Saturday, March 16, 2024

LAT 2:33 (Stella) 


Newsday 16:21 (pannonica) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Carly Schuna’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/16/24 – no. 0316

What a fresh and fun Saturday puzzle to kick off the weekend!

Fave fill: DEEPFAKE, SHOOT YOUR SHOT, DEBUNK, “ADOPT, DON’T SHOP,” HOT SAUCE, “NO ONE CARES,” “GLAD TO DO IT,” BEDHEAD, BRIOCHE BUN (the crossings pointed me towards BRIE CHEESE and I was irked, and then it turned out to be a BRIOCHE BUN and then I was hungry), LAST SECOND, and Ijeoma OLUO. Ijeoma’s second book was indeed 2020’s Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, but her third book just came out a few weeks ago: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World—and How You Can, Too. (That’s one long subtitle!)

Clues of note:

  • 25a. [Small bit of mint?], DIME. From the U.S. Mint.
  • 40a. [City known as “The Soul of the Southwest”], TAOS. I’ve never heard that.
  • 49a. [Flag carrier of Panama], COPA. I don’t get it. Googling … nothing to do with Copa Mundial, the World Cup in Spanish. Just the name of a Panamanian airline. Anyone ever flown Copa? No?
  • 2d. [Accessories that sound like a snack brand], LEIS. Ah, Lay’s chips. Tangent: When my husband, son, and father-in-law arrived at their hotel in Manila last month, they were welcomed with necklaces made of shells. Pacific vibes!
  • 14d. [Dog park?], FOOTREST. Park your tired dogs on that hassock.

Four stars from me.

Jess Rucks’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/16/24 by Jess Rucks

Los Angeles Times 3/16/24 by Jess Rucks

The grid here looks almost like one for a themed puzzle, with an awful lot of 3s, 4s, and 5s; I think that’s why it leads to a too-easy-for-Saturday solving experience. There is some fun stuff in here, though:

  • 20A [Phrase on a shamrock-green T-shirt] is KISS ME, I’M IRISH, and thank you for the reminder not to go anywhere near Manhattan on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
  • 37A [Vital organ elements] is a clever clue for PIPES.
  • 42A [Motocross need] is a DIRT BIKE, a nice evocative entry I enjoyed seeing.
  • 44A [Cozy aesthetic] is COTTAGECORE.
  • 8D [Lara Croft, for one] Always nice to see a woman character as the reference for an ACTION HERO.
  • 29D [Handle for a nee-sayer], probably the only clue in the puzzle I needed some time and crossings to get, is MAIDEN NAME. Ha!
  • 33D [“Too much to get into”] is IT’S TRICKY, and just try not to hear Run-DMC.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “C+” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/16/24 • Sat • “C+” • Shenk • solution • 20240316

Each of the base phrases have been altered by suffixing a ′sē sound to the first part. Spelling is adjusted as necessary.

  • 22a. [Diagram of comedian Morgan’s performances?] TRACY TABLE (tray table).
  • 24a. [Frozen spike hanging off of a home’s eaves?] ICY DROPPER (eyedropper).
  • 39a. [Complication in a Burns and Allen routine] GRACIE MATTER (gray matter).
  • 56a. [Accolade for a jazz legend?] BASIE LAUREL (bay laurel).
  • 71a. [Character in an ornate font?] FANCY LETTER (fan letter).
  • 81a. [Part of a shearling jacker?] FLEECY COLLAR (flea collar).
  • 102a. [Folks who are into frilly lingerie?] LACY PEOPLE (laypeople).
  • 104a. [Mister Ed, making flippant remarks?] SAUCY HORSE (sawhorse).

Serviceable, for sure.

  • 34d [Settled a dispute, perhaps] DUELED. Seems extreme.
  • 41d [Iron, e.g.] APPLIANCE. Li’l bit tricky.
  • 56d [Master of the rolls] BAKER. The clue mystified me for a few beats. After I got the answer, however, my next entry was the crossing 66a [Ruler with a namesake roll] KAISER.
  • 66d [Character formed from a discarded coat and ping pong ball halves] KERMIT. Brutal.
  • 21a [Its most populous county is Polk County] IOWA. I guess something from the caucuses stuck with me, because I knew it right away. Then again, how many four-letter states are there?
  • 53a [Fender attachment] AMP. Electric guitar.
  • 61a [New Hampshire college town] KEENE. After the grid was filled, I had to find this  entry and correct it from KEANE.
  • 68a [Paragon of dignified behavior] CLASS ACT. 58a [Advice to de-escalate a fight] WALK AWAY. No duels here.
  • 89a [Screen-capture app] SNAGIT, or maybe SNAG IT. Unknown to me… … okay, it’s one word, and it can also record video. 7d [Timber wolf] LOBO.

