Sunday, March 10, 2024

LAT untimed (Jack)  


NYT 14:19 (Nate) 


USA Today tk (Darby)  


Universal (Sunday) 14-something (Jim) 


Universal tk (norah) 


WaPo 5:58 (Matthew) 


Enrique Henestroza Anguiano and Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword, “Rack ‘Em Up” — Nate’s write-up

03.10.2024 Sunday New York Times Crossword

03.10.2024 Sunday New York Times Crossword

– 23A: IN A(PP P)URCHASE [Extra lives or additional gems, for a freemium game]
– 31A: I’M T(OO O)LD FOR THIS NOW [“The kids these days have gotten way better than me”]
– 48A: HAWA(II I)SLANDERS [Former minor-league team that played at Aloha Stadium]
– 84A: C(NN N)EWS HEADLINE [Something delivered by Jake Tapper or Anderson Cooper]
– 98A: KRISTIN SCO(TT T)HOMAS [“The English Patient” actress]
– 115A: BUSINE(SS S)ENSE [Executive’s acumen]

– 65A: TRIPLE LETTER SCORE [Scrabble bonus seen six times in this puzzle.

Flavortext: Once completed, the contents of the six blue squares will spell a word associated with this puzzle’s them.

Wow! Six of the squares in this grid (at least in the app) are the specific shade of blue (and tile design!) seen in Scrabble on a TRIPLE LETTER SCORE square, and that’s our cue to triple that letter in the respective across theme entry. Those special letters, when considered sequentially across the themers, spell POINTS, which is certainly what you’ll be earning by playing tiles on those special squares in Scrabble. What’s even more elegant is that each of the triple letter squares is split the same way (double | single) in the theme answer – I am in awe of that degree of parallelism and attention to detail. Kudos to the constructors for that and for a fun puzzle / theme!

Random thoughts:
ONT / MTIDA could be a tough crossing for some in an otherwise smooth grid. That said, the toughest part of the grid for me was actually the top left corner, for whatever reason – I just couldn’t get traction there until the very end.
– I really enjoyed bonus downs like SWEET CORN, MAPLE GLAZE, and BRUSCHETTA. Or maybe I’m very hungry? :D

Okay, that’s all for now – let us know what you think in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed the puzzle and that you have a great weekend (minus one hour for setting our clocks forward!).

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Film Remakes” — Matt’s write-up

Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Film Remakes” solution, 3/10/2024

Evan brings us a timely cinematic theme in time for the Oscars. Our themers are clued as “remakes” of films, the titles of which we need to anagram into new entries, with some help from the clues:

  • 24a [Remake of the 2010 film “Predators” with sad characters?] TEARDROPS
  • 32a [Remake of the 1979 film “Norma Rae” that’s set during the period of Augustus’s reign?] ROMAN ERA
  • 35a [Remake of the 2019 film “Parasite” that teaches people how to make “H” sounds?] ASPIRATE
  • 51a [Remake of the 1968 film “Bandolero!” that’s set in a restaurant serving ramen?] NOODLE BAR
  • 53a [Remake of the 2004 film “Spanglish” with more swimming pool scenes?] SPLASHING
  • 62a [Remake of the 2023 film “Ferrari” focusing on a character who puts shoes on horses?] FARRIER
  • 72a [Remake of the 2015 film “No Escape” that features an unsolved crime?] OPEN CASE
  • 76a [Remake of the 2009 film “Precious” in which people cook basmati in broth?] RICE SOUP
  • 93a [Remake of the 1995 film “Crimson Tide” with an aesthetic evoking early 20th-century art?] MODERNISTIC
  • 104a [Remake of the 2018 film “Replicas” in which people wear piercing-free jewelry?] EAR CLIPS
  • 108a [Remake of the 2019 film “Hustlers” with more cruel characters?] RUTHLESS
  • 117a [Remake of the 1996 film “Trainspotting” with a new beginning?] STARTING POINT

That’s a lot of themers! Typing up the theme clues is my least favorite part of this gig, and glad to be done this week now. Circles at the beginning of each call our attention to the order – these film remakes spell TRANSFORMERS, a film that contains a different type of “remaking.” It was nominated for Academy Awards in Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects, but won none. “Transformers” has many anagram possibilities, but I’ll go with FROST ERRS, MAN [Remake in which Lebowski criticizes poet Robert].

