Saturday, February 10, 2024

LAT 3:13 (Stella) 


Newsday 19:15 (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal 2:08 (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

New York Times crossword solution, 2/10/24 – no. 0210

In honor of Chinese New Year, Zhouqin brings us a mini-theme with YEAR OF THE DRAGON and the Mandarin good wishes for prosperity in the coming year, “GONG XI FA CAI” (you might be more familiar with the Cantonese equivalent, gong hay fat choy). Me, I needed to work through the crossings for the Mandarin transliteration, but those crossings are all fair.

Fave fill in this puzzle with left/right symmetry: GELATO, REC LEAGUES, ELOTE, GEN XER, and South Dakota’s BLACK HILLS.

I learned a couple other things:

  • 15a. [Sara who wrote the “Pretty Little Liars” books], SHEPARD.
  • 39a. [Annual mecca for sci-fi and fantasy fans], MEGACON. Seems like the kind of thing I would know and yet it doesn’t ring a bell. Apparently the latest MegaCon just took place Feb. 1-4.

Four stars from me.

Rafael Musa’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/10/24 by Rafael Musa

Los Angeles Times 2/10/24 by Rafael Musa

There’s enough difficulty here to feel like the “gentle challenge” we’re promised in LAT on Saturdays. Notables:

  • 6A [Clicking sounds?] is AHAS, as in you say “aha” when something clicks. It’s a nice pairing with 25A [Chiding clicks] for TSKS.
  • 36A [Name on the business school at the University of Arkansas] is WALTON. At first this feels like a YEKIOYD, but…Arkansas, Walmart, what else could it be?
  • 44A and 48A both have concert references: [Nonhumans that quickly buy up concert tickets] for BOTS (true, bleah) and the cute [Gets carried away at a concert?] for CROWD-SURFS.
  • 58A [Rock memoir with the chapters “Nut Bush” and “River Deep”] is a fresh and inferable way to clue the crossword chestnut I, TINA.
  • 7D [Bitterns, e.g.] is HERONS. I know enough to know that bitterns are wading birds, so I put WADERS in here at first…and then EGRETS, because have you ever noticed how “wading bird” and “five letters” doesn’t narrow things down at all? CRANE, STORK, STILT, HERON, EGRET just off the top of my head. I call for more diversity in wading bird enumerations!
  • 9D [Light run?] is a very clever clue, and one that took me quite a while to figure out, for SOLAR POWERED.
  • 21D [Spot of bother] is QUITE A PICKLE. This is one I wasn’t really crazy about — the entry feels a little green paint-y and the clue feels a little more awkward than clever.
  • 25D [Product auctioned at Tokyo’s historic Tsukiji Market] is TUNA. I found this clue nicely evocative, since I have visited Tsukiji (and had a delightful breakfast of salmon roe over rice at one of the food stalls there).
  • 51D [Spring break destinations?] is a fresh and clever way to clue the much-seen SPAS.

Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Echo Location” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 2/10/24 • Sat • “Echo Location” • Eaton-Salners • solution • 20240210


  • 23a. [Is precisely well informed?] KNOWS ON THE NOSE.
  • 38a. [Delivery update for a ricotta factory?] WHEY ON THE WAY.
  • 46a. [Flub a weather report?] ERR ON THE AIR. Not homophones for me.
  • 61a. [Bread industry headline?] RYES ON THE RISE.
  • 80a. [Sport between waves?] SEE ON THE SEA.
  • 86a. [Flock deserter] LAMB ON THE LAM.
  • 104a. [Participated in another school’s regatta?] ROWED ON THE ROAD.

Yes, okay.

  • 3d [Bulls’ arena?] STOCK MARKET. In the more traditional sense.
  • 9d [Camel or fawn] TAN. Minor misdirect.
  • 12d [Felt contrite] REPENTED. Felt, or acted?
  • 36d [Melting mass] ICE CAP. It’s very worrying. 72d [Creature on Klondike bar wrappers] POLAR BEAR. Here in the Anthropocene it isn’t difficult to envision a looming mass species extinction event. All your favorite animal mascots (brands, teams, et al.) will become tokens, the stuff of legend. 78d [Disappeared without a trace] VANISHED.
  • 64d [Hair refreshers between washes] DRY SHAMPOOS. I haven’t ever tried one.
  • 80d [Fix, as a pointe] SPAY. However, 15d [Boxers, e.g.] UNDERWEAR.
  • 90d [Bone doc, informally] ORTHOpedist. I was looking for OSTEOpath. Editing note” the doc alone signifies the informality required of the answer.
  • 98d [Polish language?] EDIT. Question mark set me wise to this right away.
  • 12d [Full-bodied, as coffee] ROBUST. But most coffee is made with the arabica bean rather than the robusta variety.
  • 69a [Collection of quail] BEVY. This is simply a collective noun specific to the bird.
  • 74a [With the time, once] HEP. 67d [Enjoyed tremendously] DUG.
  • 75a [Portable dwelling] TEPEE. 61d [Portable dwellings] RVS.
  • 91a [Everyday stuff] REALIA. Good word; more people should use it, I feel.
  • 107a [Duplicative dance fad of the 2010s] NAE-NAE, 109a [Duplicative cheer] OLÉ OLÉ. 111a [Duplicative pest] TSETSE.