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

Newsday • 3/16/24 • Sat • Ruff, Newman • solution • 20240316

Indeed it was less rough, which is not to say it was a walk in the park. Rather, a stuttery solve, with yours truly moving desultorily from one section to another, filling a clump here, a singleton there, and finally finishing up in the northwest.

  • 16a [Deck supervisor] DEALER. You can see how the clue was made tougher here.
  • 18a [Apt rhyme for “abide”] RESIDE. I believe this was my first entry filled.
  • 22a [Flopper topper] TAM. I don’t think that ‘flopper’ is a way to refer to someone from Scotland, so the assumption is that it’s describing the looseness of the cap. ‘Floppy’ would have been more apt, but … Stumper.
  • 30a [Counter conclusion] -SPY. Abstruse,
  • 40a [They’re often served in bars] NOUGATS. Finally getting this one made it easier to apprehend 63a [They’re often served in bars] CARAMELS when I came to it.
  • 44a [ __ INSIDE] ATM. The all-caps definitely helped.
  • 46a [“Help wanted” words] BE A PAL. Sneaky, tough.
  • 56a [City in Czechoslovakia] OSLO. This is not geography but wordplay. Hence the old name for the country rather than Czech Republic or Czechia.
  • 58a [The Great Cookie Comeback subject (2020)] is AMOS, not OREO. However, we get the latter over at 37a [Black/white/brown illustration] OREO CONE.
  • 66a [Annual Route 66 Festival city] AMARILLO. Knowing some of the lyrics to the song helped here. Just for kicks, check out the 66 pairing of clue and clue number!
  • 2d [Beat with your feet] OUTRAN. Little to do with rhythm and nothing to do with music making.
  • 7d [What M and N are called] NASAL. 57d [What P and V are called] ORAL.
  • 12d [Actress name + actress name = airline] ALITALIA (Ali, Talia). Nice find.
  • 24d [Cause’s colleague of Carrie] SUSAN. Carrie Chapman Catt, Susan B Anthony.
  • 27d [Five-star nickname] DOUG. General Douglas MacArthur.
  • 29d [Folivores in Carnivora] PANDAS. They’re omnivorous, though bamboo is the primary component of their diet.
  • 35d [Bogart cross-examinee character] QUEEGThe Caine Mutiny.
  • 39d [Russian woman’s nickname] LANA, not LARA as I had for a time.
  • 50d [Fable’s moral] LESSON.
  • 61d [Amazon user] EEL. Ya, that’s a stretch, clue-wise. The river.
  • 62d [Wartime peer of GSP and ONB] DDE. Dwight D Eisenhower, and (I’m reasoning) George Patton and Omar Bradley. Not going to check.


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29 Responses to Saturday, March 16, 2024

  1. GD says:

    Ironic that the puzzle would include an answer of racism and then use a book titled “Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America” in a clue.

    I guess it is okay to denigrate the right group of people with dehumanizing generalizations.

    • Ray says:

      I should go back and re-read Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Take about Race.” I think there are some good pointers in there on the best way to explain to someone that calling white folks “racist” isn’t denigrating them. (I mean, getting them to see that POV can’t happen in a single message board post, of course–it’s a journey, to be sure!)

      In any case, cheers. :)

  2. Oli says:

    NYT: Re the ‘flag carrier of Panama’ –

    A flag carrier is a transport company, such as an airline or shipping company, that, being locally registered in a given sovereign state, enjoys preferential rights or privileges accorded by the government for international operations.

  3. Dwayne says:

    I’ve flown Copa three times – Colombia, Panama and Peru. Common way to get to South America, at least from the West Coast.

  4. David L says:

    NYT: Somewhat easier than yesterday’s but definitely a different vibe than when WS is editing. Having said yesterday that I didn’t think the puzzle would include the word ‘shit’ I was gobsmacked to see SHOOTYOURSHIT — oh, except it was a typo on my part. (SHOOTYOURSHOT must be a young person phrase that I’m not familiar with).

    Stumper: Steady going and not too tough, but I caused myself problems in the NW by dropping in IMPEND at 3D and spending several minutes trying to work around it — with EXPECTSO at 17A. But it clearly wasn’t going to fly and finally I came up with ITHINKSO and the rest was straightforward.

    • Me says:

      I really struggled with this one, although I got it done eventually. Seems like I’m in the minority, though. One of my stumbling blocks is that I couldn’t see POM for some reason, and “wallop” seemed like it could have been BASTE, PASTE, or WASTE.

      I wonder when Joel actually started editing and when Will stopped. The change in responsibilities may not correlate exactly to when the masthead changed. I had a small editor role once of a section of a small magazine, and my name got put on the masthead as soon as I formally accepted the role, but my predecessor had already put that issue to bed so I had nothing to do with it. (I complained that I thought that was unfair to my predecessor but I was told that was the way it was done.) On the other hand, Joel could have been doing the editing informally for a while until it was clear that Will wasn’t able to continue for some time.

