Friday, March 1, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 8:06 (Amy) 


The New Yorker 3:06 (Stella) 


Universal 4:40 (Jim) 


USA Today 3:48 (Darby) 


Julian Xiao’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/1/24 – no. 0301

I wasn’t really hitting the right wavelength throughout this puzzle. Oof!

Fave fill: UNION REP and TEAMSTER, “ARE WE THERE YET?”, “SENORITA,” THEME PARK, CORKSCREWED, SPEECH THERAPIST (it’s wild that they haven’t managed to get “speech-language pathologist” to be the term we use—who wants to send their child to a pathologist?), PEACEMAKERS.

Not sure why I knew 44d. GO-SEE, [Open call, in modeling lingo], but I did. That nearby GOFER does feel a bit duplicative.

I filled in ROM-com straightaway for 25a. [First syllable of a rhyming film genre], but eventually the crossings pointed me to SCI-fi. So I was ready for the clue to repeat at 57d with ROM!

“THEM’S THE FACTS” doesn’t feel like a phrase I hear, though it’s got some dictionary recognition. I tried wedging in BREAKS at the end.

3.75 stars from me.

Ryan Patrick Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/1/24 • Fri • Smith • solution • 20240301

The theme is cinematography techniques reparsed, but still describing films.

  • 20a. [Movie with lots of pan shots?] RATATOUILLE. Because it takes place in a restaurant kitchen, you see.
  • 41a. [Movie with an iconic long shot?] ROCKY, about an underdog.
  • 58a. [Movie with lots of reaction shots?] OPPENHEIMER. Nuclear reactions.
  • 11d. [Movie with lots of zoom shots?] SPEED RACER. Obviously.
  • 29d. [Movie with lots of dolly shots?] CHILD’S PLAY. I believe this is a horror film about a murderous, animated doll. Right, it’s Chucky?

I like these reinterpretations. Clever.

  • 17a [State known for huckleberries] IDAHO. I knew this, but I don’t know how or why.
  • 25a [Ramble] MEANDER.

  • 27a [Missing criminal who inspired James M. Cain’s “Rainbow’s End”] DB COOPER. I would have thought this was much after Cain’s time. Cooper’s exploits: 1971, Cain’s book: 1975. So it’s very much at the end of his career—he was in his eighties.
  • 43a [Antioxidant-rich sorbet base] AÇAÍ. So tired of antioxidants.
  • 46a [Berlin’s “Blue __”] SKIES.

  • 51a [Orange garnish for sushi] SMELT ROEmasago.
  • 71a [Affectionate letters] ILYSM. Assuming this is I love you so much.
  • 1d [Shift slightly] STIR. 47d [Wake up late] SLEEP IN.
  • 3d [Proof word] ERAT, the E of QED.
  • 5d [Camera setting?] PHOTO OP. Place, not an adjustment. Question mark gives us a heads-up that something’s afoot.
  • 13d [Use a wheelchair’s joystick, say] STEER. A kind of inclusivity we don’t often see in crosswords, so kudos.
  • 26d [Home of the NBA’s Pels] NOLA. Pelicans, New Orleans.
  • 40d [Academic] MOOT. As in, not worth discussing.
  • 59d [Vision prefix] EURO-. The only entry that I really paused for, because my wires got crossed and I was thinking ‘suffix’.

Rebecca Goldstein’s Universal crossword, “Distinguished Citizens”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are famous actors with the initials D.C. The revealer is DC MOVIE (40a, [Film in a superhero franchise, or one starring the starred clues’ answers?]).

Universal crossword solution · “Distinguished Citizens” · Rebecca Goldstein · Fri., 3.1.24

  • 17a. [*Emmy-nominated actress who portrayed Janet in “The Good Place”] D’ARCY CARDEN.
  • 64a. [*Portrayer of James Bond and Benoit Blanc] DANIEL CRAIG.
  • 11d. [*”SNL” alum who played Garth Algar] DANA CARVEY.
  • 29d. [*Actor who narrates the “Wonder Years” reboot] DON CHEADLE.

