Saturday, August 26, 2023

LAT 2:40 (Stella) 


Newsday 10:01 (Amy) 


NYT 5:33 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ 12:10 (Kyle) 


Adrian Johnson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 8/26/23 – no. 0826

Fun Saturday puzzle, none too hard.


Did not know: 39d. [Language spoken in Middle-earth], GNOMISH. Uh … this is super-obscure, no? Not something you’d have heard of from reading (or watching) The Lord of the Rings, which lacks gnome characters though apparently the earliest LOTR timeline includes a race of elves that Tolkien previously called gnomes in some other writing? Here’s a wiki about it. If you struggled with this answer, don’t blame yourself. It’s an inflected dictionary word, so it didn’t have to be clued in the Tolkien arcana way.

A few notes:

  • I would like the [See star?] clue for PONTIFF better if the entry weren’t two squares over from I SEE IT NOW.
  • 30a. [Model Boyd of London’s “Swinging Sixties” era], PATTIE. Not many other options for cluing the name spelt this way. She’s the Pattie who married George Harrison, and later Eric Clapton.
  • 23a. [Deceive so as to deflect], SHINE ON. Is this a regionally, generationally, or culturally specific phrase? I can’t use it naturally in a sentence.

Four stars from me.

Hoang-Kim Vu’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 8/26/23 by Hoang-Kim Vu

Los Angeles Times 8/26/23 by Hoang-Kim Vu

This was a lighthearted romp from Hoang-Kim Vu (but Patti, please, that’s three sub-3-minute Saturdays in a row, can we have a harder one next week?). Lots of fun stuff in this grid:

  • 14A [Ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac] is MONKEY. I’m embarrassed that I needed three crossings to get this, as I am half Chinese.
  • 20A [“Come on already!”] is I DON’T HAVE ALL DAY, which is evocative in an emotional way.
  • 36A [Bit of beach house decor] is a SHELL. Does everyone do this? If I had a beach house I think I would try very hard not to have a single SHELL in it, simply because whenever we stay at an Airbnb or guest house on the Jersey Shore, we are surrounded by them.
  • 52A [Source of comfort for those expecting] is a PREGNANCY PILLOW. Between that and 1D AMNIO, clued as [Midterm exam, familiarly?], is this a mini-theme?
  • 2D [Porter classic] is TOO DARN HOT, the song from Kiss Me Kate. Very evocative if you know the tune!
  • 8D I liked seeing LOVE clued with respect to LOVE languages.
  • 26D [Finest of Lovely Lady Liberty’s recipes, per a “Schoolhouse Rock” song] is MELTING POT. I don’t know the song, but now I want to!
  • 31D [Othello and Hamlet] is TITLE ROLES, with the lack of quotation marks the subtlest of hints that the plays are not what’s being referred to.
  • 42D SEXPERT feels fresh and fun.

Jonny DiLallo’s Wall Street Journal puzzle “Cutting a Figure” – Kyle’s write-up

Kyle here, filling in for pannonica on this week’s Saturday WSJ.

This appears to be the publication debut of Jonny DiLallo. Congratulations Jonny! And thanks for today’s puzzle. Hope to see more from you soon.

It took me a few minutes to get the theme mechanism. Once it clicked, most of the theme answers were fairly easy to fill in.

Wall Street Journal solution grid – Saturday 08/26/2023 – Jonny DiLallo

We’re given a theme revealer in the middle of the grid at 69A [Restrictions on some social media posts, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] CHARACTER LIMITS. Each of the theme entries is a fictional character missing its final letter and re-clued to wacky effect:

  • 23A [Festival featuring Christmas treats?] SUGAR PLUM FAIR (Y)
  • 33A [Another name for a choirboy?] THE CHURCH LAD (Y)
  • 45A [Accessory for Hawaii’s Ka’iulani?] PRINCESS LEI (A)
  • 51A [Confirmation at a synagogue?] “ROGER, RABBI” (T). This was the first themer I filled in, and my favorite of the set.
  • 91A [Officer’s cry on solving a crime?] “CAPTAIN, AHA!” (B). I feel like it would sound more natural as “Aha, captain!”
  • 94A [Where you might find cheap copies of “The Big Sleep” in a bookstore?] CHANDLER BIN (G)
  • 105A [Last appliance left after a blowout sale?] THE LONE RANGE (R)
  • 122A [Attention-getter in a lecture hall?] PROFESSOR SNAP (E)

Overall, the results are pretty amusing, and using all fictional characters for the theme treatment adds a layer of tightness. Personally, I’d have enjoyed the theme a bit more if the dropped letters spelled out a meta-answer of some kind, as opposed to simply having eight(!) examples.

The rest of the puzzle played out fine. The fill isn’t the flashiest but it gets the job done and there aren’t any bad crossings that I saw. Some of the plural entries seem iffy, like NAHS and NTHS and especially SIGNORAS, which is a blatant Anglicization (the correct Italian plural is signore). It also felt like there were a lot of proper names in this puzzle. The clues were also fairly workmanlike. In sum, a puzzle where the entertainment is largely derived from figuring out the theme answers.

