Saturday, April 6, 2024

LAT 3:08 (Stella) 


Newsday 32:18 (pannonica) 


NYT 8:19 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Byron Walden’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/6/24 – no. 0406

All right, on the tough side for a Saturday puzzle, but not way out of the range I expect.

Fave fill: BUBBLY, “NEED I SAY MORE?”, “GOT A SEC?”, OPEN MRI, entirely new-to-me TOY-CON, UP TRENDS, Ryan SEACREST, BIG UPSET (it’s college basketball March/April Madness! Good to see the women’s game getting so much more attention now), RUN PAST, PALACE GUARDS, ZOMBIE MOVIES (I did enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), and the increasing negativity of MEDIOCRE and “IT STINKS.” Have zero recollection of the inverted UH-OH OREO, and ON DOPE sounds off.

Five clues of note:

  • 25a. [Dodgers’ foes, for short], IRS. Tax dodgers. I did try MPS at first, though I don’t know if military police ever tracked down draft dodgers. Anyone try SOX or something basebally?
  • 38a. [London dunderhead], HOSER. That’s London, Ontario, rather than London, England.
  • 44a. [Notably circular formations on Mars], DUNES. I did not know this.
  • 3d. [Cinderella’s calling card], BIG UPSET. A Cinderella team coming out of nowhere to beat a supposedly better team, not a Disney princess.
  • 8d. [Pictures where people are headscarfed?], ZOMBIE MOVIES. A groaner of a punny clue. Zombies gobble (or scarf) their victims’ heads, nothing to do with headscarves.

Four stars from me.

Sarah Beth K Weintraub’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shadow Boxes” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 4/6/24 • Sat • “Shadow Boxes” • Weintraub • solution • 20240406

This is to mark the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE two days hence. The revealer’s clue is [Event taking place across part of North America on Monday, represented in four spots in this puzzle] (71a)

  • 24a/25a. [Netflix realty reality show] SELLING {SUN}SET.
    30d. [America’s biggest independent film festival] {SUN}DANCE.
  • 46a/47a. [Shampoo brand for someone flaky] SEL{SUN} BLUE.
    7d/55d. [Nation north of the border to those south of the border] ESTADO{S UN}IDOS.
  • 97a/98a. [Pleads for mercy] CRIE{S UN}CLE.
    74d/103d. [Flies of the rails] COME{S UN}DONE.
  • 121a/122a. [Commits perjury] LIE{S UN}DER OATH.
    88d. [Punch drunk from a pouch] CAPRI {SUN}.

In each case, the SUN is obscured by a black square, which must therefore represent the moon. 78a [Surrounding glow] HALO. Of course I prefer those entries where SUN in the original doesn’t carry the standard meaning. Also, the two crossings that involve only three total entries seem somewhat lesser-than. Nevertheless, this is a great theme done well.

  • 28a [China-based online marketplace] TEMU. Some of their prices are unbelievable. There must be some serious exploitation going on.
  • 34a [Comet watcher, perhaps] ELF. Comet being one of Santa’s reindeer.
  • 43a [Letters earned by a defense?] PHD. A doctorate after a thesis defense.
  • 82a [Handy winter attire] MITTEN. Literally ‘handy’.
  • 87a [Like jigsaw puzzles] PIECED. Would anyone really say this?
  • 102a [Flies to work, as a pilot] DEADHEADS. I thought this meant piloting an empty plane to a destination?
  • 127a [Pulitzer-winning 2022 drama by Sanaz Tossi] ENGLISH. Site of a mis-fill that needed hunting up to complete the crossword correctly. I’d entered the crossing 118d [Understanding sound] as AHA rather than AHH, and assumed ENGLISA was a work I’d simply not heard of. 84a [Mishandled the situation] MESSED UP, 93a [Shout of satisfaction] EUREKA.
  • 11d [Fa follower] SOL. Unrelated to the theme.
  • 27d [CBS sitcom definitely not aired live] GHOSTS. Got this via crossings because I certainly didn’t appreciate the wordplay at the time.
  • 50d [One watching your language] LIP READER. Nice.
  • 51d [Turing on the U.K.’s 50-pound note] ALAN. They treated him rather horribly in life, and for quite some time after.
  • 60d [It might live on a shoestring] AGLETLive is doing a little extra work here.
  • 108d [Delivery method requiring a server] EMAIL. Clue trying too hard? But it’s also good to see some stretch.

