Saturday, June 15, 2024

LAT 2:36 (Stella) 


Newsday 33:46 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:07 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Ryan Judge’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/15/24 – no. 0615

Saturdayish difficulty level, check.

Fave fill: SMOOCH (and yes, I tried to think of a unit of volume bigger than a peck here), CHILDHOOD MEMORY, DOG LEASH, SNAKEBITE, ALFREDO to go with assorted PESTOS, SIN-EATER, AHI TUNA, ANDROIDS, NAME-DROPPED.

Oh, hey, this puzzle has diagonal symmetry along the NW-to-SE axis. 15-Across is a 15 that’s mirrored by 1d “AM I MAKING THAT UP?”, which doesn’t feel entirely idiomatic to me.

Three things:

  • Never heard of: 25a. [Rafael ___, All-Star third baseman for the Red Sox], DEVERS. He’s a current player who recently hit home runs in six games in a row, so it would be churlish to complain that retired track & field star Gail Devers should have been in the clue.
  • 7d. [Like a celebrity friend, often], NAME-DROPPED. Last night, I saw David Kwong’s show, The Enigmatist, at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Magic, history, cryptography, and puzzles including a crossword constructed onstage. Delightful! If you’re in the Chicago area and can get tickets before the show closes at the end of the month, you should go. The Thursday evening show included a Q&A afterwards with WTTW (Chicago’s PBS affiliate) host Geoffrey Baer, whose TV specials are always informative and fun. And I think Baer, an NYT crossword fan, might read Diary of a Crossword Fiend? He called it “the nice one.”
  • I also didn’t know this one: 26d. [Places for rook piercings], EARS. Here are some details for you.

3.5 stars from me.

Mark MacLachlan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Career Options” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/15/24 • Sat • “Career Options” • MacLachlan • solution • 20240615

Alternative, witty ways—which are themselves familiar phrases ending with ‘job’—of describing professions:

  • 23a. [Snow job?] SKI LIFT OPERATOR.
  • 32a. [Plum job?] FRUIT PICKER.
  • 41a. [Union job?] WEDDING OFFICIANT.
  • 63a. [Rush job?] DEFENSIVE END.
  • 70a. [Print job?] CALLIGRAPHER.
  • 89a. [Inside job?] INTERIOR DESIGNER.
  • 97a. [Paint job?] ILLUSTRATOR.
  • 112a. [Dream job?] PSYCHOTHERAPIST.

  • 68a [Printer speed meas.] PPM, pages per minute. (It’s also the initialism for parts per million in solutions.) 15a [Hammermill packages] REAMS.
  • 72d [Drops out?] RAIN. Out as in outside, I assume. 78d [It’s blowing in the wind] AIR—this seems like it might be a philosophical question. Or maybe just semantic.
  • 73d [Atlas topper] NOSECONE, 74d [Atlas page feature] INSET.
  • 7a [Texas blue topaz, e.g.] STATE GEM, which in-grid looks to me A LOT (57a) like stratagem.
  • Sanjay Acharya / Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

    35a [Garden frother] SPITBUG. Have never heard this. Wikipedia informs me that they are the nymphs of froghoppers and are often called spittlebugs, which maaaybe I’ve heard by that name?

  • 52a [Have a bad look?] LEER. 25a [Have a long look] STARE.
  • 76a [Movie you can’t skip] A MUST. Just read this interesting Slate article about films that can only be experienced live: “If You Don’t See These Movies Now, You Never Will
  • 78a [Nervous conductors?] AXONS. There was a healthy dose of question-mark clues in this crossword. This one ends up looking as if it’s describing a profession.


