Friday, February 2, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 4:58 (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (norah) 


Universal untimed (Jim) 


USA Today untimed (Darby) 


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

NY Times crossword solution, 2/2/24 – no. 0202

Lots of good fill in this one. Among my favorites: IN ECSTASY, DR. MARTENS shoes, BELLY OF THE BEAST, RAINY DAYS, “MY SHARONA,” BAKE SALE, LAY AN EGG, TRYOUT, AGE OUT OF (hello, second OUT, though), and SUNK COST FALLACY.

Three clues:

  • 24a. [Southwest city that gets about 350 days of sunshine a year], TUCSON. Rude! Chicago just had one of its least sunny months ever. Gray. Some snow, some rain, an unusual amount of fog.
  • 27a. [Isle of ___ (historic region of England)], ELY. Ah, a crosswordese proper noun. Haven’t seen this one lately, and I can’t say I knew it was an island.
  • 14d. [Puppet show locale, for short], SESAME ST. I disavow this entry, because the Sesame Street logo is a street sign that says SESAME STREET on it. The abbreviation just looks so wrong in this context. (I’m also not a fan of cinematic ELM ST or MAIN ST in a grid.)

3.25 stars from me.

Amie Walker and Matthew Stock’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/2/24 • Fri • solution • Walker, Stock • solution • 20240202

Left/right symmetry today, to accommodate the disparate theme answer lengths. The conceit here is different contexts and interpretations of ‘no running’.

  • 3d. [“No running” to an incumbent] TERM-LIMITED.
  • 11d. [“No running” at a cosmetics store] SMUDGE PROOF.
  • 25d/26d. [… “No running” to a newspaper reporter] OFF THE | RECORD.
  • 55a. [“No running” on a pool deck] SLIPPERY WHEN WET.

Looks like the constructors had an idea and ran with it. Or didn’t.

  • 15a [Re] ABOUT. Short for regarding, usually seen with a colon.
  • 20a [Veinte, por ejemplo] NÚMERO. Also the number of the entry, not coincidentally.
  • 24a [Fast-food chain with Epic Burritos] DELTA CO. I mean, DEL TACO.
  • 30a [Dry __ ] ICE. I, uh, thought immediately of GIN.
  • 33a [TV watchers?] FCC. But who will watch the watchers?
  • 41a [Free of wool] SHORN. Mistook the tense and tried SHEAR. 19a [Herding dog from Hungary] PULI.
  • 40a [Obtain] GET and 43a [Not available at the moment] OUT—symmetrically flanking the center of the grid—are just begging to be read together as an imperative to RUN.
  • 64a [Line graph display] DATA, crossed by 49d [Line graph display] TREND.
  • 10d [Stick in the freezer?] POPSICLE. Not convinced this works properly. Is it piggybacking on the collocation popsicle stick while suggesting that a popsicle is stick-shaped?
  • 12d [Place where one might leave tips for tips] SALON. As in frosted tips. Do people still do that?
  • 29d [Helpful Amazon gadget] ECHO. Spies!
  • 48d [Remedy] CURE.
  • 53d [Formal] PROM. Noun, not adjective.
  • 61d [Water source] TAP, from which it runs.

Jared Cappel and Morris Greenberg’s Universal crossword, “Body Language”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose second words consist of A + [body part]. However, they’re clued with the A as an indefinite article and the body part on its own. The revealer is PICK APART (52a, [Thoroughly examine … or what 30-Across, 4-Down and 9-Down do?]).

Universal crossword solution · “Body Language” · Jared Cappel and Morris Greenberg · Fri., 2.2.24

  • 30a. [Preserve one piece of chicken?] KEEP A BREAST.
  • 4d. [Pluck one cabbage at the supermarket?] PULL A HEAD.
  • 9d. [Draft one position in fantasy football?] TAKE A BACK.

My first thought, when I got to PICK APART, was why wasn’t it clued like the others? After all, it could be clued with [Choose which role to play?]. But then I recognized all the body parts in the other theme answers, and then I realized all the first words in those phrases could be rough synonyms of “pick.” So there’s some serious serendipity going on here. What’s more, to have one of those theme answers cross the other two in symmetrical fashion?! Yes, some serious serendipity going on here. Kudos to our constructors for finding this set and putting it all together. Well done. The theme may be on the lighter side, but it impressed me nonetheless. (Note this is a debut for Mr. Greenberg. Congrats!)

