Saturday, May 4, 2024

LAT 3:30 (Stella) 


Newsday 16:12 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:41 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Jacob McDermott’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/4/24 – no. 0504

Not too hard at all, compared to the Saturday NYTs of a few weeks ago.

Fave fill: “LUCY, I’M HOME,” BIOTECH, “GOTTA LOVE IT,” lexicographer WEBSTER, RISKS IT ALL, WABI-SABI, FAMILY TREE, PODIATRIST, and “MOMALA” Harris, stepmom to First Gentleman Doug’s kids. Could’ve done without “SPARE US,” whose second person plural feels off to me (but now that I’m thinking about it more, it sounds like something someone in the public eye might say about someone not present. I also hate BANANA CHIP, but not as fill, just as food.

  • Three clues:
  • 60a. [Singles material, say], CLAY. This perplexed me for a bit till I realized it was about tennis tournaments. Rafael Nadal is called “the King of Clay” for his dominance at the French Open with its clay playing surface.
  • 4d. [Elfin folk], FAY. Can also be spelled fae and fey, so I hope you had no trouble with the crossings.
  • 12d. [Question from a dealer], “IN OR OUT?” A dealer in a card game, I presume, and not a drug dealer or car dealer.

3.75 stars from me.

Amie Walker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/4/24 by Amie Walker

Los Angeles Times 5/4/24 by Amie Walker

The difficulty on this one was pretty correct for a “gentle challenge.” The highs and lows:

  • 10A [Annie Lennox, e.g.] is SCOT, and I am always here for an Annie reference. I have a poster of her on my office wall, and I have Diva 100% memorized.
  • 22A [Time for scare tactics?] is SPOOKY SEASON, which is a fine entry and a fine clue, but why in May? Not saying puzzles always need to be seasonally appropriate, but given that this is the time of year when the bite of winter is finally behind us, I’m not ready to be thinking about fall yet.
  • 25A [Sweeney of “Euphoria”] is SYDNEY. I had never heard of this actress until a few months ago, and suddenly she’s everywhere and the youths are all over how she went to Fashion Week sans pants.
  • 37A [Caesar dressing?] is a great clue for the ubiquitous TOGA.
  • 55A [Tool for turning over a new leaf?] is also a great clue, this time for SALAD TONGS.
  • I cook a lot, so 2D and 45D, both clued as [Allium cultivar] did not take me long to figure out as LEEK and CHIVE, respectively.
  • 6D [Flood with negative replies on social media] is RATIO. I had a little trouble in the NW area, not least because of this new usage. #old
  • 11D [“You gouda brie kidding me,” for one?] is CHEESY JOKE. IDK…this feels a little too stretchy for me, at least in this puzzle. I would’ve loved it as a theme entry in a themed puzzle, I think.
  • 27D [“Feel free to contact me privately on social”] is DMS ARE OPEN, another instance of this puzzle being very online (but more inferable than RATIO, at least for me).
  • 36D [HTML data] is META TAGS, and did I mention that this puzzle is very online?

Joseph Gangi’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Infiltrated” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/4/24 • Sat • “Infiltrated” • Gangi • solution • 20240504

The phrases in the theme entries are a bit weird because they’ve got spy agencies hanging about.

  • 25a. [Pro bono agreement?] NONCOMPENSATE CLAUSE (noncompete clause).
  • 35a. [Saloon run by a Brady Bunch daughter?] MARCIA‘S BAR (Mars bar).
  • 46a. [Certain detergent purchase?] GAIN TRANSACTION (gain traction).
  • 64a. [Items on Aristotle’s résumé?] LOGICIAN CREDENTIALS (login credentials).
  • 87a. [Puts on a tight-fitting coat?] STRAINS AT JACKET (straitjacket).
  • 95a. [Comment when crossing the Peace Bridge?] CIAO CANADA (O Canada).
  • 104a. [Operative with a penchant for puzzles?] THE SPY WHO LOVED MENSA (The Spy Who Loved Me).

So it’s just the two organizations—NSA and CIA—alternating appearances. Feels too minimalistic? Maybe this would have been better as a 15×15 grid with four or five (or even three) different agencies? I’m also somewhat underwhelmed by the phrase changes often don’t feel radical enough.

