Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Jonesin' 4:26 (Erin) 


LAT untimed (Jenni) 


NYT 8:35 (Darby) 


Universal untimed (Jim Q) 


USA Today 10:02 (Emily) 


WSJ untimed (Jim P) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Rafael Musa’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up

Today’s revealer made me laugh. It’s a cute theme and appears to me to be completely original (watch someone post a link in the comments to some duplicate puzzle from three years ago…).

Each theme answer has a set of four circled letters that appear to make no sense at all.

Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2022, Rafael Musa, solution grid

  • 17a [Having the same ability] is ON EVEN TERMS. This didn’t really sound “in the language” to me. Google NGram tells me it peaked about 1920, so maybe that’s why. I would say “an even playing field.” It’s clearly a thing, though, so I should let go. I looked at the circled letters and thought “NEVE Campbell?” No.
  • 24a [Touch and go, grammatically] are ACTION VERBS. NVER. Vern? No.
  • 39a [“Guilty or not guilty?”] is WHATS THE VERDICT? OK, EVER is a word. Still not helpful.
  • 48a [1939 Stephen Foster biopic] is SWANEE RIVER. NE’ER is also a word and that is also not helpful.

Finally 60a ties it all together in a very satisfying way. 60a [Rarely….or what each set of circled letters is?] is ALMOST NEVER. Fun!

A few other things:

  • I have never used the word RESAVE. Just me?
  • 12d [Words on a jacket] make up a BLURB. Books, not high school sports.
  • We once hiked a mile to a waterfall to discover that during the winter the stream WENT DRY. Bummer.
  • 30d [Rabbit ears] is ANTENNA. Kids, ask your parents. Or grandparents.
  • Happy to see Olivia WILDE instead of Oscar. Welcome, Patti Varol.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there was a Stephen Foster biopic.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Can I Finish?” – Erin’s write-up

Jonesin' solution 3/29/22

Jonesin’ solution 3/29/22

Hello lovelies! This week’s theme involves adding the letter I to the end of common phrases and allowing hilarity to ensue.

  • 17a. [Cash cab, really?] INCOME TAXI. Cash Cab is a great show! As mentioned on Fiend a few years ago, Tony Orbach and his son were on the show once. There does not seem to be any easily available video evidence, though.
  • 61a. [Magazine for the discerning Abominable Snowman?] BETTER YETI
  • 11d. [Electronic assistant for a Madagascar lemur species?] AYE AYE SIRI. How adorable is this aye-aye (seen below)?!

    Aye-aye named Agatha

    An aye-aye named Agatha. Photo by David Haring.

  • 29d. [Author Morrison, when writing poetry?] METRIC TONI

Other things:

  • 64a. [Lt. Dangle’s city] RENO. Jim Dangle was the hot pants-wearing character on “Reno 911!”
  • 5d. [“Jerry Springer: The ___”] OPERA. Why is this a thing?
  • 40a. [Item near a litter box] SCOOPER. I’m going to use this space to solicit pet advice. One of my cats has started to do her business within a couple feet of, instead of in, the litter boxes. Instead of just using the SCOOPER on the floor all the time, what can I do to encourage her to do her thing where it belongs?
  • 44d. [Word to a hound] TALLY-HO. Today I learned that TALLY-HO is one word, not two, because it is hyphenated.

Lucy Howard’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Birds of a Feather”—Jim P’s review

Theme: WINGED MIGRATION (37a, [2001 nature documentary, and a hint to the circled letters]). The other four grid-spanning themers each feature a TERN in circled letters. Taken together, the TERN seems to migrate from left to right as we go down the grid.

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Birds of a Feather” · Lucy Howard · Tue., 3.29.22

  • 17a. [Air Force badge for experienced officers] MASTER NAVIGATOR. Despite my wife’s and my collective time in the Air Force, we’ve never heard of this badge. Of course, neither of us had anything to do the actual flying of airplanes.
  • 23a. [Final words in a movie trailer, often] A THEATER NEAR YOU. Feels like a very long partial that’s missing the beginning “Coming soon to…”
  • 49a. [1932 George Raft film that featured Mae West’s screen debut] NIGHT AFTER NIGHT. Hadn’t heard of this one, but it was gettable.
  • 57a. [“Oh, it’s no longer important”] “DOESN’T MATTER NOW.”

This theme slowly won me over. I wasn’t on board at first, since I had issues with the first couple entries, but then I learned that the Arctic tern is the bird with the most epic migration pattern of all earth’s critters, going from pole to pole and back each year. Given that I’d never heard of the documentary in the revealer, I’m wishing a simple TERN was the actual revealer, and its clue highlighted the bird’s migratory stamina.

