Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Jonesin' 4:29 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 3:24 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed* (pannonica) 


Universal 6:15 (Matt F) 


USA Today 2:52 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ 4:08 (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Full-Bodied” — there’s an extra part in the theme. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 2/27/24

Jonesin’ solution 2/27/24

Hello lovelies! This week’s Jonesin’ theme is going to cost you an arm and a leg…and some other body parts:

  • 19a. [Bean for baseball’s Bryce?] HARPER LEGUME (Harper Lee + GUM).
  • 31a. [Cabbage salad served at universities?] COLLEGE SLAW (cole slaw + LEG)
  • 38a. [Just heated up?] NEWLY WARMED (newlywed + ARM)
  • 48a. [Like home renovation shows that overdo the wood siding?] SHIPLAP HAPPY (slaphappy + hip). TIL that shiplap is wooden siding designed to overlap the piece below it.

Other things:

  • 7d. [With “The,” ’90s Britisn alt-rock band names for an American novel character] BOO RADLEYS. Radley is from To Kill a Mockingbird, authored by 19a’s Harper Lee.
  • 21d. [Chinese tennis star with a very short name in English] LI NA. Li won two Grand Slam singles titles and ranked second in the WTA in 2014.
  • 14d. [Battle-trained canine] WAR DOG. Dogs have been used in war in different capacities since around 600 BCE. My pupper would excel at distraction by licking faces.

Until next week!

Eric Berman & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hit Parade”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words form a progression of “hits” in a baseball game. The revealer is CYCLE (69a, [What hitting the starts of 20-, 32-, 43- and 55-Across comprises, in baseball lingo]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Hit Parade” · Eric Berman & Jeff Chen · Tue., 2.27.24

  • 20a. [One leading a household?] SINGLE PARENT.
  • 32a. [Commit even more resolutely to a strategy] DOUBLE DOWN.
  • 43a. [Donald Jackson was first to land it in international competition] TRIPLE LUTZ.
  • 55a. [Herb Powell’s half-brother, of animated TV] HOMER SIMPSON.

Like yesterday’s puzzle, this theme is simple, clean, and elegant. Nothing too fancy here, but well-chosen theme entries and a gettable theme once you reach the final entry. In fact, you might think the theme is something else until you reach that last entry, so it also serves as a revealer in a way, and provides that aha moment. If that didn’t clue you in, the actual revealer makes everything crystal clear.


Clues of note:

  • 55a. [Herb Powell’s half-brother, of animated TV]. HOMER SIMPSON. I haven’t watched The Simpsons in a looong time so I had no idea on this one without the crossings. Apparently, however, the Herb Powell storyline dates back to season 2, and he was voiced by Danny DeVito.
  • 41d. [Table that hangs in many classrooms]. PERIODIC. I’m not keen on this clue which wants a noun, yet the entry is an adjective.
  • 56d. [Naturalist nicknamed “John of the Mountains”]. MUIR. Didn’t know this nickname, but I’ve been to Muir Woods.

Accessible theme and a clean grid. Four stars. And congrats to co-constructor Eric Berman on this debut!


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 666), “High Country Favorites”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 666: “High Country Favorites”

Hello there, everyone! I hope you are all doing well as we close out the month of February this week!

Today’s puzzle included a lot of fun with geography, mixed in with a fair bit of punny wordplay! In the puzzle, the five theme entries, all going down, are proper nouns whose first words also happen to be the name of a country, and the clues reimagine the answers as if it’s related to the country.

  • CUBA LIBRE (3D: [Cocktail that’s a hit in Havana?])
  • POLAND SPRING (5D: [Bottled drink that’s a hit in Warsaw?])
  • GEORGIA ON MY MIND (7D: [Ray Charles song that’s a hit in Tbilisi?])
  • TURKEY DINNER (22D: [Meal that’s a hit in Ankara?])
  • INDIA.ARIE (35D: [“Chocolate High” singer who’s a hit in New Delhi?])

