Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “These Go To Eleven” – Erin’s write-up
Woo boy this was a tricky themeless. Lots of long fill in the form of a triple stack of 11s, followed by a 15 and a 12. Lots of proper nouns, many that I had never heard of, leading me to consult Google to finish up parts of the NE region *hangs her head in shame*. I’m glad to have learned a lot, but it was frustrating not knowing either of the BIRNEYS, Jeff AMENT, YEHUDI Menuhin, or AMANDE AMÈRE (which brings up thoughts of cyanide). I had A for È until I looked it up, given that the Italian for bitter is “amaro” and the Spanish is “amargo,” but the foreign language knowledge didn’t help me here. Towards the bottom of the grid, OTELO with one L threw me off, Joshua SANES was new to me but gettable through crossings, and PLUTON needed the “god of the underworld” qualifier for me to have any clue.
LOVE NO LIMIT is a great timely addition given Mary J. Blige just played the Super Bowl halftime show. CHISELED ABS and WALDORF SALAD are delightful. LOCAL LITERATURE brings me back to the time where I could safely wander a bookstore, browsing the shelves for something I would have time to sit and read. To END ON a pointy but cuddly note, here’s a photo of the youngest source of CLAWS in the Milburnigan household, our kitten named Thwomp.
Claire Rimkus’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Today’s theme takes familiar phrases that begin with verbs that are also nouns for sports venues, and reclues them as if they pertain to those venues:
- 20a. [Catastrophe at a tennis match?], COURT DISASTER. This is not about Margaret Court, though for some it sure could be.
- 30a. [Uncertainties at a football game?], FIELD QUESTIONS.
- 36a. [Security alerts at a boxing match?], RING ALARM BELLS. With ALARM BELLS not being one word, it was a little tougher to piece together this one.
- 51a. [Supplies at a swim meet?], POOL RESOURCES.
The surrounding fill was quite smooth, with prefix OCTA perhaps the only outlier in an otherwise on-target Tuesday grid.
Four more things:
- 4d. [Spirit guide?], PILOT. It took me a minute to make sense of how this clue worked. Spirit Airlines, veiled capital S at the beginning of the clue. Recent news: Spirit and Frontier hope to merge.
- 8d. [Chips brand whose “Cool Ranch” flavor is called “Cool American” in Europe], DORITOS. A friend of mine is married to a Swedish national, who absolutely loves ranch dressing. Possibly his favorite American food item! I do love this clue’s fun trivia tidbit.
- 36d. [Lasagna filling], RICOTTA. Mmm, ricotta … I do love ricotta. Now I want to make lasagna. Got a good recipe for cheese lasagna?
- 56a. [Season for pumpkin-spiced everything], AUTUMN. Did pumpkin spiced latte leave Starbucks when winter arrived? I do not love pumpkin spice, nor do I love coffee.
Four stars from me.
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “It’s a Slam Dunk”—Jim P’s review
The revealer at 64a, PARTING SHOT [Last word, and a hint to the starred answers], is our clue that the “parting”—or final—word of each theme answer is a type of “shot.” In other words, each theme answer ends in a word that can precede “shot.”
- 16a. [*Skipper of the Jolly Roger] CAPTAIN HOOK. Hook shot.
- 25a. [*Raked it in] MADE BANK. Bank shot.
- 39a. [*Airborne Winter Olympics action] SKI JUMP. Jump shot.
- 52a. [*Music collector’s buy] BOXED SET. Set shot.
I didn’t notice until now that there’s an added element here, and that’s that each type of shot comes from basketball. That’s an elegant touch and it explains the title. Entries like SHELLEY LONG, COFFEE MUG, or LEMON DROP would be inconsistent with the basketball subtheme.
I’m liking the long stacks in the corners, namely “I’LL GO NEXT,” SIOUX CITY, ATM INSIDE, and HOT TAMALE, though feel free to clue that last one as the candy. The actual clue [Bombshell] feels dated at the least. Also, BATPOLE is a fun entry at 4d.
Clues of note:
- 27a. [Cape Cod competitor]. LAYS. I had to think about this one, but even out here on the West Coast we have Cape Cod potato chips in stores. I don’t know how much of a competitor they are to LAYS, though.
- 31d. [“It’s my turn”]. “I’LL GO NEXT.” I like the entry, but these two phrases aren’t quite synonymous. The entry feels like something one might say when multiple people have the option of going next. The clue is what you’d say when it’s your turn and no one else’s.
Nice, layered theme with strong fill. 3.75 stars.
Christina Iverson’s Universal Crossword, “From Start to Finish”— Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Letters are changed from S-O-U-P at the beginning of phrases to N-U-T-S to create wackiness.
- [Package arriving for a Catholic celebration?] NAME DAY DELIVERY instead of SAME DAY DELIVERY.
- [Wedding bands?] UNION RINGS instead of ONION RINGS.
- [Airport security channel?] TSA NETWORK. Instead of USA NETWORK.
- [Sun mission?] SOLAR EXPEDITION instead of POLAR EXPEDITION.
- Revealers SOUP / NUTS
I love this theme! Granted, I didn’t see it until the very end, but I really enjoyed the resulting AHA. That’s not all that common for me to enjoy a theme when I have to figure it out post solve, but in this case it felt super fun and clever.
Favorite of theme entries was UNION RINGS, I think because I particularly like the fact that the clue [Wedding bands?] is already “a thing.” Least favorite was TSA / USA switch. That one felt a tad forced. But, of course, swapping a consonant in for a vowel- especially a U- couldn’t have been all that easy.
