Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Jonesin' 8:14 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni)  


NYT 5:50 (Amy) 


The New Yorker untimed (pannonica) 


Universal untimed (Matt F) 


USA Today tk (Sophia) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Daniel Bodily’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Beginner’s Guide”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are phrases that start with the word “me” and come from well-known fictional characters. The revealer is “DON’T START WITH ME!” (57a, [Words that might begin (or prevent) an argument, and a grammar tip for the three speakers in this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Beginner’s Guide” · Daniel Bodily · Tue., 3.26.24

  • 17a. [Jungle introduction] “ME TARZAN, YOU JANE.” It was crazy trying to parse this with only the first half of the entry.
  • 29a. [Call from a cartoon sailor to his young’un] “ME LITTLE SWEE’PEA.” This isn’t as commonly-known a phrase as the other entries, but it didn’t take me too long to suss it out. Also, Swee’Pea’s parentage is a subject of dispute.
  • 45a. [Cry from a monster before a bit of face-stuffing] “ME EAT COOKIE!” Nom nom nom!

I thought this was cute, especially the way the revealer turns things around and seeks to give advice to our grammatically-challenged heroes. I also like the employment of left/right symmetry due to having three grid-spanners and one 11-letter entry. Nicely designed and executed. I don’t suppose “Me So Horny” would’ve made it into the grid.

In the fill I like “LET ME KNOW” (which doesn’t start with me), PLUS ONE, P.E. TEACHER, GOES BIG, CASITAS, PISTONS, “ZIP IT!,” and CARPORT. How many of us put in SOMEHOW before changing it to SOMEWAY?

Clues of note:

  • 51a. [Flood insurance provider of old?]. ARK. That’s a bit of a stretch. And “of old”? How about “of myth”?
  • 32d. [Spoils]. LOOT. Nice trickeration, making me think this wanted a verb.
  • 46d. [“Shrieking” predators in “The Princess Bride”]. EELS. They alway grow louder when they’re about to feed on human flesh.

Four stars.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free Throw Line” — it’s a themeless! – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/26/24

Jonesin’ solution 3/26/24

Hello lovelies! Matt has graced us with a themeless this week. Let’s go over a few things I learned this week:

  • 6a. [Archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean] COMOROS. The name of this southeastern African country comes from the Arabic قمر or qamar, meaning “moon.”
  • 1d. [“Mr. ___ Passes By” (A.A. Milne play)] PIM. I was expecting an animal name, because I had no clue Milne had been a playwright before his Winnie-the-Pooh works.
  • 6d. [1994 Eurodance hit based on an old American folk song] COTTON EYE JOE. Today I learned that Rednex, who released the song in 1994, is Swedish.
  • 50d. [___-Chee All Season Portfolio (retro school folder)] PEE. It was peachy in color, made of flimsy cardboard, and had handy conversion and multiplication tables on the inside pockets.
Pee-Chee All Season Portfolio

Pee-Chee All Season Portfolio

Thing that brings me back:

  • 24d. [ Gargamel’s prey] SMURFS. I had no smurfing idea that the characters I loved in the 1980s cartoon series were created by Belgian comic artist Peyo. That’s smurftastic!

Things my 7-year-old son knows:

  • 43a. [Dutch astronomer with a namesake “cloud”] OORT. He saw the entry without the clue and said, “That’s the cloud in space.” He then demanded I feed him rather than finish the puzzle. So demanding.

Finally, things I need to tell myself more:

  • 36a. [Advice to one holding tension] UNCLENCH YOUR JAW. If only it were that easy.

Until next week!

Laura Dershewitz & Katherine Baicker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/26/24 – no. 0326

Not sure why this puzzle took me so much longer than usual for a Tuesday. Faglianoesque toughening of clues, as seen this past Saturday?

Pretty much skipped over the theme revealer while solving but love it now that I’ve really looked at it! 34a. [Kind of fallacious argument … or, phonetically, a hint to the answers to the starred clues], AD HOMINEM … sounds like add homonym, which is what’s done to create each themer. HOTEL SUITE SWEET, PIGTAIL TALE, MR. RIGHT RITE, and SECOND-TO-NONE NUN build out the theme.

New to me: 35d. [Painting style with abrupt transitions of color], HARD EDGE. Did not know that was a thing.