An impressive theme, yes, but there’s plenty to like in the fill, too. To be sure, I was confused as to why the longest entries weren’t theme answers, but it helped that they weren’t clued with question marks. And what’s not to like about “HEAVEN KNOWS!” and LABOR STRIKE. Plus there’s “I’M ALL IN,” CAKE BOX, Marley’s “ONE LOVE,” POMPEII, TRIUMPH, ADOPT ME, AIR KISS, and MANDELA.

Clues of note:

  • 16a. [“___ to blame?”]. AM I. Clued as a partial instead of the French word for “friend” because the French AMIE is at 5d.
  • 2d. [Short sermon]. HOMILY. Huh. I always knew these words to be interchangeable. Didn’t know there was any difference between them.

One more thing. The title’s a bit generic. You got the “body” in there, but nothing to do with “choosing” or “choice.” I would’ve tried to incorporate both with something like “My Body, My Choice.” (For all I know, they did, but perhaps it was deemed controversial. *shrug*)

Cool, double-layered theme and super-sparkly fill. Four stars.

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Cut Time”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer begins and ends with letters spelling out TIME.

Theme Answers

Brooke Husic's USA Today crossword, "Cut Time" solution for 2/2/2024

Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Cut Time” solution for 2/2/2024

  • 20a [Reba McEntire song with the lyric “I guess I can wait if that’s what I have to do”] TILL YOU LOVE ME
  • 35a [What some sub-minimum-wage workers rely on] TIP INCOME
  • 55a [Mah-jongg or Azul, e.g.] TILE-BASED GAME

This puzzle was pretty straightforward in its theme, but I appreciated that each theme answer split TIME the same way. I needed a lot of help with TILL YOU LOVE ME, but it was pretty easy once I got the first half, as YOU LOVE ME is fairly intuitive. I also really appreciated the cluing angle for TIP INCOME. Then, because I love a game, it was pretty easy for me to plunk in TILE-BASED GAME.

Short post from me because I’m traveling, but other fave fill included 48d [Harley Quinn’s pets] HYENAS, 11d [Hockey team’s local rink] HOME ICE, and 44d [What the “BA” stands for in BART] BAY AREA.

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24 Responses to Friday, February 2, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: I thought this was a terrific puzzle. And it’s notable that it’s a new constructor.
    I loved the two major intersecting entries- BELLY OF THE BEAST and SUNK COST FALLACY. And the cluing was fun in many places.
    SESAME ST did give me pause. I had a typo with DON instead of DOM, so I had stared at it for a long time and when it finally emerged, it felt a little off for the reason that Amy articulated.
    But lots. to love (including low incidence of proper names). Well done!

    • Eric H. says:

      I enjoyed it a lot, too, despite finding it more challenging than any NYT Friday in the last few months. It felt almost like a Monday New Yorker puzzle.

    • Dallas says:

      I liked it a lot, too. Got both of the long entries pretty quickly (to the point where I wondered if I was going to be commenting on how SUNK COST FALLACY fit exactly even though it was wrong ;-) ). The NW took me the longest, but was very satisfying when it all went in. Really nice Friday, and still a bit faster than my average.

    • JohnH says:

      Agree with the consensus on how hard this one was. I got stuck for a long time in every corner, although the SE was my worst spot. I too had DON for a long time.

      ARGOS was a giveaway for me. It had been in a puzzle recently, and I reread The Odyssey (for maybe the fourth time) just last year. I’m looking forward to the new translation by the same person of The Iliad making it to paperback in August. TOGO wasn’t a gimme, but familiar enough once I had the crossings. Not that I could tell you where it is.

  2. Ethan says:

    NYT: A fine puzzle overall but why clue TUCSON with respect to weather days when RAINY DAYS is in the same grid?

    • Gary R says:

      Don’t care much about the “dupe” myself, especially when one is in the clue and the other in the answer. But I thought the juxtaposition of one of the cloudiest/rainiest cities with one of the sunniest was fun. And the reference to the race horse in 56-A was kind of cute.

