Monday, March 18, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 2:00 (Stella) 


NYT 2:48 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 6:06 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 3:34 (Jim) 


Trent H. Evans’s New York Times crossword —Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is a phrase in which the second word is a geographic area, and they gradually get larger throughout the puzzle.

New York Times, 03 18 2024, By Trent H. Evans

  • 17a [In Europe, it’s known as a “twin town”] – SISTER CITY
  • 29a [Hotly contested area in a U.S. election] – PURPLE STATE
  • 45a [France, for the 2024 Olympics] – HOST COUNTRY
  • 60a [Extraterrestrial’s home, to us] – ALIEN WORLD

A simple theme, but elegantly executed in terms of the progression. I kind of wanted there to be another layer to it – why these phrases as opposed to any others? – but that’s not always necessary on a Monday, and I do like the phrases Trent chose. I tried “swing state” prior to PURPLE STATE, and it took me a minute to get ALIEN WORLD (I tried “home planet” first, even though that doesn’t really work with the clue). HOST COUNTRY is nicely topical, I’m excited to watch the Paris games this Summer!

Some notes on the rest of the puzzle:

  • Great longer answers overall: BUSYBODIES, DON’T ASK, JUMPSTART, ALOHA PARTY (a new concept for me).
  • The middle of the puzzle felt like a reference to Joey Tribbiani on Friends, between MOOT POINT and “How ya DOIN“? (If you know you know). There were also double Star Wars references in ARTOO and PADME.
  • KRONA was definitely the hardest piece of fill for me – I know it, but I can never remember if it begins with a K or a C or ends with an A or an E. A little tough for a Monday in my opinion, but gettable due to the easy crosses. That and ABBIE Hoffman felt like the only potentially non-Monday fill, the rest is super clean.
  • Clue highlights: [Took in some takeout?] for ATE, [Artist who co-authored a book about his mustache] for DALI, [Game show icon Trebek] for ALEX.

Jake Halperin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Imperative Mood”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words are (collectively) DON’T JUST STAND THERE! The revealer is “DO SOMETHING!” (59a, [Call to action at times heard after the starts of 16-, 24-, 38- and 47-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Imperative Mood” · Jake Halperin · Mon., 3.18.24

  • 16a. [“Pretty sure that’s a negative”] “DON’T THINK SO.”
  • 24a. [“No reason”] “JUST BECAUSE.”
  • 38a. [“Hold this position!”] “STAND YOUR GROUND!”
  • 47a. [“How fortuitous in spite of the grim outlook!”] “THERE IS A GOD!”

Enjoyable theme. I especially like the colloquial nature of each clue and entry, ensuring a very lively theme.

Fillwise, SINGLE MAN feels a bit green painty, but PUT AT RISK, MENTORS, and Jim PARSONS are assets to the grid.

Clues of note:

  • 7d. [Classic “If you build it, they will come” project?]. ARK. So…not a baseball field?
  • 14d. [Drink request]. NO ICE. I also would have accepted [Slangy “Excellent!”] or [Aussie “Awesome!”].

3.5 stars.

Mary Crane’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/18/24 by Mary Crane

Los Angeles Times 3/18/24 by Mary Crane

The revealer at 59A [Minnesota medical center, or where one might learn how to prepare 17-, 28-, 36-, and 43-Across?] is MAYO CLINIC, a renowned treatment center named after a Dr. MAYO that can also be punnily read as “mayonnaise clinic.” Which is how you’d learn to make these four foods that feature a heavy mayonnaise component:

  • 17A [Hors d’oeuvre often seasoned with paprika] is a DEVILED EGG.
  • 28A [Picnic side dish] is POTATO SALAD.
  • 36A [Creamy dip for buffalo wings] is RANCH DRESSING.
  • 43A [New England seafood sandwich] is a LOBSTER ROLL.

Not coincidentally, these are four very excellent foods. Make your own RANCH DRESSING! 1:1:1 ratio of mayonnaise, buttermilk, and sour cream; add salt, pepper, and minced chives to taste, put it all in a Mason jar, and shake like hell for 30 seconds. You’re welcome.

Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “That’s an Order!” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/18/24 • Mon • “That’s an Order!” • Coulter • solution • 20240318

Two-word phrases beginning with ordinal numbers, recontextualized.

  • 17a. [Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel and Seth?] FIRST FAMILY. Not the that of the president.
  • 30a. [Venus?] SECOND WORLD, as only Mercury is closer to the Sun. Not this.
  • 45a. [Ph.D.?] THIRD DEGREE, after bachelor’s and master’s. Not a measure of intensity.
  • 60a. [D?] FOURTH GRADE, below A, B, and C, of course. Not the elementary school cohort.

Solid little theme.

  • 13d [Flower holders] POT. Symmetrically paired with 52d [Vase defect] CHIP.
  • 28d [Chow line?] LEASH. The dog breed, sometimes called Chow Chow.
  • 29d [Group known for raising rackets?] TENNIS TEAM. I immediately understood the gist of the misdirection, but needed several crossings to figure out the answer.
  • 21a [What can be added to impress?] -IVE, as a suffix. The clue fooled me.
  • 34a [Use as a rendezvous] MEET AT.
  • 48a [Most frequent letters in “Sean Lennon”] ENS. A callback to 16a [Yoko whose son is Sean Lennon] ONO.
  • 64a [Student getting one-on-one help] TUTEE. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing this word.

A nice, modest Monday diversion.

Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 3/18/24 – Gorski

A little bit easier than I was expecting, more like a pliable Saturday NYT than a typical Monday New Yorker.

Fave fill: the MONTREALER and their DERRIERE, STUDIO ALBUM, DAILY KOS (I wasn’t entirely sure it was still a going concern, but it’s there with brand-new content), CBD OIL, VIOLET, HOLOGRAM. Not so keen on clunkier bits like plural abbrevs GDS, ETS, and SGTS; AVI, HAI, T-TOP, ACT I, dreadful crosswordese prefix OENO (been a while since I’ve seen that one!), and the rarely seen singular AGENDUM.

New to me: 43a. [Concert pianist Evgeny], KISSIN. Here’s his Wikipedia page for a glance at his life story. He’s 52, so very much in the midst of his career.

Three stars from me.

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25 Responses to Monday, March 18, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Yea, a nice Monday!
    Question: If you have a foreign born colleague who says “it’s a mute point” instead of moot point, would you correct her? She’s been saying it for years in meetings and such, and no one has said anything… Maybe it’s too late?
    If I mess up like that, I hope people will correct me– I can alway count on my kids– they explained to me when they were in grade school that I’d been saying amphitheater incorrectly because I pronounced the ph as a is it were an f not a p.. (I still have to inhibit what I think of as the right pronunciation).

    • John L. says:

      Yes, I would correct someone who always says “mute” instead of “moot”, BUT pronouncing “amphitheater” with an “f” sound is absolutely correct! Looks like a deduction in in your kids’ inheritance is in order.

    • Eric H says:

      If you correct your colleague in a discreet and respectful way (which judging from your comments, I think you would), I’d expect she would appreciate it.

      And you can pronounce “amphitheater” with or without the P sound, according to my dictionary.

      • huda says:

        Thank you for the inout @John L and Eric H!
        I’m happy to hear that the “f” sound is acceptable for amphitheater!

      • JohnH says:

        MW has it with the f as preferred but without as a legit alternative. RHUD has only the first. I was surprised enough that I’ve been repeating it aloud and in my head all day (much as a personal report is flawed evidence). I can force the f sound only if I work hard and linger over it. Otherwise, I can’t say I omit it. Rather, I just can’t hear the difference.

        If someone says something is a moot point more than twice in a year’s worth of meetings, it’s time to come up with something new, however it’s pronounced.

  2. PJ says:

    [redacted Wordle spoiler]
    That’s a hard one!

    moderator note: This is not from the PJ that we all know here at DoaCF –pannonica

  3. David L says:

    You JUMPSTART a car, not the battery… Straightforward Monday puzzle apart from that silly error.

    • DougC says:

      That bugged me, too. You recharge a battery. You jump-start a car.

      Otherwise, a very smooth and fast Monday puzzle. The progression theme was exceptionally well done!

