Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “It’s Getting Dark” – Erin’s write-up
Let’s go over this week’s theme before it dissolves:
- 17a. [Win-win deal] FAIR TRADE
- 28a. [Not built in a home workshop, perhaps] FACTORY MADE
- 47a. [Old-timey emergency service provider] FIRE BRIGADE
- 64a. [Maryland home of the U. S. Army Field Band] FORT MEADE
- 40a. [Film editing technique, or what the edges of the theme answers represent] FADE OUT
So the effect of an image slowly disappearing in a film is represented here by the letters in FADE appearing at the outer edges of the theme entries. Nice!
- 33a. [___ Spaghetti (Detroit restaurant co-owned by Eminem] MOM’S. At first I just loved that this is a thing. Then I lost it because the song “Lose Yourself” is from 2002, and the restaurant borrowing the song’s lyrics just opened September 2021…and I feel like the song just dropped five years ago. Eminem opened a pop-up site of Mom’s Spaghetti in Los Angeles for the 2002 Super Bowl.
- 45a. [Guitarist Benjamin and hockey player Bobby] ORRS. I don’t love the last name pluralization, but Bobby is probably the most-seen hockey player in crosswords, and Benjamin was also lead vocals on some of The Cars’ most famous songs.
- 68a. [Chess’s ___ Lopez opening] RUY. The opening is named after Rodrigo “Ruy” López de Segura, a Spanish priest. There are 43 opening variations in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings attributed to him.
- 65d. [Sticks around for a real blast?] TNT. I love the wordplay here.
Lisa Senzel & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s Paczki Day! Also known as MARDI GRAS, which is the theme of today’s puzzle. The answers to starred clues all pertain to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mardi Gras: BAYOU, BOURBON STREET, the BIG EASY (which connects to the circled boxes: a 2×2 box of E’s and a 2×2 box of Z’s … but wait a minute, That’s E’s Z’s, which is not pronounced like EASY, and neither 2×2 chunk is shaped like a big E or Z), OLD Square, GUMBO, St. Charles or Esplanade AVENUE (not symmetrically paired with a theme answer, feels off kilter), the TV show TREMÉ, ETOUFFÉE, and LIVE JAZZ played at Preservation Hall.
Five things from outside the theme:
- 5d. [Prepare, as a king cake], BAKE. Okay, I lied. This also pertains to Mardi Gras, which is affirmed by the very clue for MARDI GRAS, [Celebration with king cakes]. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the plastic baby in your slice of king cake and not swallow.
- 26a. [“Yay, me!”]. I RULE. Am so tired of this entry. If anyone says this out loud, it certainly won’t make them more popular.
- 46a. [What nephology is the study of], CLOUDS. Learned a new word here. Add an R and you get the study of kidneys, the medical specialty nephrology.
- 25d. [Empty, as a purse], DUMP OUT. Love this clue. My most memorable DUMP OUT was en route to the movies, carrying a large reusable water bottle in my bag that leaked multiple ounces of water into my purse! I pulled out my necessities, opened the car window, and—for real—poured water out of my bag.
- 59d. [Soda’s pop?], FIZZ. Cute clue. Those little bubbles forming and popping, that is your soda’s pop all right. Neat crossings of that ZZZZ square, too—also LIZZO and a buzzer’s BZZT.
3.75 stars from me.
Alexander Liebeskind & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “All Part of the Act”—Jim P’s review
The revealer is in two parts starting at 51d [With 65-Across, investigation site, and a punny description of the HEIST answers]: CRIME / SCENE. The other theme answers are all idiomatic phrases with theatrical origins and are purported to be acts from a play entitled HEIST. They could also be punny crimes with a little imagination.
- 20a. [HEIST: Act 1, Opening] LIFT THE CURTAIN. Pilfer the drapes?
- 25a. [HEIST: Act 2, Introduction] TAKE THE STAGE. Hijack a horse-drawn carriage?
- 47a. [HEIST: Act 3, Grand Theft] STEAL THE SHOW. Shoplift a DVD?
- 53a. [HEIST: Act 4, The Escape] BREAK OUT IN SONG. Bust out while singing “Breakout” by Swing Out Sister?
I like the creativity here although I have to admit it took me a while to piece it all together. I was thrown off by the fact that three of the entries start with a synonym for “thieve” and the fact that nothing’s being stolen in Act 4. So in that respect, it felt a little disjointed with that last entry.
But the revealer says they’re all punny crimes, and I’m good with that. Although if “breaking out” is meant to be a crime, that means the perpetrators have already been jailed, and yet that doesn’t seem to be part of the show. Maybe I’m overthinking it.
WITH THAT, let’s move on to the fill where we find highlights CHIA PETS, ATHEISTS, and MONTAGE. Note how theme-dense that SW corner is with the starts of two long themers and both revealer entries. And yet, it’s not terrible. Plural ERINS is the most awkward thing down there unless you don’t like CTRL-V (which I do since I use it a lot).
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Where the speakers of the house may have come from]. BOSE. More puns!
- 23a. [Headed for the fence, perhaps]. HOT. Where “fence” means “person dealing in stolen goods”—a theme-adjacent entry.
- 42a. [What you might get from thinking twice]. IDEAS. Cute. I like it. But usually thinking twice means you’ve nixed the idea you got in the first place so you’re left with no ideas.
Creative but a little confusing crossword. 3.5 stars.
Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I didn’t know what was going on with this theme until I got to the revealer. That’s not unusual for me with an early-week puzzle. The theme clues are straightforward and made for a smooth solve and the revealer was satisfying.