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

Los Angeles Times 6/15/24 by Rich Norris

Los Angeles Times 6/15/24 by Rich Norris

Boy, was I NOT expecting this solve time with this byline. Too easy! Notables:

  • 1A [Hustle] is in fact a tough clue for MAKE TRACKS, but the first three Down entries were too quick to fall for this to trip me up for long.
  • 16A [Rock, paper, or scissors] is NOUN. I’ve now seen this clue trope for NOUN(S) enough times that I’m ready for a moratorium.
  • 18A [Defense mechanism] is a fun clue for FORT that I totally missed while solving because the 7-letter Downs crossing it were so easy to get.
  • 20A [Online service since April 1, 2004] is GMAIL, which prompted the oxymoronic reaction in me of “wow, 20 years?” and “but I feel like it’s been around forever!”
  • 34A It’s been a while since I’ve seen SPYS in a puzzle (reprints of older ones excepted), but there wasn’t an excessive number of such dated-feeling references in this puzzle so I didn’t mind this one very much.
  • 50A [Barrel racing events], although nice and evocative, is way too straightforward a clue for RODEOS on Saturday! Save it for a Tuesday IMO.
  • 62A [Convenience one can bank on, familiarly] is ATM MACHINE, and I feel like there was a missed opportunity to make fun of the redundancy in the phrase.
  • 7D [Highway through Whitehorse] is ALCAN, or the Alaska Highway (it’s short for “Alaska” and “Canada”). This is another entry I don’t see much any more, but unlike SPYS it doesn’t feel dated, since folks are presumably still driving the ALCAN. (Google AI says 300K per year, but Google AI also says to put glue in your pizza sauce, so I’d take that number with a large grain of salt.)
  • 39A [Gas use exhortation?] was my favorite clue in the puzzle. Rather than referring to using less gas as the surface reading might imply, it’s about adding more to get some speed: FLOOR IT.
  • 52A [Rajas topping] is CREMA, which is nice and evocative and making me hungry for some tacos.
  • 55A [First country to legalize same-sex marriage: Abbr.] is NETH (short for the Netherlands). I learned this fact from Drag Race Holland, naturally.

Kate Chin Park’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 6/15/24 • Saturday Stumper • Park • solution • 20240615

This one was a beast. So many difficult clues.

  • 1a [Outpay, but not outearn] PIG LATIN. The upper left section was the last part of the grid that I completed, and this was one of the final entries I got. >pout<
  • 9a [Row houses] FRATS, as in fraternity row, not literally rowhouses.
  • 14a [Campus coveralls?] FREE RIDES. Full scholarships.
  • 17a [Insincerity indication] FALSE NOTE. For a time I was desperately considering something-NOSE, thinking about Pinocchio.
  • 18a [Under no longer] AWAKE. As from general anesthesia.
  • 25a [Upper-class performers?] ALTOS. Even with the question mark, this clue feels kind of loose.
  • 29a [Subdued] BEAT.
  • 31a [Intangibles like goodwill] ASSETS. Or perhaps this clue.
  • 35a [Cap wearer’s sassy slogan] BAD HAIR, DON’T CARE. I was expecting the answer to be what the slogan on said cap would be, but this seems more like a timely or explanatory quip from said wearer. Clue is fine, but it’s—again—tricky.
  • 40a [Orange’s origin] ASIA. But I was primed to thinking about naranja from Spanish, after the similar 38a [Algebra’s origin] ARABIC. Investigating further, the etymology goes like this: “Middle English, from Anglo-French orrange, araunge, from Old Occitan auranja, from Arabic nāranj, from Persian nārang, from Sanskrit nāraṅga orange tree” (m-w)
  • 43a [Puzz to crack] CRYPT. Oh COME ON. No, no, no.
  • 48a [Impeding passage?] ONE LANE. I understand that one-lane roads (or bridges) can lead to vehicles waiting their turns, but the clue seems a bit beyond the bend.
  • 57a [Be a bumbler?] DRONE. This is the sense of the verb that the bumble in bumblebee comes from.
  • 58a [Waiting periods] DOT DOT DOT. Fiendish.
  • 1d [Malfunction message] PFFT. Li’l bit tenuous.
  • 6d [Spearing participants] TINES. This is an example of a certain kind of Stumper clue, where a weird word choice renders the clue nearly indecipherable. ‘Participants’, while accurate, is just not what one would normally say or write.
  • 9d [Ultimately plain?] FLATTEST. The most unvarnished, or perhaps the most like a geographical plain.
  • 26d [“Fly guy” with a daughter named Shanda] LEAR. Just now realizing this is about Learjet. Are we supposed to see through the “fly guy” pun? Are we supposed to know his daughter’s name? Is there some other significance to her name?
  • 32d [Less than satisfying, to some] EASY. Okay fine, but let us not go too far in the other direction.
  • 36d [Showtimes] AIR DATES, not CURTAINS.
  • 43d [It’s in the definitions of “stalemate” and “sour grapes”] CANNOT. Wow, just, I mean, W O W. Talk about idiosyncratic.
  • 45d [Mes despues de Navidad] ENERO. aka, the only Spanish month truly useful in crosswords, aside from MAYO which is typically clued some other way.
  • 47d [Storms with precipitation] RAIDS. Like … a hail of bullets?
  • 50d [Fashionably tea-length] MIDI. Suitable for 1920’s-style high tea occasions.
  • 52d [Lay back] -ETTE, not EASE (I wasn’t convinced that was correct, but for a long time couldn’t think of anything better).
  • 55d [No longer available, as ISBNs] OOP, out of print books.


