Saturday, August 5, 2023

LAT 2:45 (Stella) 


Newsday 23:07 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:18 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today 2:20 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 8/5/23 – no. 0805

Huh, a couple minutes faster than Friday’s puzzle? I wasn’t expecting that. But it should be a Saturday puzzle regardless since it’s got some unusual vocab in the grid. Heck, the two of the three stacked 10s in the 1-Across corner were new to me! I know wordsmiths but wasn’t cued in to SWORDSMITH being a thing (1a. [Expert with a temper?]) and I’ve never, ever encountered the word HAGIOLATRY before (idolatry, yes, hagiography, yes; no idea why [Adoration of the Kardashians, e.g.] would be “worship of the saints”—Googling is useless because Kim Kardashian has a son named Saint). Chinese space-going TAIKONAUTS, also not a word I knew. ALPHA NERDS is a thing? And DEROGATIVE feels much less common than derogatory.

Fave fill: IF YOU DARE, SKYBOX SEAT, ZOROASTER, RIESLINGS (yes, I will take them in the plural!), snotty “IT’S A FREE COUNTRY” (feels like it’s usually in a belligerent tone, no?), and COSTA RICA.

Favorite clue: 36a. [“Help!” or “SOS”], SONG. Clever! The Beatles and Rihanna and/or ABBA, not actual pleas for assistance.

3.25 stars from me.


Kyle Dolan and Dylan Schiff’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 8/5/23 by Kyle Dolan and Dylan Schiff

Los Angeles Times 8/5/23 by Kyle Dolan and Dylan Schiff

This puzzle has so many lively and clever clues that I’m not even mad that those clever clues didn’t actually fool me into a slower solving time.

  • 1A [Next-level experience?] is BOSS FIGHT, as in a video game experience that gets you to the next level. 1-Across can set the tone for the whole puzzle, and this was a great way to do it.
  • 20A [London institution with a Los Angeles namesake, familiarly] is THE TIMES. I have a friend who lives in LA who gets very annoyed with me when I am in town and say “the Times” when I mean the New York Times. This clue makes me suspect that he’s not the only Angeleno who feels that way.
  • 25A [High wind] is a PICCOLO. Cute!
  • 29A [Hides] — I entered the correct SKINS right away, but I can see how this could be deceptive.
  • 38A [Place where stuff sells left and right] is a SHOE STORE. Ha!
  • 56A [Taboo gathering?] is GAME NIGHT. Double ha!
  • 1A [Chess pieces known as elephants in Russia] is BISHOPS. This is my favorite type of treatment of trivia in a puzzle: My guess is a lot of solvers aren’t going to know this off the top of their heads (I certainly didn’t). But once you get the crossings, you learn the fact without having to look anything up after you’re done.
  • 26A [Seasoning on a Chicago-style hot dog] is CELERY SALT. Unlike the trivia at 1A, this one I knew well enough to drop the 10-letter entry with only the first letter filled in to start. But it’s nice and evocative of a time in my 20s when a Chicago dog was my go-to Shake Shack order.
  • 40D [One who crosses the line?] is a ROAD HOG. Come on, that’s clever.
  • 47A [Long-term investment accounts?] is SAGAS, which probably shouldn’t have been used in the same week as Monday’s puzzle, which featured ACCOUNT in a theme entry in which the theme was IT’S A LONG STORY. It’s still a good clue, but perhaps Monday’s theme might have made this more of a giveaway than was intended.

There’s a LOT of “wish I’d thought of that” in here. Nice puzzle!

David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Not Mincing Words” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/5/23 • Sat • “Not Mincing Words” • Bywaters • solution • 20230805

Took a little work to figure out what the theme is, how it works. The theme elements come in paired entries appearing in the same row. The first is invariably clued as “Not” followed by a two-letter word. The second is obviously wacky and its genesis lies in proper re-parsing of the first clue—to wit, placing a comma between the two letters of the second word.