Fill is just fine. Liked the clue for XII (12 letters?) and the apt clue for SERTA [Mattress brand that anagrams to “a rest”]
4.1 stars from me!
Doug Peterson & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Board Members“ — Emily’s write-up
Great puzzle with a fantastic theme and themers, lots of great fill, and a fun grid design.
Theme: each themer ends with a type of chess piece
- 20a. [“The Empress of Soul”], GLADYSKNIGHT
- 37a. [“In the Waiting Room” poet], ELIZABETHBISHOP
- 54a. [Six-time Wimbledon singles champ in the ‘60s and ‘70s], BILLIEJEANKING
Though the themed clues weren’t for references in my knowledge bank, it only took a few crossings for each before the names in the entries began to appear and they all were familiar to me so at that point I could fill each in. GLADYSKNIGHT can sure belt out a tune and also has her own protector watching her back. ELIZABETHBISHOP wrote incredible poetry about everyday life and death, as if an authoritative air grounded her. BILLIEJEANKING former #1 world female tennis player, she will always be considered one of the greatest tennis stars of all-time. Also, all of the themers are women.
Fun fact: Billie Jean King tossed the coin that began Super Bowl LVI on Sunday!
Favorite fill: NABE, HINDI, and SNUGGLES
Stumpers: DIRE (only “asap” came to mind), PATIO (“bbq” or “backyard”), and RETOOL (crossed with “ZOO” didn’t help but not sure why, both aren’t obscure but just didn’t get it readily today)
Other than the themers, I started out today at a good pace until the lower half and in particular the last third. With downs, I began to fill in the grid again with a nice flow and finally got some traction in the bottom third, though it took me a few more passes back and forth to complete that section. Many of the clues were misdirections, at least for me, though looking through them completed, they all make perfect sense. Still a very enjoyable puzzle despite being more challenging for me today.
Hoang-Kim Vu’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
It took me quite a while to figure out the theme to this puzzle. I didn’t need to know it to solve the puzzle, so I’d say this is a Tuesday-level grid with a Thursday-level theme. I liked the theme a lot once I got it. It didn’t help that there’s are two clues referring to the AUDI LOGO and the first themer is about the Olympics, so I was looking for something to do with rings. That was wrong.
Each theme answer has circles. I figured out that we were looking for anagrams.
- 19a [Historic U.S. Olympics hockey victory, familiarly] is the MIRACLE ON ICE.
- 27a [Satirist who redefined the word “truthiness”] is STEPHEN COLBERT. If you haven’t seen Dua Lipa’s role-reversal interview of Colbert, watch it now.
- 46a [Police storage facility] is an EVIDENCE LOCKER.
The revealer is 52a [Tennis format with man-and-woman pairs…and a hint to each set of circles] and the answer is MIXED DOUBLES. The anagrams don’t spell DOUBLE. They don’t refer to drinks. I finally realized that it’s CLONE, which is of course a double. A very satisfying “aha!” moment.
A few other things:
- 5a [Start to crumble?] is CEE. As in the letter.
- 2d [Stomach or guts] is NERVE. I like this clue a lot but it strikes me as a bit tricky for a Tuesday.
- 33a [Unpeaceful, queasy feeling] is a HOF clue for NAUSEA.
- This is the second time today I’ve seen RAMEN clued with reference to a college student’s diet.
- Where’s the KABOOM?
What I didn’t know before I solved this puzzle: that CHERYL Miller is in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 559), “City Snickers”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! First and foremost, I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.
Second, my deepest apologies to you for the super-late post. Here is hoping you forgive me for that. I’ll be on time next week, for sure!
In this week’s grid, common phrases are turned into puns as one of the words in replaced by similar-sounding words that happen to also be the names of cities.
- TUNIS ELBOW (16A: [Rafael Nadal malady that flared up in a North African city?]) – Tennis elbow.
- PRETTY IN PINSK (22A: [Molly Ringwald teen romance that’s set in a Belarus city?]) – There’s Minsk AND Pinsk?!? Goodness me!
- THE QUEEN ON SEOUL (36A: [Aretha Franklin nickname, inspired by a triumphant concert in a city in South Korea?]) – The Queen of Soul.
- TALLINN SCOUTS (47A: [Baseball recruiters based in an Estonian city?]) – Talent scouts.
- RABAT REDUX (59A: [John Updike novel dedicated to a Moroccan city?)]) – Rabbit Redux.
Man, it’s a pretty good thing that PROSPERO was a cinch for me, or would “Prosmero” would not have looked out of place, assuming that I didn’t think “Minsk” was an error (7D: [Miranda’s dad in “The Tempest”]). Other than that, a smooth solve, and really liked CLOAK ROOM (10D: [Coat checker’s workstation]). Had initially committed to writing about one NBA player in the next graph right before I saw TATUM and easily could have written about current CELTic (61A: [Ancient Brit]) and NBA All-Star Jayson Tatum or former NFL player and Super Bowl champion Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders (54A: [Jazz pianist Art]). I promise to write about you guys the next time I see the surname in a grid!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KAT (44A: [“Kitty ___” (song by Beyoncé)]) – KAT is the common nickname of three-time NBA All-Star player Karl-Anthony Towns, who currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Drafted by Minnesota with the first pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-11 Towns won the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2015-16, and has proceeded to be named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2018 and, in 2022, named to the NBA All-Star game for the third time. In April 2020, his mom and six of his relatives passed away due to complications of COVID-19, and has been public since the start of the pandemic about the havoc it has caused him and his family.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!