I enjoyed the theme. I don’t always have patience for longer anagrams, but the additional context in the clues eased that quite a bit. MODERNISTIC was probably the toughest for me to tease out. And given the theme density, it also provided many of the most exciting answers, which is fine by me. In fact, every single down entry crosses through at least one themer. Maybe that’s semi-common and I’ve never noticed, but I think it’s pretty cool.


  • 1a [Figures in Tibetan monasteries] LAMAS. The one-L kind, naturally.
  • 23a [Sat tight] BIDED. A little bit awkward and gluey, but really the only one I noticed during the solve against so much theme material
  • 112a [European home of Tartu] ESTONIA. Bit of a toughie here, but there’s only so many countries in Europe, and to a lesser degree, it is the second-largest city in Estonia. I didn’t know either SERVO or RAOUL crossing this entry, but even if Tartu was a stumper, “European” was enough to be an asset in finishing those downs.
  • 115a [Alex Morgan’s FIFA World Cup Squad] USWNT. The national team plays Brazil tonight for the Gold Cup championship in their run up to this year’s Olympics. Alex Morgan is one of the last few players still active from an aging generation, so crossword solvers might do well to learn Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith, and Jaedyn Shaw, among others, for future USWNT appearances.
  • 15d [Sydney of horoscopes] OMARR. New to me.
  • 49d [Suffragist and peace activist Milholland] INEZ. New angle for me for INEZ. Skimming through her Wikipedia, that’s a pretty big knowledge gap on my part. Glad to learn about her.

LA Times crossword, “Con Test” by Brian Thomas and Kate Chin Park — Jack’s write-up

Theme: Words beginning with “Con” are split into two and interpreted as things seen at comic con (or some similar “fest”). The title is another example: “Contest” becomes “Con test,” i.e. a test about comic-con things.

LA Times crossword solution — “Con test” by Brian Thomas and Kate Chin Park

  • 22A. [Con current?] = AIR OF EXCITEMENT
  • 33A. [Con tour?] = MEET AND GREET
  • 37A. [Con quest?] = AUTOGRAPH
  • 54A. [Con sorts?] = COSPLAYERS
  • 68A. [Con note?] = I LOVE YOUR WORK
  • 86A. [Con text?] = FAN FICTION
  • 101A. [Con figure?] = MOVIE STAR
  • 103A. [Con script?] = GROUP READING

Interesting theme. I’m impressed how much mileage Brian and Kate got out of the conceit. Some work better than others. A MOVIE STAR as a figure one sees at comic con and COSPLAYERS as sorts one sees at comic con are particularly tight. Con tour as a MEET AND GREET and con current as an AIR OF EXCITEMENT require you to stretch a bit, but they still work well enough. I LOVE YOUR WORK is a great central entry in any puzzle.

This played much tougher for me than a typical LAT Sunday. The cluing felt themeless level (not necessarily a bad thing) and some of the fill was outside of my knowledge-base. The northwest especially had GRAF, PAMPA, KICKAPOO, and DEFRAG, plus HANA (62A. [Maui’s Road to __]) crossing SUNI (51D. [Olympic gold medalist Lee] ) nearby. Plenty of GRATA, DANSE, YER, URIS, etc. in the rest of the grid too.

The patchy fill did have an upside though in that the puzzle was chock full of nice bonus entries. RELAXED FIT, OSCAR MAYER, TOE THE LINE, IT’S A DATE, SOAP OPERA, I MISSED IT, is more than typical for a puzzle with eight themers. This balance worked fine for me as a seasoned solver, but it certainly didn’t make for an entry-level crossword.

Dylan Schiff’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Party Animals”—Jim’s review

Theme answers were originally familiar phrases where one of the words is also a word for a group of particular animals. Three of said animals replace the word in the grid.

