Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Even Steven” – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! This week’s theme becomes clear when we read the title note: “Or is it Stephen?” The theme phrases substitute PH for V.
- 17a. [Book lover for focuses on insects?] APHID (AVID) READER
- 21a. [Time before someone becomes a best friend?] BUD PHASE (VASE)
- 33a. [The art of hand-drawing national outlines?] COUNTRY GRAPHY (GRAVY)
- 49a. [Reason why your 90s Hypercolor shirts might work later in the decade?] PHAT (VAT) DYES. I wanted one of these temperature-dependent color-changing shirts so badly.
- 54a. [Star player of an old flip-phone game?] SNAKE PHENOM (VENOM).
- 38a. [“All in the Family” in-law Mike] STIVIC. He was played by Rob Reiner in the 1970s comedy.
- 42a. [Co. that makes ATMs and introduced LCDs] NCR. Initially National Cash Register Company. Besides developing a ton of commerce inventions, the company created the US Navy Bombe and other devices that decrypted the Enigma machine in World War II. They also developed a welfare department to help improve working conditions.
Robert Won’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is 56a. [Genre with a Hall of Fame in Cleveland … or what can follow the respective halves of 17-, 33- and 40-Across], ROCK AND ROLL. The themers are meant to consist of one ___ ROCK word followed by a ___ ROLL word:
- 33a. [Coil in a mattress], BEDSPRING. Bedrock, spring roll. Works great!
- 40a. [Ocean invertebrate with a round, translucent body], MOON JELLY. Works well, except that probably a lot of us have never heard of the MOON JELLY (which is also known by a variety of other names).
- 17a. [Easy order for a barista], BLACK COFFEE. Black rock? Coffee roll? I don’t really know what either of these is. (My husband assures me that coffee roll is a familiar thing in the donur/cinnamon roll family, but I am so coffee-averse, apparently my mind shuts down and I preclude the coffee roll from entering my consciousness.)
It’s a solid theme concept, but I’m not sure there are enough broadly familiar phrases or compound words that work with this +rock, +roll framework.
Fave fill: the BOONIES, MEATLOAF. There are also some entries that feel a tad hard for a Tuesday puzzle: SLOE, T.S.E., RESOD, partial AS I AM, LOCO clued via the Latin [___ citato (in the passage quoted)], and ABOIL.
Three more things:
- It’s gonna be beastly hot in Chicago tomorrow and Wednesday! So here are two hot clues I liked: 1a. [Hot dish that sounds cold], CHILI and 55a. [A live one might be hot], MIC. We’ll take that COOL cucumber while we’re at it.
- 12d. [Plains figure replaced by Monticello on U.S. nickels], BISON. A shame to remove that majestic animal in favor of a slaver’s plantation. I hope to get out to Illinois’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie sometime and espy (if I’m lucky) the resident bison herd.
- 27d. [Mont Blanc, for one], ALP. Question for those who have lived in that part of Europe: Does anyone actually use this singular term? I’ve never heard anyone call Pikes Peak “a Rocky,” or call anything “an Appalachian,” so I do wonder is ALP is just an only-in-crosswords crutch.
3.25 stars from me.
Emet Ozar’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “End in Tears”—Jim P’s review
A little bit of trickeration in the title: the last word should be pronounced as if it rhymes with “wears.” The theme answers all end in a word that can also be loosely synonymous with “tears.”
- 20a. [Couldn’t care less] DON’T GIVE A RIP.
- 35a. [Easy to understand] CLEAR CUT.
- 42a. [Strategy to make an everyday activity more efficient] LIFE HACK.
- 55a. [Part of a URL] FORWARD SLASH.
As far as synonym themes go, I liked this one—possibly mostly because of the little bit of wordplay in the title which resulted in a an aha moment. Further, the keywords in question all have significant meaning changes, and the entries themselves are enjoyable.
In the fill, highlights include KINETIC, OCCULT, MERLIN, KARAOKE, PORTIA, EDIFICE, and BUSLOAD.
Clues of note:
- 7d. [Like much of Calder’s art]. KINETIC. Another artist whose name I don’t know. But maybe I’ll remember him now that I know that he invented the mobile.
