Saturday, May 25, 2024

LAT tk (Stella) 


Newsday 20:22 (pannonica) 


NYT 5:29 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


David P. Williams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 5/25/24 – no. 0525

I’m a tad surprised (but not offended) to see ASSHAT in the puzzle. Likely not the first time it’s run in the NYT crossword, though. It’s so much more genteel than the -hole version.

Fave fill: FESTIVUS, MASTERMINDS, PULL STRINGS, SRIRACHA, PACK IT IN, SUNSET STRIP, and BOOBIRDS (a term I learned from another crossword years ago).

Never heard of this one: 32a. [Outfielder’s flashy feat], BASKET CATCH. It’s in the dictionary!

Among the clues that caught my eye:

  • 1a. [Old currency of Massachusetts], WAMPUM. Not the colonizers’ cash.
  • 48a. [Bargain hunters, of a sort], UNIONS. As in collective bargaining. Nice!
  • 39d. [Shot with English], MASSE. This billiards term is something I know solely from crosswords. It used to show up a lot more often.
  • 12d. [Sub stack?], SALAMI. I’m not a fan of sub sandwiches and I don’t think I’ve ever had salami, but I do like some Substack newsletters.

Four stars from me.

Annemarie Brethauer & Katie Hale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “World on a String” — pannonica’s précis

WSJ • 5/25/24 • Sat • “World on a String” • Brethauer, Hale • solution • 20240525

  • 33dR [Number series found in patterns in nature, and in order in the starts of 23-, 44-, 55-, 81-, 91- and 114-Across and 15-Down] FIBONACCI SERIES.
  • 23a. [Astronaut’s experience] ZERO GRAVITY.
  • 44a. [1963 hit for the Chiffons] ONE FINE DAY.
  • 55a. [“The Bald Soprano,” e.g.] ONE-ACT PLAY.
  • 81a. [Pair] TWO OF A KIND.
  • 91a. [1999 wartime heist movie] THREE KINGS.
  • 114a. [Bygone store] FIVE AND DIME.
  • 15d. [2002 monster comedy movie] EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS.

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 …

Each number in the sequence is the sum of the previous two.

My interpretation of the puzzle’s title is that—like the revealer’s clue—it references the appearance of this number string throughout nature, i.e., the world.

There’s no way the grid could be made to represent a Fibonacci pattern; that would have been incredible.

Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s précis

Newsday • 5/25/24 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20240525

Somehow I made it through this one in decent time, even with some lingering brain fog from a disturbing event earlier in the week. (Sorry, no details.)

Northeast corner was the last to complete, predicated on figuring out that RE– 24a [Appeared in twice] was REWORE.

  • 1d [Packer’s gear] PADS. 61a [Packer’s gear] CRATE. Neither of these seem great, and the doubled clue doesn’t add much.
  • 44d [They work with digital files] MANIS. I really like the wordplay in the clue, but am unsure about the answer because in my experience MANI is short for manicure, not manicurist.
  • 2d [Verb from the Latin for “hound”] ABET. “Middle English abetten, borrowed from Anglo-French abeter, from a-, prefix in transitive verbs (going back to Latin ad- AD-) + beter ‘to harass (a bear with dogs), bait,’ borrowed from Old Low Franconian *bētan; akin to Old English bǣtan ‘to set upon (with animals), bait’ — more at BAIT entry 1″ (
  • 6d [Impediment to a college education] ACADEMESE. Took a long time to complete the final two letters.
  • 45a [Grammy’s British equivalent] NAN. Not an award at all! The capitalization fooled me good.
  • 51a [Converting leads into deals] ANAGRAMMING. Lack of a question mark made this one tougher, especially as the clue ostensibly makes SENSE (64a).
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24 Responses to Saturday, May 25, 2024

  1. Gary R says:

    NYT: Erroneous “pounds” at 1-A and “pickle” at 1-D left me stumped for some time in the NW.

    I associate the BASKET CATCH with Willie Mays. I’m sure others have used it, but I think it was something of a trademark play for him.

    Did not grok MASSE until seeing Amy’s write-up.

    Maybe a little on the easy side for a Saturday, but a fun solve.

