Saturday, March 9, 2024

LAT 3:14 (Stella) 


Newsday 25:04 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:24 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/9/24 – no. 0309

I’m at a loss for an introductory sentence.

New to me, more or less: 13a. [Widespread rumors, in a portmanteau], INFODEMIC. Apparently the term has been used to mean “an excessive amount of information concerning a problem such that the solution is made more difficult” as well as the (newer?) “a wide and rapid spread of misinformation,” which is not “widespread rumors” at all, it’s deliberately propagated lies. Misinformation ain’t “rumors.” isn’t showing me any dictionaries that define the word, but these two definitions it offered up don’t concern “rumors.”

Fave fill: NEW NORMAL (that’s my life, basically), FIDGET, JURY-RIGGING, “NO LUCK SO FAR,” ROOT CAUSE, SOLO ALBUM, TAX BITES, DINGS, “I GOTTA RUN,” DIGITAL DETOX, SERVE TIME. I kinda hate “LIGHTEN UP” because it’s typically used by jerks. “MERCY BUCKETS” annoys me.

Didn’t know actor NILES Fitch of This Is Us. He played Randall, Sterling K. Brown’s character, as a teen.

This puzzle felt like a Saturday crossword to me. Four stars.

Jamey Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/9/24 by Jamey Smith

Los Angeles Times 3/9/24 by Jamey Smith

Lots of 10s and 11s to put this into the “gentle challenge” category that’s promised us on LAT Saturdays. (Plus the new-to-me FAN PALMS at 36D; trying to figure out what the first letter must be, given that it was crossing a proper name, was a source of at least 10 seconds’ worth of my solving time.)

Things I liked: [Expert in creature comforts?] for GAMEKEEPER (if you’re solving downs-only, it can be very easy to fool yourself into thinking this must be GATEKEEPER; ask me how I know); MUSEUM PIECEENDLESS LOOP; the unusual letter pattern of SOCIAL IQ. I also want to call out three fresh and fun takes on ubiquitous entries: [Run into a hitch?] for ELOPE, [Do-It Yourself Tornado Kit company] for ACME, and [Tour guides?] for AREA MAPS.

What I didn’t like as much: the musty-feeling TASS; CHERRY ON TOP, which feels like a very long partial rather than a phrase that gets used by itself; the green-painty CIA HQ.

Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Letter Carriers” — παννονικας write-up

WSJ • 3/9/24 • Sat • • “Letter Carriers” • Gordon • solution • 20240309

The names of Greek letters have been inserted into the original phrases here. The clues parenthetically indicate which ones to expect by presenting the Latin equivalent. (I’ve replaced the brackets with parentheses for clarity.)

  •  23a. [Like an unguarded, invadable country? (th)] FOR THE TAKING OVER (forking over, theta).
  • 33a. [Defender of the Dalai Lama? (b)] TIBETAN SOLDIER (tin soldier, beta).
  • 42a. [Where lawyers learn how to draft agreements for engaged couples? (n)] PRENUP SCHOOL (prep school, nu).
  • 63a. [Group of editorial writers? (p)] OPINION RING (onion ring, pi).
  • 73a. [Nerdy top? (kh)] TECHIE SHIRT (tee shirt, chi).
  • 91a. [Avoid somebody who doesn’t share? (e)] GET AROUND HOG (groundhog, eta).
  • 100a. [Vacation spot with the motto “The … place … to … relax”? (ps)] ELLIPSIS ISLAND (Ellis Island, psi).
  • 116a. [Forecasters who are bullish on the future? (t)] MINOTAUR PROPHETS (minor prophets, tau). Easily my favorite of the themers, because the clue is so natural sounding.
  • 3d. [Riding on roller skates and carrying food orders, e.g.? (r)] CARHOP ABILITIES (capabilities, rho).
  • 47d. [Nuns with a convent near Yankee Stadium? (x)] BRONXITE SISTERS (Brontë sisters, xi).

These are of generally high quality, and are entertaining to boot. Lots of them too; quality and quantity.