In the fill I like PELOTON, RADIANT, and GRACIAS, but am really disappointed at the presence of 18d, even clued as a verb [Slow down]. When people look at it in the grid without its clue, how many of them pronounce it as the slur? I realize the word is holding three theme answers together, but there are other options though they’d require significant change to the grid (worth it, in my book). Other challenges in the fill: SPIREA, PERDU, ROAR AT.

On the other hand, it’s cool to see KIM NG in the grid at 36d [Baseball’s first female general manager]. I didn’t know her name, but the crossings are all fair.

Clues of note:

  • 12d. [Peter and Gordon song “___ Pieces”]. I GO TO. I wonder if Peter Gordon does a rendition of this song.
  • 53d. [One who might cry “uncle!”]. NIECE. Not sure if I’ve seen this clue before or not, but I like it.

Mixed feelings on this one. Three stars.

Jamey Smith’s New York Times Crossword- Darby’s write-up

Theme: Each theme answer is the location of a specific industry.

Theme Answers

Jamey Smith's New York Times Crossword solution for 3/29/2022

Jamey Smith’s New York Times Crossword solution for 3/29/2022

  • 18a [“The country music industry”] NASHVILLE
  • 20a [“The lobbying industry”] K STREET
  • 26a [“The high-tech industry”] SILICON VALLEY
  • 42a [“The advertising industry”] MADISON AVENUE
  • 51a [“The automotive industry”] DETROIT
  • 54a [“The film industry”] HOLLYWOOD

Wow! Six theme answers to start your Tuesday. I got NASHVILLE and SILICON VALLEY first and was definitely wondering for a bit what the K of 2d [“Marinate, e.g.”] SOAK was doing next to the S of 3d [“Shows curiosity”] ASKS before putting together that the lobbying industry was in D.C.. It’s nice that MADISON AVENUE is there as another street-based industry, since everywhere else is a larger area. This definitely felt like an early in the week theme, because SILICON VALLEY really gives it away almost immediately.

Image of a hole in golf that curves one direction or the other (or a dogleg hole)

This is a dogleg. You learn something new everyday.

Generally, I thought that this was a solid Tuesday. I’m always confused by ROSIN versus RESIN, even though I shouldn’t be by now. I also really enjoyed the inclusion of both 41d [“Gag gift in a ventilated box”] PET ROCK and 38d [“Make out”] CANOODLE. Despite having golf-adjacent my whole life, I was unfamiliar with DOGLEG, so I’ve included an image so that we can collectively share my new understanding.

Other standouts include 40d [“A bit lit”] for TIPSY, 51d [“Chowderhead”] DODO, and 16a [“Cry just before the guest of honor arrives at a surprise party”] HIDE.

Julia Hochner’s Universal Crossword, “OK, I’ll Bite”— Jim Q’s write-up

That’s a fun title!

THEME: Snacks are “broken” in common phrases, with part at the beginning of the phrase and part at the end.

Universal crossword solution · OK, I’ll Bite · Julia Hochner · Tue., 03.29.22


  • (revealer) SNACK BREAKS. 

This puzzle needs circles. It didn’t much bother me as the snacks were pretty easy to spot, and I’m sure others who are accustomed to Universal’s bizarre “workaround” to compensate for the dated technology they use had no problem. But without circles, it lacks some of the potential synergy a solver can take advantage of for a better solve experience (i.e. maybe the solver sees the CH at the beginning of one answer and automatically fills in the I then PS and then easily spots CHIMNEY SWEEPS). It’s also unfair to newer solvers, who, from my experience, almost never understand the letter-counting instructions.

I was told by a very credible source that fix was on the horizon. That was over two years ago. Does anyone who regularly solves via the webapp particularly enjoy it? Especially in comparison with (literally) every other publication’s online solve technology?

Anyway, theme itself is fine! NUMBER ONE HITS and CHIMNEY SWEEPS seem a bit bizarre as plurals. How can you not uncover the latter and not immediately conjure up Mary Poppins? I think that’s the only time I’ve seen more than one CHIMNEY SWEEP together.

Favorite entry was NON-EVENT. Nothing much else stuck out to me. Coulda done without OW OW, especially crossing the partial IWO.

3 stars with circles.

2.5 stars without.

**This appears to be a debut! Looking forward to more from Julia! Congrats!



Hannah Slovut’s USA Today Crossword, “Last Laugh“ — Emily’s write-up

A fantastic puzzle today, with a great theme, lots of wonderful entries and cluing, and a fun grid!

