Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Free-Flowing” – Erin’s write-up
I hope everyone in the United States had a safe Fourth of July. This week Matt gifted us with a themeless for his 1100th (!) Jonesin’ puzzle. Congrats, Matt! This grid took me a while and required some Googling to get a few entries. Let’s touch upon some of the more memorable or less common entries…
- 30a. [Swedish Fish and Candy Corn, once] OREO FLAVORS. I didn’t have the privilege of trying either of these, so I’ll try to refrain from judgment here. But eww…
- 42a. [Daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh and ancestor of the Gaels (connected to the Stone of Scone legend)] SCOTA. Like many myths, there are varying accounts about who Scota was. A 12th century Irish work states that Scota was the daughter of the pharaoh Cingris who married a Babylonian and gave birth to Goídel Glas, who developed the Gaelic language. A 14th century Scottish writing states that Scota married Goídel Glas, and they were exiled from Egypt and eventually founded Ireland and Scotland.
- 33a. [First French Netflix Original animated series (2021) about a title kitten (title kitten)] OGGY OGGY. This series is a spinoff of Oggy and the Cockroaches, which features Oggy as an adult.
- 9d. [1988 cult classic with the line “…and I’m all out of bubblegum”] THEY LIVE. Oh, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I loved you as a wrestler. Anyway, the full quote from the movie is “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum.” I knew this because my spouse is a fan, which led him to purchase a few bottle of “…all out of bubble gum” soda as seen on the right. It takes about how you think bubble gum soda would taste. It’s still available, if you’re one of those people who needs to try disgusting things for themselves.
- 45d. [Aladdin follower?] SANE. This refers to the 1973 David Bowie album, “Aladdin Sane.”
- 17d. [Morning diner option] SIDE OF BACON. If a diner is not offering breakfast all day, then they’re not getting my business. Bacon and omelets and pancakes any time of day or night. This is the hill I’m willing to die on.
Malgorzata Nowakowska & Eileen Williams’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Today’s debut duo are med students at Baylor, and they are off to a good start as constructors.(Probably also as physicians-to-be!) I didn’t notice all the starred clues for shorter answers, just the four long Acrosses—but there are three short themers, too. The revealer is 49d. [Taylor ___, some of whose hit songs are featured in the answers to the starred clues], SWIFT, and those song titles are all clued without reference to Taylor’s oeuvre: MINE, FEARLESS, BABE, RED, BLANK SPACE, SHAKE IT OFF, and DEAR JOHN. I knew the two 10s, and Red and Fearless double as Swift album titles. I was slowed down a bit pre-revealer by wanting to WALK IT OFF with that minor injury. Just me? Also: Not convinced that the puzzle needed to have the three short titles in asymmetrical spots along with the four long titles.
If you are ignorant of pop culture, you could complete this puzzle without a hitch. So no fair complaining that you shouldn’t be expected to know the work of a massively successful singer/songwriter who’s been thriving for the past 16 years, as well as making headlines for having a jackass purchase the masters to her albums (inspiring her to re-record her albums, note for note, so that she owns the masters—savvy!).
Fave fill: YOINK, STORYBOOK romance, FREAKED, and BANFF. Tough for a Tuesday: OBIE. Going to echo Sophia’s comment yesterday about phrases like GRAB AT not being great fill.
Didn’t really know: 36d. [Well-orchestrated ruses], PUT-UP JOBS. Not a phrase in my parlance.
Three more things:
- 5a. [Word with dressing or days], SALAD. Would you believe I learned the phrase salad days from crossworder Ross Trudeau’s dad’s comic strip, Doonesbury, back around 1979?
- 47a. [Things made by doctors and bartenders], ROUNDS. Please let this clue be from the med students and not the puzzle editors!
- 27d. [La ___-Posay (skin-care brand)], ROCHE. It’s a high-end brand that’ll cost you a pretty penny. This was a gimme, not that I’ve ever bought it. If you think this is obscure but don’t complain about the names of 1940s baseball players being included in puzzles, I don’t want to hear it.
3.75 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 579), “Bond…James Bond”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone! Here is hoping that you all had a good time celebrating the holiday, and also hope that no one hurt themselves setting off any sparklers or fireworks!
Today’s crossword has a pretty cute theme, especially when taking a gander at the title when first looking at the puzzle. Each of the five theme entries have circles in it, and when filled in, spell the last name of a celebrity whose first name is James. The circled letters span at least two words in those entries, creating that “bond.”
- RECORD ENTRY (17A: [Written update to a medical file, say]) – (James) Corden.
- HIGH-BROW NOVEL (24A: [“Serious” work of fiction, such as “Ulysses” or “Mrs. Dalloway”]) – (James) Brown.
- PRELUDE AND FUGUE (39A: [Two-part composition by J.S. Bach]) – (James) Dean.
