Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Jonesin' 4:22 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 4:17 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal 5:58 (Matt F) 


USA Today 3:06 (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Brute Force” — getting ready for the 15th. – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/12/24

Jonesin’ solution 3/12/24

Hello lovelies! This week has a couple of special days in it. Thursday 3/14 is Pi Day (and my daughter’s birthday!), while 3/15 is…well, let’s solve the puzzle and find out!

  • 17a. [Noodles that translate to “little ribbons”] FETTUCCINE. Fettuccia is ribbon, fettuccina is little ribbon, fettuccine is the plural.
  • 24a. [Leafy replacements for burger buns, sometimes] LETTUCE WRAPS
  • 53a. [Covert escape route] SECRET TUNNEL
  • 64a. [Slow companions at home?] PET TURTLES

Finally, our revealer in the center of the grid: 40a./42a. [With 42-Across, date hinted at by a hidden sequence in the four long Across answers] THE IDES OF MARCH. When we look back at the them entries, each one possesses the phrase ET TU, as in “Et tu, Brute?” Julius Caesar spoke these words on the Ides of March before his murder in the Shakespearean play about his life.

Other things:

  • 15a. [Burton who hosted “Reading Rainbow”] LEVAR. This man is a national treasure.
  • 7d. [Tube where eggs travel] OVIDUCT. AKA the Fallopian tube.
  • 9d. [Connery’s antagonist, in ’90s “SNL”] TREBEK. The “Celebrity Jeopardy!” spoofs on “Saturday Night Live” were hilarious.

Until next week!

Casey Callaghan & Will Nediger’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Snack Attack”—Jim’s review

Circled squares contain “rolled up” fruits. The revealer is of course FRUIT ROLL-UP (37a, [’90s lunchbox staple, and what can be found in the six areas indicated in the grid]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Snack Attack” · Casey Callaghan & Will Nediger · Tue., 3.12.24

The fruits in question are TOMATO, ACAI, LIME, PLUM, PEAR, and DURIAN. I appreciate the inclusion of the six-letter fruits.

Fill entries directly supporting the theme are quite nice for the most part, especially MOSAICS, AT ISSUE, TOP SHELF, PERUVIAN, RITE-AID, and SEE-THRU. I needed every crossing for YONDU though [Michael Rooker’s role in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies]. Didn’t know Michael Rooker’s name, but I definitely recognize him from his many years of character work.

Michael Rooker as YONDU

Elsewhere we find SPEED DATES, END OF TIME, GOOSEFLESH, and “IF YOU LIKE…” anchoring the grid. Also, nice to see BIPOC [Acronym for some marginalized people]. I checked the cruciverb database, and I’m surprised that there were no hits.  New to me are boxer Jaron ENNIS and board game designer UWE Rosenberg. Thankfully, as with YONDU, the crossings were fair.

Clue of note: 21a. [“The Other Day ___ Bear” (camp song)]. I MET A. Fun way to clue a partial, assuming you’re familiar with the song.

Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars. Congrats to Casey Callaghan on a nice debut!

Andrew Kingsley & Garrett Chalfin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/12/24 – no. 0312

The revealer’s READ MUSIC, 33d. [Follow a composer’s notation … or a hint to interpreting four clues in this puzzle]. I pretty much had to back-solve to read the clues properly, since I don’t read music. (Don’t @ me—been hard of hearing my whole life so why would I learn to read music?)

  • 17a. [A♭?] is A flat, so the answer’s an APARTMENT.
  • 38a. [B♭?] is “be flat,” so LIE DOWN.
  • 63a. [B♯?] is “be sharp,” so “LOOK ALIVE.”
  • 11d. [E♯?] is “E sharp,” stretching the syntax to make that mean TECH-SAVVY.

Crossword material that hinges on musical terminology is not my cup of tea, but I’m sure many other solvers took delight here (maybe less so with that “E sharp” business!).

Fave fill:  SATAY (a local Thai restaurant serves chicken satay without the skewers, which sure makes it easier to eat), “AND HOW!”, BANKSY, “OY VEY!”

Favorite clue: 53d. [A kind of poem / Found within this crossword clue / Serendipity], HAIKU. Please compose a limerick that would serve as a crossword clue for LIMERICK.

3.75 stars from me.

Dan Schoenholz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Not a lot of time to blog tonight! I figured out what was going on with the theme and wondered what the revealer would be and I was amused when I found it.

The theme entries are all in the Downs and they have circles, which are represented here by red letters.

Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2024, Dan Schoenholz, solution grid

  • 3d [Fix for distressed genes?] is DNA REPAIR.
  • 7d [Carrier that makes short hops] is a REGIONAL AIRLINE.
  • 9d [Source of information for vacation planners] is the TRAVEL BUREAU. Is this a thing?
  • 21d [Reaction to a chill or a fright, to Brits] are GOOSE PIMPLES.

