Thursday, February 22, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 6:46 (Gareth) 


NYT 15:34 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker 2:48 (Kyle) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 7:45(Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Fireball untimed (Jim) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Just Visiting”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar(ish) phrases that feature two IN bigrams. Drop the INs to make sense of the clue. The revealer is DROP-INS (71a, [Unexpected guests, and what you need to do to seven Across answers for their clues to make sense]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Just Visiting” · Mike Shenk · Thu., 2.22.24

  • 1a. [Pint glass fill] IN A LINE. Ale.
  • 18a. [Deadly snake] IN A SPIN. Asp.
  • 21a. [Stuff in schoolrooms and poolrooms] CHAIN LINK. Chalk.
  • 26a. [Sensitive handling] TINACTIN. Tact.
  • 50a. [___ Hari] MAINTAIN. Mata.
  • 55a. [Greedy moves] GRAIN BINS. Grabs.
  • 63a. [Prayer need, for some] RUINING. Rug.

I had a haphazard solve and found myself down at 50a before figuring out the gist of the theme. Since there could be only one answer to the clue [___ Hari], it was simpler to find the extraneous letters there. That made going back and figuring out the rest of the theme entries much easier.

I definitely prefer the longer ones, especially CHAIN LINK and TINACTIN. IN A LINE and IN A SPIN feel a bit roll-your-owny (as they say); having one of those would be okay, but two feel like too much. I wonder if INTESTINES (giving rise to TESTES) was left on the cutting room floor.

Fave bits of fill include GORE-TEX, HOBNOB, and an ARSONIST who STOOD UP and was LED AWAY. Needed all the crossings for old Italian actress Virna LISI.

Clues of note:

  • 67a. [Edsel, to Henry Ford]. SON. Didn’t know this. He eventually took over his father’s business.
  • 5d. [Listing on a page]. ITALIC. Great clue. “Listing” meaning “tilting” here.
  • 37d. [Succotash half]. CORN. The other half being lima beans.
  • 47d. [Failed to meet]. STOOD UP. Tricksy. I was thinking along the lines of unmet expectations.

Interesting wordplay with some nice finds. 3.5 stars.

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Challenging (15m34s)

Dan Schoenholz’s New York Times crossword, 2/22/24, 0222

Today’s theme: letter (spelled phonetically) + adjective/noun/verb = second adjective/noun/verb

  • NO PARKING (sign starting with “en”)
  • MAD AS HELL (irate starting with “em”)
  • RATTLER (biter starting with “ar”)
  • DUTCH OVEN (pot starting with “de”)
  • BEEF EATER (gin starting with “be”)

Ok, the last two really threw me off.  I was looking for DEEpot and BEEgin (not words, obviously).  But the first three themers start with plausible spellings of those letters, so I didn’t know which way was up.  This struck me as major “noes” territory.  I am retreating to higher ground.

Played difficult for me, mostly on the basis of the fill — cluing on PRIVACY (Implied right in the First and Fourth Amendments) and LANDS (Scores) really had me spinning my wheels.  What’s anathema to an aesthete?  I tried to make “pop music” fit, but apparently that just makes me out of touch.

Cracking: STEEL DRUM, is it possible to conjure this sound without also hearing the ocean?

SlackingMAKES WAR, awkward and unpleasant, make love instead (also sometimes awkward, but at least constructive).

SidetrackingAIR GUITAR

Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword—Jim’s quick re-cap

Fireball crossword solution · Peter Gordon · Thu., 2.22.24

Jim here filling in for Jenni, just putting up a quick re-cap of this themeless by Peter Gordon. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish, mainly in the NE between the extra-crunchy cluing and BARBZ. But I got there in the end.

Highlights include SETS UP SHOP, BUTT-DIALED, LOUNGE LIZARD, LITERARY LION, NINE LIVES, and NARY A SOUL. I could do without any references to right-wing wacko Scott Adams, and that includes DOGBERT.

3.75 stars.

Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

I love opening a Robyn Weintraub puzzle and seeing a stack of 13s going through the middle, as I know I’ll be in for some fun fill. Here, those 13s are DOCTOR STRANGE*, WASTE OF ENERGY, and the delightful TAILGATE PARTY (I have been to exactly one tailgate party, in Madison, WI and it was a lot of fun. It didn’t hurt that the host was a professional chef.)

The New Yorker solution grid – Thursday 02/22/2024 – Robyn Weintraub

Elsewhere in the grid we’ve got WRIT LARGE (a great entry I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before), “NOT SO FAST!”, DECK CHAIRS with the brilliant clue [Celebrity seating?] (as in Celebrity Cruise Line), WOOL CAPS (would you believe I had POOL CAPS here first?).

