Wednesday, March 13, 2024

AVCX 6:57 (Amy) 


LAT tk (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 3:30 (Amy) 


NYT 4:22 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 6:38 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:01 (Jim) 


Drew Schmenner’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/13/24 – no. 0313

I picked a bad day to be out past 11 pm Central, when nobody else was around to get the post up! D’oh.

What is the theme? Didn’t know while I was solving. Let’s take a look. Revealer is 61a. [March Madness component that’s a phonetic hint to 18-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across], FINAL FOUR. Ah, yes. SEMAPHORE, MIXED METAPHOR, CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, and AS NEVER BEFORE all end with other ways to spell the “four” sound. Interesting mix of themers.

Fave fill: THE DUDE (who abides), HITS A SNAG, MOONROOFS, SAPPHO.

Not keen on [Listing near a museum door, perhaps], DONOR. Feel like a listing is more likely to have multiple people, and a placard with a single donor’s name isn’t precisely a “listing.” The clue is asking for the word “name” to be used.

42a. [Famed art patron Henry], TATE. I’ve been to a Tate Modern museum, couldn’t have told you his first name was Henry.

3.5 stars from me.

David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cut Down to Size”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are words that can be split into two words with the second one being a unit of measurement.

  • 3d. [Weight-loss units?] EX POUNDS.
  • 11d. [Extra-extra-large unit of Vietnamese soup?] PHO TON.
  • 17d. [Units of threshing waste?] CHAFF INCHES.
  • 40d. [Liquor unit consumed while watching TV?] DEN OUNCES.
  • 49d. [Unit of exposed leg in an old pinup?] GAM BIT.

This one wasn’t for me since it featured mostly groan-worthy puns, and it seems pretty light on the theme material anyway. I guess the best wordplay occurs in the title which goes most of the way in explaining that the original theme words were cut in two, placed in the Down orientation, and involve some sort of sizing (putting things loosely).

Top fill includes CLUB SODA, UTOPIA, SNIVELS, and SVELTE. Never have I ever heard the name RABELAIS [Gargantua creator], but his 16th century novels feature “much erudition, vulgarity, and wordplay” which sounds right up my alley.

All in all, the fill is mostly smooth in this grid, but the theme just doesn’t excite. Three stars.

Noelle Griskey’s Universal crossword, “Sticky Situation” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/13/24 • Wed • “Sticky Situation” • Griskey • solution • 20240313

Once again, my .puz version has the relevant squares pre-circled, so I’ll here skip repeating the written instructions tacked on to the clues.

  • 14a. [’80s lower-body workout video] BUNS OF STEEL.
  • 17a. [Tool that may be retractable] TAPE MEASURE.
  • 57a. [Further explanation in an article] EDITOR’S NOTE.
  • 62a. [Elongated sponge cake biscuits] LADY FINGERS.

Sticky buns, sticky tape, sticky note, sticky fingers.

I like how the theme answers are stacked and all 11 letters. The grid overall was an easy solve, despite some fragmentation points.

  • 12d [36-Across took it] LSAT. 36a [“Notorious” former justice, briefly] RBG. I had to check the history of the Law School Admission Test to be sure. It was instituted in 1948, so I think we’re safe on that.
  • 42d [Antique photograph] TINTYPE. “A tintype, also known as a melanotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal, colloquially called ‘tin'” (Wikipedia). So I guess in theory you can use a pinhole camera to make a TINTYPE image.
  • 44d [Raise] BRING UP. Works for either kids or issues, oh and children are sometimes referred to as issue.
  • 8a [ __ and cheese] MAC, though my instinct was for HAM.
  • 21a [Man-to-man alternative] ZONE. This is referring to defense systems in sports.
  • 66a [Western PA. airport code] PIT. Have not seen this framing before, for what’s a common three-letter word.

“You’re the Pits” • Dave Kelly (1990)

Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 3/13/24 – Agard

Breezy and fun, just what Wednesday ordered. I love the brashness of a vowelless 1-Across, MLK JR BLVD. (Chicago’s got a King Drive rather than Boulevard. Apparently Chicago was the first place to rename a street after Dr. King, in 1968.)

Other fave fill: A Lewis Carrollesque CURIOUSER, TANGENTS, LOSE MONEY, JAM BANDS, MOVIE BUFF and OSCAR BAIT (if you haven’t seen Past Lives or American Fiction yet, get on that! I loved both), TEAMSTERS, the KRUSTY KRAB, T’Challa, ROPED IN, LILAC because spring flower season is blooming early in Chicago and the lilacs are only a few weeks off, and INEPTITUDE.