  • 33d [Nice round figure?] PAR. Site of the final square I needed to hunt up for a correct solve. I’d guessed at NATS for 33a [Gillette Stadium squad, familiarly] PATS.
  • 47d [“Hey! May I have some hay?] NEIGH. Sure, why not.
  • 65d [Armed and dangerous swimmers?] OCTOPI. Argue in the comments, if you like. (For the record, I’m on Team Octopodes.)
  • 85d [Happy cry at a Greek wedding] OPA. Somehow I knew this, and I have not seen the ‘big fat Greek wedding” movies, or Mamma Mia! for that matter.
  • 102d [From now until midnight] TODAY.
  • 29a [Nonflowering plant] ALGA. Ehhhh, not really plants, which is probably why I was relatively confident in initially filling this with FERN.
  • 30a [Anna who’s name-checked in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”] STEN. That’s a new/old way to clue this useful letter sequence.
  • 61a [Revealed to all] LAID BARE. Brief pause while I confirmed whether the fourth letter was D or N via 62d [Woebegone] DISMAL.

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

Newsday • 5/4/24 • Saturday Stumper • SN, Newman • solution • 20240504

Surprisingly quick solve time for me, thanks to a few fortunate breakthroughs and some risks that broke my way.

  • 17a [Longevity Economy Outlook co-publisher] AARP. I wasn’t going to know that. Kind of boring framing.
  • 18a [It runs Farmhouse Fixer] HGTV. I had the H from 5d [Impermanent] AD HOC, but a B from 8d [Goes wild] REBELS; HGTV popped into my head and I saw that REVELS was a much better answer.
  • 21a [Yamaha Duet+ product] OBOE. Saw that this would contain a B because the —OUND that I’d garnered from crossings strongly suggested 6d [Unable to sail, say] would be something-BOUND (I thought perhaps BAY-BOUND, but of course it turned out to be FOGBOUND.
  • 23a [The nation’s largest power station] GRAND COULEE DAM. This was one of the breakthrough entries, as I had the tail end —GAME from 1d [Beat the Parents, e.g.] (TEAM GAME) and a couple of useful letters near the end including at least the D or the M.
  • 28a [Nietzsche’s “cruelest animal”] MAN. He’s not wrong.
  • 29a [Ocean liner] SAND. <head-waggle> I’ll allow it.
  • 31a [Number lines] LYRIC. Number, as in song.
  • 42a [Expression of elation] AHA. Not the primary interpretation, right?
  • 43a [The Ebro flows through it] ARAGÓN.
  • 47a [Fed people] CENTRAL BANKERS. Nice misdirection, but perhaps I was primed by all the NSAs and CIAs in the WSJ?
  • 52a [Beethoven trio] DREI. Here’s a place I took a risk, after dismissing the three Es of his surname. 55a [Small part of 52-Across] EINS. Okay, but ⅓ isn’t that small here.
  • 4d [Belly up] SUPINE. Remember: supine is lying on your spine, and prone is the other way.
  • 9d [What Kramer saves catalogs from] POTTERY BARN. Didn’t know this but successfully guessed (risked) it from just the PO—.
  • 11d [Overnight delivery specialist] SANTA. 44d [Name associated with 11-Down’s time] GASPAR, one of the three wise men.
  • 24d [Carrier of cookies] DESSERT TRAY. There were quite a bunch of these two-part answers where I was able to get the second part and needed to wait on the first. A lot of times when solving crosswords such entries can be very frustrating, but in this instance they either resolved more quickly via crossings or I had the right kind of inspiration to make a good guess.
  • 33d [Togetherness?] COHERENCY. I suppose the question mark is there because coherence is the more common inflection? It served to distract me.
  • 46d [Clash-prevention expression] OK DEAR. Depends entirely on delivery. 30d [Clashing] AT WAR.
  • 48d [Down clue answer, often] EIDER. Tricky twist on a venerable crossword pun, and my favorite clue in the puzzle.
  • 49d [Imply] AIM AT.
  • 50d [Inspiration] GASP. Neatly tying together my stated inspiration for DESSERT TRAY, the GASPAR of 44d, and my reaction upon completing the crossword so quickly!

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21 Responses to Saturday, May 4, 2024

  1. ranman says:

    Struggled with both CLAY and FEY! Solved through crosses.

    IN OR OUT definitely card dealer (or at least that’s how I inferred).

    Agree—Much less of a grind than recent prior Sats!

    • Dallas says:

      Agreed; both FAY and CLAY (last one to drop for me) were tricky. I was a bit surprised by ASS, but there you go…

  2. Greta says:

    I just found both the NYT and WSJ to be boring.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: Liked the long fill. Very nice!
    Took a bit to get a foothold but then it unfolded very nicely. I love the concept of WABI-SABI.
    I have some pottery based on that notion and I think it’s beautiful.

