Saturday, August 19, 2023

LAT 2:18 (Stella) 


Newsday 18:26 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:35 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today 1:48 (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


David P. Williams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/19/23 – no. 0819

Fun one! Gorgeous, swirly grid with that central star of six 11s stacked and criss-crossed.

Lots of fave fill: The jaunty/druggy SPLIFF goosing us right at 1a. “HELL, YEAH!” MONEY SAVERS, GILD THE LILY, and MOLLYCODDLE (I mistyped that at first and now I’m dead set on creating a Mollycoddlr app) crossing the new-to-me CABARET CARD ([Permit required of old jazz musicians]), HOBBYHORSES, and CLOSED LOOPS. Giving you some SIDE-EYE at that SPRAY TAN. GO TO TOWN!

This is ridiculous, NSA: [N.S.A. surveillance program that shares its name with an entity in the “Terminator” movies], SKYNET. Are you trying to make people nervous?

Favorite clue: 46a. [Bronze finish, maybe], SPRAY TAN. I thought of third-place, bronze-medal finishes. I thought of patinas. It took a while and some crossings for SPRAY TAN to emerge.

Crosswordese I wasn’t expecting: 23a. [Narragansett Bay and New York Harbor, for two], RIAS. If you live by either body of water, tell me if you’ve ever heard it called a ria.

Four stars from me.

Wendy L. Brandes’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 8/19/23 by Wendy L. Brandes

Los Angeles Times 8/19/23 by Wendy L. Brandes

I would have liked a lot more misdirection in this puzzle, as my Tuesdayish time indicates. The number of extremely straightforward clues like [Weigh in] for OPINE and [Film lengths] for RUN TIMES is more appropriate to an early-week puzzle IMO.

High- and lowlights:

  • 1A [Bulb that rarely needs to be replaced] is a clever clue for TULIP, and even if you don’t fall for the trap of thinking the clue refers to a light bulb, ONION is at least as plausible until you get a crossing.
  • 38A [Stella alternative] is HEINEKEN. Someday I’ll realize that when I hear my name at a bar, it’s usually not someone trying to speak to me, but rather someone ordering a Stella Artois.
  • 43A B-PLUS AVERAGE felt like green paint to me.
  • 5D [One who may find it hard to say no] is PEOPLE PLEASER, which feels timeless and yet like I haven’t seen it before in a puzzle.
  • 30D [“Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life” memoirist Darling] is…not my favorite clue. I like when book-title clues like this give a hint to the solver, or else help solvers who don’t know the name learn a fact without having to look anything up after the fact. This is neither of those things (unless you’re a Mets fan, in which case it’s the former, I guess, but “Darling” probably would’ve been enough information).
  • 31D IT’S DEJA VU also feels green-paint-y because of the IT’S.
  • 52D [Flightless birds?] for SSTS is probably my favorite clue in the puzzle, because it manages to poke fun at two crossword tropes at the same time: [Flightless birds] with a four-letter answer pretty much means EMUS, and SSTS have not made commercial flights in 20 years but hang around as useful crosswordese today.

Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What’s Not For Dinner?” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 8/19/23 • Sat • “What’s Not For Dinner” • Cee • solution • 20230819

This is an interesting theme for a crossword.

  • 27a. [Southern dish that doesn’t actually include poultry] CHICKEN FRIED STEAK.
  • 39a. [Christmas dessert that doesn’t actually include a fruit] PLUM PUDDING.
  • 46a. [Indian dish that doesn’t actually include fowl] BOMBAY DUCK.
  • 67a. [Meat items that don’t actually include baked goods] SWEETBREADS.
  • 85a. [Meat jelly that doesn’t actually include a dairy product] HEAD CHEESE.
  • 93a. [British dish that doesn’t actually include game] WELSH RABBIT.
  • 108a. [Szechuan entree that doesn’t actually include insects] ANTS CLIMBING A TREE. Mildly surprised that the older transliteration is used in the clue rather than the more current Sichuan.