Completed USA Today crossword for Tuesday March 29, 2022

USA Today, 03 29 2022, “Last Laugh“ by Hannah Slovut

Theme: each themer ends in HA, like a last laugh (“ha ha ha”)


  • 16a. [Chilled chocolately coffee drink], ICEDMOCHA
  • 26a. [Spicy pho condiment], SRIRACHA
  • 40a. [Fish with razor-sharp teeth], PIRANHA
  • 52a. [Group born after Zoomers], GENALPHA
  • 65a. [“Darn tootin’!”], YOUBETCHA

Today’s title had me looking for laughter of all sorts at the end of the themers and after the first two filled it, then it became clear that HA was the shared type of laugh ending each one. Even the clue makes me want an ICEDMOCHA, which is always a reprieve after some SRIRACHA, though sambal and hoisin sauce are usually what I pair with pho so this second one stumped me for a bit, especially with that first “r”. No doubt what was being clued with PIRANHA, as many a cartoon taught me early about these feisty toothy fish. The first part of GENALPHA I filled right in but needed a couple of crossings for the second half, which I haven’t really heard used much yet. Apparently it’s for people born in the early 2010s through mid-2020s, so the youngest generation currently. Does this Millennial now feel even older? YOUBETCHA! My Minnesota upbringing requires me to say it as “Ya, you betcha”, though—or is that just my family?

Favorite fill: SLEPTLATE, RECLAIMED, and EGO (for cluing!)

Stumpers: LOTS (I was thinking “ramp”, “spot”, “space”), SLEW (took me crossings, as the clue didn’t quite get me there today), and GIST (usually I think of it as “get the—” as for the essence or core of something instead of the thing itself)

Spot on cluing, with a pleathoa of different types and some excellent punny/creative cluing such as [Bone in a cage] for RIB, [Grass that comes in a roll] for SOD, and [Nwodim of “SNL”] for EGO. So good. Loved today’s puzzle and looking forward to hopefully more from Hannah in the future!

4.75 stars


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 565), “Latitude Attitude”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 565: “Latitude Attitude”

Hello all! I’m almost done with two-and-a-half weeks of covering March Madness and reporting for it, so just popping my head in in the meantime for this grid, which was a fun one!

Each of the first four theme entries, from top to bottom, feature a word at the end that can also come after the word “mother.” Then we have the fifth theme entry that acts as the reveal, the timely PARALLEL MOTHERS (53A: [Oscar-nominated 2021 film starring Penélope Cruz…and a hint to the puzzle theme]). 

    • QUEENS OF COUNTRY (17A: [BBC documentary about singers Cline, Lynn, Wynette, Gentry, Tucker, and Parton]) – Mother country.
    • JAMES EARL JONES (21A: [Tony-winning actor who starred in “The Great White Hope” and “Fences”]) – Mother Jones
    • GET BACK TO NATURE (34A: [Resume mountain biking after a break, say]) – Mother Nature
    • HOLD YOUR TONGUE (46A: [“Do not say a thing!”]) – Mother tongue

Take care!


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36 Responses to Tuesday, March 29, 2022

  1. Drew Geary says:

    WSJ: That 18d answer is indeed cringe-worthy. Please, Mike Shenk, you can do better.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Chemistry and Orthopedics would not agree with you. It is an irreplaceable word.

      Accent (soft) on the second syllable, not a hard one on the first with a hard E.

      Stop signaling.

    • sanfranman59 says:

      Retard is a perfectly fine word as long as it’s not used to describe a person. Are we also not supposed to use ritardando as a musical term any longer since it’s sometimes abbreviated in musical scores as “ritard.” and that kinda, sorta looks and sounds like “retard” and has the same etymology?

      I feel like I’m just about as “woke” as the next person. In fact, I try to be, even if I kind of cringe at the concept because the right has successfully coopted it as a metaphorical cudgel with which to beat the left over the head. And I don’t constantly wear my woke-ness on my sleeve, making sure that everyone I encounter is aware of it. To me, eliminating words from our language just smacks of censorship and conjures up disturbing visions of a Bradburyian “Fahrenheit 451” world. It’s also a fool’s errand. It’s not the words that are the problem. It’s the way that some people use those words.

      No matter what word you attach to something that some people might inappropriately make fun of or use as a basis for bigotry and hatred, it too will eventually become pejorative. Only by doing something about the underlying cause of the bigotry can you effectuate real change. Banning words isn’t going to do anything.

      • JohnH says:

        Agreed. I admit that I truly cringed when I got it and wondered at allowing it, but then I reminded myself that it’s a term I rely on, especially in music.

  2. Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy [but today ... yes] says:

    LAT: I really, really liked this puzzle. I’m “Huh? What’s going on?” And then the revealer. Rim shot! And a personal meta, since the missing letters were my father’s initials. [RIP, Colonel 1924-1992.]