The revealer is at 35d [Decide by calling heads or tails, and an apt title for this puzzle] is FLIP A COIN. If we read the circles from bottom to top, we have RANDRIALRUBLE, and PESO. Nice!

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that an ACRE is 43,560 square feet.

Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 3/12/24 • Tue • Last • solution • 20240312

Even though I didn’t know a lot of the answers right off the bat, the stereotypical crossword weaving process helped me to solve the puzzle in relatively short order. So it felt easier than the New Yorker‘s ‘moderately challenging’ rating.

  • 5a [“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” role for Kathryn Hahn, familiarly] DOCK OCK. Doctor Octopus, who is a woman in that alternate universe.
  • 12a [Ultimatum to an indecisive cat at the doorway] IN OR OUT. Such is the power of the image that I completely glossed the cat reference as I read the clue, yet knew exactly what was being described.
  • 14a [Shindig, playfully] PARTAY. I dearly hope no one is still saying this.
  • 19a [Bird that sacrifices its wings to save the forest in a popular fable] KIWI. Is this traditional New Zealand folklore, or something more modern? Wikipedia informs me that it’s a combination of both. Anyway, it’s something I was wholly unaware of.
  • 21a [Even more precious] CUTER. The ambiguous ‘precious’ makes this clue a bit tougher.
  • 23a [The biggest one is called the hallux] TOE. And the hand’s analogue—the thumb—is called pollex.
  • 27a [open a file, say] DOUBLE CLICK. The Doubleclicks are a “nerd-folk duo” that I just can’t quite get into.
  • 43a [Lake whose name means “big water” in the Hitchiti-Mikasuki language] OKEECHOBEE. Whereas Okefenokee is generally regarded to mean ‘bubbling water’ in Hitchiti.
  • 47a [Gender-neutral neologism for a certain ethnic identity] LATINX. It’s a contentious term.
  • 1d [Park place?] GARAGE. Needed most crossings, as I was misled by the clue.
  • 2d [Networker’s ask] INTRO. Tried INTEL first.
  • 5d [Tether or Ether, e.g.] DIGITAL CURRENCY. Was not familiar with either name.
  • 18d [“Hakuna Matata” advocate] PUMBAA. My knowledge of Disney’s The Lion King derives exclusively from crosswords and still images, so am aware of SIMBA, NALA, SCAR, and that the cast includes a meerkat, warthog, and a mandrill. <checks> PUMBAA is the warthog!
  • 29d [Organization with multiple boards] CHESS CLUB. The misdirection failed, as I’d already had CHESS in place.
  • 32d [Emulate Dizzy Gillespie on the title track of the 1988 album “Oop-Pop-A-Da”] SCAT. A little over a week ago I shared his earlier “Ooh-Shoo-Be-Doo-Bee” on the blog.
  • 39d [City on the Little Cuyahoga River] AKRON.
  • 42d [Home makeover, slangily] RENO, but I strangely first put in REDO, which rendered the 48a [Los Angeles rapper who acted in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”] as TODE-LOC rather than TONE-LOC.

Rachel Simon’s USA Today Crossword, “Tmi” — Sophia’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer contains the string “TMI”

USA Today, 03 12 2024, “Tmi”

  • 18a [When procrastinators might cram] – LAST MINUTE
  • 36a [Phrase said when taking samples from a platter] – DON’T MIND IF I DO
  • 54a [Rite of passage for many Jewish girls] – BAT MITZVAH

I feel like I’m on a streak of writing about Tuesday USA Today puzzles with texting abbreviation themes! Anyways, this is a good one – I really like all three of the answers Rachel chose. BAT MITZVAH in particular is a standout, I love that “ZV” combination even outside of the TMI.

Clue highlights: [Nadja’s husband on “What We Do in the Shadows”] for LASZLO (great show, I recommend), [Pop duo Tegan and ___] for SARA, [Coder’s conditional statement] for IF THEN (even though there isn’t *really* a “then” in programming).

Fill highlights: CORNDOG, I MEAN IT, GOTHAM, having both TESLA and EDISON.

New to me: Speaking of! [Photographer Laurie Toby ___] for EDISON, [“Miracle Workers” channel] for TBS.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 668), “Mixed Noodles”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 668: “Mixed Noodles”

Good day, everybody! Hope all is well with you and that you’re all caught up and feeling OK after losing an hour last weekend.

We have some fun with anagrams with today’s puzzle, as the first four theme answers start the same five letters, just in a different order. The fifth theme entry, TURN HEADS, acts as the reveal (62A: [Stop traffic … and what the beginnings of the starred answers do?]).

