Saturday, October 28, 2023

LAT 3:08 (Stella) 


Newsday 28:09 (pannonica) 


NYT ~8:30 (Amy) 


Universal tk (norah)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 10/28/23 – no. 1028

Sheesh, this one gave me a workout. Not quite Stumper-grade, but it was tough. It really didn’t help that 1-Down feels like an unsignaled Britishism to me. Do Americans say LAND UP for “end up” or “wind up”? Merriam-Webster mentions only this meaning for the phrase: ” to fill, surround, cover, or block with earth.” Oof! Is it a regionalism in the US that you encounter?

That whole NW corner fought me, with the misleading “had kids” clue for LAMBED (goats have kids, sheep have lambs), a musical term I don’t know (ARIA DA CAPO), and [Alien] being both a noun and an adjective so not narrowing things down quickly to NONCITIZEN.

Fave clue: 27a. [Head covering?], TOILET SEAT.

Fave fill: STARTER HOME ([First base?], echoes the biblical starter home 50a EDEN, which gets a fresh clue, [Place with a tree of immortality in the Quran]), CORNEL WEST, LABOR PAINS, BACK BUTTON, MONSTER HIT, SAM THE SHAM, and a MOB SCENE.

I watched half of the ARI Eldjárn comedy special on Netflix. There is not a lot of Icelandic stand-up content available in the US, I’ll tell you that much. A tad dryer than I like.

34d. [Himalayan resting place] fooled me good and long. A CAT BED for a Himalayan cat and nothing to do with Everest base camp.

Four stars from me.

Barbara Lin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 10/28/23 by Barbara Lin

Los Angeles Times 10/28/23 by Barbara Lin


  • 1A [Subject of the Caldecott Honor book “The Right Word”] is a nice way to get at ROGET.
  • 15A [Stroke of luck?] is a great clue for HOLE IN ONE.
  • 25A I like THE GO-GO’S, although if a musical is called “Head Over Heels” I want it to be about Tears for Fears.
  • 35A [Cheek muscle, for short] is GLUTE. As in butt cheeks. Hee!
  • 51A [Threat to some colonists] is ANTEATER. Although referring to a colony or colonist(s) to clue something about ants is an old enough trope that I recognized it immediately, the rest of this corner of the puzzle was hard enough that it took me some time to figure out what kind of ant killer was meant.
  • 16D INSTAGRAM READY is a cool entry.
  • 45D Today I learned what a RAT ROD is.

Morton Mendelson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Lost Wagers” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 10/28/23 • Sat • “Lost Wagers” • Mendelson • solution • 20231028

Took me a while to make sense of the  mysteriously noncompliant entries, and when I did the theme became clear. I also correctly surmised that what would be the most appropriate title for the puzzle would also be the revealer. L+B—there it was, right in the center.

  • 70aR [“Anything might happen,” and a hint to eight answers in this puzzle] ALL BETS ARE OFF. In other words, there are eight instances of phrases beginning or ending with that trigram, and those segments bleed beyond the perimeter of the grid.
  • 5d. [Prequel show nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy seven times] {BET}TER CALL SAUL.
  • 7d. [Possible bug containers?] {BET}A RELEASES.
  • 36a. [Lhasa] CAPITAL OF TI{BET}.
  • 51a. [Facilitate a felony, for instance] AID AND A{BET}.
  • 88a. [Oscar nominee for Best Actress every year from 1938 to 1942] {BET}TE DAVIS.
  • 100a. [Like some fancy NBA dribbling] {BET}WEEN THE LEGS.
  • 73d. [It may be used to communicate silently] FINGER ALPHA{BET}.
  • 86d. [Tangy palate cleanser] LEMON SHER{BET}.

These are all very good and distinct. Very solid theme.

