Friday, March 8, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 6:41* (Amy) 


The New Yorker tk (?) 


Universal 6:28 (Jim) 


USA Today tk (Darby) 


Jackson Matz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/8/24 – no. 0308

There’s an asterisk on my solving time because I was following the State of the Union address while working the puzzle. Probably lands in the standard Friday difficulty zone.

Fave fill: CLAMORS, THREESOME, BALLER (clued in a basketball frame, but who doesn’t like melon ballers?), not-ready-for-prime-time SELF-DRIVING CARS, settling OLD SCORES (though I guess OLD SCORES doesn’t really work without the verb), “I’M THERE,” “CARE TO ELABORATE?”, “I COULD EAT A HORSE,” WHOOPEE CUSHION, JINX, and MENSCH.

Bizarre clue: 46a. [Water ___, mammal dubbed the “cheetah of the wetlands” for its speed and stealth], SHREW. Uh, no. Who’s gonna call any 6-inch-long animal a cheetah? Apparently this one PBS nature video? Not sure anybody else is going with that. Glad to learn that water shrews are a thing, though!

Four stars from me.

Jeffrey K. Martinovic’s Universal crossword, “Wrong Turns”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that normally have the trigram LIE somewhere within. However those three letters have been replaced with a part of a bent TRUTH in the circled squares (which means the LIE words go in both directions in the grid). It’s up to the solver to determine which direction the TRUTH is bending. The revealer of course is BENDING THE TRUTH (36a, [Telling lies … or a hint to interpreting the starred clues’ answers]).

Universal crossword solution · “Wrong Turns” · Jeffrey K. Martinovic · Fri., 3.8.24

The base phrases for each bent TRUTH are as follows. (Look at the grid to see how each TRUTH was deployed.)

  • THE CLIENT crossing JULIET
  • BELIEVE ME!” crossing ALIENS

This was definitely different and a fun, unexpected challenge to suss out. I’m not usually a big fan of having nonsense-looking entries in the final grid, but I enjoyed working this one out, especially having to figure out which direction the TRUTH was going. The theme answers are all lively and in-the-language as well.

This is a boatload of theme material, and each one is crossing at least one other theme answer while some cross the central grid-spanner as well. All in all, it amounts to a really impressive construction job. And we even get some nice entries like KEYTARS and “I MEAN IT!”

The biggest eyebrow-raiser is TV APP which sounds a bit green-paintish, but it was fairly inferable. Everything else is standard crossword fill.

Clues were mostly straightforward and that helped a lot with this tricky theme. It could have been frustratingly difficult with tougher clues. That might have worked well for somewhere like Fireball, but for Universal, this might be about the highest level of difficulty you’re likely to find.

All in all, a fun challenge and a really impressive grid. 4.25 stars.

Joe DiPietro’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/8/24 • Fri • DiPietro • solution • 20240308

Encountering the theme clues as I solved—the each consist of a single letter—they made no sense. The revealer cleared it all up.

  • 57aR [“That’s a lost opportunity,” and what can be said to the writer of four clues in this puzzle] YOU’RE MISSING OUT. That is, the letters O-U-T must be suffixed for them to make sense.
  • 17a. [R] LOPSIDED VICTORY (rout).
  • 24a. [B] PRIZE FIGHT (bout).
  • 38a. [P] SULKY EXPRESSION (pout).
  • 46a. [T] CREATE HYPE (tout).

No chance of the initial letters spelling anything, since no vowel can precede -OUT to create anything sensible.

  • 1d [Major key for some piano works by Chopin and Schubert] G FLAT. G can also precede -OUT.
  • 2d [Travel to an away match?] ELOPE. There were quite a number of playful clues in this crossword. Some others: 12d [Top of the art world?] BERET, 59d [Letters of credit?] IOU, 23a [Leaves in hot water?] TEA.
  • 4d [Bks.-to-be] MSS. Books, manuscripts.
  • 19d [“Jinkies!”] CRIPES, not CRIKEY. “Jinkies!” is the exclamation associated with Velma, in the Scooby-Doo gang.
  • 39d [Tuning fork feature] Y-SHAPE. It’s the essential element in the logo for Yamaha, which makes both musical instruments and motorcycles (which have similar-looking wheel forks).
  • 35a [Reel Big Fish genre] SKA. I had guessed that was the name of a video game, not a band.
  • 41a [“Three Little Kittens” treat] PIE.
  • 51a [“Go me!”] YAY, 63a [“Go me!”] I RULE.
  • 56a [HHS agency] FDA. Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration.


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24 Responses to Friday, March 8, 2024

  1. Craig N. Owens says:

    NYT: I take issue with “Bub” as a synonym for “Chap,” the latter being decidedly British and often friendly–“I say, old chap…”–and the former American and minatory, or at best neutral, in many usages. “Pal” or “Guy” would have been a less misleading clue.

    • Eric H says:

      I found the left side of the NYT puzzle significantly harder than the right, in part because of vague or arguably misleading clues like the ones for BISTRO and BUB. Toss in a few unknowns (as clued) like SHREW and PERÓN, and I was struggling a bit until CARE TO ELABORATE became apparent.

