Saturday, April 27, 2024

LAT 2:31 (Stella) 


Newsday 17:32 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:56 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Rich Norris’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 4/27/24 – no. 0427

Whaddaya know, a Saturday puzzle I finished faster than yesterday’s puzzle. How’s the Fagliano Difficulty Meter working for you today?

Fave fill: LOCAL PAPER (an endangered species), James Bond’s WALTHER PPK (not that I’m a fan of guns), SQUEE, NOT CRICKET, CHORUS LINE, DOPE SHEETS, AT A PREMIUM, TALK SENSE. Not so keen on –STER, and it’s so weird to see NEGRO in a grid. I’m not a coffee drinker; does [One way to order café] resonate?

Never seen SQUIRCLE before, I don’t think. Wondering if many people are still using the BOOK ON CD option.

3.25 stars from me.

Evans Clinchy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 4/27/24 by Evans Clinchy

Los Angeles Times 4/27/24 by Evans Clinchy

I had to double check that this grid actually meets the specs for a themeless — of course it does, it wouldn’t have been accepted otherwise. But with the preponderance of 4- and 5-letter words and the placement of the longest entries, this felt like it could be a grid for a themed puzzle. The very easy cluing didn’t help with making this puzzle feel like Saturday.

  • 14A/15A I can appreciate after the fact the juxtaposition of [Settle down] and [Come down] for RELAX and POUR, respectively. But since the puzzle was easy enough that one encounters no obstacles working counterclockwise in a circle, or with mostly Downs, I never noticed it while solving.
  • 20A [Fair activities for kids] is PONY RIDES. I feel like this one could have gotten a way less straightforward clue.
  • 25A [Nightie nights?] is a cute clue for PAJAMA PARTIES.
  • 41A [World Chess Champion from 2013 to 2023] is MAGNUS CARLSEN. I was able to nail the spelling of his last name on the first try thanks to last week’s NYT acrostic.
  • 25D [Game that may be played on horses, bicycles, or elephants] is a nice evocative clue for POLO.
  • 49D [Willa Cather’s “The Song of the __”] is LARK, and I highly recommend the novel!

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

WSJ • 4/27/24 • Sat • “In Conclusion” • Shenk • solution • 20240427

… or perhaps a more appropriate way to say it would be “conclusion in”—each of the theme answers’ original phrases have the trigram END inserted to wackify them.

  • 22a. [Roughly 0.4% of the total in an adult human body?] SIXTEEN TENDONS (“Sixteen Tons”). Some deep math and a weird clue.
  • 32a. [Story explaining the Golden Fleece’s origin?] LEGEND OF LAMB (leg of lamb).
  • 46a. [Cowardly member of one’s social media network?] FRIENDED CHICKEN (fried chicken).
  • 63a. [Bejeweled lockets, for example?] FANCY PENDANTS (fancy pants).
  • 77a. [Focus of a cocktail class?] BARTENDER SYSTEM (barter system).
  • 92a. [Say “Your leathery wings are really creepy,” say?] OFFEND A BAT (off the bat).
  • 106a. [Couldn’t make sense of “Nostalgic numbers,” maybe?] SKIPPED TEN DOWN (skipped town). The implied original is an appropriate conclusion to the theme group. The “ten down” is of course a reference to the actual 10d clue in this crossword.

I dunno, uneven? Just my hasty characterization.

  • 3d [William who introduced the printing press to England] CAXTON. Got ahead of myself and put in CASLON.
  • 6d [Like artiodactyls (pigs, sheep, deer, etc.] EVEN-TOED. Clue should read “et al.”. In contrast to perissodactyls which are you guessed it. And both of these orders are ungulates, which is to say that they walk on their toenails, or hoofs.
  • 38d [Scoring out] SAC FLY. 77d [Hit close to home] BUNTS. Both recall the 92-across themer. Great clue at 77-across, incidentally.
  • 41d [3, for 6 and 9: Abbr.] GCD, greatest common denominator.
  • 47d [Multiply (though that feels contrary) like an amoeba] REDIVIDE. Two sides of the same coin.
  • 73d [Danish astronomer Tycho] BRAHE. 44d [What Lee Marvin won an Oscar for in “Cat Ballou”] DUAL ROLE.
  • 87d [Upchuck] RALPHS. Well.
  • 88d [Perfect place] UTOPIA, which of course etymologically means “no such place”.
  • 37a [People to keep up with] JONESES. Or you could just not. 71a [Conforms] FITS IN.
  • 82a [Mulligan, e.g.] REDO. When I was younger, it took a while for me to sort out Mulligan and MacGuffin, which merely sound similar.
  • 99a [Fatigued group?] GIS. Often in both senses.
  • 114a [Tedious talkers] PROSERS. Surely I wasn’t the only one to put in DRONERS here?