  • 9d [Become stressed] TENSE UP. Not quite how I would define that answer.
  • 32d [Brand in the lyrics to “Slide Some Oil to Me” from “The Wiz”] STP. Not an angle I’ve seen before for this common crossword entry.
  • 48d [Brief races?] UNDIE RUNS. Not something I’d heard of.
  • 71d [TMI accident investigator] NRC. The site of an incorrect crossing that I needed to hunt up to successfully solve the crossword. 82a [City of southern Puerto Rico] PONCE, though PONTE seemed quite reasonable, as did NRT. The initialisms represent Three Mile Island and Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • 87d [Secretariat’s number in the 1973 Kentucky Derby] ONE A. Oh, a number that includes a letter, tricky.
  • 89d [Boxer who beat Leonard and Durán in their final fights] COMACHO, crossing another sports name at 98a [Finish track star Paavo who won nine Olympic gold medals] NURMI.
  • 96d [Penultimate word in a noted Churchill speech] FINEST hour.
  • 99d [Cut the mustard?] REAP. The actual plant.
  • 102d [Diaphragm material] LATEX. I was initially thinking of biological anatomy.
  • 113d [Second-largest city in Austria] GRAZ. 54a [Second-largest city in the Czech Republic] BRNO.
  • 36a [Serial starter] PART I, not PILOT.
  • 39a [Boarder lifter] T-BAR. A snowboarder.
  • 69a [Filled the bill?] ATE. ‘Bill’ being slang for mouth.
  • 97a [Direction from MSG to the GWB] NNE. Remember, Manhattan Island is not aligned strictly north-south. 1110a [Isn’t straight up] LEANS.
  • 114a [Gere peer] ACTOR. Rather vague clue. I was expecting a contemporary of Richard Gere.

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

Newsday • 3/9/24 • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20240309

Brief write-up today, as I’ve gotten a late start.

Found this one rather tough. Eventually I was able to crack and fill the lower third of the grid, and then it was even slower going for the top, with the final bits completed just left of center.

  • 13a [3-D, e.g.] APT NO. Strong misdirect.
  • 14a [Truncated-cone candy] ROLO. The shape is also known as a frustum, which derives from Latin for ‘morsel’.
  • 16a [Stand in time] LEARN TO LIVE WITH. Tricky.
  • 19a [Trampoline figure] OCTAGON. I knew it couldn’t be ACROBAT thanks to my first bit of fill (17d [WITCH PARKING ONLY, ALL OTHERS WILL BE __ ] TOAD), but the answer eluded me for a very long time.
  • 20a [Spade accessory] FEDORA. Sam Spade.
  • 27a [Timbuktu’s country’s capital] BAMAKO.
  • 31a [Corkscrew kin] AUGER. With the –UG– in place I first tried BUGLE, ODDLY (29d).
  • 39a [Subs for scrubs] C TEAM. The crossing of this and 35d [Coriolanus Aci I closer] SCENE X was my final square.
  • 41a [It may be felt at the symphony] MALLET. For muted … timpani? Glockenspiel? Xylophone?
  • 43a [Bag handler] TEA CADDY. Another toughie.
  • 48a [Show room] CINEMA. That the clue is two words is key.
  • 54a [“Trust me for now”] I’LL EXPLAIN LATER. Nice.
  • 59a [Word from the Latin for “fish for”] OPT. Seen also in ‘optimism’ and ‘optimal’.
  • 61a [Racing form] RELAY. Another really devilish clue.
  • 3d [Order to move] STAT, not SCAT.
  • 5d [Bluetooth or flash drive] DONGLE.
  • 10d [Most cherished] FAIR-HAIRED. Idiomatic, and hopefully obsolescent.
  • 15d [Small time?] TWO AM, as in the wee hours.
  • 24d [State touching Tibet] ASSAM, not NEPAL.
  • 40d [More-than-sore manifestation] RAMPAGE, paired symmetrically with 4d [More than sore] ENRAGED.
  • 45d [Ring of Pluto] COLLAR. The Disney dog.


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27 Responses to Saturday, March 9, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: MERCY BUCKETS is annoyingly cutesy, but until I read that clue, I was getting nowhere with this one. After that, I made steady progress and finished a minute faster than I did yesterday.

    It’s a fun puzzle with several nice debut answers and interesting clues for COMEDY and DOUBT.

    • Mutman says:


      We used to torture our HS Spanish teacher and say GRASSY ASS instead of Gracias.

      In retrospect, we were idiots. But I think it is more clever than MERCYBUCKETS.

  2. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper didn’t feel super impossible today! Enjoyed it.

    Clues like “Stand in time” for LEARN TO LIVE WITH are so hard for me to wrap my head around at first. The clue is omitting the word “something” after the initial verb: if you learn to live with *something*, you stand *something* in time. What makes it hard for me, I think, is that the clue requires “something” to be added in the middle of the clue, whereas the answer requires “something” to be added at the end. I’m getting better at spotting this type of clue trick, but it’s still tough for me.

    • Twangster says:

      Super impossible is an apt description on my end. But it was fun looking up the answers.

    • David L says:

      I found the bottom third fairly easy, by Stumper standards, the middle third characteristically tough, and the top third nigh on impossible until I came up with the ‘Spade accessory’ and the rest of the LEARNTOsomething answer.

      Good puzzle, and satisfying to eventually succeed.

      • BlueIris says:

        Actually, “fedora” was my first entry — coincidence helped because I just last week came across a reference to Sam Spade’s fedora. However, I had “ciao” instead of “tata”for the longest time and “hosed” and “aptno” were very difficult.