Three bits:

  • 39d. [Exam with a capital E], EYE TEST. Dang it, this one got me. I could not rid my mind of standardized tests.
  • 11d. [Phoenix basketball team, familiarly], THE SUNS. That “familiarly” seems useless to me. If it were the Phoenix baseball team, nicknamed the D-backs, sure. But the Phoenix Suns are … the Suns.
  • 6d. [Like checks and balances?], PLURAL. Needed too many crossings to see the ruse. Dang it!

Fave fill: SPROUTS, SCHLEP, TIE IT UP. Not keen on AEON, Italian ORA.

3.75 stars from me.

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 670), “Oh, Geez!”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 670: “Oh, Geez!”

Good day, everybody! Hope you’re doing well and that you close out the end of March in the best way possible! 

All six of our theme entries, to quote the song from Ice-T, are O.G.: Original Gangsters. More specifically, all of the theme entries are two-word answers in which the first word starts with the letter O and the second starts with the letter G.

    • ORANGE GROVE (17A: [Fragrant locale for navel gazing?])
    • OLYMPIA GREECE (24A: [UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ancient games])
    • OWN GOAL (39A: [Soccer game snafu])
    • OKAY GUY (42A: [Convivial chap])
    • OXFORD GEORGIA (53A: [Peach State town named for a university in England])
    • OLIVE GARDEN (63A: [Casual dining chain that serves Toasted Ravioli and Chocolate Lasagna])

Sorry, LOTTE, but the first role I think of when I see your name is not from Broadway, but Colonel Klebb in From Russia with Love (73A: [Lenya from Broadway’s “Cabaret”]). We had other cities intersect the two cities that were involved in the themes, with ANDOVER (46D: [New England prep school]) and PERUGIA, the latter making me very curious about the event mentioned in its clue (6D: [Italian city that hosts the Eurochocolate Festival]). And it just so happens that the timing of the entry is impeccable, as the 2024 edition just ended this past Sunday! Ugh! Now I know one vacation to plan down the line … so long as it doesn’t interfere with March Madness, which it looks like it will do again and again! Chocolate or basketball? Hmmmm….

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: READY (3D: [Poised for action]) – BA trailblazer on the sidelines and behind the microphone, Stephanie Ready is currently an anchor and host for programs on NBA TV. After her playing career at Coppin State, Ready was named as an assistant coach on the CSU men’s basketball team, making her the third woman to ever be an assistant coach on a Division I men’s basketball team. She then turned her attention to TV, and in 2015, she became the first full-time female NBA analyst when she was named to that role for Charlotte Hornets telecasts.

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

Take care!


Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Cute Tuesday theme!

Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2024, Ed Sessa, solution grid

  • 17a [*Consider carefully] is MEDITATE ON.
  • 21a [*Transformative beauty treatment] is a MAKEOVER.
  • 54a [*Talk back (to)] is MOUTH OFF.
  • 59a [*Divvy up] is MEASURE OUT. This one sounds a bit off to my ear. Google Ngram suggests that it’s not as odd as I thought.

Measure out vs mete out

And the revealer: 36a [Plan of action, as “initially” found in the answers to the starred clues?] is MODUS OPERANDI. Solid and clear.

A few other things:

  • Always happy to see a reference to baseball, especially to the YANKEEs. It’s almost Opening Day!
  • FATHA Hines was quite something.

  • Is the “breakfast test” still a thing? There are so many ways to clue MUNICH without reference to the 1972 Olympics. I didn’t need a reminder of the massacre of Israeli athletes today. Not that there is a day when I need to be reminded.
  • [Earlier] is a perfectly fine clue for AGO and it always seems odd to me. Not sure why.
  • Mmm, steak FRITES.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that MASERATI makes the Gran Turismo.

Universal Crossword Review by Matt F

Title: Flip the Switch
Constructor: Drew Schmenner
Editor: David Steinberg

Universal Solution 03.26.2024

Theme Synopsis:

We have a letter substitution puzzle today, explained by the revealer:

  • 58A – Suddenly become charming … or, parsed differently, the rule for formulating 18-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across? = TURN IT ON

That phrase, “turn it on,” ties in nicely with the puzzle title, but when re-parsed as suggested, we can move the spaces to make: TURN I TO N. Let’s see what that does to our theme answers:

  • 18A – “Go there to fill the bucket for our castle”? = THAT SAND (that said)
  • 23A – Home videos of Nana? = GRANNY FOOTAGE (grainy footage)
  • 38A – Riches that went up in smoke? = BURNED TREASURE (buried treasure)
  • 50A – Developers’ winning proposals? = BEST LAND PLANS (best laid plans)

Overall Impressions

These types of themes can feel corny with their wacky grid entries, but I had a nice “aha” moment after I grasped the revealer and circled back to make the substitution in the grid entries. All the phrases are nice and in the language. Nothing too egregious in the fill, either, with some nice longer stuff like LLAMA FARM, STAY MAD, and STEP ON IT.