      For those of you who have had puzzles in the NYT, how far ahead of time did you get the final version of the puzzle? My understanding is that the constructor sees the final version before it gets into print nowadays, but that was not always the case.

      • Martin says:

        Constructors get the puzzles for final review about three weeks before publication.

        • Kelly Clark says:

          Definitely not always the case.

          • Martin says:

            It is today, and has been for many years. Sometimes it might be a few days late, but the team does a great job in sending out the upcoming “batch” to the seven constructors.

            • Martin says:

              BTW, Kelly, I’m kind of obsessive and save everything. I have the email from 8/1/2016 that includes your puzzle of 8/12/16. Constructors are blind copied for privacy so I can’t confirm you were included, but I suspect you were. I’d be happy to forward it to you if you wish. It was a very nice Friday puzzle.

  5. DougC says:

    NYT: I absolutely agree with “What a fresh and fun Saturday puzzle….!”

    OTOH, it seemed about a Friday level of difficulty, noticeably easier than yesterday’s, but more entertaining, too. Loved ADOPT DONT SHOP! And remember to spay or neuter!

  6. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: flew through the top, a bit slower bottom left, then the bottom right stopped me stone dead. Had Mumbai for Muscat, which made even my correct thoughts of LLAMA and ARK seen wrong. Finally asked my wife to name weird citruses and got POMELO, did a check to get rid of Mumbai, and everything finally fell.

  7. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Such a great clue in the Stumper for HEN: [Protective layer]. Love it! Nice work, Stan,

  8. Teedmn says:

    Stupid serrANO mistake held up the Stumper SW to the point that I took out NEON and IOWA and set it aside for awhile. Upon picking it up again, ORLANDO jumped out, like magic, and got me to the finish line. I thought serrano was a tad hot for the clue but…

  9. Eric H says:

    Stumper: I got 99% on my own, in a not impressive 36 minutes. (Both are good for me on that puzzle.)

    It felt like I spent 20 minutes in the SW. It took me way too long to figure out PESTLE. The clue for DDE meant absolutely nothing (I assume that GSP and ONB are other WWII generals, which at this point feels like ancient history).

    Lucky guess with LUTHERAN (another clue that was meaningless to me).

    For 56A, I was ready to complain that Czechoslovakia split up 30+ years ago. And we all know that OSLO, which looked like what the answer was going to be, is not in the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Then I realized how the clue worked. I should have seen that sooner, as it’s a common style of clue.

    Some of the clueing just sounds weird. 24 A “Cause’s colleague of Carrie”? I’m not sure that I realized the answer was SUSAN B. Anthony before I filled in those squares or whether I got the answer completely from the crosses and figured out the clue afterwards.

    The clue for HEN is nice, as is the one for CLICHÉ.

    • David L says:

      I filled in SUSAN from crosses, as it was the only plausible name, but had no idea who it was referring to. “Cause” is not exactly a precise hint. Could have been a colleague of Carrie Nation, for example. Probably not Carrie Fisher.

    • meaningless nobody says:

      my average is 51′, so a 36′ is quite impressive in my (excel work)book, wd… and most of those clues were meaningless for me too, i just filled em in and didn’t really look back

    • Eric H says:

      In case anyone cares about the DDE clue, GSP is apparently George S. Patton and ONB is apparently Omar N. Bradley. That seems to me to epitomize the Stumper clueing. It’s hard to come up with an answer when you have no idea what the clue means.

      (I saw “Patton” when it was released. I know who Omar Bradley is, but I had no idea his middle name was Nelson. That the clue just leaves me SMH.)

  10. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper: my second sub-30′ in 3 weeks and my third with no checks… is this it? am i actually starting to get a handle on this?… don’t laugh, it’s not nice

    but with the “speed” i flew by a lot of the meanings of the clues… thanks for patching up those gaps in my knowledge, we’ll talk soon

    • Eric H says:


      I’m not sure if I have been under 30 minutes on the Stumper. If I have, it hasn’t been often.

  11. marciem says:

    NYT: Fun watching constructor Carly’s solo circus show that she talks about at Wordplay in the constructors notes, with her assistant Piper (rescue baby). She’s pretty amazing!

  12. Scott says:

    NYT: 52 Down was super frustrating because State doesn’t parallel the language. Proper answer would have been Estado. Anyone else thrown by that?

    • pannonica says:

      Were that the case, the clue would have read [Chihuahua, por ejemplo]

    • Eric H says:


      To the extent there’s a rule, it’s that if the answer is not in English, the clue should indicate that.

      But the opposite is not always true; a “foreign” language in the clue doesn’t necessarily signal an answer in that language. I can’t think of a previous example, but I know I have seen it before.

  13. Burak says:

    NYT Saturday was a great mix of fresh entries and tricky clues. It played easier that yesterday’s puzzles, but I can see why this felt more Saturday to the editors. In any case, NYT had a great selection of themelesses this week for sure.

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