Monday, February 12, 2024

BEQ 3:58 (Matthew) 


LAT 2:06 (Stella) 


NYT 2:36 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:53 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 5:19 (Jim) 


Jess Shulman and Amie Walker’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Four answers in the puzzle are clued with “[Get my innuendo?]”, and each of the answers has a duplicated word.

New York Times, 02 12 2024, By Jess Shulman and Amie Walker

  • 17a [[Get my innuendo?]] – NUDGE NUDGE
  • 37a [[Get my innuendo?]] – WINK WINK
  • 43a [[Get my innuendo?]] – HINT HINT
  • 63a [[Get my innuendo?]] – COUGH COUGH

We’re on a roll of co-constructed Monday puzzles – this is the third in a row! Today’s is by Jess and Amie, and it’s a great example of a Monday level-puzzle. The theme is nothing groundbreaking today, but it’s a neat little puzzle and all of the answers are totally legit. Wow, I didn’t know how many phrases we had for this sort of thing that were the same word doubled!

There isn’t a ton of thematic material today, only four answers and all less than 10 letters long. However, that means that the constructors had more space to make the rest of the puzzle sparkling clean while still being interesting. Seriously, aside from a slightly glue-y NOT I, everything else is very accessible to newer folks. POT BROWNIES and BEAT THE HEAT are both standouts, with fun clues to boot ([Baked things that might get people baked] and [Keep cool in a pool, perhaps], respectively).

Other quick hits:

  • Favorite clue for today: [Something you might clear to improve memory] – CACHE (like on a computer)
  • HUG ME is a timely answer for Valentine’s week!
  • I never know if the plural of “nova” is NOVAS or “novae”. Both have been used in the NYT before, so I always have to rely on the crossing answer for the last letter.
  • Can confirm, the IKEA cafeteria meatballs are great. Glad they got a shout out.

Happy Monday all!

Josh Goodman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Good Luck!”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are words and phrases that lend letters to the broken leg bones indicated by the circled letters. The revealer is “BREAK A LEG!” (59a, [Well wishes before a performance, and what you do by filling in the circles]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Good Luck!” · Josh Goodman · Mon., 2.12.24

The bones in question are:


I caught on to the theme with the first bone, but still enjoyed sussing out the rest. While the revealer was predictable by that point, it was good to get that confirmation.

Some interesting long fill today. ALI STROKER [First wheelchair user to win an acting Tony, for 2019’s “Oklahoma!” ] starts things off at 3d.  PIT ROADS [Areas where Nascar drivers pull off the track] was new to me. I always thought that area was called “pit row.” It looks like both terms are in common use. Lastly, I really wanted BREASTED [Got to the top of, as a hill] to be “crested.” Hand up if you’ve ever heard “breast” or BREASTED used as a verb.

Elsewhere, I liked RING-TAILED, EGGHEADS, and POBLANO.

Clue of note: 4d. [Hit song on the “Flashdance” soundtrack]. “MANIAC.” After two separate commercials used “What a Feeling” during yesterday’s Super Bowl, I thought it was going to show up here, too. Nope, we get the other big hit from that film instead.

3.5 stars.

Amanda Cook’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/12/24 by Amanda Cook

Los Angeles Times 2/12/24 by Amanda Cook

The revealer in the center at 37A [Sign outside a new store, or what the first words of 18-, 24-, 52-, and 59-Across can do?] is OPEN FOR BUSINESS, meaning that the first word in each theme answer can be placed before the word BUSINESS to make a new phrase:

  • 18A [Sunday comics locale] is FUNNY PAGES, leading to FUNNY BUSINESS.
  • 24A [Pull-apart breakfast treat] is MONKEY BREAD, leading to MONKEY BUSINESS.
  • 52A [Broadway number that brings the house down] is a SHOWSTOPPER. (So is a challenge on The Great British Bake-Off.) This leads to SHOW BUSINESS.
  • 59A [High roller] is a BIG SPENDER, leading to BIG BUSINESS.