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

Newsday • 4/27/24 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20240427

More of the typical sputtery Stumper solving experience for me this time, but it all came together relatively quickly for me here. Kind of unusual for an SZ offering!

  • 15a [Not a broad way] ONE-LANE ROAD. 16a [B’way, by definition] AVE. 4d [Angels fear it] FLOP.
  • 20a [HI does without it] DST. Kind of a hunch fill for me.
  • 27a [Sanskrit word for “seat”] ASANA. Makes sense, and I’d have gotten it sooner were it not necessary to correct 28d [Steel crossbeams] from I BARS to AXLES.
  • 30a [Impatient utterance] WHAT’S NEXT. Not 100% sold on this framing.
  • 35a [Englander as presenter] HOST. I don’t think this is about anyone surnamed Englander, so it must simply be referring to the way Britons use the word presenter whereas in the US someone fulfilling that function is typically called a HOST.
  • 39a [Arrival announcement] IT’S IN, not IT’S ME.
  • 43a [Cambridge and Oxford] SHIRES. Surprisingly tough.
  • 49a [180 intro] DO A. Weak.
  • 55a [Steel production] NOVELS. Danielle, and nothing to do with 28-down.
  • 57a [K ration, for instance] RDA, not MRE.
  • 60a [It can mean “imitation”] -EEN, the suffix. No better or worse than the poet’s contracted E’EN.
  • 61a [Simon says it’s about Beatty] YOU’RE SO VAIN. I guess this has now been confirmed.
  • 1d [More than a single kind] SORTS. I guess? Can’t immediately come up with a good way the ‘substitution rule’ works for it.
  • 3d [Massenet opera with Castilian soldiers] LE CID. Correcting this from EL CID really helped open up this section.
  • 6d [Whenever] ON DEMAND. Laconically deceptive clue.
  • 7d [Bobolink bill] NEB. Whoa. “the beak of a bird or tortoise”; Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old Norse nef beak (m-w)
  • 12d [Daisy relative whose name means “little clock”] CALENDULA. As you may surmise, calendar derives from the same Latin root. Not sure in what context it’s applied to the plant. § Okay, this essay offers a theory.
  • 24d [Court’s “Big Aristotle”] O’NEAL. I have now learned that this is Shaquille O’NEAL. Apparently it is self-styled and tongue-in-cheek.
  • 27d [Duds] ATTIRES. Are these … verbs?
  • 37d [Curlers may have to deal with it] CURLERS. Neither hair styling nor the ice sport, so presumably a particular type of weight room denizen?
  • 44d [Bar from ’50s TV] SALOON. Any one in particular, I wonder.
  • 59d [Relatively recent story starter] HER, as in herstory.

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34 Responses to Saturday, April 27, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: A little crunchy in a few spots—especially the center. That was mostly because I have no memory of Heart’s ALONE, while their 1970s hits are earworm material for me. I also had NORM before FORM, making it very hard to see FLAGS.

    But mostly, it was smooth sailing. I’m by no means a speed solver, but I try to stay under X minutes on Friday. Yesterday, I exceeded that by several minutes. Today, I finished in X:11.

    • Gary R says:

      The top part of the puzzle fell pretty quickly. I put in NAST, IN OVERTIME, ETTA and WALTHER PPK without any crosses, and those made several of the Down answers pretty easy.

      But I got slowed down in that middle section, too. “Tires” before FLAGS and “power” before BORNE didn’t help. And I’m not familiar with LOME. I couldn’t come up with the title of the Heart song either, but after listening to it, I knew the song – just not the title.

      In the end, a couple of minutes faster than yesterday and fairly fast for a Saturday.

      • JohnH says:

        I got stuck on the LOME / water-BORNE / ALONE center, and it didn’t help that BOOK ON CD looks odd. I was hoping to fit “audio book,” but couldn’t, and CDs seem more dated than the clue implies.

