Saturday, May 11, 2024

LAT 2:55 (Stella) 


Newsday 24:19 (pannonica) 


NYT 7:36 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Billy Bratton’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/11/24 – no. 0511

Maybe a smidgen harder than expected for a Saturday? FaglianoWatch continues!

Gorgeous grid with that big diamond anchored by six intersecting 11s. Fave fill: MEETUPS, CASH GRAB, GOT THE SHAFT, “SAMESIES,” MIX TAPE (ah! from my generation. a question about rappers’ mixtapes these days: are they strictly digital or is there ever a physical object to obtain?), GOAT YOGA (I’ll pass; prefer to enjoy baby goats on video), the show I never watched called “SAMANTHA WHO?”, BATTLE SCARS (got plenty of ’em), DAR ES SALAAM (the current capital of Tanzania is Dodoma; did not know the prior capital meant “house of peace”), and “I WOULDN’T.”

Three more things:

  • 19a. [Ring-shaped bone that supports the skull], ATLAS. Did I ever know this? I’m not sure I did. I assume the bone is shaped like a mythological strongman bearing the skull on his shoulder.
  • 35a. [The N.B.A.’s Hornets, on scoreboards], CHA. Really? I did find an ESPN page showing the scores for CHA vs DET, so I guess so. Charlotte Hornets.
  • 42a. [Burgess ___ (rock bed noted for its fossils)], SHALE. Now I’m wondering if Billy took Geo 10 at Carleton like I did. Not that I recall ever learning about Burgess shale.

Four stars from me.

Freddie Cheng’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “That Is It!” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 5/11/24 • Sat • “That Is It!” • Cheng • solution • 20240511

“That is”, that is, id est., that is, i.e.
It’s been inserted into extant phrases to wacky result.

  • 23a. [Headline marking “Space Oddity” singer’s Grammy exit?] BOWIE OUT OF THE RACE (bow out of the race).
  • 30a. [Another amp?] ONE MORE FOR THE ROADIE (… for the road). After these first two, I thought it might also be a musical theme …
  • 50a. [Stowaway addict in a car?] JUNKIE IN THE TRUNK (junk …) … but that was not the case.
  • 63a. [Advice on finding a certain Korean sect?] ASK FOR THE MOONIE.
  • 72a. [Photographers for a marker company’s ads?] SHARPIE SHOOTER.
  • 87a. [Dispenser of fruit concoctions?] SMOOTHIE OPERATOR. Amused at imagining Sade singing a sellout ad version of the song.
  • 102a. [Advice on finding a moody teenager’s sullen look?] CHECK UNDER THE HOODIE.
  • 116. [School to train scouts?] BROWNIE UNIVERSITY.

Cutesy/Australian vibe here.

  • 5d [Stooge with a bowl cut] MOE. 31d [Laugh from a Stooge] NYUK.
  • 8d [Fellow in a monkey suit?] SCOPES.
  • 10d [ATM input] AMT. C’mon, everyone tried PIN first, right?
  • Two long down entries flank the grid and intersect three theme entries each: 16d [Royal bodyguards, e.g.] ARMED ATTENDANTS, 42d [Dove’s drive] ANTIWAR MOVEMENT. (65d [Peace advocate Yoko] ONO.
  • 18d [“Oh, that smarts!”] YOWIE. Not part of the theme, but strongly adjacent.
  • 32d [Counting rhyme start] EENIE. Ditto, but perhaps a little less so, as EEN isn’t a related thing.
  • 34d [Naive player at the poker table] FISH. Seems that between FISH and whales, there’s a bit of the ecological web unaccounted for—ah, but I’ve just realized that both are captured/hunted by human predators, so it checks out.
  • 48d [Perfume ingredient] ORRIS ROOT. “The fragrant rootstock of any of three European irises (Iris florentina, I. germanica, and I. pallida)” (m-w)
  • 89d [Party leader] HOST. Clever little clue, tucked in among a bunch of straightforward ones.
  • 102d [Monk music] CHANT. First I was distracted in a way that folks who know me can guess, and then—because I had SST for 126a [Boomer, of a sort] I decided that KOANS might also be sung on occasion? But 103d [“Come aboard!”] wasn’t working out, so I needed to do some revisionary work in this, my last area to complete. The correct answers are TNT and HOP ON.
  • 20a [Retreat located within Catoctin Mountain Park] CAMP DAVID. Had never heard the park name before.
  • 58a [Those who certify] ATTESTERS. <side-eye> Is this a legal term, because I can’t say that I’ve ever heard it in regular speech.
  • 109a [Diamond feature] HOME. The baseball kind. This was also tangled up in my difficulties in that lower left corner.
  • 128a [Don’t-speak-about-this contracts, for short] NDAS. Blech. These are far too rampant and abused, in my opinion.