I’m sure there are many other misleadingly named foodstuffs out there, but the one that’s preoccupying my mind is toad-in-the-hole.

  • Aside from the theme entries, the most notable aspect of the puzzle, to me, is the inclusion of the quite lengthy VERISIMILITUDE at 15d [Authentic appearance]. Its symmetrical partner is the less-exciting 48d [Speaker’s counterpart] MINORITY LEADER.
  • 4d [Tea light threads] for WICKS is a little weird.
  • 42d [Memory foam developer] NASA. It would have been a lot more impressive if the answer turned out to be NERF, as I’d initially hoped.
  • 62d [Holiday created in the wake of the Watts riots] KWANZAA. I was unaware of the connection.
  • 98d [Total, e.g.] CEREAL. Fooled me today.
  • 23a [Paper clip?] ARTICLE. You might clip one out of a newspaper.
  • 56a [Rooting section?] SOIL. Undecided about whether I like this clue.
  • 76a [Zigzag in Zermatt] SKI. I finally got this via crossings.
  • 119a [Like a declined case] UNHEARD. Good way to clue this without resorting to a partial (as in the phrase unheard of).
  • 123a [Makeup crew for a school play] PTA. Don’t understand the connection here, help me out.

Enjoyed this one, despite noticing a tad too much crosswordese required to hold the grid together.

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

Newsday • 8/19/23 • Saturday Stumper • Mossberg • solution • 20230819

Imagine my surprise when I finished this flawlessly in under twenty minutes, since I spent nearly the entire solve wandering around the grid as if blind. Seriously, I was filling in so many answers that I was uncertain about.

  • 15a [How artichokes are available] IN OIL. I think this would’ve been a lot easier with a different item, such as tuna. Nevertheless, I got it with just the IN– from 9d [New York’s Angry Orchard, e.g.] CIDERY (my first filled entry) and then 9a [ __ liver] CALF’S and then 10d [Iodide or oxide] ANION (was not sure about that, but tried it anyway).
  • 16a [Makeup ritual] ATONEMENT. Stumpery.
  • 17a [Logging site] DIARY. Clue didn’t fool me, but I still required some crossings to know which possibility the answer would be.
  • 24a [Bullheaded] HORNED, which I’d entered but then removed because the –IHE– sequence in 8-down did not look promising at all: see below.
  • 25a [Phrase from refusers] A NO, as in “that’s a no”. My final bit of filling in. Seems akin to the equally terse 36a [Oral assurance] I DO.
  • 32a [Short-term rental] POP-UP STORE. 11d [Short-term offerings] LOANER CARS. 38a [Impart] LEND.
  • 37a [Copy over] TRACE. One of those tricky-because-it’s-so-straightforward clues. Experienced crossword solvers might expect the answer to be RE-something.
  • 41a [Hollow center] ELS. DID NOT FOOL ME FOR A MOMENT (whew!).
  • 43a [Mea culpa, new-style] SRY. Kicking myself for not getting this one sooner.
  • 46a [[More people should come here]] ET AL. Oof, tricksy.
  • 59a [35-calorie treat] OREO THINS. Was able to get this from a few crossings, which led me to realize that 49d [Capital of Latvia] was not RIGA (of course it wasn’t—that’d be too easy, eh?) and was instead EURO.
  • 1d [Test subject] BETA. Does this work?
  • 6d [Driving need] TEE. 7d [Driving needs] YENS. (33d [One will cost you 100+ JPY] USD.) Needed a crossing (which came from 16a ATONEMENT) before I could figure out which of these would involve TEE.
  • 12d [Wicked artist?] FIRE DANCER. Do they employ wicks?
  • 20d [Fuller shape] DOME, referencing Buckminster Fuller.
  • 23d [Many a silents star] MATINEE IDOL, pairing somewhat appropriately with 8d [Madame Bovary or Jane Eyre] ANTIHEROINE.
  • 26d [Personality pair addendum] NO RELATION. Kind of a wordsalady clue, but it is parsable.
  • 29d [Ingenious expedient] DODGE, not FUDGE, as I’d first attempted.
  • 37d [Storage units] TERABITS, which has about 2.1 million google hits, while TERABYTES garners 36.9 million. (I searched using the singular forms.)
  • 45d [Boat’s bow or stern?] HOUSEHouseboat or boathouse. It’s a clue of affixation.
  • 54d [See reverse, shortly] PTO, please turn over. I needed to look that up.