Kate Chin Park’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 4/6/24 • Saturday Stumper • Park • solution • 20240406

An extremely difficult one today. Slow going all around, many wrong attempts and erasures, but eventually it resolved.

  • 15a [It’s around 6500 miles due west of Baja] SHANGHAI. At one point I had CHINA SEA here.
  • 19a [Swimmers with strong teeth] ORCAS. Yes but that isn’t a particularly helpful clue!
  • 20a [Record holder] JACKET, not JOCKEY.
  • 23a [Prime directives, perhaps] T-BONES. Not sure how ‘directives’ works here.
  • 28a [Provide for prose] EDIT IN. Unsure of this too. 27d [Don’t give up] STET.
  • 30a [Preceder of body work] MCAT. Yes, but.
  • 31a [It holds a lot at the dinner table] FORTUNE COOKIELot as in fate. Would have appreciate a ‘perhaps’ or ‘maybe’ here.
  • 36a [Lack] HAVEN’T. Tried NOT ANY for a time.
  • 37a [Paradoxical “I know”] TELL ME ABOUT IT. More rhetorical than paradoxical, to my mind.
  • 41a [Word from the Latin for “bind”] ALLY. Good to know.
  • 55a [It’s spread with M&Ms] HAZELNUT. Don’t know what the context is here.
  • 58d [Crown molding?] TOUPEE. Oof. Speaking of which, I initially had BERET for ASCOT at 1d [Pacino wore it in Godfather II].
  • 59a [Turn out to be nothing] EVANESCE. This was a significant entry for my making progress in the puzzle. Was able to piece together the –SCE first and then make/take the leap.
  • 61a [Many happy returns] RIPOSTES. 17a [Comes back] COUNTERS.
  • 6d [Lead of multiple Shakespeare plays] THE. Come on. Anyway, I had HAL for a long while. And then there’s the weird cross-reference at 23-across: [Reference for 6 Down’s clue] TITLE, which doesn’t exactly help much.
  • 11d [Unit of outer space] ACRE. Amping up the difficulty, just for funsies.
  • 38d [Commands respect from] AWES, not OWNS.
  • 45d [Turn back] RESET, not REPEL. You can see the extent of all the incorrect entries I tried, and I haven’t even listed all of them.
  • 51d [Strands en masse] ROPE. I had the right idea, but was thinking MANE. 7d [What holds a helix] EAR, not an RNA strand.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/6/24 by Zhouqin Burnikel

Los Angeles Times 4/6/24 by Zhouqin Burnikel

I found this puzzle fine if not particularly exciting because of long and mid-length entries like STAY WHERE YOU ARETHAT’S THE WAY IT ISIN HOT WATERSENATE AIDE, and NET YIELD. (EXTRA SAUCE and TEAM SPIRIT were more fun.)

I did like some shorter entries like WHO’S WE, BLINK clued as [Bit of shut eye?], PEDI clued as [Treat for one’s dogs?], BRONTE, and VIOLAS. Quibble on the clue for that, though: [Trio in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3]. There are three viola parts in the score for that concerto, but I don’t believe anything in Bach’s notation suggests that you can’t have more than one person on a part. If, for example, you had two people playing each part in an ensemble, I would call that three viola parts and six violas.

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49 Responses to Saturday, April 6, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: Yes, a toughie today. By one of my favorite toughie constructors, Byron Walden.

    (But Cinderella was around *long* before the Disney version: traces her origin to at least 2000 years ago.)

