Saturday, March 30, 2024

LAT 2:49 (Stella) 


Newsday 15:40 (pannonica) 


NYT 10:00(Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Blake Slonecker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/30/24 – no. 0330

See, what I needed was a GENTLE REMINDER a couple hours ago about doing the puzzle. Was thinking about hitting the sack at 11:45 when it dawned on me that I’d forgotten to blog. Oops.

Either it’s edited to be tougher than most Sat. NYTs, or it’s late and I’m headachy and the puzzle wasn’t unexpectedly difficult.

Quizzed my fisher husband on 1a. [Tackle item hung from floaters], and everything he could think of was too short. GILLNETs are illegal in many jurisdictions–they’re nets that let a bunch of fish get their heads stuck at the gills. This isn’t the sort of tackle an individual fisher might have in their tackle box. An unpleasant start to the puzzle if you get that one right away, eh?

Fave fill: Not so sure about the CRAPPER here. It’s not breakfast time here, so okay, I guess? HOME ICE, GENTLE REMINDERS, “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN,” the IRON AGE, TIM REID, LEBANON, CON GAME, “THERE ARE NO WORDS.”

Did not know: NOSE RAG, for a hankie. Inferrable, but gross. Today we get the sh¡tter and the snot rag. Also never heard of a CORN PIT. In lieu of googling that, I’m just going imagine the worst possible [Play area at a harvest festival] that this could be. Children would have to sign liability waivers before entering the corn pit.

3.5 stars from me. Good night!

Jacob McDermott’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/30/24 by Jacob McDermott

Los Angeles Times 3/30/24 by Jacob McDermott

I have time for just a few highlights today:

  • 1A [Game that’s somewhat pointless?] is a clever way to start the puzzle off: It’s SHUTOUT, as in one side has no points in a shutout.
  • 8A [Spanish language apps] sounds like it’s pointing at a phone program at first, but “app” is short for “appetizers” here: TAPAS.
  • 20A [Competed like Kobayashi] I have mixed feelings about the sport of competitive eating, but this feels like an angle I haven’t seen before for the ubiquitous ATE.
  • 49A [Shakshouka ingredient] is EGG, and I mostly find this a highlight because I think more people should be eating shaksh(o)uka.
  • 1D [Couple of bucks] is STAGS, which is very clever; I wish the exact same angle hadn’t also been used for DEER, because the aha moment really works only once.
  • 7D [Pilate’s wear] looks like a typo at first, as in it was supposed to be [Pilates wear] and refer to some kind of athletic clothing. But it instead refers to Pontius Pilate, who would’ve worn a TOGA.
  • 30D I’m of the right age not to need any crossings to know that [T-Boz and Chilli bandmate] is the late Lisa “LEFT EYE” Lopes.
  • 32D [Apple press release?] is a nice bit of capital-letter deception for HARD CIDER.

Alex Eaton-Salners’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Up in the Air” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 3/30/24 • Sat • “Up in the Air” • Eaton-Salners • solution • 20240330

The striking grid art gives a big heads-up to the aeronautical theme, which is familiar phrases re-parsed as if they were describing parts of an airplane.

  • 24a. [Warning lights indicating too much lift?] SPOILER ALERTS.
  • 39a. [Cone decorated with stodgy art?] STUFFY NOSE.
  • 43a. [B-29 Superfortress requirement?] MAJOR PROPS. It was a large propeller plane.
  • 93a. [Spruce Goose feature?] LOG CABIN. It was made of wood (but not logs).
  • 95a. [Result of idling on the PHX tarmac?] HOT WINGS.
  • 111a. [Devices for raising control surfaces?] FLAP JACKS.
  • 3d. [Storage depot for fuselages?] BODY BUILDING.
  • 16d. [Request to finish clearing the runway?] MOVE YOUR TAIL.

Additionally, there’s a veritable fleet of bonus, theme-adjacent material:

