Friday, February 16, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:02 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 4:31 paper (norah) 


Universal 4:17 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:29 (Darby) 


Colin Adams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/16/24 – no. 0216

Good themeless from a new constructor! So much good stuff in it.

Fave fill: SPAMALOT, “WE’RE RICH!”, VOODOO, INNER DEMONS, HIGHWAY HYPNOSIS, “DON’T TEMPT ME,” “OH, BOOHOO,” “NICE WORK!”, SOUR NOTE, WORN DOWN (it me), FOOD COMA, “YOO-HOO,” PATIENTS (it me), MESSY BUN. Less keen on EWER, which you can’t buy at Walmart or Wayfair because it’s an old bit of crosswordese.

Three question-marked clues I liked:

  • 15a. [God on a mission?], APOLLO. As in the NASA mission heading towards the moon.
  • 64a. [Stand-up person?], NO-SHOW. As in “You got stood up.”
  • 66a. [Moving company?], TROUPE. As in a theatrical troupe that moves the audience emotionally.

Four stars from me.

Robin Stears’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 2/15/24 • Fri • Stears • solution • 20240216

We have punned versions of phrases which now end with exclamations.

  • 17a. [Rather impressive exclamation of relief?] QUITE A PHEW (… few).
  • 24a. [Astonished exclamation at the Four Corners Monument] BORDER GOLLY (… collie).
  • 35a. [Exasperated exclamation over a breath mint?] TIC TAC D’OH (… toe).
  • 51a. [Quiet exclamation of dismissal from way back when?] OLD SOFT SHOO (… shoe).
  • 60a. [Etymological story about an equestrian’s exclamation?] TALE OF WHOA (… woe).

Sorry. these just didn’t excite me. Perhaps if the original phrases had something in common it would have felt like a stronger theme.

As for the crossword in general, it kept throwing me gentle curveballs, so I was on my toes a lot and needed to make numerous corrections as I slipped along.

  • 5d [Law org. led by Christopher A. Wray since 2017] THE FBI. Surprise definite article!
  • 6d [Escapade] CAPER, not ANTIC.
  • 7d [Felt sore] ACHED, 8d [Sore feeling] IRE.
  • 18d [“Between a Rock and a Hard Place” memoirist Ralston] ARON. He’s the 127 Hours guy.
  • 26d [Peel] RIND. Just purchased several fruits that look to be dekopon but were called mandarins and priced accordingly. I hope they turn out to be what they seem to be, and that I got a real bargain. The RIND comes off so easily.
  • 28d [Echidna snack] ANT. Echidnas, also called spiny anteaters, are egg-laying mammals (monotremes), along with platypuses.
  • 33d [Is in the past?] WAS, 36d [“Nuh-uh!”] IS NOT. Uh-oh.
  • 22a [Perfect darling] ANGEL.
  • 32a [Brian Setzer genre] SWING. But he started out—or at least became famous—as a retro rockabilly artist in the Stray Cats.
  • 56a [“Correctamundo!”] RIGHT. “Check out the big brain on Brad!”
  • 57a [Station under the Garden] PENN. That’s Madison Square Garden.
  • 65a [Devoured] ATE UP, not EATEN.

Joe Rodini’s Universal crossword, “On Broadway”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words help you MAKE A SCENE (57a, [Rant and rave in public, or what the ends of 18-, 23-, 36- and 52-Across do]).

Universal crossword solution · “On Broadway” · Joe Rodini · Fri., 2.16.24

  • 18a. [When a future butterfly is in a chrysalis] PUPAL STAGE. Set the stage.
  • 23a. [Selfless ballers] TEAM PLAYERS. Gather the players.
  • 36a. [“Nicely done!”] “I GIVE YOU PROPS.” Supply them with props.
  • 52a. [They’re drawn in conflict] BATTLE LINES. Feed them their lines.

Nice, simple, elegant. I ignored the theme during the solve and therefore got to enjoy a surprising aha moment when I hit the revealer. Fun theme answers and pleasant wordplay throughout. Kudos!

Not much in the long fill department, though. BUSH SR struck me as a bit awkward at first, but I feel like I’ve seen it enough in the wild. DO SHOTS, AZALEA, and SWAMI are other colorful highlights. ASCOTS at 1d echoes yesterday’s Wordle.

Olivia Rodrigo

GAH [Exclamation of frustration] sure wanted to be BAH, and I never knew there was an AP GOV class, but I was pretty certain there wasn’t an AP BOV class.

Clues of note: 53d. [Youngster who may love Olivia Rodrigo]. TWEEN. A new name to me, but then I’m old. She has numerous awards including a few Grammys, was Time‘s Entertainer of the Year in 2021, and Billboard‘s Woman of the Year in 2022.

Smooth and enjoyable puzzle. 3.75 stars.

“Food Chain” by Margaret Seikel, norah’s review; 4:31 paper

THEME: The revealer, split across 22-Across and 49-Across, WHOLEHOG BARBECUE [Southern cooking tradition that can be described by the transformation happening in this puzzle] hints us to a word ladder that takes us from NOSE to TAIL (If you are unfamiliar with the revealer phrase, start here.)



Themed entries:

  • NOSE 1A [Rhinoplasty target]
  • POSE 13A [“Strike a ___” (line that opens Madonna’s “Vogue”)]
  • POLE 17A [___ position (what’s earned by the fastest qualifier, in Formula 1)]
  • POLL 34A [Bit of fodder for horse-race journalism]
  • TOLL 54A [Fee for passage]
  • TALL 61A [Towering]
  • TAIL [Plane part with an identifying number]

This was an easy breezy solve, thanks to a clean grid that lets the theme entries breathe and shine.