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: This was one of those puzzles that was tough but ultimately not as challenging as it first seemed. TORA BORA, OPEN MRI and CBER were about the only gimmes I had at first. I had plenty of missteps; for “Macintosh,” I tried “computer” and “red apple” before CROCI gave me RAINCOAT. For “Zero stars,” my first fill was “I hated it.” But it all flowed smoothly, which is what I enjoy.

    Wonderful clues. I especially liked ZOMBIE MOVIES, IRS, DOGIES and BIG UPSET.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Definitely hard for me. The top felt doable. The bottom stumped me. Needed help to finish.
    OPEN MRI seems like a good idea (which was news to me too), I really hated regular MRI.
    It’s a puzzle that I can admire after the fact, and I can see how better solvers would like it.
    (Just representing the MEDIOCRE people here :).

  4. Me says:

    NYT: Way too hard for me. I found it started to become a slog, and I probably should have just quit once it stopped being fun. Too many obscure or vaguely clued entries. Took way more of my time and energy than I wanted to spend.

    The Saturday puzzles are so much harder than they were before. That’s probably welcomed by some, but I have to say they seem so vague that they don’t feel all that satisfying to finish. Demerit=BADTHING? That’s a bit of “read my mind” to me. Is PINT a “cup alternative”? It’s not “wrong,” but it’s a weird way of characterizing PINT that’s only clued that way so goes with the other “cup alternative.” I’m seriously considering skipping next Saturday because I don’t think I’ll enjoy it, which is something I never thought I’d say.

    • Me says:

      Rex Parker made an interesting observation on Friday’s puzzle that it feels like Joel is trying to make EVERY SINGLE CLUE something that’s clever or different. I think that’s a large part of what I was struggling with in this puzzle. Different can sometimes be “Aha! Wow!” And sometimes be “um, I guess so.” I’m hoping once Joel settles in, he’ll mix in a lot more straightforward cluing.

      • David L says:

        That’s my sense too. Today’s was Stumper-adjacent in the clues for IRS, HOSER and BSIDE. I don’t see how ‘Court order’ is equivalent to PALACEGUARDS. HOPE is not a good synonym for ‘intend.’

        ARC is the word that comes up first in the M-W definition for ‘azimuth’, but all the other definitions I found define it as an angle, which is how I think of it.

        Trying too hard to be cute is exactly how I would classify this one.

        • Me says:

          Yeah, the reference to London, Ontario rather than London, England for HOSER was a twist too many for me.

    • John says:

      Yah I honestly hated this. I don’t mind a tough puzzle, but I need to get a foothold and then have things start to fall into place. I was just not on the same wavelength as these clues and found it nearly impossible.

    • DougC says:


      That’s the single worst clue of the year so far, IMO. Although this puzzle had some other contenders.

      • Eric H says:

        Someone on Wordplay interpreted it as “Thing you get for being bad.” That works for me. (But I didn’t mind it in the first place, because it gave me an earworm of “Famine Affair” by of Montreal, which I like.)

      • Mary+A says:

        I agree. As a teacher, I’ve issued many demerits in my time. I could never get away with writing just “This student did a bad thing, so I’m giving them this bad thing.”

  5. Chris says:

    More I think about PINT, not sure if it works: a PINT = two cups, so you wouldn’t really sub just one out for the other, right? Or are we talking about a PINT glass as an alternative to a cup one drinks from?

  6. RHC says:

    This was a really difficult one today.
    Can you explain how Black heart? is SHORTA? I just don’t see it.

  7. anon says:

    NYT review: “ON DOPE sounds off”

    Mr. Hand: “C, D, F, F, F. Three weeks we’ve been talking about the Platt Amendment. What are you people, on dope?”

  8. MattF says:

    Well, I finished it. But the NYT was tough, and the SW quarter was very very close to DNF. Admit to looking up the sound of that instrument I’m not going to try to spell.

    • Eric H says:

      I had cROak for the didgeridoo sound for a long time.