Three clues:

  • 10d. [He sat in for Tinashe?], ANAGRAM. Did the anagram jump right out at you?
  • 17a. [Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller’s art work “Talking Skull,” for one], SCULPTURE. The artist’s name is unfamiliar to me. Let’s learn: Her long career was punctuated by the Harlem Renaissance. You can read her story and see a couple of her sculptures here. And here is a larger selection of her works. I do appreciate learning about artists and writers spotlighted in crosswords.
  • 48a. [“The ___-sistance: Bird Pecks Bolsonaro During Coronavirus Quarantine” (2020 Guardian headline)], RHEA. Okay, that’s just funny.

4.25 stars from me.

August Miller’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Edge Play”–Amy’s recap

AV Club Classic crossword solution, 3/13/24 – “Edge Play”

The theme relates to video game SIDE / QUESTS, 51a. [With 65-Across, secondary game adventures, of which there are four in this puzzle]. There are four rebus squares that contain the letters QUEST, and they’re all found along the side edges of the grid:

  • 1d. [Most discourteously curt], BRUS{QUEST} crossing 23a. [Some doctor’s office handouts], {QUEST}IONNAIRES.
  • 27a. [Website my family used to use to print out directions before a long drive], MAP{QUEST} crossing 11d. [Curio shops], ANTI{QUE ST}ORES.
  • 41a. [Arthurian monster with the body of a leopard, the head and neck of a serpent, the haunches of a lion, and the feet of a deer]< {QUEST}ING BEAST (never heard of it!) crossing 31d. [Carbon ___ (process of capturing and storing atmospheric CO2)], SE{QUEST}RATION.
  • 50a. [Off-menu order, say], SPECIAL RE{QUEST} crossing 54d. [Roots drummer who made his directorial debut with the documentary “Summer of Soul” in 2021], {QUEST}LOVE.

Solid concept and execution.

Did not recall: 12a. [Actor Paul of “Sound of Metal”], RACI. Looking him up: Oh, right! He played the older Deaf man running a shelter for Deaf recovering addicts. An Oscar-nominated performance.

Entries new to me include SUB TO (subscribe to), [Late Sudanese writer Salih ___] TAYEB, and EZIO [___ Auditore da Firenze (Assassin’s Creed protagonist)].

Four stars from me.

Wendy L. Brandes’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

Wendy L. Brandes puzzle is understated, but very creative with an apt “title” answer, HOMEIMPROVEMENT. Each of three idioms has the patterns XSTHEY, and could be construed to be about a part of the home if taken literally:

  • [Has a contagious smile, say], LIGHTSUPTHEROOM
  • [Parties like there’s no tomorrow], RAISESTHEROOF
  • [Gets ready for action], CLEARSTHEDECK

Interesting clue angles:

  • [Mary Roach book subtitled “The Curious Life of Human Cadavers”], STIFF
  • [Like a big dog named Tiny], IRONIC. Although that got old for me some time ago. See also: Killer the min pin.


Dob Olino’s USA Today Crossword, “Break the Silence” — Emily’s write-up

Bring the noise to this one!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday March 13, 2024

USA Today, March 13, 2024, “Break the Silence” by Dob Olino

Theme: each themer is contained within M—UTE or MU—TE (to “unmute”)


  • 17a. [Vertical passage for letters], MAILCHUTE
  • 24a. [Angela Lansbury mystery series], MURDERSHEWROTE
  • 40a. [Tofu or tempeh], MEATSUBSTITUTE
  • 53a. [Major highway], MAINROUTE

Super fun theme today and I love that there are four themers for this set! The party is always more fun with more! MAILCHUTE took me a long time for the second half—I kept thinking about “slots” and the blue postal “boxes”. MURDERSHEWROTE fell right into place and instantly queued the theme music; ah, nostalgia! I grew up watching that show with my family and we even had the mystery jigsaw puzzle though I don’t think we ever solved it…I might have to dig around for that on my next family visit. MEATSUBSTITUTE was a tasty themer to follow and again filled in fairly easily for me. MAINROUTE needed some crossings for the first part, since the cluing threw me off a bit and had me thinking about interstates and roads instead of more broadly.

Favorite fill: HAMM, MONAE, ODIE, and OVERT

Stumpers: STOCK (“goods” was my first thought), FENDI (new to me), and PROAM (also new to me)

What a treat for a Wednesday! A quicker solve for me, which is always nice, and it flowed smoothly with great cluing and overall fill in addition to the lovely themer set.

Also, just gonna leave this MURDERSHEWROTE intro montage comparison here for all of the Jessica Fletcher fans! I haven’t watched it since it aired—does it still hold up?

4.25 stars


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21 Responses to Wednesday, March 13, 2024

  1. Dallas says:

    Nice Wednesday, with a cute theme. Interesting mix of answers too. Regarding TATE: Henry ___ with four letters made me want CLAY even though that’s not the clue.