Stan Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”–Amy’s recap

Newsday crossword solution, 8/26/23 – “Saturday Stumper”

Here’s Stan’s latest targeted-at-being-less-rough Stumper. Back in the day, Les Ruffs might take me 4-5 minutes. 10 minutes is more pliable than many other Stumpers, but I wouldn’t call it an easier themeless by any stretch of the imagination.

Face fill: “YOU AND ME BOTH,” SLIDE SHOW, BEDDY-BYE, “ONE DOWN …”, POPSICLE, DA BOMB (only because of the Hot Ones hot sauce called Da Bomb Beyond Insanity).

The USSF abbreviation for the United States Space Force was new to me.

3.5 stars from me.

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37 Responses to Saturday, August 26, 2023

  1. AmandaB says:

    NYT – agree on GNOMISH – that one took me awhile. I also had an issue with TYPEDUP. Does anyone say “typed” anymore? When I work on lab reports, I write them up or insert data or some other word other than type.

    • PJ says:

      I guessed it ended in ISH so that helped. I read LOTR a couple of times over my life, “The Hobbit” is my favorite, though. I read “The Silmarillion” once in the 70s. I suspect GNOMISH was mentioned there or “The Book of Lost Tales” (didn’t read). Wherever it came from, it’s a pretty deep dive. I can imagine Lester Ruff saying, “I don’t think I’d go there.”

      Which leads me to the Stumper. It was a workout but fell quicker than most of Ruff’s grids. I do like bats so that helped.

      • Eric H says:

        GNOMISH is out of “The Book of Lost Tales.”

        I read a lot of Tolkien in my younger years, but I stopped after “Unfinished Tales.” There are good reasons that stuff was never published during Tolkien’s lifetime.

    • Pilgrim says:

      Re GNOMISH – I’m wondering if the reference to “Middle-earth” is not to Tolkein’s, but to the Norse/Germanic “Midgard.”

      Or maybe not.

  2. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: indeed a bit less rough than normal. LARIAT to HIT ON area was last to fall. There’s a clue there I can’t parse: [Slept in, say] for LAIN. Shouldn’t the answer be LAIN IN? Or is there another way to understand the tense of the clue so it makes sense?

  3. RCook says:

    NYT: The GNOMISH clue would have been better written as something from D&D or another fantasy source. I feel like the editor or constructor might have been rushed and didn’t check whether gnomes exist in LOTR.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      GNOMISH? There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for such treachery!

      I did try Quenyan and Sindarin at first, but the starting G eventually led me to the right answer, obscure though it is.

      • Eric H says:

        I started with WESTRON, which seemed pretty obscure to me.

        But not as obscure as GNOMISH.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I asked a super-hardcore Tolkien fan (she recently cosplayed at Hobbiton in New Zealand during her pilgrimage there) today to name a 7-letter language from Tolkien. GNOMISH would need a MUCH more specific clue to be legit in reference to Tolkien. Sheesh, the generic clue in the NYT puzzle was wildly misleading.

  4. David L says:

    One of my slowest Saturday NYTs in a while, mainly because of the SE section. Took me forever to find a foothold, although none of the clues are particularly misleading. GNOMISH was a (reasonable) guess off GN… I was expecting the ‘Dolphin’s facility’ to be football-related, but we got MARINO in a different place instead.

    SHINEON, as clued, makes no sense at all to me.

    • Dallas says:

      Boy oh boy, I had the same issue; I filled in all of the rest quickly and then just got completely bogged down in the SE. Had to walk away and come back. Too many 4 letter shoe companies! I also mistakenly had PATENA instead of PATENS, and when I finally checked Wikipedia to see if I had the plural wrong, I got SONAR and the rest all worked out. I kept putting in and taking out GNOMISH, and trying NIKE / PUMA for the two Reebok rivals before finally realizing I needed another shoe company (AVIA didn’t work at all). ATIT and WEST never came to me except from the crosses at the end. Ooof.

  5. huda says:

    NYT: Was very challenging for me. Very difficult to get a foothold anywhere last night. Maybe too tired for a Saturday solve… A combination of cheating and setting it aside overnight helped me get going. Once I had a foothold, it unfolded nicely.

  6. dh says:

    Many years ago I had a friend who used “Shine On”, as in, “Is that really true, or are you just shining me on?”. I think he was the only one in my experience. I’m not a big LOTR fan; my first instinct was to put “Elvish” in there but it didn’t fit. I suppose any of the imaginary creatures could have their own language so it was a reasonable guess for one unencumbered by the details of the books/movies.
    I was quite confident in my uncrossed entry “Lapel Mikes” instead of “Fake Smiles”.
    Can anyone explain the Stumper’s answer of “PEELS” for “Pizza Handlers”?

    • Eric H says:

      A pizza PEEL is the paddle-like tool, usually wooden, that’s used to get a pizza into or out of the oven.

