Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “It’s in a Name” – Erin’s write-up
Announcement: Matt is participating in EnigMarch, which is a daily puzzle construction challenge. It’s a great mix of different types of paper puzzles. You can get his submissions for free at his site: https://maelstro.wixsite.com/mattjones/mattdoesmarch
Now on to this week’s grid! The title refers to the phrase “What’s in a name,” and the theme entry names all contain the letters WHAT in that order, but not consecutively until the last entry.
- 17a. [Late Canadian wrestler and brother of Bret] OWEN HART. My grandmother was a big professional wrestling fan, so I grew up watching the Hart brothers and many others. His death in 1999 hit the wrestling community hard.
- 21a. [Wesley’s portrayer on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”] WIL WHEATON. Even though the show went off the air in 1994, my spouse and I are still huge fans and are introducing the series to our children. Wil Wheaton is still involved in acting, as well as writing, gaming, and speaking out about mental illness.
- 37a. [Louisiana band named for the genre it played] BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO. Buckwheat was the stage name of vocalist and accordionist Stanley Dural Jr., who passed away in 2016.
- 52a. [Star of multiple self-titled sitcoms] BOB NEWHART. His TV and movie career has spanned 60 years, starting with stand-up comedy appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and most recently with roles in “The Librarians,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Young Sheldon.”
- 58a. [Father of Pocahontas (and example of the hidden word in the theme answers — this one just happens to be consecutive)] POWHATAN. The chief, whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh, assembled about 30 tribes into the Powhatan Confederacy in Eastern Virginia in the 1500s before the arrival of the English in 1607.
The theme is fine. I like the “What’s in a name?” touch. I wish the names included some more modern folks, though. With the exception of the historical figure, the other entries were at the height of their fame in the 90s or earlier, and I wouldn’t expect younger solvers to necessarily have heard of all of them.
- 34a. [___ Bop (child-friendly verions of hit songs)] KIDZ. The lyrics are modified to be considered child friendly, but the explicit nature of some of the songs they cover lead to some hilarious changes. I’m just going to leave this and this here for some examples.
- 34d. [Actress Riley of 2021’s “Zola” (and granddaughter of Elvis Presley)] KEOUGH. I think she’s the only person under the age of 40 in this grid, other than the Kidz Bop kidz…er, kids.
- Both TORI Spelling and IAN Ziering in the grid…it’s a “Beverly Hills, 90210” reunion!
- 13a. [Future school members] ROE. I love this wordplay. Fish eggs will eventually be part of a school of fish.
Mary Lou Guizzo’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
March is Women’s History Month, and Mary Lou shines the light on Nobelists: Swedish NELLY SACHS wrote about the struggles of the Jewish people. I didn’t know her name, but GERTRUDE ELION helped develop the first anti-rejection drug for organ transplants so I’m personally grateful for her work. (Wikipedia tells me she also had a hand in AZT and acyclovir. We stan a legend!) DONNA STRICKLAND is more recent, and I do not remotely understand what chirped pulse amplification is. Northern Ireland’s peace activist BETTY WILLIAMS and physicist/chemist MARIE CURIE round out the set.
Having five theme entries occupying 59 theme squares tightens things up some, and I spy some entries that might be a bit on the hard side for newer solvers, particularly if they intersect with the names that are (but shouldn’t be!) less familiar than CURIE. SSR with a surpassingly vague [Old atlas inits.] clue, CDR, TSARS, AIR ARM, IDYL, ENOKI, ENID …
That’s all from me.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Last But Not Least”—Jim P’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases where one word that originally featured the bigram EA has its E extracted, hence the title.
- 17a. [Surreptitiously follow family men?] TAIL FATHERS. Feathers.
- 36a. [Highly domesticated amphibian?] LAP FROG. Leap. Ha. Cute. I bet my wife would like a LAP FROG. She’s funny like that.
- 57a. [Safe place for me on the water?] MY BLUE HAVEN. Heaven. Hmm. Maybe too close to the original?
- 10d. [Exhortation to spare that fly?] “DON’T SWAT IT.” Sweat. Nuh-uh. Me and flies don’t get along. Swat it!
- 28d. [Soap from washing wingtips?] SHOE LATHER. Leather.
Not bad. The title makes a good basis for the theme, and it’s easily grokked while still maintaining interest throughout the puzzle. I didn’t LOL at these, but I definitely liked the frog and fly ones.
A pinwheel pattern of theme answers usually precludes any other long fill entries, but today we get bonuses DAFFODIL and GAME SHOW as well as conversational entries “AFRAID SO” and “AFTER YOU.” Very nice.
Clues of note:
- 51a. [Tennis champ Ashe]. ARTHUR. Usually ARTHUR is in the clue and ASHE is the answer. Nice to see the reverse here.
- 5d. [Spring bloom]. DAFFODIL. I just noticed today that they’re starting to pop up around here in the Tacoma, WA, area. Always a pleasant sight.
- 37d-59d. [ ]. This has happened before where the final Down clues are blank. No idea what causes this, but the PDF on the WSJ site lists all the correct clues.
Solid Tuesday puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Catherine Cetta’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
The LAT did not jump on the International Women’s Day bandwagon. Each themer has three letters circled. This morning the role of circles will be played by the color orange.
- 13a [Wannabe IRS agent’s test] is a CPA EXAM.
- 21a [“When Harry Met Sally” screenwriter] was NORA EPHRON.
