Saturday, June 22, 2024

LAT 2:59 (Stella) 


Newsday 18:48 (pannonica) 


NYT 6:25 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Hoang-Kim Vu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/22/24 – no. 0622

Dang, there were a lot of things I didn’t know in this puzzle!

First up, fave fill: MISO PASTE, SPOON REST, DEATH SPIRAL, BROACHES, PLANT-SITTER (the clue perplexed me: [Temporary water provider] sounded like some sort of hose), the TROPICANA, SWEET PEAS, clothing STEAMERS, BOBA TEA, HOT DATE.

Wasn’t wild about ENTR’ACTES (which I mainly know from the formerly overused entry ENTR), ATRA (the clue, [___ Plus (pharmacy brand)], is misleading, as you don’t need to go to a drugstore to buy razors), “HERE’S A TIP,” TESTEES, BESTREW, SEA MAPS.

In the “unfamiliar to me” category:

  • 36d. [Ballet exercises done at a barre], FRAPPES. Here are the various things this word can mean.
  • 52a. [Cuban instrument that ironically has six strings], TRES. Here’s the Wikipedia article, and here’s a video with people playing the tres cubano.
  • 45d. [All ___ (phrase in some nondenominational church names)], FAITHS. Never heard of this, nope. Many of the Google hits for “all faiths” church are for a single congregation in Fort Myers.
  • 21d. [Handheld object used to release excess energy], STIM TOY. I’ll assume this is something made for folks on the autism spectrum … yep. Here’s a website with stim toys for adults. Fidget cubes, among other things.
  • I think this is about American football: 44a. [One in the last line of defense, typically], SAFETY. Clue feels a tad oblique for those of us not fully fluent in football.

Another thing: 29a. [A migraine sufferer might take one, for short], EEG? I think that’s pretty uncommon. “Might” is doing a lot of work here.

Interesting clue: 6d. [Historically, it corresponded with how much a farmer could plow in one day], ACRE. Not sure I’d ever heard that before.

3.5 stars from me. The clunkier bits of fill left me wanting more in the DEATH SPIRAL vein, less in the TESTEES direction.

Wendy L. Brandes & John Lieb’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Easter egg I didn’t notice until well after I had finished solving: the stack of CRISS-CROSS on top of APPLESAUCE, which I’m guessing was the seed for this puzzle. Cute!

Los Angeles Times 6/22/24 by Wendy L. Brandes & John Lieb

Los Angeles Times 6/22/24 by Wendy L. Brandes & John Lieb

Notes and highlights:

  • 26A [Letters that end a fight] is a nice angle for the ubiquitous TKO.
  • 31A [Spotted] is a tough way to clue CALICO and I’m here for the toughness!
  • 44A [One who may taunt “Mom loves me best”] feels like it might be triggering for some people, ha. (There’s a 13-year age gap between me and my brother and he didn’t come to this country until I was 10, so we didn’t really do this to each other!)
  • 64A [Big name in salad dressing] is KEN’S, but something tells me the constructors originally clued this with reference to the multiple KENS in the Barbie movie.
  • 1D [Boardwalk business] is ARCADE, which was very pleasantly evocative of Silverball, which is probably the coolest place in New Jersey.
  • 7D [Places with stacks of silver dollars] is IHOPS. Normally I don’t love entries that pluralize things you’re not likely to encounter in groups in real life, but the clue is clever enough that I can forgive that.
  • 11D [Begin to open up?] is a clever angle on UNBUTTON.
  • 30D [Furious and then some] is APOPLECTIC, a word that’s just fun to say out loud.
  • 32D [Help in turning a double into a triple] is COT, and I gotta say this one fooled me for a while into thinking it was about baseball, especially since Patti Varol ❤️❤️❤️ baseball. In fact, it’s about turning a double hotel room into having space for three. Nice deception!

Laura Effinger-Dean’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Express Elevator” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/22/24 • Sat • “Express Elevator” • Effinger-Dean • solution • 20240622

I didn’t observe the title until starting this write-up, but it’s a perfect choice.

  • 42dR [Mentally agile, and a hint to the circled letters] QUICK ON THE UPTAKE. Those circled letters (in vertical entries) constitute synonyms for speed. They’re travelling up, as they’re in reverse order.
  • 3d. [Utterance upon entering a garage] NOW WHERE DID I PARK (rapid).
  • 6d. [“Don’t look at this in front of your boss!”] NOT SAFE FOR WORK (fast).
  • 12d. [They’re used for reinforcing concrete] STEEL FIBERS (fleet).
  • 55d. [TV segment whose first selection was “The Deep End of the Ocean”] OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB. Okay, maybe I was wrong about these being synonyms for speed, because this one (and the next) exemplify the whole shebang: ‘quick on the uptake’.
  • 70d. [Any of more than 1,700 in Melbourne] TRAM STATION (smart).