    • Me says:

      SHINEON as clued seems really obscure, even for Saturday. There is the Pink Floyd song, “SHINE ON You Crazy Diamond,” but perhaps the editors didn’t want to have BABAORILEY and SHINE ON You Crazy Diamond in the same puzzle. Although I feel like there have been puzzles with multiple Star Wars entries.

      I know nothing about Tolkien’s work, but if GNOMISH was only in early drafts or other unpublished work, then it seems to me Tolkien decided at one point that GNOMISH was *not* spoken in Middle-Earth after all.

  7. Eric H says:

    NYT: Much slower than usual. Even though I learned from a July puzzle that the ostinato in BABA O’RILEY is not a synthesizer (which I’d assumed for 50 years), I still don’t think of it as an organ part.

    GNOMISH isn’t wrong — Tolkien’s gnomes later became Noldor elves — but it’s really obscure.

    The over-abundance of four-letter athletic shoe companies slowed me down in the SE.

    There were a few great clues like the ones for STRIPTEASE and PONTIFF. But overall, it felt more like a Stumper than a NYT puzzle.

    • Dallas says:

      Same… I kept rotating in and out the different shoe companies I could think of, and still didn’t help much…

      • Eric H says:

        I plunked an A where the N of NIKE belonged, thinking that it had to be either Asic or Avia. Then I saw the second “Reebok rival” clue and deleted the A.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          FWIW (and maybe future reference?), the sportswear company is Asics, not Asic, so at least we can rule that one out when we get a clue for a 4-letter shoe company.

  8. PJ says:

    WSJ – As I was solving the first themer I got was ROGER RABBI. I imagined it with an ! tacked on and laughed. The rest of the theme entries didn’t do as much for me. The revealer, and theme, would have worked better if the answers were all the same length implying a hard limit.

    I did enjoy the rest of the grid starting with 1a. I do like my IRMA to be Thomas, though.

    • Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

      I got a kick out of Chandler Bin. I mean, detective novels and Friends! A delightful mix.

  9. Alison L. says:

    Explanation for 52 down answer west. Does it mean west as in direction?

  10. JohnH says:

    A bit off-topic, but here goes. I don’t do the daily Spelling Bee, so will never have to decode the intricate table of hints at Wordplay. But I do the Sunday one, edited by Frank Longo, because it’s staring right there in front of me. I get the Sunday paper (only) delivered (on Saturday), and it’s on the page with the Sunday changing variety (this week an acrostic, which I also don’t do, but love cryptics), and two small puzzles, one edited by Patrick Berry and one requiring spatial reasoning (which I also skip).

    Of those, the answers come the next week, except for the Spelling Bee. It’s answers are printed with last week’s answers, but upside-down. Well, this week they made a mistake, and instead they repeat the instructions! So good luck.

  11. Eric H says:

    Stumper: This the first Stumper I’ve done in a while where I haven’t used the app to check a few answers. I did check Wikipedia to confirm USSF and HLN (the latter of which doesn’t sound at all familiar).

    Once again, the app’s clock kept running while I was looking at other browser tabs, so I don’t know how long it really took (the clock say 45 minutes plus).

    It took me way too long to get SALLIE MAE. That slogan must be more recent than my college days, which ended in 1986.

    Is DA BOMB at all current? I’ve gotten the sense from previous comments here that no one has used it in 20 years or more.

    Mostly, though, everything was inferable with enough crosses. EGO IDEAL and HLN might be the only things that are completely new to me.

    I’m chuffed to have gotten POE just from the E in EYE TEST. I can’t really place specific people on that album cover, but I know POE is there somewhere.

    I get how BOO is related to “jump,” but what does it have to do with “ump”?

  12. JohnH says:

    Wow, NYT really is hard. I had LAPEL MIKES for worn at public events for a long, seeming to confirm NIKE coming down for that K. I’ve never seen SHINE ON in that sense either.

    Could I ask for help with STRIP TEASE? I still don’t get “pole position.”

    • Eric H says:

      STRIP TEASE > Pole dancing. (It’s a great clue.)

      I had “lapel mikes” for a long while, too. I like the real answer better.

      I solve in the Games app. I did most of the SE corner in pencil because there was almost nothing that I was sure of until the end.

      Hardest NYT Saturday in weeks.

  13. Teedmn says:

    So many missteps on the Stumper, not least being PPS for 22A and YOU AND I______ for 33A.

    Not my best solve time but no cheats make it one to savor. Looking up the study of bats when CHI____OLOGY was all I had was very tempting but I resisted. Now, post-solve, Google hits all show chiropterology so what’s up with that?

  14. Ellen+Nichols says:

    Re NYT: I am sure I have (over)heard an older man say “don’t shine me on, boy” to a grandson or nephew. We’re from Missouri.

    Re Stumper: 42 D “Leads on a farm” doesn’t seem like the right clue for HALTERS. Horses wear halters most of the time. They are headgear that fits around the muzzle and behind the ears. The lead rope is attached to the halter, much like a dog leash is attached to the collar.

    • Eric H says:

      Are you suggesting that clue was written by someone who doesn’t know anything about horses? Shocking!

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