Universal Sunday crossword solution · “Party Animals” · Dylan Schiff · 3.10.24

  • 23a. [*Intellectual movement] FISH FISH FISH OF THOUGHT. School of thought.
  • 41a. [*Site of the first Thanksgiving] PLYMOUTH ANT ANT ANT. Plymouth Colony. (Not Plymouth Rock, as I first surmised. Hey, you ever see a big clump of ants? They look like a rock.)
  • 57a. [*Agatha Christie genre] CROW CROW CROW MYSTERY. Murder mystery. Like logic puzzles? Like murder mysteries? Check out the daily Murdle game.
  • 79a. [*Annual June celebrations] LION LION LION PARADES. Pride parades.
  • 93a. [*Tourist attraction near Westminster Abbey] HOUSE OF OWL OWL OWL. House of Parliament.
  • 113a. [*Single-passenger sci-fi vehicle] ESCAPE WHALE WHALE WHALE. Escape pod.

Enjoyable theme. It seemed like the clues ought to have question marks since the actual entries aren’t real phrases, so that threw me off for a little bit. But once I got the gist of what was going on, things proceeded smoothly. And fortunately there wasn’t anything too off-the-wall here, because there are some kooky ones: a tower of giraffes, a smack of jellyfish, a rhumba of rattlesnakes.

Fave fill: TOGA PARTY, LUXURY CAR, SANDLOT, SNIFFLY. I was surprised I didn’t know PASSATA [Pureed tomato product], which is uncooked tomatoes with no additional additives or flavorings (maybe some salt). I’ll have to look for it next time I’m grocery shopping. I love learning new things in crosswords that add to our daily existence. I also need a lot of crossings to process LA CAGE [“I Am What I Am” musical, familiarly].

Clues of note:

  • 20a. [Where the medianoche sandwich originated]. CUBA. Apparently, it’s made with roast pork, ham, and cheese. The perfect middle-of-the-night snack (if you don’t mind heartburn all night, I suppose). I guess you have one after working up an appetite dancing into the wee hours.
  • 94d. [“___ you can’t be serious”]. SURELY. “And don’t…” Well, you know the rest.

Good puzzle. 3.75 stars.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Sunday, March 10, 2024

  1. Eric H says:

    NYT: I play too much computer Scrabble, but I didn’t pick up on the significance of the blue squares at first. For 31A, I had TOO OLD FOR THIS NOW (with the O’s each in a separate square), and I thought that was a strange way to truncate that lament. (I had skipped IN-APP PURCHASE because I don’t play video games, but I recognize the phrase from non-gaming apps.)

    When I saw the revealer, it all became clear.

    I enjoyed seeing KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS in the grid. I can only think of three or four things we’ve seen her in, but we’ve always enjoyed her performances. (Nice tie-in to Friday’s NYT puzzle: She’s part of the wonderful ensemble cast in Robert Altman’s “Gosford Park.”)

    The POINTS bonus is impressive from a construction standpoint, but like most NYT meta answers, it’s a little too obvious.

    I’m impressed that the constructors found six solid answers that had the repeated letters they needed. I’d be curious to know what got left out.

    I thought the Friday and Saturday NYT puzzles were exceptionally well-done. Sunday NYT grids are hit or miss anyway, so I was half-expecting that today’s would be disappointing. I’m glad that it was fun.

    • huda says:

      This was a puzzle I admired after the fact for construction skill. Pretty impressive. But I struggled a bit in certain parts of it, especially the NW, which tends to set the mood. It flowed more easily elsewhere.
      The theme phrases were not especially sparkly– I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS is clearly in the language (and runs through my mind on a frequent basis) but the NOW at the end seems like an add on. Indeed when you search both phrases, the latter is way less common.
      The food related downs were definitely my favorites- SWEET CORN, MAPLE GLAZE, and BRUSCHETTA.
      Sometimes, I try to think back on when I only solved the Sunday puzzles, on paper, with help from my husband, and try to imagine how a puzzle like this would have played out. Maybe it would have been more fun.

      • Eric H says:

        That’s a fair point about the extraneous NOW at the end of I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS.

        My husband and I solved the Sunday NYT puzzle on paper for several years in the 1990s. I don’t think this puzzle would have played too differently on paper. But I have a fond memory of drawing little chess pieces in squares to finish a rebus puzzle.

  2. JohnH says:

    I was ever so grateful to discover that the blue squares had to be tripled letters. At last something beyond all that the theme appeared: a quiz on the constructors’ favorite things, all but none in the least known to me, including the long, central revealer. With at least a couple (Hawaiian team in some unnamed sport, for one), all I could wonder is why in the world I should know that. And right, NOW made another themer totally ad hoc.

