Saturday, October 14, 2023

LAT 3:00 (Stella) 


Newsday 27:50 (pannonica) 


NYT 7:26 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/14/23 – no. 1014

I often feel ripped off when a Saturday NYT turns out to be themed, but this one played like a themeless aside from the revealer, 60a. [Part of the George W. Bush era … or a hint to part of 18-, 26-, 38- and 46-Across], MID-AUGHTS. Those themers are MARZIPANS, PANZEROTTI, EASTERN ILLINOIS, and GEENA DAVIS, each with an “aught” synonym in the exact middle. I actually enjoyed the surprise of that extra layer.

Fave fill: KOALA, PIZZA HUT (mansard roof!), the never-tried-’em PANZEROTTI (like small calzones), EASTERN ILLINOIS (mind you, Eastern Illinois University is about 40 miles south of U of I, but comparably east of center), the great GEENA DAVIS, hit THE SAUCE, EYE BLEACH, NBA DYNASTY (Chicago in the ’90s? Yep, I was here for all six Bulls titles), BUZZKILL, BIRD CALLS, and GOOD VS. EVIL. Could’ve done without REGAUGED, and I’m not convinced that a singular GOONIE and plural MARZIPANS are legit.

  • Fresh clue for SOS: 33d. [Adoption of the International Radiotelegraph Convention in 1906].
  • 36d. [Live tweets?], BIRD CALLS. Fun clue! Apparently there are no longer any non-bird tweets, just, uh, X posts.
  • 61d. [With 65-Across, “Born to Hand Jive” group], SHA / NA NA. Those of us who were 1970s kids remember Sha Na Na. Heck, they had a variety show on TV! Who didn’t? Sonny & Cher, Donny & Marie, country singer Mac Davis, mime duo Shields and Yarnell … the format largely vanished by the 1980s.

4.25 stars from me.

David P Wiliiams’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inside Baseball” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/14/23 • Sat • “Inside Baseball” • Williams • solution • 20231014

Yes it’s another baseball-themed crossword. This one features phrases associated with the pastime and interprets them elsewise.

  • 23a. [Part of a flirt’s eyelash routine?] BATTING PRACTICE.
  • 34a. [Where a daring bullfighter hangs out?] AROUND THE HORN. I’m going to guess that the baseball—no, I just paused to look it up and it isn’t what I suspected. It’s descriptive of a throw from the third baseman to second base and another throw to first. Of course the baseball phrase is borrowed from seafaring.
  • 50a. [Military recruiter’s goal] BASES LOADED.
  • 54a. [Curses?] FOUL LINES.
  • 67a. [“The Comedy of Errors” or “Twelfth Night”?] DOUBLE PLAY, referring to characters disguised as other characters.
  • 69a. [Where scabs appear?] STRIKE ZONE.
  • 81a. [Oxen?] FARM TEAMS.
  • 85a. [Outlandish proposals?] WILD PITCHES.
  • 101a. [Cautionary tales set to music?] WARNING TRACKS.
  • 116a. [Hulk or Shrek?] THE GREEN MONSTER.

Hard for me to get excited about yet another baseball theme, but here we are.

Theme-adjacent: 35d [Worker at home] UMP, 50d [Moves like a curveball] BENDS,  61d [Reliever Orosco with a record 1,252 career game appearances] JESSE, 70d [Color on Diamondback home uniforms] TEAL, 106d [Group available for pinch-running] BENCH, 21a [First full month of the Major League season] APRIL, 58a [Fast balls or cars might go down it] PIKE, 126a [They’re stretched in the seventh-inning stretch] LEGS, and arguably 56d [Extend an unfortunate streak, say] LOSE.

  • 22d [Queen of the jungle] LIONESS. Would’ve preferred a question mark or perhaps quotes in the clue.
  • 40d [You might put your drink on it at a bar] THE TAB. COASTER and BEER MAT are both too long.
  • 82d [Land down under?] ATLANTIS. Nice clue.
  • 98d [Trunks in trunks] AORTAS. Cute and slightly tough clue.
  • 14a [Collection of courses] MEAL. Influenced by a similar clue in today’s NYT, I reflexively put in MENU here.
  • 32a [Unit of butter] TUB. 105a [Unit of butter] DAB. Forced.
  • 61a [Tuesday in Tijuana] JUEVES. Not your typical Spanish-language fill in a crossword.
  • 122a [Like a condemned house, perhaps] BOARDED UP.

