Wednesday, February 21, 2024

AVCX untimed (Amy) 


LAT 3:52 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:13 (Amy) 


NYT untimed (Amy) 


Universal tk (pannonica) 


USA Today 6:16 (Emily) 


WSJ 4:53 (Jim) 


Dena R. Witkes’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Couch Findings”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that hide American coins, as identified by the circled letters. The revealer is LOOSE CHANGE (59a, [It may be found under sofa cushions, or in the circled letters]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Couch Findings” · Dena R. Witkes · Wed., 2.21.24

  • 18a. [Unit also called a centiare] SQUARE METER. Quarter.
  • 23a. [Obi-Wan Kenobi, e.g.] JEDI MASTER. Dime.
  • 37a. [Cookie topped with cinnamon sugar] SNICKERDOODLE. Nickel.
  • 53a. [Reality show in which Jo Frost offered child-rearing advice] SUPERNANNY. Penny.

Solid theme and a fun set of entries. I didn’t know the TV show, but the clue made it easy enough to infer. I also like how the coins are in descending order based on their value. Well done. And it’s a debut, too. Congrats!

AI ART made with the prompt “Coins shooting out of a couch cartoon style”

I’m not sure if the fact that each coin is split into two parts is meant to convey “looseness.” If so, I’m not sure that I buy that. But I suppose one could argue that they’re certainly not “tight.” Regardless, it doesn’t bother me either way, and the theme works well.

In the fill we have HOT SPELL, NIGHT OWL, “NO SWEAT,” ORIGAMI, the BIG HAND, DAILIES, MATCHA, and SCARJO. Plenty to like there. I like “MM-HMM,” too, though it only has a couple hits in the Cruciverb database.

AI ART is a new one (as is DALL-E in the clue), but I expect it’s here to stay. I used the app PicsArt (not DALL-E) to make the picture you see here.

Clues of note:

  • 30a. [Work from a folder]. ORIGAMI. Sneaky clue.
  • 36a. [Common pickup line?]. HELLO. “Pickup” as in “pick up the phone” which is something people used to say back in the day.

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

Jeffrey Martinovic’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/21/24 – no. 0221

TAUTOLOGICAL is the name of the game: 63a. [Like the names of 18-, 25-, 40- and 50- Across vis-à-vis the bracketed languages]. Tautologies are (in one sense) redundant phrases:

  • 18a. {Region that spans about 8% of the earth’s land area [Arabic]}, SAHARA DESERT, with sahara from the Arabic word for “desert.” (Shades of Circus Circus.)
  • 25a. {Body of water bordering Nevada and California [Washoe]}, LAKE TAHOE. Didn’t know tahoe meant “lake.”
  • 40a. {Landmark on which most U.S. radio stations base the starts of their call signs, with “W” on the east and “K” on the west [Algonquin]}, MISSISSIPPI RIVER.
  • 50a. {Nation that shares an island with part of Indonesia [Indonesian]}, EAST TIMOR (or Timor Leste). East East!

Cool etymological/geographical theme.

Fave fill: THE KISS, ABS OF STEEL, AUGUR. Not so keen on the dreaded [Playground retort], DOES SO—don’t think I had this one on my list of “playground retorts” the other day! AD UNITS feels unfamiliar, variant AEONS is meh, DIG AT is weird, TARE is dull, and SPRIT is one of those nautical words I really only know from crosswords.

3.5 stars from me.

David P. Williams’s AV Club Classic crossword solution, “Feeling Unfulfilled”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 2/21/24 – “Feeling Unfulfilled”

Cool theme. NEGATIVE SPACE describes the open squares where “negative space” words go in the theme answers. The Down crossings are shorter than the space available suggests: the NOTHING in NOTHING BURGER vanishes, and it’s the same with EMPTY NESTER and BLANK SLATES.

It sure took a while to start filling in entries, what with 16 Down answers not filling up thei space available.

I enjoyed the fill and cluing overall. Four stars from me.

Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 2/21/24 – Reid

Lots of fun stuff in this breezy puzzle!

Fave fill: COOTIES, TOP DOLLAR, MOLTEN LAVA, RED WINE, SEASON OPENERS (the puzzle’s about five weeks early for baseball’s start, though), BLUEBONNET, AIR GUITAR, “TOODLES!”, “SURE, SURE,” ERIC IDLE, ATLANTIS, HOT MESS. (Boo to ERLE, though.)

A “lightly challenging” Wednesday New Yorker puzzle won’t have a lot of trickery, but this one did give me (brief) pause: [Exchanged promises], I DOS. Really looks like a verb phrase!

Four stars from me.

Natalie Tran & Sean Ziebarth’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Natalie Tran and Sean Ziebarth’s theme today is revealed at the awkward sounding HEROSANDWICH. There are circles in between parts of three long across answers. They spell out three heroes from films (one originally from print). Why those three? Other than they’re short and have handy letters? Dunno.