  • SHADE TREE (17A: [*Cool place for a summer picnic])
  • ADHESIONS (23A: [*Firm attachments])
  • SHED A TEAR (37A: [*Start to cry])
  • HADESTOWN (54A: [*”Hot” Broadway show touted as “One Helluva Musical”])

I had no idea that EPHEDRA was the name of a plant as well as the drug, so definitely appreciated the cluing (2D: [Nearly-lifeless desert plant or the name of an FDA-banned supplement ingredient]). This math tutor also liked seeing SCALENE in the grid, though I’m currently teaching systems of equations and solutions to a couple of kids who think that I’m teaching them Farsi as I explain concepts of graphing and elimination to them (42D: [Triangle type]). Trying to figure out the correct answer to give them when I’m asked what they need this math for in their lives, something I’ve been asked a few times now!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CECIL (20A: [Director DeMille]) – Former NFL defensive back Chuck Cecil was known as one of the hardest hitters of his time, back in a day when such bone-shattering collisions was lauded more. Cecil was an All-American safety at the University of Arizona in 1987, when he was also named Pac-10 defensive player of the year, and made the Pro Bowl in 1992 as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

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

Take care!


Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Insert Title Here
Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke and Sally Hoelscher
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 03.12.2024

Theme Synopsis:

No revealer today, but you don’t need one. All you have to do is follow the puzzle’s instructions and “insert TITLE here!” We have a set of hidden noble titles in our theme answers:

  • 17A – Chef’s response to kudos = I’M G(LAD Y)OU LIKE IT (lady)
  • 27A – Sears catalog purchases, e.g. = MAI(L ORD)ERS (lord)
  • 48A – Informal compliment = LOO(KIN’ G)OOD (king)
  • 59A – Group with a harpsichord = BARO(QUE EN)SEMBLE (queen)

Overall Impressions:

This theme was well-executed. All theme answers are buried inside fun phrases and they span across multiple words. Only the first one doesn’t use the “full phrase” to hide the hidden word, but I’M GLAD YOU LIKE IT is my favorite of the theme  set so I can let that slide. DOG WHISTLE shines as a standout bonus entry, and REASONABLE is, well, reasonable in the lower right in service of keeping the fill clean. Great puzzle from a fantastic pair of constructors.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Olivia and Sally!

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33 Responses to Tuesday, March 12, 2024

  1. John Morgan says:

    There once was a sensitive nurse,
    Who thought crosswords were some kind of curse.
    One imagines she blew,
    When she looked at the clue:
    “Town in Ireland that’s also a verse.”

  2. rob says:

    NYT: E sharp is tech savvy? I still don’t get it. And I never heard of “satay” (I really thought the answer was “kabob”). Ditto for “nihao”. Never heard of it. I am fine with the idea that there are going to be clues that I do not know, but I found these two out of place on a Tuesday.

    • Mutman says:

      E (electronic) as in E*Trade, E-commerce.

      Sharp as in keen on.

      Put them together, E#

    • Dallas says:

      SATAY surprised me over KABOB; I knew it, but needed the crossings. When I read my wife the clue, without any crossings, she immediately said SATAY so YMMV.

      A little slow because of that, but good overall!

  3. Pamela+Kelly says:

    Please don’t post Wordle answers!!! That is so rude! Is there any way to block this kind of thing?

  4. huda says:

    NYT: I found this puzzle amusing. Though I love music, I am by no means a music reader, but these annotations are fairly straightforward and their interpretation made me smile.
    One of my kids was very literal growing up, and he would constantly reinterpret things the same way B♭was reinterpreted. It always cracked me up. I have a feeling one or both constructors had that tendency.
    I agree there was some fill that was not standard fare for a Tuesday but to me, it was highly gettable and made for an interesting solve.

  5. Gary R says:

    NYT: AcrossLite rendered the “flat” symbol as a lower-case “b,” so 17-A looked like an anatomical clue. I got APARTMENT after a few crosses, but had no idea what it meant. I was already equally baffled by 38-A, “Bb?” before I spotted one of the “sharp” clues and caught on to the theme. Took some of the fun out of it for me, but a cute theme.

  6. PJ says:

    TNY fell without much resistance. Still a fun puzzle.

    While you may be saying, IN OR OUT or “Make up your effin’ mind,” your cat is saying, “Just leave the door open.” Once I learned that I was able to read in peace.

    • pannonica says:

      Not so convenient for doors that open to the outside when it’s cold.

      • Papa John says:

        We have two pet doors for our cats. We once had a cat who absolutely loved playing in the snow and wouldn’t hesitate jump through the door and out into the cold. Cats — what can I say? They’re CATS.

    • JohnH says:

      Not much resistance? Good for you. I’m finding it a typical Last puzzle, meaning utterly impossible. I’ve a blank in the south half for the lake crossing singer (with just a guess for LA the rapper) and almost entirely blank in the NW and N central. Frustrating.