Some favorite entries/clues:

  • NAMASTE 20A [Yogi’s closing]
  • AGENCY 28A [Placement service for full-time caregivers, say]
  • HUM 45A [Instruction to a child learning how to blow bubbles underwater]
  • CELTIC 10D [___ knot (blackwork-tattoo option)]
  • HORCHATA 36D [Cinnamony drink made with rice]
  • URSULA 46D [Melissa McCarthy role in a 2023 musical remake] (listening now)

Thanks Margaret and The New Yorker team!

Jared Goudsmit’s USA Today crossword, “Sky-High (Freestyle)”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

This themeless was really fun. I was very impressed by the amount of long fill that was included in the puzzle. We had two spanners with 7d [Really happy] ON TOP OF THE WORLD and 34a [“You must have it wrong”] THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT. Plus, four 9s in the NE and SW corners, as well as four 10s in the NW and SE. It made for a grid that flowed where, though you could see that some of the blocks on either side of LEON, CORP, WART, and NONE likely made it easier to fill each of those corners on their own first.

Jared Goudsmit's USA Today crossword, "Sky-High (Freestyle)" solution for 2/16/2024

Jared Goudsmit’s USA Today crossword, “Sky-High (Freestyle)” solution for 2/16/2024

I really loved that we got both 14a [Eco-friendly device on a roof] SOLAR PANEL and 17a [Set of celestial objects gravitationally bound to one another] STAR SYSTEM in the northwest corner. Each had a space-oriented word, so they were a great combo. I also really loved the two conversational questions in 30d [Question asked after digressing] and 31d [“Do I know you?”] WHERE WAS I and HAVE WE MET respectively. The cluing was kept extra fresh here by definitionally cluing WHERE WAS I versus using a quoted example for HAVE WE MET. As a gamer who loves a 12d [Hangout where Catan or charades might be played], GAME NIGHT was especially fun.

A few things slowed me down too. I didn’t know that UGGS were 10a [Australian boots]. I was also unfamiliar with 4d [“Love by Grace” singer Fabian] LARA. SITARIST was tricky but not terribly so, and I liked its inclusion.

Overall, this was a great puzzle. I had such a fun time throughout.

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12 Responses to Friday, February 16, 2024

  1. Keith says:

    NYT: Think “troupe” specifically refers a performance group that tours (i.e. “moves”).

  2. sorry ever after says:

    NYT: An abundance of wonderfully colorful entries — congrats to Times newcomer Colin! — but overall I had to check to be sure I hadn’t inadvertently selected easy mode. Please, editors, quit lowering the difficulty bar on the themelesses.

    • Gary R says:

      It was a *little* faster than a typical Friday for me, but didn’t feel like a Wednesday or anything.

      The NE slowed me down a bit. I know of SPAMALOT, but it didn’t leap to mind, given the clue. Entered “parasail” before ICE SKATE, which didn’t help. MESSY BUN is new to me, and it took quite a while for me to call up PECOS Bill from my long-term memory banks.

      Overall, a nice Friday puzzle.

    • Eric H. says:

      My time was exactly my Wednesday average, so I thought it was a bit on the easy side, too.

      But most Fridays in the last year have been fairly quick.

      • Me says:

        I also thought this was easier than many, but I kind of like it when the Friday puzzles are more breezy and less sweat-inducing. Saturday should be challenging, but I’m okay with Friday being less of a challenge. And this Friday had a lot of fun, not-so-hackneyed answers, which I liked.

        • Eric H. says:

          There were some fun, fresh answers, but while I was solving it, it felt like I had seen all the witty clues before (“Bacon bit” ESSAYS and “Makeup artist” LIAR, for example).

          It’s certainly a solid Friday puzzle, though.

      • Dallas says:

        It was a record Friday time for me, and below my Wednesday average. It just went top to bottom, all the long answers dropped right in. No complaints; pretty easy fill, and good fill at that. I look forward to seeing more!

  3. dh says:

    I have two nits to pick with the Universal puzzle.
    The first is 34D, where the clue is “Burglarize” and the answer is “Rob”. I learned from listening to old episodes of “Dragnet” that they are different things. (“I’ve been robbed!” “No, ma’am, you’ve been burgled!”). Burglary involves entering a home or another building illegally, whether or not something is stolen; robbery involves taking property from a person through threats or fear of harm. This may be disputed on this forum on the basis of common usage, but they are different crimes. I’ll stand with Joe Friday.

    The second is 65A, clued “Brews such as stouts”; the answer is “Ales”. Stouts are not ales, they are beers.

    • Eric H says:

      I totally agree on the rob/burgle distinction.

      I’m a fan of brown ales, red ales, porters and stouts. But I always thought stout was a type of ale, because it’s top-fermented.

      • Dallas says:

        You’re correct: stouts are ales. Beers divide into ales and lagers, based on fermentation as you mentioned. From there, there are many subcategories under each (especially ales; everything from stouts and porters to IPAs to Hefeweizen and on and on). That article about the difference between a stout and an ale is… kinda bizarre. It almost looks like it was “written” by AI, not a brewer as it claims.

        • Eric H says:

          Thanks. That’s what I thought.

          I don’t know about the accuracy of the article dh shared, but it badly needs some copy editing.

Comments are closed.