    New Yorker: What great news about having a puzzle every weekday! What not so great news about some of the new constructors. And my heart sank when I saw today’s byline. I was actually surprised [given past experiences] that the crosses were fair and allowed you to infer the things you might not know — until I got to the NE corner, which I think was brutally unfair. Took me until I started writing this comment to figure out what “installments” meant in the clue for 4A [and I groaned out loud and still don’t like it] and I’ve never heard of 16A [“chic” seemed a perfectly reasonable ending] and, okay, toss in a partial for the title of some novel I’ve never heard of [despite the 500+ volumes in my house] and clue 11D as obscurely as possible and ignore the untold number of other more recognizable people with the same name. That’s a PP puzzle for you. End of rant. :) Hope you enjoyed it.

    • e.a. says:

      sorry you wiped out on that (imo very fun, perfectly clued) corner but did you have to be so ad hominem about the constructor? that’s a really mean thing to say, especially on someone’s debut day

      • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

        There are constructors that have a penchant for doing this sort of thing. I don’t like it, and I think mine was a legitimate complaint rather than an ad hominem attack. All I ask, as a solver, is a fair chance at solving the puzzle. And this may have been Paolo’s New Yorker debut but not his debut in the crossword universe, which I why I was not exactly surprised to run into a corner of that nature, but was nonetheless not pleased.

    • joon says:

      i loved seeing KAREN chee in the puzzle! thanks for brightening my day, paolo, and congrats on the new gig!

    • paolo p. says:

      sorry to hear that! just send me a list of all the things you, personally, know and i’ll make sure this mistake never happens again

      • Jenni says:

        Paolo wins the Internet today.

        • Mr. [Not Always] Grumpy says:

          Made me laugh too.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Just please remember to use your manners here. I’m a fan of Paolo’s constructing style and look forward to seeing more of it. Here’s the thing: A great many constructors these days make a point of including their personal voice, things that interest them, and (yes) also more diverse people. They’re not going to stop. If you dislike someone’s puzzles most of the time, you are free to disregard them! I certainly have a couple folks I avoid, but I’m not going come drag them through the mud just for the hell of it.

            You might have seen Karen Chee in segments on Seth Meyers’s late-night show. Seth has given a decent spotlight to some of his writers who are women (Amber Ruffin even parlayed the gig to her own show on Peacock). After the decades of comedy shows hiring a slew of white dudes and excluding almost all other voices from the writers’ rooms, this is welcome.

            Now, if everyone could behave themselves and not jump out with ad hominem attacks, I can return to recuperating from neurosurgery.

    • norah says:

      I loved it (even though I don’t have 500+ books in my house)! So glad to see all three new constructors in the lineup – and both puzzles are bangers so far.

    • JohnH says:

      I found the NE really tough, too, after an easy start on TNY. But I finished, with maybe some educated guesses. I also hadn’t heard of a CHAIR DANCE, but its a reasonable thing to learn, and PRELIT TREE sounds preposterous, but I’m happy to trust that it’s real. The work by ONO is interesting to hear about as well (and here I thought I knew her art).

      I think “Eating out” as a clue could use quote marks, since the answer is what someone might say. I also wonder if maybe GLEEK was not good fill, since its primary meaning is a gross-out, and Googling just doesn’t get hits for a meaning matching the clue. (It also crosses a proper name, although a gettable one.) Still, good to encounter the debut of Tuesday puzzles.

      • Zulema says:

        What the NYR explained in their intro to daily puzzles was that they would begin with greater difficulty on Monday and become easier as the week advanced. They forgot to tell PP evidently. Besides PRELIT TREE, there were a few other preposterous entries.

        • Zulema says:

          I have been informed there are pre-lit trees sold. They are always artificial trees.

        • JohnH says:

          Yes, and thanks. I thought the suggestion that the editing and difficulty ratings were in need of attention ran into unfair comments yesterday, attributing them only to me. And here today I tried (AGAIN) to be gracious about what I personally don’t know. FWIW, their difficulty ratings have also run into criticism on Fridays, when I’ve not joined in, and in the opposite direction when Gorski writes for Monday, someone about whom I’d pretty much never complain.

      • Gary R says:

        PRELIT TREEs do exist, but they’re not “real” – they’re “artificial.” My wife and I have three – a couple of tabletop models and a six-footer. And they definitely make holiday decorating faster – no strings of lights to fuss with.