(Not really my jam, but it checks the boxes.)

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

Newsday • 5/11/24 • Saturday Stumper • Sewell • solution • 20240511

Very stumpery, this one. Many missteps.

  • 32a [Fully exploit] GET THE MOST OUT OF, which has the same letter count as the less extreme TAKE ADVANTAGE OF. 21a [Less than 100%] PART.
  • 4a [Top spots for advertisers] CABS. Those advertisements on the roofs of the cars.
  • 13a [Primates with claws] MARMOSETS. Because of the clue’s phrasing, I was thinking of prosimians, going through the list of lemurs, bushbabies, tarsiers, lorises, galagos.
  • 16a [NATO alphabet flier] DELTA, the airline that is also represented in the NATO alphabet. But I was stuck on the V shape of GEESE—and that wasn’t the only time I was distracted in that direction: 27d [Canadian road sign icon] turned out to be MOOSE, though.
  • 17a [What might cause hissing] STEAM HEAT.
  • 18a [Jefferson’s tyranny-swearing site] ALTAR. It’s this quote. 33d [What’s taken while swearing] THE STAND. Okay, I guess.
  • 19a [Louisiana’s state amphibian] TREE FROG, specifically the green TREE FROG, Hyla cinerea. “ciner-” in scientific nomenclature refers to ashes and typically indicates grey organisms, but taxonomic history is often convoluted. 5d [Pit bits] ASHES (47a [Needing a good sweep] SOOTY).
  • 22a [Hera’s observant servant] ARGUS. Oh, that kind of observant. Argus of the hundred eyes.
  • 23a [James Stewart’s whistleblower. MR SMITH, my first entry in the grid, and I was able to get 15d [Emulate Godzilla] STOMP off of it.
  • 31a [Ocean, sea, raft …] TON. Sneakily tricky clue.
  • 40a [Follow a stat?] HIE. I feel this one is too much of a stretch, even with the question mark.
  • 41a [Capsule contents] OVERVIEW. Also, EVACUEES happens to fit here and matches on the V and an E.
  • 44a [Animal in an abundance metaphor] WHALE. But not that there are an abundance of whales. Tricky again.
  • 54a [Weblog with an Eyre Apparent exhibit post] BRONTËANA. So, I’d had Kingsley AMIS for 50d [His ’59 bestseller begins with a Deuteronomy quote] rather than URIS—but after a while and some additional crossings I guess that BRONTË would figure in to this answer, and guessed the ending.
  • 57a [It’s Sanskrit for “seat”] ASANA. Very helpful that I learned this just the other week from another crossword.
  • 59d [Behind] TARDY, not FANNY.
  • 2d [Car __ ] MAT. Come on.
  • 4d [Underscore?] COME UP SHORT. Nice.
  • 9d [Advice column] HELP MENU. Also nice.
  • 20d [underground hideaway] GROTTO. Went back and forth on this one several times before the crossings really clinched it. Ditto with 41d [Rodeo circuit city] ODESSA.
  • 24d [Beyond beautiful] SWOON-WORTHY. Not sure that I’ve ever encountered this, but it was eventually gettable, after having the -WORTHY part for a while.
  • 26d [Banyan cousin] ELM. They’re merely in the same taxonomic Order, which is not particularly close.
  • 36d [Hard to handle] OILY, not EELY.
  • 43d [Above and below] IAMBS. Very tough.
  • 56d [“Applying another __ to her arm” (Bard stage direction)] ASP.