That works, though I’m not a huge fan of the revealer. For one, it’s a bit green-painty, and for two, calling a movie a DC MOVIE just because one of the actors has the initials DC is a bit of a stretch. There are presumably a lot of other actors in each film, and all with presumably different initials. Now, if each actor was the main star of the clued film (as DANIEL CRAIG is) then it would make more sense.

But it would make even more sense if DC MOVIE referred to two-word movie titles with initials D.C. such as (The) Dark Crystal, Dead Calm, Deep Cover, or Drugstore Cowboy. But trying to make a theme set with such movies is probably too tall of an order.

I didn’t know the actress’s name, and she’s mostly known for TV work, but she has a few feature films to her credit. Another option would have been Dixie Carter of Designing Women fame.

Often when we have pinwheeled theme answers, there isn’t much room for long fill. But the puzzle still manages to squeeze several in such as TRADE NAME, WHOLESALE, EMBOLDENS, and modern EV BATTERY. Also good: MOCHI, “IT’S ME!,” ORNERY, and “HEAR YE!”

Clues of note:

  • 14a. [Frozen treat with FlaMango and LlamaNade flavors]. ICEE. Wow. They’ve updated the flavors since I was a kid (many years ago).
  • 56a. [Quantum ___]. LEAP. This is the second day in a row that I’ve done a puzzle with LEAP in it that didn’t refer to LEAP Day (see yesterday’s WSJ).

Solid puzzle if you buy into the revealer. 3.25 stars.

Adam Aaronson’s New Yorker crossword — Stella’s write-up

The revealer at 53A [Smart aleck…or a phonetic description of 15-, 20-, 32-, or 42-Across?] is WISE GUY, because each theme entry is the name of a man (GUY) that has two Ys (homophone for WISE) in a row. The Ys appear in circled squares in the grid to make the pattern more apparent.

  • 15A [Namesake of the M.L.B. pitching award] is CY YOUNG.
  • 20A [Actor who played Raj on “The Big Bang Theory”] is KUNAL NAYYAR.
  • 32A [Rapper dubbed The King of Reggaetón] is DADDY YANKEE.
  • 42A [Persian polymath who did pioneering work on cubic equations] is OMAR KHAYYAM.

IDK…TNY, which pays one of the highest rates for a 15x in the puzzleverse, has its pick of themes, so I’m used to seeing themes that have an even tighter connection between the theme entries. To me “they’re men” isn’t a terribly strong tie, even though that’s what the revealer leads to, so there’s one really strong unifying element (the double Y) and not two.

Although the theme wasn’t my cup of tea, there were quite a few clues and entries in the fill that I really enjoyed:

  • 14A [2021 film about a young Korean American family in rural Arkansas] is MINARI, which is a really lovely movie.
  • 16A DONGLES will never not be a fun word to say.
  • 38A [Beauty influencer Westbrook] is TATI. Since Jacques the actor has fallen out of favor, I’m glad there’s someone else to hopefully bring this entry back into wider usability!
  • 48A [Home of the bears and the cubs?] is a cute angle on the ubiquitous DEN.
  • 3D [Flower whose name makes it sound likely to burst] is MAYPOP. I’ve heard the word before, had no idea what it was, and enjoyed learning the meaning finally. Plus, it’s a fun word to say.
  • 9D Although I’m unlikely myself ever to spend the money on BALAYAGE, I always appreciate hair care content in a puzzle.
  • 31D [Animal dwelling that might be built inside a letter of a store sign] is a really nice, evocative way to bring life to another ubiquitous entry, NEST. (Are animal dwellings particularly inspiring to the constructor? I’m here for it!)
  • 48D [Body parts that have caps and can be locked], probably my favorite clue in the puzzle, is KNEES.

Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Backup Plan”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer includes PLAN spelled backwards, which means that it can be read going upwards in these Down answers.

Theme Answers

Hannah Slovut's USA Today crossword, "Backup Plan" solution

Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Backup Plan” solution

  • 2d [Group younger than Zoomers] GENERATION ALPHA
  • 4d [End result] FINAL PRODUCT
  • 9d [In 2012, it first became legal in Colorado] RECREATIONAL POT
  • 21d [Glacier or Yosemite, e.g.] NATIONAL PARK

This was a great set of themers! GENERATION ALPHA and RECREATIONAL POT were great spanners, and it’s impressive that there were also two 12-letter words in NATIONAL PARK and FINAL PRODUCT. I was able to fill most of these in from the get-go, but I needed an extra minute with FINAL PRODUCT since I wasn’t exactly sure what would be FINAL, but it quickly became apparent.