      We used to have a century plant in our front yard. One time when it bloomed, a neighbor harvested the bloom stalk (12’ or so) and made a didgeridoo from it.

  9. John Keller says:

    First puzzle in two years I haven’t been able to finish. Even when I finally saw them, there were a number of answers that I didn’t understand. Beyond clever, this was incomprehensible.

    • Papa John says:

      Right you are, John. I was shaking my head at every turn. B_SIDE clued as “Undercut” was way over the top.

  10. PJ says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle. It was difficult and I fought it almost all of the way. When I finished, I felt like I had done something. I like that in a puzzle – tough but eventually doable.

    I don’t care for clues like 36a but I’m getting used to them. I loved the clue for 20d.

  11. I loved today’s Stumper — misdirection abounding, but never too strained, and never no unconvincing trivia (rankings on best-movie lists, Oscar winners by year, that kind of stuff).

    When I started the puzzle, I saw “Paradoxical ‘I know,’” wrote in TELLMEABOUTIT, and — zounds — it was right. Not that the rest of the puzzle was that easy.

    • Seth Cohen says:

      Loved it too! Usually, there’s one at least one clue per Stumper that makes me go “Really?!” but not today. Still ultra hard — took me a chunk of the day looking at it on and off — but everything felt satisfying when I got it.

  12. BlueIris says:

    Stumper: Ugh! I agree with everything pannonica wrote, including having no clue regarding “hazelnut.” I had “hair,” though, for 51D for the longest while and misread 15A for some reason as “south,” so tried “Santiago” for a while. No clue that the outer edge of the ear is called a helix — still not understanding how or why.

    • Eric H says:

      I assume that the way the outer edge of the EAR curls inward is sort of helical. I didn’t know that name, though.

      • BlueIris says:

        Hmmmm… I guess. I had more time now than earlier, so Googled it. This site ( ) says “The helix is named after the Greek word ‘helix,’ which means “spiral.” This is because the helix is shaped like a spiral.”

        • Eric H says:

          That makes at least as much sense as my male-answer-syndrome reply.

          I guess some people’s ears have a more pronounced spiral shape.

          • Martin says:

            “Spiral” just describes a curve with increasing or decreasing radius of curvature. We tend to thing of spirals as making one or more complete turns around an axis, but any arc that doesn’t have a constant radius is a spiral. Any bit of an elliptical orbit is a spiral.

            So unless the outer rim of your ear is perfectly circular, “helix” is accurate. By the way, the fleshy bit just inside the rim is the antihelix, not to give Stan any ideas.

            For those who prefer their helices more substantial, Helix is the genus that gives us escargots.

  13. Matt G says:

    Stumper: [It’s spread with M&Ms] HAZELNUT – Apparently, Hazelnut Spread M&Ms (M&Ms filled with hazelnut spread) are a thing.

  14. FTW says:

    Kate Chin Park and Byron Walden gave my neurons PTSD.

  15. Eric H says:

    Stumper: It took me about four times as long as the NYT and provided about one-fourth the enjoyment. After an hour, I started checking answers. Most of what I had was right.

    Some of the clues still don’t make much sense to me. “Provide for prose”? How does that get you to EDIT IN? Is it making space in a publication for one story by cutting another one? I get the “crown” part of the TOUPEE clue, but what’s the “molding” got to do with anything, other than a play on the architectural element?

    I did like seeing EVANESCENCE in the grid—wonderful word. And I enjoyed the clue for ROCOCO.

    But mostly, it was a case of getting one answer that should have led to a cascade of answers—but the hoped-for cascade never came.

    • Seth Cohen says:

      If you edit something into an essay (say), you provide that thing for that piece of prose. Like, I provide a sentence for an essay, I edit a sentence into an essay.

      • Eric H says:

        Thanks. Still seems a bit of a stretch. (And I made my living writing.)

        • BlueIris says:

          Oh, it’s a stretch all right! I once made my living as a writer, too, and would never “edit in” something — I edited it. Period.