- INCA ANCESTORS (49A: [Ancients in a Peruvian family tree])– (James) Caan
- WAGE EARNERS (61A: [Paid employees]) – (James) Agee.
Took a little while to catch on to the theme since I was not getting the circled letters filled fast enough, but was worth the wait in knowing what was happening. Also got slowed down when I put in “unbuckles” instead of UNFASTENS (35D: [Detaches, as a seatbelt]). Also can’t help think that I need something related to a baseball when asked about an item kept in a humidor instead of a CIGAR (51D: [Humidor item]). I remember about almost 20 years ago my oldest brother being obsessed with “Dragon Ball Z” and GOKU and training in areas 50 times the force of gravity and not knowing what the heck all of this was about (26D: [“Dragon Ball” protagonist]). Little did I know that the show, and its spin-offs, was getting ready to be the most popular Japanese anime in the coming years, and maybe ever! Time to train hard now and become a Super Saiyan!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UMASS (6A: [Amherst campus, in short]) – The finest hour in UMass athletics came in the 1995-1996 school year, when its men’s basketball team ended the season and entered the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as the No. 1 team in the country. The team, coached by John Calipari and featuring future No. 2 overall NBA Draft pick Marcus Camby, won its first 26 games of the season, including a win over then No. 1 Kentucky in the regular season opener. The Minutemen reached the 1996 Final Four, held in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but lost in the national semifinals in a rematch against the Kentucky Wildcats. (Kentucky would then beat Syracuse in the national championship game two days later.) UMass ended the season 35-2, but their Final Four appearance was vacated by the NCAA one year later due to Camby receiving improper benefits from an agent.
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
Nice, smooth grid here, anchored by two 13-letter marquee across entries in the center: 31a [Menacing reprimand in “Mommie Dearest”] NO WIRE HANGERS—was there also violence in that scene? I’ve never actually seen the film, but I know the reference; 36a [Footage of an opening act?] UNBOXING VIDEO, which is a social media phenomenon thingy.
- 2d [Seasonal wind pattern\ MONSOON. My brain just couldn’t get to the right word, so I had TYPHOON for a spell.
- 3d [Florentine painter Paolo who studied “impossible problems of perspective,” per Giorgio Vasari] UCCELLO. Not a name most people know. I recognize him because I’ve actually studied art history. Vasari, by the way, was a Renaissance contemporary who wrote The Lives of the Artists.
- 6d [Peabody-winning radio show about the fourth estate] ON THE MEDIA. It’s definitely lost its edge and my interest since the ouster of co-host Bob Garfield.
- 7d [“Got it?”] CAPEESH. Anyone else try CAPISCE?
- 41d [Sorrowful] ELEGIAC.
- 49d [Six-time N.B.A. All-Star Stoudemire] AMAR’E. Stumbled here; I knew the last letter was a vowel, but wasn’t sure if A, E, or I. The crossing 62a[Like video games appropriate for all ages] should have sorted that out for me—I was able to eliminate the I—but I glossed over the ‘all’ in the clue and thought it might be RATED A for All, but of course it’s RATED E for Everyone.
- 11a [Institutional setting for David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King”: Abbr.] IRS. Which I always seem to initially confuse with A Hologram for the King, although when I take a few moments I can sort them out.
- 27a [Word before wind or power] SOLAR. This is one of those double-fake clues, where the reflexive answer seems correct, then it doesn’t, then it does again. Maybe because the brain is short-circuited by putting ‘wind’ and ‘power’ together, combined with ‘solar wind’ being a very different phenomenon?
- A similar ploy occurs in 54a [It may be found behind bars or in the cooler] ICE, but I don’t feel it’s quite the same—certainly not as tricky. Here, the solver is tempted to imagine jails or prisons, but the wordy phrasing breaks the illusory spell.
- 48a [Rapid decent of stock, perhaps?] STAMPEDE. Are most stampedes downhill affairs?
- 60a [French Surrealist photographer Dora] MAAR.
Karen Luris’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Quickly before I head to the beach: I liked this puzzle and didn’t figure out the theme before I got to the revealer.
- 20a [*Financial plan followed by a mayor] is the CITY BUDGET.
- 28a [*Nests, as a set of measuring cups] is FITS TOGETHER.
- 44a [*Achieve one’s specific goal] is HIT THE TARGET.
And the revealer at 55a: [“Seize the day!,” and what the starred clues literally have] is GET AFTER IT. Which they do!
I will seize the day by the sea!
Freddie Cheng’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Heavy Going”—Jim P’s review
Apt for the WSJ, this puzzle’s revealer is the financial term BACK-END LOADED (49a, [Like mutual funds that charge a fee on exit, and a hint to 20-, 25- and 43-Across]). Those other theme entries are familiar phrases whose final words can follow the word “loaded”.