Rich Norris’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 5/11/24 by Rich Norris

Los Angeles Times 5/11/24 by Rich Norris

I was shocked to look up at the byline after what felt like a pretty zippy solve and see Rich Norris’s name there — I generally associate him with a harder fight. Notables:

  • 15A [New and improved, say] is TWO POINT O, which…Rich, I love you and consider you a mentor, but this entry is a big no for me. The spelling out of “2.0” feels very contrived.
  • 18A [Mookie who was the 2018 AL MVP] is BETTS; baseball = Patti-bait. See also: ‘STRO at 1D and Jason GIAMBI at 22D.
  • 19A [Miner concern] is a fun clue for the oh-so-ubiquitous ORE.
  • 29A [Knockoffs of the 1980s and 1990s] is PC CLONES, which I enjoyed both for the unusual string of four consonants in a row and because I am always here for a Gen X-friendly reference.
  • 43A [Violinist Kafavian] is an ANI I hadn’t been acquainted with.
  • 58A [Summer Daze cologne brand] is CK ONE; see above re: Gen X.
  • 5D If you’re going to have a probably-not-said-out-loud-very-often adverb like BOSSILY in your grid, [Word in a Tom Swifty about Bruce Springsteen] is the way to clue it. Cute!
  • 9D Also liked [Taped message from the police?] as a clue for DO NOT CROSS.
  • 28D AM I AN IDIOT was one of my favorite entries.
  • 29D PAULA ABDUL is the other. A fact about me that sometimes surprises people is that I can reel off all of MC Skat Kat’s raps in “Opposites Attract.”
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45 Responses to Saturday, May 11, 2024

  1. Greg says:

    Agree with Amy. Felt tougher than usual. Started with that slightly queasy feeling (“Yikes, I’ve got nuthin’! is this the day my streak finally ends? And if so, is it just because it’s such a tough puzzle? Or because I’m finally losing it?“)

    But then, some 40 minutes later (about five times slower than Amy, typical for me), the disparate pieces finally fit together. Phew!

  2. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: remarkably smooth for a Matthew Sewell joint, which usually kicks my butt. Somehow I just saw through almost every misdirection and hit on every correct vague clue interpretation right away. Feels good to crush a Stumper!

  3. PJ says:

    NYT – Felt like I was solving four mini-puzzles and then the center, long answer filled center. My first pass wasn’t very successful until CHA got me started in the SW. From there things started flowing and I finished with a pretty mundane Saturday time – 13:43.

    34A bugs me. First, the operative word seems to be TOTAL, which is singular. Thus the plural in the clue doesn’t feel right. Second, I immediately thought finance where worth and assets make me think personal net worth and TOTAL ASSETS is just half of the equation. The other half is total liabilities. But that’s probably just me overthinking it

    • DougC says:

      I agree that TOTAL ASSETS, in spite of that final “S”, is singular, and that it needs to be paired with total liabilities in order to be a measure of one’s worth. Two strikes!

    • Martin says:

      You’re assuming that worth means net worth. There is also gross worth, which is a measure of asset value. Assets on a balance sheet represent book value, or what you paid when you acquired them. Gross worth measures their current value, which could be higher than the book value if it includes assets that have appreciated. That’s why gross worth is a separate measure than total assets.

      In any case, “it’s a clue, not a definition.”

  4. Gary R says:

    NYT: I rarely enjoy solving a puzzle with a grid design that turns it into multiple mini-puzzles. This one was no exception. Made slow but steady progress until I reached the mini in the SE. I had FARE and SIREN, but “SAME here” didn’t seem to work at 50-A, and “Spar” didn’t seem to work at 47-D. Played with it for probably 20 minutes before I gave up and went to bed.

    This morning, it took quite a while for me to give in and try CREEPO. Then, it took a while longer to try (reluctantly) SAMESIES – really hope I never encounter this in real life. Vaguely recalled having to designate a primary care physician/provider back when I was in an HMO. I’ve visited Quito, Ecuador (pretty much on the equator) a few times and, no ITS not HOT – quite temperate. MII – oh, joy! Couldn’t we have done a Roman numeral thing? FISTS/rocks??