On to the Stumper!

Lars G Doubleday’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 10/14/23 • Saturday Stumper • Doubleday, Wilber, Peterson • solution • 20231014

Quite a toughie today. Staccato solve, with nearly the entire bottom quarter a holdout. However, I made some headway in the lower left and finally—finally!—with a few headlong guesses, the lower right.

  • 1a [Financially independent guy] MADE MAN. I resisted putting in the ‘made’ part because the phrase for me has underworld associations rather than monetary ones.
  • 16a [Sundae bar selection] COCONUT. Not a particularly helpful clue.
  • 18a [Vain] USELESS.
  • 19a [Focus of a pioneering Western film] TRAIN ROBBERY. This would be The Great Train Robbery (1903), which notoriously finished with an isolated shot of one of the robbers firing a gun directly at the audience, which according to legend was visceral and frightful to contemporary audiences. 15a [Visceral] EMOTIVE.
  • 23a [French Sudan, today] MALI. I, uh, put in CHAD first.
  • 37a [“Wolves of the sea”] ORCAS. Primarily because of their pack behavior.
  • 39a [Short race] HOBBITS. Tricky.
  • 44a [Quartet in Mississippi] AREA CODES. And who here wasn’t preoccupied by the four esses in the name?
  • 46a [Committed] ARDENT. For some time I had IN DEEP here.
  • 53a [Santa, in Moore’s poem] ELF. I believe was my first fill in the solve.
  • 55a [Resumption after an interruption] NOW WHERE WAS I. My suspicion was this as the answer, but what few crossings I had were for a long time not cooperating.
  • 68a [Back down?] STOOPED. Oof. Needed a real guess to complete ST––PED, and that finally helped clinch the solve.
  • 20d [Literally, “Children of the Covenant”] B’NAI BRITH. So that’s what that means.
  • 24d [It’s covered for strollers] ARCADE. Not baby carriages.
  • 28d [Mexican cowboy] CHARROVaquero was definitely not fitting. I didn’t know this word.
  • 35d [So it seems] THEN. Think “if so, then …”
  • 40d [Become hard to get rid of] TAKE ROOT. Provisionally having TAKE HOLD also contributed to my difficulty finishing up.
  • 52d [Bug hunt] SWEEP. Listening devices.
  • 54d [Allowed to run] LET GO, right next to 45d [Road trip starter] OFF WE GO, and both crossing 66a [Confounded] DOGGONE. Hmm.
  • 59d [Together] SANE. Tough, laconic clue.

Kyle Dolan & Jennifer Marra’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 10/14/23 by Kyle Dolan & Jennifer Marra

Los Angeles Times 10/14/23 by Kyle Dolan & Jennifer Marra

Wish I had time to do more than point out my favorite clues here — there’s a lot of really good ones in this puzzle!

  • 42A [Number of players needed to play Klondike] for ONE.
  • 44A [Paragraph opener] for TAB.
  • 61A [Heated contest?] for MEET. As in, a meet has heats.
  • 62A [Local number, at times] is incredibly clever for ANESTHESIA. Number, a thing that numbs.
  • 4D [Go to commercial, say] is REZONE. It’s very hard to pull one over on me with this type of clue for as long as this one did — I got the final crossing with the N and still had to look at it for a little longer to realize: Oh. You can REZONE an area from residential to commercial, for example.
  • 13D [Makes the team?] is YOKES.
  • 38D [High chairs?] is BAR SEATS, which even if you get what’s going on early on (I did), you might mistakenly put CAR SEATS, which adds a little extra difficulty. Ask me how I know.
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31 Responses to Saturday, October 14, 2023

  1. Nino says:

    Brutally hard nyt today. I can appreciate the fill on some level, but it was too difficult to have any fun with it.