A couple of the answers that were some of the best non-themed fill in the grid happened to be ones that cut across three of those theme answers: DIVIDERS (30A: [Privacy screens]) and MILKMAID (48A: [Woman depicted in a classic Vermeer painting]). Definitely got a rise out of GRIP and all of the different ways tennis players at all levels hold a racquet (55D: [Tennis lesson subject]). For those not in the know, there are four main ways to handle a tennis racquet (when hitting a forehand), and each has a name for it: Eastern, continental, semi-Western and Western. The grip is determined by the placement of the knuckle of the index finger on the racquet.  I never paid attention to the grip for years, though I’m sure that I use an Eastern grip. (To be honest, I haven’t held a tennis racquet in a while.) How a number of pros hit a forehand with an extreme Western grip is beyond me, as I’d probably have wrist and shoulder problems for life. What grip are you?! 

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: REEVE (54D: [Christopher who played “Superman”]) – The United States women’s basketball team has won gold in each of the last seven Summer Olympics, and when the Paris games roll around this summer, they’ll have a new head coach: current Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. The three-time WNBA Coach of the Year has led the Lynx to four league championships, in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, and was an assistant coach on the Detroit Shock teams that won the WNBA title in 2006 and 2008. Reeve won her 300th game as Lynx head coach at the end of last season, becoming just the third coach in WNBA history with at least 300 wins. The other coaches with 300 wins are Mike Thibault and Bill Laimbeer, the latter of whom Reeve served under when the Shock won those titles in 2006 and 2008.

Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!

Take care!


Nate Cardin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 2/27/24 – no. 0227

Smooth and easy puzzle from Nate, with a theme of *INKY phrases: SLINKY DOG from Toy Story, a WINKY FACE emoji, STINKY TOFU clued as a vegetarian street food (but here in Chicago, the laws are so hostile to street food and food trucks), Broadway musical KINKY BOOTS, a PINKY RING, and the adjective RINKY-DINK. They’re all kinda fun to say, too.

The smoothness of the fill is impressive given the presence of six theme entries. Fave fill: PUSHED IT, PUNK ROCKER, YUCKY, ASYMMETRIC.

Four stars from me.

Jared Goudsmit’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

I saw the pattern in the theme answers and wasn’t sure where they were going with this. The revealer made me laugh. I think it was well-pitched for a Tuesday. Then again I was talking to a friend last week and realized I’ve been doing crosswords regularly for over fifty years, so I may not be the best judge.

Los Angeles Times, 2/27/24, Jared Goudsmit, solution grid

The theme answers:

  • 17a [*Manga series also known as “Mach GoGoGo”] is SPEED RACER. As you can tell from the comment above, I’ve been around awhile, and I watched SPEED RACER after school in the late 1960s. I had no idea it was anime based on manga. As the kids say, mind blown.
  • 29a [*Captain Morgan product] is SPICED RUM. I know I’m supposed to be reviewing the crossword, not the rum, so I’ll just say I liked the crossword.
  • 47a [*Iced bun, e.g.] is a SWEET ROLL.
  • 64a [*Yuletide excursion] is a SLEIGH RIDE. I know I’m not the only alto who devoutly hopes never to sing that cursed thing again.

And the revealer: 40a [Ceiling beams, or a three-word hint for the answers to the starred clues] is RAFTERS or R AFTER S. I like this! All the theme answers are solid and the revealer works perfectly.

A few other things:

  • ESPY is pretty fusty, especially for a Tuesday.
  • Less fusty: LEONA Lewis, TARA Strong, and Tori AMOS.
  • FOOD PLAN doesn’t really sound like a thing to me. I mean, I know it is a thing, but is it a thing people say? Google NGram viewer tells me it peaked in the early 1980s.
  • JAMB and JAM UP are completely unrelated and I still found the crossing a bit jarring.
  • 67a [Normandy city] is CAEN. My first response was ST LO. Oops.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: my childhood consumption of anime. I also did not know that ROSA Salazar stared in “Alita: Battle Angel” or, for that matter, that “Alita: Battle Angel” even existed.

“Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 2/27/24 • Tue • Liu • solution • 20240227

Having a flashback to the most recent Newsday Stumper, as this ‘moderately challenging’ offering was shy of that level. To give you an idea, I’ll confess that my solve time was 5:06 for this (I typically only report times for the Saturday Stumpers). I attribute this in no small part to the well-integrated grid.

