Monday, February 19, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:04 (Stella) 


NYT 3:10 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 9:04 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


Note: No WSJ puzzle due to the holiday.

Adam Wagner’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is a phrase where the first words is a number, and the second word has that number of syllables. They’re also arranged in ascending order from 1 to 4.

New York Times, 02 19 2024, By Adam Wagner

  • 17a [*Beat by a little, as in joke telling] – ONE UP
  • 18a [*Unfaithful to, as a lover] – TWO TIMING
  • 31a [*Chocolate bar named for a group of literary swordsmen] – THREE MUSKETEERS
  • 48a [*Like a space measured by length, width, depth and time] – FOUR DIMENSIONAL
  • 61a [What the first word of the answer to each starred clue counts, with respect to the second word] – SYLLABLES

As I solved this puzzle I thought “oh, ok, there are phrases with numbers and they count up”… not even realizing that the second word had anything to do with it. So when I got to the revealer I was legitimately surprised – rare on a Monday! So it’s both an extremely clever theme, and a set where none of the answers feel forced or not in the language – and two of them are grid spanning! Such great finds here, and also a unique layout that fits the inherent increasing lengths of the answers perfectly.

Very clean fill all around while still being interesting. Loved FANBASES, NARNIA, MENSCH, Nora EPHRON, and having SOLVE right in the middle of the puzzle. I got a bit tripped up by EPIC HERO and tried “epic poem” instead. I also was not familiar with ADRIAN Fenty and while reading the clue quickly thought it would be about Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s makeup line. I could potentially see the WAWA/ANORAK area being a little tricky, but that’s my only tiny complaint – oh, and that GONZO wasn’t clued via the muppet, I love him.

Happy Monday all!

Daniel Hrynick’s Universal crossword, “You Guys Rock” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 2/19/24 • Mon • “You Guys Rock” • Hrynick • solution • 20240219

  • 50aR [Lead musician … or the start of 17-, 25- or 37-Across?] FRONTMAN.
    59aR [Supporting musicians … or the end of 17-, 25- or 37-Across?] BACKUP BAND.
    As best I can determine, the first part of each of those answers is a man’s name, and the second part is a band name. But there’s a major caveat, which I’ll describe after listing them.
  • 17a. [Cornmeal flatbread] JOHNNYCAKEJohnny is a masculine name, and Cake is a band name.
  • 25a. [Commuter rail from San Francisco to San Jose] CALTRAIN (Cal, Train).
  • 37a. [Biblical act of betrayal] JUDAS KISS (Judas, Kiss).

So, I believe the theme is just that simple, but there’s a temptation to make it more than it is. There’s a very famous band called Judas Priest, so one might assume that the first part of 37-across is a reference to the front of that band’s name. From there one might try to think of bands similarly starting with Johnny and Cal. It’s a little messy.

  • 23d [Hero, to some] SUB. This is about sandwiches.
  • 30d [Dullness] TEDIUMWould you like your tedium / Rare or medium? –Ogden Nash.
  • 40d [Put in order] ARRANGE. This time I thought ‘put’ was in the past tense, so I entered ARRAYED.
  • 41d [Reaction to bad comic timing?] TOO SOON? Nice framing misdirect.
  • 16a [Heed] OBEY.
  • 36a [Post videos of a personal journey, maybe] VLOG. It’s a portmanteau of a portmanteau: web log ⇒ blog, video blog ⇒ vlog.
  • 63a [Very eager] AGOG, directly below 58a [Message board rando] ANON. Interesting, appealing.
  • 67a [World of Warcraft, e.g., briefly] MMPORG. Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game.

Janice Luttrell’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/19/24 by Janice Luttrell

Los Angeles Times 2/19/24 by Janice Luttrell

Ariana Grande had 7 rings; this puzzle has 4. The revealer at 55A [Mastermind, and what the first word of 16-, 23-, 35-, or 45-Across can be] is RINGLEADER. That is, the first word of each theme answer can be placed in front of the word RING to make a new phrase:

  • 16A [Disruptive student] is CLASS CLOWN, leading to CLASS RING.
  • 23A [Cocktail with rum and vodka] is a BRASS MONKEY, leading to BRASS RING.
  • 35A [Wilson/Vaughn comedy with the tagline “Hide your bridesmaids”] is WEDDING CRASHERS, leading to WEDDING RING.
  • 45A [Time for a final bow] is a CURTAIN CALL, leading to CURTAIN RING.

The theme words don’t change meaning really from the theme phrase to the RING phrase, with the exception of the BRASS in BRASS MONKEY and BRASS RING, but I can forgive that, given that the theme answers are all pretty evocative. Favorite clue: 6D [Word after dental or Mental] for FLOSS. The latter refers to Mental Floss, a website that really ought to have a crossword puzzle. Just sayin’!

Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 2/19/24 – Nediger

I conflated a man-cave with a CAT CAFE and created a CAT CAVE at 1d. Oops. That explains why 26a. [They might run up a tab] made no sense with VEES; it’s FEES.


Did not know: 38a. [___ G (Karol G’s collaborator on “Mamiii”)], BECKY. Karol G’s Colombian, Becky G’s American. Latin music stars.

Four stars from me.

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20 Responses to Monday, February 19, 2024

  1. David L says:

    I was pleasantly surprised too by the NYT theme. One, two, three… didn’t seem very interesting, but finding legit phrases with the required syllables was a nice touch.

