Wednesday, March 27, 2024

AVCX 4:43 (Amy) 


LAT 4:30 (Gareth) 


The New Yorker 2:40 (Kyle) 


NYT 4:16 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today 7:44 (Emily) 


WSJ 6:35 (Jim) 


Alexander Liebeskind’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Going to Pieces”—Jim’s review

The circled letters spell out OREO in four separate instances in the grid. As the solver progresses from the top left to the bottom right, these letters spread out or “crumble” as described by the revealer THAT’S THE WAY THE / COOKIE CRUMBLES (33a, [With 42-Across, “C’est la vie,” or a hint to the progression seen in the corners of this puzzle]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Going to Pieces” · Alexander Liebeskind · Wed., 3.27.24

There’s some serendipity at play here with the revealer breaking nicely between two words. Other than that, the rest of the grid can be solved as a themeless but with a nudge or two provided by the OREOs. I found this to be an interesting theme, mainly for its novelty.

If you’re willing to believe that letters spreading apart can represent a cookie crumbling—or even if you’re not—you’re rewarded with a pleasant grid with plenty of fun long fill: RIGAMAROLE, MAN O’WAR, SHOW OUT, SINATRA, INVERSE, OLD TOWN, BEER CAN. I’d never seen NEOPRONOUN before, so that was interesting to learn about.

Clues of note:

  • 10a. [1974 role for Marty Feldman]. IGOR. With a long I, of course.
  • 11d. [Attendees, in combinations]. GOERS. Combinations such as “party-GOERS” or “convention-GOERS”.
  • 30d. [Address used among Friends]. THEE. Yeah, I’ve got nothing on this, and the clue seems unGoogleable. It’s not about the TV show Friends, because then it would be in quotation marks. If you know what this clue’s about, let us know in the comments.
  • 44d. [“If not p, then not q,” to “If p, then q”]. INVERSE. I admit to not bothering with this clue and letting the crosses sort it out.

Novel theme with some nice fill. 3.75 stars.

Rich Katz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/27/24 – no. 0327

Cool theme. The handy way to remember which direction to turn a SCREWDRIVER—RIGHTY TIGHTY means turning to the right tightens a screw, while LEFTY LOOSEY says twisting to the left loosens things. The short entries with starred clues need to add LOOSE before the ones on the left of the grid, and add TIGHT at the end of the ones on the right. Loose TOOTH, loose-LEAF, and loose LIPS work with their clues, as do SKIN-tight, HANG tight, and SLEEP tight. Nicely conceived and executed.

Fave fill: ERSATZ, DAREDEVIL. Kind of an odd start to the puzzle with IROC crossing IONIAN at 1a/1d, no?

3.75 stars from me.

Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up

Patrick Berry brings us this week’s “beginner-friendly” New Yorker puzzle (now in its new Wednesday slot). Not surprisingly, the puzzle is ultra-smooth and covers a lot of ground. The only real hiccup I had was right at the start with 14A OTTO [“A Man Called ___” (Tom Hanks film)], which I drew a blank on and mostly filled from crosses.

The New Yorker solution grid – Patrick Berry – Wednesday 03/27/24


I enjoyed the clue on 12D [Where a traveller’s elbow may be in danger from a beverage cart] AISLE SEAT. What’s your preferred seat? I’m a window seat person, since I tend to fall asleep on airplanes, and it’s the spot least prone to disruption by beverage carts or fellow passengers.

Thanks Patrick!

Hoang-Kim Vu’s Universal crossword, “Fireside” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 3/27/24 • Wed • “Fireside” • Hoang-Kim Vu • solution • 20240327

Once again, the .puz file has the relevant squares already circled, so I’m eliding the parts in the clues that explicitly enumerate them.

  • 55aR [Some brisket pieces … or what each theme answer has?] BURNT ENDS.
  • 17a. [Spoons, e.g.] CANOODLES (candles).
  • 23a. [Man cave appliances] BEER FRIDGES (bridges).
  • 33a. [“And that’s an understatement”] TO SAY THE LEAST (toast).
  • 49a. [Hashtag for a picture showing a perfect relationship] COUPLE GOALS (coals).

Burnt candles, burnt bridges, burnt toast, burnt coals.

Yep, yep.

  • 11d [“Just sold the last one!”] FRESH OUT. Lively.
  • 33d [Place to sip a hot drink] TEA HOUSE. Or perhaps a fireside, echoing the title.
  • 37d [Sensations from awesome songs] EARGASMS. Not a portmanteau I’m fond of.
  • 56d [Digital art piece: Abbr.] NFTStill waiting for this scam to be history.
  • 9a [Take in music?] RIFF. Not sure how this one works, even with the question mark.
  • 38a [“Gloria” Oscar nominee Rowlands] GENA. She was also nominated in 1974 for A Woman Under the Influence, which is a better film. In that year she lost to Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
  • 63a [Country where Boun Khoun Khao is celebrated] LAOS. Wikipedia reports that it’s “an agricultural festival held in rural parts of Laos at the end of January and beginning of February. The festival celebrates the new harvest. Rice farmers often store the unhusked rice in local temples as part of the celebrations”

Matthew Stock’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Cover All Your Bases”—Amy’s recap

AC Club Classic crossword solution, 3/27/24 – “Cover All Your Bases”

The theme has something to do with a baseball phrase, but I didn’t put it all together while solving. Let’s lay it all out so I see what’s going on:

  • 20a. [*Circular attachment included in some “Mario Kart Wii” bundle packs], STEERING WHEEL.
  • 32a. [*Protective carrier for some jazz musicians], SAXOPHONE CASE.
  • 41a. [*Flightless, blue-legged bird of East Africa], SOMALI OSTRICH. Raise your hand if you never knew there was such a thing as the Somali ostrich.
  • 56a. [How a baseball may be thrown after a strikeout … or where you can find each of the answers to the starred clues], AROUND THE HORN. It was only in the past week or so that I found out the ESPN show title Around the Horn was a baseball term. Never, ever knew that before!