The grid as a whole was filled with fresh terms, like GOT MILK, OH REALLY, and TALL TALE. I thought that 26a [Org. with the Movies For Grownups Awards] was a hilarious clue for AARP and 29a [Staple crops of West Africa] was an interesting clue for YAMS. It was also fun to see 31d [“For the ___ of a Child” (“Only Murders in the Building” song)] SAKE since that’s a great show.

Overall, a really fun Friday puzzle!

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8 Responses to Friday, March 1, 2024

  1. David Stone says:

    I’ve never heard “THEM’s THE FACTS” either — seems very forced.
    I had *totally* forgotten about “GO-SEE”s, but when my eldest was a baby, we took him on quite a few go-sees, and he booked a few print ads. That was sort of fun! I’m glad to have that memory re-invigorated in my brain — those neurons were busy watching Insta reels and playing poker.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: I liked it and it made for a relatively smooth solve.
    But GOSEE was unknown to me. For the longest time, I had RAP and POSEE-thinking the latter comes from being posed, in French– I was desperate. Until I found I had an error and knew this was my weak spot… Now I know..
    Same as Amy, tried to find a way to put down “Breaks” rather than FACTS. The casual tone of “THEMS THE breaks ” aptly conveys randomness. I think a more factual tone is needed when you are asserting that FACTS are FACTS.
    TRY NOT TO LAUGH is great, but the clue was more literal than its common use.
    Spent some vacation time with my 7 yo grandson a couple of weeks ago, and “ARE WE THERE YET” is still echoing. That one completely rang true to me!

    • Dan says:

      I was *very* tempted to put RAP in there for the tune in 2/4 time.

      But I kept asking myself: What does rap have to do with tunes? So I didn’t.

      Then after POSÉE (based on a nonexistent French past participle of a nonexistent French word meaning “to pose”) turned out not to exist, it had to be GO-SEE.

    • David L says:

      Same issues here. Tried but failed to stuff THEMSTHEBREAKS into that middle space, plunked down RAP without thinking about it (I don’t really understand musical time signatures anyway), then wondered if POSEE was a strange piece of jargon for when aspiring models show off their POSES…

    • Gary R says:

      I’ve definitely heard THEM’S THE FACTS (or sometimes “dem’s the facts”) – probably more often than I’ve heard THEM’S THE breaks.

      I didn’t take the clue to imply randomness, but rather the sense that “you may not like it, but …”

      I considered THEM’S THE rules, which I think works as well, but I already had the T from THREE PUTTS in place.

      • DougC says:

        THEMSTHEFACTS was the first of the triple-stack answers to fall for me, and brought a smile to my face! I haven’t heard it in a long while, and thought it could have been better clued as to its retro vibe, but still liked it. It feels like something you’d hear in a Humphrey Bogart noir thriller.

        TRYNOTTOLAUGH, on the other hand: I don’t watch “video compilatons” so I had no clue. And that ADSPOT-GOSEE-SENORITA corner, hoo boy, no clue at all.

        But in spite of those trouble spots, I still managed to finish pretty close to my average Friday time, so medium-hard for me.

  3. Dan says:

    NYT: I found this puzzle to be exceptionally nice! Innovative cluing, interesting entries, almost no non-words (I’m looking at you, ROM-), very little pop-culture.

    Which made this specially fun to solve! And it wasn’t easy, either — another point in its favor.

    Favorite clue: “What might turn you red on a green” for THREE-PUTT.

    (But I agree with David above who, like me, has never heard anyone say “THEMS THE FACTS”.)

  4. JohnH says:

    I enjoyed THEMS THE FACTS, but then it feels like old NY-ese and so worth a laugh. I didn’t know the golf or modeling term but no complaint about either

    Overall a really great one, with lots of clever turns throughout like the two film rhymes and two -grams.

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