Friday, February 9, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 8:30 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 7:35 paper (norah) 


Universal 4:09 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:26 (Darby) 


Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/9/24 – no. 0209

Whoa, was this harder than you expected, or am I having an off night? I think it’s me.

Fave fill: ALL SMILES is a terrific way to open a puzzle! (Constructors, try to make your 1-Across something lovely and fun.) Other highlights include TARANTULA, QUIET QUITTING, SUPERGROUP, DISCO BALL, SNAKE EYES, “IS THAT A THING?”, and A LOT TO UNPACK.

I made lots of wrong turns in this puzzle. SLIPS BY instead of SAILS BY, SNOBS for SNOTS, CURED MEAT for CURED PORK … RIYAL for SANAA. Oops.

I was mad at myself for not knowing 44d. [Philippine island that’s home to Iloilo]. I mean, my husband, son, and father-in-law are currently only a couple islands away! (Iloilo is at the bottom of the Find My Friend map, while my guys are in Luzon.) I should have gotten this, but PANAY isn’t one of the islands I hear about the most. Luzon, Cebu, Mindanao, Palawan, sure. Panay! It’s in my memory bank now.

How’d this puzzle treat you?

Four stars from me.

Caroline Hand & Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/9/24 • Fri • Hand, Hale • solution • 20240209

  • 66aR [Tennis match with teams of men and women, or what 18- and 25-Across and 42- and 55-Across literally have] MIXED DOUBLES. More precisely, they have doubled vowels—Es and Os, and those dyads are switched between the two entries.
  • 18a. [Plays a trick on Miami’s basketball team?] FOOLS THE HEAT.
    25a. [Spring occasion when people get really emotional?] APRIL FEELS DAY. Feels as a noun meaning ’emotions’ has seen recent usage, while its use to express tactile sensations is archaic.
    (feels the heat, April Fools’ Day).
  • 42a. [Orange rinds of epic proportions?] OLYMPIC-SIZE PEELS.
    55a. [Wagers about how many ingredients are in a bottle of shampoo?] CHEMICAL POOLS. They do often have many ingredients, it’s true.
    (Olympic-size pools, chemical peels).

It seems as if this could have been a regular 15×15 grid instead of a 16×15, were it not for the issue of FEELS having to be plural, while the other three key elements would have been fine in the singular. Anyway, it’s a fun little theme.

  • 1d [Bowl game officials] REFS. 70d [Plate official] UMP.
  • 2d [Cor anglais kin] OBOE. Probably the most frequent musical instrument in crosswords?
  • 10d [Advertising exaggeration, perhaps] WORLD’S BEST. Statistically, almost certainly!
  • 24d [“I can help!”] USE ME. Both are the titles of 1970s hit songs, ’74 and ’72, respectively.
  • 43d [Greek muse of memory] MNEME, as in mnemonic.
  • 62d [Advertiser’s honor] CLIO. The muse of history.
  • 13a [Nook purchases] E-BOOKS. Symmetrical to 73a [Writes to] EMAILS, which has shed the hyphen.
  • 30a [Cuban dance] MAMBO.
  • 33a [Comforts] SOLACES.
  • 38a [Prefix with gender] CIS-, from Greek, meaning ‘on the same side’ (e.g., of a longitudinal axis).
  • 47a [Not awesome] MEH. 7d [ __ and aah] OOH.
  • 59a [Titan, once] OILER. This is football.
  • 72a [Cutting] SNIDE. 30d [Eclipse participant] MOON.

Spencer Leach’s Universal crossword, “Twitter Headlines”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words are homophones of sounds that some birds make. The revealer is BIRD CALLS (61a, [Natural sounds that the starts of 16-, 23-, 37- and 49-Across resemble]).

Universal crossword solution · “Twitter Headlines” · Spencer Leach · Fri., 2.9.24

  • 16a. [Seizure of power] COUP D’ÉTAT. Coo coo (pigeons or doves).
  • 23a. [Sia hit with the lyric “Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight”] “CHEAP THRILLS.” Cheep cheep (chicks). A gimme since Sia is a common modern entry usually clued in relation to this song.
  • 37a. [Common stir-fry green] BOK CHOY. Bawk bawk bawk (chickens).
  • 49a. [Sentry’s question] “WHO GOES THERE?” Hoo hoo (owls.)

A fun theme. Didn’t see it until I got to the revealer at the very end and then I enjoyed the aha moment. Smooth and quick.

Lots to like in the fill, too, with GOOGLY EYES, PIÑA COLADA, HITHERTO, “YEEHAW!,” TREE SAP, and “IS THAT OK?” Elsewhere, the juxtaposition of WACKO and HO-HUM is pretty fun.