OK, so there’s a car horn within a steering wheel, a musical horn within a sax case, and an ostrich in the Horn of Africa. The theme items are all around a horn or Horn. Clever!

Fave fill: CARPE DIEM, EPICENTER, and TWYLA clued via Sarah Levy’s Schitt’s Creek character. I enjoyed the fact that Eugene and Dan Levy, real-life father and son, played father and son on the show, while daughter Alexis on the show was played by Annie Murphy while the real-life daughter was across town at Cafe Tropical.

Four stars from me.

Noelle Griskey’s USA Today Crossword, “Middle of the Road” — Emily’s write-up

You’ll be on the right track with this puzzle!

Completed USA Today crossword for Wednesday March 27, 2024

USA Today, March 27, 2024, “Middle of the Road” by Noelle Griskey

Theme: each themer contains —OA—


  • 27d. [Clue], PHOTOALBUM
  • 14d. [Clue], STUDIOAPARTMENT
  • 9d. [Clue], HELLOAGAIN

Today’s themer set starts with PHOTOALBUM, progresses to STUDIOAPARTMENT, and ends with HELLOAGAIN. A simple but

Favorite fill: MIDST, FABLE, STEW, and AREPA

Stumpers: RAID (kept thinking “snack”), RAPT (needed crossings), and SOS (new cluing to me)

Nice grid, good flow, and fun cluing with entires. A solid puzzle indeed!

3.5 stars


Matthew Faiella’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

LA Times

I kind of wish Matthew Faiella’s theme was a little more tightly defined. There are four answers ending in a kind of exercise, two in the sense of a short movement designed to develop certain muscles, two in a longer activity that similarly promotes fitness. I think perhaps the reason for the looseness is that each of the four phrases, broadly, suggests indolence? In any case, the phrases are then reimagined to describe these exercises literally:

  • [Exercise done by making a grilled cheese sandwich?], PANINIPRESS
  • [Exercise done by lounging on the couch and bingeing a new show?], TVMARATHON
  • [Exercise done by hitting the snooze button and staying in bed?], SLEEPCYCLE
  • [Exercise done by lying around doing nothing all day?], DIDDLYSQUAT

Notable entries:

  • [Like early PC graphics], LORES. Lo-res, not the part of a bird.
  • [Time to grab a brewski], BEEROCLOCK is definitely the cutest entry.
  • [Cookie with a Blackpink collaboration], OREO wins the Olaf clue of the day prize.


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21 Responses to Wednesday, March 27, 2024

  1. Snood says:

    Friends as in The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers.

    • Jim Peredo says:

      Thanks. I probably should have known or surmised that, but it’s pretty far outside my wheelhouse.

  2. huda says:

    NYT: Intricate theme, well executed.
    Interesting clue for SLED!

    • Mutman says:

      Now the movie is ruined for me!!!

      I’m only 83 years behind on my ‘need to watch’ list. Hurumph!

    • Eric H says:

      I was particularly impressed how the trick plays out visually, with the invisible/imaginary LOOSEs all off the left side of the grid and the invisible/imaginary TIGHTs all off the right side.

      • pannonica says:

        It’s toppist hegemony!

      • Dallas says:

        I liked it a lot, too; really made things come together quickly. Pretty smooth fill all in all.

        Personally, I just use the right-hand rule (make a “thumbs up” gesture with your right hand; the curl of your fingers is the direction to turn to move the screw in the direction of your thumb) but it doesn’t have the nice sound to it of RIGHTY-TIGHTY / LEFTY-LOOSEY.

      • Papa John says:

        How old does one have to be to remember which way to turn a faucet to turn it on or off or tighten a screw without a mnemonic?

        • JohnH says:

          For me it’s more physical than mental memory at this point, and I didn’t know the phrase, but played out very nicely once I’d surmised it. My last to fall was indeed IONIAN / IROC.

  3. Lily says:

    WSJ: If you print out the puzzle, the circled letters are replaced by pictorial representations of an Oreo cookie, starting whole in the upper left and then broken into pieces corresponding to the circles. A nice touch!

    I loathe the user interface with the WSJ puzzle and always print it out if I can. I don’t have issues with other online puzzles.

  4. Eric H says:

    WSJ: I missed that the separation of the OREO letters represent a COOKIE CRUMBLing. Even without the graphic from the print edition/.PDF, it was easy to see what went in the circles.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen NEOPRONOUN as an answer before, but I have certainly seen it in clues.

  5. sanfranman59 says:

    WSJ (@ Jim) … In the clue for THEE, “Friends” refers to the Quakers. They (stereotypically, at least) use THEE as a second person singular pronoun. It’s pretty much the opposite of a NEOPRONOUN, though equally gender-neutral (by design).

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Oops … sorry for the duplication folks … I didn’t see the other comment about this. I always search the page for an abbreviation of the puzzle I’ve just completed so I can see what others have said about it without risking spoilers for the other puzzles I do.

  6. Eric H says:

    LAT: I gave an extra half star in the ratings just for DIDDLY SQUAT.

  7. Seattle DB says:

    On the “Blogroll” list on the upper right-hand side, the link to “USAT/Sally’s Take” needs to be updated to:

  8. Jesse says:

    I appreciate the examples you provided. They really helped clarify the concepts.

Comments are closed.