Sunday, March 13, 2022

LAT no time (Gareth) 


NYT untimed (Nate) 


Universal tk (Jim Q)  


Universal (Sunday) untimed (Jim P) 


USA Today Untimed(Darby) 


WaPo 12:38 (Jim Q) 


A tremendous congratulations to Patti Varol, who will take over as the new editor of the LA Times crossword! And congratulations also to Christina Iverson, who’ll step up as her assistant editor. We’re very much looking forward to this next era of the LA Times crossword!

Christina Iverson and Katie Hale’s New York Times crossword, “Body Language”—Nate’s write-up

Quite the busy crossword weekend for Christina Iverson! In addition to being named the new assistant editor over at the LA Times, she has today’s Sunday NYT puzzle with co-constructor Katie Hale. Let’s spring forward into a puzzle that explores a number of body-related phrases (presented literally) in the grid:

03.13.22 Sunday NY Times Puzzle

03.13.22 Sunday NY Times Puzzle

30A: PAY [With 12-Down, spend much more than a fair price]
12D: THE NOSE [See 30-Across]

– PAY through THE NOSE

69A: PAT [With 74-Across, gesture of approval]
74A: THE BACK [See 69-Across]

83A: MI ND ED [Petty]
– ??? MINDED (Small MINDED maybe? I’m not sure about this one)

113A: CHETONGUEEK [Insincere, as a remark]

2D: EAR EAR EAR EAR [Fully ready to listen]
– All EARs

7D: OONNEESSLLEEGGSS [Walk around at a rest stop, say]
– ??? ONES LEGS (Stretches ONES LEGS? That’s the only thing I can think of that might make sense here.)

99D: YLLEB [Bankrupt]
– BELLY up

110D: SIDE [With 111-Down, in cooperation]
111D: SIDE [See 110-Down]

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This was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, I liked that the themers weren’t symmetrically placed, so you had to be ready for them wherever they were. On the minus side, I’m still not sure what two of the phrases are meant to be, so that missing *click* feeling makes the puzzle less satisfying for me. (Side note: If you know what the two missing phrases are meant to be, please help me out in the comments section below!) I’m torn on how I feel about the variety of ways that the themers were presented

Other random thoughts:
67A: EMERITA [Professor ___] – Often, clues are assumed to skew to a “male” default, so I liked that this one didn’t.
105A: LSD [Letters that might change your mind?] – I liked this wordplay a lot.
1D: NHL [Blues group, for short?] – This one, too!
37D: MESA [Flat-earther?] – I like what this clue is getting at, though I’d like the -er ending would refer to someone on that land rather than the land itself?

That’s all for me. I hope the adjustment to darker mornings and later sunsets is one that treats you kindly. Summer is on its way!

Gary Larson and Doug Peterson’s Universal Sunday crossword, “The Long and Short of It”—Jim P’s review

Theme: Familiar phrases featuring heteronyms and short/long vowel changes.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “The Long and Short of It” · Gary Larson and Doug Peterson · 3.13.22

  • 25a. [Character that kicks off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?] LEAD BALLOON. Short>long.
  • 45a. [Traffic signal in Pennsylvania’s Pretzel City?] READING LIGHT. Long>short.
  • 65a. [Low-tech indicators of air speed and direction?] WINDS AROUND ONE’S FINGER. Long>short.
  • 87a. [The singing “Big Mouth Billy” fish, e.g.?] ELECTRIC BASS. Long>short.
  • 107a. [Bodyguard for a beleaguered biblical figure?] JOB SECURITY. Short>long.
  • 24d. [Speak as fluently as a Warsaw native?] NAIL POLISH. Short>long.
  • 64d. [Diminutive blemish?] MINUTE MARK. Short>long and long>short.

The first themer I resolved was NAIL POLISH, and that was worth a little chuckle and set me up in good stead for the rest of the entries. I have my own list of heteronyms from when I made a similar puzzle so the rest didn’t surprise me as much, but they’re all solid enough and I appreciate the constraint of limiting entries to the ones with vowel sound changes.

Elsewhere we have SEMINOLES, ANTI-KNOCK additives, QUIZNOS, PILSNER, and EUREKA! Plenty of solid 5s, 6s, and 7s abound as well, and little to no dreck.

