all great stuff that creates a lovely open solving flow to this puzzle.

Thanks Kelsey and the Universal team!


Annemarie Brethauer and Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 7/1/23 by Annemarie Brethauer and Katie Hale

Los Angeles Times 7/1/23 by Annemarie Brethauer and Katie Hale

You can really lose some time on this solve if you try to start at 1-Across, since there’s some deliberate trickery going on with cluing both 1A LIST and 1D LANK as [Lean]. Not only are those two different meanings of the word “lean” that each have four letters, but also if you’ve got that I crossing in 1A you could still put TILT in there and think yourself right. Good call on Saturday.

Other things I enjoyed:

  • 19A KEYBOARD SMASHES is a fun entry.
  • 58A [Catering production?] is a lovely clue for OSCAR BAIT, although I quibble with the fact that CATER is also in the puzzle at 36A. The clue is good enough that I think it would’ve been worth trying to revise that entry out of the grid.
  • 62A [Catherine who is one of the six in Broadway’s “Six”] is PARR. This clue requires one to know that the “Six” here refers to the wives of Henry VIII. I think this slightly oblique approach to cluing a factual-knowledge answer has fallen out of favor in the last few years, much to my dismay. So I like seeing a clue like this!
  • 2D [Brand with Blue Lemonade and Blue Vanilla flavors] is ICEE. It feels like a fresh clue for a much-seen entry, and on the other hand…I don’t want to know what Blue Vanilla tastes liks.
  • 24D [Show one’s face, maybe] is a tricky and lovely clue for SHAVE.
  • 27D [Jane Lynch series] — nice to see GLEE clued with reference to her. What a great comic actress!
This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Saturday, July 1, 2023

  1. Nino says:

    NYT: Seems to be continuing the odd trend of playing way easier than the Friday’s. Maybe it’s because it’s Canada day tomorrow!

    I jest. Canadian clues only make it in around this time of the week, anyways.

    Either way, ENIGMATOLOGY is a word I have to credit entirely to a job posting for one of them, and otherwise there isn’t anything particularly new…

    Aside from Z SNAP. Whatever *that* is. I’m 23 and I can’t say I’ve ever seen or heard it in tiktok compilations.

    • Eric H says:

      From the comments on Wordplay, I gather that many people were first exposed to the Z SNAP by way of a 1990’s sketch comedy show called “In Living Color.”

      I watched this with the sound off, so I don’t know if it’s at all funny:

      It *was* an easy puzzle. Fun, but mostly zip, zip, zip.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        “I was going through my ancient history textbook and a ‘TV show’ called ‘In Living Color’ was mentioned” was really not the way this Gen X’er wanted to start his Saturday.

        • marciem says:

          Where did you see that quote? boooooo …

          ILC was groundbreaking, and remember JLo got her first break there as a Fly Girl dancer. And Jim Carrey as FireMarshall Bill.

    • Mark says:

      Never heard of Z SNAP, but I’ve seen it done many times! Agree that it was an easy puzzle.

  2. Ethan says:

    NYT: Am I the only one who considers 29A and 44D a dupe?

    • Mr. [laughing and not] Grumpy says:


    • JohnH says:

      Didn’t bother me, and I’m sensitive to dupes. But these were different enough in their meaning and application that I didn’t even notice.

      A fine puzzle. Faster than Friday’s to be sure, but still, a puzzle with this grid’s long answers, the novel ENIGMAGOLOGY, the dread Z-STRAP, and “George” in aviation was bound to appear on a weekend. If we have to have another ELO, a new clue (if not quite so common) for a change, too, much welcome.

  3. Dallas says:

    Faster than average on the NYT, but nothing record-breaking. I loved the grid shape, and we get Christmas in July :-) And Illinois is finally getting some rain to help with the corn, so there’s that. Three snaps in a Z formation from me…

  4. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: ACK is something a newspaper comic character might say. And those comics are in panel form.

    Natick: KOVIC and GENE CERNAN. That C could be basically anything.