My local H MART in Lakewood, WA.

I didn’t know DAHI [Indian yogurt], but I really enjoyed seeing H-MART [Asian food store], as I make the occasional shopping trip there. First time ever seeing it in a grid. I didn’t realize how widespread the chain was (84 stores across the country). It started as a corner grocery in Queens, NYC, and is headquartered in New Jersey. Per Wikipedia:

The “H” in “H Mart” stands for Han Ah Reum (한아름), the store’s original name. The phrase transliterates as “one arm”, though more poetically it is translated as “an armful [of groceries]”, or even “an embrace.”

Clues of note:

  • 4a. [University in Houston]. RICE. I also would have accepted [Fried ___ Syndrome] which I just learned about.
  • 45a. [So bad that it’s good, in Gen Z slang]. CAMP. New to me even though I have three Gen Zers in the house.
  • 66a. [Country found inside Romania?]. OMAN. Nice cluing angle. Don’t think I’ve seen this one before.

3.75 stars.

“Shirking Your Duties” by Chandi Deitmer, norah’s review; 7:35 paper

THEME: The revealer, TAXEVASION, hints that the letters TAX appearing in order in each themer, but are unclued in their down entries

TNY 2024-02-09 DEITMER

TNY 2024-02-09 DEITMER

Themed entries:

  • TAXISTANDS 16A [Where some drivers wait to pick up passengers]
  • SYNTAXERROR 29A [Result of a coder’s typo, perhaps]
  • STAXRECORDS 47A [Label for Otis Redding and the Staple Singers]
  • TAXEVASION 64A [Financial crime committed by several Down answers in this puzzle?]

I loved this puzzle! In nine down entries (1, 2, 3, 14, 15, 22, 27, 28, 39), the clue is for an entry that only makes sense when a letter of TAX is removed. Perfect revealer. I got a little hung up in the west middle, not knowing ERIS at all and the kealoan [Chortle syllable] crossing [Liverpudlian, e.g.]. But all in all, a fun puzzle.

Some favorite clues:

  • 5A [Cube in a bowl of miso soup] TOFU
  • 14A [Animals on the flags of both California and Missouri] BEARS
  • 21A [Situation that’s devolved into total chaos] GOATRODEO
  • 50A [Michael who portrayed Allan in “Barbie”] CERA
  • 5D [Video game “beaten” for the first time, in 2023, by thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson, who advanced so far that the screen froze] TETRIS
  • 56D [Delight, for instance, but not pleasure] IAMB

Thanks Chandi and The New Yorker team!


Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Break My Soul”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme: Each theme answer is bookended with letters spelling out SOUL, literally breaking it.

Theme Answers:

Stella Zawistowski's USA Today crossword, "Break My Soul" solution for 2/9/2024

Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Break My Soul” solution for 2/9/2024

  • 13a [Work referenced in a research paper] SOURCE MATERIAL
  • 26a [Vessel for mohinga or minestrone] SOUP BOWL
  • 42a [Tart, round candy] SOUR BALL
  • 47a [Neighborhood mentioned in the song “California Love”] SOUTH CENTRAL

I was impressed that this puzzle packed in the four themers, which worked really well. It was a cute theme and not necessarily a word I would have expected to see split like this for some reason. As someone who spends a lot of time in libraries and archives, SOURCE MATERIAL was really fun, and of course, SOUP BOWL was also cute. I’d not heard of SOUR BALL and needed to get SOUTH CENTRAL on the crosses, though SOUTH was pretty intuitive.

There was a lot of other fun fill as well. I thought that 9d [Xypohonelike instrument with a Bantu name] MARIMBA was unexpected and had a great cluing angle. Likewise 4d [Bob or fade] HAIRCUT was also well done – a nice mix of wordplay and straightforwardness that USA Today puzzles value.

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47 Responses to Friday, February 9, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Lots to like. But it had terms that I recognized after the fact but didn’t just pop into my head such as HIERARCHAL (as opposed to hierarchical) and SUPERGROUP. I don’t think of SAUCY as especially applicable to teenagers… Somehow it felt slightly off.
    My favorites were by far QUIET QUITTING and IS THAT A THING? And the clue for SNAKE EYES and MEN.

    • huda says:

      PS. Amy I liked the Find my Friend Map for the geography lesson! Had no idea about PANAY. Good to know.

    • JohnH says:

      I found a lot to like in a harder than usual NYT Friday. My last to fall was the NW, not because of obscurity as because they were such nice aha clues.

      I didn’t know PANAY, doubt I ever knew BATARANG even in childhood, and hadn’t seen the variant on “hierarchical” before. But the last concept is still hot enough in critical theory that I rushed to fill it in after a few crossings.

