Saturday, September 30, 2023

LAT 2:59 (Stella) 


Newsday 11:10 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:26 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


We took a look at Friday’s star ratings. Hey! Would you believe there are a couple different people who gave a 1-star rating to every single puzzle? I’ll bet they never even looked at most of the puzzles. Another person 1-starred three different puzzles. I don’t know what has to go wrong in one’s life to be such a petty vandal, crapping on people’s creative ventures for no real reason. They need better hobbies!

Ahmed Bayoumi’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 9/30/23 – no. 0930

Great themeless from a new constructor! The top pair of 15s connect to the 13-letter central Down, too: AFRICAN AMERICAN, SLAVE REBELLIONS (though clued via events in Haiti and Cuba rather than the US), and ABOLITIONISTS.

Other fave fill: HOUSECATS, MARINE BIOLOGIST, the band I’ve heard of (but don’t know their music) YO LA TENGO, THE ROSETTA STONE, a WIRELESS SPEAKER, CASTE (because I recently read the Isabel Wilkerson book by that name and recommend it highly), NEPO BABY.

Four more things:

  • New to me: 20a. [Contemporary artist Carrie ___ Weems], MAE. Here’s a page where you can explore her photographic and video art.
  • 32a. [Post-op persona, perhaps], NEW ME. I was thinking therapeutically rather than in the cosmetic surgery vein, surprised by the answer.
  • Least favorite entry: 2d. [Like water in a stream], AFLOW. Cannot envision myself ever having cause to use this word.
  • 6d. [Hammer home?], EAR. I like it. One of the little bones in the ear rather than the verb phrase hammer (something) home.

Four stars from me.

Jess Rucks’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 9/30/23 by Jess Rucks

Los Angeles Times 9/30/23 by Jess Rucks

This doesn’t feel like a grid structure I run across a lot: No entries longer than ten letters (and only two of those), but also very few 3s and not a ton of 4s either. So the highs aren’t quite as high as when you put in an 11- to 15-letter entry that has that elusive quality of “sparkle” on its own and/or in its cluing, but there also isn’t that feeling of “oh look, here’s ALE again.” Highlights and notes:

  • 23A [Nothing to fret about?] is a very clever way to clue AIR GUITAR.
  • 40A [Ones to “watch out for,” per an Amazon Prime reality series] is BIG GRRRLS, and I suspect this puzzle was conceived and accepted well before the allegations against Lizzo came out.
  • 55A [Minor celebrities?] is a great clue for TEEN IDOLS.
  • 9D I’m not a Schitt’s Creek watcher, but that’s on me. I suspect MOIRA ROSE is a hit with a lot of solvers.
  • 10D Right beside her, who doesn’t love TATER TOTS? The most underrated carb IMO.
  • 31D Am I wrong? Isn’t [All the rage and hard to come by] cluing an adjective, whereas HOT TICKET is a noun? I would’ve put “It’s” at the front of the clue.

Gary Larson and Doug Peterson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Exclamation Points” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 9/30/23 • Sat • “Exclamation Points” • Larson, Peterson • solution • 20230930

Okay! Phrases ending in homophones of typical exclamations—pluralized—and those original words are replaced by said exclamations.

  • 22a. [Influenced upon hearing negative public opinion?] LED BY THE NOS (… nose).
  • 32a. [Like a love scene with all the dialogue removed?] CUT DOWN TO SIGHS (… size).
  • 49a. [Expressions of disbelief during a bear market?] BULL D’OHS (bulldoze).
  • 64a. [Very quick expressions of relief?] SHORT PHEWS (… fuse).
  • 68a. [Cries for attention from Barney the Dinosaur?] PURPLE HEYS (… Haze).
  • 85a. [Expressions of frustration from a fly fisherman?] POLE ACKS (poleaxe).
  • 99a. [Reacting violently to negative public opinion?] HITTING THE BOOS (… booze). That pesky negative public opinion again.
  • 114a. [Woeful lamentations from a fallen Humpty Dumpty?] CRACKED WHYS (… wise).

Of these, “sighs” is the only one that isn’t actually uttered as pronounced, so it’s anomalous. The clues all seem applicable enough, except pole as the crux of the fly fishing reference doesn’t seem adequate.

