Friday, March 22, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 6:27 (Amy) 


Universal 4:45 (Jim) 


USA Today 4:26 (Darby) 


FYI: No more themed New Yorker crosswords on Fridays. Instead, there’ll be something in the midi-ish vein.

Mansi Kothari & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/22/24 – no. 0322

So much fresh fill in this puzzle! One of the constructors, Mansi Kothari, is also a fresh addition to the roster of crossword constructors, and she’s off to a great start.

Fave fill: EXTRA CHEESE (I ordered light cheese on tonight’s pizza, though), the supremely silly METAL UMLAUT, FIRST-GENERATION (per Merriam-Webster, this can mean either the first generation born in the US to immigrant parents, or the first generation of immigrants to become US citizens … so my husband and his parents meet differing criteria for first-gen status. Sheesh, America! We have enough words here, we couldn’t find a way not to apply the same term to very different things?), FACE OFF, ANIMAL LOVER, GUESSTIMATE, FUN FACTS, CUBBY, WEB OF LIES, HEADLINER, “TALK TO ME,” TRANS PRIDE, and “SAME TO YOU” (though I could actually say that in response to birthday wishes from my brother-in-law and cousin).

I slowed down a lot in the bottom of this puzzle. Sylvan ESSO, NUS looking like lowercase v’s, TINT ([Light shade] could’ve called for a specific color, yeah?), 2000 Miss Universe LARA Dutta, [Tommy in the Hockey Hall of Fame] IVAN (who?? a coach of yore, that’s who … and that feels like a stretch), and [They may be AA or A] for BRAS but making me think of, I dunno, batteries? But hey, I finished the puzzle without any errors, and I appreciate a challenge.

Four stars from me.

Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/22/24 • Fri • Hale • solution • 20240322

Didn’t catch the theme as a I was solving, and there’s neither revealer nor title to help. Each of these wacky phrases starts with an initialism/acronym, which can be unscrambled to discover the original version.

  • 18a. [Shirts for a coders vs. physicists softball game] STEM JERSEYS (Mets jerseys).
  • 24a. [Break-even transactions involving vintage TVs and turntables?] RCA WASHES (car washes).
  • 38a. [One issuing tickets to the over-50 crowd?] AARP TROOPER (paratrooper).
  • 51a. [Animated image of an apple falling on Sir Isaac?] GIF NEWTON (Fig Newton).
  • 59a. [Lab work focused on data storage devices?] USB CULTURES (subcultures).

I didn’t love this theme, but it works well enough.

  • 2d [Brief sketch] APERÇU. Some overlap with précis, but there are nuances.
  • 10d [What love is, per a “Frozen” song] OPEN DOOR.
  • 11d [Earnings report] PAY STUB. Little tricky, could easily have taken a question mark in the clue.
  • 19d [Playful “grr” alternative] RAWR. Seeing this more and more in crosswords.
  • 39d [Spread out at a cocktail party] PÂTÉ. Well, SMÖRGÅSBORD certainly wasn’t going to fit.
  • 27a [Dead set on] WED TO, as an idée fixe.
  • 33a [Making one’s hair stand on end?] TEASING. Conversely (cf. 11d), I don’t feel the question mark is necessary here.
  • 44a [Dudes] MEN. But for many, dude is a gender-neutral term.
  • 55a [ __ you a barrel of laughs”] AREN’T. 63a [Barrel of laughs] RIOT.

Miranda Kany’s Universal crossword, “Expanding Your Mind”—Jim’s review

Theme clues are marked with an asterisk and lead to entries that seem to be missing a letter. These missing letters should be imagined to be OUTSIDE THE BOX (38a, [How to do your best thinking?]). When completed, it turns out the outside letters spell out the word THINKING.

Universal crossword solution · “Expanding Your Mind” · Miranda Kany · Fri., 3.22.24

  • 5d. [*Mock] (T)EASE.
  • 8d. [*Privacy privet] (H)EDGE.
  • 27a. [*Garlicky shrimp dish] SCAMP(I).
  • 50a. [*Welles of old Hollywood] ORSO(N).
  • 57d. [*Pirate ship feature] PLAN(K).
  • 55d. [*Hawaiian porch] LANA(I).
  • 51a. [*Straight’s partner, or like a strait] (N)ARROW.
  • 31a. [*Thanks for dinner] (G)RACE.

Very nice. I’m sure I’ve seen this type of theme before, but maybe not exactly like this. I like the elegant touches of having the missing letters spell out THINKING, the regularity of how those letters are spaced out, as well as having the theme words in the grid still be valid (though unclued) crossword entries. Well conceived and executed theme.

