Saturday, December 2, 2023

LAT 2:53 (Stella) 


Newsday 24:03 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:53 (Amy) 


Universal 2:29 (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Royce Ferguson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 12/2/23 – no. 1202

This puzzle’s got two neologisms I don’t recall seeing before:

  • 52a. [Constantly posting pictures and news about one’s kids on social media], SHARENTING
  • 11d. [Criticizing a refusal to recycle, e.g.], ECO-SHAMING.

I’m going to continue not using these terms.


I’m not convinced that “WHAT A BEAST!” is idiomatic enough to pass muster as a crossword entry; it doesn’t rise to the level of a WHAT A MESS or WHAT A CATCH.

As for 28a. [Statement that is, in fact, not part of the Hippocratic oath], “DO NO HARM—well, the original was in Greek so no, those words were not present. And the phrase isn’t an English translation of the Greek original. But the concept of not doing harm is included in many of the ethical promises that budding physicians make when they finish medical school. I’d love to hear what Fiend’s Dr. Jenni thinks of the clue.

I didn’t love all the fill in this grid; bits like plural TIMS, IN IT/IN O.T., A MUST, and SO DO I (always gotta leave squares 3 and 4 blank because it could also be SO AM I, bleh) palled. I wouldn’t have minded a higher challenge level, either! 3.5 stars from me.

Amie Walker’s Universal crossword, “Universal Freestyle 101″—Matt’s recap

Amie Walker’s Universal crossword solution, “Universal Freestyle 101,” 12/2/2023

Impressive lattices of long entries on either side of this grid – they don’t quite connect across the midline, but come pretty darn close. NAPKIN MATH, MALL SANTAS, DISNEY ADULT, and SECRET SAUCE are particular highlights for me.

Lots of cluing highlights, as well. [Commerce Clauses?] for MALL SANTAS is an inspired take on a recognizable phrase. I was not aware that LLAMAs can hum (36a), and I liked the mental imagery of [Guess in a jelly bean counting contest, e.g.] for ENTRY, and [Showy flower named for a fantasy creature] for SNAPDRAGON.

Assorted notes:

  • 41a [High-tech luggage attachments] SMART TAGS. I pooh-poohed these until we bought a few for our recent move. They’ve saved my misplaced car keys twice in less than six months, and I’m sure will prove even more valuable if my luggage does get lost on some travel.
  • 48a [Hybrid bus.] LLC. I’ll admit, I’m not sure what is “hybrid” about an LLC. I do know there is a lower barrier to setting one up than other structures, as they’re typical of small businesses.
  • 63a [You could aptly sip Champagne while soaking in it] BUBBLE BATH. Apt as Champagne has its own bubbles.
  • 2d [Former “Tonight Show” host Jack] PAAR. Well before my time, and I’ve learned of PAAR from a variety of angles, but my first thought is always the reference to Paar in Little Shop of Horrors.

Have a good weekend

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Full-Scale Pictures” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 12/2/23 • Sat • “Full-Scale Pictures” • Shenk • solution • 20231202

The theme is much more rigorous and tighter than I first understood it to be.

  • 104aR [Screenplay suggestions from the studio, and what’s been added to the theme titles] SCRIPT NOTES.
  • 23a. [Extra stadium topper, in case the original needs replacing?] STANDBY DOME (Stand By Me). See, I saw the do as next to another note, me (never mind the fact that the solfege note is actually mi), so I thought it was pairings like that. And I certainly didn’t realize all the originals were film titles. Of course I also didn’t perceive that the added notes are in order. So, nearly total failure on my part.
  • 28a. [Alliance of haulers?] FREIGHT CLUB (Fight Club).
  • 41a. [Marvel vampire hunter, after a successful battle?] SMILING BLADE (Sling Blade).
  • 60a. [Sending insincere valentines?] FAKING OF HEARTS (King of Hearts).
  • 68a. [Pair from a pawnshop?] THE RESOLED SHOES (The Red Shoes).
  • 87a. [Event organizer’s hopes for sensational publicity?] HOOPLA DREAMS (Hoop Dreams).
  • 99a. [Arc of a handmade plane?] PAPER MOTION (Paper Moon).

Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti.