Okay, reassessment time. I guess fast works in place of ‘quick on the uptake’ (as do smart and sharp), but I feel rapid only works as a synonym connoting speed. So I’m having trouble holding this theme together in my mind. Am I missing something?

  • 13a [Olympians, e.g.] GODS. Yes, but check out these electric vehicles.
  • 32a [English article] THE. Yes, well.
  • 39a [Spooky crafts] UFOS. Yep, I was thinking of Halloween-type projects.
  • 54a [Tree whose trunk may be more than 40 feet in diameter] BAOBAB, but I reflexively put in BANYAN, even though they can be significantly larger (depending on how you qualify the trunk).
  • 65a [Like blue-green, colorwise] TERTIARY. The primary (reflective) colors are red, yellow, and blue, Green is a secondary hue, and combining it again generates a TERTIARY.
  • 71a [“You in?”] WANNA / 72a [“So are we!”] US TOO.
  • 86a [It’s a “theocratic republic,” according to the CIA] IRAN. And some influential people want the same for the US.
  • 89a [One might be passed on the track] BATON. Nice clue.
  • 102a [Intro to art?] THOU. Also good.
  • 119a [Four letters, perhaps] MAIL. Uh, ok? But why four, or is the answer “why not”?
  • 127a [Dissenting chorus] NOS. 78d [Russian refusal] NYET, also the word I use to chastise my cat, on the theory that it’s more distinctive than ‘no’. 90d [Informal refusal] NAH.
  • 1d [Big supporter?] D-CUP. A little surprised to see this in the WSJ.
  • 23d [Knight’s title, on “Game of Thrones”] SER. Fine, but I guess I’d prefer presenting it as the more universal Spanish infinitive.
  • 28d [Belgian brew] SOUR ALE, such as the copper-colored Rodenbach Red. Yum!
  • 30d [Made hole?] DUG. Ohhhh, I’m just  now seeing the pun on whole. During the solve I thought the play was on the phrase at face value, something akin to made bank.
  • 48d [Some bottled waters] DASANIS. The name seems to a purely marketing creation with no intentional etymology.
  • 74d [Trio of Greek myth personifying the seasons] HORAE. That’s a reference I haven’t encountered in a long while indeed. In some accounts, the HORAE guarded the gates of Olympus, so we get a callback to 13-across.
  • 75d [Flowing cirrus clouds] MARE’S TAILS. Not sure that I’ve heard this before. Wikipedia informs me that the particular subcategory is cirrus uncinus, where uncinus means ‘hook’. (4d [Lengthens, as a fishing line] UNREELS.)
  • 76d [Former third-biggest lake in the world] ARAL SEA. Shed a tear.

Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up

Newsday • 6/22/24 • Saturday Stumper • Zawistowski • solution • 20240622

In the constellation of Saturday Stumpers, this one rates as rather easy, but of course none of these are a walk in the park.

My solve this time was characterized by a lot of entries I got on a second attempt.

  • 1a [Grant for good] ENDOW. This should have been a gimme, but I needed some crossings to jog my mind.
  • 6a [Alternative to 9] SEPT. This flummoxed me well and good, inexplicably.
  • 10a [Four-year-old program] PRE-K. Once I got rid of SOLO at 11d [Aviation challenge] ROLL, I was able to derive the correct answer. Thanks also to 17a [Solo profession] I’M ALL ALONE and duplications not being much of a thing in Newman-edited crosswords. (3d [Aviation challenge] DRAG.)
  • 14a [Filler of notebooks now stored in lead-lined boxes] MARIE CURIE. Great clue, in that it takes just the right amount of brainpower to reason it out.
  • 19a [Abbr. on Del Monte labels] REG. Uh, ok?
  • 34a [Street with Handy’s Blues Hall] BEALE.
  • 37a [Early retirement vehicles] BASSINETS. Seeing through this one (eventually) broke open a lot of the grid for me.
  • 40a [Breakup music?] ARPEGGIO, which is the “production of the tones of a chord in succession and not simultaneously” (
  • 42a [Tadpole-shaped small things] RHOS>side-eye<
  • 44a [It preceded a Sam Walton premiere by six months] KMART. Another clue that rewarded some considered historical reasoning.
  • 50a [Lubricant source of OPEC unconcern] EMU. 56a [Lubricant source of OPEC concern] OMAN. 1d [Address associated with OPEC] EMIR. 4d [ __ drum] OIL. Just what the hell is going on here.
  • 59a [News __ ] FEED, not REEL.
  • 60a [Audible kicks] MOANS. Huh?
  • 5d [Taekwondo class] WELTERWEIGHT. Thanks once again to the “dupe rule” I was able to move away from somethingCLASS in 21d [Where dogs are often led around] BAGGAGE CLAIM. (Presumably these are drug-sniffing dogs employed by customs agents and the like.)
  • 8d [Tavern serving] PINT GLASS. No idea why my mind first went to WINE GLASS.
  • 24d [Article that sounds like a literary alias] EIN, for AYN Rand. Whatever.
  • 25d [Playful poetic pattern] AABBA, aka a limerick.
  • 27d [Postal service metallic concern] CLASP. “Concern”? Do we just mean item or feature here? Concern in that sense?
  • 29d [Wishing-well verb] BLESS. Note significant hyphenation.
  • 44d [Grinding It Out memoirist] KROC. That’s dark.
  • 46d [Off by a lot] AFAR. One of my first bits of fill here.