      TNY theme was great, not to mention a real theme for a change. It did get harder for me in the NE and due E, with more proper names, but I guess I can blame only myself for not knowing about BURNER phones and GOAT RODEO. The theme would have made up for them regardless.

  2. HH says:

    “Suck it!” seems a bit crass…

  3. pannonica says:

    NYT: Sure, Shortz has few qualms about duplications, but I still feel obligated to mention them. 44a [Baby bat] PUP, 12d [DC Comics weapons, one of which can be seen at the Smithsonian] BATARANGS.

    • Martin says:

      The WS approach seems so much more logical: dupes are not a thing; spoilers are.

      It’s pretty unlikely, in my opinion, that the clue [Baby bat] will telegraph BATARANGS for a solver, explicitly or subliminally. That’s the only standard that applies in this particular editorial style.

      Years ago, I wrote a program to list dupes on a lexical level as part of test-solving. Will and his team had no interest in it and, indeed, I confirmed that dupes which spoiled an entry were virtually non-existent.

      I think what sold me that the arbitrary banning of dupes made no sense was the output of my Dupomatic program from scanning a puzzle that had THE as an entry. (I think it was clued as [French drink] or the like.) Clearly, avoiding “the” in all clues was silly. So how to draw the line? Suddenly, “It’s the Spoilers, Stupid,” seemed a very wise approach.

    • Lois says:

      Despite all the clever and informed arguments about the NYT acceptance of dupes, I can’t help thinking that it’s overwork that led to Iverson’s including both ALL SMILES and ALL AT ONCE, and the one Pannonica cites. There were also a couple of odd dupes in her Easy Mode versions in the last couple of weeks (I guess no one here looks at those). Iverson is working very hard indeed, and some of the cluing here was indeed wonderful. Both the Friday and the Saturday crosswords were very hard for me (I did resort to Easy Mode for a bit of the top of Friday’s). However, contrary to other solvers (I was really a non-solver) on this page, I found Friday’s (regular version) still to be easier than Saturday’s.

  4. David L says:

    NYT was good and a bit tougher than the average Friday. But HIERARCHAL stuck out like a sore thumb. I filled in the first six letters then waited for crosses to see how it would end.

    • Dallas says:

      I did exactly the same! It reminds of back in undergraduate where I got in a long discussion with someone about whether “rotatable” or “rotable” was correct (though my iPad is now putting a red line under the latter but not the former…). I think both were in the dictionary, but at the time, I couldn’t figure what the word “rotable” would possibly mean. HIERARCHAL feels the same way.

      A bit tough for a Friday for me, too… almost felt more like a Saturday; I got down towards the bottom before any real fill came. Still, a pretty enjoyable puzzle.

    • DougC says:

      I agree that it was tough, not so much that it was good.

      QUIET QUITTING and IS THAT A THING were great. But not much else was very interesting, some was downright questionable (like HIERARCHAL), and some was pretty deep trivia (Iloilo??). The puzzle was hard because it had a lot of rough spots, IMO, not because it was smart.

  5. dh says:

    “Me llamo” means “I am called …” not “My name is”. The latter is “mi nombre es”

    Let’s not forget the classic opening line from Moby Dick – “My name is Ishmael”, or the popular Eminem rap song …

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yes, but the Spanish speakers default to “me llamo” while English speakers say “my name is.” Not a direct translation, but “I am called” feels clunky in English. “They call me the space cowboy,” though.

      • dh says:

        Words have meanings. The clue was “My name is…” in Spanish, which calls for a translation, IMO. There’s a reason Chevrolet had to change the name of the Nova for sale in Mexico, even though “we all know” that they meant “new”.

          • dh says:

            Yeah, whatever. The point is relevant, though. Words have meanings. My name is a legal entity – it’s on my birth certificate, my social security account, my marriage certificate, my insurance policies, etc, etc. What I am called, or what I wish to be called, can be something entirely different. “Me llamo ‘el jefe’, pero mi nombre es David”.
            When I was in high school, we spent a full class session in senior English Lit class picking apart “Call Me Ishmael”, and how it was different from saying “My name is Ishmael”. At the same time, I was corrected in Spanish class for saying “Mi nombre es”.

      • Dallas says:

        Okay NOW I need to Space Cowboy into a crossword…

    • Dan says:

      “Me llamo” *means* “My name is”.

      Its literal translation is indeed “I call myself”. But that doesn’t change what it means.

      • David L says:

        Exactly. I’ve done a (very) little bit of translation, and being absolutely word-for-word literal is not the way to go.