As is often the case, it’s clearer when demonstrated rather than described:

  • 23a. [Not me] SOMEONE ELSE.
    25a. [Popular tanning spot at the start of the season? {SEE PREVIOUS CLUE}] PALE BEACH. So if we read Not me as Not M, E it becomes relatively obvious that the original phrase is PALM BEACH, and the M has been replaced by an E.
  • 42a. [Not in] ON THE TOWN.
    46a. [Family memento? {SEE PREVIOUS CLUE}] GRANNY PHOTO (not I, N; grainy photo).
  • 64a. [Not OK] FEELING ILL.
    66a. [Fear of burglary? { … }] LOCK MOTIVE (locomotive).
  • 84a. [Not so] AU CONTRAIRE.
    88a. [Pirate’s motto? { … }] ALL IS LOOT (all is lost).
  • 110a. [Not up] IN THE SACK.
    112a. [“Nutcracker” nastiness? { … }] BALLET SPITE (ballet suite).

Kind of tricky and involved, no?

  • 6d [In the distant past] AGES AGO, 7d [Before, in the distant past] ERE.
  • 10d [Coral construction] REEF. Rising ocean temperatures are not doing the world’s coral REEFs any favors.
  • 11d [Cook’s domain] APPLE. CEO Tim Cook.
  • 17d [Milk: prefix] LACTI-, for which I had LACTO-, and needed to hunt up my error in order to finish the grid correctly; the crossing is 36a [Nonexistent] NIL (not NOL, obvs.).
  • 55d [What might might make] RIGHT. Oof.
  • 67d [Covent garden offering] OPERA. 68d [Covent garden Square architect Jones] INIGO.
  • 72d [Long-eared leporids] HARES. 95d [Rabbit chaser of story] ALICE.
  • 82d [Like the start of “Psycho”?] SILENT. Referring to the letter P in the spelling, not the Hitchcock film.
  • 86d [“High” crime] TREASON, as in high treason. In the news?
  • 11a [Neighbor] ABUT. 40a [Counters] REBUTS.
  • 77a [Self-denigrating admission] I’M A MESS. 27a [Bun ingredients?] TRESSES.

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

Newsday • 8/5/23 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff, Newman • solution • 20230805

This didn’t feel like a ‘less rough’ offering, as I struggled quite a bit with it. The relatively isolated northeast and southwest sections were the last to be filled in. Was stalled quite a while there. However, once I took a few risks in each, they (surprisingly) yielded their answers and boom! it was all done.

  • 15a [LONE ROAD anagram] EL DORADO. I’m not really digging this style of clue, which we’ve been seeing in the Newsdays lately. That said, I actually benefitted from it, as I was able to unscramble the entry after putting in a few crossings.
  • 16a [What a rabbit used to be] RODENT. I take issue with the clue. While it’s true that for quite some time lagomorphs were classed within the order Rodentia, rabbits and their kin were never actually rodents. On the other hand, our taxonomic systems of the natural world are in some ways merely an artificial overlay to help us make sense of things. Despite the back-and-forth, it remains a problematic clue, to my mind.
  • 17a [Imagined opponent of a drawn dog] RED BARON. Well that’s a gratuitously obfuscatory clue, but these things happen in Stumperland. I had been considering something to do with yoga, but then all at once I peeled away the artifice and realized it was about Snoopy.
  • 18a [Woman on the board] SURFER. At first I was perplexed, then I wanted WAHINE, which eventually led me to the correct answer.
  • 37a [Not quite “correct”] MAYBE YOU’RE RIGHT. A fairly common grid feature of Newsday Stumpers are two grid-spanning entries crossing in the middle. 8d [Social media ancestor] GONZO JOURNALISM.
  • 47a [Court’s soft ball] DINK. Unsure if this is referencing tennis in general, or Margaret Court.
  • 49a [Single-pixel orbited in a Hubble Telescope image] SEDNA. It’s a dwarf planet in the outermost reaches of our solar system, per Wikipedia.
  • 57a [Be affected by a potent punch] REEL. This works whether the clue is interpreted as a fist delivery or a beverage.
  • 64a [Verb related to “island”] INSULATE. Yep. And peninsula has a pen- (as in penultimate, “near ultimate”) relationship to the same root.
  • 7d [Insistent agreement] I DO TOO. When I filled in the answer, it felt wrong because I was considering the stress to be on I, but it works if it’s instead on either of the other words.
  • 9d [Clue card designation] MRS. Oof.
  • 11d [iPod ancestor] CD RACK. That’s a stretch.
  • 39d [Lamb or kid] YEANLING. That’s the precise definition of the word, as seen in
  • 41d [Lucasfilm buyer (2012)] IGER, the head of Disney.

