Monday, March 25, 2024

BEQ tk (Matthew) 


LAT 1:54 (Stella) 


NYT 2:26 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 5:58 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:43 (Jim) 


Shannon Rapp & Will Eisenberg’s New York Times crossword —Sophia’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is a phrase in which the second word is a baseball position.

New York Times, 03 25 2024, By Shannon Rapp and Will Eisenberg

  • 20a [Woven creation of the Ojibwe people] – DREAM CATCHER
  • 29a [Thick liquid poured on a hot griddle] – PANCAKE BATTER
  • 47a [Emma Stone’s co-star on Showtime’s “The Curse”] – NATHAN FIELDER
  • 56a [Pour thing?] – WATER PITCHER

Hello baseball fans! This is a timely puzzle as the MLB opening day is on this Thursday, March 28. I for one am very excited for another season of watching the Seattle Mariners almost make it to the playoffs before fumbling the bag at the last minute. (Fun fact: the Mariners are the only MLB team to never have been in a World Series, and they get clued that way in the NYT basically every time they’re mentioned. Kind of depressing, really).

This was a great set of theme answers. I caught onto what was going on at PANCAKE BATTER, and that helped greatly with the rest of the puzzle. NATHAN FIELDER might trip people up, especially due to the clueing – I personally know him more from “Nathan For You” and “The Rehearsal”, but this was his most recent big project. Plus, the theme means that folks likely only need a few letters of his last name to be able to fill in the rest. Side note, it’s funny that Emma Stone is referenced in one theme clue, and then the WATER PITCHER clue was [Pour thing?] given that she just won the Best Actress Oscar… for the movie “Poor Things”.

Loved the fill in the puzzle overall, particularly the two long downs of BAKED POTATO and IT’S A DRY HEAT. Lots of other fun stuff too, like NIRVANA, HOT TAKE, and the pairing of HAWAII and LEI. My favorite clue by far was [Massachusetts peninsula, with “the”] for CAPE – this is a reference to Cape Cod. I write a monthly puzzle for a local paper there called the Provincetown Independent, check it out if you’re interested.

Congrats to the constructors for a great puzzle, and a special shout out to Will for his NYT debut!

Kelly Ball’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Board Meeting”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words are keyboard KEYS (57d, [Items finishing 17-, 27-, 44- and 59-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Board Meeting” · Kelly Ball · Mon., 3.25.24

  • 17a. [*Late for work?] NIGHT SHIFT. What’s this end-of-the-week clue doing here on a Monday?
  • 27a. [*On a leash, say] UNDER CONTROL.
  • 44a. [*Treat] PICK UP THE TAB.
  • 59a. [*Steps taken in an emergency?] FIRE ESCAPE. A little tricky, but a good clue.

Very nice, accessible theme for a Monday. I like that the keys in question are common to both Mac and PCs (no Win, Alt, Option, or Command keys), and the entries are all common, in-the-language terms. A good set.

Fill is smooth throughout with highlights TINDERBOX and CROCODILE. The only clunky bit of crosswordese I spy is ELHI.

Clues of note:

  • 35d. [Nile reptile]. CROCODILE. Love the rhyming here.
  • 53d. [“In ___ veritas”]. VINO. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase, and it sounds like a joke, but it’s got a long history.

Smooth start to the week. Four stars.

Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 3/25/24 by Amy Johnson

Los Angeles Times 3/25/24 by Amy Johnson

I don’t usually learn something from the theme of a Monday crossword, but this time I did! The revealer at 56A [Words said over a lit birthday cake, and upon the start of 17-, 26-, or 42-Across] is MAKE A WISH, because each theme entry starts with something you make a wish on:

  • 17A [Box office attraction] is STAR POWER; you wish upon a STAR.
  • 26A [Ancient vintner’s quaff] is DANDELION WINE; you wish on a DANDELION when it’s gone from yellow flower to fluffy seeds and it’s time to blow the seeds away. I would’ve liked to see this clued as the Ray Bradbury novel for a little more distance in meaning between DANDELION in the theme phrase and the wish-on-one meaning — I’m not sure asking folks to know that it’s an [Ancient vintner’s quaff] is any less trivial knowledge than the novel title!
  • 42A [Makeup bag contraption] is an EYELASH CURLER. No difference in the meaning of EYELASH here, and today is when I learned that wishing on a fallen eyelash while tossing it over your shoulder is a thing.

Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 3/25/24 – Pasco

This one was easier for me than the usual Monday New Yorker, but I don’t know if the Monday challenge level has been eased up with the cutback to three themelesses a week. Thoughts?

Fave fill: DEEP CUTS, cricket TEST MATCHES, PIECRUST (no lard, please), Kirsten DUNST (she played Mary Jane Watson in some Spider-Man films), WEBISODE, director CELINE SONG (if you haven’t seen Past Lives yet, track it down; so good!), MATING DANCE, NERFED (I learned this word when Pokémon Go nerfed Blissey; still irked), PAT THE BUNNY, POTATO SALAD. There’s lots of other really good fill, offset a little by SYSTS, DEES, plural YOGAS, and SATRAPS.

A few more things:

  • 12d. [Look-alike of a Greek question mark], SEMICOLON. I did not know that!
  • 22a. [Rolls on a conveyor belt?], SUSHI TRAIN. Never encountered the term SUSHI TRAIN before.
  • 29a. [What one may do up and down], SWEAR. Love this clue.

3.75 stars from me.

Deanne Cliburn and Shannon Rapp’s Universal crossword, “Newbies” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/25/24 • Mon • “Newbies” • Cliburn, Rapp • solution • 20240325

Today we’re just prefixing Bs to the beginnings of both words in two-word phrases.

