Saturday, June 1, 2024

LAT 3:29 (Stella) 


Newsday 11:32 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:16 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Acrostics fans, there’s a new blog set up by the NYT’s acrostic constructors, Jane Stewart and David Balton at I believe the puzzles come out every two weeks, with an online solving interface available for XWord Info subscribers. (It remains unfortunate that the NYT gave up making a printable version available for online puzzle subscribers.)

Eric Warren’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

The month of May has come to a close with 8 of its 31 NYT puzzles (25.6%) having been (co-)constructed by women; one of those bylines was shared with a man. Sigh. Do better, Joel!

NY Times crossword solution, 6/1/24 – no. 0601

I enjoyed the puzzle, I did. Fave fill: BACK PAY (but oof, that dupe with PAYEE!), “DO NOT WANT” (I do say this 21st-century phrase), SPACE CADETS, STRUDELS, JAM-PACK, BANGER clued as a [Catchy song, slangily], FREEZER BURN, sportsy AT THE HALF, CROUTON, TRAIN TRIP, JAZZ FEST, POLAR BEAR, ARENA ROCK, and 20-Across’s opposite, “YES, THANKS.”

Not familiar with 7d. [Popular news podcast since 2017], THE DAILY. Looking that up … ah, it’s an NYT product. Podcasts are not for me.

Felt rather “meh” about ELENORE, RAH, and ABRA-.

Three more things:

  • 39a. [Small appetizer in Turkish cuisine], MEZE. Know this word for NYT Spelling Bee! Can also be spelled mezze. A local Turkish/Kurdish/Anatolian restaurant calls its offerings “tapas,” because how many Americans know what MEZE means?
  • 37a. [Pitchers on a farm], HAYFORKS. Used to pitch hay, which is the same thing pitchforks are used for. I hereby move to call them haypitchforks and end this confusion.
  • 34a. [Smallest country ever to win the FIFA World Cup], URUGUAY. Nice trivia bit there.

3.75 stars from me.

Lance Enfinger & Bob Weisz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/1/24 by Lance Enfinger & Bob Weisz

Los Angeles Times 6/1/24 by Lance Enfinger & Bob Weisz

Hola! I’ve just returned from a nice vacation in Spain. This puzzle was on the harder side by LAT standards, which is nice after 10 days of not solving any themelesses.

Notables, for good and ill:

  • 24A Didn’t love the entry IN A BLAZE, which felt awfully green paint-y.
  • 32A SEXPERT, on the other hand, is fun, even if the clue [Authority on acts of congress] didn’t fool me for a second. I’ve now seen “congress” in its sexual meaning in enough clues that I could stand a moratorium for a bit.
  • 38A THRUSTERS clued as [Propulsion devices]; thanks for not instead evoking this terrible exercise.
  • 41A [Prepares for a break] is a nice clue for RACKS. That is, in the sense of preparing to break in a game of pool.
  • 45A Also really liked the clue [Public image] and its associated entry, PROFILE PIC.
  • 2D Nice to see LONI Love! I’m pretty sad that Squirrel Friends, the Drag Race podcast she co-hosted with Alec Mapa, seems to be no more.
  • 3D AND SCENE is a fun entry.
  • 7D I wasn’t that into the longest entry in the puzzle? It’s NOTHING PERSONAL, and I think it could at least have gotten a more playful clue than [“This isn’t about you”]
  • 33D FACEPALM is another nice entry.

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

WSJ • 6/1/24 • Sat • “Taking Leave” • Shenk • solution • 20240601

Some days a 21×21 crossword really feels like a lot. Today was one of those days, and I’m thinking that that sense has everything to do with me, rather than the puzzle itself.

Looking at the title, one would be forgiven for anticipating a subtraction theme, with letters being removed from key entries. Instead, taking leave is very much idiomatic and we’re adding the bigram GO. More specifically, GO is suffixed to the first words/parts of phrases. This constraint makes it both more interesting than if it were inserted willy-nilly, but also makes it feel a bit tedious with a whole bunch of -go ending words.

