Monday, February 26, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:47 (Stella) 


NYT 3:46 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 8:47 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Joe Marquez’s New York Times crossword —Sophia’s write-up

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s theme has two parts: the theme answers each contain the name of an alcohol, and that alcohol is stacked on top of another across answer containing the string ME.

New York Times, 02 25 2024, By Joe Marquez

  • 17a [Where silt builds up to create a delta] – RIVER MOUTH
  • 28a [Like many small, powerful airplanes] – TWIN ENGINE
  • 46a [“Definitely husband material!”] – HE’S A KEEPER
  • 59a [“I’m paying for this round” … or a literal hint to this puzzle’s theme] – DRINKS ON ME

I liked this theme a lot! The literal “on ME” added a fun layer to the puzzle, much more interesting than if it had only been hidden drinks. Plus, note that the ME is always directly under the drink rather than just somewhere in the word below, that’s very elegant. “Vermouth” inside of RIVER MOUTH is a great find. I did not know TWIN ENGINE from the clue, but it was easy enough to figure out from a few letters.

I’ve constructed stacked theme answer puzzles before and they’re tough to make, so the cleanliness of the fill is impressive and appropriately Monday-level. Not a ton of standout extras, but I did like ADVANTAGES, I KID YOU NOT, and NAMASTE. I had “aha” and then “aah” instead of AHH for 38a [“That makes sense!”], and it took me forever to see AGOG for 12d [Breathless with excitement]. But overall, a great Monday puzzle with a solid “aha” moment for the reveal.

Samantha Podos Nowak’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Creature Comfort”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases where animals live though they’re clued via their metaphorical usage. The revealer is ANIMAL HOUSE (34a, [1978 comedy hit, or a hint to 16-, 23-, 47- and 57-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Creature Comfort” · Samantha Podos Nowak · Mon., 2.26.24

  • 16a. [Threatening or hostile situation] LION’S DEN.
  • 23a. [Excessively disorganized situation] RAT’S NEST.
  • 47a. [Scene of ruthless competition] SNAKE PIT.
  • 57a. [Environment lacking in privacy] FISH BOWL.

Very nice! Simple and straightforward but executed consistently by employing the use of metaphors.  This makes for a wonderful Monday-level puzzle you could give to a puzzle novice.

Are there any other animal houses you can think of that fit the theme? A rabbit hole perhaps, or a beehive? I don’t suppose a sardine can fits the bill.

Most of the theme answers are on the shorter side (only eight-letters long), so there’s room for fun long fill such as: ALOE VERA, “BLESS YOU,” C.S. LEWIS, CATCH ON, and ATE CROW. There’s only a smattering of crosswordese (namely, partial IS SO), but really not much at all.

All in all, a lovely Monday puzzle to get the week going. Four stars.

Chris Gross’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 2/26/24 by Chris Gross

Los Angeles Times 2/26/24 by Chris Gross

The revealer at 51A [Equestrian transport vehicles, and what the last words of 20-, 25-, and 45-Across can be] is HORSE TRAILERS, meaning that the last word in each theme answer can “trail” the word HORSE to make a compound word:

  • 20A [“Focus on the future now”] is NO LOOKING BACK, leading to HORSEBACK.
  • 25A [“Never in a million years!”] is WHEN PIGS FLY, leading to HORSEFLY.
  • 45A [Easy to set up, as a computer] is PLUG-AND-PLAY, leading to HORSEPLAY.

Given that two out of the three theme entries are clued as something you say out loud, I would’ve liked the third one to be also, but it’s not a dealbreaker by any means.

I liked the longer nontheme entries PROCEDURAL and HOV LANES more so than UNPEELED and EXXON-MOBIL. The grid is pretty smooth overall, with Christopher MELONI IMO being the hardest entry and some nice evocative shorter stuff like GUMWHISKINDIAMOUSY.

Shmuel Schmell’s Universal crossword, “Story Outline” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 2/26/24 • Mon • “Story Outline” • Schmell • solution • 20240226

The .puz version has the active squares pre-circled, so as usual I’ll be eliding the explicit call-outs in the clues.

  • 53aR [Pass the time lazily, or a theme hint] LIE AROUND. The theme answers are bracketed by synonyms for ‘lie’.
  • 17a. [What not to talk about, per a 1999 film] FIGHT CLUB (fib).
  • 23a. [Certain browser] WINDOW SHOPPER (whopper). Nowadays we first associate browser with a program to interact with the world wide web.
  • 37a. [Frog-to-be] TADPOLE (tale).
  • 47a. [Some alarm systems’ objective] FIRE DETECTION (fiction). Weakish theme phrase.

It’s a solid theme, elevated just that much more by the apropos revealer and title.