  • 2d [Aeromexico beverage] AGUA.
  • 7d [“Birthplace of Aviation”] OHIO.
  • (arguably) 10d [Winding race] SLALOM.
  • (arguably) 12d [Annoying wait] AGES.
  • 13d [Arctic flyer] TERN.
  • 36d [Some jets tackles] SACKS.
  • 53d [Night flier] BAT.
  • 58d [“Flying Down to __”] RIO.
  • 73d [Leave the runway, perhaps] TAXI.
  • 77d [Big Sky Conference team] IDAHO.
  • 99d [Chicago airport] OHARE.
  • (arguably) 105d [Fare, e.g.] COST.
  • 4a [“Up in the air” and “on the fly,” e.g.] IDIOMS.
  • 10a [Evergreen State airport, familiarly] SEATAC.
  • 16a [Where Buzz Aldrin got an M.S.] MIT.
  • 27a [Cargo plane components] BAYS.
  • 50a [One waiting in line at an airport] CAB.
  • 54a [Control panel feature] KNOB.
  • 67a [Long-distance flier] ALIEN.
  • 81a [Toward the rudder] AFT.
  • 84a [Fills with cargo] LOADS.
  • 89a [Heathrow head] LOO.
  • 109a [Reacted to a Blue Angels flyby, say] OOHED.
  • 117a [Aer Lingus’s land] EIRE.
  • (arguably} 122a [Award for “In the Heights”] TONY.
  • 123a [Eponymous physicist Mach] ERNST.

Quite a lot, eh?

  • 19a [Before today] AGO. 30a [Before, briefly] TIL.
  • 33a [Sole attraction?] BAIT. The fish, to be clear.
  • 59a [“Later!”] SEE YA. 98a [“I’m outta here!”] GOTTA GO.
  • 70a [Praying preyer] MANTIS. I’d have preferred praying were in quotes, but I can appreciate the argument that it’s simply a part of the insect’s common name.
  • 92a [Personal driver, of a sort] EGO. Nice clue.
  • 104a [Swift work] ESSAY. A swift is also a type of bird, and I considered including this in the section above, with an ‘arguably’ CAVEAT (94d), but ultimately decided it was too much of a stretch.
  • 119a [Literary work/with a format that’s concise/first penned in Japan] HAIKU. The clue, of course, follows the famous 5/7/5 syllable pattern. I found a writing prompt, with some samples, for ‘Aviation Haiku‘. Also a pilot’s forum thread from quite a while ago on the same topic.

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

Newsday • 3/30/24 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20240330

Finished faster than I estimated I would. Made rocky but steady progress through most of the grid, but was left with the upper right and lower right corners nearly unfilled.

For 10d [Subject of The Whole-Brain Child] I was able to get the ending PARENTING rather easily, and with –LE as the crossed section for the first part I took a risk on GENTLE, which turned out to be correct. Even with those forays, it was still difficult to finish up.

  • 1a [Speak up for] ADDRESS TO. Wanted something like the too-short ADVOCATE. Not convinced the clue works.
  • 15a [Volume-varying device] MODULATOR, crossed by 1d [Power boosters] AMPS.
  • 17a [Rising cost] PLANE FARE. This is like a hangover from the WSJ crossword.
  • 18a [Monroe’s opposition in 1820] NOONE, or possibly NO ONE. I haven’t a clue and am not looking it up.
  • 20a [What fini may follow] C’EST.
  • 21a [Cast-iron] STURDY.
  • 22a [Not a moment too soon] AT THE BELL. A pivotal entry for my solve; opened up a lot.
  • 28a [Cell user] BEE. Extra-tough clue. Honeycomb cells.
  • 35a [Notes on notes] MUSIC JOURNALISM. As with 10-down, I was able to get the tail end—JOURNALISM—rather easily, but needed more effort for the first part, which I’d tentatively entered as MEDIA and eventually revised.
  • 37a [Regional figures] AREA CODES. Tricky clue, but I saw through it.
  • 40a [A translation] UNA. Literally a translation of the word A. Probably Spanish, but could be several other languages.
  • 48a [Nearly up] NEXT. Was preparing to be upset, as I thought the answer was going to be NEAT.
  • 49a [Recipient of 4,000+ patents in ’22] IBM. Don’t know if this is 1922 or 2022, but I think the safer assumption is the latter date, both based on the sheer number of patents and the fact that the clue would probably be referring to the nearer date.
  • 56a [Prior to delivery] ANTENATAL. IN UTERO was obviously not going to fit.
  • 5d [I might stand for it] ELECTRIC CURRENT. Was not aware of this. 49d [I might stand for it] IOTA.
  • 11d [Relative of Rudolph] RAOUL. Did not know this, nor 12d [Relative of Inga] IGOR.
  • 14d [Small diamond] TREY. Even though it’s a standard crossword clue ruse, this one fooled me good.
  • 24d [End of a “wrathful” palindrome] … I’M MAD. Was helpful getting this, which was easy after filling in 31a [Most Cook Islanders] MAORI, which was a gimme.
  • 25d [Name derived from an evergreen] LAURA. Presumably laurel, which can also be a person’s name.
  • Turns out there was a big tie-in! There are lots of other images and material along these lines.