  • 22a. [Announcement on a cross-North Dakota trip?] FARGO SIGHTED (far-sighted).
  • 28a. [Marketing directed at selfish people?] EGO COMMERCE (e-commerce). Arguably the bulk of economics?
  • 34a. [Cruise for beatnik musicians?] BONGO VOYAGE (bon voyage).
  • 48a. [Conga alternatives at Argentine weddings?] TANGO LINES (tan lines). My favorite wedding sequence in cinema is from a 2014 Argentine film, Relatos salvajes (Wild Tales).
  • 64a. [Rivera’s reaction to Kahlo’s comedy?] DIEGO LAUGHING (die laughing).
  • 83a. [Oil patches in a shipping depot?] CARGO POOLS (car pools). The answer phrase is a stretch, and its clue reflects that.
  • 90a. [Secondary study choice at the Institute of Cheese?] ASIAGO MINOR (Asia Minor).
  • 98a. [Smoothie Shop’s end-of-week special?] MANGO FRIDAY (man Friday). I think Taco Tuesday is safe for now.
  • 108a. [Exhibitors in Kinshasa galleries?] CONGO ARTISTS (con artists).

  • 6d [Ultimate] BEST EVER. Needed lots of crossings here, but it’s a solid clue/answer.
  • 14d [Puts in the oven] WARMS, not BAKES.
  • 34d [Witty remark] BON MOT, off the crossing (original) BON VOYAGE. We also have 53d BONAIRE [Dutch island territory east of Curaçao. Oh, and of course 56a [Sweet morsels] BON BONS.
  • 64d [Summer music] DISCO. Donna Summer.
  • 66d [Causer of mechanical trouble] GREMLIN. Not literally, unless you’re a fan of Looney Tunes or The Twilight Zone.
  • 99d [Fresh] ANEW.
  • 51a [Tennis player, in sports articles] NETTER. I’ll take Mike’s word on this one. 52a [Fix firmly: Var.] IMBED. Quite the one-two.
  • 71a [Where to conform, it’s said] ROME. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 72a [Fashion] MODE.
  • 79a [French city noted for its lace] ALENÇON. New to me.
  • 87a [Airplane window material] LUCITE. I would have guessed Perspex. Now I am looking and I see that polymethyl methacrylate (acrylic glass) has various trade names, including: Crylux, Hesalite, Plexiglas, Acrylite, Lucite, and Perspex.
  • 112a [Depart, in slang] JET. Theme-ish.
  • 115a. [GI’s helmet, in slang] TIN HAT.


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

Newsday • 6/1/24 • Saturday Stumper • Stiga, Newman • solution • 20240601

Quite possibly my speediest Stumper solve ever. It was a good omen when 1-across was an absolute gimme. The rest of the grid’s upper half went quite quickly, and then there just a few pauses/hiccups in the bottom section.

