Saturday, June 29, 2024

LAT 3:48 (Stella) 


Newsday 13:15 (Amy) 


NYT 6:13 (Amy) 


Universal tk (Matthew)  


USA Today tk (Matthew) 


WSJ untimed (Amy) 


Adrian Johnson & Rafael Musa’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 6/29/24 – no. 0629

I need sleep, so quick one tonight.

Fave fill: SNOW ANGEL, STRESS-EAT, UNEVEN BARS, RUSSIAN SPY (though the [Red plant?] clue suggests Russia is Communist and I’m not sure that’s true anymore), PUSHOVER, THEATER DISTRICT, “I WON’T BITE,” NOTES APP (useful!), “OH, WAIT …”

TRAIL AWAY wants to be TRAIL OFF, doesn’t it?

13a. [Islam’s feast of sacrifice], EID AL-ADHA. This one’s the feast of sacrifice, while Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan’s month of fasting. I confess I needed the crossings to be sure of the last four letters.

3.75 stars from me. Good night!

Matthew Stock & Nate Cardin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 6/29/24 by Matthew Stock & Nate Cardin

Los Angeles Times 6/29/24 by Matthew Stock & Nate Cardin

I don’t expect to have to work quite this hard when either of these two lovely humans’ names shows up in a byline, so it was a pleasant surprise to go closer to 4 than to 3 minutes here. I’m also pretty sure I can point to which seed belongs to Nate, who’s a big fan of Ted Lasso and who I therefore think is responsible for AFC RICHMOND in the center of the grid.

There are a lot of very clever cluing angles in here:

  • 45A [Postelection figure] feels like an angle for ALSO-RAN that I haven’t seen before.
  • 54A [Social media account?] is SNAP STORY, and boy did this entry make me feel old. (It refers to Snapchat, for my fellow middle-aged folks.)
  • 5D [Criminal record?] is a BOOTLEG CD. Ha! This clue takes me back to the aughts, when people selling bootleg CDs and DVDs on the NYC subway was a thing.
  • 33D [Ace of clubs?] is a HOLE IN ONE. So good!
  • 53D [Take sides?] is CROP, as in “taking the sides” of an image. Probably my favorite clue in the puzzle, and for an entry that could have been a throwaway, no less.

Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”—Amy’s recap

Newsday crossword solution, 6/26/24 “Saturday Stumper”

Hi, it’s Amy filling in for pannonica, who’s under the weather.

Finished this one without too much agita, which is all you can hope for with a Stumper. I didn’t get mired in clues that were so oblique I couldn’t make any progress.


I generally use a lot of -ish formations but MOISTISH just sounds wrong to me. Also not wild about SLATY (suspect I’ve only ever seen the word in crosswords), TO LET (never do we see the slightest hint that this isn’t really an American usage, that “for rent” is the term of art in this country), and the dreadful E-MAG. Slate and Salon might’ve been called e-mags occasionally 25+ years ago, but oof. Kick it out of your word lists, constructors!

Three clues:

  • 49d. [Service Games of Japan, today], SEGA. I like this bit of trivia. Didn’t know where the gaming company Sega got its name.
  • 6d. [Theresa successor], BORIS. As British PM, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
  • 55d. [Brief authentication presentation], DOC. As when you’re going to the DMV to get a RealID-compliant license, and you have to bring assorted documents proving your identity and address.

3.75 stars from me.

Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Permission to Come Aboard”—Amy’s recap

Wall Street Journal crossword solution, “Permission to Come Aboard,” 6/29/24

Filling in again for pannonica, but phoning it in. I now lack the patience to enjoy filling in a 21x crossword (dont @ me), so I revealed the solution rather than working the puzzle.

The theme inserts the word LET into familiar words/phrases, as the title “Permission to Come Aboard” hints at.

  • 22a. [Hair color?], RINGLET TONE.
  • 37a. [Byproduct of a bloody nose?], SCARLET TISSUE.
  • 62a. [Apple Watch, with its crash detection?], BRACELET FOR IMPACT.
  • 89a. [Microscope slide for a blood test?], PLATELET GLASS.
  • 109a. [Broadcast from Elsinore?], HAMLET RADIO. Cute.
  • 11d. [Birthing coach after a surprising ultrasound?], TRIPLET ADVISOR. Also a good one.
  • 48d. [One breaded and grilled and one breaded and fried?], CUTLET BOTH WAYS. Shades of Top Chef! Does a cutlet require breading, though? Are there breaded and grilled meat dishes?

