Friday, March 29, 2024

LAT untimed (pannonica) 


NYT 5:49 (Amy) 


Universal 4:52 (Jim) 


USA Today 2:47 (Darby) 


Jake Bunch’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap

NY Times crossword solution, 3/29/24 – no. 0329

We’re back to more of a Friday-NYT level of difficulty for this Friday NYT. Yay!

Lots of nice fill, fresh clues. Fave fill: FORTUNE COOKIE, MECHANICAL BULL (14a. [Place for bucks at the bar?] is not a tip jar!), BLOW IT, CATCH RED-HANDED, *tap-tap-tap* “IS THIS THING ON?”, TOSS-UP and FELT UP TO, CANNIBALS (sheesh, [Ones who might roast you]), and MORDOR.

A few clues:

  • 1a. [Thrower of a reception], PASSER. In football. When you’re involved in the planning of your kid’s wedding reception, this clue is confusing!
  • 26a. [Hunks of plastic?], KENS. The Barbie movie demonstrated that plural KENS makes perfect sense. And each one of them is Kenough.
  • 35a. [Form a connection where sparks fly], WELD. You know, in Flashdance, where Jennifer Beals plays a dancer whose day job is welding, there is indeed some romance. THIS CLUE HAS HIDDEN LEVELS.
  • 43a. [One of the Minecraft protagonists], STEVE. Minecraft has protagonists? And they have boring American-guy names? I had zero idea.

Four stars from me.

Lisa Senzel and Will Nediger’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up

LAT • 3/29/24 • Fri • Senzel, Nediger • solution • 20240329

  • 61aR [Sound added to everyday speech, and what’s been added to create the answers to the starred clues] FILLER WORD. They start each theme answer.
  • 16a. [*Diner’s entitlement to savory flavor?] UMAMI RIGHT (um, am I right).
  • 19a. [*Reason yellowfin tuna are wallflowers at a school prom?] AHI CANT DANCE (ah, I can’t dance). School, ah ha ha.
  • 36a. [*Pal who seconds whatever one says?] LIKEWISE GUY (like, wiseguy).
  • 57a. [*Not-very-straight shooter?] ERRING CAMERA (er, Ring camera). Ring is the door-monitoring technology from Amazon.

Liked this one. Notable how 80% of the theme answers exhibit big cruciverbal overlaps.

  • Longdowns are nice: 10d [Naming] IDENTIFYING. 23d [Communicating with pictograms, perhaps] PRELITERATE.
  • 37d [Nabe that might have an H Mart] K TOWN. H Mart is a Korean grocery chain.
  • 39d [Main courses] ENTREES. English messed this one up.
  • 40d [Vehicle’s shark fin, maybe] ANTENNA. Don’t know that I’ve ever heard the structure called that, but it certainly works.
  • 47d [Request, as table food] BEG FOR. 28d [Dog’s attention-getter, maybe] PAW.
  • 656d [Muslim honorific from which “nabob” is derived] NAWAB. New to me.
  • 5a [Short form of a name that means “merciful”] CLEM, as in clemency. Or in this case, Clement or Clementine.
  • 15a [Shape the narrative?] EDIT. Nice little clue.
  • 35a [Yapped like a dog] ARFED. Somewhat weird to see. 27a [Little dog] PUP, not PUG.
  • 46a [Ill-fated] NOT TO BE. Needed many crossings for this.

Trent H. Evans’s Universal crossword, “Take Me Literally”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are literal answers to the clues that all start “I’m…”

Universal crossword solution · “Take Me Literally” · Trent H. Evans · Fri., 3.29.24

  • 17a. [I’m stuck!] VOODOO DOLL.
  • 31a. [I’m not a kid anymore!] BILLY GOAT.
  • 47a. [I’m a big deal!] BLACKJACK.
  • 63a. [I’m on a roll!] SESAME SEED.

Fun wordplay. But I’ll admit I wanted something more to tie the theme answers together. There’s any number of “I’m” phrases, so there are a lot of potential theme answers here. Just for fun, can you come up with some? How about: [I’m easy!] FALLING OFF A LOG; [I’m all ears!] CORNFIELD; [I’m going home!] BASE RUNNER.

Apart from the enjoyable theme, the long fill is full of sparkly entries: “CAN I COME IN?,” EGOMANIACS, SOPRANO, “NO DOUBT!,” TELL-ALL, TELECOM, MARACAS, CANTEEN, SKYMALL, BRAHMA, “STOP IT!,” and “OH, GEEZ!” Fun stuff everywhere you look.