- 20a. [Make sure everything’s been thought of] COVER ALL BASES. Sounds weird to me without “the” in there.
- 25a. [Topic that’s been debated for years] AGE-OLD QUESTION.
- 43a. [Chancing it] ROLLING THE DICE.
Loaded bases, loaded question, loaded dice. Nice. I enjoyed the aha moment when I hit upon the revealer. Although I have to say “bases loaded” sounds more common to me than “loaded bases,” but I guess it depends on context.
The long fill is solid though not especially sparkly. BAD LOANS feels a bit green paintish but the rest is fine: ENORMOUS, HOMAGES, HUDSON, IN A KNOT, “I’M GLAD.” I had to google (post-solve) what a QUOIT [Horseshoe’s cousin] looks like because it’s been a while since I encountered that word.
Clues of note:
- 65a. [Periods in hotels]. STAYS. Odd clue. Who would refer to their stay in a hotel as a “period”? I’m guessing no woman was involved in the creation of this clue. I always felt a particular sympathy for any of the women in our family who had to deal with their period when we were on a vacation.
- 1d. [“For Those About to Rock” band]. ACDC. I’ll admit to briefly having ABBA in there based off of the A, but no one would think of them as “rockers,” would they?
- 8d. [Twins-lion go-between]. CRAB. This one’s a bit esoteric for a Tuesday, eh? It took me a while to think of the zodiac; maybe I was hung up on baseball (but there’s no “Lions” MLB team…is there?).
- 26d. [Spot for brats]. GRILL. I enjoyed the realization that “spot” and “brats” rhyme in this clue…well, give or take an S.
An enjoyable puzzle. 3.5 stars.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal Crossword, “Double TakeS” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Two S’s are removed from the first letter of common two-word phrases, and wackiness is the result.
- 17A [Substandard sports residence?] TEAM HOVEL. STEAM SHOVEL.
- 27A [Plentiful supply of a tavern drink?] AMPLE ALE. SAMPLE SALE.
- 36A [Part of a union meeting in Santa’s workshop?] ELF ELECTION. SELF SELECTION.
- 52A [Paver’s delivery vehicle?] TAR TRUCK. STAR STRUCK.
- 61A [Joint of concern to an orthopedist?] AILING HIP. SAILING SHIP.
Nice little nudge in the title is all the instruction you need. Clever revealer, but I knew what was going to happen before I started the solve, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I really like al the resulting phrases after the bases were modified. Many of the bases, however, didn’t feel like things I say/read/think about all that often. The only one that was solid for me was STAR STRUCK (but ironically, the resulting phrase, TAR TRUCK, was the least of my faves).
ELF ELECTION for the win, though. That’s a great visual.
Solid grid with not a lot of TRIVIA. I SAID NO! was fun.
I must, however, repeat a gripe about the types of clue that Universal frequently publishes that are either A+ or F and never anything in between. This time it’s [Name hidden in “macaroni and cheese”] NIA. If NIA had anything to do with macaroni and cheese, that would be a perfect clue. Otherwise, it just seems lazy. Nothing special. IAN is in there. So is RON. And there are literally hundreds of words/phrases where NIA is hidden, so why macaroni and cheese?
Not much else to say, though. Enjoyable, for sure.
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “Who’s In“ — Emily’s write-up
Easy, breezy puzzle today that I think was a personal record for me! Tons of fun and delightful fill and cluing. I only wished that I had solved it sooner today so that all the wonderful Encanto ear worms would have been stuck in my head during work for an upbeat soundtrack to the day.
Theme: each themer contains the word “who”
- 17a. [Entertainer before an event], PRESHOWHOST
- 25a. [CLUE], BREWHOUSE
- 36a. [CLUE], KNOWHOW
- 50a. [CLUE], BLOWHOLES
- 60a. [CLUE], NEWHORIZONS
Five themers today–what a treat! PRESHOWHOST started to fill in, after I tried “open…”, but I needed crossings for the end of it although the cluing does say “event” and not “show” or “act”. BREWHOUSE filled quickly for me as well as KNOWHOW which is short but sweet. BLOWHOLES took me half a second but also fell right into place and made me smile—fun fill! NEWHORIZONS needed a few crossings before filling in, though I will forever associate the phrase with the video game Animal Crossing.
Favorite fill: ELI, SOLVES, PECKISH, and ENCANTO
Stumpers: PLAN (“rely” and “count” came to mind first), ASSENT (needed crossings), and LARK (could only think of “wren”)
Oh so good, Encanto is full of delightful music and is a movie worth seeing (and watching again and again) whether or not you have kids. Rather than link them all–though I want to!–here’s the one clued in today’s puzzle: “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. Enjoy!