Thanks Robyn!

*Like The Doctor of Doctor Who, Doctor Strange’s title is alway written out thus. Constructor PSA: delete/downscore DR STRANGE (or DR WHO) if it’s in your wordlist.

Amanda Cook & Kelly Richardson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I like that Amanda Cook & Kelly Richardson’s puzzle today lacks a revealer. It allows the the theme’s layers to emerge on their own. There are five answers clued “?” style. Each is a two part kitchen implement whose second part can be something totally different.

  • [Reporters who cover the multiple-recalls beat?], LEMONPRESS. Is this different to a lemon squeezer?
  • [Championship match for competitive waitstaff?, SERVINGBOWL
  • [Party where sparks really fly?], ELECTRICMIXER
  • [Zero-star review that goes fully scorched earth?], ROASTINGPAN
    [Professional purveyor of gossip?], TEAPITCHER

Other entries worth noting:

  • [Hindu festival], HOLI. I feel like this can show up a lot more…
  • [Oft-shared restaurant order, informally], APP. I have no idea what this even means.
  • [Parmigiana choice], EGGPLANT. I feel like eggplant was originally what defined the dish, but there are now substitutions?
  • [Japanese food prep method that translates to “pounded”], TATAKI. No clue here, either. Appears to be a way of preparing fish.


Adam Simpson’s USA Today Crossword, “High School” — Emily’s write-up

Can you make the grade today?

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday February 22, 2024

USA Today, February 22, 2024, “High School” by Adam Simpson

Theme: with themers in the downs today, the first word (or top portion) of each is the name of a university


  • 4d. [“Mood Indigo” composer], DUKEELLINGTON
  • 7d. [Pad Thai ingredient], RICENOODLES
  • 10d. [Beyonce song featuring Blue Ivy], BROWNSKINGIRL

A mix in the themer set today, with DUKEELLINGTON, RICENOODLES, and BROWNSKINGIRL. With the theme, we get DUKE University, RICE University, and BROWN University.

Favorite fill: TWIRL, SIMON, and KIWI

Stumpers: IBET, BIOME, EVIAN, and DERIVE (the entire SW corner gave me much trouble today and was the last portion that I filled and with struggle; for me, the crossings were tricky and the “V” was the last letter of the puzzle for me)

Overall a nice puzzle today, though the SW corner didn’t fill smoothly for me. It’s tough when cluing just doesn’t click sometimes–nothing seemed particularly difficult so I’m sure not everyone had issues with that today. How’d you all do?

3.5 stars


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26 Responses to Thursday, February 22, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    NYT: Cute novel theme today, which was fun to decipher. Plus the clues were not pushovers, so I had a rather slow start: I found I had to line up at least two answers that confirmed each other in order to get started in various areas of the diagram. So the pleasure in solving was enhanced by this level of trickiness.

    • huda says:

      yeah, it’s an unusual. Finished with no idea about the theme, stared at it for a while, and then the penny dropped.
      Some of the non-theme related material added to the sense of disorientation. I don’t know if that was deliberate, but I was definitely “AT SEA” for a while and was surprised when I got it all correctly.

    • Eric H says:

      I figured out what was going on with ENSIGN, but still had to think a bit to get some of the other theme answers.

      In the end, it was pretty easy for a Thursday — about ⅔ of my average time.

    • Gary R says:

      Started to get the theme at 25-A, but was parsing the clue as “Am irate” – didn’t seem like a perfect fit, but close. But then at 39-A “Are biter” just didn’t seem to work, so I had to re-think. From there, I liked it. JAKE/JAPE was iffy (see below), but a good puzzle, overall.

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: I think the first half was meant to be phonetic rather than spelled out letters. Thus DEPOT and BEGIN make more sense.

    JAKE crossing JAPE?? If you say so …

    • Gary R says:

      Have never heard JAPE in the wild. The only example of JAKE, in this meaning, I can come up with is from the film “The Sting,” spoken by Robert Redford’s character.

      When I was a kid, my Dad used to call me “Jake,” for absolutely no reason I can figure out. It was a name he would only use when addressing me, so it always seemed like something special between us – and I always liked that.

    • Ned says:

      Agree about JAKE/JAPE … I was just putting in random letters at the end there. Otherwise a cool theme and fun puzzle.