        What determines the image that appears next to my name??

  3. rob says:

    TNY (Friday): Could someone please explain the theme of yesterday’s New Yorker puzzle? All four of my theme answers are gibberish. Is there a rebus? I will be forever grateful for anyone who can help me see the light? Thanks!

    • Eric H says:

      The title “Recipe Adjustment” tells us we’re substituting ingredients:

      *Chocolate labs (as in Labrador retrievers) becomes CAROB LABS (though I have to wonder whether carob is healthier than chocolate)

      *Meat puppets (much discussed in Friday’s Fiend comments) becomes TEMPEH PUPPETS

      *Butterfly becomes MARGARINE FLY

      *Honeypie (I guess) becomes STEVIAPIE

      • marciem says:

        *Honeypie (I guess) becomes STEVIAPIE.

        or SUGARpie (my pet name for my daughter :D), or SWEETIEpie… I hadn’t thought of honeypie but that’s a good one too.

        got me singing… “Sugarpie honey bunch, you know I love you… I Can’t help myself, I love you and nobody else..”

        • Eric H says:

          “Sugarpie” makes more sense — thanks! (My husband and I don’t use any “pie” word as a term of endearment.)

    • Duncan L says:

      Recipe adjustments theme?

      Each answer is two words with the first word being a replacement ingredient e.g. margarinefly instead of butterfly, tempeh puppet instead of meat puppet etc.

  4. John L. says:

    Re: Mercy Buckets…Lighten up, Amy.

  5. Tony says:

    Took longer than it should’ve for me on the NYT. I had DO THE TIME entered for Pay for a crime for a while. Made it very tough to figure out the NW area. Guess I was channeling Baretta.

  6. Dan says:

    NYT: Unusually excellent Saturday puzzle today!

    Full to the brim with interesting fill and virtually (or completely) devoid of pop culture.

    Lots of fun to solve!

    (I had not heard of INFODEMIC but it makes perfect sense.)

    I only wish it had been a killer puzzle that lasted twice as long.

  7. Gary R says:

    NYT: Nice puzzle – put up just about the right amount of fight for a Saturday.

    MERCY BUCKETS – I have a friend who used to use this expression (haven’t heard it from him in a while). I cringed every time I heard it.

    INFODEMIC – I seem to recall running across this term during the height of the pandemic. My sense was that it was something like “information overload,” but also included the possibility that not all of the information was reliable – not necessarily deliberate misinformation, but we were so hungry for information that a lot of scientific findings were being reported before careful review and, yes, there were rumors in there too.

  8. FreePalestine says:


  9. Teedmn says:

    A Stumper I could (almost) complete under an hour! I messed up at ScAT crossing A_cNO. OPEC was an obvious choice for 2D with O_EC in place but “ministries” in the clue scared me off.

    Some great clues today. I think TOAD was my first entry. MOON was an aha after I realized the aspiration didn’t have anything to do with breathing in. And SAG CARD was a good misdirection also.

    I appreciate @pannonica’s explanation of the ring of Pluto; I had put it down to some Greek myth detail.

  10. Eric H says:

    Stumper: Much of it reminded me why I don’t enjoy those puzzles: Every single clue seems so impenetrable that I can’t make any headway. (For example, the boring crossword standby ALOE. I’ve never heard of “Fruit of the Earth” drinks (neither, apparently, has Wikipedia) and am unlikely to remember it. Or “E&G company” — we get our electricity from the City of Austin and our gas from a private company, Texas Gas Service. “E&G” meant nothing to me.)

    I did 75% or so on my own before I started checking answers and looking stuff up. Revealing BRONZE AGE helped a lot. I should’ve been able to get that on my own, despite my poor grasp of world history, but I just didn’t have the crosses.

    I’m usually reluctant to use the check and reveal features, because then I never know if I would have eventually solved the puzzle on my own. But after 45 minutes spread out over a few hours, I start to get antsy and just want to be done with it.

    I did enjoy a few of the clues, like the one for SAG CARD (though I should ask my sister-in-law if it’s still called that, as the union is SAG/AFTRA).

    And it was nice to have a chance to use the tidbit that many violin concertos are in D Major.

  11. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper – managed to complete it in under an hour — but only just! and no checks, so huzzah… i struggled most with the lower left and upper right (the very upper right square was my last to be filled)

    “as needed” for ad lib made me do a double take… i thought “as needed” was ad hoc and “as desired” was ad lib, but what do i know, its all greek to me… and if i think latin is greek perhaps thats my problem…

    i struggled mightily with naval pilot for some reason… i kept thinking navy pilot but could not make the extension…

    sag card really eluded me until a few minutes after solving… i kept thinking what does that have to do with ambition? nothing! it has to do with extras!… it made me groan at myself but nod with respect to matthew… almost made up for the bad “all others will be toad” pun

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