  • 1a [Buster Keaton silent sleuth spoof (an AFI “Funniest”)] SHERLOCK, JR.
  • 15a [World population estimate circa 2058] TEN BILLION. That’s a lot of humans.
  • 17a [Gregorian chants’ category] PLAINSONGS. Plural looks weird to me, but the clue’s phrasing (not to mention the grid length) mandates it.
  • 18a [Name related to 2-Down] LANA. 2d [Butte neighbor] HELENA. Kind of leaning into the dupe-flirting?
  • 28a [Takes in] DUPES.
  • 30a [Central casting] TEE, being the middle letter of ‘casting’. Cryptic-lite.
  • 40a [Lodging place?] ELKS CLUB. I could see what was going on here, but had trouble with the second part, expecting something more like HALL. 21d [Of bound quarks and antiquarks] MESONIC.
  • 42a [Contraction sans an “i”] S’IL. The sans is a sneaky way of indicating French vocabulary.
  • 43a [ __ blue (Ivy hue)] ELI. Note capitalization.
  • 46a [Basket ball handler] CESTA. The orthography of the clue flummoxed me, but after a couple of crossings I remembered about jai alai.
  • 52a [What no Grafton title starts with] X IS. A novel way of cluing this common and useful crossword trigram. Sue Grafton died before completing her alphabetical mystery series featuring the protagonist Kinsey Millhone.
  • 58a [Green grass] RYE. Does green have a special meaning in the clue that I’m missing, or is it just very generic?
  • 60a [Extreme avoidance] MODERATION. Got this from crossings, so I missed the wordplay at the time.
  • 65a [One of the VH1 top-10 “Artists of Hard Rock”] GUNS ’N ROSES. Had the —NSN— in place and it looked soo wrong.
  • 6d [20-year Swedish coffee commercial character] OLSON. Just now realizing that this is Mrs OLSON from US commercials. Folgers, I believe? I can picture her saying the catchphrase about it being “mountain grown”. 
  • 25d [Mary Cassatt mentor] DEGAS. Took a few moments of consideration to realize who it must have been.
  • 27d [Mac not a PC] SLICKER. Macintosh raincoat.
  • 35d [What Ariel and Aladdin are at Disney World] MEETABLE>wince<
  • 36d [It has the most primary interstates passing through it] ILLINOIS. Interesting trivia, and sensible considering its relatively central geographic location.
  • 37d [Superficial] SKIN DEEP.
  • 47d [Canis Major’s snout] SIRIUS. Helps to know that SIRIUS is the ‘Dog Star’—which I had somehow forgotten.
  • 51d [Stevie Wonder’s former boss] Berry GORDY. Filling in this entry with no crossings helped enormously in hastening my solve for the nether part of the crossword,
  • 53d [Kitchen brand created from female names] SARAN. Had no idea of its origin. I’m presuming Sara and Ann. “The word Saran was formed from a combination of John Reilly’s wife’s and daughter’s names, Sarah and Ann Reilly.” (Wikipedia)
  • 61d [Besides] TOO. Was strongly suspecting the answer would be YET, and yet no.

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42 Responses to Saturday, June 1, 2024

  1. Henry T says:

    I wonder how the 8/31 gender ratio of published Xwords compares to the ratio of what is submitted to the NYT.

    • TJ says:

      Oh, dear god, don’t say that, Henry! One mustn’t question the doctrine of King Amy, my dear. It’s discrimination, all the way down, my boy, and don’t you question that a trifle. These noble women have been sloughing away at the crusty ol’ patriarchy nigh these many years with faint success, only to be explained by mere bias by the pale p@nis people who have so blindly led us in the current morass of poor crosswording as you and I know it. Fear not though, my boy! The dawn of a new era awaits us! Where the Grey Lady judges by genitals only and skill is nary a consideration. Hear hear, ye lad! Bask in the glow of a new dawn of enlightenment.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      I agree that it’s difficult (impossible even?) to evaluate gender bias in this regard without knowing the gender ratio of people submitting puzzles. However, I’d be pretty surprised if it’s almost 3:1. According to February’s “The New Yorker” article by Anna Shechtman, “under the two editors before Shortz, Will Weng (1969-77) and Eugene Maleska (1977-93), women constructed approximately thirty-five per cent of all published puzzles. Between 1993 and 2013, women accounted for only nineteen per cent.” But these numbers don’t provide enough information to reliably assess bias.

      • Z says:

        Also, ~28 of the 31 May puzzles were by white constructors.

        Not saying there’s some quota editors should be hitting but gender is far from the only way the constructors don’t reflect the audience.

  2. David L says:

    I had some wrong turns in the SW corner of the NYT: JAZZFAIR before FEST, TOLLS before RISES, LEARN and ADAPT before REMAP (I wonder if Huda thinks that is a correct description of what the brain does…). Didn’t take too long to straighten out, though. The Friday and Saturday puzzles, under Joel’s direction, seem to have swung back a little too far from the toughness he imposed at first.

    • rob says:

      NYT: I know that I am probably in the minority here, but I for one have enjoyed the “slightly” easier Friday and Saturday puzzles of late. Thank you Joel 😎

    • Eric H says:

      Between the easier Friday NYT puzzles of late and the change to the New Yorker puzzles, I’m having trouble finding puzzles that hit my sweet spot. I prefer something that takes me 15–20 minutes for a “challenging” puzzle, with lots to figure out through deduction and pattern recognition, but with no areas where I get completely stuck.