  2. Ethan says:

    Amy I think your opening sentence is missing a “not” (think you meant to say “I often feel ripped off when a Saturday NYT turns out NOT to be themeless, but…”

    Had the same reaction you did. Byron is always a treat and the theme was just an extra AHA at the end. REGAUGED *and* REICE though?! (And crossing each other to boot!) that’s a significant wart.

    • Eric H says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who was irked by REGAUGED and REICE. I don’t like the construction convenience of tacking RE- onto any random verb. “Repaint” is OK, “recarpet” is OK, but does anyone say “Can I reice your drink?”

      But that’s a minor complaint about an otherwise enjoyable puzzle. I got most of the theme answers before getting the revealer, but knowing the theme helped me get the unknown to me PANZEROTTI.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more about awkward RE- answers. I mostly feel the same way about awkward -ER answers. But in this case, I gave it a pass because I thought this was a fantastic puzzle. It always helps my puzzle-solving mood when I actually manage to complete a BW Saturday without any help.

        PANZEROTTI involved some good guessing on my part since I initially had ‘nIT’ instead of the crossing ZIT and EER could just as easily been ‘EEn’. Unfortunately, I never even thought to consider the theme when I was trying to figure that answer out. I’m often stupidly oblivious when it comes to using themes to help me solve and I’m certainly not accustomed to even think about it with a NYT Saturday puzzle.

        Two thumbs up from this solver.

        • Eric H says:

          Amen on the awkward -ER answers. I usually see those when it’s a verb being turned into a person who does that thing, but sometimes it’s a comparative adjective, like the ungainly LOYALER in today’s Stumper.

      • Dallas says:

        I liked having the theme (perhaps not surprising for me :-) and it helped me get both PANTEROTTI and MARZIPAN (I had the P, then dropped in ZIP, and went from there). I waited till almost the end to put the E in for REGAUGED; I had the rest, but it didn’t seem right, but it was needed for REICE, so there you go. A pretty great Sunday, including the shoutout to Champaign, IL :-)

        * I’ve lived in the area for now 17 years, and it was only a few years ago that I found out that Champaign isn’t a misspelling of Champagne, but rather a word that means “flat place” … which is very fitting.

  3. David L says:

    I found the NYT difficult, especially the SW corner. I had CITRON and then CITRUS for the wrinkly fruit, which prompted INA moment at 49A. EYEBLEACH is new to me, although (ultimately) gettable. REGAUGED was just silly.

    The biggest obstacle was NIT crossing PANNEROTTI, which seemed eminently reasonable. I didn’t grasp the theme, so eventually tried Z at that cross without seeing its significance.

    I agree that MARZIPANS seems wrong — a MARZIPAN is not a thing, certainly not a confection.

    ETA: Speaking of theme — I object. AUGHT is defined by one online dictionary as an archaism meaning ‘anything,’ illustrated by an archaic example: “know you aught of this fellow, young sir?” That sounds right to me.

    • Eric H says:

      And according to Merriam-Webster, one meaning of AUGHT is “zero, cipher.”

      My only problem with that answer was initially spelling it “ought.” I ought to know better.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        EH … Our brains seem to be wired similarly at times. I did the same thing with ‘oUGHT’/AUGHT. Recognizing that error was the biggest “aha” of the solve for me.

    • Mr. Grumpy says:

      I enjoyed the puzzle for the most part … but that panzerotti/zit cross ruined it for me. An obscure food item and an unnecessarily ambiguous clue? Ugh.

    • DougC says:

      I agree that the SW was problematic. REGAUGED crossing REICE and the unknown-to-me EYEBLEACH were bad (and the last made me cringe at the thought).

      I would add that ETCHing is not a technique that uses a chisel.

      I disagree on marzipan, however, which absolutely is a confection. The POC form used here, however, it is just bad. I can’t think of a way one would use the plural in conversation without sounding either awkward or ridiculous.

      I thought this was a proper Saturday puzzle, with some fun entries. But the SW was the last to fall for me, and the problems with the fill there left me feeling let down.

      • DougC says:

        I’ll add that I liked the symmetry of PAPAYA and CASABA.

        And another thing: every Illinoisan I know divides the state into north and south (like California), and sometimes central. Never heard anybody refer to EASTERN ILLINOIS. So while a case can be argued for that being a thing, it definitely strikes me as sub-optimal fill.