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

Newsday • 2/10/24 • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20240210

A rocky experience, but eventually it succumbed without too many tears. Spent a good few minutes at the end hunting up an error, which turned out to be at 56-across.

  • 56a [Written up earlier] ABOVE NAMED. Y’see, I first had 39d [Rocked] as SHAKEN, but 48d [Shelley’s “love disguised”] as FATE. When I came to 54d [Place concentrated pressure on] RAM, I had to change ABOVE NOTED to ABOVE DATED, making 39d the odd-but-believable SHAKED. But alas Shelley was talking about FAME.
  • 17a [Grand Canyon run gear] RUBBER RAFT. More specifically Colorado River run.
  • 18a [Purveyor of TORNVIKEN islands] IKEA. Kitchen islands, presumably.
  • 19a [Large Executive Dept. agcy.] OMB. Ombudsman?
  • 21a [Waiter’s handout to waiters] PAGERS. Tricky with the repetition.
  • 23a [Mexican wrestling accoutrement] LUCHADOR MASK. I had the LUCHA and MASK parts early, but struggled with the middle part.
  • 26a [Where a Corporate Crosswords classified once ran] AD WEEK. This is staggeringly uninteresting to me.
  • 33a [Was engaged in] HAD. Tricky, and I’m not convinced it works.
  • 37a [Its eyes act as binoculars] OWL. A confusing, too-direct clue. And anyway, any creature with stereoscopic vision can claim the same. Although it is to be noted that owls’ eyes are so large in comparison the their skulls that they cannot be moved independently of the head itself.
  • 43a [Typical early adopter] TECHNOMANIAC. Had -MANIAC early on, suspected TECHNO-, but waited for many crossings.
  • 52a [Analphabetic] ILLITERATE. I thought it was going to be something about being out of order, rather than without.
  • 55a [“Father Time” publisher of the past] Henry LUCE. 2d [Tik-Tok coiner (for a 1907 kids’ book] L Frank BAUM.
  • 58a [Pull down] LOWER. 36a [Garner] EARN.
  • 1d [What Michael Jackson wore in The Wiz] AFRO. Did this clue help in priming the solver for the next-door entry BAUM?
  • 4d [Airport s. of Saratoga Springs] ALBany.
  • 8d [Icing decider] REF. Hockey.
  • 10d [Word from Greek for “tattoo”] STIGMA. I should have gotten this one more quickly.
  • 13d [Serpentine form] BOA. Strong mislead for ESS, but none of the crossings cooperated.
  • 22d [Two-letter too-too?] ARTY, or R·T. This clue was a little too-too.
  • 25d [Word in minestrone recipes] KIDNEY, the beans.
  • 42d [First noun in Richard III] WINTER. “Now is the WINTER of our discontent …”
  • 53d [Raider’s initial move] BUSINESS, not football or piracy.


Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword, “Universal Freestyle 111″—Matt’s recap

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword solution, “Universal Freestyle 111,” 2/10/24

Love the parallels of RED ENVELOPE and DRAGON DANCE, as well as the colorful stack of ORANGE PEKOE and COTTON CANDY alongside the former. YOURE A LIAR, EPIC DRAMA, OK NOW WHAT, PHONES IT IN are highlights making the most of those grid slots. I wonder if we’ll ever see the Toledo MUDHENs clued to Jamie Farr’s character in M*A*S*H again.

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24 Responses to Saturday, February 10, 2024

  1. rob says:

    NYT: I always enjoy a Zhouqin puzzle, and this one was no exception. I did not know the Mandarin greeting, but otherwise smooth sailing. Is it me, or has there been a trend of the Saturday puzzles being easier than the Friday puzzles?

    • Mutman says:

      I thought it was easy until I got stymied in the central west portion.

      Nice puzzle though!

      • Dallas says:

        I had exactly the same hang up! It was, in part, because I put in BROKEN for “some brains and pool balls”, although I could not make heads-or-tails of NESIGNER… but then finally realized it was RACKED, and it came together. I had to do the math on SNL… I think it’s closer to 50 than it is to 40 at this point, but not over 50 yet…

        Nice puzzle, faster than Friday. Nice mini-theme.

