Friday, March 24, 2023

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


The New Yorker tk (Matt) 


NYT 4:55 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Blake Slonecker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3 24 23, no. 0324

What a bonkers grid! A bunch of black dashes sprinkled throughout the diagram.

Fave fill: SELTZER, CROSSOVER ARTIST, LINE DANCERS (gotta love your Electric Slide), MOIST TOWELETTES, “NOTHING PERSONAL,” MEADOWS. The down side of this grid layout with seven 15-letter answers is that more than half of the entries are 3- and 4-letter words or phrases, many of them of the clunky/glue variety. (Think ABIE, OSSO, EEE, I LIE, EMIR, SRA, G-MEN.)

Three things:

  • 8a. [British singer/songwriter ___ Parks], ARLO. I first learned of Arlo Parks from a Brooke Husic puzzle in the first These Puzzles Fund Abortion crossword pack a couple-three years ago. Still hadn’t encountered the name anywhere else until this puzzle came along. She’s an indie artist, with a few songs that have registered on the Billboard “adult album alternative” chart, so not a mainstream star yet.
  • 48d. [___ Barnacle, on whom Molly Bloom of “Ulysses” was based], NORA. Barnacle?? James Joyce was married to one Nora Barnacle. Did not know this! And I read Ulysses (well, most of it…) in college.
  • 51a. [___ saltado (stir-fried dish with sliced beef)], LOMO. Somehow I knew this even though I do not eat beef.

I learned POPO was slang for the [Fuzz] from the medical drama House. A cop had some rare disease that made him alarming to others. “You high, popo?” has been part of my lexicon ever since!

3.5 stars from me. Onward to the weekend!

Dennis Nullet’s Universal crossword, “Topped Off”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases of the form x-“top” y, but instead of including the word “top,” the x sits atop the y.

Universal crossword solution · “Topped Off” · Dennis Nullet · Fri., 3.24.23

  • 17a. [*Ride with a soft fabric roof] CONVERTIBLE with 14a RAG makes it a RAGTOP CONVERTIBLE.
  • 29a. [*Workstation in a coffee shop, maybe] COMPUTER with 26a LAP makes it a LAPTOP COMPUTER.
  • 47a. [*They don’t cover ankles] SNEAKERS with 43a LOW makes them LOWTOP SNEAKERS.
  • 62a. [*Software program that doesn’t run on phones or the web] APPLICATON with 58a DESK makes it a DESKTOP APPLICATION.

Nice little gimmick that was easy to grok but which still required just a little bit of work to complete the subsequent entries. It didn’t matter to me that the “top” words were in different positions relative to their main entries. Those top words were easily identified with their [See x-Across] clues. All in all, a solid theme with a nice little twist.

We have solid long fill as well: VERSATILE, POWERLESS, NO-RISK, PING ME, HAN SOLO, GO TO SEA, and “I WANT IN!” [“Gimme a piece of that action!”]. This last one gave me trouble because I stuck with I WANT IT for far too long, giving me PITG ME in the Down direction. The actual answer fits the clue better and is more fun than my erroneous entry. Not so keen on IS INTO, but it was quickly gotten past.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [“I’m open to all questions,” online]. AMA. Short for Ask Me Anything on Reddit. Is this in use outside of Reddit?
  • 34a. [Loser to scissors]. PAPER. German comedian Flula concludes PAPER has no place in this game and offers a sensible alternative. (See video below.)
  • 18d. ___ actor (cartoon line reader)]. VOICE. Not a fan of that particular parenthetical hint. I think the industry uses “animation” and “animated film” more these days. And VOICE actors do a lot more than just animation: There’s audiobooks, video games, and commercial voice-over work. Try this instead: [___ actor (one who reads with animation?)].
  • 32d. [“Send a text”]. PING ME. Is this one of those Kids These Days things? I don’t know that I’ve heard the phrase before, but I like it.

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Samantha Podos Nowak & Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/24/23 • Fri • Nowak, Hale • solution • 20230324

Featuring a perfect revealer, which must have been the springboard for the theme.

  • 53aR [Modern way into a building, and what each answer to 20-, 29-, and 43-Across needs to be to match its clue?] KEYLESS ENTRY. The relevant letters have helpfully been circled for the solver.
  • 20a. [Portrait painter who specializes in primates?] {ESC}APE ARTIST.
  • 29a. [Foot, essentially?] LEG{AL T}ENDER.
  • 43a. [Pilot’s standard routine after leaving the gate?] RUNWAY MO{DEL}. M.O. for modus operandi.

Nice too that each of the keys is a three-letter abbr.