There’s a lot of thematic material, which is nice; there’s not a lot of change in meaning of the theme word from theme phrase to BUSINESS phrase, though. The grid contains, to my eye, an unusually large number of 8-letter words for Monday (six of them), which I think contributes to the slightly higher than average difficulty for the day.

Larry Snyder’s Universal crossword, “It’s What’s Inside that Counts” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 2/12/24 • Mon • “It’s What’s Inside That Counts” • Snyder • solution • 20240212

There’s a note after the first theme clue: “the starred clues’ answers hide a sequence”. My .puz version arrived with the relevant squares already circled, so it was that much easier.

  • 20a. [*Still going, but barely] RUNNING ON EMPTY.
  • 25a. [*This honor is too lofty for us!”] WE’RE NOT WORTHY.
  • 48a. [*Part of a successful return to Earth] SMOOTH REENTRY.
  • 54a. [*Best experience ever for us] TIME OF OUR LIVES.

one, two, three, four

Not too exhilarating as a theme, but the theme phrases themselves are uniformly excellent.

  • 2d [Bring up, or something to bring up] REAR. 9d [Raises children] PARENTS.
  • 8d [Tequila brand with a matador on its label] EL TORO. Unknown to me, but guessable. Also, bullfighting is still animal cruelty.
  • 11d [Electric bass technique] SLAP. A foundational example:
  • 31d [What’s helpful when you need to raise dough?] YEAST. Clever but wordy clue. I was just dispensing some yeast advice this morning to a friend.
  • 14a [Winter hibernator] BEAR. Redundant clue, as hibernation explicitly refers to winter sleep. Estivation is the summer analogue. No idea if there are spring or autumn equivalents. Etymology: Latin hibernatus, past participle of hibernare to pass the winter, from hibernus of winter; akin to Latin hiems winter, Greek cheimōn (
  • 37a [Flower that’s poisonous to cats] LILY. This is true; it can cause kidney failure. Be very careful, even if you have simply touched or handled lilies elsewhere and come home.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 2/12/24 – Natan Last

Ahh, I love to start the crossword week with a challenging themeless from Natan. There’s always interesting material, and I often learn something on the literature/poetry front

I didn’t know poet Terrance Hayes, but this is great: 23a. [“Sometimes the father almost sees looking / At the son, how handsome ___ be if half / His own face was made of the woman he loved”: Terrance Hayes], HE’D.

Fave fill: “DON’T START” (“, … won’t be none”), a comedian’s TIGHT FIVE (a solid 5-minute set), DANAI Gurira, GLOW-UPS, FINDER’S FEE, rock band PARAMORE, “whew, I MADE IT,” Colson Whitehead’s ZONE ONE even though I didn’t know the title.

Another clue I liked: 27d. [This is breathtaking!], INHALATION.

No idea at all what this is: 29d. [Hangs without dropping, perhaps?], TRIPSITS. TRIPS ITS? No, TRIP-SITS, as in sitting (hanging) with someone who’s tripping on LSD without oneself dropping acid.

Didn’t quite know NOVIO, [Boyfriend, in Spanish], but many masculine Spanish nouns end with O so even if you’re not aware of the [Trinidadian genre] SOCA, that O is pretty gettable.

4.25 stars from me.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — Matt’s write-up

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 2/12/24

I found this quicker than Brendan has delivered on a Monday in a while. Early on, [One who has paid their dues] MEMBER is a nice play on a common expression, as is [Where you might pick up a few pointers] SHELTERS. I enjoyed seeing HOTEL LOUNGE come together for [Room for guests no one is supposed to sleep in]. There are some names around – BOHAN, KRESGE, ELEAZAR, but crossings are available to help out.

A few notes:

14a [Hybrid red meat] BEEFALO. I see this from time to time and have no sense of how common the cattle-bison hybrid is.
34a [[wipes hands]] THATS THAT. I liked this.
40a [Wavers] HEMS. As in “hems and haws”
44a [Ethiopian prince] RAS. As in “Ras Tafari,” which is hopefully recognizable, but this specific clue hasn’t been used in the New York Times, at least, since 1991. The crossings are pretty reasonable — I don’t even think I saw this clue during my solve.
8d [Tank conductors] EELS. I didn’t get this before now – this is as in electric eels, who may be in tanks and be conductors of electricity
22d [Ask before going] LAST REQUEST. Neat little disguise of “ask” as a noun
45d [Countdown numbers] HITS. As in the Top 40 Countdown. Sirius XM will re-air old Casey Kasem shows on the specialist channels, which I always enjoy catching.