May I have some coffee now?

Amanda Rafkins’s USA Today crossword, “Eat Up!” — Matthew’s recap

Amanda Rafkins’s USA Today crossword, “Eat Up!” solution, 8/5/2023

Have to be quick today — big weekend, unfortunately. Down-running themers contain the word “EAT,” which is higher in the grid as you move from the leftmost to rightmost themer. The theme helped me with some uncertainty in spelling PASTA E FAGIOLI.

Lots of room for non-theme content here; a grid-spanning YOURE IN FOR IT NOW and GET A ROOM were highlights for me. I am also happy to see activist FRED Korematsu in grids.

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28 Responses to Saturday, August 5, 2023

  1. RCook says:

    STUMPER: I haven’t heard RAWR in almost a decade. Also, cluing it as “orally great” is either missing the point or obliquely dirty since it was used as a come-on.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I was surprised that I finished it in a good Saturday time. There were parts that felt very smooth and others where I struggled.
    I’m totally stumped by the Karadashian clue for HAGIOLATRY. Also, I knew Hagiography but not Hagiolatry. Always good to learn a new word!
    I knew ZARATHUSTRA in the title of Nietzsche’s book, but it obviously wouldn’t fit and finally figured out ZOROASTER (same person).
    I still remember the first time I heard “IT’S A FREE COUNTRY” a few months after I came to the US. I thought: “What a wonderful thing to be able to say!” I still think that when I hear it, even when someone is saying it in an annoyed way.

    • Dallas says:

      I had the same reaction to HAGIOLATRY. And while I thought of tempering from metallurgy, at first I thought it was too obscure to be the right direction… but there was SWORDSMITH. Slower than my average Saturday, but still fun :-)

      • JohnH says:

        I enjoyed discovering the new words. SHIVA was a gimme for me and led quickly to ADDLE, so I felt confident that Saturday would be far easier than that tough Friday. But sure enough those two words were new. But they just had to exist, so great.

        Ditto with DEROGATIVE, although there I hesitated far longer. It felt almost like an odd cross between derogatory and pejorative! But overall a very nice Saturday.

  3. Jim says:

    NYT: Oxford includes “undue veneration of a famous person” as a definition of HAGIOLATRY, which would certainly apply to the clue. When I had HAGIO- I reasoned the word referred to “treating someone in a saintly (esteemed) manner”.

    • marciem says:

      The “undue veneration of famous person” definition, and adding in the name of the Kardashians, one of whom does have a child named Saint, makes it an almost cryptic-puzzle type clue, so now I like it. Never heard the word before.

      • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

        HAGIOLATRY great word to learn. I found the same 2nd definition of “undue veneration of a famous person” in a few places. The word is so applicable to the Kardashians. One of the greatest marketing/sales/con jobs in the history of TV.

      • huda says:

        Thank you! That definition really helps in understanding the clue. I don’t know if the strict definition of veneration applies. But they are certainly highly influential with a huge following. So maybe that is a kind of veneration.

  4. PJ says:

    Stumper – A real workout for me – 37:44.

    I’m not thrilled with anagram clues in general either but this one (LODE ROAD) had a little word play associated with it. RED BARON was my first entry and triggered this song from way, way back –

    ROAST PIG isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Creole cuisine. But I know Creole covers a lot of ground.

    • Twangster says:

      I fared pretty well with this one but ultimately couldn’t get the top right corner. Had STRAIGHT but was locked into COCOA instead of SAUNA and couldn’t do anything based on the rough clues for RODENT, SURFER, CDRACK, etc.