      But I enjoyed the puzzle overall; it’s easily my favorite NYT puzzle this week.

      • Lois says:

        BISTRO was easy but the rest was miserable for me. Loved the right side, definitely the easier side. I absolutely never heard that it was a JINX for two people to say the same thing at the same time, but I accepted the word eventually. I thought it was a moment of friendly unity.

        • Eric H says:

          JINX is what one person *says* when they say the same thing as another at the same time (we said “Coke” when I was a kid).

          I don’t know that it necessarily means that the simultaneous utterances are bad luck, but I don’t know where the usage comes from.

          • Martin says:

            In New York, the first person to say “Jinx!” when both said the same thing followed it with, “You owe me a Coke!” More so in the ’30s, per my mother. It was pretty rare by my childhood. It sounds like your ritual morphed from my mother’s.

            • Eric H says:

              Well, TO ELABORATE:

              Simultaneous utterances would prompt one kid to touch the other on the arm or shoulder, say “Coke,” and start counting. I don’t remember what the other kid had to say to stop the counting (maybe just “Stop!”), but the highest number reached was the number of Coca-Colas the second kid owed the first.

              Nobody ever paid up.

          • sorry after after says:

            Don’t forget the “pinch-poke,” which adds to the cadence.

            “Jinx!” (in unison, usually)

            Pause as you look at each other in amazement … and then again, in unison …

            “Pinch, poke, you owe me a Coke!”

        • JohnH says:

          Ah, I didn’t understand the clue JINX, but that must be it. Thanks. (BUB didn’t bother me at all, although I first tried pal. All they really ask for is a word for guy.).

          Definetly easier on the right but right for a Friday and easier than many recent weeks when comments here often spoke of Friday and Saturday reversed. Anyway very nice.

        • Eric H says:

          Oremland, J. D. (1973). The Jinx game: A ritualized expression of separation-individuation. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 28, 419–431

          Presents a psychoanalytic study of the Jinx game interpreted as the development of object relations. The game is initiated by the coincidence of 2 children spontaneously saying the same word or phrase and is terminated by pronouncing the name of the child who has been jinxed. Its rigidly adhered to rules ritualize differentiation and subsequent redifferentiation. The game is viewed as a formalized latency and preadolescent recapitulation of aspects of the separation-individuation process.


          This is why I don’t read academic journals.

          • dh says:

            Wow. Definitely going to read that – but my objection is that this paper was probably funded research that you and I paid for.

      • makfan says:

        I also found the left side harder. It was a tough solve, but I generally liked the aha when I figured out some of the tougher answers.

    • David L says:

      I had the same thought about BUB. And where I used to live in Va there was a restaurant called the something BISTRO that was decidedly upscale. But overall a good puzzle.

      • DougC says:

        Given the way upscale restaurants have adopted the term BISTRO – I guess it sounds fancy because it’s French? – it’s understandable that there might be confusion about its meaning. But it actually means a small, unpretentious restaurant.

        A great Friday debut, I thought. I do agree on “chap” being a questionable clue for BUB, and also thought the west side was harder than the east.

  2. David L says:

    TNY: cute theme that took me a while to suss out — the third one was the charm.

    But I don’t understand the second one. There’s a rock band that seems to go with the answer, but I don’t see how it fits the clue. Or maybe this is yet another piece of internet lingo that I am ignorant of, OWD* that I am.

    *Old White Dude

    • JohnH says:

      I had to search for MEAT PUPPET, which kept me from getting the theme until I’d pretty much lost interest in it, but I’ll assume that the rock band is the point of reference. Indeed, I found this puzzle back to TNY norm of trivial pursuit, including more than one 10th rate novelist, and I hated it.

    • Eric H says:

      The theme answer are goofy and reminded me of the kinds of themes Matt Gaffney uses for his New York magazine puzzles.

      Urban Dictionary has some definitions of “meat puppet” that support the clueing. I’d never heard it in quite that sense, though I’m familiar with the band by that name. (I like the songs of theirs that I have; Nirvana covered two Meat Puppets’ songs on their “MTV Unplugged” album.)

  3. Karen says:

    Amy: thank you for that fabulous video. I loved the “hide and seek!” Just amazing.

  4. Seattle DB says:

    UNI: Grr! This puzzle was totally unexpected from an editor/creator that I admire greatly (David Steinberg). The whole time I was “WTF?” during my elongated solve, but then a “Lie”ght-bulb went off in my head and I finished w/o look-ups or errors (yay me).
    I’ll never understand how setter Jeffrey K. Martinovic envisioned making this puzzle happen!

  5. Seattle DB says:

    TNY: I enjoyed this puzzle but have a question about 28A — “Vegetarian’s insult for a mindless follower?” and the answer is “Tempeh puppet”. Does that translate to “meat puppet”? Thx.

    • Lois says:

      Yes. I hadn’t heard of it, but Wiktionary has the following definitions for meat puppet: 1. A human body without consciousness. 2. A person who mindlessly follows the commands of others.
      It’s discussed elsewhere in the comments also. I couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be there instead of TEMPEH.

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