Saturday, June 8, 2024

LAT 2:22 (Stella) 


Newsday 23:28 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:58 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Daniel Sheremeta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/8/24 – no. 0608

Ahh, BROWNIE BATTER. I can taste it, and I can smell it. Brownies baking in the oven, even better.

Interesting fill: The AGE OF MAMMALS, which I don’t think was called anything in the science textbooks of my childhood. CEASE AND DESIST. “TRUE DAT” (aka “that’s true”), ELECTRA COMPLEX. The NY/NJ PORT AUTHORITY (zero idea if other places with ports have an entity called the port authority). BEAR TRAPS with a nonviolent clue (13d. [Misleading market downturns, in financial lingo]) but holy cats, that dupe with TRAP DOOR should not be allowed! MAEVE with the clue [Irish girl’s name that’s one letter off from a shade of purple]; did you ponder anything like EILAC here?

I haven’t seen the term X-RAY LAB for the place you get an X-ray. Imaging center, maybe? PUT ON THE RITZ feels weird with the first word not being PUTTING.

Fave clue: 30a. [What creates a line for the shower?], METEOR.

3.5 stars from me.

Emily Biegas & Sala Wanetick’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/8/24 by Emily Biegas & Sala Wanetick

Los Angeles Times 6/8/24 by Emily Biegas & Sala Wanetick

Okay, what is happening? 2:50 on the Monday puzzle and 2:22 on Saturday? That is cuckoo bananas. I do think that the grid design of today’s puzzle, which looks like it could be used for a themed puzzle (two 13s and a 15, and lots of 3- to 5-letter fill entries), contributed to how easy it is. Very straightforward cluing, too — as an example, I think UNORIGINAL could have gotten a much more playful and deceptive clue than [Prosaic].

Also didn’t love that there were quite a few crossword chestnuts in here (as I suppose there must be in a puzzle with this many 3s, 4s, and 5s): IRE and IRK in the same puzzle; A-OK; APED; ESAI; EROS; LET ‘EM; SSW; EDEMA.

I did like [Part of LGBTQIA+ or 10-J-Q-K-A] for ACE; very clever! And [Joins the team?] for YOKES, and [Tucson or Santa Fe] for SUV.

Rich Proulx’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Play” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/8/24 • Sat • “Double Play” • Proulx • solution • 20240608

For each theme answer, the names of two pastimes/games have been paired to construct a phrase or concept.

  • 22a. [Losing a tail, say?] MOUSETRAP RISK.
  • 30a. [Successful break-in of an impregnable vault, say?] MASTERMIND OPERATION.
  • 44a. [Headhunter’s exclusive territory?] CRANIUM MONOPOLY. Looks like that isn’t a metaphorical headhunter in the Wall Street Journal.
  • 64a. [Why you might skip to another entry in this puzzle?] CLUE TROUBLE.
  • 78a. [Responsibility of Uhura, Chekov and Sulu?] BRIDGE OPERATION. From the original Star Trek.
  • 94a. [Monitors in an anger management clinic] OUTBURST CHECKERS.
  • 106a. [“1234,” e.g.?] SORRY PASSWORD. Indeed.

These were kinda fun. The grid had a few mildly tough entries, but there were always easy answers nearby to help the solver apace.

  • 9d [Basketry twigs] OSIERS. Old-time crosswordese.
  • 15d [Retort to a naysayer] I CAN DREAM, CAN’T I? Have a slice of good Eighties cheese:
  • 19d [Starry overlooks?] OSCAR SNUBS. Nice.
  • 31d [Plant with arrow-shaped leaves] ARUM.
  • 40d [Item for people who don’t like to sit still] ROCKER, because FIDGET SPINNER just wouldn’t fit.
  • 45d [Like some hills and blackouts] ROLLING. I like the pairing. Also, I reflexively thought of the Black Hills.
  • 46d [Not once] A NUMBER OF TIMES. Milquetoast.
  • 47d [Favored competitor] OVERDOG. Misunderstood the clue so had trouble seeing the answer.
  • 66d [Pulled out  all the stops] WENT TO TOWN.
  • 73d [Place to raise weighty matters?] GYM. Maybe trying too hard? Don’t know.
  • 86d [Laughed one’s head off] ROARED alongside 87d [Goddess of the dawn] AURORA.
  • 109d [Catan board border] SEA. Unrelated to theme.
  • 8a [“Christina’s World” setting, familiarly] MOMA. I never read the book or {did they make film out of it?} but I recall it has something to do with a girl learning about philosophy?
  • 24a [Light fighters] BANTAMS. I was fooled into thinking light was a noun here.
  • 29a [Pet in the Darling household] NANA, symmetrically paired to 98a [Pet in the Gale household] TOTO.
  • 55a [Bag contents when making rounds?] CLUBS. Golf. Bit convoluted as a clue, and I don’t feel the payoff merits.
  • 74a [What you saw while asleep?] LOGS. Liked this one!
  • 88a [Pull off] DETACH, 91a [Class divisions] LESSONS. Both low-key spiffy clues.
  • 103a [Victim of bleaching] CORAL. Victim of climate change/warming seas—bleaching is the response.