Thanks for the puzzle,  Drew!

Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up

New Yorker • 3/26/24 • Tue • Liu • solution • 20240326

Struck by the sinuous quality of the grid design.

The other takeaway from this crossword is the difficulty level. The New Yorker is not distinguished by rigorous consistency in assigning daily difficulty levels, but this seemed far easier than their typical Tuesday offerings. So, too soon to speculate whether it’s an adjustment to the new three-standard-puzzles-a-week schedule, or just the usual deviation.

  • 18a [Yo-yos] DING-DONGS. These must be nouns rather than the verbs I first took them for.
  • 21a [Beer whose logo depicts Huilan Pavilion] TSINGTAO, preserving the old Wade-Giles transliteration. The Pinyin version would be Qīngdao.
  • 22a [Ingredient in a fancy mimosa, for short] FRESH OJ. Makes a difference, right?
  • 30a [Womp-womp] SAD TROMBONE. I had no idea these things were equivalent! Thought “womp-womp” represented a more aggressive sentiment.
  • 34a [Words accompanying a reality check?] I’M NOT A ROBOT. Nice clue.
  • 1d [Cartoon characters who wear Phrygian caps] SMURFS. This is such a New Yorker clue.
  • 9d [Freezing cold] ALGID, not GELID. There’s an interesting note accompanying the definition at m-w: Algid is a rather cold and lonely word, etymologically speaking-it’s the only word in any of the dictionaries we publish that comes from the Latin word algēre, meaning ‘to feel cold.’ Also, English speakers have warmed to its many synonyms-among them ‘cold,’ ‘frigid,’ ‘arctic,’ ‘chill’-much more readily than they’ve taken to ‘algid.’ Even its compatriot, ‘gelid’-also a Latin-derived adjective that can describe ice and arctic temperatures-has managed to outpace it in most decades of the approximately 400 years the words have been in use. In one context, though, ‘algid’ does something its synonyms don’t: it describes a severe form of malaria that is marked by prostration, cold and clammy skin, and low blood pressure-a meaning that probably hasn’t done much to endear the more general use to speakers of English.”
  • 35a [Tree animals, say?] TOPIARY. More like hedges or shrubs, but I suppose we can shape the language a little in service of wordplay.
  • 40d [Fusion genre that emerged from SoundCloud in the twenty-tens] EMO RAP. Did not know the source, nor did I realize it was as recent as that.
  • 46d [Academy entrant] CADET. I suspected there was a shared etymology here, but not so.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Tuesday, March 26, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: That revealer was silly, in the best way. it really made me smile and it helped me do this in average time for me.
    Liked the little tidbits of info I picked up– re CROATIA and the HARD EDGE which was also new to me (felt better that it was new to Amy as well).

    • DougC says:

      I absolutely agree that the “revealer was silly, in the best way.” This was just a delightfully amusing puzzle, and the most entertaining Tuesday in quite a while!

      My time was slightly above average, mainly because the puzzle was modestly tricky in ways that I didn’t expect on a Tuesday. I had to give myself a (metaphorical) forehead slap, for instance, when it dawned on me which test begins with a capital E: of course! (Duh). I was also embarrassingly slow to pick up on the theme, but I loved it when I finally saw it. I was slowed down by my own too modest expectations, and delighted to have them exceeded so thoroughly!

      Kudos to Ms. Dershewitz and Ms. Baicker, for a terrific Tuesday puzzle!

  2. Balletopedia says:

    I really enjoyed the fill but didn’t care for the theme.

  3. marciem says:

    NYT vs. TNY: I actually found today’s NYT a tad tougher than TNY, which is unusual to say the least. Hope it all settles in with the new goings-on.

    TNY: “35a [Tree animals, say?]” Nice clue, but “bush animals, say?” might have worked even better and evoked something Australian (dingo? nope.. emu? nope.. echidna? maybe?) for a second or so?