    • Dan says:

      NYT: For me, the past several weeks have seemed to have an easier Saturday puzzle than the Friday one.

      This puzzle definitely went fairly fast for me, despite having no idea of the Chinese greeting … until only the first two letters of (what turned out to be) REC LEAGUES were blank. That slowed my time by a minute or so before I caught on.

      It was, however, by any standard an excellent puzzle!!!

  2. Tony says:

    One of these days, I’ll remember that it’s CATE and not KATE Blanchett.

  3. Cc says:

    How commonly do people not pronounce ERR like AIR? The “sounds like AIR” variation is the first pronunciation listed on

    • Dan says:

      A lot of people say the vowel sound as a short E as in PET (as in the word ERROR), rather than as the vowel sound in AIR. There is *also* the pronunciation whose vowel sound is that of the word PURR.

      (I don’t know the geographical distribution of each of these three preferences, but it would be interesting to see.)

  4. David L says:

    I finished the NYT in a reasonable time, but I don’t agree that the crossings on GONGXIFACAI were entirely fair. I know it’s CATE Blanchett, not KATE, but as noted above, others might not. And I can never remember all the stupid GEN this or that or something else descriptions. I went with X because it seemed like an early range of dates, and it was right, but it was a guess.

    I don’t know whether to be amused or insulted by Amy’s remark that we might be more familiar with gong hay fat choy. Hah, of course, because Chinese New Year’s greetings are totally something I have in my head…

    Stumper: Nothing too difficult this time. I originally had HATE as Shelley’s ‘love disguised’ but straightened that corner out when I realized that 39D had to be shaken.

    OMB is Office of Management and Budget. I don’t whether it counts as ‘large’ but it’s large in influence.

  5. DougC says:

    NYT: I like LILAC flowers, but have never, ever heard of them being considered a “Symbol of purity or spiritualty” (34A). I wasted a few microseconds trying to fit some spelling of “lilies” in that slot.

    An online search brought up the FTD website, which says that “White lilacs symbolize purity and innocence. Violet lilacs symbolize spirituality.” Color me skeptical.

    I’m curious whether anyone else wasted any time puzzling over that clue? Or has any insight into the source of the claimed symbolism? I’m not quite ready to accept FTD as the authority on this. :-)

    P.S. – I agree that this was considerably easier than Friday’s puzzle, in spite of the often very vague cluing and the long string of Mandarin transliteration. May you Live Long and Prosper!

  6. Dan says:

    NYT: Somewhere else people were discussing the supposedly alternate spellings of WRACK and the word RACK (as in “rack your brain” to try to figure something out), thanks to clue 35A “Like some brains and pool balls” for RACKED.

    This is a mistake: WRACK and this usage of RACK have entirely distinct etymologies.

  7. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: Many Naticks for me. And 4 of them were in the 5-letter DHOTI: LUCHADOR, HITACHI, BRETT, and RAIMI. I liked the rest of the puzzle, but that is an impossible nest of names and foreign words. Just no chance. Even for RAIMI, who I’ve heard of but only because of crosswords, I can never remember if the last vowel is I or E.

    Last Natick was BAUM/OMB. Unknown name/three random letters. Can someone explain who this is?

  8. Eric H says:

    Stumper: It started off well, but then crashed. I needed too many crosses for LUCHADOR MASKS, which is ironic since just a few days ago, I was wondering if LUCHADOR had ever been in a mainstream puzzle.

    I also needed lots of checks to finish, as well as a little help from IMDb on the “Frigga” actor. (I’ve seen RENE Russo in other movies, but have never been interested in the Marvel stuff.) Like pannonica, I had ABOVE-NotED throwing me off in the SE. The clue for WALL SCONCE successfully misdirected me; I thought of “accent” only in the linguistic sense.

    No real unknowns; I haven’t heard TECHNOMANIAC, but it was inferrable with the right crosses.

  9. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper: 3 off from a clean solve, as i too overlooked HATE/ABOVEDATED and shoulda spent more time looking for my mistakes… ah well, as they say you win some, you lose some… though i’m still waiting on the wins myself… 31′ for me all told, so definitely one of the breezier stumpers (and a cakewalk for the rest of you geniuses)

  10. When I do a tough crossword, I always think of what Wittgenstein wrote: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” But they’re not the limits of the world. The world, as W. also wrote, is all that is the case. RAIMI is a well-known director. The OMB is the Office of Management and Budget, even if I’ve never seen the acronym before. (I don’t think I have.)

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