  • 15d [Bitterness] RANCOR, 39d [Bitter discord] STRIFE.
  • 17d [Faithful, in Frankfurt] TREU. Unusual German vocabulary in a crossword.
  • 35d [Hermana del padre] TIA. 98d [Cousins’ mothers] AUNTS.
  • 44d [Cut-and-dry businesses] SALONS. Initial letter here was my last square to fill—I just couldn’t see the answer, and I didn’t know 44a [Ukrainian-born actress Anna] STEN, who is perhaps nowadays obscure, but a less troubling framing than [WWII British firearm].
  • 51d [Alpine abode] CHALET. 82a [Home on a cliff] AERIE.
  • 58d [Lothario] SEDUCER. 93a [Successfully entices] ROPES IN.
  • 61d [Day divider] not night but NOON.
  • 63d [Medicine bottles] PHIALS. Kind of old-timey, yes?
  • 106d [Diamond score] RUN. 97a [Diamond figures] CARATS.
  • 33a [Knock for a loop] ASTOUND.
  • 36a [“Man With __” (Millet painting)] A HOE. Here it is, and here it is:
  • 47a [Widest setting on a Brannock Device] EEE. That’s the foot-measuring gizmo.
  • 49a [Brushing impediment] SNARL. Not in one’s teeth, we hope.
  • 54a [Letters three before pis] NUS. 79a [Letters three after pis] TAUS.
  • 67a [They might be found under a Christmas tree] NEEDLES. I’m wise to this clue, after many years.
  • 84a [Queen, e.g.] BEE.

Finally, I’ll just note that extras and some other folks in the movie biz often work for scale.

Kristian House’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Would’ve liked this one to be a little harder! The high- and lowlights:

  • Los Angeles Times 12/2/23 by Kristian House

    Los Angeles Times 12/2/23 by Kristian House

    14A [Ice cream novelties discontinued in 2022] is CHOCO TACOS, which, although pretty easy to fill in, is nice and evocative.

  • 32A I enjoyed the clue [Capitol gains?] for SENATE SEATS.
  • 36A [Reeling feeling] is SHAME SPIRAL, an entry that I don’t feel like I’ve seen before.
  • 57A [“No one’s being straight with me!”] is IT’S ALL A LIE, which I thought was a bit green paint-y.
  • 4D [Some Hamilton Beach appliances] is FOOD STEAMERS. IDK, this one doesn’t pass the “sparkle test” for me for an entry of this length.
  • 29D [Safari runners] might deceive a PC user into thinking it’s a clue about animals in Africa, but it’s MACS and refers to the Web browser. I’m a Mac user so I wasn’t fooled, but I was charmed.
  • 35D [Completely] is WHOLE HOG. This area of the puzzle provided the only significant difficulty — I was able to get WHOL fairly quickly, but the bottom half required crossings given that the answer obviously couldn’t be WHOLLY.
  • 55D ELS — I often wish editors were more open to non-sparkly entries, or even downright crosswordese, in themelesses if the entry gets a great clue. This is a perfect example — total crosswordese, but the clue [Half the characters in “Kill Bill”?] is wonderfully clever. (Yes, I did just complain a few bullet points up that another entry doesn’t pass the “sparkle test.” In that case I thought the clue was pretty straightforward.)

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

Newsday • 12/2/23 • Saturday Stumper • SN, Newman • solution • 20231202

Definitely on the tougher side today.

After starting off strong in the northwest with no crossings for either 1a [Dawns on] OCCURS TO or 15a [Literally, “long mountain”] MAUNA LOA, I slowed down considerably, into a more familiar Stumper pace. The few-and-far-betweens, the tentative fills, the gradual knitting-together, the eventual finale.

There’s a lot of stacked density wherever you look in this impressive grid.

  • 16a [Roast participant] WEENIE. Well, not an active participant.
  • 22a [Compañero común] GATO. Cats are common companions, I suppose.
  • 23a [At the very beginning] NÉE. From birth, you see.
  • 24a [Cheery] UPFUL. Have never previously encountered this word.
  • 30a [Common crossword clue conclusion] FOR ONE. Meta!
  • 31a [Supplier of quarters] INN. 42a [Supplier of quarters] MINT.
  • 32a [Negotiation station] BARGAINING TABLE. So straightforward it’s almost difficult. Life in Stumperland.
  • 35a [Needle point] ENE. Compass needle.
  • 39d [Queue component] TRESS. Very tricky, as queue here is a braid at the back of the head.
  • 43a [Pièce d’échecs] ROI. Nothing more than chess piece.
  • Geography! 51a [Ghanaian neighbor] TOGOLESE. 24d [Most populous double-landlocked nation] UZBEKISTAN. There are only two such countries in the world, ones that are surrounded by nations that are themselves landlocked.
  • 52a [Attractions you’ve never seen] AROMAS. Great clue.
  • 7d [Head turner] TOSS. I don’t understand this one.
  • 9d [Honeycrisp apple relatives] SWEETINGS. It seems to be an entire family of apple varieties, but it’s new to me. Perhaps I should consult this reference?
  • 13d [Eleanor Roosevelt, to Edith] NIECE-IN-LAW. Uh, okay.
  • 40d [Flag] COLORS. Tricksy.
  • 46d [Skip it] ROPE. I … I can’t believe he went there.
  • 47d [March with a keyboard] BETH. This is from Little Women.
  • 51d [Porcine purloiner of poesy] TOM, Tom, the piper’s son.