      Newsday’s Saturday Stumper is certainly challenging (and takes at least 30 minutes), but those are rarely much fun for me. Every once in a while, a BEQ or Stella Zawistowski grid will be just right.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        You should go indie. Stella publishes a themeless every two weeks here:

        And Tim Croce is known for tough themelesses, weekly.

        • Eric H says:


          I sometimes do Stella’s puzzles (and even sometimes think “That wasn’t so tough!”).

          I’ve only done a few of Tim Croce’s puzzles.

        • Gary R says:

          Just finished the most recent “Tough as Nails” puzzle. Nice puzzle, good workout. Thanks for the suggestion!

          • Eric H says:

            I’d never heard the answer to 15D “Place to get shots of big shots.” That was probably the stickiest part of an otherwise not too challenging puzzle. (But nice all the same.)

            • Gary R says:

              That one was totally new to me, too (after googling, I know what it is, just didn’t know what it’s called).

              Cross of 7-A and 12-D was an error for me. Didn’t know either term – tried a “T.”

              Other than those, I think all the other answers were familiar – but she made me work to get them. (Good for her.)

  3. MattF says:

    NYT was hard to get an initial foothold but then yielded and filled in relatively easily. Guesses tended to work, so final time was pretty good. Didn’t know ELENORE.

    • marciem says:

      I knew Elenore, but tripped spelling it Eleanor. I also wanted Halftime for “at the half”. Once I got over my problems, it was an enjoyable puzzle. Also wanted ‘crammed” for JAMPACK, which kept me from seeing the gimme Jazzfest for a bit.

    • dh says:

      The lyrics of “Elenore” have been widely ridiculed:

      “Elenore, gee, I think you’re swell
      And you really do me well
      You’re my pride and joy, et cetera
      Elenore, can I take the time
      To ask you to speak your mind?
      Tell me that you love me better”

      I can’t imagine telling one’s gf “You’re my pride and joy, et cetera”. (and rhyming that with “…love me better”.

      Ranks up there with:

      “I am”… I said
      To no one there
      And no one heard at all
      Not even the chair

      That said, I’m a fan of both.

      • Eric H says:

        Wikipedia says that “Elenore” was Howard Kaylan’s satirical take on “Happy Together”; after having had a few hits, the Turtles wanted to go in a new direction, but their record company didn’t like that idea.

        I only vaguely remember “Elenore,” but “Happy Together” is deeply lodged in my brain.

  4. Jim Peredo says:

    NYT: I, and other Chamorro solvers, would have accepted [Extremely crinowded] for JAMPACK. Hey, it’s in our dictionary!

  5. DougC says:

    NYT: Contra “haypitchforks,” my grandfather, God rest his hard-workin’ soul, would tell you that “pitchfork” is a word that only city folks use, because they can’t tell a HAY FORK from a manure fork.

    I loved PUPAS and ALLELES because Science! And SPACE CADETS just because.

    Product placement makes its debut the NYTXW today with NYT’s “THE DAILY”, a trend I hope will end right there.

    Pretty easy puzzle for a Saturday (or even a Friday) but no other complaints. Seemed pretty gunk-free and relatively trivia free, meaning I knew all the trivia.

    • Eric H says:

      At least half a dozen clues in previous NYT puzzles mention Wordle, so it’s a bit late to object to the shameless self-promotion.

      I’ve never lived on a farm, but I have a pretty good idea of the difference between a manure fork and a HAY FORK.

      Congratulations on knowing all the trivia! I knew about half of it, but could easily figure out the stuff I didn’t know. (Whenever someone comments “That puzzle didn’t have any proper names!,” I can’t help but think “Well, it didn’t have any proper names that you didn’t know.)

  6. Eric H says:

    Stumper: Mostly not too bad, but the SE section was hard. I really should’ve remembered 47D SIRIUS. I know Sue Grafton’s titling convention, but didn’t realize she had skipped X. That made it hard to see 41D BOXED IN.

    My biggest slowdown was with 65A, “One of the VH1 ‘Top 10 Artists of Hard Rock.’” I got the last part of it early on: [something] ROSES.