Fave bits of fill: LONG JOHNS, JOSTLE, BIRD NEST, BRONCO, EL DORADO, ANDORRA, MARXIST, and “IT’S A DEAL!” I must have seen the word JACARANDA at some point, because, while it didn’t come to me straight away, I got it with a lot of help from the crossings. I wonder if that J crossing with JUS caused trouble for some solvers.

Clues of note:

  • 34a. [They’re practiced in pre-K]. ABCS. I’m not sure why this threw me, but I stuck with ARTS for too long.
  • 58a. [Flowery tropical tree]. JACARANDA. Do a google search and you’ll see plenty more gorgeous images of this tree.

4.25 stars from me.


Sally Hoelscher’s USA Today crossword, “Deep Red”—Darby’s recap

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme: Each theme answer is a Down answer, and the last three letters spell out RED, putting it DEEP in the puzzle.

Theme Answers

Sally Hoelscher's USA Today crossword, "Deep Red" solution for 3/22/2024

Sally Hoelscher’s USA Today crossword, “Deep Red” solution for 3/22/2024

  • 3d [“Show some respect!”] IS NOTHING SACRED?
  • 10d [“That’s not worth my time”] I CAN’T BE BOTHERED
  • 17d [Having grown up in a certain place] BORN AND BRED

I loved how smart this theme was, but it’s also so simple. None of the themers use RED as a word in them, and SACRED, BOTHERED, and BRED don’t even sound similar, making them each distinct. I appreciated the length of these, though I needed some help from the crosses to get the phrases themselves in 3d and 10d. I’m guessing this contributed to some extent to my longer solve time than usual.

This grid is also clean and symmetric, and I really liked the )-shaped black square sets in the center from an aesthetic perspective. Plus, the clues incorporated some fun wordplay that was both USA Today friendly (in their ease) and very clever. 17a [Place for a cardinal to get a drink] BIRD BATH is one example, and 49a [Olympians using bows] ARCHERS is another. I was thinking of ARTEMIS and APOLLO for 49a before realizing what sort of Olympians I was dealing with, and admittedly, I thought of religious bishops in 17a first. Other fave fill included 21d [“Pay no attention what I said”] IGNORE ME, 20a [Only U.S. state with a nonrectangular flag] OHIO, and 40a [Irish author O’Brien] EDNA.

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33 Responses to Friday, March 22, 2024

  1. Dan says:

    Is it clear that the double dots over two letters in Mötley Crüe are *umlauts* ?

    I always thought they were diaereses. Or maybe one is a diaeresis and the other an umlaut?

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Interestingly patchy solving experience. I know UMLAUT but never knew the expression METAL UMLAUT, so I had to wander elsewhere before returning to it. Glad to learn it.
    I found the short fill (the way it was clued) hard to figure out… RAN, NUS, AME, RYE. But then suddenly the long answers would pop into my head: ANIMAL LOVER, GUESSTIMATE, EXTRA CHEESE, and a whole corner would get filled. I agree there was a lot of fresh fill, and the long answers were great, but it came at some cost.
    Favorite clue was the one for BEAK.
    Congratulations to the new constructor!

  3. steve says:

    new constructor of NYT was not in my wheelhouse
    incredible struggle for a friday
    perseverance furthers…….

  4. Eric H says:

    NYT: They fooled me with 6A’s “Toast, say.” I was imagining raised glasses. I don’t know the “Parks and Recreation” actress, so I ended up with a mini alphabet run for the R — and immediately realized that I had misread “Toast.”

    Nice fill and a few clever clues added up to a fun puzzle.

    • Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

      If you char my toast, I am not going to be happy. Nor was I happy with this puzzle.

      • pannonica says:

        Yes but if you toast something non-bready, you may char it, intentionally or not.

        • PJ says:

          I’m not seeing the two verbs as meaning the same thing. I think of toasting as turning something brown and tasty while I think of charring as turning something black and not tasty. But I don’t view searing as the same thing as charring.

    • JohnH says:

      That letter didn’t work for me either. I left it unfinished. Ditto with BRA / LARA, although there I should have worked it out. I’m not sure I wanted to earn about ESSO either, although I’m sure the usual clue (the gas company) is getting tired. Glad I eventually pulled SANAA out of memory, given that nasty crossing.

      METAL UMLAUT was new to me, although I had the second word quickly and knew that the group was metal. But entirely fair. OTOH, I never did understand why animals are petty. I’m grateful for the explanation below, although not convinced. It left me wondering whether a petty officer or Tom Petty is an animal.