- 18a [Sequence of missed calls] is PHONE TAG. Kids, ask your parents.
- 21a [Place for Oreos] is a COOKIE JAR. Amusing to see oreos in the clue for once.
- 38a [Let it slide] is LOOK THE OTHER WAY.
- 52a [Wallet or purse alternative] is a MONEY BELT. Am I the only one who put CLIP at first?
And the revealer: 58a [Fashionable group…and what the starts of 18-, 21-, 38- and 52-Across form] is a SMART SET. SMART PHONE, SMART COOKIE, SMART LOOK, SMART MONEY. Solid theme set and decent fill despite the density of theme squares.
- Yes, indeed, penny ARCADEs used to actually accept pennies. By the time I was arcading it was quarters and I imagine it’s more now for the few that remain.
- Control is indeed an ASSET for a pitcher. Here’s hoping we get to see a few of them soon.
- When do you think we’ll see RONA clued with reference to the virus and not an old gossip columnist?
- I could do without seeing KEMOSABE again.
- I know Midori ITO was in the news a long time ago. I still think it would be better to use her as a clue rather than a FITB [“What was ___ do?].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I got nothin’, which means there wasn’t much movie or gaming content.
Mark Valdez & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Motivational Tips“– Emily’s write-up
This week already feels long and it’s only Tuesday, which means that it’s a perfect time for today’s puzzle “Motivational Tips“! With fun clues, great fill, and a unique grid, what’s not to love?
Theme: each themer is a good piece of advice
- 14a. [“Don’t hide from the world!”], LIVEYOURTRUTH
- 37a. [Chuckle audibly], LAUGHOUTLOUD
- 63a. [“I completely support that decision!”], LOVETHATFORYOU
At first, with 1a being a quote clue, I wasn’t sure if there would be themers sprinkled throughout, especially with the descending nature of the grid. However, as the longer entries filled in, the three themers revealed themselves. LIVEYOURTRUTH took me some crossings, as it’s not as familiar to me. LAUGHOUTLOUD filled right in and it’s so fun that this tip is spelled out, as it’s usually an acronym. LOVETHATFORYOU is my favorite themer though I needed a few crossings to get it, as the clue didn’t quite click for me—maybe “your” in the clue would have worked better for me, although I usually think of it more as an affirmation of a styling or attire choice. Also, h/t to Sally for pointing out that the first word of each themer also combine to make the well-known phrase LIVE LAUGH LOVE; check out her blog post for today for her insights and constructors’ notes!
Favorite fill (and cluing!): OWLS, SEATS, APT, and PURPLE
Stumpers: SEATS (“stool” and “sofas” were on my mind), TREE (shouldn’t have been as tricky but I was thinking about flowers and shrubs), and BEEF (needed crossings for this use of it)
Playing on the mobile app means that while solving, some of the grid is always off-screen so it’s the last thing that I notice usually since the entire grid only fills the screen once completed. So for grids like today’s it is the last thing that I see and usually didn’t get much of my attention. Looking at the grid more now, while I got a sense of the stair-stepping or descending feel, I hadn’t noticed the asymmetry in the rest of the grid which I think works quite well and while there’s lots of black squares of the eastern edge, the rest of the grid is balanced out.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 561), “Multi-National Venture”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone. My deepest apologies to all of you for being tardy with this post, first and foremost.
I do hope you had some fun with this puzzle without my immediately commentary, though this was a grid that definitely had a tricky spot or two. In the grid, each of the five theme entries start with a word that can also come after the word “national.”
- VELVET ELVIS (17A: [Kacey Musgraves song with the lyric “I need a Graceland kind of man”]) – National Velvet, which is a 1944 movie starring Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury. Might have to watch it soon!
- PRIDE PARADES (25A: [Events during which rainbow flags are flown]) – National pride
- DEBT OF GRATITUDE (35A: [Something owed by a thankful person]) – National debt
- HERO SANDWICH (43A: [Small loaf stuffed with your choice of fillings]) – National hero
- TREASURE MAP (58A: [Document that may make you rich]) – National treasure
I don’t think this is the first time I have seen the word ENSILE, but I definitely can say that I had not seen/heard it more than three or four times ever before today’s encounter (10D: [Store corn, say]). Having TACOS in a grid published on Tuesdays with the clue referencing Taco Tuesday is next-level special (47D: [“Tuesday” menu favorites]). Literally LOLed at the NO PUN clue, which, given my knowledge of dad jokes and bad puns, I’m surprised that I had never come across before now (46D: [“___ intended” (what the dentist said after “You know the drill!”)]). Loved the non-themed 11s stacked with a couple of the theme entries, SMITHSONIAN (14A: [American institution of note]) and HIDDEN ROOMS, which immediately reminded me of the Al Capone hidden vault bluster that turned out to be nothing and left Geraldo Rivera looking like a clown (62A: [Chambers behind moving bookcases]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FERRARIS (36D: [Sporty Italian wheels]) – The Formula 1 racing season is just around the corner (see what I did there?), and no true F1 can can watch the sport without acknowledging the impact that Ferraris have had throughout the history of the circuit. Scuderia Ferrari have won the drivers’ championship 15 times, the constructors’ championship on 16 occasions, and have won a total of 237 races. Some of the famous drivers of the famous red car include Michael Schumacher and a couple of crossword favorites: Niki Lauda and Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari is experiencing a drought however, as it has not had a driver win the drivers’ championship since 2007 and last won the constructors’ championship in 2008.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!