  • 4d [Spiny anteater] ECHIDNA. Only distantly related to the ‘true’ anteaters of the Americas.
  • 26d [Approached a base in a cloud of dust] SLID. Took me a few beats to understand that the subject was baseball and not, say, military combat. Perhaps I was under sway of 12d [Greek war god] ARES.
  • 27d [End-of-life care program] HOSPICE. Jimmy Carter is still in HOSPICE care nearly a year after entering.
  • 55d [Geological period] EON. Site of my only mis-fill, as ERA.
  • Oh wait, I also had a partial mis-fill at 21a [Go on longer than] OUTLAST, for which I explored OVER–.
  • 32a [Recorded, in the past] ON TAPE. Literally, yes, but the term is still used all the time as a skeuomorphic—if I can use the word in this way—holdover.
  • 46a [Weasellike animal] SABLEMartes zibellina. The Italian word for the animal, zibellino, is the source of the specific epithet.
  • 64a [Long narrative] SAGA, which closes the grid and feels theme-adjacent.

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 2/26/24 – Agard

Tough one today, but/and I liked it. It took me a long time to break into the northwest, what with the new-to-me name at 1-Across and Erik’s typical tricky cluing.

Did not know: 1a. [Akwamu leader of the 1733 slave insurrection on St. John], BREFFU. She was a princess of the Akwamu tribe in what’s now Ghana, and St. John is now one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here’s her story.

Fave fill: ROMARE Bearden (here are some of his oil paintings; his works in other media are at the same site), KINESIOLOGY, “I CALLED IT,” IN-JOKE, FORESEEABLE, STEEPED IN, DRAG STRIP. The word count is fairly low (64 answers in the grid), which can make the fill less showy. I’m impressed that there’s no crap fill (such as roll-your-own words formed with affixes, the sort of word forms that people don’t really use).

I know what OP ART is, but drew a blank on 20d. [Some Carlos Cruz-Diez works]. Check out his art! Some of these works would make exactly the sort of jigsaw puzzle I love, but I’m not finding his paintings in jigsaw puzzles from respected companies.

Three clues:

  • 29a. [Vegetables in lohikeitto], LEEKS. It’s a Finnish salmon chowder. 44a. [Kappamaki or tekkamaki] half looks like Finnish too, but it’s SUSHI.
  • 2d. [Play, back?], REVIVAL. As in staging a play in another place or time.
  • 17d. [Do rings on the road?] ELOPE. It’s not about doing donuts by skidding off some tire rubber in circles.

4.25 stars from me.

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17 Responses to Monday, February 26, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: The theme is a great introduction for newer solvers to the use of shaded squares and ones with circles. The revealer makes it obvious what the special squares mean, and it’s a phrase that’s very much in the language.

    I sometimes find circles in squares distracting. I noticed these at the start, but it wasn’t until I got the revealer that I noticed all the MEs.

    Monday puzzles are not my favorite, but this one was good.

  2. RSP64 says:

    NYT – I don’t agree that DRINKS ON ME is in the language. It should be DRINKS ARE ON ME. Also, I don’t know anyone who drinks vermouth by itself. It is usually a minor ingredient in a martini.

  3. Greg says:

    The New Yorker: Agard-tough, as always, but rewarding and ultimately fair. Had to make a bunch of guesses, some of which (eventually) paid off. If I’d done it on paper, it would have been a farrago of cross-outs and initial wrong guesses.

  4. marciem says:

    TNY: I enjoyed this puzzle, tough as it was. Was interested to learn about Breffu, she was scary-fierce!! When they found her after she killed herself in order not to be taken alive, they were surprised that she was a woman.

    Universal: Gotta love any puzzle that uses ECHIDNA, a really fascinating creature… an egg-laying mammal, and the guys have a four-headed penis… They (the Echidnas, not the penises) are really cute, too. :)

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: That was the toughest New Yorker puzzle for me in weeks; my time got into Saturday Stumper range. BREFFU, ROMAR Bearden, lohikeitto, KONAMI, Carlos Cruz-Diez — just a lot of stuff that meant nothing to me.

    A late guess on D MAJOR got me DRAG STRIP, which helped a lot. If I knew more about music, I’d have gotten that quicker and it might have made a difference.

    I did enjoy some of the clueing, such as PETRI, COUPON, and DEREGULATE.

  6. David L says:

    TNY: I didn’t find this as hard as a typical N. Last Monday. No idea about BREFFU, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the puzzle, but I worked my through it, made some reasonable guesses, and finished in a decent time. I remembered ROMARE Bearden from a couple of letters, so that helped.

    I actually recognized ‘keitto’ as the Finnish word for soup, but had to wait for crosses to see what the vegetable in question was. As always with Agard (and Last) puzzles, there were a number of very common words — LEEKS, TREES, SUSHI — clued with exceedingly uncommon references. Not my favorite type of cluing, but as the great stoic philosopher Zeno of Citium so famously said, it is what it is.

    • PJ says:

      My experience as well. I finished in 19:40 which is about my minimum desired time for a difficult puzzle. Got my footholds in the SW and NE. Saw the long DE__ entries after a few crossings and then things really opened up. I know a bit about sushi and guessed correctly (luckily?) LEEKS and TREES.

  7. JT says:

    NYT – surprisingly enjoyable puzzle and theme, I don’t think there was a single answer where I felt ripped off in any way. I didn’t know every answer but there were no unfair crossings, no confusing clues, no excessive quotes, this was a really fun Monday puzzle.

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