    Didn’t help that the factoids extended to other fill, although I’ve no idea why Nate found ONT / MT. IDA among the worst. Ontario is, after all, a pretty familiar place, even if you’ve never visited, and we’ve been quizzed routinely on far harder, Olympic cities. My objection there would be that surely a hall of fame is identified as residing in a city, not a province (and no, I didn’t know it). Didn’t help either that the bulk of the fill was quite the opposite, not trivia but trivial. One gimme after another made it a very quick Sunday solve, and I don’t know which flaw was worse. This was a puzzle best shared among friends who could appreciate the favorites.

    • Philip says:

      I agree with the Hall of Fame objection. Slapped TOR down there immediately.

      While I don’t expect non-baseball fans to be aware of the team, the Islanders were a well-known minor league team, with several notable alumni. There was a conversation about them during a ballgame I was listening to just the other day. I guess what I am saying is I agree it is obscure if you are not a baseball fan, but they were not super-obscure as far as minor league teams go.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        FWIW … I’m a lifelong, 64-year-old baseball fan and think I’m pretty knowledgeable about it (including its history), but I don’t recall ever hearing of the HAWAII ISLANDERS. It looks like I have some reading to do. (Wow … I can’t believe they were in the Pacific Coast League for 26 years of my lifetime and I don’t know the name)

  3. Gary R says:

    NYT: A couple of iffy themers, in my opinion. KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS was a nice find. BUSINESS SENSE is good, and IN APP PURCHASES works okay (I thought they were “in-game purchases”). But then we have HAWAII ISLANDERS – a minor league baseball team that folded almost 40 years ago? CNN NEWS HEADLINE – is this a phrase anyone’s ever spoken?

    And NOR is not a Boolean operator – if you want “nor,” it’s AND NOT.

    • JohnH says:

      Good point about NOR.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Amen re NOR, Gary! I spent about 75% of my time over a 40-year career programming in a heavily Fortran-based language and it definitely didn’t have NOR as an operator. “AND NOT” was the operator. I guess I’m not surprised that there are languages out there that do have a NOR operator, but back when I learned to program, the only Boolean operators were AND, OR and NOT (maybe IF? … I don’t recall if that was taught to me as an operator or not). If I wanted NOR, the operator to use was AND NOT.

      [nerd rant over]

    • Martin says:

      The Boolean logic operator “NOR” takes two values and returns TRUE if and only if both values are FALSE. This is different than the logical expression v1 AND NOT v2, which is TRUE if v1 is TRUE and V2 is FALSE.

      The most fundamental Boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. Secondary operators, defined using those, include XOR, NAND, NOR and XNOR. All are useful logical operators. (Implication and equivalence may also be considered logical operators.)

      Another point of confusion is that computer languages support some of these operators and leave others to be programmed when needed, using the defined set. Different languages directly support different set of operators. Most computer languages do not have a NOR operator, because NOT OR is more readable and is only two keystrokes in modern languages. But NOT OR (v1, v2) [ v1 NOR v2] is certainly not the same as v1 AND NOT v2.

  4. AlanW says:

    The answer to WaPo:93A was almost preordained, because everyone knows that You’ve Got to Be Modernistic.

  5. David L says:

    I finished the LAT with no idea at all about the theme, stared at it for a while, then came here. And I’m still not entirely sure I get it. Am I supposed to know that CON is shorthand for a convention of some sort? And at what sort of convention would you have a GROUPREADING? Maybe it’s an LA thing…

  6. Eric H says:

    WaPo: Matt’s thorough write-up says almost everything I would want to say about the puzzle. I continue to be in awe of Evan Birnholz’s construction chops. To pull off TRANSFORMERS, you have to find the right number of theme answers and arrange them correctly. And then be able to fill the grid!


  7. Burak says:

    This was one of the funnest Sunday NYTs in recent memory. Great theme idea, near-flawless execution and a very clean grid. Bravo.

  8. Bendable straw says:

    Universal. Hated it. Might as well have composed the theme answers of random letters. Ridiculous approach to a theme.

  9. Seattle DB says:

    LAT – 5D: I guess the editor thinks that “Cocktail spheres” are “Ice”. I’m not a cocktail drinker but I’ve never seen round ice cubes anywhere. (That’s why they’re called “cubes” and not “spheres”.)

Comments are closed.