  • 16a. [Skirmish at a wedding dress shop?] BRIDES BOUT (rides out).
  • 23a. [Boston hockey player sculpted out of a dairy product?] BUTTER BRUIN (utter ruin).
  • 34a. [Shiny bracelets?] BRIGHT BANGLES (right angles).
  • 47a. [Getting sand in your bikini bottom, say?] BEACH BOTHER (each other). Confirming that it’s an orthographic theme rather than one that maintains the phonetic component. Or you can observe that this one entry is an outlier.
  • 57a. [Interfere with a radar system?] BLOCK BLIPS (lock lips).

Works, but feeling kind of blah about the phrases.

  • 7d [Raise, as morale] BOOST. This and the combo of BLUR/BLAH (55a/d) are the only non-theme B appearances.
  • 10a [ __ pal] GAL. I leapt in with PEN.
  • 39a [Bourbon alternative] RYE. Both are whiskeys; RYE must be made from at least 51% rye grain, while bourbon requires the same minimum percentage of corn.
  • 52a [Experiencing little to no romantic attraction, for short] ARO. The ‘ro’ is short for romantic, so this seems like a strong duplication to me.

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18 Responses to Monday, March 25, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: A classic Monday! Smooth, easy, coherent, with fun fill. I didn’t know NATHAN FIELDER but had absolutely no trouble filling in this entry by working the crosses. One can argue that it’s the only person among the theme entries, but the others are diverse enough that it felt fine to me.
    Mostly, I appreciate the smoothness. Bravo.

    • Zach says:

      Nathan Fielder is hands down my favorite comedian, so I was so excited to see him as an entry! If you haven’t watched Nathan For You or The Rehearsal, they are great. Both are streaming on HBO.

  2. JohnH says:

    For the WSJ, “In vino veritas” is sure old news to me. POPO not so, but it works.

  3. David L says:

    TNY: Nice puzzle, certainly somewhat easier than some Mondays (depends on the constructor, of course)

    Speaking of which, are Mr. Agard and Mr. Last still on board with the New Yorker? I’m assuming the reason for the scheduling cutback comes down to money. The mag was paying editors and constructors but (I’m guessing) not seeing returns in whatever form they might have been expecting (subscriptions, ad clicks, etc)

  4. marciem says:

    NYT: Loved the reference to the humuhumunukunukuapua’a ! Had to watch “Little Grass Shack” hula

    and look at pictures of this beautiful reef fish :

  5. JT says:

    NYT – dang, I totally missed that theme on this one, it was just a fun puzzle to me and I was wondering why there seemed like several theme-ish answers but no connecting clue.

  6. Eric H says:

    TNY: I too found it relatively easy for a Monday New Yorker offering, but it’s too early in their new puzzle schedule for me to know if this represents the new normal. Very enjoyable, in any case.

    There are often lots of complaints about proper names in puzzles. I don’t mind them as much as some people, and with this puzzle, ARTOO and LEANN were some of my first answers.

    I hadn’t known or remembered that Andre AGASSI boycotted Wimbledon, and I was surprised when the “Portrayer of Watson” turned out to be Kristen DUNST — all I could think of was the Robert Downey, Jr. “Sherlock Holmes.” (Maybe that’s what Mr. Pasco intended.)

    I was 10 when “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was published, so Eric CARLE’s books were not part of my childhood. But it wasn’t a leap to assume that he had also written “The Very Lonely Firefly.”

    Lots of fun clues: I particularly liked DEEP CUTS (I started with jEEP-something) and SUSHI TRAIN (a term that’s new to me).

    ONE-HIT crossing DEEP CUTS prompts me to question whether, if a musical artist is a ONE-HIT wonder, is the rest of their catalog all DEEP CUTS?

    • JohnH says:

      CARLE crossing the director was a DNF for me, and I had no idea what to make of SUSHI TRAIN or DEEP CUTS.

      • Eric H says:

        I can’t help you on SUSHI TRAIN. My guess would be some sort of sampling plate.

        My understanding of DEEP CUTS is that they’re album tracks that were never released as singles. I knew the term but the clue misdirected me.

        I didn’t recognize the director’s name, but the crosses were gentle enough that I got it.

      • Pavel says:

        Many popular sushi restaurants have a bar for seating and some kind of conveyor belt running along the front of it with small plates of food on it. Diners simply grab whatever they like from the belt and, at the end, are charged based on the empty plates in front of them.

        Some of these belts are watery, with little boats carrying the food, and I now assume that others resemble trains.

        • Eric H says:


          I haven’t had sushi in about 30 years.

        • JohnH says:

          Thanks. The tech-driven picture is new to me, but then I associate sushi, at least in NYC, with everything very much handiwork. Have to say, a pie crust as a coating grates on me.

          Up in the corner with DEEP CUTS (thanks there, too for an explanation, although the combo of not knowing the phrase and the very, very, very indirect clue making it impossible), I also had problems with DOTTY as eccentric rather than crazy, STEP TO as not idiomatic to me, IRC, Happy Days (which I truly hated), and ONWARDS. I hope I never see the spelling with a final S again. Funny to think of the kids in Lord of the Flies as tweens, but I guess so. I was just short of tween-age when I was assigned it in school.

          And, again, I might not have had a problem with the director if it weren’t crossing CARLE, no doubt a children’s book author after my childhood. I also didn’t remember that Mary Jane in Spiderman (which I haven’t read since I was maybe 8 or 10 and have no interest in the Marvel studio movies) had a last name.

          Anyway, you can see that I wasn’t going to find this accessible or even slightly enjoyable. Just another TNY trivia night.

          • Eric H says:

            It sounds like I didn’t know a whole lot more than you did. But sometimes that’s all it takes.

  7. Burak says:

    I’m amazed that this NYT was never done before! It was very smooth and lively for a Monday puzzle, good one.

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