  • 4d [Short-tailed weasel] STOAT. I recently watched Rob Roy (1995)—don’t ask—and one of my favorite lines is “That Montrose is a stoat of a man.”
  • 5d [Came down, with “up”] SOBERED. Cute observation.
  • 21d [Sheepdogs from Hungary] PULIS. I waited to see if it would be the more indigenous plural form pulik.
  • 31d [Military police procedural] NCIS. TIL that it stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
  • 33d [ __ toy] CHEW. Recently featured in a SCOTUS case.
  • 8a [Cold feet or cold shoulder] IDIOM. Now thinking of a tasteless clown joke from decades ago.
  • 24a [Tiny amount] SOU, crossed by 22d [Letter before kappa] IOTA.
  • 36a [Maze choices] PATHS. I recently heard on the radio that there’s an essential difference between a maze and a labyrinth. I suspect, however, that it doesn’t apply to the Minotaur’s labyrinth of Greek myth. There’s also a worldwide labyrinth locator.
  • 59a [Piece of maguro] TORO. This is a sushi clue.
  • 60a [Stable issue] FOALSIssue in the sense of offspring or progeny.

Very solid crossword.

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15 Responses to Friday, March 24, 2023

  1. billy boy says:

    3’s & 4’s make it easy-ish but seven 15’s is always fun to see filled

    I learned POPO here, never watch medical drama, prefer legal, especially British

  2. David and Heather says:

    NYT: Perhaps my fastest Friday. Some great answers, so I enjoyed it despite some of the short fill. I definitely appreciated the funky grid.

    • David L says:

      Same here, in terms of speed, but I found the long answers tame with the exception of MOISTTOWELETTES, which made me laugh for no particular reason.

      • Eric H says:

        What? No love for LOW TIRE PRESSURE? (We just bought our first new car in over 20 years; one of the technological advances in that time is that I can check the tire pressure on my iPhone.)

        I kind of liked NOTHING PERSONAL, which took me a bit to figure out.

        • David L says:

          My 14-year-old car has a low tire pressure warning light on the dash, except that after a few years it decided to stay on all the time so that I have to check tire pressures the old-fashioned way, by looking and/or kicking.

  3. Jenni Levy says:

    I thought the top half of the NYT was too easy for a Friday and was Natick’ed on the bottom – a stir-fry dish crossing a (to me) obscure literary reference? Sigh.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      And now I realize that’s because I had a silly mistake in 53A and if I’d gotten it right, the literary reference would have been obvious. Apologies. Nice puzzle :)

  4. Eric H says:

    NYT: A high number of three- and four-letter answers usually bugs me, but I didn’t notice them today. I needed a few crosses to get each of the 15-letter answers; fortunately, a lot of those were gimmes (ZOE, RAN, LIU) or easily guessed (ERR and RAD).

    • sanfranman59 says:

      FWIW, I kind of pay attention to the amount of short fill in puzzles and 39 of 66 answer (59%) isn’t really all that high these days. For example, it’s not unusual for USAT puzzles to reach the mid- or even upper-50s with 3- and 4-letter answers and they usually have 72-78 answers in them. So they’re sometimes in the 70-75% range with short fill.

      • Eric H says:


        I started dabbling in puzzle construction a few years ago, and I think the advice I got was to try to keep the three-letter answers below 20.

  5. Me says:

    NYT: I really loved the look of the grid, where the only black squares were in 3-block or 4-block horizontal groups. No single black squares, no vertical black-square groupings. I’ve never seen that before.

    Jeff Chen also points out that there are only 21 Across entries. I think there are 45 Down entries.

  6. marciem says:

    LAT and TNY: The big news lately has been that French Bulldogs took over as the most popular dogs in the US. The newswriters haven’t done those two xword puzzles today :D :D . (neither of which used the correct plural mentioned by pannonica above :P )

  7. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … I thought a “PING” was something a tech support person sends to confirm that a device is reachable electronically. I didn’t realize that it could refer to texting someone. If someone said “PING ME” to me, I’d probably look at them quizzically and say “Huh?”. Why wouldn’t you just say “Text me”?

    Oh well. I fear that my own native tongue is leaving me behind. I seem to be reminded more and more of this each day when I do my crosswords.

    • David L says:

      I believe that’s the original meaning of ‘ping’ but I confess that I myself have said ‘I’ll ping you when I’m at your front door.’ I don’t know why. Perhaps because ‘ping’ means I’ll send a silly greetings emoji where ‘text’ implies I’d actually have to spell out some words, and that’s just so much effort.

  8. GlennG says:

    The WSJ puzzle for 03/25 was not posted on the site with all the clues. Here’s one with the clues patched out of the PDF. Hope it helps.!AsV0VEsovVSRgnFLJ8LM_l19RDvd?e=1p8zej

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