- 46a. [Lots of students, say]. BUSLOAD. Managed to suss this one out with just the first two letters. 😏
Solid, enjoyable puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 576), “Broadening One’s Perspective”—Ade’s take
Good day, everybody! I hope you’re all doing great and that you’re getting enough sleep. Flying between San Francisco and Boston at the moment, and the mileage is starting to catch up to these old(er) bones now!
Today’s puzzle is somewhat of a mind-bender, given that each of the four 15-letter answers have four of its boxes circled and, when filled, spell out the word “mind.” MIND also appears in the grid toward the bottom as the reveal (65A: [___ expanding (creating increased awareness…and an alternate puzzle title)]).
- PUMPKIN EMPANADA (17A: [Mexican turnover served at a Halloween party])
- MARION RAVENWOOD (26A: [Indiana Jones’ love interest in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”])
- NO MAN IS AN ISLAND (45A: [John Donne line that challenges isolationism])
- THE MAGIC KINGDOM (59A: [Stanley Elkin novel that references an enchanting Disney venue])
First thing I noticed when solving is seeing the entry EMP crossing the letters “emp” in the “pumpkin empanada” entry (9D: [Japanese ruler, for short]). Second thing was immediately thinking about how a pumpkin empanada would taste. Probably wouldn’t be a fan of it. I’ll just stick with chicken empanadas, thank you! Also, seeing the clue to MORAN, mentioning “Bugs” and “gangster” in the clue, took my mind right to the Looney Tunes cartoons of Bugs Bunny outwitting a couple of Prohibition-era mobsters, Rocky and Mugsy (26D: [Bugs the gangster]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NAP (4D: [Short snooze]) – A number of readers know that the Major League Baseball team in Cleveland changed its nickname at the end of last year, and the team is know called the Guardians. There was a time when the Cleveland baseball team was nicknamed the Naps. Whaaaa? They were named as such, from 1903 to 1915, after their player/manager, Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie, who led the American League in batting in 1903. After Lajoie left the team in 1915, the team needed a new name, and that is when the team decided on the racist nickname that many have associated the team with before its change to “Guardians” before this season.
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Story of my solve: flew through the top section—including the entire grid-spanning entry from just the first four letters, was a li’l bit spotty in the middle section, slowed down in the bottom third—especially the lower right.
And when the grid was completely filled I was informed that something was off. I’d hoped this might be the entry I was most dissatisfied with, the oddish plural 54d [Genetic molecules] DNAS. Recalling another hiccup, I revisited 31d [That: Sp.], specifically where it crossed 42a [Popular toy of the late nineties] TAMOGOTCHI. See, I’d originally had TAMAGOTCHI but after reading 31-down I changed the A to an O, since the unspecific clue suggested to me the default O ending. Bottom line: that’s a bad crossing and the cluing should have been more explicit for the Spanish word. Or perhaps it should have referenced acclaimed conductor ESA-Pekka Salonen, which would be very New Yorkery.
- 17a [Psychology exam?] PERSONALITY TEST. PSA: Myers-Briggs is trash, no better than astrology. Worse actually, since it’s entrenched in corporate schemas. None of this is to say that all PERSONALITY TESTs are baseless; I just needed to OPINE (15a).
- Meta! 22a [The New Yorker : Tilley :: Mad : __ ] NEUMAN. Eustace and Alfred E, respectively.
- 24a [Old-timey opposite of “completely”] NOWISE. Needed some help, but it was gettable. I’ve even managed to use this word occasionally.
- 28a [Author and activist who wrote, “It is the poet’s responsibility to learn the truth from the powerless”] GRACE PALEY. Something absurdist about this being symmetrically paired to TAMAGOTCHI.
- 44a [Drink brand so named for being rich in a particular vitamin] HI-C. I may have known this as a child and subsequently forgotten it in adulthood.
- 46a [City where Rachel Cusk’s “Outline” is set] ATHENS. Both author and title are unfamiliar to me, but it’s apparently the first of an acclaimed trilogy.
- 57a [What a woman who “has it all” all has, presumably] WORK-LIFE BALANCE. I don’t feel the clue is sufficiently sarcastic.
- 5d [Tub for a Swiss bath?] FONDUE POT. Too cute.