    So I plugged in “Stone” without much thought (I’m not a big fan of “hard rock”). Only after about 20 minutes did I realize that it was GUNS ‘N’ ROSES.

    Anyone else notice that you have to manually stop and start the clock on the brains site? I guess that’s something you get used to.

    • Gary R says:

      The SE corner was basically blank for me until very late in the game. When I finally figured out the clue for SLICKER, that got me KABOB, then BOXED IN and BICEPS. When I dredged up CESTA from my crosswordese memory, it all fell into place pretty quickly.

      I’m with @pannonica on the clue for RYE – unless there’s something clever I’m not getting, I think it would have been better to use a whiskey or bread clue.

    • BlueIris says:

      Re Grafton : I first thought of “z” because I’m pretty sure that she did “y,” but like you forgot about “x.”

      • sorry after after says:

        Chiming in rather late here, I know … Grafton did get to the letter X in her series but broke her own convention by leaving off the usual “is for ___.” Looks like the WaPo and LAT have taken a similar approach to XIS as an alternative to the more common [Greek letters] angle. But [What no Grafton title starts with] is definitely a fresh take.

  7. Eric H says:

    I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a better example of why a Saturday Stumper takes me about four times as long as some other puzzles.

    Here are four clues from today’s puzzles. The first two have the same answer. The last two have another answer that’s the same for each puzzle.

    Stumper: “Whom an ocean was named for”

    Universal: “Geographic reference book”

    Stumper: “Cookout serving”

    Universal: “Dish of skewered food: Var.”

    • Martin says:

      Stan’s Anna Stiga (“Stan again”) and Sally R. Stein (“Really Stan”) pseudonyms signal that the Stumper will be fairly kind. The ones to worry about are signed “S.N.”

      At least that’s Stan’s stated intention. Lately, his curve seems to be slipping. I didn’t find the 5/4 S.N. to be too diabolical.

  8. Seth Cohen says:

    Wow, the Stumper was one of my most difficult. Can’t believe I finally got through it! Keep the brutal challenges coming!

  9. JohnH says:

    I found the NYT quite hard enough for a welcome Saturday challenge. But can someone explain why “throw down” is BRAWL? Thanks.

    I’ll spare you my memories of Mark and Howard of the Turtles touring, mostly to press audiences with comps, as Flo and Eddie, but it’s not quite fair to complain about their lyrics as simplistic. They were torn between their success with pop, their real love of harmonies, and their hard-edged sense of humor, and “Elenore” (which, like Marcie, I’d forgotten how to spell) makes fun of itself, with “you’re my pride and joy etcetera.” And then their stage act, mostly so -so parodies of rockers (like Springstein as “Baby, it will stop your runs”), reliably ended with an extended version of “Happy Together.”

    • Gary R says:

      I’m more familiar with it as a single word – “throwdown.”

      From the Cambridge Dictionary:
      “a competition, an argument with someone, or a fight involving physical violence:
      The movie was widely regarded as the favorite in the best-picture throwdown.
      have a throwdown
      Tony and Bobby had a major throwdown one drunken night with their wives screaming at them to stop.”

      Just guessing, but maybe it has something to do with “throw down the gauntlet.”

      • JohnH says:

        Ah, thanks. I had looked in Random House Unabridged, which doesn’t have it. But I see now it’s in MW Collegiate (which has it as two words).

  10. Brenda Rose says:

    For those want the indies: DAILY CROSSWORD LINKS comes into your box everyday. It has juicy interesting sources. You can also get Stan’s HARD crossword daily there. It took me years before I could get into Tim Croce’s puzzles but now they are an enjoyable workout & I strongly recommend the solves.

  11. Seattle DB says:

    LAT: the clue editing still isn’t up to par. (I feel sorry for the constructors.) 1/2 point deduction.

  12. Seattle DB says:

    USAT: nice puzzle by the constructor, but the editing for 17A violated protocol by not indicating “text-wise”. Clue: “Doin’ ok?” Answer: “HowRU”. 1/2 point deduction.

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