  7. David L says:

    TNY: Pretty easy overall, but I had a couple of stumbles in the SW. REDO instead of RENO and BOOYA instead of BOOLA, which gave me the unlikely sounding rapper name TODEYOC. But after a moment I remembered TONELOC so made the necessary corrections.

    It’s one thing for crossword enthusiasts to know that Yalies are Elis, but why are we supposed to know what they sing when they’ve had too much to drink?

    • Lester says:

      In the movie The Buddy Holly Story, Buddy (Gary Busey) has decided not to go to college with his girlfriend (I think she may have been named Cindy Lou, an obvious inspiration for Peggy Sue). He gives her the news just as she’s getting on the bus to go to college (probably UT Austin). She plaintively says, “But what will I tell all the kids at school?” Buddy responds (with his West Texas accent), “Boola boola?”

      • Eric H says:

        I don’t put a lot of faith in a movie set in Lubbock, Texas, that shows mountains in the background.

        (If Lubbock actually had mountains, there’s a good chance I would have chosen Texas Tech over UT Austin and never met my husband.)

    • JohnH says:

      Actually, for me it mattered that something could be REDO or RENO about equally well, when the decider is the rap singer. But again, overall one big ugh. I never completed SCARY whatever (smile? nope) or whatever COCK, in part not knowing that those two things were digital currency. Didn’t help that I had “rarer” for CUTER, a reasonable sense for me of “more precious.” (This one my fault, but I also didn’t know SAGO. And strange, but while I didn’t go to Yale, I did know BOOLA BOOLA.)

      • Eric H says:

        Thanks to crossword puzzles, I know the names of some of the Spice Girls. I think SCARY SPICE is either Mel B. or Mel C. But I don’t think I would recognize any of their music.

    • Gary R says:

      An unusually on-my-wavelength Natan Last puzzle. I think the only name I didn’t know (albeit, a couple only vaguely) was the animated warthog. A surprising number of entries went in without crosses for an early-week TNY. There were a few corrections to be made along the way – Power bar before Power NAP, investigate before DOUBLE CLICK, ogle before GAWP, inert before ON ICE …

      I can see how REdO is plausible, but when we’re talking real estate, it’s almost always a RENO. Don’t know exactly where I know it from, but the BOOLA, BOOLA cheer is pretty familiar (I’m not an Ivy Leaguer).

  8. Martin says:

    The version I solved had no sharps or flats. The clues were like, “E.” It made for a most challenging Tuesday. But with a great aha moment.

  9. Me says:

    I wish Rex Parker had used “kebab” as the prototypical example for not knowing what to put without crosses, rather than “kealoa.” Kealoa sounds so stilted and artificial to me. Kebab rolls off the tongue better IMO, and has more options: kebab/kabob/kabab/kebap, and there may be more.

    • Eric H says:

      Start calling those things kebabs. Maybe it’ll catch on.

      My own stilted, artificial term for that is ambigluity.

    • e.a. says:

      that’s so good lmao! (and apt, because you get stuck)

      • Eric H says:


        I was actually thinking of the “glue” part in the sense of the boring little words that hold a grid together, but your point about getting stuck on those things gives it additional meaning.

        You deserve partial credit for it. Many months ago, I mentioned Rex Parker’s “kealoa” in this forum and said I understood the term mean an answer that the solver doesn’t care about and just wants to get out of the way.

        You responded that the term made you uncomfortable because some native Hawaiians consider Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to be sacred. I hadn’t known that, so I tried to come up with an inoffensive alternative.

        Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: Judging by my times, Monday’s KAC puzzle was a little easier. But I expect it’s just that I seem to click with KAC’s puzzles in a way that I don’t with Natan Last’s.

    It wasn’t by any means a hard puzzle, though. And some of my problems were of my own making: VirtuAL CURRENCY (an “error” I’ve made before) and REdO, possibly a few others.

    But I could get everything with enough crosses and it wasn’t just a bunch of gimmes, and that’s half of what I look for in a crossword puzzle.

    But PARTAY makes me cringe. I don’t remember when I started hearing “party” as a verb, but I didn’t like it then and I still don’t now. I associate it with people who I prefer to avoid.

  11. Squidley Juan says:

    Natan Last, you have 97 answers in your grid. Of those, 16 are names. When I say names, I don’t mean there are occasional name that you see often that have become crosswordese, or names that are inferrable. I mean names like KUCINICH, GOTYE, OKEECHOBEE and PUMBAA. Who wants to see these?

    In addition to the names, you have 13 ambiguous, words-non-words, including variations of: conk/bonk/honk/konk/wonk or yipe/yike or uh/oh/ah/eh or gawp (obviously the freakin’ answer is “gawk!” Who in the sacred lands of the Aesir says “gawp?!”

    THWACK?! BOOLA! You don’t think there’s enough dung in your grid without using these “words?”

    Natan Last: You stink at making crosswords. What a plane wreck.

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