    • marciem says:

      My reaction was totally different. I did drop in Cottage Chic and it held me up for a while, but then it was obviously wrong. Unlike the other day’s hotel/motel/uh/um (semi-schrodinger?) which could be either one, this had an answer that was right and one that was incorrect… and I’ happy to learn about the newfound cottage core replacing shabby chic :) . That area was also tough because I wanted idiom where slang belonged, for translators difficulty. And I learned a new Karen in the bargain :) .

      I liked some of the misdirection (“eating out” = “I’m on a diet” :D … made me laugh, ‘cat dish’ for Persian food locale…). Mostly newer things, but then there was that oldie Encarta and … so good job!

      Doable, but not easy. As it should be. IMO.

    • Sheik Yerbouti says:

      I had the opposite reaction. I enjoy learning some new things and names via crosswords, and I found the crosses to be tough but fair. And for that reason it’s a byline I seek out and enjoy. How boring would crosswords be if they contained only stuff you already knew?

    • sanfranman59 says:

      FWIW, I was defeated by that same corner and cheated to get SHORE {10D: “Kafka on the ___” (Haruki Murakami book)}. I was able to finish after that, but not without some guesswork. That’s okay, I suppose, but as a long-time solver who’s accustomed to completing crosswords without cheating, it wasn’t very satisfying. OTOH, I’m used to struggling with PP’s puzzles, so I was a little surprised by how well I moved through it until I got to the NE, that is. I had a blank 3 x 3 area in the extreme NE corner and just couldn’t come up with anything without more help. I wasn’t at all sure about STEAD {12D: Position} or the ends of BALLOON HAT {14A: Accessory that might pop} and CASH DESKS {4A: Payment installments?}. The ‘R’ at the COTTAGE CORE {16A: Idyllic, pastoral aesthetic}/KAREN {11D: Comedy writer Chee} cross wasn’t quite a stab in the dark, but it was definitely a very dimly lit room. COTTAGE Chic seemed like a possibility, but I ruled that out when the ‘h’ yielded S_hRE where SHORE belonged. I had no idea what either a CASH DESK or a COTTAGE CORE was.

  3. Clay Patrick says:

    LAT: You missed the fact that the clue to 2 down violates the convention of not having a word in the answer also appear in the clue. https://mycrosswordmaker.com/how-to-make-a-crossword-puzzle, rule 9c. The LA Times Crossword Blog also missed this.

  4. haari says:

    LAT… 2D? “Hmm… no chance” and the answer is UHNO… just wondering if anyone else had trouble with that corner? I steadfastly refused to write in NO and spent a few minutes changing all my answers to avoid putting that NO in there? Was the editor sleeping?? I always thought the answer should never contain a word from the clue. Or is it that rule like 60A, almost never?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      It’s a very good point and I certainly missed it. I don’t know Patti’s editing style all that well so I can’t say if she shares Rich Norris’s lackadaisical attitude toward dupes in different parts of the grid – but this is the clue and the answer for the same entry, and that’s definitely beyond the pale.

      • sara n says:

        I think Patti’s puzzles don’t start running until 4/18, so this is still Rich Norris applying his editing style.

  5. David Roll says:

    WSJ–I was flummoxed by “sick burn” and although I got it, I still don’t understand the clue.
    And I thought that “retard” was perfectly acceptable, but not “perdu,” “muy,” and “Katey.”

  6. Julia H says:

    Universal: Jim, I totally agree it’s a bummer about the lack of circles, but Amanda and David were so great to work with that I’m still glad I published with Universal. It is in fact my debut! My original version of this puzzle had crazy themers like POPULIST UNICORN (popcorn). Amanda suggested I rework the concept with more in-the-language entries, and here we are.


    • Eric H says:

      Congratulations on your debut! Fun puzzle!

    • Jim Q says:

      Congrats, Julia!

      The recurring complaint of mine about Universal’s dated webapp has nothing to do with construction (which I neglected to mention this time).

      It is my hope that they will update their software if enough people express disapproval as it is an unfair representation of your work and it’s rather ludicrous to offer a different solve experience to those who know about this website, where solvers can download in Across Lite.

      I mention it every time Universal publishes a crossword that should require circles (which is very, very frequently).

      Looking forward to seeing your name in the byline again!

      • Julia H says:

        Oh, I totally get the frustration! And I didn’t think it was a comment on the construction. Hopefully those updates are on their way…

  7. Crotchety Doug says:

    @Erin – Couple things, make sure the litter box is reasonably clean. You could also try a different brand of cat litter. I don’t even have a cat now, though I did for eight years – surprised others haven’t chimed in yet.

  8. Crotchety Doug says:

    Jonesin – Best one in a while. Loved learning about the Aye-Aye, a primate, just like me.

Comments are closed.