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

Newsday • 6/8/24 • Saturday Stumper • solution • 20240608

My version of the puzzle says ‘Authorname’ as a field placeholder, so it’s a mystery who constructed it. Thanks to a little hunting by Ben Z, I can report that the constructor is Matthew Sewell.

It was a rather tough outing, with the middle and upper right sections being by far the most difficult.

  • 1a [Unusually large] MEGA, 1d [As large as possible] MAXI.
  • 9a [Medal of Freedom athlete (1993) ASHE. Taking an educated guess on this one helped crack this final area for me. So, not entirely like 15a [Show confidence in] BET ON.
  • 14a [Caught in the air?] ORAL. The crossing of this and 6d [Courses on television] ARCS was one of my last squares filled.
  • 19a [Attraction at Indonesia’s Trans Snow World] INDOOR SKI SLOPE. Had INDOOR SKI relatively early but had trouble coming up with the retrospectively obvious word.
  • 32a [What many elephants are] ASIAN. 46d [West 32-Across most populous city] TEHRAN. Two weirdly phrased clues.
  • 34a [Ellie’s relative] NORAH. Both from Eleanor, it would seem. Stumpers have a seemingly endless supply of such entries.
  • 41a [Put on the line, perhaps] DRIED. Nothing to do with betting, as in the aforementioned 15-across.
  • 43a [Flame attractee] WOOER. 38a [Request for speculation] IMAGINE. The stumperized obfuscation makes these stilted and weird. Here’s another: 66a [Pressed from striding] TROD.
  • 45a [Word from Italian for “little tune”] SONNET. I went directly to SONATA.
  • 47a [Balance checkers] ENTS, because these doctors deal with the inner ear, where the eustachian tubes are located. I very much expected the answer to be either CPAS or ATMS.
  • 51a [49 follower] ERS. >groan<
  • 53a [Don’t be devious] STICK TO THE PLAN. Again, I had a little trouble finding the final word.
  • 62a [Coin with a star and crescent] RIAL? LIRA. (There’s also LIAR at 56-down, but no sign of ARIL in the grid.)
  • 63a [“When __ summons, monarchs must obey”: Dryden] FATE, but I first tried LOVE because I’d entered DIVA for 57d [Rihanna or Mariah Carey] ALTO.
  • 2d [Postgame shower] ESPN. Readily guessed at the deceptive homonym, but don’t buy the answer.
  • 5d [Whom Christie called “a little creep”] POIROT. Sounds more like Chris than Agatha, right?
  • 9d [Sequoia claim to fame] AEIOU. Yes, it’s a supervocalic word, but is that a ‘claim to fame’? I was hedging on GIRTH for quite some time.
  • 12d [Needle point] ENE, not EYE. 48a [Vue depuis la Tour Eiffel] PONT.
  • 20d [Madness metaphor] STEAM. Anger, not insanity.
  • 30d [His last play (1949) had marionettes] SHAW. Shakes vs Shav was his last *completed* play, and only about 10 minutes long.
  • 39d [Flops] GOES PFFT. I can see how the consonant sequence may have thrown off some solvers, but somehow I didn’t balk at the FFT that had arisen via crossings.
  • 55d [PR, e.g.] TERR. Puerto Rico. 25d [PR challenge] BAD REP.
  • 59d [What Lionel first meant] CUB. Interesting to learn.

Pretty tough workout.

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45 Responses to Saturday, June 8, 2024

  1. Sarah says:

    Anyone else inspired to look at pictures of Sana’a in Google maps? Can not recommend it highly enough; I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of those buildings. Favorite thing I’ve learned about this week.

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: This is the kind of Saturday puzzle I most enjoy: One that I can solve without getting too stuck anywhere, but that requires me to think a bit.

    The 1A AGE OF MAMMALS clue is cleverly misleading. I didn’t know 13D BEAR TRAPS but it wasn’t too hard to figure it out.

    I was surprised to learn that little factoid about SANAA. I expected the answer to be something like Quito. I guess I never realized how mountainous the SW corner of the Arabian Peninsula is.

    The bottom half was easier for me that the top. It took me longer than it should’ve to get the X of 19A X-RAY LAB/19D XED IN. I kept looking at the surrounding answers and verifying that they were correct, but the X just didn’t occur to me, until it did.

    My time ended up being 20 seconds longer than my time on Friday’s puzzle. If I hadn’t had trouble with the 19 square, I’d have beaten my Friday time.