        This puzzle felt hard to me, but I finished well under my average time. Go figure.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Oh, Chicagoans divide the state into “Chicagoland” and “Downstate.” Even the more rural northern reaches are downstate, if you ask me. Eastern Illinois has legitimacy in terms of the public university by that name, but [University in Charleston] would be nigh impossible to connect to the answer for many solvers!

        • Dallas says:

          Well, as a resident of Urbana, IL, this region is referred to here as “East Central Illinois,” which is exactly where it is on a map. When I saw the clue, I was delighted, but wasn’t sure if it was going to be CENTRAL ILLINOIS or EASTERN ILLINOIS. I realize that up in Chicago, it’s all downstate, but… yeah.

      • accurate use of English obsessed says:

        Chisel is both a noun (tool)…and a verb (“I chisel”. So you may not use a chisel when ETCHing…but you are definitely Chiseling.

    • Me says:

      I had a similar Natick-y experience with PANZEROTTI, which I had never heard of before. For “poetic contraction,” I put EEN rather than EER, which resulted in PANZENOTTI, which seemed plausible. I eventually figured out EEN was wrong because of the hidden ZERO in PANZEROTTI, but it took a while to get there.

      I am impressed that Byron Walden got the four theme answers in the exact middle of the theme answers, as Amy had pointed out. That could not have been easy.

  4. huda says:

    NYT: While it was hard for me to get a foothold, I really enjoyed the challenge and all the great entries listed by Amy. And the MID AUGHTS revealer. How fun!
    I agree regarded REGAUGED and REICE. But a remarkable Saturday nevertheless.

  5. RCook says:

    STUMPER: The author’s name is Beatrix Potter, not Beatrice.

  6. dh says:

    WSJ: Two Joyce references here – “yes” being the obvious one, but it also makes reference to Andalusia – “…yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used…”

    There was something a little off with the clue for 116-A; “Shrek” and “Hulk” are both green monsters, but the clue seems to want an indefinite article – Either of them would be “a” green monster, but the left-field wall at Fenway is “The” Green Monster. “”The Hulk” in “The Incredible Hulk”” might have been a better clue, as there’s only one. (It could be argued that Fiona might prevent Shrek from being “the” green monster in that movie).

  7. Twangster says:

    Stumper: I think this was the hardest puzzle I’ve ever completed. Two things that held me up were having BOGGLED instead of DOGGONE and misspelling RIYADH as RIDAYH.

  8. Sandy Halbstein says:

    WSJ: Clever and cute 23A – Part of a flirt’s eyelash routine? BATTING PRACTICE! My favorite clue in a long time in any of the puzzles I’ve done!

  9. GR says:

    ELF was my first fill in the Stumper, too, clearly great minds think alike :)

  10. Eric H says:

    Stumper: 35 minutes for me, which is not great, but no checks or look-ups, which is pretty good for me as far as the Stumper goes. All my unknowns were gettable with enough crosses.

    The SW corner was relatively easy, the NE not too bad.

    In the SE, I held on to OFFWEek for far too long. (I was thinking of a sports team having a week with no games before having several away games. My husband and I have made four road trips in the last six months, and none has started with OFF WE GO.) That K made STOOPED impossible to see. Once I had OFF WE GO, DOGGONE was obvious.

    The NW was hard until I took a chance with AMOR. I had no idea on the song, but AMOR seemed likely, and the M got me to EMOTIVE. I don’t much care for LOYALER — what an awkward word to say. (If it even *is* a word; I looked up LOYAL in two dictionaries, and neither lists it. On the other hand, it’s apparently a playable word in Scrabble.)

    I enjoyed the clue for HOBBITS. Some Mexican restaurants serve CHARRO beans, which usually have a broth with bacon in it, but I wasn’t sure CHARRO mean “cowboy.”

  11. Eric H says:

    Universal: There’s something really twisted about crossing I’M COMING OUT and SODOM.

    Nice fill. I liked EVIL GENIUS, SEX SCENES and FAN FICTION. I wish the clueing had been a little less straightforward.

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