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Clues of note:

  • 2d. [Start to the day?]. RUE. I encountered this right at the beginning of the solve and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I finally figured out it’s referring to the phrase “RUE the day.” Exceedingly tricky when all the other clues around it are straight as an arrow.
  • 12d. [Mountains where tomatoes originated]. ANDES. Neat factoid. Here’s some more history of the lovely tomato including why wealthy Europeans got lead poisoning from the fruit.

Nice puzzle and smooth fill. 3.75 stars.

Sally Hoelscher and Mary Lou Guizzo’s Washington Post crossword, “Clockwork”— Jim Q’s write-up

Evan is giving up the reigns today. Maybe so he can rest up to compensate for today’s lost hour of sleep?

THEME: The biannual changing of the clocks. Synonyms for “Spring” can be found in common phrases reading forward and synonyms for “Fall” can be found in common phrases reading backwards.

Washington Post, March 13, 2022, Sally Hoelscher and Mary Lou Guizzo “Clockwork” solution grid (Across Lite)








One of the last sentences I spoke before solving this puzzle was my regular complaint about our bizarre clock changing routine. “Any politician running on the platform of doing away with the clock changing nonsense and whose name doesn’t rhyme with ‘Grump’ has my vote!” I’m only half joking.

Still, the puzzle clearly had fun with this concept, and it was a solid puzzle at that. A good entry-level theme that is accessible to everyone. It also has a bit of AHA power to it that would definitely delight newer solvers while simultaneously pleasing constant solvers as well.

Enjoyed the theme phrases: I didn’t know ARTHUR D. LEVINSON‘s name, but glad to learn it. Even if he is likely to be sitting atop a fortune. It’s hard for me to hear MOBILE APPS without a hint of a British accent.  TIME LAPSE VIDEOS feels oddly redundant as a phrase to me, even if it’s not. I just call them TIME LAPSEs, with the VIDEO part being sort of implied. Most TIME LAPSEs I’ve done are typically still shots taken about 15 seconds apart and combined into a VIDEO in post-production.

Very clean fill throughout. BEER SNOB (juxtaposed nicely with PBASTS [Brews that might be turned down by a (BEER SNOB)], GO NUDE, and HOT SAUCE were my faves. Love the HOT SAUCE clue too: [Burn After Eating, e.g., which has 669,000 Scoville units] 

New names included SUSANN, and Catherine PARR. Is that it? I’m happy to say Ilhan OMAR is sticking after seeing her a few times now. I do like a little repetition of names just so I don’t forget them easily.

Needed every cross for SEW [Do some basting], which made me nervous as it was in the 1A spot, but the rest of the puzzle fell very easy for me.

Thanks for this one! Nice change of pace to have guest constructors. Really enjoyed this.

Can’t say the same for the time change.

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Spring Forward”—Darby’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer includes LEAP leaping between words, in reference to Daylight Saving Time.

Theme Answers

Zhouqin Burnikel's USA Today crossword, "Spring Forward" solution for 3/13/2022

Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Spring Forward” solution for 3/13/2022

  • 28a [“Apply for a legal remedy”] FILE A PETITION
  • 48a [“Expression of sincere regret”] HUMBLE APOLOGY
  • 62a [“Smartphone downloads”] MOBILE APPS

Late review from me (sorry, folks!), but I thought that this was a fun puzzle. I was a bit thrown off by the “Forward” of the puzzle’s title, as it made me feel like the theme should have to do with the latter half of the answer, so, needless to say, it didn’t help me much in my solve. That said, each of the theme answers was solid. I kept trying to put in APP at the beginning of 62a, and so it wasn’t until I hit the Down clues that I realized MOBILE kicked it off. Similarly, I got FILE right away but needed a bit of help with PETITION.

Grid-wise, there were some fun diagonal tracks down through. I also really enjoyed 3d [“Hearty guffaw”] BELLY LAUGH and 32d [“Sign above some display samples”] NOT FOR SALE (we’ve all had that moment at a garage sale, right???).

Short and sweet for me today! Overall, it was fun to see the nod at Daylight Saving Time reflected well in this grid.

Mark McClain’s La Times crossword, “Hi, C!”—Gareth’s theme summary

Hi, C
13 03 2022

First, exciting changes as, as announced in the top – congratulations to Patti Varol on becoming LAT crossword editor after a long apprenticeship – as well as to Christina Iverson who takes over Patti’s role as assistant editor.