    Top right stopped me dead. Eventually my wife suggested ADVT (gross), and I finally thought of SIN, and managed to finish. But I don’t like STATE PEN, an answer requiring a “for short” tag in the clue if I’ve ever seen one. But I guess the Stumper does away it rules like that, so I should have kept open to it.

    • ACK is from the comic strip Cathy, which ended in 2010. But I did have a 34-year run, so ACK seems fair game.

      I had to look up KOVIC. And I object to STATEPEN. Like Sue, it has a name: San Quentin.

      • pannonica says:

        “Panelist” seems too cute by half, even with the question mark.

        • I agree.

          And, oops, it was the strip that had a 34-run. I’m still going.

        • Seth Cohen says:

          I actually liked the panelist clue! Somehow, the question mark made me think of comic strips immediately. One of those lucky times when I got lucky with my first interpretation.

      • Gary R says:

        I thought ACK! was what the Bill the Cat character often said in Berkeley Breathed comic strips. I think those strips probably had a similarly long run.

    • Eric H says:

      “Born on the Fourth of July” tells the true story of a Vietnam veteran, Ron KOVIC, who later became a peace activist. I think that movie was my sister-in-law’s feature film debut, in a non-speaking role. KOVIC was one of the first answers I got.

      STATE PEN doesn’t bother me anymore than MARTIAN INVASION. But both are GENERIC terms for specific things.

      The puzzle took me a while, but I avoided the temptation to look anything up or check any of my answers. The SW was the last corner I got; I had iNPublic for 34D for way too long. (I was never convinced that answer fit the “striding” in the clue.)

    • PJ says:

      Lester should change his name to Maurice

    • Twangster says:

      This was a real bear for me but I more or less finished it, in 2 sessions. Ended with DEARS and SRI instead of DESKS and SKI. I’ve heard the words treacle and tart but I’ve never heard of a treacle tart or afters as a synonym for dessert.

      Bottom right was a mess with two clues that took 3 tries: ETAIL to ESITE to ESHOP and AHA to AOK to ACK.

      If it hadn’t been marked Les Ruff, I probably would have given up earlier.

  5. GlennG says:

    LAT: Good trot out of this one, but just got a “Meh” reaction out of it by the time I got done.

    Newsday: I’m half curious to ask a personal solving question to people on this one if it’s welcome, as the general observations I see reading here are usually odd to me, especially in light of how I see people do the NYT, LAT, New Yorker and WSJ some other days of the week. For me, the Sat NYT was more Stumper than this Stumper this week, except for the trouble others have listed, the hard Natick/Google required area at KOVIC and CERNAN, the too cute and oblique by half ACK (which only randomly heard of Cathy and never seen the comic which makes that about as obscure as the other two named).

    WSJ: Pretty much paint-by-numbers for me except for the double Natick around FOLIO.

  6. Mark says:

    Stumper – thank you pannonica for pointing out that an MRI is not a treatment. That irked me and I was really really really hoping it wasn’t going to be STANDUP MRI even when I knew it was.

  7. Dan says:

    LAT writeup — I thought there was a definite unspoken rule that it’s totally OK to have a word in a clue that is the same as a word in an answer. No? Or maybe that is considered inelegant by some.

    • Eric H says:

      It’s up to each editor to decide what constitutes an unacceptable duplication. Will Shortz, for example, seems more accepting of duplication in a grid than some other editors.

      I’ve often wondered how much these kinds of “rules” matter to casual solvers (those who don’t read blogs like this one). Do they even know that such duplication is a no-no?

      That said, I did hesitate to put in CATER because the word was in the OSCAR BAIT clue. (And I agree with Stella that that’s a clever clue.)

    • Martin says:

      As I noted a few days ago, all editors would agree that a word in a clue that telegraphs the answer to an entry is a flaw. If it’s an unusual word it’s more likely to spoil the solve. “THE” as an entry (maybe clued as “Article”) would not be spoiled by “the” in a clue since we wouldn’t even notice it. Where on this continuum a case lands is an editorial decision.

  8. Steve says:

    “NERDS. C’mon, you all put in MENSA here too, right?”

    Yes, yes I did. 😆

Comments are closed.