    29d [Horned mascot (associated with 30 Down] ELSIE. 30d [Horned mascot (associated with 29 Down] ELMER. Wasn’t aware of a formal connection. Nice diptych.

  • 36d [Yen, of late] JONES. Of late?! This is old slang, perhaps being revitalized. <looks it up> Huh, I’m surprised the verb usage dates back only to 1981; the noun form—which the clue probably indicates—is cited as from 1962. (m-w)
  • 44d [Diogenes’ ultimate origin] DELTA. The Greek letter which starts it. Tricky. See also 49d (above). I had considered that it might be the island of DELOS.
  • 47d [Pickle, perhaps] CURE, not CUKE.
  • 50d [Husky parts] BRAN. Literally, the husks of the seeds. Nothing to do with dogs, obviously.

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32 Responses to Saturday, March 30, 2024

  1. Greg says:

    The second Saturday in a row where the NYT was especially challenging. But satisfying, as they usually are when they finally succumb after a struggle.

  2. MarkAbe says:

    NYT: No Amy, no matter what time of day, it was a hard puzzle. I needed lots of crossings for all four fifteens and ended up almost twice my average time. I also agree that both “Nose Rag” and “Crapper” fail the breakfast test.

  3. CC says:

    NYT: Could change CRAPPER to CRAMPED (also changing PER to MER and REPRESS to DEPRESS)

    • huda says:

      I think the point was to have it because of novelty.
      Your amusement mileage may vary.

    • Eric H says:

      From Blake Slonecker’s Constructor Notes: “I’m excited to debut CRAPPER in the New York Times Crossword.”

      Perhaps he’s being facetious. If the NYT ever accepts one of my puzzles (not that I have submitted anything in a long while), I hope whatever debut words it has will be more interesting.

  4. JacobT says:

    All I can say is, Will Shortz better get back soon………… this is not the usual difficulty of Saturday NYT puzzles (Fridays as well in my opinion).

  5. huda says:

    NYT: I’m not especially sensitive to the breakfast test, but I feel that a puzzle can set a mood, and the first line of this puzzle did not evoke lovely images.
    Hmmm re Lab Site. Not really a phrase that applies to Los Alamos and Oakridge National Labs. I guess these are sites where these major labs are located and if that is the intent, it feels green painty.
    Favorite entry by far (and good clue): THERE ARE NO WORDS

    • Dan says:

      I agree about LAB SITE being green painty.

      But why would that phrase not apply to the national laboratories at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos?

      • huda says:

        I don’t think of “lab site” as a phrase that applies to research labs. It is sometimes used to talk about a place where you can get some blood drawn for medical tests, as opposed to going to a hospital.
        I run a scientific research lab, but it’s not a “lab site”, it’s just a lab, and neither is the Los Alamos National lab refereed to as a “lab site”.

    • DougC says:

      I WAS doing the puzzle at the breakfast table, and I AM at least somewhat sensitive to the “test”, and I was sure that 8A had to be “clapper” as in slang for jail. But I did not know who LOEG was. Could not believe it when I had to change the L to R to finish the puzzle. Talk about leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

      The grid-spanners were great, and cleverly clued. But on the other hand, you’ve got 8A and 41D, plus a bunch of proper-noun trivia. On the whole, the distasteful out-weighed the savory, IMO.

  6. Mary+A says:

    I’m not in the league of any of you who post in this forum—I’m definitely a tortoise, not a hare. But today’s NYT offering was relatively easy for me as far as Saturday puzzles go. And despite being the daughter of a plumber, I found the references to s#&t and snot to be unpleasant and unnecessary.

  7. marciem says:

    NYT: Lived up to what I expect and haven’t received for a while) from a Sat. NYT… very chewy and needed lots of work but also satisfying in the end. No real unfair crossings. I did false start a few times, with “take one” as the instruction, tried EMI for the record label knowing they were Brits and never heard of PYE, and maybe jade for the green rock garden thing.

    • marciem says:

      I also had no idea about a corn pit (despite living in an agricultural area that always has corn MAZES during Halloween season) . I wanted Barn…something at first from the rn which stopped “accidents happen” until I gave it up.

  8. MattF says:

    A lot of less-than-obvious entries in the NYT— I had LITTLE and SUBTLE before getting GENTLE in the long horizontal entry. Finished in somewhat more than average time.