    • Eric H says:

      Pannonica wrote, ‘23a [Prime directives, perhaps] T-BONES. Not sure how ‘directives’ works here.’

      I take “directives” as “orders” as in a restaurant. It’s actually a pretty good clue. (I had “scenes” for a long time, thinking “prime” referred to Amazon.)

  16. Art Shapiro says:

    NYT: I was really pleased with the unusually tough but quite fair workout. It was such a pleasure to not have it filled with garbage names – rap performers, movie personalities, and the like. I obviously don’t know how long Mr. Shortz will be fighting his unfortunate medical situation, but here’s one solver who is quite happy with the slight reorientation of the puzzles as of late.

  17. Brenda Rose says:

    While I was doing the Stumper & NYT today I was thinking of the Fiend Fans & just knew there would be griping. Can we PLEASE have at least ONE day where we have a challenge? I also do Tim Croce’s Friday xword on Saturday giving me a triple threat treat while I listen to Big Dave’s Rockabilly Roadhouse on the radio. If ya can’t stand the heat kids…

    • BlueIris says:

      I don’t mind a challenge at all — that’s why I do the Stumper. However, fair is fair and sometimes the clues aren’t very fair. That’s when many of us object.

  18. JohnH says:

    For me, the NYT started as an interesting Saturday challenge. I got the right half by a mix of thinking again, guessing, crosses, and goodness knows what else. Still, it felt nice to complete it. But then things got worse for what I expected, and I never did get the SW. Some clues still don’t quite make sense. To name one out of that quadrant, I sure needed Amy’s explanation of what zombies have to do with scarves, and I’m still not convinced.

  19. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper schmumper – getting to it very late… which apparently was a very wrong move, given how much trouble you smarties had with it… i was making the usual slow but steady progress with it… until the northeast corner, which i completely whiffed on with 17 errors… i should have trusted myself with aortas, but it didnt fit with other things i had going on there… i kept wanting halved or proved for pie crusts, and keeps for castles… and i originally plonked sleeve for record holder, but i completely abandoned that avenue and instead pivoted to tarpit for like a fossil record holder? it didn’t help that i only knew the adjective disjoint and not the verb disjoin… but i was happy to have plonked tellmeaboutit… thanks for the puzzle kate, i clearly am still far below you geniuses

  20. steve says:

    stumper clue “it holds a lot at the dinner table”
    orca material in my book
    plus it really got me going as i was not doing too well

    in fact, can’t remember a puzzle clued better than this one
    i am old and have a bad memory, tho. YMMV

  21. LindaBudz says:

    I was extremely sleep deprived yesterday so assumed that was my problem. But came back today and still couldn’t finish. Glad (I guess?) to see I was not alone.

  22. JohnH says:

    I didn’t enjoy the WSJ half as much as most here. The preponderance of brand names in the themers, often leaving unfamiliar phrases, prevented me for the longest time from making sense of the theme even with the revealer. Then I kept running into actors and the like in other fill, delaying my getting enough crossings to put it all together. I never did make sense of the band members as one clue and this sense of DEADHEADS without Googling.

    It didn’t help that naturally consecutive down entries don’t have consecutive clue numbers, making it more bookkeeping to track them, which for too long, foolishly, I was reluctant to attempt. Eventually I circled the relevant black squares, which helped a lot.

    But two mistakes or at least annoyances made it harder. The clue for the themed drink lacks its ellipse (at least in pdf), while a later clue clearly not in the pattern has one for sense.

  23. Linda says:

    To Pannonica re WSJ Saturday, 74d/103d. [Flies of the rails] COME{S UN}DONE. It’s actually unhinged. “Come-sun-Hinged. I thought this was a great puzzle.

  24. Harborite3 says:

    To Pannonica re WSJ Saturday, 74d/103d. [Flies of the rails] COME{S UN}DONE. It’s actually unhinged. “Come-sun-Hinged. It’s flies OFF btw.

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