  5. Mutman says:

    NYT: I was Naticked at SANAA/NADU. I’m sure the better educated here knew that since I see no complaints.

    lol. Thought LEO was the July birthday celebrant, until it showed up later.

    Personally, I hate the word GUESSTIMATE. Was something ever wrong with ‘estimate’?? And since I’m ranting, ASK as a noun annoys me.

    Nice tough, but fair, Friday!

    • dh says:

      Very similar experience here – DNF because of SANAA/NADU. Same with LEO/USA. And I can probably list a bunch of modern terms (“corpspeak”?) that rub me the wrong way, including the two you cite.

    • pannonica says:

      Guesstimate is a bugbear for me too. Something is either a guess or an estimate. There are degrees of guessing—from wild to educated—but they are still guesses, which are fundamentally different from estimates.

  6. RCook says:

    NYT: SANAA and TAMIL NADU was a natick for me. Also, IVAN/TINT eluded me since I had EVAN/TENT. I was lost on the name, and a TENT is a shade (in a Stumpery sense), so that error went unnoticed until after I had run the alphabet on the previous.

    • Art Shapiro says:

      NYT: Didn’t remember NADU either, like a bunch of us. But we do see SANAA frequently-enough to be vaguely in the back of one’s head. Of course, I can never remember if it’s SANAA or SAANA, but the double-A makes it a “gotta-remember” word.

      Completely different subject: Papa John & Martin; did you check the machine for a rogue proxy server? I’ve seen that do really weird stuff by intercepting URLs.

      • Papa John says:

        I did not, mainly because I have no idea what that is. Martin has been replaced by my local computer repair shop. He’s going to take look at it on Monday. I’ll mention your suggestion. Thanks, Art. Guys like you and Martin make this site special, along with a host of others.

  7. Mani says:

    Why is an “Animal lover” a petty person?

  8. David L says:

    I started off quickly with the NYT then decelerated until I eventually finished. Trouble spots were CHAR/ASU/RETTA (don’t know the last name, and as others have said, toast and char are kinda different) and then the SE corner. I had ISSO before correcting to AMSO, no idea about IVAN, and ‘ring bearer’ for TREE is a stretch, even with the question mark.

    But hey, NADU was a gimme for me, so that section was fine. Good puzzle.

    • Dallas says:

      I liked “ring bearer” for TREE… made me smile :-) A lot to like in this puzzle, though I had to run the alphabet to get the N in SANAA / NADU… hopefully I’ll remember it for a while.

  9. Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

    Is The New Yorker going to offer these inane mini puzzles on Thursday & Friday going forward? I am obviously not a fan, nor do I generally care for the Agard/Collins/Husic/Last offerings, so I will have to seriously rethink whether it is worth subscribing for the pleasure of the occasional Berry/Gorski/[insert other traditionalists here] offering.

    • Eric H says:

      The New Yorker’s announcement of the changes to its puzzle lineup made it sound like the mini/midi puzzles will be the Thursday and Friday offerings going forward. I’m not a big fan of that format, either.

      We had a trial subscription to the magazine and our new subscription rate is going to be more than twice what we were paying. Guess I’ll have to start reading the articles.

      • David L says:

        I’ve been doing the New Yorker puzzles without a subscription. I used to subscribe, and I like the magazine, but I ended up with stacks of them that I never had time to read.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        FWIW, I’ve been getting TNY puzzles using the CrosswordScraper browser extension for several years now. So, you don’t need to subscribe if you want to continue doing their puzzles, assuming you don’t mind feeling a little guilt.

    • anna g says:

      if you aren’t a fan of midis or the full-sized puzzles already offered it seems like it’s a venue you should focus less on, and find other puzzles that gives you enjoyment! change that [very] to a [not], yknow?

    • marciem says:

      I’m not happy at all with the change-up, though I tended to skip the Thursday (for beginners) puzzles. I did enjoy the Friday themers. I can’t help but wonder why they are having easier than peasy puzzles that are not as challenging as what you find/found in the paper xword books at checkout stands. Are they trying to attract a younger (under 10) age group to get them hooked on xwords? Is that the demographic that reads TNY?

    • JohnH says:

      I subscribe for the magazine, but I’m going to ignore the minis. A lot of good things have been cut back, like the opening arts listing, and articles this week leaned heavily toward the culture industry. The classic investigative articles are largely gone.

    • Seattle DB says:

      It sounds to me like TNY’er is joining most other print-media by making cutbacks. But at least we still have the M-W 15×15 puzzles.

  10. Seattle DB says:

    LAT – I liked the constructor’s puzzle overall creativity, and the editor did a pretty good job. 4 stars from me.

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