        I had my qualms about DOPE SHEET (where I guess I was looking for “tip sheet” or something like that) and DOOR KEEPER, too. The latter is new to me but in line with concern for gender neutral terms, here opposed to “doorman.” Still, my experience just calls them “the door.” It may sound awful to someone wondering how people turned into architecture, but then there is a common figure of speech for part and whole or such. Oh, and SQUEE and SQUIRCLE were new to me, although guessable.

        That said, it was a fun Saturday challenge. Nice.

    • DougC says:

      If I am interpreting this time standard correctly, my time was .74X. I worked hard to get the first few answers in place, but after that it filled in quickly.

      • Eric H says:

        X is whatever number you want it to be.

        Congratulations on beating your average (or whatever your X is) by a significant amount.

    • "How Can I Get You Alone..." says:

      Heart’s ‘Alone’ is the song that Carrie Underwood sang on American Idol…prompting Simon Cowell to predict that she would “go on to win…and become the biggest selling Idol artist”…which she has.
      That’s one reason to remember the song.

  2. Mr. Cavin says:

    NYT: Just for the anecdotal data–I solved today’s (Saturday) puzzle rather faster than my Friday average like I do almost every week (and like I have most weeks since they started correlating this info without my consent). Whereas yesterday (Friday) I was unable to come anywhere near my usual Friday average, just like I haven’t done in about five weeks now.

    Seems to me that Saturday puzzles, while the hardest of the week, are often faster. This owing to the number of clues and the length of answers. It takes time to first get my fingers under the edges of the puzzle (and incorrect answers are very damning early on), but once a few right answers are in, a greater percentage of the puzzle is already finished. But this quirk of difficulty vs. solve-time is already reflected in my averages, so the recent change in Friday solve times is really noticeable. As is the fact that my Saturday scores haven’t changed all that much.

  3. MattF says:

    Tough NYT, slow work but doable. A few entries where my initial guess was right but got changed back and forth.

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: Technically the coffee clue is accurate since CAFÉ means “coffee” in Spanish as well. That said, the answer does look unsettling in an English-language context.

  5. Jenni says:


    • David L says:


      Figuring out the missing letters in those two words was my only holdup.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Jenni, I meant to mention that! Doorman is familiar, bot DOORKEEPER is new to me. I wonder if it’s a gender-neutral term that’s newer, or just an uncommon word.

      Googling shows me that it’s a software thing and a gaming thing, too.

    • PM says:

      Also, the longtime title of an officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. The doorkeeper’s most famous duty was introducing the president for a State of the Union address with “Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States.” The office was discontinued in 1995.

  6. David L says:

    Stumper (no spoilers): Not too difficult this week, but one completely mystifying clue and answer at 49A.

    • Boston Bob says:

      I think it’s as in “We need to DO A 180.”

      • David L says:

        Indeed. I couldn’t think of anything except Dead On Arrival.

        • David L says:

          It occurs to me belatedly that when I first learned about 180s (which aren’t really a thing in the UK, or at least not a common thing) people would hang a 180. That was in Illinois.

    • Twangster says:

      Very surprised to be able to get the whole puzzle without any cheats. Got long answers in 3 of the 4 four corners (OVERTHROW, YOURESOVAIN and ONELANEROAD) right off the bat, which is highly unusual for a Stumper. Still thought I’d get frozen up at some point but managed to plow through, in 15-20 minutes.

  7. JohnH says:

    For someone like me for whom the new (or temporary) editor is still a cipher and is curious to learn more, Fagliano wrote this Sunday’s magazine variety puzzle. It’s a spiral, where the letters read as words whether you read the spiral from the center out or inward from square 1. There are two sets of clues to match.

    That must be a tough feat for a constructor, although it never registered on me because it never felt all that special. It’s akin to having no unchecked letters between across and down. But it works out just fine. I got stuck for a while on a Pixar director I didn’t know.

    Unlike for quite a few weeks now, the Wordplay blog doesn’t have a post about it, at least yet. I guess it’s just another sign of where they’ve invested puzzle efforts, and it’s not in crosswords. Of course, the spiral puzzle itself is not online.

    • pannonica says:

      I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like one of the formats that Will Shortz invented during his time at Games Magazine, along with Petal Pushers and several others.

  8. In the Stumper: I agree, “Impatient utterance” and WHATSNEXT don’t mesh well. I hear “What’s next?” as akin to “Oh no, now what?”