  • 11d [Olympics sport since 2000] TAE KWON DO. Wow, that recent?!
  • 62d [Vivacious] ELECTRIC. Imaginative clue choice. I like it.
  • 94d [May-December space] AGE GAP.
  • 105d [Former California fort] ORD. New one on me. Typically this is clued as the airport code for O’Hare ( Orchard Field). Or perhaps as an abbrev. for ordination or ordinate.
  • 14a [Its ancestor was the serpent] TUBA. I temporarily forgot about the serpent musical instrument and was seriously questioning how snakes gave rise to TUNA.
  • 27a [Abuela’s daughter] MADRE. 74d [Miguel’s great-grandmother, in a 2017 Pixar film] COCO.
  • 30a [Diner on “Alice”] MEL’S. I recently watched for the first time the Martin Scorsese film that the sitcom is based on.
  • 34a [“Excuse me…”] AHEM. Is this—no, it’s an interjection rather than an exclamation, per m-w.
  • 42a [Going to work] USABLE. Deceptive clue; best understood if read as “{I think this is} going to work”
  • 88a [“Holy moly!”] GOSH. Exclamations both.
  • 91a [Course warning] FORE. m-w says this is an interjection. But it also says that GOSH is one, and same for PHEW and… I’m beginning to suspect for all the others. HEY, do they not acknowledge exclamation as a part of speech but instead as a type of interjection? AHA! They’re considered synonyms. So that means this crossword has quite a number of stray nonthematic exclamations.
  • 119a [2022 Jordan Peele sci-fi film] NOPE. The title is stylized in all caps, which to me reads as an exclamation/interjection, so notch another.
  • 122a [“Good grief!”] DEAR ME. You know the drill.

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

Newsday • 9/30/23 • Saturday Stumper • Ruff, Newman • solution • 20230930

One of my fastest Stumper solves ever. The northwest section  went rather quickly, while the rest was a bit more arduous. Watershed for me was 36-down [Zeus in Clash of the Titans (1981)]. Was nearly certain that it was OLIVIER but that didn’t fit, so I took a chance with LAURENCE; I suppose you could consider Zeus as an indicator that first name is needed, but that’s really sneaky.

  • 18a [Brit’s ticket back] RETURN. This seems perfectly normal and non-Anglophone to me. The RETURN ticket is a component of a round-trip purchase. Unless … is the indication that Brits simply say return rather than return ticket?
  • 22a [Cable viewed by an audience] TIGHTROPE. Bit of a, ha-ha, stretch there.
  • 26a [Locks or shocks] HAIR. Was just about to comment that the shocks sense was eluding me, but then the phrase ‘shock of hair’ clicked.
  • 28a [Imperious portmanteau] BRIDEZILLA. That still a thing?
  • 34a [Query after a holdup] AM I LATE. 44a [Knocked off] TOOK. 48a [Knock off] ROB.
  • 40a [Young surfing obsessive] SCREENAGER. New portmanteau on me.
  • 52a [Boz boy] OLIVER. Boz was a pseudonym for Charles Dickens. Had I seen (or remembered?) this entry I might not have been so distracted by OLIVIER for 36d.
  • 2d [Towel embroidery] INITIALS. Tried for MONOGRAM, but I knew that the crossing 33a [Poet with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame] had to be TSE, Thomas Stearns Eliot. 26d [Towel embroidery] HIS.
  • 5d [Grassley’s Senate colleague] ERNST. Was going to say that this was far too open-ended a clue, but then realized they’re both from Iowa.
  • 8d [“Sugar” sphere] PEA. Sugar snap PEAs. Clue is too cute by half.
  • 14d [Car named to evoke safety] SENTRA. Never consciously considered that.
  • 32d [Madcap kin of ’50s fiction] MAME, Auntie.
  • 42d [Kilmer nesters] ROBINS. Must be that tree poem, which I’ve not read since childhood.
  • 47d [Hawkeye’s pal] UNCAS. Considered MCU and M*A*S*H before going back to James Fenimore Cooper.
  • 55d [2022 Emmy winner for a Beatles docuseries] ONO. I believe this is the Peter Jackson project Get Back, for which I further presume that she was a producer. 45a [Where McCartney sang “Back in the USSR” in 2003] RED SQUARE.

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

18 Responses to Saturday, September 30, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: It was a fun, quick puzzle. Felt pretty fresh.

    Then there’s “the band I’ve heard of (but don’t know their music) YO LA TENGO.” They’ve been favorites of mine for almost 30 years.

    • Dallas says:

      A reasonably fast solve for me; bottom took the longest, and I misspelled the band as YO LO TENGO (I guess I had YOLO on the brain or something…) at first. And cluing FADS with Wordle almost felt like a bit of editorializing on the wisdom of the NYT purchase… but anyway. Really nice fill, flowed well, nice Saturday puzzle.

    • DougC says:

      I saw the album name and thought “no way I’m going to know this,” but then the letters started coming in from the crosses and I thought “wait a minute, I DO know this!

      The whole puzzle ended up feeling that way. On my first pass, 2/3 of the way down with only a few 3-letter answers in place, I thought I was in real trouble; but then the bottom 1/3 filled pretty quickly and I was able to work my way back up to the top in short order. In the end, came in well under my Saturday average.

  2. “We took a look at Friday’s star ratings. Hey! Would you believe there are a couple different people who gave a 1-star rating to every single puzzle? I’ll bet they never even looked at most of the puzzles. Another person 1-starred three different puzzles. I don’t know what has to go wrong in one’s life to be such a petty vandal, crapping on people’s creative ventures for no real reason. They need better hobbies!”