  • 26a [Shopped at farmers’ markets, say] ATE LOCAL. Good clue/answer pair.
  • 31a [South Dakota national park that’s said to “breathe”] WIND CAVE. Vaguely knew this.
  • 48a [Charles and James, e.g.] RIVERS. The misdirect would have been more effective if KINGS had the same number of letters.
  • 54a [Formal permission to be away from university, in Britain] ABSIT. Is this a portmanteau, or a partial Latin phrase? My money is on the latter.
  • 117a [Plays in a puddle] SPLOSHES. Completed this as GALOSHES without looking at the clue, and it was my final fill. So I was chided by the app.
  • 6d [Mind one’s p’s and q’s] BEHAVE, which is quite removed from its original printing context.
  • 10d [Move in a clumsy, bounding manner] LOLLOP. A Spelling Bee staple.
  • 42d [Alice Kramden or June Cleaver, e.g.] TV WIFE. Ah yes, married to a television.
  • 76d [Long stretch] ERA. Definitely decided this was EON and specifically not ERA, before crossings told me otherwise.


Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 10/28/23 • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20231028

Oof, very difficult.

I have an appointment soon, so I can’t fully expand in this write-up.

  • 1a [Touch down] PERCH. Already it’s tough.
  • 9a [Lent direction] ATONE. Like a directive.
  • 16a [Threw] FAZED. Active vs. passive verb misdirection.
  • 18a [Mint product] THYME. They’re related.
  • 27a [What you’ll see in the latest Indy Jones film] DIGITAL DEAGING. Even when I knew what it was getting at, I needed many crossings to get the term right.
  • 42a [Generational cohort] CROP. Had trouble letting go of PEER, as I was considering cohort to refer to an individual rather than the whole.
  • 45a [Where lessons are prepared] COOKING CLASSES. Quite literally.
  • 51a [Home aquarium candidate] NEWT. But we’d need some dry land too. Or at least several rocks above the surface, right?
  • 66a [Repair centers] ORS. A stumpery stretch.
  • 1d [Word from Latin for “doll”] PUPA. Was rather proud of myself for figuring this out. Okay, with the vowels in place, but still.
  • 4d [Less than lucid] CLEARISH. Ya, that clue is less than lucid.
  • 6d [Arch support] LINTEL. Only stuck with INSOLE for a few beats.
  • 11d [Poetic “king of kings”] OZYMANDIAS. A quite helpful gimme.
  • 5d [Ordered] HAD. 24d [Digs into] ATTACKS. Both can be said of food in a restaurant.
  • 26d [Game box datum] AGE SPAN. Two things: I would call this an AGE RANGE, and we’re crossing DEAGING in 27-across.
  • 27d [Possible sleep spoiler] DRIP. Would’ve been much easier if the clue had replaced possible with stereotypical.
  • 31d [Art school] GENRE. Thought it might be GENOA. Ah well.
  • 47d [Cold storage] CHESTS. More stumperiness.
  • 48d [Lines of succession] LISTS. Quite literally. Without a question mark, this is an especially tough clue.
  • 62d [Possible tree rescuee] CAT. This one was too easy, so naturally I was suspicious that it was wrong.

How did it treat you?

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44 Responses to Saturday, October 28, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: Amy, your fans want to know how long this almost Stumper-level puzzle took you!

    I finished it about four minutes under my Saturday NYT average, but it played a bit harder. I didn’t have much to start with — tiny words like PAZ and MAE. I somehow managed to mistype VIENNA such that it initially didn’t fit (though I was fairly confident it was the correct answer). Oddly for me, the sports answer— ASTROS — was a gimme.

    But was it Stella or ARTOIS? Who’s this “kid-lit” character? When my sisters were reading PIPPI Longstocking, I don’t remember anyone calling children’s books “kid-lit.”

    Bit by bit, though, it came together. Maybe the only real unknown was CHOKE ARTIST. Everything else came with a few (or more than a few) crosses: CORNEL WEST, SAM THE SHAM, ARIA DA CAPO, FMRI, etc.