      • PJ says:

        CDRACK didn’t click with me, either. I think of the rack as storing CDs, not playing them. I had a 200 disc CD player that shuffled between tracks on different discs. That seems like an iPod precursor. I also had Musicmatch Jukebox that I liked way more than iTunes.

        Surprisingly to me, SURFER went in easily. I have no idea why other than I suspected board was wordplay.

        • Eric H says:

          I look at the CD RACK clue this way: I have two racks of CDs in my living room. I have four more in the guest room/office. I have two drawers full of CDs in my dining room.

          All that music and more fit on the iPod I used to have.

    • Eric H says:

      Tough for me, too. Over 45 minutes with a few checks as I got frustrated. My biggest mistake was sticking for too long with “close but no cigar” instead of MAYBE YOU’RE RIGHT. (It makes sense if you ignore the quotation marks in the clue.)

    • David L says:

      Chiming in late to say that the Stumper was by no means less rough for me either. I got there eventually, after changing ONETENTH to ONENINTH and then getting STRAIGHT.

      Lots to quibble with, in addition to what others have said. Why is MATZO the ultimate flatbread? Why is NTH an extraordinary power? How is NOSIR equivalent to ‘forget it’? In what sense is GONZOJOURNALISM an ancestor of social media?
      Is MICROS intended as an abbreviated form of microprocessors? Can’t say I’ve come across it.

  5. Dan says:

    LAT: I found it about as hard as any LAT puzzle since Patti Varol become editor.

    There were *so* many things I had never heard of (boss fight, pilotw Bush and O’Hare, Chicago-style hot dogs, La Croix brand, Air Sinai, Emma Roberts, Perfect Portions, Tasha Smith, “The Flight Attendant”, Jenny Han, and Boggle dice. (I’ve played Boggle many times, but don’t recall any dice. Or are “Boggle dice” what the cubes with letters on them are called?)

    I’d much rather puzzle out lots of misleading clues than have *so* many things I never heard of. So this was not my favorite puzzle by a long shot.

    But somehow managed to muddle through via the crossings, which didn’t come easy at all.

    My one concrete nit is the clue “Long-term investment accounts” for SAGAS, because I don’t see any connection between sagas and investment.

    • Think of the time invested in telling or writing, or listening or reading.

    • placematfan says:

      It’s a misdirect based on “account” being a synonym of “story”.

    • marciem says:

      You invest your time in either writing or reading/watching sagas. That’s all I can think of . Sometimes hubs and I don’t much care for a show we’re watching, but feel like when we’re 3 episodes in we have an ‘investment’ either time or emotional, and continue watching anyways, hoping it gets better :) .

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Dan took the words right out of my keyboard. I whole-heartedly agree with Stella’s comment about 1-Across … “1-Across can set the tone for the whole puzzle”. It sure did here. BOSS FIGHT might as well have been Cyrillic characters as far as I’m concerned. I have no idea how I managed to complete this puzzle without cheating. Since I did, I guess I have to say it was fair, but hoo-whee, it sure seemed like pulling teeth!

      Once again, I’m in absolute awe of Stella’s solve time. I was nearly 15 minutes slower and more than 60% above my current 6-month median LAT Saturday solve time (which is about 16% higher than it was when Ms. Varol took the editorial reins in the LAT Crossword shop in April of last year).

    • Eric H says:

      It took me 17:15, which is a few minutes faster than my Saturday NYT average. (I can’t really say how that compares to other LAT Saturdays.)

      I’ve seen BOSS FIGHT in some other puzzle, but until I read Stella’s review, I didn’t remember it was a video gaming term. I guess we didn’t stick with “30 Rock’ long enough to see Elaine STRITCH.

      Everything was reasonably gettable from the crosses, which is OK for me.

  6. Gene says:

    STUMPER- a DINK is akin to a drop shot, in tennis.

  7. BarbaraK says:

    Anyone else try to put in chocolatier for 1A “Expert with a temper?” in NYT

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