      • JohnH says:

        Agreed totally, and the fact that “call me Ishmael can” can be read to avoid his claiming it as his actual name says more about Melville’s irony, outright humor, and complexity than about the idiom. It’s irrelevant. “You can call me” (as in Al) just adds a sense of earned intimacy to “my name is.”

        • JohnH says:

          Not to rub it in, but in French it’s of course “je m’apple,” or I call myself. That in no way suggests ignorance of or duplicity regarding one’s name.

        • Martin says:

          Ishmael’s evasiveness is just one aspect of Melville’s genius evinced in this line.

          The construction is a biblical allusion, presaging suffering:
          [C]all his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.

          It is musically poetic, with a cadence that captures the reader’s attention. And it is mysterious, precisely because it’s not the usual way one would introduce oneself.

          Score another point for English as the most supple language for literature. And why translation to it is such an art.

  6. Mutman says:

    NYT: Great Friday themeless. Looked tough then QUIETQUITTING got me started. Loved that entry. North was last to fall.

    I’ll agree the The Traveling Wilburys are a SUPERGROUP, but not CSN&Y. They were well established and added Neil Young at some point. And stayed relevant.

    The SUPERGROUP moniker —which is actually a misnomer, IMHO — seems reserved for one hit wonder bands with stars that became irrelevant after that hit disappeared. Refer to ASIA, EUROPE, etc.

    • JohnH says:

      Funny, but while SUPERGROUP took me a while, and I loved it for that, once I got it I could swear that I heard way back when it formed as CSN that it was the first supergroup. But I don’t know what critic coined the term.

      • Gary R says:

        I’ve heard the term many times, but never gave much thought to whether it has any particular meaning beyond “a big name group.”

        But googling turns up a definition, of sorts – “A supergroup is a musical group formed with members who are already successful as solo artists or as members of other successful groups.” (From Wikipedia)

        By that definition, I think both CSN(&Y) and the Travelling Wilburys qualify.

        A couple of references I came across cite CSN as one of the first (if not the first) supergroup.

  7. PJ says:

    NYT – today I learned Oklahoma is considered a southern state

    • Nina says:

      Yes that was odd. I had hip flask so I failed on batarang. Hierarchal was off too. yet so many other great clues.

  8. Eric H. says:

    NYT: Fun puzzle that seemed a bit more challenging than recent Fridays — but maybe that’s because I had SNObS and didn’t notice until I went looking for my mistake that MEbES is not a word.

    I love the excellent misdirection in the clue for 14A FLUTE SOLO.

  9. Francine Kopit says:

    the word saucy does not apply to teenagers.
    There are many words that can and do apply to them, but NOT saucy.

  10. Philip says:

    My favourite supergroup is The Baseball Project, but I don’t expect to see them in the NYTXW anytime soon.

  11. Josh says:

    NYT: PANAY x ALLATONCE is one of the worst crossings I’ve seen in a long time. How many letters could that N be without knowing either answer? C, L, N, and S at minimum. I hate having to do the “guess the random letter” game at the end of an otherwise pretty fun puzzle. Ruins the whole experience. HIERARCHIC vs HIERARCHAL vs (correct/proper IMO) HIERARCHICAL was also kind of a downer, and added to the totally bizarre/unusual usage NE (BATARANGS & SAILSBY [vs “sails through” or “flies by”].

    • JohnH says:

      I’d have said that ALL AT ONCE has been a common idiom as far back as anyone can remember. I’d have said “sails past” or “flies by,” but it’s tolerable

      • Josh says:

        Oh. My. God. ALL AT ONCE! I assumed it was Italian! ALLA TONCE. (I just assumed that’s what “tonce” meant). I can’t believe I didn’t see that. 🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️

  12. marciem says:

    TNY: pannonica, in your write up you used the word “kealoan” and I don’t know what that means. Google and Dictionary are no help.


    • PJ says:

      Kealoa is a termed coined by Rex Parker (Michael Sharpe) to describe a clue where the answer can be two or more things that share at least one letter and we just have to add more crossings to know. Like Mauna ____ can be KEA or LOA. Chortle syllable can be a number of things that begin with H.

      Or as Michael puts it better than me:
      kealoa = a pair of words (normally short, common answers) that can be clued identically and that share at least one letter in common (in the same position). These are answers you can’t just fill in quickly because two or more answers are viable, Even With One or More Letters In Place. From the classic [Mauna ___] KEA/LOA conundrum. See also, e.g. [Heaps] ATON/ALOT, [“Git!”] “SHOO”/”SCAT,” etc.

  13. Sophomoric Old Guy says:

    NYT was “easy” for me except for the Northwest corner. Killed my time.

  14. Nina says:

    I didn’t like flute solo for wind up alone. Too far a reach for me.

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