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18 Responses to Saturday, June 15, 2024

  1. Ethan says:

    not often i would have finished a puzzle with the same score, were we at the ACPT, as Amy.

    6:22 which is way easy for a Saturday for me. just no rough spots.

    i liked the factoid at 1A!

  2. OMG Kate says:

    Dat Stumper hurt!

  3. MattF says:

    NYT felt like slow work, but filled in average time. A variety of odd facts, but no stoppers.

  4. Mutman says:

    NYT: I love diagonal symmetry and this puzzle was perfect challenge for me

    SW was last to fall. Good stuff!

  5. MattG says:

    Stumper: The name Shanda Lear is notable when you realize that it’s pronounced like “chandelier” and Lear jets are known for opulence. I had heard her name before so I was able to answer it with just one crossing.

  6. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: cam someone explain how “Will hold” is TAKES? I get that it’s like a thing that’s held in a will, but what are “takes” in a will?

    • Seth Cohen says:

      OH WAIT I get it now. Not a will at all. If something “takes,” it will hold. Like, it’ll remain intact. I overthought it!

      • Gary R says:

        I thought it might also work as an indication of capacity – “My car’s gas tank TAKES 18 gallons.”

  7. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: It’s funny how YMMV a concept like “in the language” can be. I normally complain about stuff like this but AM I MAKING THAT UP seems totally in the language to me.

  8. In the Stumper, I think “Storms with precipitation” is meant to suggest sudden action. To precipitate: “to bring about especially abruptly” (Merriam-Webster).

    I remember once asking students to think about the difference between “free ride” and “full ride.” The Google Ngram Viewer shows “full ride scholarship” on the rise since 1980 and “free ride scholarship” as non-existent. But “free ride” alone rises far above “full ride.” I’ve always thought of a college scholarship as “full ride.”

    And “Cap wearer’s sassy slogan” made me first think of something written atop a mortarboard. You can buy a cap with the “Bad hair…” slogan:

  9. Dan says:

    NYT: A fine Saturday challenge today. Not unusually tough, but thoroughly satisfying to finish.

  10. RCook says:

    STUMPER: I don’t know how we were supposed to know the name of Bill Lear’s daughter, but I hope her name is pronounced Shanda instead of Shawnda. Shanda Lear is too tempting a pun not to use.

  11. Eric H says:

    Stumper: It took me almost an hour, but I managed it on my own. Some early guesses like TINES came out and went back in again multiple times.

    I liked some of the clues — PIG LATIN (which took a long time but ultimately opened up the NW), FLATTEST and DOT DOT DOT.

    • David L says:

      You did better than me. I took half an hour and got half of it done (from the SW to the NE) then decided my time would be better spent unblocking the bathroom basin drain. Which I did.

      • Eric H says:

        Stumper or plumbing? Hmm. I’d choose the Stumper.

        Congratulations on clearing your drain.

  12. Vega says:


    Shanda Lear. Chandelier. I can only assume it’s supposed to help us know we got it right, but, yeah.

  13. Burak says:

    This week’s Tuesday and Thursday puzzles took me longer to finish than this Saturday. I don’t know what that says difficulty levels but that’s definitely a rare occasion.

Comments are closed.