  • 9a [Promotional event?] RAISE. 4d [Heavy-duty sticker?] SUPERGLUE.
  • 15a [2023 film starring Emilia Jones that was adapted from a viral 2017 short story] CAT PERSON. I’ve yet to read the story or see the film, but am certainly aware of the title.
  • 21a [Guiding principles] CREEDS. 58a [Guiding principle] TENET.
  • 22a [Chaos] ENTROPY. Not the same thing, but close enough for jazz?
  • 26a [Customize, as a video game] MOD, short for modify.
  • 29a [It may be the size of a golf ball, baseball, or softball] HAIL. Sounds dangerous.
  • 50a [Field for Verdi or Vivaldi] MUSICA. Not a strong hint that we’d be needing an Italian word, so this was a little tricky.
  • 57a [Something often accumulated by new parents] SLEEP DEBTS. Nice clue. Fortunately, I got this answer, and most of this section, via crossing down entries.
  • 60a [Science writer Willy with a namesake moon crater] LEY. Not to be confused with dubious ley lines.
  • 61a [Subjects to a Maillard reaction, in a way] SEARS. “The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars to create melanoidins, the compounds which give browned food its distinctive flavor. Seared steaks, fried dumplings, cookies and other kinds of biscuits, breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction.”Wikipedia
  • Two long downs brace the center of the grid, and they’re a solid pair: SCARY MOVIES and DINNER PARTY.
  • 11d [One might be depicted with a single palm tree] ISLE. Say, in a New Yorker cartoon.
  • 25d [Long-running comic strip whose characters have aged over time] LUANN. A rare exception to the medium. I guess that could be described as RARE FORM (19a), although not in the way that entry is clued: [What an athlete may be in when they’re at the top of their game].
  • 35d [Features of the tops of some peaks] SNOWCAPS. Long ago my friends and I had a little game: what is one word or brief phrase that when properly spoken can perfectly evoke a famous person? Examples: Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster: “antipasto”; Bela Lugosi’s Dracula: “Palo Alto”. A memorable contribution of mine was “snowcaps” for Peter Lorre.
  • 48d [Ferret relative] OTTER. So glad constructors seem to be expanding beyond [Playful mammal]-type clues.

Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “Running Starts” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer begins with something that could run.

USA Today, 02 27 2024, “Running Starts”

  • 20a [Projectile at a pool party] – WATER BALLOON
  • 37a [Self-appointed label for queer post-punk band Ekko Astral] – MASCARA MOSH PIT
  • 55a [One might hold up a child’s drawing] – FRIDGE MAGNET

A simple theme, but I like all the different interpretations of “running” present. FRIDGE MAGNET in particular made me smile because of its association with that old dumb joke “Is your refrigerator running? Yes? Well, you better go catch it!” MASCARA MOSH PIT was new to me, and needed basically every cross to get. But I’m happy to know it now!

Fave fill: TOP SURGERY, SARAN WRAP, SAMOSA, DONATELLO (side note, the TMNT movie that came out this year? Surprisingly great!)

Fave clues: [Music player name-dropped in Iyaz’s “Replay”] for IPOD, [“Hey Arnold!” character with a big pink bow] for HELGA, [www.translifeline.org, for one] for URL – in general, loved the amount of queer/trans content in the puzzle.

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Put Another Way
Constructor: Adrian Johnson
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 02.27.2024

Theme Synopsis:

We have a classic “hidden anagram” today, as spelled out by the revealer:

  • 54A – [Crafty press agent, or a hint to the word scrambled in each starred clue’s answer] = SPIN DOCTOR

Did you catch that as you solved? The substring, D-O-C-T-O-R is scrambled and hidden in each theme answer. I circled these in the solution grid in case you need to see it to believe it.

  • 16A – [Feline that enjoys the yard, say] = OUTDOOR CAT
  • 27A – [DEN and SEA, for two] = AIRPORT CODES
  • 41A – [Scarce] = HARD TO COME BY

Overall Impressions:

I didn’t spot the theme until the revealer gave it away. I suspect if the substrings had been circled I would have caught on much sooner. I appreciate the editorial discretion to go without circles today. It made the theme more fun to uncover in the end. Bonus points for stretching the hidden substrings across word breaks. the supporting fill is clean and I loved every bit of it, including GOD TIER, JUST A DROP, I’M ALL EARS, and MEGAFLORA.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Adrian!