Please to enjoy “Kisil Alma” (Red Apple) by Uzbeki musician Yulduz Usmanova:

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33 Responses to Saturday, December 2, 2023

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: 24D “Likewise” could also be “ditto” or “as am I.” Bleh indeed.

    I didn’t know ECOSHAMING or SHARENTING, either. The first was easier to get based on the clue.

    Overall, the puzzle felt challenging and had me wondering if I would need to set it aside for a while. (I frequently do that with the Saturday Stumper and some NYT archived puzzles, but contemporary Saturday NYT puzzles are rarely that difficult.)

    • Christopher Smith says:

      Same here. If you never read “The Little Prince” and have never heard anyone actually say WHAT A BEAST (especially when What An Exit is very close and is in the language) this was pretty unfair.

      Also, on the Hippocratic oath: per a Harvard Medical School blog (and others), this particular phrase actually appeared in a different piece by Hippocrates, “Of the Epidemics.” A similar sentiment does appear in the original oath, and later on the Romans got involved, and after several additional corruptions we all wound up believing something that isn’t technically true.

      • MattF says:

        Also, do not perform bladder stone surgery, i.e., ‘cut for the stone’, according to my urologist. But he went ahead and did it anyhow.

      • Jose Madre says:

        I had WHATABEAUT, had no idea at the Dutch painter, and have never taken microdots so didn’t know LSD. It was a tough spot for me

        • huda says:

          Same here re WHAT A BEAUT. But it was interesting to learn about microdots…
          Remembering BAOBABS definitely helped me.

    • Gary R says:

      Re: 24D – many option (I’ll add “me too” to the list) – just have to wait for some crosses. Not an exciting clue/answer, but not a major blemish IMO.

      I’ve heard of ECOSHAMING, but not SHARENTING. I wonder if there’s an opposite of SHARENTING? My son and his wife (both 40-ish) shun social media and have told my wife (and our son’s mother-in-law) that they are not to post pictures of the grandkids.

    • David L says:

      Tougher than usual Saturday for me too. The NE corner was the last to fall. I had big TE__ but couldn’t immediately come up with TECH, and it was long time before I dredged up KORN from the KO__ (not a band I know anything about).

      Amy liked CAREERPATH but it seems green-painty to me.

      GINMARTINI is ugly and a retronym to boot. Only when uncultured louts started making martinis with other spirits did it become necessary to specify that you want gin.

      • pannonica says:

        I held off, not knowing whether it would be DRY or GIN. The former was superfluous to the clue, the latter is … as you say.

        • JohnH says:

          I did, too. I found a lot of the puzzle not quite right, but I put that down to my weakness in current usage. Or not. I’ll leave it to others. KORN was my last to enter.

          FWIW, I wonder if the Hippocratic other is in part a matter of translation. The top hit online has nothing like it, but a different wording in Wiki (which similarly supplies the Greek) does, as Wiki says, approach it strongly.

      • huda says:

        I’m generally with you, but as someone who mentors young scientists, we talk about various “Career Paths” on a regular basis (e.g. academia vs. industry).
        So, I too liked it and its clue.

        • David L says:

          Well, I never really had a career path, more a series of zigzags, so the concept seems strange to me… :)

    • Dallas says:

      Oof… I’ll have to check my stats, but I think this was my slowest Saturday ever. I was not on the same wavelength, and had to keep removing entries; COTTON BOWL (and then MOTH instead of WASP) instead of ROSE PARADE, ANNS instead of TIMS (though I finally realized it was Ann Curry and Anne Rice, but … I had to check Wikipedia to confirm Tim Rice…). The upper middle took forever; I hadn’t read The Little Prince. Ooof. I put it away, came back, and it still took me the whole morning. I had started to get used to doing Saturdays in around 30 minutes; if I wasn’t aiming for a perfect year, I think I would’ve just put this one away. I’ve come to like the Saturdays that have more open grids, and this grid just felt very closed off. I’m glad other people liked it more than I did…

  2. dh says:

    I’m on board with Matt’s comment about why an LLC is a “Hybrid” business – the clue was very confusing. The fact that it crossed with a very niche bit of trivia (brand of morning after pill? The number of people who know this or would even be interested in knowing this is very small) was downright irritating.