No rating from me, as I didn’t solve the puzzle.

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35 Responses to Saturday, June 29, 2024

  1. John L says:

    If the word “spy” connotes “communism” like you say, then we’re all in big trouble.
    Retraction, please.

  2. David L says:

    NYT was close to my ideal of a good Saturday puzzle. Clever cluing but (with the exception of EIDALADHA) nothing that most solvers won’t know. Although I confess I had to google RIBTOPS to verify that they are a real thing, even though I’m still not entirely sure what they are.

    The SW was the toughest spot for me. Getting big PHARMA and AIRCANADA opened it up.

  3. Martin says:

    A rack of spareribs is shaped like a grand piano lid. They can be cooked as is, but look nicer and are more manageable on the grill if trimmed to be rectangular. (The squared-off rack is called “St. Louis style.”) The excess that’s cut off on the belly (sternum) side is called the rib tips. The excess from the back (spine) side is called the riblets.

    All this excess used to be discarded, but these names made the trim marketable.

    And I hope this discussion doesn’t cause Amy too much discomfort.

  4. Martin says:

    And as long as you asked, yes, Marcella Hazan has a recipe for veal cutlets that are breaded and grilled.

  5. In the Stumper, SLATY could’ve been so easily avoided. Change INDY to INDS and SLATY to SLATS. Sort-of-Stumpery clues for those answers: “Non-partiers,” “Blinds.”

  6. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ … I kinda try to keep tabs on what is considered to be appropriate and accepted non-binary terminology in the language. The last time I looked into LATINX (probably the last time I saw it in a puzzle), I came away with the impression that it hasn’t really been accepted by anyone outside of activist and academic settings, but I definitely don’t have my finger on that pulse. Any Latino/Latina/Latinx folks out there care to chime in? Do non-activist/non-academic people use Latinx? And how do you pronounce it? Is it “Latin-X” or does the second syllable rhyme with “tinks”, as in lynx or minx?

    • Mr. [not at all] Grumpy says:

      I think it’s Latinex, but I am not an expert.

      • Martin says:

        No, it’s Latinx, where “x” stands for “o” or “a.” And I agree that Hispanic persons don’t use that term.

        • Dan says:

          But should the fact that Hispanic persons don’t use that term (not even a little bit?) stop anyone else who wants to use the term from using it?

          Re this term: I have never heard of its being used pejoratively. If it had, that would be a whole nother ball of wax.

      • Martin says:

        OTOH, if you were giving a pronunciation, you’re correct.

  7. Dan says:

    NYT: A strong, very enjoyable challenge for me that took longer than usual for Saturday.

    (I had heard of EID, but not EID AL-ADHA. Which did not help.)

    Red means communist, not Russian.

    Although “Red plant” may have been cute for RUSSIAN SPY, it is simply inaccurate and never should have passed muster from the editor.

    (A modified clue like “Old red plant” would have been fine.

    • Dan says:

      Also, I found the clue “Down during difficult times?” (for STRESS EAT) to be *extraordinarily* deceptive, since it never occurred to me while solving that “Down” is a verb here.

    • Martin says:

      It’s a long-standing rule of crossword cluing that “old,” “once,” “former” or the like may be omitted for brevity. Henry Ford will forever be an industrialist in crossworld. Every editor (and test-solver) knows that.

      Furthermore, such modifiers tend to appear early in the week when they do appear. By Saturday, helpful adjectives are cluing faults.

      • JohnH says:

        I’m not convinced. If Ford were alive today and had given it all up for a highly visible second career as a carnival barker (assuming that’s really different), you might well want to say “once” or “former.” We won’t speculate on what has happened to him in the afterlife.

        Agreed that this was a killer Saturday, maybe the hardest ever, so it might be better to be extra sure it’s tight. Still, no question difficulty has its own rewards. Anyway, SE was my last to fall.

        • Lois says:

          The hardest ever! I can’t agree at all! I know you’re a good solver, JohnH, so it just goes to show how we all react to puzzles differently. I did get one square wrong (I didn’t know the singer at 45A and didn’t think of the Hawaiian coffee we have in the house at the moment), but I don’t think I looked anything up before finishing (of course, the puzzle took me an unmentionable amount of time, but better than usual for a Saturday). I thought I knew a few things that would help me. Some did and some didn’t. I knew the names of all the women’s gymnastics events, and only one had the right number of letters. I had no trouble with the spelling of the holiday, as it turned out. I knew PINTA, as everyone does eventually, and SANS was the first word that came to mind for Lacking. I had GRAM instead of ALAN for Parsons and had to work that out. After those clues, I don’t think I had much, but the smoothness of the puzzle helped me. I didn’t see how THRASHER could be a skating magazine, but it turns out that it’s the defiant sport of skateboarding.