The puzzle conceit today by Mark McClain is a simple one – Words with “Sh” become “Sc” and hilarity, hopefully, ensues. The first entry, LIDOSCUFFLE, is evocative, but may bemuse people who don’t recall the song by Boz Scaggs? More prosaic entries include SCOUTINGMATCH, PILLOWSCAM, SCANTYTOWN, SQUARESCOOTER and appropriately final PARTINGSCOT. The centrepiece, and probably the starting off point of the puzzle, is THETAMINGOFTHESCREW. It is surprising for me anyway to go with the prison guard meaning of SCREW. I thought that was strictly UK?


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28 Responses to Sunday, March 13, 2022

  1. marciem says:

    Stretch one’s legs was MY aha on that one (took a while after I filled it), and small mi nd ed being petty works for the other.

    Personally my favorite Sun NYT for a long time, I thought it was great fun!! Both with finding the rebuses and then figuring out what they meant :D . Belly up took me a while also. And not all rebuses required rebus squares… are those still rebuses?
    I’m still not sure why “UNCLE” seems marked as a theme clue??
    I was so far down I didn’t realize about “pay through the nose” until I read your recap!

    • marciem says:

      And what about 5d (marked as a themer)… The *bigger* they are…??? (going down, maybe alluding to a fall … but ????)

      • Gary R says:

        Re: “Uncle!” and “The ___ they are …” – I think this is a formatting issue in AcrossLite. In the print version of the puzzle and in the Times App, the themers are italicized, but in AcrossLite, they’re placed in quotation marks, creating a little confusion with other non-theme clues that are just quoted expressions.

        Really fun puzzle, IMHO.

        • marciem says:

          ahh.. that makes perfect sense, I’m sure you’re right! I also missed the “body parts” part of the theme completely, and neither of those include body parts.

          I’m sure I missed “pay through the nose” because of the A in pay that didn’t fit into the down.


    • steve says:

      more fun than most sundays which are generally just too easy

      belly up had me for a bit

  2. Steve Manion says:

    I would guess NARROW MINDED as more idiomatic, but SMALL MINDED seems closer to PETTY.

  3. huda says:

    NYT: I thought this was great fun. The variety kept my on my toes (haha).
    Stretch On’s Legs immediately came to mind, but I had the O in place and it suddenly dawned on me how it should be answered and opened up the puzzle for me.
    Nate, maybe what’s confusing is that strictly speaking, only the LEGS should be stretched (doubled) and not the ONES. But if I squint just right, I can make it OK, and the fact that it came so easily to me tells me that it made its own kind of sense to me.

  4. Eric H says:

    NYT: A fun grab bag of tricks. I struggled with the west side and started to wonder if I was going to be able to finish it without looking up Ms. Johnson McDougald or the Martini & Rossi product. It’s the first time in months I have been that challenged by a Sunday puzzle.

    I did look up “cryptid,” but I should’ve been able to figure that out on my own.

    I don’t think 7D can be anything other than “stretch one’s legs.” (I usually hate gobbledygook answer like 7D and a few others, but today I didn’t mind them at all.)

  5. JohnH says:

    I found the NYT unusually hard for a Sunday but in an interesting way. It’s truly a one of a kind, and I liked that, at the cost of themers in no particular place, leaving long non-themers. I also didn’t know a few things, like Blues for NHL, but the obvious interest was the theme challenge.

    At first, looking around at the italics, I didn’t make headway before focusing on the one in the NW. Thinking of body parts, ALL EARS came to me, so I guessed that ALL would fit and EARS would be the body parts and a rebus. That meant crossing EAR-nings with EAR in singular, so something was fishy, but I shrugged things off. When I got it, the answer was more satisfying, and I enjoyed the aha! But I still had to assume body parts would be rebus entries. Took a bit to overcome that assumption, and then coming up with the theme answers was harder still.

    My last to fall was small-MINDED. It was working out to something-minded, but what? So ok, maybe not perfect, but for me it would definitely do. The last to fill (not the same thing) was the stretch of one’s legs, since stretching just meant more than one instance of letters, but did not determine just how many. The fill could have resolved itself to almost anything depending on crossings. Well, again not perfect, but I may be biased in that I couldn’t make sense of “part” of a prank, which I took to mean part of what a prankster would do. Got it only later, but ended up liking the long down theme fill much better after all once I did. So overall, as good a Sunday as they get.