      Haven’t seen the sun in about three weeks in my part of Michigan (they say it’s coming this weekend). I’d like to have spent January in Tucson!

  3. Dan says:

    NYT: Yikes, I was almost ready to give up on completing this, until remembering that it’s always possible to “cheat” (according to my own personal rules that apply to no one else) by looking something up. I chose the 2019 World Series champs, and that turned out to be just enough to finish the NW, where I had been struggling mightily. (LONELY GUY? SINGLE GUY? COMMON? And while MARTENS had suggested itself early on, I had never known the official name begins with DR. rather than DOC.

    And before that, it wasn’t that easy to finish off the SW area, either.

    Definitely more like a fairly tough Saturday for me than a Friday.
    Quite an excellent puzzle.

    • Dallas says:

      I think John Hodgman said years ago that looking thing up for a crossword is not cheating; plus, you get to learn something new :-) When I was starting, I quickly realized I couldn’t use Google because if you typed in the clue, you’d get 10 different sites that would just directly give you the answer; I decided I’d limit myself to Wikipedia only. Nowadays, I happily rarely need it, but will on occasion use it to check spelling of proper nouns :-)

  4. RCook says:

    NYT: I might be in the minority, but the TOGO/ARGOS crossing was a natick for me.

    • Mutman says:

      I at least know TOGO is a place. Argos new to me.

      I thought I was Naticked at PUB/BULL. Then PUB made sense. But BULL does not.

      Can someone school me?? And as a Catholic —thought I’d be good on pope references.

    • Dallas says:

      I had that G in pencil in case I didn’t get the happy completion at the end so I could run the alphabet on it, but felt pretty good about it anyway…

    • Sophomoric Old Guy says:

      New ARGOS from being “forced” to read The Odyssey or at least the Cliffs Notes in 9th grade. Worked out TOGO via the crossing words.

      Good puzzle. I’m surprised people haven’t bitched about SUNKCOSTFALLACY. It’s a great answer, but betting most people don’t know about it. Assuming they just worked the acrosses.

  5. Ed+B says:

    My NYT Natick was HADER/HAUL. No knowing the actor’s name, I got stuck with MAUL for “Plunder”. Haul is a better answer, but maul seemed to fit well with the pillaging definition of plunder.

  6. MattF says:

    Me too with ‘cheating’ for the NYT. Looked up the NewDelhi temple, which gave me PLUSONES and SESAMEST. I guess I just don’t think of Sesame Street as a puppet show, though I suppose it is. A rather tough puzzle.

    • Dan says:

      I guess Sesame Street is indeed a puppet show.

      But is a TV show a “locale”? (The clue was “Puppet show locale, for short”).

      • Dan says:

        To answer my own question: Maybe the TV show per se is not a locale, but its setting of the fictional Sesame Street surely is one.

    • Philip says:

      LOTUS was my one look-up too (I had CAF before CAL and could not come up with a temple name that began with FO), but even with that I got a DNF since I was baffled by what I at first thought was SESACEST (DOC for the Monk clue), then SESANEST (DON), and when I hit the “reveal puzzle button” I stared at SESAMEST for quite a while before I got it.

  7. Eric H. says:

    New Yorker: Wow! A movie theme where I have seen all the movies! I didn’t know that “Meet Me in St. Louis” was based on a series of New Yorker stories.

    • JohnH says:

      I never enjoy factoid puzzles, even when it’s about a magazine I subscribe to and appreciate rather than the usual lousy TV. (I had help, too, in that the movie titles made sense to me, more or less, that I’d read In Cold Blood back in high school, and the Times had an article about Capote just this week.) But what’s the theme mean by anniversary? I just looked up when TNY had its first issue, and that would place it’s 100th anniversary early next year, not now.

      • Eric H. says:

        Maybe the New Yorker is going for a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary?

      • Andy says:

        The New Yorker publishes an Anniversary Issue every February to celebrate the anniversary of the first issue. The crossword published alongside that issue has traditionally had a theme loosely to do with the magazine. Last year’s, for example, by Robyn Weintraub and Caitlin Reid, had TALK OF THE TOWN (a regular feature of the magazine) as the revealer entry.

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