Thursday, March 28, 2024

BEQ tk (Darby) 


LAT 6:11 (Gareth) 


NYT 16:26 (ZDL) 


The New Yorker tk (Jenni) 


Universal tk (Sophia) 


USA Today 6:10 (Emily) 


WSJ 8:05 (Jim) 


Fireball tk (Jenni) 


Eric G. Berman & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Jacks of All Trades”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words are also actions in baseball. The revealer is FIVE-TOOL PLAYERS (58a, [Term for people who can do all the actions at the starts of 17-, 22-, 35-, 42- and 48-Across]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Jacks of All Trades” · Eric G. Berman & Jeff Chen · Thu., 3.28.24

  • 17a. [Work the customer service desk, perhaps] FIELD A COMPLAINT.
  • 22a. [Decline suddenly] HIT THE SKIDS.
  • 35a. [Fight fiercely in the ring] SLUG IT OUT.
  • 42a. [Have a hot body?] RUN A FEVER.
  • 48a. [Host friends, maybe] THROW A PARTY.

I don’t follow baseball, so the revealer phrase is brand-new to me. I had to make a guess at that first word: “Fire? Fine?” But the theme answers themselves are accessible and lively, so I’m not too put out.

Six theme answers in the Across direction is a lot, so there’s little room for long fill. Still, I like RIM SHOT, RAPPORT, a BURNER phone, and a FEDORA.

Clues of note:

  • 1a. [Future performances]. RAPS. It being Thursday, I should’ve recognized the rapper’s name, but it got past me.
  • 29a. [Group that celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Grammy Record of the Year nomination]. ABBA. Just want to give a shout-out to my kid’s high school for putting on a wonderful performance of Mamma Mia recently.
  • 50d. [It makes a sound]. WATER. Like the Puget Sound.
  • 2d. [“Habanera,” for one]. ARIA. You know the melody even if you don’t know the title. See video.

3.5 stars.

Dominic Grillo’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up

Difficulty: Challenging (16m26s)

Dominic Grillo’s New York Times crossword, 3/28/24, 0328

Today’s theme: POTATO HEAD (With 58-Down, classic toy that dropped gendered titles in 2021)

  • (ear)
  • (nose)
  • (hat)
  • (smile)
  • (eyes)
  • (hand)

GOES NOWHERE just about sums about my progress on this for the first five minutes.  With the exception of INTERCHANGEABLE and POTATO HEAD, there are no theme entries per se, which means lots of longer fill, much of which was new to me (POETRIES, TARDIER, ADELEH crossing BELLE Isle Park).  I even struggled with PHIL IVEY, and I watched a lot of poker during the Hold’em craze of the early 2000’s.

Cracking: the clue on AGE GAP (What might come between May and December?)

Slacking: ARHAT, which apparently is not quite the same thing as a bodhisattva, so what did I read all that Kerouac for?  

SidetrackingZION National Park, one of the most beautiful places on this (or any other) planet

Emma Lawson & Amie Walker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary

La Times

Looking at the grid of Emma Lawson & Amie Walker’s puzzle today, it was fairly obvious the theme was vertical – the long downs at 10 and 18 being the give-away. I’m not sure that the “?” in two-thirds of the clue was intended as a fake-out, but the theme doesn’t involve repurposing clues in any way. Rather, as BADMOONRISING implies, three answers have the tetragram MOON scrambled and hidden vertically. So:

  • [Return correspondence?], RANSOMNOTE
  • [Bella Hadid and Precious Lee, for two], FASHIONMODELS
  • [Key information for a hotel guest?], ROOMNUMBER

In other news:

  • [Handi-Snacks cookie], OREO continues the quirky olaf clues for OREO trend this week.
  • [Body of work], OEUVRE. How many of us paused to spell this?
  • [Vox populi, vox __], DEI the intersection of this and GIADA was a bit of a crapshoot personally. I considered REI as well.
  • [Sandwich on a bolillo], TORTA. Is that a big tortilla?
  • [What a mood board might provide, informally], INSPO. Apparently, that’s inspiration but cutesy?
  • [“Canadian tuxedo” fabric], DENIM. The first part made it sound a lot fancier…


Taylor Johnson’s USA Today Crossword, “E.T.” — Emily’s write-up

A quick solve for me today!

Completed USA Today crossword for Thursday March 28, 2024

USA Today, March 28, 2024, “E.T.” by Taylor Johnson

Theme: each two word themer contains E—T—


  • 16a. [Specialist’s statement in court], EXPERTTESTIMONY
  • 38a. [Popular Parisian landmark], EIFFELTOWER
  • 63a. [Makeup of nearly three-quarters of Australian forests], EUCALYPTUSTREES

An out-of-this-world theme and themer set, all of which had fair crossings even for those who didn’t fill them in one go: EXPERTTESTIMONY, EIFFELTOWER, and EUCALYPTUSTREES.

Favorite fill: LIU, MAKEME, BREWSKI, and WELLSEE

Stumpers: TRIP (first had “trek”)

It’s a bit early but there’s a TUXEDO for the PROMGOER, PAWS crossing CATNAP, and to round out the theme some UFOS for the ETs. What a fun puzzle!

4.25 stars


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19 Responses to Thursday, March 28, 2024

  1. Ethan says:

    NYT: loved the theme. why not? giggled at the (ex-Mr) Potato Head in the grid (and loved the bit of trivia w/r/t dropping the title). that fill though, whew. GIBB, ADELEH(?), BELLE clued as a park in Detroit, Britishism in MITRE, OSTEO, POETRIES, ARHAT (great word, people should learn it as it’s a major concept in a major world religion but too much obscurity in the grid for this to be there too), HOSTA, plus dullness in ADAGES, ABUTS, AILS

    If you’re not a poker person, PHIL IVEY (fair entry and i always like to see full names) plus POETRIES is gonna make that one tough potato in the middle.