    Huh, sounds like there’s a really, really easy way to take that bad hobby away from trolls like that. :)

  3. David L says:

    Stumper was pretty easy, although it took me a while to get into the SW corner. Guessing SCREENAGER was the key. I wasn’t sure if 49A would be SPY or PAY, and the clue for TOOK had many possibilities.

    I don’t think ‘Boz boy’ for OLIVER is entirely legit, as Dickens used that alias only for ‘Sketches by Boz.’ For all his other books he was Dickens.

    I had POPIDOLS crossing RADAR in the SE — that stalled me for some time.

    And I’m puzzled by SENTRA — how does that name ‘evoke safety’?

      • David L says:

        Huh. That would not have crossed my mind in a gazillion years. Also, when I think of sentry my first thought is of someone who’s trying to keep you out of some place you shouldn’t be in.

    • Eric H says:

      Over 30 minutes for me, which is not too bad for the Stumper. On the other hand, I didn’t check any answers or look anything up, which is unusual.

      So it was mostly not too difficult. The SW was the hardest area. I had COOLER in there — I bike past the YETI flagship store two or three times a week — but the crosses didn’t seem to work, so I took it out. Then I finally remembered SCREENAGER.

      I knew the “Boz” clue was looking for a Dickens waif, but there are so many, I needed the L to get OLIVER.

      The SENTRA clue threw me. I thought the answer was some car that was notorious for being unsafe, like the Chevrolet Corvair. (I read Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” almost 50 years ago; he had a lot to say about the Corvair.)

      The SENTRA was named by Ira Bachrach, who Wikipedia quotes as saying “The word Sentra sounds like central as well as sentry, which evokes images of safety.”

  4. Tanya says:

    Rating everything a 1 is like giving the whole class an A, totally meaningless. If it bothers you so much, block them or show fewer decimal places – there are more important things in life ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT. NW was tricky for me, having MEXICAN rather than AFRICAN at first. Midlantic also tripped me up. Had ‘Made A FOOL of’ crossing FEMME (for post-op persona) which I found reasonable.

    Nice debut!

  6. Philip says:

    For those who don’t know it, I recommend looking up the baseball-related origin story of the name Yo La Tengo.

  7. Margaret says:

    The people giving one-star ratings irritate me the same way the jerks who cheat on Guess My Word do. There are a few people who get the answer and then submit it under a different name so they are at the top of the board with one guess and zero seconds (the same people over and over.) You’d think they’d get tired of it eventually but they never do. Sigh.

    • Me says:

      I also find it confusing why someone would rate every puzzle as 1-star day after day after day after day after… I’m not sure I understand what the goal of the exercise is.

      With Wordle, now that they publish the frequency of common guesses, consistently every day about 0.5% of people have the correct answer as their first guess. Some of those are true lucky guesses (like when the answer was STONE), but when the answer’s something like ABYSS, that’s almost all people cheating.

      0.5% is a higher number than I thought it would be. That means that roughly 1 of every 200 Wordle users is cheating on a meaningless game.

  8. LaurieAnnaT says:

    I’m usually a few days behind on doing the puzzles, so I’ll check the star ratings just because I’m curious. I already know that interesting, difficult puzzles from the New York Times will get high ratings, but I don’t even try to do their Saturday puzzles, for example. For me, it’s a time wasting slog. But that’s me. I will do the Friday puzzles, but I turn on autocheck.

    Actually, I enjoy doing both the high rated and the low rated puzzles just because I’m curious as to why others think they are so good or so bad. Sometimes I agree. Sometimes I don’t.

    Another way to look at things, too, is by how meaningful a single rating is. When 50 people rate a puzzle, a single rating doesn’t affect the total rating by much. The puzzles, however, which only get a dozen ratings, those are much more impacted by a single 1-star or 5-star rating.

  9. JohnH says:

    I was thinking post-surgery for that bit of the NYT, too, where I really also should have remembered the musicians a lot sooner and where of course the clue for WIN was deliberately vague. But all my own fault, in quite a good puzzle.

  10. Lois says:

    I use the puzzle ratings, though even the honest ratings (and most are honest, probably) can mean a wide range of things. Honest people might like opposite things in a crossword, things in their wheelhouse or things they don’t know at all, hard puzzles or easier ones. Using the ratings to decide which puzzles to do doesn’t always work, but a high rating might inspire a mediocre solver like myself to try a little harder and get to enjoy something really nice that others have enjoyed. We can see that some people are way too harsh or just troublemakers, and use our own discretion. If cheaters can be weeded out, I wouldn’t be against that, but I enjoy having ratings. I don’t take them at face value, but they’re an aid to the solver.

Comments are closed.