Universal, “Themeless Freestyle 86” by Jordan Hilderandt — norah’s write-up; 4:35

THEME: None!

Favorite entries:

2023-08-19 Hildebrandt

2023-08-19 Hildebrandt

  • ⭐CRYINGJORDAN 39A [Meme featuring a weeping Bulls legend]
  • LITEBRITE 60A [Toy that creates a glowing picture]
  • ORIGINALSONG 34A [Cover model?]


By the time you’re reading this I will have arrived in NYC and I’m so stoked for Lollapuzzoola this weekend. Please come find me and say hi – I’ll be the one in the crossword t-shirt. I mean, I’ll be the one carrying more mechanical pencils than one person should own… I mean, I’ll be the one overexcitedly talking about puzzles…. I mean, I’ll be the one wearing two name tags! :D I hope that narrows it down.

Anyway! Today’s Universal themeless from Jordan is a delight. Happily, it provided a little more resistance than others lately. We’ve got PERSONALDATA x INFINITELOOPS x STRINGTHEORY, all clued in STEM-y fashion. THENET, MICROSD on top give this grid a nerdy tech vibe that I’m totally into.

I always love the constructor putting themselves into the puzzle and today Jordan blesses us with the CRYINGJORDAN meme. So great. It looks like this is the first puzzle from Jordan we’ve reviewed in about two years; welcome back!



Thanks Jordan and the Universal team!

Neville Fogarty’s USA Today crossword, “Duplex Houses”—Matt G’s recap

Neville Fogarty’s USA Today crossword, “Duplex Houses” solution, 8/20/2023

Happy Lollapuzzoola Saturday! Living where I do, the tournament was half over by the time I woke up, and by now I’m no longer the reigning champion. Congrats to Will Nediger, fellow Express finalists Jenna LaFleur and Dan Schwartz, and Local finalists Will Eisenberg, Reuben Henriques, and Simon Henriques (hope I’m reading the results spreadsheet correctly).

Today’s USA puzzle from Neville makes full use of four two-word phrases. Each word is a type of “house,” tied together nicely by the title “Duplex Houses”:

  • 17a [Orwell novel that’s political satire] ANIMAL FARM
  • 11d [Public university] STATE SCHOOL
  • 25d [Leaving en masse] CLEARING OUT
  • 61a [Give permission to go ahead with] GREEN LIGHT

I love that these entries are so in the language and so tight to the theme that the clues don’t let on any particularly trickery, or twisted syntax, to point you in the right direction. Very sleek!

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Saturday, August 19, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Fast but fun. If I’d trusted my instincts with SPLIFF and LOLCAT, I’d have wrapped up the NW corner much sooner.

    I read a biography of Bob Dylan close to 50 years ago. It mentioned Dylan having to get his CABARET CARD so he could perform at Greenwich Village nightclubs. I’d never heard of one before, but I guess it stuck with me. That was a nice long gimme that made the center section pretty easy.

    The “Swish miss” clue is corny, but I still like it.

    • huda says:

      Man, I finished without understanding the clue for RIM because I kept reading Swiss miss. Only when I saw your comment did I see the play on words.
      That top line was hard for me, but the rest went more smoothly than usual for a Saturday. Lots of great, long entry. Excellent puzzle.