Clue of note: 45d. Bygone in-flight catalog that’s now online]. SKYMALL. I didn’t realize it was “bygone” (it went bankrupt in 2015). But hey, their site boasts a plethora of jigsaw puzzle boards.

Fun puzzle though I wanted a little more from the theme. 3.75 stars.

Lynn K. Watson’s USA Today crossword, “Mixed Nuts”—Amy’s recap

Editor: Jared Goudsmit

Theme: Each theme answer includes the word NUTS shuffled between two words.

Theme Answer

Lynn K. Watson's USA Today crossword, "Mixed Nuts" solution for 3/29/2024

Lynn K. Watson’s USA Today crossword, “Mixed Nuts” solution for 3/29/2024

  • 19a [2016 electropop song featuring Selena Gomez] TRUST NOBODY
  • 40a [“Be brutally honest!”] DON’T SUGARCOAT IT
  • 59a [Is in charge] RUNS THE SHOW

This was such a cute theme! It worked well with this variety of theme answers. I needed a few of the crosses to get TRUST NOBODY, but even though I’m not familiar with the song, it was easy to infer the combination of words once I had a few letters in place. DON’T SUGARCOAT IT is a great spanner, and so I was thrilled to pop it in to cross through the center of the grid. RUNS THE SHOW was filled entirely on the Downs for me, which I switched to about midway through the puzzle.

I appreciate the symmetry of this grid, and under three minutes as a solve time isn’t bad at all. I was tripped up by a few words in the opening rows like VISE and INSURE, though the latter of these should’ve been pretty easy. I overthought 7d [Money in Milan] EUROS for a second and then immediately laughed. I liked the cluing on 25d [Animals that were once mistaken for mermaids] MANATEES and love every mention of 16a [“Shining Girls” actress Phillipa] SOO. Plus, 24a [With 8-Down, feline such as Sagwa] SIAMESE CAT was such a fun throwback for me.

Overall, this was a really smooth and cleverly themed Friday!

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8 Responses to Friday, March 29, 2024

  1. huda says:

    NYT: Haha, Amy’s comment re STEVE is exactly what I was thinking!!!
    Excellent puzzle with many terrific entries. It took me a bit to get a foothold. Somehow the East opened up and made me realize that it was totally doable.
    I love the erudite clues for everyday words– like HIS (To His Coy Mistress). Sent me back to reading this poem which I had not read in a long time. Some of the lines crack me up. I’m not sure they’re meant to… “The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.”
    That’s what makes doing puzzles a great PASTIME…

    • DougC says:

      +1. Also, I thought the clues for KENS and WELD were inspired!

      And, it turns out that STEVE is apparently quite well-known to a large segment of the population who are not me, so fair enough.

      This puzzle gets my vote for best debut of the year so far, and certainly one of the best Fridays, too. Impressive!

  2. Me says:

    NYT: I really liked this puzzle, but, unlike Amy, I found this more like a Saturday than a Friday for me. A lot of answers were clued in a way that I had absolutely no idea: SKULL, STEVE, MORDOR, etc. All three of the Friday puzzles since Joel started editing have been noticeably above my overall Friday average.

    • sanfranman59 says:


    • JohnH says:

      Yeah and I just wasn’t made for this puzzle, although others responded so well that I’m sure it’s me and not the puzzle. I don’t want to know about Sauron, Game of Thrones, and Minecraft, didn’t know more about the SKULL or that the Spanish n could be ene, and I just didn’t get some of the cluing, like the “bar” in relation to MECHANICAL BULL. I wasn’t totally convinced by “drag racer” either, and I got ARHAT only because I learned it here this week.

      But looks like a good puzzle for most and a duly challenging Friday anyway. If I didn’t much enjoy it, fine.

  3. David L says:

    A very enjoyable Friday. No idea about STEVE, SKULL or ENE, but they were gettable easily enough. Not thrilled to see ARHAT two days in a row. I tried WAVEDTO and WAVEDAT before getting it right. And I tried DECAY before MANGE because I was overthinking. But I got KENS immediately!

    • Eric H says:

      I was happy to see ARHAT two days in a row. On Thursday, I knew what word they were looking for, but couldn’t fully remember it. On Friday, it was a gimme.

      It’s a fun puzzle, with some lively stuff in the longer answers.

      • PJ says:

        I had the same experience with ARHAT. I feel like having it two days in a row adversely affected today’s puzzle where for many it would have contributed to Friday level difficulty.

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