    • PJ says:

      An LLC is a hybrid in that it has elements of a sole proprietorship/partnership and a corporation.

      From Wiki – A limited liability company (LLC for short) is the United States-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

    • Gary R says:

      LLC was a gimme, but I have interest in things business/financial.

      I also know PLAN B, for no particular reason. But I would guess that maybe half the population in the, say, 15-55 age range might be interested in knowing this.

  3. Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

    Lovely WSJ puzzle. I know the “notes of the scale” has been used before, but the movie titles gloss made it special — and I don’t even like movie title themes in general.

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Interesting how WSJ and LAT both reference Choco Tacos today.

  5. ZDL says:

    the exact phrase “first, do no harm” was not part of the original Hippocratic oath.. although every medical college administers its own version of the oath these days, and most contain something along the lines of “i will not harm my patients”

  6. huda says:

    NYT: In spite of some difficulties shared with various commenters, I felt there was a lot to like about this puzzle. Didn’t mind learning the neologisms, although I too am unlikely to use them. And really liked seeing UNCONSCIOUS BIAS in there. I recall the first time I heard of this concept and it had me re-examining a lot of my thoughts.

  7. David L says:

    I gave up on the Stumper with the NE quadrant blank except for (tentatively) PERCOCET. I had TOGONESE, which made the warrior at 34D end in _ILNES, which didn’t seem completely impossible. I wanted GREATNIECE but couldn’t make the crossings work. Is NIECEINLAW even a thing?

    And UPFUL? Come on now.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      My sister and her husband have some nieces and nephews who are married. NIECE-IN-LAW feels plausible to me. Which is not to say I didn’t also try GREATNIECE first.

      UPFUL feels bogus. Mainstream US and UK dictionaries don’t include it. It does appear to be a trade name for both herbal teas and A.I., which sure doesn’t make me like UPFUL any better.

  8. Jack says:

    “WHAT A BEAST” is/was definitely idiomatic, at least in my neck of the woods (in middle school). I still say it from time to time!

    • Gary R says:

      Hah! Just an hour ago, after my granddaughter scored 8 points in the first quarter of a 5th grade basketball game, I texted my wife – “She’s a beast!”

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Ditto … I often use this kind of terminology in referring to exemplary performance by an athlete.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Gary and Sanfran, do you say “What a beast!”, though? “She’s a beast” isn’t the same phrase. I wouldn’t quibble about BEAST being clued via someone performing well, but the phrase felt off to me.

  9. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT … wow … Stella solved this thing in 2:53?!? She is truly a crossword solving savant. This puzzle chewed me up and spit me out, but much to my surprise, I did finally manage to complete it without cheating.

    Would someone please explain MEEP and it’s clue “Beaker’s syllable”? Google gives me “a short, high-pitched sound, especially as emitted by an animal or a vehicle’s horn” as a definition for MEEP. Really? Okay, then what’s a “beaker” in this context? Google doesn’t have an answer for me on that one. I thought that maybe a Beaker is a car model or manufacturer that I don’t know about, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

    Also, are there any ballroom dancers out there? I’m pretty ignorant of dance steps, but I kind of ruled out CHA CHA as an answer for “Three-step process?”. Isn’t there also a dance called a CHA-CHA-cha? I figured that one would be a “three-step”. I Googled to try and figure this out, but I can’t make any sense of what I found and don’t feel like spending any more of my Saturday trying to understand this puzzle than I already have.

    Oops … never mind … I now know that Beaker is a Muppet who apparently makes this sound. This explains why I don’t know it. But I’d still like some help with my CHA-CHA question.

  10. Seth Cohen says:

    Not a huge fan of the Stumper today. Lots of clues that just didn’t work for me, even allowing for Stumper nastiness.
    – Queue meaning a braid is “archaic”, according to Google, which I don’t think is really fair.
    – GORY does not, at all, mean disagreeable. Just two completely different words. People flock by the millions to see gory movies.
    – I got UPFUL, but really don’t like the word.
    – I can’t parse CUTS for Shortening. The tense, plural/singular…I got nothing. Help?
    – Never heard of SWEETINGS.
    – Don’t know TOM the pig.

    I’m sure it’s a fine puzzle, just not on my wavelength.

  11. Seattle DB says:

    I absolutely adore Pannonica’s reviews because she goes in-depth and adds interesting links!

Comments are closed.