    Some fun long entries, and some entertaining clues – for CASH GRAB, THAT ONE, SEXT. But sometimes trying too hard (MEOWED – maybe cat lovers liked this. I’m a dog person).

    Still not sure how to parse “Cons, for fans” = MEETUPS.

    • AmandaB says:

      Also didn’t like ITSHOT or FISTS. “Fists” means something very different to some. That whole corner was terrible.

    • dh says:

      A “Con” is a shortened word for “Convention”, as in “Comicon” where you can meet up with like-minded comic book fans. I’m not familiar with “Rocks” being slang for “Fists”, but inasmuch as “Guns” is a slang term for “Biceps”, it makes sense in a boxing kind of way.

    • Seth Cohen says:

      Cons are short for conventions. Like Comicon.

    • Eric H says:

      Comments on the NYT Wordplay column suggest that “Rocks” are FISTS in the game of roshambo, a/k/a Rock paper scissors.

      I have seen SAMESIES used in a Facebook group I frequent. It always makes me cringe a little. But it’s been around since at least the 2007 movie “Superbad.”

      • huda says:

        SAME HERE!!!
        I echo everyone’s comments re that corner.
        And I made an interesting mistake based on knowing too much–
        DAR EL SALAAM instead of DAR ES SALAAM. That’s because in Arabic, DAR is “house”, SALAM is “peace” and EL is “the”. So when you write it in Arabic it’s دار السالم, with an L. Even if you enter DAR ES SALAM in google translate, it will give you that same Arabic spelling.
        That’s because the L is pronounced very lightly or elided, so that S is just a replacement for this elided spoken version…
        Haha, now that I’ve written all this, I realize probably no one cares…And now I know how it’s spelled in English.

        • DougC says:

          Dear huda, I thoroughly enjoy these little linguistic excursions, and hope you will continue to share them. :)

          And SAMSIES on all the SE corner comments! That “S” at the intersection of FISTS was my last blank square, and I hit the “S” key while thinking “this can’t be right but I don’t have a better guess” and was shocked to hear the happy music.

          But other than that one corner, I actually found this a bit easier than the typical Saturday puzzle.

        • Gary R says:

          +1 on the linguistic excursions!

      • Gary R says:

        @Eric H – thanks for the explanation for “Rocks” – I can see that now.

    • Lifelong cat guy here: Can confirm I loved the clue for MEOWED.

      • Dallas says:

        I liked that too, along with the clue for SIREN.

        I’ve noticed some cryptic-like clueing entering into the NYT puzzles (49D “Pop back and forth?”, DAD) with Joel, which has been an interesting twist.

        I guess I’m the only one who found it faster than my average; I was worried about having 5 nearly disconnected puzzles, but it went pretty smoothly. I took a break at the midpoint, but was a great solve.

  5. Pilgrim says:

    Stumper – my “go to” place to find the Stumper (Washington Post website) seems to have the wrong puzzle up. It’s a themed puzzle, and not by Matthew Sewell. Any other ideas? Thanks!

    • Twangster says:

      I go here and print it:

      Today’s is laughably impossible but it’s fun to look up the answers.

      • Lise says:

        I found the puzzle here (thank you!) but how do you print it from that page?

        • Lise says:

          I don’t see a print button on that page. I clicked on the puzzle itself and got a tiny replica, which has a print button, but which creates a 3-page print preview. I can’t get the puzzle to be all on the same page.

          I have tried Edge and Chrome. Any help would be appreciated. This is almost as frustrating as doing the Stumper itself 😃

        • sorry after after says:

          I found that if you click on the puzzle you want at Twangster’s link above, it will reduce to a thumbnail image, at which point a small print icon will appear along with some others under the LIKE IT? SHARE IT! heading.

          Sheesh, it’s like joining a secret society! If it helps, think of it as the first stage in conquering the stumper. :-)

          (On the plus side, this site results in a more user-friendly printout than the WaPo portal ever did.)