    • pannonica says:

      Thelonious Monk famously was stripped of his CABARET CARD for several years in the early 1950s for refusing to testify against another musician (Bud Powell) when narcotics were found in a car that they were in. So that’s how I knew it right away.

      Lot of fresh fill in that NYT crossword!

    • Eric H says:

      I just learned that SPLIFF comes from Jamaican English. If I had known that last night, I wouldn’t have hesitated to put it in.

      I like the way today’s NYT Connections game ties into SPLIFF. Or maybe it doesn’t? (I just started and have not found any groups yet.)

    • David L says:

      Lovely puzzle, but possibly my fastest Saturday ever. I put in SPLIFF immediately — reggae was the big thing in my teen years, just before punk came along.

      CLOSEDLOOPS seems a bit green-painty to me but the other long stuff is great – MOLLYCODDLE, GILDTHELILY, HOBBYHORSES…

    • DougC says:

      What a great debut puzzle! Definitely on the easy side for a Saturday, but more fun than most. Loved SPRAYTAN for “bronze finish.” Two thumbs up!

  2. Cavin says:

    NYT: Great puzzle, but 36d seemed a lot cleverer when I thought the answer was “dejays.”

    • Mutman says:

      I thought the same, but when there was no BANJO crossing, I found DECAYS, which I found just as clever.

      And was unsure whether DEEJAYS was the correct spelling or not.

  3. Me says:

    NYT: I had one of those instances where you put in the wrong answer but it has enough overlap with the right answer that it still helps you. For 2D, the clue is “get ready, as concrete,” and I wrote PRIMED, which shares enough letters with PREMIX that it broke open that corner and therefore the whole puzzle. Someone made up a word to describe this phenomenon, but I don’t remember what it is. Does anyone remember?

    Because of PRIMED, I finished the puzzle extremely quickly for me, and yesterday and Thursday also went very smoothly. The whole week went well for me, except I struggled a bit with Wednesday because I couldn’t tell what the gray shape in the grid was supposed to represent. But I think this may be my fastest 6-day total time ever.

    In retrospect, PRIMED doesn’t really match “get ready,” so I should have known it was wrong.

  4. PJ says:

    WSJ – I entered MAJORITY LEADER for 48D (Speaker’s counterpart) since both are typically members of the party in control of their respective chambers. At least I think they are.

    • PJ says:

      A little searching makes me more comfortable with the clue. Sometimes I have trouble deciding what counterpart means.

      • Martin says:

        Counterpart is a great weekend clue word because it’s a contronym. It can mean something similar, something analogous or something opposite (or complementary).

  5. Twangster says:

    Stumper was a blast today. Rare case where I fully solved a non-“Les Ruff” outing.

  6. GlennG says:

    LAT: Agree with the reviewer, thought this was too much of a cakewalk for a Saturday grid. Weird to say it (cringe, should I?), but I was pretty disappointed because of that instead of the usual reasons.

    NYT (not this one but the one I saw in my paper): Expected more out of it than it really delivered. Friday was harder. Nice otherwise, though.

    WSJ: Nice theme and turned out to be a pretty interesting solve minus the hard Natick I hit on this one.

    Stumper: Good fun solve, but basically if I didn’t solve that, the other two themelessness wouldn’t have scratched today’s puzzle itch. Weird (commenting again on above): I usually have to multiply by a small number from the NYT to hit the time I do on this, but I had to find a very large number today to hit that using both the NYT and LAT to start. Don’t know if I should be scared or not. Course it’ll probably get back to normal next week.

    • Lois says:

      Is the NYT puzzle here really different than the one in your paper? How is that possible, and how can you review it here? Initially, I was cheered by your comment, having skipped the parenthetical remark. I couldn’t do Saturday’s puzzle at all, but Friday’s was pretty smooth.

      • Milo says:

        The syndicated version of the puzzle, while unchanged from the Times version, generally runs one week after the original. That is why xwordinfo gives you the option to toggle between NYT and “Other newspaper” when looking up a grid.