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48 Responses to Saturday, June 22, 2024

  1. Eric H. says:

    NYT: Much more challenging than Friday’s NYT puzzle. I was glad for the proper names that got me started (Uzo ADUBA, NORA, and especially Arundhati ROY, whose “The God of Small Things” is one of my favorite novels).

    I liked the clues for ART STORE and SYNAPSE. I’m less keen on answers like TESTEES and BESTREW; neither seems like something I have ever heard in casual conversation. I’m also not sure I buy “Illuminating example” as a clue for ANALOGY, which to me implies a comparison. “Epitome” seems closer to the clue.

    • huda says:

      Agree with TESTEE. As someone who runs a lab with both human and animal studies, I’ve never thought of them as testees…
      I’m not so sure about the clue for SYNAPSE. I guess you need them to think, but I felt it was a stretch.
      Is ANALOGY really an example?
      FRAPPES, PERES helped me, as did the SWEET PEAS.

      • Martin says:

        An analogy can be an example. “If we think of the immune system as a police force, we can think of the T-cells as the SWAT team.”

        I’m sure you can come up with a better one, but this form of analogy as illuminating example is common.

    • JohnH says:

      I knew NORA, but not ROY (or is crossing FRAPPES) or ADUBA or much else. Felt a bit too obscure, with too few opportunities to puzzle it out. (In fact, I did stumble on TESTEE and was grateful for something I could stumble on like that.) Some entries were truly ingenious, but I fear the overwhelming negative ratings are justified.

  2. Me says:

    NYT: I also struggled with the unfamiliar terms. I had STIMmeY crossing BReACHES and AmRA instead of STIMTOY/BROACHES/ATRA for a very long time.

  3. Greg says:

    I partially agree with the critiques about the difficult clueing in the NYT, but part of me thinks that’s just what makes for a particularly challenging Saturday.

    I floundered around for a good ten minutes with virtually nothing certain. But then, inch by inch, I ended up completing it (albeit in much slower than my normal time).

    A very tough Saturday. But that just makes it more satisfying when it finally succumbs.

  4. Martin says:

    Yes, “testees” is a word but it would trigger a Beavis and Butthead snicker.

    (It would probably have been a bit more acceptable clued as a room full of AP exam takers.)

    • Lise says:

      I had TESTERS first, as if the guinea pigs were doing the testing. Picture them with little pens and clipboards.

      I found some spots difficult, like the Vin Diesel character I didn’t know crossing SEA MAPS, as I had thought it would be something like “sextant”. Plus I think of them as charts, having developed marine equipment software a (long) while back. But I guess map is accurate enough.

      Overall, I thought the puzzle was Saturday-difficult and had excellent fill.

      • DougC says:

        I had the same problem with the DOM/SEAMAPS pair, and I will respectfully disagree on the accuracy of the latter.

        Sea maps are a thing, but they are made by geographers, to delineate the positions of bodies of water. They will not infrequently carry the warning “not to be used for navigation” precisely because they do not provide adequate information for that purpose.

        Nautical charts compiled by oceanographers are required for navigation.

        • DougC says:

          I also want to “+1” on Amy’s comment re ALL FAITHS as a “phrase in some nondenominational church names.”

          I’ve also never seen this, and the lone congregation that accounts for most of the search hits is Unitarian, which is definitely a denomination.

  5. MattF says:

    A tough NYT. Hard to get a foothold, then slow, word-by-word progress, a lot of incorrect guesses. Nothing really obscure, though— just slow going.