- 33a [Annual LGBTQ celebration] is the PRIDE PARADE.
- 44a [Mug for the camera] is STRIKE A POSE.
- 55a [Slippery slapstick prop] is a BANANA PEEL.
So are we looking for a clever comment about APEs? A reminder that many of us can benefit from the EAP our employer provides? Nope. 68a [Thick fog metaphor…and what set of circled letters is?] is PEA SOUP. Not sure the SOUP thing really works for anagrams, but I’m probably being picky. And I didn’t realize until I typed this up that the three letters span at least two words in each answer. A solid Tuesday theme.
I’m rushing out the door so I’ll cut to the chase. What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that an ACRE is comprised of 43,560 square feet.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 562), “Where Are My Keys?”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everybody! Hope you all have been doing well lately and having a good start to International Women’s Day!
Today’s crossword is definitely one that allows you to key in to the theme, literally. Each of the four them entries are turned into puns when letters that form a “K”-sounding syllable are added in them. As paranoid as I am now about losing keys after I lost the spare keys to an apartment that I was staying in a few years ago, I definitely hope I never have to ask where my keys are ever again!
- EVIL TWINKIE (17A: [Really bad snack cake?]) – Evil twin. We’ve been eating evil Twinkies all this time and we don’t even know it…well, at least for those who have eaten a Twinkie before. First there was Left Twix/Right Twix, now this?!?
- MAKI RAINEY (27A: [Sushi roll named for an American singer dubbed “Mother of the Blues”?]) – Ma Rainey.
- SWANKY LAKE (49A: [Tchaikovsky ballet about a posh water skiing spot?]) – Swan Lake.
- SPICY HOT KEY (63A: [Software shortcut used in a “five-alarm chili” recipe?]) – Spicy hot. So wished this was “ICY HOT KEY” as an homage to the pain-relieving cream.
How much did our constructor KEEP IT REAL (29D: [“Just be natural”]) by having that real nice pair of non-themed 10-letter down entries, including ZOE SALDANA (10D: [Portrayer of Lieutenant Uhura in “Star Trek”])? My brother has gone on a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” binge over the past month, and is essentially trying to watch all of the “Star Trek” iterations after the original series. Out of the blue, but cute! NEPOTISM, while annoying and maddening when it happens at your expense (including to me, which occurs so much in broadcast/digital media…ugh), is a good addition when it comes to filling in a grid (43A: [Hiring practice that’s all in the family]). Let’s hope that spring weather is indeed around the corner for most people in the country, and seeing PANSY (46A: [Spring bloom]) intersect OXEYE might be a way to think about the better weather that, hopefully, will be ahead (33D: [Daisy variety]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AARON (14D: [“Appalachian Spring” composer Copeland]) – Many know about “Hammerin’ Hank,” the great Henry Aaron, but not as many know that the legendary baseball slugger had a brother who also played in the Majors. Tommie Aaron, Henry’s younger brother, also played for the Milwaukee/Atlanta baseball franchise, making his MLB debut in 1962. Tommie, who was a first baseman and left fielder, played 437 career MLB games as he yo-yoed between the bigs and the minors. In 1967, he was named the International League (AAA level, just below MLB) Most Valuable Player. With his 13 career home runs, Tommie is one-half of the brother duo with the most combined homers in Major League history. (Henry hit 755 homers.)
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Brooke Husic & Alina Abidi’s USA Today Crossword, “That Was Close!” — Emily’s write-up
A fun Tuesday puzzle with a great grid design, clean fill, and a fun theme and themers!
Theme: the last word of each themer can be combined with “close” to form a new phrase
- 20a. [Tiny adjustment to Coordinated Universal Time], LEAPSECOND
- 38a. [Time to take a bow], CURTAINCALL
- 56a. [Soothing stuff at a barbershop], AFTERSHAVE
Though I have heard of it, it took me a few moments and crossings to fill LEAPSECOND which then becomes a CLOSESECOND with the theme. At the CURTAINCALL, be sure to mind the grand drape otherwise it might be a CLOSECALL. AFTERSHAVE always evokes the image of Kevin in the movie “Home Alone” which he wasn’t used to but certainly many people enjoy after a CLOSESHAVE.
Favorite fill: GOOEY, MINT, and LEAPSECOND
Stumpers: EMU (new reference for me but excited to learn about this Aboriginal constellation and Aboriginal astronomy), YAY (first tried “yes”, “yea”, and “yas”), and PIGGY (just didn’t click without a few crossings)
A smooth solve for me today with lots of excellent entries and delightful cluing. For additional insight and constructors’ notes on today’s puzzle, check out Sally’s blog post as well.
Christina Iverson’s Universal Crossword, “Growing Pains”— Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: The word TOOTH is created, bit by bit, at the starts of sentences.
- T-BONE STEAK
- TO A LESSER EXTENT
- TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
- TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
- TOOTH FAIRY
Very nice puzzle! Colorful phrases, and I love how the first word stands alone in each of the themers. Also delighted that the chosen phrase was TOOT YOUR OWN HORN instead of what I initially entered (TOOT ONE’S OWN HORN). I hate the vague ONE’S that so often appears.
Fun Stuff I Learned:
- REFs run nearly a half marathon during a soccer game? Yowza.
- BALI has a Hindu majority.
- EU RAIL‘s “33 countries, just 1 ticket” slogan.
- South China tigers are likely only found in ZOOS.