    • Martin says:

      86,000,000 hits would seem to imply that people say it.

      • Mike H says:

        Hi Martin – without quotation marks on the search you get all instances where the three words occur so 86 million is a big overstatement.
        That said, however, “Jump start battery” gives about 259,000 results, compared to “Jump start car” giving about 389,000 results – not a huge difference.
        Google’s auto-complete really wants “car” when typing “jump start…” – when I typed “jump start battery…” it suggested “pack” or “charger”.

        • DougC says:

          The fact that at least 259,000 people apparently misunderstand how a JUMPSTART works is certainly unfortunate, but does not change the reality of the physics involved.

          To JUMPSTART is to use someone else’s (charged) battery to start your car. This process does nothing to your car’s dead battery. It just connects another car’s battery to your car’s electrical system, thereby allowing you to use their battery power to crank your engine.

          • JohnH says:

            English usage isn’t physics, so while I wouldn’t say this, I can’t dismiss it as wrong either.

        • Martin says:

          Nonetheless, if y9u scan the first few pages of hits of my original (unquoted) search, you see that most are to citations using wording like the disputed clue. (“Jump start battery” precludes a lot of relevant hits, like “How do you jump start a battery?,” by the way.)


          Some of the “people” who refer to jump starting a battery in those first couple of pages of citations include Kelly Blue Book, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Edmunds, Progressive Insurance, Valvoline and Midtronics (makers of professional battery testers). It’s unlikely that these organizations don’t understand how a jumpstart works. It’s more like that they recognize that common speech is sometimes technically imprecise.

          • David L says:

            Regardless, it’s just as easy to clue jumpstart correctly, so it bugs me that the puzzle would choose a poor usage.

  4. Me says:

    NYT: I agree with Sophia. It’s a fine puzzle, but with an NYT puzzle, I’m looking for more to the theme than just CITY-STATE-COUNTRY-WORLD. The first words in the phrases should have some link, or something.

  5. Siberian Khatru says:

    LAT: The clue at 36A is wrong. Blue cheese dressing is the only acceptable dip for buffalo wings. Ranch dressing is a fine substance, it’s just not the dip for buffalo wings.

  6. Mike H says:

    TNY is far from its usual “challenging” level today. Not only did I complete it without cheats (very rare on Mondays) I finished in under 10 minutes without trying for speed. I enjoyed the puzzle.

    • Eric H says:

      It was easier than the typical New Yorker Monday for me, too.

      Between a gazillion typos, not knowing the members of Mötley Crüe, and having no idea who write “An American Marriage” or what the subject of “A World Beneath the Sands” is, I finished around 10 and a half. (17 or 18 minutes is more typical for me.)

      Much as I liked seeing “Jeremiad” in a clue, I didn’t think it was quite the same thing as a TIRADE. (My dictionary defines it as a “bitter lament.”) But according to Merriam-Webster, TIRADE works.

      It’s a pretty nice puzzle, though I share Amy’s dislike of AGENDUM. You (fortunately) just don’t see that in real life.

    • JohnH says:

      I found it surprisingly hard and name based coming from Gorski. Has she gone over to the TNY dark side?

    • Gary R says:

      Much faster than average for me on a Monday, too.

      Would have been even faster if not for some bad initial guesses in the NW – “acne” before BRAT, “roam” before ROVE, “Eder” before ODER – plus I put the double “Rs” in the wrong place in DERRIERE. It took a little while to untangle that corner.

      Quite a few names, but at least several were familiar – BRODIE (after I fixed that corner a bit), PACINO (I like that movie), HEDY Lamar (although I always want to spell it “Hedi”). I didn’t know Nikki Sixx but am passingly familiar with Motley CRUE. I’ve smoked a few COHIBAs and, for some reason I was aware that Leonard Cohen and William Shatner were/are Canadian (which didn’t fit), so with a few crosses MONTREALER was easy enough to see.

  7. Jim says:

    NYT: 3D Meddling sorts — with BU filled in, BUTTINSKIS seemed such a delightful answer — until the crosses didn’t work.

  8. Brenda Rose says:

    I question why Jim would call SINGLEMAN green painty. What else could a bachelor be?

Comments are closed.