    • Dallas says:

      I got messed up at the very end with MUSTS instead of MUSKS which made HACKS a bit hard to get, but still under my average time. Pretty smooth and easy fill for a Saturday.

  2. Martin says:

    Wampum was legal tender for transactions among Europeans, as well as with natives.

  3. Eric H says:

    NYT: This a the fourth ASSHAT in a NYT puzzle, including one on May 19.

    It was significantly quicker for me than Friday’s NYT puzzle — one of my 10 fastest Saturdays ever.

    The NW and SE corners seem isolated, but as a longtime movie fan, 14D SUNSET STRIP and 21D SIERRA MADRE were gimmes that got me into those corners.

    My only real hesitation was about 17D SECRET CODES, because the resulting SR— at 46A didn’t seem promising at first. I also got a bit hung up with 22A, where my spelling champ was BEe. (My mother’s name was Bernice and everyone called her Bee. But those in my father’s family inevitably spelled it “Bea.”)

    • Martin says:

      Andy Taylor’s Aunt Bee is often misspelled “Bea” too.

    • David L says:

      I had BEE first — in part because I used to know a Bernice who went by Bee.

      I wanted SHOESTRINGCATCH at 32A. I had to look up BASKETCATCH to see exactly what it is — I’ve heard the phrase but didn’t know what it meant.

  4. MattF says:

    NYT turned out to be easier than I initially thought— the NW starting corner was harder than the rest of the puzzle. Had to circle around and then end up back in the NW. Used to play billiards and solved many Maleska puzzles, so I knew masse. Good way to rip the table fabric.

  5. Pamela+Kelly says:

    Wonderful puzzle! Just way too easy for a Saturday.

    • DougC says:

      +1! Started out hard, then fell quickly once I got a few toeholds. Lots of great, fun entries. This would have been an epic, world class Wednesday puzzle! Still fun on Saturday, tho.

  6. JohnH says:

    FWIW, Will Shortz is healthy enough to have contributed tomorrow’s Sunday NYT Magazine variety puzzle. (It’s Building Blocks, meaning it supplies three-letter blocks for you to combine into words. No strong feelings about this kind of puzzle, but I’ll give it a try.)

  7. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: Another great super-challenging workout from Stella! Bottom came together relatively quickly, but the top was much harder for me. Got the top right when I changed kARAT to CARAT, saw KITTY and DOORS, and finally got WOMEN. Top left was the last to fall, because I had SO sAD instead of SO BAD, and ToNED instead of TUNED (I was thinking about muscles). Once I finally changed those, the rest came together.

  8. PJ says:

    LAT 40a – Even using rebuses I couldn’t get Tuberville to fit

  9. Dan says:

    NYT: A fun puzzle with a wide variety of interesting entries, starting right off with WAMPUM, IGUANA, FESTIVUS and including EPOCHAL, SRIRACHA HIATUS, GAUCHE, and BOO BIRDS.

    (But not especially tough, as Saturday puzzles go — so: over too soon.)

  10. Dan says:

    LAT: Yikes, this was a really tough solve (2 1/2 times the length of today’s NYT puzzle).

    But satisfying when complete.

    (Though there was a lot of pop culture I didn’t know.)

    • Eric H says:

      I thought the LAT was about the same level of difficulty as the NYT, but it took me about a minute longer. My biggest unknown was 59A “PEBKAC issue” (which, now that I have looked it up, I recognize as a phrase if not an acronym).

  11. Matt Besse says:

    When I use this link and the applet opens after the ad, it shows the correct dates but when click today’s it opens a two year old puzzle that isn’t a Saturday Stumper. Anyone know why? I noticed this started happening a few weeks ago.

  12. David L says:

    Stumper: after three assaults at various times of the day, I got 3/4 of it. Everything except the NE quarter, which I simply couldn’t find an entry into. I had RE___ at 24A and ST__ at 30A but couldn’t complete the words. DASH at 9A turned out to be wrong, so that didn’t help. I had all of ACADEMES_ except the last letter. EPICENTER for ‘pivotal point’ doesn’t make sense to me.

    In other words, a whole bunch of stuff I couldn’t get my head around.

  13. Wayne says:

    For the Stumper, I confidently filled in ADP mainframe. ADP is the largest payroll processor in the US. Took me forever to recover from that one.

Comments are closed.