    • Seth Cohen says:

      Even though the Shortyz app isn’t being updated anymore, it still works, and it can download the daily Newsday puzzle (and lots of others). I download it there, then find it in my files on my phone and open it with the Cross Your Heart app, which is the one I use to solve on my phone.

    • Eric H says:

      I had the same problem. The puzzle I just solved (in about five minutes) purported to be the Saturday puzzle, but it was not.

  6. MattF says:

    My dad was a radiologist, so I know odd anatomical facts— like the ATLAS (and AXIS) bones at the top of the spine. NYT was hard for me to get footholds, but not so bad once I got started. Main difficulty was that the puzzle is five separate pieces, so had to restart repeatedly.

    • Dallas says:

      I asked my veterinarian wife, and she gave me ATLAS, but then remarked that she never thought about it “holding the head”… as she mostly thinks about animal anatomy instead :-) I also learned that tt’s the C-1 vertebra.

  7. Me says:

    NYT: I agree with those who said that this was essentially five puzzles in one. The design also meant that there weren’t a whole lot of 3-letter or 4-letter answers, so we had to get a toehold five times.

    I also thought that there were too many answers that weren’t quite green-painty, but weren’t that far off, like IWOULDNT, NEWCARS, LITTLETHING, and THATONE. Those are hard to figure out, but not because they are tricky, but because they are kind of imprecise IMO.

    I don’t understand what the point of GOATYOGA is. Is it just doing yoga in the presence of goats? Or is there more to it than that?

  8. Eric H says:

    Stumper: Everything but the NE wasn’t too bad, but for some reason I had a lot of trouble with that corner. I must have put DELTA in and taken it out about five times before it went in for good, and I needed the -TH in 12D before I could see EARTH.

    • Martin says:

      I spent as much time figuring out the TON clue after I’d solved the puzzle as I did solving the puzzle. My brain wouldn’t get off seeing “Ocean, see, raft, …” as a series and not as a list of synonyms. An impish little voice in my head kept saying, “whale.”

  9. Linda says:

    WSJ 59 D – why is the answer sol? Rather than sun? What indicates that the answer is in Spanish?

    • pannonica says:

      In astronomical parlance, our sun is Sol, just as our planet is Terra.

    • Martin says:

      Even though I imagine SUN would have been a valid entry, I put in SOL without thinking about it (even though the clue contains “Earth,” not “Terra”). The reason is that our sun’s name is SOL and it fits better grammatically. “THE SUN” would have been a properly formed answer, but “SUN” wouldn’t be how we would answer that question. As the name of the star, SOL fits better.

  10. Jim says:

    NYT: SAMESIES?? Really? I guess that’s because I don’t hang around middle schools. 🙄

  11. Teedmn says:

    My Stumper mess was in the NW. After I had the ES at the end of 5D, I went orchestral and put in oboES. That set back MARMOSETS and BEEF until STEAM HEAT filled in

    And I went old-timey with HELPMEet first at 9D. I finally realized what the 31D clue words had in common.

    My experience in Minnesota is if the roads are PRE-TREATed, we don’t get any snow. It works, I suppose!

  12. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: former editor Rich Norris’ puzzle was a stumper for me, but the cluing helped me eventually solve it. I gave it a 4 because there was very little fill.

  13. Squidley Juan says:

    LA Times:

    When these are your first eight down clues, there is something terribly wrong:
    1. H-Town Aler
    2. Preakness winner Man __
    3. Capitol cap
    4. Tablet program
    5. Word in a Tom Swifty about Bruce Springsteen
    6. Chamillionaire song with the lyrics “They see me rollin’ / They hatin'”
    7. “The Killing” actress Mireille
    8. Chem class fig.

    Is there any point in moving on?



    When every time you jump a clue and the next is another obscure name, you need to ditch your entire grid.

    TWOPOINTO?! It’s a freakin’ zero! Learning the difference between a number and a letter should have been in grade one.

    You’re supposed to leave a crossword with joy and achievement, not anger and frustration.

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