    • Eric H says:

      I learned of the existence of WABI-SABI from crossword puzzles, but needed a few crosses last night to summon up the word.

      It’s an aesthetic I should be more open to. But I’m something of a perfectionist by nature.

  4. David L says:

    I found the NYT mostly easier than recent weeks, but the long middle answers eluded for me quite a while, and I had APTER at 1D, which held me up too.

    PAIL for ‘barn item’ is pretty random. Could also be garage item, kitchen item, shed item…

    • Eric H says:

      “I found the NYT mostly easier than recent weeks, but the long middle answers eluded for me quite a while, and I had APTER at 1D, which held me up too.”

      Same here on all three points.

      I kept getting a little stuck, but the often reviled proper names bailed me out: TARA REID, REBA, RILKE . . . They might make for an interesting dinner party.

      • Me says:

        Count me in for having APTER as well.

        I have to say that it’s nice to have an easier Saturday puzzle after the very difficult ones from before. Friday was easier as well.

    • DougC says:

      Agree that PAIL is “pretty random.” A pitchfork, now, that’s definitely a barn item.

      Actually, a lot of the answers (or clues?) felt just slightly off. SAUCED, e.g. I get that it comes from “hitting the sauce” but I’ve never heard it used in the wild this way. Sloshed or soused, sure.

      Or DEARY for “sweets.” I get the intended misdirection, but DEARY sounds much more archaic to my ears than sweets, and not really equivalent. Your great aunt would call you “Deary.” Your sweetie would call you “Sweets.”

      And +1 for “apter” before ABLER.”

  5. Dan says:

    NYT: This felt quite tough for me. After filling in the bottom half, I was stalled. Next got the upper right and then the long center entries, and finally the upper left. (And my time was only a couple of minutes longer than average.)

  6. BlueIris says:

    Stumper — sigh! I found the bottom left difficult because I had “cabal” for 47D and had no idea Porgy and Bess wa set in Charleston.

    • David L says:

      I didn’t know for sure about Porgy and Bess, but I thought, how many operas can there be that are set in the American South?

      The rest was not too Stumpery.

  7. Michael says:

    NYT: Didn’t see it mentioned yesterday – the answer ACLU at 15A with “Liberty” in the clue.

  8. Rock says:

    Newsday stumper nine down

    That’s gold Newman, gold!

  9. Eric H says:

    Stumper: I started it late Saturday night and felt like it was going well — half-done, maybe, in less than 10 minutes before I got too sleepy.

    I came back to it Sunday morning and finished it off in several sittings, but it took me almost half an hour more. The NW corner was particularly challenging for me: I’ve never heard of “Beat the Parents,” and TEAM GAME seems kinda green-painty. And of all the pop star nicknames I’ve learned from crossword puzzles, Mariah Carey’s is not one of them. Add the vague clues for US AIRWAYS and BAR MAGNET, and a lot of my solving was just pattern recognition. Which is fine, I don’t mind that if the puzzle gives me a toehold everywhere I need one — which this one did.

  10. Seattle DB says:

    LAT editing still needs some polishing. 50A: “AFC East team” and the answer is “Pats”. The clue should have added “familiarly”. Half-point deduction to the editors, not the constructor.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      The abbreviation of AFC signals the shortening of PATS.

      • Martin says:

        “AFC” wouldn’t be used as an abbreviation signal in the Times. Will’s stated rule is that an abbreviation used as one shouldn’t be the commonly used form. Since “American Football Conference” is very rarely used, and is invariably shortened to AFC, it doesn’t meet the guideline. That’s why COS has been clued as “AMEX listings: Abbr.” The explicit abbreviation signal is provided because AMEX is more commonly seen than “American Exchange.”

        Of course that’s an editorial position and doesn’t necessarily reflect Patti’s view, but it is an example of how fastidious Will’s editing is in ways that may not be obvious. Just don’t mention dupes.

        • e.a. says:

          i think you’re getting at a fundamental point here which is that different editors follow different rules, and if someone is determined to find fault with an editor – which the original poster seems to be, given how many of their posts here involve deducting points from Patti specifically – it’s not difficult to find or contrive some standard by which to do that

          (personally, i think that much like AFC, PATS is common enough that it doesn’t need signaling)

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