    • Dallas says:

      Sana’a through me a bit because Santa Fe is at 7200 ft. elevation, and the capital of New Mexico… but then I looked up Sana’a and it’s’ 7500 ft.; not sure why the clue was 7200+ ft? Anyway… a nit to pick, along with the TRAP dupe that really made me question whether BEAR TRAPS was right.. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Otherwise, a nice grid on Saturday. I solved the bottom half before having to really tackle the top half; still, quite a bit under my Saturday average (though I think my stats are a bit skewed from my first year of solving where I really struggled with Saturdays).

      • Gary R says:

        Re: Elevation of Sana’a – there seems to be some conflicting information out there. Britannica says the elevation is “… more than 7,200 feet (2,200 metres).” UNESCO uses the same 2,200 metres. On the Wikipedia page, in the introductory text, they cite “2,300 metres (7,500 feet),” but in the summary information on the righthand side of the page, they cite “2,250 m (7,380 ft).”

        So I guess Joel & Company chose a clue that all these sources agree works?

  3. Mike says:

    The ABC in the top left cutely mirrors the XYZ in the bottom right.

  4. MattF says:

    Today’s NYT was significantly easier for me than yesterday’s. Hard at first to get a foothold, but ELECTRACOMPLEX opened the bottom half and it wasn’t too hard to work upwards from there.

    • DougC says:

      +1. Significantly easier than Friday.

      Our local hospital’s Imaging Dept. is where you go to get x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. XRAYLAB sounds very dated to my ears, as does TRUEDAT.

    • JohnH says:

      I found the half below the black-square diagonal easier than Friday’s, but the top half hard enough. All told, an interesting grid with interesting fill. Hard enough for Saturday and very nice challenges.

  5. huda says:

    Mind meld with the constructor! It felt good and rewarding! Loved many of the long entries, and the connected CARTE BLANCHE.
    MAE as a middle name brought back memories. I go by my maiden name and have no middle name, but my husband’s last name is Watson. He’s from New Orleans, and when we first got married, some friends started calling me teasingly “Huda Mae Watson”. It still cracks me up. I need to start a blog under that name.

  6. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: smooth (by Stumper standards…) until middle left. Had API instead of EPA and that stopped me dead. Finally took it out and saw DISMANTLED.

    Also the ENCOMIA/CIC cross I didn’t even bother filling in. Didn’t even bother running the alphabet. Just revealed that square once I was done with the rest of the puzzle. Never heard the word ENCOMIA, and what the heck is CIC? Even googling isn’t helping.

    • pannonica says:

      CIC is commander-in-chief, aka the president. Encomia is the plural of the relatively more common encomium. There was even a Led Zeppelin tribute album with that title.

  7. David L says:

    NYT was a tad harder for me than yesterday. AGEOFMAMMALS seems informal but legit. XRAYLAB is green painty — whenever I’ve had XRAYS it’s either been at the dentist or at a radiology lab/dept.

    Stumper: I got through it somehow — but so many questions! Didn’t understand ENTS for ‘balance checkers’ and still don’t understand RPM or NODS. I had BRB before BBL (which makes me think of the oil industry) and DUTY before FATE. AFROBEAT isn’t exclusively Nigerian. There’s a real subatomic particle called the X boson, so XPARTICLE doesn’t ring true to me. The clue for OLE is weird — it’s still used (in Ole Miss) for example, and it doesn’t mean passe.

    As for NORAH and ELLIE — they’re cousins, I guess, but I don’t know them.

    • pannonica says:

      If you’re nodding off, you probably aren’t alert or wary. RPM is apparently just what the clue says: the name of Trivial Pursuit’s music edition of the game. The original, all-purpose one was called Genus Edition.

      Age of Mammals is the informal appellation for the Cenozoic Era and is totally fine.

      • David L says:

        Thanks. I was thinking that the clue for NODS was implying that a ‘nod’ meant you were saying OK to something and therefore weren’t way of it. Either way, it’s a very Stumpery clue.

      • Eric H says:

        C’mon! All of us Trivial Pursuit adepts know that the original version is the Genius Edition! :-)

    • David L says:

      And I meant to say that the clue for PONT in the Stumper — Vue depuis la Tour Eiffel — is laughably random. Un pont, la Seine, une bateau, le Champs d’Elysee, plusieurs des batiments, Montmarte (peut-etre), vous l’appelez (as Art Buchwald might have put it).

      • Martin says:

        It’s a lovely stroll across the Pont d’Iéna from the base of the Eiffel Tower to the Trocadero. Not the most helpful clue, but “laughably random” is a bit harsh.

      • Eric H says:

        I didn’t do today’s Stumper, but that’s a fine clue. It tells you you’re looking for a French word. “Vue” is close enough to the English that most reasonably well-educated puzzle solvers can figure out what it means, even if they don’t know any French.