      • Gary R says:

        Pretty easy to fix, too – could have been CAKE/CAPE or TAKE/TAPE. Probably want to avoid RAKE/RAPE. But, it’s Thursday, so …

        • Eric H says:

          I had the same thought about how easy it would have been to fix this (assuming it’s a problem, though Will Shortz and his team apparently thought it was an OK crossing).

    • Lois says:

      I don’t really agree with all of you about JAPE/JAKE, particularly JAKE. I guess it’s because I’m older. I would think that the clue for JAKE, “Copacetic,” would be the tough item. I’m 73, and I heard the word “copacetic” for the first time in my life from an elderly co-worker (the oldest brother of an actor you never heard of, Barry Sullivan) at my first long-term job when I was in my early twenties. For this puzzle, I first threw down “okay” for 5d, but I think JAKE is much more apt for “copacetic.” After all, it’s a Thursday.

  3. Josh says:

    Assumed the * implied missing letters ala logic operators, and couldn’t get past looking for something that made sense… [XXXXX] Sign. Sigh.

  4. Ed says:

    I didn’t get the theme until I read Zachary’s write-up but did solve the puzzle. Southwest corner was the last to fall.

    • DougC says:

      Same, on both counts.

      I haven’t seen or heard JAKE used as clued in many, many years. But it was commonly used in that sense when I was young.

      • Me says:

        From Google Ngram viewer, it seems that, “Everything was JAKE” was a pretty common term with a peak in the 1930s, but hit a low point around 1980.

        I really struggled with this puzzle because I couldn’t figure out the theme for a long time, and then after I did, RATTLER just didn’t come to mind. But I enjoyed the puzzle and thought the theme was quite clever.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: A federal agency hat trick! (FAA, EPA, OSHA) (Bonus points for NATO!)

    Otherwise a nice puzzle that lives up to the “Beginner-Friendly” description. I had a few false moves — WOOL hats, MESS hall, OPEN-air for the sightseeing buses — but they quickly resolved themselves.

    I liked seeing WRIT LARGE in the grid. It’s a nice Weintraubian clue for DECK CHAIRS, but I got the answer without seeing the clue.

    • Lois says:

      That clue was tough for me, though I also got the answer without seeing the clue. I ignore all those commercials.

  6. Randy says:

    For clue 11-down, the debut of the Chevrolet Silverado was in 1975.

    • Eric H says:

      Not really. SILVERADO was just a trim level for Chevrolet C/K pickups until the 1999 model year.

      Personally, I’d have clued SILVERADO to the Western with Kevin Kline et al. It’s gorgeous to look at and Brian Dennehy makes a great villain. I’m not the biggest fan of Kevin Costner, but I liked his performance in SILVERADO.

  7. Gloria Elizabeth says:

    Garth LAT App is short for Appetizer, a small dish of nice food intended to whet one’s appetite for what comes next. Also, sometimes called “starter”. Perhaps this is regional?

  8. Eric H says:

    BEQ: It would have gone a little quicker if I’d paid attention to the circles. I was ¾ through before I realized the dates referred to battles. (They’re going to take away my Texan card for not recognizing the dates for the Battle of the Alamo.)

    My only other problem was assuming that the second band in 47A was ROYAL flUX.

    Nice collection of artists, though. I never would have noticed, say, half an ALAMO in the end of TAME IMPALA.

    Bonus points for no really weird fill.

  9. PJ says:

    LAT – The clue for 47D has a dupe with the answer for 57A. I never know what’s acceptable on that front.

    TATAKI surprised me. Neither the beef or tuna tataki I order out have been pounded. I did have a delicious tuna paillard recently. It was definitely pounded

    • Eric H says:

      I think that some editors try to avoid such duplication. I don’t do the LAT puzzle enough to know if Patti Varol is as tolerant of duplicates as Will Shortz seems to be.

      TEA PITCHER is a theme answer, so you can’t do much there. And MATCHA is such a specific word (and one that probably a lot of people aren’t familiar with) that you almost have to use “tea” in the clue.

      And in any case, I always wonder how many casual solvers know of the “rule’ against duplications in a puzzle. I only learned about it from reading crossword blogs.

  10. Seattle DB says:

    BEQ: I know Quigley gets quirky on his editing sometimes, but did he miss the mark on 58A: “Birthstone for this month” and the answer is “Opal”. (Huh?)

    • Eric H says:

      I didn’t notice until I was finished, but that puzzle was originally from some time in 2014. Maybe the clue was correct then?

      (But yeah, BEQ’s puzzles sometimes would benefit from having someone else look at them.)

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