        I loved David P. Williams’ puzzle, BTW!

      • GlennG says:

        The other comment in response to this is basically it, but it’s five weeks, not one. You can see this link where the NYT I did gets talked about/reviewed on this site.

      • GlennG says:

        I poked back to that other link and read and noticed questions posted by Seth Cohen and “bonekrusher”. For Stan Newman’s material, there’s an archive of it that gets posted on the Arkadium website. What you will find posted on that link is Friday and Saturday Newsdays alternating. So more or less you can get a shot at an old Stumper every other day, assuming you can even get on the site and have it work right at all (that’s been my trouble as of late). Though when I started having trouble I had enough collected (I think some duplicate, though) that I probably wouldn’t be out of them if I wanted to just keep doing them wholesale.

        Hope that helps someone.

  7. David L says:

    Stumper: I struggled to find a toehold, but began with CIDERY and EURO (because, as pannonica says, RIGA would be not at all Stumpery) and from those two guessed CALFS and OREOTHINS (it’s a treat? must be some kind of Oreo, per crossword regulations!)

    I got the righthand side finished but was struggling to move into the other side, then had to go out for a couple of hours. While I was doing my errands MATINEEIDOL popped into my head, and the rest was fairly quick.

    I had no idea what a FIREDANCER might be, but Wikipedia explains, and says they use a variety of wicks … but the dancers themselves are not wicked, I sincerely hope. I didn’t understand DOME for Fuller form until google suggested Buckminster of that ilk.

  8. Eric H says:

    Stumper: I don’t usually do well with Steve Mossberg’s Stumpers, and this was no exception. (The timer says 1:05;21, but I think it kept running while I was in other browser windows, so I don’t know how long it really took me.)

    I had almost nothing at first except EURO, KEV, and a half-correct OREOminiS. (Which are also a thing, and probably as inedible as a regular Oreo.)

    The O of OTS made me think of BILBO and Frodo, but since “The Hobbit” has a third-person narrator, I held off a long time. (I guess other writings in the Tolkienverse are narrated by Bilbo.)

    TORSI. Ugh. Does anyone use those Latin plurals outside of a crossword puzzle? I’d argue that a crop top does not reveal the entire torso, as the wearer’s chest is covered. (I kept trying belly, tummy and navel, even though the clue wanted a plural.)

    The NW was particularly hard for me. I know AVON, I know SEVENTEEN magazine, but the clues meant absolutely nothing to me. The misdirection in the clue for ATONEMENT is wonderful, but by the time I got that answer, I was already frustrated.

    I did like BACK AT YA (which took forever to get, as I misinterpreted how the clue was using “echoic”) and DUKE IT OUT (a phrase I haven’t heard in decades).

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … Is a B-PLUS AVERAGE really only considered to be “decent” these days? If so, I guess this grade-inflation concept that I’ve occasionally heard about over the years is legit. When I was school-aged (shortly after the Dark Ages), A was excellent, B was good, C was fair, D was poor and F was fail. So, I think of a B-PLUS as at least “very good”.

  10. Stumper: I got PTO (“See reverse, shortly”), but it baffled me. So after doing the puzzle I looked up “PTO” and “reverse” and found a page about the “power take off,” a tractor’s stub shaft:

    “Reverse PTO can turn in the reverse direction using a lever or button. This is essential when operating implements that can get stuck such as a thresher or post hole digger.”–28163

    Huh? So I tried the clue and answer on my wife, who doesn’t do crosswords. “Please turn over,” she suggested. She had never seen this initialism either, but she figured it out right away.

  11. MarkAbe says:

    LAT: Yes, “It’s deja vu” feels like something nobody ever says. The full Yogi Berra quote, “It’s deja vu all over again” however, is a great 21-letter quote that I feel sure has been or should be used as a grid-spanner on Sunday.

Comments are closed.