        The randomness seems a hallmark of Stumper clueing. You just have to wait for a cross or two to suggest the answer.

    • JohnH says:

      I did wonder about AGE OF MAMMALS, which I never thought had given name to an age or should, and X-RAY LAB. Once offices were more likely to have their own x-ray machines if it accorded with their practice, but now that they’re almost all affiliated with this mega-hospital or that, they’ll refer you, saving costs while adding a billable item. But then in turn the same lab may do other scans as well. It varies.

      I’m still not sure I get the CEASE AND DESIST question-mark clue.

      • Lois says:

        CEASE AND DESIST is a legal letter saying to stop something. The question mark is not required on a Saturday, but was good for my level. It’s a play on the usual meaning of “letter of the law.”

        • JohnH says:

          I know what CEASE AND DESIST means. I guess that as a legal order it’s a letter from the law, but that can’t be enough, and it can’t be what you mean. So, hmmm. A letter might be something that allows something, taken punnily, but this is the opposite. So no, I’m still not getting it.

  8. Papa John says:

    Amy: Port authorities are all over the globe.

    While on vacation in Honduras, we hired a private driver with the colorful name of Mr. Strawberry. He showed us around in his ’58 black Cadillac. Hardly a minute would go by without him uttering 28 Across, “True dat.” He took us in a forest and howled to the howler monkeys. The trees erupted in a cacophony of hooting and hollering as dozens of screaming monkeys scampered down the trees to see who was making the call. It was quite extraordinary.

  9. Dan says:

    NYT: A very fine puzzle today!

    (I prefer to see Elektra spelled with a K, but that would be harder to fit in a diagram.)

    • JohnH says:

      I did start with a K. Not that the term really ever did catch on all that much. It was originally a response to Freud’s masculine bias in foregrounding his Oedipus complex, but by the time objections to him had caught on, it was easier just to dump the whole complex of complexes.

  10. Oli says:

    As I suspected, Saturday easier than Friday for NYT. Just wish Joel could get it to be consistent. Good puzzle today

  11. Lily says:

    LAT: The puzzle pictured is Monday’s puzzle, although the write-up correctly refers to today’s puzzle.

  12. sanfranman59 says:

    From the FWIW department … My LAT solve times have become much more erratic during the Patti Varol era than they were under Rich Norris’s editorship. There’s now virtually no difference between my Monday and Tuesday solve times and the same is true of Wednesday and Thursday which are both about 30% slower than Monday and Tuesday. My Friday and Saturday times vary greatly from week to week. Today, I posted one of my fastest ever Saturday solve times after having my first Saturday DNF of 2024 last week. When Rich was editor, my average solve times gradually increased by about a minute from Monday through Friday and then there was a slightly bigger gap between Friday and Saturday.

    • Seattle DB says:

      +1 (and I think the Varol era hasn’t found its footing in editing or puzzle scheduling. Oh well.)

  13. DougC says:

    NYT: re BEATNIK: “In the 1950s, a Beatnik subculture formed around the [Beat Generation] literary movement, although this was often viewed critically by major authors of the Beat movement.” (Wikipedia). Dobie Gillis was a beatnik. Jack Kerouac was not.

  14. Papa John says:

    pannonica: “Christina’s World” is a painting by Andrew Wyeth depicting an invalid woman (girl) in the midst of an endless grass tract, gesturing toward a distant farmhouse. It has a spiritual sense about it while it makes a comment about the isolation of rural humanity. Many critics consider it banal and sentimental, yet the painting has become the subject of numerous interpretations in popular culture.

  15. BlueIris says:

    Stumper: Ugh! The outer edge from top to right bottom was TOUGH! Like someone above, I had “brb”; like pannonica, I had “atms,” etc., etc.

  16. Katie says:

    @pannonica / on wsj —
    “I Can Dream About You” = fun circa-1984 link there. (MTV vibe, for sure.)
    …and the “Milquetoast” comment had me jumping immediately to xwordinfo — [i.e., wondering “how often has that word ever been either a Word or part of a clue”?]

    Anyhoo: fun read/review.
    Skimming the review, I was thinking, “gee, using OPERATION twice (30a and 78a) seems — pretty weird.”

    Looked more closely: 30a is (of course) “MASTERMIND PAYDAY” — just a typo, I think — so no repeats there.

    But, more to the point here — Oh boy, now I’m curious to look at the actual puzzle b/c:
    Terrible ratings, but the general idea actual seemed/felt kinda/sorta solid (to me)?
    [Oh well, I guess?]

    • Katie says:

      (oops: “actually seemed”) — somewhat random comments here, I know, but pairing game names seems like a clever meta-idea, for sure — was all I meant. (Then curious: what would make that good idea work better??)

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