    I’m baffled by “Bar from ’50s TV.” There was Duffy’s Tavern (well before my time). Google shows people making bars from old televisions. Maybe it’s a reference to TV westerns, where there’s always a saloon? But that’s not specific to the 1950s.

    • Gary R says:

      “What’s next?” was a tag-line in “The West Wing” TV show from the early 2000’s. It was President Jed Bartlet’s (Martin Sheen’s character) way of indicating he was done with one particular issue/decision and ready to move on to the next.

      I’ve heard it used in a similar way in real life.

    • Eric H says:

      I took SALOONS as a reference to westerns, which probably were more popular in the 1950s than any time since.

  9. Burak says:

    Surprised by the low rating for the NYT. It had some good fill and it didn’t have any squares that would drive you crazy. Also, it taught me some new things!

    • sorry after after says:

      Hear, hear. Anyone who’s been to a horserace or three is likely familiar with the tipsters’ DOPESHEETs you can pick up for a fiver on your way in. And DOORKEEPER is pretty straightforward when presumably there are plenty of non-male folks doing that job these days. Beats “door woman.”

      • sanfranman59 says:

        It’s been many years since I’ve been to the track (it’s been at least 35 years), but I don’t recall DOPE SHEETS. I know them as tip, tout, or scratch sheets.

  10. Paul Hendrickson says:

    I’m not sure about the clue for 46-D in today’s NYT puzzle: ‘Acronymic shopping Mecca’

    If ‘SOHO’ is the London neighborhood, it seems like the origins are unclear but there’s no indication about the name being an acronym.

    If ‘SOHO’ is the New York neighborhood, the name is appears to be a backronym of sorts (‘SOuth of HOuston Street’) as an homage to the London neighborhood. But I wouldn’t think of SOHO, New York as a shopping mecca.

    Am I missing something?

  11. sanfranman59 says:

    LAT: I posted my fastest LAT Saturday solve time in more than a year (since 2/11/2023). I have no idea what to expect for puzzle difficulty from day to day anymore. This is particularly true with LAT puzzles the last couple of years.

    • Irish Miss says:

      Since Patti became editor, the difficulty level in relation to day of the week formula no longer exists, at least not in any predictable pattern.

      • sorry after after says:

        Yeah, sad to say but the only predictable thing under Patti’s reign has been the sub-3 star ratings most days. I for one think those ratings are often too harsh and are mostly unwarranted, fwiw. Today’s, for instance, was a solid offering, as are many Saturdays. I gave it a 3.5.

        • Irish Miss says:

          I agree wholeheartedly on the ratings being too harsh and unwarranted. I often wonder on what basis the puzzle’s rating is determined, especially when a rating so contradicts my solving experience.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I track all of my puzzle solve times in a spreadsheet and my LAT Tuesday through Thursday 6-month medians are still in the expected order, but they’re much closer than they were when Rich Norris was the editor. There’s now almost no difference between my Monday and Tuesday solve times and there’s very little difference between Wednesday and Thursday either. OTOH, the gap between Friday and Saturday has increased since Patti took over the editing duties two years ago.

        The biggest difference I sense with puzzles these days is that they’re often extremely uneven. Some sections may be fill-in-the-blank easy, while other parts of the same puzzle might be darned near impossible for me to get. I’m sure that a lot of this has to do with my diminishing awareness of pop culture and what seems like an increased use of crossing pop culture clue/answer combinations. There also seems to be less word play. With creative cluing, the solver at least has a shot at figuring out an answer by thinking outside the box. That’s not true with fact-based clues/answers (trivia) where you either know the answer or you don’t and you’re totally dependent on crosses and letter pattern recognition.

  12. meaningless nobody says:

    stumper: as always, i’m not as fast as you geniuses, but given my past performances i’ll take my clean sub 24’… i enjoyed it, a bit slow but a lot of little aha moments (61a in particular!), so thanks stella

  13. Eric H says:

    Stumper: Under 30 minutes, no checks or other cheats. (Both are rare for me on the Stumper.)

    Not too many gimmes: I’ve finally internalized that Massenet’s opera was LE CID, and I remember when YOU’RE SO VAIN was a hit. (The album was one of the first I bought.) LDS and FYI seemed pretty obvious.

    Most of the rest came in bits and pieces. Plenty of tough clues, but nothing too far out there.

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