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22 Responses to Monday, February 12, 2024

  1. RCook says:

    I kept thinking of a certain Monty Python sketch during today’s NYT puzzle:

  2. David L says:

    TNY: As expected from Natan Last, a mix of esoterica and oh-so-trendy phrases. I managed to figure out 32A and 32D even though I had no idea what either of them meant. But I was defeated by the crossing of 1D and 17A — I don’t watch a lot of TV and I don’t know more than a few words of Spanish.

    Clue and answer at 47A are dubious — the plural form is not really a thing.

    • pannonica says:

      32a/d crossing stymied me too.

    • Eric H. says:

      32A/32D really could only be a T. Parse 32D as TRIP SITS and it sorta makes sense. But I have no idea what TIGHT FIVE refers to.

      I found the puzzle as a whole to be easy for a Natan Last Monday New Yorker. But I ended up looking up the “Black Panther” actress because I had a typo — LOAf instead of LOAD. If I had had a D there, DANAI would have been my first guess for her name.

      I feel like UPN has been an answer in half the puzzles I have done lately. Weird how that happens.

      • Eric H. says:

        And using a powerful engine, I see that a TIGHT FIVE is a short set in a comedy club. I don’t really follow stand-up comedy much.

    • YouKnowNothingJohnH says:

      it’s almost sad how this website has becoming a watering hole for dying walruses, old guys watching themselves lose their grip on the day’s language and culture. what’s esoteric in this grid? the capital of samoa? a spanish 101 word? a band with platinum albums? i like Last’s puzzles but “as expected” is merely incorrect, as not a single of the marquees is a proper noun here. don’t know why i check this website anymore. a real boca raton for fist-shaking grandpas.

      • Mr. [not a grandpa but very] Grumpy says:

        Yep. Shaking my fist. I see no reason to include modern [I assume] c**p crossing each other. It is typical of a Natal Last puzzle, since he seems prone to confuse rather than entertain. I do not understand his mindset.

      • David R says:

        Asgard is that you?

      • David L says:

        What’s esoteric?

        TIGHTFIVE, TRIPSITS, NOVIO, DANAI (I wondered if the name might be DANAY crossing SYD).

        I suspect Mr. Grumpy and I are more representative of the typical New Yorker reader than those who know tightfive and tripsits. Last’s puzzles always come across to me as an eff you to anyone who’s not familiar with his particular cultural milieu.

      • JohnH says:

        Wow. Apparently I’m not just a follower of the kids who don’t belong to the right club but its unseen ringleader, so I don’t know what to say. I shouldn’t repeat all my pleas about consistently rating puzzles much higher than the average, complaining as often about ease as difficulty, and not accepting that my issue is difficulty in the first place. But then I’ve never joined the right club, going back to the days of managing the college radio station in playing alternative music rather than AM top 40 and reading books that take a lot.

        But why don’t I just defer to the many here who have already posted about this one with impatience. I ran into many of the same tough spots. Thankfully, Danai / Sid came out fine, as DANAY just looked wrong, and I got the T in TIGHT / TRIP because the R was constrained by GRAY AREAS and alternatives like LIGHT or RIGHT wouldn’t go with that. I did get caught by NOVIO, although I guessed right on SOCA and GLOWUPS, as David L was, only because of UPN.

        To its credit, though, seemed like Last offered for a change some genuinely clever deceptive clues. What made it hardest along with the leanings that David L cites was more fill that could have been many things. Say, I guessed “broker’s FEE,” which seemed closer to an intermediary’s role, which of course then made it harder to approach PARAMORE and the capital of Samoa. If all that means I have a closed mind, at least I trust it’s closed only to the very exclusive circle of a few setters at TNY.