    • sorry after after says:

      Spoiler alerts, please! Some of us may not have done a particular puzzle yet but are here to see what others think about one we *have* completed. Fiend protocol is to preface your comment with the publication name. No need if it’s a reply. See Mutman’s post below for typical format.

      • ZDL says:

        i always assumed the publication preface was for clarity only. otherwise, this page is a veritable minefield of spoilers — maybe steer clear until after you’ve done your puzzles for the day.

        • Eric H says:

          That’s sound advice. But the only puzzles I do every day are the NYT and New Yorker, and I often come here after each one. It can be hard to avoid spoilers for other puzzles that I might later decide to solve.

          Identifying the puzzle at the start of a comment helps for both clarity and spoiler avoidance.

          • sanfranman59 says:


          • Gary R says:

            I also appreciate the “headers” on the comments, and I think most folks do a good job at including them. And many commenters are careful not to include spoilers at all if they are commenting before that particular puzzle’s write-up has been posted.

          • JohnH says:

            I’m one who takes mentioning the puzzle at issue (unless the comment is a reply) as a matter of clarity: often otherwise I don’t know what the commenter is talking about.

            As for avoiding spoilers, I don’t find that hard somehow. I just skip ahead to reviews and comments that mention the puzzle I’m interested in.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        The links at the top of each post will jump you directly to a given puzzle’s post, so you can skip past the write-ups of puzzles you haven’t done. The comments are a combination of multiple puzzles’ contents, though, so you’ll want to avoid scrolling down to the comments if you’re concerned about spoilers.

        • sanfranman59 says:

          It does help if the creator of a new comment thread begins their message with something that tells readers what puzzle (or puzzles) they’re commenting about. Not only does it help avoid spoilers, but it gives readers the correct context for the comment. Most regular commenters here do this and I sure appreciate it.

      • Dallas says:

        My apologies; I’ve been commenting for about a year, but I guess this is the first time I’ve started a thread.

        • Seattle DB says:

          Hey Dallas, don’t worry about a one-time faux pas. I truly like your comments because you expand on things that reviewers might have missed. Please keep posting!

  2. Mutman says:

    NYT: 8A and 67A could have been clued as one-off theme answers.

    8A. What the first round of 61A actually is

    67A. Popular apps will take it on 61A

    Nice Wednesday.

    • marciem says:

      Exactly how I like to see it posted prior to the commentary.

      Once the commentary is up, all bets (wagers :D) are off, but I still appreciate the Publication and clue references. Sometimes the folks doing the write-ups won’t mention certain aspects that other comments make note of, so any clue to find what your talking about is helpful.

      I do the puzzles I do early, so spoilers aren’t as big a concern to me as me forgetting what puzzle and clue is being talked about. CRS disease :P .

  3. Dan says:

    NYT: I do not believe that “When the going gets tough, the early bird gets the worm” is an example of a “mixed metaphor” as that term is usually understood.

    In fact, the two clauses here are barely even metaphors, if at all.

    “This is rocket surgery” is an example of a mixed metaphor.

    • Me says:

      Yeah, I didn’t love the clue for MIXED METAPHOR, either. It’s listed as an example of a mixed metaphor at , which may have been where the team got the clue from, but it’s not a strong example.

      On an unrelated note, I agree with Amy that DONOR=“listing near a museum door” is just odd. It should be DONORS. And why is the donor listing specified to be near a door? If they mean “entrance,” why not just say that? At any rate, some donor listings are at the entrance, but some of them aren’t. To me, this is an example of a clue that’s trying so hard to be clever that it gets in its own way.

    • Lester says:

      My late brother used to enjoy saying, “You can lead a horse to birds of a feather, but you can’t make him laugh last.” Even if that’s not technically a mixed metaphor, it was fun and sweet to bring up that warm memory.

  4. Pavel says:

    NYT: I was curious about 28D, since I’m unfamiliar with the historical precursors to today’s NATO alphabet. A little Wikipedia digging, however, turns up the page, from which it can be seen that the clue is actually incorrect. The code word “OBOE” was only used to represent “O” in the period 1913-1926. During WWII, “OPTION” was used instead.

  5. Lester says:

    WSJ: I didn’t know until I did some post-solve googling that there is a bird called a chaffinch, so that pun was lost on me, but I enjoyed the other ones.

  6. I loved the diversity in themes across the various crosswords. The AV Club’s rebus squares were a fun twist. Also, the personal touch in setters’ stories and themes adds so much depth to the solving experience. The NYT’s play on “four” sounds was clever as well.

    I really enjoyed your recap and insights on the different puzzles, especially the creative themes and quirky fill.

Comments are closed.