    I knew ADRIAN Fenty because I lived in the DC area when he was mayor, but I doubt that he’s particularly well known elsewhere. I started thinking about how NYC mayors seem to become nationally known, Chicago mayors sometimes do (often for unfortunate reasons), LA mayors occasionally do, and DC mayors hardly ever do, unless they are named Marion Barry.

    • huda says:

      I agree re DC Mayors. A few gain national recognition but that’s not the norm.
      I felt that the combination of ADRIAN Fenty crossing ADUBA is not optimal for a Monday puzzle. I think it might affect the ratings on an otherwise interesting Monday.

      • huda says:

        PS This is by way of feedback to the constructor, given a recent discussion suggesting that ratings are meaningless but specific feedback may be helpful.
        I personally see ratings as useful indicators but I can also imagine that the information lacks specificity. So comments are hopefully seen as constructive feedback.

      • JohnH says:

        Hard, especially for a Monday, but ADRIAN looked like a real first name, while anything but D crossing didn’t. I’d no idea about ADUBA but just accepted it. Not optimal, but ok.

      • Lois says:

        I agree that that particular crossing was a little tough, but a rougher one for me was GOB and GONZO. I didn’t really know GOB, and had to rely on GONZO, not the easiest reference, I don’t think. Loved the puzzle. I can’t remember whether I gave it five stars or took it down a notch to four and a half because of these crossings. Does a constructor know that it will be a Monday puzzle? It could have been assigned for a Tuesday, but I guess it was considered too easy for Tuesday.

    • DougC says:

      Just a great theme for a Monday puzzle, clever and well-executed.

      I didn’t know either ADRIAN or ADUBA, but the intersecting “A” was reasonably guessable, and I imagine lots of solvers will know one or the other. In any case, a small price to pay for an otherwise quite excellent puzzle.

  2. xworder says:

    Oh, hey! If you enjoy 27-Across in today’s New Yorker puzzle — “Snickers bar?” = COMEDY CLUB — you might enjoy the books “Pun Amok” and “Pun Amok 2,” the latter of which has that exact clue and answer along with 769 other original clever clues to solve.

    You can even play two free puzzles on the books’ covers.


    Happy solving!

  3. Gary R says:

    TNY: Enjoyed this puzzle – challenging, and it took a while to solve, but I never felt “stuck.” I liked most all of what Amy liked, and I’ll add what I thought were some cute/clever clues for shorter fill: 19-A [Bodies that may develop tails] COMETS; 48-A [It might be found around the house] YARD; 59-A [Ends an engagement] WEDS; 7-D [Common “Star Trek” setting] STUN; 10-D [Mo. town] STL (this one’s probably more entertaining for me because I live about 75 miles from Motown).

    A question for someone more familiar than I am with on-line shorthand: Does the clue for 33-D [“Here’s a short summary of the preceding post”] work for TLDR? I understand that TLDR means “too long, didn’t read,” but is that something you’d write if you were about to post a summary of a too-long post (that you’re saying you didn’t read)?

    • pannonica says:

      As a standalone, it indeed means “too long, didn’t read”, but it can also be followed by a précis for someone who is expected not to be bothered by reading the whole of what follows.

    • JohnH says:

      I thought the top half or so (down through TIRE TREAD) was refreshing in its reliance on wit (good puns or bad) for a change rather than trivia. That was so even if I had no idea what “toe beans” referred to and had never heard of a CAT CAFE, natto, Sharknado, or BECKY.

      But then the bottom, including SHAZAM as a verb but mostly the dues S and SE, came as a disappointment. It reverted to type and was no fun at all. I made it harder by starting with PBS for the documentary maker I didn’t know and “break” as a partner for “make.” But lots was from that TNY other world.

      • Eric H says:

        I needed a couple of crosses to see SHAZAM, but it’s one of my favorite app on my phone — even though it doesn’t always find the song that’s playing.

        • JohnH says:

          Thanks. Tempting to try.

          I won’t tire you all with my troublesome factoids, but one thing threw me even after I got it. I’d have said that shoots and acting take place on SET, but dressing in, well, the dressing rooms. Oh, and not sure what the hearts click refers to, but I’m guessing a video game.

          • Gary R says:

            I wondered about SET, also.

            I think [Clicks a heart, e.g.] refers to “liking” a post on a social media site (or maybe liking a text in a messaging app).

          • Eric H says:

            The SET dressing likely refers to placing objects on a stage or movie set so that it looks more like a real place — photos, a vase of flowers, whatever. It’s a tricky clue.

            The “Clicks a heart, e.g.” is probably more social media than video games. Just as you can click a thumbs up on Facebook to show that you like something, you can click a heart to show that you love it.

    • David L says:

      I liked it too — tough but solvable, for me anyway. I also had PBS and BREAK but at some point realized they weren’t going to work, and put in BBC instead, which helped me see BADMOVE, then MODEL.

  4. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Not my fastest time for one of their Monday puzzles, but not so long that it turned into a slog. Nice clues for SNICKERS BAR, TIRE TREAD, and TRIVIA BUFF. (That F threw me for a bit, as I wanted uNFOLD for 9D (no, it doesn’t really fit the clue), but couldn’t figure out what “machine” would end in F.)

    All in all, a mix of some gimmes (is there another famous Kurosawa?) and stuff that needed some crosses. Throw in some clever clues and I’m happy.

  5. Seattle DB says:

    USAT: I gave this puzzle a 2 because of one crummy clue that the editor should have fixed. 2D: “Openly pan, say” and the answer is “Out”. Why don’t editors remember that most crossword solvers are mainstream people who don’t know that “pan” might refer to “pansexual”?

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