    Really nice puzzle. I’m perplexed that someone would give it a one-star rating.

    • Ethan says:

      I swear there some one who comes through and gives the Saturday puzzle a 1 star rating immediately every time.

      This was a tough one for me – 12:39. the late week themeless puzzles have been trending easier and easier—I did last week’s in 4:40 which is a RIDICULOUS time for me— so loved the challenge this week!

      • Eric H says:

        Your comment prompted me to look at the other Saturday NYT puzzles from October. Byron Walden’s October 14 puzzle took me the longest, and even then, I beat my Saturday average.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Oops, meant to add the time. 8:something, but for whatever reason the NYT puzzle page has since advanced the timer to 10:57. I know it was in the 8s! (Not the first time I’ve come back post-finish and seen a longer time listed.)

      • Eric H says:


        Faster than me (but you always are).

      • Dallas says:

        The NW corner was tricky; I had the same issues (I put in GOATED at first, and then had to take it off … and putting in WIND UP didn’t help either). Was a bit slow overall, though I find myself often surprised by what I actually know and remember even my first encounter with the clue doesn’t yield anything (e.g., I got XENA right after TREXES, but nothing clicked till the X). A bit slower than my average, but I’m running about 7 times longer than Amy :-)

      • Ethan says:

        That’s … weird. How did you solve it? Did you pause it? I’m wondering if there’s some odd bug where the display time stops if you pause but the time keeps running (like it tracks both TotalTime and PauseTime and subtracts the latter to get the display)

      • Mhoonchild says:

        The timer on my NYT puzzle solve currently reads 11:54:45, which is more than 11 hours more than it took me to finish. This one seemed hard, but took me less than my average time.

  2. RCook says:

    NYT simply felt unfair, especially the NW corner. “Da capo aria” is the more common form of the term, which immediately made the crossings nonsensical. Many of the answers being obscure trivia and having vague crossings really soured the experience. Another user referred to this as a Stumper-level puzzle, and I agree with the note that it isn’t a compliment. The Stumper is often hard in a way that is both unfair and not fun.

    • Dan says:

      I didn’t know either ARIA DA CAPO or da capo aria, but ARIA DA CAPO is listed in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary (it’s also the name of a verse play by Edna St. Vincent Millay) and fwiw gets over 200,000 Google hits.

      • JohnH says:

        We had to read Millay’s play in high school, because a teacher thought it was suitably arty. It doesn’t hold up well. Not that I had a clue how to spell it. A very, very tough puzzle. Not that I’m through even yet with the NE.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    “Aria Da Capo” is a play by Edna St Vincent Millay, which is how I know it. Haven’t sung a lot of oratorios so wasn’t familiar with the actual musical term.

    HATED “land up.” I’m sure there’s some dictionary support for kids/LAMBED but I don’t like it at all. The rest of the puzzle was good. Bad entries at 1a/1d leave a sour taste in my mouth for the whole puzzle.

    • Dan says:

      Fwiw, Merriam-Webster online has one definition for “kid” as “a young individual of various animals related to the goat”.

  4. MattF says:

    Agree that the NYT was tough, but doable. A good puzzle.

  5. David L says:

    Very good NYT. Definitely harder than usual. I wouldn’t call it Stumper-like, because none of the clues were outright mystifying or bizarre. ARIADACAPO was the only total unknown for me, but it was plausible (after a while, anyway).

    LANDUP is fine by me, but then I’m from England. And LAMBED seems fine to me too, but then I’m from a rural part of England, where lambing time was a big deal every spring.

  6. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: Wooo-ooo! You’ve been ARTOIS’d!

  7. Twangster says:

    Got about 80% of the Stumper but could not sort out the top left. LINTEL is not a word I ever remember. Some things I tried: SHEDS for STOWS, SLED for SNOW, DJS for LPS, FEVERISH for CLEARISH, and GREWWORSE and MADEWORSE for PILEDONTO.