  6. MaryS says:

    My printed puzzle didn’t have either italics or quote marks in the theme clues so I had to figure out the answers with no assistance. This added to my enjoyment and sense of satisfaction when I got them. I would not have liked the visual aids! I figured out 2D fairly quickly and expected others to be similar. Much better that they differed. I appreciated the variety and the surprise when a theme answer popped up.

    • Z says:

      There are multiple options for printing out the puzzle on the NYT website. The default selection is not how it appears in the paper or magazine. For that you have to choose the “Newspaper Version,” the last option. This is the only way to get the puzzle as intended. It does mean that during the week you also get the previous day’s solution printed.

  7. Christina Iverson says:

    Thanks for the write up!
    In our original submission, Katie and I had suggested that the boxes in “Stretch ones legs” be stretched into rectangles so solvers could write in stretched letters. They ended up not making that happen partly because it would have been such a different solving experience for online solvers and on paper solvers, since the software wouldn’t support it.
    The (mi)(nd)(ed) rebus is indeed meant to be small minded, as the letters you write in are smaller than the rest.

    • marciem says:

      A personal thanks to you and Katie for such a fun puzzle collaboration!

      As you can see from the posted comments above, a lot of us had a great time with this!! I’m not seeing why some of the low-raters weren’t so pleased, but to me it was a joy in all ways!! A mental workout, witty, interesting… lots of levels.

  8. Judy Nessen says:

    Why aren’t you writing up the Washington Post puzzles any more? How am I supposed to know if I solved a hard or easy puzzle?

    • Jim Q. does a write-up of the Sunday Washington Post Magazine crossword every week. I don’t remember the last time it wasn’t blogged. Are you referring to the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle?

  9. Tony says:

    I enjoyed the NYT puzzle. A little more difficult than a typical Sunday puzzle, but once I realized it had several gimmicks going on, it made it a bit easier.

    My only nit (and possible anal rant) is the use of the answer to petty being small MINDED. To me, the mind is not a body part. I can, however, live with it’s being used, but then, only MIND should have been part of the rebus.

  10. Jenni Levy says:

    Loved the NYT. Did it in the actual magazine so I had the italicized clues. I got all EARS right away and when I saw stretch ONES LEGS I actually laughed out loud. So much fun!

  11. Cassandra Chan says:

    I’m with everyone else–I loved this puzzle! Just so much fun and took me much longer than usual!

  12. Thanks, Jim, and thanks to Sally and Mary Lou for the great guest puzzle!

    You can read an interview with them at my Post blog here.

  13. sanfranman59 says:

    @ Jim Q … “Any politician running on the platform of doing away with the clock changing nonsense and whose name doesn’t rhyme with ‘Grump’ has my vote!” … PREACH!!!

    I’m a night-owl and prefer Daylight Savings Time so I get more sun, but I’d be perfectly fine with just staying with Standard Time throughout the year. IMO, DST became obsolescent around the time electric light became universally available.

  14. Stephen Adkison says:

    Can someone explain the “O’s, but not P’s or Q’s” to me?

  15. Stephen Adkison says:

    Can someone explain the “O’s, but not P’s or Q’s” clue to me?

    • marciem says:

      The Baltimore Orioles are often called “The O’s” (like Oakland’s “A’s). There are no teams that go by Ps or Q’s. The capital letters gave it to me that it was proper nouns.

      That’s my take anyways.

  16. capecodder says:

    Congratulations to Patty Varol and Christina Iverson! Seems we should also be congratulating Rich Norris on a long and successful career and well-deserved retirement.

  17. NYDenizen says:

    Totally incomprehensible to this well educated individual!

  18. Clinton J Conley says:

    Loved the variety of the themers.
    Multiple “aha!”s
    Most fun puzzle in a long while

  19. Bonnie Howard says:

    This may be a repeat, but 7 down is ‘on one’s (2-doubles) legs

  20. RayScene says:

    Wow! This was tough…but fun. Have to admit “chetongueek” and “ylleb” were head-scratchers; you’ll be glad to hear I got all the “ears” once I figured out “nearly.” And next team, I’ll mind my O’s as well as my P’s and Q’s.

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