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16 Responses to Tuesday, February 27, 2024

  1. Philip says:

    Delighted to see STINKYTOFU in the NYT. Hope to make it to Dai’s House of Stinky Tofu (aka House of Unique Stink) someday.

  2. David L says:

    STINKYTOFU was new to me, although easy enough to figure out. Can’t say I’m likely to be trying it soon.

    I had an error that took a long time to track down. I put in ACHE for ‘Target for salicylic acid’ and didn’t notice that the cross made no sense. I didn’t know that ACNE was treated this way. Of course, my many years of dealing with acne are far behind me, and in my day there was no effective treatment — so doctors would blame the problem on bad diet or bad hygiene. If a doctor can’t solve a problem, it must be the patient’s fault. Excuse my old-man grumbling.

    • Eric H says:

      I had the same AChE error and spent a minute looking for it. What was most frustrating was that crossword puzzles have taught me way more about the “Frozen” characters than I ever cared to know, and I had seen the clue for ANNA and knew the answer. (I think some earlier crossword puzzle taught me that salicylic acid is used to treat acne, but since that information is not relevant to this old man, it didn’t stick.)

      Lots of people are commenting on Wordplay about new personal records on this puzzle. Not me, though I did beat my Tuesday average by about a minute.

      • DougC says:

        I haven’t looked at Wordplay yet, but I have to say I’m not surprised. My time today was a full minute faster than yesterday’s, and I thought that puzzle was really easy for a Monday. But YMMV, as the saying goes.

      • Bryan says:

        I got a record Tuesday solve time myself, and I’m not a speed solver, but that was a nice bonus to solving this fun puzzle.

  3. David L says:

    TNY: Nice puzzle, but I objected to the ‘chaos’ clue for ENTROPY. Admittedly, entropy is a tricky concept to grasp, but everything has some degree of entropy. Chaotic states (generally speaking; it depends what you mean by chaos) are states of maximum entropy.

    • JohnH says:

      I’d the same objection. At the least, entropy is not a state of matter.

      Overall, tricky enough for a Tuesday, with more than enough (like LEY) I didn’t know, but unusually fair for TNY. In practice, and pretty nice. I moved faster than I expected.

  4. JT says:

    NYT – I’m a pretty fair-weather player, but this was too easy for a Tuesday, this felt like a Monday puzzle for sure and should have been; I solved in literally triple the time of my Tuesday average of 21m. It was a nice enough solve and fairly unique, just not Tuesday for me.

    The only actual issue I have with the puzzle is the clue for 56D, most Christmas trees I’ve seen are firs and spruces, PINE are pretty uncommon in my experience.

    • Eric H says:

      About 25 years ago, we bought a live Afghan pine that had been trimmed to be a Christmas tree.

      We planted it by our front porch. Damned thing is at least 25’ tall now. Pine needles, cones and sap all over the porch. Looks nice, though.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Nice puzzle overall. I started kind of slow, jumping around looking for gimmes (and not seeing some obvious ones like ARIES and ENOS).

    That NE corner was the last I did, because I haven’t heard of CAT PERSON as a film or story. Shel Silverstein was not part of my childhood, so I (ignoring the meter) was looking for a word that rhymes with “choose” (and guess what — “moose” really doesn’t rhyme, though perhaps “møøse” does). It’s a fun clue for ARMADILLO, though.

    I was prepared to whine about SNOW toPS not being a thing, so I’m glad that I had it wrong. (pannonica, what’s the movie in which the always entertaining Peter Lorre says SNOW CAPS?)

  6. Burak says:

    NYT: Good reminder that you don’t need a super creative theme if you have lively themers/answers and can offer a smooth solve.

  7. CrotchetyDoug says:

    Jonesin – At first I had LEG circled in 19A too, but then realized it was GUM. So it would be Harper Lee + GUM.

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