- 8d [Mirepoix ingredient] ONION. The other elements are typically carrots and celery.
- 13d [French pates] TÊTES. Did you notice the lack of a diacritical on pate?
- 29d [Grp. with the Rod of Asclepius in its logo] AMA. I used to know why a snake was part of that but seem to have forgotten. … Oh, it seems that its significance is uncertain, though there are theories. The important thing to remember is that it’s just a single serpent. The one with two is a Caduceus and represents commerce. More editorializing: health care shouldn’t be a for-profit enterprise!
- 41d [Winter Paralympics gear] SIT-SKIS. So that’s what those are called.
- 48d [Modern library edition?] EBOOK. Question mark is not strictly necessary here, but it helps call attention to the wordplay, riffing on the Modern Library editions.
- 55d [Signifier that bears a likeness to the thing it represents, in semiotics] ICON. This is a quintessential New Yorker clue.
Barbara Lin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer ends with a part of the eye
- 17a [Spring flower painted by Van Gogh] – PURPLE IRIS
- 25a [A-plus student] – STAR PUPIL
- 34a [Hard-to-open cap] – CHILDPROOF LID
- 48a [Coffee order similar to a latte] – FLAT WHITE
- 56a [Scold harshly] – TONGUE LASH
I enjoyed this theme! I was able to figure it out after just the first two theme answers, and while the puzzle was easy enough that I didn’t really need to use it to find the others, I enjoyed having it as confirmation for my answers. I appreciate how the majority of the answers give the eye related word another meaning. I was a little surprised there was no revealer anywhere – maybe just the word “eye” – but honestly I didn’t miss it; the theme is clear enough as is.
I was very impressed with the craft of the grid today. CHILDPROOF LID is 13 letters long and thus requires a black square on either end of it, which automatically breaks the grid up into corners with answers that are 7 letters long. It’s very tempting as a constructor to put a black square in the middle of these answers (here, at the A in IMPALES) to break them up into blocks of 3 to be easier to work with. Today’s puzzle doesn’t do that, and as a result we get a slew of great answers – look at the SE corner! ICE SKATE, DISTASTE, TOY SHOP are all amazing. To have such strong gridwork in a puzzle with 5 theme answers is super impressive to me as a constructor.
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “Uno Reverse“ — Emily’s write-up
Such a fun, clever theme today that’s also jam packed with awesome entries and clues. There’s so much going on in this puzzle, and that’s a good thing!
Theme: the word “uno” is spelled backwards (…ONU…) in each themer
- 16a. [Something extra, redundantly], ADDEDBONU<\strong>S
- 24a. [Commemorative statues], MONU<\strong>MENTS
- 37a. [“We’re paying!”], ITSONU<\strong>S
- 46a. [Dilemma], CONU<\strong>NDRUM
- 57a. [Product used in cooking and hair care], COCONU<\strong>TOIL
Starting off today’s impressive themer set is ADDEDBONUS, which is fitting, given all of the extra fill in the puzzle (more on that below). MONUMENTS took me a few crossings, as I had smaller scale “bust” and “sculptures” in mind, though the cluing should have clicked for a more grandiose nature sooner. Ah, ITSONUS reminds me of group or family outings when someone else graciously picked up the tab. This is the only CONUNDRUM in this grid today—such a well-rounded puzzle indeed. I had the last part of COCONUTOIL but it took me a bit longer to deduce the first part, though looking back it seems so simple now. The title also references the Uno card game which has revesrse cards that I believe changes the order of players—though it’s been too long since I’ve played. It’s a great crossword twist to “reverse” the word by spelling it backwards in the themer set. Well done!
Favorite fill: HMART, OOZES, and ONHRT
Stumpers: GUAC (had me thinking “dip” at first), SPOUT (shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did but needed a few crossings; “lid” and “strainer” were all I could come up with initially), and POLKA (knowing only his parody songs including The Simpsons ones, just didn’t come up with—and couldn’t believe—it without all the crossings lol)
And if that’s not enough, there’s bonus fill galore! Two pairs of 9s in the downs and a set of 7s. How is it possible to fit all that goodness into one grid. Kudos! Can’t wait to solve more from Ada!
Added bonus: pic of dinner last night…what a coincidence!