        • Cameron Castle says:

          After my displeasure with Natan inserting and crossing a passel of proper names in a previous puzzle, I was thrilled with this one. Most of the puzzle was possible by “puzzling” out the answers. Some I didn’t get but could have. I wasn’t stuck trying to come up with song I had never heard from an artist I had never listened to, crossed by The Lone Ranger’s cousin’s horse. Given time I could come up with trip sits.
          Kept me thinking. Very enjoyable. Thank you, Natan.

    • Gary R says:

      Lots of new stuff for me today: GLOW UPS, SOCA, TIGHT FIVE, TRIP SITS (though I could infer what it is), ZONE ONE.

      I also thought there was quite a bit of good cluing/wordplay: 18-A, 26-A, 32-A (once I googled it to find out what it was, the clue was good), 4-D, 20-D, 27-D, 32-D (clever, once I parsed the answer correctly), 33-D, 35-D.

      Finished with a couple of errors to fix. PARAMORE is vaguely familiar, but I thought it was PARAMORs (which made 32-A TIGHT FIVS ?), and I know I’ve run across DANAI Gurira in crosswords before, but couldn’t bring her name to mind – and I really thought the sloth was Syd.

      Good Monday workout.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT … Is there a theme in today’s puzzle? BUNNIES and ANIMALS seem kind of weakly related to the “hare” referenced in the title (“Bad Hare Day”), but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of association to the other two long across answers. Does “Freestyle” mean “an asymmetric grid with a semi-theme”? To me that seems like a puzzle idea that someone gave up on and thought, “What the heck. I’ll submit it as is to the “USA Today”. Maybe they’ll publish it.”

    • Eric H says:

      I don’t know about USA Today, but other publishers (notably Universal) use “freestyle” for themeless puzzles. But even then, the grids are usually symmetrical.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        The Universal puzzle is also part of my daily rotation and I’m aware that they also use the “freestyle” terminology. But since I’m sometimes pretty oblivious to themes, I haven’t connected it up with meaning the puzzle is themeless. So thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I’ve probably wasted more of my life than I care to think about trying to grok themes that weren’t there in Universal and USAT puzzles over the past five years.

        In this case (and I think there have been others), there’s kinda, sorta a suggestion that the constructor may have had a theme in mind, but wasn’t able to fully develop it. I’ll try to keep in mind that when I see “freestyle”, it probably(?) means that there’s no theme and won’t waste time trying to see one.

        EA and/or DS … if you’re reading this, please chime in. What is meant by “freestyle” in the puzzles you edit?

        • e.a. says:

          hey friend! i won’t claim to speak for amanda or david, but to me, freestyle is synonymous with themeless. i prefer it because, imo, a puzzle that doesn’t have a conventional crossword “theme” (3+ answers, X number of total theme squares, etc etc) might still have themes in the general sense, whether intended by the constructor or otherwise gleaned by the solver, so i think it’s confusing/reductive to call it “themeless,” and more expansive to call it “freestyle.”

          (btw, and apologies if this is overexplaining, “filthy animals” doubles as a cute way to categorize “dust bunnies” since they’re something you clean up; the other long answers are unrelated as far as i know. i think this classifies as what brooke husic in her puzzmo editor notes calls an “apt pair” theme. i thought it was clever, and it does feel like a complete idea to me.)

          personally, i’m partial to the approach that a lot of cryptic crossword venues seem to take, which is never labeling puzzles as “themed,” even when they are. i usually don’t catch the themes on my own (especially when they’re about old british pop culture and what not), but that’s why crossword blogs are such a blessing!

  4. Katie says:

    mini had a set up I liked a lot

  5. Eric H says:

    Thanks, Amy, for setting out the clude for 23a. [“Sometimes the father almost sees looking / At the son, how handsome ___ be if half / His own face was made of the woman he loved”: Terrance Hayes], HE’D.

    I realized in re-reading it that I’d misunderstood it while solving the puzzle. I learned that a pronoun refers to its nearest antecedent, which would make the “he” the son. But Hayes’ “he” is the father, which makes more sense and is more poignant.

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