  • [Make a fool of], PUTONEOVERON. Neo from The Matrix films.
  • [Hide-and-seek exclamation], THEREYOUARE. Rey from the third generation of Star Wars flicks.
  • [Determines the age of, as archaeological finds], CARBONDATES. Bond from the James Bond films.

Things that may cause pause:

  • [Run onstage?], EMCEE. As a verb, to act as master of ceremonies.
  • [River-dwelling mammal related to whales and dolphins], HIPPO. I guess? At present they’re classified in the same suborder, Whippomorpha. Dogs, seals and bears are all in Caniformia. It’s not wrong, but it’s awkward. “Related” is doing a lot of lifting.


Matthew Stock’s USA Today Crossword, “Daybreak” — Emily’s write-up

Grab your WATERBOTTLE and jumpstart your day with this puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday February 21, 2024

USA Today, February 21, 2024, “Daybreak” by Matthew Stock

Theme: each themer is contained within DA—Y or D—AY


  • 19a. [Movement practice that promotes mental health], DANCETHERAPY
  • 38a. [“Follow these instructions to the letter”], DOEXACTLYASISAY
  • 55a. [Organization that might help someone find love], DATINGAGENCY

This themer set is up early today, getting things done with DANCETHERAPY, DOEXACTLYASISAY, and DATINGAGENCY. I needed a few crossings to get started for each but then they slotted in easily.


Stumpers: BANGS (cluing threw me off with “style”) and ORNOT (needed a couple crossings)

I enjoyed this grid and it had great flow, which I breezed through today—always a nice win for the day! A fun line of animals in the middle of the puzzle with ANT, SNAIL, and CRAB all scuttling along the ground. Plus there’s a BURRO in the bottom corner.

4.0 stars


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15 Responses to Wednesday, February 21, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Oh, how interesting! I knew that SAHARA and DESERT were redundant– i.e. the Arabic word for Desert is Sahara. I had no idea that this was the case for the other theme entries. How cool! *
    I solved this in Tuesday time, in spite of all the proper names. And the revealer was truly a revelatory. Well done!!!

    *I’m guessing that this is the interpretation of the theme revealer, as I’m writing this before the commentary on the puzzle- Long day.. .

    • Eric H says:

      You understand the theme perfectly, huda. I thought it was an interesting change from the usual sorts of themes. Really nice puzzle.

      I knew LAKE TAHOE was redundant (I think I got that from a crossword puzzle), and maybe MISSISSIPPI RIVER. But I didn’t know about the other two.

      It’s a little odd that I didn’t know about EAST TIMOR. About 25 years ago, a big corporation was trying to build a subdivision over the ecologically sensitive Edwards Aquifer here in Austin. The alternative newspaper here was full of articles about how the same company was causing all sorts of environmental problems with its copper mining operations in EAST TIMOR. Somehow, they never mentioned the country’s tautological name.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d never have guessed the meaning of the names, and it took me a moment even when I was otherwise done, but fascinating. I had naturally assumed that East Timor got its name because of another island nearby called just Timor (or maybe West Timor.

  2. John says:

    NYT: raise your hand if you had AsS OF STEEL initially for 29D

    • Gary R says:

      Nah – you were probably thinking of “Buns of Steel,” which was a “thing” (in the 80’s, 90’s?) but of course, doesn’t fit.

  3. David L says:

    According to The Internet, Mississippi means ‘big river,’ not just any old river, so the tautology isn’t quite as precise for that one.

    There are quite a few River Avons in England, with Avon being simply a Celtic word for ‘river.’

  4. Donna Lemons - CEO of The Lemons Co. - Buy our LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS @ says:

    My gal SAL – glad to see they are keeping clues fresh.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      It wouldn’t kill you to use less obviously fake names for your Fiend comments.

      • Donna Lemons - Still CEO of The Lemons Co. - says:

        Ramy – please don’t cast aspersions on people differently motivated than you. We can all succeed.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          Ramy? What the …?

          • Donna Lemons - CEO of the Lemons Co. - Pardon Any Typos - says:

            Mr. San & AMY,

            Apologies!! My Blackberry thumbs aren’t as agile as they once were! I meant to tell AMY not to cast aspersions.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      Do we really need shameless self-promotion here?

      • Donna Lemons - CEO of the Lemons Co. - says:

        Art – I can assure you I feel deep shame after a complex and oh-too-trusting run of years in my middle-50s.

  5. Eric H says:

    AVXC: It is a cool theme, though I feel like it hasn’t been very long since there was another AVXC puzzle where you had to leave squares blank. For some reason, having to skip a line to make the Down answers work always slows me down a bit.

    It was somewhat annoying that AcrossLite didn’t seem to recognize the grid as correctly filled, which I think it was.

Comments are closed.