    • sorry after after says:

      Yes, a good Saturday workout, notwithstanding the colossal, very distracting dupe at 43-A. It was the last answer to fall for me, not so much because I’m unfamiliar with the writer but that Roy the magician appeared so prominently in the clue for 56-A.

  6. Laura E-D says:

    For WSJ, my intention was for the highlighted words to be synonyms of QUICK, and for ON THE UPTAKE to explain why they are moving upwards.

  7. Re: the Stumper: For “Where dogs are often led around,” I thought of someone’s feet (dogs) taking them round and round the baggage carousel. Thanks for clearing it up!

    • BlueIris says:

      All I could think of was if a dog traveled in the cargo hold that might be where the owner picked them up, but thought they would stay in their crates, so drug sniffing dogs makes more sense. I haven’tseen that, but I haven’t flown in a while.

  8. David L says:

    NYT was tough but good. I mistakenly put in BROACHES for BREACHES, which kept me from seeing STIMTOY, so a DNF.

    Stumper was relatively easy. The OPEC thing was perplexing, and the clue for OMAN made me think that country was producing under-the-counter lubricants against OPEC rules, or something similarly arcane. The EIN clue was similarly puzzling – I guess AYN Rand is technically an alias, as is Lewis Carroll, but those names are far better known than the real names.

    And in the clue for ERATO, that should be ‘who’, not ‘whom’, surely. It’s Erato who inspires the poet’s mind, not vice versa.

    • BlueIris says:

      I have never heard Ayn pronounced, so somewhat assumed it was like Ann. :)

    • Pilgrim says:

      I can’t exactly wrap my head around it (and I’m probably way overthinking it), but even changing to “who,” it seems that clue for ERATO is worded very oddly.
      “Now, Erato, thy poet’s mind inspire,
      And fill his soul with thy celestial fire!”
      The object in the sentence is clearly “thy poet’s mind” but since “inspire” is an imperative verb, the subject is the implied “you.”
      I think the clue intentionally used “whom” since the imperative is directed “to” Erato. But then there seems to be a missing word – “Whom Dryden’s “poet’s mind inspire” [exhorts].”

  9. Dan says:

    NYT: A good, tough puzzle, but not a killer.

    I am sorry to say that Arundhati Roy is currently being harassed by the Indian government.

  10. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: For “Audible kicks,” I think kicks are like things you get a kick out of. Maybe. A moan is a way to express pleasure, which could be called a kick, I guess?

    • David L says:

      What came to my mind was sex, but maybe that’s just me…

    • Gary R says:

      I had no idea on MOANS. Your explanation seems like a stretch – but this IS the Stumper.

      @pannonica – the Postal Service’s concern with a CLASP is that an envelope with a clasp can jam sorting equipment. From the USPS website:

      “TIP: If your envelope can’t fit through USPS mail processing machines, or is rigid, lumpy or has clasps, string, or buttons, it’s “nonmachinable” and you’ll have to pay $0.44 more to send it. (See additional postage in Step 3.) You’ll also have to pay more if your envelopes are square or vertical (taller than they are wide).”

    • BlueIris says:

      Yes, “moans” was one of the ones I just do not understand. Another is “orangelos” — never heard of them. The last is “exclamation on a hit list” with an answer of “oof” — to me, “oof” is not on a list — it’s the sound one makes when hit.

    • BlueIris says:

      If correct, VERY much streching it!

    • Martin says:

      I think this is the key to this entry.

  11. Bonekrusher says:

    I thought the Saturday Stumper was excellent, but I accidentally rated it 2 stars instead of 4.5 stars. AMY, could you please correct that in my rating? Thanks.

  12. Mitchs says:

    Pannonica, I got a good chuckle out of “Just what the hell is going on here.”

  13. Margaret says:

    LAT shows the wrong grid though the write-up is for today.

    • john ervin says:

      Yeah, finally a comment on the LA Times puzzle. Yes, wrong grid. This one kept me busy for quite a while ( wont divulge for how long). Lots of clever clues I thought.
      1A emery at first, 10A mess at first. 31A espied originally, 2D millet and so on.
      Can someone explain 45D Ithaca? ( or should I say would someone….)

      • Eric H. says:

        ITHACA is Odysseus’ home. Presumably the “course” is the course of his journey home from Troy.

    • sorry after after says:

      Second time in three weeks for the wrong grid with the write-up. Wasn’t corrected last time either. Insult upon injury for those of us who still miss Derek!

  14. Gene says:

    Stumper – CLASP is presumably a postal concern because of mail sorters.

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