    • Eric H says:

      The NYT took me a few minutes longer than usual. The New Yorker took me a few seconds less than my NYT Tuesday average.

      The New Yorker is a puzzle. The stack in the center is particularly lively. I saw SAD TROMBONE in a puzzle last week (BEQ, maybe) and was interested to see it again so soon.

  4. David L says:

    Nice NYT theme but I didn’t understand the revealer. Hominem didn’t make me think of homonym.

    TNY: Definitely easier than expected. Still wondering, as yesterday, whether Agard and Last are off the team (too much hatemail, perhaps?)

    • Eric H says:

      I didn’t quite understand the NYT revealer, either. To me, “hominem” and “homonym” don’t sound the same.

      I also didn’t know that “ad hominem” can mean an appeal to emotion rather than logic, which fits the revealer better than the idea of a personal attack (which is what I thought “ad hominem” meant).

    • WordsFailMe says:

      I’ve heard that they are both removed from the list of constructors.

    • Erik and Natan can speak for themselves, but I haven’t heard that they were let go, and more importantly I find this idle speculation about whether they’ve been dismissed from the New Yorker to be incredibly weird at best. The New Yorker announced they were replacing two of the weekly themeless 15×15 crosswords with mini-puzzles; they made zero announcement that they were dismissing anyone from their themeless rotation. Why would you assume this means any of them had to be dropped when it’s been only one week since they announced the changes, and why’d you pick Erik and Natan in particular? Because a handful of people in the Crossword Fiend comment section have written mean things about them?

      If you’re not a fan of their puzzles, then that’s a shame, but personally I think they do good work. Just accept that other New Yorker puzzles might be more to your liking and move on with your day instead of using this as an opportunity to invite people to be cruel to them.

      • David L says:

        Oh, come on, Evan. Their puzzles are polarizing, and you know it. I’m not inviting people to be cruel. I’m wondering whether the New Yorker has done surveys of or got comments from readers to the effect that their puzzles are not going down well.

        • David, if your idea of Erik and Natan is that their puzzles are polarizing and they have haters on Crossword Fiend … how were you not inviting other people’s cruelty by asking in the Crossword Fiend comment section “hey do we think they were fired or what?” The first reply you got on your comment yesterday was from some anonymous rando fantasizing that the New Yorker dropped them.

          “Their puzzles are not going down well” — to whom? To you? Some commenters on Crossword Fiend? So what? This just seems like a way of projecting your own negative opinion about their puzzles onto everyone else and, again, it’s weird at best (and cruel at worst) to turn it into speculation that the New Yorker would dismiss them because of that. If the New Yorker made their decisions about who should write puzzles for them based on what a small handful of angry commenters on this blog say, it’d be an incredibly stupid thing to do.

          • David L says:

            My speculations are (a) that the New Yorker decided too many puzzles cost too much money and (b) that other puzzlers beside the limited audience here don’t care for Agard’s and Last’s puzzles. FWIW, it’s generally like Agard’s work, with reservations, but don’t enjoy Last’s. I don’t want to do a puzzle that makes me feel as if I’m being preached at.

            I know what it’s like to put your work before the public and get negative criticism. You have to have a thick skin.

            • Do you think they should have to regularly put up with people demanding that they be fired? I don’t. That’s not mere negative criticism; that’s one of the most cruel things you can wish on another person. See how well you’d do if people repeatedly called for you to lose your job in a public comment section.

              Whatever your distaste for Natan’s puzzles (or Erik’s), they don’t deserve to be treated that way.

            • David L says:

              When I have ever demanded anyone be fired?

              Let me answer that: Never.

          • Mr. [rather] Grumpy says:

            Dear Evan,
            Criticizing a puzzle does not make someone a “hater” and I strongly object to your use of the term.
            Mr. Grumpy

          • JW says:

            It’s totally legit to say that certain puzzlemakers’ work is below what you consider professional standards.

            If you disagree, what was going on here? https://twitter.com/evanbirnholz/status/1437536082242023433

            (Incidentally, I’m not sure why Erik Agard’s name has come up. His puzzles are good).

            • Oh, can you point me to all those puzzles that they wrote where they repeatedly and gratuitously put in references to stuff like waterboarding and Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby and mass shootings and Sept. 11 and Nazis in their puzzles like the late Adrian Powell did? I must have missed those.