          • JohnH says:

            Thanks. Actually I’m with you on the details. SANS hit me right away, and THRASHER, which I didn’t trouble to look up after I got it, was my last to fall. I held off on Parsons until I could see which fit.

  8. MattF says:

    Very tough NYT. Lots of obscure popcult, lots of arguable wrong choices with some correct letters— BAA/MAA, ONESEC/OHWAIT, GRAM/ALAN, TVMA/TAME, etc. I eventually basically gave up and just looked things up. Even with that help, SE area took a long time.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Huh … I’m surprised by this comment. I’m one who tends to struggle with puzzles that have a lot of pop culture from the last 20 years or so (okay, Boomer). But I mostly enjoyed this puzzle because I didn’t think it relied on pop culture clues/answers for its difficulty (ala a lot of other puzzles these days … I’m looking at you, “The New Yorker” Monday and Tuesday puzzles!).

    • marciem says:

      I was once told, here I think, is that the convention is that goats say maa and sheep say baa… so the kid would say maa… :) . They sound alike to me, from some of the vet shows I’ve watched :D . I made the same mistake re: Gram/Alan.

  9. marciem says:

    WSJ: We have pupas but larvae… pupae is the correct plural, as is larvae. These days in xword world I leave off the last letter of latin plurals because of these inconsistencies, though they are in the language. Now, Trachea apparently is ok pluralized with either thracheae or tracheas. Gotta love language and its evolution. :) .

    Those of us alive during the Cold War know that Red = Russian. Another “okay boomer” I guess.

    Martin…. thanks for the explanation of where rib tips and riblets come from… I didn’t know that! I cannot find the recipe for Marcella Hazan’s breaded and grilled veal cutlets

    • Martin says:

      Cotolette alla Palermitana
      Breaded Veal Cutlets, Palermo Style

      Anywhere in the world but in Palermo, a breaded veal cutlet is fried. There it is grilled. And a marvelous difference it makes. The bread-crumb coating turns crackling crisp, like well-done toast, while the veal turns out remarkably tender and juicy.

      You can make these with scaloppine or you can use rib chops. In either case the cutlet should not exceed 1/2 inch in thickness; otherwise, before it cooks through, the bread crumbs will become too charred. If you are using rib chops with the bone on, have the butcher knock off the corner of the bone so that the meat can be pounded evenly to the desired thinness.

      Usually a little rosemary is sprinkled over the coating, but if you prefer a lighter, less aromatic flavor, you can omit it.

      For 4 persons:

      1 1/2 pounds top round of veal, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick, or 4 veal rib chops, pounded until they are no more than 1/2 inch thick
      2 tablespoons olive oil
      1 1/2 cups unflavored bread crumbs, spread on a plate
      Freshly ground black pepper
      2 teaspoons rosemary (optional)
      1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

      1. Preheat the broiler 15 minutes in advance of cooking, placing the broiler pan and grid as close as possible to the source of the heat.
      2. Rub both sides of all the cutlets with olive oil.
      3. Turn the cutlets in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs against the meat with the palm of your hand.
      4. Lay the cutlets on a platter, without overlapping them. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the optional rosemary leaves.
      5. Place the meat on the broiler grid, with the salted side facing upward. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until the bread crumbs begin the be charred. Turn the cutlets, and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes or so.
      6. Serve piping hot, with a wedge of lemon on the side. If you like, you can trickle a little olive oil over the cutlets when serving them.

      Hazan, Marcella (1978). More Classic Italian Cooking. New York: Alfred A. Knopf

  10. Teedmn says:

    I didn’t finish the Stumper, had to come here to get the SE filled in. MOISTISH? HOHO as clued?

    When I finally got DEAD PIXEL, I had to admire the clue. And having a Spanish possessive rather than Italian kept the center empty for a long time.

    Thanks Matthew Sewell!

  11. meaningless nobody says:

    Stumper: putting slatE instead of slatY kept me from a clean solve… I’m pretty sure I was stymied by a SLATY/INDY cross before, but I never learn

  12. Seth Cohen says:

    Stumper: late to the game today, but could anyone exclaim the clue for SCAM? “Intriguing development” doesn’t seem at all what that word means.

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