    • huda says:

      I had to cheat to get PHIL IVEY, although the name felt familiar after the fact.
      I was making potato salad with my granddaughter a few days ago and we talked about how much the texture of the potato matters for various applications…e.g., baking vs. salad. This potato did not have the ideal texture for this application.
      PS. That video of Zion National Park is both beautiful and terrifying.

      • Eric H says:

        There are lots of hikes in Zion that are not for people who are bothered by heights. I’m not sure I can do them anymore. But it’s a beautiful place.

        • David L says:

          I’m not typically scared of heights but, oof, I think those are not going to be on my bucket list!

  2. Eric H says:

    NYT: Despite having spent a fair amount of my childhood sticking plastic body parts into potatoes and other vegetables, the theme didn’t do a lot for me. But it was nice to learn that they dropped “Mr.” and “Mrs.”

    My biggest slowdown was in the NE. I knew the answer to 17D was ARHAT, but couldn’t remember the word. And at 22D, I had NaturAL AREA for the longest time. (COASTAL AREA strikes me as kinda green painty.)

    • marciem says:

      I recently learned about Arhat from SpellingBee so I was happy to be able to drop that in and have it be correct :) . ArCane and hOsta were two of my early gets, so coastalarea came pretty quick. Without Area I would have had to run the alphabet for Adeleh (which I now see was Adele H. Total unfamiliarity with Truffaut)

    • Dallas says:

      It didn’t help me that I put in CAMILLE instead of CAMILLA… that last fix was my sticking point this time. I had to get ARHAT from the crossings.

      It was an okay theme to me… I really wanted “HAND” at the bottom to be “FEET” because (Mr/Mrs) Potato Head has hands on the arms (not separate hands), and the feet are a separate item… and I wasn’t sure why the HAT was on the side, but the SMILE was on top? Before I figured it out, I kept looking at the grid shape thinking it was an insect of some kind… anyway, a little above my average Thursday time.

  3. Mr. [very] Grumpy says:

    That’s a rather pathetic/defective POTATO HEAD kit with only one HAND and one EAR, but I guess at least they managed to find both EYES under the sofa. This on a Thursday?

  4. pannonica says:

    NYT: The Truffaut film is The Story of Adele H.

    • Eric H says:

      A gimme for me even though it’s not one of the Truffaut movies that I have seen. But by 1975, I was reading lots of movie reviews.

      • JohnH says:

        It was a gimme for me, too. I saw it when it came out. I was grateful for that, too, even though I knew it had to be obscure to most people, since this was a hard one to get a handle on or to complete.

        A puzzling puzzle (and looks like the least liked one ever to judge by the ratings). The fill, as itemized by others above, can be pretty out there. My last glitches came with ARHAT / HOSTA and SUZIE / UZI (where I tried SUSIE). And I sure hope we never again see “poetry” in the plural.

        The theme seemed stranger still. Someone’s gone through a lot of trouble with the diagram in order to have body parts in no particular order (say, smile above eyes), in no particular selection (as others have pointed out, two eyes and one ear), and even in no consistent order of the letters for a single body part. Hard to dislike a theme like this, but I just couldn’t enjoy it. Let’s just say it needs work.

        • Eric H says:

          In his constructor notes on Wordplay, Dominic Grillo says that he probably made over 100 grids trying to get this idea to work out. In his view, the misplaced parts are a feature, not a (potato) bug. I expect many Potato Heads are completed that way.

    • billy boy says:

      c’est l’histoire d’ADELE H. à toi

      Those body parts of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head sure as hell were interchangeable
      – more Fronkensteenian. at least they got OSTEO correct

      This puzzle was a mess, not surprised there were some grade 1’s today

  5. Eric H says:

    BEQ: Relatively smooth except for the NE corner. HEATHENISM just didn’t come to mind. I eventually got frustrated and revealed OWL — I can sort of picture Duolingo’s logo, but it’s not one I readily remember.

    OWL confirmed that WEAN was correct (“Nursed off” is an oddly-worded clue). It was nice to learn NADIA’s meaning.

    But how many people under 40 know GRODY TO THE MAX?

  6. Eric H says:

    LAT: I liked that the three scrambled moons were all different.

    Gareth asked “TORTA. Is that a big tortilla?” Not in my experience. A bolillo is like a baguette but not as long. Much breadier than a tortilla.

    The puzzle evokes one of my favorite mondegreens: “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

    • Martin says:

      I think he meant is a torta a big tortilla? (not bolillo), since tortilla is the diminutive of torta. “Torta” originally meant “cake.” Since the clue specified it means “sandwich” here, I assumed Gareth was being lengua-in-cheek.

      Tortillera (tortilla shop) is also slang for “lesbian.” I better end here.

      • Eric H says:


        I assumed it was a sincere question because as someone who lives in South Africa, Gareth may never have encountered the kind of TORTA one gets in some Mexican restaurants here. But it wouldn’t be the first time that I missed a joke.

  7. Betty Asmus says:

    NYT Zachery nice write up. Appreciated the challenging rating. Thanks for sharing the Zion video. Zion is my favorite National Park. Amazing views! Great hikes and bicycling.

    • Eric H says:

      We took our bikes to Zion about 15 years ago and rode up the Kolob Terrace Road. I eventually ran out of steam and we turned around short of the end.

      Riding down the hill was a blast. Then we drove back up and managed to see one of the condors.

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