  9. Eric H says:

    NYT: For a bit, I was sure I was going to get stuck somewhere. I had quickly put in LEBANON, but I took it out because I thought 28A “Greenery in a rock garden” was going to be moss. I was slow to get GOLF BAG because I couldn’t see the clubs for the trees.

    But I eventually figured out the NW and that was it, except for a typo in PROPANE. I finished relatively quickly (and in half the time of last Saturday’s Sam Ezersky puzzle).

  10. David L says:

    NYT: Tough but I got there eventually. GILLNET (huh?) at 1A was not propitious. CORNPIT sounds bad, as Amy suggests (a hole in the ground with discarded cobs? Jump right in!). I don’t know who TIMREID is, and that corner with STEARNS immediately below was tough. I remembered OLEANNA, at least. I agree with Huda that LABSITE is green painty.

    Stumper: Impossible for me this week. I got the SE corner after hitting on BALTIMORE for the anagram, but I had MALTA instead of DELTA. I cheated and looked up PRESIDENT, which got me into the rest of the grid. But I had GRAIN instead GRIST at 10A and couldn’t complete that corner. That was when I gave up. I don’t think GRIST is right — it refers to what goes into a mill, whereas meal is what comes out.

  11. Dan says:

    NYT: It was certainly a challenging solve.

    But I would vastly prefer the puzzles I solve to omit words like 8A, as they cast a pall over the solving experience for me.

    NOSE RAG added to the repugnance.

  12. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: nice progress until the top right, then absolutely dead. Clues like “Relative of [name]” are so maddeningly useless, even by Stumper standards. Might as well just say “Name, haha good luck.” I wish editors would ban them. And two of them right next to each other? Gross.

    But I liked the puzzle besides that!

    • Eric H says:

      The NYT archive is full of puzzles with clues like “Man’s name.” They aren’t much help.

      I was actually interested to learn of the relation between RAOUL and Rudolph. I only knew RAOUL as the French form of the less-than-euphonious Ralph (for once, I’m with the English on how this should be pronounced). I never connected Ralph and Rudolph, and according to Wikipedia, they’re different. RAOUL can be Rudolph or Ralph.

  13. Mutman says:

    NYT: to all you sensitive wallflowers complaining about 8A, I’m sure you all know that Thomas CRAPPER invented the toilet.

    I do agree that GILLNET sounds like PISCINE brutality to me.

    Keep the former, scrap the latter.

    • Matt Gritzmacher says:

      Your snideness aside, he didn’t. Though he had other related patents and founded a plumbing company.

  14. Eric H says:

    Stumper: 97% on my own, after almost an hour. The SE wasn’t too bad, and I eventually picked my way through the NW, but the other corners stymied me. I kept coming back to Adams (as in John Quincy) for Monroe’s opponent, but eventually figured out RAOUL.

    I finally revealed the Milton quote when eyes got me nowhere.

    Tough clueing throughout. Some are truly cryptic, like DELTA and UNA. (I just now figured out JONES.)

  15. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper: “rocky but steady progress” is basically my experience as well… even if i took almost exactly twice as long as you… i think getting 5d early was a big help (shoutout to ohm’s law… and cryptics)… i remember stella’s blog puzzles being tough (as advertised), so i’m surprised i’m doing so well with her puzzles here, i might have to revisit the blog

    • Seth Cohen says:

      You should! I find her blog puzzles to be a little easier than Stumpers (though harder than NYT Saturdays). So if you can do these, you can definitely do those. And they’ll be good practice for Stumpers!

      • Eric H says:

        I’ve found Stella Zawistowski’s blog puzzles to be all over in terms of difficulty. Sometimes I breeze through them in about 10 minutes; sometimes they take 25.

  16. Seattle DB says:

    USA Today: their website only shows yesterday’s puzzle. Any ideas?

  17. BlueIris says:

    Stumper: I agree re: 1A “Speak UP for” is not”Address to”!

  18. Burak says:

    I’m actually OK with NYT Saturday being a tough solve. That makes it something to look forward to and quite distinctive from Friday. That being said:

    1. Can we please have some consistency? For a year or so we were being served easier Saturdays and suddenly we get stumper level clues.

    2. Last week’s Saturday was “tough but the answers are nice and in the end you feel triumphant” and this week’s was more like “good long answers but the corners weren’t interesting at all so it ended up a slog”. That balance is a delicate act (and everyone’s mileage varies) but judging from the grade and the comments I’m not alone.

  19. Seattle DB says:

    WSJ: Very creative puzzle, and as always, Pannonica gives an excellent review!

Comments are closed.