  8. Dan says:

    NYT: That was quite the workout for me! It took longer than any Saturday NYT in recent memory. But entirely fair and fun! And especially satisfying to complete. (Finally.)

  9. David L says:

    I found today’s Stumper not too hard, but as is often the case, there’s some questionable stuff. I don’t see how a LINTEL would be an “arch support.” Lintels are horizontal, arches are curved, and both act as supports above an opening. So a lintel could be clued as “arch alternative.”

    And then “cidery stuff” is PEARS. Huh? Cider is made from apples, and the corresponding beverage made from pears is called perry.

    • Seth Cohen says:

      LINTELS can have architectural purposes to help hold the arch shape of a doorway, I think. Like keystones.

    • Eric H says:

      I’m with you on LINTEL. The clue just seems off. (I had seen LINTEL here before I solved the puzzle, and when I realized that “instep” was wrong for “arch support,” I realized that must have been where it went.)

      Overall, I found this a pretty typical Stumper. Chip away a little here, a little there, and eventually, it’s over.

      It took me about half an hour (fairly usual for me), with a wrong letter at the end: I had “Jenny Walker Bush” as a DEm (as if I care to know any more about that family than I already do). But of course, BASS makes much more sense as “Deepest part.”

      OZYMANDIAS I owe to Monty Python. I’ve never read the poem, but I can picture Terry Gilliam as Shelley, reciting it in a salon.

      The clue for GENRE was a nice misdirection.

      • meaningless nobody says:

        this basically describes my experience with the stumper, down to the final mistaken letter (i felt like a dunce at BASS for [lowest part] but also mad respect)… the only difference is that my time was closer to 40 mins cause i is slow compared to you smarties… and i owe OZYMANDIAS instead to university challenge

    • Papa John says:

      As I see it, lintels can span columns and arches could be built on the lintels, but it’s a weird way to describe that particular (and rare) construction. The genius of an arch is that it can support itself (and more) and has no use for lintels.

  10. Me says:

    NYT: Amy, thanks for explaining that Himalayan is a type of cat! I didn’t understand that clue before.

    The comment section at Wordplay is already closed, even though it’s not even noon. I wonder if that’s a mistake, or they are shortening the times the comment sections are open.

  11. Dan says:

    LAT: I did not know “cheese” was slang for money (or that Switzerland does not use euros).

  12. PJ says:

    One I saw LAMBED was 1a I figured the clue was referring to kids in the sense we refer to children. To the ewe the lambs are her kids.

    • Becky Moody says:

      I agree with that sense of kids. When I saw the clue my first thought was “calved” – glad I didn’t write it in!

  13. Teedmn says:

    Bah, I was doing fine, slogging along on the Stumper, but as usual, the college sports clue for 2D plus the weird CLEARISH and tough clue for RULE led me to look up PUPA before settling on ULULATION and thus finishing.

  14. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … I found the cluing in this puzzle to be very tricky, but not in an unfair way at all. It seemed like just about every clue had a twist to it. I much prefer that puzzles get their difficulty through creative word play like this than the type of pop culture trivia fest that seems so much more common in puzzles these days than once was. Bravo!

    • sanfranman59 says:

      The NYT puzzle, on the other hand … good grief! I haven’t given up on a puzzle with this much of it blank since I last attempted a Saturday Stumper about three years ago. It’s been a lot longer than that (maybe never) since it’s happened with an NYT puzzle.

    • Eric H says:

      It’s a nice puzzle, though I didn’t find it particularly tricky. Maybe my only type-overs were SHIVA, which I originally had as Seder, and the end of INSTGRAMREADY (I had INSTAGRAMmable, which I kinda like better).

      Any puzzle that makes me think of the movie FARGO is OK with me.

  15. Gloria Elizabeth says:

    LAT Also found this a fun and stop-to-think puzzle. Thanks Barbara Lin for brightening my Saturday!

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