              If you’re unable to tell the difference between the puzzles in the New Yorker and Powell’s puzzles in Vox, then I don’t know what to tell you.

            • JW says:

              Confirmed, celebrating someone getting fired is only “one of the most cruel things you can wish on another person” if Evan Birnholz disagrees!

      • JohnH says:

        I have to join the pile-on, rude to Evan as that must be. I fear that he’s loaded the terms of debate most unfairly. We’re not haters, we have not demanded that anyone be fired, and we have never said anything cruel to certain setters other than expressing an opinion on clues or puzzles, which is surely what Crossword Fiend is for.

        Nor, to judge by the star ratings, is it fair to dismiss our criticism as a “handful” of chronic complainers. It can be as much as 3/4 of attempted solvers. The dismissal also just dismisses the entire point of criticism: many of us (in my case a paid TNY subscriber) feel cheated of that day’s puzzle and of the chance to face a challenging puzzle. We can’t if fair crossings are denied, and we can’t enjoy it if 2/3 of clues have to be worked out in every letter. That’s what a slog means.

        That said, I’d call today’s a bit too easy, and I see no reason to speculate that any setter has been discontinued. I’ve heard nothing to that effect, and I’d swear that both setters have appeared not all that long ago. Naturally the shorter rotation (M-W) will mean fewer appearances for all.

    • marciem says:

      I hope your speculation (about them being “off the team” ) is incorrect.

      They, along with Paolo and Kameron, are my personal favorites. Not to say I love all of their puzzles, some are truly slogs, but I always learn something new, and I really enjoy the New York flavor. I don’t do timing, since I’m doing puzzles to challenge myself to remember old stuff AND learn new stuff (just as I don’t consider googling for a hint or answer to be cheating… its a learning tool).

      I don’t jump to their defense when the few of those who really dislike their puzzles jump on to voice their objections. Maybe I should, but who would care? More fun to nay-say, isn’t it?

      • Boston Bob says:

        There’s no “like” button for this blog, so: Hear, hear!

      • Eric H says:

        Nicely said, marciem! KAC is my favorite constructor now working, and I always know that an Erik Agard puzzle will have at least a few brilliant clues.

        I think the New Yorker’s puzzles are aimed at an audience that’s a bit different than the ones that the NYT, WSJ, etc. are aimed at.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    USAT: Unless I’m missing something (certainly a possibility), the clue/answer combo for PUTTING GREEN (“Smooth grassy area surrounding a golf hole”) is either poorly worded or just flat out wrong. I’ve played and watched a whole lot of golf in my 64 years and in my experience, a PUTTING GREEN (aka a practice green) is either an area that a golf course provides for people to practice putting or something that you install on your own property for the same purpose. A “smooth grassy area surrounding a golf hole” on a golf course is simply called a green. I’m sure one can find a source somewhere that refers to a regular golf course green as a PUTTING GREEN (maybe in a golf rule book?), so it’s probably not really “wrong”, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to one that way.

    (Does anyone out here do this puzzle? It almost never generates any commentary and is rarely even reviewed lately.)

    • Eric H says:

      I occasionally did the USA Today puzzles, but found them a weird mixture of way-too-easy clues for 80% of the grid and stuff I had never heard of for the rest. When they started limiting the number of puzzles you could do for free, I stopped solving them altogether.

      • sanfranman59 says:

        I 100% agree with your assessment of their puzzles. I do them because it gives me exposure to clue/answer combinations that are new to me mixed in with mostly easy stuff that at least gives me a chance to infer the unfamiliar on my own.

  6. Brenda Rose says:

    As a long time New Yorker subscriber, I was absolutely thrilled to see them publishing xwords back in 2019. Now I am absolutely saddened that they abandoned the very essence of that magazine’s intellectual focus & joined the mainstream media’s thrust to dumb down for those who are beginners. As far as I am concerned, anyone who is a “beginner” or one who isn’t hip to the trip shouldn’t be doing them & if they dare, they should approach it as a learning experience. As a former teacher, the way to learn new things is to challenge yourself. And if Kameron or Agard or Last or Husik don’t come back I will be absolutely devastated.

  7. Zev Farkas says:

    About the Universal puzzle –

    Good puzzle. My only small kvetch is that there are two “n”‘s in the theme answers that don’t get converted to “i”‘s.

Comments are closed.